Stellaris Dev Diary #192 : Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be...

Stellaris Dev Diary #192 : Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be...

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Drachasor

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To encourage tall, seems to me like there need to be more ways to spend influence to improve a particular planet. It should be stackable. Simplistically, increasing the size with influence would be one way. Or just giving a flat bonus to productivity or something similar. A wide empire might be able to do that to a few planets, but they couldn't do it 10 times to 4 planets or anything like that. Bonuses are probably better, since they can potentially be suppressed if someone else takes the planet or otherwise decreased if the original holder isn't there. There might be a way to do it with tech or edicts that have a scaling cost based on the number of planets, so that another tall civ can take advantage of tall civ planets more easily than a wide civ. I guess how this interacts with conquest would need to be carefully considered to an extent.

Hmm, perhaps being able to make habitats that just increase planet size is also a way to do it. So instead of it being an independent world, it basically just adds space to the planet.

Though, the another fun thing about being wide is you get a lot more anomalies and excavations, which is hard to replicate as tall to an extent (at least as far as dig sites and it's easier to have exploration cut off)
 
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I think something that is being missed in this tall/wide discussion is how the new pop rules will change the distribution of populations across empires. If I understand this correctly, the way that the cost for each new pop rises means that wide empires will end up with a large number of low and mid-level worlds in terms of development. Tall empires will end up with fewer, more bustling worlds. Now, if capital upgrades still depend on population number, then highly populated worlds should end up stronger relatively to the same levels of population distributed across a wide empire, at least for a time. In part this is due to the new capital building techs, in part because higher level buildings depend on capitals. Eventually the wide empire will catch up, but tall empires should be stronger in the mid-game and will have to take the opportunity to try and break up wide empires. Or else starting conquering to go wide themselves but from a stronger base in their core worlds.

If capital upgrades and population are no longer dependent on each other, however, this might not apply.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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Reduction in Pops

Due to the effects on performance and a desire to reduce the micromanagement burden in the mid to late game, some of the things we’ve been deeply looking into are different ways of dramatically reducing the number of pops in the galaxy.

These experiments have generally revolved around modifying the growth (or assembly required) for pops as an empire’s population grows, with some variants trying a logistic pop growth (where growth follows an S-shaped curve as planets develop, based on a carrying capacity of a planet). These experiments have reduced the end date pop count to somewhere around one half of the old numbers with the expected performance improvements.

Organic pops will follow a curve where they begin at standard population growth, increase growth as the approach a midpoint between population and the planetary carrying capacity, then slow down to zero as they reach the top of the curve. Pop Assembly, on the other hand, is generally slow but consistent. The biggest change is that producing a new pop no longer costs a static amount of pop growth - it increases as the empire population does.
Currently not using robots means an empire gets much worse POP growth than those that use them, and the changes you name here will, unless I misunderstand you, if anything exaggerate this issue since those relying on natural POP growth will have a really hard time filling up planets as the organic growth dwindles on a planet at higher pop counts compared to its carrying capacity, and there's no mechanical growth to help offset it.

You seem to have address this somewhat for Hive Minds (spawning pool change) and for genetic ascension (clone vats change so genetic ascension can now outlaw robots).

Which exactly leaves out those empires that suffer the most in the pop growth race currently. The two red-headed stepchildren of current Stellaris empires: spiritualist empires and psionic ascension empires.

The spiritualists are punished by it being much harder to obtain robot tech in the first place, punished slightly for using robots by their faction, and punished greatly by their faction if they use robots with AI, leading to lower stability and productivity. They are the one faction where the game's "outlaw" robots policy might arguably make sense currently thematically, except that choosing it cripples their growth, and nothing you've explained in this developer diary seems to change that.

The psionic ascension is the only ascension of the three paths that does not increase POP growth, which is one of the two great strikes against it in terms of balance (the other obviously being the shroud lottery* that makes a significant difference to empire performance).

And psionic ascension is the ascension that the game strongly encourages the player to use as a spiritualist empire (higher chance of techs, traditionalist faction expects it), thus packing a double whammy; punished if they use robots to help with growth, severely punished if they allow AI so their robot growth isn't limited to the worker strata, unable to grant citizenship so always at risk of machine uprising if allowing AI, and then further disadvantaged in biological and robot growth if they choose psionic ascension rather than genetic or synthetic.

so...

For the love of god, give some love to spiritualists who try to play the game the way it encourages them by outlawing robots, and give some love to Psionic ascension where growth is concerned as well.

Perhaps outlawing robots leads to more vigorous lifestyles increasing base POP growth or tolerating more POPs (greater carrying capacity, thus leading to a lower organic growth penalty for a given number of POPs on a planet)

Perhaps Mind over Matter knocks off a third of the organic growth penalty for population vs carrying capability on all planets, and Transcendence halves it... because people really are putting minds over matter and don't sweat the small stuff any longer?

You may have better ideas, and I don't care how you solve this, BUT since the title of this essay is "Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be...", please do not ignore these issues, and ensure that a spiritualist psionically ascended empire is competitive in total POP growth with Hive-Minds, Machine Empires, genetically ascended empires using robots, and synthetically ascended empires.


---

* Don't take me wrong. I like the shroud lottery. It is a fun gameplay mechanic for single player, decidedly less so for multiplayer. But the baseline is that all psionically ascended empires can rely on getting is the POP trait, leader traits, psionic armies (which are nice fluff, but not functionally more useful than just recruiting a bunch of standard assault armies), and the PSI corps which is in general a waste of a building slot due to crime being a non-issue in Stellaris unless the player is incompetent and a building slot not being worth +5 stability unless the player doesn't have anything else useful to build (at least currently, and this is also the reason that the Aristocratic Elite Noble Estates building is a trap - perhaps your building/slot changes address this making it worthwhile for other than roleplaying reasons). Everything else is up to the love of the RNG.

You'd do me and other lovers of PSI empires a HUGE favour by adding a useful psionic weapon in the social techs along with a damage/attack speed repeatable techs for it scaling off social science, and NOT gating it behind the shroud lottery, ensuring that Psionic Empires got at least one reliable toy rather than having to rely on the lottery for better shields, better jump drives, or combat computers that are a sidegrade to sapient combat computers. (If you lack ideas, how about a weapon ignoring shields and armour for use in L slots that does more damage and has much longer range than Cloud Lightning? Finally there'd be a worthy 'L' complement to the penetrating setups, and given how Void Clouds are presented to spiritual empires it seems quite thematically appropriate.)

And/or how about letting those precognitive abilities of psionics aid the few, the proud, the pilots of strike craft? Adding a new type of strike craft in engineering, Psionic Strike Craft (requires Transcendence and Advanced Strike Craft to research, are more expensive, has higher shield and evasion values.)
 
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Hansatron

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Here's a question about modding and industry district. How does adding a job to a district work? At the code level, it is written in the modifier of building or just written in the district to check whether there is the building in this planet?
It is very important to the modding, it affects the game performance in multiple mods.
I wrote a comment on this in DD190, we think the devs saw it. I share your concern, since fundamentally this would make a ton of mods inherently incompatible (because they'd all modify the same district definition) whereas with new modifiers they would really expand what we could do. They have some time and have done similar modifier sets to what I describe below.
One thing for the devs who still lurk in this thread after 30 pages.

When you change all these buildings to provide jobs to districts, can you please please pretty please make that a modifier?

I know the quick and dirty way to implement the new system is this:
Code:
district_industrial = {
.... %blah blah blah

triggered_planet_modifier = {
        potential = {
            has_building = building_foundry_2
        }
        modifier = {
            job_foundry_add = 1
        }
    }
   
    ... %more stuff
}
However, for the sake of modders everywhere, can you make something like this instead:
Code:
building_foundry_2 = {
... %some stuff

triggered_planet_modifier = {
        potential = {
            exists = owner
            owner = { is_regular_empire = yes }
        }
        modifier = {
            planet_districts_industrial_jobs_foundry_add = 1
        }
    }
... %rest of the stuff  
}
There are already modifiers that work this way, but what i am suggesting is a modifier class that is planet_districts_x_jobs_y_add, where X is a district and Y is a job type.
That way any mod that uses this system will not be automatically conflicting with all other mods. This way, any new building effects you want to make can be dropped into the building definition, and you won't have bugs where someone forgot to delete a line in the districts files when changing a building.
It would also allow a lot of flexibility with civics and traditions. For example, merchant guilds and technocracy currently result in absolute spaghetti code for the definition of capital buildings. However, this could be trivially replaced with a few lines of modifiers attached to civics if they allowed buildings to be a target as well - basically decrement administrator on capital by 1, increment merchant on capital by 1; etc for upgraded and major capital.
 
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Seisho

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And/or how about letting those precognitive abilities of psionics aid the few, the proud, the pilots of strike craft? Adding a new type of strike craft in engineering, Psionic Strike Craft (requires Advanced Strike Craft to research, are more expensive, has higher shield and evasion values.)
Now i have the picture of Obi-Wan and Anakin with theri Eta-2-actis interceptors :p

Currently not using robots means an empire gets much worse POP growth than those that use them, and the changes you name here will, unless I misunderstand you, if anything exaggerate this issue since those relying on natural POP growth will have a really hard time filling up planets as the organic growth dwindles on a planet at higher pop counts compared to its carrying capacity, and there's no mechanical growth to help offset it.
I have the feeling that with the new system this problem could be slightly remedied, since the organic pops grow faster while there is much capacity (and base pop) while the pop assembly is always slow

but besides that I fully agree and I really hope they use the opportunity to make psionics worthwhile

I don't want to pick up modding the game just to make my flavorwise favourite ascencion path actually worth picking
 

Mímisbrunnr

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I like the idea of starfighters for Psionics, like the Eta-2-Actis Interceptors as was pointed out by another user.

Just now also need to give them a massive damage bonus vs. Colossi (use the force, Luke!). Okay, I'm mostly joking about this latter part here.
 
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Drachasor

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How do buildings/etc that add/change jobs to districts work on ringworlds and other special districts that have more base jobs than normal? I would assume it would be easy to make a designation for a "planet" scale, but will they? and what about buildings?
 

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I think something that is being missed in this tall/wide discussion is how the new pop rules will change the distribution of populations across empires. If I understand this correctly, the way that the cost for each new pop rises means that wide empires will end up with a large number of low and mid-level worlds in terms of development. Tall empires will end up with fewer, more bustling worlds. Now, if capital upgrades still depend on population number, then highly populated worlds should end up stronger relatively to the same levels of population distributed across a wide empire, at least for a time. In part this is due to the new capital building techs, in part because higher level buildings depend on capitals. Eventually the wide empire will catch up, but tall empires should be stronger in the mid-game and will have to take the opportunity to try and break up wide empires. Or else starting conquering to go wide themselves but from a stronger base in their core worlds.

If capital upgrades and population are no longer dependent on each other, however, this might not apply.
Eh, if "Tall" is just "build a lot of habits" then it's just another kind of wide, really. Compared to other games where wide would mean sticking to a few or several planets or something compared to a couple dozen. And I am honestly not seeing anything that's going to change that much. Logrithmic increases slow down pretty quickly, and linear increases in production don't. So if you have to put in 20% more or even 100% more work/time on a planet to get a pop, but you have 10 times the planets, then that's not much of a penalty. You'd need a lot more than what we are seeing here to make Tall work.

What is really going to come up is habitats verses expansion for more planets, seems like, so more of what we already have.
 
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How do buildings/etc that add/change jobs to districts work on ringworlds and other special districts that have more base jobs than normal? I would assume it would be easy to make a designation for a "planet" scale, but will they? and what about buildings?
For ecumenopoleis and ringworlds they implied (if not outright stated in DD190) that they will get +2 jobs per rank instead. So a foundry arcology will get +2 metallurgists from the Alloy Megaforge building instead of +1 like a normal industrial district.
 
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Peter Ebbesen

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So psionic ascension has the fewest pops and the weakest pops but thats ok because they are good at espionage. Yeah just like they've been fine for the past 2 years. It is nice to be able to clearly see how superior your opponent is compared to you. I really struggle to find a strength for psi ascension that can match massive early pop growth modifiers combined with quite weak pop bonuses. And way too much of psi strength is tied in lengthy rng shroud events.

Also we are now placing an even greater amount of pop productivity in technologies where spiritualists are weak and materialists are strong. Is there any plan to do something to make unity useful and tech less massively overpowered
And, of course, the strongest uses of unity are the unity ambitions (...well, some of them), unlocked by tech, and the strongest unity builds for unity gain are not spiritualist builds taking advantage of spiritualists bonus unity but fanatic materialist technocracies, rogue servitors, and megacorps with marketplace of ideas or trade league trade policy (where being a spiritualist doesn't help because its bonus to unity gain doesn't apply to trade policy unity, only to base gain and unity gained from jobs).

To counter I guess spiritualist will still get -5% edict cost (-10% fanatic!) which was pretty much irrelevant even before the great edict revamp that meant players nearly never had to pay influence costs for edicts since they were fire-and-forget.
 
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Lorenerd11

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So psionic ascension has the fewest pops and the weakest pops but thats ok because they are good at espionage. Yeah just like they've been fine for the past 2 years. It is nice to be able to clearly see how superior your opponent is compared to you. I really struggle to find a strength for psi ascension that can match massive early pop growth modifiers combined with quite weak pop bonuses. And way too much of psi strength is tied in lengthy rng shroud events.
And, of course, the strongest uses of unity are the unity ambitions (...well, some of them), unlocked by tech, and the strongest unity builds for unity gain are not spiritualist builds taking advantage of spiritualists bonus unity but fanatic materialist technocracies, rogue servitors, and megacorps with marketplace of ideas or trade league trade policy (where being a spiritualist doesn't help because its bonus to unity gain doesn't apply to trade policy unity, only to base gain and unity gained from jobs).
Maybe we could give spiritualists an ability to use Pop Assembly to produce Golem Lithoids? I already use the Golem portrait with a Syncretic Evolution origin for a similar effect, this would make it official.

Make it an Origin too, so that like Mechanists, Spiritualists can start the game with the ability to construct Golems without the use of regular Pop Growth, as a slightly stronger version of Syncretic Evolution, balanced out by the Spiritualist ethic requirement.

Could also add a decision allowing Psi Ascended empires to summon Unbidden like ethereal pops at the cost of Unity.
 
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Fewest will always be the case. But what if the redacted part would pertain to the "weakest" part? What if psionics got access to boons like +25% specialists output? Wouldn't those kinds of boons make psionic ascension a viable and truly TALL playstyle?
Not at all.

You are talking about introducing yet another additive output modifier to the large number that already exists.

The economic base in Stellaris is based on POPS x (1+SUM_OUTPUT_MODIFIERS)*, so introducing a new 25% modifier for specialist jobs would not provide anywhere near 25% extra specialist production.

Take my most recent game with a spiritualist psionic empire (spi/aut/xPhile megacorp with indentured assets, gospel of the masses, free traders).

By 2305, on my best research planet the best researcher produces 14.1 of every resource due to having a total of 253.2%** output modifiers from various sources (and 4*3.532 ~14.1). It would be higher if he was intelligent. Giving +25% specialist output would thus be equivalent in this case to having (1+253.2%+25%)/(1+253.2%)-1 = 7.1% more POPs researching.

Even unity, where a lot fewer modifiers apply, the best located ruler POPS have a 113 % unity output modifiers from various sources, and for them 25% extra would be equivalent to (1+113%+25%)/(1+113%)-1 = 11.7% more POPs.

So unless the significantly increased base growth we've seen in the diary is somehow not enough to provide more than a roughly 10% POP advantage, you'd want a much higher bonus if you wanted total production to be competitive between low POP growth psionics and high POP growth genetics/synthetics.

But on the other hand, early in the game at the earliest point you can get Psionics at 3 perks and not all that many POPs (yet), players have much lower output modifiers and adding 25% or 50% or whatever value was thought to be a good mid- and end-game value would completely unbalance the game at that point.

Which leads to the obvious question, "so, Peter you smartass, how about doing this as a modifier to the POPs base production, just like Mining Guilds, Merchant Guild, Exalted Priesthood etc? Say that they get +1 to everything, or perhaps that each POP counts as 1.2 POPs?"

Then you get the problem that as planets get closer to being maxed out for jobs (and once they are), psionic POP planets will be much more productive than anybody elses planets are, for a very unbalanced late game. (Unless you add something small enough that this isn't a real problem in the late game, in which case it is unlikely to be large enough to help balance in the early- or mid-game when planets aren't filling up).

Ever since 2.0 POP growth has been king, insofar as any single factor can be said to be so in Stellaris, and it is a very difficult system to tinker with for economic balance unless the radically different empire forms nevertheless end up with roughly the same POP growth rates so can be expected to have roughly the same amount of POPs with roughly the same amount of effort.

I am not saying it can't be done, but purely from a mathematical point of view the chosen POP/job model makes it difficult to find a solution that is both neither too powerful nor too weak in the early game and neither too powerful nor too weak in the late game, when it is compared to the empires that have higher growth.

---

* and for research POPS x (1+SUM_OUTPUT_MODIFIERS) x (1+SUM_SPEED_MODIFIERS)

** sounds high? relic world, tech world designation, highlevel intellectual governor, highlevel research assistance, 3x+20% techs, traits, stability, research institute, event modifiers, and finally all the slave modifiers as my best researchers are all indentured servants (both worker and slave modifiers affect slaves regardless of stratum of job, so between the slave building, workplace motivators tradition, and extended shifts edict, and authoritarian that's another 40%, 45% if fanatic). It all adds up.
 
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Matt516

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IMHO, logistic curve tackles with growth "vertically" on planet level, increased growth points tackles with growth "horizontally" on empire level. Both are necessary to tune the pace of growth and reduce the inflation in number of POPs into mid/late game.
I can totally get why scaling the amt of growth points needed for a new pop by total empire population would be helpful from a mechanical and lategame performance perspective. I just don't get what the in-universe justification for it is. What is that supposed to be simulating?
 
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We’ve also changed a few buildings to have new or additional features, such as the Spawning Pool and Clone Vats, which have had their Pop Growth modifiers replaced with the new Organic Pop Assembly. This fills the same slot on the planet as Robotic Pop Assembly, so generally you’ll want to pick one or the other. (Clone Vats also picked up a food upkeep cost to represent simple materials to break down.)
I hope that assembled organics will be separate from natural pops, since they are manufactured products and not real people. Perhaps a "replicant" trait to distinguish them from real people. They could also be sterile by default, thereby ensuring that 1) there is no risk of them growing out of control and 2) there is no risk of producing a child with one and then having to figure out whether the baby is a real person or not. Obviously, as replicants are products and not real people, they should not be given the same rights as us normal persons ,which brings me to the most important issue that 3) a mass-produced, designer-made populace is the wet dream of any would-be totalitarian regime, or greedy megacorps wanting to mass-produce perfect customers.

This seems like a logical continuation of the perspectives on the "Selected Lineages" technology. In any healthy democracy, the government cannot transform its entire population into hideous Blorgs at will - in a free society, self-modification should be the only kind of modification to occur among the natural populace (assuming it is legal). Replicants would naturally not be given the same protections. Finally, one more thing to consider is also that 4) megacorps selling assembled pops for profit, would not want their superior product to self-replicate and flood the market free of charge - planned obsolescence is your shareholder's best friend.

TL/DR summary:
* Assembled organic pops could be given a trait to distinguish them from naturally growing pops
* Assembled organic pops could also be assembly-only, and not contribute to natural population growth
* Governmental genemodding of natural pops could be anathema to egalitarian/free societies (but ok for replicants and xenos without rights)
* A spiritualist/materialist take on this could be that spiritualists could support replicants' rights to life, happiness and reproduction (a telepath would recognise a real mind) while materialists could oppose "natural" rights against genemodding
 
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smile444

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man i hope they expand the size of habitats along with the expention of the size of planets as they mentionned. They are already cramped, no need for everything else to become bigger on top of that
 

Mímisbrunnr

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In a truly egalitarian society, replicants would be given exactly the same rights as the other citizens, @Tannhäuser Cake. They're sapients, and thus entitled to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the same democratic rights as everyone else. To deny them that would be slavery, which egalitarians abhor (and rightfully so).
 
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In a truly egalitarian society, replicants would be given exactly the same rights as the other citizens, @Tannhäuser Cake. They're sapients, and thus entitled to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the same democratic rights as everyone else. To deny them that would be slavery, which egalitarians abhor (and rightfully so).
Kind of depends on whether they are recognised as true sapients though, and not merely biological machines programmed to act like sapients. Stellaris already differentiates xenos and robots in "egalitarian" societies, and replicants could easily be just one more group of "others". In the other cases, it takes xenophiles to reliably tear down that wall for xenos and materialists to do the same for synthetics (while xenophobes and spiritualists often want to go in the opposite direction). Fanatic egalitarian can still be combined with either xenophobe or spiritualist, which disenfranchises one whole category of pops despite the society being "fanatically" egalitarian. It could make some symmetrical sense if similar mechanics were used for replicants.
 
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-Marauder-

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In a truly egalitarian society, replicants would be given exactly the same rights as the other citizens, @Tannhäuser Cake. They're sapients, and thus entitled to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the same democratic rights as everyone else. To deny them that would be slavery, which egalitarians abhor (and rightfully so).
Honestly, they're not even "real clones" once you think about it, nor "replicants" ala Bladerunner Androids. They're effectively just people who instead of a womb were grown in a vat by mixing two or more donor DNA's together to make new people. Outsourcing the whole gestation period to a machine.
 
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Mímisbrunnr

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I tend to agree with with @-Marauder- 's interpretation that they're just people here.

In the event that they were biologicals who are programmed as @Tannhäuser Cake suggests- well, that's basically the scenario of R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), and that's a recipe for a robot rebellion. Recall, RUR is what is responsible for coining the term robot, and the RUR robots were artificial biological beings, unlike the mechanical constructs the term later came to mean.
 
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Honestly, they're not even "real clones" once you think about it, nor "replicants" ala Bladerunner Androids. They're effectively just people who instead of a womb were grown in a vat by mixing two or more donor DNA's together to make new people. Outsourcing the whole gestation period to a machine.
I have some issues reconciling this perspective with how few years it takes from start to finish of a pop's assembly, as well as the premise that the organic pop assembly seemingly bypasses not just the normal gestation period but also the whole upbringing stage in life (it takes considerable societal resources to provide for the upbringing of kids, not just in terms of parenting but also schooling, healthcare and so on). If organic assembly is just a matter of having an embryo reach maturity and then join society, it should still relate to the growth capacity of society, which could be better represented as a modifier of growth rather than a completely separate "assembly" path.

Having embryos mature outside of a womb is not that far-fetched even with today's technology, and it is something that should be possible by 2200. It is something that any empire should be able to do by the start of the game (and this disregards all of the egg-laying, seed-dropping, spore-spreading aliens where gestation already takes place outside of the bodies of the parental parties involved). By contrast, in-game organic pop assembly will require a tech that is currently exclusive to the genetic engineering ascension path. To me, this suggests that it indeed is about literal "assembly" of organic pops, bypassing most or all of their adolescence.

The dev comment below also seems to support the interpretation that organic pop assembly is not merely the act of incubating normal eggs, but more like producing (possibly "3d-printing") tissues and putting them together until you have a complete, functional organism.
> Is it just me or does Organic Pop Assembly feel inherently wrong?

Pretty gross, huh?
Of course, this is not conclusive proof of anything, I am just speculating and I may be far off the track here.
Ultimately, it will be the developers who decide what they want organic pop assembly to represent, and what they think makes for a more enjoyable game experience.
 
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