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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I came to conclusion that normal pops (not purged) are immortal. In each of our games we simply see end game population crisis as pops multiply but do not die. There could be a decline scaled linearly with number of pops living on the planet or you could introduce a pop’s age and make it disappear after its lifespan like the leaders do. That should massively help with endgame overpopulation. I also feel that it should not distort the game balance.
 
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The issue with this is that would make psi ascension overwhelmingly stronger in the early game or still pathetic later on, depending on the numbers. This is because it takes time for a pop-growth advantage to accrete; if psionic pops were twice as strong as synth or bio pops, it would take a very long time for synth or bio to catch up by having twice as many pops as psi, which is compounded by the fact that psi is already the strongest early game ascension. If the number was smaller, then synth or bio would catch up quickly and you'd be in the same situation.
This doesn't sound like an argument that points to it not being possible, but more to finding the right number. If you look at synthetic vs genetic with addition of the new cloning vat mechanic, robots win out in pop production early on and genetics catch up later. Just because you can have robots within 10 years , but you have to have 3 ascension perks for clones. One ascension being stronger then the other at specific points in the game has always been the status quo.


Tying these bonuses to the psionic trait would also be almost as much of a buff to bio empires as it is to psi empires, since you can get the psionic trait without the ascension, either via genemodding from a template created by a different empire's ascension or via the rackets/ketlings/spiritualist FE.
This is easily solved by making it a bonus of the psionic ascension perk. Giving it as a empire bonus shouldn't be that hard. A non-issue imo.


You can balance for any situation by proposing base productivity increases, but you can't balance for every situation, and which you choose will determine when psionics get shafted compared to the others unless you make it a large enough that they get shafted most of the time.
Balance is always going to be hard. But taking psionics in the same direction as bio's and synths and making psionics about pop-bloat as well is just uninspired. Would it be easier to balance? Well yes, because it's more of the same in a different coat of paint.

Making psionic pops more productive could be tweaked to follow different curves depending how it compares to growth. Jobs becoming more efficient the more psionics are there are, to stimulate filling up worlds to the brim. Alternatively you could do the inverse, where more pops on a planet makes the bonus less efficient in turn stimulating more spread out populace.

There's so much more interesting things that could be done then "pops, pops, pops".
 
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Well instead of giving psoinic pops a better output, you could instead make their leaders or fleets (much) stronger. Or add the ability to perform a ritual adding a terraforming candidate modifier to a planet. There are many different ways to balance the ascension perks without doing the same.
In my opinion, it would make it meaningless to have 3 ascension perks if biological & psionic have the same mechanics (psionic on base weaker but with added gambling mechanic). In that case, you could merge psionic & biological ascension or remove one of them.
 
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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.

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.
A great idea! I had no thought of it before. But I'm not sure the devs notice this, and your suggestion. They didn't reply so far, and... sometimes Stellaris left me a impression that they pay little attention on the incompatible, I have spent a lot of time to avoid incompatible.
I hope things can develop as expected
 
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smeznaric

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One thing I noticed is that for many districts the number of housing slots is greater than the number of job slots they provide. This leads to a situation where to make full use of a planet you need to build a sufficient number of buildings. It makes managing planets a bit more challenging and might cause some headache for the AI. I would suggest to make it so most districts (other than residential and commercial) to have equal number of housing and job slots.
 

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One thing I noticed is that for many districts the number of housing slots is greater than the number of job slots they provide. This leads to a situation where to make full use of a planet you need to build a sufficient number of buildings. It makes managing planets a bit more challenging and might cause some headache for the AI. I would suggest to make it so most districts (other than residential and commercial) to have equal number of housing and job slots.
Probably better not since the reworked buildings often increase the number of jobs per district
 
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Hansatron

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I would suggest to make it so most districts (other than residential and commercial) to have equal number of housing and job slots.
If foundry/factory buildings grant +2 jobs on ecu, then they will end up with 10 jobs for 10 housing. Only the leisure arcology would be off, but no one builds those anyways.

I hope things can develop as expected
I've already pre-written code changes in case they go the obvious route of modifying the districts; it won't really be a problem for my mods, it will be a problem when I start getting a flood of steam comments like "This doesn't work with SomeOtherMod, therefore this mod sucks and you should go uninstall yourself from life."

I can already hear their petulant whining.
 
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Atreides

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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.

What if Spiritualist was -20/40% upkeep cost for organics?

That would at least seem to be a good start.
Maybe intsead of pop growth create some Psi Techs that generate pop power - +10/24/40% production sort of bonuses. Would make sense thematically - psi pops literally do more with less.
 
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FleetingRain

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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.

A significant reduction in pops has a cascade of major implications for the overall economy, production, and other gameplay effects. As such, these also require a pass on buildings, technologies, and even seemingly minor ripple effects like what the value should be for the trade value generated by pops.
1. What's this "carrying capacity", exactly? Is it just some meta-description you're using so we can understand the flavor behind it, or it is a real modifier in the game affected by housing?

2. You said in the comments that Ecumenopolis will have more "carrying capacity", which I understand will happen because of the extra housing. Am I correct in inferring that? If I'm not, then what will determine it?

3. If I am, is it going to be potential housing or currently vacant housing? If it's potential, I'd suggest tying carrying capacity to planet size instead, as it's a more static variable, with special planets having an extra modifier (something like Hive/Machine 1.5, Gaia 1.8, Ecu 2.5, Ring 4). If it's currently vacant, then this reminds me of Wiz's "Infrastructure" parameter in planets, which got cut before release because iirc it felt redundant and incentivized testers to just build a lot of cities.

4. People have brought up in the comments that pop growth should be empire-wide, not planet-based. Have you guys tried this approach yet? If so, why aren't we going with it, is it really not the panacea we all expect it to be? Or do you think planet-based pop growth is better for design/performance and the formula you're currently tackling balances itself out already?
 

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1. What's this "carrying capacity", exactly? Is it just some meta-description you're using so we can understand the flavor behind it, or it is a real modifier in the game affected by housing?
They don't seem to have finalized the formula. It's likely to be some combination of housing, planet size, etc, that is simple to compute and iterate over. Since they seem to have an internal structure where they recompute values a lot instead of updating a game database, it would make sense that they'd look to something they can directly query (like planet size or housing) versus something more complex like including blockers, modifiers, etc.
The problem with using only housing is you can game it with empty city districts. The problem with pure planet size is that there's no benefit to building infrastructure for growth. So there is a design choice to be made because stellaris players will min/max whatever they put in.
4. People have brought up in the comments that pop growth should be empire-wide, not planet-based. Have you guys tried this approach yet? If so, why aren't we going with it, is it really not the panacea we all expect it to be? Or do you think planet-based pop growth is better for design/performance and the formula you're currently tackling balances itself out already?
Probably because they would need to rewrite a lot of code and functionality to do a purely empire wide plan, and there is always a path of least resistance aspect to design. This is a free patch, not a new game from scratch. Stellaris almost certainly has a lot of tech debt in its codebase and the more ambitious you go, the more stuff you will break. We don't face that reality when coming up with ideas, but the devs do.
As Ike said, "farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field..."
 
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I'm curious, as a ringworld player;...will there be an option to genemod away the ringworld preference later in the game? Or will you be more or less stuck with it?
 

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I'm curious, as a ringworld player;...will there be an option to genemod away the ringworld preference later in the game? Or will you be more or less stuck with it?
Preferences were always moddable. So it should still work just fine. You'd just need to rush it. Or droids.
 
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Hansatron

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Preferences were always moddable. So it should still work just fine. You'd just need to rush it. Or droids.
You've also got primitives, relic and gaia worlds, Baol, conquest, and migration treaties.
The whole "you have a ringworld" bit is a tad overpowering even without much in the way of colonies. Although with the nerf to the segment size, the extra cost to get to 20 researchers may be a tough pill to swallow.

None of this applies to machines on a ring, though, who will still be miles ahead of everyone.
 

-Marauder-

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You've also got primitives, relic and gaia worlds, Baol, conquest, and migration treaties.
The whole "you have a ringworld" bit is a tad overpowering even without much in the way of colonies. Although with the nerf to the segment size, the extra cost to get to 20 researchers may be a tough pill to swallow.

None of this applies to machines on a ring, though, who will still be miles ahead of everyone.
Hey, Machines needed some more origins. ;) (To be honest, I would love more origins in general.)
 
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You've also got primitives, relic and gaia worlds, Baol, conquest, and migration treaties.
The whole "you have a ringworld" bit is a tad overpowering even without much in the way of colonies. Although with the nerf to the segment size, the extra cost to get to 20 researchers may be a tough pill to swallow.

None of this applies to machines on a ring, though, who will still be miles ahead of everyone.
Apart from the segment size change, that is. That will also apply to machines (and I suspect it comes with a bonus nerf to the arcane generator, which should effectively provide about half as much energy if it still works the same way). So shattered ring machines will probably be very strong still, but not as far ahead of the other origins as they were before.
 

Kommunist Fried Chicken

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I've already pre-written code changes in case they go the obvious route of modifying the districts; it won't really be a problem for my mods, it will be a problem when I start getting a flood of steam comments like "This doesn't work with SomeOtherMod, therefore this mod sucks and you should go uninstall yourself from life."

I can already hear their petulant whining.
My situation is a bit different. Compatibility is a important part of the mod -- at least for my partner. She is keen on keeping the compatibility, I don't approve that sometimes, because I have to give up some excellent idea for the compatibility. As a result, we often debate this. Even now, we are still debating about whether the mod follows the original economic style after the coming update.

Just ignore the comments, incompatibility is "the small price for progress";P
 
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Millbot

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In regards to the power of the ringworld start. One of the things that has always bugged me in regards to ringworlds in general, is that one doesn't need the galactic wonders perk to fully benefit from the perk. This is also a issue with other perks. Some that come to mind are world shaper, mastery of nature and project arcology. Anyone without the perks can get the full benefit of things that those perks provide access. Project arcology's only real advantage is that you get to decide what gets turned into an ecumenopolis. Mastery of Nature and World Shaper are slightly better, since some of the perk is exclusive, but the most powerful parts are still free for plunder.

Anyways, what if the 10% production bonus for Gaia worlds was only given to those that had picked world shaped? Granted, life seeded origin would definitely need to be buffed, it would help make the perk more valuable. Ringworlds provided less resources for those that don't have the galactic wonders perk? This would reduce the power of the shattered ringworld origin. Could even do something like have it be a 10% malus without the perk, but have it so that if you restore a ring, you get the empire modifier ringworld restorer, which reduces the malus to 5%. Not sure how you'd go about tweaking Mastery of Nature. Maybe getting the perk gives the Mastery of Nature empire modifier which reduces all malus costs that the Mastery of Nature planet modifier incurs. Then maybe remove the influence cost, reduce it or have it cost something else and give empires the option to remove the modifier, but actually have that cost influence. The malus could increase the upkeep cost of all districts and double their sprawl value. Just spit balling ideas here, but Voidborne was a fantastic change, in part because it remove the nonsense where an invasive empire could get the best benefit of the perk, provided they waited for a target to take the perk and build habitats. Once the chance went into effect, they could no longer get the best feature of the perk and in fact, that created a scenario where they'd run into issues because not only would those two building slots go puff, but it could even throw them into a scenario where once those go puff upon successful invasion, they get saddled with other issues because of what building got nuked.
 
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Hansatron

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Anyways, what if the 10% production bonus for Gaia worlds was only given to those that had picked world shaped? Granted, life seeded origin would definitely need to be buffed, it would help make the perk more valuable.
I have a private mod I made to test out a buff to lifeseeded empires. It gives a little extra happiness and output to gaia worlds if you're lifeseeded - as well as a couple extra pops to start. Worked pretty well in giving them some gas off the line so they don't immediately fall behind.

Just ignore the comments, incompatibility is "the small price for progress";P
I console myself by reminding people that if my mod is incompatible with yours, it also means yours in incompatible with mine.
If they would just make jobs files able to have selective updates instead of need to be entirely rip and replace, i would be so happy.
And revert the change to civics where it auto generates a description of the modifiers that you cannot turn off. I want to turn them off sometimes because certain modifiers create world salads. (They made it in maybe 2.6ish.)
 

Deshiba

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In regards to the power of the ringworld start. One of the things that has always bugged me in regards to ringworlds in general, is that one doesn't need the galactic wonders perk to fully benefit from the perk. This is also a issue with other perks. Some that come to mind are world shaper, mastery of nature and project arcology. Anyone without the perks can get the full benefit of things that those perks provide access. Project arcology's only real advantage is that you get to decide what gets turned into an ecumenopolis. Mastery of Nature and World Shaper are slightly better, since some of the perk is exclusive, but the most powerful parts are still free for plunder.
Ringworlds, Ecumonopolis, Gaia Worlds. All of these can be found in the wild without needing to have the technology to make them yourself. Having an origin that starts with 1 makes sense, but should come with downsides. For Gaia worlds it's life seeded, for Ecumonopolis it's that it's a relic world and you have to restore it. With this update, ring world origin will finally have a downside.

Anyways, what if the 10% production bonus for Gaia worlds was only given to those that had picked world shaped?
The point to Gaia worlds like many others is that they are a rare find. It should be a reward (or bait) when you find/conquer one. I don't know if the 100% hab & happiness bonus is enough to make a player excited at the find. Aside from that, you'd be asking a player to make an investment of an entire ascension perk for 10% production on a single planet. I don't think this will make players take this perk over arcology project.

Once the chance went into effect, they could no longer get the best feature of the perk and in fact, that created a scenario where they'd run into issues because not only would those two building slots go puff, but it could even throw them into a scenario where once those go puff upon successful invasion, they get saddled with other issues because of what building got nuked.
Well invasion should give you all the benifits though. If you invade a planet you conquered you get their pops too and all the benifits of Synthetic/Biological ascension because you have their modified population. Planets are no different in that regard, conquer an ecumenopolis and you get all the gain without the pain.
 
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General Karthos

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Buffing the Void Dwellers origin (already far and away the most powerful and hilariously unbalanced origin) still further seems an odd decision to me, but, whatever.

I always questions these design decisions, and wind up adapting and doing just fine. Anything that improves endgame performance is welcome.
 
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