Stellaris Dev Diary #194: Intel

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Hello everyone!

Last week we started talking about some of the changes we’re making to establishing first contact, and as promised, today we will continue talking about how you can learn more about alien empires.

All of the things we are talking about today is work in progress and may not accurately reflect the finished product. That said, we still want to hear your thoughts and read your feedback!

Background
It always felt like there was so much missing potential when it came to learning more about alien civilizations in the game. We didn’t like that you had so much information as soon as you established communication with an alien empire – all of their borders would be revealed, and the diplomatic window would reveal most of the other information. We aim to change a lot of that.

We want alien civilizations to feel more mysterious and unknown. We want the experience of learning more about alien empires to be an equally important and fun aspect of exploration.

Fog of War
As we briefly showed last week, we are making some changes to fog of war, and what type of information you will be getting about other empires.

You will no longer see all of the systems and borders occupied by the empire you have recently contacted, but it will now instead be tied to how much Intel you have. This really makes alien empires feel way more mysterious, which is something that we really like.

1606994201224.png

The information on the empire to the galactic south-east is very limited. We can see their homeworld and the borders explored by our science ship.

1606994215499.png

The galaxy as seen from the yellow empire in the top-right. There are a bunch of empires that we know very little about, and there are still more that are undiscovered.

Intel
Like mentioned above, our primary objective is to make alien empires feel more mysterious and unknown. We wanted to hide information and allow you to learn more about other empires as you gain more Intel on them. Our goal is to make the Intel game a part of the exploration aspect of Stellaris.

1606995038428.png

An alien empire recently established communications with us. Friends..?

Let’s take a look at how we have designed the Intel game to work.

First off there is Intel, which is a value between 0 and 100. You have a current Intel value, and you have a “target” Intel value, up to which it can grow. You usually have an Intel floor, which is the lowest value it can be, depending on a couple of factors such as:
  • Diplomatic Pacts (Research Agreements, Commercial Pacts etc.)
  • Trust
  • REDACTED (doesn’t look like anything to you)

1606994226596.png

Depending on things like diplomatic pacts, trust or other things, your Intel will grow over time.

Intel Categories
Information is split between different Intel Categories, such as Government, Military, Diplomatic, Economic, Technology. Categories can have different Intel Levels as well, ranging from None to Full. The Intel categories and their levels are what determines what information you have access to. Here are some examples:
  • Low Government Intel (Intel: 10) would reveal basic things like empire name, authority, ethics, capital location.
  • Low Military Intel (Intel: 40) would reveal starbases and relative military power.
  • Medium Government Intel (Intel: 40) would reveal civics and origin.
  • Medium Diplomacy Intel (Intel: 50) would reveal the opinion breakdown and let us see which diplomatic pacts they have with other empires.
The Intel you have on another empire heavily influences the Intel Categories, but it is not the only driving factor. It is also possible to have a higher Intel level in a certain category than what you would normally get from your level of Intel. One such example is Intel Reports, and we’ll talk about some other examples in future dev diaries.

Intel Reports
Intel Reports allow you to gain more information in a certain category, on a timed basis. It would be, for example, possible to gain an Intel Report which lasts for 720 days and gives you a High level of Military Intel, whereas otherwise High Military Intel might require you to have 80 Intel on the empire.

Stale Intel
It is said that knowledge is power, and intel is a form of knowledge. Power usually fades, and so does Intel. It is possible to lose access to information that was previously accessible. In some cases, this information will now be displayed as stale.

1606994248796.png

Intel, now in the scent of working from home for months.

The last information you had about the empire was that they were far weaker than you on many accounts, but perhaps they have strengthened their fleets by now? Stale Intel can also mean that you may no longer see if the borders for an empire change or not.

-------

That's it for this week! Hopefully you've gained some Intel into how the game is changing for the upcoming expansion :)
 
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Great!
Would you consider some intel bonuses for psionic races?

P.S. I hope we'll hear spying in 1-2 diaries ;-)
 

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The last information you had about the empire was that they were far weaker than you on many accounts, but perhaps they have strengthened their fleets by now? Stale Intel can also mean that you may no longer see if the borders for an empire change or not.
Oh boy multiplayer shenanigans incoming :D
 
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Me_

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The first step into espionage and information collecting :). I like it. And seeing fog of war finally in stellaris is quite cool!
Yeah, I feel like the fow is a very good thing, details of whether it will work well are pending review when release.
 
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Birdos

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Looks nice!

I think you got the intel numbers mixed up.
 
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Lorenerd11

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This is a bit unrelated to the main topic, but could Lithoid and Necroid fallen empires maybe keep the fallen empire rooms instead of converting to these? It works for regular empires, but it robs fallen empires of some of their flavor.

Also, I'd really love it if you considered my suggestion to make The Core an Ecumenopolis instead of Font of Knowledge.
You know, this makes me think back to fallen empires before 2.2 and once again makes me wish Keepers of Knowledge got their Ringworlds back whenever Ancient Caretakers aren't spawned.

Remember the Beacon of Infinity, Stability, and Perpetuity, with the capital Ringworld system consisting of the Palatial District, Trade District, Industrial District, and Agrarian District? Now that Industrial ringworld segments are actually going to be a thing, this would be a perfect fit for them.

I know this would affect the availability of a conquerable fallen empire Ecumenopolis, so I'd also suggest changing Font of Knowledge, now the fallback homeworld, back into a regular Gaia world and make The Core, the Xenophobe fallen empire homeworld, an Ecumenopolis instead.
 
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That's pretty cool, I especially like the idea of intel reports.
Regarding the categories - wouldn't it make sense to always divide the floor and gather rate of intel into those categories? Like for some empire it is much easier to learn about government and economic things, but they don't share any of their military intel unless you actively gather it (I assume there will be such a mechanic and you will talk about it later).
 
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I am curious how the sentry array will change perhaps giving a large bonus to intel generation on all empires?
 
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Can't you see a lot of that inform from their diplomatic power?
 
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This all looks interesting, and I like the way it extends the "exploration" part of the game. One question I have is: how does the AI use Intel to decide whether to declare war, for example? I feel that at the moment, the AI is already very unaggressive and reluctant to declare war... if now they have to deal with stale Intel, is it going to make them even more reluctant to declare war?
 
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I wish PDS’s other games had some of these intel innovations.

Also, new utility for Black Ops site?
 
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I really like the map changes especially. It always felt like you explored 20% of the galaxy yourself and then the other 80% just sort of 'popped in' when you found other empires, leaving random pockets that nobody had claimed.

Now it really feels like it will be more of a mystery you have to uncover. I also like the idea of seeing their borders but not knowing if they've changed if you've not got enough intel or a ship/station/ally that can see it - last you saw they were only a few systems deep but not knowing if another empire has expanded in the other direction since then seems very cool.

On a different topic (based on a few weeks back) - Industrial districts are getting more jobs from foundries/factories, mining/energy/agriculture districts are getting more jobs from their upgrade buildings - will city districts be left in the dust? Could the commerce buildings add more clerks for them, in the same vein as the factories/foundries add more for industry? It seems like it would make cities far less attractive than industrial districts if building an urban area since you only get a small, fixed number of jobs and just as much housing.
 
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I like what I see so far! Just to note, if this update comes with the addition of spies (ie, espionage envoys/scientists/admirals/whatever) then it'd be a missed opportunity to not allow envoys to act as spies under certain circumstances (maybe with a certain civic or unity perk or something?) even though they are a separate category.
 
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ghostbirdofprey

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Will there be empire types that broadcast certain things such as saying "These are our borders, stay the hell away from them" effectively giving you extra intel in a category, or certain types that are more secretive and harder to gain intel on, or are all empires on effectively even footing for gathering intel?

Side note, I am really hoping high levels of military intel let us peek at fleet compositions and ship loadouts without having to get them in sensor range. That's always an annoying thing when planning a war, trying to get an eye on what sort of tech you can expect to face.
 
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Me_

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  • Medium Government Intel (Intel: 40) would reveal civics and origin.
There are many (most in fact) origins that can be guessed from e.g. traits and home system (ringworld species, what could their origin be). Will this be addressed in any way (e.g. those origins will be visible at lower intel) or will there be an "illusion" that the player doesn't know what the player actually knows?
 
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Panzerslothen

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Seconding the request to know when we might expect all these wonderful updates to reach us. Even a ballpark figure. The game is LITTERALLY UNPLAYABLE without them in our hands already ;)

(I'm so excited for this update, Devs, I really am!)
 
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