Stellaris Dev Diary #194: Intel

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King Harkinian

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Please spend time exploring the possibilities around this. I think there is a good opportunity to create a progression in the diplomatic game where certain agreements, diplomatic actions, etc. are not available until high enough level intel is available. Coupled with last week's updates to first contact, you could have something like this:
  • No knowledge - First contact protocalls
  • No intel - First contact war or peace
  • Low intel - Conquer CB only; NAP agreements; direct resource trades/bribes
  • Medium intel - Humiliate and subjugation CBs; defensive pacts; commerce/research agreements
  • High intel - Form federation; other new interesting diplomatic options :)

As an above poster said, the game already has a big problem with too many "gamey" restrictions on what you are allowed to do. Your suggestion is terrible.

Games like this are always best when you are allowed to do whatever you want, but with consequences if you don't stick to the rules. For example, if we want to send our fleets into someone's territory despite closed borders, no invisible wall should prevent us from doing so. Instead, we should be punished diplomatically with reduced trust from every other empire, reduced diplomatic weight, and so on.
 
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morarz

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how will this affect allies and wars? Can you add the option to prepare for war for your ally? For example, in the diplomacy menu, you order an ally to prepare for a war that will take place in 2 years, it also works the other way round, the ally can give us 2 years to prepare for a war with a given enemy. Maybe add another specialist Spy too sabotage and destroying building etc. ? one last thought, pointing to an ally during the war a target of attack that would best be addressed, or a war front that should be addressed.
 
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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.
What are the black arrows behind the digsites?
First contact markers (looks too far from the border to be the case tbh)? Fairly sure those dont exist in the current game build.
1607009260657.png


Also, Will tooltips get hidden/censored on low intel?
You can get a large breakdown just from hovering over that species icon in the bottom left.
 
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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.

View attachment 658442
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.

View attachment 658443
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.

View attachment 658450
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)

View attachment 658444
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.

View attachment 658445
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 :)

Some nice ideas. A couple of suggestions:
1. Intel on ships and starbases ought to reflect the last know configuration based on observation. Better intel still if
1.1 A shipyard was infiltrated
1.2 That ship class has been seen in combat.
2. Intel in areas
2.1 Economic Intel. Enhanced if the empires have trade. Reveals resources, income, heavy resource systems. Etc.
2.2 Science Intel. Enhanced with research agreements. Reveals discovered techs or completed projects.
2.3 Military Intel. Enhances with military agreements. The highest level of military may give the operational orders for the military or fleets based on the AI debug data available.
2.4 Socio political intel - enhanced with familiarity of other empire. The more of Migration, research, military, and economic agreements, plus the extent they are used increases familiarity.
3. All intel is increased with observation. Ie: the more of the activity which occurs the more the intel is developed.
4. Familiarity. Some activities increase familiarity between nations. Migration and trade would be the biggies. Research and military secondary (unless on party is militant)
5. Counter Intelligence - nations ought to be able to conduct counterintelligence
5.1 Catching intelligence operatives.
5.2 Deception - changing the visible parameters of some Intel. Increases fleet power or makes the economy look weaker.
6. Espionage - Operatives who execute specific operations. These are represented by Ops teams with a named ops leader. They gain experience.
6.1 Surveillance operatives - enhance intel in a system or a empire area (research, economy, etc)
6.1.1 Smuggling ops - steals a large amount of research/prototypes.
6.2 Counter Intel - detects espionage operatives and shows what system they are operating in.
6.3 00 - used to eliminate operatives domestically or foreign. May target leaders including faction leaders.
6.4 Saboteurs - damages or destroys a target. Damage may be concealed for a period of time determined by the controlling party.
6.5 Asset Managers - attempts to create or convert operatives for the controllers own use.
7 Mercenary operatives
7.1 will do whatever a normal operative will do.
8 Stashes - products of Intel may not be able to be delivered immediately and may need to be stashed. Other operatives may retrieve the stash and move it on.
8.1 Stashes may become know and subject to seizure or other intel ops.
8.2 Stash Hide and Seek: some very high level items may appeal anywhere and missions will be set to deliver them to a specific location or agent. Moving these stash items requires an operative who can move it once to another location not too far away every x number of days. Other agents may intercept, seize, and redeploy.
 
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Not knowing that is part of the Intel game, but also can make you commit mistakes.
Congratulations you've just summed up the importance of espionage and the fun of it. Don't go to war cause you have 10 shiny new Blorgatas in your fleet.
Think before you send them into action.

It occurred to me - with these changes, we will hopefully be allowed to survey systems in other empires in order to gain intel on them, expanding the usefulness of science ships.
I'd say we would need upgraded science ships or specialized science ships. You can't simply waltz into a system with a normal science ship with active scanners when the other empire doesn't want you to be there. You need something sneaky with a closed mouth and VERY big eyes and ears.

t would be very cool, if you need intel on your own planets in order to detect such branch offices.
I support this call for an internal security agency. Pirates, criminals and such should be able to be fought by internal security. With precincts providing counterintelligence

In certain sci-fi universes, the homeworld is often one of the most carefully guarded secrets. Any reason why the location of the homeworld is exposed upon contact?
Yes please. It is really hard to see why another empire would be able to see the center of my empire, the cradle of my civilization, while some minor usesless mining colony.

I hope that we would get not only espionage but also sabotage. Assasinating a leader. Destroying parts of a star base. Pilfering ressources.
 
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I'd also keep the capital hidden until at least medium Intel. You can find nearby colonies, and maybe a possible capital if you're lucky, but you need more info before you know for sure.

The three body problem :D
 
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PostWomanism

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Very excited for all of this! I feel like maybe the capital location should be bumped up to a slightly higher intel level though.

I'm also curious about the implementation of intel reports. I'm not going to judge it since we know so little, but it sounds like it could be a little gamey. Maybe it could give a dramatic boost to intel growth in that category for the duration, or bump you up by one level. Again we don't have the specifics so I'm not going to act like I know what I'm talking about.
 
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I like Intel, but I'm a little nervous about how it will work. Issues:
1. Ignoring all but the largest positive makes the majority of variables pointless (In the example any bonus below 20 is wasted).
2. No ability to include penalties, or even small positives (negative values are below 20, as are small +5 bonuses)
3. Clicking a button to set Intel to fixed values is... misrepresentative of the situation you are trying to simulate and gamey (You shouldn't be able to click a button to just skip normal mechanics. Asking for a report shouldn't let you know the location of all Romulan Military ships and their relative power, merely boost your current information gathering)
4. Stale Intel doesn't show how old it is (minor quibble, but there's a big difference between 1 month stale and 10 years stale).

1606994226596.png

Depending on things like diplomatic pacts, trust or other things, your Intel will grow over time.
Using the highest of Pacts, Trust and REDACTED means that there isn't room for small bonuses, and also there's no possibility for penalties as anything small will be completely ignored, and obviously +5 or -5 is smaller than +20 coming from Diplomatic Pacts.

I'd rather have a system where your intel level is the sum of variables, so you can stack lots of things to make it harder for enemy empires to be aware of you.
This also makes the Intel Report mechanic less 'gamey'. Intel report could just boost the intel value by a fixed amount, rather than setting it to a fixed number. The difference is that your current design would allow you to know everything about the Romulan Empire's Military for 2 years because you paid for an intel report... that really shouldn't be possible. Paying and getting +80 Intel to combat their -37 giving you +43 and low military intel for the duration would be more thematic and less... 'gamey'.

So what would I like to be included in the intel value?

Intel: 73.12

From Intel Report: 80.00
From Diplomatic Pacts: 20.00
From Trust: 0.12
From REDACTED: 0.00
From Sum of Target Empire Modifiers: -37.00
Breakdown not shown until high intel level, Calculated as the sum of the following:
Ethics (+/- Xenophile/Xenophobe)
Civics (+/- Empathy/Apathy)
Species traits (+/- Shapeshifters/Mysterious)
Traditions (+/- Discovery.Survey Corps/Supremacy.The Great Game)
Ascension Perks (+/- XenoCompatibility/Enigmatic Engineering)
From Sensor Data: -10.00
Sensor Coverage (+/- Full Visibility/No Visibility)
Sensor Jamming (+/- Listening Post/Communications Jammer/Deep Space Black Site)

I think a lot of people are hoping to be able to make a mysterious hidden race that lurks in the shadows. The mechanic shown seems to run counter to that (no penalties to intel a player could use and a button to give max intel)... so I really hope the design isn't final.



Also I made a post about Ship Design Intel before, my very slightly modified Suggestion:

Ship Design Intel
(At Low Military Intel 40)
1. Learn enemy ship designs passively when in sensor range
Keep track of them so you can counter their all-shield designs without having to remember what empire number 15 had when you last saw the patrol fleet pass by your border station. Needs a new tab somewhere to log the information, preferably on the diplomacy screen.

(At High Military Intel 80)
2. Learn weaknesses of enemy ship designs
Passively (and slowly) add bonus damage vs shield/armour/hull, reduce enemy bonus damage, or modify shield/armour bypass amounts (tune your shields to detonate enemy missiles, or time your shots to match the cycle-frequency of enemy shields, spot the weak exhaust ports). If the enemy hasn't changed their ship designs since the last war then with your better intel expect to be able to run rings around their designs thanks to your extensive battle reports (even if they are higher tech like fallen empires, though have less intel generated on designs you can't replicate as you can't fully understand why hitting the shiny bit seems to work, unless you gain debris post-battle and realise the shiny bit was a power cell).

(Counters)
3. Retrofit designs to make enemy Military Intel obsolete
Changing all slots would reduce current enemy design intel to 0, smaller retrofits could have a smaller effect. New ship classes would have a window of opportunity where your equipment and design weaknesses are unknown, especially if these ships are stationed in a hidden nebula system prior to combat. There could be retrofit options that do not change the modules but still cost resources and reduce enemy intel to represent patching of vulnerable systems and incremental design improvements (put a dozen decoy exhaust ports around to distract enemy fire, stick a fake shield generator on the TIE fighter - much to the dismay of the pilot).

4. Sensor Coverage is vitally important. Gain intel on designs in sensor range, bonus for watching battles.
Listening posts/Sentry Array/Tachyon Sensors/Nebula effects/Arcane Engineering/Crystalline Sensors all play into espionage passively, no need for a huge number of additional mechanics and all existing mechanics can be made easily compatible. Watching two enemies fight would provide much more intel than watching their fleets on non-combat patrols.

5. New Role of reducing enemy sensor intel with Counter Espionage/Stealth ship components/Electronic Warfare/Jamming
These could prevent the enemy gaining intel on your ships passively (counter-espionage, stealth components, deep-space black sites) or actively during battle (Electronic Warfare/Jamming), the latter even reducing enemy bonuses and protecting older ship designs by obfuscating their identity.

Positives:
1. Espionage helps you counter enemy ships (increases your fleet power relative to the enemy, the main meat of the game)
2. Espionage is optional (passive effects, active benefits of upgrading and retrofitting designs can be gained by playing normally)
3. Espionage has an economic/tech option to counter it (research new components, paying alloys to retrofit ships renders their intel obsolete)
4. Espionage uses existing mechanics in new ways (Sensors, Retrofitting, Nebula, Black-sites, Arcane Engineering)
5. Espionage is a solid base for new mechanics to sit on top (Stealth Components/Cloaking/Electronic Warfare/Jamming)

I'd still like some active element to espionage, but I think this would be a perfectly reasonable passive backbone to it. But I do struggle to imagine an active element that will satisfy the completely opposing needs that people have... so I'd rather the passive element was the majority of espionage and the active was more minor. A system where investing in espionage can still win battles and the game, but losing in espionage can be countered economically and doesn't involve a death of a thousand alerts from the hostile actions of enemy spies.
 
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So we can create a romulan empire like empire in Stellaris which tries to be mysterious and tries to hide anything and dealing with that empire can be a huge mess?

This is something i really want. To keep yourself in the dark and use Intel defensibly :D
 
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Eladrin

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Will the psionic path have better intel than the other ascension paths? It seems like it would be a natural fit, that mind readers and precogs would be better informed.
Does seem like it would help, wouldn't it?
 
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Does seem like it would help, wouldn't it?

Speaking of ascension based [Redacted], would a synth ascended empire be easier or harder for a Machine Empire to infiltrate?

Also will existing mechanics like the Contingency events be overhauled into [Redacted] stuff?
 
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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.

As various other people here have already pointed out, I hope that the empire name (and all the information implied in it) doesn't get immediately revealed on the map, revealing instead their logo (or even a question mark) with their nickname (zeta menace, for example). The size of the name and logo also reveal too much, but I don't know what to suggest about that.

I also hope that you guys take the time to look again on the current border format, at least while we don't have full knowledge of the xeno territory. As it is now, it's possible to deduce much more than we are supposed to know just by looking at the continuity of color and lines. For example, we know that the three systems southeast of Ceyecarro belongs to the orange xeno, as well as both systems surrounding their capital. Maybe some pre-contact/low intel UI where each star is marked individually could solve it, leaving the map painting to when we fully know the empire.
 
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Gothbert

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Overall, very interesting. Here is some feedback:

Counterintelligence:

There needs to be a Counterintelligence mechanic as well as an intel gathering one. This would allow empires to put resources into preventing other empires from learning their secrets or information about them. For example, a small empire that does not have resources to fight off its neighbors would definitely want to hide the fact that their military is small and technologically backward.

Faked Intel Results

You should add a mechanic that allows empires to provide false information to other countries who are gathering intel as part of a counterintelligence operation. This might work as an edict or something similar. A clickable activity that consumes resources (intel, maybe) and is active for a set period of time. The operation itself will increase the intel costs to uncover any information about their empire. It will also show inflated results for intel data gathered, possibly one or two levels above their actual rating. For example, an empire might actually have an "Equivalent" military size to another empire but this operation would make their appear as either "Superior" or "Overwhelming" to another empire. An empire with sufficiently large intel could see through these lies and get the real information or at least know what they are seeing is "Faked."

CounterIntel Ops Centers

Maybe a building or starbase module. The goal of the building is that it provides dedicated operation center(s) for counterintelligence activities. The effect would be to increase the cost of all intel gathering and operations against this empire. If this is a building, it should be limited to 1 per planet but allowable to be built on every colony. If I want to run an ulra-paranoid and secretive empire, then that is my choice.

Intel Black Site (Planet Designation)

You should consider creating a new planetary decision that allows one planet per empire to be designated an "Intel Black Site" similar to Penal and Resort colonies. The planet has no normal infrastructure and is dedicated to intelligence, espionage, and counterintelligence activities. Thus giving large bonuses to intel gathering, counterintel gathering, and other espionage-related activities. Effectively, the planet is full of various black site prisons, spy training camps, and intel operations center. The kind of place that doesn't appear on trade routes or civilian travel destinations, and anyone who tries to land on the planet without authorization is shot down.

Game AI

I do hope that this new intel system will be used to adjust how aggressive the game's AI is against lesser empires. If a smaller empire is falling behind, this system would be a good way to protect themselves by pumping up their counterintelligence operations. Effectively like when a cat puffs up their fur to make them look bigger than they actually are to a predator.
 
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Lord Backael

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How does the AI handle fleet intel when it comes to deciding when to declare war?

Right now, when playing with aggressive AI, they seem keen on declaring war as soon as the truce cooldown ends (unless you're vastly superior to them fleet-wise), so how do they handle having little to no intel on your fleet strength?

Will they end up constantly waging hopeless wars against you because they can't see that your fleets are much better than theirs, or will they only attack you if they have definitive intel about your fleet strength? If the latter, is it possible to constantly deny fleet intel for an AI opponent, and thus prevent them from waging wars against you entirely, because they don't know if they're stronger or not?
 
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The Wolf with the Dragon

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I like it. The fog of war looks really cool.

Stale Intel can also mean that you may no longer see if the borders for an empire change or not.

I don't quite know how that's supposed to work. Will we only be able to see the updated borders if we we're to fly a ship there or something? And how low would intel have to be for this to happen?

Medium Diplomacy Intel (Intel: 50) would reveal the opinion breakdown and let us see which diplomatic pacts they have with other empires.

One thing I really don't want to be hidden are things like defensive pacts. Even if you would see it once you're picking your claims, it feels like the whole point of a DP is lost if it's secret. So such things should always be known in my opinion, if you know of the empire.
 
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Silyus

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That's very interesting. One thing, though..can you please replace "Stale" with "Outdated" (for better clarity) and, most importantly, show how long ago was the last reliable report on each section (army/research/economy)?
It could be just an info like "last report was 1 year and 5 months ago" when you over one of those sections with the mouse.

Knowing that your intel is outdated is not of much use if we can't be sure how much outdated it actually is.

P.S. how the intel is affected by the scan range? Will the sentry array permanently cap the intel of 2/3 of those sections for all the empires at the last stage? Are there countermeasures to this aspect in <REDACTED>? :)
 
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Mindel

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Does technology intel allow you to steal enemy technologies?
 
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NilsFabian

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Does seem like it would help, wouldn't it?
Do it rock, paper, scissor style. One ascension oath is vulnerable to one while superior to the other.

And please accept the vote of the community. Don't show the homeworld until sufficient intel has been gathered
 
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