Stellaris Dev Diary #196: [REDACTED]

Stellaris Dev Diary #196: [REDACTED]

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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


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Eladrin

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Attn: Spymaster Utra, daughter of Roba,


Our operatives have provided information on the activities of the vile Paradoxians. Despite their attempts at secrecy, we have managed to acquire some intel. The images our agents have taken appear to be of crude prototypes that they are still refining, but we thought it best to pass this dispatch along now so you can better prepare for the future.

Agent Tiny Sorbet signing off.

-‚ا© ŘŮ æ¢Ã£»£æ¢Ã -•

Hello and happy new year!

In Dev Diaries 193 and 194 we explored the mysteries of first contact, hidden information, and intelligence gathering through diplomatic means.

It may come as a surprise to many, but sadly there are starfaring civilizations out there with whom peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial diplomatic ties are simply not an option. Against these threats, it may prove useful to utilize the more intrigue-oriented members of your society, and turn to espionage.

Espionage and covert operations are a frequently requested feature that seem to be natural extensions of the intel system that we’ve described in the recent dev diaries. With the obfuscation of knowledge, naturally there should be systems to acquire that information.


Envoys and Spy Networks

Envoys will have a new diplomatic task available to them called Build Spy Network. They will take their place as the Spymaster of a network of covert operatives and agents that they will grow in power over time. Needless to say, the other empire will not be informed of your envoy's new position.

1610463889475.png

Build Spy Network diplomatic action

1610463907045.png

Baby steps.

While an envoy is managing a Spy Network as Spymaster, the Network will grow over time - quickly at first, but slower as the Network gains in strength. Networks are far faster to build in large, sprawling empires, and if the target empire’s Encryption rating is much stronger than the spying empire’s Decryption, growth may also slow to a crawl. (Machine Intelligences have a natural knack for Encryption and Decryption, while Hives and psionic empires tend to excel at Counter Espionage.)

Unmanaged Spy Networks (those without an envoy directing them) pause all ongoing activities and rapidly decay.

Spy Networks initially cap out at a maximum level of 50. Several things such as civics or edicts can increase it, and if you have acquired (disposable) Assets within the target empire they also provide a boost - each Asset increases the Spy Network cap in that empire by 5.

Assets are useful pawns, hacked backdoors, deviant drones, or other resources that could come in useful to your Spy Network. An Asset could be a disgruntled Bureaucrat that's been passed over promotion one too many times, a faulty Pheromone Emitter that your operatives have found a way to manipulate, or even a Logistics System that you've hacked into. More details about the acquisition of Assets and their uses will be in a future diary.


Changes

Here’s a non-comprehensive sample of some civics, ascension perks, and edicts that have been updated during this espionage pass. Several new Encryption and Decryption related technologies have also been added. (Numbers are still subject to change!)

1610463931398.png

1610463939944.png

Some civics lend themselves nicely to covert activities.

1610463949200.png

1610463957215.png

Others can modify Counter Espionage, making the lives of enemy Spy Networks easier or more difficult.

1610463963720.png

Tell us your secrets.

1610465981889.png

No, really.

1610463971674.png

1610463977936.png

More of the new Edicts.


Putting Your Spies to Work

Now that you’ve built up your Spy Network, what can you do with it?

Back in Dev Diary 194 we had a redacted value shown in the Intel breakdown tooltip - Spy Network level is that third hidden value alongside Diplomatic Pacts and Trust.

1610463984843.png

No more redactions here.

While your Spy Network passively provides intelligence, you can also have them be more active. Your Spymaster envoy can send agents out, using the Network's bandwidth ("Spy Power") to run Operations within the targeted empire while they stay safely at their base.

Operations exist in the following major categories:

* Subterfuge - Information gathering and operations that improve the spy network itself
* Sabotage - Ruining things (physical or immaterial)
* Manipulation - Replacing the truth with your own improved version
* Provocations - Don't do these, they're bad

Most Operations also have a subcategory of Government, Diplomacy, Economic, Technology, or Military, matching the Intel Categories.

More details on how to perform Operations (and how Assets can be used to improve them) will be the focus of next week’s diary. See you then!

ops.png
 
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Exciting, I have always wanted more interaction within your own empire, and this really helps.
The tracking of people for counterintelligence can really play into rp with police states and authoritarian countries. I would assume that egalitarian countries would not be able to do these things

Envoys also resemble diplomats in the real world, where they are often used for spying and espionage.

Operations also seem interesting, can't wait!

How would espionage work with gesalt empires? It seems that they would be less prone to espionage due to their very nature.
 
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Now it gets interesting!

I really like the fact that envoys are needed to build a network, giving xenophiles and diplomatic players a nice benefit. As well as psionics. Thank you for this! The higher effectiveness against large empires is very welcome as well!

Im unsure about the "mission" design coming from spy networks. Is there a timer involved or are intelligence points needed and consumed? Im curious for the upcoming dev diary!

Provocations are maybe the manipulation feature i always hoped for. Select one empire and another, then ruin their diplomatic relations to a certain amount :)

But i'm missing one thing. And that are cloaked ships and stealth tech. Will we see something like that? a hint maybe? =)
 
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Great work
How will work building spying network for FPs which don't create diplomatic relations and don't send envoys?
Waiting to steal something valuable ;-)
 

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The thing I most hoped for was ways to influence the ethics of other empires, and it looks like we have that and far, far more, so I'm extremely excited for this. Sounds like Operations are far more in-depth than I was expecitng. This whole system is going to totally change and liven up the midgame.

If I beg will you give us a teaser of what you can do with a Provocation? :D
 
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Will we have a way to counter spying ? Prenvent our tech to be stealing for exemple.

Can we make the leader of our rival have a tragic accident ?
 

Eladrin

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How will work building spying network for FPs which don't create diplomatic relations and don't send envoys?
Fanatic Purifiers will be able to use their envoys to build spy networks. It's not exactly diplomacy.

If I beg will you give us a teaser of what you can do with a Provocation?
You need to keep building your Spy Network up, Provocations need a pretty extensive one to pull off.
 
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Interesting, though I admit I'm still a little worried about the whole sabotage mechanics. I really don't like things like that, it's one of my least favourite parts of Civ 6 that you can suddenly lose a bunch of funds or have stuff destroyed just because you didn't know exactly what to protect with your spies. Really hoping it won't be as bad with this, because all the other stuff looks really neat so far.

Also kinda hope that there'll be an option or slider for how often AI empires do that kind of thing, so if you aren't fond of it (like I'm not), you can stop them doing it as often. Something independent from the difficulty slider would be nice.
 
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Eladrin

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Will we have a way to counter spying ? Prenvent our tech to be stealing for exemple.
Building up your Counter Espionage value and having high Encryption and Decryption will make it more difficult to run operations within your territory and give you greater chances of causing catastrophic failures for those that dare touch your research databases.

Early iterations had a more active defense, but Counter Espionage felt more like an Envoy tax than an enjoyable experience.

Can we make the leader of our rival have a tragic accident ?
No. Early on we had something like this in the list of possible operations, but part of the difficulty of espionage systems in general is that they have to still be fun when you're the one getting dogpiled by a dozen empires running them on you.

While there are some operations with (sometimes pretty big) negative effects, we were trying to be pretty careful with what they can do, while simultaneously make sure they're worth pursuing. I'll likely go into more of that next week when we talk about burning Assets.
 
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-ðsžšåÞя©Â£ŠŘ§Ů½æآé-
Attn: Spymaster Utra, daughter of Roba,


Our operatives have provided information on the activities of the vile Paradoxians. Despite their attempts at secrecy, we have managed to acquire some intel. The images our agents have taken appear to be of crude prototypes that they are still refining, but we thought it best to pass this dispatch along now so you can better prepare for the future.

Agent Tiny Sorbet signing off.

-‚ا© ŘŮ æ¢Ã£»£æ¢Ã -•

Hello and happy new year!

In Dev Diaries 193 and 194 we explored the mysteries of first contact, hidden information, and intelligence gathering through diplomatic means.

It may come as a surprise to many, but sadly there are starfaring civilizations out there with whom peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial diplomatic ties are simply not an option. Against these threats, it may prove useful to utilize the more intrigue-oriented members of your society, and turn to espionage.

Espionage and covert operations are a frequently requested feature that seem to be natural extensions of the intel system that we’ve described in the recent dev diaries. With the obfuscation of knowledge, naturally there should be systems to acquire that information.


Envoys and Spy Networks

Envoys will have a new diplomatic task available to them called Build Spy Network. They will take their place as the Spymaster of a network of covert operatives and agents that they will grow in power over time. Needless to say, the other empire will not be informed of your envoy's new position.

View attachment 669526
Build Spy Network diplomatic action

View attachment 669527
Baby steps.

While an envoy is managing a Spy Network as Spymaster, the Network will grow over time - quickly at first, but slower as the Network gains in strength. Networks are far faster to build in large, sprawling empires, and if the target empire’s Encryption rating is much stronger than the spying empire’s Decryption, growth may also slow to a crawl. (Machine Intelligences have a natural knack for Encryption and Decryption, while Hives and psionic empires tend to excel at Counter Espionage.)

Unmanaged Spy Networks (those without an envoy directing them) pause all ongoing activities and rapidly decay.

Spy Networks initially cap out at a maximum level of 50. Several things such as civics or edicts can increase it, and if you have acquired (disposable) Assets within the target empire they also provide a boost - each Asset increases the Spy Network cap in that empire by 5.

Assets are useful pawns, hacked backdoors, deviant drones, or other resources that could come in useful to your Spy Network. An Asset could be a disgruntled Bureaucrat that's been passed over promotion one too many times, a faulty Pheromone Emitter that your operatives have found a way to manipulate, or even a Logistics System that you've hacked into. More details about the acquisition of Assets and their uses will be in a future diary.


Changes

Here’s a non-comprehensive sample of some civics, ascension perks, and edicts that have been updated during this espionage pass. Several new Encryption and Decryption related technologies have also been added. (Numbers are still subject to change!)

View attachment 669528
View attachment 669529
Some civics lend themselves nicely to covert activities.

View attachment 669530
View attachment 669531
Others can modify Counter Espionage, making the lives of enemy Spy Networks easier or more difficult.

View attachment 669532
Tell us your secrets.

View attachment 669543
No, really.

View attachment 669533
View attachment 669534
More of the new Edicts.


Putting Your Spies to Work

Now that you’ve built up your Spy Network, what can you do with it?

Back in Dev Diary 194 we had a redacted value shown in the Intel breakdown tooltip - Spy Network level is that third hidden value alongside Diplomatic Pacts and Trust.

View attachment 669535
No more redactions here.

While your Spy Network passively provides intelligence, you can also have them be more active. Your Spymaster envoy can send agents out, using the Network's bandwidth ("Spy Power") to run Operations within the targeted empire while they stay safely at their base.

Operations exist in the following major categories:

* Subterfuge - Information gathering and operations that improve the spy network itself
* Sabotage - Ruining things (physical or immaterial)
* Manipulation - Replacing the truth with your own improved version
* Provocations - Don't do these, they're bad

Most Operations also have a subcategory of Government, Diplomacy, Economic, Technology, or Military, matching the Intel Categories.

More details on how to perform Operations (and how Assets can be used to improve them) will be the focus of next week’s diary. See you then!

View attachment 669541


Very interesting. How will this affect performance? Moreover, does the AI utilise it effectively?
 
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Am I able to affect the opinion that one empire has of another using an Operation / Spy Network?

Also, in terms of influencing the ethics of another empire... is this a passive modifier based on Spy Network size (like La Resistance), or is it an Operation that you can run to increase Ethics Attraction in that empire for a set period of time?
 
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Love it, though it feels as if the we don't have enough envoys problem will only increase.
Most of the time I need at least 2 envoys to keep my federation going, 1 to boost me at the GC, one to do the advertising task with other empires and now I would need at least 2 more to run 2 spynetworks.
Please increase the number of envoys. The spy agency is nice but there needs to be more.

Also would it be too much to ask for envoys to have traits?
Mercedes Romero being great at making friends so send her on good will missions.
Blorg, James Blorg, managing spy operations?
 
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Yes, yes, all of this. Very happy to see it all. I must say, I have been eagerly excited to see more since the start of December - for me, definitely, this Dev Diary has been a long time coming! I'm excited.

Very glad to see you included Sabotage. I'd also really like to see a 'steal technology' or 'steal research' option though. I'd like to create an Empire which invests heavily into technology espionage of its more advanced neighbours, almost like [ENTIRELY UNLIKE ANY REAL WORLD COUNTRIES, WHO CERTAINLY DO NOT DO THIS] DIsregard all of that, I evidently can't read.

I'm intrigued to know - or perhaps I'm just not understanding - the significance of the 'Counter-Intelligence: +1' and 'Decryption: +1' type numbers. Those don't appear to be the same as 'Assets'; are these things which influence the rate at which the Intel picture builds? That they have separate categorisations almost suggests to me there's different KINDS of Intelligence, and that it's both 'offensive' and 'defensive'. Is that right? Are there other things which contribute to an Empire's overall Enc/Decryp/C-I number?
 
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will the network enable something else - for example "megacorp like" building of limited set of special buildings on enemy planets?
 

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The time has come for agents HC-9 and MA-23 to infiltrate an alien empire.
 
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glee8e

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Free heaven is already sort of a underwhelming civic. Since it will now even include a disadvantage even less people will want to choose it. Perhaps tune up the other stats up a bit or add some other positive effect, like an offensive advantage in espoinage, as a compensation?
 
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Archael90

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If tracking implants made people angry, it should decrease authoritarian atractivness, not increase. Its not that unhappy people being forced to authoritarian method are more likely to became authoritarians... or are they?
 
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Olterin

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I'm cautiously optimistic about this - I don't like the idea of sabotage much, given past experiences with being dogpiled with similar actions ... but it seems that is being taken into account on a design level already, so here's hoping you guys manage to find the right balance for it, as not having any sabotage at all as an option would also break immersion a little.
 
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