Stellaris Dev Diary #198: Provocations

Stellaris Dev Diary #198: Provocations

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
They say that to escape any rampaging beast, you don't need to outrun it - just whoever you're with.
- Diuuret, Spymaster operating within the Anathurian Nation.


Hello again!

Now that we've gone over several of the basic Operations, this week we want to go over Provocations.

Operations vary in risk and consequences. The simplest Operations such as Gathering Information and Acquiring Assets will only rarely cause major issues between the two Empires, while Stealing Technology or Sabotaging Starbases is more frowned upon and can cause some diplomatic issues. Provocations are the types of acts that the galaxy as a whole will generally take a dim view to, treating them as war crimes. Expect blowback and repercussions from them, even when they are successful.

Part of these repercussions is modelled by the loss of Infiltration - whether it be that parts of your Spy Network are compromised, security holes have been closed in response, or "friends" within the empire stop being quite as friendly. The flashier and messier the operation is, the more your network will be impacted.

Provocations will usually cause the greatest losses of Infiltration, making it difficult or impossible to run other operations in that network until it is built back up.

One Provocation that we're planning is Arm Privateers (Provocation, Economy). It's a fairly advanced Operation requiring an Infiltration level of 60, and has the primary objective of disrupting the target empire by providing weapons and funding to violent and unstable individuals.

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Surely nothing will go wrong with this plan.

The weapons are untraceable, so it'll be fine.

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These are a trustworthy group, right?

Your spymaster makes a good point there though.

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Last chance to back out.

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Privateers or pirates?


The Privateer fleet disabled the local starbase and set up their own little pirate base. Their fleet strength is based to a degree on the fleet strength of the empire it was created in, so while it is likely to be only a temporary annoyance, it can prove incredibly useful if deployed at the right time.

As noted during the events, these fleets are hostile to everyone, including their original patrons.

The nastiest Operation to date is the Crisis Beacon (Provocation, Technology).

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Surely nothing will go wrong with this plan either.

Crisis Beacon is an extremely difficult Operation to pull off, but if successful, will add the target's capital system as a target of interest to an ongoing End-Game Crisis. It currently has the highest Infiltration level requirement (80) and cost of any Operation. This will typically require an extremely well developed Spy Network with numerous Assets.

If all goes according to plan, this will usually result in the Crisis sending a fleet to "investigate" it in the friendly way that they do when visiting systems.

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Goodbye! We'll miss you!

As with many Operations, things can develop in different ways depending on what's going on.

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The last time we'll hear from them.

Shortly thereafter, the bait is set.

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It's like Prethoryn catnip.

The sacrifice of our operatives (and the rest of the Spy Network that we had built up in the Anathurian Nation) bought us a bit of time as it diverted a Prethoryn fleet away from our own territory. The Swarm chose to support that fleet with other resources, leading them away from our border nicely.

Now, this sort of Operation is definitely an act of war, and we're currently discussing exactly what the consequences should be if you get caught performing such a heinous deed. At the very least, your target is not going to be happy at all with you. (And if you have a Xenophilic faction they might not be too pleased.)

That's this week's dossier of secret information. Next week we'll continue to talk about the Crisis a bit.
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
Will it be possible to choose the crisis and will it work at times no crisis is active?
Crisis Beacon is currently only available while a crisis is present.

Will there be some advanced operations ( provocations or another) that target mega structures?
We considered having "sabotage megastructure", but it fell awry of the similar problems as "assassination" - incredibly unpleasant, even if it's just delaying your (already long) constuction.

What do the devs think about a provocation of announcing a release date?
Keep building up that spy network.
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
Last week, you said that Energy Credits were to be used (both as a lump sum and as upkeep) for operations. Would you consider making the resource used depends on the exact type of operation?
Alternate resources do occasionally come up during operations. Sabotage Starbase, for instance, sometimes gives you an opportunity to supply some Volatile Motes to cause bigger problems for your target.

Oh, one more thing I forgot to ask about. How mod-able is the Espionage and Operations system? Will we be able to add in new Operations and tweak values?
It should be relatively straightforward to add additional Operations or modify existing ones.
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
But will Crisis be aggressive enough to actually attack said target? >.>
Oh yes. I was actually sort of worried while taking the screenshots that they would attack on their own before I finished the op.

Will these symbols have any meaning associated with them?
will you change the "excavating" icon

That's still a work in progress UI. It'll have its own symbols soon.

Like this one...
1611843396034.png


I think criminal syndicates should have a bit of love.
Since the Intel system makes their early game harder (since they don't instantly gain knowledge of all of your planets), they currently get a bonus to Infiltration Speed to set their networks up faster. We also changed the Disinformation Center to have an espionage focus.
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
First of all, I appreciate that these kinds of actions consume and diminish the spy network. This point is the only reason I can see this working: rebuilding the network takes time, acting as a cooldown while in the meantime having no intel on the target.

Intel doesn't drop instantaneously if your Intel Target changes. It drifts towards it (very) slowly over time. So if your Spy Network has been giving you 70 intel on an empire, then you lose 40 of it due to them being exposed, your new Intel Target will be 30 (assuming Trust and Diplomatic Pacts aren't making your Target higher). Your 70 Intel will start dropping over time, but meanwhile, your network is regaining strength as well. It'll meet someplace in between.

You'll also retain some stale intel after it does drop.
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
Are we going to be able to scrap an operation before it concludes or once it's been kicked off it concludes for better or worse?

You can abort operations before the final "kick-off", and it may also be an option during some events. (Invest more resources in different ways, keep going on as-is and hope for the best, or abort the mission, for example.)
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
222
4.893
www.paradoxplaza.com
Can we add this as an optional galaxy setting rather than part just of the game if you own the DLC? A few posts by people has got me thinking that it could be "intrusive" to the main game loop when the player is already having difficulty managing a lot of "micro" (Of course we're expecting some of that micro to go away - granted).

At least I'm hoping you'll play a few whole game through to the end with this enabled to make a reasonable judgement on it anyway that it warrants being optional.

Defense against espionage is almost entirely passive, so the burden shouldn't be increased by too much if you don't want to engage with the system. (I say "almost entirely" because you do have a couple of options to strengthen your defenses, like picking certain edicts or focusing on certain technologies.)

You can also park an Envoy in a rival empire to build a Spy Network simply for the Intel insights, without running many, or any, operations. (Though, to be fair, a few Gather Information ops might be useful to speed up that Intel growth.)
 
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