Stellaris Dev Diary #76: Hive Mind Improvements & Tradition Swapping

Stellaris Dev Diary #76: Hive Mind Improvements & Tradition Swapping

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Hello everyone and welcome to another Stellaris development diary. Today's dev diary will be about some more changes coming in the 1.8 'Čapek' update, with a particular focus on Hive Minds and Traditions.

Hive Minds
Hive Minds was a feature in Utopia that we were not unhappy with, but felt we could have done more on. While it works fine from a gameplay perspective, offering a different mode of play for those who do not wish to concern themselves with internal politicking and just want to get on with building their glorious empire among the stars (and eating those that stand in their way), Hive Minds ended up somewhat lacking in the flavor department, and suffered narratively from gameplay text that does not fit a Hive-Minded society, such as early exploration events.

For 1.8, we've decided to make a major push to improve Hive Minds, both narratively and gameplay-wise. Many events have been changed, disabled or rewritten to fit Hive Minds and their unique societies. We've also tried to address a number of non-event related narrative breaks, such as replacing the 'Sprawling Slums' starting planet tile blocker with a unique tile blocker only found on Hive Mind homeworlds. A new system for relocalising technologies based on government authority types was also created, and a number of technologies will now have different, more suitable names for Hive Minds (such as renaming Administrative AI to Synaptic Enhancers). Some new, unique interactions were also added to the game to emphasise the inherent psionic nature of Hive Minds.

We've also changed the way Hive Minds interact with non-Hive Mind pops. While we still do not want non-Hive Minded Pops to be regular citizens of Hive Minds (for numerous reasons, the main one being keeping Hive Minds distinct from regular empires in how they are played), we have added the option to keep them around as Livestock instead of simply being processed or displaced. AI-controlled Hive Mind empires now also vary in how they treat Pops of other species, with some preferring displacement and others making use of livestock or processing. Livestock/Processing have been buffed from 3/6 food per Pop to 6/8 respectively, and a number of fixes have been made to ensure that Pops that are kept as livestock do not incur building maintenance or similar issues.
2017_07_06_2.png
2017_07_06_3.png

Devouring Swarms
In addition to the changes to regular Hive Minds, we've also devoted some more attention to the Devouring Swarm civic that was added in 1.6. Devouring Swarms have had their bonuses increased to be more on par with their Fanatical Purifier non-Hive Mind variant, and a new government type and AI personality was created for Devouring Swarms that you encounter while exploring the galaxy. They also have a few new flavor texts and unique interactions.
2017_07_06_5.png
2017_07_06_4.png

Assimilation
Finally, we've improved the process of assimilating non-Hive Minded Pops into the Hive. Instead of having to genetically modify the project (and complete said project before the Pops are eaten or forced out), Hive Minds now have access to a new type of citizenship species right, that is unlocked once they unlock the Evolutionary Mastery ascension perk. This citizenship type, called 'Assimilation', will convert non-Hive-Minded Pops into a Hive-Minded variant of that species, allowing them to be integrated seamlessly into your Hive Mind empire. The process is gradual, with a certain number of Pops converted at regular intervals rather than all being modified at the same time. Non-Hive Minded Pops will of course be quite upset by this, selfishly holding on to their individuality rather than simply surrendering to the glory of the collective. This new method of assimilation was also made available to Synthetic empires, and can be used to convert Pops to cyborgs (if partway through Synthetic Ascension) or upload them into robot bodies (if fully Synthetically Ascended). It can also be used to by non-Hive Mind empires that have unlocked Evolutionary Mastery to de-assimilate Hive-Minded Pops.
2017_07_06_6.png

Tradition Swapping
Another issue both gameplay and narrative-wise that affects Hive Minds, but is not unique to them, is that certain traditions simply do not fit certain kinds of empires. When creating the tradition trees, we tried to keep them as broad as possible, but ultimately you're never going to be able to design seven full trees that fit perfectly into every possible society and playstyle. It's for this reason that we have created a new system that we call 'Tradition Swapping'. Tradition Swapping allows any Tradition Category (such as Diplomacy) or individual Tradition (such as Trans-Stellar Corporations) to be set up with a number of potential 'swaps'. These swaps have conditions and weights for each individual empire, and can be anything from a simple name and description swap to a full replacement of name, description, icon and effects. A number of such tradition swaps have been created for empires with specific playstyle, such as Hive Minds and Fanatical Purifiers. For example, Hive Minds have replaced 'Trans-Stellar Corporations' (Private Colony Ships make very little sense in a Hive Mind...) with Warrior Forms, a tradition that reduces army upkeep. They also have the entire Diplomacy tree replaced with Adaptability, a new tree focused on growth, habitability and genetics.

Though Tradition swaps may appear to be completely different from what they are replacing, they still occupy the same 'slot'. This means that the system is able to easily handle any change in the empire that would affect the tradition trees - if a Fanatic Purifier has the Purity tree (replacing the Domination tree) filled out and stop being Fanatical Purifiers, they will not lose their unlocked traditions and ascension perks, instead they are simply swapped for whatever variant of the same slots are valid for the empire - in this case reverting the Purity tree back to being Domination. While this may seem slightly strange, we felt it is nonetheless the preferrable way of handing such switches, as all sorts of issues would arise from simply yanking a number of unlocked traditions from empires that could no longer fulfill the conditions for them. By keeping the system as robust and dynamic as possible, it allows us to make far more adjustments to individual traditions for different playstyles than would be otherwise possible. The Tradition Swapping system is, of course, fully accessible to modders.
2017_07_06_1.png

That's all for today! Next week we'll be talking about voices. Or hearing voices? At any rate, voices will be involved for sure, so stay tuned!
 
Last edited:

Gaussia

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Looks good. I really appreciate the work that is put into improving on old mechanics, rather than adding new. Even for mechanics that have been "OK but could be better". While a game with lots of cool stuff can be good it might risk becoming a bit bloated. I'd rather have slightly fewer features, but are better integrated in the game.
(EuIV have to some extent been at the risk of this problem, however in stellaris a lot of work have been put into reworking old stuff)
 
Last edited:

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I can already see cool uses for the Tradition Swapping mechanism. That's a pretty nice change. :)
 

Madzai

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Since you're introducing tradition swapping, it means that you aren't planning to introduce anything like mutually exclusive Tradition trees\choices in the future? Some ethics\civics combinations will have slightly different traditions to fit in more, but no choices aside from order of traditions unlocking?
 

Shoobs

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This will bee interesting to see in its larval stages.
 

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Since you're introducing tradition swapping, it means that you aren't planning to introduce anything like mutually exclusive Tradition trees\choices in the future? Some ethics\civics combinations will have slightly different traditions to fit in more, but no choices aside from order of traditions unlocking?
That's the idea. You will always be able to unlock all trees available to your empire in the base game, though of course modders can do it differently.
 

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Sounds good! I have two questions:
1) Are you considering changing the hive mind ethos color? To me it looks weird having same color as point 1 ethoses when this one takes 3 points and is special
2) Are any things in Čapek update related to his work "Krakatit"?
 

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Great changes! The Tradition Swapping System seems very powerful! Please make sure to go the extra mile and utilize it to the fullest!

Maybe you can start a general call for Tradition Swapping Suggestions over in the suggestions board? Can they depend on civic as well, or just the Authority Level (as you hinted on twitter)?
 

Ambereyed

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1.8 Capek seems to be Banks/Utopia+, mostly with further improvements in areas already introduced/reworked/improved in that update (hiveminds, traditions, synthetic empires, genemodding, etc).
I believe it's a good direction. If devs are planning some drastic changes to movement and warfare in future patches (already mentioned on various occasions), it's good to polish the game before and fix some minor annoyances like broken AI crisis, non-retargeting missiles or flavourless hiveminds etc.
 

Wiz

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Sounds good! I have two questions:
1) Are you considering changing the hive mind ethos color? To me it looks weird having same color as point 1 ethoses when this one takes 3 points and is special
2) Are any things in Čapek update related to his work "Krakatit"?
We're going to change the look of that ethics icon for 1.8.
 

Wiz

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Great changes! The Tradition Swapping System seems very powerful! Please make sure to go the extra mile and utilize it to the fullest!

Maybe you can start a general call for Tradition Swapping Suggestions over in the suggestions board? Can they depend on civic as well, or just the Authority Level (as you hinted on twitter)?
The tradition swapping uses a regular trigger and dynamically re-checks which tradition to use for a slot, so it can depend on basically anything.
 

Salje

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Looks good!

Btw, Hiveminds reminded me, there seems to be a bug that when you release hivemind as vassal before their pops are purged, the released vassal has your government forms and ethics, but the pops are still hivemind yet not being purged.
 

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The tradition swapping uses a regular trigger and dynamically re-checks which tradition to use for a slot, so it can depend on basically anything.
So you could potentially add special traditions based on events or relate traditions and events?
 

Ari54x

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Cool, mostly stuff you'd tweeted earlier, but it certainly brings it all together nicely and explains where you're coming from with it all, and as above, the work taken on polishing existing mechanics is definitely appreciated.

While you're adding new Hive Mind AI personalities, now that Hive Minds can assimilate other pops, you have a great chance to give a little shoutout to Banks (again) and give them an "Evangelising Swarm" or "Hegemonizing Swarm" personality if they intend to integrate other species. ;) (Hegemonizing is the one where they want to conquer then assimilate everyone, Evangelising Swarm would be willing to play nice, join federations, and would, if the mechanics are ever implemented for it, form migration treaties for pops to assimilate that want to join the Hive Mind rather than going a-conquering all the time. So you know, the difference between a Crusader and a Jehovah's Witness to use religion as an allegory)
 

Tim_Ward

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So you could potentially add special traditions based on events or relate traditions and events?
Wouldn't that be more 'adding' rather than 'swapping'?