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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Vishaing

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There has been a lot of discussion lately on how to make the AI's Interests more transparent. Now, while I will always be a steadfast proponent of expanding the ways in which the Player and AI can communicate, that is true only so long as that communication is not one sided. As I have said, I oppose just telling the Player about the AI's Goals, because there's nothing there to then make the Player tell the AI about theirs. And since the AI cannot read the Player's Mind, why should the Player be able to read the AI's? It's not like the Player needs any more advantages.

However a one off comment has gotten me thinking and I may have come up with a system that could be interesting. The Goals for this system are as follows;
1: Provide a meaningful addition to Gameplay
2: Provide an avenue for both the Player and an AI to communicate
3: Prevent the player from acquiring an undue advantage over the AI by ignoring the system

And without Further Ado:

"Areas of Interest"
Areas of Interest are just that, Regions you select as being something your country is interested in. They are selected similarly to Rivals, and cost 10 Administrative Power to select or change. For a rough overview of all of their effects and characteristics, look here;
Code:
Selecting:
* Areas of Interest are Selected from the existing Regions, with more possibly being added
* Selecting a Region flags all provinces in that Region as in your Sphere of Interest
* Effects are applied to each province only once and do not stack
* Each country gets the Regions their capital is in for free
* Bonus Areas from Ideas and Technologies
* "Soft Cap" on Areas, with exceeding that cap reducing Admin Point Generation, like Relations for Diplomacy

Domestic Effects:
* Reduces Monarch Point Cost for Coring, and Constructing Building
* Improved Missionary Chance, Colonist Chance, and Colonist Growth
* Decreased Revolt Risk

Foreign Effects:
* Complex change to AE based on who is interested in the province (SEE: Geopolitical Changes)
* Allows Enforcing Peace and Rivals
* Slightly increased Trade Power
* Reduced time to fabricate a Claim
* CBs to force countries our of your Area of Interest

Enforce Peace and Rivals:
* Cannot select a country as a Rival unless Areas of Interest overlap
* Cannot enforce peace unless the Capital of the Defender is in your Area of Interest and has Positive Relations Plus one of the following:
	* 100+ Relations
	* Enforcing Peace against a Rival
	* Allied with the country
	* They are Imperial and you are Emperor
	* They are your Religion and you are Defender of the Faith
* Can Enforce Peace to help an attacker, removes CB and damages Attacker's Prestige


Detailed Explanation
Every Country has a base number of 1 area they can select as an Area of Interest, however as the game goes on they will earn more. They are automatically granted all of the Regions that their Capital is in as free Areas of Interest, making capital placement important. Constantinople grants you free Interest on all of Anatolia and the Balkans for instance, allowing the Ottomans or a Resurgent Byzantium to expand into and develop those areas easier because they are said country's "Natural" domains.

Some Diplomacy techs may add to that number, providing a benefit to taking Diplomacy techs even for land based or even land-locked powers, and there can be Ideas or buildings that add to it. For instance, I would replace "Revolution and Counter Revolution" with an Idea that adds 2-3 more Areas of Interest, and then make Rev & Counter Rev rely, you know, the Revolution. That would also let us buff the Rev & Counter Rev CB back up to its proper stature since we won't have to worry about someone getting it very early. Likewise, some NIs could provide bonus effects to provinces within your Area of Interest. Centralization for instance, rather than providing a rather random Advisor Bonus, could increase the Monarch Point Cost Reduction from having a province in your Area of Interest. The entire early Administration Idea Line could be re-written to use this system rather than being all about Mercenaries.

And much like National Focus in Victoria 2, you get a certain number from having a large population of your primary culture. Here, I would say that for every 200 points of Base Tax coming from your Primary Culture Provinces that are not overseas, you get an extra Area of Interest. Going over your Area Cap reduces the Administrative Point gain the same way going over your Relations or Generals cap does.

The Areas you can select are determined by the regions of the game and use the existing Regions that you can see by selecting the Regions Map Mode. This allows for a lot of flexibility. You can select the entire Eastern Balkans, or just Croatia. You can select all of Germany, or just the Austrian Circle.

Also, You can only select a Region that falls within your Trade Range, which may need to be renamed "Range of Influence" since that's what it will impact more. Making it so that Naval Powers and Powers who develop their Diplomacy Tech will gradually develop into Global Powers while more land based countries will not, as happened historically.

Effects
Once you select a Region, all of its Provinces are marked as within your Area of Interest. Effects are applied based on whether or not the province in question is marked, thus all of these Effects are applied only once to each Province. If you select two Regions with some overlap, the effects are not applied twice. So you cannot select enough Regions to get the Monarch Power, or the AE, or whatever down to 0.

Once a Province is marked as in your Area of Interest, it applies a number of domestic and diplomatic effects. On the Domestic Front, the biggest effect is that they reduce the Monarch Power points necessary to construct a building by half. It also provides a small Revolt Risk Decrease (although I would prefer that provinces that you haven't marked as interesting get a Revolt Risk Increase to represent them feeling neglected), and increases Colonist Growth and Colonist Chance.

On the Foreign Front, Selecting a Province as an Area of Interest increases your Colonist Chance, and may provide a small boost to Merchant Power in Trade Nodes in the area. It will also provide a small boost to the rate at which you can improve Relations with countries who have their capital in that Area, and add an extra 20 points that you can improve relations for.

Furthermore, building on the ideas me and Riidi exchanged about Enforce Peace: The requirements to Enforce Peace are changed so that you must have the Capital of the Country you are defending set as an Area of Interest, Relations with them must be positive, and one of the following must be true; Relations are 100 or great (the way it is right now), The country is your Ally, They are Fighting one of your Rivals, or they are in The Empire and you are the Emperor. This way Europe Focused Austria won't enforce peace on Britain in favor of the Shawnee, and neither will Spain since their colonization is in a different area, but France, well, there you might have a war.

You will also have Diplomatic Options and CBs to remove someone from your Area of Interest or make them acknowledge your interest. If successful, that country will have the provinces in the target region marked as blocked, and so long as the Truce is maintained, the country will be unable to have those provinces marked as within their area of Interest. They won't be able to select regions where every province is marked as blocked, but will be able to select partially blocked regions, however the AoI effects will not be applied to the blocked provinces.

Geopolitical Changes
Furthermore, A Country can only select another country as a Rival if that other Country is involved in one of their areas of interest, either by owning a province there, or having marked one of those provinces as within their Area of Interest. This applies both to the Player and the AI. This is one of the big reasons for doing this, as it allows the player to legitimately look at a country, see where they are interested, and work around those areas so as to maintain decent relations with that county, and also provides a way for the AI to do the same, as the benefits of having a Province as in your Area of Interest outweigh the benefits of unpredictability and Freedom from being selected as a Rival.

Lastly, and most importantly when used in conjunction with the Rival change, this would lead to a rather complex redesign of AE. As it stands now, one of the weaknesses of the AE system is that the game isn't properly able to let the AI say "X country is expanding, but at the expense of my Rivals" unless that country is taking provinces directly from that Rival. Areas of Interest would help resolve this problem by providing a way for the computer to more easily keep track of where everyone is paying attention to.

The first change would be that taking Provinces in your Area of Interest reduces the base AE by 5, but taking provinces outside of your AoI increases it by 15, doubling it. However from there, the AE applied to other countries is modified based on whether or not that country, and others, have the province marked as within their AoI. If it is within their AoI, then your AE gain against them is doubled. However in addition to this, if the province is in the AoI of a country you have marked as a Rival, then the AE is divided by 3, allowing a Divide and Conquer strategy. In addition, taking provinces from a Rivals AoI will provide a temporary bonus to opinion.

This will help France understand that the Ottomans moving into Hungary is a good thing because it will be distracting Austria, and that this is true even if Austria doesn't directly own the province.

The above Domestic and Foreign effects, combined with bonus Areas from Technology and NIs, means that a more modern country will be better able to build and develop a Large Empire, both when it comes to actually acquiring that Empire, and actually administrating it later on. Combine that with getting Bonus Areas from having a large core Population Base and you will also have a somewhat scalable system to help large Empires more efficiently use their Monarch Points.

Of course combined with the Diplomatic Effects, large Empires will still have a choice between directing their energy towards Internal Matters while ignoring the outside world ala China, or focusing more on External Matters while leaving their vast territory undeveloped ala Russia or Austria. Or trying to strike a balance like Great Britain.

Also, Areas of Interest should show up on the "Sphere of Influence" map mode, and you should be able to select other countries the way you can with the Diplomacy Map Mode. This will let the Player see At a Glance where a country is interested, and it will make the Sphere of Influence map mode actually useful for something.

Underlying Code Changes
In order to accommodate this, there would have to be certain changes to existing .txt files. Or at least this is how I would do it to allow modders access to the system.

This system would require that the Region entries in region.txt be expanded to also include a potential = { } and trigger = { } entry, just like Triggered Modifiers. The Potential entry determines what countries can select that Region as an Area of Interest, and can be used to permanently exclude all nations from selecting it, via an "always = no" entry. This will be useful for mods that add large regions.

The Trigger entry, if satisfied, automatically grants the country that region as an Area of Interest. In Particular, I expect that every region should have a trigger to determine if the country's capital is in that region, and if so, they automatically get the region as an Area of Interest, again, unless the Region is so large that it is completely excluded, or it is simply a region their country cannot select.

For instance, the Indian Trade Port Region would be written so Indian Countries cannot select it, it would only be something Europeans with the East India Company modifier (or Nation Specific Version) can select. Meaning that creating a company would have a benefit specifically designed to expanding your influence in India. This means the entire East India Company could be expanded into another system with costs and benefits, as befitting of what ended up being a major influence on the area.

There should also be two Static Modifiers added in_area_of_interest and not_in_area_of_interest which would allow us to script the domestic effects of a Province being in a country's Area of Interest.
Lastly, I would want there to be triggers in_area_of_interest_of that can be used on both a Provincial, Country, and Region scope. As this is the sort of thing that would just be begging for events.

All Numbers in here are subject to balance adjustments and discussion.

So.
Thoughts?
 
Last edited:

Xara

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It's interesting, but sounds like a vastly complex layer to add. I don't at all understand the necessity for marking your own territory as your 'realm of interest'. In my opinion, it should be an outward-focused thing only, because what happens to the nations who start out saddling multiple regions? Tough luck for them? Lithuania starts out in 5 different regions.

I like it otherwise, I mean, I was playing Otto the Man and focused entirely on crushing Arabs, Indians, and Asians, yet I constantly had angry Europeans and Russians doing spy work on me and setting me as rivals when I was 100% happy to leave my Balkan front where it started in 1444 (apart from Albania)
 

BBBD316

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I have said previously that you should be able to make long lasting non-aggression treaties if you have no desire to expand and wish to try to increase relations with a neighbour.

As France I want to head East and have nothing to do with Spain and if they can agree the same with me lets agree.
 

mcmanusaur

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Honestly this is something that I could see working better on a province-by-province basis, but then at that point we might as well just make some modifications to the existing "claim" mechanic, eh? I do really like the idea of limiting who can be selected as a rival (or simply dumping the rival mechanic altogether!), but I feel like combining both domestic and foreign policy effects into a single regionally-based mechanic might not be the best solution.

Perhaps one simply shouldn't be allowed to fabricate a claim on a province that an ally is already claiming, and having claims on the same province should have a malus to the likelihood of AI accepting an alliance. Conversely, maybe having conflicting claims should be some sort of prerequisite to rivalry, as you suggest, and there could be other justifications as well such as trade competition, but then again that's moving pretty close to having "casus rivalry"-s, which might be redundant. At any rate, the rival mechanic is woefully underdeveloped in its current form.
 

joos

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I like the concept behind this idea.

Region of Interest - pick a region and set it. The bigger/richer/farther the region, the costlier it is to set it.
If region is colonial, then first dibs on colonization. This means a CB if someone else colonizes there. Perhaps we can make it impossible for anyone else to colonize for a short time period.
If region is continental, old-fashioned Violated Sphere CB on foreign interactions with countries in that region.
You are assumed to have proclaimed guarantee for all nations within the Region of Interest.
If region is within your national borders, then it acts as a National Focus for that region. That means more tax, higher production, lower RR, faster conversions.
If region overlaps with a foreign country's region, you can diplomatically ask the foreign country to 'stand down' and recognize your legitimacy. On refusal, Border Tensions CB and malus to relation. On acceptance, boost to relation.
All countries within your Region of Interest have a Break Interference CB or Remove Influence CB on you.
 

Kakafika

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I like this suggestion. It seems it would add more depth to gameplay for both peaceful and warlike palyers, both 'wide' and 'tall,' and allows players to have more diplomatic options in areas of interest where they wish to help another country (not necessarily allied) or maintain the status quo, but have no intention of taking provinces there.

It also seems like it would help make diplomatic interactions more transparent, more fluid (but less of a 'shock'), and make expansion more organic.

Vishaing pointed out several ideas that could be tied to this "area of interest" mechanic, and I'm sure we could think of many more, in time. +1
 

Vishaing

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@Xara: The point of adding your own territory as an Area of Interest is to provide Large Nations with an incentive to stop growing. It's a way to organically create a system where large countries can be inclined to look inwardly. Right now, the only way that is at all represented is in China and only China, and that's just a modifier that's added and which you are eventually meant to move past.

@mcmanusaur: The main reason I went for Regions rather than by Individual Provinces is because I felt it would be way too micromanagement focused.

@joos: Ah yes, CBs should definitely be a part of this. I especially like the Break Interference CB, there should definitely be a "get your nose our of our business" CB.

And I do support the idea of a Border Treaty, as said, this system was largely thought up to try and give a way for the Player and the AI to communicate.