The pop mechanism is quite terrible in 3.0

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DrNukeLear

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I've had a crack at a suggestion. Feel free to look... or not.


It's just coming at the problem from a different angle.
 
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Arithmetician

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As many people have said around here, my population growth became excruciatingly slow around 2300, with ~600 pops. It became difficult to meaningfully grow new colonies, often after significant player investment into them (such as building habitats or terraforming), or to get a good number of pops on new Ecumenopoli (also at a significant player investment). That was very much a letdown, and I had a realization that I had set the crisis settings far too high for what I would be able to produce with my economy stagnating as it was, so I quit that game soon afterward.

There were some moments that were great fun - the maneuvering to become Custodian, having a lot more to do with envoys with the addition of espionage, and a greater sense of the unknown when dealing with other empires. Those are things that were done well.

I'm not entirely opposed to the empire-wide penalty; it could be looked at as modeling demographic transition, and it does encourage keeping / creating more vassals versus being a single monolithic entity, more like the HRE, and it did get me to seriously consider a feudal play through, now that I've learned from the mistakes of my first attempted 3.0 run. Shared Destiny is now a great perk (+2 envoys is very flexible, since that's two more spies, +20% weight in the galactic community, leveling up your federation faster, or integrating your vassals faster when you need pops yourself). Previously, it felt like there was pretty much no reason at all to create vassals... I certainly haven't really done so since the Core System limit was removed.

The downside is that I feel like I'm pushed too strongly toward creating vassals now and then abusing Corvee system to resettle their pops to my core worlds, where I have enough infrastructure to make them truly productive. Also, I now have a perverse incentive to intentionally balkanize any empires that I conquer, so that each smaller vassal has higher growth.

It would obviously be at the expense of some of the performance gains, but a lower rate of the empire-wide penalty would alleviate these issues. Obviously, they will still exist and there will be cheesy ways to continue to expand the player's growth and economy as long as the penalty remains in effect, but it wasn't really a serious issue for me in the first 100 years of the game. If that phase can be expanded, where overall population growth is still lower than 2.8, but not so aggravatingly low that it becomes frustrating for the player, that would be great. I can't really say what a good middle ground would be though,not without testing it myself. I can say though that I was still getting frustrated even when I activated a mod that set it to 0.25, since it was still hard to meaningfully grow new colonies at midgame.

Also of note is how badly robots got nerfed. They were dominant in 2.8, and they're still worth building in the early game in 3.0. But I reached a point where I found myself tearing down Robot Assembly Plants, as it was taking too long to get a reasonable return on investment for them, much like the issues that Gene Clinics had (and still have). On my core worlds, additional labs, strongholds, or other buildings would actually give me meaningful benefits, and on new planets, the Assembly Plants were basically useless (since both organic growth and pop assembly had slowed to a crawl).

Given that Organic pops can now grow logistically, allowing them to compensate enough for the higher growth requirements that it doesn't feel frustrating to the player (at least until around 2300). Allowing organic empires to upgrade assembly plants to get more roboticist jobs wouldn't really solve the problem, since, like most buildings, you would likely need an advanced capital to do so, and one of their key uses in the mid/late game is getting new colonies off the ground so that you can upgrade the capital in the first place, a catch-22. I saw it suggested elsewhere to lower the growth penalty for robots somewhat if their assembly speed remains fixed (unlike organic pops and their S-curve), but if not handled properly that could favor robotic pops too much again.

Wow... wrote a lot more than I intended to. But I felt it was important to share my thoughts. I love Stellaris, have played more hours on it than I care to say, and welcome reduced lag, though I think the current attempt at fixing it erred in causing excessive frustration to the player in mid-game, which means many might not even continue to the endgame, where a lot of the new Nemesis content is.
 
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if lower population count stays, there should be a way to compensate the lower naval capacity, as you can't have them as high as before, making higher dificulty crisis way harder or even impossible on quite a few builds
 

monkeypunch87

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Problem is also the different exprience with different habitability. I have great games with 0.25, the Empire POP penalty does its job great without being too much of an hindrance. But I could imagine that it is another experience with a higher habitability setting. Maybe, they should consider to connect the penalty with this slider?
 
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@monkeypunch87

That is a good point. In retrospect, playing on a huge galaxy 2x habitable planets with 30 AI empires was NOT a good idea for my first play through, which I only attempted in anticipation of having less lag in 3.0. It meant that I ran afoul of excruciatingly slow pop growth sooner (since I was able to grow in more places), AND having that many AIs and pops in the galaxy was enough to more than wipe out the performance boosts from having the penalty in the first place. Next time I try 3.0, I will definitely do a smaller number of empires and lower habitability.
 

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if lower population count stays, there should be a way to compensate the lower naval capacity, as you can't have them as high as before, making higher dificulty crisis way harder or even impossible on quite a few builds
Which is fine, in my humble opinion. You shouldn't be able to defeat it every time.
 
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why not change the linear growth system?

instead of reaching the Empire, it affects only the planet.

And as time goes by, there are no more homes, the pops don't even grow on those planets anymore, but the pop growth would be diverted to planets where there is housing, but cut in half or just a third would get there.

We would continue with the nerf for pop growth, the planets would fill up at a faster rate than the current one but with stagnation always ahead.
 

Abberon

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Problem is also the different exprience with different habitability. I have great games with 0.25, the Empire POP penalty does its job great without being too much of an hindrance. But I could imagine that it is another experience with a higher habitability setting. Maybe, they should consider to connect the penalty with this slider?
What was the purpose of the change though? We need to get back to the overall goal.

I would say that what most people wanted was a reduction in micromanagement and late-game performance problems.

Does this update address those? Yes...BUT not without breaking a myriad of mechanics (traits, civics, empire-types, playstyles, buildings etc) that it didn't account for properly.

The problem is that an arbitrary soft-cap (which amounts to a hard cap) is taking away too many avenues to play and leads to all sorts of gamey mechanics in order to get around it. Good luck playing an isolationist Empire now. Good luck playing anything genocidal too. Playing on anything bigger than a medium galaxy with 0.25 habitability is going to lead to a lot of empty planets unless you're going to play with 20 AI opponents or something.

We needed a solution that reduced pop management, both for the player and for the cpu bottlenecking. There were many, many ways to do this, but the Nemesis solution was lazy. It doesn't fix any of the core problems. It's just a band-aid that prevents/delays the game's poor design from breaking down under its own inefficiency. Unfortunately, it breaks a great many things along with it, so in this case I'd argue the "solution" is worse than the problem it's intended to solve.

If another economic overhaul is too daunting and they wanted to just throw lazy % bonuses/maluses around, a flat population growth nerf % would have done a lot to improve performance and micro issues.

If the devs wanted tall to be more viable rather than blob/sprawl, a more robust sprawl mechanic that properly rewarded tight and efficient Empires could have done that.

What we ended up getting is a mess.
 
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Instead of cutting and remaking the system from scratch, you could just use what worked before. For example, "planet capacity" already existed in pre 2.0 stellaris: it was called planet size. Planets couldn't support hundreds of pops, only 25. Resources were more limited and precious; 200 energy early on for the tactical terraforming even was a big risk instead of a drop in the bucket. Instead of using minerals, alloys and three more resources for generic constructions, you just had minerals for everything . Later Stellaris made everything bigger and more complicated for no reason.

Personally, I don't understood why alloys were introduced. They function in the exact same way minerals did, just costing more. You could achieve the same result by removing all alloy costs and replacing them with x4 minerals (how it used to work). Rare resources used to be rare and provided unique bonuses. Now past the early game they become another type of mineral. Heck, same thing with food. It used to be consumed to provide extra pop growth, but now it's another type of mineral. All these additional resources made the economy incredibly complex and impossible for the AI to optimize. I'd be fine if they made the game more fun or added strategy in return, but they don't. I think a lot of the problems in modern Stellaris came from trying to fix things that weren't broken. Just mindlessly piling on changes turns the game into a frankenstein monster.
 
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Honestly I like a lot of what they did with megacorp. The alloys/consumer goods and strategic resources along with trade all made the game more interesting. Unfortunately the whole idea of a "pop" as a singular unit that needs to be individually managed was NOT a great idea, at least not with how many of them there are overall. The AI never really figured it out either so overall the update was a bit of a mess and they're still picking up the pieces from that debacle. This update goes in the wrong direction in regards to "fixing" it.
 
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Adding my voiced to the chorus: I created an account on this forum after around seven years of PDX games, solely to say this pop penalty is terrible and needs to be wholly reverted. I love PDX GS games, as seen by my list of badges. But I can't even bring myself to play Stellaris ATM, a game I have all the DLC for and over 700 hours logged in, because the mid-game is a dead wasteland of nothing to do. Normally where I'd be planning my next conquest or fixing my economy or improving the terrible planets I took in the last war, there's no motivation. They'll just be static for the next fifty years anyway. What's even the point?
 
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Adding my voiced to the chorus: I created an account on this forum after around seven years of PDX games, solely to say this pop penalty is terrible and needs to be wholly reverted. I love PDX GS games, as seen by my list of badges. But I can't even bring myself to play Stellaris ATM, a game I have all the DLC for and over 700 hours logged in, because the mid-game is a dead wasteland of nothing to do. Normally where I'd be planning my next conquest or fixing my economy or improving the terrible planets I took in the last war, there's no motivation. They'll just be static for the next fifty years anyway. What's even the point?

i have 2k hours in game and all DLCs. I dont even see a point here. The mechanic just destroyed many playstyles at all. The immersion is broken. The fun part is also not there. It was always boring to play in lategame . But now there is only conquest. Yes i will not see laggs baucause i will not play longer than 50 years in game. I always played to make my own goals. I dont have a problem with less pops or a slower growth. I also accepted more or less the tech mali for big empires in the former patches. But i will not accept a sterile empire. I play mostly for the immersion and i can not find a logical explanation for such mechanic. It was part of the fun to manage the population growth. Now i have just a cap i can do nothing about it without heavy cheesing.

There are mayn different options to avoid lags and to cut population. Why the most unfun and antiimmersion way?
 
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Kamis51

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so when update 3.1..... for pop grow i prefer to play smaller maps to prevent lag than a use these new mechanic. Planet cap have sense but this cap for whole empire its wrong, a part of empty planets and buildings due to no pos its other thing what is affected by these new pop grow - it's no more overcrowded dark SF cities there's no problems with stability its kill some nice RPG part of game ply for me.
Hey all, just wanted to pop in and say that we are paying attention to the response to these changes.

Lets keep the talk constructive, critique is welcomed and encouraged.
so when update 3.1..... for pop grow i prefer to play smaller maps to prevent lag than a use these new mechanic. Planet cap have sense but this cap for whole empire its wrong, a part of empty planets and buildings due to no pos its other thing what is affected by these new pop grow - it's no more overcrowded dark SF cities there's no problems with stability its kill some nice RPG part of game ply for me.
 

Abberon

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There are mayn different options to avoid lags and to cut population. Why the most unfun and antiimmersion way?

and that last note summarizes the problem neatly.

They had a systematic problem with the over-arching game design and as a solution they chose the simplest, harshest and most immersion-breaking one they could think of.
 
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Vernichtere

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and that last note summarizes the problem neatly.

They had a systematic problem with the over-arching game design and as a solution they chose the simplest, harshest and most immersion-breaking one they could think of.
its not even the simplest solution. The simples solution would just reduce everything around 50%. You need one pop less for everything than now. The growth also slower. in general. The same effect but without breaking the immersion. Who wants to play in ahuge galaxy until 2600 can deal with lags.

The joke is also. A lot of content is around large population. What is the point to build ringworlds or to terraform planets into Gaja worlds? What is the point to manipulate genetecis to breed faster? I dont see a poit to build robots for my empire.
 
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Oh I agree that this would have been a MUCH better solution. The only other thing I think they were trying to do was curb snowballing for rapid expanders so that slower, taller styles had more leg room.

If they just put a flat 50% nerf across the board to population, the taller and more sandboxy players would still suffer. Even then, there were simple solutions to this like more robust sprawl mechanics and a slower tech progression or, even better, a larger and more interesting tech tree.
 
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Oh I agree that this would have been a MUCH better solution. The only other thing I think they were trying to do was curb snowballing for rapid expanders so that slower, taller styles had more leg room.

If they just put a flat 50% nerf across the board to population, the taller and more sandboxy players would still suffer. Even then, there were simple solutions to this like more robust sprawl mechanics and a slower tech progression or, even better, a larger and more interesting tech tree.

There is stupid way to boost playsty<le on small territory. You can just give many options to boost planets with influence permanent. But its not even a big problem. Most players play singleplayer. The AI is bad anyways. Before this patch it was possible to be strong without a lot of expansion. After a while you just started to spam colones in the orbit.

But to make it clear: i dont have a problem with slow growth. I can wait 20 years before a planet starts to work. But i have a problem when i reach a point its not worth to colonize planets just because i have pops on other planets.
 

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so when update 3.1..... for pop grow i prefer to play smaller maps to prevent lag than a use these new mechanic. Planet cap have sense but this cap for whole empire its wrong, a part of empty planets and buildings due to no pos its other thing what is affected by these new pop grow - it's no more overcrowded dark SF cities there's no problems with stability its kill some nice RPG part of game ply for me.

I actually, and i bet many other players, dont want to wait until the next expansion, which will be most likely 3.1. For damage control a fix in 3.0.2 is needed. Remove or reduce the empirewide penalty and go back to the drawing board for the next bigger update.
 
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Verni you and I are of the same mind. I am 100% on board with slower growth and slower tech progression.

This arbitrary cap, however, is a stupid solution and probably the worst possible way to address the game's problems.
I actually, and i bet many other players, dont want to wait until the next expansion, which will be most likely 3.1. For damage control a fix in 3.0.2 is needed. Remove or reduce the empirewide penalty and go back to the drawing board for the next bigger update.

Yeah I think that goes without saying. I'd rather just have the performance and micro issues back. Let the update just be the Nemesis features. Out-of-control pops was a wound that needed to be fixed in Stellaris, but the Nemesis update is like a dirty bandaid. It's hurting more than it's helping.
 
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its not even the simplest solution. The simples solution would just reduce everything around 50%. You need one pop less for everything than now. The growth also slower. in general. The same effect but without breaking the immersion. Who wants to play in ahuge galaxy until 2600 can deal with lags.
As much as i agree it would be better solution, i actually think it's a solution that require more work, while current one is the simplest - just introduce one universal formula and you're good to go. Because, it's true - cutting everything x2 is easy, but you'll spend another year tuning all jobs\professions\districts\civics to get some even basic balance. While with current formula they can reduce penalty from 0.5 to 0.2 and call it a day. This is probably why it was chosen.