The Real Problems With Stellaris

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Baldamundo

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You start by assuming that the only possible options are two bad ones (chokepoints that eliminate strategy vs. a featureless plane). Then you suggest that it's a "poor and vulgar argument" to say that chokepoints are bad, because if we have to choose between the two then you would rather have chokepoints.

I would suggest that this is something of a straw man argument. You're pretending that the only alternative to chokepoints is an "infinite, uniform, featureless plain." [sic] Of course that's completely untrue. There are many ways that someone could design a better system for travel and warfare. In fact that's the whole point. It's disappointing that they didn't try to do so. They redesigned warfare from one system with no meaningful options to another system with no meaningful options instead of creating a third choice altogether.

Clearly i've expressed myself poorly - this was supposed to be exactly my point. Neither extreme is a good system and we'd be better off with something else. I wasn't saying Stellaris' current implementation is a good system.


That's funny because I remember playing Homeworld and SOASE and not thinking to myself "man, I have no strategic options" despite neither of these games turning space into a chokepoint simulator.

Haven't played Homeworld, but SOASE did have a hyperlane system which revolved around chokepoints...
 
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Haven't played Homeworld, but SOASE did have a hyperlane system
Sure but fleets weren't stuck in combat, they could leave at any time, until you built starbases that punished the opponent for leaving the system, that is.
 

Baldamundo

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Sure but fleets weren't stuck in combat, they could leave at any time, until you built starbases that punished the opponent for leaving the system, that is.
Yeah, I mean I've said before that arguably the basic problem with Stellaris is that its fleets are caught at the wrong level of abstraction: i.e. ship combat is modelled at roughly the same level of detail as an RTS like SOASE, while fleet control & the rest of the galaxy is limited to basically the level of abstraction of a grand strategy game. And the result's just an unsatisfying, incohernet mess - simultaneously it's too detailed and not detailed enough.
 
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Yeah, I mean I've said before that arguably the basic problem with Stellaris is that its fleets are caught at the wrong level of abstraction: i.e. ship combat is modelled at roughly the same level of detail as an RTS like SOASE, while fleet control & the rest of the galaxy is limited to basically the level of abstraction of a grand strategy game. And the result's just an unsatisfying, incohernet mess - simultaneously it's too detailed and not detailed enough.
I think you have a valid point about the strategic complexity, but from a purely visual standpoint the combat detail can be quite nice.

Allowing beautiful battles to happen seems like a valid game design goal... but yeah, even with that goal in place, it shouldn't do this at the expense of the strategy / tactics layer.
 
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Baldamundo

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I think you have a valid point about the strategic complexity, but from a purely visual standpoint the combat detail can be quite nice.

Allowing beautiful battles to happen seems like a valid game design goal... but yeah, even with that goal in place, it shouldn't do this at the expense of the strategy / tactics layer.
I mean sure, I enjoy the pretty spaceships as much as the next guy, and obviously i get why they decided to do it, but in it's current implementation it just doesn't really work - and i'm fairly sure it's at the root of why nobody's been able to find a satisfying fix to Stellaris' core gameplay problems.

Probably they either need to
  1. provide much more granular control of fleets and individual ships (or at least of fleet AI settings), which would probably mean the rest of the game would need to be simplified, since fleet battles would take up so much more of the player's attention - i.e. basically turn it into something more like SOASE; or
  2. provide much more depth to the strategic warfare, a la Hearts of Iron - which leaves the current level of detail of fleet battles a bit of an extraneous sunk cost
But I expect by this stage it's far too late for such a radical shift in focus to actually get implemented, which is why I've kind of given up on Stellaris at this point. Just hope they're smart enough & brave enough to make some tough choices when it eventually comes to the sequel.

My instinct is that to get rid of chokepoints & hyperlanes without turning it into tedious whackamole, you basically need to get rid of the granular level of control and replace it with a 'zones of control' type system, with fleets operating in a much more abstracted & automated way within a certain radius of the port facilities they're based in.
 

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I mean sure, I enjoy the pretty spaceships as much as the next guy, and obviously i get why they decided to do it, but in it's current implementation it just doesn't really work - and i'm fairly sure it's at the root of why nobody's been able to find a satisfying fix to Stellaris' core gameplay problems.
Yeah, I'm not endorsing the current state, I just wanted to notice that we're here for a reason -- and that reason is part of the core sales pitch for the game, which is visually appealing.

Here's a pile of thoughts on how to retain most of the current combat mechanics while changing how fleets are structured, to make the game more strategically interesting: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/threads/fleets-as-units.1437250/

But I expect by this stage it's far too late for such a radical shift in focus to actually get implemented, which is why I've kind of given up on Stellaris at this point. Just hope they're smart enough & brave enough to make some tough choices when it eventually comes to the sequel.
Agree that tough choices will be needed, and about hoping for an even better sequel.
 

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Generally, I like the idea of supply and operational range or theater, but I hate systems which force you to return to a starbase every 10 turns or whatever.

One way to solve multiple problems is for a FLEET to have a BASE, with the base infrastructure being the limit to the number of fleets or ships. Then some fleet attributes (upkeep, rate if fire, repair rates) can be a function of distance from home port or base.

So using wild ass figures which are open to balance and adjustment.

A starbase can serve as home port to 40 naval capacity per shipyard. Therefore a starbase with 6 shipyards can support 240 naval capacity worth of ships. Upkeep is increased if you base too many ships at one starbase. Upkeep is also increased exponentially the further the ships are from their home port, slowly at first, so that it's cheap to operate within 3 jumps of your home base, but significantly more expensive once you're like 6 or 10 jumps away from home.

This leaves you open to concentrating your fleets or operating them wherever you like, without having to return home, but at a cost.

Optionally I would also adjust weapon fire rates, to reflect shortage of supplies, as you drift further from your home base.

I dont mind Jump Gates influencing this, but there should also be limits on gate infrastructure, like being unable to build gates within 4 hyperlane jumps of each other.

Such a system will encourage but not force fleet dispersal. It will just impose a cost for heavy fleet concentrations, and make it more expensive to go deep into enemy territory. It doesnt address the issue of energy being near limitless by end game though.

EDIT:
Another way to do it is to significantly reduce naval capacity, but allow each sector to have it's own naval capacity. You can then assign fleets to a sector to save naval capacity. Fleets in a sector reduce piracy and contribute to stability throughout the sector as long as they are in the sector.

This means only your 'home fleet' is free to engage in offensive wars or defend frontier systems. You can bring sector fleets to support, but they will have massively increased upkeep, and the 'undefended' sector will suffer piracy and stability for it. If you lose ships in your space fleet, you can reinforce or replenish from sector fleets.

This can also be tied to diplomacy, so sectors bordering rivals can have treaties which enforce minimum or maximum fleet levels for those sectors. The sector fleet strength can also be used by AIs to determine whether you have left an undefended border, so you might have overwhelming fleet strength, but if the neighbouring sector is undefended that neighbour might be inclined to invade anyway (open war) or engage in some resource raiding (undeclared war).
 
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Another way to do it is to significantly reduce naval capacity, but allow each sector to have it's own naval capacity. You can then assign fleets to a sector to save naval capacity. Fleets in a sector reduce piracy and contribute to stability throughout the sector as long as they are in the sector.

I always imagined something like this. Of course, during emergencies such as a total war, you would pay the price of increased expenses and take your fleets out of their sectors, but otherwise keep them in their proper places to save maintenance.

This would work even better it stationed fleets helped to hamper "libery desire" or "unrest" or whatever mechanic we get if someday they implement revolts. An empire would really have to think twice before gathering all fleets for an agressive war, also, espionage via sowing unrest at your rivals would gain more significance.
 
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I generally agree that some aspect of the game need lot of improving. In my case my personal pet peeve is the lack of an habitat cap that makes the late game like WWI in space, with sluggish operations to conquer very few systems and lot of boring "rinse and repeat" planet/habitat orbital bombing and then land assault. All that on top of manually moving the unemployed pops around colonies and the even slower speed due to the sheer number of pops around the galaxy.
But otherwise, most of the game is fun and you can solve the habitat overabundance with mods. Of course, I am also a strong believer on the fact that mods should be essentially community made DLCs, and it should't be the community to solve gameplay issues in the vanilla edition of a game.
 

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I agree with most of what you said, but this is pretty severely wrong. Sure, there are penalties to wide expansion, but the penalties completely pale in comparison to the benefits of gaining more territory. Quite simply, the resources produced via new territories outweighs the detriments of going over admin cap, especially given correct management of admin cap.

My main complaint about this game is that, almost completely regardless of empire type, simply eating neighbors and expanding constantly is the only prevailing strategy.
I don't understand why people keep holding it up like this is a bad thing.
You are supposed to fight other Empires. That is the point of having them in the game. Imperialism is supposed to bring you into conflict with other people whose clay you want.

Stellaris has too little of this conflict, not too much. Mostly one grabs others' clay just because there's nothing else to do. Warfare is incentivised by metagame considerations (the boredom of the player), not by the game considerations (I need Planet W in order to complete Mission X which feeds into Strategy Y which feeds into Grand Strategy Z).

And yes, people always point to Inwards Perfection or Fanatic Pacifism and go "Ah-ha, whadda you say to that then! How are these guys supposed to function in a war-ier game when they don't even function in the current game?" to which my answer since 2016 has always been: it's not the imperialist gamestyle that should be changed because it fails to serve these civics, it's these civics that should be changed because they fail to fit the imperialist gamestyle. Fanatic Pacifism doesn't fit in Stellaris as-is, I agree, but that's a problem with Fanatic Pacifism, not with Stellaris as-is.
 
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I don't understand why people keep holding it up like this is a bad thing.
You are supposed to fight other Empires. That is the point of having them in the game. Imperialism is supposed to bring you into conflict with other people whose clay you want.

Stellaris has too little of this conflict, not too much. Mostly one grabs others' clay just because there's nothing else to do. Warfare is incentivised by metagame considerations (the boredom of the player), not by the game considerations (I need Planet W in order to complete Mission X which feeds into Strategy Y which feeds into Grand Strategy Z).

And yes, people always point to Inwards Perfection or Fanatic Pacifism and go "Ah-ha, whadda you say to that then! How are these guys supposed to function in a war-ier game when they don't even function in the current game?" to which my answer since 2016 has always been: it's not the imperialist gamestyle that should be changed because it fails to serve these civics, it's these civics that should be changed because they fail to fit the imperialist gamestyle. Fanatic Pacifism doesn't fit in Stellaris as-is, I agree, but that's a problem with Fanatic Pacifism, not with Stellaris as-is.
I think what you're saying is internally consistent and a valid way to look at the conflict.

But personally, I play enough games of Stellaris which look more like SimCIty (+war) than like Risk In Space -- and I enjoy the simulation aspect, the builder aspect just as much as I enjoy the conquest aspect in other games -- that I can't agree to a solution which trashes the simulation / builder play-style.

You're correct that Pacifism could be removed from the game, but honestly I'd prefer to change the game.

This is an opinion. The game could be made more consistent by removing Pacifism, but that would not fit into my preferences as well as changing the game to support Pacifism (as an option, not the only option -- conquest is also fun).
 
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I don't understand why people keep holding it up like this is a bad thing.
You are supposed to fight other Empires. That is the point of having them in the game. Imperialism is supposed to bring you into conflict with other people whose clay you want.

Stellaris has too little of this conflict, not too much. Mostly one grabs others' clay just because there's nothing else to do. Warfare is incentivised by metagame considerations (the boredom of the player), not by the game considerations (I need Planet W in order to complete Mission X which feeds into Strategy Y which feeds into Grand Strategy Z).

And yes, people always point to Inwards Perfection or Fanatic Pacifism and go "Ah-ha, whadda you say to that then! How are these guys supposed to function in a war-ier game when they don't even function in the current game?" to which my answer since 2016 has always been: it's not the imperialist gamestyle that should be changed because it fails to serve these civics, it's these civics that should be changed because they fail to fit the imperialist gamestyle. Fanatic Pacifism doesn't fit in Stellaris as-is, I agree, but that's a problem with Fanatic Pacifism, not with Stellaris as-is.

Agreed completely.

This has been brought up before, but I think @HFY has also clarified one of the biggest problems with Stellaris. It's trying to be a game simultaneously for the players who want a strategy game and those who a simulation/builder game (not to mention those who want an RPG, those who want a single player focus, those who want a multiplayer focus, those who want a real time experience, those who want to pause their game, etc).

It's not that anyone is wrong in this discussion. It's that a game can't be all of these things at once. The designs are incompatible, and this is a great example. A strategy game needs inherent conflict and scarcity to drive the game forward. It depends on instability, mechanics that break up equilibriums, and conflict drivers. But an empire builder/simulation game needs the opposite of that. It needs the stability and room for players to build their empires and enjoy the experience.

You can't have both at the same time, because the conflict that's necessary in a strategy game undermines the sandbox you need for a simulation.

Stellaris needs a lot of work still, but honest to god step one needs to be just deciding what kind of game Stellaris is. It will disappoint some of us, but that's better than sticking with this halfway setup that leaves everyone kind of unhappy.
 
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Agreed completely.

This has been brought up before, but I think @HFY has also clarified one of the biggest problems with Stellaris. It's trying to be a game simultaneously for the players who want a strategy game and those who a simulation/builder game (not to mention those who want an RPG, those who want a single player focus, those who want a multiplayer focus, those who want a real time experience, those who want to pause their game, etc).

It's not that anyone is wrong in this discussion. It's that a game can't be all of these things at once. The designs are incompatible, and this is a great example. A strategy game needs inherent conflict and scarcity to drive the game forward. It depends on instability, mechanics that break up equilibriums, and conflict drivers. But an empire builder/simulation game needs the opposite of that. It needs the stability and room for players to build their empires and enjoy the experience.

You can't have both at the same time, because the conflict that's necessary in a strategy game undermines the sandbox you need for a simulation.

Stellaris needs a lot of work still, but honest to god step one needs to be just deciding what kind of game Stellaris is. It will disappoint some of us, but that's better than sticking with this halfway setup that leaves everyone kind of unhappy.
Yes... I think this is the game absolutely major problem. It lacks a clear focus on what it tries to actually do by trying to appeal to every type of strategy game type. It is hard to be both a simulation, role-play, competitive multi-play and a pure war-game at the same time, just impossible.
 
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Firstly, yes they are obligated to take my suggestions if they want my money.
Secondly... the confusion of ideas that could lead to one declaring "If you think you're right you're an egomaniac" is difficult for me to even wrap my head around. Everyone thinks they're right, it's the human condition. God forbid I might think I'd learned something in my +2000 hours.


This still seems like kinda the easy way out, to set up one ur-opponent whom all your striving is directed against.
In other Paradox games, emergent competition amongst your immediate neighbours -> regional powers -> global powers succeeds in fuelling the narrative without requiring a vauge diabolus ex machina lurking in the far future. The question of whether your in-universe people know of this threat or not; it's kind of a problem that shouldn't even come up, because ideally there's no diabolus ex machina at all.

Honestly, unlike other PDX games, you have your galactic conquest strategy ready by at least 2300. In games like EU4, expansion is slow, methodical and takes long periods of planning between wars. In Stellaris, everything blobs together into "there are these guys and those guys, and I'm with these other guys." And "I'm going to have to take 50 years to optimize the twelve planets I just snatched from my neighbors and switch pops around to move fresh slaves to my mining worlds." Something like the anterans would actually shake up the mid game because all crisis's don't actually pose a challenge until the end when the galaxy has become interconnected, either by federations, a fragile status quo, or one hegemony/empire, as well as interconnected with infrastructure.
 

Colonizor48

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According to this community the biggest problem with stellaris is literaly everything(this is a joke dont worry)
 
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Honestly, unlike other PDX games, you have your galactic conquest strategy ready by at least 2300. In games like EU4, expansion is slow, methodical and takes long periods of planning between wars. In Stellaris, everything blobs together into "there are these guys and those guys, and I'm with these other guys." And "I'm going to have to take 50 years to optimize the twelve planets I just snatched from my neighbors and switch pops around to move fresh slaves to my mining worlds." Something like the anterans would actually shake up the mid game because all crisis's don't actually pose a challenge until the end when the galaxy has become interconnected, either by federations, a fragile status quo, or one hegemony/empire, as well as interconnected with infrastructure.
I don't think another type of crises would be the best solution. The main problem I have with the game is that all the winning strategies are about conquering. Federations was marketed as the dlc that focusses on cooperation but the only thing you can do is form federations and vote on federation laws once every few years. That isn't all that interesting. Maybe megastructures could have been reworked so they can only be build by really big empires or by federations that pool their resources.

Also there's nothing that seriously stops big empires from expanding even more. There could be empire wide stability hits when a king or queen dies or maybe every single leader or sector could have a specific disposition to the central government. This disposition could change based on your actions. For example if every leader was linked to a specific pop in your empire than their disposition could be affected to whatever befalls that specific pop. Maybe a sector should become hostile over time if all it does is pay taxes and never sees any investments in return while all the resources go to other sectors. Distance is also not a factor (apart form travel time of the ships that are represented) you can go anywhere from the get go and colonize anywhere right from the start because of this the first phase of the game is over in only a couple of decades.
 
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Agreed completely.

This has been brought up before, but I think @HFY has also clarified one of the biggest problems with Stellaris. It's trying to be a game simultaneously for the players who want a strategy game and those who a simulation/builder game (not to mention those who want an RPG, those who want a single player focus, those who want a multiplayer focus, those who want a real time experience, those who want to pause their game, etc).

It's not that anyone is wrong in this discussion. It's that a game can't be all of these things at once. The designs are incompatible, and this is a great example. A strategy game needs inherent conflict and scarcity to drive the game forward. It depends on instability, mechanics that break up equilibriums, and conflict drivers. But an empire builder/simulation game needs the opposite of that. It needs the stability and room for players to build their empires and enjoy the experience.

You can't have both at the same time, because the conflict that's necessary in a strategy game undermines the sandbox you need for a simulation.

Stellaris needs a lot of work still, but honest to god step one needs to be just deciding what kind of game Stellaris is. It will disappoint some of us, but that's better than sticking with this halfway setup that leaves everyone kind of unhappy.
It's a very valid consideration. Just don't forget the points where this definition doesn't need to be applied, that is, there are improvements that are linked to the various game views. For example: a good AI for the final conflict, or for a good fight in wars is something that serves both worlds.
 
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Agreed completely.

This has been brought up before, but I think @HFY has also clarified one of the biggest problems with Stellaris. It's trying to be a game simultaneously for the players who want a strategy game and those who a simulation/builder game (not to mention those who want an RPG, those who want a single player focus, those who want a multiplayer focus, those who want a real time experience, those who want to pause their game, etc).

It's not that anyone is wrong in this discussion. It's that a game can't be all of these things at once. The designs are incompatible, and this is a great example. A strategy game needs inherent conflict and scarcity to drive the game forward. It depends on instability, mechanics that break up equilibriums, and conflict drivers. But an empire builder/simulation game needs the opposite of that. It needs the stability and room for players to build their empires and enjoy the experience.

You can't have both at the same time, because the conflict that's necessary in a strategy game undermines the sandbox you need for a simulation.

Stellaris needs a lot of work still, but honest to god step one needs to be just deciding what kind of game Stellaris is. It will disappoint some of us, but that's better than sticking with this halfway setup that leaves everyone kind of unhappy.
Wrong. It can and MUST be both. Or else why will I go to war? To protect my 300 amenity worlds of utopian abundant unemployed doing research. You threaten my utopia, I liberate your people. You touch my utopia, I GLASS YOUR WORLDS.
 
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Wrong. It can and MUST be both. Or else why will I go to war? To protect my 300 amenity worlds of utopian abundant unemployed doing research. You threaten my utopia, I liberate your people. You touch my utopia, I GLASS YOUR WORLDS.
You scratch my utopia and i eat your stars.
 
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