Unity V influence - Make Unity produce influence. Divide the game between blue and purple actions.

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Simply put, we have 2 confused resources that thematically should do different things, but in practice end up all mixed up together.
I think this hurts the game quite a bit and makes it hard to form "distinct" empires that focus on internal projects vs external power projection (e.g. Tall vs Wide) more.


The Resources & their issues
Influence
  • is too close to mana (though not so close that it ever prompted an imperator-style revolt)
  • with a very narrow set of income sources: base + faction support + I think one or two capital buildings and a few GC/federation policies.
  • is used for a random and sometimes confusing set of things. everything from internal edicts to events to international diplomacy
Unity
  • is the ginger stepchild of resources
  • it feels like it was rammed into the game without a clear purpose but with several clear output points (e.g. temples).
  • conceptually it makes sense as something that would be used to hold your empire together (..."unity") or be used for domestic policies/actions but isnt, beyond traditions and (the often forgotten) unity-edicts.
I personally think a few things need to happen to correct this.
Cutting the game into two
  1. everything that happens INSIDE your empire --- The domain of Unity.
  2. everything that happens BEYOND / OUTSIDE your empire --- The domain of Influence.
I then think Influence production needs to be tethered to Unity.
  1. Unity should be the "base" resource. With influence becoming the "Advanced/Strategic" resource.
  2. Unity is produced as it currently is, no major changes here. Maybe tweak the values.
  3. Now unity is treated like Trade Value, with a policy (so no BS balance like with bureaucrats to screw with the AI, just a straight conversion) to determine the split between resources at the end of each month, with a ratio of X:Y resources going to Unity or Influence. Something like:
    1. 0.95:0.05
    2. 0.75:0.25
    3. 0.50:0.50
    4. 0.25:0.75
    5. 0.05:0.95
  4. The current base sources of influence should be removed from the game & other sources should be converted into multipliers that affect the above post conversion And raise the base influence stockpile level.
    • (e.g. 100 unity a month converted into 25 influence +10% on top from some modifier would get you 27.5 influence)
  5. Rebase all influence costs to correspond to this new income level - so an outpost might costs say 500 influence now but that's fine as all costs have been adjusted proportionately.
  6. Add extra unity costs to all internal empire things - in addition to energy or whatever.
    1. Want to terraform a world? It costs unity now, too.
    2. Want to colonise a world or upgrade it's capital building[just the capital, as that's a special thing] it costs unity now too.
How this might affect things

This sets out what an internal vs External action is.
It finally gives mechanical destinction to the designation of "tall empires" vs "Wide Empires" rather than nebulous definitions like "number of systems" or "number of planets/pops"
By mechanically separating domestic vs international actions it gives isolationist and expansionist different things to focus on - and weaknesses to both approaches - too.

  • Want to conquer half the galaxy fast? Well youre going to need a ton of influence for all those claims and outposts. Set your conversion ratio accordingly. But now you cannot do anywhere near as many internal things as you once could - it'll take a lot longer to build up your unity to colonise that world if you're converting 75% of it over to influence to claim blorg systems.
  • Conversely, want to play tall? Want to isolate yourself from the galaxy and spam out habs and ringworlds for days? Then you're going to not need much influence, but you will want a ton of unity for all those megaproject constructions & other internal actions (like converting all your worlds to gaia worlds or something).
 
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MatthewP

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But why have two different resources then? Seems like you’re just asking for the AI to sit around with a huge stockpile of influence when they need unity and vice versa. And it doesn’t seem like it adds a ton for the player, since they are produced identically. If you want the ability to specialize in one or the other, just do it with cost reductions.

edit: to be clear, i think it’s a cool idea. But the core of the idea is basically making unity and influence the same resource so there’s a trade off between them. So it seems like why not just do that?
 
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Pancakelord

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But why have two different resources then? Seems like you’re just asking for the AI to sit around with a huge stockpile of influence when they need unity and vice versa. And it doesn’t seem like it adds a ton for the player, since they are produced identically. If you want the ability to specialize in one or the other, just do it with cost reductions.

edit: to be clear, i think it’s a cool idea. But the core of the idea is basically making unity and influence the same resource so there’s a trade off between them. So it seems like why not just do that?
I agree - and this thread was actually called "kill influence" at first but I did some AI tests earlier today and your theory seems to actually be the other way round in practice, with the current AI, the AI does struggle currently if you give it too many influence sinks I think this is Mostly for budgeting reasons.

For example I set GC votes to be 100 days long without changing the resolution proposal costs and force-spawned the GC in on day one, within a year all AIs had stopped expansion or greatly slowed it down. I tried dialling that back and adding random other costs to see if it was just one specific action (GC stuff) that was bugged, and added influence costs to all buildings (just 5) and 50 to colonisation - again it crippled AI expansion.

The AI seems designed to run off different resources and highly "compartmentalise" everything it does. It needs resources to act as a break on what it does because it doesnt seem to be designed to hold multiple budgets (or projections) at all. By splitting things between unity and influence and then biasing back and fourth it can probably perform quite a bit better than by having everything be influence (or unity) based.

Another way of looking at it is the AI doesnt seem to have a sense of proportionality with what it does, it has its resources and it has its stockpiles and either timers or triggers to say "Use if X > Stockpile and timer <= Y"

I also thought about suggesting that Influence should be a resource created by pops too [so Unity would be fully divorced from Influence], but this probably leads to the same allocative inefficiencies the AI already struggles with, with respect to Bureaucrats, scientists etc. So making it a pure conversion (having it manage that conversion ratio) and just encouraging it to work around unity buildings is probably wiser.
 
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MatthewP

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I agree - and this thread was actually called "kill influence" at first but I did some AI tests earlier today and your theory seems to actually be the other way round in practice, with the current AI, the AI does struggle currently if you give it too many influence sinks I think this is Mostly for budgeting reasons.

For example I set GC votes to be 100 days long without changing the resolution proposal costs and force-spawned the GC in on day one, within a year all AIs had stopped expansion or greatly slowed it down. I tried dialling that back and adding random other costs to see if it was just one specific action (GC stuff) that was bugged, and added influence costs to all buildings (just 5) and 50 to colonisation - again it crippled AI expansion.

The AI seems designed to run off different resources and highly "compartmentalise" everything it does. It needs resources to act as a break on what it does because it doesnt seem to be designed to hold multiple budgets (or projections) at all. By splitting things between unity and influence and then biasing back and fourth it can probably perform quite a bit better than by having everything be influence (or unity) based.

Another way of looking at it is the AI doesnt seem to have a sense of proportionality with what it does, it has its resources and it has its stockpiles and either timers or triggers to say "Use if X > Stockpile and timer <= Y"

I also thought about suggesting that Influence should be a resource created by pops too [so Unity would be fully divorced from Influence], but this probably leads to the same allocative inefficiencies the AI already struggles with, with respect to Bureaucrats, scientists etc. So making it a pure conversion (having it manage that conversion ratio) and just encouraging it to work around unity buildings is probably wiser.

fair enough, I stand corrected. If the ai can work better with two there should be two, it’s not a big issue for the player.
 
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While I'm ok with the concept of using Unity for internal Empire stuff, I strongly disagree with having them come from the same source and just being able to spam temples/monuments for influence. Influence serves as a gameplay limit on expansion and development.
 
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By mechanically separating domestic vs international actions it gives isolationist and expansionist different things to focus on - and weaknesses to both approaches - too.
  • Want to conquer half the galaxy fast? Well youre going to need a ton of influence for all those claims and outposts. Set your conversion ratio accordingly. But now you cannot do anywhere near as many internal things as you once could - it'll take a lot longer to build up your unity to colonise that world if you're converting 75% of it over to influence to claim blorg systems.
  • Conversely, want to play tall? Want to isolate yourself from the galaxy and spam out habs and ringworlds for days? Then you're going to not need much influence, but you will want a ton of unity for all those megaproject constructions & other internal actions (like converting all your worlds to gaia worlds or something).
I love this conclusion.

I'm not really sold on the mechanic, but the conclusion is worth muddying some water.

Would it be reasonable to tie the conversion ratio to Diplomatic Stance instead of being its own thing? Then an Expansionist stance would grant a 25:75 ratio as part of its package, for example; being Mercantile or Cooperative would give different ratios, and of course Supremacist stance would tilt you all the way over to all external all the time.
 
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MatthewP

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One thing I'd add to this suggestion: make traditions stronger and more game changing Since Unity is now a heavily in-demand resource, this creates another really interesting and impactful decision between traditions and expansion/construction. Getting a ton of traditions then becomes a way to play "tall" - making your empire strong without a ton of pops.

For this to work the cost of traditions would need to be tied to empire size, otherwise the only choice would be to expand and then get them.

I realize this is a major suggestion on its own, but it seems like it adds a lot to the original idea and doesn't work well without it.
 
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Pancakelord

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Would it be reasonable to tie the conversion ratio to Diplomatic Stance instead of being its own thing? Then an Expansionist stance would grant a 25:75 ratio as part of its package, for example; being Mercantile or Cooperative would give different ratios, and of course Supremacist stance would tilt you all the way over to all external all the time.
I like this quite a lot, its better than an arbitrary X:Y conversion for sure, as it's more grounded, and you can say "yes I understand why this would give me less unity/influence".
One thing I'd add to this suggestion: make traditions stronger and more game changing Since Unity is now a heavily in-demand resource, this creates another really interesting and impactful decision between traditions and expansion/construction. Getting a ton of traditions then becomes a way to play "tall" - making your empire strong without a ton of pops.

For this to work the cost of traditions would need to be tied to empire size, otherwise the only choice would be to expand and then get them.
I'd not considered reworking traditions, just that their costs would need to change somehow but yeah I'd certainly agree with this.

Both also highlight the sheer number of systems a change like this would involve. It really would be closer to a 2.2 overhaul - not for the economy, but for "empire agency" and controlling which kinds of empires can do what, most efficiently.
 
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I like the concept you're suggesting. No idea on how the game engine works.

From a gameplay perspective, I always felt that influence is what's derived from your political leadership, and reflects the ability of the government to exercise power. Unity on the other hand I always felt as being more nebulous, as something derived from the collective culture and traditions of the people.

While happy that you are aiming to distinguish these two forms of 'mana', it doesnt really feel that you are distinguishing their roles much in terms of what they represent. The power of government versus the unity of the masses.
 
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I think conceptually, influence and unity aren't very distinct, but efforts to reform that are affected by influence's overaching role as "expansion mana". Unless that particular linkage is changed, it's going to be very hard to revamp unity/influence into a single resource.
 

MatthewP

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I think conceptually, influence and unity aren't very distinct, but efforts to reform that are affected by influence's overaching role as "expansion mana". Unless that particular linkage is changed, it's going to be very hard to revamp unity/influence into a single resource.
I actually think this is the beauty of it, it can create a genuinely interesting choice between strengthening your society internally and expanding. There definitely do need to be smart balancing mechanics to make these choices actually interesting instead of predetermined.
 
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This issue is that expanding your empire is of such paramount importance, that there is no real tradeoff at all. It's basically a waste to use influence on anything other than claiming new systems.
 
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MatthewP

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This issue is that expanding your empire is of such paramount importance, that there is no real tradeoff at all. It's basically a waste to use influence on anything other than claiming new systems.

Yes, if you did just this one change without rebalancing or changing anything else it would be awful. Above I suggested making traditions much stronger. The OP suggested rebalancing influence costs for various things and adding unity costs to stuff like colonization and some buildings which is also vital. There are certainly more ideas out there which would improve it even more.
 
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Trokkin

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This is some great game design thought you have here good sir, I love it.
If unity were influence, buying traditions with it would make some tasty decision making. One probably don't think how much your first tradition tree affects your game, and how much you'd miss it if you were spending every influence bit into expansion. For example, would you take Expansion tradition for discount on outposts before building actual outposts?

But, I suppose AI is too stupid for handling that. Have you tested AI behavior in case when outposts cost unity?

To be honest tho, I see expansion flawed at its core. Colonizing planets is a no-brainer, since growth is ever so important. But if you were to base it off population size (and possibly strata), and make colony ships require same amount of pops that they create on settlement, expansion would be that much less interesting, that it won't require influence *or unity at all. Also, it doesn't make sense that just claiming empty no man's space would cost that anyway.

I'm so sick of how this game plays currently and I've so much nice ideas on how to improve the game. After Nemesis comes out, I'm going to develop a mostly economic overhaul to the game, at least as a proof of concept. I'm stealing this idea too!
 
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Unit must be linked to faction mechanics!

Unity represents the cohesion of your pops, the more pops of your ethics and happier the greater your unity should be.

Factions generate influence but must be manipulated with unity.

In addition to suppressing and increasing a faction, we should have the function of banning them, possible with mod, but it should be in the Base game.

In addition, we need a better range of traditions, they must not only be self-exclusive but also extremely distinguishable from each other.

Unity should also be a currency for actions with other empires, it is the strength of its culture impacting the cultures of others, spreading its ethics and maybe even forcing other empires to adopt certain traditions.

This sparks the much stronger pacifist and xenophile game, alongside authoritarian xenos.

I'm not native in english, sorry for gramatical errors.
 

GOLANX

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Would it be reasonable to tie the conversion ratio to Diplomatic Stance instead of being its own thing? Then an Expansionist stance would grant a 25:75 ratio as part of its package, for example; being Mercantile or Cooperative would give different ratios, and of course Supremacist stance would tilt you all the way over to all external all the time.

i'm not sold on diplomatic stance being the conversion metric, wouldn't Megacorps need influence to maintain their commercial pacts, or build branch offices, they also need to have a valuable home system for their taller playstyle. Cooperative doesn't blow all of their influence on claims, cooperative means you are using your influence to make friends, federations and pacts. upgrading starbases would cost unity wouldn't it? would be bad if supremacist had a bad modifier. i think diplomatic stance should just apply modifiers to how you spend your influence, cheaper claims, cheaper starbases, or cheaper comercial pacts?

I think Franet is on to something, id tie the ratio to the factions, Militarist give all to influence, pacifist give all to unity, and everything inbetween well if you look at the Pie its probably the right ratio xenophobes and spiritualist are 25:75, egalitarians and authoritarians 50:50, xenophiles and Materialist are 75:25. just make sure that before factions apear its based on your ethics.

I'd not considered reworking traditions, just that their costs would need to change somehow but yeah I'd certainly agree with this.

interesting thought should supremacy, diplomacy, expansion traditions cost unity or influence?
Map the Stars Edict should cost influence, research subsidies should cost unity, or maybe the reverse could be true, map the stars is an expensive edict thats most useful at a point in time where influence is too valuable to waste, Subsidies and other inward edicts could be applied by Influence as stop gap measures created by the weakness of the internal economy that wide empires might face with their low unity supply. its ok to have weaknesses, you should have ways to make up for them and thats a nice role for edicts.
 
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I think Franet is on to something, id tie the ratio to the factions, Militarist give all to influence, pacifist give all to unity, and everything inbetween well if you look at the Pie its probably the right ratio xenophobes and spiritualist are 25:75, egalitarians and authoritarians 50:50, xenophiles and Materialist are 75:25. just make sure that before factions apear its based on your ethics.
So you want to have no tools to adapt your expenditure ratio?

If you were initially gung-ho on claims & conquest, but you're stuck between a DE and an FE, you want no way to change that ratio?

Your preference seems like it would not make for a fun game.

Let the player actually play the game. Let the player make decisions which matter.
 
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Your ability to manage your factions would alter the balance, im not sure how you would do that with the unity/influence change, I don't think it should cost the resources that you get from the ratio. in fact promoting and suppressing factions should be a good method to alter your unity/influence balance, Promoting a faction will doubble the factions impact relative to support and suppressing a faction will halve it, embracing a faction will cause them to gain immediate support. by playing the political games you can fine tune the ratio that you want or radically alter it if you need,

You could also use Edicts to help solve that problem, some edicts could spend influence to make unity or vice versa. You can also use edicts that alter your ethics attraction. as i stated in my last post you could use unity to engage the fleet supremacy or fortify the border edict, so if you were playing as a taller unity empire, you can get an immediate boost to military strength, again i would have diplomatic stance apply radical modifiers on the influence cost of your foreign policy, mercantile has free commercial pacts, cooperative gives cost reductions on all pacts, isolationism can convert influence into unity. Supremacist and belligerent make claims cheaper, expansionist gives you really cheap starbases and colonies (unity cost).

there are a bunch of different options to get what you want, you may need to mess with your factions and it may unsettle your people, guess how it works irl? if you want more baked in adaptability, authoritarian, and egalitarian give 50/50 split, id also add in the egalitarians allow every faction under the rainbow in their empires and boost the gains from them, you can easily promote whatever faction you need to fill the required niche, Authoritarians while forcing strict adherence to governing ethics can change their ethics without factions and at low penalty.

influence and unity in this system would be 2 of the strongest mana pools in the game and have a radical impact on how you play it, you will have options to adapt to your situation or change your ethics to meet the problem, Adaptation is important for empires, just don't expect to just say oh no i hit a roadblock to my fanatic purifiers lite empire guess i gotta push 1 button and oh i'm a tall empire now. No you want to change how your empire does things you gotta make a commitment to factions who want you to build up your empire.

If North Korea (Fanatic Authoritarian Militarist) suddenly went from Supremist to Cooperative overnight how much do you think would change, Kim Jong Un instead of wanting to kill you wants to burry the hatchet and Hug you! no it also has no bearing on what he is doing inside his empire which is where the unity resource is being used, North Korea could become cuddly cooperative, and feed its people to the meat grinder, which do you think has a bigger impact on their unity/influence balance? South Korea is Egalitarian Materialist, their military and foreign policy imprint is weaker, they do have cooperative diplomatic stance, it helps them keep their allies, and are less threatening to empires that are not their friend or enemy. South Korea is a better Tall empire than the North and is much better developed because they have been reaping the unity benefits of Materialism while benefiting less from influence ergo the weaker military compared to North Korea. North Korea feels its stuck between a Rock and a Hard place, if it doesn't try to reap every last point of influence it possibly can they will be invaded and crushed between NATO Forces and the Peoples Republic of China who i give a 90% chance to go full Sun Tsu and lock down their border to any North Korean Refugees, who will die in a meat grinder, so China don't give the US the excuse to enter China, Again. By spending so much on influence that really isn't getting them very far North Koreans suffer at home, the Unity that North Korea does generate is spent on Obedience and Surveillance, keeping their pops in line.
 

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Your ability to manage your factions would alter the balance, im not sure how you would do that
Yeah the fact that the mechanics are not in the player's hands is kind of my point here.

Factions are not things you can currently manage well.
 

MatthewP

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Yeah the fact that the mechanics are not in the player's hands is kind of my point here.

Factions are not things you can currently manage well.
I think this is not untrue but it’s sort of backwards. There are actually ways to manage factions, promoting/suppressing as well as ways to influence ethics attraction. There could be much more and deeper ones, I agree. But you never use the ones that exist, do you? I don’t either. Because it doesn’t matter.

Fleshing out ways to manage factions has to wait for at least the update where factions do something important, otherwise it’s a complete waste of dev time. So the argument that you can’t build a mechanic around factions because the player doesn’t have tools to manage factions is effectively circular.
 
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