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Developer Diary – Production System!

Hey everyone! Not dead, just busy, but the clouds have cleared in my work schedule and we’ve been hard at work on the Game Design Document! I wanted to take a moment and explain how production will work, since it’s somewhat novel and fits in line with the ‘you don’t micro each building on your planets’ theme.

At its core, the production system contains 2 major elements: Build Points (BPs) and Build Plans. Build Points are generated though factories for each raw mineral in the game (Basic, Heavy, Rare) which are then allocated to Build Plans. Build Plans are essentially the plan for how BPs will be divided up among building areas on the planet. There are 10 different allocations that can be built:

  • Farms
  • High-Tech
  • Factories
  • Mines
  • Admin
  • Academies
  • Military Research Labs
  • Ground Military Factories
  • Starship Shipyards
  • Living Infrastructure

Not all areas will always be built at any one time. Generally, Build Plans will be generated depending on a planet’s Focus (formerly Designation in the first game) that you set as Emperor. For example, if you set a planet’s Focus as an Agriculture World, the viceroy will build at least 50% farms from the BPs that are generated, and the rest will be dependent on the viceroy’s House leanings (some Houses prefer more economy, some more military, some more research, some more trade, some are a combination, etc) as well as their personal preferences.

Build Plans can change every 6 months, but can be adjusted if a planet can not provide enough food or power organically. In other words, viceroys will try to make a planet self-sufficient within the bounds of the planet’s Focus limitations, and prioritize food and power production over all else unless the Focus does not allow for it.

As Emperor, you may change the Focus of a planet as a Project, but keep in mind that while a planet is changing Focuses, production drops to almost nothing as factories are retooled, zoning is changed, Pops are retrained, etc. Making this a Project reflects the enormous amount of work to change the development of a world so much.

Viceroys can also Overdrive their Build Plans if they deem it necessary. It is what it sounds like; it tasks your Engineers to make more BPs in order to allow things to be built more quickly. This will use up a lot more resources, as well as piss off and exhaust your Engineers (and Miners, as a secondary effect). Viceroys who are less empathetic will tend to do this more, but they run the risk of revolt from their engineer Pops and possibly even losing them to immigration. You do NOT want to lose your Engineers; they are almost as hard to come by as Science and Academic Pops. If you do not want Overdriven production as Emperor, you can set limits for this as a Policy.

That’s a sneak peek into Production – more to come soon!

-Steve

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The Inquisition (and how to make sure nobody expects them)

Hi everyone, Oliver here. Today’s blog is about the design – and the design challenges – of one crucial part of your Imperial intelligence network: the Imperial Inquisition.

The Inquisition are an elite group of highly-trained characters, able and licensed to arrest and prosecute the highest-ranking aristocrats in the Empire. They are your most precise and deadly weapon against treacherous underlings. But with great power comes great responsibility – responsibility even the Sun Emperor cannot override. The Inquisition, when they interrogate a suspect, will find the truth – even if that truth is not what you thought or hoped it would be. And, if the suspect is innocent, they will be free – and extremely angry.

The first design problem, building the Inquisition, is to make sure they don’t step on the corruption- and secret-hunting gameplay I described in my last post on the Intrigue system. They provide the payoff – they’re how you find out whether or not your reasoning (or guesswork) was correct – but you mustn’t simply be able to sic them on every character who looks at you funny. Thus, they always find the truth, but setting them on an innocent character will turn that character implacably against you. If that isn’t enough to stop Inquisitor-spam displacing interesting detective work, we might make you pay compensation to innocent victims of Inquisitorial investigation.

The second problem is how ‘human’ to make them. Can any character become an Inquisitor? If they’re simply ciphers who do your bidding, there’s not much point having them at all. The solution we’ve settled on for the first iteration is that any character can, with your permission and years of training, become an Inquisitor – and that their relationships with characters will affect how likely they are to catch them if assigned to interrogate them. An Inquisitor would never come up with false results in an interrogation, but the target might suddenly take a long holiday on a fast ship just before their friend the Inquisitor arrives. So your assignment of Inquisitors will depend on how much you trust them to get the job done.

One of the problems the Inquisitor system solves is the question of how to give you control over your information and intelligence flow. By assigning Inquisitors to monitor particular territories, you can receive more information than you otherwise would about that planet, system, or province – the smaller the territory, the better the information you’ll get on it. This also helps make the Inquisitor-assignment gameplay interesting: where will it be useful for this particular Inquisitor to be? Where do you need good information? Who do you want them to be near to, just in case? One thing we might do is increase Inquisitors’ flow of Secrets from characters they’ve got good relations with, making placing Inquisitors in their friends’ territories a double-edged sword – more likely to produce information, but less likely to catch wrongdoers if you ask them to.

Two options for Inquisitorial work is not quite enough to make the choice of assignment interesting, however. The final piece of the puzzle (at least in the design for the first full alpha) is military commissar duty. By assigning an Inquisitor as a military commissar, you can reduce that Force’s chance of rebelling – but at the price of slowly degrading it, as officers get Inquisited and troops desert to escape the suddenly hostile work environment. Can you afford that cost, for loyalty? Can you afford not to pay it? The commissar system adds another interesting aspect to your military decision-making.

The key thing to understand about all this, though, is that it’s provisional. This is what we’re going to implement for the first alpha – after we (and our testers) have tried it, and seen how well it works, we might well find it’s either too much, or not enough. Perhaps we’ll need to give Inquisitors another function; perhaps they ought to be able to investigate corruption on their own; or perhaps they’ll turn out to be a layer of mechanics we don’t need at all. I hope we’ve got it right first time round, but the proof of the pudding’s in the eating.

I hope this post has let you see a little bit of the sort of thought processes we go through as we’re designing Imperia. In the next post, Steve will be talking about UI design, and how we’re reworking it from the bottom up.

Ave Imperator!

Oliver