The people have spoken!!! See… this is why people should respond to my polls!! A clear majority of the respondents do not have access to 1080p monitors, and while I could be stubborn and say ‘damn them all, after all it’s free’, I decided to tackle it as an interesting programming challenge. And I am happy to say that I have developed a pretty neat scaling mechanism that will allow ANY resolution to play the game!
Imperia will now auto-detect your current resolution and set it to that, and when I set up an options screen you will be able to set a resolution in-game from there, and it will save from session to session. I already have the button bar, the main title screen, the top status bar, and the galaxy screen completed! All that’s left is the system screen (pretty easy), the intel screen (harder, but doable) and the planet screen (OMG). But I now have the process – it will just take some time and elbow grease. (That said, the graphics are still optimized for 1080p, so it won’t look as great, but YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY!!!) The alpha release should have this functionality!
I wanted to get opinions on the resolution of Imperia. As you (hopefully) know, currently Imperia only runs in 1080p resolution (1920 X 1080) due to the difficulty in getting a lot of data onto a smaller screen. And of course, this is a hobby project, but since one of the goals has been to deliver an awesome experience to strategy gamers the world over, I wanted your voice about the resolution. Thanks!
I’m astounded at the amount of traffic this blog has generated. I’ve really only been updating for about a week, and there are already 100+ views a day, and growing steadily!! Your interest gives me the motivation to work even harder on Imperia and make this project that everyone who likes 4X games and something different can hopefully enjoy!
With that in mind, from time to time I will post poll questions to get anonymous feedback about certain concepts of Imperia. I would love the 15-20 seconds it would take for your input. Thank you so much in advance!
Ah, planets. What 4X worth its salt would not be without them? Planets are the people of the drama that is typical space strategy. You have your science planet, and your manufacturing planets, and your jack-of-all-trades planets, and of course that crazy frontier planet that you only have as an early warning tripwire against the evil neighboring aliens, and whatever happens, hey, they’re just planets, right? After all, you have hundreds of ’em; you’ll never miss just one… right?
Not in Imperia. Here, planets are your tools to shape your empire.
Planets in Imperia are very complex entities. They are governed by viceroys who have a relative amount of autonomy to govern the planet. Depending on their personality, they may adjust taxes (income and corporate), work to expand and contract sectors that they deem appropriate for the planet’s situation and designation(s), build planet-level structures, and in certain cases, initiate planet-level Edicts (that you as Emperor can overturn). Viceroys are also responsible for the results and execution of Edicts that you initiate, generally with their Intelligence and Power stats.
Since they do have a large amount of control over the planet, it is important to have viceroys that are aligned to your wants and wishes, and whom are at least fairly loyal to your cause, and you will probably spend quite a bit of ADM in personal interactions with your viceroys in order to make your Edicts run as smoothly as possible.
Your planet screen presents you with a lot of information about the planet. A note here: I am not a professional programmer (I’m actually a sales manager!), nor am I any kind of trained UI artist. As I realize how much data will be available to the player, I will probably be tweaking the look and feel of these screens to present data in the most effective manner (hello, artists out there?!?) For now, I have settled on a primary display with a subdisplay that can be configured into several modes: demographic, economic, production, and intel (construction and military submodes to follow). Let’s look at the main panels of Imperia’s stars:
Here you have your primary info display, showing the planet sector, system, and planet name. The astrographic data of the planet is also displayed, depending on the scan level of the planet. If there has been at least an atmospheric scan, you will see the biological rating of the planet, from 1-100. If you have conducted a geologic scan, you will see the resource ratings as well. Planets have tectonic ratings that determine the chance of events, costs of planetary maintenance, and production costs. The last item is a planetary description.
Planets have 5 size ratings, from 0 to IV(4). The size of the planet determines primarily how many secondary designations the planet can support, but it also determines the maximum development level of the planet. Let’s take a look at the political display for more insight:
This persistent panel shows the planet’s ADM that is available for use, and the total ADM available that the planet generates through their government staffing, size, primary designations, and government seat status. Next comes total development level (TDL) that shows how many levels of development combined that the planet can support. For example, this planet being a class I world with a fairly low bio rating (51) is only able to support 16 total levels of development. It could be 8 in manufacturing and 8 in agriculture, or 4 in each including science, but the planet can not expand until either the planet is terraformed, new technologies are developed, or a sector is deconstructed to make way for a different one. Your viceroys will determine what should be done – it is your responsibility to make sure that your planets can grow!
Next comes the planet Popular Support. In a way, this is the most important number on the screen: not only does it help to determine your empire Popular Support (PoSup) but if it falls too low your viceroy (who has their own planetary PoSup) may decide to effectively ‘ignore’ your requests knowing that his or her people will back them over you, the emperor. When this occurs, it may be extremely difficult to get any Edicts to progress, and you even run the risk of a plot developing on that planet to overthrow your government! As with many UI elements in Imperia, you can get a tooltip when you hover over the PoSup showing what your people are saying to influence it the most.
The census panel shows your population, and you can mouse over it to see how your population changed in detail from last month:
Finally, your unrest level and the past month’s change and your colony government seat, if any is shown, and your viceroy’s name is also shown. You can click directly onto the viceroy’s name to go to the communications screen or hover for a tooltip of information.
To show the difference in a larger planet, here is your empire capital’s political display and demographic submode:
Note the much larger total development level and admin. Also notice the positive and negative influences that determine how ‘desirable’ a certain planet is. Part of your job as Emperor is to encourage migration to worlds that need labor, which reduces unrest and increases PoSup by giving your pops new and better opportunities, thus making them happier (temporarily). You can do this essentially by providing safe, healthy worlds with good infrastructure and with good economies.
So that’s great, you think. Just take all the large planets you see. What’s the downside? Well…
Here is your Edict Panel:
It shows eligible Edicts for that planet (and their ADM cost), and if there are any active Edicts, it shows remaining estimated time, status, and allows you to cancel them to return the ADM to the governing body(ies) that supplied it.
The ADM for many Edicts is fixed, but many like surveying, terraforming, and changing designations increase time and ADM depending on the class of the planet. So yes, large Class IV planets can hold a lot more development and can be customized more with secondary Designations, but they will cost more to initially survey, colonize, and upgrade. Tradeoffs abound. A small, well run, very high Bio level Class I planet with near optimal resources can actually be more efficient and desirable than a large, dirty, poorly run Class IV planet.
Finally, the Orbital Display shows any starbases, defense platforms, fleets, and any blockades or planetary issues graphically.
There are a lot of factors in play to have a successful planet. Designations themselves have tradeoffs: some, like Military Production worlds, pay a lot in wages and are economic powerhouses but damage the Bio rating of the planet over time, and Unrest is generally higher since they are dirty, industrial worlds with a more ‘rough’ populace. By comparison, while Agriculture worlds may be a loss leader (and require a subsidy from the Sector or Empire treasury) they may be critical to growing enough food for your Empire – and with a high Bio rating, more babies will be born healthy, ensuring long-term stability and labor for your Empire. Taxes must be modified as unrest rises, and you may have to coax your Viceroy into doing so – or perhaps finding another way to manipulate your erstwhile servants??
So while this is a hobby project for me, I have a clear sense of what needs to be added and when. While I don’t have a specific time frame of when things will be added and completed, since some things are much more difficult to add than others, here is the map I have followed so far and what I expect to be added in order in the future:
V0.3 – Edict system complete (system and sector level edicts) UI tweaks added, add sound effects, add demographic planet panel, fix any remaining quadrant generation issues, FIRST ALPHA RELEASE TO SOURCEFORGE
V0.4 – Add financial screen, expand intel UI to include unowned planets and character info, tweak economy, add Emperor info screen, complete all Designation effects to planet (terraforming, wages, etc)
V0.5 – Add science system, add science UI, add Lazarus Project victory condition, add Emperor global actions (move to planet, give empire-level speech, etc)
V0.6 – Add military system, add military UI, add military forces tab to planet UI, add starship development AI, add garrison/civil war programming, add admirals to character system (this is a lot and some may get moved to version .7)
V0.7 – Add event system programming and begin to add basic events, prepare save system functionality, review overall game design and adjust as needed, add game options UI when start new game
V0.8 – Complete event system and have majority of events scripted, saves, externalize all mod variables, add loading screens for starting new games and between turns (UI)
V0.9 – Add other empires and breakaway colonies, complete Empire level AI, add diplomacy UI
V1.0 – Imperia as designed is complete (although not finished!)
Now, I’m not putting a completion date on this – one reason why I am releasing this blog is to have an avenue for feedback to make this game as good as I can. It may be that someone has a terrific idea that I’d like to add – I’ve already heard a great idea about starting out as a planetary viceroy and working up as a possible start option, and I’m interested in exploring that. If you have any ideas or thoughts about where Imperia has been so far, please let me know!!
Ah, trade. The blood that flows through a nation’s arteries. In Imperia, trade serves no less important a purpose. Let’s take a look at trade, Imperia-style!
TRADE HUBS: Any planet can send and receive goods once they have at least a level 1 Starbase, but only trade hubs can receive non-emergency goods from upstream entities. Trade hubs work like this at each level:
SYSTEM TRADE HUBS – Collect excess food and processed materials at full efficiency from PLANETS WITHIN THAT SYSTEM WITH STARBASES. 20% of excess of collected materials are sent downstream to a SECTOR TRADE HUB if one is set up (with minor efficiency loss), otherwise sent to EMPIRE TRADE HUB (your empire capital) (with high efficiency loss). If materials or food are needed by a planet in the same system (alert generated), this hub will send as long as there is available material/food.
SECTOR TRADE HUBS – Collect excess food and processed materials from SYSTEM TRADE HUBS WITHIN THAT SECTOR if available, otherwise PLANETS WITHIN THAT SECTOR WITH STARBASES (with efficiency loss). 20% of excess of collected materials are sent downstream to EMPIRE TRADE HUB. If materials or food are needed by a planet in the same sector(alert generated), AND THERE IS NOT A VALID SYSTEM TRADE HUB in that system (either does not exist or there are not enough items to send) this hub will send as long as there is available material/food (with efficiency loss depending on distance, especially food)
EMPIRE TRADE HUB – Collect excess food and processed materials from SECTOR TRADE HUBS, or SYSTEM TRADE HUBS where there are no SECTOR TRADE HUBS. Sends replenishment cargo upstream to SECTOR TRADE HUBS, or SYSTEM TRADE HUBS if no SECTOR TRADE HUBS exist (with efficiency loss), and will send emergency materials or food to INDIVIDUAL PLANETS WITH STARBASES at a high efficiency loss if no other option exists.
You can see at a glance how your trade network is set up by setting the trade view on the quadrant map. Systems that are inhabited and do not have a red circle will only receive emergency materials and food from their sector hub at a huge efficiency loss, and if there is no sector hub, the Empire will lend a hand, but between corruption, inefficiency in moving materials into a starbase that was not designed for it, and distance, you will lose a lot of the materials and (especially!) the food. This is why it is so critical to build a solid trade network as soon as possible – you don’t want planets with large surpluses just sitting there, unable to contribute to their sector or system network.
Due to the organization required, hubs can only be created at government seats, so system hubs can only be created within system capitals, and sector hubs can only be created within sector capitals. Any planet can build a starbase, and there is no minimum level for starbases to be to have a hub, but there is a throughput maximum for each level per turn as follows:
LEVEL I: 5000 materials/food total can be moved in/out
LEVEL II: 10000 materials/food total can be moved in/out
LEVEL III: 20000 materials/food total can be moved in/out
LEVEL IV: 50000 materials/food total can be moved in/out
LEVEL V: 100000 materials/food total can be moved in/out
It is recommended, but not required, to have at least one starbase level more than your trade hub level to ensure ease of moving resources; i.e. a level II starbase for a system trade hub, etc. Eventually, trade technology will make these throughput levels increase per level of starbase.
While you can not directly control what is moved through the network, nor will you see the freighters on the quadrant map, you can set a trade embargo on a certain planet/system/sector. Obviously, this will piss off the affected planets/systems and their respective leaders, so why in the world would you want to do this? In some cases, it may be a matter of survival of the fittest. If you have a backwater system that has a low population but is sucking up materials and food at a high rate, and you have a more, ah, politically important system that is struggling as well and your empire depots are getting low on materials, sometimes you have to declare ‘survival of the fittest’ and let the have-not systems figure it out on their own.
So as an emperor, all you have to do is insure that you have a solid trade network in place with planets that are creating a surplus to fuel the network. Your capital planet is a production powerhouse, but it can not single-handedly sustain your entire Empire, especially if unrest rises or changes are made to the planet economy. That is where manufacturing and agriculture outposts can be very handy – they focus exclusively on the resource they are set up for and they come with a level 1 starbase as part of the cost of setup!
Trade and resource production will make or break your reign as Emperor. People need food and your planets must grow with materials to survive. Sometimes, hard choices must be made for the good of the whole, and it is up to you to make those choices!
In most 4X games, you build buildings or objects that produce X amount of materials/food/energy that is then stockpiled to eventually build things. In this regard, Imperia is not actually that different. The main difference is that you have what are called economic sectors that determine what is produced on the planet. There are several different types of resources in Imperia:
Money – An Imperial dollar is the currency, and it is abstracted in the game at about a 10 to 1 ration (meaning that you can add a zero to whatever amount you see if you want to know the ‘real world’ value. Money is acquired on a planetary by taxing your production sectors, taxing wages, and by gifts and subsidies. On a sector level and empire level, money is acquired through sector and empire-level taxes.
The cash flow screen shows what is projected to be spent for government next turn, so if you pass an Edict and it costs money, it will show up under Subsidies.
Materials – These are a catch-all for all building blocks in Imperia. Materials are used to build everything from starships to cities to additional economic infrastructure. Certain items can not be build without being designated a certain way or having a certain building, but everything comes from materials. Planets also use a ‘base line’ amount of materials monthly for upkeep and production.
Food – People need to eat to live, and in Imperia it is no different. Food can be grown and imported to make sure it reaches a planets hungry bellies.
ADM – Admin is treated like a resource in Imperia. It is generated by the size of government on a planet and there is a multiplier based on the planet seat (system capital, sector capital, Imperial capital). ADM can not be traded, but it can be used for an Edict as long as that planet is in its’ system/sector chain. Imperial ADM can always be used for any Edict, but at a cost of 6 to 1, making it very inefficient for large projects. This is why it is critical to have a solid administrative chain and not to build new colonies until you have a strong system or sector that can support its needs.
Data – Research in Imperia is conducted by the scientific sector, and is measured in terabytes of data. This data is collated and sent to the Imperial capital where research is done. Unlike other resources, it does not require a trade hub – it is transmitted through a hyper-relay network that is also used for communication.
Retail – While not strictly a resource, it is generated from your industrial sector and by your luxury minerals. Retail aids in boosting your economy and giving your people something to spend their money on (and by extension, tax!) This also includes your service jobs that do not fall under any manufacturing or high-tech capacity.
So how do resources get generated? Well, each sector has a base level that abstracts how large and advanced the sector is. From there, taking several factors into account, such as the Empire level of that sector, the habitability of the planet, the tectonic level (for manufacturing) and a few other factors, a ‘raw output level’ is generated. From there, actual output is calculated from efficiency: how many people actually work in the sector vs how many can, and unrest plays a part if it is above a certain level.
The profitability of a sector is determined by how much it costs to produce one item vs. how much it sells for on the planetary market. Wages play a big factor in determining cost. While you can not directly set wages (your viceroys will do this depending on their preferences and traits) you can expand a sector, which will raise wages to entice people to come work there. Each sector also has a base ‘desirability rating’ which is the second number to the right of the wage shown in each sector summary. This represents how ‘desirable’ the job is with a combination of wage and prestige. Agriculture jobs are considered the least desirable, with scientific and government jobs (depending on your Popular Support!) the most. This means that your viceroys may have to overpay in order to fill a less desirable sector if jobs are plentiful. You may influence your viceroys to raise or lower wages through conversations, but it will not have as great an effect as through an Edict.
So what happens every 3 months? Your viceroys will determine building for the next 3 months – whether a certain sector expands, stays the same, or contracts. They will also set wages based on profitability, need of the sector, and sometimes just plain greed (they get a cut of the planetary taxes, after all!) This depends most on the Designation of the planet, but is also influenced by the viceroy’s wants and needs, and the needs of the planet. If you are out of materials, you can not build anything new, and in fact your sectors will slowly decay!, putting people out of work and raising unrest! This is why it is so critical to have either a robust trade network or to have a planet capable of self-sustaining itself!
So in Imperia you as an emperor have an ADM (admin) rating that determines what you can do on any given turn. When you are just starting out as an 18-year old new emperor you might have 6-8 ADM points to use per turn (and they do not ‘carry over’).
There are essentially 3 ways you can use ADM: by contacting a character directly, by proposing an Edict, or by taking a personal action. It costs 1-2 ADM to contact a character directly, and is useful for asking for small ‘tweaks’ to how they manage their planet/system/sector. The downside is that they can say ‘no’ – after all, this isn’t you proposing law, it’s just you and a character having a conversation and you asking for something in a friendly manner. Edicts, by contrast, ARE law, and they MUST be followed. The downside to Edicts is that they cost a lot more ADM to propose (4-8), they cost planetary ADM to prepare and enact, and if a character who is along the possible ‘chain’ of implementing the Edict doesn’t like you very much, they can make sure your Edict stays ‘in committee’ for quite a while. Here is a list of the types of domestic Edicts that can be enacted:
Change Planet Name
Add Secondary Designation
Change/Assign Primary Designation
Prohibit Economic Sector Expansion
Eliminate Economic Sector
Build Starship Production Center
Change System Capital
Change Sector Capital
Add /Change System to Sector
Set Up Manufacturing Outpost
Set Up Agriculture Outpost
Set Up Scientific Outpost
Cede Garrison Control to Viceroy
Reclaim Garrison Control
Cede System Garrison to Sys Gov
Reclaim System Garrison Control
Designate Planet As Trade Hub
Designate Planet As Culture Hub
Declare Imperial Law
Survey Planet For Materials
Survey Planet For Minerals
As you can see, much more comprehensive than simply dealing with a character directly. Proclaiming an Edict and structuring it so that it will be successful is a large part of your success in Imperia.
Let’s take a small example and say that you want to change a planet’s name. In any other 4X, you simply type in the name and that’s that. In Imperia, simply changing a name can have far-reaching effects (after all, how would we feel in America if the government suddenly wanted to change the country’s name to, say, Goldberg?). The base ADM cost for this Edict is 5 ADM points and $5,000,000 to enact. A system capital might have 5-10 ADM and a sector capital might have 15+ ADM, so they could simply utilize their own planetary government to enact the change and that would be that. But what about a small, outlying planet that barely has a functional government? Say they have 2 ADM. They don’t have enough ADM to enact the change themselves. What can you do?
You can wait and let them build up their government sector until they have enough ADM to enact on their own, or…
You can get their system capital or sector capital involved., or if the need is great enough, you can always use the Imperial Capital planet’s ADM (which is always MUCH higher – 200-400 ADM)
Not all systems have a system capital – some sectors are one-system sectors and having a sector capital overrides a system capital. But if the system does have a system capital and they have some unallocated ADM, you can use some of theirs. It will be less efficient (it takes roughly 1.5 ADM points from a system capital per 1 ADM point you would spend on the planet) and it will take more time, but you can make it work. But… what if the system governor HATES YOUR GUTS!!! He or she can ensure that it takes YEARS to change that name!! So NOW what do you do?
You can go ‘above their head’ and use ADM from the sector capital (at even less efficiency and more time) and there is no guarantee the sector governor will be any more obliging, OR…
You can manipulate the system governor into doing what you want!! You can do this a lot of ways! You can…
..bribe them (maybe, if they’re honest they will refuse and like you even less),
..or you can give them an Imperial title (this costs personal money and takes most of your ADM, but they will always love it),
..or you can create an informer network on the planet in order to discover secrets about the system governor and blackmail them,
..or you can respond to their needs and requests in line with their personality traits and behaviors to improve their loyalty,
..or you can attempt to remove them from their office and promote someone more loyal to you and more friendly to your policies (but this does not always work and is seen as Tyrannical)
..or you can have them assassinated, at great cost to your reputation and Tyrannical rating.
You have another ally at this point for particularly important Edicts: your Influence pools. You don’t have to, but you can, spend 3 different types of Influence from your pools to speed up the Edict’s process with different effects. The types are:
Nationalist – this is your ‘rally the Empire to the cause’ influence. Basically, you are taking your Edict to the people, and if they love you, it is very effective.
Pragmatic – this is your ‘everyday’ influence, working the backchannels of your government, and generally being a good politician. This pool’s effects are abstracted mainly in your Power rating – your efforts have more weight if your have the Power to follow through. This will be your most common Influence, and the fastest to recharge.
Tyrannical – this is your ‘do it or I’ll do something bad to you/your family/your planet’ influence. Much more ‘effective’ short term, but can have far-reaching effects if used too often without the Power to back it up. Very small pool initially, but the way your emperor acts (badly and without morals) can add to this pool over time.
Alternatively, you can structure the Edict to use only planet and sector ADM, thus cutting out the system governor – but taking more time and ADM (total of 8 ADM and 5 months base vs. 6 ADM and 4 months base if the system gov was used) but if the sector governor LOVES you they might just speed the Edict through the planning and committee stages… actually saving more time in the end, even though it cost more ADM! But what if the sector capital’s ADM is already being used for other Edicts and there isn’t any more to spare?
Expand the sector government of course!! Just ask the planetary viceroy of the sector capital to expand the government, add more workers (at a cost, of course) expand the ADM rating for the sector capital, thus allowing your planet’s change name request to be able to be added! If the viceroy is willing, of course…
However you do it, once you have the needed ADM in place, the Edict goes to 3 stages: planning, committee, and implementation. Depending on the loyalty and 2 other factors of each character in the chain, that time might be more or less in each stage. Each Edict has a primary and a secondary character attribute that contribute to the success and time required to implement. The primary attribute for changing a planet’s name is Intelligence and the secondary one is Charisma. If your planetary viceroy and anyone else in the chain have good stats in these attributes (and they like you at least a little!) the time might be less. If you have an exceptionally stupid or boorish viceroy or governor, however, the time in planning and committee will be adversely affected proportional to the amount of ADM that character has in the Edict. For example, to get to the Edict’s 5 ADM requirement, if you allocate 2 ADM from the planet and 3 ADM (but costing the system capital 5 ADM due to inefficiency) from the system capital, your planetary viceroy’s stats will affect the time by 40% and your system governor’s stats will affect the time by 60%.
So you’ve finally manipulated the Edict to be completed, and now the name change takes effect! You’re done thinking about it, right?
First of all, your citizens might love the new name. In which case your retail sector will explode (people are buying T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other clever merchandise with the new planet’s name). You may see a Posup boost. People may have a renewed sense of pride in their planet and their unrest may even drop! Sometimes, people may even migrate to your newly named planet because it’s got such a cool name, affecting an entire system or sector economy! You’re a hero, and your planetary viceroy is pretty pleased too!!
Maybe they hate the name. Maybe they really liked the original name all along. Names have an intrinsic ‘cultural value’ attached to them and it is possible to get information on how the populace might react to a name change, you can do it anyway. But their Posup might go down. People might even leave the planet (rare, but possible) over it. Your viceroy won’t be too pleased about having to change all the software and letterheads to the new planet name, so to speak. In any case, you have your new name, but you have some downside as well.
And all this from just changing a planet’s name, which you would take 3 seconds to do in any other 4X game.
But that’s Imperia, folks. Welcome to the big chair.
This marks my first post on the Imperia blog… hopefully soon I will transition to a full website. For now, though, I wanted to show one screenshot of Imperia in action… the always-popular planet detail screen!!