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How things will go pew pew, part II

Hey everyone!

This is part 2 of the military system blog. Let’s get into it…

First, I wanted to get into the tactical of what happens when two Forces move into combat range and start firing at each other. Here’s what happens:

Combat Basics

Combat takes place in the turn resolution phase (i.e. after the player has clicked ‘next turn’). In combat, units on each side do damage of various kinds to units on the other. All combat is fought simultaneously – across the universe, all targeting is done, then all rolls to hit, then all damage allocated – so a unit which is destroyed in a turn’s combat will still get its attack off. (NB: this means the turn sequence must be such that each force engages in at most one battle each turn.) In a given turn, a unit might be attacked from the ground and from space, by however many different enemies, but each individual unit can only conduct one kind of attack in a turn, once. So (with the exception of orbital combat, where each unit gets three space-to-space attacks against units in the same Planetary Orbit location for the price of one) units only ever get one attack per turn.

First, units pick targets. The target unit each unit picks is, by default, random. If there are more than two sides involved, all of a side’s enemy units are treated as one big mass of enemies for them to target, without distinction as to controller. In space battles, non-transports are more likely to be picked than transports, due to being in front of the ‘battle line’.

The units then roll to hit. The actual rolls required vary by the type of combat. Devastation damage in ground combat doesn’t target units, and is rolled separately to other damage.

Damage is then dealt. Units have a set amount of damage they do per hit. This is reduced by the target’s relevant armor (a percentage) to give the actual damage done. Any excess damage after the target is destroyed is discarded with no further effect. (Some units have the Multi-Target ability. This means that any damage left over after any of their targets is destroyed is passed on to another random enemy unit, which then counts as another of their targets this turn, so if they are destroyed, the cycle continues. This continues until they have run out of damage to allocate. Multi-Target units’ hits’ damage is resolved after non-Multi-Target hits’ damage, to make sure the best use is made of their diabolical power, and the excess damage is not affected by previous targets’ armor.)

If a Force is trying to do something else as well as fight, their chance to hit is reduced, and their effectiveness at doing the other thing is also reduced, whatever that thing may be.

MILINT (Military Intelligence)

Many aspects of combat rely on military intelligence, or MILINT. MILINT – info on Force movements, etc – can be gained by infiltrators in enemy war plans or spies on territories through which a Force’s supply lines pass. (The former provide more information on orders, and higher MILINT Quality than the latter, all else being equal – see below, and also the Subterfuge system.) Both infiltrators and spies are ordinary characters, with whom the controller has engaged in a Plot to Spy On War Plan/Troop Movements.

When you successfully Spy On War Plan or Spy On Troop Movements, as well as receiving some information about supply lines and future orders, your ‘MILINT Quality’ on that force increases. Despite the name, this is actually a quantity. The Quality of your MILINT on a Force decays over time, falling by a fixed amount every turn, down to 0. Even if your info about a Force’s future orders goes out of date, your MILINT Quality is unaffected, as it reflects information about formations, officers, troop morale, and so forth which is not modeled in the game systems.

War Effects

Pillaging and attacks on Planetside targets do Devastation damage to the planet. This causes civilian casualties, wrecks facilities and buildings, causes public anger against the perpetrators, and in extreme cases reduces the Bio rating of the planet. Each point of Devastation damage done has a random chance of killing a Pop or wrecking a facility, and increases that planet’s public resentment of the perpetrating Force’s controller, general, and Culture (if different from pops/planet’s majority) by a percentage point or so. The defending forces get their resentment production reduced by 75%, with exception of Pillaging Devastation, which causes Resentment at the full rate. Resentment means both Love reduction towards characters and increase of Animus against cultures and religions. Additional Resentment is created when a planet is conquered.

Resentment is not restricted to the affected Pops if the Force, their commander, or their controller are of a different culture or religion to them. A certain amount of Resentment grows – either globally, or throughout the area you’ve explored, or throughout the area with trade access to the planet – among Pops of the same Culture/Religion as the Pops affected. This will be less than the Resentment accrued at the source, but still a non-negligible amount, proportional to that inflicted.

Certain especially devastating war machines, such as nuclear weapons, will have the Bio Damage special rule. This means that the Devastation they inflict will also reduce the planet’s Bio rating fractionally.

Garrisons

A planet may have Military pops but no Force based there. These Military pops represent reserves, militia, police units and so forth. They are there to do two things: defend against invaders and suppress restive locals. If combat breaks out on the planet, and the planet’s Viceroy is not neutral in the conflict, they become troops under that character’s command. They may not leave the planet, although they may go In Hiding as usual. Indeed, they will have a Home Field Advantage since they are fighting on their Homeworld. The units they become will be a distribution of the cheapest units that Civ has suited to fighting on that planet type – most likely units will be flagged as ‘militia – planet types XYZ’ and which forces appear will be selected from the available appropriate units, using support units and cheap generic militia units if no appropriate fighting units are available.

In Hiding units

Some units (such as local partisans) can go In Hiding (hiding among the local population or otherwise evading detection). This means they cannot be attacked or make attacks, and are invisible to the enemy. Forces can be ordered to move their units to and from the In Hiding space on the board. A unit in a planet’s In Hiding space still counts as being in that planet’s Planetside location.

In Hiding units may be exposed by any enemy that has units Planetside on the planet. Said enemy’s chance of detecting your In Hiding units on a planet (all of them at once) and thereby forcing them out of the In Hiding into the ordinary Planetside space is proportional to their highest single MILINT level or quality against any of your Forces that have units In Hiding on the planet. Their forces may increase this chance by engaging in Counterinsurgency Operations. Enemy spies on the planet increase their MILINT on your Force as usual. Detection checks happen before combat, so if your units are detected, they will immediately enter combat with the enemy, that turn.

When you attempt to send units In Hiding, the enemy immediately makes a detection check, with a bonus. If they succeed, you fail. Your troops will keep trying to obey the order every turn until and unless it is cancelled by you or by your commander. Units attempting to go In Hiding will not make attacks, but if they are detected by this check, the enemy can attack them.

All this can also be conducted with the roles reversed, so you can find yourself looking for In Hiding enemies.

Attached Inquisitors

An Inquisitor can be attached to a Force in a commissar-type role, to purge them of spies and traitors. This is Tyrannical, increasing Fear of you among their Homeworld’s military pops, and reducing their Love for you. It does, however, increase your chances of getting Secret parts about spies in the Force’s War Plan, and about plots by the Force’s commander. They also slowly reduce your troops numbers in that Force as they imprison and execute ‘subversives’.

How are ships/ground units built?

New units are ordered from a Force’s ‘Manage Force Composition window, accessible from the action zone when the Force is selected. This window allows new units to be recruited, existing units to be upgraded, and units to be disbanded or mothballed. Troops and crew are always recruited from the Force’s Homeworld, but their ships, vehicles and equipment may be purchased from other worlds, which can be chosen manually by the player or auto-selected to minimise either cost, production time, or time to arrival at the Force’s deployment zone (including production time). Ships are built using starship factories (using BPs as with any other construction) and ground units are built using ground factories. The units will be automatically built as the request is made IF there is not already a suitable Unit in garrison or available status that can join the Force.

Units can only be built up to the number of military pops on the Homeworld divided by a constant factor. The number of pops different units ‘take up’ may vary. If the number of military pops falls below the required number, they will suffer under staffing penalties as described in ‘On Duty/Off Duty’, above (despite On Duty/Off Duty not applying in general), and no further units may be built whilst this state of affairs persists.

Garrison/protection

A planet that is near enemies whom the populace do not Love or with whom they share no cultural affinity, or which has been recently Pillaged by an enemy, will be flagged ‘People demand protection!’. This means their Love and Fear for their controller will fall if a garrison or Force of a certain minimum anti-Space strength is not stationed on the planet. Ideas will also play a large part, specifically Xeno-Tolerance and Tolerance in general.

Intimidation

A force can be instructed to enforce martial law on a planet. This increases the Fear of the force’s controller and its commander among the population, whilst reducing their Love for them; it is Tyrannical. It is useful on a newly-conquered planet, as there’s not a lot of Love going around there anyway. (Once Fear has built up, martial law can be ended without the planet rebelling again, which will allow some Love to grow.) If the Force does this to its own Homeworld, they will not build up as much Fear among the Military Pops there. If the Force doing this is of a different culture or religion to the majority on the world, they will build up Resentment against them on that world just as though they were dealing Devastation damage to it.

Whew! Lot to cover, so much that I’m going to write a Part III to go over military reforms and how you can build/discover the technology required to defeat the Xyl (and your enemies!) once and for all!

-Steve

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How We Go Pew Pew: The Military System, Part I

Hello everyone!

So as we make the march to .8, a question that has come up frequently is ‘how is the pew pew going to work?’ Well, given that AotSS is a 4X at its core, that is certainly a fair question! Let’s get into a little more detail about how that will work.

To start, please note that AotSS is about grand strategy. The normal process of building individual ships, kitting them out, naming them, and grouping them with a leader to send to a planet to take it over doesn’t necessarily apply to AotSS. You are the Emperor, after all, and you would have little or no interest or say in that process. What you would be involved in is setting up high-level target priorities – i.e. “I want to take that star system by force” or “I want to show military might to the people of planet X” or “I want to improve our military presence in the northernmost constellation of our Empire”. This is called a Military Plan, and will be discussed shortly.

The Emperor would also be responsible in a broad sense for making sure that logistical/supply networks are built and maintained where he/she expects to see conflict, so building logistical networks and expanding them to systems where forces are expected are critical.

Finally, the Emperor would want to make sure that forces are being raised from planets that are loyal to the Empire, and not likely to rebel, and that the general who is in charge of that force does not ‘go rogue’ with the most advanced force in the Empire.

So let’s first talk about Forces.

No, it’s not the Star Wars trope, but a combined space/ground unit that is assigned to perform a mission. Forces may contain up to 6 different Units, which are basically Fleets (space warfare) and Armies (ground warfare). Forces are named, gain experience, are commanded by a General, and move and fight together on the Galaxy View.

All units have hit points. All starships have Speed and Defense values. Anything that can attack starships in space has Sensors and Space Damage stats (referred to simply as Damage in the discussion of space combat, because we know it’s in space already). Anything that can attack units planetside has Tactics, ie. chance to hit, and Lethality and Devastation stats, which describe how much damage they do to units’ hit points and the planet’s infrastructure respectively. All starships have Space Defense, and all planetside units have Planetside Defense and Space Defense.

Starships

  • i. Space-to-Space

These craft are there to attack other spacecraft. Some can be used for Space-to-Ground attack too, at reduced effectiveness.

ii. Space-to-Ground

These craft are designed to bombard ground targets from orbit. Some can also attack other spacecraft, at reduced effectiveness.

Planetary troops

These include aircraft, ground troops, and naval vessels. Different units will gain bonuses and maluses on different kinds of world – naval units, for example, will be very effective on water worlds, moderately effective on terrestrial-type worlds, and useless on worlds without oceans.

  • i. Planet-to-Space

These are planetside forces that can attack ships in orbit. Some may also be used against other planetside forces, at reduced effectiveness.

  • ii. On-Planet Combat Units

These are planetside forces that can attack other planetside forces. Some may also perform Marine duty, i.e. fighting in boarding actions against starbases.

So where can a Force go? They can exist in one of 5 possible locations: Planetside, Planetary Orbit, Interplanetary Space locations, Starbases, and Deep Space. These will be explained in more detail in Part 2.

So as Emperor, you want to be sure that Forces are kept up properly. This requires 4 things per Force:

  • Crowns (money)
  • Food
  • Energy
  • Ammo (built from heavy and rare materials)

These resources come from your Empire Stockpile (the money comes from your Military Budget). When Forces are inactive (i.e. not part of an active Military Plan) they only consume Money and Food. When deployed, they also consume Energy. When actively in combat, they consume Ammo.

Now, let’s talk about Characters that can be involved in your Military. There are 4 different types of Characters:

  • Commander – This is the main leader of the Force. Their military skill has a large impact on the success of combat.
  • Captains – These are the leaders of your notable ‘capital starships’ that have additional impacts on their abilities (and thus your Force’s ability)
  • Coordinating Commanders – These are the leaders of other Forces who are involved in the Military Plan but are waiting for a trigger to proceed (aka wait for order x to be executed by force y)
  • Plan Commander (PC) – This is the overall leader of the Military Plan, and the Coordinating Commanders are subordinate to them.

Finally, let’s talk about Military Plans. As Emperor, you will set high-level targets and it is up to your Plan Commander to create a Plan that gets that done. You will have an overall strategic objective which consists of a Target and an Military Action. Targets can be the following:

  • Planets
  • Systems
  • Provinces
  • Pops on a world
  • Starbases not owned by you
  • Logistical stations not owned by you
  • Ground Forces
  • Space Forces

Once you have selected a Target, you can generate an appropriate Military Action to act on these targets. Military Actions are as follows:

  • Attack (Forces)
  • Destroy (Starbases, Logistical Stations)
  • Pillage (planets, systems)
  • Invade (planets)
  • Bombard (planets)
  • Enforce martial law (planets, systems)
  • Conquer (systems, provinces – basically chains numerous Invade orders)
  • Engage in genocide (Pops – specific Pop cultures)
  • Gather intel (planets, systems)

From there, the PC will generate a Military Plan. You can also specify specific Forces you want to participate, but you don’t have to – you can simply specify a force level from ‘Minimum’ to ‘Overwhelming’ and the PC will try to add enough Forces that can engage that Action to meet your force level.

Coming in part 2: Inquisitors, Spies, Building Military Units, effects of Warfare on Planets, Science considerations, and more! That’s coming tomorrow!

Enjoy!

-Steve

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What’s coming, and when!

Hello everyone, today is a very exciting day for me: it’s the first day that I am working full-time at KatHawk Studios! I now have a publisher and we will be working side by side to make AotSS as good as it can possibly be!

To that end, I wanted to share the revised roadmap. Now that we have firm release dates for EA and a fairly good idea of when we want to launch the game at 1.0, I can share with you the plan moving forward! Note that this is the roadmap at this point, and while we are pretty confident that it will be the moving plan, things can and do change, and as part of our Customer Bill of Rights, we will let you know when/if that happens!

Without further ado, here’s the plan!

.7 (COPERNICUS) MILESTONES

  • .7.6 – TARGET DATE: 9/1/19
    • Begin: Add Secrets/Rumors/Plots
      • Add 3rd tab to Character Screen for Secrets/Rumors
      • Add Rumor/Secrets Logic
    • Continue: Add Inquisitor System
      • Add Actions for investigating Rumors
    • Continue: Add Comms
      • Add at least 20 Comms
    • Begin: Add Science/Reform System
      • Balance and add UI for Science output
    • Add Science/Reform Screen
    • Add Static Grand Vizier Help Screens
    • Begin: Add Stories
      • Flesh out main story types (plot, major, side)
    • Continue: Add Plots (at least 10)
    • Complete: Comm System
    • Complete: Inquisitor System
    • Complete: Help System
  • .7.7 – TARGET DATE: 9/24/19 – .7 VERSION COMPLETE
    • Begin: House to House Diplomatic System Improved
      • Specific House Actions added that can be done to each other
      • War/Alliance Code Added
      • House AI Adds Relationships between each other and adds Actions
      • Actions to change relations coded
      • Add Diplomatic Stances to House AI
      • Add AI State: Retreat/Consolidate
      • Update House Window UI to show effects
    • Continue: Diplomatic System Balanced
      • Review AI for responding to your actions
      • Review UI for showing reactions to actions
    • Continue: Add at least 10 Reforms with implemented effects
    • Continue: Story System
      • Add UI
      • Add 1-2 test stories
    • Continue: Add at least 15 Innovations with implemented effects
    • Complete: Intel System

 

.8 (GALILEO) MILESTONES

(MAJOR FEATURES: EMPEROR SYSTEM AND MILITARY SYSTEM, GLOBAL EVENTS)

  •  .8.1 – TARGET DATE: 10/25/19
    • Begin: Add Emperor System
      • Add UI for Emperor Diary (main screen)
      • Add effects of unique skills, as well as skills
      • Add additional portraits/full-body art
      • Add Personal Actions (training, etc.)
    • Begin: Add Character Face Gen System
      • Add logic
      • Add at least 5 pieces of each part of face (eyes, ears, hair, etc)
    • Complete: Story System
    • Complete: House/House Diplomacy System
    • Complete: Science/Innovation System
  • .8.2 – TARGET DATE: 11/25/19
    • Begin: Add Celestial Council
      • Add CC Window
        • Add CC Format/Layout
        • Add interface to propose bills and review current vote
      • Add Council Actions to Character Comm Screen
      • Add Council Ambitions to House AI (Primary Category: Power)
      • Add Council AI for voting tendencies
    • Begin: Add Global Events System
      • Add Event Functions
      • Add UI (similar to Comm UI)
      • Add at least 5 test Events
    • Continue: Add Emperor System
      • Add minigames (hunting, logic) – OPTIONAL if time permits
      • Add events that change skills
    • Continue: Add Facegen art – tweak/balance system
  • .8.3 – TARGET DATE: 1/1/2020
    • Begin: Add Military System
      • Add Core Functionality
      • Add Military System Base UI
        • Planet Info – Military Value
        • System Into – Military Value
      • Add Core Combat Unit Data
      • Add Military Academies/Warship Factories to Build Options
    • Continue: Add Events
      • Add and test at least 20 Events
    • Complete: Emperor System
    • Complete: Facegen System
    • Complete: Celestial Council
  • .8.4 – TARGET DATE: 2/5/2020
    • Continue: Add Military System
      • Add Military Plans
      • Add Generals/Admirals
      • Add Space Battle Logic
      • Add Ground Battle/Region Invasion Logic
      • Add Military Overview Screen
      • Add Diplomatic Reactions to Military Plans
      • Add Military Options to House AI
    • Continue: Add Events
      • Add and test at least 20 Events
  • .9.0 WILL BE EA CANDIDATE

 

.9 (KELLER) MILESTONES

(MAJOR FEATURES: XYL SYSTEM, OUTSIDE COLONIES, ADD MOVIES/ART FOR WIN/LOSE)

  • .9.1 – TARGET DATE: 3/5/2020
    • Begin: Add Xyl End Game
      • Add Art (Xyl Design)
      • Add Basic Mechanic (update placeholder mechanic from .7)
      • Add Xyl Progress Screen
    • Update: Add Outside Empires
      • Reprogram generation algorithm to meet new role
      • Place according to culture and ring
      • Add UI for outside empire stars
    • Complete: Events System
    • Complete: Military System
  • .9.2 – TARGET DATE: 4/1/2020
    • Continue: Add Xyl End Game
      • Add Xyl Final Battle Mechanics
      • Add Psionic System
      • Add Story Events
    • Continue: Add Outside Empires
      • Add Diplomacy
      • Add Art for Outside Empires (crests)
      • Add Additional Character System
  • .9.3 – TARGET DATE: 4/25/2020
    • Add: Win/Loss/Intro Movies
    • Add: Tutorial System
    • Complete: Xyl End Game
    • Complete: Outside Empires
    • Complete: Any Other System Not Finished

 COMPLETE! (ADD: AS NEEDED) TARGET: 5/15/2020 (10 MONTHS)

Hopefully this will help visualize the progress of the game and what to expect with the initial EA build. Expect to get updates much more going forward!

-Steve

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Minor Update .7.5.1 Changelog!

Hey all!

Posting a small update today that mainly fixes some issues with loading games and some significant issues with Actions. Without further ado…

7.5.1 Changelog Notes – WIP

7.25.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • None

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • Updated Migration Panel so that it was easier to see who was leaving and who was coming (green = coming to the planet; red = leaving). Also finally added Fluxmen as a separate Pop to track migration
  • Adjusted Economic Windows to fit together with the same general width or height – the look is much cleaner now with all windows open

BUG FIXES

  • Fixed several issues relating to Save/Load
    • Fixed issue where GPP would not calculate correctly after loading – it would stay at $0 forever
    • Fixed issue where House Holdings would not calculate and the House Power would be incorrect until the next turn, and Holdings would show ‘0’ for each House until the next turn
    • Fixed issues where Fleets would not be generated correctly and as a result they would never ‘arrive’ at their destination, thus not freeing up the fleets/merchants for new trades
      • NOTE: This is a WIP fix, so I have essentially disabled fleet objects being saved for this build while I work on a more permanent fix. What that means is that the turn you load you won’t have any fleets, but next turn the trade system should regenerate them.
  • Fixed multiple issues relating to Actions not working correctly
    • Fixed all text/speech issues – now all Actions should have full responses
    • Fixed all ‘test tags’ – no more developer code for speech!
    • Fixed all decision logic
    • Fixed issue where selecting a House to give a Holding to would not change who you were speaking to; this changes the Action to you speaking to the House leader
    • Fixed issue where you could select a Throneworld to demand or give away New Terra; obviously this would not be realistic, so you aren’t given the option anymore when they are selected
    • Fixed issue where a response from a character should have led to Actions not being available but they were not being updated; now they are
  • Fixed several tooltip issues, notably the double tooltip with your Emperor Power
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.7.5 Update Changelog Notes!

Hey everyone!

Without further ado, here are the changelog notes from .7.5. A lot here!

7.5.0 Changelog Notes – WIP

7.18.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • Added: Spec Ops
    • You will now be able to ‘Prep Special Operations’ as a status once an Inquisitor has been assigned to a House or a Character. This will generate Spec Op points every month towards that target (either the Character or the House Leader)
    • Once you have at least the minimum number of points for a Spec Op (shown on the left in purple on the Action; greyed out until you have at least the minimum shown) you can take the Action at any time. You will have a chance of success (shown on the right of the Action button) that can go as high as 95% (always a chance of failure!) the higher above the minimum Spec Op points you go, the greater your chance of success (represents more planning)
    • Once you initiate a Spec Op, you will find out how it went the following turn as an Event: Success, Non-Critical Failure, or Critical Failure:
      • Success: the op happens as planned, and the desired action takes place. The squad reverts to Passive Intel status, and they gain a significant Spec OP XP
      • Non-Critical Failure: the op did not come off as planned, but the squad’s cover for whatever reason was not blown. You may have them try again next month (in which case you do not need to do anything) or you can change their status/mission. No adverse effects occur, just wasted time/prep. Squad gains a small amount of Spec Op XP
      • Critical Failure: the op failed, and very publically. Your Squad gets away, but is considered injured/damaged in the attempt and will be in Working Up status for 2-6 months. Significant repercussions will happen to you depending on the severity of the Ops (usually a huge hit from the Character’s House in negative rep, also an increase in Fear and Grudge.
    • There are no limits to how many Ops you may have going at one time – as long as you have a free Inquisitor squad, you can do one!
  • Added: Character Fear Mechanic
    • Characters now have a fear level of you from 0-100, where 0 is absolutely fearless and 100 is terrified. This can be determined in very general terms, becoming more specific as you get more Intel Progress on a Character.
    • This effects how likely they are to agree to an Action, their speech/attitude towards you, how likely they are to Demand or Threaten something vs. Request or Favor, and how likely they are to join Plots against you.
    • Keep in mind that while a character with a high Fear level will be far more likely to do what you ask, they will more than likely hold a Grudge which never drops naturally, making them more likely to retaliate if they have an opportunity in the future.
    • Fear drops very slowly over time naturally, and can also be dropped quickly by positive Actions (getting to know Character, making a positive Speech, lending your Support, and promoting them to a higher Position)
    • When you start the game, since you are a young Emperor and widely ignored, most Characters will not Fear you very much. Doing Tyrannical things early in your reign is certainly a viable strategy as long as you can deal with the long-term repercussions!
  • ADDED: Blackmail Mechanic
    • Blackmail is a special status that stays on a Character indefinitely. If you successfully complete the Spec Op ‘Blackmail Character’ they will have a special Blackmail Status. This means the following:
      • They will hate you virulently – their Grudge Level goes to 100
      • They will always agree with what Action you ask for, but the strength of the demand may ‘break’ the Blackmail hold. In other words, if you demand a Holding from a Blackmailed House Leader, they will agree – but asking such a strong thing will almost certainly ‘break’ the blackmail. If you ask for minor things that they might have agreed to anyway, it is very likely that they will stay blackmailed.
      • They will always serve – if they are in ‘Will Not Serve’ status, that will change, making them available for Projects and Offices
      • This status will not affect other Characters’ secondary effects (they aren’t going to tell their friends that they’re being blackmailed, after all!) but ONCE THE HOLD IS BROKEN, ALL Allies and Friends of the Character will have a Grudge and Fear rise of varying amounts depending on the Character and the closeness of the relationship!
    • Once a Character is blackmailed, you can voluntarily release the Blackmail through a Friendly Action. The Character will react much less violently than if they broke it themselves, but they will still not be happy with you, especially depending on the Actions they agreed to during the time of Blackmail.
  • ADDED: Decision Score/Grand Vizier Feedback
    • You will now have significant feedback about whether to spend an AP (and live with the consequences) of asking a Character to do something. Depending on the Intel Progress level, you will have a range of what the Character’s Decision Score (DS) will be regarding the specific Action. Your Grand Vizier will give his opinion depending on the amount of Intel and the score range. Keep in mind that since you do not have exact intel, in close situations, your GV may say that it is more likely than not, but the opposite effect happens.
    • Also, the conversation will be color-coded for quick reference – Green = likely, Yellow – maybe, Red – probably not.
  • ADDED: ‘Neutral’ answer possibility
    • Currently, there are only 2 possible answers when a Character responds: Positive (good results) and Negative (bad results). Now there is a ‘middle ground’ option where basically you didn’t really succeed or fail, but you got a non-answer. In other words, you won’t accomplish what you wanted, but you won’t get a negative effect, either, beyond wasting an AP point.
  • ADDED: Assassination System Expansion
    • Now you can see your monthly Assassination Attempt chance right on the main UI by your Power. A few changes to this have been made:
      • This represents the monthly chance that an ATTEMPT will be made on your life by someone in the Empire. This does NOT take into effect Plots. Those are effectively unknown until/unless they are discovered.
      • At the end of each month, a D1000 roll is made against your assassination chance and if it is LOWER, then an assassination attempt will be made on the next turn. You will have the chance to spend AP for the month, but a random AP expenditure will ‘trigger’ the attempt and you will see the result on a pop-up screen. This can be anything from a missed attempt to an injury that lowers your AP for a few months to, yes, death. (though this is a very low chance)
      • If you don’t spend any AP points, the check is made when you hit ‘END TURN’. There is no escaping the assassination check once it has been rolled. It represents the fact that it will happen sometime that month, but it might happen at the beginning or the end of the month.
      • Factors lowering the check: Low Unrest on your planets, having a smaller Empire (the fewer people, the fewer nut jobs!), high Love, low Fear, being a Tyrant (having a higher Fear than Love), and having a positive GEP. Any of these factors in reverse will raise the chance. You can have a 0.0% chance if your factors are low enough.

 

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • CHANGED: Spamming of Actions
    • You can no longer ‘spam’ the same Action multiple times in a turn. Once you attempt an Action, you may not attempt it again that turn.
  • CHANGED: Logistical Network Limits
    • Logistical networks can now only be built to Level III, but their overall area of effect is greater. In addition, there can only be one LN per system, and they can only be built as follows:
      • LN I – Can not be built on a new colony or outpost, must be an established colony or higher rank
      • LN II – Can only be built on a system capital or above
      • LN III – Can only be built on a province capital or civ capital
    • They also cost more per level to maintain. The idea is to limit the LN spam, and build them only when absolutely necessary to expand to another constellation.
  • CHANGED: UI for Power
    • With your Power being so central to the game, the UI for the main screen has been adjusted to add your Assassination Chance, and your current Power is now shown prominently with your change up/down from last turn as an arrow.
  • CHANGED: Economic Prime Tax Effectiveness
    • Now can only be 25% – 115% max.
  • ADDED: New AI House Actions
    • Houses have been given additional Demands and Threats, and can now correctly build Logistical Stations. In addition, they better prioritize systems to claim.
  • ADDED: ADM Tooltip
    • Now when you hover over an ADM value in the system or planet mode, you will get an expanded tooltip explaining how the ADM was generated for the planet and the bonuses/maluses affecting it.
  • ADDED: New Relationship Types
    • Now, there are Patron and Protegee Relationships, as well as Hanger-On and Hung-Upon. These are essentially positive relationships, although the Hung-Upon character sees the Hanger-On as a junior partner in the relationship.
  • ADDED: More Conversation Engine Tags
    • There are now over 250 lines of speech that Characters can say randomly during conversation, and additional speech has been added for the new relationships and the Blackmail mechanic.
  • CHANGED: Intel Nexus UI
    • Cleaner and more iconography to make it easier to navigate the Inquisitor Info blocks.
  • CHANGED: Made the Comm UI clearer – now it is explicit when a Character is issuing a Demand, a Threat, or a Request (color cues). Also added a reminder about the Power effect on the choice
  • BALANCE: Made it harder to migrate – what was happening is any time there was an open job there would be a huge land rush and like 30 Pops would leave to try to get the one job, and 29 of them would be stuck on the new planet in the same situation
  • BALANCE: Viceroys now weight less for ADM generation
  • BALANCE: Government Complexes now produce 5 ADM instead of 4
  • BALANCE: Factories generate 3 times more BP per level
  • GRAPHIC: Made nebulae much lighter on the galaxy screen

BUG FIXES

  • As a general note, there should now be no crash bugs or hangs with turns at this point.
  • Save/Load now work again
  • Fixed issue where after a load, the GEP wouldn’t calculate correctly from earlier versions
  • Fixed all remaining tool tips bugs – wrote null catch code so it should cover any missing descriptions or icon names
  • Fixed bug with graduations not being correct
  • Fixed issue with conversations not always shedding their tags
  • Fixed major issue where a planet with a bio below 50 would not generate hardly any pops, thus creating situations where Houses would have like 20 people
  • Fixed all non-working Action responses
  • Fixed format issue on Action response
  • Fixed issue with Allied Power not showing up correctly in the Main Display – it was stuck to the same number
  • Fixed issue with when trying to perform an Action on a System/Planet that had been attached to a Province, but had not yet been assigned a Governor, you would not have any choices for Project staffing
  • Corrected Assassination formula
  • Fixed issue where Fear was being calculated incorrectly
  • Fixed issue where Comms were being treated as Demands when they should have been Requests, and vice versa

 

 

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Help Develop AotSS – Fill out a Customer Survey!

Hey everyone!

I’m collecting some data through a quick survey that will help me understand what people think about the game, how they heard about it, and their plans for it. It only takes about 2 minutes to fill out and it would help me tremendously if you took that very short time to let your voice be heard! Survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GRTST7Y

Thanks!

-Steve

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Developer Diary 7.15 – Let’s Talk About Fear!

Hey everyone!

Steve here, with a poppin’ fresh development diary. In this episode, I want to talk about a concept that is being added significantly with the upcoming .7.5 update and will be a prominent factor in how you play your game: fear.

Fear actually works on 2 levels: how Characters fear you and how your Pops fear you. Pop Fear mainly determines whether you are seen as Benevolent or Tyrannical, which is its own discussion for a later time (it doesn’t affect game play yet beyond your title). Character Fear, however, will very much determine game play.

For starters, every Character has a Fear level of you from 0-100, where 0 = fearless and 100 = shit-your-pants terror. Of course, you won’t see this number (when was the last time you said to someone, “I’m 42% scared of that guy!”)  but you will have this information in 3 areas: character tooltips, the character screen, and the conversation screen. It will be presented as a phrase, depending on your Intel Progress with that character, and the higher the IP the more specific the phrasing (much like attributes).

Simple. So what does Fear affect? Many things: a character’s willingness to ask you for a demand or threat vs a favor or request, their strategy towards you, it adjusts their Decision Score (higher Fear = lower DS), and having a high Fear level gradually builds up their Grudge level.

How can you affect Fear? Easy! Do hostile things that succeed (challenges, exiles, public reprimands, etc), as well as Inquisitor Spec Ops like Intimidation or Blackmail, and sometimes by simply being more powerful than them! (Power truly is everything in AotSS. You can’t overstate its importance either way for your success or failure.) Over time, Fear will decay as the things you have done are forgotten, but a Character’s Grudge level will not decay, and a high Grudge level leads to Plots against you (FYI, Grudge levels are NEVER public, but you might get Rumor Intel saying that a certain Character is very unhappy with you) so keep in mind who you strong-arm!

Since creating Fear also virtually always increases your Power, this may seem like an easy road to keep your Power high and get things done, and indeed it might be, but since a Character’s Grudge level never decays, you will find yourself having to work harder and harder and expend more and more AP (Action Points) to get Characters to do what you want them to do, because at a certain Grudge level they will NEVER ally with you or even become indifferent, they will ALWAYS be an enemy – it’s just a matter of controlling them at that point. In addition, people who have a high Fear of you also pass along their Grudge levels to people that they are Allies and Friends with, so you will basically piss off a lot more Characters than you might expect when you do things that jump the Fear level on a Character who is heavily connected.

Fear works alongside another stat that is handled in a similar way: Trust. That will get the next DD – so signing off!

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Power – The Lifeblood of AotSS

Hey everyone!

I wanted to take this time to write a quick dev blog about the concept of Character and Emperor Power. It’s actually critically important to the game, but I don’t think I’ve spent that much time on it. It will be very important to understand how you win and lose Challenges, how likely characters are to do what you want, and what happens when you gain and lose Power as the Emperor.

The first thing to understand about Power is that there are actually 2 types of Power: Inherent Power and Accrued Power. Inherent Power comes from your rank, your House Power, and your personal possessions. House Leaders’ Inherent Power is the same as their House Power since they are essentially the one and the same for practicality’s sake. Accrued Power is what can fluctuate the most throughout the game. This is the Power that you can gain or lose through Projects, Actions, Events, Comms, and Challenges. It can go below 0 which means that it can drive your overall Power lower than your Inherent Power.

Remember that Accrued Power is in many respects a perception of your influence throughout your Empire. You can have the trappings of power like a military, government, and Holdings (which make up your Inherent Power) but if people perceive you as weak or that you can’t control these levers of power effectively, you have an effective Power much lower than what you might otherwise be able to project. This is what AotSS models – not just the tools of power (which virtually every other 4X game does) but your perceived ability to use and intelligently wield it!

Anyway, so when is Power used? It’s used many times throughout the game, but most notably in 3 areas: when a Character is determining whether or not to do an Action, when a House is deciding whether to take action against you or your House, and when you have been Challenged (not in the game yet, but added soon!)

I am going to be rewriting the Action check to be much simpler – currently there are a whole raft of factors influencing it, but the reality of this is that you the player have to have a reasonable understanding going into the interaction of what will happen, without being quite sure. So the calculation will be greatly simplified to this:

(CHARACTER POWER + (HOUSE POWER / 3)) * RELATIONSHIP MODIFIER) + TRAIT MODIFIERS – PRESSURE = DECISION SCORE.

If the Decision Score of the Character is LOWER than the Emperor’s Power, then the Character will agree to the Action request. If it is HIGHER or EQUAL, then they will not. Period. Characters who are your Friends will ALWAYS agree with an Action request. I want to make this process much more simple and transparent. So as an example:

I am asking Viceroy Thedonoius to increase production on the planet Vesuvius. He has a personal Power of 95 and his House (Hawken) has a Power of 315. We are Allies, which is a positive Relationship and has a modifier of .25. He is Industrious, which means he is more willing to back Actions that improve Industry in his COI (Chain of Influence) and gives a modifier of -50 to any positive Industry Action (and vice versa). He is not being Pressured by anyone above him, so his Pressure is 0. My power is 318. So:

(95 + (315/3 = 105)) * .25) – 50 – 0 = (200 * .25) – 50 = (50 – 50) = 0. Is 0 (Decision Score) lower than 315 (Emperor Power)? YES. Character will AGREE to Action.

You as the Player will have access to these modifiers on the decision screen. They will replace the Grand Vizier’s information. Originally the GV was going to give you a hint as to whether the character would say yes or no, but I felt that losing an AP to what essentially is a weighted guess would be too punitive in a game where every turn counts and you’re essentially racing the clock.

Note: Characters who are currently Blackmailed will also always agree, but then they will immediately make a Blackmail Break check to determine whether they stay blackmailed for future requests.

This will also make it clear what you need to do in order to sway a Character to your cause, and whether it’s better to go the slow route and build up a relationship with them or to be more devious and Pressure/Blackmail them, or simply strip their Power. That part is up to you as the player, but you will now have better tools to make that decision.

Let’s now talk about what Power means for you beyond Actions and Challenges. Generally, you want to keep your Power above 200 at a bare minimum. As to why, let’s take a look at an Action request to a higher-level Character, like a province governor with a Power of 150, a House Power of 410, and a Relationship of Shunning (1.25 modifier). So:

(150 + (410/3 = 137)) * 1.25 – 0 = 187 * 1.25 = 234. Is 234 lower than 200? NO. Character will NOT AGREE to Action.

When you have even stronger negative Relationship Modifiers (Rival = 1.5; Vendetta/Vengeance = 3.0) you need very high levels of Power to ‘break through’ their refusal. (In these cases, you can think of it as strong-arming them to do what you want. They won’t be happy about it, but since your Power imbalance is so great they are compelled to do so.) So if you have a Character who is acting as a roadblock to do what you want, you basically can work on 5 levers to change that:

  • Increase your Power
  • Reduce their Power (negative lever)
  • Reduce their House Power (negative lever)
  • Improve your relationship with that Character
  • Blackmail/Pressure the Character (negative lever)

A Negative Lever will hurt your relationship with both the character and with their House, so be careful if you go that route!

When your power gets below 100, you are in serious trouble. At that point, your assassination chance goes way up as rival Houses see weakness. You would want to take immediate steps to gain Power ASAP. If it ever ends up at or below 0 at the end of a turn, you lose the game due to becoming a Figurehead and the strongest House at that time claims the Celestial Throne.

So how do you gain Power? Great question! Lots of ways:

  • Complete (not just start!) Projects. Each Project has a Power Rating. As Emperor, you get half of this when the Project is completed. Projects that expand your Empire like claiming Systems, Colonizing planets and building Logistical Networks will greatly increase your Accrued Power, and in some cases also increase your Base Power if you are adding Holdings.
  • Improve your Holdings – i.e. increase their Production, GPP, etc. Planet Holdings have an overall Planet Value that take into account the overall productivity of a planet, as well as its size and influence. These then affect your Base Power)
  • Win Challenges (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Increase your Military Budget (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Build Fleets and Armies (will grow your Base Power) (coming soon!)
  • Grow your House by adding Holdings and powerful Characters (this will increase your Base Power)
  • Get Married (coming soon!)
  • Refuse a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Publicly shame or denounce a character, with an Accrued Power boost proportionate to their Power. Keep in mind that they may then declare a Challenge, and their House won’t like it either, but your Pops and other Characters will see it as a sign of strength.
  • Completing Favors for Houses (coming soon!)
  • Build Inquisitor Squads
  • Events that pop up from time to time (coming soon!)

As important, how do you lose Power? Again, lots of ways:

  • Give in to a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Lose a Challenge, or fail to accept a Challenge
  • Lose Holdings (i.e. weaken your House)
  • Have your Holdings become less efficient, usually by losing population, riots, or lack of productivity
  • Fail in Claiming a System
  • Fail at completing a Favor for a House
  • Reduce your Military Budget below the minimum threshold to maintain a reasonable threat posture (this will be indicated on the Budget Screen for now and expanded when the Military System is installed)
  • Disband Inquisitor Squads
  • Have an Action refused by a Character
  • Accrued Power will naturally attrit each turn a few points (the ‘what have you done for me lately’ effect)

The Power tooltip will be rewritten to show what factors are going into your current Power so it will help you make better decisions about what to do!

Last, let’s talk about Challenges. They are not really in the game yet but they will be soon! Basically, Challenges occur when a Character ‘challenges’ your authority in some way and ‘calls you out’ publicly, while ‘bidding’ an amount of Power at stake no more than 20% of their total Power.

At that time, you can decide whether to accept or decline the challenge. If you decline, you will lose 20 Power automatically. If you accept, you will have up to 5 turns to ‘recruit’ Characters to support you in this Challenge. This will be a personal Action. If they agree, they will add their Power to the Challenge Power (CP). You will have a general idea of the other Character’s current CP depending on the level of Intel you have on the Character (Max Intel will always show you their exact CP) After 5 turns, whoever has more CP wins the challenge, and gains the staked Power as Accrued Power while the losing Character loses that Power.

As you can hopefully see, Power is super important to how you rule, and you can’t forget about it as you consider your strategy. This is why it’s important to make friends with both Characters and Houses, and why it can be beneficial to ‘build up’ certain Characters whom you have a very positive relationship with to support you in Actions and Challenges.

That’s it for now… have a great day!

-Steve

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.7.4.0 Changelog Released!

Hey everyone!

HUGE update inbound! It should be out in the next day or so. Without further ado, here’s the list!

7.4.0 Changelog Notes – WIP

6.14.19

MAJOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES

  • Added: Intel System
    • Major new gameplay system has now been added and is about 80% complete. This will break down the highlights:
      • Inquisitors added
      • Intel Progress added
      • Intel Nexus screen added
      • Intel-related Projects added
      • Statistical/goal Intel added
      • Assignments and budgets added
      • Informers added
      • Empire Intelligence Centers added
      • Intel-related Actions added
      • Special Ops added
      • Fear-related effects added
    • Inquisitors
      • Inquisitors are actually squads of heavily weaponized, trained agents, of which there is a lead Inquisitor that is represented in the game. Inquisitors have 2 main stats, Espionage (affects Intel missions, Trial missions, and general survivability) and Special Ops (affects special operations such as assassinations, blackmail, intimidation, etc.) An Inquisitor can be set to several Missions:
        • Passive Intel – allows you to gather information slowly in a planet, system, or province range on characters that are currently residing within that range. This Mission will not raise Fear, as it is covert.
        • Active Intel – more aggressive than Passive Intel, this represents the Inquisitors using more, ah, direct means to gather information, including intimidation. This is far more effective in gathering Intel Progress on your target, but it will raise the Fear level significantly and the affiliated House/Character will take a very dim view of being actively investigated.
        • Training – Basically gives the squad additional XP per month which can lead to an increase in either the team’s Espionage or Spec Ops skill.
        • Stand Down – Inquisitor squads cost money to have active. This Mission will put the squad in reserve, and while it will not cost anything against your Intel budget, the squad will slowly lose experience, and eventually points off their ratings, In addition, the longer they have been stood down, the longer it takes to reactivate them.
      • Inquisitors can be assigned to 3 types of targets: Characters, Houses, or Planets. If they are assigned to a Planet, they can also set a Scope for Intel Missions: Planet, System, or Province. It takes several months for an Inquisitor to set up and find a new Target, which is represented in the Preparing For Mission status.
    • Intel Progress
      • Intel Progress is a 0-100 number that represents the progress made towards maximum Intel on a Target. Basically, the more IP on a Target, the more you know about the stats/plans/etc. Slowly decays over time if there is no active Informer presence or Intel mission attached to the Target.
    • Intel Nexus Screen
      • This screen will show you your budget for the year, the projected and current Inquisitor budget, the current Informer budget, and the status of all Inquisitor squads. You can change the mission and target of any Inquisitor from here, or disband them entirely.
    • Intel-related Projects
      • You can currently build or expand an existing Empire Intelligence Center up to level 3. You can only build EICs on capital worlds (system or province)
    • Statistical/Goal Intel
      • In conjunction with Intel Progress, this dictates everything you know about a Target – it determines what data you can see about a House/Character/Planet, how accurate that information is, and with the next update, it will give you information about possible Plots that the Character is involved in.
    • Assignments/Budgets
      • You will now be able to set the Intel Budget at the start of the year and see what needs to be allocated to keep all of your Inquisitor squads from disbanding due to not being paid in full! (Loyalty, after all, comes at a price.) Anything above what is required to fund your Inquisitors in full will be allocated as the Informer budget, which you can set on individual Planets as needed.
    • Informers
      • Informers are your low-level intel net made up of Pops who are willing to divulge information about Characters on Planets where they are active. They do not have an influence on Houses or Planets, but they are a relatively inexpensive way to maintain intel on Characters who stay on a certain Planet. They do not increase the Fear level, and their willingness to inform is based on the budget set for the planet, their Culture, and their Love for you. In other words, don’t expect Pops to spy for you if the vast majority of them hate you.
    • Empire Intelligence Centers
      • EICs are the hub of your Intel network. Here is where Inquisitors are trained and supported, and they also serve as a planetary nexus for intel. They have 2 main functions – they set the maximum number of Inquisitor squads you can have in the Empire (the total number of levels of EIC) and they act as an Intel-gathering entity that always works passively, even if you don’t have Inquisitors present. It does raise Fear on the planet it is built on, however, while Level II EICs can cover and provide passive intel for a system (and raise fear) and Level III EICs can cover a province (and raise more fear throughout). They are progressively more expensive to maintain, and their costs come out of the planet’s Infrastructure budget.
    • Intel-related Actions
      • You will be able to assign Spec Op Missions to Characters that have Inquisitors assigned through the Character Action UI. If that character has an Inquisitor attached that is set for Spec Op Prep, Missions will appear for that Character. If no Inquisitor is attached, the Intel tab will not appear at all!
    • Special Ops
      • You will be able to do several special ops. In this release, you will be able to do 2: Assassination and Blackmail. More Spec Ops will be available shortly.
      • You select these by first assigning an Inquisitor to a Character, then setting their mission to “Spec Ops Prep”. They will start accumulating Spec Op points. Once they reach certain thresholds, Spec Ops will start to show active. The higher points you have over the minimum, the more likely the chance for success, but beware – an inexperienced Inquisitor could be caught in the act preparing with a big hit to the Emperor’s Power and Fear!
    • Fear System
      • The Fear System has been added as a counterpoint to Love. Love represents the overall feeling that Pops have about you; a low Love rating is essentially a low public approval, while a high Love rating means they’ll run through walls for you. Fear works differently – the higher it goes, the more likely that unrest and riots will break out. Once fear goes higher than love, you are considered a tyrant and your titles will change appropriately. Tyrants must spend a tremendous amount of military to keep Fear high enough to keep the Empire stable, but keep in mind that while Fear will drop if you don’t continuously show force to your people, your Love will be very slow to increase once you’ve shown you rule tyrannically! This system will continue to evolve as the Military and Science/Reform systems are added.
    • Added: Intel UI
      • See above for more information. Includes empire, system, and planet level UI showing information about Informers, EIC level, Inquisitors on a planet/system, the chance of an Intel increase on any one Character on a planet, and more!
    • Added: New Action: Request Favor with House
      • Now you will be able to ask a House Character whom you have a strong relationship with to intercede on your behalf with their House Leader. If successful, your Positive Rep with that House will increase depending on their success.
    • Added: Claim System/Influence
      • Now you will have more information showing the Influence of each House on each system from the Political Command Mode on the Galaxy View. Each House will be shown in descending order of Influence on a system.
      • You can claim any System if you are the first to put in a Claim regardless of Influence, but you will probably annoy the House who has the most Influence, and if you do not quickly strengthen your claim, a House with more Influence will override your Claim and you will lose yours. To expand your Influence, you must colonize planets, build outposts, and build installations like Starbases, Logistical Networks, etc. Influence drops off sharply about 300 AUs from the system in question, then levels out as it continues to drop until Influence ends about 15K AUs from a given system.
      • Remember that you can not build in a System that you do not have a Claim on!
    • Added: Budget Subsidy From Imperial Treasury
      • Now you will be able to allocate money when you are setting the yearly budget from your Imperial Treasury to the budget by setting a slider next to the budget sliders. It costs 25 Power to do this (it’s a sign of weakness to have to dip into reserve funds) but will make your Pops slightly happier (you are willing to use your personal wealth to improve the lives of the people).
      • This can only be used during the yearly budget allocation, and does not have to be used at all!
      • If you go negative in your GPP at the end of the year, you MUST use this subsidy to bring the budget to at least 0 (i.e. you are not in debt). It will still cost 25 Power. If you can not do this, your Empire will collapse, you will be deposed, and you will lose the game.
    • Changed: Migration Balance
      • Now Pops will migrate when they are happier if there’s a planet or colony that seems like it will provide a better opportunity. This should result in more overall migration!
      • In sum, planets that are not nice places to live will have less migration than before AS LONG AS there is opportunity and positive factors (retail, trade, jobs, etc).
    • Changed: Color-indicative UI
      • Now each Command Mode will have its own dominant color for system and planet screens, Projects, etc. This should make it easier to determine immediately what Mode you are in, as well as provide some color feedback. The colors are:
        • Military: Red
        • Economic: Green
        • Political: Yellow
        • Intel: Purple
        • Demographic: Blue
        • Overview: White
      • This system will continue to evolve as the game is developed!
    • Added: Change Assignment Action
      • A requested feature, now you can swap Characters who serve either in the Council as Primes or Characters who are Viceroys/Governors in your Holdings, as opposed to designating them for assignment and then reselecting them. This will simply swap the Characters’ Assignments. Note that if a Character is being demoted, i.e. from a province governor to a viceroy, they will not be happy, and vice versa. They cannot decline since they serve at your pleasure.
      • I have also expanded and improved the Character Selection UI in the Action screen. You will be able to see the tooltip, the House, and you can now sort by all Viceroys, Governors, Primes, and Courtiers. You can also sort by Skill. When you have an Action that will allow a swap, a ‘SWAP CHARACTER’ button will appear, and you will be able to access the Character Rank filter. Otherwise, you will only be able to select from ‘free’ characters (courtiers) as usual.
      • Note that you can NOT swap out Characters who are serving other Houses this way. In other words, you can not replace a Viceroy who is running a House Holding that is not yours and is not part of your House since you do not have authority to do so. You can only ask them to step down or exile them (or kill them!) to get rid of them.
    • UPDATED: Major optimization changes
      • Continuing to optimize the turn generation and graphics – most people should now get 60+ FPS on all screens. Still working on overview screen on planet view, but overall significant improvement
      • Turns should only take about 15-20 seconds to generate now, unless you are playing very large empires

 

MINOR ADDITIONS/CHANGES/BALANCE

  • Added more Requests/Demands
  • Added 3 more secondary strategies for House AI
  • Changed the Character Screen to make accommodations for the Intel system; also changed the Action Panel to only show categories that were relevant to the Character. For example, if a Character is a Courtier, they will not have any Assignment Actions since they do not have an Assignment, so there will not be an Assignment tab!
  • Added more tooltips
  • Continue to balance the economy – Planets should generally produce more Build Points. Also scaled down the amount of BP required for some installation’s maintenance.
  • Balanced map sizes slightly – now ‘small’ is actually larger with more constellations. This should allow all Houses to find at least one Holding without having to resort to taking a ‘bad’ one.
  • Rewrote the House Holding algorithm to deliberately create unbalanced House Holdings. Now, you will see one or two ‘much more powerful’ Houses as opposed to all of them having roughly the same number of Holdings.
  • Added more Events

 

 

BUG FIXES

  • Fixed major crash bug relating to the House AI not being able to execute a Secondary Action
  • Fixed major bug with the economy – the percentages should now be correct.
  • Fixed major hang bug with starting a game – the game would not generate enough Characters to populate all roles in the Empire
  • Fixed bug with Houses not going down to the lower relationship level once the Emperor Reputation hit -500. Now it will drop, and reset back to 0.
  • Fixed bug with Infrastructure costing way, way too much to build
  • Fixed bug with how new Outposts and Colonies are created – they should now have the appropriate amount of infrastructure
  • Planets should not now build in excess of their total facility limit; if they hit the max they will change their focus to Infrastructure at 100%
  • Fixed several bugs with how Claims are calculated
  • I think I’ve fixed an issue where you could not start a new game after going to the main screen after abandoning a current game. Still a WIP.
  • Other minor bug fixes

 

 

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The Intel System – A Deep Dive!

Hello everyone! It’s Steve with a new dev diary. It’s been a while but I’ve been hard at work on a major new system that will be implement fully over the next several weeks. I am super proud of this system, and I think it will expand game play significantly without being overly ‘fiddly’. Anyway, here’s how it works!

INTEL RATINGS

There are 2 overall Intel ratings to track: Intel Progress and Spec Ops Progress. Every Character, Planet, and House has this rating. Intel Progress refers to how through (or not) that entity is being surveilled, from 0-100. 0 means that you know basically nothing about that entity, while 100 represents maximum surveillance/intelligence gathering ability. In practical terms this means:

HOUSE:

  • 0-24 IP: No information about plans or strategies, no information about House resources, no information about Plots. You always know Holdings. No information about Projects other than Claims.
  • 25-49 IP: Limited information about plans – you know the House Grand Strategy, but not the secondary strategies. You know a wide range of resources, example a House may have between 25-300 Basic Materials. You know a House has active Projects, but you don’t have a target or expected time to completion.
  • 50-75 IP: You know a House Grand Strategy, and you have a 50-50 chance each turn to learn the Secondary Strategy. You know a much narrower range of resources and Power. You know all House Projects and their target, but not their expected time to completion.
  • 76+ IP: You have essentially complete information about a House (think pre-Intel version).

CHARACTER:

  • 0-24 IP: No practical Intel on this Character. You do not know their skills or any of their relationships. You do not know how they feel about you (they will be considered neutral/indifferent). You do not know their resources such as money and you do not know their personality traits such as Intelligence or Charisma. You have no chance to learn any part of a Secret/Rumor on a Plot, if any, with this character.
  • 25-49 IP: Low Intel on this character. You know a few Skills and you have a small chance to learn additional Skills each turn. You may reveal up to one Trait. You have a range of resources known, and you have a significant spread of their personality traits.
  • 50-64 IP: Moderate Intel on this character. You know about half their Skills and you know their relationship towards you. You may reveal up to 2 Traits. You have a narrower range of resources known, and you have a smaller spread of their traits. You still do not know their relationships with other Characters.
  • 65-79 IP: High Intel on this character. You know most of their Skills and you may reveal all Traits. You know their exact resources and you have a very close spread of their traits. You know all relationships with other Characters. You have a small chance each month (turn) (roughly the IP/20 chance) to learn a part of any Secrets/Rumors for Plots.
  • 80-100 IP: Max Intel on this character. You know all Skills and all Traits, and you have exact ratings for their traits. You also have a larger chance (roughly the IP/10 percent chance) of learning a part of any Secrets/Rumors.

OCCUPIED PLANET (unoccupied planets use Scan Levels to determine ratings)

  • 0-24 IP: No Intel. You do not know the current Population of the planet, the GPP, or any significant demographics. You do not know the Planet’s Fear or Love rating, nor do you know their Unrest Level. Practically speaking, you will have at least some intel on all of your Empire planets; this primarily applies to planets owned by other civilizations that you meet. You have no chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
  • 25-49 IP: Low Intel. You know the Population of the planet, and you know the reported GPP and employment levels. You do not know significant demographics, including happiness and reasons people do or do not have unrest, and you will have a range for Fear and Love, as well as Unrest. You have a very small chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet (~1%)
  • 50-64 IP: Moderate Intel: You know the population of the planet, GPP, and demographics. You do not know planet happiness demographics but you do know all other demographics, including culture breakdown. You have close ranges on Fear and Love and Unrest. You have a small chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
  • 65-79 IP: High Intel: You know all statistics on the planet exactly, and you have a somewhat greater chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
  • 80-100 IP: Max Intel: You know all statistics on the planet exactly, and you have the highest chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.

IP can be increased by the following each turn:

  • Informants on Planets can increase Planet IP and Characters on that planet IP. If the Planet is a House Throneworld, House IP can increase as well.
  • Inquisitors that are investigating (using an Active Intel Mission) a specific House, Character, or Planet will greatly increase the IP of that entity. Inquisitors that are using a Passive Intel Mission will increase a small amount depending on scope. An Inquisitor can be assigned to a planet, system, or province, with a corresponding loss of effectiveness the wider their assigned scope is.
  • IP can randomly increase depending on the overall Intel Budget.
  • Active Empire Intelligence Centers.
  • Random events.

IP can decrease by the following each turn:

  • Lack of budget for Informers (you will know the break-even point to maintain this budget)
  • Characters going into Exile/Hiding status.
  • Houses going into Lockdown (this is an Action they can take to decrease their IP level)
  • Planets can decrease by moving away Inquisitors that are actively surveying or by a Viceroy increasing a Planet’s Autonomy Level.
  • IP will gradually decay each turn about 2-3 points due to attrition and information age.

Spec Ops Progress (SOP) is also a number from 0-100 and represents an Inquisitor Squad’s ‘preparation’ to execute, pardon the pun, a special/black Operation (Op) on a Character or a House. Planets are generally too large to impact, although they can be impacted indirectly by Ops that affect their Viceroy or Governors. Generally speaking, the larger the number, the more Ops that become available and the higher the SOP number is over the minimum required, the better chance the Op has of succeeding. You will be able to see accumulated SOP points on each Character and House, as well as a general chance of success for each Op. For example, Assassination requires 70 SOPs to be accumulated. This is done by assigning an Inquisitor Squad to ‘Spec Op Preparation’ status and their scope is the targeted Character. Once the SOP threshold reaches 70, the Action will unlock and it may be attempted at any time. The closer the SOP is to 100, the better chance of success, although an Op with a low SOP requirement will have a much better chance of success since you can go much higher over the threshold than a higher SOP requirement. Once an Op is activated, one of 5 things can happen each turn:

  • The Op did not go off for whatever reason. The Inquisitor Squad will try again next turn.
  • The Op failed, but the Inquisitor was not caught.
  • Critical Failure. The Op failed, and the Inquisitor was caught attempting it. This will result in a loss of Intel Skill for your Inquisitor, and a large uptick in Fear from your population, as well as a violent reaction from the Character and their House that was attacked.
  • The Op succeeded, and the Inquisitor was not caught.
  • Pyrrhic Success. The Op succeeded, but the Inquisitor was caught during the egress phase. See Critical Failure results, but with the addition that what you wanted to happen actually did.

INTEL LEVERS

INFORMERS: These are passive Pops that depending on the intel budget allocated to informers on that planet, will act as a passive intel net. They will (very) slowly raise the IP of planets, and can randomly raise the IP of Characters on the planet. There is also a chance they will hear of a Rumor and will pass it long as an Event. There is no Fear effect from using Informers. Pops will only act as Informers if their unrest level is below 40, and certain Cultures are more likely than others to act as Informants. Beyond allocating the budget for each planet and the overall Intel budget, you can not control Informants directly.

INQUISITORS. Inquisitors are the heart of the Intel System in AotSS. You initially start with 3, and they act as your eyes and ears (and blasters, and lasers, and knives…) of the Empire. They are always 100% loyal to you, and they can only be trained in Empire Intelligence Centers that can be built on your Holdings. EICs can be Level 1, 2, or 3, and the level represents how many Inquisitors they can support. So if you have a level 2, level 3, and level 1 EIC on 3 different planets, you can support up to 6 total Inquisitors.

Inquisitors are actually squads – the Inquisitor is the actual investigator and leader of the squad, while the squad (around 15 highly trained soldiers) are used for protection, muscle, and intimidation when needed. Inquisitors can be sent to any planet in the Empire at any time, and travel twice as fast as merchant ships. There is no limit to the number of Inquisitors that can be on a planet at any time, or assigned to a House, although only one Inquisitor can be attached to a Character at a time.

Inquisitors have 3 main ratings: Intel Skill, Ops Skill, and XP. Intel Skill is a rating from 1-10 and represents how able the squad is in gathering Intel passively and actively. This skill is somewhat of a logarithmic progression, so a jump from 1 to 2 is greater then a jump between 6 and 7. Still, it’s worth having highly skilled Inquisitors since they are rare commodities. XP is a number from 1-100, tracked for both Intel and Ops, and represents the experience that the Inquisitor Squad is getting from activities. XP decreases slightly each turn when a Inquisitor Squad is stood down, and if the XP drops below 0 a random Skill drops a level. Once the XP reaches 100, the relevant skill will increase by 1 point and the XP will drop back down to 0.

Inquisitors cost a lot of money, especially more skilled ones. They may be loyal, but you pay them to be loyal! You will see the base cost to maintain your squads on the Intel Window, as well as the Budget window when you set your yearly budget. You can stand down individual Squads as a Mission, and they will count for very little against your budget, but each turn that they are stood down will require that many turns to be reactivated. In addition, if they are stood down more than 2 years (20 turns) there is a greater chance each turn after which they may disband forever to pursue personal goals (and get paid). You must be able to pay the cost per month of each Inquisitor Squad that is active during the previous year for the upcoming year, or they will disband. This is prorated during the year, so if the cost for an entire year is 200 BC for a squad, and they are stood down for 5 months (half the year), you will be responsible for 100 BC for the following fiscal year, or else they will disband. In addition, they will take 5 months to reactivate to readiness. Once a Inquisitor Squad is disbanded, they are lost forever – you will have to raise, train, and equip a new one from scratch! It takes 10 turns to raise a new Inquisitor divided by the level of the Empire Intelligence Center that they are raised from.

Inquisitors also have another effect: they raise Fear throughout your Empire. Pops are unsettled to know that you wield highly trained, unflappable, professional killing squads at your beck and call. Thus, you will always have a small amount of Fear per month as a ‘baseline’ based on the number of Inquisitors you have active. If they perform Active Intel on a planet, they will significantly raise the Fear level. This effect will be dampened somewhat if they are performing Passive Intel, and even less if they are at a System or Province scope. Stood down Squads have no effect since the populace do not know they are stood down – they are assumed to be lying in wait for their next mission! Missions like Target Unrest will have a large effect on Fear on the target planet, and act as a ‘wave’ of Fear moving to other planets in the system and outward to the province (with less effect with distance).

MISSIONS: Inquisitors can perform several Missions.

  • PASSIVE INTEL: This is simply information and intelligence gathering, with a planet, system, or province scope. This is the least impactful of Fear levels, but also the least effective, and the least experience gathering.
  • ACTIVE INTEL: This is active information gathering on a Character or a House. This will quickly raise the IP much more quickly and on a specific target, but will raise Fear levels somewhat. This will also not do much for your relationship with this Character and/or House.
  • SPEC OPS PREPARATION: Use this Mission when you are looking to use a Spec Op on a Character or a House. Each turn that your Inquisitor is in this status will add Spec Ops points to the targeted Character/House.
  • INDICT CHARACTER: If you are reasonably sure of a Plot’s initiator, you can move to Indict a Character, basically sending them to trial. The result of the trial will be known after 2-4 months. If you’re right, the Character can be sentenced to exile or death, and your Power and Love will soar, but if you’re wrong and they are innocent they and their House will be justifiably pissed, and your Love rating and Power will take a large hit.
  • TARGET UNREST: The Inquisitor Squad will look to find instigator Pops that have the highest Unrest levels and ‘silence’ them. In game terms, they will disappear from the game, put in prison or killed outright. Naturally, while quite effective in lowering Unrest on a specific planet, it will significantly raise Fear and lower Love on the planet and radiate throughout the system. It will also have the effect of lowering Unrest to a degree in any other planets in the system.
  • STAND DOWN: If you can’t afford to have all your Inquisitor Squads active, you can stand them down so your budget will be less next turn.
  • TRAIN: You still pay full price for the Inquisitors, but they will accumulate XP faster and across both types of skills (intel and ops). They can also be assigned a new mission at any time.

The following are Spec Ops:

  • BLACKMAIL CHARACTER/HOUSE: This is a Spec Op that looks to find compromising information about a House or a Character. If successful, they will always accede to your requests for at least a year. Failure means that no information was discovered. In rare instances, if the Inquisitor is caught snooping, the Character/House will use it for propaganda against your rule, and you will lose Power and the Inquisitor will lose Skill.
  • INTERROGATE CHARACTER: This is a Spec Op that will basically do what it says; the Character will end up in an intelligence room and they will be strongly coerced to talk about what they know. This is a very quick way to increase IP on a character, as well as learn about any Plots they may be a part of, but they will be very unhappy about the process, as will their House. This Op can not fail.
  • ASSASSINATE CHARACTER: What it says. It’s a hit on a character. If successful, the character dies and is removed from the game. If a failure, and the Inquisitor is discovered, you will take a massive Power and Fear hit, and if the Character is a high-ranking House member the House may well declare Limited or Total war.
  • DESTROY HOUSE RESOURCES: The squad looks to sabotage House resource holdings such as materials or energy. If successful, the resources are destroyed and can not be used by anyone.
  • STEAL HOUSE RESOURCES: Similar to destroy, but much harder. The difference is the resources will go to your House instead of being destroyed.

AUTONOMY LEVEL

Viceroys have one significant defense against intel: they can decrease the Autonomy of the planet. This will affect GPP, happiness, and unrest in a negative way, but it will make it much more difficult to raise the IP of Houses or Characters on the planet. A proactive Viceroy may decide it’s worth the negative effects to keep you from critical Characters or protect the House throneworld! Autonomy has 4 levels – Full, Significant, Moderate, or Limited. The ‘less’ autonomy on a planet, the less migration occurs, the lower the PDL drops (since people are more controlled, they do not shop, eat, or entertain as often), and in a nice bonus, it will actually increase production somewhat! (This may be offset by eventual unrest and happiness penalties, however). You can not control this level – other Houses do not have spy networks and you do not need to defend against ‘rival’ Inquisitors.

So that’s a fairly in-depth overview of the Intel system. Hopefully it will give you some idea of what to expect when the entire system is added in about a month! It will be added over the next several releases, so be ready – it will radically change the way the game is played!

Enjoy!

-Steve