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Imperia Tutorial Video Series Starting!

Hey everyone!

Very excited about the great interest in the new build of Imperia! With so many more people playing means that I think it’s time to have some tutorials! I have started to record some video tutorials that are no more than 10-15 minutes per concept. The first video is now up, and it covers the UI and the tooltips in more specificity then the first video, which was more of a grand overview.

The video is here: http://youtu.be/GC0vPlGjzEU

Look for future videos on Edicts, planetary management, the trade system, and character management!

-Steve

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V.410b R2 build sent to testing!!

Good news everyone – I have drawn a line on .410b and I have sent the build out for a few people to look over before I release it! I will also film the LP later tonight (I have to work tonight – on my b-day no less!) so look for that to be posted by tomorrow.

There are a TON of improvements in this version. Frankly, if you’re been playing .400 or less, you are going to need to relearn a lot of things. Among the major additions, without a complete changelog:

  • Totally revamped UI, including detailed event/alert UI
  • Military system added (armies and garrisons for now) that affect happiness, security, and can put down riots ruthlessly if needed 🙂
  • Revamped character system, added the pressure/persuasion system
  • Revamped intel system, split between domestic intel (allows you to know more info about your people on a planet) and political intel (allows you to know more about specific characters and conduct black ops)
  • Expanded help/tooltip system
  • Balanced to be much less punishing as far as materials and food shortages go
  • Character alliances are now in the game (think political parties)
  • Characters now have opinions of everyone above and below them in their ‘chain of command’ that affects their mood when you take action against/for someone in that chain
  • Characters now have jealousy ratings for everyone else in the game – this will drive their want/wish when that system is introduced

I will be posting some new screen shots tonight as well. I know that I promised that this would be out in November or December, but I have this bad habit of adding more and more stuff and getting distracted from my goals, so I’ve started writing down what I want to get done each day and it’s made a world of difference! (Yes, it’s a hobby and yes it’s free but still). Thank you all for your patience and hopefully everyone will get to play the new build in the next few days!!

-Steve

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Some new art and some new concepts!

Hey all! In preparation for the new LP that will post very soon, I wanted to show some new stuff off!!

First, the updated astrography (main screen) UI:

Here is the latest version of the Astrographic UI.
Here is the latest version of the Astrographic UI.

 

The continued evolution of Pavlos’ vision is at work here, with a clean, clear, yet ‘retro’ imperia look. Next, we look at the updated military tab, showing a selected army and unit within that army:

Picture of the new military tab. Yet to be added are the action buttons such as disband, move to reserve, and make flag unit.
Picture of the new military tab. Yet to be added are the action buttons such as disband, move to reserve, and make flag unit.

 

As you can see, you will have a listing of all units on the left side, where you can see both the unit detail and unit listing. When you select an army only, the army’s stats will show on the right side detail window. The fleet review screen will look slightly different, but be essentially the same idea. You can access your general here with a tooltip showing basic stats, or through the character mode of the Intel screen.

Now, let’s move to an exciting first feature of the eventual relationship system between characters: pressure and persuasion! In this instance, Cyra has a problem: even though there are enough jobs to go around, the pay is so low and the job prestige is so low that people would rather sit around and collect their unemployment then get out and work. Now, we could just cut unemployment, but this is Tyrannical and I don’t want to go that route. So perhaps making the sector more appealing is in order. I plan to ask June Grayson (the viceroy) to raise agriculture wages in order to make the sector more attractive to job-seekers. First I look at her basic stats:

June Grayson Ex. 1

 

I already know quite a bit about her, but she doesn’t have any pro-agriculture tendencies, and since the sector is already losing money, she will probably be reluctant to spend more money in the sector. So I look to other means. I could pressure her, which would be a lot more effective but is very Tyrannical (and causes a lot of friction between both you and the character and the character doing the pressuring and the character), so I choose to simply Persuade. After looking at the chain of command, I choose to let my sector governor persuade June. First, I ask her:

June Grayson Ex. 2

 

Turns out she is willing to persuade. Great! I then check June’s character window to see how persuasive Kelly was…

June Grayson Ex. 3

 

Whoa! Kelly’s good at this! Now, before you think that you’ll just merrily pressure and persuade people hither and yon, there is a fatigue stat that increases as a character persuades and pressures others. After a certain point, they will simply refuse to do any more. This fatigue represents not physical fatigue per se, but finding out information, asking confidents of the target to help, calling in favors of the target, etc. and it takes time to recharge those sources. So next turn, I will apply most of those points (they decay over time, which is why it is important to plan ahead) to my request and hopefully, it will be granted!

Stay tuned!!

-Steve

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Let’s Play .410 build scheduled for 1.20!!

Hey everyone!

We’re making tremendous progress with the latest build of Imperia so we wanted to show off the new UI, character systems, and military in action! Look for the link tomorrow on the blog!

UPDATE 1.21 – I’m not quite happy with the stability with all the UI additions, the diplomacy system, generals, and the military system, so I want to get one more day with the code before committing to a LP. I really want to show off all the fun new stuff to its best effect, so I want to have patience. I will be posting some new in-game pictures shortly, though!

-Steve

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Imperia Concepts – Pressure/Persuasion

So as an Emperor, you will have numerous ways to influence your leaders under your rule, ranging from benevolent to merciless. An important lever you will have is using your sector governors (and to a lesser extent, your system governors) to actually enact and guide your policies. The end goal of Imperia is that your sector governors should be both your potential largest levers to run your empire, as well as your greatest threat should they turn against you. The military system, both in the ground and in space, will start to show this in .410 with the addition of ground forces, armies, and fleets that can potentially be controlled by sector governors.

Another concept that will be present in .410 is the idea of using leverage from your sector and system governors to run your planets. Characters can exert pressure or persuasion on characters that are subordinate to them. Persuasion is less effective but is not considered tyrannical. Pressure is considered tyrannical and only allied leaders with tyrannical leanings will do this. Pressure/persuasion is ‘pooled’ for each character who is being influenced and can be used as ‘currency’ to improve the odds something will be done or used to speed up an Edict. Characters that are pressured are unhappy and will generally like you less, as well as their superiors. Points in these pools raise the chance of success for one point per persuasion point, and 3 points per pressure point. Characters will remember being pressured. Points will decay by 25% per month if not used.The idea is essentially that you are approaching your most powerful governors to give their support for key requests in the near future, without having to be immediately specific, but seeing the effects of their promise fade over time. That way, you have some ability to deal with events as they occur and this should result in less micromanagement overall.

This system will give the player more flexibility to set up situations with a better chance of success, at the risk of an unstable leadership structure in any given sector. A military army on the ground can also create pressure (but this is mighty Tyrannical) equal to the army’s suppression rating and must be in a Suppression stance.

On another note, I have been working quite a bit on the game over the last week or so and there are a lot of new additions big and small. I will be putting out a revised changelog tomorrow!

-Steve

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A New Year, A New Focus: Imperia in 2015.. And Beyond

Hello all!!

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a little while. A combination of the holidays, a lot of work, and frankly a little burnout all contributed. I wanted to take a bit of time and step away to make sure that I still had the fire and passion for this project. Imperia is a complex undertaking, and it is essentially a 2-man project right now: Pavlos provides some wonderful art and graphics, and I do the rest. When I think of how much more I want to add to Imperia, sometimes it seems daunting, but then I remember that Imperia is the game that I’ve wanted to play for almost 20 years, and that purpose brings me back with a vengeance. So hiatus over, let’s get to work!!

There are 3 different things I want to do with Imperia in the next 30 days. The first thing I want to do is to get the full Imperia site in order. I have looked at some drag and drop options, and while those would be easy, I believe that I can program a basic site with CSS, Dreamweaver, and Javascript. If I can’t, I’ll go back to a basic template, and what I might do is create a ‘placeholder’ site while I work on the more advanced one behind the scenes.

The second thing is to actually get .410 as a release version. I want to have the ground unit system, the space units, the autonomy system, and the military edict systems all up and running, as well as complete the interim .410 UI. Pavlos has some excellent ideas about a UI that I think the next version will start heading towards, but for the .410, the current theme will be completed. We will also add the military tab for planets and create the military screen UI (this is how you will create large-scale build, design, and movement/attack/defend plans). It will be basic to start, but it will be a foundation. As part of the UI, I want to also have the event pictures in and the secondary screen in that gives more information. All tooltips will also be in for edicts and major UI areas.

The final thing is to get the word out about Imperia! Pavlos and I are excited about the new website, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like the current WordPress blog can be moved to the new website, so a link may have to be added. I do not want to give up that much history, so I will see what can be done. But in the meantime, I want to be more active on the blog/website, and if you know anyone who might be interested in playing (well, testing at this point) Imperia the feedback would be welcome! Remember, it’s free.

I want to address one other thing. Many people have asked me privately or mentioned in the forums about when/if Imperia will be a paid product. I do have some thoughts about that, and here they are.

  • First of all, I don’t know that I like the early access model that has been all the rage. Some of the companies are properly using this system to add requested features, to hunt bugs, and to promote additional worthwhile features. But for every game that does it right, there are 5 that seem to be money grabs. A few even have dropped support before the game is finished (or calling it a half-assed 1.0 and calling it a day). I don’t want to do that. I believe (perhaps naively) that developers who do this genuinely got ‘in over their head’ as opposed to deliberately misleading customers/gamers, but regardless of the reasons, I don’t want to go down that road. Any early access model that I adopt should Imperia be a paid product at some point would always provide a free alpha option.
  • That being said, I think Imperia has a lot of potential – but that potential is a LONG way off. It was started as a hobby, and became one that I shared with others who also thought a game like Imperia would be fun to play. I welcome any and all feedback. It’s how games get better. My stated goal has always been to make Imperia the best 4X ever made (or 5X, semantically :-) That hasn’t changed. But to do that with a staff of essentially two volunteers is a grand undertaking at best.

So there’s that. I can’t always promise progress will be rapid, but with .5 in the distance, most of the major UI and programming structure would be in place at that point, which makes development easier. The save/load systems, the XML readers, the sprite engines, etc. are all in the code and at that point it would be about creating content and developing the logic, which isn’t as hard as what’s been done so far!! I hope you can see the progress that has been made in the last 8 months, and I hope you see the potential of what will be, one day, but I can’t tell you what day that will be… because I have no idea either.

But stay tuned. Pavlos and I are ready to rock!

-Steve

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Upcoming Concepts: Autonomy

Hey all!

Wanted to talk about another exciting change that will be in release .410 that I have been kind of keeping under wraps, but it will be huge to the gameplay – the idea of autonomy for your leaders. Going forward, you will be able to set the autonomy level for each viceroy and governor in your empire. You will do this in the Character screen, as action options (RAISE AUTONOMY) or (LOWER AUTONOMY). There are 4 different levels of autonomy, described as follows:

NONE – Essentially, you rule the planet by fiat. You will not even be able to take this action unless you have a military suppression strength from units loyal to you on the planet (and stance set to suppression) equal to the planetary value that the charater’s AOR is based times ((Character Will + Character Power) / 20). If the character has any ground military units under their command, their defense values are added to this calculation. By taking this action, you are essentially micromanaging the planet. The viceroy must do everything you ask, without question, and they may not adjust taxes or sector builds. They may not also control military units (duh) or any other action. They are certainly free to gnash their teeth and plot to kill you, however, and especially Intelligent and Willful characters will attempt to reclaim their authority if the military presence lessens for any reason. This action will obviously be Tyrannical in nature, and create Fear on the planet in question, and to a smaller extent, throughout your Empire. You can also depose a character, and they will go, but they will actively look to form a coalition or plot to kill you.

NOMINAL – This is what your characters begin with at the start of the game. They can adjust taxes, and build/contract sectors of the economy, and are free to decline your requests. This is essentially what leaders have been doing since the first versions of Imperia. Leaders who are given this level of autonomy aren’t thrilled per se, but they are much happier than being given none.

SIGNIFICANT – At this level, characters may build military units of their own need to control either unrest or riots, or to appease their populace if the garrision level is too low and their people are afraid that they are not being protected. If there is a starship production sector on a planet that is under their AOR, they may also build starships to protect their system or sector (if they are governors). They may also open or close emigration to and from the planet. If people are leaving in droves, a viceroy may lock down their planet in order to preserve needed labor, at the risk of increased unrest. While characters may build these units, the units are still considered loyal to you and are still designated Imperial units. This is a big step, and will significantly increase a character’s Loyalty towards you, but seriously limits your ability to run the planet. Other characters who are on the lucky character’s level may be jealous of your largesse. This is seen as a nominally Nationalist act, unless the character is extremely Tyrannical or cruel.

FULL – At this level, while the planet may technically be ‘yours’, you have virtually no say over how it is run beyond conversation and suggestions. Your characters may enact Edicts at this level, in a manner which they feel will best serve their planet (depending on their traits and personality of course!) Unfortunately, they will also delegate the ADM needed as they see fit. Fortunately, they may not use Empire ADM – they are limited to the level at which they serve; i.e. if they are viceroys, they may only use their planet’s ADM; system governors may use the system ADM, etc. They also have full control over any military stationed on the planet, system capital, or sector, depending on their level. So if you give a sector governor full autonomy, they will control all planets in that sector, as well as all military, both ground and space, stationed within their sector. This is a titanic step, and will send shockwaves throughout your Empire. The character will be automatically 100% loyal to you. Depending on the continuum rating of the character, it may be seen as a very Nationalist act (if the character is benevolent) or Tyrannical (if craven and cruel) and will make all characters at and above the level of the character given full autonomy very jealous, potentially leading to plots and certainly requests for their own planet(s).

You will see the character’s level on tooltips, on the character screen, and on the intel screen. This mechanic will finally allow you to reward your loyal characters, while giving you another option to wrest control of planets that are in need of some love without killing a character outright. Each tool that drops into place will give you a little more shape for the clay that is your Empire.

-Steve

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Imperia Concepts V – Military Stances/Fear

Hello and happy Sunday! I hope those of you in America had a great Thanksgiving and if you’re into that sort of thing, Black Friday (sorry, England!)

I wanted to talk a little bit more about how the military will work in Imperia, and more specifically, what you as the emperor will be able to do, what your limitations will be, and what you must consider as you direct your ground and space forces. Before I do that, however, I wanted to touch on a mechanic that will be introduced after .410, but will be absolutely critical to the political model of Imperia: fear.

FEAR, simply put, is a number that is tracked concurrent with your Popular Support (PoSup) on each planet. For purposes of maintaining your hold on power, fear only has an effect when it is higher than your PoSup. It then takes the place of your PoSup, but is notated as Fear instead of PoSup and will be in red. Note that you need to have sufficient intel in order to see this specific effect on a planet. As long as your Fear rating is higher than your PoSup, it will act as your PoSup for purposes of unrest, economic effects, and most important, your hold on power. For an example, think of the Empire during Star Wars IV-VI – the populace was loyal, but only because they were cowed into obedience. Creating fear generally requires a large and loyal military, with a substantially loyal military leadership and viceroys/governors who are willing to go along and not incite a rebellion. Once you have made the decision to rule by fear, it is very difficult to rule any other way without significant nationalist policies and significant reforms for your people.

Now, to GUNS, GUNS, GUNS!!!

Every force in the game, whether ground or space, has 2 essential factors that determine what they will do on a given turn, and how they will perform:

STANCE– All forces can have one of 5 stances when at an Empire world, which you as Emperor have nominal ability to manage:

  • PEACEKEEPING – This is a general ‘protecting your people’ stance. People will feel safe and protected if there are combat factors equal to the security rating of the planet. The required security rating will fluctuate depending on the size, population, ADL of the planet, and several other factors. Very Tyrannical commanders may actually not allow this stance, or at the very least be very unhappy about it.
  • GARRISON – The same general stance, but more prepared for action. People are not quite as happy about a garrisoned force, but they are still positive. Slight readiness bonuses are given.
  • STANDBY – This is a ‘neutral’ stance. Your forces are prepared to act either for or against your people. The fact that they are not designated as explicit security forces causes concern among your pops, generated as Fear.
  • SUPPRESSION – At this stance, your forces may act against your pops or your leaders as needed. Fear is generated from this action, as well as significant unrest control. Military forces who are not loyal to you or whose commander is significantly Nationalist (or just, or planner, or benevolent, etc) will not generally support this action and will not be able to be issued this stance. This stance also provides diminished protection against hostile forces.
  • INTIMIDATION – The ‘stormtrooper’ stance; you are actively working to create fear and root out disloyalty on your worlds. This stance provides maximum fear and unrest reduction, but provides very minimum actual protection against hostile forces. Only very loyal commanders will allow this stance to be enacted.

Depending on the size, tech level, and skill of the force and the commander, it may take several months to change the stance of a given force. This represents not only the logistics of the change, but the psychological effects of taking time for your populace to actually see and believe in the change.

Fleets have 2 additional stances: IN TRANSIT, which allows fleets to move between stars, and INACTIVE, which essentially holds the ships in a mothball status and provides no bonuses or maluses, It costs somewhat to keep an inactive fleet in the process, but less than building an entire fleet from scratch. Fleets in INACTIVE status lose ability over time, reflecting lack of practice or action. Commanders in charge of inactive fleets also tend to be annoyed at their loss of station. There will be combat stances when you send a fleet to attack a hostile system/planet, but that will be discussed in a later blog under Battle Plans.

You will be able to see your fleets/ground forces in each system using the War Map view, which will show you the fleets, ground troops, and planetary defense bases (PDBs). You will be able to select fleets for quick action using a right-click to bring up a fleet list, which will then open up the Fleet Command System as a pop-up window, similar to the Edict window and the Character window.

Last, let’s talk more about commanders.

There are actually 2 ‘commanders’ of a force: a direct admiral of a fleet/general of a ground battalion, who is a character and will have all the normal characteristics as well as tactical and strategic ratings that will determine how effectively fleets will fight and conduct their stance orders.

The other commander, the one actually giving the stance and movement orders to the fleets/divisions is normally you, but you have the option to ‘loan’ military forces to system and sector overnors (you can not give fleets to viceroys!) This will have the obvious benefit of placating them and increasing their Loyalty, but once you give a fleet to a governor, taking one away will be very damaging to their prestige, and depending on their personality, they may not choose to give the fleets back at all! At that point, you are forced as Emperor to declare war on that governor for defying the Empire, or allowing the refusal to stand.

If you allow the refusal to stand, you stand a tremendous risk of rebellion from the affected system/sector since they see weakness from the Empire, while they see strength from their governor. This will also have ripple effects throughout the Empire as other characters will be emboldened by your timidity,

Building new forces on a planet requires the necessary facilities – a military base to build divisions, and a starship production facility to build fleets. Creating a division or fleet takes one or more Pops – they are moved into a Military role. This also assumes the families and support staff for these divisions, which is why it takes at least one Pop to create a division or fleet. Military Pops will fight harder for their world of origin and will be less effective for suppression/intimidation roles.

Next: a peek into the Science system!!

-Steve