Hi everyone! Oliver here. Today we’re going to be looking at the Culture system: what it is, what it means in gameplay terms, and a little introduction to some of the diverse cultures you’ll find among the heartworlds of your Empire.

One of the things we want to capture in Imperia is the sense that you’re bringing different ways of life together, in a cultural ferment, to renew the hidebound and crumbling Celestial Empire. To that end, rather than have different civilisations have different units, unique technologies, and so on, in Imperia the unique units and ‘technologies’ attach to different cultures, which you can integrate into your Empire. (I put ‘technologies’ in scare quotes because our Reforms system has some important differences from a normal technology tree – most significantly, it’s much broader than it is tall, enabling (indeed, forcing) you to customise your Empire rather than simply progress it along a linear track.) Once you have integrated a culture into your Empire, you can enact a number of special Reforms that build upon the interaction between the six core cultures of the Empire and the influence of the freshly-assimilated culture, as well as making Pops of that culture considerably happier under your rule.

Cultural integration isn’t simply a matter of joining hands and singing Kum-Ba-Yah, however. In the 31st Century, the differences between cultures that have developed over many lifetimes in almost total isolation from one another can be stark indeed. To represent this, alongside the Religion system (on which more in a later blog post) we have the Ideas system. Every single character and Pop in the game will have a position on each of ten different Idea scales, including technophilia versus technophobia, unity versus divisibility and illusoriness of the self, authoritarianism versus anti-authoritarianism, and more, each representing a fundamental question about human nature and society in the future. The Idea positions of characters and pops will be derived from their culture’s default positions on the scales, and will affect their opinions of many of the moves you make in-game, from colonising new worlds, to passing Reforms, to crushing rebellions – and when you are considering who to ally with and which worlds to take into your growing Empire, you will have to consider whether the cultures you are looking to rule will look kindly or angrily upon the moves you wish to make after you’ve won. Not to mention that wars and migration may cause tensions between Pops of different cultures, creating difficult political situations to manage (or, if you are Machiavellian enough, take advantage of).

But Cultures are not immutable. Both you and other characters can ‘lean towards’ one foreign culture or another, to improve your relations with characters and Pops of that Culture, but also to affect the opinions of your supporters. Your cultural leaning will, of course, set the tone at Court (as Peter the Great’s Europhilia did in Russia) but your viceroys and governors will have political needs, preferences, and agendas of their own. It will take cunning and sagacity to manage the varying affiliations of your vassals – for shared tastes can create shared trust – shared trust, shared interests – and shared interests, shared plans…

The Core Imperial Cultures

The cultures in Imperia are divided into three groups, separated by space – one group at the centre of human space, another found arrayed around it, and a third, strangest and most unfamiliar of all, at its very fringes. Not all of the cultures will appear in every game – slightly more than half ought to show up on a normal-sized map – so each game you play should provide a unique cultural landscape to navigate. We’ll give you some glimpses of the weirder cultures in time, but today I’m going to restrict myself to summarising the history and character of the six core Imperial cultures – the cultures of your people at the beginning of the game.

Neomerican: The worlds described as ‘Neomerican’ are those most heavily influenced by the popular movement of the same name that took hold in the late 28th century. Against a largely small-t traditionalist background, this renaissance of ancient American culture (as filtered through a 28th-century Solarian worldview) infiltrated all areas of art, politics, and life. Notably, the publications of Neomerican public associations influenced writers and journalists far beyond the Neomerican Renaissance’s heartlands, leading to the foundation in the 29th century of The Solarian, by far the most widely-read news distributor in the Empire at the time of your accession to the throne.

Traditionalist: Of all the Empire’s many social orders, ‘Traditionalist’ society is the most conservative and the most oriented towards implementing Solarian social doctrines. Traditionalism as it is today grew up around the families who formed the first oligarchic aristocracy of the Terran Alliance. The obvious problem they faced in the early years was how to justify their accumulation of wealth in what – in those first, hopeful days of the Exodus – seemed like a new start for Humanity, a chance to start again. The calamitous arrival of the Solarian revolution gave them an answer: the majority of the aristocratic families were early converts, forming the funding base of the Solarian Stewardship Party and propagating the ‘Wahhabaptist’ movement. They used public displays of piety and maintenance of the new Solarian church and customs to validate their preëminent position in society. The heartlands of the new faith became the heartlands of what would be thought of as Traditionalist culture, and among the foremost duties of Traditionalist scions has always been the maintenance of the perception that their society represents the divinely-ordained order of things. Their outspoken confidence in the righteousness of the Imperial way of doing things often belies a creeping doubt and fear of slipping ‘into shadow’ off the true path – like those Techniks, Mercantilists, and ‘Gilded World’ sybarites…

Technik: The Technologists or ‘Techniks’ burst onto the scene in the 2850s as an intellectual movement calling for the revival of technological projects long held taboo by the Empire, beginning with the publication of Lucida Nevsky’s multimedia manifesto, Technology for Humanity, in 2851. It soon evolved into a more all-encompassing philosophy and way of life, as the technologies revived – including varieties of mind-machine interface and unusual prosthetics – lent themselves to transformative, sometimes quasi-spiritual experiences. Though many of their discoveries eventually became widespread, their transformative social effect was never so strong as in the Techniks’ heartworlds. To survive at the top of Technik society, their Houses take the rôle, more or less, of media and entertainment empires: by providing – or monopolising – the ‘peak’ experiences central to the Technik way of life, they sell their subjects on their rule.

Spartic: The Spartic movement is actually very old – it can trace its antecedents right back to veterans of the First Xyl War who, on arriving on the new world, resolved that society ought to be ordered in such a way that it could move to defend itself against an unknown threat at any moment. In this way, they are a reaction to the Exodus. They are a militaristic culture with strong focus on discipline and personal hardiness, and this idea of a disciplined social order is what maintains their leaders’ positions. All citizens participate in extensive national service and related training, from quite a young age. Cybernetic implants for battlefield purposes are common amongst all classes. They tend to have poor economic performance, but produces great troops and generals.

Gilded Worlds: The Gilded Worlds exemplify an alternative solution to the problem of how an élite can maintain its position over the very long term. Rather than pacifying their subjects with ideology, the great Houses of the Gilded Worlds go straight for the limbic system, maintaining chemical acquiescence through the judicious deployment of recreational narcotics, Soma-style. The leeway this lends the privileged in Gilded society leads them to notorious excess.

Mercantile: Somewhere between Venice at the height of its glory and England in its nascent days of empire: built on a revival of interstellar trade, this culture loves wealth and will work and even innovate to get it. Renewed interaction with previously-long-separated worlds makes this culture a little bit of a melting-pot. Its great Houses are trading powers – a mixture of old families who took advantage of the return of interstellar trade in the 2820s and 30s and new trading families who arose from that flowering. Prominent among them are the Ilioaias (a mining clan with a tragic past) and the Milaks (whose unexpected geological windfall propelled them to sudden glory in a few short months in 2915).

Join us again next week, when Steve will be taking the blogging reins once more!

Oliver

Hey everyone! Steve here, with yet another new blog. We’re back to active development, so we look to have some screenshots soon but for now I wanted to talk about Houses: what they are, why we have them in the game, and how you can interact with them (and what can happen when things go bad).

So the entire structure of civilizations (including your Empire) are simply the sum of which Houses swear fealty to that particular civilization. What’s really happening is that there is always a ruling House (in the Empire, this is your House, with you as the head of House) and other Houses choose to swear fealty to that House, similar to the feudal system of yesteryear. All Houses have a head of House, their own treasury, their own crest and colors, and many Great and Minor Houses have a bespoke history as part of the Imperiaverse. Houses also have bonuses and specialties, and belong to a specific Culture group (which we will cover soon).

Holdings are simply what a House owns as part of the stellar landscape. Usually this means a planet, but if they have Holdings on a majority of the planets in a system, they are considered to Hold the system as well. This has implications for security in the system, as well as trade.

There are 3 broad sizes of Houses in Imperia. The largest and most impressive are Great Houses – they may have hand-crafted histories and special rules, they sometimes have Holdings of system size or larger, they may have their own military capability, and their leaders are often the most influential people in the game. There are 10 bespoke Great Houses that may appear in your Empire, though only around 5 are active at game start (selected randomly) while Great Houses in other civilizations are procedurally generated.

The second tier are Minor Houses. Within the Empire, these Houses are still bespoke, with a history and a base of operations, but do not have Holdings of any great size, usually no more than a single planet. Their leaders yearn for their House to rise to Great House status. There are 10 custom-made Minor Houses in the game, of which around 5 will be active in your Empire at game start, along with other, procedurally-generated Minor Houses.

The lowest and most common tier are Common Houses. These Houses are basically the ‘normal’ Houses of no great note, representing average families and House groups. There may be dozens of these Houses in the game. They do not have Holdings or military.

Houses are the entities that you are in conflict with throughout the game. As Emperor, you must work with the Great Houses to ensure that they support your Projects and Actions, and keep a close watch that they do not ally with each other in order to overthrow your House (and thus you). Your Inquisitors will be vital to stand watch over less-loyal Houses. It is important that you cultivate solid alliances with the Houses that you feel will benefit you the most. Due to ideology, it is impossible for you to ‘ally’ with all Houses – the other Houses are natural rivals, and acting in the best interests of one House will make other Houses jealous. Balancing your relations with the Houses is a critical part of your rule: do you more or less try to keep them neutral (‘a quiet dog is a safe dog’) or do you try to boost one or two Houses above the rest to gain their loyalty, but anger the rest of the Houses, especially those Houses’ sworn enemies? It’s up to you. You can also stop supporting Houses, but you might up angering everyone along the way.

To quickly pacify Houses, you have four powerful tools in your arsenal. The first is Projects. Proposing Projects that benefit a certain House will usually bump their Loyalty towards you and your House, depending on the benefit they will get.

The second is your administrative positions. You can assign a Character from a specific House to a viceroy position of a planet, a system or provincial governor, or even a Prime on your Council. The more power you give a character from a House, the happier and more loyal they will be, but obviously this will anger other Houses.

The third is more drastic, but has a huge impact – you can give a House a Holding of a planet, a system, or even a province (if it is yours to give). While this will delight Houses to no end, there are a few drawbacks. First of all, you no longer ‘own’ the Holding, so you can’t tax it or get supply from it as you did before. Second, you can’t get the Holding back by any means except force. In other words, if you decide you made a mistake in giving that system to a House that was threatening war, too bad – unless you decide to go to war yourself.

Which brings us to the fourth and final option: troops and guns. You can always use your military to destroy a House if you feel the need to do so. Keep in mind that this will raise your Fear rating to dizzying heights, and other Houses that are not cowed will actively plot to curb your power (unless the House that you took down was hated by all else, but even then self-preservation takes over). Repression – from military occupation to targeted kinetic strikes against their home planet – can keep your nobles in line, but such extreme measures will have repercussions…

Part II tomorrow!!

-Steve

 

Hi all, Oliver here! This week I’ll be talking about how territorial ownership and soverignty work in Imperia.

One of the problems we came across designing Imperia was the seemingly simple question: who owns what? We knew we were going to have chains of command involving characters from different Houses, but how, precisely, would that work? How were Houses to relate to the game’s civilisations? How would a House declaring independence work?

What we came up with is (we think) quite an elegant solution. Each House in Imperia has Holdings – planets over which they’re sovereign – and may or may not swear fealty to another House. But a House’s holdings need not be administered by House members. The House Head can bring in characters from other Houses within their jurisdiction to administer their territories, meaning that each character is simultaneously a member of two different power structures. So there’s always a potential conflict of interest going on. The elegant part is that this structure means there’s nothing more to civilisations than independent Houses – even your Empire. Your Imperial worlds are simply the Holdings of your House.

This opens up multiple ways to expand your empire. Do you try to build a loose federation of powerful vassals, or claw fresh Holdings for yourself out of the carcasses of enemy Houses? Do you tempt sovereign Houses to join your growing domain with their territories intact, or help their treacherous inferiors overthrow them to become a puppet government, in hock to you? Do you trade away your existing Holdings in return for the loyalty of your vassals, or does that risk making them to powerful? You can promise a share of the spoils to House Heads who send Forces to aid you – but are you planting the seeds of your own overthrow? What if, instead, you empowered smaller Houses, presently without territory, by giving them Holdings of their own – along with the obligation to raise a Force and fight for you when the time comes? The conflicting imperatives of feudalism will (we hope!) create all sorts of fascinating gameplay opportunities in the universe of Imperia.

Next week, Steve’ll be blogging again, and over the coming weeks we’ll also be starting to show off some sections of our Game Design Document on the forum. Now that the design is mostly in place, we’re going to be getting back into the cycle of producing regular alphas, which I’m really excited for. Watch this space!

Oliver

Hey everyone! Steve here with yet another new diary – now that we’ve wrapped up the large-scale system design, we can talk more about what we’re putting in! Let’s talk about trade today, because even though it’s not the most exciting part of a 4X type strategy game it can have long-term effects on how you play.

The first thing to understand is that there are 2 types of trade hubs that generate trade in a given area: province trade hubs and system trade hubs. (The Empire’s province hub is also considered the Empire trade hub, with a slightly larger radius of effect) Every province in the Empire at the start of the game will have at a province trade hub. Any system that is covered by the province trade hub range may trade with any other system or planet that is also within range. Province trade hubs have a large radius of effect. Province trade hubs can also trade with other province trade hubs, which will allow goods to move between provinces, and from there to the systems in the province.

System trade hubs are smaller, and not built at the start of the game, but can be used to expand your reach if you expand a province to the far corners of a given constellation. To build a trade hub, you must have a trade station built first. Any planet may import goods, but you must have a trade station to export goods to other planets for money.

There are 2 types of trade agreements – Supply and Economic. Supply trade agreements are created by the Empire to move goods from outposts to the Empire trade hub, and to the province and system trade hubs as well. Outposts are created to generate a certain type of good – food, energy, materials, etc. – and are not considered settled colonies. They can only export resources and do not generate income by doing so. Economic trade agreements are generated when a planet has a need for a certain resource and another planet has a supply of that resource that they have earmarked for trade. When that happens, a trade request is made to a certain planet, and that planet may choose to accept it or allow the planet to bid more to accept it.

Often, many planets will have a need for a resource, determined by the Viceroy through a stat called Importance, and if there is not enough resources set aside for all the trade bids, the price of a resource will go up. Trade bids also take into account distance and security between the systems, so if there are a lot of pirates or there is a war going on in the destination system, the price will be much higher to take the bid. Merchants are used to administer trade fleets, so a planet can only have as many active trade fleets as they have merchants allocated for them – merchants can either be allocated for exports or retail on a planet.

Once a trade agreement has been set, a trade fleet is created. This is a real object in the game world that can be examined and even attacked by pirates, other Houses, or other civs, or it can simply have a mechanical failure out in the depths of space. Once a fleet has made its journey and dropped off its goods, it becomes available again to fulfil a new trade agreement.

Here’s a game example of a viceroy from the planet Heaven trying to create a trade agreement for food, since they are a desert planet and cannot generate enough to feed all their Pops.

Example:  Since the viceroy of Heaven has determined that the Importance of Food is high enough to make a trade request, Heaven has made a trade request for 10 food units. Melanon is the only planet in the radius of the Province Trade Hub that is currently trading food and has trade fleets available. 
Since there are 5 Merchant Pops on Melanon dedicated to exports, they may only have 5 trades active at any one time. Right now, there are only 2 Trade Fleets available, as 3 Trade Fleets are out in space (Supply Trade Fleets do not count against the merchant total). Melanon has 4 trade offers outstanding from within the province for food, and Heaven’s bid is 3rd lowest (the higher 2 planets have a higher Importance on Food, and so have bid more). When considering trades, the distance and security risk is also taken into account, so planets that are farther from the trade hub may have to pay more because the trip is less profitable (energy to power the fleets is paid by the exporting planet as part of the costs of maintaining trade fleets)
For this province, even though the base price of food is ¢0.5m (that’s 500 000 Crowns, the basic unit of currency for 31st-century humanity) per unit, heavy demand has increased it to a new base of ¢1.8m per unit. In addition, the cost per unit for a trade between Heaven and Melanon is ¢4.1m due to distance and low security in the system where Heaven is located. The two planets higher on the list have offered ¢2.2m and ¢2.4m per unit of food, and their cost per unit is only ¢3.3m and ¢2.9m, respectively since they are closer, so their total bids are ¢5.5m and ¢5.3m per unit of food.
So essentially, because of the shipping costs, the viceroy of Heaven has to increase his bid to at least ¢5.4m per unit (¢2.9m cost per unit + ¢2.4m bid per unit + ¢100k to increase the total bid from the lowest-eligible planet on the list)
As the ‘bumped’ offer, the Heaven Viceroy may choose to increase their bid to make this trade happen. As his people are starting to show high unrest as their food stocks plummet, he decides to increase his bid to ¢5.45m. The planet who is offering ¢5.3m declines to adjust their price, and the lowest bidding planet does not do so either, so the Melanon trade request moves to the 2nd slot. No further bids take place, so as there are 2 fleets available, the Heaven request is filled and the trade price is calculated at the ¢5.45m base. These crowns come from Heaven’s Gross Planetary Product (GPP) budget that has been devoted to imports, and are removed from that budget immediately.
Once the trade is completed, if Heaven wants to trade again with Melanon, they must put in a new trade request, and the cycle begins again.

So as the Emperor, there will be plenty of ways to manipulate this system. One easy way is to flood a province with additional resources when prices are high, or perhaps to create a temporary bubble of need with a Project request. Let’s say that you have a Character who is a new Viceroy of the planet Tableau, and belongs to House Hawken. You want Hawken to be on your good side, and you feel that this Viceroy has the skills and loyalty to be a tremendous asset to your rule in the future (perhaps being given a Governorship down the line if all goes well). But for now, his planet is struggling, which is hurting his overall Power. What can you do?

Here’s a long-game option: You know that you are going to be building more military fleets in the next 2-3 years. Now, you could give those shipyards (which are built through a Project) to your putative friend, which would be a heavy industry and would bring wealth to the planet, but you have a longer-range plan. No, you know that Tableau has a very high concentration of rare minerals on the planet, and you also know that there is another viceroy of the planet Remola from House Ilioaia, who specialize in trade and mining, that you would like to improve your relations with since they are opposed to House Van Rigel, who most hate you and your ruling House. So what can you do?

Why, give the shipyards to Remola, which will initially make that viceroy (and House) happy, who will then need a tremendous amount of rare materials to build and power those fancy shipyards once they’re built, which will only come from the rare mineral mines that have been thoughtfully built by your order on… Tableau. And Remola’s viceroy will pay out the nose for the privilege, while your viceroy on Tableau’s GPP skyrockets from exports, and his Power increases, all while your ships of war get built by your loyal and greedy subjects.

Now that’s Imperia.

-Steve

 

Hey everyone! Well, Oliver and I have been working hard on the refined game design for Imperia, and after an original version that was banged on for a while, several months of work and balancing, and a lot of cussing and sore fingers, we are excited to announce that the game design document for Imperia is just about through its first draft!

While this may or may not sound exciting, you may have noticed that we haven’t put up any new screens for a while, and we haven’t released any new builds to our testers. It’s been almost 4 months, in fact. We made a decision among the 3 of us (Oliver, Pavlos, and myself) that as this was becoming a large and commercial project, it made more sense for us to pause, rework and get the design on paper, lock down the critical game systems and design elements, and flesh out the lore of the universe of Imperia. It’s been a lot of work, and I have to say Oliver in particular has put a lot of work into the AI systems, the lore, and the military systems, among other things.

We challenged each other, took a critical eye at everyone’s thoughts, and looked at every single aspect of Imperia from a new perspective. Some of what we have changed we have discussed in these forums and blogs as developer’s diaries, but there’s more. Much more to this design. Over 60,000 words and over 160 pages so far, in fact. And still growing as we add lore and things like formulas, art, etc.

Is this the right way to design a game? We don’t know. But when you have 3 people working from across the globe, with different time zones and responsibilities with the game, you have to have a concrete Bible that everyone can work from. We have project management and such as well, of course, but as we quickly found out, a game of this complexity and scope simply could not be ‘made up as we go’ as we got deeper into the design from what I started in 2014. So much like starting over with Unity, we took a deep breath and plunged into the task.

And you know what? It was absolutely the right thing to do. These last few weeks, as we have tied down the major systems and bridged the lore with the systems and the UI plan, we realize we’re creating something incredible here; something that has never really been tried before. With a working GDD, we’re going to be able to start developing code and art again in earnest, and frankly, with all we’ve done with Imperia, I can confidently say this:

Imperia is about to lift off, and for those of you who have been following us for a while (y’all are awesome and seriously devoted, BTW!) your patience is about to be rewarded in a big way. We’re going to start sharing portions of the game design in about a week, but for a little something right now, here’s a new ‘back of the box’ description of what Imperia is:

“Happy birthday, Your Excellence. I am your AI regent. As you have now reached your eighteenth birthday, you are now the Last Emperor of the Celestial Empire, and as such are now authorized to receive this briefing, classified Omega-One Level.

“The year is 3050 AD. You are the last Emperor of the last Human Empire on the first planet founded after Mother Earth fell over an eon ago to the wrath of the Xyl.

“Our race, scattered amongst the quadrant, thousands of light-years across, has shattered like cosmic glass after the Second Xyl War. Scattered survivors have formed small civilizations, new cultures have sprung up, and even strange religions have formed to the very edges of the quadrant in a feeble attempt to fight the flickering of humanity’s flame. Recently, our outer colonies have seen disturbing signs of our ancient Xyl enemies once more, and New Terra’s historians are increasingly wary of what they see.

“The Celestial Empire, or as it is known colloquially, the Last Empire, stands as humanity’s final bastion against the winds of the Xyl that would seek to extinguish this flame. These creatures that are less than Gods but more than mortal have planned centuries for this time, and they do not intend to fail in their goal a third time.

“Your House rules dozens of worlds, but the other Great Houses of the Empire seek to usurp the Crystal Throne upon which you sit. Powerful Primes sit on the Celestial Council, gathering power for the time when they might strike for the Empire themselves. Only your House’s vast holdings, your control of your unimpeachable Inquisitors and their attached squads of fanatical Judgements, and your divine right to rule which is still revered by the Empire’s people, has prevented a cataclysmic civil war between your ruling House and the other Houses.

“Your people still support you, but as the last in your line, the Last Empire, along with your House, will fall with you. The great religion of the Empire, Solarianism, threatens to schism your Empire as they pray not to you, but to Father Sun to turn back his demon Xyl, to no avail.

“We can not hope to fight this final war alone, Your Excellence. Our military technology has grown stagnant, and our warships have become relics with our slide away from technology. You must unite these broken shreds of humanity, lost though many of them have become, and bring them – however you must – under the banner of humanity one last time.

“The Xyl are coming, Your Excellence. The quadrant is watching. Your people are praying. Your enemies are plotting.

“Your empire awaits your first command.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Steve

Hey everyone! For those of you who have been with us for a while, you know all about Edicts – basically the way that you get stuff done on a planetary level in Imperia. When we sat down to redesign the game, we thought about what Edicts really represent. In the first Imperia, there wasn’t a lot of interactivity to them – you basically pointed your finger and said ‘do this’. While your vassals could slow down the project, there wasn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to it – plus, the way to build your Edicts was somewhat confusing, and assigning ADM from planets wasn’t very intuitive. So we knew we would be redesigning the screen from the start.

With that, what are Edicts? Well, you already have a lot of overlap with character Actions – you are asking characters to do things, and with Edicts you were asking more or less the same thing. It felt like a fiat, and there was very little interaction with characters beyond ‘piss them off, Edict slows down. Make them happy, Edict speeds up’. Since the core of the game is the relationship with your people and your leaders, this felt incomplete.

So we decided first to make Edicts only truly planetary-level and above decisions. Next, we thought about how to get characters involved, and to differentiate certain characters, giving the player tough decisions about how to create an Edict, while also keeping the actual physical creation extremely easy and intuitive. After much discussion, we have finalized the new Project system.

Why Project? Well, Projects are much more collaborative and expansive, while the very word Edict doesn’t leave much room for debate. Given the way they are now organized, and the fact that you will also be able to enact Progress Laws (we haven’t finalized the name yet) we didn’t want to confuse the player about what they were doing. Once you click on the Project in the list (similar to the Edict list), a Project Creation screen will popup. Here is a mockup of what the screen will look like:

Project Screen Mock

Each Project now has an ADM cost, shown on the upper-right. They also have a base resource cost, and a money cost. They also have a ethic leaning, which can make it impossible to add certain characters if their morality is strongly against the ethics rating of the Project.

Creating a Project is now very simple: You assign an Administrator, and then assign Contributors by dragging and dropping the character card onto the slots on the staffing ring. To remove a character, simply right-click. When you have full funding, click Execute and that’s it!

The first step is to assign an Administrator of the Project, shown in the center of the staffing ring on the left. Every character in the game has an Admin rating of 0-9, and that affects both the maximum number of characters they can add to a Project as Admin and how much of their holdings’ ADM they can use for a Project if they are a Contributor. Once you have an Administrator, a number of slots equal to their Admin rating will show around the outer circle (position has no bearing on anything).

Your goal as the Emperor is to assign characters to help with the Project by contributing money and ADM. What’s in it for them is now reflected by a Prestige rating for the Project. This represents the amount of power and influence that they gain throughout the empire by being a contributor to a stellar-level Project. Generally, the more prestigious the Project, the more characters will be willing to contribute UNLESS it is a Project that will help a rival House (characters tend to be more loyal to their Houses’ interests than yours) The actual amount of power they receive is proportional to the amount of funding that they end up contributing (Admins get 50% of the value of the Project Prestige rating by dint of them being the Administrator).

Each character card on the right has the character’s name, their max ADM that they can contribute per month, their public Honor rating, and their funding minimum/maximum that they are willing to give to the Project. Their loyalty to you, their personal wealth, their desire for Power, and how much their House will be affected (positively or negatively) will all weigh into what they are willing to contribute. Characters who are not willing to contribute anything or who will not be Contributors due to morality concerns will be greyed out. To easily find characters to add, you will have range filters from the planet, system, province, and the entire Empire, and you will also be able to filter by House, rank, whether they are allies or enemies, and more.

Now with this system, you have a lot of considerations. Sure, you can assign a high-level administrator, but competent ones will be few and far between. What happens if you have a need for a Project down the road that you have to have done quickly? If you pull an Admin, the project freezes until a new Administrator with equal or better Admin rating is put into place. Also, sure it’s great to have a character that will pony up the whole funding for a Project, but they will also get all the prestige that goes with that – is that a character that you want to give a massive power boost to? And if you put characters from the same House all in the Project, they will get a slight ADM efficiency bonus – but other Houses will take note that they have been shut out of Empire Projects, and your standing will suffer accordingly. Also, being an Admin of a successful and provincial-level, say, Project will also accord massive Power to that character. What are the ramifications of that?

With this information, you simply drag and drop characters onto the staffing ring until your funding potential (seen on the upper-left of the staffing ring) reaches 100% or more. You will also be able to gauge how long this Project might take as the Estimated Turns value changes. This is calculated by taking the max ADM allocation from characters that are assigned and dividing by the total ADM required to complete the Project. Once you are happy with everything, you click Execute. The Project is now in Funding status. After a turn passes, if nothing has happened with the characters that are involved in the Project financially or otherwise, they put their money in, the resources are removed from the planet where the Project is based, and the Project begins!

FOR PART II: Cover, corruption, troubleshooting Projects that are behind schedule, and what happens when characters die while involved in a Project…

Talk to y’all soon!

-Steve

 

 

Hello everyone, Oliver here. Today I’m going to be talking about a part of Imperia I know many of you have been wondering about – the military system.

The way combat and logistics work in Imperia are quite unlike what you might find in a conventional 4X. My main consideration, putting the design together, was to make a system that had a realistic, hard-sci-fi feel to it, while meshing with the intrigue-and-subterfuge gameplay at the heart of the game. I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve come up with.

The basic control unit of your military is a Force. This comprises, troops, starships, transports, aircraft, landers – everything: it’s a combined arms force under the command of a character, imaginatively called its Commander. Each Force draws all its troops from a single Homeworld, on which Military Pops support it. This is important for two reasons: firstly, the loyalty of the Military Pops on the Homeworld determines the loyalty of the Force’s troops; and secondly, to operate, a Force must maintain supply lines between its Homeworld and wherever it’s deployed. To maintain these supply lines, the Force’s controller – ie. you – must make deals with the sovereigns or administrators of the planets its supply posts will be located on. These characters, along with the force’s Commander and its sponsors (because you can make deals with characters to pay for your wars) are admitted to the Force’s War Plan.

The War Plan is basically a series of orders the Force is set to carry out in sequence. It’s in your interest to issue orders in advance for two reasons: first, there’s a flat cost for giving a Force orders in any given turn, no matter how many orders you issue that turn; and second, it takes a Force a few turns to get ready to carry out those orders, meaning that if you wait for them to reach one star before ordering them to move to the next, they’ll spend several turns fannying around in solar orbit before doing it, whereas if you give them the order several turns in advance, they can do it straight away when they get there.

The point of this system is to provide space for spying and subterfuge. Characters admitted to your War Plan can pass details of it on to your enemies, allowing them to find and break your supply lines, intercept your fleets in interstellar space (which is only possible with this advance knowledge of where they’re going to be – space is big!) and discover and target your Force’s units more effectively. And, of course, you can (and should) pull the same tricks on them. War therefore becomes as much about probing your enemies’ political weaknesses as hitting them really hard in the goolies. You’ll be working out which of your enemy’s allies can be bribed or blackmailed into selling them out, feeding your own dubious characters misinformation, and trying to cut off your enemy’s supply lines, whilst they do the same to you.

The combat system itself is pretty simple. There are no tactical battles: they would break up the flow of the game, but, more importantly, a good general wins before the battle by tilting the odds heavily in their favour, which is why tactical battles in 4X games are so often so dull. Here, units in each Force simply target units in the other Force, and deal damage against their hitpoints, mitigated by armour. The exact rules differ slightly between interstellar space, interplanetary space and planetary orbit, with MILINT becoming progressively less important and sensor power mattering more as we pass from the former to the latter. Orbital combat is particularly gruelling, as spacecraft (assisted by ASAT units planetside) repeatedly batter one another into high-speed dust, afflicting the planet with Kessler syndrome, whereas combat in interplanetary and deep space is much more like jousting – high-speed fleets taking preprogrammed potshots at one another as they hurtle past. Planetside, troops devastate and pillage the worlds they fight over, damaging facilities and causing the locals to resent the invaders and their culture. Ships in orbit can bombard enemy ground units, further adding to the carnage.

This is really only scratching the surface of what makes Imperia’s way of war unique. I could have mentioned military exercises, tours of duty, sending troops underground to hide among the local populace… But it’s twenty past 1 on a schoolnight, so I’ll leave it here. I hope you’re looking forward to making war amongst the stars as much as I am!

Hey all!

Still working on the design document – we’ll post some development diaries very soon (one is already up on http://www.imperia5x.com about combat) but wanted to let everyone know that our Facebook page is now up! Check it out if you dare here!

Pretty soon (TM) we’re going to move everything that’s spread out (forums, indieDB info, wiki, etc) onto one dedicated website under the KatHawk Studios banner, with Imperia being the first (and only) product! Since we’ll most likely be using WordPress for the web design, we won’t lose any of the blog info, so we’ll use it as part of an integrated social media whole. It’s still amazing to see that we get hundreds of visits daily despite the lack of updates on this blog, so we’re going to start updating this blog concurrently with our updates on the forum/official site so that however you get your info, you’ll be in the loop on what’s going down with Imperia!

-Steve

 

 

Hey everyone!
So we’ve been pretty quiet for the last month or so. What we’ve been working on doesn’t lend itself to pretty screen shots or 3D wonder. No, we’ve been working on the baseline game features, the AI, and the player experience. It’s all pretty gnarly as far as something to post, and honestly I’ll let Oliver, our AI guy, talk about it in more detail, but basically it’s going to be as close to a living world with full characters in a 4X as has ever been seen. Your emperor will walk amongst fully-realized personalities, each with their own traits, abilities, goals, and morality. We have revamped the character attributes to be more in line with the new ‘Aitvaras’ AI system we have been working on. Characters will be able to determine their relationships with each other, determine their short and long-term strategies depending on those relationships, their ambitions, and the ambitions of their House and/or their civilization.
It does sound like CK in space, to a point. There are some similarities, to be sure. But we want each experience with talking to a character to feel like you’re talking to a real person. Where you might have 5-6 real options and no real feedback in CK, in Imperia you might have dozens of actions, many of which could lead to other actions, depending on what you say and how the character responds. We want these characters to feel real, and you should be able to understand what they want to do and be able to influence those actions if they are not in your best interests.
That’s the real heart and soul of Imperia, something we’ve talked about since the very beginning. You are not the absolute master of your domain. Things are happening all around you, all the time. You can choose to do nothing, and the Empire will still run. Planets will get developed, the budget will be passed, and characters will seek to achieve their personal ambitions with or without your stamp. You must use the tools of Empire to shape your civilization. Every month, what you do has an impact. You have the power to destroy planets, to colonize and shape constellations, to go to war with every other civ in the galaxy – but at what cost to your rule and your people? You can rule as the most feared tyrant in the quadrant, but if people start to leave your Empire, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can have people assassinated who displease you, but remember that people have friends… and long memories. Each action you take WILL have a reaction – but that reaction is not always immediate, just as in real life.
So we’re finalizing that AI plan. We already have some of the data programming in place. Next week will mark the release of .2 – with character Actions and the new speech system, you will be able to commuicate with your people and your characters, and start to shape your Empire. The economy is already pretty much done, though we’re still tweaking the trade system. We’re also updating the AI – adding constellations as provinces will change the game play significantly. There’s a lot to talk about next week, and we’ll have some new screen shots soon!
Also, look for a new video update next week and perhaps some podcast appearances! We’ll post the time and date on the site as we confirm them.
And…. looking towards next month, we are starting to design the new web site! We will have our own web site that is dedicated to Imperia, as part of a larger company site (KatHawk Games) so be looking for that as well.
Lot happening! Stay tuned!
-Steve