Geoff the Medio wrote:
Fine, then it seems redundant to have two "numbers" measuring the same thing.
If we need one species to dislike an empire for being a certain way, and another species to like the empire for being that way, then we can do this by making the species respond differently to a single number.
* If we need one species to dislike an empire for being a certain way, and another species to like the empire for being that way, then we can do this by making the species respond differently to a number on a scale that ranges from 0 to 100.
That's exactly what I'm saying. If you are extremely Pacifistic, your Bloodthirstiness alignment will be 0. There's no separate scale for Pacifism, it's just what the low end of the Bloodthirstiness scale is labeled as. One number, not two, and species with different preferences respond differently to that number.
"Increasing Pacifism" and "High Pacifism" are 100% synonymous with "Decreasing Bloodthirstiness" and "Low Bloodthirstiness", respectively, although that's probably not clear from the wording I used on that wiki page.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
However, I am not convined either way about whether such opposing reactions will be necessary, despite strong a argument against them (which is the potential to require micromanaging the number to be at a target value to balance the opposing species reactions)
I don't believe that will be a problem. The player will never be inclined to try to hold his alignment at a specific, single target value, because of two things:
- External forces that affect and are affected by allegiance (bombardment, espionage, etc.) are unpredictable to the player, such that an alignment of 80 on a given scale is never obviously and indisputably better than an alignment of 81.
- The strategic value of a small, specific action should always outweigh its effect on the alignment scales, and alternate methods of increasing citizen happiness should be available to the player, such that unfavourable citizen reactions caused by an imbalance in the alignment scale will be overpowered by the advantage given by the action that caused that imbalance.
The player will make large-scale strategic decisions with their effect on his alignment scales in mind - those decisions are what will determine the viability of all those smaller strategic options, which will cumulatively have a large effect on the player's alignment scale. The interest is in making sure that the large-scale decisions increase the viability of small-scale decisions that push the player's alignment towards the desired value. The same applies when the player has a "target" region that isn't at one of the extremes of the scale. He should design his overall strategy to move towards his target for a time, while getting himself in a suitable position to change his policies and patterns of action upon approaching his target region.
However, even if target micromanaging was a problem in a bipolar system, this is still not an advantage for the monopolar system, because micromanaging targets will be just as much of a problem with monopolar alignment scales (assuming conditions that make micromanaging bipolar scales a requirement). The player has several alignment scales, and more is always better, when considering only
that alignment scale. However, when the rest of the game comes into it, actions which increase the desired alignment scales aren't always going to be the best actions to help the player win the game, so the player is going to want to hoard as many resources as possible for other means, and expend only what he absolutely must to maintain his alignment at a level which pleases his citizens.
This is the micromanagey balancing act the player will have to perform with one
monopolar alignment scale. Now you would probably be correct to say that if the player is already focusing on a strategy that complements his species' racial picks, he'll already be well above the riot threshold, and doesn't need to worry about micromanagey balancing of the alignment scale. However, let's suppose now, that the empire brings a secondary race into his empire, whose ethos doesn't really correspond to his strategy. He's not going to want to spend any more than the absolute minimum of resources to keep that species happy, so the player will be forced to micromanage actions that correspond to that species' ethical preferences. Now let's further suppose that the empire has only enough resources to barely keep all of the alignments that correspond to his species' ethical preferences at a level that just brings his planets' happiness above the riot threshold - not an uncommon occurrence for empires with lots of different species (because creating such a situation for such empires is one of the main points of the system). Now, he has to carefully balance every single action to make sure that he's spending just enough resources on actions corresponding to the appropriate alignment scales. This is starting to sound more and more like the problem stated above (which is the potential to require micromanaging the number to be at a target value to balance the opposing species reactions).
Whatever means are employed to fix this problem should apply equally well to a bipolar system.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
"More of this one vs. more of that one" is a less interesting strategic decision than "more of this one vs. less of this one"
I disagree with that assertion, however even if it is taken to be true, player actions need not only alter one alignment scale. With a single number in each "scale", a single player action could increase the empire's rating in one scale and decrease it in another. With a pair of opposite-meaning numbers per "scale", a change to one would be mirrored by an opposite change in the other, possibly in addition to similar mirrored changes to another pair of numbers which is confusing to explain and understand and makes any decision about an action much more complicated to judge.
* A single player action could increase the empire's rating in one scale and decrease it in another. Thus there can be tradeoffs between two numbers moving in opposite directions when chosing an action, and not just tradeoffs between moving one number up or another number up.
Yes, player actions need alter only one alignment scale. Unless you think the spaghetti mess you just described is a good thing, in which case we're coming at this from completely different angles.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
Overall, I still see neither necessity nor benefit to paired opposite alignment scale numbers.
There are a few benefits to a bipolar system:
Politics: I've gone over this in detail on the wiki
, and it's really difficult to see how monopolar scales can provide similarly interesting results, since as far as an "Exploratory Researcher" is concerned, there's no difference between a "Militaristic Diplomat" and a "Defensive Expansionist". That seems kind of boring - putting in the effort to give empires "character" is a lot more interesting if it actually influences an empire's relationship with other empires.
Character, Race Relations, and Story: Allowing different races to have opposing ethoi makes the game seem more dynamic and interesting. There's more conflict, more clashing ideologies and values. It creates a stronger role-playing experience when you can really try to crush the empire that tramples all over your values. In the campaign mode especially, there's a lot of potential for ethos-driven campaigns if some races can actually be ethically opposed to the actions of a particular empire. Starting a campaign against an elitist totalitarian for ethical reasons is interesting and potentially very fun and immersive. Starting a campaign against another empire because it doesn't do enough exploration is ludicrous in comparison.
Direct Tradeoff vs. Limited-Resource Tradeoff: I appear to be having trouble convincing people that adding extra layers of the limited-resource tradeoff to an already existing set of options doesn't add anything to gameplay besides complexity. Honestly, I don't see what else it adds. The choice is already there. The tradeoff is already there. Now, you're just complicating things by saying "now you have to balance resource consumption against these alignment scales". Why is that fun? The limited-resource tradeoff is great as far as the basic mechanics of the game are concerned, but extra add-on features should have as simple (though not superficial) a relationship with the rest of the game as possible. A mutual exclusivity relationship is possibly the simplest relationship that can exist between two options, and since it's essentially self-contained, it also has an extremely simple relationship with the rest of the game. Conversely, using the limited resource tradeoff means that every time you make a decision about your alignment scales, you'll have to go juggle numbers elsewhere to make everything work out. That's not fun, IMO.
It's worthwhile to note however, that even if I can't convince anyone of this, the previous two points are also very important, even though I see the mutual exclusivity tradeoff as one of the main advantages of the bipolar alignment system.
Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Some things empires could be rated in won't necessarily have a natural opposite thing to put on the other end of a scale.
I disagree. Even in the current four bipolar alignment scales, the low end of the scale tends to be characterized by a lack of a particular kind of action. Pacifism is the lack of Bloodthirstiness, Isolationism is the lack of Diplomacy, Freedom is the lack of Security, and Egalitarianism is, for the most part, the lack of Elitism (though that can't really be said with any confidence until more details of rank are worked out). By using only monopolar scales, we would be restricted to using only scales that have no natural opposites, or moreover, we would be restricted from using the natural opposites of the scales we put in. If we used Militarism, we couldn't have any races that like Pacifism. If we used Diplomacy, we couldn't have any races that liked Isolationism. That would really be much more limiting than using bipolar scales would be.