tech trading / stealing / etc.

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Kharagh
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#31 Post by Kharagh » Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:29 am

I think we should not use an rpg spy system for every single spy. That might be nice at the beginning of the game, but after you get more then 10-20 spies, it will involve too much micromanagement in my opinion.

I like Dreamer's idea of a global rpg approach for spies. You will still be able to influence your spies, but would not be forced to micro that much.

Apart from that I would like spies to be able to steal either anything, from a category or even a specific tech like Impaler suggested at the beginning of this thread. I also like the infiltration phase it takes for spies to get into the enemy empire and get his cover working.

Benefits could be getting a specific amount of the enemy's reseach on a project each turn, capped by the percentage the enemy has advanced in this tech already.

Sending a spy back with false information also seems like a great idea to me.

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Geoff the Medio
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#32 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:44 pm

Kharagh wrote:I think we should not use an rpg spy system for every single spy. That might be nice at the beginning of the game, but after you get more then 10-20 spies, it will involve too much micromanagement in my opinion.
Then we'd just not let the player have more than half a dozen spies at a time... It's a standard number vs. details issue. I prefer to err on the side of fewer things (spies) with more details about each thing (spy) that the player can know, interact and care about, rather than many generic things that the player couldn't care less about individually.

Something that could use some additional thought is double agents... or even triple agents.

If empire 1 recuits a spy, one could give that spy a mission to go offer its services to empire 2, who would get a normal-looking message about a new spy being available, and the choice to accept or reject it. If accepted, the spy appears to be under the empire 2's control, but every order it gets is sent back to the empire 1 for approval / adjustment. In order for this to work well, most spy missions would have to take a few turns, so that empire 2 could give an order on turn 1, empire 1 would get notification of this on turn 2 and be asked what to do, and empire 2 would get the results of the order a few turns after that. If spy missions normally take a few turns to complete, the feedback to empire 1 about empire 2's orders could be done without having an odd-seeming delay for empire 2. (The delay would be somewhat randomized, likely...)

The feedback from empire 1 about empire 2's spy orders given to an empire 1 double agent gives empire 1 the opportunity to mislead empire 2. Empire 1 could:
--if the mission is against empire 1, then it could be allowed to succeed (in order to keep spy hidden) or made to fail (but keeping spy seem loyal to empire 2) or the spy could be told to reveal its identity and return to empire 1, or perhaps the spy could report to emprie 2 that the mission had succeded when it actually hasn't (risking that empire 2 will realize the deception and root out the double agent). For information gathering missions, the empire 1 could allow the spy to return true info, return false info, or seem to fail.
--if the mission is against empire 3, then empire 1 could tell the spy to try to do the mission that empire 2 asked for normally, with normal chance of success / failure against empire 3 for empire 2, or could intentionally fail the mission, or in some cases do the mission badly or return bad information to empire 2 about empire 3, or even for the spy to reveal itself to empire 3, with various interesting results. If an empire 1 spy working for empire 2 discovers something about empire 3, then empire 1 could also get the information... and get the choice whether to give this information as is to empire 2, or to alter it in some way. Having a double agent spy report back with info would probably be a detection risk, however...
--if the mission is internal to empire 2, like increasing security or rooting out enemy spies, empire 1 could have the spy falsely expose one of empire 2's other spies as a double agent, making player 2 have to decide which spy to believe / trust.

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yaromir
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#33 Post by yaromir » Fri Jun 03, 2005 5:11 pm

How about a mixed system.

1) You have an abstract spy network whose quality is a function of resources allocated, sociatal attitudes, tech...etc. This network provides you with low quality information, whose accuracy depends on the quality (ok...ok there could be multiple qualities like gather, co-orse, assasinate, sabotage, steal...etc same as 'individual spies')

Select external empire, check-boxes come up:

*Active (if checked, your spy network is active in that empire, if off)
*Allow Tech stealing
*Allow Assasinations
*Allow Sabotage
etc...

Depending on the qualities of your abstract network, things would occur, but as RANDOM events. (i.e. some nameless spy got lucky and downloaded 32% of research on super-deluxe hair dryers).


2)
You can spend additional resources to train an elite pool of individual spies which you would control directly, give missions...etc. These guys should be very costly, and being caught should be a major event with serious diplomatic reprecussions. As said before, these should be very few, and probably pretty expensive to train and maintain.
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Geoff the Medio
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#34 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:00 pm

I think we're better of picking one espionage system and sticking to it...

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skdiw
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#35 Post by skdiw » Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:13 pm

I was thinking you limit number of spies allowed to number of empires in the game. Some techs can increase this amount.

Spies can quit on their own, die naturally, or be assasinated or captured, so the gradual increases to the number of spies available doesn't mean you gonna have a micro problem by end game. I don't imagine even darlock will have a problem with a double number of spies as special ability. I was thinking, for non-darlocks, 0.5 spies per empire and 1 on defense is the average amount. you can always get more spies and allot extra on a particular empire or on defense if you want.

I think sending spies for general information gathering is better than some abstract system. we can do abstract system by letting the spies in hiding do some low lvl, low risk work. tho, i rather that we should set general information gathering as an option for spying mission so even non-darlock races can join the fun. I think information gathering can get sophisticated if the player maintains it over time. you can start simple like knowing what techs the empire have, instead of indirectly knowing if you can pick exactly what techs to steal. next, you might know what each planets focus is so you know where the tech bases and where the war factories are to do your blitzkrieg. near the end-game, you might have all the visions of planets and empire and all the innerworkings. and if you are crazy game designer like me, you might do a transcending tech where you take part of that empire's turn by having governers, senators, and generals infiltrated into their empire(this will be abstract/fluff as a messeage) and get issue your some number of your own orders.
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Dreamer
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#36 Post by Dreamer » Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:46 am

Well. As I satated in my proposal (I'm begining to think that the wiki was a bad idea, it is more readable indeed, but nobody reads it) every empire can have a spy network and networks collide for general control and information, from this base you can create specific missions and the mission difficulty depends a lot of the size of the backbone network. This way you get both a general aproach and individual control. I still like the idea of 1 or more "clases" for spies instead of single individuals. If almost any country nowadays can have hundreds of spies I refuse to have at most 20 spies on my "great" galatic empire! I explained the workings of this method in a little more detail in the wiki but it's not too long to read (no more than some posts here :lol:)

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Geoff the Medio
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#37 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:58 am

Dreamer wrote:If almost any country nowadays can have hundreds of spies I refuse to have at most 20 spies on my "great" galatic empire!
This is essentially a realism argument; you want hundreds of spies because that's how it works in the real world. Realism argument aren't considered very relevant for FO design, however; we're making a game, not a simulation. What matters in this case is the gameplay that would result from a system or idea. IMO having a small number of individual unique characterized spies that the player can know, remember and care about would make for more interesting and fun gameplay and more intuitive strategy design possibilities.

However, consider this: perhaps the bar is set a bit higher for spies working for galactic empires. While there may be hundreds or thousands of humans on earth capable of functioning as a spy between nation states, perhaps the type of being with the necessary characteristics and abilities to be a spy in a society run but another species with totally foreign beliefs, biology, psychology and sociology is much rarer, such that only a half dozen are available at any given time to an empire.

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#38 Post by Dreamer » Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:22 pm

Well. I know the argument is realism-based and i'm not fond of that either. But what people around here seems to forget sometimes entirely is that a sane dosis of realism and consistency is needed for a good inmersion in the game. If in a game you are a medieval knight you don't like it when a robot appears. This is just because of realism and yes, it's just a game, but it kind of kill the mood for the game doesn't it?

Part of my attraction to Moo series is the ability and feel to rule the galaxy. I can create my own setting in comparison with fiction novels and movies and I surely expect to have stuff in the same level. Abstract a lot of things in a simple, general game mechanic is good, but taking the galactic-colossal feel from the game is not. I reyoiced in Moo1 being able to send MILLIONS of troops to take a planet, even is there was no animation for it. FRor spies the same principle applies.

Anyway. That was not the main aspect of my topic :roll:

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Geoff the Medio
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#39 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jun 05, 2005 9:36 pm

Yes, "immersion" and "consistency" and "epic feel" are some of the standard alternate words that people use when they want to use a realism argument without using the word realism (though they are occasionally used in a different sense as well). Thing is, this is a completely fictional future setting, in which we can come up with a reasonable sounding explanation for just about anything. It's not like having six spies is completely implausible; I gave a reasonable justification above. And we can still have an "epic feel" of dropping millions of troops and other such (otherwise arbitrary) numbers while having a small number of spies; not everything in the game has to involve huge numbers. And really, is it at all "epic" to have a galaxy with 500 stars and a few thousand planets and 10 or less empires? A real galaxy has tens of millions to trillions of stars; we're nowhere near the "galactic-colossal feel" you'd like, and if you think we are, it's just that you're willing to accept one arbitrary nonsensical number but not another, which doesn't make much sense. Maybe 500 stars seems "big enough" because most people have no sense of how big big numbers are? But really, the ratio 500 / 10000000 stars is about a hundred times worse numerically for realism than than 6 / 1000 spies.

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Dreamer
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#40 Post by Dreamer » Sun Jun 05, 2005 10:49 pm

Not really. You can say you have 20 spies, each representing a spying organization (with some atributes to make it unique) --> Ok. But if you give me 20 spies each one having a name, a race and things like that the atmosphere is broken. Yep, we can explain thing different and yes, you had a consistent explanation all right.. but I didn't like it at all :wink:

Anyway. Speaking in game mechanics I still prefer the other aproach.


--------
A little off-topic: Realism is kind of an abstract word here. Fantansy or fictional settings are not necesarilly "real" but you can note when they also lack consistency. I bet that you had this feeling with some movies out there, when they try to explain something but the explanation seems like a bad patch for inconsistencies.

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#41 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:55 pm

Dreamer wrote:You can say you have 20 spies, each representing a spying organization (with some atributes to make it unique) --> Ok. But if you give me 20 spies each one having a name, a race and things like that the atmosphere is broken.
I really don't see why you find it so implausible for there to be 20 (or 6) named spies. These are the few rare elite operatives that are inserted into enemy projects or complete the most important, dangerous missions. You don't need thousands of them... and in fact don't want thousands, since thousands are much more likely to raise suspicions and get caught. Yes, presumably there would be a well-staffed imperial espionage agency of some sort back home that would train, equip and support the individual spies, but the actual operatives that carry out the most important and difficult missions are very few in number. Think of James Bond and the other 00-agents. There's at most 9 of them, right? It's reasonable that in an arbitrary future setting, there would be similarly few actual operatives in the field at any given time.
Realism is kind of an abstract word here. Fantansy or fictional settings are not necesarilly "real" but you can note when they also lack consistency. I bet that you had this feeling with some movies out there, when they try to explain something but the explanation seems like a bad patch for inconsistencies.
Yes, I know what realism means in this context, and in this particular case (spies) the issue you've rasied really is realism, not consistency. There is nothing in the (vaguely defined) setting that indicates whether there would have to be thousands or ones of spies out in the field; it's entirely arbitrary which is used from a consistency view. Thus the reason to pick one or the other is gameplay. To me, fewer things with more details is better than many generic things, as the player can be more personally attached to and involved with the few than the many, and more interesting events and stories can occur with detail characters than abstracted masses.

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Impaler
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#42 Post by Impaler » Tue Jun 07, 2005 7:17 am

Keep in mind that Spies are only one of several types of "Hero Characters", their are also Admirals, Politicians, Scientists and probably a few more by the time we are done.

We know that we definatly want Names, Faces, Histories, Stats that rise with experience and Special abilities on our Elite Spy Hero guys. Their will likly be some kind of hard cap on how many Hero Spies you can have. They most likly can not be manufactured on demand, instead they apear randomly, their will likly be a maximum life span plus considerable atrition to keep their numbers in check. All the factors controling your spy population can easily be tweaked to keep the number to a managable level and this falls under game balance issues.

I do agree though that their should be a more abstracted layer to spying a yaromir sugjests. I would like to have what we could call "spy minions" like thouse in Moo2, basicaly these are manufacturable, disposable low ability spies. They are all nameless and faceless with identical stats (thouse stats can be raised across the board with certain tecs and special effects though). Because they are all identical they can just keep kept in a pool of "avalible" spies. They are assigned to missions the same way that Hero spies are but the interface makes it easy to send them off in large numbers.

On the same general line their would be a "Minion" for each type of Hero Spy that acts as a cheaper substitute for the Hero.
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Kharagh
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#43 Post by Kharagh » Tue Jun 07, 2005 7:59 am

Great idea, impaler. That way Dreamer can have his epic feeling of sending loads of spies against his enemies and at the same time the hero system with few spies can be implemented.
Seems like a good compromise to me as it uses the best features of both approaches.

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#44 Post by yaromir » Tue Jun 07, 2005 5:59 pm

I do agree though that their should be a more abstracted layer to spying a yaromir sugjests. I would like to have what we could call "spy minions" like thouse in Moo2, basicaly these are manufacturable, disposable low ability spies. They are all nameless and faceless with identical stats (thouse stats can be raised across the board with certain tecs and special effects though). Because they are all identical they can just keep kept in a pool of "avalible" spies. They are assigned to missions the same way that Hero spies are but the interface makes it easy to send them off in large numbers.
Thank you!

I for one think it would be very boring (not to mention totally wasteful) sending hero spies on routine intel gathering missions, that is the job for the faceless expendeble cannon...erm I mean dagger fodder. These are people who pose as merchants or even riff-raf and hang in the bars, or around ports trying to overhear conversations or get a glimpse inside a military installation.

Micromanaging this sort of intel-gathering would be a total chore.

Maybe having actual figurines of faceless spies ala Moo2 could give it more of a game feel, as opposed to a Spreadsheet. However, if we have a large number of empires and espionage tasks, boxes and switches become very impractical IMO.
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#45 Post by Dreamer » Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:28 pm

Works for me. I don't have a problem with hero spies as long as a backbone exists. I too think that a "confrontation between agencies" is a good way to deal with the problem. Hero spies can be used for individual missions of critical importance. As I posted in the wiki:

Support and Internal Security:

This aspect of spying is very similar to Moo2 mechanics. You put a number of spies on an empire and leave a number of spies at home to provide for internal security. The idea is that internal security increase the base difficulty of missions inside the empire by some factor. Optionally a normalized array of values between 0 and 1 for each mission type can establish different policies for internal security focus.

Before assigning spies for a mission your spies need to infiltrate the enemy empire. Infiltrating is a mission by itself but once you infiltrate your agents you can create new missions for them inside this empire. This is not really realistic but has good game mechanics and it abstract the need to infiltrate in each mission. When a spy finish a mission without being discovered it automatically return to the infiltrated pool.

Also, each infiltrated spy can work to weaken the internal security of the other empire. One of the missions mentioned before is useful for this. We use "Assassinate Spies" to decrease the defense network of the enemy, but the difficulty of this mission need to be balanced so It's at least equally possible for us to loose that spy. This also allows the combined action of several empires to destroy the security network of a single one.

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