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Deggial's Spies

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by Deggial, May 24, 2011.

  1. Deggial

    Deggial Emperor

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    Yes, it’s another thread about espionage.

    I know, it’s not new, the ideas might not even be unique and there are plenty of them already. But in contrast to them, this thread is started by someone, who would have voted “No espionage in CiV, please!” only some days ago.

    Then I started to develop some ideas in a German Civ forum and I did write and write… and when all my thoughts were written down, I realized, that at least *I* would enjoy espionage in CiV, if it would be something like this. So, please, let me know what *you* feel about my thoughts.

    First of all, I have to state what I *don’t* want:
    - an overflow of micromanagement
    - something overly complicated
    - unimmersive “Spreadsheet” espionage
    - in sum: Civ4 espionage

    My goal was to suggest an espionage system, that actually can be played, not managed. A system, that can be surveyed easily but offers some fun options during peacetime (and war also). And of course a system, matching the CiV design philosophy.

    So, let’s go concrete:

    1. Spies should be “real” units.
    I think, there is not much dissent here. I just mention it, because I can read proposals every now and then, where spies should be put into duty just by clicking on a form. In my opinion that’s not fun and that’s not in the CiV design either. Our James Bond has to walk the world in his own representation!
    Of course, spies are invisible to all other units than spies. To prevent "accidental" detection by moving on a spy's tile, there has to be a third layer of land units along with military units and civilians (=spies will stack with them, but not with other spies).

    2. Spies interact. No “automatic” effects anymore.
    In Civ4, a spy could just disappear by bad luck when being fortified in an opponent’s influence sphere. A small notification was all you got and at least I did miss it constantly.
    I want spies to interact! You need spies to discover enemy intruders, you need spies to fight them. So, you need to actually PLAY the game!

    3. Spies stay where they are, when doing their spy’s work.
    What I really *hated* in Civ4, was the instant teleport back to your capital after a spy fulfilled (or failed) his mission. You had to move them all across the world to bring him back where needed. THIS is a perfect example of terrible micromanagement and NOT FUN!
    I think, in CiV spies should stay in enemy territory until they are discovered and killed by defending spies (or until they fulfill one of the few "instant tasks" (see 5. "Instant effects") and are discovered. But then, their removal will be obvious and linked to a specific action and therefor traceable.)


    4. No more “instant effects” (or at least in a much less degree)
    The reason for the teleport was, of course, to limit the excessive use of spies. If not teleported back, an unlimited sequence of poisoned water or sabotaged constructions would have been the consequence.
    But how to avoid this?
    The effect of spies must be gradual, not instant.

    4a. If you managed to install a spy in your enemy’s city, you are just able to reduce this city’s production (maybe by 10-30%? See also "7b. Special task promotions"), not destroy a whole project at once. As long as your spy stays in duty, this production drain will continue.

    4b. Same with tech espionage: A spy can only steal a certain amount of “beakers”. The amount depends on and is maximal equal to the city’s scientific output. Maybe the science points should count *only* to the particular tech, the “victim” is currently researching.

    4c. Resources are not pillaged, but only inaccessible as long as the spy stays on the tile. No worker is needed to repair the improvement, but another spy to kill the saboteur.

    4d. Political manipulations
    All previous actions are executed in the opponent’s country. Political manipulation is done in neutral nations capitals! Here, the spy has two options:
    - lowering the reputation of *one* other civ
    - enhance the reputation of your own civ
    Both effects are shown in diplomatic overview during mouse-over.

    To prevent an unnoticed drain of industrial power and resources, some information about enemy spy activities has to
    reach the player. A small spy symbol at the affected city or resource might be thinkable (but is *maybe* too direct). There could be a "SPIES!" warning in the headline with an additional symbol for "production", "science" and "resources". A percentage of drained production might be displayed, too.


    5. Still some “instant effects”, however.
    Some thinkable (but not necessarily integrated) effects have to be instant. All of them have to have a special “price” to be done (see also "6. Spy points/ spy resources") and their effect must not be overpowered (see above).

    5a. Stealing maps
    It is recommended often, so I want to mention this possibility. I think that not the entire opponent’s knowledge should be reviled, but only a small part of the map he knows. A good basis of comparison might be the ancient ruin output.
    To steal a map, you have to pay a certain amount of money (bribery!).

    5b. Bribing units
    An optional spy ability could be the “stealing” of enemy units. Money would be needed - and much of it! *At least* as much, as the unit would cost when purchasing. The amount of money could vary depending on targets happiness. An additional risk (maybe 20%) of being discovered and captured is possible, too.

    5c. Unit sabotage
    Spies do no direct damage to combat units in general (but see also: "7c. Snipers"). If “unit sabotage” is used, one (or *all* adjacent?) units loose all their movement points for the next turn. Again, the “price” is the risk of being discovered and captured (maybe 5% per target unit).


    6. Spy points/ spy resources
    In Civ4, all spy activities did cost spy points which were accumulated by certain buildings. A special spreadsheet was needed to keep track. This was complicated an unintuitive. I don’t think that spy points are needed in CiV anymore. What do they actually represent? “Information” is what you gather by deploying your spies in foreign territory. Moreover, there is already a very obvious and realistic currency: money!
    I know that some people feel that money is already needed too often. I know that builders want to have a reason to improve their cities. And I am aware of the need to limit the numbers of available spies and their activities.

    Therefore, I propose a new “Spy resource” (SpyRes).
    This resource can not be found on the map and can not be improved by workers. As espionage is more a social than a physical issue, SpyRes are generated in cities.
    Build a special building (name it however you like. Proposals?) in a city and get one SpyRes per 10 population points. So, a size 1-10 city will grant 1 SpyRes, 11-20 2 SpyRes and so on. Numbers could be varied due to balance reasons, of course!
    Let this building have a citizen slot to generate an extra SpyRes and Great Person Points, too.
    Alternatively to this, several buildings could be needed. But the maximal SpyRes per city should be limited by city size (same as happy cap).

    In both cases, these buildings are not build by puppet cities. If there are still too abundant SpyRes, these buildings might be extremely expensive in upkeep (5 gpt or even more? 10 gpt?) so the player *wants* to limit their number.

    Like the “normal” resources, SpyRes are needed to train spies. And *only* to train them!
    This solution would be intuitive and fits the existing CiV mechanic.


    7. Promotions and upgrade path
    Of course, spies should have their own promotions. As I feel that spies naturally fall into a scout upgrade path, they could be based on the scout promotions (but not be limited to them). So, survivalism and scouting as well as movement enhancements are obvious for spies. As for upgrading itself, I've absolutely *no* idea how to name more advanced (or older) spies. A spy is called a spy, no matter of era. Ideas?
    (Maybe spies could enhance automatically when entering a new area? But this is *not* according CiV design...)

    7a. Fighting promotions according cultural borders
    As spies fight each other, some combat related promotions come into the mind, too. But in contrast to other fighting units, the battleground is not so relevant. Instead of that, social skills and an established network of informants are needed. To represent this, two different upgrade paths should be established:
    - fighting bonus inside the own cultural boarders
    - fighting bonus in foreign cultural boarders
    With this, spies will be able to specialize into active spies or counteractive agents (is there any differencing in English language?)

    7b. Special task promotions
    As gathering information and doing sabotage in foreign cities will be a common task for spies, adequate promotions will be handy.
    - Say, an unpromoted spy gathers 40% of the cities per turn science output. With the first “science stealing” promotion this will rise to 60%, with the second one to 80%.
    - Analogical the industrial sabotage ability, but with less impact. Unpromoted: 10%, promoted 20% and 30% (maybe a little bit more after play testing.)
    - “cover” ore “dodging” could lower the likeliness of being discovered when performing unit sabotage and bribing.

    7c. Snipers
    The idea of snipers is mentioned in many threads. I think, as a spy promotion it makes sense. “Sniping” will be available after completely finishing one of the two fighting branches.
    Snipers can do 1 point of damage against combat units and therefore kill heavily damaged units behind the lines. But their main purpose is to kill Great Persons (Generals!) and maybe workers where they do 4-5 points of damage.

    EXP points are gathered in the "normal way" by fighting other spies. Additionally, spies get experienced continuously when deployed to a task (not more than 1 EXP/turn).


    8. Automatic Effects
    During their “normal work”, spies might stumble over some useful information. If the spy is placed in an opponents capital, this “automatic information gathering” might reveal the leader's backstabbing plans (5% chance maximal). When deployed in an enemy city witch starts to build a wonder, information about it's finishing time might be transmitted (*maybe* only if the player is building this wonder himself, too).


    9. Spy related wonders (world and national)
    I did not think about concrete names for them as this is not my main interest. The Kremel should be a Spy wonder instead of it's actual effect. The CIA might be one, too.

    As effects are thinkable:
    - enlarging the sight distance of spies in the players realm by two tiles. (CIA?)
    - granting a fighting bonus when in own territory. (?)
    - granting a fighting bonus when in foreign territory. (Kremlin?)

    Plenty of other wonders are thinkable, effecting movement, combat, EXP when built,...


    10. The Great Spy
    In Civ4, the Great Spy was sort of useless. It's only use was, that he could not be discovered. He could not do any spy missions at all!

    In CiV, the Great Spy should be very usefull. As there will be *no* promotions, he should have better stats right from the beginning: Higher combat strength than normal spies and a special ability (randomly generated when “born”). For example a Great Science Spy will be able to steal 100% of a city's scientific output (more than any maximal promoted normal spy!) or a Great Saboteur Spy will drain 50% of a city's industrial output (instead of max. 30% normal). When sabotaging units, he will be discovered and killed less likely (maybe 1% per unit). But maybe a GS should be better at *all* fields equally...

    His special improvement could be a “Spy Headquarter”, granting some (3?) extra SpyRes and making all enemy spies in 5 tiles distance visible. Spies build in the “owning” city could have 15 extra EXP, too.

    –

    I'm afraid my thoughts turned out to be a terrible wall of text and a hard one to read due to my bad English. I apologize for this but hope you like at least the skeched concept.

    Please let my know, whether or not you could imagine having (and liking) spies like this in CiV. I think, I could make friends with them...
     
  2. CYZ

    CYZ Toileteer

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    One reason why your system fails by someone who only scanned it briefly.

    Even if you add a third layer, you will still easily detect enemy spies by moving your own spy around your territorry. Perhaps this is intentional but it seems like alot of micromanagement which you stated you're against.
     
  3. Deggial

    Deggial Emperor

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    Well, it may fail, but not in *this* regard!

    As your spies are able to see foreign spies in any event, moving on them as a "probe" will not occur. Spies have the normal 2 tiles or - if promoted - 3 tiles sight range; with CIA wonder and as Washington even more! If a spy moves on another spy, a fight will happen - just as it will with military units moving on occupied tiles.

    Granted, detecting enemy spies *is* sort of micromanagement. But *if* you want to "play the spy game", isn't this exactly what you want? What could be the alternatives? The main idea of spies (as long as you decide to have them as units, of course) *is* their invisibility!

    To minimize micro, I proposed the "SPIES!" feedback at the window's topline. With this, you know at least whether or not there is something going wrong in your empire.

    Maybe there could be a "city guard" building or something like this, which allows an additional "Spy!"-icon at your city to inform you more specific about harming spy activity. To fight the enemy spy, you would *have* to train your own counter spy, though!
     
  4. CYZ

    CYZ Toileteer

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    Good points. I suppose it isn't a problem then.
     
  5. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    :thumbsup:
    Actually, I'm not so sure about this. I'm not deadset either way, but a more passive system could be good both from the point of view of realism (James Bond? Really?) and from the point of view of micromanagement, particularly with the tedium involved in moving units in the present state of the game.

    This seems a reasonable proposition, although I guess it relies on the existence of spies as units. Even if you are assuming that there aren't any spy units though, I guess it would mean that you actually need to direct your efforts without passive effects. I'm not so sure if that would work quite as well; passive effects occur everywhere in the game. Passive effects are essentially just automation as opposed to micromanagement, and that isn't really a bad thing.

    Acting under the assumption of spies as units, this makes sense. Movement alongside spy work would seem to be a little overpowered.

    Gradual effects are a very good idea, but this is perhaps something that is fundamentally wrong with the general game design. There is a propensity to have thresholds or sudden effects rather than gradual or staggered effects. In happiness for instance, the effects take place at certain thresholds, rather then each extra point of unhappiness having some sort of effect. So gradual effects are, IMO, definitely a good idea for implementation in the game, but I wouldn't hold my breath for any espionage feature to be designed in such a manner.

    Yeah, I guess there are those things that really do actually need instant effects. Stealing maps, though, could be done gradually (one tile revealed per turn), but that's still inevitably a whole chunk at a time, and you do gain instant benefits.

    Do mean this as a strategic resource, or as a 'normal' (i.e. luxury) resource? I think this idea might work well within the strategic resource system (even if it would be quite an abstraction of it), and would be a good way of limiting your spying activities. Note though that that's still essentially using a 'points' system, just an easier one.

    To be honest I'm really not a fan of spy promotions, because they make the individual unit more powerful, which is really a tactical thing. It undermines the strategy of the game a little to have a unit that in itself can do drastic damage of have some sort of powerful effect. Promotions compound this.

    This would seem a good idea, so long as it didn't make spies too overpowered. Simply a matter of balancing, however.

    I'm not sure if wonders is taking the espionage system a little too far. Should it really be all that important in the game that it warrants its own wonders?

    This is another thing I'm not so sure about, in the same vein as promotions. They abstract the strategic focus of the game somewhat.

    That said, it's very nice to have read your well thought out idea. I may not agree with all aspects of it, but it sounds like it would be quite a cool system. :)
     
  6. Deggial

    Deggial Emperor

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    @ Camikaze:
    Thank you for your detailed and fair response. Obviously enough we dissent about the "strategic level", we want to see in CiV. I am (and was right from the beginning) fallen in love with the more tactical appeal of CiV.

    Hence my espionage concept is all about units. Interactions, promotions, the Great Spy, wonders... all of this is devoted to this basic idea. As you don't accede to this keynote, your openminded response is to appreciate even higher!

    --

    Map stealing:
    Your idea of gradual map stealing is a good one and fits to my conept very well. I was thinking about a possibility to achieve this, but honestly wasn't able to find your easy solution. I was stuck to the traditional implementation way to much.
    On the other hand, this might be one of these "silent effects", the player will overlook. Sometimes, a "big-bang effect" might be more rewarding than little, unnoticed steps.
    As I write this, I realize that this is something you could blame all of my own ideas concerning gradual effects. But then, I think this trade-off is necessary for at least industrial sabotage and tech stealing. For map stealing, maybe not...

    SpyRes:
    It is definitely meant as strategic resource! The only difference to them is that SpyRes are "generated" in your own cities and therefore more under the player's controle to a certain degree.
    Yes, they are still sort of "points". In the same way as all other ressources are. In contrast to Civ4, these "points" are *only* used to train spies. *NOT* for missions! (But I think you didn't misconceive this.)

    Wonders:
    Why not? If you decide to implement Spies, you shouldn't stop on half way. If you don't want to use spies in offensive mode, you don't need to build the related wonders. Some wonders (eg. the CIA) should be for deffensive use only and usefull by all means.
    Moreover, *if* you want to implement Great Spies (what of course is not *your* favoured thing to do ;) ) you will be happy about their GP-points, as you don't have an overflow of citicen slots in your "normal" SpyRes buildings.

    Even if you want to implement espionage as "strategic spreadsheet" solution, wonders could be a welcome addition. (Remember the "builder's game"! :) )
     
  7. awesome

    awesome Meme Lord

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    maybe spies can count as civilian units so they can pass through military? and if they're invisible again, then maybe they can pass through enemy military, too. we just need to figure out the spies exposing each other part.
     
  8. Deggial

    Deggial Emperor

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    Well, I thought of spies being even a *third* layer! So they do *not* count as civilians but can stack with them, too. And yes, I thought them being able to stack with enemy military units. After all, spies are just single persons, not thousands of men.

    The reason for this is, that spies must not be detectable by not being able to move on a certain tile (with any unit). Only spies can detect (and fight) spies.

    The only aberration of this might be the Great Spy's tile improvement and (to a certain extend) the the city guard building I mentioned in post #3.
     

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