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GEM: Espionage first draft

Discussion in 'Communitas Expansion Pack' started by [to_xp]Gekko, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Dunkah

    Dunkah Emperor

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    I think that spies should be able to move into a foreign city without fear of reprisal at any time. Currently you have to attempt to steal technology.

    Also there should be a way to counter a particular country covertly. Possibly an assisnate enemy spy type thing. If Russia is annoyingly stealing my techs and I don't want to go to war with them or denounce them publicly, I should be able to at least target there spies.

    Lastly would like to see an anti coup spy that I can send to a CS just to protect against coups.
     
  2. JEiK66

    JEiK66 Chieftain

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    Is everyone forgetting about constables and police stations? They can be used against spies. Either way I would like some offensive ability for spies. I want to use spies to subjugate lesser Civs. I also find it very dissatisfying when I find out their are enemy spies in my cities and the course of action is to ignore them because they aren't a threat.

    It is actually a good thing if weaker civs can use spies to harass stronger civs. Rubber-band mechanics like this are important in preventing someone from effectively winning as soon as they get a minor lead.

    I like the simplicity of the current system, but would like it to be expanded. I propose that if a spy is in a foreign city it has a chance to do one or more of the following: steal technology, steal gold, slightly disrupt research, sabotage production minorly, cause unhappiness for several turns, kill population, destroy a random improvement, or cause a turn of unrest in the city. None of these are powerful considering how infrequent sabotage is, but each is annoying enough to have an effect and add flavor.

    I do not think xp should be important for spies. It overcomplicates the system and spies should remain expendable.
     
  3. Dunkah

    Dunkah Emperor

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    I would also like to see them capable of hiring terrorists that spawn near the city they are in.
     
  4. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    The mechanic for conversion to protestantism/atheism is already available in the game (in effect) by using missionaries and inquisitors. The only change here would effectively be the ability to use an inquisitor on another civ cities. Additionally, the USSR took decades of tight state control to effectively weaken religion within the state and never really succeeded in suppressing it within its sphere of influence (Eastern Europe+Ukraine/Russia). Finally both of those are internal examples caused by changes in power from within, and not fomented by external power, like spies or say, the Ottomans or Eastern Orthodoxy.

    I'm not sure that religion played a significant role in coups where the CIA was involved. It's not like we weakened or strengthened religious fervor in those countries or our own by deliberate action. The closest effect of religious behavior is through NGOs or official religious institutions already in the state affected (see: Uganda and the interactions of American missionaries and the existing Anglican church). Which is more or less what missionary units are in the modern era.

    I don't think using spies with regard to religion is a) historical/realistic and b) would be extremely hard to balance. It is already very difficult to defend against the rubberbanding tech steals. Major social disruptions to a civ from espionage are much larger effects than impacting minor civ leadership/alliances or tech stealing. If the social disruptions are only to a single city, they're kind of pointless versus empire wide effects of unrest like the Swedish/German historical examples above and c) there are already existing mechanics to do these things. It isn't adding a feature or fun to add a new way to do something we can already do.
     
  5. Lazaroth

    Lazaroth Chieftain

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    If limiting it to these from the top of my head ideas, sure. However, reconstructing something better have to start with ideas which are improved upon. Or even getting new ideas from the old ones.

    Which is better represented by something that lessens influence each turn rather than the one turn inquisitor.

    True, but the point was not where the influence came from but how it was done. It was not a crusade.

    I'm not talking about direct things, but indirect which over time had a snowball effect. A prime example is Iran.
     
  6. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    Which is how religious influence from other religions (read: other civs) already works in the game, slowly and per turn. A slowly acting spy reducing religious influence (in one city) by reversing that effect would be a very weak mission relative to stealing/defending techs and influencing city states.

    "It was not a crusade" isn't a basis or reason for saying it should be done via an external force, or through espionage, when there are mechanics for a non-crusade based force both internal and external already. I think those basic mechanics are already interesting enough without needing more force from other sources like spies.

    Indirect historical effects shouldn't be something we're trying to replicate or draw inspiration from to construct a system of effects in a game. Unintended consequences are interesting politically and in theory, but in a game, they're too unpredictable. (In reality they're usually predictable effects).

    I think one way to do this is to add some spy based opportunities to the event system. Thal seemed interested in that concept. I think the overall missions, particularly the diplomatic ones could be strengthened or adapted, or the overall quest system overhauled or nudged and improved to make minor civ diplomacy more interesting. And I think a greater tie in from the espionage buildings to espionage could be useful.

    But I don't think religion needs to interact diplomatically this way.
     
  7. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    I like the idea of linking espionage with opportunities. there's lots of room for expansion in the opportunities section also, to make them more involved instead of a simple a,b,c choice with gold cost all the time.
     
  8. Lazaroth

    Lazaroth Chieftain

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    Depends on how you balance it. But what I was thinking was more in terms of nation wide for a single agent. Normally with religion, it's only one city affecting its neighbours.
    It would be a great way to keep a large civ which gets lots of religion benefits somewhat in check. Additionally, they have to have their agents tied up in counter espionage rather than spying/plotting against me or doing coups.

    Please expand on that.

    You said it yourself; in reality they are predictable. That is why you see things such as "additionally you have a 25% chance to do x every turn", an indirect side effect.

    Sounds fun.
     
  9. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I have to agree here. Civ V has imo the best espionage system I have seen in a civ game. The main reason is, they get right at the heart of what I want to do with espionage, and tailor the system specifically for it.

    Now I'm not saying there isn't some room for tweaking, but this is an area where you really can have too much.
     
  10. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    I fully agree with all the 'avoid bload' sentiment, but I do feel that one more action for spies against Major Civs - just one more, one that is more tailored for damaging their Civ rather than advancing your own - would not go astray.

    The issue here is, however, that getting your own progress impeded is never fun. (Strategically challenging, perhaps, but not fun.) The 'poison water' is an example of this: It effectively set a city back a good number of turns, and meant your previous work would be undone.

    This same problem (undoing the player's work) would come about from a 'destroy building' ability.

    So, the sort of action that is needed in my opinion is one that:

    - Does not 'undo' any work of the player.
    - Does not 'slow' a city, which simply causes periods of frustrating waiting.
    - Requires active countering by the victim, not simply a 'waiting period'.

    One possible action that has a historical basis would be something along the lines of 'Foster Revolt' for another major Civ, which causes 'rebel' units (the same as when a Civ is unhappy) to appear.
     
  11. wobuffet

    wobuffet Barbarian

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    There should definitely be options for how to use spies. Even if they didn't make a huge gameplay difference, they'd be much more fun. For example...

    Put a spy in another major Civ's city:
    - reveal the map/terrain and units near that City (must be done first)
    - steal a :c5science:Technology (speed depends on City's :c5science:Science production)
    - steal some :c5gold:gold per turn (say, a random amount equal to 10–15% of that City's :c5gold:Gold output. Owner is only told "A spy is stealing approximately x:c5gold: per turn from one of your Cities!")
    - steal one turn's worth of :c5culture:Culture output from a City (takes around 15 turns of planning &#8211; slightly more for larger :c5culture:Culture per turn cities, and might fail if counterintelligence exists. Owner is told "An unknown spy stole a turn's worth of :c5culture:Culture from <City>!")

    Put a spy in a City-State:
    - reveal the map/terrain, units around the City as above
    - raise your own :c5influence:Influence
    - lower a specific other Civ's :c5influence:Influence
    - reduce effectiveness of other Civ's :c5gold:Gold gifts (After giving a gift, you are notified "Another civilization's spy has halved the effectiveness of your gift to Monaco!")
    - orchestrate/attempt a coup (prepare for 20 turns; then, it can fail quietly with no diplomatic consequences, fail publicly, or succeed)
    - counterintelligence: seek (and destroy?) other Civ's spies in that City-State

    Put a spy in your own city:
    - general counterintelligence (all of the below, but less effective)
    OR put more (but not all) focus on defending against (i.e., slowing down)...
    - stealing of :c5science:Technologies
    - stealing of :c5gold:Gold
    - stealing of :c5culture:Culture
     
  12. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    Some of those are appealing if possible. The question would be how well the AI can use them if they're to be used.

    @lazaroth, I was referring to negative predictable consequences like the Iran revolt post coup. These would be too unpredictable to plan against, while having a buff result at random rates is gravy. Both could be done through an event rather than the raw espionage structure.

    I was also referring to the existing missionary/inquistor/spread system for religion. I think that system is fine without needing assistance from spies and I don't see where espionage makes a natural connection to faith that faith can't do on its own. It would be interesting to have secularists spread, but this is more or less much of Europe now. Even within the secular values, many societies are culturally associated with one faith or another.
     
  13. Tery Buster

    Tery Buster Chieftain

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    AI is great at probabilistic. Just make them place their spies at the best targets, either to prevent the most resources to be stolen either to get the bigger probability to get resources.

    Certainly, with that much possibilities, we'd need a few more spies to play around to explore it all, or make a spy multi-tasker, with reduced efficiency.
     
  14. Seek

    Seek Deity Supporter

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    Perhaps to some, but to many it's terribly boring and was quite a let-down when the xp came out, and I think it's very much worth taking the time to discuss alternatives here.

    I like the idea of giving more options for spies abroad, specifically albie's idea of culture/gold theft because it doesn't involve any of the "not fun" penalties to one's cities. In fact, it may be a good idea to remove pure tech theft, and give spies a more active role via more frequent "opportunities" for stealing a turn of a city's output in science, gold or culture (perhaps production as well?) with higher ranked spies stealing more turns worth of a yield. I think it's un-fun to leave a spy sitting in a city for dozens of turns before I can make any action (and then possibly not even be able to do anything because the civ doesn't have a tech I can steal) - it would be a good move to let espionage opportunities be both more frequent (more decisions, more fun!) and yet less consequential.

    =======

    Additionally, I would like to propose a more general change to the espionage mechanic that's been kicking around in the back of my head for a while (and may even be codable:D) : Let there be "espionage points" that are more akin to GP points rather than Civ4's espionage points, so on completion of an espionage building that grants points, a global point counter begins ticking, and at a threshold a spy is born, the cost for the second rising like the GP counter. (Espionage points could possibly have a dual purpose of increasing a city's defense against other spies to keep the mechanic clean as well.)

    This will have a twofold result of 1) making espionage a much more active enterprise (which is a part of Thal's MO) in that investment and potential opportunity cost is required to acquire spies to begin with (if necessary we can leave the "spy-born-when-the-first-civ-reaches-renaissance" mechanic to keep the playing field level) and 2) give a much-needed usefulness to espionage buildings, which can potentially be expanded into a whole line of buildings with more interesting effects.

    The only major downside to this concept I've thought of thus far is that it makes espionage just another yield, adding to the pile of yields already in the game, and that could be annoying or boring to some players.
     
  15. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    This doesn't make sense to me. What historic mechanism are you trying to replicate with this?

    When has any modern civilization used espionage to boost their own economy or institutional development? Even tech stealing has only a few historic precedents (the Rosenbergs being the most important), but at least that makes some kind of sense in that information can be stolen and copied.

    Why? This mechanism isn't broken. It is simple and transparent.

    Wow. I'm the polar opposite of this. I think frequent and inconsequential sounds terrible - like pointless busywork. I would much prefer to make a few consequential decisions than many inconsequential ones.
    So I think it is great to have a system where you only have to MM each of your spies every dozen turns or so.

    Right. Part of what I like about espionage is that it is *different* to the other mechanics in the game. It doesn't feel like a spreadsheet. It's a minor part of the game that you could ignore if you really wanted to, it's just a small and flavorful mechanism that can give you a leg up in a few different ways.
     
  16. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    I like that "new spies as great people" idea!
     
  17. Seek

    Seek Deity Supporter

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    ... And this is why I don't post on this forum much any more. Posts like this (that seem to purposefully ignore the whole argument/concept being presented and pick apart individual phrases) hampers healthy discussion. It's infuriating. But I'll play this time...

    As has been stated thousands of times across this forum, Civ is an abstraction and gameplay trumps reality. I would prefer better gameplay and make up justifications afterward than the opposite (and as you said, even industrial espionage has little precedence). Thus I didn't offer any historical justification. It's less important than making espionage a more interesting and fun mechanic to me.

    For balance, clearly. If there are more opportunities and gameplay events from espionage then we obviously cannot let every one grant a tech.. Tech stealing is *very* powerful, I think it's odd that you don't seem to give it much credence - perhaps you play below your level?

    I think it terrible that I forget that an entire mechanic exists for large parts of the game, and when I do interact with it the options are so limited that it feels like it was tacked-on right before release.

    Also, nobody said the decisions would be "inconsequential", you're exaggerating.:rolleyes:

    Agree to some extent, which is why I stated that it is a major potential problem with the proposal. However, I do not find it flavorful at all - in fact it feels more like a spreadsheet than any other mechanic in the game.
     
  18. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

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    very true that gameplay trumps realism, but you're also exaggerating if you really find his answer "infuriating" , as he was polite in his disagreement.

    on topic I agree that tech stealing makes as much sense as gold/science stealing. as long as something is not blatantly unreasonable, I think we should not overanalyze the realism of the gameplay or we would end up removing most of Civ ;)
     
  19. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I'm genuinely sorry.
    I can see how my tone was off. I'm sorry.
    I was quoting sections that felt like a reasonable representation of the main issues I thought should be discussed. I thought I was just quoting the small segments that represented the larger argument to avoid bloating my message with large block-quotes. I apologize if this misrepresented the concepts.

    Ok. But I think in general it is better when mechanics are based on some kind of real world historic mechanism.
    Civ is not a history simulator, but it is trying to replicate the flavor of real history, and I don't think that stealing culture has a historic flavor.
    Reasonable people can of course disagree on what is the appropriate level of abstraction and realism on particular mechanics.

    This is why I prefer to not create lots of opportunities and gameplay events from espionage.

    I agree that tech stealing is powerful. As is city state election rigging. That's why I think espionage works well. It has powerful effects that are strategically significant. Each espionage decision really matters. That is precisely why I wouldn't want to create lots more 'things to do', because as you say then each thing would have to be toned down.

    Can we agree on "less consequential than tech stealing or election rigging as currently implemented"? I think we agree that if you had many more things to do, each thing would have to be less significant, for balance reasons.

    The flavor that I enjoy from espionage is the imperalism/cold-war feel of messing with city states. I really enjoy replicating the Great Game, and the kind of meddling that occurred in so much of Latin America, Africa and SE Asia through the cold war.
     
  20. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    @Seek
    It might be useful if when a proposal arises, there are comments positive, rephrasing/questions for clarity to establish terms or clear statements of philosophical disagreement if there's no pleasing someone with an idea. That way if someone clearly or firmly disagrees, we'd know generally why (I think for the record Ahriman did so in that post), or specifically why if there are only detailed issues.

    However. This would be fairly time consuming to do all the time for frequent posters like Thal, me, Ahriman, gekko, etc. If there are major philosophical issues, I think they eventually get hashed out. Where that's a problem is for people who don't read or participate all 5-6 pages of debate where that occurs before returning to details.

    The general premise of picking apart some components where there are disagreements isn't a way to shut down debate. It slows it down by focusing it on details. Which is really only a problem if there are underlying philosophical preferences.

    If I were to summarize, I get the impression that Ahriman doesn't like changing the bones of the vanilla game very much without some compelling necessity for balance or fun for features that aren't working very well*. If he thinks espionage is doing what it is intended to (I didn't see him suggesting that he doesn't use it), then an argument has to be made that alternatives would be better or easier to balance. If only to demonstrate this to others (like Thal who might have to do some/most of the work), not just to the dissenters.

    I agree the historical precedent argument is one that gets overused by pretty much everyone. Nevertheless, reality + game play should be the ideal, where it can't be realised, go with game play as a "perfect is the enemy of the good" processing. The difficulty here is in realising the actual impact of intelligence gathering and other espionage tasks in a game with heavy abstraction.

    Given that the game already removed trading techs for trade deals that improve science over time, it might be simpler to go with a system of stealing science yields than techs. I could find that a persuasive effect as a result. It would not involve very much micromanagement to set a spy off to a high science city as a decision, to use police effects to reduce the stolen yield or help catch their spy where your spies are defending.

    I would say we'd probably need more spies however if we have smaller effects than "I got a free tech!" like "I got this tech even faster!". Which is a micromanagement issue. Or these effects would need to happen more often.

    *(for the record, I tend toward this attitude myself, as I mostly stuck with BUG/BAT for BTS for this reason. Civ5 was a less quality game in the basic form than BTS was in my view. But with some interesting bones to be improved that didn't exist there, making it more modifiable and with some higher need for balance and adjustment).
     

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