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Social Engineering for BE

Discussion in 'CivBE - Mod Development' started by lilgamefreek, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    Hey everybody. Over the past few weeks, I've been making steady work on implementing a culture system that combines the best aspects of BE's virtues and Alpha Centauri's Social Engineering. All in all, I've finally gotten to the point where I can start seeing and testing my changes in-game!

    Spoiler :


    For those who aren't familiar with Alpha Centauri's Social Engineering, it was a method of selecting different styles of governance, economics, and aspects of daily life which would give you both benefits and drawbacks. For example, player's would need to choose between exercising a free market or a planned economy, and switching between the two might better adapt them for the current situation, but would prove costly in the short term. The system has a few additional quirks to it that I can't go into detail here.

    Lots of things are going to be changing as time goes on. I'll be playing around with dependencies, creating art, and of course fleshing out what bonuses the virtues will actually have. I'm making this thread to both share my progress as well as get early feedback on ideas and suggestions before I release a playable version.

    What I have at the moment:
    - A perfectly clean slate. All virtues appear and are adoptable. Kicker virtues for each branch are implemented as 3/2/2. Adopting a branch in one category will block off your ability to adopt virtues in the other 2. There is no ability to switch your branch atm.

    What I'm thinking of doing:
    - The ability to switch between different branches of each category. Player's would only be able to switch when they have a free virtue and will lose that virtue upon switching. I'm uncertain how many virtues should be refunded from the branch that is being abandoned.

    - Kicker policies award penalties rather than bonuses. This is to represent the player specializing in a particular social value and incurring penalties for doing so. This will be counter balanced by relatively strong "third-level" virtues that are easy to access. This will also encourage players to fully "flesh-out" their government by developing all areas.

    - Having the virtues selected affect diplomacy. Of course the Diplomacy category will play a factor in this, but also I plan to add to the various factions preferences and aversions that affect their outlook on others. Selecting a factions preference, such as Hutama's preference for Wealth, will make him look more favorably on you, while selecting a faction's aversion, such as Kavitha's aversion to aggression, will make cause tension between you and them. Also, playing as a particular faction will disallow you from selecting their aversion.

    - Nice new backgrounds for each of the branches, similar to Civ5's social policies, to make it look a little more unique from BE's current system.

    At this point I haven't put any thought into the virtues themselves. Considering there are 42 new virtues (including the kickers) I will need to add, ideas for their bonuses and affects are certainly appreciated! Like really, REALLY appreciated! An ETA on release is unknown. I don't see myself finishing this for a few months at least.
     
  2. Ampharos

    Ampharos Chieftain

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    If each branch is supposed to be mutually exclusive, then you’ll need to change what the branches are. For instance, Green is not mutually exclusive to either Free Market or Planned Economy. You can have a Free Market economy that is Green, and a Planned Economy that is Green. Thus, you might want Free Market, Planned Economy, and Mixed Economy. You cannot be Free Market and Planned Economy, Free Market and Mixed, or Planned and Mixed. Similarly, Police State refers to how a government exercises power whereas Democratic refers to where that power comes from. They’re entirely separate concepts. If your goal is to simulate different sources of power, then you would want Authoritarian, Democratic, and maybe Totalitarian.

    I understand that these are borrowed directly from Alpha Centauri, but you are going to have trouble creating Virtues when the branches are entirely separate concepts. I’d recommending taking a step away from Alpha Centauri in this respect and making branches that are based on distinct and mutually exclusive concepts.

    Similarly, you might run into trouble with the current branches because certain affinities should, by their nature, align with certain branches. For example, Purity adopts a pseudo-religious outlook, which means it should adopt Fundamentalism whereas Harmony is all about coexistence, making Green the most sensible choice. Assuming you want each branch to be mutually exclusive with any particular affinity, certain ones shouldn't exist, e.g. Green, because while Green Harmony makes sense, non-Green Harmony doesn't.

    In short, I don't think that Alpha Centauri's branches work since they are not mutually exclusive, and they definitely aren't mutually exclusive with affinities. You'll want to rethink the branches to be compatible with affinities (and each other) before focusing on what specific virtues should be.
     
  3. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    Thanks for the feedback! I have been well aware of the anachronisms of many of the labels from SMAC. In fact it's something that's always bugged me a little bit about the game. As you can see, I'm not above diverging from the source material as I've replaced the future society choices with diplomacy choices for the sake of BE.

    That being said, I have no plans of making branches mutually exclusive with affinities. I see nothing wrong with a Purity player who chooses green economics or a supremacy player who goes fundamentalist. It's really no different than a harmony player going industry or a supremacy player going prosperity in BE. Obviously there are some natural pairings, but those should evolve naturally from gameplay, similar to how natural pairings of different engineering choices evolved naturally from gameplay in SMAC, rather than be strictly enforced.

    There will likely be some switching around and changing of things. Some people have voiced they feel the Values category is rather restrictive and should encompass a larger domain of values, which I agree with. Similar opinions have been made about political system. I caution myself against going with Authoritarian, Democratic, and Totalitarian, as that's a bit of an echo of the ideology system of Civ5 which carry their own implied gameplay mechanics. Plus Sci-fi is a natural theater to explore more interesting things such as a fundamentalist space colony. If anything, I will change Democratic to something more politically descriptive.

    As for now, all they are are strings and this is exactly the kind of feedback I'm hoping to get. I'm still fleshing out the larger mechanics and getting all my code in a row. The virtue effects will only start to come in a little later from now, so don't worry. There's lot's of time to shape my opinions!
     
  4. HandyVac

    HandyVac Gentleman

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    I'm not sure it's a good idea to make branches mutually exclusive at all. That worked in SMAC because the social policies were a simple binary choice: the focus of your economy was either completely Free Market or completely Planned or completely Green, and you could swich between those options at any time. But the BE system of branches containing several policies lends itself to a more granular approach, where you can build an economy that's mostly Free Market, but slightly Green and Planned as well.

    Have you thought about making branches unlock by researching techs instead? By putting unlocks different corners of the techweb you could make it unlikely, but not impossible, for a player to earn policies in all three branches of a given catagory.
     
  5. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    I've thought of that but something to keep in mind is the case of player's running out of policies to choose. I think right now, in BE, it's unlikely as there's a good 60 virtues to select. With the SocEng + mutual exclusion, it's 28 if player's never switch policies BUT it's a soft lock as once reaching that limit, player's can continue playing by switching trees (not Ideal and if I go with keeping the branches mutually exclusive, I'll need to play around with the rate of policy acquisition). With out mutual exclusion, it's 84 virtues. With branches tied to technologies however, player's can lock much much earlier by simply researching the wrong techs.

    One reason I hazard to go with non mutually exclusive branches is that I want players to develop there culture "wide". Penalty kickers (or shortcomings as I've come to call them) are a way to encourage this kind of behaviour. The mutual exclusion is a more "set in stone" way of going about it (which is a method I tend to dislike and avoid in game design).

    That is not to say I don't like the idea of hybrid choices, I really do. But I can't think of many elegant ways of preventing players from developing a paradoxical "Full Aggression, Cooperation, Defensive" build with no form of government whatsoever. I would love ideas on how to tackle that particular problem.
     
  6. HandyVac

    HandyVac Gentleman

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    Hmmm, you could probably enforce rather than encourage wide gameplay using depth kickers if you use the <Policy_PrereqPolicies> table instead of <Policy_PrereqORPolicies>. I.e. make the deeper level policies in a tree require both a single specific shallower level policy *and* the kicker policy from having x total shallower level policies across all branches.

    You could mitigate the problem of players running out of selectable options by making the "policy saving" game option manditory (set to visible="false" and default="true" in <GameOptions>). Not ideal, but at least the player can carry on playing and save up a number of earned policies until they have an option to choose.
     
  7. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    I haven't actually tested whether <Policy_PrereqPolicies> still works or not, though I could reimplement it myself if I need to.

    Mandatory policy saving is something I hadn't considered. I'll still be tweaking the virtue rate to something that better fits the new system, but it's good to know I have that as a fallback.

    Are you still working on your Affinity Yields mod? Just wondering how that's coming along.
     
  8. HandyVac

    HandyVac Gentleman

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    Yep, released an update for affinity yields earlier today, and I'm planning to keep working on it for a while yet. :)
     
  9. Ampharos

    Ampharos Chieftain

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    How much would virtues affect diplomacy? If virtues affect it too much, I imagine that the AI would hate everyone since it'd be unlikely that any other AI (or player) would choose the exact same affinity and virtue combination. For instance, there are two Supremacy factions (AI otherwise) and one chooses Free Market and the other chooses Planned Economy, how would that impact their relations? Would the bonus from being the same affinity be greater than their different economic structures?
     
  10. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    It would only apply to particular in character preferences and aversion. So taking Kavitha as an example, her playstyle as well as backstory lends itself to a Fundamentalist preference and an Aggressive aversion. Thus should would treat anyone who also takes on Fundamentalist with more favor and look on anyone who takes Aggressive with less. Just an example. I've gotten the AI to obey aversions such that they won't pick policies from their aversion(s), but haven't quite cracked the diplomacy nut yet.
     
  11. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    I figured I would post a quick update on what I've been up to with this so I might get more feedback.

    Here's the current look of the screen:
    Spoiler :


    As usual all art assets are temporary, but I've switched icons around so that the trees are more obvious and adjusted the depth-counters to reflect the new number of policies in each tree. I've also renamed Democratic to Pluralist, Power to Dominance, and Knowledge to Progress.

    Spoiler :


    As you can see here, player's can still select virtues in competing trees with an appropriate warning in the tooltip. The AI currently obeys these exclusions, but since it cannot intelligently switch between them, it is forbidden to do so.

    Spoiler :


    Popup when the player tries to switch trees. Largely adapted from Civ5 and still currently using it's mechanics. When the player selects yes, they lose all the policies in the competing tree but don't earn any free ones. I'm getting a weird bug where, when I give the player many free policies, only 1 of those policies will increase the culture cost of the next virtue, affording the player a strange "double-jeapordy" scenario. I am still investigating a fix as well as exploring alternatives such as designing the system and its virtues so that it might be worth it for player's to give up 4-5 virtues to switch a tree.

    Spoiler :


    Finally, the aversion system is in play. Leaders with an aversion cannot select virtues from that tree, both player and AI. The vanilla sponsors each have an in-character aversion to a particular social choice. The system is extendable to modded-sponsors as well. Sponsors can have no or even multiple aversions. The AI will not select virtues from their aversion. I am currently at an impasse for having aversions and its partner preference system in affecting diplomacy, and have been exploring whether there are any dummied out civ5 diplo modifiers to be taken advantage of.

    Because I've reached a block on the diplomacy modifiers and have otherwise accomplished everything else, I'm starting to flesh out each tree and it's playstyle. Here are my current guiding thoughts for each category and each tree that I am using as a guiding theme as I figure out the virtues.

    Politics helps manage the will of your citizens and cities.
    • Police States offer tools for managing the unrest caused by large societies, maximizing the amount of growth that can be earned from limited resources and services. This is all done at the cost of civil harmony, and Police States receive fewer benefits when society is prosperous.
    • Pluralism accelerates societal growth as ambitious individuals settle new lands or raise new families. So many opinions makes it difficult for pluralist societies to support causes through organized action.
    • Fundamentalist societies rely on loyalty and conviction. The larger a following the society has, the more powerful it becomes. Unerring loyalty hurts the society's ability to innovate however, particularly in the field of research and scientific advance.

    Economics develops your state&#8217;s resources, infrastructure, and economy.
    • Free Markets are unrivaled in their ability to adapt to economic changes. Such flexibility makes it an all-around good choice. However, Free Market require a stable political climate and unrest is often extremely disruptive.
    • Planned economics attempts to overpower economic forces with rationale and logic, pouring resources into growth and industry for long-term benefits rather than short-term profits. Because a Planned economy struggles against its natural course, it is often bogged down with inefficiencies.
    • Green economics focuses on community health and sustainable economic growth. Green economics maximizes profits earned per unit resources rather than net profits and ensures there remains enough for preceding generations. This makes it slower to grow than other economic plans.

    Values guide the heart of your people, determining where their priorities lie.
    • Dominance is about strength and independence, whether it be over other states, countrymen, or fellow neighbors. Those who work for another&#8217;s benefit are looked upon with disdain, making jobs in industry and labor undesirable.
    • Progressive societies are concerned with the mark left on the universe by humanity as a whole. Aspects such as culture and science, which advance all people, are their focus. Their relaxed views make Progressive societies more open to infiltration however.
    • Wealth focused societies exalt the individual's ability to produce for himself. Such societies are excellent at business and at turning resources into usable materials. A Wealth focused society's nature to only think for themselves makes individuals unwilling to fight for others.

    Diplomacy informs your interactions with the rest of the world.
    • Aggressive diplomacy confers benefits best used on foreign soil. The actions of Aggressive societies often strain relationships with foreign powers and can shake its member's belief of the legitimacy of their government.
    • Cooperative diplomacy is best when relationships between foreign powers are peaceful. Cooperation brings better trade and bonuses to both partners. Cooperation falls apart when there is no one to cooperate with and can unintentionally launch rivals into stronger positions.
    • Defensive diplomacy creates states that are difficult to crack or infiltrate. Whether fighting to maintain a lead or for survival, being Defensive is the best method of protecting a society's interests and assets. They suffer from an inability to assert themselves in international matters however.

    Your thoughts on the usefulness, appropriateness, and accuracy of any of these is super appreciated as always!
     
  12. DefiantMars

    DefiantMars Chieftain

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    Wow, I'm getting excited for this mod. From what I can see it looks really solid. I really like the spectrum of the Economic and Diplomatic options.

    I'm not familiar enough with the textbook definitions to make any form of informed assessment regarding the accuracy or appropriateness of the Political options.

    I can't quite put my finger on it, but something is bugging me about Dominance and Wealth. I feel like there is some form of thematic overlap.

    Regardless, it looks amazing and I'm eager to try it when you release it. :)
     
  13. Ampharos

    Ampharos Chieftain

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    I might have some insights on this.

    In sociology, we define power as the means to exert authority over others. There are several theories of where power comes from and how it is derived, but most argue that some combination of social, cultural, and economic influence determines how much power any one person or group has. The problem here is that wealth is a type of power whereas dominance is the expression of power.

    They overlap in the respect that they are related to power, one being a type of power and the other being a use of power.

    The names would be better off as Might, Knowledge, and Wealth, which is not only reminiscent to vanilla but also the three types of power, according to Alvin Toffler.

    When a faction chooses Might, they prioritize violence as power, when they choose Knowledge, they prioritize information and technology as power, and when a faction chooses Wealth, it prioritizes economic capital as power.

    Social Engineering in Alpha Centauri was (whether intentionally or unintentionally) about who holds power, what kind of power is exercised, and how they maintain power in such a way that the Politics branch allowed the players to choose who ran the government, the Values branch allowed players to choose what kind of power the government should exert, and the Future Society branch allowed players to choose how that power is maintained. Obviously, the game developers weren't sociologists or political theorists, so they didn't use the exact terminology, but, fundamentally, the whole system was based on fleshing out the power structure of a particular government.

    The only real problem with Social Engineering in Alpha Centauri was that the names are, as previously stated, are incorrect, which is easily fixable.

    That said, I like the progress being made. The names are inconsequential compared to everything else; they can be changed at any point. Overall, you're doing a great job, and I look forward to playing the finished product.
     
  14. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    Wow, that's really interesting and illuminating. I'll have to read into that a little more as it probably has some really good things to keep in mind as I develop this. Framing it in that way makes it a lot clearer what the original designers were going for when it was originally kinda muddy for me.

    I went with the current names from my own thoughts and considerations. Here's a quote from another person I had a conversation with over the same topic.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject in particular as you seem a lot more well read in sociology than I am.
     
  15. Ampharos

    Ampharos Chieftain

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    As a concept, social engineering isn't something the developers came up with. It's a real concept which refers to the manipulation of attitudes, behaviors, and resources to produce desired changes within society.

    However, the term has many negative connotations. It is most often used to refer to the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and variety of "New Man" concepts such as the "New Soviet Man" conceived by Vladimir Lenin. To a lesser extent, it has also been used to refer to the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty in the United States, which have had negligible results.

    We see "successful" social engineering in authoritarian states where the central government exercises unlimited power over the state. Meanwhile, states where the central government exercises unlimited power over both the state and society are thought to be most capable of social engineering. However, such a state is, by definition, totalitarian, a term which has a less than stellar reputation.

    This is the difference between Social Policies, Social Engineering, Virtues. Social Policies develop gradually and "naturally" over thousands of years whereas Social Engineering involves the government guiding social development. Virtues seem to be a combination of the two where the government nudges society along by encouraging certain institutions to develop in in conjunction with the rest of society.

    It should also be said that most of the factions in Alpha Centauri are totalitarian, by definition, wielding control of both state and society, whereas the implication is that most factions in Beyond Earth are at least somewhat democratic.

    None of this is a problem though.

    As a concept, social engineering is broad enough to refer to everything from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution to the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty. While the most notorious attempts at social engineering have been by authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, there are instances where democratic governments attempt to influence the direction of society. More importantly, social engineering also has utopian connotations (which is where the Chinese and the Soviets picked it up) where utopia can be achieved through cooperation between the government and society. It's a broad enough concept so that you can go anywhere with it, from subtle influence by the government to the government attempting to renovate society from the ground up.

    If you're stuck anywhere, I'd definitely look up social engineering as a concept and go from there.
     
  16. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    Thanks for the info. I'll probably let it brew in the back of my head, take a few showers, let it really sink in while I continue to write out my thoughts and designs. In the meantime, what do people think about background illustrations vs. plain stars? I am frankly enjoying the stars more, but am uncertain whether it's because there's something wrong with illustrations fundamentally or whether it's because I need to do some editing and doctoring to make them fit better.

    Spoiler :


    Spoiler :
     
  17. DefiantMars

    DefiantMars Chieftain

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    These are really interesting topics. I think its a shame that social engineering has such a negative connotation. Thank you Ampharos for the illuminating information on the types of power. I think that it is mainly how the fluff of the value is described; which is essentially inconsequential.

    I am much more comfortable discussing gameplay. Fleshing out the ideals of each choice should organically reveal in game choices. I'm incredibly interested in the actually "Kickers"; What Maluses does each incur? You've indicated some of the negative aspects already, lilgamefreek.

    I think I prefer the stars to the illustrations. I like the choices in the illustrations but I think they might be too busy. Maybe if they were more blurred or had reduced opacity?
     
  18. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Chieftain

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    I'm playing around with the more detailed ones now, as I quite like how cooperation and pluralist look. Maybe things will get better, but I'm not too attached to the idea.

    As for gameplay ideas, I've put relatively little thought into the kickers so far. I'm planning to use them as a balancing component once the rest of the trees are formed, so that I have to worry less about balancing trees between one another. That way if there's a large difference in usefulness between two trees, I can give one a strong set of shortcomings and the other a weaker set to help bridge them a little closer and make fewer changes to the tree themselves. I've had a few minor flashes of inspiration about them however, and the ones I have slightly more concrete ideas about are:

    Police State: -x% effectiveness of health bonuses
    Fundamentalist: +x% cost to leaf techs (so players don't have too hard a time advancing up the branches).
    Free Market: lose x% of your treasury whenever y event happens
    Progress: Increased spy success chance in your cities

    You can kinda tell how I don't have very solid ideas for the other choices due to how vague I've left their summaries. I don't expect even half of them to be as "creative" as the ones I've just listed.

    EDIT: Redux of the backgrounds. Illustrations have been made blurrier and had their opacity lowered. Stars get brighter when their tree is adopted. Increased brightness of kickers progress bar to stand out better against the illustrations.

    Spoiler :

    Spoiler :
     
  19. Horseshoe_Hermi

    Horseshoe_Hermi 20% accurate as usual, Morty

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    Two thoughts.

    You're off the mark on Diplomacy. That is not social engineering. That is strategy, and is subject to change by its very nature. The stance of your empire is a response to the stances of all other empires, and it arises in actual actions, spending, initiatives, overtures, and foreign policies. Being aggressive, peaceful, defensive, or otherwise is a plan that accomplishes foreign and grand-strategy outcomes. It is not a nature of your colony. Not one with rivals, anyway.

    Two, you quickly run into the architectural problem of penalties built into these choices making the acquisition of Virtue-currency a bad thing. It is entirely possible that a certain strategy would want to capitalize some resources, and a SE would help you get there. But it's also possible that every one of the penalties built into your SE actually makes the colony worse off in re-investing what it has to get to the end result.
    This is not an issue when SEs are tradeoffs, but you're putting these buttons on a system where you add virtues from building another resource. So now you're paradoxically hurting yourself because the SEs make you specialize when the alternative of collecting yields in your unmodified manner was more profitable than any would-be slingshot.

    Here is a quickfix in case this doesn't mean this whole idea is nonfunctional:

    Make sources of culture in the early game fixed. There is -no- way to change that income for N turns, for every player, no matter what except maybe a loadout option (but not sponsor). In N turns, players will acquire precisely the cost of four virtues, which you will put into opening the four engineering domains, in some order that is up to you. Everything else is locked until they're all open. Or just start with them all open, but this way there is some kind of choice involved that might be fun.
    Next phase of fix, you need to make development in a zone cancel out its penalties and become more upside. It will still be comparatively worse than others in those penalized areas to have its identity (and gameplay). You may be able to leverage the fact of choosing between expanding Politics vs. Economics vs.Values vs. [future society] as a way to help out the player who wants to take advantage of broad returns on his 'unengineered' yields , because maybe going virtue-horizontal will degrade that equity really slow? I dunno?

    Still really think that a purchase system and civics do not mix.

    (Three, hotdamn those pictures are pretty.)
     
  20. Ampharos

    Ampharos Chieftain

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    I like the stars more than the illustrations. The illustrations look busier while the stars keep it simple and maintain focus on the choices themselves, not what's going on in the background.

    Though, it would be nice to use the pictures somewhere. They're really nice.
     

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