Diplomacy

Discussion on game mechanics, balancing etc.
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Trilarion
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Diplomacy

Post by Trilarion » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:33 pm

Attached is the part about Diplomacy from the current Game Specifications.

It's an important part of the game and a very complex field. Easy to screw up. The original wasn't particularly good at diplomacy. The main change here is that at least some (eg. peace) treaties must be honored.

What do you think of it?
What should be changed or added?
How do you imagine Diplomacy in an Imperialism remake should be?
What should be there in any case?

The_Engineer
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Re: Diplomacy

Post by The_Engineer » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:17 pm

Your suggestions are good, especially the time-limited alliances or conditioned treaties.
The diplomatic interactions in Imp1 were too poor. Besides the basic actions (foundation of trade consulates and embassies which allows to conduct subsidies, trade non-aggression pacts and alliances) there must be more options of negotiations. Here some examples:
- Imp1 offers no possibility for allies to make peace with their common foe; only separate peace agrements could be made, which mostly broke the alliance into pieces.
- If one want to make peace and is in the weaker position, he can't offer money, goods or provinces in Imp1 in order to get a truce.
- Or if I gain a province which formerly belonged to my ally but then was occupied by our common enemy, I want to return this province.

But I wouldn't restrict the player in the way that no contradicting treaty is achievable (in history we have seen many of these) or no blitzkriegs are possible. Instead all actions influence the reputation of a nation. So a nation which breaks it alliances will be seen as a unreliable partner and its diplomatic scope will shrink. A hostile nation will be segregated.

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Re: Diplomacy

Post by Trilarion » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:40 am

The reason for "No contradicting treaties" or "No nlitzkriegs" was that I have seen in many multi player strategy games where human players almost exclusively use the tactics that they have treaties with a neigbour but updgrade their army secretly and then attack them. Especially against the AI you make peace and get some money but the next moment you attack again (Civilization). This is abuse of the faith that AI has in peace treaties. Basically, if you can break a treaty at any time it's not worth the paper.

In a way this is realistic and how it really was in history. But we don't need to be a history simulation but a good strategy game. I especially don't like that human players tend to break treaties often if they have the chance for it.

Possible solutions:
  • Make negotiating treaties expensive (pay gold for each treaty).
  • Make breaking treaties expensive (pay gold for breaking a treaty).
  • Breaking treaties with profound effects on reputation (others declare war on you).
  • Have minimum durations for each treaty, after which treaties can be broken without any bad effect (minimum 5 years).
We could even make it an changeable option. So some players may prefer to play with fixed treaties, others with everything breakable.

Really very difficult problems. :)

The_Engineer
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Re: Diplomacy

Post by The_Engineer » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:48 pm

Yes, implementing realistic interactions is difficult but a interesting challenge for the programmer too. And more exciting for the gamers. I recommend to design a such strong AI which can handle unfair gameplay of a human player. The AI should react like a human
Therefore, the costs of unfairness shouldn't be explicit (i.e. money) but implicit. Some examples: The tricked computer player will not easily make peace a second time. Other nations won't prolong existing treaties or accept new ones with such illoyal players and will instead conspire against him.

Thus, we need some parameters on whose basis ai responds to the human player:
-Economical and/or military strength
-Trustworthiness
-Reputation
-...

It is the challenge to decide in which way which action affects these values and which effects will the change of the value have. May be there are already concepts for this problem.

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Trilarion
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Re: Diplomacy

Post by Trilarion » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:56 am

My problem with reputation is that human players always feel like the AI cheats on them. So if you as a human player break a treaty and attack somebody and suddenly every other nation declares war on you, people start crying like babies how unfair this is and that the AIs are all working together...

One problem is here that there is no gradual difference between peace and war. At one point somebody just declares war on another. It's a very binary thing. So if several others declare war on you because your combined threat level, reputation score, ... goes above a trigger, you might feel like the AIs a) are unfairly teaming up against you and b) acting unforeseeable, because its a big change and happens suddenly.

I think that adding some predictability might improve this situation be also makes Blitzkrieg more difficult which might be a loss. So... still difficult problem. We really have to design it carefully. The current document is just what thoughts I had to mark the larger framework. How to design and implement it exactly is still completely open.

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Re: Diplomacy

Post by Trilarion » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:02 am

Some more ideas:

I would like to have something like:

- Message Nation X at Nation Y: You provoked an attack on Nation Z, do the following ... for us or we will support Nation Z and attack you.
- Message Nation X at Nation Y: You attacked Nation Z, make peace within the next 6 months or we will attack you.

But it still might be good to enforce the costs of some unfair behavior explicitely. It's easier and some players just might like to play with this more foreseeable framework. At least as an optional gameplay mode.

The_Engineer
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Re: Diplomacy

Post by The_Engineer » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:14 pm

I think AI should behave like you or I would behave. Of course, its reactions must be reasonable but not sufficiently deterministic.
It is necessary to explain its behavor for example in such messages as you have written or in newspaper articles (which btw were a great and funny feature of Imp):
"The whole world looks on XY with big concern. The new conflict between XY and Zim raises anxiety under the neighbors of XY because many see it as a severe threat of peace...."
Then the reputation of nation XY shrinks. Like you said there must be no binary reactions. There is much to discuss...

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Post by Trilarion » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:37 pm

Another aspect that I want to have is too get rid of the arbitrary distinction of great power / minor nation. Essentially they should behave the same and should realize by themselves if they are great or aren't. This opens the way for great powers becoming minor nations and vice versa.

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Re: Diplomacy

Post by Veneteaou » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:44 pm

Another aspect that I want to have is too get rid of the arbitrary distinction of great power / minor nation. Essentially they should behave the same and should realize by themselves if they are great or aren't. This opens the way for great powers becoming minor nations and vice versa.
There was a project in the past that pushed for this, mostly because it allowed for more options in a multiplayer game. Unfortunately, we were never able to handle how minor nations seemed to buy endless amounts of finished goods, and would have to overhaul the whole resource list and industry systems to make them have the same needs/wants as major powers.

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Post by Trilarion » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Here a summary of what I have so far to revive the discussion:

Why diplomacy?
  • Having insurance gives safety and let's you concentrate on other important tasks. E.g. with a peace treaty you can concentrate better on industrial development.
  • Market access for your goods increases revenues.
  • Alliances/partnerships gives you strong partners in case you have common interests.
  • Peaceful takeover of a minor nation.
Basic diplomacy especially with minors
  • Influence is a major property one nation has on another. One could also call it: mutual affection.
  • Certain levels of affection/influence are necessary to propose certain treaties. E.g. you cannot propose an alliance or assimilation without highest affection.
  • Past actions are important for the computation of the influence/affection level. Influence is always the summed effect over a time period unless fundamental changes (declaration of war) happen.
  • Influence cannot be ignored, not even by two human players. Even they cannot form an official alliance unless their affection is high enough.
  • As a small random effect with very rare occurence for some occasions a less affected major should be able to try a secret turnaround that gives a certain chance to become most affected nation.
  • Minor nation's affection increases when investing in infrastructure, when increase trade volume or offering larger discounts, when fullfilling wishes of them (not yet clear which wishes), when proposing and keeping several protective treaties
  • Minor nation's affection will decrease when attacking other nations, especially other minor nations close by, when supporting a big military and being located close by.
  • Protection as a special treaty with minor allowing the stationing of troops.
  • Trade embargo only if affection is lower than XXX.
Diplomacy with other majors
  • Peace treaty with fixed running time to really get safety
  • Alternatively peace treaty where you pay a certain amount of gold (difficult to balance, not too much or too less) in case the other attacks you before a certain year
  • Declarations of war or mobilizations of the army or something like this should cost money too. Maybe every treaty should cost money.
  • Meaningful alliances/treaties are treaties where you have aims in mind and there are punishments if the aims aren't followed.
  • Maybe limit number of possible alliance partners to 1 or 2 to avoid big blocks
Comments, Motivation

In the original in the first turn almost everybody wanted to be in an alliance with me, but noone helped in a case of someone else attacking me. How useless is this? Second human players often seek a peace treaty but secretely arm their military and attack at the next best moment. The reason was that there was simply no disadvantage for quick combinations of peace and war declarations. In order to have nations more engaged in diplomacy it should be goal oriented, so that you have a specific goal (I want to have peace for 10 years with you, I want to protect you against any attacker, I need you to help me in case XX attacks me) and in case the other side or you do not keep the promise (which is allowed, might be favorable, might be even unavoidable in case several treaties contradict each other) there should be a penalty which is defined before signing the treaty. A good penalty is money, at the best as rate per turn for at most 10 turns.

With peace treaties I would actually have sympathy even for a hard limit - that you cannot break it during the first 5 turns whatever happens.

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