Social Engineering Mod

From Alpha Centauri Wiki
Revision as of 19:53, 5 February 2017 by Tnevolin (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Preface

This is an attempt to enhance and balance social engineering choices. Thanks to all contributors on many other forums for expressing their opinions and sharing ideas.

Goals

Adjust efects range usage

In vanila version some combinations of models bring effect values beyond allowed range thus wasting it and diminishing model value in general. The opposite is also true. Some effect values are unreachable by any means. Adjusting this alone will bring more variety to the game.

Adjust models appeal

I agree with multiple posters that some models are inferior by all means and never used. This too cripples game variety. I'd like to adjust their value to let it be chosen not necessarily often but at least sometimes when time is ripe. Thus bringing additional twist into the game by using means already encorporated into game mechanics.

Adjust extra sharp effects

Some effects of social engineering could be so good that it brakes the game. I am specifically talking about population boom. With democracy + planned + CC it comes too early in the game ruining the rest of the game experience.

Resulting configuration

Here is my resulting configuration. The rest of the article is just a rationalization for those interested in academics.

Frontier, None,
Police State, DocLoy, --EFFIC, ++SUPPORT, ++POLICE, +RESEARCH
Democratic, EthCalc, -ECONOMY, ++EFFIC, --SUPPORT, +GROWTH
Fundamentalist, Brain, +MORALE, ++PROBE, ++INDUSTRY, --RESEARCH
Simple, None,
Free Market, IndEcon, ++ECONOMY, -----POLICE, ---PLANET, --PROBE
Planned, PlaNets, --EFFIC, +SUPPORT, +GROWTH, +INDUSTRY
Green, CentEmp, ++EFFIC, -GROWTH, ++PLANET, +PROBE
Survival, None,
Power, MilAlg, ++SUPPORT, +MORALE, +POLICE, -INDUSTRY
Knowledge, Cyber, -ECONOMY, +EFFIC, --PROBE, +++RESEARCH
Wealth, IndAuto, +ECONOMY, --MORALE, +INDUSTRY, -RESEARCH
None, None,
Cybernetic, DigSent, ++EFFIC, ---POLICE, ++PLANET, +RESEARCH
Eudaimonic, Eudaim, ++ECONOMY, ++SUPPORT, +POLICE, --INDUSTRY
Thought Control, WillPow, -ECONOMY, ---SUPPORT, ++GROWTH, ++INDUSTRY

Effect weights idea

Effect weight is a relative effect value comparing to others. Understanding effect weights allows easy social models evaluation and balancing. Keep in mind that such estimate is a very context dependent, though. Particular effect can be valued more or less depending on circumstances. Besides, I used multiple assumptions in below calculations. Feel free to correct me of propose your own. I will appreciate any input. Thank you.

Comparison method

Obviously different effects have different impact on your empire. Fortunately, game provides different means to achieve same result. Some examples would be: 1) using either minerals or energy reserves to complete production, 2) using either police or psych to quell drones, etc. This allows us to express impact of different effects in same units and, therefore, relate their weight numerically.

Historical periods and city yelds

I consider three historical periods for purpose of averaging. Latest part of the game is excluded as at that point game is either won or lost and no social engineering can help it.

Early game

  • Technology: restrictions are not lifted
  • Number of cities: 6
  • Distance to HQ: 5
  • City size: 3
  • Terraforming: minimal
  • City yield: 8-6-6
  • Production bonus: none
  • Eco/Phy/Res bonus: none
  • Small army, occasional conflicts

Middle game

  • Technology: restriction are lifted
  • Number of cities: 12
  • Distance to HQ: 10
  • City size: 5
  • Terraforming: partial heavy terraforming
  • City yield 14-12-16
  • Production bonus: none
  • Eco/Phy/Res bonus: +50%
  • Medium army, occasional conflicts

Late game

  • Technology: Advanced Ecological Engineering
  • Number of cities: 18
  • Distance to HQ: 15
  • City size: 7
  • Terraforming: heavy terraforming
  • City yield: 20-20-30
  • Production bonus: +50%
  • Eco/Phy/Res bonus: +100%
  • Medium army, permanent conflicts

Effects weight calculation

Energy

This is an artificial effect I introduce for the ease of further calculations and to establish base weight value. One step on Energy effect scale changes raw city energy yield (including commerce) by 10%. So it works simialr to other linear effects like Industry, Research, Growth. Of course, it doesn't exist in a game as described but it is convenient to use it as a base value since many other effects can be expressed through it.

Weight = 1.0

Industry

Main energy reserves usage is production rush. Of course, you can also use it to buy technologies and subvert cities but this is just small part of what is usually spent on rushing. You can consider rushing production as a energy to production conversion channel that works both ways. Hiher Energy effect fills up your energy reserves and let you rush production more. From the other side, higher Industry effect let you produce faster => cut on rushing => save for buying and subverting.

Formula:
Industry weight = 2 * <mineral output> / (<energy reserves income> / <economy allocation>)
<mineral output> is total mineral output after multiplying by facilities.
<energy reserves income> is the total energy reserves income before subtracting maintenance. You can see this value on the F3 screen as "Total Income".
<economy allocation> is the part of energy allocated to economy (i.e. 50% = 0.5).
Essentially, the (<energy reserves income> / <economy allocation>) value is your would be income if you allocate 100% energy to economy without allocation penalty.

Estimate:
At early stage your city mineral yield is about the same as energy yield. So, assuming there are no mineral and economy boosting facilities, that translates to Industry weight = 2. At middle and late stages energy yield grows faster than mineral one due to stronger terraforming effect and due to increasing commerce. The economy boosting facilities also come into play much earlier than corresponding mineral ones. I usually see total income 2-3 times bigger in large cities at late stage. That would be about 2 times bigger faction wide. That brings Industry weight to 1 toward the end of the game.

Weight = 2.0=>1.0

Research

Research is directly allocated from energy so the exact formula is the simple one.

Formula:
Research weight = <research allocation>
<research allocation> is the part of energy allocated to research (i.e. 50% = 0.5).

Estimate:
It's about 0.5-0.7 throughout the game. This being said, even smallest research superiority could be very important especialy earlier in the game since it is difficult to substitute it with anything else. Later on with large energy yield and with technology trade it is not that critical. That's why I want to give it a little bit higher weight at the beginning.

Weight = 1.0->0.5

Economy

Economy effect is drastically non linear. We can try to estimate each type of Economy change separatingly and then assign combination values to each step on Economy scale. Such Economy effect change types are: 1) 1 energy per base, 2) 1 energy per square, 3) commerce rating.

Economy (energy per base)

Formula:
Economy (energy per base) weight = 1 / (0.1 * <energy yield>)

Estimate:
Goes from about 2 at very early stage to 0.3 at late stage.

Weight = 2.0=>0.0

Economy (energy per square)

Formula:
Economy (energy per base) weight = (<number of working tiles> + 1) / (0.1 * <energy yield>)

Estimate:
Goes from about 10 (!!!) at early stage to 2-3 at late stage. Depends heavily on average tile energy yield.

Weight = 10.0=>2.0

Economy (commerce rating)

Commerce rating effect is very difficult to evaluate as it obviously depends on total amount of commerce you have. That is: number of contacted faction, number of treaties and pacts, global trade pact in play, etc. I would estimate zero commerce at early stages and approximately 1/4 (half of max commerce output with one faction) * 2 (number of large enough factions you are not at war with) = 1/2 of raw base energy yield at middle game and later. I don't understand how exactly commercial rating increases commerce. Let's say it increases commerce by 20%.

Estimate:
Goes from 0.0 at early stage to 1.0 at middle and late stages. Depends heavily on total commerce.

Weight = 0.0=>1.0

Economy by step weights

From To Early Middle Late
-3 -2 2.0 1.0 0.0
-2 -1 2.0 1.0 0.0
-1 0 0.0 0.0 0.0
0 +1 2.0 1.0 0.0
+1 +2 8.0 5.0 2.0
+2 +3 4.0 2.5 1.0
+3 +4 4.0 2.5 1.0
+4 +5 0.0 0.5 1.0

Summary

Economy effect weight highly depends on exact Economy scale level it results in. With most popular changes being: 1) 0 to +2 (FM) with weight = 10.0=>2.0, and 2) +2 to +3 (Wealth) with weight = 4.0=>1.0.
If one would like to spread pleinty of small negative and positive Economy effect values across multiple SESocial Engineering models, the average Economy effect value would be 3.0=>1.0


Efficiency

Efficiency effect is threefold. It descreases inefficiency, decreases number of b-drones, and decreases penalty for uneven Eco/Res allocation. Let's consider them one by one.

Efficiency (inefficiency)

Formula:
Efficiency (inefficiency) weight = (<average base distance to HQ> / 128) * 10

Estimate:
Average base distance to HQ varies per game. With my assumptions the weight is 0.4=>1.2.

Efficiency (b-drones)

We'll calculate Efficiency weight by comparing it to two values: 1) the ammount of energy allocated to psych that quells same number of drones, and 2) the amount of energy spent on pacifying facilities maintenance. Then we select whichever is cheaper at certain game period. Number of b-drones per base is calculated assuming normal size map on highest difficulty. For pacifying facility maintenance I take Recreation Commons as an example. It costs (per drone) 20 minerals + 0.5 energy/turn. I think expressing it in formula as 1 energy/turn (per drone) would be a good approximation.

Formula 1):
Efficiency (b-drones) weight 1) = (<number of bases> / 24) * 2 / <psych facilities multiplier> / (0.1 * <energy yield>)
2 is the number of psych required to quell one drone.
<psych facilities multiplier> is there to show how much energy is accually spent to psych per drone. With higher psych multiplier you need less number of energy spent.

Formula 2):
Efficiency (b-drones) weight 2) = (<number of bases> / 24) * 1 / <economy facilities multiplier> / (0.1 * <energy yield>)
1 is the average amount of energy reserves required to support pacifying facility per quelled drone.
<economy facilities multiplier> is there to show how much energy is accually spent to pacifying facility per drone. With higher economy multiplier you need less number of energy spent.

Estimate:
Again, number of bases varies per game. With my assumptions the weight is 1) 0.8=>0.2 and 2) 0.4=>0.1. Expectedly, maintaning pacifying facilities is generally cheaper than channeling energy to psych. However, there are other things to consider there. Facilities become more expencive as game progress. For example, maintenance triples for next such facility (Hologram Theatre). Besides, number of facilities is limited and majority of drones are quelled by the psych toward the end of the game anyway. So we can adjust the resuling weight progression as 0.4=>0.2.

Efficiency (allocation penalty)

Finally, the penalty for unequal economy/research allocation. Of course, the absolute effect depends on unequality percentage. Let's take a smallest unequal distribution of 60%-40%. For that distribution you loose 2% for bigger allocation + 4% for smaller allocation = 3% energy on average per Efficiency level which is equivalent of 0.3 Energy effect rate. Doesn't change with the course of the game.

Summary

Summarizing above weight values here is what we get. Interestingly, it doesn't change drastically throughout the game as other effects before.

Weight = 1.0=>1.5

Additional considerations:
The importance of Efficiency grows proportionally to difficulty level and to the emplire size. Doubling number of bases from 20 to 40 would probably double Efficiency weight too.

Growth

Growth power lies not in immediate economical effect but in economical development acceleration instead. Roughly you'll have 10% bigger sities at any future point in time with 10% growth rate bonus. That gives you 10% more workers => 10% more of both mineral and energy yields. That is +1 on Industry scale and +1 on Energy scale.
I do not consider early population boom here as this breaks this effect completely and makes it invaluable. The rest of the game after popbooming would be completely dull.

Weight = 3.0=>2.0

Support

Support translates to absolute minerals bonus/loss.

Formula:
Support weight = <Industry weight> * (1 / (0.1 * <mineral output>))

Estimate:
Per historical periods: 3.0=>0.5.

Weight = 3.0=>0.5

Police

Police effect is similar to Efficiency b-drones effect and to Phych energy allocation effect. They all reduce number of drones. Let's convert Police rating to Economy rating using Efficiency b-drones calculation approach. Using same considerations as for Efficiency b-drones calculation, let's calculate quelling effect and corresponding Police weight two ways.
Another consideration is that Police effect becomes quite valuable to the middle and end of the game. Indeed, the lowest negative values are multiplied by number of supported units outside of borders and high values gets doubled with invention of non-lethal methods and even tripled at +3 Police. That's why I count +/- Police rating resulting in +/- 2 drones close to the end of the game in formulas below.

Formula 1):
Police weight 1) = [1=>2] * 2 / <psych facilities multiplier> / (0.1 * <energy yield>)
[1=>2] number of quelled/incuded drones at the beginning and at the end of the game.

Formula 2):
Police weight 2) = [1=>2] * 1 / <economy facilities multiplier> / (0.1 * <energy yield>)
[1=>2] number of quelled/incuded drones at the beginning and at the end of the game.

Estimate:
1) 3.3=>0.6, 2) 1.7=>0.3. Again, with same considerations as for Efficiency b-drones, resulting weight would be 1.7=>0.6.

Weight = 1.5=>0.5

Additional considerations:
The lowest negative Police values impact you only at war time.

Morale

Unit morale level is affected by following means: monoliths, promotions, morale boosting facilities, and Morale SE effect. Let's compare Morale SE effect to the other means and see how replaceable it is.
Monoliths raise level once for free. Promotions raise level unlimitedly with declining probability so it harder to reach higher levels. Command Center becomes available with Doctrine: Mobility (Explore 1) and costs 40 minerals + 1 maintenance. Bioenhancement Center becomes available with Neural Grafting (Conquer 4) and costs 60 minerals + 2 maintenance. Earliest SE models become available at technologies level 2 and cost 40 energy to adopt. Being savvy player you would build morale facilities only in few bases minimizing investments. Once facilities are built they'll serve you forever unlike the SE choice that you need to keep on to support high morale.
With all the above I won't even dive into calculations. Morale effect is obviously inferior comparing to other morale level raising methods.
Besides, the unit morale level is important only when your odds are about 50% so change in morale significantly decreases your casualties. This is important in the early game when weapon and armor strength is about the same across all players and is progressing slowly. In the middle game, after missile launcher, weapon and armor strength is progressing rapidly and so is faction firepower difference. Weapon superiority is much more important and much easier achieved than morale superiority. Not even mentioning that morale superiority is limited while weapon strength is not.

Weight = 0.5=>0.0

Planet

Boosting combat odds element is similar to morale for native units. And, therefore, worth that much. Another noticeable effects are ability to capture worms and impact on global warming. Ability to capture worms is very nice yet it dissolves with discovering Centaury Empathy when you can stamps them at production rate instead. The global warming part is also insignificant as eco-damage containing facilities do their job pretty good. I don't remember a game where I had to fiddle with Planet rating to contain global warming.

Weight = 0.5=>0.0

Probe

This is IMHO the least usefult effect of them all. Mostly because it makes difference so rare in the game that and doesn't impact game outcome in general. The only exclusion is a Miriam ability to set +3 Probe rating at the beginning of the game when you don't have cover ops centers yet. And even then it makes no difference for her.

Weight = 0.0=>0.0 (subject for discussion)

Effect weights table

Effect weight
Effect Early game Late game
Economy (average) 3.0 0.5
Growth 3.0 2.0
Efficiency 1.0 1.5
Support 3.0 0.5
Industry 2.0 1.0
Police 1.5 0.5
Research 1.0 0.5
Morale 1.0 0.0
Planet 1.0 0.0
Probe 0.5 0.0

Effect weights table normalized by Industry

Apparently, energy yield grows faster than mineral one. That's why many effects fall strongly toward the end of the game comparing to Energy effect. We can renormalize the table by picking Industry effect as a base value instead. Industry seems to be more steadily growing and delivers more or less same value throughout the game. Below is such renormalized table where Industry weight is always 1.


Effect weight normalized by Industry
Effect Early game Late game Comment
Economy (average) 1.5 1.0
Growth 1.5 2.0
Efficiency 0.5 1.5 Value grows with empire size.
Support 1.5 0.5
Industry 1.0 1.0
Police 1.0 0.5
Research 0.5 0.5
Morale 0.5 0.0
Planet 0.5 0.0
Probe 0.0 0.0

Economy by step weights normalized by Industry

From To Early Middle Late Comment
-3 -2 1.0 0.5 0.0
-2 -1 1.0 0.5 0.0
-1 0 0.0 0.0 0.0
0 +1 1.0 0.5 0.0
+1 +2 4.0 3.0 2.0 This is the strongest impact Economy change can make. And this is the reason it is valued very high.
+2 +3 2.0 1.5 1.0
+3 +4 2.0 1.5 1.0
+4 +5 0.0 0.5 1.0

Effect range usage analyzis

Analyzing how effect is used and whether its usage need to be adjusted. I.e. add more negative/positive modificators or use more rare/often.

Economy

Values below 0 are not reachable by common means. Values -1, -2 are reachable by Hive only.
Proposition: add some negative values somewhere.

Efficiency

Effect continues to work above value +4 even though manual describes value range -4 to +4 only. This is because all effects are calculated by formula that can accept any value.
Strongly unlinear toward -4 value. Stepping from -3 to -4 takes away 50% of your energy yield and makes all citizens drones! Whereas stepping from +3 to +4 changes same values by about 1%. Other than that works fine.
Proposition: disperse -2 modificators from PS and Planned to other models so they still can be used in large empires.

Support

Can go below and above value range which has no effect. No issue.

Morale

Can go above value range which has no effect. No biggie.
Worse thing is that besides SE models morale is also boosted by facilities and by promotion. As a result war oriented factions soon run swarms of elite units.
Proposition: decrease Morale modifier and give more negative Morale value across models so many combinations would push Morale down.

Police

Can go waaay below and above value range which has no effect. No issue.

Growth

Generally skewed toward higher values which allows early pop boom.
Proposition: decrease positive modificators, add more negative modificators.

Planet

Can go up to +4 which still has effect on combat odds. No issue.

Probe

Can go up to +6 which has no effect. No issue.
Proposition: use more rare and use more negative values.

Industry

A little skewed toward higher values. No issue.
Proposition: add more negative values.

Research

A little skewed toward higher values. No issue.
Proposition: add more negative values.

Effect groups

There are two major Effect groups. Build style group benefit your whole empire regardless of current political situation. They tend to keep or increase in value as you empire grows. Momentum style group helps you win the war one way or another. They tend to decline drastically toward the end of the game. Mostly because pure faction power overcomes all other factors.
Build style effects: Economy, Efficiency, Police, Growth, Industry, Research.
Momentum style effects: Support, Morale, Police, Planet, Probe
Police is dual because of builder related top and momentum related bottom.

Naturally people understand the difference and tend to classify SE models the same way. That is attributing Democratic as builder choice and Fundamentalist as momentum choice. IMHO that is absolutely incorrect. Player shouldn't automatically chose SE model based on how its name sounds. They should carefully weigh selection based on how specific module bonuses strengthen their empire in current situation. Therefore, to build a good and variable collection of SE models, we need to mix effects from both builder and momentum group in each model. There should be no restriction induced by historical connotation behind the name.

Society Models analyzis

Analyze models popularity and discuss fix.

Police State

Slightly unpopular due to big Efficiency penalty.
Proposition: split -2 Efficiency to -1 Efficiency and -1 Economy. Neither one have big drawback at the beginning of the game. Lower Efficiency penalty will keep the appeal of this choice toward the end of the game.

Democratic

Overpowered due to big Efficiency and Growth bonuses combination.
Proposition: decrease Growth bonus and also drop Morale. Decrease in Growth will stop early popbooming and Morale drop will force player to switch from it at least sometimes at the beginning of the game. It will still be popular toward the end of the game due to nice Efficiency.

Fundamentalist

Unpopular due to lack of good bonuses.
Proposition: add Industry and Morale. This is even kind of in line with name connotation. Indeed, why would Fundamentalist not boost their production? And +1 Morale is too unnoticeable to make a difference anyway.

Free Market

No major issues since Economy is balanced by Police making it usable during peace time only. Plus you need extended worm protection for cities.

Planned

Slightly more powered due to Industry + Growth combination. Proposition: -1 Economy. Harms this model very little by itself but may force to avoid it in combination with Wealth.

Green

Apparently slightly weakeash model judging by other people feedback.
Proposition: a) +3 Police or b) -1 Growth, +1 Police. Slow growth but additional control of existing population.

Power

Another slightly weakeash model judging by other people feedback. Lack of serious values.
Proposition: +1 Police.

Knowledge

No issues. Although with its current configuration it is almost undistinguisable from Wealth. It is tempting to make it more research oriented for the price of economy. This way it will sort of channel energy to research without allocation change.
Proposition: -1 Economy, +4 Knowledge. Nice research bonus but cut on energy income from FM.

Wealth

No issues in general except that -2 Morale is not always a major flaw.
Proposition: -2 Morale, -1 Research. Morale makes war difficult which is kind of in line with Wealth values. Research offsets energy income - sort of reverted Knowledge.

Cybernetic

No issues.

Eudaimonic

Insanely overpowered. Each bonus is a huge boost by itself and Morale in later game means nothing.
Proposition: -3 Morale and -4 Industry. Economy and Growth bonuses are already insanely good. This change intends to force player to use this choice only in the time of peace to live on commerce instead of production. The logical end game choice.

Thought Control

Too weak comparing to Eudaimonic. Police is the only valuable bonus.
Proposition: +3 Morale, +2 Industry, ? Probe. Counterpart of Eudaimonic. War and production oriented.