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Balancing Spies
04-28-2012, 02:31 AM
Post: #11
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-27-2012 08:04 PM)StandAlone Wrote:  I was thinking about what if spies don't steal actual tech but research points. Maybe a turns worth. That way they supplement their own research and sabotage their opponents. But at the same time they aren't getting a free tech or more if they still a higher level version.

While this is a cool idea, I think it would actually make spies even MORE unbalanced than they are now. Right now, you steal tech from your opponent, so you can basically have everything they have, as well as whatever you've researched on your own. If it gets changed so you steal a turns worth of research from them instead, once you hit that critical mass, it'll change to: you have everything you want to research, and your opponent has nothing because you're stealing all of their research every turn so they never get to research anything at all.

At that point, you never even need to set your spies to sabotage because you're opponent will never be able to research up anything to be a threat to you in the first place.

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04-28-2012, 02:31 AM (This post was last modified: 04-28-2012 02:36 AM by StandAlone.)
Post: #12
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 02:15 AM)BookBeast Wrote:  I was also thinking that it might be fun to add a certain feature to spying: framing someone else for your actions. You can steal tech or sabotage something and make it look like someone else did it. Your opponent would get a message like "our spies report that X stole Plasma Turrets II/sabotaged our fleet/whatever" when it was in fact Y who did so. This might be useful in multiplayer games for getting an opponent to focus on someone other than you!

MoO2 had this as a feature. This is a good idea as well.
(04-28-2012 02:31 AM)VanderLegion Wrote:  While this is a cool idea, I think it would actually make spies even MORE unbalanced than they are now. Right now, you steal tech from your opponent, so you can basically have everything they have, as well as whatever you've researched on your own. If it gets changed so you steal a turns worth of research from them instead, once you hit that critical mass, it'll change to: you have everything you want to research, and your opponent has nothing because you're stealing all of their research every turn so they never get to research anything at all.

At that point, you never even need to set your spies to sabotage because you're opponent will never be able to research up anything to be a threat to you in the first place.

That is a downside. Maybe it would be a percentage worth of the turn rate. Couple that with your suggestion about the colony security being empire wide and it would be in check.

Alternatively, spies could only be limited to tech that has actually been built on a ship or on a planet. That way you at least get a few turns of advantage from the new tech. Empire wide tech would have a x turn limit before being eligible to be stolen.

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04-28-2012, 02:38 AM
Post: #13
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 02:31 AM)VanderLegion Wrote:  
(04-27-2012 08:04 PM)StandAlone Wrote:  I was thinking about what if spies don't steal actual tech but research points. Maybe a turns worth. That way they supplement their own research and sabotage their opponents. But at the same time they aren't getting a free tech or more if they still a higher level version.

While this is a cool idea, I think it would actually make spies even MORE unbalanced than they are now. Right now, you steal tech from your opponent, so you can basically have everything they have, as well as whatever you've researched on your own. If it gets changed so you steal a turns worth of research from them instead, once you hit that critical mass, it'll change to: you have everything you want to research, and your opponent has nothing because you're stealing all of their research every turn so they never get to research anything at all.

At that point, you never even need to set your spies to sabotage because you're opponent will never be able to research up anything to be a threat to you in the first place.

What if the amount of research points an enemy spy could steal were capped so that they could only take a certain percentage of the research points you produced per turn? Or you had the option of securing your laboratories against theft (making it much harder to steal tech points), but at the cost of producing fewer RP every turn? Or some combination of both?
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04-28-2012, 02:54 AM
Post: #14
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 12:50 AM)StandAlone Wrote:  No, I get that. My thought was that if you are stealing their research pool output and adding it to your own then you can make strides in terms of research while preventing their research from progressing without giving spying to big of an advantage.

As far as production, once you hit a critical mass of spies as elph and vanderlegion have stated then you can devote some of your planets to building ships.

I was actually thinking about something along these lines while I experimented with spying lately. I would think about it almost every time my spies hindered my opponent's research—about how it might be nice if they actually stole that research instead. But if I imagine actually giving up the ability to steal technology I'm not sure how that would play out. It seems (just trying to imagine here) that despite occasionally stealing research the spying race would start to grow quite far behind in technology (unless the swap of research points became so powerful that it bridged that gap, at which point we might be considering a whole different range of problems, such as the inability to complete large research projects due to the opponent's spies).

And I agree about the production. Actually, with enough spies, or good spy production elsewhere, you've got your homeworld too. But if you take away any production buildings you've managed to research yourself or steal from your opponent, you're going to have to depend on spying to level the advantage militarily (which means backing away from 'research', whatever form that may take).

I couldn't back my suspicions with a reasonable degree of certainty without actually testing it (I really want to emphasize this because all I can do is speculate right now), but based on my experience so far it seems like this might tweak, negatively, a pretty important cog. Maybe if some proper spy racial traits or research topics were appropriately placed to restore balance to spy-oriented builds, allowing such a change to help balance the strength of supplementary spying?

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04-28-2012, 03:15 AM
Post: #15
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 02:38 AM)BookBeast Wrote:  What if the amount of research points an enemy spy could steal were capped so that they could only take a certain percentage of the research points you produced per turn? Or you had the option of securing your laboratories against theft (making it much harder to steal tech points), but at the cost of producing fewer RP every turn? Or some combination of both?

I honestly think that my original suggestion - making security facilities an empire wide tech - will go a good ways toward making spies less overpowered. The way security facilities are right now, I've never actually built them, even against opponents that are using spies. If I recall correctly from the description, they provide a % chance to protect the planet they're built on from sabotage - they don't do anything to protect ships from sabotage, or to prevent espionage. Add to that the fact that it's 4 GC per turn per planet you want to build it on (for the 50% protection), and it's just not worth it. I'll just rebuild any buildings that get sabotaged, doesn't bug me all that much, I'm much more worried about espionage or sabo'd ships.

Making them an empire wide tech and changing them to be a 20% or 50% reduction of ALL spying would make them actually useful, and require your opponent to build twice as many spies (once you get facilities 2) for the same effect they get now. It'll also make each one of your defensive spies essentially worth double (since an offensive spy would give .5% chance of success, defensive spy would reduce by 1%).

I kind of think this is a change that needs to be made regardless of anything else done to balance spies, just to make security facilities more useful. I would say, for beta 1.1.4, make the change to security facilities, let us test out spying with that change, then go from there to figure out what else needs to be done for balance.

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04-28-2012, 03:21 AM
Post: #16
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 03:15 AM)VanderLegion Wrote:  I kind of think this is a change that needs to be made regardless of anything else done to balance spies, just to make security facilities more useful. I would say, for beta 1.1.4, make the change to security facilities, let us test out spying with that change, then go from there to figure out what else needs to be done for balance.

+1

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04-28-2012, 05:13 AM
Post: #17
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 03:15 AM)VanderLegion Wrote:  Making them an empire wide tech and changing them to be a 20% or 50% reduction of ALL spying would make them actually useful, and require your opponent to build twice as many spies (once you get facilities 2) for the same effect they get now. It'll also make each one of your defensive spies essentially worth double (since an offensive spy would give .5% chance of success, defensive spy would reduce by 1%).

I kind of think this is a change that needs to be made regardless of anything else done to balance spies, just to make security facilities more useful. I would say, for beta 1.1.4, make the change to security facilities, let us test out spying with that change, then go from there to figure out what else needs to be done for balance.

Okay, I admit it, your idea sounds much better. Smile
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04-28-2012, 05:54 AM
Post: #18
RE: Balancing Spies
Lots of interesting ideas, and a great discussion I think we should keep it going.

One thing I don't like about VL's suggestion is when you look at in the same light as fleet combat. Since the counter to offensive spies are defensive spies (and ships vs ships), the conversation would go something like:

"OMG! I just got my butt kicked by the other player his fleet was massive. Ships are OP!"

"How many ships were in your defending fleet?"

"I should be building ships ahead of time?!?!"

Considering the same thing in terms of military combat, I don't think anyone here would want to introduce a tech that instantly made all enemy fleets 50% as effective. If you didn't plan ahead of time, you should get curb stomped when the enemy arrives.



There is a glaring difference between fleet maneuvers and spying; spies gain instant and complete viability as soon as you come in comm range of another empire. Fleets need to invade the edges of your empire, providing a buffer of time (sometimes small, but still a buffer) for you to react.

I'll throw another suggestion for the chopping block!

What if spy effectiveness against another empire was also tied to galactic distance? For example, two empires just get into comm range with each other. Yes, some smugglers and such start traversing between the two empires, allowing a small window for spies to infiltrate (so spies are maybe 10% as effective as now). As the game advances, the two empires start to grow closer together; now there are many colonies within comm range of each other, more uncontrolled traffic between the two, and easier ways for spies of one nation to infiltrate the other (maybe spies are 50% as effective). Later full war has blown, and your little empire is now surrounded by colonies controller by the enemy (spies are now 100% effective). This could be represented in the foreign window in terms of "weak / medium / strong" indicator next to the spies for each enemy.
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04-28-2012, 06:01 AM (This post was last modified: 04-28-2012 06:06 AM by StandAlone.)
Post: #19
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 05:54 AM)rocco Wrote:  I'll throw another suggestion for the chopping block!

What if spy effectiveness against another empire was also tied to galactic distance? For example, two empires just get into comm range with each other. Yes, some smugglers and such start traversing between the two empires, allowing a small window for spies to infiltrate (so spies are maybe 10% as effective as now). As the game advances, the two empires start to grow closer together; now there are many colonies within comm range of each other, more uncontrolled traffic between the two, and easier ways for spies of one nation to infiltrate the other (maybe spies are 50% as effective). Later full war has blown, and your little empire is now surrounded by colonies controller by the enemy (spies are now 100% effective). This could be represented in the foreign window in terms of "weak / medium / strong" indicator next to the spies for each enemy.

I had actually thought about this sometime ago. The wall I kept running into was that once a spy is at an enemies colony, he is then free to move anywhere with in that empire assuming that he is any good at his craft. I do like this idea though and wouldn't be opposed to that. Would researching fuel cells increase the range and effectiveness of the spies?
What if there was some sort of delay between spying events? Lets say a spy or network of spies infiltrate a research facility. They have to get the information out and then get it back home. This would mean that either they would need to redeploy afterwards or get away once they have the tech.

Also, what if there were additional tech like cyber security protocols that increases the delay or makes it harder to smuggle out the information.

What about if a spy sabotages a ship or building, you lose that spy. Sort of like a suicide agent or something.

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Old days moved earth and heaven
That which we are, we are
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield
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04-28-2012, 06:42 AM
Post: #20
RE: Balancing Spies
(04-28-2012 06:01 AM)StandAlone Wrote:  What if there was some sort of delay between spying events? Lets say a spy or network of spies infiltrate a research facility. They have to get the information out and then get it back home. This would mean that either they would need to redeploy afterwards or get away once they have the tech.

I kinda like this - maybe when you succeed at stealing tech, all spies on espionage are deactivated for x number of turns, while any on sabotage stay active. This might encourage people to split their spies between the two, so they don't all get shut down at once when there's a success.

Could make the downtime dependant on range perhaps like rocco was talking about, instead of reduced effectiveness, they just get knocked out longer the further away the empires are from each other. Maybe base it off of fuel cells and/or star drives, so the better distance/speed you have, the less downtime you run into (though I would say less than the time it would take a normal ship to travel the same distance. Maybe base it on your closest colony to their homeworld for the distance, and a fraction of the time a ship would take, maybe between a quarter and half, with travel required both ways.

Another option would be to make the travel time whatever it would take a ship to make the same trip instead of being faster, but not have it deactivate all of your spies when it happens. Go on the assumption that it doesn't take 30 spies to bring 1 piece of research home, so only a few leave while the rest stay behind to keep trying to steal more.

Either way, tech could possibly be introduced to reduce the number of spies that are deactivated when you steal something.

For sabotage, I like the idea of losing spies. If you're on a ship in deep space and you sabotage it and blow it up, there's decent odds you could die in the attempt. Something could be introduced so that early on, it takes more spies for a single sabotage so you lose several per sabotage in the beginning, then as your spies get more experienced, or whatever mechanic is used, it takes less spies per sabotage so you can get down to losing 1 spy per building or ship you kill.

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