The idea behind giving farms a small morale bonus was to make them useful prior to planets reaching full population, and to help ease the morale crush on high pop planets. Lately, I've been wondering if I should get rid of it. Would solve the problem of the AI putting farms up on morale bonus tiles. Any thoughts on the issue?
Get rid of it. It only means trouble for the AI.
On farms, I also considered making them a one-per-planet improvement. Prevent AI misuse and make those farm bonus tiles really worth something, along with the Food Distribution Center and other +% food improvements. Could boost AI value of farms to promote higher populations and not feel so bad when the AI researches Xeno Farming III and ends up with that 26-32b max pop.
I've been playing with this idea for some time now (also for morale and econ improvements), but finding the right balance is quite tricky:
1. With a high AI value, will the AI definitely build a farm on their homeworld. The Hyperion Matrix is prove enough.
2. The Hyperion Matrix is the only Thalan building with a food bonus. Their soldiering bonus is also extremely weak. A guaranteed doubling (more or less) of the population for the other races, will make it very hard for the Thalans to compete in economy and planetary invasion.
3. Population is the main source of tax income for the Yor. They only have one 1pp economic improvement (not counting the Recruiting Center). The rest is made up by the Yor's economic ability. The other races can easily increase the income of one planet by building multiple Markets, while the Yor have to increase the population to be anywhere near competitive. Still, the increased population will never provide as much money as a planet full of Markets (not counting any additional bonuses to economy). Planetary Invasion is also more crippling to the Yor economy, because of this.
4. Races with multiple farming improvements will have a big advantage over the other races. To be precise, the Torians will have a much bigger population than the other races, and will reach it faster. Their economy and influence will be much stronger and won't be hit as much due to invasions.
5. Food bonus tiles will be more powerful and for the AI even more dangerous. You can almost guarantee, that the AI will use a +300% tile, if it finds one.
Those are the possible problems just from the top of my head. The solutions I thought of provide yet even more problems:
1. Reducing the base food amount for the Colonies. This will reduce the problems of high population somewhat, but will also increase the problems for the Thalans and Yor.
2. Reducing the amount of food provided by farms. This will reduce the problems of high population in most cases, but will also increase the advantage for Torians (and other races with multiple farming improvements), increases the economic problems for the Yor and make food bonus tiles even more powerful.
3. Increasing the power of the Yor Charging Stalks. This will help with the economic problem, but morale is still a problem and bonus tiles will be even more dangerous.
4. Giving the Thalans access to Farms. This will certainly help with their problems, but if it fits them is a whole other question. I'm not sure, if there is any downside to this.
I tested some of this a while ago, but further testing is out of the question for now as it just leads to BSODs. Faulty RAM seems to be the most likely culprit, based on my observations. At least I hope it is, as I currently can't afford anything more expensive.
Any other wacky ideas for v3.1?
Wacky? I'm not sure I can do that. Well, I can provide some more ideas. However, it is up to you to decide, if they are "wacky" or not.
1. Customized flavor for government techs. The government techs don't fit all races thematically. Changing the name and description of the techs would help to alleviate this.
- Iconians. They are the closest thing resembling a real socialist. My knowledge of socialism is pretty limited, so I'm not really sure what would fit the USSP (Union of Socialist Soviet Planets).
- Korx. The Korx are ruled by a company. Using different form of corporations seem fitting.
- Thalans. They are a insect hive. Using insect terminology would be the best way to go.
- Yor. They are a collective of individuals that are sentient machines. No idea, what could fit them.
2. Overhaul of production cost and maintenance for all planetary improvements. The imbalances in that area are not a big problem for the player, as he/she can build multiple weaker versions of the buildings. The AI, however, doesn't has this choice. It will always build the most advanced version, no matter how inefficient it is, thereby wasting time and money. The following suggestions are from my mod. I tested them thoroughly, so I know they work. I'm not happy with them, however, but they are the best I managed as of yet without a total redesign (tried those several times, too, with no success).
- Production cost only increases by 50% of the original building. For example, the Traditional Factory has a cost of 40, so every improvement to it increases the cost by 20 (Xeno Factory 60, Adv. Factory 80,...). That way, the cost of more advanced buildings will still increase, but no longer by such a huge margin as before.
- Maintenance increases by 1 for each additional 2 MP/RP. This will make more advanced versions more competitive to previous ones. Now, it will no longer always be better to keep the outdated versions. I'm still not sure, however, if it might be better to decrease the increase in maintenance more (e.x., 1 for 3 or 1 for 4) or remove it entirely.
- Remove the increase in maintenance for all non-factories/labs. On the one hand, the game wants you to keep your people happy (at least somewhat), safe, well fed and more. On the other hand, however, will it punish you by crippling your economy for doing so. The player can work around this, the AI can't.
- Remove maintenance for all SPs, TGs and GAs. This is mostly to keep those buildings more apart from the regular ones.
- Several improvements are not on par with their maintenance and/or cost. Some examples are: the cost and maintenance of the base factories and labs (compared to equivalent buildings of other races), the cost of the Torian morale improvements, the maintenance of the Iconian's Dream Conclave, Robotic Farm, Interstellar Refinery and Molecular Fabricator.
3. Changes to several other buildings. This is a continuation of the last suggestion. However, it goes beyond the cost and maintenance of the buildings.
- Dream Conclave. The maintenance is not only extremely high, but the morale bonus is also extremely low. You would think a building based on Precursor tech would be more powerful.
- Festival of Capitalism. The Korx are capitalists. Wouldn't it therefore make sense, that they would use the festival to try to make some bucks?
- Slaveling Training Center upgrades to Artificial Slave Pods. One of the biggest problems for the Drengin and Korath industry is the abundance of manufacturing enhancing buildings. Turning the ASP into an upgrade for the STC would help to reduce the clutter.
- Manufacturing Vortex. The Yor are a highly efficient race and are supposed to be the best at manufacturing. Taking a look at this building, however, really makes you wonder, if that is the case. It is describe as "Expensive but very effective production magnifier". Expensive? Hell yeah. Effective? Not at all. Even the Anti-Matter Power Plant is better and that one has the same maintenance. Why would the Yor use something that inefficient?
- Distributed Energy Matrix. Same case as with the Vortex. Except this time, it's a SP the AI can't even use properly.
- Hyperion Shipyard. The Shipyard will "increase the base movement of ships created on this world" by +1. Is this really so Super? More importantly, can the AI make good use of it? IMHO, no on both counts. The Arcean Navigation Center does the same, can be build on all planets (not just one) and is much cheaper. However, a bonus to the speed ability would be too much and speed bonuses are already too prevalent in the game. In GalCiv I, the Hyperion Shipyard provided a 50% bonus to Ship Quality for all ships build on the planet. Ship Quality back then increased damage, defense and hit points. Now, it only increases damage and defense. This is still quite powerful, but the AI still can't use it properly. It will build the Shipyard even on the most nonsensical planet. Ship Quality is planet-only bonus, so you can't make it civ-wide. That would be to powerful, anyhow. Which leaves us with a bonus to Hit Points. A 50% civ-wide bonus would be too much. 25%, however, sound more reasonable.
- Stellar Forge. The "crowning achievement" of the Arceans. They've put all their engineering expertise into this GA, which improves all ships build on the world it is located. Am I the only one disappointed by this? This is literally the same case as with the Hyperion Shipyard, just with a GA and different original bonuses instead.
- Doomsday Generator. Another GA the AI can't properly use. The planetary bonus to Hit Points is wasted most of the time. I'm currently considering, if I should change this into a 1pp improvement. Simply changing the bonus from planetary to civ-wide would be too much.
Another thought I had was modifying the political parties. I fixed the penalty issue, but I was thinking about the Federalists and Technologists. Conventional wisdom is that players take one or the other and basically never use the rest, right? That tells me something is wrong. What if the Feds only had +10% economics and the techies only had +10% research? Would that tip the scales?
It's been noticeable in playtesting, too. The choice of political party can have a pretty big impact on how well any given race does. Especially under my conditions, with custom races that have no bonuses whatsoever. I've given up on trying to customize races and just give everyone Federalists to level the playing field.
That is strange. My experiences are quite different to yours. But then I also play differently. For one, I use the most fitting political party for a race and customized them all accordingly:
Federalist: Korx (originally Mercantile) and Yor.
Populists: Terran, Drath and Krynn
War Party: Drengin, Arcean, Korath
Technologists: Iconian and Thalan
I also changed the values for Populists back to the way they were in GalCiv I. 20% for both Diplo and Morale.
My observations in AI vs AI games (10 major races, no minors, large galaxy):
- Altarians and Iconians joining a loose alliance (not allied, just close, trading and having exchanged all treaties with each other) and then carving up the galaxy between each other.
- All Good races joining an alliance with each other and going on a Holy Crusade, wiping out first all Evil and then the Neutral races.
- Terrans gone wild, with Drengin and Korx as loyal vassals.
- Drath brain-washing the galaxy, by using the MCC they stole from the Yor.
Those are just a few of my latest tests, and as you can see, the Federalists and Technologists are not always on top.
But that's it for now. 5 hours is enough time spent on writing this.
Edit: Apparently not. Something I totally forgot: the Iconians don't have Xeno Business. This means, they can't use any of the culture modules from the Business-line of techs.