Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

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johnnylump
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Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:45 pm

As noted previously, the 'players' (human and AI) in the game are called "factions." The human factions are defined by their ideologies in dealing with the aliens. This dev diary will explore the factions and describe a bit of what they do.

(One of the challenges we are finding in discussing development, even internally, is what we mean when we say "human" -- that is, do we mean the flesh-and-blood human player as distinguished from the AI, or the seven human factions as opposed to the alien faction. So I'll try to keep those straight.)

We designed these factions around the range of relevant human reactions we could come up with to the arrival of a potentially hostile alien species in the Solar System. Each faction will have a name, which can vary between campaigns. Here I'll simply define them by their ideology. In game terms, the factions have distinct victory conditions -- which aren't always mutually exclusive.

RESIST -- The Resist faction, which is the default faction for the human player, sees the aliens as a threat to human autonomy. They are prepared to fight to preserve it.

DESTROY -- The Destroy faction responds to the alien arrival with xenophobia. They want not just to defeat the aliens, but to wipe them out entirely, along with any humans who work with them.

APPEASE -- Supporters of this faction acknowledge the aliens' technological superiority and believe that any resistance is doomed to fail, at a potentially huge cost to the human race. They hope to maintain a measure of human independence through granting concessions to whatever the aliens demand.

COOPERATE -- This optimistic faction believes the aliens can ultimately be persuaded to establish peaceful trade and an exchange of ideas, if only Earth can unite and speak with one voice.

SUBMIT -- This faction regards the aliens as superior beings in every facet and wishes for them to conquer Earth. They will support the aliens at every opportunity.

ESCAPE -- This faction believes the aliens will eventually enslave or destroy humanity and intends to build interstellar generation ships to flee the Solar System in an attempt to save the species. They will attempt to direct Earth’s resources away from resistance and toward this outcome.

EXPLOIT -- This faction sees opportunity instead of danger in the aliens’ arrival, and its leaders seek to enrich themselves and gain positions of power around the world, perhaps by taking the aliens' tools as their own. Many of their "supporters" have been persuaded the aliens are a hoax.

And finally, the aliens themselves form the eighth faction in the game.

How to factions work?

Players in most grand strategy / 4x games lead independent polities -- a nation, a unified planet or empire. In Terra Invicta, we're starting with the assumption that existing human institutions cannot work together to address the alien arrival in any meaningful way without a guiding ideology that is provided by the (human and AI) players. These players will seek to invest in and control various nations and other institutions, which have key resources needed for the factions to achieve their objectives.

As mentioned previously, players have four primary tools in the game. They are:

* Their faction council. This is a group of up to six or eight (TBD) leaders who interact with nations, various faction assets and each other. They are the primary means to gaining control of some or all of Earth's nations. More on councilors in a future post, but they are your primary proxies in the world, and can be developed like characters in other games.

* Armies. Armies represent multiple modern divisions that are capable of gaining and holding territory in other nations. Control of an army is gained after councilors gain at least partial control of a nation. Most nations don't have armies (but nations can build new ones with sufficient investment); their armied forces are abstracted as local defense forces. While powerful, armies are still subject to the international relations of their home countries (which too can be managed with sufficient control of a nation). Some armies have a "Navy" upgrade that allows them to transit oceans.

* Habs. Habs, or "Habitats," are off-Earth space stations and bases on planets and asteroids. These may offer places to mine resources for construction, research advanced technologies, and provide defensive strongpoints. Once you get an industrial base in space going, it's far, far easier to do things relative to boosting all your resources up Earth's gravity well.

* Warships. One of the main reasons to build habs is to build these, as the aliens can't be stopped just by fighting them on Earth.

In a future post, we'll detail the various resources councils must manage.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by AEIC » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:46 pm

I wonder, do we play as the faction leader as an individual or the faction itself?

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:43 pm

Essentially as the faction itself, as is typical to 4X and Grand Strategy games. Narrative moments may treat you the player as an individual, but you're not a character in any gameplay sense.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by Psieye » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:24 am

johnnylump wrote: (One of the challenges we are finding in discussing development, even internally, is what we mean when we say "human" -- that is, do we mean the flesh-and-blood human player as distinguished from the AI, or the seven human factions as opposed to the alien faction. So I'll try to keep those straight.)
Namespace clash. My personal protocol when I hit that is to avoid the word entirely and come up with different terms. In this case, "user" vs "Earthlings"/"Terran".

Good job on coming up with Escape and Exploit - I hadn't thought of those responses.

Armies being "non-self defence military" makes sense. Making navies be an 'upgrade' to armies is a reasonable line to limit scope creep - there are other games for players who want a detailed sea game. I shall await for when you are ready to write a dev diary on how 'control a nation' works mechanically: off the top of my head (while remembering your previous writing), there could be diplomatic, economic, formal military, underground mafia and sheer pop culture ways to 'tip the scales'.
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by JOKER » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:03 pm

Is it possible for some factions to achieve some kind of alliance, merge or evolve in mid or late game?
For example:
RESIST-COOPERATE: Understand or persuade the aliens is our final goal, but we will fight with tooth and nail if needed.
APPEASE-COOPERATE: Try to preserve more human independence through diplomacy and understanding.
RESIST-ESCAPE: There's no hope to win, but we will do a last stand to buy time for the interstellar generation ships.
CONQUEROR: We are no longer "resist" since we have upper hand now, and we will conquer the aliens instead.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:14 am

While we're planning some interfaction diplomacy, if we do it right, those kind of situations could emerge organically. Resist benefits from Escape investing in space programs, while Escape benefits from Resist delaying what they see as the inevitable alien victory.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by Psieye » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:11 pm

I am curious what, if any, travel times will be like for council members. If Mr Diplomat is in France and you suddenly need him to personally be in China, will he teleport there or will there be a period of "smoothly departing, in transit, schmoozing at the new location" during which he's effectively inactive? If that 'downtime' is of finite length, have you considered options for intervention? For example, Mr Mafia Boss preventing Mr Diplomat from reaching the airport. I suppose the pre-requisite question to all this would be "how does time flow in Terra Invicta?"

I understand some of these questions may not have been answered for final yet internally.
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:31 am

Travel on Earth is effectively instantaneous. All the players assign orders to their councilors simultaneously at specific points in time. (Currently is once a month.) Once all the orders are in, the actions are resolved in a set order. It's a bit like a worker-placement mechanic in board games.

The biggest thing we're chewing on is whether to show their resolution immediately, or space out the resolutions over the course of the month, or stack them all at the end of the month. This is mostly a user-experience call -- do you want Earth events resolved all at once (for easier consumption) or spread out while you're doing other stuff around the Solar System (perhaps more narratively interesting and dramatic)?

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by JulianSkies » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:35 pm

johnnylump wrote:Travel on Earth is effectively instantaneous. All the players assign orders to their councilors simultaneously at specific points in time. (Currently is once a month.) Once all the orders are in, the actions are resolved in a set order. It's a bit like a worker-placement mechanic in board games.

The biggest thing we're chewing on is whether to show their resolution immediately, or space out the resolutions over the course of the month, or stack them all at the end of the month. This is mostly a user-experience call -- do you want Earth events resolved all at once (for easier consumption) or spread out while you're doing other stuff around the Solar System (perhaps more narratively interesting and dramatic)?
It's important to have a summary avaiable somewhere, regardless of what the initial presentation is. If they're going to be spread out throught the month as long as you can find a summary of the results somewhere whenever you want i'd definitely take the spread out option.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by Psieye » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:52 pm

johnnylump wrote:The biggest thing we're chewing on is whether to show their resolution immediately, or space out the resolutions over the course of the month, or stack them all at the end of the month. This is mostly a user-experience call -- do you want Earth events resolved all at once (for easier consumption) or spread out while you're doing other stuff around the Solar System (perhaps more narratively interesting and dramatic)?
Depends what else is going on - presumably you're doing some micro on other things in real time between the monthly "place all council characters" pulses. In the absense of such contextual knowledge, I'd go for a split: fixed, boring effects can all happen at the end of a month. RNG-dependent, dramatic effects can happen during the month (with a summary repeated at the end of month report).
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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by NephilimNexus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:56 pm

This very much reminds me of X-COM Apocalypse, and this pleases me.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by T-Strike95 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:36 am

I have been silently following for some time and am anxiously awaiting Terra Invicta, this diary is very exciting stuff and I hope to see a new one soon!

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:01 am

Hey, another appropriate what-if article in the Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... es/553919/

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by Romegypt » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:02 pm

Why don't you use class designations? Are you not using C++? You could have a class of Human, with sub classes referencing the different attitudes of factions. I believe you can then use pointers to get the values from those subclasses, but I'm not as sure on that.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 pm

We're developing in Unity and C#, but my discussion of the term "human" above wasn't really a reference to some problem in the code, just more in how we communicate about the game.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by gimrah » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:58 pm

I like the idea but the factions could do with some branding consultants... Are those placeholders / will there be names and lore around the factions, or are the factions better characterised as stances that other nations or supranational organisations can adopt?

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:36 pm

The factions correspond directly to the ideologies. And, yes, they've got better names. At the moment, they are:

Humanity First
The Resistance
The Academy
The Peacekeepers
The Initiative
The Phoenix Project
The Servants

I'll let you match those to ideologies :). This may not be the final versions or we may have the game pick from several choices for each AI faction when the campaign starts.

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by gimrah » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:52 pm

Nice. I like the back-handed compliment to Julian Gollop: yeah we have the Phoenix Project but in our version they just run away...

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by valiance » Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:01 pm

johnnylump wrote:The factions correspond directly to the ideologies. And, yes, they've got better names. At the moment, they are:

Humanity First
The Resistance
The Academy
The Peacekeepers
The Initiative
The Phoenix Project
The Servants

I'll let you match those to ideologies :). This may not be the final versions or we may have the game pick from several choices for each AI faction when the campaign starts.
Anything that looks like the ideologically based factions of Sid Meir's Alpha Centurai has got my vote. Awesome!

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Re: Terra Invicta Dev Diary #2: Factions

Post by johnnylump » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:08 am

gimrah wrote:Nice. I like the back-handed compliment to Julian Gollop: yeah we have the Phoenix Project but in our version they just run away...
Sigh. I swear this is a case of convergent creativity; I go for nods to other properties that are a little more subtle than that. Maybe I oughta run a contest for a replacement name.

(Update: It's now Project Exodus, and the Appease faction is now The Protectorate.)

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