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Factional Organization Management

#1
MrPerson, over in the NPC Automatic Fund Generating thread, suggested some ideas that got me thinking about factions -- in particular, about how characters -- both the player and leader NPCs -- will attract and manage their followers.

1. Through what mechanisms will the player and NPC characters gain followers to increase the ranks of their faction?
  • What do you have to do to gain a follower?
  • What can you do to increase the odds that a follower will join your faction?
  • Can followers recruit their own followers?
  • Under what circumstances can followers leave your faction voluntarily?
  • What if you don't want any followers?
2. How will player/NPC characters motivate the NPCs in their faction?
  • Not at all (once they sign up, they're 100% loyal for life)?
  • For a set fee (every job is a contract paid for out of their superior's pocket)?
  • With a (variable?) commission on money earned from jobs done on the NPC's own initiative?
  • As an automatically deducted salary for any/all jobs done?
  • With non-monetary rewards?
  • Some other way?
What other things would you like to know about how faction management might work in Limit Theory?
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#2
A few thoughts from me. Nothing I've considered in-depth, I'm tired and need to be up early tomorrow.
Flatfingers wrote:1. Through what mechanisms will the player and NPC characters gain followers to increase the ranks of their faction?
  • What do you have to do to gain a follower?
    • You improve the NPC's disposition towards you:
    • You have a similar personality to the NPC (operationalised as the cosine similarity of your and their personality vectors using the FRACAS trait values).
    • You successfully complete contracts for the NPC, or post contracts that the NPC successfully completes and you reward them for it.
    • Your actions in some way increase the ease of an NPC accomplishing its plans or increase its expected utility from its plans. The NPC's disposition of you will increase accordingly. This is a more abstracted version of the above. If an NPC is about to be plundered by pirates and you swoop in and rescue it, it isn't going to have had to post a contract asking for assistance and you to have accepted it for its disposition towards you to increase.
  • What can you do to increase the odds that a follower will join your faction?
    • As in EVE Online, any actions performed by a member of a faction towards an NPC will affect the NPC's disposition towards that agent and to a smaller degree the faction to which it belongs. If all members of a faction are consistently doing things which impress an NPC, the NPC's disposition towards the faction will increase to a level that it will seriously consider joining it. In the case that this NPC is a follower of yours and you want it to join your faction, you can command other agents under your control within the faction to act benignly towards the NPC, such as escorting it in dangerous areas, performing decent trade with it, or carrying out contracts for it.
    • Your faction has a similar personality to the NPC. A faction's personality is calculated as the average of its constituent members' personalities, which are weighted according to the member's place in the organisational hierarchy of the faction (i.e. the leader of a faction's personality more strongly determines the overall faction personality than an ensign's or an acolyte's).
  • Can followers recruit their own followers?
    • Yes. I follow people on Facebook. People follow me on Facebook. It's turtles all the way down! Just like the recursive plug-socket system Josh has going with ship systems now, I think that followers should be able to have their own followers.
  • Under what circumstances can followers leave your faction voluntarily?
    • Whenever they choose to, unless:
    • you employ them as slaves (see: Ship Transport Gameplay).
    • They are under some contractual obligation to remain a member of your faction, in which case they can still choose to leave, but will incur some previously agreed upon penalty.
  • What if you don't want any followers?
    • NPCs will need to request permission from you before they become a follower. If you don't want them to become a follower, you tell this this: Image
Flatfingers wrote:2. How will player/NPC characters motivate the NPCs in their faction?
  • Not at all (once they sign up, they're 100% loyal for life)?
  • For a set fee (every job is a contract paid for out of their superior's pocket)?
  • With a (variable?) commission on money earned from jobs done on the NPC's own initiative?
  • As an automatically deducted salary for any/all jobs done?
  • With non-monetary rewards?
  • Some other way?
  • To motivate NPCs within your faction, you need to maintain their disposition towards the faction.
  • An NPC's disposition towards you and the faction will start diminishing slowly over time if you don't do anything of particular value to them. The more benign and helpful you've been to the NPC, the longer it will take before this diminishing of disposition will occur, and the slower it will happen. That means that the NPCs you help or impress the most will remain the most loyal to you regardless of whether or not you continue to directly help or impress them after.
  • Just as agents can have personalities based on FRACAS, actions and behaviours themselves can be defined in terms of FRACAS traits, based on how they would affect the FRACAS trait values of an agent that exhibited those actions or behaviours. If you or another member of your faction behave in a way that's not in accordance with the personality of an NPC, their disposition towards you and the faction will decrease. Similarly, if you command the NPC to act in a way that's not in accordance with their personality, their disposition will decrease.
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#3
Factional organisation is one of the questions that has long interested me in LT. I have some of my longer posts in the Factions + Civilizations Suggestions thread. I think the questions posed both by that thread and this one are very interesting, and for most of them we still don't really have an idea what Josh is thinking.

For instance, it's still not clear to me whether civilisations will be different to factions (or if they'll exist at all). They get mentioned on a routine basis in the forums, but I don't recall Josh even really hinting at his probable approach. This really is central to many questions, it seems to me, since civilisations offer both answers (you can clearly have navies and police, and it gives a good reason for infrastructure development) and potentially unnecessary complications (can you start a new civilisation? How do you manage it?). Taxation may be heavily dependent on having civilisations, as well as having something that establishes the rule of law (or rules of commerce for corporations).

Membership in factions is also of great interest if membership of more than one faction is going to be allowed. For instance, it may be necessary to determine a faction type (commercial, mercenary) etc. in order to determine if you're joining two factions that are enemies with each other.

The questions are endless...
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#4
mcsven, the impression I have -- which obviously may be wrong -- is that Josh isn't thinking in terms of, "I will create a thing called a 'civilization,' and it will have these characteristics."

He seems to be thinking more that there are things called factions (groups of associated characters) that can be of greatly varying sizes. Presumably a sufficiently large faction that meets some criteria can be treated as a civilization, even if it's never explicitly called that.

Beyond the internal questions of how factions are managed (especially as gameplay), there are the points you properly raise about the external questions of what factions can do in the gameworld. At what point in a faction's growth -- in either capability or size or both -- is it possible to dominate the trade on a planet or in a system or sector? At what point can one faction dictate the laws of a planet or a system or a sector? What happens when there are multiple factions of nearly the right scale to do any of those things?

What Josh is doing with NPC AI in Limit Theory is different enough from anything I've seen anyone else do in a game that I can't even guess at the ultimate complexity of factional capabilities. The foundational features he's described for factions (and I'm sure we haven't heard about all of them) have so much potential for allowing a "living world" of character-driven events to emerge.

Here's hoping he can get the UI working to his tastes very soon. :)
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#5
I find myself swinging between liking the concept of factions as amorphous collections of player + NPCs, and then realising that to enable even the relatively simple faction system shown in Freelancer, there will need to be some structure. How else does a faction attain navies and police forces?

Perhaps it could simply be that once a faction reaches a certain size in terms of numbers of people, specialisation becomes an option. Thus:

Level 1 (population of A or cost of B)
You've got a group of acolytes and from this a faction can be formed and opinions of other NPCs are shared (simply an average of all member's views?).

Level 2 (population of C or cost of D)
Can specialise into one of the following (not compulsory):
  • Mercenary group for hire - can accept group contracts for military action
  • Production organisation - can dedicate all modules owned by all members towards production of a single item and accept contracts to produce items
  • Research organisation - can dedicate all research modules by all members towards research goals (i.e. the faction has its own tech tree), accept contracts to research techs and sell them
  • Explorers - can accept contracts to explore regions and sell maps
Level 3 (population of E or cost of F)
Can further specialise:
  • Paramilitary group - can share opinions of other factions, attempt take overs of other paramilitary groups, colonies and civilisations
  • Parent organisation- can start and own Production/Research/Exploring organisations and sell all products/tech/maps, can build stations and other infrastructure
  • Pioneers - can build and populate colony ships, can start new colonies on planets
Etc.

Alternatively, perhaps factions stay as collections of people, until you set up divisions. The division can be kept simple:
  • Military division
  • Production division
  • Research division
  • Exploration division
  • Planetary colonisation division
It costs a serious chunk of cash for each division to be setup, and each becomes a little faction of its own. The mini-faction takes its cue from the parent, but can form its own opinions of NPCs, and sharing of information becomes restricted.

The sharing of information is actually quite an important part of the faction mechanics. For instance, factions may decide that in order to join you have to share all of your info: contact lists, maps, blueprints and tech trees. That would make joining that faction quite a serious decision... but would also allow you access to quite a bit of additional information (I can see this being really beneficial early in the game). Alternatively, perhaps there are secrecy levels within factions...
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#6
mcsven wrote:I find myself swinging between liking the concept of factions as amorphous collections of player + NPCs, and then realising that to enable even the relatively simple faction system shown in Freelancer, there will need to be some structure. How else does a faction attain navies and police forces?

Perhaps it could simply be that once a faction reaches a certain size in terms of numbers of people, specialisation becomes an option. Thus:

Level 1 (population of A or cost of B)
You've got a group of acolytes and from this a faction can be formed and opinions of other NPCs are shared (simply an average of all member's views?).

Level 2 (population of C or cost of D)
Can specialise into one of the following (not compulsory):
  • Mercenary group for hire - can accept group contracts for military action
  • Production organisation - can dedicate all modules owned by all members towards production of a single item and accept contracts to produce items
  • Research organisation - can dedicate all research modules by all members towards research goals (i.e. the faction has its own tech tree), accept contracts to research techs and sell them
  • Explorers - can accept contracts to explore regions and sell maps
Level 3 (population of E or cost of F)
Can further specialise:
  • Paramilitary group - can share opinions of other factions, attempt take overs of other paramilitary groups, colonies and civilisations
  • Parent organisation- can start and own Production/Research/Exploring organisations and sell all products/tech/maps, can build stations and other infrastructure
  • Pioneers - can build and populate colony ships, can start new colonies on planets
Etc.
This is pretty interesting, I'll have to think this stuff over.
mcsven wrote:Alternatively, perhaps factions stay as collections of people, until you set up divisions. The division can be kept simple:
  • Military division
  • Production division
  • Research division
  • Exploration division
  • Planetary colonisation division
It costs a serious chunk of cash for each division to be setup, and each becomes a little faction of its own. The mini-faction takes its cue from the parent, but can form its own opinions of NPCs, and sharing of information becomes restricted.
I have had my own thoughts along these lines, which I've posted here.
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#7
Cornflakes and I had some interesting discussion on IRC about factional joining requirements. Options:
  • Initial cash cost to join, and then X per year. If you fail to pay, you're out. But the benefit here is that you don't have to share your tech/contacts/maps
  • Sharing required: all data to be shared. Every time you land on a faction base/planet you have to synchronise your data with the faction computers. This means that you don't have to pay, but you do have to give up any tech advantage
  • Some form of loyalty test every year - a mission that will deliberately harm your rep with other factions, perhaps
  • A combo of all of the above
Your seniority may also come into it too; if you're a founding member or something similar, you may not have to share everything...
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#8
With there being a little more life in the Suggestions forum once more, I was reading through some old posts. I found this discussion, and one of my own posts that I no longer recall, which upon fresh reading makes for quite an interesting idea.
mcsven wrote:Perhaps it could simply be that once a faction reaches a certain size in terms of numbers of people, specialisation becomes an option. Thus:

Level 1 (population of A or cost of B)
You've got a group of acolytes and from this a faction can be formed and opinions of other NPCs are shared (simply an average of all member's views?).

Level 2 (population of C or cost of D)
Can specialise into one of the following (not compulsory):
  • Mercenary group for hire - can accept group contracts for military action
  • Production organisation - can dedicate all modules owned by all members towards production of a single item and accept contracts to produce items
  • Research organisation - can dedicate all research modules by all members towards research goals (i.e. the faction has its own tech tree), accept contracts to research techs and sell them
  • Explorers - can accept contracts to explore regions and sell maps
Level 3 (population of E or cost of F)
Can further specialise:
  • Paramilitary group - can share opinions of other factions, attempt take overs of other paramilitary groups, colonies and civilisations
  • Parent organisation- can start and own Production/Research/Exploring organisations and sell all products/tech/maps, can build stations and other infrastructure
  • Pioneers - can build and populate colony ships, can start new colonies on planets
Etc.
This would make for a very interesting way of "growing" your faction, and would give a really interesting strategic bent to that part of the game. Recruitment would become important, as would your reputation. You couldn't just start a faction and boom! you're a paramilitary organisation. You'd have to attract people first.

Thoughts?
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#10
1: why should i be forced into a role by arbitary game mechanics? that would be completely against the very idea of LT.

2:whats the difference between a few ships i bought and armed and crewed and a mercenary group/paramilitary group?
how would that act differently?
Why should it act differently?
What keeps me from arming my "production organisation" and accepting combat jobs?

3:what if i have a few factories with a big guarding force?
What keeps me from being a mercenary group and a production organisation at the same time?

4:what keeps me from accepting "non stereotype" contracts?

5: the thing with "if the others like it" is nice and dandy if all members are equal, but that isnt the case in lt, there are the player/executive AI and workers.
The workers dont have any say, they are bought as wares and do as told.
How would your idea work with that limitations?
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#13
In a funny way, this is a good topic for the Suggestions sub-forum right now.

I'm supposing that most of the features for Limit Theory v1.0 are already set. But player control of factions is something Josh said was planned for after LT v1.0 is released.

So perhaps there's still time to usefully discuss ideas for how factions will work, and (more to the point) how the player will interact with factions.

In particular, this is really starting to look like it's going to be an information-rich game, as well as one that can eventually require the manipulation of a lot of different units. So the interface for receiving information about the world of the game, and for providing direction to units that can act in the game (NPCs, ships, fleets, colonies), is really going to need to be design with a combination of power and clarity. That's hard to do well.

How would you do it?

One real-world example might be the USA's Army Battle Command System, which handles what's sometimes called C4I: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence. Limit Theory probably won't need an information/control interface quite that complex ;). It's just one example that suggests the answer to this amount of information might be a "system of systems": several different interfaces integrated with a simplified overall control/display structure. You go there for the big picture; then you drill down into the control/information UI for the specific thing that interests you.

Actually, now that I think about it this might benefit from the kind of message-management scheme I outlined in my Small things that would be nice to have comment. By carefully defining information types as messages, you can build systems that move information messages up (to deciders) and control messages down (to actors). Then you "only" need to build the screens to display info and set goals, and the interfaces that move those messages between screens to the player at the very top and factional NPC executives at the bottom. You might even be able to use that message definition scheme for organizing how factional NPCs interact with each other. (Although a more simplified version might be necessary for performance, rather than the elegance of one C4I architecture to manage everything.)

Fun stuff. :)
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#14
Cornflakes_91 wrote:1: why should i be forced into a role by arbitary game mechanics? that would be completely against the very idea of LT.

2:whats the difference between a few ships i bought and armed and crewed and a mercenary group/paramilitary group?
how would that act differently?
Why should it act differently?
What keeps me from arming my "production organisation" and accepting combat jobs?

3:what if i have a few factories with a big guarding force?
What keeps me from being a mercenary group and a production organisation at the same time?

4:what keeps me from accepting "non stereotype" contracts?

5: the thing with "if the others like it" is nice and dandy if all members are equal, but that isnt the case in lt, there are the player/executive AI and workers.
The workers dont have any say, they are bought as wares and do as told.
How would your idea work with that limitations?
I don't see this as "forcing". There are no "limits" here. The entirety of the game is available to you, but you have to work for what you want to achieve. That's basically all I'm suggesting. I'm not married to it either, but when I re-read the idea I thought it was completely different to all other faction proposals that I've seen - which, incidentally, isn't that much when it comes to specifics.

That said, you're right about private armies - it would be a shame to lose the flexibility of being able to hire loads of mercenaries and doing a job that way. However hired guns are usually not committed to the cause. "Growing" an organisation through your rep such that people want to join could have a real impact on the loyalty component - i.e. they can't (or are less likely to be) bought off or corrupted. It could also have an impact on NPC aggression levels. A hired army will simply not fight as hard as one that believes in the leader/cause. I think these are interesting thoughts that are worth discussing.
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Re: Factional Organization Management

#15
There's been some recent discussion of what "player control of factions" means. Also, in the "what features would you cut (to get LT 1.0)?" poll, "factions" continues to collect very few votes, suggesting that it's something that the more active fans/backers are very interested in.

So I thought I'd resurface this thread on the subject of factional organizations to see if there are more ideas now on what "player control of factions" should mean.

I suggested a number of possibilities in the starter post for this thread. But what if it's simpler than that?

Does "player control of factions" need to be much more complicated than the player ability to define a project, to assign that project to an NPC, and to own the result of that project?

(We had a good discussion of projects, with input from Josh, in this thread.)

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