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Faction control mechanics

#1
I've been thinking quite a bit about faction control mechanics. There have been many threads on factions, but they've always been at a very high level, not the specific controls that you will have when performing faction operations.

A couple of the guys told me on IRC that it's too early for this stuff, but I disagree. Since Josh recently just stated that factions are currently in heavy flux, I'm just going to throw some ideas out there. These aren't necessarily recommendations, just considerations of how things could work. Wherever possible I'm going to be specific. These are in no particular order.

Startup mechanics
Starting a faction should be pretty simple; all that's needed is a name. You can call your faction anything you like and then start operating underneath it (i.e. you turn up to a station owned by another faction and just start using the new faction name). If you want you should be able to put out a recruitment invitation for people to apply, as below.

Joining mechanics
I reckon there should be two ways of joining an existing faction.
  • By application
  • By invitation
For the former you would probably need to go to a location owned by the faction and see if there's a recruitment invitation. There would then be a menu option to "Apply". If you're invited, then you don't need to worry about the joining criteria - they don't apply. This is clearly preferable. Not clear who should be able to extend an invitation; only the faction leader, or senior members of the faction? (see Seniority below).

Joining criteria
Joining criteria would need to be a set of rules that can be set by the faction leader. These would be optional, but include:
  • Joining fee
  • Standing with the faction
  • Standing with allies
  • The ability of the ship you're flying/fleet you command
  • Accomplish a mission
  • ?
Membership criteria
Once you're a member, a new set of criteria are applied in order for you to stay a member. These include (once again, optional and set by the faction leader):
  • Yearly fee
  • Sharing tech ordinance
  • Sharing maps ordinance
  • An obligation to help other members of the faction if they are being attacked
  • Obligation to complete n missions per time period
  • ?
Perhaps senior members of the faction get some of these things relaxed?

Membership benefits
Pretty much the membership criteria above, but applied to you. Possibly a profit sharing option... not sure about this one, could depend on seniority (see below).

Projects/operations
For the things that the factions does I think Josh should just use what he's already figured out for projects and metaprojects. I'm sure this is his intention in any case. These would also not be predefined, but would essentially centre around:
  • Mining and refining
  • Policing
  • Military
  • Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
Faction structure
Factions don't have predefined structures; they're simply groups of people with associated projects/metaprojects. Clearly however there is always a leader that makes the calls, s/he's the top of the pyramid in call cases. When the faction is small, the leader will run all the projects, but when the faction gets larger then the leader can appoint members of the faction to run projects. At that point, the project manager gets approval to appoint his own sub-commands. I'm not sure if the player should be able to be appointed by a NPC faction leader as a project/operation manager; I just don't know how feasible it is.

Faction seniority
It strikes me that members of the faction that have been around for a long time should get recognised as such. The benefits of seniority would be lessening in the membership criteria and perhaps some form of profit sharing? More thoughts welcome.

I reckon something like this would allow a large degree of emergent gameplay but remain manageable. In my head I see this being another screen similar to Projects (i.e. Faction management) that gives access to all factions you're a member of and all factions you control.

That'll do as a start; flame on.
Last edited by mcsven on Tue May 13, 2014 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#2
How this is done in the final game is very important.

It could make or break the whole game for me, to be honest it's one of the areas that concerns me, we have had mixed messages on how the whole faction aspect will be handled. (Though probably because it hasn't been finalized)

I personally want tight control over my faction, including who can join.
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#4
I forgot some stuff

Faction research would also have to happen in a project - rather major oversight there. :oops:

In the membership criteria, another ordinance should be a requirement to share your contacts book. Given that everyone will have a contacts book and an opinion of the people they meet (though not sure how this is controlled for the player - i.e. can we set our own opinions of people?), perhaps the faction's opinion of NPCs is simply the average of all members, weighted by seniority (if seniority is something that is enabled for that faction)?

I see these kinds of things as "faction configuration" options. For instance, the options for the faction's opinion of an NPC could be chosen from:
  • Straight mean of all members' opinions
  • Mean of all members' opinions weighted by seniority
  • Mean of senior members' opinions only
  • Set by leader
The approval for joining could be something similar:
  • Vote of all members
  • Vote of all senior members
  • Leader approval only
Of course, these things could be set for all factions in the game in the settings at the start of the game... or they could be in-game options. It would make faction management kind of spreadsheety though.

What I've suggested basically means that the faction is *owned* by no-one, and the leader is basically a dictator. If we want LT to get really deep, perhaps members should have an opinion of the leader based on their evaluation of the costs and benefits of membership. If a member's opinion of the leader starts to drop, the member may quit - or become a traitor?! :think:

This doesn't allow for "investment" though, which Josh has stated to be keen on. To me I can see only real way to do that, and that is to have corporations as a sub-type of faction that allow shares. This brings with it a whole bunch of other options/problems - such as dividends and the like - and opens the door to trading shares on the market, which may be a step too far.
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#6
I don't think this is a bad time to be considering these practical mechanics. This is a fine first cut at those.

A couple of quick thoughts:

1. Organizations, at their most basic, move two things: information and direction. In a hierarchical org, that's pretty simple -- info flows up, direction flows down. (You might also say that income flows up, and benefits/wages/payoffs/largesse/etc. flows down, but that's probably best addressed separately.)

But what about non-hierarchical orgs? A consensus-based group (as smaller ones can be) is more like a circle, where information and direction are shared out pretty evenly. Similarly, a Power org tends to be clusters of connected webs of personal authority backed by charisma, while a Task org can be imagined as a grid in which information and direction are efficiently routed to whomever they're best suited to accomplish a specific kind of task.

How could the mechanics for organization formation and management support these styles? Should they?

2. How would these mechanics need to be tweaked to support what might euphemistically be called non-traditional organizations, such as privateers, pirates, mercenaries, and social welfare groups?

3. What are some mechanics for how existing organizations can be acquired, or merge?

4. What are some mechanics by which an organization is disbanded?
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#7
Flatfingers wrote:I don't think this is a bad time to be considering these practical mechanics. This is a fine first cut at those.

A couple of quick thoughts:

1. Organizations, at their most basic, move two things: information and direction. In a hierarchical org, that's pretty simple -- info flows up, direction flows down. (You might also say that income flows up, and benefits/wages/payoffs/largesse/etc. flows down, but that's probably best addressed separately.)

But what about non-hierarchical orgs? A consensus-based group (as smaller ones can be) is more like a circle, where information and direction are shared out pretty evenly. Similarly, a Power org tends to be clusters of connected webs of personal authority backed by charisma, while a Task org can be imagined as a grid in which information and direction are efficiently routed to whomever they're best suited to accomplish a specific kind of task.

How could the mechanics for organization formation and management support these styles? Should they?
I think in my head I'd basically just assumed that the structure would evolve itself based on the number of projects the faction has running (I'm assuming that Josh is baking structure into the projects controls). If the faction has no projects, then it would simply be an amorphous group of players underneath the faction leader, who at that point simply has control over the joining mechanics etc. S/he is only able to command any other member, however, if the joining/membership requirements stipulate fealty to the leader.
Flatfingers wrote:2. How would these mechanics need to be tweaked to support what might euphemistically be called non-traditional organizations, such as privateers, pirates, mercenaries, and social welfare groups?
Yes, my favourite faction question: how to represent the Liberty Rouges in LT? I've been round the houses on this question multiple times. In this manifestation, it would be either a faction with a fealty-to-leader ordinance or a faction with a military project, in which there is a structure.
Flatfingers wrote:3. What are some mechanics for how existing organizations can be acquired, or merge?
Dunno! That one seems tough. Acquiring a faction would mean there's some way to own it, and that's an unresolved issue in my mind. Merging two factions... that's doable - all projects just come under a new name and leader?
Flatfingers wrote:4. What are some mechanics by which an organization is disbanded?
Hmmm, interesting. Hadn't even considered that. What do you propose?
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#8
mcsven wrote:What do you propose?
Non-directive managers like myself are basically Zen masters: we don't actually do anything ourselves; we just ask questions and let them answer themselves when the time is right. :D

For my first two questions, they pretty much come down to whether Josh is planning on enabling information/direction to flow in any way other than hierarchically.

A completely "flat" organization would be the degenerate case of a two-level hierarchy: the owner at the top level, and everybody else one level below that, taking orders only from the boss. I assume rogue organizations would probably follow that pattern. (Which, interestingly, implies a practical upper limit on the size of rogue organizations with flat structures... unless the AI cheats, and can issue thousands of orders while we human players are issuing just one.)

Acquisitions could be simple; just add the leader of the acquired faction under the leader of the acquiring faction. The acquirer can then fiddle with the chart to start integrating the new people (or not). Mergers... might not be worth doing; I'm not sure Josh has the time to spend on the logic to choose who gets to be the new boss of a merged org.

For disbanding, the only options that come immediately to my mind are:

1. Goodbye!: you're just not attached to that faction any more, and all of its assets evaporate.

2. Severance package: all faction assets are sold off by the system; all former faction members get a fraction of the proceeds from every sale. (Maybe a straight percentage, or a percentage modified by one's level within the former factional hierarchy.)

Any other possibilities?
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#9
Thread necro because the boss has confirmed faction management, and I'm still not really sure what that means. Anyone want to offer their thoughts, in addition to those that a few of us had above?

One thing that did occur to me: there should an option for a faction to make it's membership private (and, needless to say, the faction list should then be hackable and sellable). I am presuming here that it's possible to be a member of more than one faction... and that may be incorrect.
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#10
I would first simplify the idea of factions to that of a business. In a simplified business there is a CEO (the owner), several managers and the employees. I imagine that LT will have factions organized in a similar manner. The owner and the managers are on the executive NPC branch and they dictate to their employees what each is supposed to do. They do this by setting up missions which allocate resources to each task. The employees then follow this task and get paid accordingly.
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#11
Good call on waking this thread up.

We also had some thoughts on faction mechanics in other threads, particularly starting in this one on Factions and Civilizations. What's the internal structure of a factional organization? How do factions emerge, and grow, and shrink, and end? Can characters have different-strength relationships (including some strong enough to equate to "belonging to") with multiple factional organizations?

As usual, I manage to wedge my fixation on "multifaction" into that thread, with more details on that idea here. I'm still liking that idea that characters can be connected to multiple factions as this instantly gives the universe a varied "social texture." If Faction B loves Faction A, and you successfully complete a mission for Faction A, Faction B will like you a little more by extension. Second-order effects FTW. :)

I'm still curious how emergent factional organizations exert different kinds of control -- military, economic, technological, sociocultural, political -- over areas of space. In particular, how does a faction become equivalent to a government? And how does the player character fit into that gameplay structure?
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Re: Faction control mechanics

#12
Flatfingers wrote:I'm still curious how emergent factional organizations exert different kinds of control -- military, economic, technological, sociocultural, political -- over areas of space. In particular, how does a faction become equivalent to a government? And how does the player character fit into that gameplay structure?
These are really interesting questions to me as well. I would speculate that the type and size of a faction determines its type of control, along with what other factions in the area are doing. For instance if two factions (A and B) are mining an asteroid field, one (A) may hire fighters to harass the miners of the competing faction (B). This then gives several choices to faction B which include adding defensive weapons and additional armor to their miners or hire ships to defend their miners from the hostiles. Now, let's speculate that faction A hit faction B so swiftly that faction B was not provided time to recover from the loss of ships. This allows faction A to expand and with the additional resources available it soon becomes the dominant exporter of minerals in the region. In theory this could continue until a monopoly on mineral exports is in direct control of faction A, making it very wealthy and funding its defense of its boarders.

I imagine that something like this is very possible in LT and with historical universe generation these factions will have a deep history which shifts as opposing factions threaten the interests of each other.
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