I'm necro-ing this thread because I'm interested in whether something like this could help to avoid the problems that No Man's Sky encountered. It looks like to me the issue there was that the majority of things acted the same way even though they might look different. Simple percentage points and higher numbers aren't really enough, evidently. I've seen a lot of stuff from Josh about research and blueprints such that I'm fairly confident that technological progression will be deep as well as broad, but I haven't seen nearly as much about factions and AI in the meantime, although I have only been lurking around for a year and a half and might have missed things.
Rethinking this suggestion, I'm starting to realise that it might be better to place it into the player timescale. In all likelihood, the player isn't going to be playing for long enough that the long term goals I was worried about will be an issue. But these could still be important to prevent homogeneity of NPCs, in the way their personalities, jobs, and actions work. Given the 'procedural generation' time that is already allocated to universe and technology etc, I think it could be good to give NPCs and factions simulated histories similar to Dwarf Fortress. I recall something being said about fations having this already, but with the addition of Stubbornness, Aspiration, Idealism and Sensibility, the *events* can then be translated into personality, instead of only standings and material wealth.
So as int he original post, a lifetime of failures following a high idealism might lead to a very cynical NPC who has retreated to a normal life, unless they were stubborn, in which case they might end up destitute... and desperate, extremely lawless and *willing to do anything* to fulfil their aspiration now that normal attempts didn't work. I think it would add a lot to the world of the game.
Finally, I would like to remind Josh if he's reading that although this might sound cool, if it's hard to implement I'd rather he focused on his original goals instead of allowing too much feature creep. However, I really do think this idea should be given another look!