Ideas for improving MegaCorps (and Criminal Syndicates in particular)

stellaris 4 - Ideas for improving MegaCorps (and Criminal Syndicates in particular)

I realize there's a patch incoming that may or may not address some of this, but I had a lot of time to think while I was flying for the holidays and decided to write down some ideas around MegaCorp mechanics and the current state of Criminal Syndicates. I'd like to know what you all think. Sorry in advance for the wall-o-text.

inb4 "This makes the game way more complicated". Legitimate concern, but not what I'm going for here.

My primary issues are:

  • Limit of one Branch Office per colony presents a wall to other MegaCorps that really has no recourse outside wiping them off the face of the galaxy (that I'm aware of)
  • Criminal Syndicates' Branch Offices feel a bit too "Parasitic", resulting in immediate precinct spam to get rid of it. I've experienced the AI doing this immediately after establishing a Branch Office, and have certainly acted this way towards any Syndicate Branches opened on my worlds.
  • As a non-corporate empire, I don't feel like there's much of a decision when determining whether or not to establish a commercial pact. It's basically: Can you spare the Influence for some more Energy? I wish there was more distinction between the MegaCorps and some form of corporate competition for your business.
  • I'd like to see opportunities for stronger economic ties between MegaCorps and Empires.

So here's what I propose. Some items synergize, others are independent:

  • Remove the Branch Office per colony limit, allowing multiple MegaCorps to establish Branch Offices on the same world
  • The Criminal Syndicate trait should be added as a hidden trait
    • The Criminal Syndicate should be able to operate as a normal MegaCorp, including initially requiring commercial pacts to establish Branch Offices.
    • Their branch office buildings should appear, to the host empire, to be normal MegaCorp buildings.
    • Criminal Syndicates should be able to toggle the criminal element of each building, providing increasing bonuses over time to that building's unique resource output at the cost of crime rate increase (which also increases over time relative to the bonus you receive)
    • All empires should be able to "Launch Criminal Investigation " into the alleged criminal activities of any MegaCorp. This could be implemented as a diplomatic option akin to "Insult" that would initiate a special research action (same as uplift primitives/species modification) with high research costs. It would have a negative effect on relations with that MegaCorp, with a partial recovery upon vindication of the MegaCorp's activities. A successful investigation would reveal the hidden Criminal Syndicate trait on the MegaCorp and then give the empire the diplomatic option to expel the branch office by revoking their commercial pact.
    • Upon being expelled, the Criminal Syndicate could be granted the ability to establish illicit (aka without a pact) Branch Offices within the empire that would operate more like Spies do in Civilization, wherein they can sabotage production, kill leaders/pops/buildings, steal resources or tech, etc. With this, a Criminal Syndicate is still a threat, but the open hostility allows subterfuge and sabotage to take over what was previously a business relationship.
      • (Going out on a limb here) We could introduce the possibility of the investigation failing to uncover any hard evidence of criminality. It could be implemented as a cat and mouse game, where the Investigator has to choose a specific building in the MegaCorp's branch office to investigate (or the base branch office if no other buildings exist). The type of building investigated could determine the research type cost. Upon being notified of the investigation, the Criminal Syndicate, not knowing which of their assets is being watched, toggles off the criminal activity for all of their buildings, immediately losing out on the bonus output from those buildings and over time reducing the crime rate output of the buildings. The Success/Failure of the investigation could be measured by averaging the total crime rate produced by the building in question over the number of months the investigation took, then doing an RNG roll with the AVG crime / month factored in. I've no idea how this should be balanced, I just like the idea.
  • All MegaCorps should be able to choose a 0-point-cost resource specialization civic that allows their Branch Offices to ALSO provide the chosen resource to the host colony.
    • E.g. choosing the "Agribusiness" specialization allows your Branch offices to provide food alongside the normal energy bonus. I expect these numbers would need to be balanced appropriately, but for the purpose of illustration let's say this Agribusiness's Branch Office has just been built, and provides a ratio of Energy-to-Food of 4:1. When the planet's population increases, so would the production of these resources, as currently implemented.
    • New Branch Office Buildings could provide further bonuses to this resource production
    • To account for relative value of Alloys/Consumer Goods VS Energy/Mins/Food, the base energy provided by the Branch Office from an Alloy or Consumer Goods specialized MegaCorp may need to be reduced accordingly.
    • This mechanic would have the effect of making a MegaCorp feel more economically intertwined with its host empires. An empire that has a high percentage of its food provided by its corporate partners is not likely to build agricultural infrastructure as they normally would, increasing the cost of bad relations with the MegaCorp.
  • Implement a "Corporate Warfare" mechanic for MegaCorps to fight for Market Share on a planet. This effectively splits the energy that the competing MegaCorps take home.
    • Market share could be affected by a number of factors. Just to name a few ideas:
      1. Relations with the host empire
      2. Distance from the host empire
      3. Length of time your Branch Office has been established relative to the competing MegaCorp Branch Offices
      4. Percentage of resource output (any resource) your Branch Office provides to that world relative to the competing MegaCorp output
      5. Edicts that represent your company's PR and/or marketing efforts. E.g. "Buy Three Get One Free" : Increase your Specialization resource output by 25%. "Accuse the Competition" : Your empire publicly accuses the competition of being a criminal syndicate, reducing the diplomatic trust of the customer towards the accused.
    • These options would still provide obstacles to other MegaCorps' attempts to "jump into the market" with an already-entrenched competitor. However, I believe the above list could provide enough options to potentially make the uphill climb by "Schmoozing" the customer empire and ousting the competition.
Read:  [Story Time] *The swarm that got concerned*, or: How sometimes Stellaris will force your hands into certain directions, and how that can be a beautiful thing.

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