I don't usually post much but watching the new Ancient Relics trailer inspired that original sense of wonder and discovery which first drew me to this game.
The suggestion is to take the early game isolation mechanic (the best and most unique part of the game in my opinion) and extend it beyond each first contact. This is hardly the first post to suggest that we shouldn't learn everything about a species right away but here's how it could work in keeping with the theme of discovery.
Once comms are established, reveal the empire location but keep most of their details hidden. Make us work to figure out what that species and empire are like. Enter intel levels, diplomacy and spying.
Intel L1: We know their name and where they are. This is the default starting point. I'd like to see the ethics modify these though – fanatic xenophile might default to sharing up to L3 right away for example. Xenophobe not so much. (There are good arguments on here for also hiding map location but I think from a game mechanics perspective, that gets tricky. Ok to know the borders up front.) L2: We know the government type and any 'fanatic' ethics. Those are both really hard to hide if the leaders of the two empires have had any kind of conversation. L3: Non-fanatic ethics are known as well as the civics they are using. We have a good idea of how these guys operate at this point. L4: Learn species level attributes and finally apply the empire type like 'Democratic Crusaders' or 'Enlightened Monarchy'. That's almost like a label to slap on them once we've got them figured out. 'We figured you out and you are this thing' L5: Could be restricted to federations only and include tech and intel sharing by default. Note that the actual level numbers aren't important, its the natural progression of uncovering those details that is important
Special Cases: * Hive minds/ Machine Intelligence – they are pretty obvious on first contact. Maybe reveal them up to L2 or L3 right away. * Fallen Empires – start at L0. They have no interest in communicating whatsoever. Nothing is known about them and comms are not possible. I'd like to tie into the new archeology mechanic to uncover enough details about their former territories in order to finally breakthrough or get their interest. There's no reason we should know a single thing about them and must live in fear that they might be militant isolationist. Keep them as mysterious as possible and tie the surveying and ruins to understanding them.
How to move up levels: We have new ways of interacting with empires. For example, Send Gift. If they are xenophobe or even spiritualist, they may reject it but the way they respond will contain data which contributes to levelling up intel. If maybe they are hostile to all attempts at talking or sharing, we can try spying on them. Aim a huge telescope array in their direction and listen to their messages. Fly our ships past their borders (or within them).
It's all about gathering intel from them, either through diplomacy or espionage. Hide away their true natures and make us work for it. Aggressive and hostile empires will be much harder to figure out but that is fun too. 'These guys keep murdering my messengers and shooting down satellites – what's their damn problem!' Friendly AIs are much easier to figure out – again as you would expect.
There is a lot more to figure out around this but I'd love to see some sort of progression as we figure out our neighbours and what drives them.
TL;DR: Hide away intel on other empires and create a mechanic to uncover it. Some empires will happily volunteer and love to share this through diplomacy. Others will never say anything and need to be spied on to figure them out. Fallen empires are next tier mysterious and need the new archaeology mechanic to learn about them enough to even make contact.
Source: Original link
© Post "Suggestion: Expanded Fog of War Mechanics and Empire Intel" for game Stellaris.
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