Stellaris

Training – The opposite of demotion

stellaris 1 - Training - The opposite of demotion
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Posted this on the forum, might as well toss it here, too:

I shall first start by listing all the issues caused by the demotion mechanics:
* Unintuitive to the player. Pops instantly become experts in fields well beyond their station, but refuse to work at below their expertise for years, while being a literal burden on society, economy, and morale.
* It wrecks the AI. The AI can't at all plan around this, as evidenced by its current inability to balance even the most basic economy. Current pops, projected jobs, and target production are not at all tools at its disposal at the moment, and it has no way of knowing if the industrial district it is constructing to combat the consumer goods shortage (on a forge world, probably) will utterly wreck its economy.
* It introduces spiraling problems to the economy, further escalating the above two issues. A single Miner becoming a metallurgist is a -10 (at minimum) shift in Mineral production, which is not insignificant in the early game.
* The problems it causes are unable to be "undone". Once you accidentally have too many specialist or leader slots, closing them will only introduce more problems, as your no-longer-workers are now not-even-specialists-or-leaders, but even greater burdens.
* The tools to combat it simply do not exist. You can't close down job slots on a building or district that doesn't exist yet, but is being constructed. Once finished, the jobs are immediately filled, and the damage is done. Floating resources or unemployment seems to be the goal here. Alternatively, this is the reason Clerks exist. I really shouldn't have to explain how "this job exists so that the pop has busywork and doesn't become a pure burden on society" is not really A+ game design.

So, an idea: invert the mechanic. Instead of instant promotion and years long, taxing demotions, we have Training. Here's how it'd work: Miner Klun is happily toiling away at his job in the mine, when she hears there's a job opening at the new Research Lab. "I loved Science in the creche tutelage! Maybe I should apply?" So she does, gets accepted, and is now no longer a Miner. She takes the Researcher job slot, but gains the – Training tag. For the next four years, she produces no Science, but doesn't have the upkeep of a Scientist or of the higher stratum; instead, she just costs an additional 0.5 Energy and 0.5 Consumer Goods while learning how to be a Researcher under the State Education policy. The Blorg Empire, thankfully, is benevolent and kind, so they do not have the Capitalist Education policy, which would have Klun pay for her own education, at the cost of her happiness. The third option, Decentralized Education, would obviate the Training cost entirely, but would instead make all worker and specialist pops cost 0.1 additional Consumer Goods everywhere. Thankfully, she is a Blorg, and her race's Natural Engineers trait further reduces the four years by 25%, to just three years. Also, there's a College present on the planet, reducing Training time by another 25%, so she's done with it all in just 2 years!
Years go by, and the suddenly, there's a war. The Blorg Empire has no need for Researchers at this time of need, for they must build ships and stations to defend from the evil Jeff Imperium! So, Klun gets fired from her Researcher job, and to put food on her table for her husband and their three blorglings, she is forced to go back into the mine. She's somewhat miffed about this, but, begrudgingly, she goes and applies for a job at the mine. Now once again back in the mine, mere days after working on cutting edge fertility meds, she's quite sad. She has a happiness penalty! And it lasts for years! A -10 penalty, and for 5 years, normally, to be specific, and once that is done, the penalty is reduced to -5 for 5 more years, but there's a catch. See, the Blorg are decadent. Once they get a lofty post, they embrace it, embody it, and they are loathe to part with it! So, her happiness penalties from being demoted are, sadly, doubled. Thankfully, the war ends in only four years, Klun gets her old job back instantly as pops can reclaim old stratum jobs with no need for additional Training, because 10 years have not passed yet.
While training, Klun's Researcher position is "taken" by her, but if the slot were to be closed or building destroyed or switched off, she'd go back into the mine instantly, with a very short (1 year at -10) happiness penalty, making sure your economy-disrupting moves can be at least partially undone.

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Issues solved:
* Intuitive. People need to learn new skills before they can take better jobs. Economies are no longer subject to the very limiting build order mechanic.
* Doesn't wreck the AI as hard, because decisions can be reversed (even if the weight of a reversal would make it not highly likely, to prevent the AI from getting into a decision loop).
* Makes closing down jobs and buildings actually work the way you want it to, so the economy is actually more nimble in its focus.

Possible problems introduced:
* Growth is slowed down. Yes, training pops to work in buildings before they can begin working in said buildings will slow down growth and progress. This can be mitigated by further effects, the same way the current promotion/demotion system uses, for example, Shared Burdens. A Government Trait here and a Tech there could speed up training, or make the very first one job on a finished building or district train instantly. Planetary specialization could also have a hand in this. Games could even start with some Worker pops with completed training and associated happiness penalties, so that they can take some jobs immediately as they become available.
* The slowed down progression unequally affects individualist and hive societies. Yes, this is an issue, because the Training system will be felt much more often than the current demotion one. Hive societies already abstract so many details from what they'd possibly have, I honestly don't see an issue in them having to Train their workers just like individualist civilizations do, perhaps with a speed or cost twist here or there.

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