Author Topic: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games  (Read 6017 times)

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Offline FarAway Sooner

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A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« on: March 28, 2014, 11:53:22 PM »
I've seen very few 4x games in any genre where the diplomacy is what I would consider good.  The AI is often capricious and arbitrary, and seldom rationale.  There might be a long list of modifiers you might be able to see, but there's little dynamic to them.  Improve relations by bribing or gifting, or by signing a treaty.  Relations get to a certain point, and you can sign a Non-Agression Pact, followed by a non-bedwetting agreement, consummated by an Alliance.

If you betray an ally, you might get a reputation ding for the rest of the game, as you are untrustworthy.  But I bet if you spend a few hundred gold,  you can offset that penalty.  It's kind of silly.

But that's not the way diplomacy works in the real world.  The United States couldn't declare war on England even if it bloody wanted to.

Why hasn't anybody ever come up with a more intriguing model for diplomacy in a 4x game, where attitudes towards other countries often evolve despite your government's intentions?  And where betraying an ally earns you more than just a slight distrust penalty from everybody else?

Am I alone in thinking there must be some other model out there, somewhere, that might be vaguely more interesting and strategic than "If you give me enough gold, I'll sleep with the wild pigs outside your second-largest city"?


Offline Nefaro

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2014, 12:33:33 AM »
When you find one with a more human-like Diplo model, let me know.  I don't think developers are willing to spend the time producing an intricate & believable Diplomacy AI and the oodles of extra time to test and tweak it. 

I would also like to have something more advanced than just a point threshold system.

Offline tgb

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2014, 05:08:33 AM »
I've seen very few 4x games in any genre where the diplomacy is what I would consider good.  The AI is often capricious and arbitrary, and seldom rationale.  There might be a long list of modifiers you might be able to see, but there's little dynamic to them.  Improve relations by bribing or gifting, or by signing a treaty.  Relations get to a certain point, and you can sign a Non-Agression Pact, followed by a non-bedwetting agreement, consummated by an Alliance.

If you betray an ally, you might get a reputation ding for the rest of the game, as you are untrustworthy.  But I bet if you spend a few hundred gold,  you can offset that penalty.  It's kind of silly.

But that's not the way diplomacy works in the real world.  The United States couldn't declare war on England even if it bloody wanted to.

Why hasn't anybody ever come up with a more intriguing model for diplomacy in a 4x game, where attitudes towards other countries often evolve despite your government's intentions?  And where betraying an ally earns you more than just a slight distrust penalty from everybody else?

Am I alone in thinking there must be some other model out there, somewhere, that might be vaguely more interesting and strategic than "If you give me enough gold, I'll sleep with the wild pigs outside your second-largest city"?

Paradox system probably comes closest, imo, although they aren't 4X games, strictly speaking.

Offline bbmike

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2014, 06:13:05 AM »
For me the best 4x diplomacy experience I've had seems to be Alpha Centauri. The next best might be GalCiv2. I'm really disappointed in the diplomacy experience in Civilization 5. That's one game you would think that they should really should be trying to create a more realistic diplomacy model.
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Offline MetalDog

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 06:26:03 AM »
I'm not sure you would want a 'real life' system for diplomacy.  Human beings are capricious, stubborn, volatile, selfish, etc.  There are no guarantees even if they GIVE you a guarantee. 

And how exactly would you model that?  Randomly accept or reject any proposal you might put to it?  Even knowing you had overwhelming odds in your favor, the AI might still decline.  It's human nature not to be bullied into something.
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Offline Rayfer

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 07:32:58 AM »
Perhaps multi-player is the only truly 'realistic' diplomacy model? On second thought, maybe it's the worst? I'm not sure.

Offline bbmike

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2014, 09:36:38 AM »
I don't think you could model a 'real life' diplomacy for these games. But you should be able to at least have system where friends, enemies, alliances, ect. are possible. If in Civ 5, for example, my ally for the entire game suddenly decides that the end of the game is near and attacks me just to 'win the game', that is not diplomacy. Also, games that say they have diplomacy and only give you two options (war or peace) that also is not diplomacy.
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Offline skeptical.platypus

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2014, 10:56:25 AM »
I think it's unreasonable to expect a realistic diplomatic model in games because they ARE a zero-sum game, real life isn't, and realistic diplomacy reflects that.

Let me turn that around -- how different would diplomacy work in the real world if every single player (individual or entity, you pick the scale) knew there was only one winner?

Now think about how diplomacy would work if the only winner was bacon.
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Offline skeptical.platypus

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2014, 11:16:54 AM »
I imagine I'm basically describing a game of game theory here, but if it were be possible to have multiple "win" options for both AI and human players, and those win options were not necessarily mutually exclusive, wouldn't diplomacy becomes a more critical tool? I have no idea what the programming challenges* would be, or how many human beings would play a game where one of the ways to win was not to lose.


(*I do understand that involves limericks. Or algorithms. I forget which, but it is easy to confuse the two. (I just noticed -- did Al Gore invent Rithm?))
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 11:19:54 AM by skeptical.platypus »
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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2014, 11:36:02 AM »
Just to be clear:  I'm not asking somebody to model all the personality interactions between two leaders, add in all the competing interests between two nations, factor in all the differing cultural traits between two peoples, and generate a model that measures the dynamic interactions between all those things.

I just want something where I'm not free to do whatever I want, within the singular confines of a point-threshold system or a "wait one turn" limitation.  And I want something that treats diplomacy as more than just the interactions between two individual people.

As a good first step, I'd love to see some sort of system which differentiates between my people's attitudes towards a different country and my government's attitudes towards that country. 

FDR wanted to declare war on Germany in 1939 but he didn't have the political consensus to do so.  The Italian army in large part fought like dogs from 1939-1942 because they were fighting against people whom they considered cultural peers, on behalf of people whom they'd fought against bravely and tenaciously 25 years earlier.  The US had to do an abrupt and embarrassing about-face when we relabeled the mujahedin from anti-Soviet freedom fighters to Moslem extremist terrorists.  I'd like to face some internal political consequences when I go to war with somebody who was recently an ally.  I'd like to be hemmed in by the tactically/politically expedient choices that I made 5-10 years ago.

There ought to be some way to model popular sentiment towards other countries--and popular sentiment towards a war--independently from an arbitrary "war fatigue" penalty if I've been at war too long.

tgb
, how does Paradox handle diplomacy?

Offline panzerde

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2014, 12:01:39 PM »
Now think about how diplomacy would work if the only winner was bacon.

Kevin Bacon or tasty, tasty strips of fried pig fat? Because I thinks there are very different answers there.
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Offline Nefaro

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2014, 02:02:15 PM »

Paradox system probably comes closest, imo, although they aren't 4X games, strictly speaking.

They have more options, but are still based on a simple +/- point system, with thresholds.  Not so much a diplo-specific decision making AI, but having point thresholds that are fairly predictable.

Offline bobarossa

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2014, 02:05:47 PM »
I just want something where I'm not free to do whatever I want, within the singular confines of a point-threshold system or a "wait one turn" limitation.  And I want something that treats diplomacy as more than just the interactions between two individual people.

As a good first step, I'd love to see some sort of system which differentiates between my people's attitudes towards a different country and my government's attitudes towards that country. 

FDR wanted to declare war on Germany in 1939 but he didn't have the political consensus to do so.  The Italian army in large part fought like dogs from 1939-1942 because they were fighting against people whom they considered cultural peers, on behalf of people whom they'd fought against bravely and tenaciously 25 years earlier.  The US had to do an abrupt and embarrassing about-face when we relabeled the mujahedin from anti-Soviet freedom fighters to Moslem extremist terrorists.  I'd like to face some internal political consequences when I go to war with somebody who was recently an ally.  I'd like to be hemmed in by the tactically/politically expedient choices that I made 5-10 years ago.

There ought to be some way to model popular sentiment towards other countries--and popular sentiment towards a war--independently from an arbitrary "war fatigue" penalty if I've been at war too long.

tgb
, how does Paradox handle diplomacy?
  If you are talking the EU games, if your country does not have a causus belli, then you take a stability hit (reduces income, increases revolt risk, etc).  Your government needs to work to get this causus belli before you declare war.  In HOI games, you have to lower your 'neutrality' level until it reaches a threshold based on other country's 'threat' level to you.  Otherwise, you can't declare war.  You can use spies to increase a country's threat level.  Depending on game version, you can have a minister that lowers your neutrality a little each month.

Speaking of interesting real-life diplomacy, I just finished reading The Winter War (Edwards).  Because of MR pact, Hitler stood by while SU invaded Finland even though German population supported Finland.  Even Goring (who had married a Swedish noblewoman) sent armaments to Finland on the sly.  Italy also tried to send munitions but Hitler forbade it passing through Germany. 

And as Nefaro pointed out while I was typing, EU games have a Bad Boy rating system that goes up when you annex provinces and goes down as time passes.  You have to balance absorbing enemies with the chance your rating gets high enough to cause neighbors to declare war on you.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 02:08:59 PM by bobarossa »

Offline Nefaro

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2014, 02:19:44 PM »
I realize that, being a game, it will require numbers to quantify things.  I would just like to see a deeper system with more than one or two numbers keeping tally on diplomatic standings and being used for AI decisions. 

This may require a whole battery of various values and a lot more AI work but it would be quite nice to have a grand strategy game with a more intricate diplomatic system.  With a good AI programmer, they could make a more sophisticated diplo system.  The Paradox games probably are some of the most advanced in this area, but they're still pretty thin on depth when it all still comes down to a single Relations number and an extra switch or two (in EU4).  Still makes it feel like you're just pushing that AI nation's whole wants & needs around via jockeying a single number.

Hell, I was ecstatic to find out about PrON's Diplo Crisis mini-game, which broke this mold.  Evidently Pdox liked it too, because they tried adding something similar to Vic2 in a later expansion.  Dunno how well that system works in Vic2, as I've not played it far enough to find out yet.  Still.. breaking out of the box like that is something we need to see more.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: A New Model for Diplomacy in 4x Games
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2014, 11:06:54 PM »
Yeah.  That's all I'm looking for, is an effort to break out of the box and get beyond one main number and two or three qualifying rules.  What might such a system look like?

I'd be happy to just see a game where my people's attitudes towards an enemy were tracked separately from my own status with them (i.e., War, Peace, Non-Aggression Pact, etc.).  As was the case in the EU games, if you go to war with somebody where there's not a proper casus belli, you pay the price in domestic turmoil. 

The EU system actually abstracts that stuff, but still at least makes it more plausible.  Adding in the occasional "story line" random event might make for interesting decisions.  Do you use a particular international incident as a chance to maximize short-term resources, or do you play for an outcome that will actually antagonize your own public the most so it's easier to really go to war later on?

That sort of thing would be more interesting than allowing me to pivot on a dime if I feel like it.