Dev Diary #8 - The Competitive Edge

Heretic's picture

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Org is fundamentally a game of organization, logistics, and strategy.

But what does that mean for player interactions, polite or...otherwise?

Org can be played essentially as a single player game, but there are also four powerful mechanics for competitive and cooperative gameplay:

  • Reputation Politics
  • Trading
  • Personal Rankings
  • Alliance Rankings

Let's talk about each one in turn.


Reputation Politics

I went into considerable depth on this in an earlier dev diary post that you should totally check out, but let's touch on it briefly here as well, since it's a new mechanic for games like this.

In addition to player orgs, there are also a number of national polities that have laid sovereign claims to the various regions and orbits that comprise the solar system. Each of these polities has relations with most other nearby polities that range from friendly to outright war. As well, each org has a Reputation score with each polity.

Some tasks - particularly those in the Political or Military categories - will affect an org's reputation with a polity. There's a catch, though - doing something one polity likes will also often earn you reputation with those polities friendly to that polity - and lose you reputation with polities hostile to that polity. Moreover, a number of tasks will actually directly, if minutely, affect the relationships of a polity to another polity.

The various relationships of the various polities will impact what tasks are available to every org operating in those regions. If many players conduct actions enflaming hostilities between two polities, the diplomatic relationships between those two polities might descend into open war, resulting in some new tasks becoming available, but also removing other tasks.

A player alliance or popular trade route thus can affect the tasks that are available for every player in a region or orbit.


Trading

The second type of player interaction should be familiar to most players - trade.

Trade can be conducted either directly, in the form of making arrangements with a specific other player, or through the mechanic of a commodity market, which is basically a form of auction house as is common in many other games.

There are a few idiosyncrasies with the way the commodity market operates in Org, however. The most important difference is that while the solar system operates as a single, monolithic market, items do have a regional location. If your org is based in the outer worlds, let's say Neptune and Uranus, and you acquire from an org based on Earth an amount of Refined Carbonates on the market - or directly from a trading partner, for that matter - those refined carbonates are on Earth. If you want to use those refined carbonates in a shipyard you control on one of the moons of Uranus, you need to transport those refined carbonates.

Why would we do this? Why make it harder for players?

There are actually two reasons for this:

First, it creates a genuine strategic difference between operating around the worlds close to the Sun - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars - and operating in the distant reaches of the solar system. Gameplay and strategy thus differ; comparable strategies that rely respectively on fast turnarounds (benefiting players playing frequently) or slow turnarounds (benefiting players playing less frequently) can emerge.

Second, it creates entirely new markets for players to dabble in. Specifically, it creates an entire market for orgs that specialize in transporting goods, with all the complications and logistical challenges of that.


Personal Rankings

The third type of player interaction lies in personal rankings.

Every org accumulates Influence in the five categories - Commercial, Cultural, Military, Political, Research - for each region the org is operating in. Gaining Cultural Influence on Luna, thus, will not improve the org's Cultural Influence on Titan - or even on any of the regions of Earth herself.

For each region and each category, every org is ranked on a percentile system against every other org. For example, an org whose acquired Cultural Influence on Luna over the past week puts them in the top 50% of orgs on Luna will gain a bonus.

What kind of bonus?

Orgs who rank in the top 50%, 10%, or 1% of a category in a region over the previous week gain the ability to slot 1, 2, or 3 agents in that category and region as "governors", with any such agents' trait abilities applying to all of that org's tasks of that category type.

For example, the above org operating on Luna has ranked in the top 50% of gains for Cultural Influence, granting that org one cultural governor slot for Luna. Any Cultural agent controlled by that org in the Luna region can be designated as a "governor". Let's say the player selects a Cultural agent who has a trait that reduces the time it takes to complete a task. Normally, that effect would only be applied when the player assigned that agent directly on a task, but if that agent is made a governor, every Cultural task run in the Luna region will have this effect factored in.

(How do traits stack if more than one apply? Only the best positive and worst negative effects applicable to a particular task will be applied).


Alliance Rankings

Alliances - player guilds, essentially - also have rankings. Unlike personal rankings that are measured on a region-by-region basis, alliance rankings are determined on an orbit by orbit basis.

Thus, while an individual org operating on Luna is measuring its Cultural Influence against other orgs operating on Luna, an alliance is measuring its aggregated Cultural Influence across the entire Earth orbit - Luna, Antarctica, State, the Eastern Federation, Union, etc.

Achieving a high ranking in a category affords the alliance a number of votes, with the number rapidly escalating the higher the ranking such that very high performing alliances will per member of their alliance have a very much higher number of votes. (An alliance's votes in a category in an orbit will also be adjusted for the size of the alliance, meaning that there is no basic benefit between having a large or small alliance).

Every week, every alliance in an orbit has an opportunity to vote for an orbital mandate for that orbit for the next week. Only one orbital mandate is active in an orbit at a time, and alliances that rank high in individual categories - Commercial, Cultural, Military, Political, Research - will only have access to a subset depending on which category (or categories) that alliance has ranked in. (The mandates each category can vote for do have some overlap, it should be noted).

For example, an alliance that is operating in the Earth orbit has ranked in the top 50% of alliances in the Earth orbit in the Commercial category, but also the top 10% of alliances in the Earth orbit in the Military category. This earns the alliance 1 vote that can be applied for any of the Commercial voting options, and 10 votes for any of the Military voting options. The alliance wants to maximize its voting power, so decides to pick an orbital mandate that both the Commercial and Military categories can vote for - in this case, increased Troop production. With the 1 vote from Commercial and 10 votes from Military, the alliance will put forth 11 votes for increased Troop production in the Earth orbit.

There is another mechanic here in play as well: to discourage a single orbital mandate from being locked in by a powerful conglomeration of interests in an orbit, every time the same orbital mandate is voted in, its effect is decreased, only to be reset when that orbital mandate loses. So, the first time the above orbital mandate for increased Troop production wins the vote it will be applied at full strength; if it wins the next week, it will be applied at a lesser strength; if it wins a third week in a row it will be applied at an even lesser strength.

There's a lot more to this, obviously, specifically in regards to the specific mechanics of voting. The general method we have in place now will be tested out in beta and with the community's feedback we'll see what adjustments will need to happen.


Generally speaking - and there are some exceptions, such as if you start sending already-injured agents or damaged ships on dangerous tasks - you are not going to lose your org's assets. This is important, as one of the major problems with games in the past that included persistent competitive elements is that when a player took a serious loss there was a tendency for it to effectively shut them out of the competition, often simply leading to the player so affected simply leaving the game.

What is at stake, however, are your current opportunities in the form of available tasks, bonuses (and penalties) applied by other players' actions on your current tasks, and, as well, the brutal disregard of the trading marketplace. Your org's personal rankings and the prowess of any alliance you belong to will thus impact how many governors you have available as well as what orbital mandates are applied to the tasks you are running.

Unspoken to this last point is also the huge impact diplomacy can have, both within an alliance as players negotiate sub arrangements with other alliances or orchestrate voting strategies, or with other external alliances to create voting blocks to benefit your members, or damage the ambitions of your competitors.

I like that you have to get a

I like that you have to get a player or possibly a NPC to transport your goods from one planet to wherever you need them to go to use them. It's a nice touch that adds a sense of depth to the game that your not some god in one place and everything you do happens in this one place.

Yes, we actually had a lot of

Heretic's picture

Yes, we actually had a lot of debate internally about the best way to do this. It's a little bit of a risk, but I really do think it will create space for different styles of play.

There are a number of things like this in the game that are subtly working towards making the frontier of the outer planets really feel like a frontier. My hope is that we have enough of these that the most powerful alliances tend to cluster around the inner worlds, allowing smaller alliances to flourish in the outer parts of the system.

I'm confused about how you'll

wininoid's picture

I'm confused about how you'll work a global (system-wide?) market yet have regional warehouses. That would seem to prevent the trader playstyle, i.e. where I spend my time buying in systems where something is cheap, and selling it where it is expensive.

@wininoid on twitter

It's true, this doesn't allow

Heretic's picture

It's true, this doesn't allow for a "buy this cheaply in X location and sell this for more in Y location".

It basically allows for three major types of trading gameplay (that I can think of - I am betting other people will be able to come up with others):

  • Buying and holding for later sale. For example, buy X of commodity Y, then rig or anticipate a change in market conditions via orbital mandates and sell.
  • Transportation. Buy X of commodity Y, then transport it to where it is wanted. Most players will want to use what they buy asap, so this type of trader can buy those carbonates on Pluto and set up a regular shipping route to Mars where they're wanted so the buyer doesn't have to wait.
  • Buying for vertical sale. Almost everything requires multiple steps of production, and the most efficient way to do this involves multiple players. A trader who correctly identifies the bottleneck in production for those items in highest demand can corner/secure/contract/produce that bottleneck resource for resale.

EDIT: Actually, now that I think about this, because of the "Transportation" option, this could actually allow you to buy something cheaply in one location and sell it for more in another location. Someone on Mars might be willing to pay a premium for a resource that they can access right away.

Good point. Is there an in

wininoid's picture

Good point. Is there an in-game delivery option, or do you have to do it yourself/contract another player? I'm thinking of the math...

goods cost x credits globally
transportation costs y credits + t hours

So if I'm selling at a local market, I can sell for x + y + z, where z is the extra I think people are willing to pay in order to get in now vs in t hours.

Is there a "transport the goods I just bought to me" mission? Or is it more of a "travel to that station" mission, then "collect goods" then "travel back" set of missions?

@wininoid on twitter

The goods transfer code hasn

Heretic's picture

The goods transfer code hasn't been completed yet, so there's still a little fuzzyness as to how this can work, but the current thought is yes, you'd essentially mail it, appearing in the location that it was mailed from. (So, someone could just mail it from wherever it was, or transport it and then do all mailings once those goods had arrived.)

It should also be noted that automation of the transport component at least is planned, and possibly the goods transfer (mailing) as well.

Yes, you could do a transport task; it'd essentially be slotting a freighter ship and the goods and the time it took would depend on the origin and destination. This could be automated to, though we're still working out exactly how that will work since each freighter is a unique entity and not a commodity itself. So, closer to the the latter example.

Can orgs vote to blockade

Can orgs vote to blockade goods or orgs from other areas? Maybe impose higher taxes, fees, or tariffs?

We're still iterating on the

Heretic's picture

We're still iterating on the final list of alliance mandates, and would be open to ideas from the community; currently, we're looking at things like:

  • Troop production multipliers
  • Raw material mining efficiency
  • Increased research growth
  • Increased Solar rewards
  • Archaeological surveying results
  • Manufacturing production multipliers

Currently, all of these are framed as positive, though we could theoretically do some as negatives, or mix positives in with negatives. The one rule is that they are player-agnostic, so any benefit or disadvantage is dependent upon what your alliance or org is focusing on.

I like the idea you put forward in tariffs - I am thinking increased transport costs.