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Terra Invicta - Grand Strategy from Long War mod creators

Discussion in 'Chad's Strategy and Simulation & Tactical Gaming' started by Space Satan, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Space Satan Arcane

    Space Satan
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    Terra Invicta is a grand strategy game in which the player leads the defense of Earth during an alien invasion.

    An alien force has arrived in the far reaches of Solar System and begun probing Earth's defenses and building an invasion fleet. The player must assemble a council of scientists, politicians, military leaders and operatives who can unite Earth's squabbling nations with the ultimate goal of taking the fight to the aliens in the high ground of outer space.

    Status: In production; preparing crowdfunding campaign and seeking publisher

    First Dev Diary published on nov 7:

    Some caveats: We've got no regular plan for dev diary updates yet, but with the end of our XCOM work I wanted to describe in general terms our vision for Terra Invicta. Release of the game is still a long way off, and I want to emphasize this is where the design stands now and NOT a pledge that all these features will be in the game. We may not be able to afford all of them, or we may test them and find they aren't fun, or they may be technically too tough to pull off.

    We're billing Terra Invicta as a "grand strategy alien invasion game." The player leads a transnational faction of humans who are dedicated to resisting the aliens' infiltration and invasion of modern-day Earth. Other factions on Earth see the alien arrival in a different light and will be working against you for their own ends. We hope to let you play those other factions, too, but we're building the initial story around what we're calling the "Resist" faction. (It will get a more imaginative name in-game.)

    The player's overall goal is to harness Earth's resources to both fortify Earth and challenge the aliens in space, where they are building an industrial base in the far reaches of the Solar System to support their planned invasion. Earth's nations are unable to form a coherent policy on their own to deal with the aliens; the various factions will instead be competing for influence within individual countries around the globe, and once they have it, they will be able to direct those nations' politics, economies and militaries. Several factions, including the player's, will attempt to direct those resources toward industrializing space and building a space fleet to take on alien forces. The aliens themselves will be working to subvert Earth's governments until they can bring their heaviest forces to bear.

    What does the player actually control?

    Each faction is led by a small team of councilors, who travel around the world and, as the campaign develops, into space. These can be diplomats, spies, military commanders, tycoons, even celebrities and criminals. They vie for influence in the world's nations, investigate alien landings, and hunt councilors from other factions. The player may also direct national armies, build space stations and surface habitats, and command space warships in battle.

    How is the game "grand strategy?"

    We're using the term for two primary reasons: One, the action moves in pausable real-time, similar to Paradox titles, although at regular intervals where the game will stop and ask you to position your councilors all at once. Two, we're starting with a high-level simulation of Earth's current geopolitics, and imposing the alien invasion narrative upon it. While our space development piece is more 4X-ish in that you are industrializing from scratch, your ability to do so will be grounded in your ability to steer Earth's nations to your banner.
     
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  2. Jimmious Arcane Patron

    Jimmious
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    meh
     
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  3. PanteraNera Savant

    PanteraNera
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    agreed, meh!
     
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  4. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Well, at least it's not Long War: The Standalone Game.
     
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  5. Galdred Studio Draconis Patron Developer

    Galdred
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    You say that as if it would have been a bad thing.
     
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  6. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    You say that as if it would have been a good thing.
     
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  7. Space Satan Arcane

    Space Satan
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    DD: Factions
    Show Spoiler

    As noted previously, the 'players' (human and AI) in the game are called "factions." The human factions are defined by their ideologies in dealing with the aliens. This dev diary will explore the factions and describe a bit of what they do.

    (One of the challenges we are finding in discussing development, even internally, is what we mean when we say "human" -- that is, do we mean the flesh-and-blood human player as distinguished from the AI, or the seven human factions as opposed to the alien faction. So I'll try to keep those straight.)

    We designed these factions around the range of relevant human reactions we could come up with to the arrival of a potentially hostile alien species in the Solar System. Each faction will have a name, which can vary between campaigns. Here I'll simply define them by their ideology. In game terms, the factions have distinct victory conditions -- which aren't always mutually exclusive.

    RESIST -- The Resist faction, which is the default faction for the human player, sees the aliens as a threat to human autonomy. They are prepared to fight to preserve it.

    DESTROY -- The Destroy faction responds to the alien arrival with xenophobia. They want not just to defeat the aliens, but to wipe them out entirely, along with any humans who work with them.

    APPEASE -- Supporters of this faction acknowledge the aliens' technological superiority and believe that any resistance is doomed to fail, at a potentially huge cost to the human race. They hope to maintain a measure of human independence through granting concessions to whatever the aliens demand.

    COOPERATE -- This optimistic faction believes the aliens can ultimately be persuaded to establish peaceful trade and an exchange of ideas, if only Earth can unite and speak with one voice.

    SUBMIT -- This faction regards the aliens as superior beings in every facet and wishes for them to conquer Earth. They will support the aliens at every opportunity.

    ESCAPE -- This faction believes the aliens will eventually enslave or destroy humanity and intends to build interstellar generation ships to flee the Solar System in an attempt to save the species. They will attempt to direct Earth’s resources away from resistance and toward this outcome.

    EXPLOIT -- This faction sees opportunity instead of danger in the aliens’ arrival, and its leaders seek to enrich themselves and gain positions of power around the world, perhaps by taking the aliens' tools as their own. Many of their "supporters" have been persuaded the aliens are a hoax.

    And finally, the aliens themselves form the eighth faction in the game.

    How to factions work?

    Players in most grand strategy / 4x games lead independent polities -- a nation, a unified planet or empire. In Terra Invicta, we're starting with the assumption that existing human institutions cannot work together to address the alien arrival in any meaningful way without a guiding ideology that is provided by the (human and AI) players. These players will seek to invest in and control various nations and other institutions, which have key resources needed for the factions to achieve their objectives.

    As mentioned previously, players have four primary tools in the game. They are:

    * Their faction council. This is a group of up to six or eight (TBD) leaders who interact with nations, various faction assets and each other. They are the primary means to gaining control of some or all of Earth's nations. More on councilors in a future post, but they are your primary proxies in the world, and can be developed like characters in other games.

    * Armies. Armies represent multiple modern divisions that are capable of gaining and holding territory in other nations. Control of an army is gained after councilors gain at least partial control of a nation. Most nations don't have armies (but nations can build new ones with sufficient investment); their armied forces are abstracted as local defense forces. While powerful, armies are still subject to the international relations of their home countries (which too can be managed with sufficient control of a nation). Some armies have a "Navy" upgrade that allows them to transit oceans.

    * Habs. Habs, or "Habitats," are off-Earth space stations and bases on planets and asteroids. These may offer places to mine resources for construction, research advanced technologies, and provide defensive strongpoints. Once you get an industrial base in space going, it's far, far easier to do things relative to boosting all your resources up Earth's gravity well.

    * Warships. One of the main reasons to build habs is to build these, as the aliens can't be stopped just by fighting them on Earth.

    In a future post, we'll detail the various resources councils must manage.
     
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  8. Space Satan Arcane

    Space Satan
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    DD: Nations 1
    Show Spoiler

    Nations on Earth are an important game element that serve as battlegrounds for the alien invaders’ designs on Earth. They are sites of both political and military conflict. Human factions, including the player, will complete to control nations in order to make use of their resources to fulfill their objectives.

    Your councilors are your primary asset for political influence and espionage. Acquiring sufficient control in a nation will grant you access to any armies for use in conventional warfare.

    As mentioned in a previous post, a nation typically represents a single Earth country, although in several cases we have combined several countries into a single nation so they can have more relevance to the scale of the game. Examples of these are Central America and the Caribbean being two nations instead of two dozen; we’re not asserting they are unified in any real sense, just that any inter-nation issues exist below the scale of the simulation. Players function as something like in investors in nations, and with enough focus you can take significant control over its future.

    This and the following Dev Diary are going to be mechanics and simulation heavy, with less time spent on player interaction with it. More on player-related mechanisms in the future.

    Summary:

    Use your councilors to gain partial or eventually total control of nations. Gain money, research, boost, mission control, and armies and the ability to make war on other nations. Set the nation’s priorities to give you more of those resources.

    [​IMG]


    Exhaustive Detail:

    Nations are composed of one or more Regions. Regions are named for the primary city in it. The function of regions is primarily geographical, not political; they exist to mark the locations of critical assets and armies. When new nations form or existing ones change, they are composed of regions from other nations. Regions in particular are home to space facilities: launch facilities that provide boost; mission control facilities, and later in the game, surface-to-orbit defenses. Some nations have claims on regions that aren’t theirs; these are the regions they may acquire through warfare or secession movements. Armies can control regions, but councilors do not -- they work at the national level.

    The UI image attached to this post shows the list of regions in the United States. “St. Louis” is shown at the top because that region was selected by the player in the Geoscape.

    The game elements representing political control of nations are called Control Points. These represent key nodes of political, economic and military control over a nation. Each nation has between one and six control points; the number corresponds with the size of the nation’s economy. (The exact formula involves the fourth root of the GDP PPP in billions and some other math.) Initially all control points are "neutral" -- they are the nation's existing set of leaders fumbling about without any coherent policy toward the aliens.

    At the campaign’s start, the United States, China and the European Union have six control points; India has five control points; Mexico, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and Japan have four. Other nations have three, two or one.

    Remember your factions function as something like secret cabals; control points are acquired for factions by councilor missions that involve putting your supporters in key jobs and purging your enemies. You can also try to clear the board by overthrowing a government with a coup d’etat, or installing your people directly via warfare.

    Control points have a rough order; factions acquire neutral control points in that order. The highest-value control point is the “executive” point, meaning if you control it, you can set policies over things like whether the nation goes to war. In nations with more than one, the executive point can only be acquired if you already have a control point in the nation. I’m currently working on names for the other control points on a given nation, stuff like “legislature,” “oligarchs,” “mass media,” “religion,” and so on, and chewing on whether those can provide some bonuses based on their definition.

    In the displayed UI, Humanity First has three control points in the United States, and the Resistance has one, and the Initiative has one. The sixth, rightmost control point, is still neutral.

    Control of armies is tied to ownership of control points. Big debate I’m having with myself is to put them all in the executive, or, as shown in the UI, spread them out among the control points, meaning to conduct a war efficiently you’ll need more than just one in the bigger nations – otherwise, armies may end up sitting out an interstate conflict. (You can’t go invading anyone without a declaration of war via the executive, however.)

    Finally, each control point grants you an equivalent fraction of the nation’s relevant resources. More on that below.

    Key National Stats:

    This section will get a bit deeper into the simulation. All these values play different roles and may be modified by the player or the AI in different ways – typically through the priorities system.

    UI Overview Section

    Democracy/Government Score (the capital building): This measures the amount of democracy in a country, which represents things like civil liberties, popular selection of leaders, press freedoms, and rule of law via an independent judiciary. This impacts national stability and cohesion, research production, corruption, economic growth and the effectiveness of the military in controlling unrest.

    Unrest (the fist symbol) is violent resistance to the status quo in this nation. High unrest hampers the economy and may result in a coup or revolution, which will transfer or clear many or all of the nation's Control Points at once.

    GDP (PPP): The size of the nation’s economy. Determines number of control points, number of investment points, and research production. It also critically determines how difficult it is to gain a control point there.

    Military Section

    Miltech: The technology level of the national military. Determines how effective armies and regional defenses are against each other.
    Nuclear weapons: Nuclear weapons in Terra Invicta represent strategic barrages aimed at destroying the economy and military of a particular region.

    Naval score: Wet navies are abstracted in Terra Invicta into a sort of attachment to an Army. It allows the Army to travel to any region touching the ‘World Ocean.’ A nation’s naval score is the number of armies with a navy multiplied by the nation’s Miltech score. When nations are at war, only the side with the higher naval score can cross oceans.

    Development Section

    This describes critical resources generated by the nation and how much is going to your faction.

    The first item in the list is what we’re calling “Investment Points.” This represents fungible surplus in the nation’s economy; the owner of each Control Point gets to distribute a share of them to various Priorities, which are how you fund national-level projects in the game, such as space programs, armies, or changes to the general political and economic conditions in the nation. This will be described in detail in Part 2. The number of Investment Points is determined by the nation’s GDP, with a reduction for each Army the nation has on the map.

    The other rows are space program funding (which is the money resource), research, boost and mission control. In this case, the Resistance has 1 of 6 control points, so they get 1/6 of the nation’s incomes in these categories.

    People Section

    Education (book symbol): Plays a critical role in research production and how the nation responds to propaganda.

    Cohesion (X symbol): A measure of unity among the nation’s citizens – a catch-all for cultural, ideological, ethnic and religious unity or conflict. Low values mean the nation’s people are fragmented or even tribal; middle-lows represent a high degree of polarization. High values mark a unified society that brooks little deviation or dissent. Middle values represent a fairly diverse society that has both conflict and creativity. Middle values provide bonuses to research while high values drastically reduce unrest. Low values are just bad.

    Public Opinion Chart: This is a breakdown of how the population of the nation feels about the aliens, with points of view corresponding to the ideologies of the various human factions. Favorable ideological conditions make running certain councilor missions a lot easier. Ideology can be affected by world events, certain R&D projects, and councilor missions. In the attached UI, support is strongly in favor of cooperating with the aliens, which supports the Academy’s goals.

    Per-Capita GDP: A measure of the quality of life of the average citizen of the country. Higher PCGDP lowers unrest.

    Inequality (seesaw symbol): A measure of distribution of wealth and income in the nation; high values mean the nation doesn’t have much of a middle class. Inequality grows as a product of normal economic activity (a little) or corruption (a lot). High inequality reduces Cohesion as the nation divides into haves and have-nots.

    Discussion

    So in looking at grand strategy and 4X games with a modern or futuristic bent, there’s a strict line between “Earth games” and “space games.” Earth games stick exclusively to Earth with lots of detail and mechanics. Space games tend to treat your homeworld as a well-developed, fully populated colony planet – that is, you can settle some other planet and eventually build it up to be something close to your homeworld.

    Neither works for our scope: During the timeframe of the game, mother Earth will remain so, and the space development taking place on and around other bodies in the Solar System will function via different mechanisms – generally by working directly for your faction, rather than functioning as a big shared space you are fighting over.

    In Terra Invicta, the player will determine which nations to target, and how to target them. Do you go for big wealthy countries with lots of resources, but are expensive to conquer and will also be battlegrounds with the other factions? Or grab a corner of the world to build up and serve as the geographic core of your efforts? How much violence are you prepared to use to acquire control of nations?
     
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  9. Space Satan Arcane

    Space Satan
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    DD: Nations 2
    Show Spoiler

    This post will cover internal and external politics in nations. See Part 1 for a basic description of nations and their role in Terra Invicta.

    International Relations:

    [​IMG]


    This is a fairly straightforward system governing the relationships between nations. These are things the various factions can manipulate to their own ends, like creating an alliance of nations fighting the aliens, or fomenting war between two countries to weaken them both. Early in the game, nations will sometimes engage in new alliances or conflicts on their own, as we want to make sure we’d have an interesting world even in the absence of an alien invasion.

    Nations may be in one of four states with each other: Allied, at peace, rivals, or at war. These states are general set by the national executives (the faction controlling the highest-numbered control point). In some cases, such as forming alliances or ending a war, status changes require consent of both nations. Only rivals may go to war with each other. Allies defend each other if attacked; they are not required to participate in an offensive war.

    Wars can accomplish two changes: a change in government, and/or change in territory. In the first case, one nation invades another, seizes its capital, and creates a friendly government there – “friendly” in this case, means both an alliance and a similar set of control points, so if a Resistance-controlled nation successfully invades an Initiative-controlled nation and captures its capital, the losing nation also becomes a Resistance-controlled nation.

    Wars may lead to exchanges in territory if one nation has a claim on the territory of the other. Some claims are in place in the beginning of the game, while others are unlocked with certain social science projects (which occur through the research process, to be detailed later). Except for the aliens, current design is that territorial claims are fairly hard to come by, so you’re not going to be able to paint the world map with some super-nation. It’s through your faction you’ll gain that kind of control.

    Non-existent nations with claims on territory may sometimes secede (violently or peacefully) and form new nations. Two allied nations with regional claims may peacefully federate into a larger nation.

    Some examples: At the campaign’s start, Europe exists as a single nation, the European Union. Non-existent nations like Germany and Italy have claims on their respective regions in Europe; if conditions are correct, they will secede and become Germany and Italy, with their own set of control points and national assets to control.

    Later in the campaign, you may finish a social science project, the South American Union. This grants a bunch of claims that enable the nations of South America to federate to a superpower-sized nation (or for the nation with the capital to try to seize other nations forcefully) if all the other conditions for such an event are met. They'll have a claim on French Guiana, which knowledgeable folks may recognize as having significant strategic importance in the context of the game. We’ve got a few dozen speculative nations, big and small, that can occur in a campaign.

    Probably worth noting two things we’re not modeling as distinct systems are trade and migration. (Population changes are influenced by various factors that extend beyond birthrates, though, so migration is somewhat subsumed there.)

    Internal Politics and Priorities:

    Nations part 1 covered all the various stats that describe a nation and sets up various behaviors, events and mechanisms for control. Once you’ve got some control, you can set its course via Priorities.

    The priorities system lets you distribute a portion of a nation’s fungible economic surplus to one or more costly (and usually repeatable) projects. These change the nation as a whole; so your faction as well as others with control points all gain/lose based on how each faction’s priorities are set.

    Specifically, the process works like this (this gets a little wonky, but the player’s role is pretty straightforward: tell the nation what you want it to focus on):

    GDP determines # of investment points, which are then reduced based on how high unrest is in a nation, and how many armies the nation has. The remainder is divided equally among the control points.

    Example: The United States begins the campaign with a GDP (PPP) of almost $20 trillion and an unrest of 1.5 (criminality). The base number of investment points is the fourth root of the GDP in billions, so that’s a baseline of 11.87 investment points per month. Unrest reduces that by 5% (unrest – 1 / 10) to 11.2 and the USA’s six armies by 0.5 each to 8.2. The owner of each of the six control points gets 1/6 of that to distribute, so 1.36 IPs per month.

    IPs are distributed by weighting each of the eligible Priorities with a value of 0, 1, 2, or 3. The weights are then totaled up daily and fractional IPs are put in each of the priorities according to weight. So if you have a setting of 3 in UNITY and a setting of 1 in BOOST, 75% of your IPs for that control point are going to Unity and 25% are going to do building rocket launch facilities, and the rest are getting nothing. Investment for a particular priority is totaled across all factions, so if someone else is also building BOOST, the new facilities will go up sooner, increasing the nation’s boost income, which is then distributed back across all the controlling factions.

    [​IMG]


    (This image is from our UI in testing, but we haven’t done the artwork for the priority buttons yet, so the squares you are looking are placeholders unless we run out of money, then they are exactly what we intended all along [​IMG] I'm including it here because I think it makes the system clearer than a text description alone) .

    (And rest assured the game isn't all spreadsheet-y looking things like this. Just not ready to unveil our rad spaceships, character art or master map yet)

    Each priority requires accumulating a certain number of Investment Points before it triggers changes to the nation. This is usually one, but expensive stuff like building a navy costs more.

    The intent here is that you address this occasionally in nations, giving them general direction and letting them develop over time toward what’s most useful to your goals. We’ve made a bunch of presets that we think correspond with various political, economic and faction ideologies and policy sets, so you can use a dropdown to set all your priorities at once. This is where you can select things like “Libertarian,” “Industrialization” or “Reactionary.”

    The specific priorities are:

    • ECONOMY: This represents investments in industry and growth. It increases the per-capita GDP of the nation by a decent amount, and inequality and environmental damage by a little.

    • WELFARE: This represents human and social services, wealth redistribution via taxation and policy efforts, and environmental regulation and cleanup. It decreases inequality and environmental damage in the nation. (I’m chewing on a different name for this priority because of the connotations this term carries in the United States, but haven’t come up with one. Perhaps “Well-being” or something like that.

    • KNOWLEDGE: This represents support for education and the free flow of information. It increases education and democracy in the nation (which in turn increase scientific output).

    • UNITY: This represents efforts to unite the people against a common foe, at the loss of some civil protections for dissenters. It increases cohesion, decreases democracy, and shift public opinion toward factions with control points. This priority is less effective in nation’s with higher education levels.

    • MILITARY: This represents investments in internal security and military technology. It lowers unrest; if unrest is already low the nation’s military technology score increases.

    • SPOILS: This represents the direct extraction of wealth from an economy, often accomplished by avoiding paying the true costs of obtaining it. This covers such behaviors as crime and corruption, regulatory capture and tax avoidance, economic rents, unmitigated pollution and exploitation of labor. It grants a lot of money and significantly increases inequality and environmental damage in the nation, and lowers democracy. In addition, any nation that devotes insufficient resources to the SPOILS priority will have dissatisfied elites and is thus more likely to undergo a coup d’etat. “Sufficent” here is defined by the nation’s education and democracy levels, with higher scores in both reducing the portion of the economy that must be directed to elites.

    • SPACE DEVELOPMENT: The Space Funding priority directs national resources into legitimate government and private efforts to support a space program. While not as profitable as the SPOILS priority, it does no harm to the nation. Completing this priority increases the nation's annual space funding, which is distributed to factions with control points here.

    • SPACEFLIGHT PROGRAM: This one-time priority, for nations that do not have a domestic spaceflight program at the campaign's start, will unlock the BOOST and MISSION CONTROL priorities once completed.

    • MISSION CONTROL: Completing this priority grants one Mission Control to the nation. New facilities will tend to go in regions that already have Mission Control facilities.

    • BOOST: The Boost priority covers the construction of launch facilities for rockets and other surface-to-orbit craft. New facilities will tend to go in regions that are closer to the equator or already have launch facilities. The amount of boost created increases with proximity to Earth’s equator, with a maximum increase of two tons per year each time the priority is fully funded.

    • BUILD ARMY: The Build Army priority will create a new Army in the nation. Nations may build one Army per region.

    • BUILD NAVY: The Build Navy priority will add a Navy to an Army, allowing it to cross oceans.

    • INITIATE NUCLEAR PROGRAM: This priority will add one nuclear barrage to the nation's stockpile. Nations without nuclear weapons require more investment to make their first one, and building the first one does some environmental damage (from testing).

    • BUILD NUCLEAR WEAPON: This priority will add one nuclear barrage to the nation's stockpile.

    • SPACE DEFENSES: This priority is unlocked later in the campaign. It constructs a surface-to-orbit weapons array in one region, which will protect it from certain threats from space.

    Next up (I think) will be delving into your councilors and how they work.
     
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  10. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    It seems to me that DESTROY is more or less the extremist wing of RESIST, as they have a lot in common when it comes to killing hostile Xenos. Suffer not the Xeno to live!
     
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  11. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    I must say I do like the different factions. If they implement that right, I can see a lot of replayability in it.
     
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  12. Space Satan Arcane

    Space Satan
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    We haven't seen a single gameplay video, even of pre-alpha stage. This game could turn out to be a mobile-like happy farm where you collect prizes from governments and popamole-click on alien activities
     
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