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Grand Strategy Axioms|Making Culture Concrete: What is culture, why is it important, and how can we make it concrete and meaningful in a strategy or simulation game?

Norfleet

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Jun 3, 2005
Messages
12,250
For instance in EU4 you almost never go backwards as a society. Even if you get invaded and lose 90% of land or suffer revolts or w/e you keep your powerful national ideas, idea groups, tech, government progress, and so forth. Whereas historically, like in the Roman empire for example, economic devastation from military conflict, loss of key provinces, breakdown of international and empire wide trade and instability caused the merchant and naval and logistics capacity to drop, technology was lost, the school system collapsed, the Roman census ended, and so forth and this caused a spiral into more decentralized and simplistic forms of state power.
I'd say the main factor in this is that research and technolergy are, in most such games, fundamentally separated from economics, government, and infrastructure. Thus it's hard to model regression because even in the event of total destruction of everything and you ending up as the OPM of Outer Bumfuck, you keep all of your unlocked "techs". Although your ability to use them might be somewhat more limited.

In contrast, if instead of having a "research tree" in which you research explicit things, your technolergical advancement and ability to thus produce and do more technolergically advanced shit were much more strongly linked to your constructed infrastructure, stocked inventory, and deployed assets, and not a "tech tree" you "research", it would thus be possible to go backwards. As an example of tihs, we could look at the older Total War games, before Empire's tech tree: Your ability to produce advanced units, higher quality administrators, and whatnot, was linked to your constructed assets. If you lost access those assets, you would lose the ability to produce those units and what you had left would become lostech that would eventually be worn down by attrition until you re-built the infrastructure needed to produce them. There was no explicit "research tree" that created this effect. Rather, it was the lack of an actual research tree that allowed it. Yet despite the lack of a research tree, you still had a sense of "advancement".

And I think this is kind of the way "research" should be done: You produce infrastructure and things, allowing you to produce better things. There's no explicit research that you ever do. Because let's be realistic: How much tech in the real world was actually invented by libraries? Technolergy is mostly a product of industry. People invent better things because they're doing things with them. Purely theoretical research of the kind a university would produce doesn't play that big of a role in tech directly, but rather, in the production of human capital that enables the tech to happen. Thus, how it should work in such a game is that units and shinies are produced by your infrastructure, infrastructure which requires units (like people) to operate. This creates a circular dependence loop in which in buildings produce things and require other things to run. An electronics plant produces electronic things and requires qualified technicians to run: It also produces more experienced technicians as a byproduct of those technicians getting more experienced. Those more experienced technicians are able to operate a plant that produces more advanced computer things. The more advanced computer things are used for such and such, like, say, your fancy fighter jets, which requires things like fuel and qualified pilots to function as an actual unit in the field. Massive destruction of any of these assets may end up creating a hole in your web of dependency that causes you to lose the ability to produce any of these. This all could operate with a traditional research tree, but it could just as likely work without it.

Take the real world: The US has apparently turned the F-22 into Lostech, because we scrapped the infrastructure needed to produce them. While it might be possible to rebuild that equipment, the people who knew how to operate that equipment are now gone. They've since retired, been fired, or otherwise moved on to new jobs and the base just isn't there anymore. Restoring the ability to produce this would likely cost as much, if not more, than simply inventing a new fighter jet. In the Civ research model, this could never happen, because you'd research "F-22" and you'd automagically gain the ability to queue those things for all time until some other advance specifically flags them obsolete. Your ability to do a thing cannot be lost due to damage or disuse, and costs nothing to maintain (unlike in the real world, which is why it is gone now). Tech in games with this model is just weird and unrealistic where it is not uncommon to simply skip all of the intervening steps, research to the end of the tech tree, and bust out with the shiniest and most advanced shit out of nowhere. This doesn't really work that way in the real world: The Chinese cannot just steal stealth fighter tech and produce their own equivalent stealth fighter. I mean, they can, but it's shitty, because they lack the experience and people to actually do this properly, and have to earn their wings. And there are big holes in their production chain that make their ability to keep doing so under any kind of stress shaky.
 

Victor1234

Educated
Joined
Dec 17, 2022
Messages
255
For instance in EU4 you almost never go backwards as a society. Even if you get invaded and lose 90% of land or suffer revolts or w/e you keep your powerful national ideas, idea groups, tech, government progress, and so forth. Whereas historically, like in the Roman empire for example, economic devastation from military conflict, loss of key provinces, breakdown of international and empire wide trade and instability caused the merchant and naval and logistics capacity to drop, technology was lost, the school system collapsed, the Roman census ended, and so forth and this caused a spiral into more decentralized and simplistic forms of state power.
I'd say the main factor in this is that research and technolergy are, in most such games, fundamentally separated from economics, government, and infrastructure. Thus it's hard to model regression because even in the event of total destruction of everything and you ending up as the OPM of Outer Bumfuck, you keep all of your unlocked "techs". Although your ability to use them might be somewhat more limited.

In contrast, if instead of having a "research tree" in which you research explicit things, your technolergical advancement and ability to thus produce and do more technolergically advanced shit were much more strongly linked to your constructed infrastructure, stocked inventory, and deployed assets, and not a "tech tree" you "research", it would thus be possible to go backwards. As an example of tihs, we could look at the older Total War games, before Empire's tech tree: Your ability to produce advanced units, higher quality administrators, and whatnot, was linked to your constructed assets. If you lost access those assets, you would lose the ability to produce those units and what you had left would become lostech that would eventually be worn down by attrition until you re-built the infrastructure needed to produce them. There was no explicit "research tree" that created this effect. Rather, it was the lack of an actual research tree that allowed it. Yet despite the lack of a research tree, you still had a sense of "advancement".

And I think this is kind of the way "research" should be done: You produce infrastructure and things, allowing you to produce better things. There's no explicit research that you ever do. Because let's be realistic: How much tech in the real world was actually invented by libraries? Technolergy is mostly a product of industry. People invent better things because they're doing things with them. Purely theoretical research of the kind a university would produce doesn't play that big of a role in tech directly, but rather, in the production of human capital that enables the tech to happen. Thus, how it should work in such a game is that units and shinies are produced by your infrastructure, infrastructure which requires units (like people) to operate. This creates a circular dependence loop in which in buildings produce things and require other things to run. An electronics plant produces electronic things and requires qualified technicians to run: It also produces more experienced technicians as a byproduct of those technicians getting more experienced. Those more experienced technicians are able to operate a plant that produces more advanced computer things. The more advanced computer things are used for such and such, like, say, your fancy fighter jets, which requires things like fuel and qualified pilots to function as an actual unit in the field. Massive destruction of any of these assets may end up creating a hole in your web of dependency that causes you to lose the ability to produce any of these. This all could operate with a traditional research tree, but it could just as likely work without it.

Take the real world: The US has apparently turned the F-22 into Lostech, because we scrapped the infrastructure needed to produce them. While it might be possible to rebuild that equipment, the people who knew how to operate that equipment are now gone. They've since retired, been fired, or otherwise moved on to new jobs and the base just isn't there anymore. Restoring the ability to produce this would likely cost as much, if not more, than simply inventing a new fighter jet. In the Civ research model, this could never happen, because you'd research "F-22" and you'd automagically gain the ability to queue those things for all time until some other advance specifically flags them obsolete. Your ability to do a thing cannot be lost due to damage or disuse, and costs nothing to maintain (unlike in the real world, which is why it is gone now). Tech in games with this model is just weird and unrealistic where it is not uncommon to simply skip all of the intervening steps, research to the end of the tech tree, and bust out with the shiniest and most advanced shit out of nowhere. This doesn't really work that way in the real world: The Chinese cannot just steal stealth fighter tech and produce their own equivalent stealth fighter. I mean, they can, but it's shitty, because they lack the experience and people to actually do this properly, and have to earn their wings. And there are big holes in their production chain that make their ability to keep doing so under any kind of stress shaky.
Point of order, Empire Total War actually had a hybrid model. You researched tech to unlock new units, which needed higher tiers of production buildings to produce like previous TW's. If those buildings were lost or damaged, you kept the technology but not the ability to produce those units until you repaired or rebuilt the buildings. The problem was the buildings were relatively cheap and fast even to rebuild from scratch compared to previous games.

That being said, I agree with you on the infrastructure, provided it actually costs something to maintain or it's lost in the game. In vanilla TW's, usually you build a building and that's the only cost you eat, but like you said that's not how infrastructure works in real life and a big part of why Roman infrastructure or American military infrastructure withered is due to the maintenance costs being more than the powers that be were willing to pay (ex. Abrams tank production also shut down sometime before 2006, any 'new' tanks since then are just upgrades of existing hulls).

Some TW mods in MTW2 added costs for buildings to reflect that, and I also liked what modders did with the older engine's ability to restrict where units could be recruited regardless of general building availability (the famous Area of Recruitment system that nearly every decent mod uses). This made certain areas key for recruitment for certain factions like they were historically, allowing you to cripple them without outright conquering them. Taking Spain from Carthage cut them off from their traditional recruiting grounds or taking Gaul away from the late Western Empire etc and suddenly half their roster is unavailable.
 

whydoibother

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I'd say the main factor in this is that research and technolergy are, in most such games, fundamentally separated from economics, government, and infrastructure. Thus it's hard to model regression because even in the event of total destruction of everything and you ending up as the OPM of Outer Bumfuck, you keep all of your unlocked "techs". Although your ability to use them might be somewhat more limited.
Vicky 3 somewhat addresses this.
Once you research Police lvl 5 or whatever, you can always enable it. But it costs X amount of bureaucracy per turn. And you get bureaucracy basically from having developed provinces. You lose a province, you lose bureaucracy, you have to downgrade your Police institution to level 4. This works similarly top how if you lose prestige, by losing your leading producer of goods rank, or some war, or something else, you also can't sustain as many spheres of interest.
In Vicky 3 its just number going up or down, but it can easily be entire mechanics. That seems the easiest way to implement it, upkeep costs. As your economy shrinks due to disasters on the battlefield or otherwise, you can't maintain the upkeep for said institution, so you downgrade it. You don't lose the knowledge of it, just lose your ability to maintain it.

Take the real world: The US has apparently turned the F-22 into Lostech, because we scrapped the infrastructure needed to produce them.
This however is the kind of dumb pop-science virus that spreads among bloggers. There was a factory that made these, and they weren't needed, and the factory was disassembled. It, of course, can be reassembled. It would be expensive and wasteful, so its not done. Its not lost tech, any more than DDR1 RAM is a lost tech. Its just very expensive to do today, because the volume produced is low and the economy of scale doesn't add up, and many producers existed this tech and disassembled their manufacture lines for it. Its not lost, its just deemed useless and abandoned.
No knowledge was lost.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
For instance in EU4 you almost never go backwards as a society. Even if you get invaded and lose 90% of land or suffer revolts or w/e you keep your powerful national ideas, idea groups, tech, government progress, and so forth. Whereas historically, like in the Roman empire for example, economic devastation from military conflict, loss of key provinces, breakdown of international and empire wide trade and instability caused the merchant and naval and logistics capacity to drop, technology was lost, the school system collapsed, the Roman census ended, and so forth and this caused a spiral into more decentralized and simplistic forms of state power.
I'd say the main factor in this is that research and technolergy are, in most such games, fundamentally separated from economics, government, and infrastructure. Thus it's hard to model regression because even in the event of total destruction of everything and you ending up as the OPM of Outer Bumfuck, you keep all of your unlocked "techs". Although your ability to use them might be somewhat more limited.

In contrast, if instead of having a "research tree" in which you research explicit things, your technolergical advancement and ability to thus produce and do more technolergically advanced shit were much more strongly linked to your constructed infrastructure, stocked inventory, and deployed assets, and not a "tech tree" you "research", it would thus be possible to go backwards. As an example of tihs, we could look at the older Total War games, before Empire's tech tree: Your ability to produce advanced units, higher quality administrators, and whatnot, was linked to your constructed assets. If you lost access those assets, you would lose the ability to produce those units and what you had left would become lostech that would eventually be worn down by attrition until you re-built the infrastructure needed to produce them. There was no explicit "research tree" that created this effect. Rather, it was the lack of an actual research tree that allowed it. Yet despite the lack of a research tree, you still had a sense of "advancement".

And I think this is kind of the way "research" should be done: You produce infrastructure and things, allowing you to produce better things. There's no explicit research that you ever do. Because let's be realistic: How much tech in the real world was actually invented by libraries? Technolergy is mostly a product of industry. People invent better things because they're doing things with them. Purely theoretical research of the kind a university would produce doesn't play that big of a role in tech directly, but rather, in the production of human capital that enables the tech to happen. Thus, how it should work in such a game is that units and shinies are produced by your infrastructure, infrastructure which requires units (like people) to operate. This creates a circular dependence loop in which in buildings produce things and require other things to run. An electronics plant produces electronic things and requires qualified technicians to run: It also produces more experienced technicians as a byproduct of those technicians getting more experienced. Those more experienced technicians are able to operate a plant that produces more advanced computer things. The more advanced computer things are used for such and such, like, say, your fancy fighter jets, which requires things like fuel and qualified pilots to function as an actual unit in the field. Massive destruction of any of these assets may end up creating a hole in your web of dependency that causes you to lose the ability to produce any of these. This all could operate with a traditional research tree, but it could just as likely work without it.

Take the real world: The US has apparently turned the F-22 into Lostech, because we scrapped the infrastructure needed to produce them. While it might be possible to rebuild that equipment, the people who knew how to operate that equipment are now gone. They've since retired, been fired, or otherwise moved on to new jobs and the base just isn't there anymore. Restoring the ability to produce this would likely cost as much, if not more, than simply inventing a new fighter jet. In the Civ research model, this could never happen, because you'd research "F-22" and you'd automagically gain the ability to queue those things for all time until some other advance specifically flags them obsolete. Your ability to do a thing cannot be lost due to damage or disuse, and costs nothing to maintain (unlike in the real world, which is why it is gone now). Tech in games with this model is just weird and unrealistic where it is not uncommon to simply skip all of the intervening steps, research to the end of the tech tree, and bust out with the shiniest and most advanced shit out of nowhere. This doesn't really work that way in the real world: The Chinese cannot just steal stealth fighter tech and produce their own equivalent stealth fighter. I mean, they can, but it's shitty, because they lack the experience and people to actually do this properly, and have to earn their wings. And there are big holes in their production chain that make their ability to keep doing so under any kind of stress shaky.
Yes, and this is roughly how Axioms works. Your technological know how is stored in the populations, and libraries, and in some cases characters, and when you take too much civilizational damage from wars and disasters and economic collapses you lose capability. Tech advances by use in some cases and also it spreads through trade and migration. Agriculture knowledge for instance with different plants and in different climates/biomes/terrain is distinct. Terrace agriculture vs flood agriculture is only minimally substitutable.

I do imagine some players are going to get very upset. I am still considering a toggle with the warning that turning it off will cause obvious balance/progression/realism issues.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
1,433
I'd say the main factor in this is that research and technolergy are, in most such games, fundamentally separated from economics, government, and infrastructure. Thus it's hard to model regression because even in the event of total destruction of everything and you ending up as the OPM of Outer Bumfuck, you keep all of your unlocked "techs". Although your ability to use them might be somewhat more limited.
Vicky 3 somewhat addresses this.
Once you research Police lvl 5 or whatever, you can always enable it. But it costs X amount of bureaucracy per turn. And you get bureaucracy basically from having developed provinces. You lose a province, you lose bureaucracy, you have to downgrade your Police institution to level 4. This works similarly top how if you lose prestige, by losing your leading producer of goods rank, or some war, or something else, you also can't sustain as many spheres of interest.
In Vicky 3 its just number going up or down, but it can easily be entire mechanics. That seems the easiest way to implement it, upkeep costs. As your economy shrinks due to disasters on the battlefield or otherwise, you can't maintain the upkeep for said institution, so you downgrade it. You don't lose the knowledge of it, just lose your ability to maintain it.

Take the real world: The US has apparently turned the F-22 into Lostech, because we scrapped the infrastructure needed to produce them.
This however is the kind of dumb pop-science virus that spreads among bloggers. There was a factory that made these, and they weren't needed, and the factory was disassembled. It, of course, can be reassembled. It would be expensive and wasteful, so its not done. Its not lost tech, any more than DDR1 RAM is a lost tech. Its just very expensive to do today, because the volume produced is low and the economy of scale doesn't add up, and many producers existed this tech and disassembled their manufacture lines for it. Its not lost, its just deemed useless and abandoned.
No knowledge was lost.
That's actually more than I'd expect from Paradox. Axioms goes much harder on this but for an arcadey sim like Vicky3 that isn't bad.

Axioms has characters and pops that have vocations like administrator/bureaucract and these populations sort of gain and store knowledge over time. You can of course increase employment or funding or assign characters with skills to boost or reform things or w/e. Bit complicated. You also have to consider cultural acceptance of these things. Gonna talk about this to seem degree in my Administration blog post today.
 

Axioms

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Messages
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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/authority-and-autonomy?sd=pf

I talk a lot about how Axioms represents simulation data on the map here and specifically how the game represents, and determines, where the player, or NPCs, have "control" over provinces and populations.

Axioms is designed to be played with a lot of dynamic swapping between map visualizations with a "core set" but not a "primary visualization". Almost the way you interact with menus normally. There is however, for players who want to rule, a "first look" map visualization which is currently designated the "national" map visualization which provides high level information of various kinds only in provinces where the player or their subordinates have authority over the majority of province populations. But this is more of a "look at this 20% of the time" visualization rather than something you spend the majority of your time engaged with.

I also talk a bit about relevant parts of intelligence networks and how military stuff works.
 

Axioms

Arcane
Developer
Joined
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Messages
1,433
Why are you speaking in the present tense?
Don't understand the question. This is a case where present tense is appropriate in describing what the topics of the post are. You can disagree with my stylistic choice I guess.
 

Axioms

Arcane
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Messages
1,433
https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/goals-and-ambitions?sd=pf

This is a post talking about how the player can be guided towards interesting game goals and how the player will be strongly encouraged but not forced to provide an accurate set of goals and plans the NPCs can discover through intrigue the same way the player can discover their goals/plans. I also talk about the unique scaffolding for roleplaying due to the Character Consciousness system and connect the Dissonance system, which is somewhat similar to but also very different from the "Stress" system of CK3. And a short digression into the high level design and goals of Axioms. In short it is neither a traditional crpg, nor a 4x, nor a grand strategy game and it is important not to take the wrong expectations into the game.
 

Axioms

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/nothing-but-the-stabby-stuff-the?sd=pf

This post talks about diplomatic and political mechanics surrounding declaring and end war and how societies react to war.

So war exhaustion/enthusiasm, casus belli, and treaties at the end. Axioms doesn't actually have a rigid casus belli/war-goal system or an actual war exhaustion variable. These are represented implicitly through the Commitment system and through Opinion/Happiness respectively.
 
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YSIU68m.jpeg
 

Axioms

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/nothing-but-the-stabby-stuff-supply?utm_source=twitter&sd=pf

Some general logistical refresh but primarily a discussion about how morale should and hopefully does work in Axioms. You start all the way back with Ideology, Religion, Laws, and Population interrelations and then add on Equipment and Supplies and officer/ranker relations. How you structure your society directly impacts your military and then you can have various military structural choices that impact things like unit cohesion and morale. And unlike random button mashing modifier trash games there are tradeoffs in how you operate your society and military.

I suspect some people coming from "grand strategy" games might complain but I really wanted to give social structure a meaningful impact on militaries and not just mash a button for bonus morale because you are France or Prussia even though the only thing tying you to those historical nations is a text string in the UI and a little flag icon.

Why did the Greeks use heavy hoplite armies with limited cavalry and light troops? Why did steppe tribes use horse archers? Why did France have knights? Why did the English have longbows? Why did longbows allow the English to defend effectively but not aid them in offensive maneuvers? How did the Prussians create effective conscript armies beyond just drilling a lot?

No strategy game really answers this. They just define the special units or the "cavalry percentage cap" a specific way or plock down an abstract modifier.
 

Axioms

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https://axiomsofdominion.substack.com/p/nothing-but-the-stabby-stuff-raiding?sd=pf

This post covers the general experience of raiding, banditry, and piracy as well as how you'd limit or prevent it happening to you and finally the reasons for raiding. Loot and glory of course but also slaves and unrest in enemy land and potentially "peaceful" raids for showing enemy populations their lord is weak. And of course punitive raids just to tell someone to fuck off.
 

Axioms

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Messages
1,433
Eh? I'm not confused at all about the way my game looks
Your game has a look?))
Yes? You can see the screentshots.
Here be dragons screenshots?
https://twitter.com/axiomofdominion/media

These are screenshots of the in development, good enough to see that the code does what I want, map generator and in game UI and map. Some of these may be a bit oudated. The plan is to do a graphics pass over the UI and the Map as the last step before EA. So as noted in the other thread, the game is pretty ugly right now.
 

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