The (Anti-)Corruption thread redux (updated)


The discussion about corruption/anti-snowballing mechanics is getting a bit spread out over multiple threads here, so here’s an attempt to consolidate all the alternatives with their pros and cons.

Alternative 1: Remove the mechanic altogether.

There are two variants of this alternative:

The most straightforward of this alternative was expressed by the OP here Corruption is an anti-fun mechanic .


  • Imposes the least limitation on the players.


  • Therefor, leads to an optimal strategy of maximum constant expansion, differentiating players by time sunk into repetitive tasks.
  • Leads to massive snowball effects.

Personally, I’ve posted a variant of this where you lower the rewards for construction, and shift gameplay focus to more directly engaging activities here On game mechanics: Cycles & Engagement


  • Imposes no aritifical barriers on players
  • Avoids snowballing


  • Slows down the game, particularly the early game. (So you focus on other activities that are not building rewards loops).

Alternative 2: Upkeep

As proposed here Money over Corruption you simply add increasing upkeep costs per planet. (The thread features a more elaborate proposal than just that however)


  • Simpler mechanically.
  • Makes credit income inherently useful.


  • Still forces optimization on a per planet basis. (One might alter this for an upkeep per building, and force optimization there)
  • Still caps you well before galactic domination, as at some point planets costs more in upkeep than you can hope to gain from them. (although you can avoid this with careful balancing, approaching that max gain per planet in upkeep costs per planet asymptotically)

Alternative 3: Distance to capital / Topological

As proposed here Capitol and capitals originally. Although quite a few variants can be thought of, they all fundamentally lessen the gains from planets the further you go away from a capital planet.


  • Creates Points on Interest (the capital), which in turns creates “provinces” around them where they are most effective.
  • Does not force optimization on the basis of some arbitrary unit (planet, fleet, building, whatever)


  • Losing the your homeworld is even more devastating
  • You’re forced to operate within a certain radius, removing options outside of this radius. (Until you take over nearby capitals)
  • Aggriviates a poor starting position, as you cannot set up shop elsewhere as easily. (although you can solve this with an option to relocate the capital).

Alternative 4: Research

Instead of having corruption, we simply have a cap on the planet count which you can improve with research (as per synthis).


  • Potentially the easiest to understand
  • Makes research point intrensically usefull.
  • Scale it with population instead of planets count.


  • Forces optimisation on a per planet basis, as with upkeep.
  • Semi-hard cap, you have no flexibility to go over your cap, unlike the other proposals.

Alternative 5: keep corruption, but modify it.

Several fixes have been proposed to alliviate some issues:

  • Base them not on planets but on systems.
  • Slowly reduce corruption over time.


Those are all the broad strokes of all the alternatives I’ve seen floating around. I might have missed alternatives, pro’s and cons, which I might edit in later when presented to keep the thread comprehensive. If so, please add them to the comments.

Edit: Updated the thread for replies.

Proposal : System Ownership

I would certainly have that in addition to the Membership type costs and distance costs, this would raise the credits generated per person to compensate (especially early game)… This adds to the relate-ability to real life

The distance costs I presented are akin to the diminishing returns in the capitol/capitals post.

Careful management is a skill and since this is a resource management game in part then that would reward skill. The happy path to success will likely be well travelled and documented if this were implemented for beta…

One set of players will love getting dirty working out that path and finding niches.

Corruption is pure oppression… Though it can be re purposed for espionage… where heavily spied on planets would generate that imbalance to happiness, think sabotage, terrorism, theft of credits… these do in fact diretly affect happiness…

A capital building (as mentioned in Slays’s post) can only be built on one planet at a time and would service as the point to which all distance calculations are performed, a player may relocate due to war and may wish to build one somewhere else, as its constructed the old Capital building is demolished and 50% resources returned. This should be instant with returned resources delayed for the duration of the demolish time.


Diminishing returns and unmitigated costs would by default contradict most reasons to colonize outside your region. We wouldn’t be forced to stay home but it’d be difficult to justify the expense. War, alliances, and special events may not only justify the expense but plausibly aid in cost mitigations and certainly ROIs might abound.



Actually presented something that I liked:

Basically the idea is that you can spend research points to unlock the next planet to take.

If we start with 10 planet slots, and each planet increases based on a pattern slightly higher each time. I would suggest starting at 25 > 50 > 75 > 100 > 125 > 150 > 175 > 200 > 225 > 250 for the first 10, then it changes to 500 > 525 > 550 > 575 > 600 > 625 > 650 > 675 > 700 > 725 > 750 for the next 10 and so on. So every level starts at 250 point higher than the end of the previous level, each planet takes 25 longer than the previous one…you would have:
1375 - 11 to 20
6375 - 21 to 30
11375 - 31 to 40
16375 - 41 to 50
21375 - 51 to 60
26375 - 61 to 70
31375 - 71 to 80
36375 - 81 to 90
41375 - 91 to 100

Second, if we use some form of @DeicidE upkeep for ships as well in this fix, we find ourselves with two limiters, money and research. Research can be broken down into money, resources, population, and time not spent learning other techs. So this creates less of an artificial barrier to expansion, but a natural one where you have to take time to prepare for the next step. Theoretically you could keep on going forever if you were that good, or that dedicated, however around 30-40 planets in, and with larger fleets things will begin to start to slow down, by 6 months in people should still be making choices between tech or planets. Eventually we will run out of stuff (however IDA will need to increase the tech tree again before Beta, probably adding around 50-100 techs for buffs, racial tech, better gateways, and new features), and just be focusing on planets, but that might take 7 months to a year before that happens.

I would also take one last step, decrease research from labs to 0.5 instead of 1.

I would also keep planet caps low like they are now.


Syntis have that already… so I’d be happy to concede that as a solution to colony expansion… for all races… Research as you pointed out would require exceptionally good resource management as the research buildings costs are high but perfectly balanced.


Yeah, and instead of getting them in blocks, you purchase expansion one planet at a time. This causes you to inherently slow your own expansion due to intermingling other techs with your planet research. There will be those that go right up this tree and don’t look back, but they will gimp themselves during the midgame, however this really does begin to open up possibilities for people to really focus on certain play styles.


I’ll update the main post tonight when I’m at my laptop again. I stupidly overlooked research. Amongst a few other things. However, I’d like to point out that research buildings are damn cheap, as everything is pop-locked. You wont be able to employ 25k pop cheaper, I reckon, which makes them comparatively expensive again, as they are very expensive in the bottlenecking resource.


Alternative 4: Corruption slowly reduces over time, even into the negative.
To prevent players from spreading out too fast, but still allow them to expand. Maybe have it reduce by .1/week?


You mean to simulate the fact that “the :Law” is slowly making it to the wild west parts of the empire? I like it!


On there ‘distance’ based. I can see what is being considered there and on one hand it makes a lot more sense (harder to control stuff a long way away).
Having the experience of being in a region where my scanner range shows 8 system of which only 3 are useful to me and one of those is right at the edge - I would be concerned that this could be a very unbalanced mechanic. I know I am not the only one with a fairly empty scan compare to others with many more.
Compare someone with few systems available at short range to those who have to travel this would heap disadvantage on disadvantage.

Another point of inbalance could be that the number of small planets is fairly high forcing more planets to be taken

I would have thought that total population would be as relevant as number of planets if not more so - harder to control bigger population. Also add some effect from number of ships (mutiny risk) - would this ensure some evenness against the current ‘spawning in-balance’ while still gaining the limitation of over-zealous growth?


Please excuse the late comment: But why doesn’t anyone think Corruption should just simply scale with Simple Empire wide population?

I mean more folks = more potential ones that go criminal to some degree or another. (Techs/Govenment/Racial Mods not withstanding)

So while the empire is new and therefor small corruption has a small effect. But if you grow to gigantic size it paces you?


well research kind of diverged from the other upgrades in that they added 100% from lv 1 to 2 whereas other upgrades are only 20% better for 3/4 times the cost… research maybe should do the same then they become expensive…


That is why I suggested in my above post that we start with .5 and it goes to 1, then maybe a third upgrade would take it to 1.25 total.


Did you leave out System based corruption caps?


I think we ought to pursue a healthy mix of all these mechanics balanced together for the main server.

Alt 1: by default there’s no hard limit.
Alt 2: instead there’s an ugly and exponentially escalated upkeep to pay and uglier consequences when it’s not paid or overdue
Alt 3: upkeeps (colonial and fleet) are mitigated by proximity to various points of interest (player owned and allied)
Alt 4: racial and tech tree specializations allow exceptions and/or further mitigations, often with hard limits themselves or progressively up the tree an exponentially more expensive exception (which of course can fall victim to seedship amnesia).

Other servers could obviously have whichever ruleset their maker chooses.

You highlight the strategy behind moving the regional center.


Any word on giving syntis a happiness building? Or are we supposed to play with 0 natives? If so give us a way to kill native populations early so we can take their planets that maybe good planets for us.


I find this suggestion to be one of the better ones, but I would personally prefer it not going into negative corruption. This keeps the restrictions without the insane happiness negative of the late game.


Thread is updated with feedback. I’m sorry but my time is very limited at the moment.


One argument in favor of having capital type limiting that’s a little abstract goes as follows: the larger you make the unit of measurement (i.e. planets, systems, or sectors of systems), the freeer you leave the details. I.e. the more of the things contained within your unit of measurement can be used as you see fit. As you can well cover every bit of populated space within the radius of a capital, you can fully utilize it all without playing suboptimally. Add in the mechanics of conquering capitals to expand your reach, and you’re not limited aside from the resistance of other players, nor can you just blanket expand.


@mel and @joe

Ok so posting this in multiple places that its relevant

An alternative mechanic that uses multiple ideas.


Each race starts with a SINGLE CAPITAL building attached to their home planet, a Capital building is invulnerable (can not be destroyed), requires 500 population, 50 power, and increases production of mines by 25% (this means that deep mines would function at ((density percentage)(0.36))(1.25)). Capitals also give you a maximum fleet increase of 12, a maximum research increase of 20, and after the first increase your planet cap by 5.

Capitals allow you to colonize anything within 100 LY without taking a penalty. Looking at fully mapped out sectors (our alliance split the galaxy into 100ly x 100ly sectors) its seems there are about 5-10 players in any given radius of 100 LY. Also, there seems to be between 30 to 80 systems per 100 LY radius. This gives everyone a much greater range of colonization.

You can still colonize outside of this radius, for every 100 LY past this range you incur a penalty. Organics deal with Desirability penalties from being so far away from home, while Syntis deal with Transmitting Data penalties (the further away from the Capital Node the harder it is to stay in touch). Organics receive a -1 to Desirability, and their maximum taxation levels are reduced by 15%. Syntis require 10 extra power PER building, and lose 5% from their taxation levels. Planets colonized outside of your Capitals range can not build higher than T2 Shipyards, and can not build fleet controllers. These are considered fringe worlds and outposts.

There are several technologies associated with Capitals. Every time you complete a Capital research it increases your total planet cap, as well as how many Capitals you can control. The following is the research:

Level 1 (1 point) = Planet Cap 6
Level 2 (50 points) = Planet Cap 10, Capitals 2
Level 3 (750 points) = Planet Cap 20
Level 4 (3,250 points) = Planet Cap 30, Capitals 3
Level 5 (11,750 points) = Planet Cap 40
Level 6 (33,000 points) = Planet Cap 50, Capitals 4
Level 7 (50,000 points) = Capital 5 (This level can be repeated over and over again)

You must conqueror other Capitals to increase your total Capitals, or have them gifted to you (there will be players who want to focus on economics/logistics and they must not be entirely penalized within this system).

After your first Capital, every other Capital increases your maximum planet cap by 5. This is the long term hurdle to increasing the size of your empire, every time you research this level, it gives you the ability to take a Capital. Taking a Capital allows you to have more research, fleets, and planets. There are no hard limits, just hurdles.

If you lose a Capital all planets within that radius are subject to penalties based on the distance from your Empire Capital. Once you have more than one Capital you can designate which is the Empire’s Capital.

If you lose a Capital and you are over your planet cap, your entire empire takes -0.1 desirability, and -2.5% maximum taxation per planet you are over your cap, due to massive instability if you are an Organic. Syntis instead take a -1 penalty to taxation, and an increase of power needed per building by 2.5 per planet over the cap. Tread lightly when pushing hard against other players or you might get burnt.

If your planet is a fringe/outpost world that was colonized outside of your 100 LY radius, and is suddenly inside the radius of one of your newly acquired Capitals the penalties are removed from said planet.

If you have more fleets than your cap allows, all production on all planets stop until you rearrange your fleets. In this system you will have the ability to turn off fleets, Around the circle menu there will be a button to “unman” a ship, leaving it sitting at that location until you either turn it on, destroy it, recycle it, or its destroyed by another player. Unmanned ships do not attack, and can not auto attack, mine, or move. You can however merge an Unmanned ship into a manned ship. This turns off its unmanned status.

Your limit for unmanned ships is half of what your total max cap is. This also helps with leaving markers on your boarders, as now you can leave unmanned ships with notes. This also helps when you get close to max cap level and need room to situated your fleets.

If you do not have enough Capitals to support your Research Cap, then that many research points is deducted from your total until you require a Capital.

What happens if you lose your last capital? You can designate another world as your Capital, this allows you to still produce T3+ Ships, and control fleets, however all planets still take the above penalties in relation to the place you choose as your temporary Empire Capital. You don’t lose until you have ZERO planets.

This system really fixes all of our current major issues. It slows down expansion, but not to un-fun levels, it stops expansion spam, but doesn’t give hard limits, it creates tension to take other player’s planets, where there are not many now. This system also gates research so that each tier of game play is observed longer before the next tier opens.

This system also will need max taxation limits based on race, so the following will need to be also introduced:

Maximum taxation levels need to be changed, since Organics can place enough ECs to completely remove negatives and tax a population at 100%.

Humans Max Taxation with ECs = 65%
Ripchee Max Taxation with ECs = 70%
People’s Realm Max Taxation with ECs = 75%

After these maximums the penalty to happiness sharply increases and can go past the -1 maximum penalty.

Also, you can never have more than a +1 to happiness (even if you have -3 from buildings and a +5 from ECs, your growth rate can never exceed +1).

With the aboves in place, if you decide to go beyond your max tax levels you incur a heavily penalty that does not include your bonuses from ECs. At max 100% taxation, your incur a -3 to happiness per hour.

This fixes the issues between Syntis and Organics when it comes to abusing the current system for maximum taxes.

The ideas on upkeep and and upkeep research from this thread can still be used as well: New Feature to Replace Corruption AND Syntis planet Cap tech

This incorporates ideas from both @DeicidE @IkkeTM @SlayMoreDragons