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.