Another update! DIPLOMACY. You can read it here and discuss here (or you could also read the text under spoiler tag and post your comments beneath)
Starlife aims to overhaul diplomacy completely. We want to make it into an important factor that you always have to take into consideration, even when not directly parleying with others.
The main element on which the system is based on is Intention. You could also say that intentions are one of the bases of the whole game, because you place them on almost every field (for example, you ‘intend’ to colonize a specific planet, which results in civilian migrations), but its impact is most visible in diplomacy.
Let’s illustrate it on an example. You are at war with another race, and decide to ask for peace. When sending emissary, you have to choose why you’re doing so, like:
1. Intention: War preparation. You want to regroup and continue the war at your leisure.
2. Intention: Improve Relations. You no longer wish to pursue combat with this race, maybe because they’re more powerful.
3. Intention: Espionage. You covet their secrets and plan on stealing them.
Each intention gives an appropriate bonus (like faster ship construction in example 1). Obviously, the enemy doesn't know your true plans, but – if they managed to infiltrate your empire – can learn them and respond properly.
Each intention has a goal you need to achieve connected. If you choose Espionage, you are supposed to send a number of spies to enemy territory; if you decide on War preparation, you are to declare war within specified time gap.
Now you could of course try to meta-game and pick only false goals to stump the AI. However, breaking your objectives comes with penalties. Intentions are what you communicate to your subjects. So, when you choose War preparation, the entire empire commits to constructing a powerful navy. When it turns out that you had no plans of going to war, they are confused and angry at you. The penalties for breaking objectives won’t be too harsh, but enough to make you think twice, especially if you break your promises willy-nilly.
Another example. You’re at war with two AI races (A and B). You make peace with A with the intention to go to war again, and with B to just shake hands and restart trading. You start to build a new fleet. This makes both A and B uneasy for obvious reasons. They both may have spies – let’s say A learns your true intentions but B doesn't. Now, A can start a preemptive war on you, and B joins in because it thinks you’re might be dangerous to them (it doesn't know you want peace with them and won’t believe you).