Note: Splitting off from WTV's master list as a separate entry, for the Era 4 tag to be added. I strongly advocate for this feature being present in Era 4.

Each sovereign should have a different color in each players' view:

1. White = the player's sovereign
2. Green = "friendly" sovereigns
2. Yellow = "neutral" sovereigns
3. Red = "enemy" sovereigns

DEFINITIONS are as follows:

Friendly = the player has never attacked this sovereign before. There exist functions to track this: see how the social order penalty is applied to larger empires attacking smaller ones. This is the "default" state.

Neutral = the player has attacked, or been attacked by this sovereign in the PAST, but they are not currently at "war" (see below)

Enemy = both sovereigns are currently at "war" with each other.

WAR/PEACE STATES:

There should exist a button at every other player's capital, under the "Send Message" button: "Declare War" and "Negotiate Peace". Declaring war sets the state of that sovereign to "enemy", with the corresponding color change. Negotiating peace sets the state to neutral (yellow), as they were previously at war. Both of these options should spawn an automated message above the targeted player's capital: "Empire X has declared war", or "Empire Y wants to negotiate peace". Negotiating peace will require the other party to also click on the appropriate button on their rival's capital, to prevent quickly negotiating peace if the war is going badly for the aggressor.

Attacking another player's worlds without first declaring war will not be allowed. Attacking fleets that are orbiting an owned or neutral world will still be allowed, however.

Declaring war will therefore require the discovery of the target player's capital first.

The advantages of this new system are twofold:

1. It prevents attacks by "troll" empires which have been common in the past - creating a new empire and attacking all the undefended worlds in sight before abdicating.

2. It prevents newbies from unknowingly attacking a vastly more powerful empire without knowledge of their real strength (for example if they see a few dozen worlds are undefended).

In the future: an "allied" state can be introduced, but for now the 3 different diplomatic states should be sufficient. These changes would make the game clearer to newbies rather than representing every other player in red - as that color in games has always traditionally implied "this is an ENEMY - attack them!"

Please comment if I haven't clarified the mechanics of this properly (or any edge cases that I haven't addressed).

EDIT: If different fleet icon colors are introduced, changes in diplomatic state should update these accordingly.

watch tv, do nothing on 6/9/2018 1:00 PM:

I like this.

I don't see this as preventing troll attacks - the troll could still declare, attack, and abdicate. I think jumpbeacons have mostly dealt with that trolling strategy since the new empire is restricted to a tiny zone. Unless I haven't been paying attention, it was common at the end of Beta 3 but has been rare in Era 3.

I think calling other empires "Friendly" will give players the wrong idea just as much as marking them in red enemy color does. You are doing newbies a disservice of they enter the game and empires like Bugzzzzz are labelled as 'friendly'. Other empires are DANGEROUS! Maybe NPE empires like Mesophon are "friendly", but everyone else is still free to declare war at any time under this system. I would use relationship descriptors like "normal relations", "truce", "war". Not "Bugzzzzz is friendly", because the game has no idea what Bugzzzz is thinking.

It would be cool if the game communicated other empire's war/peace states better, so that yoy could see who your co-belligerents were.

A war should downgrade to a ceasefire or cold war if a couple cycles pass with no hostile actions by either party. The galaxy is always full of abandoned empires and big empires will always appear to be at "war" with a couple abandoned rump states unless there is a mechanic to downgrade the conflict

Requiring players to see the capital will benefit old empires over new ones; it takes a very long time to exlore the galaxy. If the Declare War dialog showed the other empire's planet count or imperial might and compared to to the player's, that might be enough to give a newly-entered attacker some pause.

At the end of the day this is a space 4x game and people are going to bring an Attack! mentality, so some random attacks by new players are probably inevitable.

Also see my suggestion for a "ronin" mechanic, which could be implemented if the game tracked war status.

--imperator-- on 6/10/2018 12:31 AM:

Good point, although about troll empires if they spawn at the edge of a large player they might not want to invest so much time exploring to find their capital to declare war, so I suppose that's a layer of deterrence somehow. Also, Imperial Might should probably be redefined to the sum of space forces in an empire, rather than population.