If tasks are the backbone of ORG, minions - and especially agents - are the blood supply of the game. Almost every task in the game requires the slotting of minions.
But what determines whether a particular agent, ship, or facility can be used on a particular task? What determines how they can affect a task? How potent they are? If they can be upgraded?
For this development diary, let's take a look at agents, specifically at agent traits, and even more specifically at examples of particular traits and how they work.
As we talked about in depth in a previous dev diary, every agent has multiple traits. A trait is something like Infamous or Citizenship: Triton or Biologist or Meticulous:
- Some traits act as a gate to being used on particular tasks; for example, a diplomatic task might require an agent with the professional trait of Ambassador.
- Other traits interact themselves with traits on other agents; an agent with the Scrupulous trait cannot be put on the same task as another agent with a Fugitive> trait.
- Finally, many traits can affect how the task they are put on operates. The trait Philanthropist automatically rewards Solars on any successful tasks they are put on, even if the task didn't normally award Solars. Other traits will multiple (or reduce) certain reward types, and still others will cost numerics to use, or reduce specific input costs.
Every task also falls into one of several types. For agents, these are:
- Every agent comes with exactly one Negative trait that can never be removed. These traits can sometimes be worked around completely - for example, a negative trait that negatively impacts any Solars rewarded can simply be not put on tasks that reward Solars. Other times the traits can be counterbalanced by still other traits, or simply tolerated. Some negative traits may even have a moderate upside in the right circumstances.
- An agent also possesses a single fixed Citizenship trait, such as Eastern Federation or Eunomian Cluster. Citizenship traits can sometimes restrict what other agents that agent can work with, where the agent works, and will also often mildly impact Reputation gains and losses on tasks that have a Reputation component for their reward. For example, using an agent with a Citizenship trait of The Free State of Mars in raids against The Mars Republic will modestly improve any Reputation gains for such an action, so great is the anger of the Free State towards the Mars Republic.
- Similarly, every agent has a Professional trait that describes the agent's broad profession such as Geologist or Activist or Pilot. As talked about a little above, professional traits are the primary determinant for what agent can be used on what traits - if you need to crack the cryptography on a captured satellite, you'll need a Systems Analyst - an Agronomist won't be of any help.
- Agents also may come with one or more Fixed Positive traits. These are things like Efficient (reduces the cost of manufactured or fabricated item inputs for any task they are on) or Famous (multiplies the amount of Reputation gained on any task that rewards Reputation) or Intuitive (increases the Expertise gains for tasks that reward Xenological Expertise).
- Finally, agents also come with one or more empty slots that the player themselves can choose to apply Acquirable traits. These slots can be emptied later as well, if the player changes their mind or finds an even better trait. These are very similar in flavor to Fixed Positive traits, but they usually don't overlap exactly. In addition, some are conditional, such as Patriot, a trait that applies a big Influence reward bonus, but only during The Drums of War, one of an orbit's periodic votable mandates that the players themselves vote on.
Not every trait is created equally; some simply are better than others, some are rarer than others (which may or may not correspond to how effective they are).
This is particularly the case for the various Acquirable traits, as it's a basic part of the game design that in addition to using minions on tasks to improve their color Quality, finding and applying better traits is an expected part of improving the performance of your org.
Citizenship traits, for example, are generally not intrinsically better or worse than any other, but some are more common simply because the populations of those national polities is bigger. A huge percentage of agents come from Earth for the simple reason that even in the era of Org, where large polities beyond Earth may boast hundreds of thousands, even millions of citizens, the polities of Earth boast billions of citizens.
Some citizenship traits, such as Clone, can't even happen naturally, but can only be acquired by the execution of specific tasks, or trading with players who have themselves successfully executed those specific tasks. A very few tasks do require agents of specific citizenships, and for these, if you are interested in those tasks you will have to find a way to employ agents of those citizenships.
So what are the current lists of traits?
We'll start here with giving a list of the current professional traits with the caveat that, as always, this is expected to change during the course of alpha and beta. As well, the examples of things they can be used for should not be seen as an exhaustive list, but just a small sampling:
- Biologists are useful for cloning, genetic modification, and many other tasks involving living organisms.
- Archaeologists are necessary to extract useful information out of discovered archaeologic sites, as well as any artifacts acquired from such sites.
- Surveyers are used to identify potential archaeologic sites.
- Psychologists are key for generating psychological theories, one of the key raw materials for certain traits.
- Sociologists are necessary for generating memes that are a raw material for certain special traits that can be applied to ships and facilities. They are also instrumental in manipulating populations' attitudes.
- Systems Analysts are common on tasks involving the generation or utilization of the various Data resources.
- Doctors are useful to cure agents of injuries.
- Geologists are integral not only for some types of mining tasks, but also on any of the several large scale terraforming projects active throughout the solar system. They are also necessary to the process of making an asteroid or small moon habitable by generating artificial rotation to mimic gravity on the interior.
- Engineers are necessary on military ships for repair detail as well as both civil construction (for example, building new facilities or ships) and manufacturing.
- Navigators are used for manned ships that are not on predetermined routes, for example, for use on commerce raiding.
- Consultants can be used to accelerate and improve the operation of facilities. For example, a Silicates Mine could have its outputs increased, or its input requirements decreased.
- Economists are necessary for developing certain theories that are raw materials for certain traits.
- Agronomists are useful for tasks involving nutritional resources, hydroponic developments, and other, similar challenges.
- Philosophers are necessary for developing certain theories that are raw materials for certain traits.
- Instructors are used to generate new traits that can be applied to other agents.
- Activists are useful to recruit new agents.
- Politicians are useful for various acts of demagoguery that can generate new recruits that can be turned into troops, as well as various other Political tasks.
- Bureaucrats are necessary for a wide range of low-profile Political (and other tasks) that can provide steady and relatively reliable sources of Reputation and other resources.
- Ambassadors are necessary for diplomacy tasks; enough of these tasks receiving successful and critical results can actually affect the political stance of national polities towards each other for every player in the game.
- Commanders are necessary for privateering military actions.
- Quartermasters are used for resupply and troop training tasks. Such tasks can be especially lucrative sources of income in the form of military contracts.
- Pilots are necessary for tasks that require manned ships.
As well, these are just the basic professional traits; acquirable traits can further apply specialities to agents.
For example, the Commercial Analyst will improve commercial data acquisition rates and drastically reduce any input requirements for same. The Hydrocarbon Specialist will do the same for any mining or refining of hydrocarbon resources. A Criminal will increase any contraband resource gains, and a Civil Engineer will reduce the resource inputs to built a facility. A Lawyer will increase any Policy Expertise gains, as well as Supporting Policy Analysis, and National Theory, all of which are resources that are needed to build traits and execute many tasks.
Some are more generic; a Blogger will generate Cultural Influence on every task they are on - regardless of whether that task normally even produces Cultural Influence.
A basic set of traits has been implemented for ships, facilities, and agents, although we expect to add on to this list and modify this list as we see how they react with actual gameplay during the upcoming beta and alpha periods of development.