One thing I’ve always thought should be a goal of any strategy game is to obscure the internal mathematics and algorithms of the game as much as possible. This makes it harder for players to “game” the system and allows them to focus more on simply playing the game for what it is.
For example, take the various AI notifications that I’ve been placing in the game. Each one adheres to a matrix that I like to call the “Grid of Power and Happiness”. It’s basically a 3×3 grid of messages where one axis is how much the other race likes you, and the other is how much more or less powerful they are than you.
Happiness axis: 1. Really like you, 2. Neutral, 3. Really dislike you
Power axis: 1. Much stronger than you, 2. About the same, 3. Much weaker than you
This means that, for every message type, there will be a minimum of 9 variations. Reading the text of the message will reveal unsubtle clues about where you are at on this axis — without you needing a calculator.
For example, below is an example of the AI complaining about a recent skirmish between his ships and the players. In this case, their relationship is Neutral and the AI is much weaker than the player.
All of these messages will be overhauled and rewritten once I get a writer on board, but it’s not too hard for me to come up with some temporary placeholders until then.