Discussion  - 
So it strikes me as a problem that there's no way to defend against being ganged up on. Once one is confronted with an alliance of three or more players, there's very little incentive to continue playing if you can't participate in a similar alliance. There's no getting around the numbers. And abandoning a game leads to a poor experience for all players. I'd suggest getting rid of tech trading entirely, because it's still so much better to trade tech than to invest heavily in science.
Philip Spence's profile photoSparr Risher's profile photoThomas Claburn's profile photoJay Kyburz's profile photo
I'm working on player custom games at the moment. I will see about making this an option.

I don't think there is too much trading of tech going on in my beta 4 game at the moment. 
I think beta 4 mostly solves the tech trading problem. The trading cost goes up a bit faster than income goes up, which is great.

However, one way to address the problem of people abandoning games would be to have a more active (and possibly aggressive) AI.
I couldn't agree more on the trading in my beta3 game. I like the simplified beta4 tech options though. Even the option to only trade tech you've researched, rather than gained through trading would hamper everyone having equal tech across the board.

To make the game more fun for losing and harder to win through blitzkrieg tactics you could introduce more defensive tech. Instead of Orbital Defence have Orbital Shield which reduces the attackers weapons by 1 per level. Another tech could be Local Resistance, which forces someone who's taken another planet to Garrison more troops by a factor of 10 per resistance level e.g level 1 = 10 ships, otherwise the planet will rebel and revert to the original owner.

Other options could be non-violent ways to win the game, e.g an economic victory or a tech victory.

Lastly we could have achievements ala xbox or steam. So if you lose a  game, there's an achievement for it, losing x amounts of planets in 1 turn. There could be a bunch of different and interesting achievements which could help influence good gameplay.
I disagree, re defensive tech. The 1 weapon bonus in NP1 gave too much benefit to the defender, I think. It put very heavy emphasis on lucky timing and minor differences in distance to engagements. I think the current small benefit of orbital defenses might be about right, or could perhaps be beefed up a small amount.
+Sparr Risher The problem isn't AI. It's that diplomacy trumps game balance. Better AI might make the experience better for those who have opted to continue playing when others quit but that does not solve the more fundamental problem of maintaining a reasonably balanced game throughout the life of the game.

Game balance is essential. There has to be some chance of victory for a game to hold players' interest. It's fine for diplomacy to tilt the odds but not if it creates a no-win situation. In sports, teams play with with one or two players benched. But there's a limit to how far you can shift the odds before it becomes hopeless. I don't know exactly what that point is in NP but I suspect it's around 3:1.

The deterministic nature of NP's combat system means that, at some point, numbers beat strategy. Given that, I would argue there should be more disincentive to creating large alliances when there's no potential counter-alliance.

A game that does not ensure a reasonable degree of fairness will have a hard time maintaining player interest over time.
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