I will be very very curious to see how the diplomacy element of VGN is supposed to work... in theory. To me this will make or break the game. Diplomacy has been the weakest link in every campaign-based game since the beginning of computer wargaming... pointless, random, dull and completely unrealistic.
I can only hope that VGN's diplomacy engine is abstracted as brilliantly as the tactical battle resolutions of previous AGEOD Athena-based games. I had always thought that 'bargaining' with an AI is one of the most pointless and idiotic things you can imagine. Isn't that why I send diplomats in the first place? To negotiate in my place and in our best interest?
I'd like to see something where, as a leader, we can contact embassies abroad to open negotiations on issues in our national interest. We set the mood or tone the embassy should take and, like all diplomacy, it will take time as an abstract bargain is struck. Our embassy reports that this the agreement that has been reached that must be approved.
At that point we can accept or reject it or counter-offer and have the opportunity to sweeten the pot or tighten the rhetoric.
In short, the diplomacy aspect of the game should parallel the means by which we wage war in Athena games. With a four strokes of the mouse, I have either won control of a territory with a general and 60,000 men set in aggressive stance, or a diplomat has won control through a 'cooled' negotiating stance and hard bargain that he negotiated and I accepted (and my Congress has ratified).
Success of negotiations could depend on numerous factors as elegantly factored in as the tactical battle resolution has:
- Use of special envoys with leaders similiar generals (special skills, political cost, seniority, peerage, etc.)
- Use of military attaches to collect passive intelligence
- Holding special "Congresses" to resolve matters of great international importance
- Special conventions on unifying weights & measures, unifying railroad guages, maritime law, border regulation, religious freedom, freedom of the seas, self-determination
- Negotiating reductions in tariffs, recognizing favorable trading privileges, release of hostages, dispatching military advisors, recognition of dissident parties
- Natural and historical objectives and obstacles to diplomacy (Russia and the Dardanelles, England and the security of Flanders, traditional Anglo-Portugeuse friendliness, Monroe Doctrine, France and Germany over the Rhine frontier, England and her naval security)
- Special skills (and flaws): speaks Turkish, philanderer, drunkard, right-wing zealot, anti-Catholic, persuasive, Islamophile, Jewish, Francophile, Estate to Entertain with, etc. etc. etc.
How great is that? No tapping on a counter to bump the amount of cash to sweeten the pot or giving or taking away items until the AI likes it. Just good abstract resolution of the little details... just AGEOD style I like. Let me focus on the bigger picture, you generals and diplomats handle the details. My imagination will do the rest.