Meaning of Borders in GalCiv III

Posted on Monday, June 2, 2014

I recently started a thread about building starports outside of your own zone of control and it raised another question that I want to address without derailing the original thread:

What does zone of control mean in your eyes? To me there are 2 possibilities and conflating them causes some problems.

1)      The represent political boundaries and function basically like national boundaries in present day society. This means that the controlling entity has the right to govern all the land and people within their borders. Everyone within the borders are subject to the laws and taxation of the government of the controlling body. Foreign commercial traffic is generally allowed, but may be taxed. Foreign military traffic is generally forbidden unless specific arrangements are made. Once an area is within a specific country’s borders it can generally only be changed by military action or uprising by the people in that area. Of course those uprisings may be orchestrated by foreign powers (see Crimea).

2)      They represent a sphere of influence. This is a much more nebulous idea, but again can certainly be seen in the modern world. In this conception, your zone of control is the area in which yours is the dominant culture. Within this area your country’s arts, literature, media, and entertainment are pervasive, as is most likely your language. Through these outlets your ideology, values, and morals also come to be dominant. In extreme cases, especially if the government in an area has opposing values and ideology, this may result in popular uprisings. More commonly it reaps economic and political benefits: money flows into your country as other’s consume your products, and local governments are more open to trade and other interactions.

One of the issues with the borders in GalCiv II is that these two distinct ideas get muddled. For the most part, the game mechanics seem to adhere to #2, though there are notable exceptions; but the map sure looks like a modern political map, suggesting #1.

I don’t have a good answer. At first pass, political borders seem more clear and easier to deal with, especially when it comes to your internal narrative for your game. On the other hand, in a game where influence is an important force, influence borders can be super important, and often more significant than political borders.

What do you guys think? Should the borders in GalCiv III be politically or influence based or something else?  What would you like Stardock to do to clarify what zone of control means in GalCIv III?