Development Plan FAQ by Alastair412

Version: 0.62 | Updated: 04/14/03 | Printable Version

                                 MASTER OF ORION 3

                              DEVELOPMENT PLAN BASICS

Version 0.62 (04/14/03)
Copyright 2003 Mario Laubacher (Alastair)
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1. Introduction and legal notice
2. Version History
3. Development Plans Overview
4. DP Classifications and Policies
5. Guidelines for creating your DPs
6. Credits and Thanks
7. Hosting Information

=============  1. Introduction and Legal Notice  ===========================

This FAQ covers the basics for using Development Plans in Master Of Orion 3.
As I'm still experimenting with the game myself, this guide will remain pretty
much a work in progress for some time, but it will give you the basic
guidelines and caution you on the areas yet unclear.

This FAQ is copyrighted by Alastair (Mario Laubacher), and may not be published
without my consent. If you wish to maintain a copy of this document on your
site, please send me an e-mail at
This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal,
private use. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public
display without written permission is strictly prohibited, and a violation of

Master of Orion 3 (MOO3) is copyrighted and trademarked by Quicksilver and

====================  2. Version History  ==================================

03/13/03 v0.5  Initial public release.
03/14/03 v0.51 Chapter 5 partial rewrite
03/17/03 v0.52 Added to Chapter 5 again
03/18/03 v0.53 Minor correction in 4.2
03/21/03 v0.6  Some corrections and additions to chapters 4 and 5
03/25/03 v0.61 Typos, new authorized sites
04/14/03 v0.62 Corrections, minor changes

=================  3. Development Plans Overview  ==========================

-----------( 3.1 Macromanagement vs. Micromanagement )------------------------
Contrary to its predecessors and the vast majority of Turn-Based Strategy game
(TBS), MOO3 isn't a micromanagement game. It goes even further: the game has
been designed from ground up around macromanagement instead.

Trying to micromanage your planets individually is a guaranteed way to
accumulate endless frustrations, simply because micromanagement hasn't been
taken into account at all, _by design_. If you try to do it, you will
constantly fight the game mechanisms and quickly start hating the game. If you
want to control every single aspects of the game, MOO3 is probably not your cup
of tea.

On the contrary, MOO3 is all about macromanagement. As the emperor, you give
the directions, and let the planetary viceroys handle the execution. Look at it
from this perspective: IRL, a head of state dictates education policy. He won't
direct the building of new schools or the hiring of individual teachers in
every backwater town - that's what the local officials are for.

In MOO3, your local officials are the planetary Viceroys (VR). They will handle
planetary development, terraforming and budget on their own, under a series of
high-level policies you define.

Those policies are set as Development Plans (DP). You set those in the DP tab
of your empire view.

-----------( 3.2 Development Plans vs. default rules )------------------------
The AI has already a series of default rules for planetary development built
in. Those rules focus mainly around creating mining, Industry and Bioharvesting
DEAs by default. There are also some emergency rules built in for the VR to
tackle situations like starvation and unrest, but that part seems to be quite 

DPs are used to fine-tune your imperial policies to particuliar situations. In
order to do that, each planet responds to a certain amount of classifications,
explained below in section 4.

One important thing to take into account when creating your DPs are your race's
inherent strength and weaknesses. Use DPs to build upon your race's strengths
and to iron out their weaknesses. Create a limited set of DPs during your first
turns, and check back regularly every 20 turns to see how the affect your
planets in order to fine-tune your work until your satisfied, making the
necessary adjustments and adding other DPs as the needs arise. Then keep your
hands off the VR's job and start doing what a ruler does: handling tech pacing,
exploration, conquest, intelligence and foreign affairs, while your growing
empire develops into the superbly honed organization you commanded.

Your only order of business in the planetary details screen should be handling
the military build queues, because it will directly affect your ability to
scout, colonize and combat in the Orion sector.

In order to set up DPs, we need to understand what the DP classifications and
DP policies do. This will be explained in the two following sections below.

============  4. DP Classifications and policies  ==========================

-----------( 4.1 Classifciations )--------------------------------------------
Note that in this guide, all classification types and policies will be written
in upper case for clarity - this isn't the case in the game.
Any planet fall under different classifications at once, some of a
more generic nature and some of a more specific one. Let's take an example:

Assume you colonize a new planet, the first one in a new system. The planetary
information sheet gives you the following information:
Green 1, Minerally rich, fertile, high biodiversity, size 9.
This planet falls under the following classifications:


Specific environmental status:

Importance status:

Temporary status (for 15 turns only):

There are actually even a few additional classifications which may apply (core,
frontier etc), but we'll keep it at that for the time being.

The AI only applies the policies currently displayed on your planetary details
view. The classification gets switched consistently on the 16th turn after you
acquire a new planet, and, apparently, a couple of turns after it starts
qualifying for a new classification, provided the classification is of a higher
hierarchical value.
If an ALL PLANETS DP is set, it always applies, and has the highest priority,
followed by the primary and secondary classifications indicated in your
planetary details. Finally, the environmental classifications take the lowest
priorities. This is still under testing, though.

Understanding the different classifications will help you determine what DPs
you need to set.

So without any further ado, here's the list of classifications:

Generic groups:
ALL PLANETS is your generic template. It applies to every single planet in 
your empire, regardless of location and situation, on top of the two
classifications indicated in your planetary detail view.

CORE applies to the colonies in your home system.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY are supposed to apply to planets either located within 
growing distances from your home world, or depending on the level of
development performed. I say supposed, because in my recent test, there seems
to be no real logic behind it.
Two things are certain: New colonies almost always get SECONDARY as secondary
classification, and SECONDARY is much more frequent than PRIMARY.
FRONTIER is supposed to apply to worlds within two jumps of hostile foreign 
worlds. In practice, I have seen some very odd-located FRONTIER worlds, far
from enemy lines. Bug?

RED RING, YELLOW, GREEN, SWEET SPOT and PARADISE are self-explanatory.

Specific groups based on temporary conditions:
NEW obviously applies to newly settled colonies
RAVAGED are recently bombarded planets
UNREST, STARVING, BESIEGED are self-explanatory.

Specific environmental statuses:
LARGE all refer to the planetary information summary.

Specific statuses based on majority of present DEAS:

classifications which should kick in depending on the amount of corresponding
DEAs built. In my most advanced game, I have yet to see one single planet
getting that classification, though.

Now, one important thing to note, YOU CANNOT SET THOSE MANUALLY! The AI does
this for you. In your planetary details screen, you have one tab
which shows you which classifications (two) are being applied at present.

The only room for manual control you have at this level without starting to
build DEAs yourself (which goes against the macromanagement
approach of the game) is to use that bunch of PLAYER-DEFINED DPs available.

As hinted earlier, it appears that there is a hierarchy of classifications in
the game - after turn 15, a new classification only gets applied if the new
classification is higher in the hierarchy than the existing one. See section
5.3 below for more on this matter.

---New v0.62
The Oob (aka Hypnotoad) kindly mailed back with the confirmation that indeed,
only primary and secondary classifications (plus ALL PLANETS) were always
active. This invalidates a theory come from beta days that terraforming ring
DPs were also active. Thanks for the verification.

-----------( 4.2 Policies )---------------------------------------------------
You can set three policy priorities per DP (Primary, secondary and
tertiary). Leaving one of those empty will leave your viceroy some
leeway to adapt to the local circumstances.

Note that by default, those priorities are weighted as follows:
- Primary: 1
- Secondary: 0.7
- Tertiary: 0.3

Also, it doesn't seem possible to manipulate the VR into completely foregoing
building at least one industry DEA and one mine per planet. Perhaps through
setting both primary and secondary classifications to unique policies, but I
still need to test that out.

The individual policies also come in two groups:
- Applied policies are specifically tied to DEAs
- Generic policies cover a range of DEAs.

Applied policies:
GOVERNMENT all tell the Viceroy to focus on building and improving the
corresponding DEAs

Generic policies:
TRADE will have the Viceroy (VR) focus on generating cash for your empire, and
build / improve spaceports.
PLANETARY DEFENSE will prioritize those beam bases and planetary shield in the
military build queue.
MORALE is what you need to have the VR focus on reducing unrest.
TERRAFORMING lets the VR adjust spending on terraforming
Finally, INFRASTRCTURE prioritizes the building of planet-wide upgrades such 
as hydroponic farms or sanitation infrastructure etc... not directly related
to specific DEAs.

============  5. Guidelines for creating your DPs  =========================

-----------( 5.1 Simple rules )-----------------------------------------------
When first approaching MOO3, setting both the right amount of DPs and adequate
policies may seem quite a hassle. I don't recommend writing 10+ DPs upfront at
first - make an initial set until you get the feel of how they work, improve 
them, be flexible.

As stated in the introduction, always keep your racial strength and weaknesses
in mind when creating your DPs. If your race is weak in bioharvesting, you'll
need to set quite a few farming policies as at least secondary or tertiary

For a first approach, I recommend setting the following DPs at the beginning at
the game:
- NEW (you'll want to focus on growth and giving the right directions during
those 15 turns)
- UNREST (try out a MORALE-(BLANK)-(BLANK) setting at first, then fine-tune it.
If your citizenship is really bad, you might need to set it to MORALE-MORALE-
- MINERAL RICH (set your mining bases here)
- HIGH BIODIVERSITY (produce your food here)
- LARGE (These should become your main industry powerhouses, and their
importance will grow once you research mobilization centers)
- FRONTIER (You absolutely need to guard your empires against the bears and
- tigers and wolves out to get you)

You will want to focus on growing your population and production capacities at
first wherever it makes sense.
Create more DPs to suit your needs as the game progresses, and check back every
20 turns or so to see how your planets are doing to make the
necessary adjustments.

As stated above, ALL PLANETS supercedes all other DPs in priority. As such, it
is important to note that it can severely screw up the start of your new
colonies, military defense and unrest management. You will probably want to
keep this one blank most of the times, and only fill it in when you want to
enforce the transformation of your entire empire, for instance when gearing up
for a major war.

In general terms, it is usually a good idea to keep policies tied to building
actual DEAs out of ALL PLANETS. It's probably preferable to stick to policies

To design good DPs, you have basically two approaches: Bottom-up or top-down.
Bottom-up is starting with each classification and setting the policies
according to your needs. 
Top-down is first considering your races' strength and weaknesses, deciding
what policies you need most, then determining what classifications you can use
to enforce those.

Use the player-defined classifications for specific requirements: I always use
at least one of them to create my research planets.

For New colonies, Scott Draeker e-mailed some very sound advice:
"Although not in strict accordance with the Macro aproach of MOO3, I
recommend manually designating all the DEAs for each new colony. You only
have to do this once per colony, and it ensures that your empire wide
priorities are addressed. For example, I keep my opppression very high to
combat spies. As a result, I need at least one government, recreation and
military building on each planet to keep unrest under control. There is no
way to do this with DPs."

A note here: keeping your oppressometer high at any times raises your Heavy
Foot of Government (HFoG) a lot. Some people believe HFoG represents how
dictatorial your rule is (hence influencing unrest), but this isn't entirely
true. First and foremost, HFoG represents the weight of bureaucracy of your
government. This translates directly into waste of at least AUs. To reset
HFoG, you can switch government type, with the resulting surge in unrest.

-----------( 5.2 Empire-wide zoning policies )--------------------------------
There are three settings available: Natural, Balanced and Specialized. Their
obvious consequences are what kind and where DEAs are being built by the VRs.

I won't detail all the effects, suffice to say right now that these settings
affect the weight your DPs are going to take whenever the AI considers what
to build next.
To give most weight to your DPs, use the specialized setting.

-----------( 5.3 In-depth considerations )------------------------------------
Note that this whole section is currently under research by several people
including myself on the official forums. Expect changes in the future as we
discover more about it.

It's really bothersome that the manual doesn't give any clues about this vital
part of the game, but we'll find out how it works eventually.

Here are the main theories currently held on DPs:

Borgstar's classification lifecycle: 
Upon joining your empire (through colonization, conquest or acquisition), any
planet enters a lifecycle during which its classification will be switched by
the AI. 

1. Early stage. Lasts exactly 15 turns 
2. Midway stage. Lasts 15-20 turns - remaining zones are completed 
3. Late Stage. Duration unknown. The last zones are completed 
4. Finished Stage. Final classification is achieved, the planet is working 
under those DPs, which should only comprise non-DEA-related policies 
(Infrastructure, trade, morale etc...) 

If your DPs for exploitation mandate a change in DEAs, the following occurs:
5. Replacement.
6. Finished Stage. A classification switch may occur in-between.
Rince and repeat.

Czaroc's DEA building theory, reformulated 
1. For each DEA to build or replace, the AI balances NEEDs vs. HAVEs 
2. While assessing the NEEDs, each DEA type gets a calculated DESIRABILITY 
3. DESIRABILITY is a product of several factors: pre-determined rate per
DEA, resource availabilty, resource demands, DP input, empire-wide zoning
policy (Natural, balanced or specialized), zone to build on. 
4. The DEA with the highest DESIRABILITY gets built 
5. In case of replacements, each existing DEA's USEFULNESS is assessed using
a calculation similar to DESIRABILITY. The DEA with the lowest USEFULNESS 
gets torn down. 

Hierarchy postulates, revised
1. DP Classification hierarchy: 
Classifications have a hierarchical order. Whenever a change is mandated, 
the highest-ranking classification gets applied. 
Current ranking estimates: 

The highest classifications will ALWAYS pop up as primaries.
High and medium will always be primary classifications, unless a higher 
condition is  present, which then pushes them down to secondary 
Low will never show up as primary classifications. I have yet to see a single
planet qualify for one of the lowest classifications.
Finally, I suspect that if you have two emergency conditions at the same time,
they will kick in both classifications. Need more testing, though.

One conclusion comes to mind, though:
Appart from the two highest classifications, it is nearly impossible to
predict what classifications will apply to your worlds. As a consequence,
some players have started limiting themselves to using only player-defined
Czaroc on the official boards recommends the following set:
1 and 2 to MINE-MINE-MINE
If there's an empire-wide food shortage, he will briefly activate ALL PLANETS

2. DEA-building policies: 
Policies involving building specific DEAs are not created equals. 
Certain DEA policies will have a much higher effect on DESIRABILITY than 

==============  6. Credits and Thanks  =====================================

This FAQ owes to the various contributions posted on both Gamefaqs' and
Infogrames' official boards. Thanks to all the people who have posted their
initial findings and who have commented on those, in particuliar Borgstar, 
Czaroc and Abdiel 42. Thanks also to Zhaneel, author of the first MOO3 FAQ on
Gamefaqs, for the exchange which lead to the creation of this document, and 
her regular feedback, suggestions and input.
And a "hi" to Ben, who pointed out that it was "master" and not "masters" of
orion. Only my multiple personalities objected, so this annoying error is now
gone :)

If you mail me with additional input, I'll only credit you with your username.
If you want to see your e-mail addy as well, please state so specifically.

=============  7. Hosting Information  =====================================

The latest update of this document can usually be found on

Currently authorized hosts: