For context I am an electrical engineer and this is a paper for an electrical engineering conference.
I am currently writing my first research paper, and there have been many papers published in the area but I would say that with the exception of one, none of them had any direct influence on the research that my colleagues and I did. Essentially we made improvements to a seminal paper, and really only focused on this paper during our research.
In giving a historical overview of the problem I feel it necessary to mention the influential papers on the topic, although I am unsure as to whether to cite anything else as we only looked at their papers to make sure what we did had not been done before, or that something obviously better did not exist.
So I am wondering how do I decide which papers to cite? Is there any sort of politics involved that I should be aware of in terms of which papers I should be citing?