An interview with the Humankind beta-testers from Civfanatics

The_J

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Here at CivFanatics, we have a big crowd of very dedicated Civ-fans.
Also Amplitude, the developers of Humankind, seem to know that. The beta-testing of Humankind has been going on for a long time, with some of our members here being involved.
So we thought: Let's ask the beta-testers about their experience.
Read our interview* below with our forum members @Siptah , @Zaarin, @CivLuvah and @Boris Gudenuf .

CivFanatics: Please introduce yourself.
CivLuvah: My name is Civluvah (Scholastico at the G2G forums), I am 25 years old, and I’m a Filipino currently living in Canada. I’ve played Civ4 for most of my high school years, since 2008, around the same time that I first made myself known at Civfanatics. I did not play Civ5 that much (and appropriately wasn’t that active in the forums during its development cycle), but I did play lots of Civ6 enough to talk about it. Besides history, I am also interested in philosophy and politics.
Zaarin: I am Zaarin, and I have quite a history with Civ. I played Civ2 at a friend's house, but my first Civ game of my own was Civ3. I've played every iteration since. I first arrived here at CivFanatics shortly after the announcement of Civ6, and I've been a pretty active member of the community in the Civ6 section ever since. I was already a big fan of Amplitude when Humankind was announced, and Endless Space 2 and Endless Legends are both among my favorite 4X games. I have always had a keen interest in history. I minored in it in undergrad, and I'm just finishing my master's in it. My particular interests are the Bronze and Iron Age Near East, Medieval Europe, and Native America, but you can often find me begging for more representation from my latest pet interest, Central Asia.
Siptah: I’m Siptah, middle-aged, living in Switzerland, strong interest in history (cultural, art, religious, science) researcher and musician by trade. I started playing computer games with civ II and played mainly strategy and RPGs since then. City builders, like the old impression games, or the Anno series have a special place in my heart. In the last years, I played mostly Paradox Games, and EU4 is probably the game I spent most time with (hopefully it gets in better shape again soon...). I was very enthusiastic about civ VI at first but found the expansions so disappointing that I stopped playing.
Boris Gudenuf: I'm a 76 year old US Army retiree military historian, have played every Civ version since Civ 2 came out on the Mac and been posting on CvFanatics for over 9 years now, and over on the old Apolyton Forum before that.
I did a Master's Thesis on Alexander the Great (historiography of his Battle at Gaugamela), and did fairly extensive research into the armies of the War of the Spanish Succession (1702 - 1714) in French and German, but my primary history field has been World War Two: I can read German, French and Russian, puzzle out Ukrainian and Polish, and after I retired in 1992 wrote a series of 12 books on the Order of Battle of the Soviet Army, then books of translations of the Soviet tank and infantry manuals from 1942 and 1944 and the German Wehrmacht's documents on tank training. They were all published by George Nafziger (Nafziger.com website) and I am stunned to note that after 25 years or so many of them are still in print.
I was a lecturer in military history at the GAMA (Gaming Artists and Manufacturers) convention for over 10 years, talking about the 'real' historical and military background to games of all kinds (even Fantasy games are, most of them, just badly-written medieval military history), and some years ago co-authored a book on the fighting at Kalinin, north of Moscow in October 1941: The Defense of Moscow, the Northern Flank (Jack Radey, Charles Sharp). It got pretty good reviews, so we were told that we had to write at least two more books to cover the entire Battle of Moscow. 4000 pages of translations later, we are starting this summer to write chapters, so my time has been cramped between writing, finding answers to niggling questions that come up, and commenting on games. The commenting, by necessity, has to take last place.


CivFanatics:
Was this the first time you did a beta-test? How did you get into this, and how did you experience it?
Boris Gudenuf:
This is the first time I've done any Beta-Testing for a computer game, but I started playing Avalon-Hill military board games back in the early 1960s, and lived in New York City for a while in the 1970s where I was part of the regular Friday night playtest group at Simulations Publications, testing board games for both inclusion in the Strategy & Tactics magazine and separate publication.
In the 1980s I got interested in miniature gaming, and I've helped test and/or write several sets of miniatures gaming rules, including Art of War in the Age of Reason (18th century) and BattleFront (WWII).
Siptah: I did beta testing before, but for simpler programs, so that it was comprised of more or less systematically fooling around with it. A game like Humankind with its endless complexity in terms of possibilities is a different beast though and especially coming late to this, it is hard to focus your attention to testing while you are having fun playing.
I was recruited here on CFC due to my participation in the forums, and I think also to test the mac version.
Zaarin: This was indeed my first time beta-testing a game. I was invited to join the beta test by Catoninetails, I presume based on my interactions in the Humankind forum following the announcement. I actually joined the program a little late because I had been inactive for a while on account of my master's, which in general meant I was less active in the beta test, too, than I would have liked to have been. It's been very exciting to watch the game grow and become steadily more polished over time.
CivLuvah: I never play tested a game before. I got a message in G2G if I could join Humankind’s VIP program; I don’t know exactly why since the details are confidential. At the time I thought that this was an opportunity to help develop a game that’s a high-profile challenger to the Civilization franchise, which is a huge thing.


CivFanatics: How long did you participate in the beta-test?
CivLuvah:
I entered the VIP program around late April, and I’ve been playing the VIP builds for about 110 hours as of today.
Zaarin: I joined last fall, in which time I've put 18 hours into the Humankind beta.
Siptah: Not for very long. I don’t own a PC – I play on my MacBook and via GeForce Now. Hence, my chance to actually play Humankind came rather late in the development cycle as the first VIP mac build was available only in June. I’ve played around 100 hours since then.
Boris Gudenuf: I became one of the Humankind 'VIP' group in October 2019, with the Build 8 version of the game. Yesterday I downloaded Build 32, so I've seen a lot of versions of the game in less than 2 years!
And as of 12 August, I've put in over 410 hours on Humankind - by far more hours of gaming than in any other computer game I've played in the past 2 years, and probably close to as much as I've played in all the others combined.


CivFanatics: Were any of your suggestions during the beta included into the final game?
Siptah:
As I came late to the VIP party, I did not bring up many suggestions. Aside from smaller comments, my remarks were mostly regarding how it feels to come to the game freshly, and where there is room for improvement there. For example, in my very first game, I was (hilariously) unlucky with the map generation (two continents, 6 players on the same one with only 10 territories) which made for a very awkward first impression. Measures were taken to prevent such oddities in first games now, but probably not just because of my complaints ;-)
Zaarin: I believe I reported a few bugs that were ultimately addressed.
CivLuvah: I’m not sure if any of my suggestions went through. Most of the suggestions I’ve given are from the perspective of a “casual” player (i.e., a player who’s stuck at lower difficulties), and are mostly about the tech to era pacing and how much penalties to stability would the player take in the game. They have fine tuned the numbers recently, which addresses my problems, but I don’t know if my suggestions caused them.
Boris Gudenuf: The 'VIP' process was a very collaborative one. Someone would bring up a problem in the latest version of the game, and we'd all comment, and then comment on each other's comments, and sometimes comment on the feedback from the Design Team members themselves. Then some versions of our suggestions would be incorporated into the next Build, we'd try it and start the comments all over again.
My specific comments were mostly on historical background or 'historical excuses/reasons' for doing things in the game or things that we wanted to have happen in the game. More generally, there was a lot of discussion of Balance Issues, especially regarding the various in-game Factions and among the Religious Tenets (which were 'way OP for a while), Civics, and Units. There have been months of 'tweaking' numbers and effects, and at this point I'd have to go back through pages of Threads on the Humankind VIP Forum to find out which comment by which VIP resulted in which change. In most cases, in fact, Changes were a synthesis of input from a number of different people, both VIP outsiders and Design Team insiders.


CivFanatics: Is there anything what makes you laugh in the game?
Zaarin: I love the wry commentary of the narrator.
Siptah: Some of the quotes are quite humorous, but not all of them are to my liking. Some situations make me laugh though, mostly at myself. For example, when your neighbour choses the dreaded Huns, declares war next turn and immediately shows up with 10 units in your territory. After the first panic wave, the moment that you realize that it’s all cavalry, which cannot siege cities by its own, is quite a fun one.
CivLuvah: Not that much. The narrator more often than I’d like makes jokes all the time, but most of them weren’t particularly amusing. It’s the verbal sparring in the diplomacy screen that cracks me up sometimes.
Boris Gudenuf: Because a lot of the narration was added late to the various test games, some of them still make me laugh or smile: like telling the gamer that the Olmecs are "Your story to write." Given that we know almost no words of their language, none of their real city names, and none of their leaders, that's Amplitude taking a subtle dig at themselves or including the Faction!


CivFanatics: What should the next Civ learn from this game? Which feature would work well in the next Civ?
Zaarin: First and foremost, topography: varying the levels of elevation beyond just "hills" and "mountains" is something that Civ should take very seriously. The diplomacy is also much better than Civ's and something that Civ could take inspiration from.
CivLuvah: There is a feature in the diplomacy screen that divides the different treaties you must make with the other players by category. I think this is a nice innovation that can carry over to Civilization.
Boris Gudenuf: I have already been posting in CivFanatics Forum about Things Civ could learn from Humankind (and other games), but if I had to narrow it down to three major things that Humankind does better than Civ (IMHO) they would be:

A. The maps. In Humankind they are simply gorgeous, and the longer you look at them, the more fascinating details you find. Civ VII is going to have to have much better-looking maps than Civ VI to stay competitive.
B. The combat system. Humankind's use of the 'strategic' map to generate a 'tactical' or battlefield map is by no means perfect, but using stacks of units ('Armies') which 'unfold' into a tactical battle is simply head and shoulders over the sprawling 1UPT of Civ VI. It also allows Unit sto be differentiated much more completely by their Tactical attributes and bonuses and interactions and not just their 'strategic' effects.
C. The trade system. Humankind's trade system is much more integrated than Civ's. All trade is done through the same system, which starts with Diplomatic agreements to get you 'trade rights' with another Faction. No double system in which resources are traded diplomatically over any distance while another system is 'generic' between cities and subject to limitations of distance and number.


CivFanatics: Which feature should NOT be incorporated into the next Civ? What makes Humankind unique and different?
Siptah:
The question what civ should take from Humankind and what it should not is a difficult one. I would prefer the two brands to stick with different approaches that only loosely inspire each other.
For example, I have read the rumour that Endless Legend inspired unstacking the cities for civ VI. I do not know if this is true, but in case it is, civ VI took the idea and made something completely different with it that worked very well. Similarly, the idea that certain milestones in the game influence your progress that civ VI introduced with its Heurekas is to be found in Humankind’s civics system (again, I do not know anything about actual causal relations), which unlocks new choices depending on what you’ve achieved so far (and a random dice roll each turn afterwards, with some being mutually exclusive I think).
This exchange of basic ideas is surely benefitting for both, but one of the strengths of Humankind is that it isn’t Sid Meier’s Civilization. It does so many things differently on a mechanical and design levels that it’s probably easier to list what works the same – and that’s good in my opinion. If Amplitude would just copy paste the tourism system, the game would lose some of its independence, and similarly civ getting rid of Settlers or working tiles with population would take away some of its core identity.
One thing that I wish to change in civ is the unit movement, however: first, I love the increased mobility of Humankind’s base 4 movement points compared to civ’s 2. Then the combination of armies on the strategical map and one unit per tile on the tactical map is also something that civ should (in my opinion) have a look at how to integrate in a different way in civ. And the other (simple) thing that civ should copy is that multiple cities can construct wonders together.
CivLuvah: What makes Humankind different is how you change cultures over time. I think it shouldn’t be applied to Civ because the series operates differently than Humankind.
Zaarin: Two features I absolutely love in Humankind that I nevertheless do not want to see in Civ are the changing cultures and the customizable leaders. These things make Humankind feel very unique and give it a lot of personality, but they don't fit Civ's model in my opinion.
Boris Gudenuf: I've posted on this in CivFanatics forums, too: Humankind and Civ take very, very different approaches to History, and they reflect two of the great historiographical trends of the 20th century.
Civ is the Great Man Theory of history in game form: it is full of named Leaders, Governors, Great People, Generals, etc. What happens in the game in many ways revolves around what named individuals do, or influence, or make possible.
Humankind is the "Impersonal Forces" of history school (once upon a time called Marxist) - there isn't a single named individual anywhere in the game. Battles are won by armies uninfluenced by Generals Great or Not So Great: your Civilization or Faction is led by you the gamer, not some historical (or semi-historical) Leader personally represented by a voice-acted animation.
As a historian and a gamer, I applaud the difference. Exposing people to a variety of historical/historiographical techniques is never a Bad Thing, and by playing both games you might actually get a good feel for the difference between a single Great Person's effect on history and the effect of social, demographic, terrain/climate, or sociological forces.
This is one place where the games should 'stick to their roots' and keep the different approaches. Humankind should not try to add named Great Generals to their tactical battles, and Civ VII should not stop providing named individuals as Agents in the various parts of the game.


CivFanatics: What feature do you like best?
CivLuvah:
I really like how they present battles between units. Usually in Civ, I would be wary of battles on the map because I would just mostly leave it all to numbers and luck, I just release my units into the world and let them fight. In Humankind, the battle system is somewhat like in Total War – more a focus on strategy using terrain and maneuver, which adds a layer to strategy that I’ve never seen before in a grand historical strategy game. It makes battles more fun and makes me more willing to send my troops because I’m sure I can win a battle without numbers and luck.
Boris Gudenuf: If there's a single feature of Humankind that I like best, I'd have to admit that my military history background makes me really like the Tactical Battles: they feel more like a real historical battlefield than anything I've ever played in Civ, including both the old 'Stacks of Doom' blobs rolling across the Civ VI maps and the 1UPT spread out all over it in Civ VI. If they ever add a Scottish faction to the game, every battle I fight with Scottish troops will have bagpipes, or Silly Wizard's version of 'Hey Johnny Cope are Ye Walkin' Yet?" playing in the background. I have never had that much fun with battles in any other game.
Zaarin: Changing cultures, for sure, and seeing how it changes the landscape of your empire.
Siptah: For me, the civilization builder aspect is the best aspect of the game. This is also something that interacts with almost all mechanics and throughout the game, so for me it is the very “core.” What I mean with this civilization builder is that you shape what your civilization excels at as you progress through the game. It’s not a single decision but a convergence of dozens of smaller and larger, temporary and permanent ones that you are forced to take naturally while playing. This works very well both mechanically (stacking modifiers and thinking of your civilization as an excel spreadsheet) and thematically (the flavour from combining cultures, decision in events, civics, religious tenets, etc.). Trying to develop my civilization “optimally” based on the situation and the map, considering mostly short- and mid-term goals, is for me the most fun. While fame generation is directly affected by some of the choices (stars of your current affinity give more fame for example), winning plays a subordinate role in most of these decisions, as you can win with well-rounded civ builds, but also with some that are powerhouses only in two aspects of the game.
There are many other great aspects in the game (or potentially great with just a bit more work): the way territorial expansion is handled and independent from city numbers, the tactical battles, the civic system, the specialist micro system, and how winning (and thus the game as a whole) is less railroaded.


CivFanatics: What do you think will be the most complicated or confusing thing for a regular Civ fan?
Siptah:
Simply put that it is not civ.
Four more specific details that usually don’t get mentioned:
  • You are not supposed to be able to research all techs in each era, except for science heavy games.
  • It’s tempting to rush to the next era just because you can, and we are usually trained to advance as fast as possible. Staying around for some more turns to collect 2nd and 3rd stars in some categories, and to build some more emblematic quarters of that era is almost always the better option in Humankind though.
  • Skirmishes outside of wars. They are important. As prelude to wars, to keep opponents in check, and for fame generation.
  • The bonuses from multiple luxury resources stack.
Zaarin: I think the region mechanic might pose a challenge for a player coming in with a Civ mentality of plopping down cities everywhere.
CivLuvah: For a long time Civ fan, the idea of changing cultures can be quite jarring, especially if the transition between cultures is left to the imagination. However, once you get used to the idea operationally, like it was meant to be played – strategizing what bonuses you need or what affinities a situation calls for – it makes more sense.
Boris Gudenuf: I suspect the most confusing thing in Humankind for someone used to the Civ games will be the changing Factions in each Age/Era. Civ has always been all about taking a single Civ or Group from 4000 BCE to the near Future, with all the bonuses and special capabilities and units of that Civ present from start to finish. In Humankind the Faction you are playing is a constant Work In Progress: each successive Faction you choose to play has 'legacies' that carry over for the rest of the game, so the choices you make in each game change the nature of the Faction you are playing to some degree. This will take some getting used to, and I suspect it will be the source of as many Forum posts and discussions as Alternate Leaders are in Civ: what combinations of successive factions give you the 'best' combination of Legacy Traits for any situation. Hint: there is no 'right' answer, because the in-game situations will almost always be slightly different, and I think that is one of the more intriguing, but potentially un-nerving, aspects of the game for those not used to it.

CivFanatics: What civ(s) do you like best? Any specific combinations which play well?
CivLuvah:
I usually reserve these kinds of analyses with the final product, since most of the builds I’ve played are still technically mechanics in development. However, I usually like to play builder cultures (because I always suck at production in most grand strategy games), merchant cultures (because I like to buyout my units and buildings), and science cultures (because I like to advance in tech).
Zaarin: I find myself frequently starting with Babylon, not necessarily even for their abilities but just because I love Babylon. I find myself gravitating towards Aesthete cultures in the midgame because Influence costs to add or merge cities start to get pricy.
Boris Gudenuf: I have always (in Civ) been a 'science' player, because science is so important to staying competitive in the game: "bringing a knife to a gunfight" in Humankind means bringing Pikemen to a battle against Musketmen, and is just as futile. So, the Factions I have chosen most often have been Babylonians - Scientific with a really good Emblematic Spearman unit, Greeks, Scientific with an even better Emblematic Hoplite unit, Umayyads, Joeseon (Korea), and French. All of these are Scientific Factions that will keep giving you extra Science for the rest of the game with their Legacy Bonuses. BUT there are also some 'Stealth Science' Factions: Zhou in the Ancient Age, are Aesthete, but their Confucian School Emblematic Quarter gets a major Science bonus from being next to a Mountain. Zhou in the mountains is a potential Science Superpower! In the Classical Age, the Mauryans, also an Aesthete Faction, has a Stupa Emblematic Quarter that also gets a Science bonus, gets additional bonuses as if it were a Research Quarter, and also provides Influence and Faith - one of the better early Emblematic Quarters available from anyone.
In the Medieval and Industrial Ages, the Teutons and British, respectively, are Expansionist Factions but they both have Legacy Bonuses that include a Science AND Money Bonus, a lovely combination that allows you to research new Infrastructures and Units and then buy them with Money instead of building them!
Siptah: The really great thing with the cultures is that many of them feel absolutely great when you decide to play as them (because you do so based on your current situation – either to build on your strengths or to catch up in neglected aspects). This is less the case for the ancient and classical era picks when the canvas is still more blank but that feeling gets more intense with each era (when modifiers really begin to stack). Very rarely do I not feel that my medieval or early modern pick is absolutely OP, for example.
When it comes to combinations, I’m more the player that likes to pick cultures that excel at different aspects. So, I might go with Egypt for that very productive-heavy start, then Aksumites for the money rain, and English in medieval for the incredible growth. This combination works well almost always, as the bonuses are rather universally applicable, but there are often better ones, depending on the exact situation. When I’m more into aggressive games, going Assyrians - Goths - Teutons, works really well, also as a base for switching to other things later on. And, of course, there’s the science civ only run in which I always research all techs an era prior (which means you cannot switch out of science civs or you lose a whole era of science production).


CivFanatics: Do you have a specific strategy which you use because they work or because you like them?
Boris Gudenuf: If I have a single Strategic Vision it is Explore Everything. The Humankind version of Civ's "Goodie Huts" are "Curiosities" which appear both on land and sea/lakes and sometimes re-appear in the same area later, even in regions already 'claimed' by Factions, as long as the specific tile is not in a line of sight to someone or covered with constructions. These are really useful, because they can give you increasing stacks of Money, Influence, Science, and even Units. The relationship between Technology costs and the Curiosity 'gifts' is such that 2 - 3 of the right (Science-Influence) Curiosity finds can get you an instant new Technology early in the game, and enough Influence to slap down an Outpost and claim another Region. I keep Scouts, Scout Riders, and any ship I can build roaming the map as long as possible to scoop up as many of these as I can, and it's always worth it.
CivLuvah: I usually role play in grand strategy games in general. However, in Humankind, sometimes I get the culture I want based on the situation. But because getting the cultures you want is a race, usually the AI sometimes gets there before you do. The race to select cultures makes your strategy dynamic.
Siptah: I don’t refrain from using slavery :p. I rarely use the buyout with population option though, because it feels wrong to do so for me. I should do it more often; population grows back quite fast in well-developed cities. Further, I kind of roleplay when I try to build a well-rounded civilization – in such a case, the big cities are not specialized but mix all kinds of quarters, infrastructures of all types, etc. I generally tend to over evaluate building and economy, instead of playing more efficiently, but I like it that way. And it’s actually a great aspect of the civilization builder feature: you choose what you’ve been missing and “role play” a certain civ to catch up in that aspect.
As my culture picks for more aggressive games above might indicate, a specific strategy that I like to use and that can work quite well is raiding and ransacking a neighbour (with or without declaring war). There are lots of spoils to be taken from it and you can really cripple even stronger opponents with it.
Zaarin: I am definitely a roleplayer and builder, first and foremost, but that doesn't necessarily mean I choose a historically accurate culture order! I mostly choose my civics based on what feels right for the civilization I'm building rather than what is mechanically most useful, and I'm a peaceful player so I try to keep good relations with my neighbors.


CivFanatics: Did you have a specific strategy, which was so good that it got nerfed during the development?
CivLuvah:
I didn’t pay attention that much to my strategies to notice. In most of the playthroughs I had I usually pay attention to the pacing, because it helps in the total general play immersion.
Siptah: In terms of larger strategies, only the “common” ones that everyone did, like really polluting the world when you are leading in fame to end the game (very) early, or trying to stack the % modifiers (which got more and more rare since the open betas).
Boris Gudenuf: For a (short) while in testing, much earlier this year, I was almost automatically taking Huns in Classical and then Mongols in Medieval Ages, because each gave you horse-archers that did not require any new Technologies. Since Tech costs were still being balanced, everybody almost aways entered new Ages far behind in Tech: you'd still be researching mid-Classical technologies 20 - 30 turns into the Medieval Age. That meant everybody else was still trying to get the tech to build their new units, while I had armies of very effective horse-archers: they couldn't take walled cities easily (Horses cannot climb Walls!) but I could mop the map with enemy armies.
Then the Tech costs got balanced, and now Huns and Mongols come up against Pikemen and Crossbowmen and Knights early in the Medieval Age, the way they should. They are still dangerous as combat factions, but not overwhelming.


CivFanatics: Do you think anything right now is over- or underpowered? Any simple starting tips for a new player?
Boris Gudenuf:
There has been a lot of work put into Balancing the game's components in the past six months, but in a game with 60 different Factions and literally thousands of potential combinations of Factions and Legacy traits, I would not bet that there isn't some combination that isn't Insanely effective or ineffective, and require some Post-Release correction. That's the nature of games as complex as the 4x genre: it's only when thousands of gamers are pouring over it that you find out everything about the game.
The best tip I can give to a new player is to study the combinations. You may really like playing Myceneans in the Ancient Age, because you like having strong Fortifications, and the Promachoi is a good unit that doesn't require any Resources, but that Faction doesn't give you any Science, Influence, or Money bonuses. So, what do you do next? Which Classical Faction will either 'double down' on your military bonuses or allow you to 'expand' in another direction - because the Myceneans will give you cheaper units with more experience as soon as they are built for the rest of the game from their Legacy trait, so what do you want to add to that?
This is a question that any decent player has to keep asking themselves throughout the game . . .
CivLuvah: Before the recent builds there were cultures that were overpowered (I can’t remember which ones), but because of the nature of the changing cultures, my general tip is to analyze your situation before you transition and go with the culture that best solves the problems you currently have.
Siptah: As of now, the balance between cultures is surprisingly good for a game released in 2021 and with so many cultures, buildings, and units. However, and interestingly enough, the ancient era seems the most unbalanced to me. The Hittites aren’t great, their +1 strength is measly, their quarter rather useless. Olmecs got nerfed to the ground since the open betas. The Mycenaeans on the other hand have a super strong quarter that gives plenty of industry and stability, while also fielding a very strong unit. They’ll probably get nerfed soon. Contemporary Egypt also felt quite disappointing, as all other contemporary choices seem intended to be absolutely nuts, and they are only great.
As with many 4X games, being good in military is probably the strongest. The AI gets a lot of bonuses on the higher difficulties, and just conquering what they’ve built with these bonuses is better than building it yourself. Some measures are in place to keep that in check, but this is a tough nut to crack.
“Peaceful” expansion via Independent People is also too strong. Assimilating is way too cheap right now, much cheaper usually than founding a third city, plus it gives you a bunch of units on top. And if you see an independent outpost popping up somewhere, it’s always a good idea to send a unit close to it. When it turns into a city, the city tile itself is often undefended at first and you can just walk in and take over for free.
And as a simple starting tip for new players: keep some units around. There are no barbarians, but the skirmishes with other players can put some constant pressure on you, especially on higher difficulties.


CivFanatics: Any questions which I should have asked, but didn't?
CivLuvah:
Favourite or least favourite culture would be a good question to ask.
Boris Gudenuf: As a historian, I could post for pages on the historical aspects of the game: the ability of the Humankind combat system to recreate historical battlefield and operational tactics, the historically realistic importance of Trade and Money in the game, even if you aren't playing Merchant Factions: they've done a very good job on recreating many historical factors in the game while keeping the game, IMHO, very playable.


CivFanatics: Any last words to the community?
Siptah:
I hope that players can forget this competition and comparison with Civilization while playing and enjoy the game for what it is. When I watched preview streams on YouTube or Preview articles, the players often compared each mechanic and depiction of a culture on its own to how it is done in civ. While these thoughts pop up naturally at some points, I think Humankind deserves better than to be seen as just as a juxtaposition of individual elements, judged on how many things it does better and worse than Civ. It’s a different game, not just a different take on the same thing, a different experience “as a whole” – it’s not civ VI.5 or VII.
Anyway, I wish for a great future for Humankind. The game is very captivating and joyful, and as I’ve experienced and read, the developers are working with incredible dedication to make it the best possible experience within the scope of their vision. Hopefully, it gets many years of continued development and, when the time is right and enough good ideas have been collected that cannot be done in Humankind, an overhaul in the form of a successor.
Zaarin: It's really nice to see the historical 4X genre growing. There have been a lot of great sci-fi and fantasy 4X games over the years, but Civ has had the historical 4X market to itself. It's nice to see new companies and games bringing in fresh ideas.
CivLuvah: Humankind is a more different experience than Civilization, but if you want to experience something novel in the grand strategy genre, this is the game to play.
Boris Gudenuf: Overall, having some knowledge of how Civilizations (Factions) developed historically will not steer you wrong in a game of Humankind: early Cities were all founded on or near Rivers; Trade with your neighbors is a great source of Money and other Things Your People Want; having Walls of some kind around all your cities is a Good Thing; if your neighbors are Mongols and there an awful lot of them hanging around in large groups, it's past time to start recruiting more crossbowmen and pikemen - and even if it were available, playing the Song (Chinese) Faction is probably not a good idea with Mongol neighbors . . .
And, finally, never, never, never forget that this is NOT Civ! There's a different historical philosophy behind it, they approached things very differently than the Civ Team ever did, and the game will not play well if played entirely with Civ Instincts. But I think it does play quite well, and there are a lot of very interesting and enjoyable things in it and a lot of very enjoyable hours to be had with it.


CivFanatics: Thank you for this interview.





*Please note: The questions were sent to each of the participants separately, and the answers were edited together afterwards for easier reading. The answers themself were not changed.
 

The_J

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:hatsoff:
Yeah, I was curious to see if you'd answer similar or in opposing ways, and both happend. @CivLuvah and @Zaarin both think that changing cultures should not be in Civ, and I think I'd tend to agree, but you disagreed on the jokes of the commentator :lol:.
I was happy that your answers were overall divers and interesting, it shows how different people value the game, and different readers might be able to connect with some aspects :).
 

NombreyApellido

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loved it!

i still can get over the perceived unfairness of hordes... even back when they had 2 attacks they were no match for War Elephants when defending, and they were no good at building a balanced economy when playing them. quite fun if you like that playstyle though

on the other hand, i haven't seen posts asking for the the "furious" +7 strength status narrative event to be nerfed

westerners bias vs the mary sue trope i guess
 

Birdjaguar

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@Boris Gudenuf Well, well, well. I started off with AH in the late 50s, moved to SPI in the 70s and 80s, knew George Nafziger, bought his books and OOB but was focused on the Napoleonic period. Started with Civ 1 and played through Civ V. :D
 
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@Boris Gudenuf Well, well, well. I started off with AH in the late 50s, moved to SPI in the 70s and 80s, knew George Nafziger, bought his books and OOB but was focused on the Napoleonic period. Started with Civ 1 and played through Civ V. :D

In the US Navy a "Plank Holder" is a sailor who has been with a ship since it was launched. Having started historical strategic/tactical gaming with Avalon-Hill board games like Tactics II and the original Gettysburg I feel like I should be a Game Plank Holder, if there was such a thing!
 

7daysofwar

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Just need to get this off my mind but thank you for writing those reviews and doing those interviews. I needed a reliable source to check if I wanted to buy the game and I think civfanatics is reliable enough after the last closed beta and I decided to buy the game. I post it here because I didn't want to make a specific topic for it.
 

Zaarin

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And thank you @The_J for facilitating such great community involvement.
Surely you mean "facilitating communication and bringing an end to hostilities." :mischief:
 
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Nikolai II

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Quite surprised that Amplitude did not frown upon this. Good catch!
 

The_J

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Quite surprised that Amplitude did not frown upon this. Good catch!

They didn't mind actually.
I had made up the list of questions, had sent them to the participants, and afterwards posted them to @Catoninetales_Amplitude , asking if that's alright with them or if they don't want something specific posted. There were no objections to the questions (they didn't see the answers, didn't have them at that time yet). I think they're in general happy if there is positive publicity and feedback.
 

Nikolai II

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They didn't mind actually.
I had made up the list of questions, had sent them to the participants, and afterwards posted them to @Catoninetales_Amplitude , asking if that's alright with them or if they don't want something specific posted. There were no objections to the questions (they didn't see the answers, didn't have them at that time yet). I think they're in general happy if there is positive publicity and feedback.
That's really great! :D
 
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Regarding Amplitude and working with them as a Beta-tester. As a company they are not only communicative in public with the fan base, as they were here in CivFanatics and over on the G2G forums, but the Developers (plural, not just one but many of them) were right in the VIP forum and threads with the testers on feedback, specific problems, suggestions, and discussions of aspects of the game and improvement options.
This is a company that values communication at all levels: it was a real pleasure to work with them over the past 2 years.
 
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