Can we please have the semidesert terrain in Civ 7? (and other terrain suggestions)

Evie

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Plain refers to topography (elevation and ruggedness), not to vegetation or climate. It just means a large area of flatlands.

Grassland, prairie and meadows are all pretty interchangeable, though. And suitability for agriculture ranges from very (when near readily available water) to not at all (when little water is available). The same is also true of any other grass vegetation area. They all just mean an area where the vegetation is grass, shrub and bushes rather than trees.
 

BuchiTaton

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1) Shouldn't we get "Plains" or maybe "Grasslands" instead of "Prairie"? I mean the latter is very localized terrain which is also not very suitable for agriculture -
We must remember the North and South American prairies both regions are naturally open and also the main crop producer region of the hemisphere.

Now, the table is based in ranges of temperature and vegetation cover/structure, the problem with the name "Grassland" is that both Steppe and Savanna are also grasslands. While "Plains" is a type of terrain (proper) not limited by climate or vegetation. You can find plains with savanna, jungle, etc.

North China Plain or Gangetic Plain or European plains sound ridiculous as "prairie", they are just... Plains covered with not too much vegetation, flat and very fertile areas. Unless we assume that the entire temperate and fertile terrain in the world starts as Forest to be cut down, which sounds practically awful for the game :p
This answer it, the original condition of these regions were not open vegetation, they are plains but plains used to be covered mainly in forest.

The game could use a proper terrain(relief) variable with plains, hills, mountains and even wetland could be added here. After all there are flooded grasslands and forest in diferent climates, wooded hills, etc.

2) All other terrain types are actual scientific geographic terms, except "badlands" which feels really jarring. Ah yes, famous mapped North European Badlands, Wuzhao Badlands, Bonboro Badlands, you get the idea. Also, "dune" and "glacier" are not synonymous of "big arid areas". But while we coukd rename those two to just for example Hot/Cold Desert, idk what to do with "temperate desert" (the term itself feels weird). Maybe call those three Sand, Rock and Snow/Polar Deserts, but the problem then is "well rock vs sand does not equal temperate vs hot" :p
- Badlands are areas almost complety deprived of soil, this could be caused by high erosion on sedimentary rocks, but there are also the volcanic fields knows as Malpaís.
- An Ice Sheet can be named also Continental Glacier.
- Dune Fields are actually the most inhospitable (maybe only salt fields are worse but are rarer and smaller) areas of hot deserts, most people use the name desert for zones covered with soil (poor and shallow but still soil) and vegetation that are actually arid scrublands. Also rocky areas of deserts still provide some shadow and is easier to find some water there.

In general Glaciers, Dunes and Badlands are crossable regions but at the cost of huge attrition, and of course are not possible to settle there. The only action that could be done in them is some kinds of scientific quests.
 

Krajzen

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After reading preceeding posts I came to the conclusion that I do not have sufficient geographic knowledge to contest them, therefore I withdraw my annotations and ultimately express unwavering enthusiasm for
A mix of temperature and vegetation cover could be easy to understand and remember by most players:
DESERTBARRENOPENDENSE
COLDGlacierTundraSteppe Taiga
TEMPERATEBadlandMoorPrairieForest
HOTDunes ScrubSavannaJungle
 

Ekmek

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Some unique terrains like mangrove or even red deserts could be like natural wonders and used to flesh out the look of the terain but not add big boosts like natural wonders

Also kind of miss the Africa, europe, and other continental types that added variety to maps - I love in civ going into a new teritory and just feeling like I found something different


Also the interplay of the food, production, gold, etc should be considered for the base terrain, the climate, and vegetation. What effects what, is it limited or can each time provide some etc
 

Evie

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The more I think about it, the less useful it seems to me to separate barren and desert - both represent areas with low or no vegetation.

Glacier would be more of a special terrain feature, Badland I see more as part of topography/elevation, and dune and desert are thhe same thing that would fit under barren-hot.

For topography/elevation, I'd do a similar 2x3 or 3x3 grid, tracking elevation (low, medium, high) and topography (flat, rugged, broken). Broken terrain is impassable/unworkable without certain techs (or at all), rugged terrain slows down movement, and elevation grant defensive bonuses and slow down movements between different elevations,

Low: Plains (flat), Valley (rugged), Badlands (or canyon/gorge?) (broken)
Medium: Plateau (flat), Hills (rugged), Mesas (broken)
High: High Plateau (flat), Mountains (rugged), Peaks (Broken)

At 2x3 we remove the broken group, and mountains (high rugged) become impassable.

Very much a work in progress.
 

BuchiTaton

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The more I think about it, the less useful it seems to me to separate barren and desert - both represent areas with low or no vegetation.

Glacier would be more of a special terrain feature, Badland I see more as part of topography/elevation, and dune and desert are thhe same thing that would fit under barren-hot.

For topography/elevation, I'd do a similar 2x3 or 3x3 grid, tracking elevation (low, medium, high) and topography (flat, rugged, broken). Broken terrain is impassable/unworkable without certain techs (or at all), rugged terrain slows down movement, and elevation grant defensive bonuses and slow down movements between different elevations,

Low: Plains (flat), Valley (rugged), Badlands (or canyon/gorge?) (broken)
Medium: Plateau (flat), Hills (rugged), Mesas (broken)
High: High Plateau (flat), Mountains (rugged), Peaks (Broken)

At 2x3 we remove the broken group, and mountains (high rugged) become impassable.

Very much a work in progress.
The desert and barren options are different since the former are complety impossible to settle and the later are of low food productivity but still possible to settle there, even more certain civs and crops/livestock could still do good use of the "barren" lands. This is why barren include things like scrublands that can be settle (for example the Sonora Desert) while we have deserts of dunes (like El Djouf) the size of european countries that are just transited by trade routes but lack any significative permanent population.
 

Evie

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...the size of European countries, so a handful of tiles in game.

And that's roughly why I'm against making the distinction for the relatively limited amount of tiles it would involve on a map. Abstracting away the distinction between "food-empty but technically settlesble" and "no, really unsettleable" (especially as we humans are pretty good at ignoring "unsettleable" when we have enough motivation to do it).

From a game perspective, too, throwing unsettleable on top of impassable (also unsettleable as a result) take away still more real estste that's often already scarce on the map.

Throwing in a whole new terrain category (thus three terrain type) for "land you can't use" seems especially like taking a fair amount of resources for something that just sit there and do nothing in the game.

If the map was a globe I'd support that distinction more, because the Antarctic is the major case study for "no, really unsettleable", but until/unless such maps are implemented the Antarctic is best left off-map where it doesn't use up our scarce map tile space.
 

BuchiTaton

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...the size of European countries, so a handful of tiles in game.
Just one patch of complety unpopulated area between many others, add all the ones in the Sahara, Middle East, Central Asia, Australia, etc.
And that's roughly why I'm against making the distinction for the relatively limited amount of tiles it would involve on a map. Abstracting away the distinction between "food-empty but technically settlesble" and "no, really unsettleable" (especially as we humans are pretty good at ignoring "unsettleable" when we have enough motivation to do it).

From a game perspective, too, throwing unsettleable on top of impassable (also unsettleable as a result) take away still more real estste that's often already scarce on the map.

Throwing in a whole new terrain category (thus three terrain type) for "land you can't use" seems especially like taking a fair amount of resources for something that just sit there and do nothing in the game.

If the map was a globe I'd support that distinction more, because the Antarctic is the major case study for "no, really unsettleable", but until/unless such maps are implemented the Antarctic is best left off-map where it doesn't use up our scarce map tile space.
Mountains are impassable while deserts(proper) are passable but cant be settle, these are different limitations therefore need different strategies.
Ignore the role of these kind of limitations is lamentable both for gameplay and historical relevance, have a game were the "seas of sand" of the Sahara are the same as New Mexico is doing a poor work.

The number of usefull tiles is in one hand a performance issue, and in the other we have some others terrain types that are over represented:
- Mountains, have a relevant role but if you say "the size of European countries, so a handful of tiles in game" then there should be no place with more than one tile wide of mountains and many not more than one tile long.
- Wetlands, by surface most of real world wetlands are subartic the ones that are also barely populated and even that population is mainly from 20th century onwards, while true arid deserts have seen pass the trade routes and time to time armies of the oldest civilizations.
- Hills, these only make sense in size if they represent highlands. In a big scale their battle relevance could be covered by considering the movement between low and high lands by the attacking armies.
- Ocean, naval gameplay is mostly irrelevant and boring, at least in deserts land units could move with some attrition.

Then there is the exaggerated coverage by distritcs and infrastructures, the average game is full of medieval megalopolis so the sense of scale, change and strategy is lost in a continuos of continental settlements. If the bonus from proximity is more relevant the role of placement would be still significative without spam dozens of the same districts/infrastructure everywhere (quality not quantity) for a less tedious gameplay.
 

Evie

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The exaggerated coverage by infrastructure point perfectly to the problem with useless tiles: the game is already short on usable space. Very short. Reducing that further to make a distinction between limited production and unsettleable is a bad move,

Performance questions might be the reason for the lack of space, but it's a reason that's not going away (far from: each successive recent generation has further limited map size), so taking away even more of those tiles is simply not good for gameplay. You're taking a resource that's already too limited

Encouraging cities to grow more organically (ie expand from the city center more slowly) doesn't really solve the problem, it merely delays it until additional cities are founded or the cities still reach their broad expansion in the late game.

And unsettleable, compared to impassable, is a much worse terrain type, precisely because you can pass through it. Impassable is a trade-off: improductive and unsettleable, but in return for it you get something no other terrain type gives in the game: a tile that prevents enemy movement altogether (so that a line of them forms a natural wall against enemy attacks and allow you to focus your defenses elsewhere). Your unsettleable terrain doesn't do that: you still lose out in building cities and largely on production (if no humans can live there), and you get nothing in return. It's just a strictly bad terrain thoe, and in fact offers no reason to want it anywhere near your empire whatsoever.

Really, as you describe them, the only meaningful decision involving unsettleable lands will be, when you find some near you early in the game, whether to restart the game or not. This is not a good use of game resources, and is a sure sign of a bad gameplay design.

Maybe the concept can be salvaged - maybe - but that would have to involve finding some unique benefit that unsettleable terrain can provide that compensate for the enormous penalties that are inherent to it, and offers a strategically valuable choice. Like mountains, here, we're talking about doing something no other terrain type does.
 
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BuchiTaton

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The exaggerated coverage by infrastructure point perfectly to the problem with useless tiles: the game is already short on usable space. Very short. Reducing that further to make a distinction between limited production and unsettleable is a bad move,
Start with the regular triple row of ice tiles in the north and south margins and the double rows of mountains.

Performance questions might be the reason for the lack of space, but it's a reason that's not going away (far from: each successive recent generation has further limited map size), so taking away even more of those tiles is simply not good for gameplay. You're taking a resource that's already too limited.
If performance problem is an irresorbable issue for future CIV games that turn every new version more limited as they also have worse AI, then maybe CIV8 should be an actual board game at this rate.

Encouraging cities to grow more organically (ie expand from the city center more slowly) doesn't really solve the problem, it merely delays it until additional cities are founded or the cities still reach their broad expansion in the late game.

And unsettleable, compared to impassable, is a much worse terrain type, precisely because you can pass through it. Impassable is a trade-off: improductive and unsettleable, but in return for it you get something no other terrain type gives in the game: a tile that prevents enemy movement altogether (so that a line of them forms a natural wall against enemy attacks and allow you to focus your defenses elsewhere). Your unsettleable terrain doesn't do that: you still lose out in building cities and largely on production (if no humans can live there), and you get nothing in return. It's just a strictly bad terrain thoe, and in fact offers no reason to want it anywhere near your empire whatsoever.

Really, as you describe them, the only meaningful decision involving unsettleable lands will be, when you find some near you early in the game, whether to restart the game or not. This is not a good use of game resources, and is a sure sign of a bad gameplay design.

Maybe the concept can be salvaged - maybe - but that would have to involve finding some unique benefit that unsettleable terrain can provide that compensate for the enormous penalties that are inherent to it, and offers a strategically valuable choice. Like mountains, here, we're talking about doing something no other terrain type does.
Desert tiles (both ice and sand) still would cause attrition to enemy armies and slow their speed providing defense value. For example a civ with bonus to live in arid regions could move around while others would just crumble to pieces in sand deserts.

In real history cities at the margin of the desert were inland ports for the trade routes crossing them, they would work as inland seas since they also could spam resources like salt and oil. In early and middle game camels could be also a strategic resource related to move over sand desert and in late game roads could be also build there. Finally scietific expeditions could be done there to find things like fossils and meteorites (both ice and san desert are great places to find them).
 
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Evie

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The problem is many of your solutions - trade routes, scientific research - are things that are not unique or particularly beneficial. There's nothing in what you suggest that would come close to offering a valid trade-off for a terrain that cannot he settled or worked. This is a limitation far in excess of that of other terrain types, and it should have unique benefits to match.

High-attrition terrain that only some civ can cross is in practice would have much the same as impassable terrain that only some civ can cross - except that impassable terrain is more easily manageable for the AI (it never has to calculate whether going through the attrition terrain is worth it),

Which, actually, I could go with that design: your deserts are Impassable terrain except for specific civs, units, or with specific techs or promotions. That way the special functionality (same as mountains) is there, but with the different conditions for moving through them making them different enough to justify different handling in the game.

I would however suggest renaming your "desert" category to something else (wasteland?) and keeping desert instead of dune for the hot wasteland, as, while cold deserts are very much a thing, player expectation is that desert represent the hot wastelands.
 
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BuchiTaton

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The problem is many of your solutions - trade routes, scientific research - are things that are not unique or particularly beneficial. There's nothing in what you suggest that would come close to offering a valid trade-off for a terrain that cannot he settled or worked. This is a limitation far in excess of that of other terrain types, and it should have unique benefits to match.

High-attrition terrain that only some civ can cross is in practice would hace much the same as impassable terrain that only some civ can cross - except that impassable terrain is more easily manageable for the AI.

Which, actually, I could go with that design: your deserts are Impassable terrain except for specific civs, units, or with specific techs or promotions. That way the special functionality (same as mountains) is there, but with the different conditions for moving through them making them different enough to justify different handling in the game.

I would however suggest renaming your "desert" category to something else (wasteland?) and keeping desert instead of dune for the hot wasteland, as, while cold deserts are very much a thing, player expectation is that desert represent the hot wastelands.
In that case there are three impassable terrains Ice, Desert and Mountain. Still current ice/snow sould be the less common in game since there is no point to have all those rows of ice when it mainly mark maps polar margin, water is of poor gameplay value and historically the poles saw little action. The name snow itself is absurd since snow is seasonal the real deal is the ice/glacier than forms when the hot season is not enough to melt it complety, even if we consider that CIV only covers from 4000BC to 2000AC this time range did not saw massive changes in ice coverage.

In a cilindrical map desert are real barriers between civs, while ice are just a margin marker, the only points where multiple rows of ice are justified is for example if there is land a couple of tiles from the polar margin. So desert tiles could be easily extracted from the unnecessary ice/snow ones.

Now about relief/elevation as a third tile's variable (with temperature and vegetation as the other two), there is not need for many named forms. I am more for a system of 3 level of elevation:
- Lowlands: Can have all kind of biomes in the proper latitude. This is the only elevation were you can find wetlands (terrain feature) and jungles (biome) since most of the sizable ones are there, these later ones also have a mosquito disease effect.
- Midlands: Also can have all biomes except jungle and the terrain feature wetlands. Note that for example in the same latitute a tile in lowland would have jungle but the next one in the midland would have forest, this is like real life when many cultures thrive in the more template highland (middle land for game) of tropical latitudes.
- Highlands: Can have only the cold biomes and the barren form of temperate and hot. So is a difficult place to live and only some civs would have bonus to thrive there like Incas or Tibetans.
BARRENOPENDENSE
COLDTundraSteppeTaiga
TEMPERATEMoorPrairieForest
HOTScrubSavannaJungle

Like said before, wetland would be better as a terrain feature that is added to the biome one, so we can have flooded prairies, savannas, forests, jungles, etc. without need many unique names.
 
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Evie

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I think part of the reason for the impassable barrier at the poles may be to keep people and cities away from the edge of the map as I recall that being an occasional source of problems. Could be wrong, though.

Plus an obsession with simulating global warming and the search for the NW passage, which I do not consider good reason to keep them there.

Water is in general a terrain whose value the game criminally undersells right now - the value of naval trade route should be enormous (far more than any land, including desert), it should have much higher yields , and harbor to harbor should be the fastest way of moving units around pre-railroads. So the issues with its utility *right now* I'm less worried about - it's not bad terrain by nature, it's bad terrain by design mistakes. That's much more easily remedied than a terrain type that is *meant* to have very limited use.
 

BuchiTaton

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The poor use of water tiles like also the worse performance and AI are problems that should not be just accepted, as should not be accepted to neglect the role of proper deserts in history.

Distance and mountains were not the only obstacle for trade routes, desert were also, at the point that the two more significative preindustrial inland trade routes the Trans-Saharan and Central Asia Silk Road were sustained at the back of camel caravans. Sea trade routes are a thing in real world also because continents are not full of countinuos megapolis from tip to tip (something that obviously Firaxis did not care for CIV6).

If the problem is been of "limited use" a proper desert terrain would be more usefull than current mountains and snow tiles, the amount of the new ones could be taken from those. As an impassable terrain still fit the role of mountains at the same time that also provide some unique exceptions based on civs (Berbers, Sogdians, etc.), strategic resources (Camels) or eras (late game techs).
 
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Evie

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Like I said, if deserts are made impassable terrain (with exception for specific civs or units) I'm onboard with adding them. Using them to create chokepoints and make the map more strategic is great in my book.

It's deserts that are unusable but don't actually provide an obstacle to movement that I had a problem with. I prefer impassable to attrition because my experience of other games is that attrition systems are very difficult to teach to AI, so integrating a whole new attrition system that's likely to make the AI's life harder may not be worth it when we can just have impassable terrain achieve much the same thing using existing mechanism that the AI is already able to handle.
 
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