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[GS] Civ VI lacks tension

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, May 10, 2019.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Random thought. I saw this article on Imperator Rome and thought it was interesting in the context of Civ VI.

    Specifically. The author mentions that Imperator Rome feels underwhelming, and that the reason for that is that the game lacks a “central tension”. He compares it to EUIV which is a similar Grand Strategy Game, but where there is a central tension being the balancing of multiple alliances to keep your nation safe and advance your interests.

    Two things struck me.

    First, I think Civ VI also lacks a “central tension” at least once you get past the medieval era. There’s just not really anything you’re really driven to do or engage with - just keep building stuff. Once all your cities are settled, all you’re doing is just racing to the end as fast as you can (which is itself not even much of a tension, because it’s so easy to race and the other AI don’t even try to win the race).

    To be clear, I don’t mean “late game decisions aren’t impactful” or “feels like I’m just hitting next turn” which has all been said before. I mean that mid to late game there isn’t any actual central “game loop” that fires that wonderful dopamine and keeps you coming back. Early game there is - use cities to build settlers or army to get more cities, rinse-repeat. But mid game, once everything is settled, there’s really no specific loop. It’s just ... missing.

    Second, the current alliance system is okay, but it really doesn’t make you feel like you’re making real diplomatic alliances. No web of fragile alliances holding the world together or plunging everyone into war. There’s no feeling of “being friends with this guy means this guy hates me means I’ll get dragged into this war means I have an excuse to war with this guy etc.” Likewise, the World Congress doesn’t feel very diplomatic either. Alliances and World Congress are just more bonuses on bonuses rather than a whole new theatre of strategy. Don’t get me wrong - there’s a bit of diplomacy if you want to play around with it, but it’s pretty limited.

    Anyway. Just some thoughts. Take em or leave em. I’m still excited about another patch, though.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  2. Nefelia

    Nefelia Chieftain

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    I feel that Civ VI would greatly benefit from making cities more vulnerable to rebellion or secession. The loyalty mechanic is a step in the right direction, but it's scope and reach are far too limited to do anything but limit one's expansion when close to rival civilizations.
    I'd love to see, for instance, culture employed in a way that would create schisms and challenges within rival empires with weaker culture production. Such a mechanic could be guided by trade routes, spreading cultural influence and sabotage far beyond one's borders... and also opening players to possible disruption from rivals beyond their immediate reach.
     
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  3. m_mus

    m_mus Chieftain

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    While I totally grant the argument for SP due to a still underwhelming and predictable AI, I'd advise trying MP with a group of friends.
    We have a regular get-to-gether of 6 people once a week, and oh boy, alliances are a pretty important matter.
    I play SP for relaxation now, MP for tension.
    EDIT:
    There definitely is this feeling of “being friends with this guy means this guy hates me means I’ll get dragged into this war means I have an excuse to war with this guy etc.”
     
  4. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    I feel tension in the game
    1. When I am being attacked and unsure of the outcome
    2. When another civ looks like it may win
    3. In individual tactical fights that are going pear shaped
    4. When I find someone is building a wonder I am building
    5. Sometimes looking at the GPP screen when I know the AI has a habit of buying.
    6. When a hurricane is coming in and I know it is going to seriously wreck my capital if it hits and I can do nothing about it.
    7. When I suddenly realise I will soon run out of gold
    8. When an AI warrior walks into my land and stops moving.
    So there are moments of tension but they are fairly rare and fleeting with no central tension, no epicentre of criticality that we must dance with.

    I guess with greater risk comes greater reward in this regard and the game is perhaps too safe as safe = sales?
     
  5. Prester John 2

    Prester John 2 Chieftain

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    I concur with the OP. And I think one of the core reasons for this is the lack of historical dynamism. What makes the early part of the game engaging? It is that you have to build up expand with limited resources. once this is done the game becomes static more or less. And why is this? Because of civilizations Startup the exact same time, used up the place for expansion and that then stay that way. Yet historically civilizations arose and fall not simultaneously. They succeeded each other and overlapped geographically.
    This was so great about the RFC mod of Rhye: civs would come into the game successively and and there was always the threat of internal implosion, aka the stability mechanism, making room for new civs. How to cope with losing your Empire? You could decide on returning your current civ or switch to the new emerging one. I really really hope that Gedemon will succeed with his mod ideas eventually, when the full mod tools will be released.
     
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  6. Infixo

    Infixo Warlord

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    This 120%.
     
  7. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Agreed.

    There is some tension in the very early game, when the game is still about competition over territory.

    But once that goes, all you’re left with a sort of moments of tension as you’ve described. But there’s no central constant tension.

    I guess this is where the AI comes into the conversation, because mid to late game it could be creating tension by either rushing to victory (forcing the human player to stop them) and or interfering in the human player’s plans. But that’s doesn’t happen.

    I’ve posted about this before, but I do think if the colonialism part of the game worked better it would maybe at least extend that early tension - if it worked, you could sort of keep expanding in the mid game and competing with other Civs to do so, but with different challenges and risk / rewards. The game has lots of good mechanics around colonialism - dedications, policies, wonders etc - but it just doesn’t gel. Pity.
     
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  8. Bradypus

    Bradypus Chieftain

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    I have to agree to a large extent. I often find myself playing up until renaissance and then just starting a new game. CIV VI is definitely most exciting early and then the excitement suddenly drops. This is at least true for Single Player. You're completely right about alliances too in SP. Alliances in CIV VI are nothing more than trade agreements and World Congress decisions are mostly not impactful.

    In MP it's different though.
     
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  9. Civilowealth

    Civilowealth Chieftain

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    I completely agree, and I feel this is where Rise and Fall didn't go far enough and missed a huge opportunity. When Firaxis were discussing the Loyality and Free City mechanics they must have brought up the idea that Free Cities could have a chance to become their own fully-fledged Civilizations. I would implore @dshirk to look at this again, it would completely change how the games develop overtime and get rid of that monotonous concept that the civilizations you start with are the civilizations you end with; no more, no different - especially for players who prefer the diplomatic, scientific, religous or cultural victories and those who just like building a civilization throughout time and respond to the worlds events as they come.

    Of course you could have a slider to set how many additional civilizations beyond the starting civilizations should be allowed - to prevent a game starting with 6 civilizations ending with 30. This is ultimately where Rise and Fall should have gone, and where I think it should still go.

    The only other gameplay system I would ask Firaxis to look into is the World Congress, it feels way too gamey:

    • Firstly the World Congress should only appear once one civilization has met all other civilizations (Like Civilization V), perhaps make it a world-wonder that can only be built once a player has contact with a certain percentage of civilizations that starts the World Congress.

    • Secondly I would give the player and the AI the ability to choose at least one of the resolutions that appear during a World Congress (Like in Civ V) as it would allow the AI or the player to use the World Congress far more strategically against specific civilizations. Perhaps reintroducing the concept of a revolving host that has the ability to propose the resolutions for that session.

    • Thirdly I would add in the concept of permanent and temporary resolutions, permanent resoultions exist until they are repealed, temporary resolutions exist until the next session of the World Congress.
     
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  10. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    @acluewithout : great post.

    I really like the way you've framed the concern. You've articulated what's missing in Civ 6 for me much better than I've been able to articulate it myself.

    Not everybody wants tension, or to be forced to adopt their play to what the game imposes on them. Many of those players are, I expect, happy to play the game either in completely relaxing sim-civ mode or with tension from self-imposed objectives (such as the list Victoria provided).

    I wonder whether Civ 6 wouldn't be better off getting rid of the tension it currently creates in the early game, to provide a more consistent game experience from start to finish? That would address concerns from folks who dislike having to defend themselves against early barbarian or AI attacks and who hate the rush for territory imposed by forward-settling AIs.
     
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  11. Icicle

    Icicle Chieftain

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    One of the things I miss about Civ V was how in the modern era ideological differences pushed you straight towards World War and crumbled old alliances and forced you to take an active and aggressive role either militarily or culturally to ensure you didn't collapse in the new world order. I was hoping that Civ VI would add something to that effect but it's been very small baby steps versions of it. If I have five friends in the classical era they'll be my friends the whole game unless I decide otherwise, which just feels yeah, too kumbaya.
     
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  12. Jaybe

    Jaybe civus fanaticus Supporter

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    Call me stupid or slow, but I do NOT understand why people have a problem with this. You want extended dynamics and tension in the game, then complain that diplo cliques don’t include you in their arrangements or let you participate.

    Could someone please explain?
     
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  13. rockhpi

    rockhpi Chieftain

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    I've been wondering if this isn't a deeper issue rooted in the existence of victory conditions at all. They don't reflect the real world. The USA didn't "win" Earth when it went to the moon. I've been thinking that perhaps it would be better to end the game at turn XXX and your score would be a combination of how you did in ALL areas. What good is your trip to the moon if there's no art, your people are starving, etc.? Isn't the true worth of a civilization how it does in several areas? So rather than an arbitrary event finish line that you grind towards at the end (conquer all nations, go to Mars, convert everyone to your religion), you're trying to do as well as possible in all areas before turn XXX (which is still an arbitrary end point, but I feel more accurately how a real civilization is guided). A balancing act, not a footrace.

    I guess that's how the game works already, if you ignore the "Win" screen and do "just one more turn". But without the insta-win, it might take away the beelining and grinding.
     
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  14. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    I agree, but a lot of other players complained about how people they'd been friends with forever suddenly became their enemies after the late game governments became available. So, great and enjoyable game mechanic for you and I, terrible game design from the perspective of others.

    I've noted elsewhere, and I think it's pertain to this discussion, that I'd like to see a future civ game embrace ideologies as a consistent game system that changes up game play as the game enters new eras. So as you enter the Medieval Era, say, the world is presented with religious-based ideologies. Adopting one of the ideologies brings certain in game benefits, but also fractures your diplomatic relationships with civs who take on another ideology. And by fractures, I don't just mean negative relationship points, but actually disabling certain options such as Alliances while making it easier/cheaper to be at war with them. For example, friendship with a conflicting ideology could cause happiness penalties, while war with a conflicting ideology could confer happiness bonuses or free troops. After an era or two, a new set of ideologies are presented, Divine Right of Kings vs Nation States, for example. Again, there's a tension between picking the one whose bonuses (or penalties) best fit your empire, while also keeping an eye on the impact your choice has on your diplomatic relationships. That later gets replaced by the traditional Democracy-Fascism-Communism ideological conflict. In the modern era it could be based on the privacy rights of citizens versus the security-based needs of the state to keep tabs on everyone. :)
     
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  15. shaglio

    shaglio The Prince of Dorkness

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    But this option is already in the game. Just turn off all Victory Conditions other than Score Victory and the game will end at year 2050(?) with the highest scoring Civ as the winner.
     
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  16. Civilowealth

    Civilowealth Chieftain

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    Of course this is just me, and others can feel differently. But personally I feel having the World Congress start at a specific time takes away from the organic feeling, I want to feel as the world is dynamically progressing based on the actions of the civilizations that are in it, the ability for the World Congress to be founded by the actions of a or multiple civilizations and not by reaching a defined point time in the game improves that dynamic feeling - that the civilizations are controlling the destiny and history of the world.

    Its nothing to do with diplomatic clicks not including me in their arrangements.
     
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  17. Gloompy

    Gloompy Chieftain

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    Agreed. I've modded two things to remedy the tension level.

    a) Settlers cost +35% more production to make. Think about it, you're creating a whole new city. You should really have to invest heavily into that. It slows down the territorial expansion for a little longer.

    b) Spies come out a bit earlier.

    Also, I set resources always to "scarce." With less luxuries, the people ares less happy which leads to more unhappiness which leads to less loyalty and more revolt.

    Also, archipelago maps with low sea levels promotes other civilizations meeting with each other sooner.

    Also, I tend to add more aggressive Civ's to my games.

    I also plan on making General Assemblies 5 turns sooner (mostly useless and boring anyways). If anyone knows how to do that, plz respond, Thank you.
     
  18. MrRadar

    MrRadar Chieftain

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    It is difficult to have tension in the game when, come Renaissance, AI just folds and zones out. No focus, no purpose, no determination. After a few of the most recent games, now I am under impression that it even lost its capability to win SV. The farthest I've seen them go now is Mars. And then - full stop. Last game achievements of Deity AI at ~t340/500: a couple of Moon travelers, one made it onto Mars, RV leader bounces between 3 and 4 converts/6, a few AIs with 2-4 DV votes, culture still a long way away, even for Pedro. But I finally witnessed a Jet Fighter attacking my ground troops and ships, one-shot killing some of them.
     
  19. Sostratus

    Sostratus Chieftain

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    IMO one of the big differences between civ5 and civ6 is that the PvE - which I'll call "Player vs Empire" is much more stark in 5 than 6. In civ5, there's a global happiness indicator right on the top bar, and you really need to actively manage it. Happiness is very scarce. Whereas in 6, actually keeping your empire running is much easier. Gold is not the bottleneck it was in 5; it is relatively easy to avoid amenity crunches; the tech tree used to have a housing crunch in the medieval/renn but now that has been smoothed out too.

    While the AI's proficiency and agency on the world stage can be debated, I do think the game tension suffers a little from having the empire be so easy to manage. In BNW games it often felt like I was holding on to a rocket that might fall apart or explode on me at any time; constantly seesawing between positive and negative gold income and panicking every few turns as happiness dwindled to nil. Eventually that rocket will take you over the finish but it doesn't feel like a sure thing.

    There's nothing wrong with having things set up the way civ6 does, it just forces tension to come from external sources. Look at an RTS game like Age of Empires. You firmly control your kingdom, there's no maintenance, resources are all simply accrued - because the point is to wield that kingdom against other players. This translates directly to civ6, except most people on this forum find the ways of interacting with the outside a bit lackluster. (Personally i think the era system is an untapped well of potential for fixing that!)
     
  20. Mahi

    Mahi Chieftain

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    To be honest, what you are describing has been the problem for all civ games. Late game will never be as fun as the start of a civ games. It's builiding the empire, exploring the map, settling new cities that are fun.
     

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