Civ5 Interview @ PC Gamer

Thunderfall

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PC Gamer has published an interview with lead designer Jon Schafer and producer Dennis Shirk about why they've cut religion, how diplomacy has changed, and some community features.

Below is the answer Jon Schafer gave when asked about the biggest differences between Civ4 and Civ5:

There's a few things. One of the big ones is that, instead of square tiles, we're going to have hex tiles. There's a couple things with hexes that give the advantage over squares. First off, graphically they look better, because no tiles share corners. You can have more of an organic look. You don't have to have 90 degree angles everywhere, you can have it more free flowing. It also helps out with gameplay. Everyone who plays Civ knows that when you move your units, or whatever, visibility range, you generally want to go along diagonals, because you cover more distance that way than if you go a straight line. With hexes that's no longer a factor, so there's benefit in gameplay and in the visuals.

Couple other things. We're really excited about the changes we're making to the combat system. Anyone who's familiar with the old SSI [Strategic Simulations, Inc] games like Panzer General will recognise the change that we've made. That's the inspiration behind the system. We really liked the mechanics in that game, so we took the basics from it and iterated on it.

Some of the details on that is that instead of having big stacks of units like players are used to, you're only going to be able to have one military unit on each tile. So you'll see fronts form on the battlefield more, instead of these big masses. We're also going to be introducing ranged units to the game, like archers and catapults. They'll be able to fire over multiple tiles and hit enemies away from them. We think those things will make the combat really exciting.

Thanks to Tom Francis of PC Gamer UK for posting about it.
 

Manco Capac

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Curious how the one unit per tile/fronts will impact map size. At all?

Perhaps there will be huge maintenance cost after trespassing a certain number of units (whatever its kind) , all proportional to mapsize.
Whatsoever, I don't mind big maps even though probably 90 % people here is against. :lol:
 

gaiko

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Perhaps this has been talked to death elsewhere, but it strikes me (from my own ancient experience with hex board games) that there is a simple solution to the absurdity of pre-modern ranged attack or bombardment: allow 1 unit/hex stacking of *different* classes of units.

IOW, only 1 melee-type unit /hex + 1 missile or bombard unit /hex. That would eliminate the range controversy while allowing the missile/bombard unit to bring something additional to combat. I saw this rule alot in board games.

Also, mounted units would not be permitted to stack with melee, but they could *pass through* them. Assuming open terrain here, of course. IOW, mounted cannot stop on a melee (or other mounted) occupied hex. This would put their 2 hex movement capacity to unique use.

In general, 1 unit / hex limitations *cannot* and therefore should not be relied upon as a means to prevent unit spam. After all, you can still spam 1 unit into every hex on the map. (That's what I would do, now fight your way through my sea of inexpensive units!). Therefore only the population/ economic model can limit unit span (and thus SoDs). Some obvious solutions come to mind: a max unit cap as a % of total pop; realization of this max potential with a rate of unit production dependent on level of economic productivity ( thus high pop but low productivity civs will have a hard time hitting the max, and if the economic model varied productivity inversely with population as is should, this will be the norm).

Ah well, Civ V appears to be hitting feature freeze anyway....
 

Dom Pedro II

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Jon, seriously, what were you and the team smoking when you came up with this??

I've been patiently reading the details hoping that somehow you just haven't released some critical piece of info, but there really doesn't seem to be one!

One unit per tile? really? This was your solution to the stack of doom? I get it, you're sick of 80 units moving together on one tile, but was this the only way you could think of to fix it? It seems like instead of trying to think of a few simple changes that might collectively break up the tedious sieges with giant stacks of units, you just decided to find one thing that would solve it no matter what else it might break in the process.

Right off the top of my head, some potential solutions that could've been considered:
1. Bring back Zones of Control - By making it impossible for units to move past adjacent enemy units, it will compel defenders to move troops out of cities and into the countryside to obstruct enemy movement. Attackers would be forced to attack these enemy positions outside cities first in order to advance deeper to get at the enemy's cities.

2. Directional Combat Bonuses/Penalties - Make it so the direction you attack from modifies combat strength. If an army is advancing through enemy territory, they'll have to break off smaller forces to protect their flanks from attack. Otherwise the defenders will be able to chip away at them easily by hitting them in their exposed areas. And while flanking bonuses might not be that realistic given the supposed scale of a map tile, it's a heck of a lot more realistic than only letting one group of soldiers with one weapon type occupy a space of a 100+ miles!

3. Stacking Penalties - make it so that units stacked in stacks above a certain number will get hit with combat strength penalties. Even a hard cap at like 12 would be better than one!

All of these would force the player to make more strategic decisions for moving their units without all of the irritating problems of having units backed up far behind the front lines or even just basic unit movement in peacetime that might be complicated considerably when players have mountain passes and isthmuses.

I saw that the reasoning for all of this was to create a more "tactical battlefield", but this is not giving us better tactics. This is trying to force strategic decisions into a tactical model. If you wanted more tactics, you should've taken the basic concept of the combat system of CtP with the wisdom of its shortcomings tucked under your arm and designed some kind of tactical battle view where you can include multiple units at a time.

Even a complete overhaul of the combat system by completely removing units would have been a more elegant solution. I could see possibly having generic army map pieces that would be composed of varying proportions of weapon types and then have those limited to one per tile.

And archers firing across multiple tiles! I mean, when you go and do something like limit one unit per tile, you pretty much have to resort to absurdity like this, but how did you not find yourself designing archer units the firing at targets hundreds of miles away and not decide to rethink the whole one unit tile limit concept? And why are we going to be better off having a number of different units that can engage in the kind of riskless combat that Firaxis specifically tried to avoid in Civ4 after the abuse of siege units in Civ3?

I'm sorry for being harsh here, but I like this company. I like this franchise. And Jon seems to know what he's doing based on past work, but this just seems like an unjustifiable game change. Unless there's some big revelation that hasn't been made yet that would render my objections moot, this game is out-of-the-box fail.

The two things that might save it is if this claim about it being even more moddable than Civ4 (already a modder's fantasy) is true, and the inclusion of an in-game browser. Because then modders can change it, and civ fans will have a built-in "fix game" button by going to the CivFanatics database.
 

Dom Pedro II

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Jon: We made some changes with religion. Because diplomacy is one of our focuses with Civ V, planning what an AI leader is thinking, how he's going to win the game, that wasn't something that was meshing very well with the religion system. In Civ IV, the religions were primary factors of who liked whom and who disliked whom. And that wasn't meshing very well with what we wanted to do, so we decided to move on without the religion system. But that's mainly because we wanted diplomacy to have more depth and not be so predictable.

What?!

You know, I could take or leave religion in Civ just because it wasn't given a lot of depth, but you're saying that rather than simply excising religion as a factor from the AI's decision making, you simply gutted the whole system altogether?? That's like using a sledgehammer to perform surgery!
 

CaptTightpants

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I actually rather like how these changes sound so far.

Given what we have read before about the "systems within systems within systems" model for the AI, with smaller goals nested within bigger ones, I'm not sure where religion could actually fit in. Sure, perhaps it could be a minor +/- factor. But plus or minus to what? Would that be likeliness to attack, likeliness not to deceive? Perhaps, but that doesn't seem to square with real history: in the end, it would amount to some personal enmity between leaders, not based in actual history.

That is not how I understand actual history working - religious and ethnic divisions are usually created or exacerbated by greater geopolitical considerations by world powers, and are not bases for enmity and competition among the leaders at the top of governments.

(Where I see religion being an issue in real life is perhaps affecting the war weariness of a civ. If a civ is thinking that it is "civilizing" a nation of heathens, then there would be a smaller problem with war weariness. On the other hand, if a civ is annexing land from another nation that is culturally similar (= having the same religion) as the civ, then one would have more problems with war weariness.)

As for archers slinging arrows hundreds of miles, I'm not too terribly worried about that. It irks some people; that's their preference and that's completely valid. Just speaking for myself, I'm not bothered - with Civilization, I think there already is a level of suspension of disbelief that is required - taking 1000 years to traverse a continent, for instance, or nuclear weapons that don't create a nuclear winter. If we were to be moving in the opposite direction -- say, from our being used to having wars played out on fronts, and instead to have all wars consist of sieges on cities, then there would be another set of criticisms made.

What is important for me is that the general dynamics of a given thing are simulated, rather than the scientific accuracy per se. Yes, it is ridiculous for archers to fire 100 miles over the heads of spearmen in front of them, but in that instance I'm not thinking that way - the scale of the map changes in my brain, so instead I'm "zooming-in" onto the battlefield in my brain.

A similar comment on the city-states system: I was very unsure about this when I first read about it. It seemed awfully "gamey" - why would there be a different category of civilizations that are inexplicably inclined not to expand and grow in the same way as others? But the explanation in this interview intrigues me because it seems to mirror dynamics in actual history, in which major powers have warred against each other over colonies, with minor powers allied with the major powers, in a hierarchy of relationships. Whereas it is not realistic per se that there be 2 sharply-defined categories of civilizations - those that grow and are your competitors, and those that don't - this perhaps reflect more the imbalance of size and power among nations in the actual world, instead of having all civilizations on a relatively "equal playing field" and of being relatively equal power until the first war or two break out.

Again, for me it's the "dynamics," and I apologize if I'm not being very clear. Perhaps an analogy will help - for me, I don't mind when a sci-fi TV series sets aside scientific reality in order to service an interesting plot. That I don't mind, but on the other hand I do mind if the writers rewrite their own history, contradict characters and plot that had occurred previously, etc. Again, that's my personal preference and not everyone has to share it.

I'm excited about having more vivid leader personalities, and of the AI having grander macro-level plans. This means that some leaders will tend to use certain meta-strategies over others, be more trustworthy than others, etc. I'm even okay with certain leaders tending to dominate the game more than others - for example, Julius Caesar - because it gives me more of a sense of the nations and leaders having distinct identities. I don't know much about specific names and facts of history, and so I'm not too keen on the distinctions between Boudica and Peter the Great and their personalities and styles of empire management lol, and I don't get any sense that they are that different from each other in the game, aside from the fact that they have different game "traits."

On a similar note, I also like the idea of creating "postures" toward other civilizations - openly and aggressively settling near another AI's capital, versus pretending. Also, it sounds like I could choose to register a "protest" toward an AI civilization doing the same to me. There is a real-world penalty if one backstabs, so that creates an incentive for myself and the AI to be honest.

For me, this further creates more of a sense of a certain "relationship" that I have with them... in this month's GOTM (#52) I tried to get a Diplomatic Victory for the first time, and found myself adding up plus and minus factors lol. I couldn't win, simply because I had traded with people's "worst enemies" - my very willingness to trade and open my borders to others was my undoing! Not very fun, and not very realistic.

All said, I am not sure how this will all come together, just like everyone else here. And so I don't intend to defend or oppose the changes. I'm just "ruminating," shall we say. (And on a negative note, I'm not sure I like the "joint research" system. I'm not sure how civs that are way behind in tech can catch up, for instance.) Anyway, it seems like more care is being exercised in the redesign process then the the designers have been credit for so far in this thread.

So sorry - no dramatic, flaming conclusions. Just a "we shall see."

And if I don't like Civ 5, I'll just keep playing Civ 4. (Still can't beat Emperor level, dammit.) No biggie.
 

Chose

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That idea of archers being able to shoot over multiple "hexagons" really bothers me.
 

Johnny Bravo

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each hex tile isn't supposed to represent "miles" of distance but just distance and it makes sense that the arrows of an archer travel a distance PERIOD more then say a swordsman. By your logic, the whole game is a major misrepresentation of reality such as units being taller then trees, Elephants bigger then buildings, etc.
 

Pizzaspy

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That idea of archers being able to shoot over multiple "hexagons" really bothers me.

I don't get why this bother people, combat mechanics are an abstraction no matter what at this scale. Civ IV is by no means realistic.

Bring on the 2 hex longbowman attacks! :lol:
 

RichPowers

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each hex tile isn't supposed to represent "miles" of distance but just distance and it makes sense that the arrows of an archer travel a distance PERIOD more then say a swordsman. By your logic, the whole game is a major misrepresentation of reality such as units being taller then trees, Elephants bigger then buildings, etc.

Exactly. It's like being unfazed by all the sci-fi absurdities in, say, Star Wars but complaining about hearing lasers and engines in the vacuum of space.

Making ranged units actually function as RANGED units seems incredibly obvious, actually.

If nothing else, I hope warfare in V is about doing "more with less": fewer units on the field, but more strategic depth thanks to ranged attacks, one unit per hex, terrain, emphasis on unit placement, etc.

What I really want to know is if V will have a new and improved way of moving/managing field armies, especially now that they're emphasizing a broad frontline instead of compact stacks o' doom.
 

kivanc

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we all know these. really, this is very good marketing that has been done. new articles are released everyday, and the news cover pages and pages. but in each new article, we have a few sentences at most as a new info.

shortly we still have so many questions. i will tell 1 of them only now.

how big will the world be?? please some game developer shall correct me if i'm wrong, because it seems the world will be FULL of cities (max possible 36 workable tiles) and units on every tile. and only a few mountaneous areas between. well, won't be any unhabited area in the world? is this because of panzer general inspiration??? the best would be a picture from world maps instead of showing city radius. all we saw is city radius and farms and a few archers shooting arrows of flame.

sure by modding the world might be oversized, but will a 20.000 tile map work fast with a pc like i5 processor and 4gb ram? tests on game are done nowadays, right? well, a map with 20000 is a real test. standart maps like 4000/5000 tiles are just very very small. but if you compare it with a chess game, it can be considered a big map as chess has 8*8 only.
 

Dom Pedro II

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each hex tile isn't supposed to represent "miles" of distance but just distance and it makes sense that the arrows of an archer travel a distance PERIOD more then say a swordsman. By your logic, the whole game is a major misrepresentation of reality such as units being taller then trees, Elephants bigger then buildings, etc.
Tiles do not represent a specific distance to be sure, but to say that they represent a completely indeterminable amount of space is also not true. Having them firing two tiles away means they are completely removed from the potential counterattack by melee units. This necessarily represents a kind of distance that is completely inaccurate even if we totally ignore the possibility of archers hitting units on totally different continents (which if you have a 1-tile water channel separating two coastal tiles could absolutely happen).

And... yes. The whole game is a major misrepresentation of reality... But a graphical distortion is a big difference from a game mechanic distortion of reality. So no... by my logic (not by your logic that you claim to be mine), these are not the same thing.

Exactly. It's like being unfazed by all the sci-fi absurdities in, say, Star Wars but complaining about hearing lasers and engines in the vacuum of space.
How is it anything like that?

Making ranged units actually function as RANGED units seems incredibly obvious, actually.
But having Archers able to safely hit distant enemies without the potential for retaliation (which is exactly what ranged combat does) in exactly the same way that Catapults will be able to makes one of these two redundant in the game as well as wildly misrepresenting the role archers have historically played.

If nothing else, I hope warfare in V is about doing "more with less": fewer units on the field, but more strategic depth thanks to ranged attacks, one unit per hex, terrain, emphasis on unit placement, etc.

I would like to say that I'm totally in favor of reducing the overall number of troops on the map in order to do "more with less". However, forcing players to go this way instead of that way simply because they happen to have a unit that's already in the way requires considerably less decision-making and strategy rather than deciding to risk creating a stack of units that might be hit by siege weapons, which is what the current system offers.

If a city has three possible approaches, and I use one of them, I can only use the other two. Where's the strategy? If I can use the same route, but there is a potential danger in doing so, that's a system of risk/reward that offers real strategy.
 

hrman

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Exactly. It's like being unfazed by all the sci-fi absurdities in, say, Star Wars but complaining about hearing lasers and engines in the vacuum of space.

Making ranged units actually function as RANGED units seems incredibly obvious, actually.

If nothing else, I hope warfare in V is about doing "more with less": fewer units on the field, but more strategic depth thanks to ranged attacks, one unit per hex, terrain, emphasis on unit placement, etc.

What I really want to know is if V will have a new and improved way of moving/managing field armies, especially now that they're emphasizing a broad frontline instead of compact stacks o' doom.

I'm with Dom Pedro on this one...any game (or movie) can set up it's own reality, but then it has to be true to it. As I've posted before, I'm much more inclined to feel that a game with dragons and elves is "real" than I am to believe one where supposedly sprawling cities are built "five arrrow shots" apart.

Yes, every simulation game makes sacrifices of reality for the sake of gameplay. To me, the truly great ones are the ones who make this so unobservable that you don't even think about it. The good ones are ones where you recognize it, but are able to look past it and still enjoy the game. The lousy ones are the ones that hit you in the face with it every turn and it spoils the entire experience. For me, CIV 4 is somewhere between the top two levels. From what I've heard, my current expectation is that CIV 5 will be in the second category (good), at best. While I'm basing this on the limited information we all have and hope that I'm proven wrong in the final version, I have to admit I'm currently seeing it as having a much greater chance of winding up in the third category (lousy) than the first (great). :sad:
 

JtheJackal

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I can't say I'm happy the new diplomacy examples all seem to revolve in "new" ways to go to war with another civilization.
 

The Cosmic Kid

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But having Archers able to safely hit distant enemies without the potential for retaliation (which is exactly what ranged combat does) in exactly the same way that Catapults will be able to makes one of these two redundant in the game as well as wildly misrepresenting the role archers have historically played.
I don't see where you're getting this idea that there's no potential for retaliation. If there's no infantry between the archers and the enemy, it sounds like those archers are going to be in for a rough time when the enemy's turn comes around, especially now that the default move speed is 2. I'm no die-hard military buff, but the Civ 5 model strikes me as closer to archers' historical role than Civ 3 or 4 ever had: light units, vulnerable when the enemy closes with them, and best placed behind some sort of obstruction like a nice solid line of heavy infantry.

Now, if archers worked exactly the same way as catapults, that would be a little odd. But to the best of my knowledge, this is not yet confirmed to be the case. And anyway, if you think about it, it's a little odd that archers work exactly the same way as infantry in Civ 4. I don't find it particularly upsetting for the abstraction to go one way instead of the other. As for unit redundancy, I see no reason at all to be so pessimistic (yet); catapults can be quantitatively very different than archers even if they work qualitatively the same. After all, swordsmen and horse archers work qualitatively the same in Civ 4, and no one is calling them redundant.

What I'm really interested to see is how the change to gunpowder is handled. Modern infantry and tanks certainly fulfill a combat role more analogous to ancient hand-to-hand infantry and cavalry than archers. Are they going to have ranged attacks? Is the musketman, the transitional unit, going to be archer-like, infantry-like, or both?
 
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