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Civilization: Beyond Earth's creators are fixing their biggest mistakes

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Ari Rahikkala, Mar 12, 2015.

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  1. Manannan

    Manannan Prince

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    That's the thing though, gameplay and story are not to be kept in separate worlds to be visited whenever one feels the need to immerse themselves in lore for whatever reason, story is supposed to inform gameplay. You're right, diplomacy in CiV isn't some incredibly robust system full of incredible nuance, and all things considered BE's ctrl+c ctrl+v treatment of it isn't too much of a downgrade in terms of mechanics, but that isn't really the issue here. The issue is that the AIs in BE have no personalities beyond what was written for them on what are basically interchangeable post-it-notes that have absolutely nothing to do with actual gameplay. If I'm playing CiV and I find an AI like Shaka or Attila right next to me I immediately know "uh oh, warmonger, better play accordingly", or conversely if I find Gandhi or Haile Selassie I know I'm probably going to have lots of space to peacefully expand. Civ BE, for all its attempts to hint that "this leader is the warmongerer, and this leader is the builder, and this leader is the gold hoarder", has 8 entirely interchangeable AIs who frequently behave in an identical fashion. There might be minor differences between them (probably more likely to be DoWed by SF and ARC than PAU or FI for example) there's no change in how the player reacts to the AIs because they all act like they have a checklist of things to do every single game. The lacklustre diplomacy would be a lot more forgiveable if the AIs weren't just generic space colonies one through seven and actually warranted a measured response from the player.
     
  2. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    Going for a "2.0" sounds like a good idea and plan. Firaxis has the people who can pull something like that off, I just hope they actually get some budget to play around with. I can't see them making enough changes solely with big patches - it feels like it would certainly need some extra art and voice overs to improve the immersion aspect alongside gameplay improvements.

    In a way, I think what backfired here was the "classic" Civ approach of 1/3 new, 1/3 tweaked, 1/3 old. They burned too much of their "new" on the genuinely exciting systems (tech web, orbital layer) that the other parts that should've been "new" as well (unit upgrades, affinities) felt a lot more like "tweaked".
     
  3. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    I think it is time for Firaxis to ditch the 1/3rd rule. It's a nice guideline but when applied too rigidly, it holds the game back. Firaxis needs to take a bit more risk on the next civ game. Of course, the game should not be so dense in complexity, but it needs to be more innovative.
     
  4. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    In my case that's because Affinity points feel like an arbitrary and gamey mechanic to me. There are a few quests related to affinities, but they are often quite shallow and repetetive. The bulk of the points is gathered by researching the techs where they have (sort of) arbitrarily been attached to.

    If Affinity was supposed to reflect player choise, then it completely failed. I think it is actually works backwards: Affinity points railroad me into researching techs that I would never want by myself. Instead of unlocking cool buildings or yield benefts I am forced to get them because I need these points. I am always happy when the Mindflower is in production and I can get back to reserach stuff that I actually like.

    Now compare that to something like the SMAC social engineering. That was not essential for winning, so the player was not forced to pick any of the values. However, there was a strong diplomatic component attached to them, so the mechanic had a highly dynamic aspect while you played the game.

    I still remember when I was forced to go Fundamentalist because Sister Miriam was next to me and I knew that I couldn't stand up to her in a fight. Another time I had to abandon Democracy to prevent a two-front war against Morgan and the Spartans. That flexibility simply isn't there in CIV:BE, mostly because it inherited the static design from CIV5.

    As for the story - yeah, I can't give a damn. I like the dystopian scenario, but the fact that you land on a fertile garden eden really takes away most of that. The positive tone also removes most of the potential dillemas and (seemingly?) triviliazes harsh decisions one might have to make. By comparison SMAC felt like an uphill battle during play, where you had to make some really tough decisions and the game knew to make the moral dilemmas behind them obvious (via tech and building quotes, for example). I always felt that I was treading on a dangerous path, both in regards of planet AND technology - as if I am just one step away from a dystopian society. In BE, on the other hand, you expand, grow and become fat and merry. It is just a completely different experience.

    But I see the potential. The CIVpedia in BE is so rich in story and interesting lore that I cringe about the fact that none of it is conveyed into the game itself. Instead we get tech quotes that are just bland - with the exception of the Uncle Nevercloned stuff. Those are genuinely well done! if the rest of them would live up to that standard, the game would at least have one component to pull me into the world.
     
  5. GenyaArikado

    GenyaArikado Judge of Love

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    I think that writing faction-unique stuff for the victory quests would also help. Also having them "unlock" as you reserach insteam of them being all pretty signaled since the beggining.
     
  6. lilgamefreek

    lilgamefreek Warlord

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    What you say is very true. One of BE's big, missed opportunities is telling a compelling sci-fi story in a way only games can, through gameplay. The vanilla sponsor's flavor profiles aren't differentiated enough to make a compelling difference in gameplay. Similarly their traits don't differentiate them enough where you have to adjust your game to really play against them. Having civs like Korea, Polynesia, or Austria in the game with you can really change your strategy, even though they are not very aggressive. It's something I try to keep in mind in the mods I make, despite filling their civilopedia's with lore as well.

    What would be REALLY cool is faction unique quotes every time you level up an affinity, showing the faction's development overtime. It's one thing to hear Kavitha's opinion at a particular level of purity. It's another to hear your own.
     
  7. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    In fact, a few extra faction- and affinity-specific quests would do wonder and manage to add mechanical and narrative diversity. I know a lot of people say stuff like "immersion doesn't matter" but they are not opposites - good immersion doesn't just happen through stories and art, they go hand-in-hand with matching mechanics.

    That's one of the reasons why Endless Legend was so well received: it had varied mechanics that mapped to story effects. Good mechanics on their own are as exciting as an Excel spreadsheet, good story alone is as immersive as reading the Civilopedia.

    Make them match and you got a good game. That's one of the reasons for why trade routes are fun in Civ 5 (they are the main gold source, map to the idea of having things like the Silk Road, affect other systems like tourism, religion), they are grounded in the fiction and the mechanics and the fictional grounding teaches us how to use the mechanics (mostly).

    In Beyond Earth? They are just there and their mechanics don't have a story match - which is probably one of the reasons why they seem to have a continued identity crisis - nobody really knows what they represent.
     
  8. Pietato

    Pietato Platonic Perfection

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    Polygon needs an editor. Revenant?

    The 2.0 thing is good news, though. However, there is A LOT to fix.
     
  9. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    A single word out of place doesn't mean they lack staff. To err is human, after all.

    Solid confirmation on "2.0" is good news all round regardless, should be interesting to see where things go.
     
  10. Manannan

    Manannan Prince

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    Fingers crossed on 3.0 in the form of an expansion. :)
     
  11. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Yeah, it's interesting they haven't announced an expansion, specifically. Good though, because patches are free :D
     
  12. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

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    Someone making sense. Thank you.

    I didn't even read the article posted in the original post because I can't stand listening to Miller and McDonough cooking up their lame excuses for 'why people aren't liking our game'. "We should have been more audacious..." and then at the same time the directly opposite "too radical changes in the atmosphere" - both are, of course, wrong, and the question is only whether they genuinely are incapable of grasping what the real problem is or are simply straight up being dishonest. Given the state of the game, both could apply. :/

    BE is meeting resistance not because it isn't radical enough, or because it is too radical. It is meeting resistance because it is a poorly put together total conversion mod of Civ V being sold as a full game - with Firaxis then behaving as if they are truly at a loss as to what the problems are.

    What people would reasonably expect is that if they simply reskinned Civ V they would then at least spend time correcting the issues with that former game it builds upon. One notable aspect of this would be improving the AI, which is still alarmingly bad (after all these years, and even in spite of Civ V's tremendous commercial success). Another important aspect would be improving the diplomacy, which has instead turned more shallow than ever (practically no reason to engage in diplomacy in BE, all the whole system does at this point is serve as a platform for flinging various insults and demands at the player). A third part might be a more general polishing pass, with clearing up things like broken animations (likewise, still after all these years), multiplayer connection issues and general stability and so on.

    Had they achieved these things, even with the various other problems the game has, it wouldn't get slammed the way it is now. Even if the game is then still somewhat bland and needs some improvement (complete rebalance pass on practically every aspect of the game, from units to buildings to wonders etc), I think it would have stood to a more positive reception. But, certain aspects of these, especially reworking the AI, would be very hard and require genuine work. Instead of tackling these problems, Firaxis went ahead and did the easiest thing possible, which was to completely ignore all of these issues and instead just reskin the game, with a new 50€ tag on it. And it doesn't stop there, because not only is it merely a reskin, it is a reskin that comes off as incredibly lazy, perhaps straight up unfinished, with quests (autoplant!!!), wonders and even major game systems such as trade routes so poorly thought out they have required (and still require!) a complete overhaul. "Eat that, consumers!" it seems to say.

    It should be noted that there are some good ideas in BE, but they are, without fail, poorly executed: Aliens rather than barbarians are a great idea, but the aliens are quickly eliminated and fade from gameplay - theres little reason to struggle with the choice of how to deal with them, and even Harmony players might as well just choose to kill them off and be done with it. Affinities are another excellent evolvement, but instead of exploring these, players are simply racing through the tech tree only to then tediously wait for their affinity victory of choice to trigger, and both AI and diplomacy make so little sense there's no reason to find friends or foes based on it. Satellites literally add a whole new layer to gameplay but they aren't available until the game is starting to draw to a close.

    This new winter patch, instead of getting down-and-dirty on some of these major underlying issues, is content to [badly] rebalance the wonders, shuffle around a bit more with the increasingly bizarre trade route system and put more advertising for Starships into your paid game. And that appears to be the standard set by Firaxis for their support of of these games: They don't address the real issues (which would require a real commitment) and generally only release these unimpressive patches around the times they are marketing a new product. And then they wonder why people are upset!

    BE is not beyond redemption, and it even remains an entertaining game - less by virtue of its own and more simply because it is built on the Civilization formula, which works. If the major issues were somehow suddenly all corrected - AI improved, diplomacy made meaningful, gameplay balanced, engine stabilized and the BE-specific assets like aliens, affinities and satellites reworked to play a larger role, it could be an amazing game - all the ingredients are already there! I very much doubt Miller and McDonough are the right people for improving the game, though, with these anemic 'reflections on what went wrong'. BE requires the attention of some people willing to take the gloves off.
     
  13. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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  14. Biz_

    Biz_ Prince

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    ctrl + F: AI
    nope. beyond earth's creators are definitely not fixing anything worthwhile

    it's like nobody at firaxis understands what an adversarial strategy game is. they should just turn civ series into a sandbox/city-builder since none of the decisions matter when they forget to include an AI in the game
     
  15. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    The AI was improved in this patch, at least from various reports I've read. The AI seems a bit more coherent from what I've played of it as well.
     
  16. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    If there were any improvements to the AI, then I haven't found them yet.

    And as nothing like that is mentioned in the patch notes either, my default assumption is rather that these people saw the AI do something clever (which it has always done every now and then, by accident) and concluded that changes had been done with the patch. Especially when the patch just hasn't been out for long enough to really make an informed guess about anything that doesn't seem to be "normal".
     
  17. Jman5

    Jman5 Warlord

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    I doubt Firaxis will ever read this, but I had two major issues with this game.

    My first problem was the terrain. There is simply an overwhelming amount of terrain blockers and inhibitors. Mountains, craters, Canyons walled off the map so effectively that it makes moving units around an absolute hassle. On top of that you have to navigate through or around miasma and aliens. By making the maps so constricted, it often turned the fighting from fun into a logistical nightmare. Even worse, it really hurt the AI who struggled even more to overcome its pathing limitations. It basically encouraged players to turtle the entire game in their little corner of the map leading to long, boring wins. I don't normally like to do this, but just look at Civ 5's terrain and it's so much more open. Changing planet age only helps to a small extent.

    My second problem goes into what they were talking about when they said they weren't ambitious enough. Beyond Earth has a lot of really fun and strategically deep units/features. The problem is that they are all pushed into the fringes of the tech web. Why don't I get hover units until the end? Why can't I access that teleporting satellite until I go deep down through the tech web? You throw bland units in our face for the 90% of the game when it's still up in the air and then give us all the bells and whistles after we've practically clinched it.

    Stuff in the early game need to make you go "WOW THAT'S SO AWESOME" as much as the late game stuff.
     
  18. winddysphere

    winddysphere Warlord

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    What an interesting news to see them making new version of the game.
    Even I don't have it yet but if they really move it and success, this will be an interesting move from them. As they notice numerous mistakes and some sort of good changes like winter patch, this will be awesome.

    Anyway I don't think that it could always be new patch = new expansion. Who knows they might try something like this is free but if you want something new to play+new major patch exclusively for this expansion, you will get it in expansion. Like what Paradox is doing to EU4 now. Should be nice too. :)
     
  19. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    I agree here completely. BE does have some good elements. But most, if not all, are poorly implemented in how they actually play out in game. I think what makes matters worse is that the developers mis led the community from the start.

    They said: Aliens will play the role of barbarians, but will remain important throughout the game.

    Reality: Aliens are slightly more powerful than barbarians. But are an annoyance more than anything. And become irrelevant mid to late game. The AI is also totally inept at dealing with them. At first you ignore, then you destroy. Every single game.

    They said: The affinity system will offer a meaningful explanation, direction and choice that humanity can take once they settle on the new planet.

    Reality: You are practically forced into choosing a particular affinity system over another. And gameplay does not deviate in the slightest regardless of what choice you make. Even if you are harmony you will still kill aliens. The most significant thing you might do is spread miasma. But you would only do that very late on in the game. The victory conditions are also tedious, annoying and boring. I dreaded having to go purity because I couldn’t be ar3ed with all the busy work at the end.

    They said: The alien terrain will present new challenges for the player.

    Reality: WRONG! The alien world presents less challenge than any other previous civ game. The reason? Have poor terrain to expand into? No problem! You don’t need good terrain, because you can just terraform the land however you want it. This is a massive mistake IMO because it removes a huge amount of strategic consideration. And no amount of canyons or mountains will convince me otherwise.

    Ultimately, and as others have said, where the game really falls down is the diplomacy. It is so bland its nauseating. I cannot believe they didn’t understand the fact that most players don’t read the lore. You need to integrate the lore/story into gameplay for it to become meaningful for players. This is the very reason why Bethesda get panned almost every time for their RPGs. And that’s because very few people actually sit down and read the hundreds of books they have scribed. You actually get a lot more out of the world if you do sit down and read them. But most normal gamers want to play, they don’t want to read. If they had wanted to read they would have chosen a book, not a strategy game. Lore can work wonders for a game. But you absolutely must have a dedicated fan base ready to lap it up. Best example of this is WOW. Warcraft sells loads of lore books in bookshops. And people actually care about the history of the various races. But it simply will not work to write all of the lore and just expect people to indulge in it. You need to create the world first so that the lore makes sense.

    All in all im not holding my breath on version 2. I think without a radical overhaul the game is beyond redemption. Which is a great shame because I really looked forward to this game and just feel let down by how flat and poorly implemented it was. I would rather play the SMAC mod on civ 4 than BE. It did amuse me that about 1 week after release (maybe less) modders had already made all of the SMAC factions and released them. This to me betrays what many of us wanted and were expecting. And if Firaxis were deaf or ignorant to that then they clearly don’t understand their fan base.

    I have said it before and will say it again, I think Firaxis are losing it. They seem to be obsessed with sanitising their games, but forget that in doing so they strip them of all personality. All in some apparent quest to gain access to the console market and/or IOS market. They would do much better making games for their core fans. Many people left the franchise after civ 5 and went to play Europa universallis. I gave civ 5 another chance and it did get better after 2 expansions, but it still is no way near the level of excellence that is civ 4 (and civ 4 did have its faults). Trouble is, like many other people here, we all expected BE to be everything Civ5 BNW was, only enhanced. What we got was a dumbed down and poorly executed version of Civ 5 vanilla. Which explains most of the anger, especially when you have charged people full whack for it and broken a load of promises you made before the games release.
     
  20. liv

    liv Emperor

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    I do not disagree Sherbz many issues.

    But games cannot please everyone.
    Some people will like sandbox games like EU. But we see many complain here that they do not want sandbox games.

    Others will like SMAC but I got bored with it quick. I could beat the whole game just playing the demo (which gave you 30 turns or something) and when I got the full game I played some but then stopped and went back to CIV. Lore is not enough for me.

    Well any ways hope you are wrong in that it cannot be improved too :)
    I do think they need to use testers. The last patch really bombed and lowered my confidence in whoever is designing over there significantly.
     
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