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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. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    Of course it will.

    If you have the chance, get your voice actors to read their own tech quotes instead of one generic voice actor. Make sure that your tech quotes are well written.
    That's just two lessons you can take with you - and that are not impossible to fix, even at this point.

    Or if you want a really cheap but cool suggestion:
    Add a "continue voiceover after tech window is closed" option. I am not sure why that was forgotten after SMAC (even by previous CIV games), but it is a fantastic feature that allows the player to get immersed without interrupting the flow. Because as beautiful as SMAC's quotes are, I will not stop for a minute to listen to them in their tech window.
     
  2. beetle

    beetle Deity

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    A canon affinity for each sponsor (well, maybe 6 of 8, to keep the balance) would very much help distinguish them better. Then mostly a player picks the sponsor because they like the associated affinity. I don’t think it is immersion breaking to play against type. Morgan was fun to “go green” and Miriam worked well for the player when not picking fundamentalism, while both were strongest when played to type.

    I think you are quite correct about the additional voice acting not being realistic at this point, but couldn't the lore and text from the civilopedia be incorporated pretty easily?
     
  3. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    To be honest I don't think the "soullessness" people underline has much to do with a lack of something like voices. Sure they could have made faction specific voices etc.

    But I'd bet the biggest issue is that they are not distinguishable. Civ5 had first the advantage of having leaders that are already defined AND on top of that they designed them differently (for obvious reasons). You recognize at first glance your Pacal or your Isabella. Very different, very flavorful.
    If you take BE... they all look like a random person. Kavitha is probably the only one designed with some flavor. The rest are incredibly generic persons with futurish clothes. There should have been more effort spent into making faction leaders more distinct to begin with in how they look and how they interact. In order to compensate for the player not knowing who these people are.

    And that is mostly a lack of inspiration. Or a decision to make them realistically similar that didn't resonate with people.

    The next issue is that faction bonuses are not as big as having a game changing UA + UU + UB etc. The difference from one faction to the next has impact on gameplay but you don't feel it as much as seeing unique units or unique improvements. Add imbalanced sponsor bonus on the pile and you end up with people not really interested in playing different factions.
     
  4. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    EDIT@Acken:

    I can see how people think that, but again, for me, a lot of the CiV leaders (and in earlier games) are a bit indistinguishable. They're very flat. The faction bonuses may be locked so that they appear unique (because you can't change them and there's therefore no optimal set of choices like there is in BE) but that's only a superficial relation. They have very little in terms of historical accuracy and all of them magically speak English (for the most part). Or your version of Steam's language of choice, etc.

    The issue with this is we're confusing aesthetic appeal with gameplay depth. The two are related, and both have their problems (in both games), but they're not the same thing. Ramesses provides an Ancient Egyptian aesthetic, Daoming delivers a modern Asian aesthetic. The problem in that is we're conditioned to seeing both a) modern day Asian people and b) vaguely futuristic jumpsuits. We're not conditioned to seeing a dude in full-on Pharoah getup with ankhs and heqa-scepters. Beyond Earth needs to get more right than CiV does to be perceived at the same level of competence in their aesthetic arrangements.

    The gameplay depth is another thing. Forcing specific perks, units and structures per faction improves the unique depth each faction brings to the game. But it dilutes the game of choice, and thus, strategies. It locks you into a strategy (or a more optimal path). Opening up options (as BE) does, grants you that strategy, but dilutes the cost of faction choice because that faction choice is only one part of the pre-game perks you select. These designs are two ways of developing a pre-game strategic design, and neither of them are "right" or "wrong". Both have their benefits, and both have their drawbacks.

    1. So then we're circling back to my initial post about voice acting and the associated costs.

    2. More options are always great. I support that. I wouldn't use it myself (distracts from gameplay for me), but I can see more than a few people liking it.

    I think Affinities are too core to the integral design - what you're describing with the SMAC leaders are simply flavour choices (which you can also randomise r.e. faction agendas and personalities in the pre-game options. I frequently do this just for the amusement of seeing a fanatical tech-inspired Morgan frolicking about the place). Affinities describe gameplay options in more ways than any kind of focus you're provided with in SMAC.

    This whole debate arose out of immersion, the feeling of a flat game and so forth. To define Affinity X with Leader Y as non-canon will break immersion for some players, because "immersion" isn't something that Firaxis can automatically fix for the whole playerbase at once, or even a large subset of it.

    Can they do more with the text quotes and Civilopedia? Absolutely. I support that. I was only really arguing about VA costs and the like because I have some knowledge of how they work in a corporate setting (excusing indie developers and the like).
     
  5. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    To be frank, I don't think that CIV5 did the whole uniqueness all that well either. There is a reason why America or Denmark are called "bad CIVs" - their UAs are nothing fancy, so they play rather generic. Compared to the unique feel of the Inca (Terraces + free roads), Venice (OOC), Portugal (aquire all the CS ressources!) or Spain (DING! You found Barrier Reef on turn 3 - YOU WIN!) they are quite bland as well.

    But at least you would instantly get a connection between a leader and his personality. The first time you see Attila or Shaka you *know* what you can expect from them. I still haven't figured out who is actually the worst warmonger in CIV:BE when it comes to my playstile. Whenever I get DOWed I feel like that was some sort of semi-random AI insanity decision instead of a part from their character.

    And as for the affinities:
    I think player choise should matter a lot more to create unique CIVs within the affinities. Let one player be the warmongering Harmony guy who sends hordes of wolfbeeltes, while the peaceful guy enjoys his extra food from Miasma Plantations. Maybe affinity would benefit from some extra perks on level up (pick one of three) instead of basic bonuses, maybe the overall bonuses should be much stronger. I don't know.

    But then again Affinity isn't even well intergrated into the game anyway. I am not harmony because I behave like a harmony CIV, I am harmony because I picked the techs that give me harmony points (and I did that because Harmony is the least annoying of the three affinity victory conditions).

    Yes, and my great sadness about the fact that something like that was possible 16 years ago, but is apparently impossible now.
    But hey, at least we got fancy animations for all the units. *sigh*
     
  6. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    1st paragraph: Well obviously I'm not talking about your own feelings. Just trying to explain why some people may feel that way. Cool if you're happy with it but ultimately doesn't negate the concern expressed by some players. Also most of them don't speak English not sure what you're talking about here... unless you're talking about the subtitles. And finally Civ as never been about historical accuracy.

    2nd paragraph: I dont think I'm confusing anything as I didn't speak about the game depth. Which is another problem on its own. I don't understand what you're trying to say in the rest of that pragraph.

    3rd paragraph: Well sure I get what it opens or closes. But like for 1st paragraph I'm just trying to explain why it may not work with some people. And the lack of uniques is major for some. People like them as proved by the "Do you really like uniques ?" on Civ5 forum.
     
  7. Barathor

    Barathor Emperor

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    Personally, I really hope Firaxis doesn't go down the road of adding in unique units/buildings/etc. for different sponsors.

    I just don't think it's that necessary. Unique buildings are often just an extension of something that could've easily been an ability, for example: "+ X in every city" or more accurately "+X in every city with a Y". Also, if they were to replace existing buildings, it wouldn't work as well as it does in Civ where each civilization replaces a generic building type with one unique to its own culture and history.

    Unit-wise, ultimately, BE's system is a bit like Civ's in the end, only it gets there in a different way. Having unique units would be a little more awkward since the transition that units go through as they're upgraded isn't as great as Civ's in its historical context (mainly the earlier eras). For example, with "Horseman > Knight > Cavalry > Landship", it's works well to just replace one of the transitions with a unique since they're so different and we're familiar with them from history; not so much with BE. And replacing the entire unit class with a unique (through all upgrades) would be similar to, for example, "all Horseman units gain X". Again, it may as well be an ability.

    Finally, the approach of adding in entirely new units to each sponsor, in my opinion, wouldn't be ideal either. We already have unique affinity units which get added on to the basic unit classes. Perhaps I'm just too much of a "less is more" type of guy, but I really like how BE cut the unneeded fat off of the unit classes and stuck to the basics. In my opinion, the later eras in Civ are horrible when it comes to unit types and there's just so much crap... Anti-Tank guns, Anti-Aircraft Guns, Cruise Missiles, Subs, Paratroopers, Helicopters... it really dilutes the basics of having one type of melee, ranged, siege, and mobile (mobile is almost not even needed either). This is a one-unit-per-tile game afterall. But they're in there because they're a part of history and players would freak out if they weren't since they've been a part of past Civ titles with stacked units.

    Anyway, I would rather see sponsors fleshed-out with more abilities. This isn't Civ with unique items alongside the abilities, so they shouldn't have only one or two. Plus, they don't have titles anymore, so each ability doesn't have to be tied to a theme. Finally, we have (and will have) much less sponsors than we do civilizations, so unique abilities can be elaborate (quality over quantity). Make a short list of abilities for each sponsor. Want to get fancy? Then also make an unlockable potent ability for each affinity which activates when the sponsor chooses it as their main. The latter would be nice since it's very flexible and would increase the replayability of the game and keep things interesting.
     
  8. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    @Acken:

    I don't get why other peoples' feelings are important but my feelings about CiV . . . aren't? We're discussing feelings full stop here, my apathy with engagement r.e. CiV is just as applicable as peoples' criticism of flatness and soullessness in BE. No?

    You say CiV leaders are distinguishable, I say otherwise. Apart from the noteworthy Gandhi, but even these days he's a walking trope anyhow.

    Flatness, the "soul" of a game, how people get immersed in a particular piece of entertainment . . . it's incredibly subjective. There are any number of reasons why people find the game "soulless", they're not all the same thing. People playing CiV will like features of CiV. They might not like all the features of it, but I doubt if they disliked uniques they'd spent a long amount of time playing the game. Much less sticking with an online community around that game.

    I mean, all you're saying is that "some people find BE soulless", which is fair, because people obviously do. But that doesn't get us anywhere in attempting to fix that, because as I've been explaining "soulless" means different things to different people. It's a somewhat useless descriptor to keep assigning to the game.
     
  9. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    ?? You're totally missing the point.

    My first post was just trying explain why some may feel that way. And then you're trying to inject:
    "Yes but not me"

    Don't you see why it's not relevant to my explanation ? You say it yourself. It's incredibly subjective. You have the right to disagree but why would it be a response to the reason why some people feel that way ?

    The game is soulless for some people so it's fair that the game will get that adjective from these people. What are you trying to say really ?


    Fixing it is a different subject. But why would you like to fix it ? You don't agree with the problems to begin with.
     
  10. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    Personally, I refuse to accept that voice acting is too expensive. Especially the bite sized and limited voice acting that we are talking about here. You could have recorded the whole game in about a week. And lets not forget, this was supposed to be a triple A title and was priced as such. Can you honestly see Bioware dropping voice acting because its too expensive? And how much voice acting went into the mass effect series? Warcraft had huge amounts of voice acting, so did command and conquer. Even B rated titles and indie games have voice acting. I admit it’s a bit hit and miss, but I don’t consider it too much to ask for. I think you could write everything the sponsors say on a single sheet of A4. It just smacks of laziness IMO.
     
  11. liv

    liv Emperor

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    I like agree that more flavour is needed. But I am not sure about adding abilities. Does it not make it more like CIV

    The idea in BE unlike the CIVs is that the planet in itself changes the sponsors and not the innate ability. I like this concept in theory but it needs to be enhanced. I think I would rather see the game go that way than more toward CIV
     
  12. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    You're missing my points, I'm missing your points. Why can't you accept that I'm putting forward different arguments that advance the thread despite your protestations that there are some people who Firaxis shouldn't ignore.

    You were telling Firaxis not to ignore group X. It doesn't matter, because there is a group Y that feels differently. And probably groups A - W and Z. Whatever Firaxis decide to do about it, will ultimately put at least one of those groups out. That's what I'm telling you.

    And I like to discuss fixes because they're more constructive than just complaining about something.

    I don't always agree with all of your criticisms, no. But that doesn't mean I don't agree with the notion that there are problems that could do with fixing.

    You're free to accept whatever you want. Put forward counterarguments, though, instead of just saying "I refuse to accept reality". Firaxis is only an AAA developer by dint of the success of the product they put out. AAA doesn't actually mean "they invest X amount of cash". The term "AAA" actually stands for something.

    (source - http://forum.rpg.net/archive/index.php/t-739231.html)

    Bioware creates RPGs. Warcraft had a huge single-player component and only really had an active MP that endured due to it's modding scene.

    Firaxis has Civilisation. The game series isn't known for it's huge swathes of recorded voicework.
     
  13. HorseshoeHermit

    HorseshoeHermit 20% accurate as usual, Morty

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    A user named Fins posted an opinion which is clearly dear to him, and quite alien. So it had me beyond intrigued. The idea of creating a story and flavor being futile, if I understand right.

    It is a suggestion that resonates with one idea I carry around with me, and that is of something I call mechanical fluff, or crunch fluff. Sometimes there is a hard, exclusive distinction between crunch - the elements of mathematics that make up the formalism of the game, and fluff, the annotations and descriptions that create an imagined story or interpretation for the incidence of any particular formal element. I have opposed the idea that these things are independent of each other since meeting the card game Magic the Gathering. Given a formalism, there are some fluffings that do not cohere with that game. And a piece of fluff without a formalism is _not_ a freeform rpg, it is an impossibility. Any telling of a -story- generates a universe of some kind, with either explicit or implicit rules.

    The impact for Beyond Earth is, there is a way to make the game 'feel' a certain way by mechanics alone - because "mechanics" are not alone. Trade routes, research agreements, wonders, affinities, and culture point accrual. The manner in which these take place, and the representation of their benefits, shapes directly what these things mean - it is not up to some after-the-fact graphics pass, writeup, or doll-up.


    I'm not saying Beyond Earth failed to use what it could in the artistry area. Wonder animations...? Even if they involve hypertechnology you gotta give me something more than text, geez. Leader scenes don't have scenes, just leaders. Encountering Pedro is more than just hearing him in his native tongue and decrying the shortness of time. You find him in his study, actually working.

    The weak diplo system prevented the leaders from having personalities you liked, because they can't express their personality! Personality is grand strategy, and also the flavour of one's mindgames. Well the A.I. doesn't play mindgames, because no one in game design is ever going to write an A.I. that tries, so that's out. There's nothing for the computer player to become. The branching of the tech web might have helped with this - anything nonlinear might have helped with this - but didn't.



    So you mean... having distinct clothes? Wouldn't that just make them all look like trendy socialites and hard to take seriously?
    What do you mean by distinct? Racially distinct from each other? No, I'm pretty sure you mean distinct individually. But if they were distinct they wouldn't be physically attractive and wouldn't be charismatic leaders.
     
  14. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    That's nonsense, it's not an "either, or"-situation. Group Y won't get anything taken away if Firaxis decides that group X has a point.

    That's a funny "argument" when you yourself haven't brought any evidence to support your position. The discussion went from "I want voice acting." to "Voice acting isn't cheap and not always well done."... and now suddenly it's "reality" that proper voice-acted scenes are too expensive for a game like this? What? :confused:


    That's not only wrong but also completely misses the point that was made.
     
  15. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    Dude at this point I have no idea what you're talking about. Who ignores what ? Who Firaxis should/shouldn't ignore ? What am I telling Firaxis ? I touch none of these subjects :rolleyes: Unless you think that if I make a criticism it's me saying what they should do. Well maybe but tbh I'm just voicing my opinion whether they listen to it or not is not my problem.

    You're trying to read stuff that aren't there. What Firaxis should do to satisfy X, Y and Z I don't know and don't care.

    All I said is that maybe for some people generic leaders and lack of uniques was the problem. That is ALL I said. I have no clue what you're trying to defend here. Unless you mean you have to state how it is for you just in case Firaxis reads it and don't forget you ? Ok they got it now I guess.

    I'm not ignoring your opinion over Civ5 or CivBE leaders. It's well noted but ultimately doesn't really have much to do with what I said at the very beginning. You're free to tell me I'm wrong and that the feeling of soullessness does not come from that. But that is not what you've been doing since the start of that pointless argument. You've mostly just talked about your own sentiment. Example of criticism:

    By distinct I mean going crazier into their visual aspects and voices. Backgrounds could have been important too though (but that will start Gorb on the budget argument I fear. Well I guess if you have a cheap budget your game will feel cheap ;))

    I mean you don't know these guys. You need to give a more memorable impact. Stronger texts than "Greetings how are you ?". If I open Montezuma he's shouting at me, people are shouting in the background, he has a crazy outfit and he's surrounded by flames. That is impact. You remember him. My girlfriend has no idea who this guy is but she'll imitate him for fun and laugh when opening the screen. Or when Askia speaks of peace she says "yeah sure with your background in flames".
    Many of the Civ5 leaders don't have that admittedly but they'll always have the historical side to lean on. CivBE doesn't have this luxury so I'd say it has to try harder to get the same kind of impact.

    Obviously though, it'd have probably go away from realism so this is why I said that it may have been a conscious decision to give us some realistic, low key leaders. I just don't like the idea and suppose it's a part of the sentiment people have toward the game.

    Maybe I'm completely off and people criticizing soullessness have no issue with leaders presentation though and I'll happily hear what the other reasons are.
     
  16. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    I think backgrounds would have been a good idea. The backgrounds would give the player more clues into the sponsor's background as well as their affinity. I think each sponsor should have 3 unique backgrounds, one for each affinity. For example, harmony could be an outdoor garden with a lot of alien looking plants, supremacy could be some high tech looking laboratory with robots, purity could be an old fashioned office with desks made of oak and oil paintings on the wall. And the sponsors could have unique backgrounds too that say something about their personality. So if Reynaldo is harmony, his background would still be outdoors but you would see soldiers training behind him, if Reynaldo is purity, his office would have guns hanging on a wall and a painting of a latin general, if he is supremacy, the lab would be military lasers being fired. So all three backgrounds would show his military background but would be unique to each affinity.
     
  17. Gort

    Gort Emperor

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    Citation needed.
     
  18. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    @Acken:

    Eh, I thought you said something specific. Looking up, it's no longer there. Nevermind.

    1. If there is one specific situation that various groups have separate problems with, a potential fix may not only leave one group out in the cold but it may actively make the game worse for that group.

    2. I never said voice acting wasn't well-done. I said they weren't necessarily treated well.

    Also, "isn't cheap" is the same as "too expensive" when it comes to the logistics of producing a video game, especially if you have a budget. I made various other points about the relevance of voice acting in Civ. as a series compared to other games, but you ignored them.

    3. Why is it wrong. What point does it miss?

    Why did you only quote a part of my sentence and not the full thing that features another game? Why are you picking apart my posts to remove them from their context?

    Google is your friend.
     
  19. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    Sure, and how would "additional flavor" destroy the game for anyone who says "It's okay right now."? Is your argument that group Y will dislike the game when more flavor is added?

    I did not ignore anything, I wasn't even part of that discussion. You said:

    "Put forward counterarguments, though, instead of just saying "I refuse to accept reality"."

    And it still isn't reality, it's just your assumption.

    That Warcraft had a thriving e-sports scene for a very long time.

    Because I feel it's necessary to keep track of everything that is going on. You're jumping around so many topics in such a short time that it would be a mess if I tried to write something about all of them at once.

    That's like when internet-"feminists" say the most outrageous nonsense and the when asked for proof the answer is "It's not my job to educate you! Go educate yourself!" - that's just not how it works. If you want your arguments to be taken seriously, you should provide the source/proof, otherwise they're meaningless.
     
  20. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    I just realised what is really missing due to the lack of leader backgrounds: we never, ever get to see what the planet looks like.

    In Civ5, you get the diplo screen and the wonder paintings. In Civ:BE, the only shot of how the world looks like is the victory screen and nothing else. You spend the entire game without seeing how the planet looks like up close - even the intro video ends with an orbital view.

    Whereas SMAC had lots of small "close-ups" in the various event pop-ups, Civ had wonder videos/splashes (era splashes!) and XCOM has the mission transitions (and action cam). And while Civ5 and Civ:BE have gorgeous maps, it's hard to make the connect to what it's like without a reference frame (like, of course, reality, in Civ5's case).

    It goes beyond leaders, it's a systemic problem the game has, it never gives you an idea of what the world is like.
     
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