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Civilization "Depth" - A Civ 4 vs. Civ 5 Comparison

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by stethnorun, May 14, 2011.

  1. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    I wrote up a quick and dirty analysis of what I think are the key differences between the two games and pondered "Is either of these more complex or deep than the other?"

    Granted, for many of you, this will be old news, but I welcome debate on the matter (and maybe finally some understanding of where you Civ 4 vets are coming from).
     
  2. Ravellion

    Ravellion Prince

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    Well argued, but I am afraid for the quality of this discussion. Though admittedly, most people that really hate civ5 have gone away from these subforums by now.
     
  3. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    Well I hope people realize that given the fact that I played all the Civs for many hundreds of hours a piece, I thought each one was great and lots of fun. That's not really what I'm grappling with.
     
  4. Tatran

    Tatran Deity

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    The article has as much value as civ5 has depth.

    Moderator Action: Please only post in a thread if you have something constructive to contribute.
     
  5. Ravellion

    Ravellion Prince

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    Nice avatar. Somehow I get the impression that you do not wish to even tackle the OP POV. Why is that, I wonder?

    Moderator Action: This isn't conducive to constructive discussion either. If you have a problem with a post, report it.
     
  6. markusbeutel

    markusbeutel NiGHTS

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    Interesting comparison - but I'm afraid many people will stop reading at this: "If anything, diplomacy is a draw, with neither game being definitively more “deep” than the other."

    "Finally, you can’t trade maps or technologies in Civ 5. Does that make it less complex? I suppose in some slight way, but it does serve to keep all the different civilizations from instantly catching up to each other in the middle ages, making for a more varied game experience."

    I'd argue that CIV V's system of Research Agreements work in the opposite manner - where it allows those already ahead to stay ahead. Both mechanics have their flaws.

    As far as Civics and Policies go, it's generally a matter of personal preference. I don't think one could be considered more complex than the other. One thing I did like about Civics was that they were tied to Government types that were unlocked through the Tech Tree. This added a layer of depth to the Tech Tree itself in regards to what paths you would choose to take. This also meant that you wouldn't always have the exact same Civics become available in the exact same order in every game, as is currently the case with Policies being unlocked by Era's. (Having less policy prereqs could go a long ways towards limiting this).

    But again, this is just personal preference on my part. If Social Policies had any sort of drawback instead of constant bonuses, then I'd lean towards them being more complex.

    "This is a clear example, in my mind, of complexity for complexity's sake. I'm not sure how dividing up the different meters, not just between production and growth, but also between each city, helped make the game any more “deep”."

    I think mechanics like health and local Happiness offered more in the sense of immersion rather than subjective complexity. One could argue that it takes more micro-management to constantly keep tabs on global happiness in situations where the AI hands you 5 cities after a war, or if you happen to lose a city with 3-4 luxury resources and all of a sudden you're down -20 Happiness.

    On the other hand, Health and local Happiness allowed each of your cities to feel unique from one another whereas in CIV V, each city more or less feels identical to the next, (although this has improved with patches). I think the overhaul Firaxis introduced regarding starting locations, (how Russia would start next to tundra for example), was their way of bringing back this sense of immersion from individual cities.

    "One small caveat: There is a big difference between design and execution. Many may be thinking “He didn’t even talk about AI!” This is because AI and how good it is at playing the game against you is all about execution. Civ 5′s AI in not even close to on-par with where Civ 4′s AI ended up being by the last patch. This difference does not address design complexity though. It may make the AI a more fun opponent in Civ 4, but “more fun” does not equal “complex”."

    An interesting comparison here would be to relate the design of military units and war to Civics and Social Policies. Civics provided positives and negatives, and the order in which you chose to use them varied from game to game, (based on your Tech path, for example). This is similar to how Military Units work in CIV V. Different units with different positives and negatives, and how you position them affects the overall outcome. Conversely, Social Policies almost feel like stacks of doom. There are no negatives to having more of them, more is better in fact, and having the most of them can actually lead to a win in the game.

    "Totaling the score, we have Civ 5 with deeper combat, Civ 4 with deeper happiness, and a draw across the rest of the board. That, essentially, denotes a tie (and if you had to pick between Civ 5′s war and Civ 4′s happiness, I think we all know what everyone will pick)."

    I don't think the answer to this will be all that lopsided as long as the AI and Dipomacy remain in their current exploitable state.

    Overall I'd have to say that CIV V doesn't come close in terms of complexity to CIV IV, but again that's just personal preference - and in most cases this just boils down to whether or not you prefer the building side of Civilization, or the warring side.

    All in all a good read. Nice job. :goodjob:
     
  7. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    Thanks for the compliment. I tried to stay as on-topic as possible and when I dipped into "is this more fun?" territory, I think I denoted it as such (like the fact that I think SPs are more fun than civics).

    I think you can be pretty objective about complexity even if "fun" is almost entirely subjective.

    I do like your relating of SP=SoD and Civics=Units. Never thought about it like that.

    As to each city feeling unique, I honestly think that's a drawback of all Civ games. I've always wished there was a way to make each city have its own personality (Seattle is way different than New York, even though both are American), and I sort of wish for the return of the "View your city" function from Civs 1-3, that showed a zoomed in picture of your city and its buildings. But yeah, I agree that cities don't have enough individual personality...which is why I prefer playing on a small or standard map. Less cities equals more "attachment" to each, in my experience.
     
  8. snarzberry

    snarzberry Emperor

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    I enjoyed your article and thought you made a good case but I believe you may have been guilty of framing everything in Civ 5's favour and%
     
  9. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    I'm betting that something resembling the old espionage system will make an appearance in Civ 5 sooner or later.

    As for the culture thing, I see what you are saying, but I'm not sure that Civ 5 is as simple as you say. First off, making 3 super cities is hard to do in Civ 4, but it is still mostly about just 3 cities. You can do whatever you want in your other cities as long as your core 3 are doing well. In contrast, to win culturally in Civ 5, your whole empire needs to be running like a well oiled machine. Every city is an important piece of the puzzle (and indeed, whether or not you found another city is a big decision in the first place).

    Both approaches have their pluses and minuses, but I don't believe either one comes out the clear victor in the cultural "complexity" battle.
     
  10. learner gamer

    learner gamer King

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    I won’t debate the points you’ve covered in your article because (i) your assessment of the relative merits of Civ 4 and Civ 5 on each point raised is subjective and (ii) the merits of each game in respect of the issues you raise has been hotly debated ad nauseam on these forums previously.

    What I will say however is that, IMHO, the credibility of your article is very much undermined by the fact that you’ve completely failed to address the point raised by many of the (now departed from these forums) Civ 4 vets: the difference in the number of important decisions made per turn between the two games. IMHO, the changes in game mechanics across the two games means that, on average, the number of important decisions made per a turn of Civ 4 dwarfs that made per a turn of Civ 5...and this is why some Civ 4 vets believe that Civ 4 is deeper than Civ 5. If you go back over the threads at launch, you’ll see that this issue was by far the biggest complaint among Civ 4 vets who disliked Civ 5 - take a look at how much people complained about having too little to do per turn. Despite this, your piece completely excludes this issue from the comparison.

    Now I readily accept BTW that the concept of what constitutes an “important” decision is also subjective. To me, an “important” decision is associated much more with what to tech and build next in each of my cities, as opposed to what hex I move my unit onto. However, I can readily appreciate that others may view this very differently and gain as much, if not more, utility from the second type of decision. Unfortunately however, your article makes no attempt at all to discuss what constitutes an "important" decision for the gamer, likely because you overlooked the difference between the number of important decisions made per turn across the two games. Therefore, whilst your article’s not a bad discussion of the merits of Civ 4 versus Civ 5 as each game relates to the issues you’ve considered, I’d suggest that you’ve not considered some of the key issues - and that the scope of your article needs widening.
     
  11. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    Yeah I probably could have gone on for hours but just wanted to spitball the major features.

    Meaningful decision on a turn by turn basis...hmmm. Well going from memory of a few years ago (last time I was heavy into Civ 4), I can't remember the turns being all that more momentous than Civ 5. In marathon mode, there were always periods of calm where I was hitting enter over and over and times of upheaval where turns would last 15 minutes a piece as I decided on things. That applied to both games, for me. If anything, deciding where my roads will go in Civ 5 has added a few more seconds per turn onto my playstyle.

    Admittedly, I was never a big power-gamer with Civ so maybe it was in the higher levels that each turn mattered so much. But I've never enjoyed that kind of ultra-hard strategy, which is probably why I never got big into Starcraft either :p
     
  12. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Interesting read.

    Can't say I agree with your analysis but I appreciate you taking the time to study

    the problem.
     
  13. Babri

    Babri Emperor

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    Interesting writeup. I disagree with few points though. Here is my comparison of the two games.

    Strengths of Civilization V compared to Civilization IV :-
    • 1 UPT
    • Combat System & Great Generals
    • Social Policies
    • Graphics
    • Natural Wonders
    • City States
    • Civilization diversity (UAs instead of boring leader traits)
    • UUs & UBs feel unique in their abilities unlike cIV
    • Gold is more useful
    • Start Bias

    Weaknesses :-
    • Bad diplomacy
    • AI issues
    • Immersion problems
    • Tech Tree is short & research rate is quite fast
    • No Map trading (a minor issue)
    • Happiness System is not interesting. It need improvements.
    • Balance issues.
    • No international trade routes.

    This list is incomplete right now. I'll add more things later on. :)
     
  14. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    Well again, I wasn't comparing "worthiness". I was comparing "depth".
     
  15. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Feel free to add in the less complex naval system in Civilization 5 as well as the trade route system. Those certainly aren't deeper in the newest iteration of the game.
     
  16. MkLh

    MkLh King

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    A claim that religion did not add complexity is really, really strange. Stopped reading there.
     
  17. joyous_gard

    joyous_gard Prince

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    I didn't read the article, but I liked IV better than V.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to restate that CIV and CiV or cIV and ciV are not good nicknames for the games.

    A perfectly logical reason for this is that if you wanted to refer to any of the other games in the series it doesn't make sense.

    cIv - Civ I
    cIIv - Civ II
    cIIIv - Civ III

    I guess Civ I works, but it doesn't work using caps and this alone is a good enough reason to stop using CIV and CiV as abbreviations for Civ 4 and 5. If it is brevity you are looking for, just write 4 or 5. The reference is apparent. By writing 4 you are saving yourself two keystrokes and there is more clarity.

    Thank you and my sausages are burning.
     
  18. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Best. Line. Ever.

    --------
    In all seriousness, OP, Civ IV had more depth on a turn-by-turn basis. Civ V is in need of severe refinement, particularly where victory conditions are concerned. The UN victory has essentially become a laughable economic victory where you bribe city-states, I sincerely doubt being the actual Secretary-General in real life is THAT focused on gold. Civ IV at least had an interestingly byzantine system of diplomacy that made trying to become a UN victor sometimes quite tough.

    Furthermore, Civ V's cultural victory is SO BORING. You literally press Enter over and over again. I never found myself bored when playing Civ IV cultural victories, they were often nailbiters where someone (usually Gilgamesh or Louis) was very, very close to a cultural victory themselves.

    In Civ V, the AI aren't nearly as competitive, or as subtle with their victories. When they focus on culture, they make 2 cities. When they focus on domination, they attack you over and over again, not seeming to realize "hey, this human player is actually stopping every single invasion! Maybe I should try different tactics!".
     
  19. stethnorun

    stethnorun Warlord

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    Well I certainly won't disagree that Civ 5's AI needs a generous amount of work. I also agree about the diplomatic victory...it needs a major overhaul.
     
  20. Sephi

    Sephi Deity

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    The article is based on two wrong assumptions:

    1. "Depth = Complexity". Chess is one good example that a game can be simple and still very deep. On the other hand if you add a lot of features to a game, that might make it more complex, but not necessarily more deep.

    2. The assumption that complexity of a game is somehow the total sum of the complexity of its subsystems (warfare, economy, diplomacy, etc.) is wrong and neglects what complexity is all about: interactions between subsystems.

    What makes Civ4 a much deeper game (and also more complex) is that it ties all the subsystems much better together (war weariness for example). On paper Civ5 might look deep, but in reality it quickly falls apart.
     

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