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Civilization has it all wrong?

Discussion in 'Civ3 - General Discussions' started by Gary Childress, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Gary Childress

    Gary Childress Student for and of life

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    I know it's just a game and a very entertaining one at that but, when you think about it, is the whole concept of starting out on an almost barren planet with just a single city and a worker (figuratively speaking) anywhere near an accurate representation of how human civilization developed? It seems to me that around the time the game Civilization begins, 4000 BC, the Earth was fairly spotted with tens of thousands of clans or groups of people. They didn't start out in cities and then spread around the countryside. Rather they started in the countryside and eventually migrated or clustered or perhaps coagulated into city-states. The city-states eventually banded together to form countries or civilizations or regions or whatnot. But it wasn't like anyone started with Babylon and then set out to discover or found new cities. Was it? I mean, the whole settler thing was more or less a development of European civilization when they "discovered" north and south America. They sent settlers to inhabit the new territory, which of course was already populated by relatively loose bands of natives. But that didn't happen in 4000 BC. That all happened from 1492 onward.

    I would think a more accurate representation of the development of human civilization would be like slowly coalescing into a city then forming an army and conquering a bunch of already existing settlements around you and incoporating them into your empire or something along those lines. The whole settler thing just seems all wrong, doesn't it?
     
  2. wuhjah

    wuhjah Prince

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    Perhaps it's just point of view and naming semantics.
    Mentally rename "settler" to "sufficient building materials."
    Mentally rename "worker" to "represents 10 families of workers - improving nearby land."
    And remember cities are really towns to begin. Mentally rename "town" to something like "village or clan," and things get a little closer to how you describe.
     
  3. vmxa

    vmxa Deity

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    It is not a world history simulation, it is a game. Very little about it is accurate.
     
  4. Everkane

    Everkane Valar Morghulis

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    There are tribes of barbarians in the game which represents the "other people around the world". Remember the "barbarians" were not a bunch of men with stones in their hands yelling, they had villages and some sort of organization, just not enough to be called a civilization.

    When you start the game the advisor says now your people are ready to become a civilization, in other words, you are not part of the barbarians anymore. You already have a settler which is caravans of people and workers (the game doesn't make it clear how many people belongs an unit but I always thought it was a lot. Like a swordmen unit would be about 100 swordmen or something like this).

    The advisor also says your tribe have learnt the secrets of some techs and the irrigation and mining also.

    Of course it's not a history enciclyopedia but it's pretty much accurated if you pay enough attention (although I will never understand the Great Library becoming obsolete with the discover of Education!).
     
  5. Theov

    Theov Deity

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    one pop is 10.000 people, no?

    Maybe the GL becomes obsolete, because with education, the knowledge is spread among many people and on many books - so a centralized library for all knowledge wasn't necessary anymore. This is, however, more an argument to make the GL obsolete with the printing press.
     
  6. Gary Childress

    Gary Childress Student for and of life

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    Sometimes I go in and change the GL from becoming obsolete with education to becoming obsolete with espionage. Otherwise it doesn't seem like much of a lifespan for the GL.
     
  7. Verrucosus

    Verrucosus Warlord

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    The settler thing (like much else in Civilization) only works as an abstraction for me. It represents the idea that a nomad tribe becomes civilised the moment it settles down in a fixed place. In my mind, that first "city" is very much countryside from a modern perspective.
     
  8. Lord Silverkey

    Lord Silverkey Chieftain

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    I've always thought that having a "nomad" start option for Civ games would be fun. Players are forced to take, say, 25 turns before being able to found their first city. Then people would explore and try to find the best place to settle down in the first 15 or so turns then run back to it to build their first city. Might also improve the flavour and immersion of the game.
     
  9. Everkane

    Everkane Valar Morghulis

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    It sounds legit, a stack of 30 swordmen represents 300k people. Fair enough.

    About the GL, the Education actually should improve it's effects since from now on the knowledge are spread among the people. Imagine the effect of the Great Library of Alexandria (the old one) if the whole population could have not only access but were able to improve it with more material.

    The GL should, in the worst case scenario, becomes obsolete with the Internet. Of course in the game it would be impossible to happen since the GL would become a way too overpower, then maybe with Printing Press turning into a pre-req tech it could turn off the GL. But a library becoming obsolete with Education seems pretty absurd to me.

    About the idea of having about 25 turns to choose where to settle down, in-game it would be kinda hard to make it playable since you could easily put your capital 2 squares of an enemy capital and spawn units till you take him down. Maybe worst, in high level games they could do that to you with their bonus units...
     
  10. robbus

    robbus Warlord

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    I think it is pretty accurate.

    You are nomadic hunter gatherers who discover agriculture. This gives you time to develop culture and science. As you become wealthier you seek more wealth fame, glory and conquest.

    You must balance citizen needs with military needs.

    Have you read "germs, guns and steel" by jared diamond. Sort of a loose narrative of civ3 (and possibly just as fictional). Good food for thought though.
     
  11. Buttercup

    Buttercup King

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    The biggest unreality in Civ III is that pretty much all civilisations which have expansive foreign policies collapse internally at some point.

    Civ II had the concept of nation-splitting from civil war, which was a nice touch.

    Civ III just tries to limit expansion with the highly ineffectual corruption mechanic. Ineffectual because people still expand and the game's victory conditions often demand that one does, and ineffectual because the corruption is never translated into separation except in extreme cases of culture-flipping (another awkwardly ineffectual mechanic).

    In terms of the early settlement period, I think the 'unreality' actually lays in the speed with which the player is required to 'breeze over' this period. It's this flash-escalation which generates the feeling of unreality you talk of. In the period 4000BC to 1000BC for example Egypt's influence was still pretty restricted to a corner of Africa and the Western edge of the Middle East. When the Greeks gained dominance for the next 1000 years, it wasn't as a unified 'empire' but just as a collection of 'like-minded' city states. Even the Romans, who were the first to really try 'empire-building' and make it work, didn't really 'immediately culturally dominate' all the areas they conquered, it was very often a case of very gradual assimilation following a military field victory.

    Even today we see countries being invaded quite regularly, but their cities don't tend to 'change hands' and suddenly start producing completely different people, but rather the invasions simply install a more 'friendly' regime (which could still turn on a whim at any point), this is also a historic constant.

    the game also forces you to cancel technological research to engage in total-war, which is the opposite of how science funding is traditionally (pre-enlightenment) applied. It's normally the wars which speed up military tech advancement, not peace. The game is very topsy-turvy in this respect.

    But I think the main 'problem' with the series is that it is all just too fast in the early years and too slow in the later years. The gradient of turns from 50 years at the start to 1 at the end is both misleading and unfair to those who favour the exploration years over the warfare years.

    I mean, is the gap between Tanks and Modern Armour really wide enough to be classed even as a different 'era'. Surely everything from the Industrial era could be merged with the Modern era while, at the ancient end, why are we staring with Iron Working being the first step before 'uber-modern' Aqueduct systems, surely there's tuns of innovations that occurred inbetween the first notions of Iron working and the first notions of mathematics and the first construction of an amazing and awesome Aqueduct.

    What the game has always needed has been a removal of the dumb year-turn hikes and an extra early era and one less late era.
     
  12. robbus

    robbus Warlord

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    Dear Bcup:

    I think you have made some valid observations.

    I still believe c3 is the best strategy game "of it's kind" out there.

    "of it's kind" is of course a huge weasel word (or statement if you want to be pedantic!)

    I like a lot of what c3 has to offer:

    Different civs find success in different ways... the civ needs to balance resources, techs and culture veersus military adventures. I think it is a great teaching tool.

    My self I would like to see a more "modern" game that includes the risk of asymmetrical warfare from conquered cities, even if they are pillaged.

    I have not played c4 or c5 but the introduction leads me to believe that Sid meier may be on track for civ6?

    civ4 introduces religion; civ5 introduces city states.

    In conclusion:

    No computer game can match reality but civ3 is a pretty good starting point, at least as a tool for education.

    ps: I am widely regarded as a "history buff" by my friends and acquaintances. So I feel I have some respectability in making this opinion.

    But please comment if you disagree.
     
  13. agonistes

    agonistes wants his subs under ice!

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    Seems to me that most of the issues Bcup raises could be dealt with using the editor.
    :D
     
  14. Lamabreeder

    Lamabreeder Chieftain

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    Hi Gary,

    I concur with your thought. The way it is in the civ games is primarily a game mechanic decision. However:

    Well, in case of Babylon certainly not. They were just one of many cities that were founded just as you described above. Babylon is not even close to being the oldest city there, that honor probably goes to Uruk and Nippur, according to Marc Van De Mierop, "A History of the Ancient Near East", Blackwell Publishing, Second Edition, 2007. Babylon just happens to be the capital city of Hammurabi, who was one of the most successfull warlords of that region and time and unified a large area through conquest and betrayal of his former allies.

    But in case of, for example, the Greeks the answer is "Yes, yes it was." The Greeks founded cities all over the Mediterranean, just like Civ represents it. Since the Greeks are at the root of the European flavor of civilization and Civ is an eurocentric game (meant as a neutral observation), the settler mechanic has historical significance. Some millenia before 1492 AD.

    There are other inaccuracies that I personally find much more off, just two points off the top of my head:

    1. Civ is extremely dependent on land. The more land you have, the more population you can sustain, the more shields and trade you get, and the more powerful you get. While this is a very good and very satisfying game mechanic, it is also highly unrealistic. In reality, for the majority of countries, the majority of economy, industry, wealth, population and any other aspects that contribute to their power are concentrated on a small percentage of their territory. If you wanted to simulate this in a civ game, you had to make most cities of a civ comparably poor in most aspects, and a very few cities big super cities. Especially in Civ3 however, you can and probably will distribute your power fairly even throughout your empire, with little exceptions like stronger super science cities or weaker edge cities in unhospitable terrain.

    Look at the sizes of the countries who participated in WW1 or WW2. In Wikipeadia there are very nice color-coded maps. Basically, the whole world is colored in one color, the color of the allies or Entente, and tiny flecks of land are colored differently, axis or middle powers. Now, you could say "No wonder they lost the war, as small as they were", but that misses the point completely. In fact especially Germany was very powerful in relation for their small territory (in comparison to the USSR, the French and British World empires, or the US). That worked, because in reality, other than in Civ, territory is not a prime requisite for power. High industrialization, high technology level, excellent infrastructure, a tedious workforce and national hybris are.

    2. Cities are all self-sustaining on food. This is again a very good and satisfying game mechanic, but, again, highly unrealistic. Even in the antiquity food was shipped long distances. Athens gained their grain from the Black Sea coast, Rome from their colony "Africa" (today Tunesia), later from Egypt. Today, food is traded on the world market and large shipments of food will be shipped around half the globe.

    What vxma said is absolutely correct. That is also the reason I would not introduce Civ in school, except perhaps for certain scenarios or under the premise to look at what Civ does and to contrast it with reality.

    I also heartily agree with Buttercup in all points, especially the lack of internal struggle. Rhye's and Fall (for Civ4) has a nice idea about stability, which is, however, a bit too random for my taste, but is going into the right direction.

    One last point, about population: The FIRST population point of a city represents 10,000. They then increase. And no, a Swordman unit does certainly not represent 10,000 people for a grand total of 300,000 men for 30 Swordmen in an ancient army. Firstly, the game does not suggest any of this: A city does not shrink in size if you build a Swordman unit, so they certainly do not recruit a full population point. Secondly, these gigantic numbers have no base in reality. Ancient armies seldom had more than some tens of thousand soldiers. Which is still a gigantic mass of people regarding the much smaller world population and lower technology regarding logistics (like food you have to grow and carry around!). And don't take numbers from historical texts too literally: Historians will tell you that exaggerating the size of armies was a kind of art for historical historians.

    Lamabreeder
     
  15. Everkane

    Everkane Valar Morghulis

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    For me, the estimated 10k of swordmen which a swordmen unit represent is good enough.
    Taking a game I'm playing in nowadays for example, I'm in 2300 BC and I have exactly 2.022.000 in population. And I didn't even grown up fast (but that's not the point, so...)
    Now, take this notes about the Ancient Egypt:
    The population count of Egypt under the first dynasties was possibly between 1 and 2 million inhabitants, rising slowly until the end of the Old Kingdom .
    Assuming the Old Kingdom was about 2649 BC and 2150 BC, I presume it's pretty much accurated till there.
    Now, a normal player won't have a stack of 30 swordmen. He probably has about 10 warriors in MP or exploring.

    A stack of 30 swordmen among other battle units will be build a way after this and, like I said, it's not even on a normal game (in Monarch for example you don't even need 20 swordmen and some catapults to destroy your neighbours). Again it's pretty much accurated 200k of men-at-swords destroying two or three civilizations which used to live by your side on the map.

    Of course if you take high-level games things are faster, like Isaac Newton borns in 10 AD or a stack of 300 Cavalry, but high level games are not supposed to be realistic since the game is not at his normal speed anymore, there's nothing to do about it.

    You are not gonna have a perfect history simulation because every single civilization started in its own way and in its own era and in Civilization we have Americans and Sumerians living together, for example.

    Civilization offers a accurated design of the paths of civilizations for you to chose which one you will take it. You can pick up the Incas and following a tech three they would never will, then make some Medieval Infantry and go to battle with Trebuchets!

    I believe Civilization is a tool for you to re-write history under your own terms using a well-developed mechanic.

    About the point of a city doesn't shrink in size when a military unit is created, what did you expect? The cities would never grown if something like this happens. Soldiers will be soldiers, they do not count as "normal-population".

    They do, however, when it's a draft, when a city decreases it's population in 1 and a military unit is created (the military reservists).

    So, yeah, of course the Mayans didn't start in an island and build the Sistine Chapel, right before they sign up a military alliance with the Ottomans against the Scandinavia.

    But it can happen in the game. That's the fun. Deal with it.
     

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