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Cool Lore - Wonders

Discussion in 'CivBE - Ideas and Suggestions' started by purplecow, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. purplecow

    purplecow Chieftain

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    Many of the reviews have commented that Civilization: Beyond Earth lacks the same engaging atmosphere as Alpha Centauri. I am convinced that a large part of this perception is the game's reliance on the Civilopedia entries for lore. However, many of these lore entries are incredibly well-written, and provide an awesome context for the game. The game is trying to do a much different thing, focusing more on broad civilization development and less on specific personalities. (just like Civ V) The hidden depth of this lore will be appreciated more after the first few balance patches are out.

    The Wonders reflect this, as they often are more abstract than in previous Civ games. I've summarized a few of the Wonder entries below to encourage curious players to read the full articles. My purpose here is simply to expose some hidden gems. There may be some inaccuracies, and there are definitely some very cool ones that I missed. I encourage you to do your own reading and call me out on both!

    Markov Eclipse: A predictive AI computer is paired with a human operator to optimize research and battle outcomes. The computer generates huge landscapes of probability pathways (i.e. Markov chains), and the human operator intuitively selects from among them and primes the next set of pathways, thus multiplying the strengths of both. It takes 4-9 years to train a human operator to competency.
    Cool story: A Markov Eclipse team helped defend a massively outnumbered base by giving incredibly specific commands to every individual soldier. Not only that, it also played inspiring music and gave emotional encouragement to soldiers in tough spots, helping them win against tremendous odds.
    Deep Memory: A virtual reality simulation of life on Old Earth, allowing users to experience events from the perspective of historical actors.
    Promethean: A project to optimize the human genome, rearranging genes and eliminating evolutionary imperfections. Humans with the purified genome have immunity to diseases that plagued humanity in the past, and are generally much more healthy and resilient than baseline humans. (The appendix now functions again!)
    Resurrection Device: The secret to immortality is unlocked, but kept under extremely close supervision. Wary of a population explosion or new Malthusian crisis, social leaders choose top scientific, artistic and political talents, and raise them to immortality in a special city isolated from the rest of society.
    Drone Sphere: A network of self-replicating, intelligent drone servants is established in the city. All human comforts are provided for - simply speak your desire aloud, and one of the omnipresent drones nearby will fulfill your need.
    Daedulus Ladder: This seems to be more of a philosophy than a simple structure. Humanity embraces a set of principles designed to encourage self-evolution, including an acceptance of obsolescence and the transfer of moral responsibility to the next iteration of the self. Quietly one of the most revolutionary wonders available.
    Cynosure: An incomprehensibly powerful AI, itself built by insanely powerful AIs, which were themselves built by Markov Eclipse teams. Humans are trained since early age to speak to the computer. Cynosure often ignores or critiques "dumb" questions posed to it, infamously answering the first question posed to it with, "The question is not even wrong." When it does answer, it often uses Zen koans to encapsulate many layers of meaning.
    Cool Story: Cynosure is powerful enough that it could probably destroy civilization instantly, but such a prospect probably bores it. Instead, it spends its time capriciously manipulating seemingly random events, and contemplating itself.
    Armasail: A new material that is almost completely indestructible. In particular, armasail can transition between a rigid or flexible state very easily, making it incredibly useful for armor.
    Bytegeist: Basically a self-aware Facebook-Tumblr-Wikipedia hybrid. Composed of many intelligent or sub-intelligent AI routines interacting in a swarm network, it is capable of predicting users' needs with a disturbing degree of precision.
    Xenodrome: A massive (think city-sized) zoo that seamlessly integrates preservation and appreciation of alien species. Tourists can walk right up to xeno mega-fauna without being in danger (or even detected) thanks to the advanced technology, huge space, and innovative design of the zoo.
    Archimedes Lever: The strongest of a class of seismic weapons (nukes are out of favor following the Great Mistake). Humans map subsurface faults and discontinuities, and figure out how to weaponize them. They eventually become capable of creating localized earthquakes on the destructive scale of nuclear weapons.
    Memetwork: Social scientists deconstruct memes and social network intelligence, and use their newfound knowledge to deliberately spread memes aimed at influencing the population, keeping Terran history fresh for colonists, etc.
    Overall Writing Style: This is a subtle one, but notice how similar the tone is to Civilization V. The entries are written in a historical perspective, talking about the Wonder you just built as though from a much distant future, with speculation about future developments in the field. For me, this continuity greatly improved the immersion.
     
  2. iRule

    iRule Warlord

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    Well, this leaves me very, very interested.

    I was afraid Civilpedia would be lackluster in BE. Is there a site with a full version of it? I've spent hours reading Civ IV and V Civilpedia. I love it.

    Edit: how are the technology entries compared to Civ V's? Are they shorter?
     
  3. Greasy Dave

    Greasy Dave Prince

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    Yeah, the lore's well written but I think the real problem most players have with them is that there's no real benefit from building them... in game they're all a little meh. If the designers had spent more time working out how the wonders could be designed to help a player or the AI leverage his empire and less writing the lore, the game would be a sight better.

    @OP, you're not from Firaxis are you? ;) You're first post and taking the time to point out something's that's flown under most of our radars...
     
  4. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    I've seen a few mentions in past threads that most of the meat of the game's fluff is buried in the Civilopedia. I've only read a few of the wonder entries, myself, after I got curious about what the "Daedalus Ladder" or the "Memetwork" that I was building was, but haven't gotten around to reading most of these. I really should, though -- I always enjoy seeing people's worldbuilding ideas.

    Still, in some ways, I'm kind of happy to see that the worldbuilding fluff is already existent, even if the mechanics aren't there yet. Future patches and DLCs will undoubtably tweak the mechanics, but I'm pretty sure nobody would care if a future patch added extra civilopedia entries or fluff.
     
  5. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    Thanks. Reading these descriptions, I wish BE had wonder movies like SMAC.
     
  6. purplecow

    purplecow Chieftain

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    @iRule: The tech entries are about the same length. 2-3 paragraphs is the average length. The early tiers basically are "the colonists had access to all of the Old Earth [physics/chemistry/etc] and set about improving it," the middle tiers are "scientists made interesting discoveries while trying to solve hard problems [terraforming, robots, genetic manipulation]", the later tiers are "our new technology is so incredibly sophisticated, we could spend a lifetime finding new uses for it [strong AI, bio-engineered warbeasts, teleportation]. If you're a fan of Vernor Vinge, technology progress is comparable to the Zones of Thought.
    Tier 1 = Slow Zone (refinements of mundane, basic science)
    Tier 2 = The Beyond (really cool applications, like AI and nanotech)
    Tier 3 = The Transcend ("any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic")
    Endgame = Choose your own Singularity

    @Greasy Dave: Nah, just a big sci-fi fan who appreciates good writing. I totally agree with some wonders being irrelevant right now, that's why I included some more obscure wonders (when was the last time Armasail was decisive to a game?) That said, balance is ephemeral and easy to fix - add an Affinity bonus or double/triple the effect of the Tier 3 wonders and 80% of the balance issue is resolved. Good writing, on the other hand, is something that will still matter years from now, as Alpha Centauri shows us.

    Many of the "worthless" wonders are actually quite useful, but only in very specific conditions. for example, Mass Driver is useless most of the time ... but if you suddenly find yourself defending the Beacon against an aggressive Slavic Federation, it becomes absolutely indispensable. (Especially a human player doing the Planet Carver slingshot strategy - Planet Carvers are crazy powerful, especially on ocean maps) Armasail is really useful for chokepoint cities that will receive a lot of bombardment. Playing a wide variety of maps, sponsors and opponents will reveal hidden synergies or uses for many other buildings.

    @bouncymischa/SupremacyKing2: For sure, movies and audio would be really nice to have. AC really shone because they integrated all the media and gameplay together. As bouncymischa says though, it's a lot easier to build cool movies out of good writing than the reverse. The game developers have quietly laid an incredible foundation of intellectual property for future exploration. Specifically, they have both an original backstory narrative, and tantalizing hints of crazy stories in the game setting. There are probably novelizations already in the works for some of it.
     
  7. Mount Suribachi

    Mount Suribachi Prince

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    OP should have written the civlopedia entries. Many of them are simply unreadable due to the long list of made-up, pseudo scientific, highly technical words that form every paragraph.

    I've read many of the entries. Or at least I've tried to, after the second sentence my eyes glaze over at the unintelligable rubbish I'm vainly trying to comprehend. And for the record, the main part of my job is writing and checking laboratory reports for a pharmaceutical company, so scientific language isn't unfamiliar to me.
     
  8. Prophet Skeram

    Prophet Skeram Chieftain

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    Thanks. I actually also love some of the entries for "normal" buildings and technologies.

    The Supremacy special buildings show a really interesting, if slightly worrying way of humanity slowly being more and more intertwined with AI and artifical bodies until they become full-on cyborgs. It's always described in a very intriguing, neutral fashion, though, like the rest of the entries (it's the opposite of "let's become evil cyborgs for the lolz").
     
  9. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    I found most of them entirely legible, but then, my background is literature, so . . .
     
  10. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    Hmm... now I really want to check those out. I was always slightly annoyed at the way the Emancipation victory seemed to suggest that Supremacy was being cast in the "evil cyborg" light, when I've read a number of posthuman stories that cast the Supremacy approach in a neutral-to-good fashion. But if the stories behind the Supremacy buildings paint it in a more neutral light, then maybe the oddness of the Emancipation victory is more a product of the "blue and orange morality" that might result from a posthuman society... XD

    Heh, lately I've been mostly focused on Civ 5, due to my modding work, rather than thinking about BE. Certainly the various gameplay and balance discussions haven't inspired much interest. But hearing about the fluff makes me want to pull it out for another spin again...
     
  11. Ari Rahikkala

    Ari Rahikkala Chieftain

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    Not even making the mechanics match the lore, but just something like Lord Tirian's proposal for actually telling the player what they just built or researched could really make the game work better as a science fiction experience. All the pieces are there for CivBE to be great, most of what it takes to put them together is a good supply of elbow grease.
     
  12. Ryoga

    Ryoga King

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    I agree with both.
    The fact that this topic is even needed tells about how the civilopedia entries and the blurbs aren't quite doing a good job at conveying the concepts behind techs and wonders.
     
  13. EddieTheLion

    EddieTheLion Chieftain

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    A lot of the lore is cool, but some of it is actually contradictory. Resurrection Device talks about immortality being given to a select few secretly because making it available to the public would allegedly be disastrous, but the Daedalus Ladder mentions openly giving people immortality. Meanwhile all the leaders are immortal from the start, meaning they must have already had anti-aging medicine to some degree at least. What gives here? My plot-hole OCD is bothering me, so i'm going to headcanon that the RD is in a 1984 type dystopia with no knowledge of the outside world or who their leader really is and that the DL description is referring to more than just anti-aging by immortality (I would have to read it again to see the description to be more exact).
     
  14. purplecow

    purplecow Chieftain

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    @Eddie: Good point. From what I remember, the difference is in the kind of society each creates. Daedalus Ladder does give immortality, but it also creates a moral imperative to self-evolve. The Resurrection Device preserves traditional human society and economy, while allowing the best and brightest to secretly live forever.

    In the DL society, you might create an upgraded clone of yourself with all of your memories and personality. This clone would become the new you (it is implied you then self-terminate :scan:). In the RD society, humanity lives on as it always has ... except the Mozarts and Einsteins get selected to join a secret immortal clique.

    @Ari Rahikkala: Excellent link. Lord Tirian's idea would be a great way to engage players and further the story.
     
  15. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    Hmmm... I'll have to go back and reread the civilopedia on each. I was always under the impression that the Daedalus Ladder incorporated body upgrades/transference -- from what I recall, it indicates that the old self is transferred into a new, upgraded body. I think it's linked to the Supremacy track, and would sound like their sort of philosophy.

    I never built the Resurrection Device... which, admittedly, sounds more oriented to the Purity approach. I'm also not sure where it lies technologically, although I know the Daedalus Ladder is in one of the outermost techs, so it could be that the DL is simply a later approach towards immortality, in a society that has embraced physical upgrading, as opposed to the RD which may be an earlier effort at immortality in a society that isn't nearly as prepared for the idea.
     
  16. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    Since I just completed the first batch of wonder descriptions (albeit super-bland) and had a look at the tech web...

    The Daedalus Ladder is a bit of a philosophy and an actual thing and sits on a Supremacy tech (the Augmentery is very Supremacy). The Resurrection device sits on the right end of the tech web and the prerequisites are more Harmony-ish. So I guess part of it is a kind of Purity/Harmony approach - both can't deal as well with overpopulation (either because of limited human-habitable space or because of planet preservation). While Supremacy includes abandoning the need for food and stuff.

    Also the Resurrection Device rejuvenates already living people, the Daedalus Ladder is more about humanity as a whole. So yeah, I don't see a big conflict, they're very different things. One is a machine that can make you young. Another is about iterative improvement of all humans.
     
  17. Carl_Bar

    Carl_Bar Chieftain

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    Yeah the Supremecy 18 text is rather curlish:

    "A of software update X prior versions of human will no longer be supported"

    EDIT: paraphrased obviously.
     
  18. Fabio1701

    Fabio1701 King

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    there should be a link in the wonder pop up going to this scree, or better yet all the text in the civlopedia with the lore should just be a scroll down in the pop up. going to the civlopedia to look up what was just built takes out of the immersion and is a shame as there is a lot of writing which is being missed.
     
  19. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    This x100; I should be able to right click to get to a Civilopedia entry on . . . well, everything.
     
  20. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    Given that none of the buildings, wonders, nor techs in Civ V have direct links to the Civilopedia, I'm not entirely surprised BE doesn't either.

    Tsk! Kids these days, with their hyperlinks and sound bites and their instant gratification! Back in my day, we navigated to the civilopedia by hand! :D
     

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