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Different Approach to Science

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by dunkleosteus, May 12, 2017.

  1. dunkleosteus

    dunkleosteus Roman Pleb

    Aug 17, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    I may have discussed this before in a thread or two, but I've always been a little put-off by the way that science is treated in Civ games. Let me start by saying I really enjoy Civ- I messed around with 3 and 4, have 1400 hours in V and 250 in VI, and I like the idea behind eurekas- they are a way of conveying that there are ways to advance other than just having the most science points- being on the coast gives you a boost to sailing for example. I like this approach, but I'm not sure how great Eurekas are. They seem too "free" in a way.

    Anyway, the goal of this idea is to change how you get technologies (and probably civics, too). Science is mostly generated by campuses and campus buildings and while that makes a lot of sense for certain things, there are a lot of technologies that you just can't figure out by reading in a library. More practical technologies. There's an argument that tech points only represent the "education or innovativeness" of your society, but that's a bit weak in my opinion. I think you learn and innovate by doing.

    I think the way to accomplish this is to divide research into a number of different categories of points. There would have to be a lot of testing but I think a generally good way to handle this would be the following: Economic points, Research points, Productive points, Cultural points, Political points, Military (land) points, Military (naval) points, and Religious points.

    Instead of techs and civics having a single cost in tech points, they have a cost of multiple different types of points based on the specific civic or tech. Each type of point is generated by certain buildings or by doing certain things and represents your society's investment in each area. For example, different districts may generate points: the campus may generate 2 research points per turn. The commercial hub may generate 2 economic points per turn. The Harbor may generate 1 economic and 1 military (naval) point per turn. Buildings like the market or lighthouse may add additional points or % modifiers to the points generated by a city.

    Points don't always have to be generated per turn however, they could also come from chopping a forest (+productive points, in addition to the production they provide to the city). Building a ship or military unit may generate miltiary (land) or (naval) points. Defeating enemy units may generate military points as well.

    I want to note that these points shouldn't be confused with GPP (great people points) or other values like production or gold.

    One necessary effect that this system would have is that instead of researching over time, you would store various research points and spend them all at once to "buy" new techs. I think it's reasonable that once purchased there would be a few turns (depending on cost or some other factor) where the tech "cooked" before you actually discovered it, but the cost would already be invested and it couldn't be delayed at that point.

    Because you need different types of points in different quantities and many techs won't require certain types of points, it becomes necessary to have a way to store points for later use. It also gives us the option to potentially buy multiple technologies at the same time (if they required different types of points) as well as use research points for other purposes.

    For example, it makes sense that policy cards may have to be purchased with research points once they're unlocked by civics. Like techs, policies would have costs depending on the specific genre of policy, for example policies that give extra gold to trade routes would probably cost exclusively economic points. Having other ways to burn research points would be fun as well, especially in the end game. I've noticed that in many space-race games, once I complete the tech tree, all of my universities and campuses feel a little bit like dead weight, so it would be very interesting to have other ways to spend these points.

    Here are a few sample ideas for different early technology costs:
    Writing: mostly tech points, with a few cultural and economic points thrown in. Writing is much farther on the academic side of the technology tree, but also facilitates record keeping and inventorying as well as the cultural significance for storytelling.
    Masonry: a few tech points (all techs require at least some tech points to be invested) but predominantly productive points, as masonry is a much more hands-on sort of technology.
    Sailing: a moderate amount of tech points as well as economic and military (naval) points.
    Astrology: a moderate amount of tech points as well as cultural and religious points.
    Pottery: a mix of research and productive points, with a small amount of cultural points as well.
    Mining: similar to pottery.

    Example civic costs:
    Code of laws: A small amount of cultural points (all civics cost at least some cultural points) as well as political points and economic points.
    Foreign Trade: Mainly economic points with some cultural points as well.
    Craftsmanship: Probably a split between cultural and productive points.
    Military Tradition: Cultural, Military (any), and a small number of political points.

    I talked above about various ways to generate points, but here it is more fleshed out:
    The palace provides +1 to these points: religious, cultural, tech, economic, military (land), productive, and political.
    Coastal cities receive an additional Military (naval) point per turn.
    Every two cities you found provide an additional +1 economic points per turn.
    Every time you complete production on a building or builder, you get a small sum of productive points.
    Completing units gives military (land) or (naval) points.
    Receive +1 political points for each delegation you've sent (lost if you are denounced or at war) and +2 for each foreign embassy. Receive a flat sum of political points when you declare a friendship or ally, or denounce someone. Friends and allies provide extra political points per turn each.
    Receive +2 political points for each city state you are the suzerain of (with more in later eras?)
    Receive a flat sum of political points when you make (favourable) peace.
    Receive a flat sum of military points when you declare war, and additional military points while at war (though you don't get any extra points for more than one enemy). Receive flat military points when you conquer a city (land) or (naval) depending on the unit that captures the city. Receive flat military points when you successfully coastal raid (naval), kill a unit with a ship (naval), kill a unit with a land unit (land) or pillage a tile (land). Pillaging land tiles gives a much smaller number of points. Receive military points when you clear barbarian outposts.
    Receive +1 economic points for each active trade route.
    Receive a large sum of productive points (not production) when you are beaten to a wonder based on the % of completion you were at.

    Clarification: The reason there is a distinction between land and naval military points is that this represents the focus of your people. Military points represent how much time and money your people invest in raising armies, fighting and waging war, and as such reflect how quickly you innovate and invent new military abilities and tactics. If you don't go to war or build an army, you're probably not going to be discovering techs like "military tactics". Similarly, if you spend all your time on land, you're not going to be very good at building boats. But there is a compromise: anyone that is that interested in making their enemies dead will still have an advantage at anything to do with the military. You may spend either type of point for a tech at double the cost for the wrong point. For example, if sailing were to cost 25 naval military points (and some other points of various types), you could instead spend 50 land military points. If you had 15 naval points, you could spend that 15 and additional 20 land points to research it. You can't spend other types of research points in this way however. When purchasing a tech, the preferred type of research point is always spent first.

    Other ways to spend points:
    As I mentioned above, I like the idea of "buying" policies after you unlock them with civics. This is only balanced if most civics have benefits that are received without using a policy (the way that feudalism gives +1 food to farms for every 2 adjacent farms). This prevents "dead" civics that don't have any benefits when you first buy them.
    It would be interesting if world wonders required certain types of points to be unlocked- simply having masonry no longer unlocks the pyramids, you'd have to spend religious, cultural and productive points to unlock the right to build it. Other wonders would require different types and ratios of points, for example the great library would have a significant tech point cost. Completing a wonder may refund some of that investment, but of course only the civ that builds the wonder is able to reap that reward. The other civs lose the points they spend unlocking it, making it more risky.
    Envoys can be purchased with political points (although there has to be some limit to the number you can have) and of course if you spend all your points buying envoys, you delay your ability to get any civics that require political points as well.
    Possibly new government types require political points to unlock? Likely also other points depending on the type of government. Switching governments might cost political points as well/instead.
    Trader units are purchased with economic points instead of production or gold.

    This is not a "clean" idea though- there are some side effects that I'm not entirely sure how to sort out. For example, the religious and cultural research points conflict with culture and faith points. Seeing that cultural points largely supercede the old "culture" for unlocking civics, it would seem like we can get rid of culture all together. The downside is that culture also governs border growth and cultural points will be earned on a much smaller scale because the cost of each tech is broken down across different types of points. Each cultural point you earn is worth a lot more than a culture point currently, so having even +4 or 5 culture would be quite a lot in each city.

    Faith is also hard to deal with. Religious points are supposed to be a representation of the religiousness of your cities- how important it is to them. If your aren't religious, you probably aren't working out theology any time soon. On the other hand, faith can be generated in the hundreds per turn, which would totally break this system if we used religious points instead. As I said, you should be earning these points on a small scale. If the costs for religious units and the way that religious points / faith is generated is altered enough, this might be fixable, but I don't know.

    It would be interesting if these points replaced GPP as well, making GPP an interesting way to dump a lot of points all at once. You'd have to decide if great people were important enough though, because purchasing them would slow down your ability to purchase other techs (and you may have issues where a great scientist doesn't even pay for himself), so that's something you'd have to look into or change about great people.

    Let me know what you think, positive or negative. I'm interested to know who else is on board with this.
    DudewiththeFood likes this.
  2. DudewiththeFood

    DudewiththeFood King

    Mar 16, 2013
    Round the Corner
    It's a decent idea but I think it might be liable to snowballing:
    You happen to meet a couple of barbarians early a defeat them -> you get ahead on military points -> unlock new units earlier -> win more fights/produce more units -> stay ahead all game.

    It's not hugely different the current game where getting ahead gives you an edge but at least a civ that solely focuses on military units falls behind very early as opposed to accelerating down one branch of the tech tree.

    I did have an idea to expand the current Eureka feature into a full game mechanic that based on some of the same issues you have.

    Increase the number of Eurekas per technology.
    Vary the percent each Eureka gives.
    Increase tech cost to lessen the effect of manual research.
    Allow some Eurekas to be repeatable.
    Allow tech diffusion over trade routes, neighbours and open borders.

    Example Eurekas:
    Sailing - Settling on a coast 70%, Settling a lake 50%, Settling a river 30%, Discovering 3 ocean tiles 5% (repeatable), Settling a second city on a coast 30%, Discover a naval unit 40%
    Stirrups - Improving Horses 10%, Building a horsemen 10% (repeatable), Killing a unit with a horseman 5% (repeatable), Losing any mounted unit in combat 25% (repeatable), Discovering a knight 50%, building a stable 30%
    Nuclear Fission - Connect to Uranium 10%, Own 3 research labs 10%, Connect to 3 Uranium 30%, Use a Great Scientist 40%, Own 5 universities 5%

    Practical techs like Sailing or Stirrups, can be discovered entirely through favourable circumstances but take a long time to research otherwise while academic techs are relatively quicker to research but are difficult to unlock without actively trying. This also means that having science buildings will become more important as the game progresses and while you can get by on religion/culture/military early game, from the renaissance onwards you'll be playing catch-up. However, the tech diffusion is a realistic way of representing the spread of ideas and will keep you afloat/vaguely competitive.
  3. dunkleosteus

    dunkleosteus Roman Pleb

    Aug 17, 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    I see what you mean with potential snowballing, but I don't think it will be that bad. A balanced system wouldn't allow for very much snowballing, and there would have to be certain restrictions on how quickly you can accumulate research points of each type or some other scaling factor that prevents this. There are different ways you could accomplish this. My usual approach is goal based: start with what you want and try to find something that can achieve all of that. For example, you talked about early conquest allowing players to snowball into better and better military techs.

    First, unless a tech only requires military research points (which is impossible since all techs require at least a small amount of tech research points), they will be lacking in the other points they need to progress. Techs like bronze working and iron working will have a significant productive component, as metal working isnt just about making arms and armour, it's learning and perfecting the skills needed to make strong and durable metal from ores. There's a whole component of chemistry that you can't just learn by beating up your enemies.

    In my mind, earning those early military points won't necessarily allow you to snowball because you'll have to spend them- each policy still needs to be purchased after you unlock it, and those military policies are going to require a lot of military points. Autocracy too will require military and political points to unlock. I don't think it will be a huge problem.

    As for Eurekas, I'm not a huge fan of them. I blame them for how fast the game is. Depending on game speed and other settings, you can have moon landings in 1200 AD. The goal of getting those eurekas is fun, but I'd prefer a different approach, like % faster research time rather than free research. The word "eureka" does convey a sudden breakthrough that "leaps forward", but that's not how eurekas work. You can get a eureka for any tech no matter how distant. A sudden breakthrough would require that someone was working towards that goal already. The way the devs describe though is as an impetus. A drive to achieve the goal. To me, that means faster research, not free research. Tell me how mining niter gives me a eureka to rifling before I discover gunpowder if a eureka is a breakthrough and not an impetus.

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