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Disease [Idea]

GeneralZIft

Enigma
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Feb 25, 2019
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I'm ill so what better topic for discussion?

I tried to come up with a "Disease" concept, don't hate too much, because a concept like this is quite hard to do.

Concept:
Cities have a threshold of population before which they are overcrowded (could be combined with Civ6 Housing mechanic)
Infrastructure reduces the chance of disease by increasing a factor called Cleanliness. So building Sewers for example.
Additionally, you might be able to move population from city to city?
(You can do with a Caravan city project perhaps. This allows you to reduce the pressure on one particular spot)

Cleanliness can be increased by other factors, such as Religion (Ritual Washing for example)
Now cleanliness isn't an exact chance that you roll every single turn for disease.
No.

What it is, is similar to being low happiness. You start rolling chances to produce Rebels
In this case, you start rolling chances to produce Diseases.
But the game would warn you ahead of time that your city is heading towards potentially unsafe metrics.

This way nothing feels inherently too lucky based or out of nowhere.


Anyway, as per usual, the rest of the mechanics are probably to be tampered with. They would kill population (without increasing cleanliness)
And you could recruit Plague Doctors then Medics to cure your population.

The disease could carry over territory. But other empires might close borders for this reason. Diseases won't hold for too long if a city has sufficient cleanliness.

So basically:
Low clean: produces diseases (warning)
Med clean: can catch diseases from other cities and struggles with it
High clean: will automatically resolve diseases that arrive
(General guidelines)

What do you guys think?
 
I've always thought of disease as similar to the natural disaster systems in GS, which are sometimes unpredictable but can be prevented.
In addition to Sewers, I think the Aqueduct district would also be a good early game district to add cleanliness. Harbors for example might make disease easier to spread.

I've also thought of a new district that would tie in as well: a Health Facility. (Maybe you need this district for Plague Doctors/Medics to spawn in?) to act as another regional district regarding diseases.
Tier 1 Building Apothecary- Reduces chance of disease spreading in this city.
Tier 2 Building Hospital-Reduces chance of disease spreading in this city and any city 4 tiles away (Can build Medics straight from a hospital, whereas before you needed a Plague Doctor only when a Pandemic happened)
Tier 3 Building Public Clinic-Reduces chance of disease spreading in this city and any city 6 tiles away.

And obviously there could be a Pandemic Emergency in the WC if a disease starts to spread to 3 or more civs.
 
Disease/Plague is one of those concepts for the game that look good, even necessary if you look at the historical background, but are the proverbial Bear to implement.

First, because it is an utterly Negative addition to trhe game: disease makes you lose population. There's no way to massage that to make it a positive when you are losing troops, workers, potential settlers, specialists, etc. It is even worse since virtually all the 4X games (so far) have required a constant Upward Progress towards victory. Suddenly losing up to (a 'realistic') 1/4 to 1/3 of your population points? There's no way to make that a Positive Thing to the gamer unless said gamer is a complete Masochist.

Second, because for most of the game there is nothing the gamer can do about it. Cleanliness does not help when Yersina Pestis (Bubonic Plague) comes calling, which it first did (in Europe) about the time of Start of Game (4000 BCE), which makes it an in-game near-constant Threat. Before Germ Theory and the sanitation concepts of the Renaissance (Leonard da Vinci designed water cleansing systems for Italian cities, filtering potential drinking water through layers of clay, sand, charcoal to purify it, but that was not normal until the Industrial Age) the gamer is at the mercy of an in-game system that he has no realistic answer to.

And Trade becomes a Killer. Imperial Rome, for which there is more information than just about any other contemporary city, was also linked to everyone by trade routes - they have found caches of Imperial silver coins from Scandinavia to Sri Lanka. As a result, Rome averaged a plague of some intensity (30 - 100,000 dead) every 15 - 20 years throughout the 1st - 4th centuries CE. In Civ VI, that would be a Plague EVERY TURN.

Which means the only thing being shown as a separate event would be the Pandemics, like the Plagues of Cyprian, Antoninus, and Justinian - each of which is estimated to have killed off 20 - 40% of the population in the Roman Empire and its neighbors. Among other things, the cumulative total of dead Romans caused a serious manpower crisis in the Roman army and a lack of land under cultivation for lack of farmers - in a competitive Civ game, either of those could be crippling, and therefore roundly condemned by a large percentage of players.

I am not saying a disease/plague mechanic is not possible, but to paraphrase from another Thread here:

"Why is this needed in the game?"

A completely negative, semi-random set of Events for which the player has no answer until nearly the late game? Sounds like a recipe for Rage Quits and very quick Modding Out of the game.
 
Actually my suggestion was to not involve Random chance at all (until the cleanliness is too low)

This whole mechanic is just an anti-tall system.
Yes it's all negative. But so is having Rebellions in your Empire.

In a hypothetical game where Wide might not be as viable as Tall, there could be good reason to have a mechanic that punishes Taller cities for having too much population.

So it's very gameified compared to the concept you have, which is very much realistic. Most people's concept of this idea would be realistic.
 
Actually my suggestion was to not involve Random chance at all (until the cleanliness is too low)

This whole mechanic is just an anti-tall system.
Yes it's all negative. But so is having Rebellions in your Empire.

In a hypothetical game where Wide might not be as viable as Tall, there could be good reason to have a mechanic that punishes Taller cities for having too much population.

So it's very gameified compared to the concept you have, which is very much realistic. Most people's concept of this idea would be realistic.
Negative is not the problem. Negative when there is nothing the gamer can do about it is the problem: it's "Gotcha!" game design and it makes me want to find the game designer and beat him over the head with his own computer until he stops.

Instead, keeping cities from getting too big could be a function of something like Overcrowding, where Happiness/Loyalty goes down with each succeeding population point until massive production loss and population loss to Emigration becomes inevitable. The gamer's response could be to 'siphon off' population into new Settlers (which may exactly match what happened with Phoenician and later Greek cities in 900 - 600 BCE) or invest heavily in Happiness influencers like Luxuries, Entertainment, etc. - and have the game designed so that all of that is strictly temporary until much later, when Civic parks, galleries, public health and such 'amenities' become available in the Industrial and post-Industrial Eras. Until then, the only real 'solution' could be Emigration or Risk of Revolt, either of which addresses the Tall versus Wide problem by making Early Cities very difficult to get past a certain population point.

Making the whole thing dependent on 'health' also runs into the problem that there were simply very few Healthy options in early cities. On the other hand, there are documented answers to an Overcrowding problem - send people to found a new city, and/or invest in civic structures and agricultural or civic production to keep them employed and happy.

Capitals in such a concept would have an extra boost to population because the Palace is a great source of Markets, Jobs and Influence - it attracts people and keeps them occupied or Gainfully Employed. This rather parallels Civ VI, in which Capitals almost always grow faster than other cities unless there is a massive Food/Water imbalance. That could be made Explicit so that if you can have any Megacity before the Modern Era, it would be your Capital. This also parallels the historical examples, for what it's worth: Babylon, Chang'an, Rome were all huge compared to their contemporary urban neighbors, because being a capital attracted people.
 
Making the whole thing dependent on 'health' also runs into the problem that there were simply very few Healthy options in early cities. On the other hand, there are documented answers to an Overcrowding problem - send people to found a new city, and/or invest in civic structures and agricultural or civic production to keep them employed and happy.
But there could be through infrastructure such as Aqueducts, Public Baths, Apothecaries etc.
Also, things such as Ritual Washing (religious belief) making a Temple like one of the above buildings could all work.
 
But there could be through infrastructure such as Aqueducts, Public Baths, Apothecaries etc.
Also, things such as Ritual Washing (religious belief) making a Temple like one of the above buildings could all work.
There are a host of things: the first 'medical textbook' was published back in the earliest Dynasties in China, and a host of medical knowledge was codified in Egypt, Greece, and Hellenic texts.

But none of that did any good at all against the plagues like Bubonic, Smallpox, Malaria, and Cholera since without Germ Theory they had no way of telling where they originated or what to do about them. Supplying clean water from an aqueduct to a Smallpox or Plague victim just means you can bury them clean. Constant attention to hygene may help stop some diseases from spreading, but not the airborne contaminants or water-borne contaminants like Malaria, Bubonic Plague or Cholera.

We could waffle, of course, and make Aqueduct-supplied water and Public Baths and early Herbal Medicine universally useful against a generic Plague mechanic, but then, if you have lots of Trade Routes you know you have to build aqueducts and Baths everywhere, and only brand new players will suffer the consequences of plagues - and then only about once each.

We're still left with the Tall versus Wide conundrum, only now we have Aqueducts and Baths in all our tall cities . . .
 
I think a health/disease mechanic is a great idea. Seems like an obvious direction for them to go for Civ 7.
 
There's not nothing you can do about it. I explicitly laid out various things you could do...
Build infrastructure, move people out of overcrowded cities, city projects, train doctors.

Yes you'll have to imagine that the cleanliness factor works for all diseases, even if in reality it doesn't. Just a necessary simplification to make it gameable.

The game would warn you if your Cleanliness is dangerously low, it will suggest for you to build aqueducts and hospitals, something like that.
 
I agree with Boris. Such a mechanic, while historically accurate and a big problem, would be odious and noxious in any realistc way to implement that was relevant. Even Civ3's simplistic notion of disease killing citizens if you worked flood plain or jungle terrain for several turns prior to researching Sanitation was egregious, enough.
 
There's not nothing you can do about it. I explicitly laid out various things you could do...
Build infrastructure, move people out of overcrowded cities, city projects, train doctors.

Yes you'll have to imagine that the cleanliness factor works for all diseases, even if in reality it doesn't. Just a necessary simplification to make it gameable.

The game would warn you if your Cleanliness is dangerously low, it will suggest for you to build aqueducts and hospitals, something like that.
I agree. I don't understand the "too random" criticism. I think it would add a lot of depth.
 
If the goal is to represent background medical issues that act as soft cap on very large cities, and not acute plagues that cannot be prevented that just randomly kill your population, then all we're talking about is basically the Civ IV health/unhealthiness mechanisms all over again.

Which I wouldn't be opposed to. The emphasis on medical and sanitation improvement to allow for larger healthy population in Civ IV was probably the best implementation of the soft population cap to date in Civ history, and in my humble opinion much more realistic in that role than the "Housing" of Civ VI. While giving healthcare a place in the game that mattered without feeling like a Bad Luck event.
 
I agree. I don't understand the "too random" criticism. I think it would add a lot of depth.
You can't understand how the, "too random," criticism would be valid, or how such an arbitrary and aggravating mechanic would be considered highly egregious, and make any depth at too great a cost to play the game?
 
This would fit with a vastly modified game core. (city population changing, potentially a lot, from turn to turn, to make the growth of cities non-linear like it has been in history : then, diseases could be a major factor, alongside with prosperity, attractiveness, immigration policies, etc.)
 
It doesn’t need a vastly modified system to work. The Black Death scenario was a great proof-of-concept for a health/disease mechanic, and of course we also have Civ 4’s system to build off of.
 
It doesn’t need a vastly modified system to work. The Black Death scenario was a great proof-of-concept for a health/disease mechanic, and of course we also have Civ 4’s system to build off of.
The OT was referring to a much more expansive, overwrought, random, and obnoxious-sounding mechanic than managing sanitation, like in Civ3 and, I presume, by context, Civ4.
 
There's not nothing you can do about it. I explicitly laid out various things you could do...
Build infrastructure, move people out of overcrowded cities, city projects, train doctors.

Yes you'll have to imagine that the cleanliness factor works for all diseases, even if in reality it doesn't. Just a necessary simplification to make it gameable.

The game would warn you if your Cleanliness is dangerously low, it will suggest for you to build aqueducts and hospitals, something like that.
In this case, as @Evie posted, the 'disease/health' mechanic would be purely a Background system - the population your cities would increase very slowly or perhaps not at all unless you performed certainm actions: building aqueducts, baths, perhaps building specifically health buildings like Herbariums, etc.

The Pandemics that made disease such a dramatic part of history might be relegated to Rare Events that only occur with a combination of potentially-avoidable events: Don't provide good water supplies, and/or health facilities like Sewers, let population grow too great for the carrying capacity of the city - famine, obviously, could contribute greatly to Pandemic outbreak - the emphasis should be on a level of on-going 'brake' on rampant population growth rather than catastrophic population loss, which would in too many instances be Game Breaking.

The other side of this is that in the Industrial Era, with Germ Theory and Pharmaceuticals and Hospitals and Sanitation, there should be, relatively, a Population Explosion in your cities, as happened everywhere that countries started to industrialize and implement the new 'health' procedures. That would give the gamer another little set of problems for the Late Game, where IMHO they are needed.

Finally, having added, even implicitly, a Health/Disease mechanic to the game, it would be an excuse to add a few Wonders like the Cloaca Maxima (Wonderous Sewer) or Baths of Caracalla (Wonderous Public Bath) to help alleviate any problems, and perhaps add some early Great Scientists of the medical variety, like Galen, Celsus, or al-Zahrawi
 
I'm not sure where this squabbling about randomness comes in

I've said multiple times that this system does not rely on randomness at all (if so, only slightly, as explained)

I hate randomness mechanics so I went out of my way to describe a system that doesn't use it. Maybe a thread written when I'm ill isn't so coherent
 
I'm not sure where this squabbling about randomness comes in

I've said multiple times that this system does not rely on randomness at all (if so, only slightly, as explained)

I hate randomness mechanics so I went out of my way to describe a system that doesn't use it. Maybe a thread written when I'm ill isn't so coherent
My apologies.
I have personally wrestled with the idea of a disease/health/plague mechanic for Civ for a long, long time, and all the problems I ran into I projected onto your proposal. That was unfair and not entirely accurate.
Again, my apologies.

But part of the reason for that is that pre-Germ Theory, the outbreak and onset of disease was largely 'random' - at least in the perception of the people involved. Malaria was blamed on 'Bad Air', asthma on being 'Elf Shot', and basic sanitation and cleanliness was, all too often, not Next To Godliness but Next To Ignored.

Simplifying all that to making Disease entirely a product of overcrowding with specific remedies to that, though, seems to me to give the gamer an 'easy out': you builds aqueducts and sewer systems early enough (and they are available by Classical Era at the latest) and you can almost ignore the system completely. That's why I suggested that Food could also be a factor: if your Food/Population point falls, even having a small city might be Too Much City. This would restrict where you could place cities in some cases, but that is not entirely bad, either: there are good reasons why nobody looks for archeological urban ruins in the Arctic: nobody ever tried to concentrate population there

Other possible 'complications' might be:

Adjacency of city to Marsh or Floodplains: Malaria and its mosquito vector have had a major effect on human population for as long as there are records, and the marshlands were frequently almost uninhabitable because of that.

Trade Routes. The more contact with the more different groups, the more disease vectors. This is a nasty game mechanic, though: trade is so important to building a rich Civ that putting a Fat Negative on it is almost counter-intuitive.

Herd Animals. This could be an Anti-Disease factor: the more contact your population has with Cattle, Sheep, Horses and similar the Less disease is likely. That's because so many of the epidemic diseases spread to humans from those large animals, but the longer people associated with them, the more immunity they built up. Since, generally, having Cattle, Sheep and Horse Resources is considered a Good Thing, this would enhance that.
 
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My apologies.
I have personally wrestled with the idea of a disease/health/plague mechanic for Civ for a long, long time, and all the problems I ran into I projected onto your proposal. That was unfair and not entirely accurate.
Again, my apologies.

But part of the reason for that is that pre-Germ Theory, the outbreak and onset of disease was largely 'random' - at least in the perception of the people involved. Malaria was blamed on 'Bad Air', asthma on being 'Elf Shot', and basic sanitation and cleanliness was, all too often, not Next To Godliness but Next To Ignored.

Simplifying all that to making Disease entirely a product of overcrowding with specific remedies to that, though, seems to me to give the gamer an 'easy out': you builds aqueducts and sewer systems early enough (and they are available by Classical Era at the latest) and you can almost ignore the system completely. That's why I suggested that Food could also be a factor: if your Food/Population point falls, even having a small city might be Too Much City. This would restrict where you could place cities in some cases, but that is not entirely bad, either: there are good reasons why nobody looks for archeological urban ruins in the Arctic: nobody ever tried to concentrate population there

Other possible 'complications' might be:

Adjacency of city to Marsh or Floodplains: Malaria and its mosquito vector have had a major effect on human population for as long as there are records, and the marshlands were frequently almost uninhabitable because of that.

Trade Routes. The more contact with the more different groups, the more disease vectors. This is a nasty game mechanic, though: trade is so important to building a rich Civ that putting a Fat Negative on it is almost counter-intuitive.

Herd Animals. This could be an Anti-Disease factor: the more contact your population has with Cattle, Sheep, Horses and similar the Less disease is likely. That's because so many of the epidemic diseases spread to humans from those large animals, but the longer people associated with them, the more immunity they built up. Since, generally, having Cattle, Sheep and Horse Resources is considered a Good Thing, this would enhance that.
I appreciate this well-thought out response :)

I think it's not the worst idea to give the gamer an 'easy out' as you describe it - nobody actually wants to be burdened by disease, but the concept of keeping your people healthy and safe is the actual gameplay (with a disease drawback if you fail)

I like your other complications. Maybe tiles could have a cleanliness multiplier or something.
Not sure about trade. I mean, trade is represented by being able to carry Disease once it spawns (in this concept), rather than spawning the disease itself. Although I suppose you could have "dirty trade routes" and "clean trade routes".

Also doesn't it make more sense for herd animals to reduce cleanliness rather than vice versa?
 
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