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Game is too superficial, too boring, too onesided, too imbalanced

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Qbix, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    What people expected was CIV:BE to implement the lessons learned from G&K and BNW.

    Let's be frank: To be better than CIV5 vanilla is a low-hanging fruit. CIV5 vanilla was terrible on release - and CIV:BE sufferes/suffered from many of the same problems (broken happiness/health system, underpowered wonders, ICC strategies). G&K and BNW turned CIV5 into a good game. I don't think one should compare CIV:BE to CIV5 vanilla. Does anyone really want to go back to CIV5 vanilla nowadays? Or even G&K? I doubt it.

    Beside that we were told that this game is "a spiritual successor" to SMAC. Is it? No. At least not a good one. It is more of a SciFi reskin of CIV5, because there is little of the actual SMAC spirit within.

    I agree that the game has actual a bit more than meets the eye first, but there are still some really design iffy problems that have to be solved. Nerfing TR was a good first step to make the game more interesting. Now they need to tackle the problem of the tech web with it it's affinity techs tied into the victory conditions. If they can manage to fix that, CIV:BE might actually become a decent CIV5 spinoff.
     
  2. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    That's the most frustrating thing about this game. I can understand new mistakes like tech pacing and balance, but to repeat old mistakes that had already been fixed is inexcusable.
    It is almost impressive how they managed to make diplomacy even worse than vanilla Civ V.
     
  3. masda_gib

    masda_gib Warlord

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    One thing with the win conditions bothers me a bit. 3 are tied to the affinities.

    In both, CivV:BNW and CivBE, you had 3 "ideologies" Autocracy/Freedom/Order and Harmony/Purity/Supremacy. But In CivV, I could try all Wins with all ideologies giving many combinations and possibilities in the game.
    In CivBE, whenever I play directed in one affinity, I lock out 2 win conditions.

    Just trying to culture-win as a autocratic warmonger for fun was one thing for what I love BNW. I hope, more combinations and possibilities will come in BE in the future.
     
  4. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    What lessons learned? If you're on about actual content put into the game, content requires man-hour. Content requires budget. Games do not have an infinite budget for development.

    BE's Health system wasn't broken. It was imbalanced in that negative Health wasn't punished that much. This was fixed within months of release. The Wonders were also looked at, and some are actually pretty damn nice now. Not everyone plays hyper-competitive Duel games. You have to bear in mind that blanket buffs just to suit people who build one or two Wonders per game isn't optimal for overall game design. Not when people are very, very bad at even attempting to try units or upgrades they deem inferior.

    You inferred that the game was a spiritual successor. Firaxis developers tried their damned hardest to never, ever mention SMAC. Why? Because lawyers. That said, SMAC developers worked on BE. You insult them by deriding BE while praising SMAC. They worked on both games. Let go of your nostalgia. SMAC is a horrendously imbalanced, over-complicated game. The AI is as dumb as bricks. The faction leaders are so one-dimensional I always tick the "scramble personalities / agendas" game option just to make them interesting.

    I love SMAC. I still play it. But I don't pretend it's some perfect game that BE failed to reach. BE is an entirely different game. It is built off of CiV, of course it's going to play like CiV.

    You don't like BE. That's absolutely fine. But don't pretend it's a garbage game just because you dislike it.
     
  5. Gort

    Gort Emperor

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    Eh, just because you made one good game a long time ago doesn't mean everything you ever touch is going to be good.

    BE on release was a deeply flawed game. The patch has gone some way to making up for that, but it took far too long to come out, and I'm still not sure if they haven't got some of their variables reversed.
     
  6. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    I'm more on about the free pass SMAC seems to get despite it's glaring, huge, massive weaknesses in various areas.

    I do not want a SMAC 2. I do not want them to take bad design cues from SMAC. They've taken some of the better ones from SMAC, I recognise that. But to pretend they haven't, I don't even know.

    Every game is "flawed" on release. Every game is written off by people who think they know better all of the time. It's why I take such criticism with a huge pinch of salt.

    The issues with BE, barring the 144Hz monitor issue (which is definitely bizarre, but probably only affects like 1 - 5% of the userbase. Take a look at the Steam Hardware Survey for the vast majority of Steam users that play games on potato systems) and a couple of stability issues were all balance-related, and very subjective in terms of how to fix (case in point: trade routes).

    1. Health system not punishing / beneficial enough. Remedied, and effectively so. Also possible through modding (and mods did happen on that topic).

    2. Affinity unit strength. Remedied, perhaps too much but only time and data will tell there. Also possible through modding.

    3. Trade Routes were bananas. Now they're useful in certain situations and can still scale effectively with some Virtues.

    4. Wonders were quite weak across the board, especially considering Geothermal costs. Now they're considerably less so (8 Health on Xenonova is potent if you have enough growth), and I believe more than a few are just undervalued.​

    The game was released on October 23rd. The "Fall" patch hit on December 8th. That is less than a month and a half. Six to seven weeks is an incredible turnaround time, especially for something that contained sweeping balance changes, code cleanup (I'm a modder, I verified this), new code for modders to use, UI tweaks and various technical fixes.

    The hotfix for nVidia cards took one day over a month from that point (January 9th). Considering Christmas, that's also a fast turnaround.
     
  7. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    No, I am not talking about content. I assumed that you played CIV5 vanilla on release, so I only briefly mentioned some examples in the next paragraph. But you can add a lot more to that: A really great example is CIV5 vanilla CIVs vs. G&K/BNW civs. Venice is the prime example of a CIV that has a vastly different playstile than anyone else - I doubt that such a design would have been possible on release. BNW was a (quite successful) attempt to fix the design problems of the original game (boring diplomacy/diplo victory, lacking culture system during the later stages of the game, too fast late game tech pace).

    If I can ignore the health system and it does little to nothing to prevent ICC it is broken. And with the BE release version you could ignore it. Just like you could (mostly) do in CIV5 vanilla on release. Is it better now? Yes. Do I think it works properly at this point? No. Because I still sit at -20 health way too often without caring.

    As for wonders, they changed one wonder with the Fall Patch and fixed the tooltip on the Quantum computer, that's it. Are there good wonders in the game? Yes. But you can count them with one hand: Ectogenesis Pod, Promethean and Deep Memory. Everything past that (like Quantum Computer, Holon Chamber, Xenodrome or Xenomaellum) is already situational because of the opportunity cost (hammers and science) you have to invest to get them.

    THAT is the real problem of the wonders in CIV:BE. In CIV5 you had to research most techs at some point, so this was much less of an issue. But in CIV:BE you have a situation where many wonders are sitting on dead-end leaf techs that in some cases don't offer anything useful but the wonder. The prime example for this is the Mass Driver and the attached Ballistic LEV tech.

    I am pretty sure one of the devs stated the "spiritual successor" themselve in one of the preview videos. But either way, this game does not exist in a vacuum. It has to compete with CIV5, it has to compete with Endless Legend, it has to compete with Pandora, it has to compete with SMAC.

    And that is the true tragedy of CIV:BE. If this game would have been released without BNW or SMAC ever existing, it would have been great. If it had been done by a developer like Iceberg Studios (Endless Legend) I would have though: "That is pretty good for a second class/indie-ish developer". If it had been released as a 25€ DLC for CIV5 I would have said: "That is a pretty nice total conversion/spinoff for CIV5". But that's not what happened. CIV:BE is a 50€ title that competes with CIV5 Complete Edition for 40€, it competes with Endless Legend for 30€, with Pandora for 28€ and with SMAC for 5€.

    Regarding SMAC: This game is (almost) 16 years old. Did the gameplay age well? No, certainly not. Is it imbalanced? Yes. Is it complicated? Yes. Does it look horrible? Oh dear god yes. Is the AI bad? I think that's actually a bit more complicated than a simple "yes", so lets go with "yeah, sorta". But here is the catch: 16 years ago that was acceptable. Would it be acceptable today? Not really, no. At least not for more than 5€.

    There is, however, one aspect of SMAC that aged really well - and that is the design beyond the gameplay. Even by today's standards SMAC is an incredible experience. In a way SMAC is the "SpecOps: The Line" of 4X games. The actual gameplay is trivial, but the dystopian outlook at a possible future and all the dillemas that come with it create a tense, but enjoyable experience. That's the reason why SMAC is still relevant to this day. Not because of supply crawler spam and doomstacks, but because of the way it forces you to make choises, because of the lore-dripping tech quotes, because it manages to convey the grim atmosphere of this hostile planet and this grim future. Because it takes the player serious enough to throw quotes at them that are longer than just one or two lines.

    This is where so many SMAC fans are disappointed by BE. Not because it doesn't play like SMAC. But because BE's world design isn't beaten by SMAC, it is utterly obliterated by this 16 year old game.

    As for "insulting the developers". No. Just no.
    I like EU3 and I don't like EU4, but that doesn't mean I am "insulting" the Paradox dev team. The same applies to SMAC, BE and Firaxis.

    I don't like BE and yet played 222 hours to this day to see if I can find hidden value in it. So please stop putting words in mouth.
     
  8. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    The game does some stuff well. Like the Civilopedia, that's great fun.

    But otherwise there just isn't very much to do during the game. Everything is on auto pilot. The only big choices you have in the game, the ones that make a meaningful difference to how the game plays out, are what tile improvements to build, how quickly to build new cities, and what order to research things in the tech web. Those things the game does well, probably better than Civ5 does currently.

    But there's so much stuff that I just find hard to care about in the game. Like satellites. A brand new concept, could be quite fun but the implementation is just dull. It's basically just a building you have to rebuild every 50 turns. Yawn. Same thing with trade routes, I find myself agonising over which one to go for far less than in Civ5. That doesn't mean that they should exactly as in Civ5, only that they should be interesting.

    It comes down to the one-more-turn factor. I barely get it in BE. Very little I do as a player seems to make a difference, it's just a question of researching enough stuff and having enough hammers to build a wonder at the end.
     
  9. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Why was a broken game acceptable 16 years ago? I don't understand your logic GAGA Extrem.

    1. Venice is content. Redesigning Social Policies is content. Anything that adds to the game that doesn't fix something that is broken is additional content. This takes time. And money.

    2. That isn't what broken means.

    3. SMAC isn't tense. I found Tomb Raider III tense when I was 11, because I hated being caught by a trapped or jumped by a tiger. I don't find the game tense anymore. By comparison, a turn-based game isn't tense at all.

    The lore, and the snippets? Great stuff. The Wonder videos? Brilliant.

    But the only thing missing in BE in that regard is the videos.
     
  10. Gamewizard

    Gamewizard Emperor

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    You forgot combat. I enjoy defending bottlenecks against the waves of AI units, trying to take as few losses as possible so that I can eventually counter and push my way through, usually with lower affinity units than the AI is sending out.

    If you don't like the combat, then I could see you easily getting bored.
     
  11. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    Combat feels like it would be great in MP. In SP I find it rare that the AI declares war on me (on Soyuz), and that's even when I reduce the map size while keeping the number of players the same. The wars I've fought have mostly been to try out the different units.
     
  12. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    Because 16 years ago it wasn't broken. 16 years ago it was state of the art (or at least sorta).
    Just like your old 486 is a useless pile of electronic nowadays, but back then it was all you needed (and wanted).

    I am talking about the design of Venice, not it's actual inclusion. There was no chance to have civ like that in CIV5 vanilla. But, yeah, even "just" fixing stuff already takes a lot of workhours and $_$. So either way it's extra investment (with maybe even less return in the case of fixes) - and it could have been avoided in CIV:BE, because most mistakes were already done in CIV5.

    That is what broken means to me: If it doesn't work it is broken.

    Yeah, I guess my advantage is that I only briefly played it after release and only got into it again 6 years later or so. At that point the scenario was already much more interesting for me (even more so considering that it was also the point were my reading interests had shifted from Fantasy to SciFi). To be frank, I hold it in even higher esteem today. All it takes is that heavy breathing from selecting one of my infantry units, one tech or building quote and I am instantly immersed in the game. So the first thing I did for BE was replacing the BE tech quotes and audio files with SMAC stuff. Hooray for modability.

    I was really sad that the quotes weren't done by the voice actors of the actual leaders. And that "continue playback after window is closed" option from SMAC. I mean - ingenious! Continue playing but still hear that awesome voice telling you about the lore of the game.
    ...imagine if you could get some of the CIVpedia text as voiceover ingame. Oh my, that would be amazing. *_*

    As a sidenot: I think we two could discuss this matter for another few pages, but I think we have already made our points.

    One of the points that make me really curious about the game design is SP vs. MP gameplay experience.
    In SP the victory conditions are just boring and tedious because the AI never reacts. In MP, however, that extra waiting time might actually lead to some intense late game fighting.
    It's actual a rather similiar problem in EU4: A lot of stuff was changed with MP in mind, but it has a big effect on those that just play SP (and I'd argue that even fewer people (% wise) play EU4 in MP than CIV5/CIV:BE).
     
  13. Gort

    Gort Emperor

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    1. Many of the issues (EG: Trade routes, boats getting one-shotted) were pointed out weeks before the game was released, in Firaxis own marketing material.

    2. Many of the issues were obvious to fans of the series after one or two games. These were not hard-to-spot problems that only became apparent after great experience with the game.

    3. The patch broke things and took illogical approaches to fixes in many areas - look at the mess that they made of quests and what internal trade routes look like now.

    4. For the first patch since a game is released, seven weeks is far from quick. In that time period Europa Universalis 4 patched six times. Endless Legend managed three, with their first patch seven days after release. By comparison, Firaxis patches extremely slowly - like the time it took them a month and a half to fix Civ 5's multiplayer after they broke it. They don't seem capable of speed - it makes you wonder if they're understaffed, or just don't put any priority on well-patched games.
     
  14. calad

    calad Emperor

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    I am the only one notice this but is BE forum dying? Activity seems to be rather low.
     
  15. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Just a couple of clarifications.

    1. An imbalanced game is an imbalanced game, regardless of how long ago it was. People were still capable of balancing games in the late 90s. Most of the pioneering games development work took place in the 70s and 80s.

    2. It doesn't matter what broken means to you. What matters is the definition of "broken" in a software / games development context. And I'm a software developer. I know the context. Something not working effectively isn't "broken". It is simply "imbalanced". Or ineffective. Your pick.

    1. How many weeks before? We're only adding on a few weeks to six weeks here, so, what, nine weeks? Nine weeks for a huge patch? That's still a great turnaround time.

    Even twelve weeks would be acceptable considering exactly how much was changed. Bear in mind that these things can't necessarily be fixed internally if observed after the game went gold (i.e. into certification). Additionally, maybe Firaxis wanted to observe how the game actually played in the wild (which makes sense considering the game was capable of sending data back to Firaxis about the players' actions).

    2. What issues were these?

    3. I agree, but software development is a complicated process. Things can break, especially given the size of the patch. The more you cram in, the more chance you have of breaking something, or merging in the wrong set of changes from your working set. QA can't catch it all.

    4. You're demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of games (and software) development. Just because company X can do something, doesn't mean company Y can also do something. Team size, budget allowance, time designated for QA . . . all of these factor.

    And I'd rather have a game that's patched once with a lot of content, than a game that requires a ton of patches to be playable. Say what you want, but EU's developers don't have a great track record with non-broken products (Hearts of Iron 3, lol. It was that and EU3 that made me not fussed about EU4).

    So it took them six to seven weeks to fix critical issues in CiV MP. What makes you think this was an easy fix?
     
  16. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    Yes, but apparently balance was far less important to people back then.
    If I had to guess: probably because there was far less competetive play (almost no online gaming and no "E-Sports")?

    Balancing seems like an odd obsession these days. Half of the EU4 forum posts are about balance, while that was almost never an issue for EU3 players. Whatever game you check out these days, you see "OP!" and "NERF!" cries everywhere. It's actually quite fascinating.
     
  17. Gort

    Gort Emperor

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    Not too bothered about picking over every point in here, but this kind of sticks out. Your defense of slow patching that creates problems while it solves them is, "Maybe they don't care enough to devote resources to patching?"

    That's... not much of a defense.

    Other companies who make the same kind of games do their patches much more frequently and quickly and don't break stuff while they're doing so. But if you're happy to call Firaxis's patching process "acceptable" and "great", then I'm glad you have such a contented life.
     
  18. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    I've noticed that. Never seen anything like it before on civfanatics.
     
  19. 4N4C0ND4

    4N4C0ND4 King

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    Just adding a few things here: usually "big" games company don't usually patch as often as you wish; unless it is a very critical issue that prevent people from actually playing the game, they prefer to wait for the dust to settle, and to work out a bigger patch. It will help people getting back to the games after burning some hours after the start.
    Blizzard, Valve, are doing this way.

    Don't underestimate the efforts needed to make a good patch but more important needed NOT to break existing assets. *cought, affinity quests, cough*

    In the end, I rather have big patches with a cool time than micro patches every weeks.
     
  20. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    That is fascinating, but I think it's also quite off-topic. Maybe next time :D

    So you agree with the rest of my counterarguments? As you didn't quote them, of course.

    You're misinterpreting my defense. Possibly intentionally. Nowhere did I say they don't care, and I find it rather disturbing you somehow reached that conclusion.

    Other companies are other companies. Nevermind picking over my points, you flat-out didn't read them!
     

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