GDC 2022, Soren Johnson: My Elephant in the Room: An 'Old World' Postmortem

The_J

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Soren Johnson's talk from the GDC of 2022 has now been released on Youtube.
He talks obviously about Old World, about Civilization and how Old World is similar and different, and about issues of the 4X genre in general.
He also talks about the decision to include characters and a kind of story into the game.

Source: Twitter.
This should be an interesting insight into the development of Old World, and I hope to have time to watch it :).
 

keldath

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I Admire Soren J.
his vision gave me years of years of gaming.

Make me so proud to see he mentioned Dune Wars that i founded (and amazingly continued and reached its greatness by super skilled developers such as Deliverator) in his lecture.

thank you for sharing this one The_j.
 
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Thanks for sharing! I appreciated the range of games referenced as sources. Makes me wonder whether 4X needs to assume greater familiarity with other genres! It was particularly interesting to hear Soren talk about worker/tile/citizen automation and Old World's answers to those problems as they pertain to the Civ series. It sounds like these elements in particular need to be reintegrated into Civ gameplay.

I was curious about Soren dismissing the tall/wide debate on the grounds that expansion is what 4X is all about. Civ V had four-city tradition going for it, but settling four cities somehow seems even more perfunctory than settling everywhere in sight. It just seems like there must be more to the genre than waiting to snowball! In the case of Civ VI and Humankind, I suspect more chaos is needed.
 

CornPlanter

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I was curious about Soren dismissing the tall/wide debate on the grounds that expansion is what 4X is all about.
I hated tall/wide bs since it started. Artificially limiting expansion to fit this arbitrary model is one of the worst things civ did in my opinion.
 

ThunderLizard2

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Thanks for sharing! I appreciated the range of games referenced as sources. Makes me wonder whether 4X needs to assume greater familiarity with other genres! It was particularly interesting to hear Soren talk about worker/tile/citizen automation and Old World's answers to those problems as they pertain to the Civ series. It sounds like these elements in particular need to be reintegrated into Civ gameplay.

I was curious about Soren dismissing the tall/wide debate on the grounds that expansion is what 4X is all about. Civ V had four-city tradition going for it, but settling four cities somehow seems even more perfunctory than settling everywhere in sight. It just seems like there must be more to the genre than waiting to snowball! In the case of Civ VI and Humankind, I suspect more chaos is needed.

The 4 city Civ V thing was ridiculous. Not saying we need city spam but Civ V was too tuned for tall only play. BTW - I liked Civ III outposts for accessing remote resouces without building an entire city.
 

Heathcliff

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I didnt watch it yet.
But I read the title "Post Mortem"
Does that mean that he considers Old World finished, and move on to his next game ?
Or maybe it is just the title that the youtuber for that site choose.
 

Solver

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It's a game design post mortem because the core design is done. Old World as a whole is not finished, there will be more content for the game. But the core design will not radically change. Most of the discussion is about major game decisions like the orders system, technology deck and event-driven diplomacy.
 
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Expansion probably works better with Old World's shorter timeframe, where there are many historical precedents for sprawling empires, but I am less convinced that other players alone can balance against expansion in the much larger timescales of Civ and Humankind. I do appreciate the synergy of spaced city cites, tribal camps, and combat, which stands in stark contrast to the other two titles.
 

uhu

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I am less convinced that other players alone can balance against expansion in the much larger timescales of Civ and Humankind.
In principle we want to play the whole thing: from the stone age to the stars ... but in the desired details that is just too long for a single game -- a unbalancable nightmare. Perhaps it could work by chopping the eras into independent standalone games and normalizing the strength of the players when tunneling from one chunk to the next (eg. by starting a new chapter in the saga by loading a save file of the prequel).

In a bigger (now circumnavigatable) world the focus could flow naturally from more on tiles to more on regions ... or from ancient units fatigue to "modern" units with fatigue removed entirely ...

 

Dale

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In principle we want to play the whole thing: from the stone age to the stars ... but in the desired details that is just too long for a single game -- a unbalancable nightmare. Perhaps it could work by chopping the eras into independent standalone games and normalizing the strength of the players when tunneling from one chunk to the next (eg. by starting a new chapter in the saga by loading a save file of the prequel).

In a bigger (now circumnavigatable) world the focus could flow naturally from more on tiles to more on regions ... or from ancient units fatigue to "modern" units with fatigue removed entirely ...

I've been saying this for at least 20 years. As each Age of Man progresses, the focus shifts out more. So starting in the stone age focused on the tiles around you, and ending in the space age with the focus on our immediate zone of the solar system.
 
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For better or worse, that is an appetite I most likely picked up from playing Civ IV, especially RFC, where it felt totally normal to want everything from beginning to end in human history... With any game approaching that scale, my issue with expansion would seem akin to ECS.

While there are good reasons to include regional dynamics in the Stone Age, chopping the eras like Paradox could make for an easier transition in scale.
 

PiR

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I've been saying this for at least 20 years. As each Age of Man progresses, the focus shifts out more. So starting in the stone age focused on the tiles around you, and ending in the space age with the focus on our immediate zone of the solar system.
Unless there's a big WW3 setting you back, 2 millenia of progress cancelled, and then you focus back on the very close tiles again :D
 

uhu

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I've been saying this for at least 20 years. As each Age of Man progresses, the focus shifts out more. So starting in the stone age focused on the tiles around you, and ending in the space age with the focus on our immediate zone of the solar system.
Rather 30 years. ;) Today it seems to me as if such ideas were already seeded in the community's civ2proposal collection -- though I have to admit, that it has been a REALLY long time since I visited actually that file finally maintained by Jonathan Buckle.

The longest time I thought, this would be just a great way to design it; now I think, it is the only possible way to implement it (for balancing reasons). I hoped, the players would anytime understand and accept, that a game 1) long and 2) with rich detail NEEDS phases of (real) setbacks (aka negative feedback) to be stable and balancable at all. But players don't want to be punished for playing well -- no great idea of Rise & Fall! Sid explained this well in videos, but the solution to make therefore only short civRevolution games felt not so satisfying to me ... so welcome back to the machine, ahem, late game boredom. Civilization is most successful, but still too long.
In OldWorld people accept, that a new ruler is weaker than the predecessor was; even expect it. Continuing details (family, cities, neighbours ...) grown fond of in a new setting of different game (normalized strength, new era, new rules) might not be experienced as punishment (alike beginning a new set in a tennis match at zero).
2 millenia of progress cancelled
We are so used to the "exact" development path we took!
In Francis Tresham's Civilization board game (covering only antiquity) there was no tree: all techs could be bought from the beginning -- cheaper ones (with smaller effects) affordable earlier and stronger ones more expensive, later.
I like how OldWorld handles this with the cards deck. From a gameplay pov ... (Anton's tech shuffle mode was for me the best one of civ6NFP).
And because there is by far more randomness to development than a tree suggests. For a discovery being established and not soon being forgotten again it depends a lot on accessibility of the raw materials (eg. near eastern crude oil in case of the Greek fire of the Byzantines) and the opportunity of broad usage: ?Electricity in ancient Persia: earthenware vessels within copper and iron rods isolated by tree resins -- ie. a battery, could be used for galvanisation ... perhaps in turn leading to Archimedes' Eureka! :D // Heron of Alexandria / Vitruviusˈ steam engine

 

JtW

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Thanks for sharing. This video made me appreciate the game even more, knowing the amount of deep thought that went into its design.
 
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