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Getting the Games we enjoy

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Hescumet, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Hescumet

    Hescumet Chieftain

    Jul 4, 2007
    Hello everyone,

    how can we get game companies to develope a Civ game we enjoy playing?

    I have been pondering this question the last 4 days and believe that it boils down to three sub-questions (a) What are the factors that really ruin gameplay (b) Why are they present in todays computer games? (c) What can we do about that?

    (a) True show stoppers

    (aa) It's not about Civ V.

    Let me begin (to avoid an emotional argument which is not the intention of this posting) by pointing out that I am not critisizing Civ V. I actually like a lot of the game-design ideas in Civ 5. The city-states are clever. As are ranged attacks. I am also much in favor of some of the critisized stramlining. While complexity is fun I don't need "complexity by numbers". A game doesnt have to have loads of units to be complex. Chess only has 7 and GO only has 1 (!) beeing one of the most complex games ever.

    (bb) So what is the real problem?

    The real/huge problem therefore isn't that Civ 5 is "dumbed down" by gamedesign (which is arguable). The real problem in all computer games is game behaviour which destroys your imagination. Think about what really is fun about a computer game. A large part is being sucked into a different world. A world where - in the case of Civ - you are the leader of an empire. Forget all the problems of day to day life and immerse yourself in a different world!

    Here is an example. To take as much heat out of the discussion as possible I would like to give an example not from Civ but from a Football/Soccer Management game that has the potential to be great fun but falls short. That game has a lot to offer and does well in creating the "just one more round" feeling.

    Now imagine you have been spending hours to setup a training plan for your team, to device match tactics etc. Your team is doing quite well. You can observe that in the 3d-matches with other teams (feedback/reward!). But you notice that your team doesnt score after corners. So you change the training plan to practice corner kicks more often. You 'buy' a new talented young player who has a good score in corner kicks and spend time changing the team structure to accomodate the new player. Unfortunately, still no goals from corner kicks. What am I doing wrong, you think? You do a quick google search. And voila: There never are any goals after corner-kicks in this game. So the fact that you can train corner-kicks is a farce. The fact that there is a score for corner-kicks is a farce. And the fact that corner kicks are displayed visually in the game is a farce. Imagine how that completely destroys the illusion of being the leader of an empire - eeee - soccer team?

    This is much much worse than any gamedesign decision (stramline/micro management etc) which might have advantages and disadvantages.

    (cc) The problem in technical terms:

    In technical terms this kind of show-stopper happens in 2 cases:

    1. Bugs related to game logic.

    The "no goals after corner-kicks" is an example of that. Please keep in mind that not every bug has this 'show stopper' effect. Even very serious bugs (like crash to desktop) can be less severe. A crash to desktop in a certain situation in a long campagne of a role playing game destroys the illusion once - but you might never ever go back to that point in the campagne which produces the bug. A bug in the game logic of a strategy game however stays with you and keeps destroying illusion.

    2. Unexplained game-logic.

    Almost as bad as bugs in the game logic are unexplained results. Again to avoid critisizing Civ 5 let me use an example from Civ 4. In Civ 4 for a long time (before many updates and community fixes) the attitude of a AI leader towards the player was not shown correctly. Many of the factors internally used for calculating were not shown to the player. Please do not generalize here - I am not saying that the game needs to give the player all information. No. It might be good game design not to show the player at all how the attitute of AIs towards him is calculated. But if it is shown, if numbers are shown, they have to be complete. Otherwise the player is misled and when (for him) unexplainable results happen he loses illusion and immersion in the game. And as we have seen, creating the illusion of a 'world' for the player is key to have fun with a game.

    Next I will write about (b) why those show stoppers are present in todays computer games and (c) What can we do about that? None of those questions are easy ones. I will try to show why we can't really blame the developers, or game magazines, and why even 'don't buy buggy games' doesnt work.

    But first I need to get some food :). Also I am interested to hear if anyone is with me so far? I am not a man of words and English isn't my native tongue, so I am not quite sure whether this is convincing.

  2. Vertico

    Vertico Prince

    Aug 15, 2006
    I agree with you - there is nothing worse to kill the enjoyment of the game than destroyed illusion. I've spoted several games which give a lot of options which had no influence on anything really - so why to bother?

    With Civ 5 I have the same impression unfortunetly. Let's look on diplomacy... a lot of options but no influence on anything at all. You could disable this option and you won't loose anything as trade sucks especially after last patch and pacts already had no meaning
  3. cf_nz

    cf_nz Prince

    Mar 17, 2006
    New Zealand
    The reasons people play games, the sort of enjoyment people get out of playing and the features they like are all highly subjective.

    As a contrast to your section headed '(bb) So what is the real problem?' and I may be in the minority but I do not play to be immersed in a different world, imagination doesn't play much of a part (if any) in gameplay. So from my perspective it isn't a problem at all.

    So who is this 'we'? ;)
  4. charon2112

    charon2112 King

    May 8, 2009
    Massachusetts USA
    ...and who is "we"?
  5. dmieluk

    dmieluk Chieftain

    Feb 15, 2007
    To the OP:

    I agree with cf_nz.

    But ask yourself this - You mention Chess, but how do Chess mechanics avoid the problems of immersion? Why can pawns take diagonally but cannot even engage straight ahead? That's not real.

    The point is the game has good mechanics, but only loose relation to reality. The game is immersive because the mechanics are good, not because it is realistic.
  6. Lugh

    Lugh Prince

    Feb 14, 2006
    Your English is better than most natives, and you explain yourself well--good post :)
    As others have said, there can be more to it. You're probably looking at Civ as mainly a RPG or adventure game, where immersion and imagination are indeed a large part of the attraction. Civ does play well like that, no doubt.

    Civ is billed mainly as a strategy game however, where there are usually factors beyond immersion and adventure which are more important. Strategy would be closer to puzzle and tycoon genres than RPG or adventure imo. The enjoyment lies in the challenge of evaluating, deciding, solving, controlling, improving, nurturing, overcoming, building, planning etc.

    It's a tribute to Civ that it can put a foot in so many genres to some degree. That's probably a weakness to a pure strategist, and a strength for a gamer with broader tastes. But billed as strategy, perhaps a clearer focus on the requirements and expectations of that genre might help.

    Chess and Go present one main question to the player--can you beat me? There is no distractions via complexity or variety or immersion or imagination. Mechanics and environment are clear after a few minutes introduction--but there's a lifetime of strategic challenge.

    Civ with all its switchable options can offer a great experience to a wide variety of players--and then there's the big contribution of the mod community. Perhaps a clear focus on one genre is what's slipped recently--so the road back might be to get the strategy requirements right before adding or enhancing the RPG or adventure aspects.

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