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How about playtesting

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by snaktime, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. snaktime

    snaktime Chieftain

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    Hi - new to forums. I have played Civ since the very first version nearly 20 years ago, but I did not play Civ IV and this is my first return.

    Civ V is an okay game. I really hated the huge military stacks and so that change is welcome, and I like the graphics and hexes. The AI was always terrible, so while I wish it would get better I can live with it. I have never played the game to max/min my victory chances, so it doesn't bother me that there are some dopey exploits like selling the AI useless open borders, stealing city state workers, etc.

    What I cannot believe, however, is how many unbelievably obvious game mechanic and balance problems this game has. I simply don't understand it. And a huge part of the fun of Civ is that you are building a civilization through time. I'm not talking about silly role playing, but I am talking about some element of correlation to history or logic or whatever. Not only does the game have huge balance problems, these problems stem from game mechanics that are completely devoid of any logic or reality as related to civilization development. To whit:
    1. A huge part of the fun of Civ is picking smart city locations and developing the land. This game almost totally lacks that fun. The fundamental balance between farms, trading posts and mines is just lacking. Maritime food (which is one of many game mechanics that in addition to being unbalanced also simply makes no sense) and the incredible difficulty of growing past certain city sizes ruin food development. Way-too-high production costs and the wimpiness of mines make going for production unfun. Wheat/cattle/deer/sheep/bananas are actually worse than useless. What frustrates me most is that this problem is so glaring and so easy to identify and solve. It is not fun caring about nothing but luxury resources when choosing city locations. And I hate not being able to create true super massive cities of size 40 or above (I also find it annoying that at the end of the game the world has like 15 million people, can they at least try to make this seem real? It used to be that each additional pop number in a city was geometrically more population, what was wrong with that?).
    2. Happiness is broken as many people have identified. I understand why city-specific happiness might be worth changing from past versions, as it necessitates micro management. I could be won over by that change. But "happiness" now no longer has any meaning, it is just an artificial game mechanic to limit infinite expansion (and it fails at that as implemented, but anyway). You could call it "size penalty" and it would actually make more sense, and I think this meaninglessness is part of why it isn't fun. In past versions, war and overcrowding made cities unhappy, that is an interesting mechanic and "makes sense" so I can tailor my expansion through time to something that seems like a real consideration for a growing empire. What the heck does happiness even pretend to mean now? Why should settling a new city in a fertile river valley increase unhappiness? Why should a colliseum in a 1-pop city in the tundra on the other side of the world make my entire civilization happier? Why do I get the exact same, civ-wide happiness bonus from having 1 unit of a luxury good, but more of that luxury do me no good and all luxuries are equal (and the quantity I need has no relation to my population)? This mechanism strips away the "civ building" feel of the game and turns it into a spreadsheet.
    3. Culture has the same problem (although less so). Again because the game needs to gimp overexpansion somehow, it takes an incredibly increasing amount of culture to get social policies. This is totally unfun, because then every game you are forced to choose very early either to be relatively small and go for policies or to forego policies (very unfun) and grow. And again, it doesn't really make any sense, why does my cultural expansion slow when I have an additional city? I don't get it. And while I like the social policies, not being able to change them means you basically decide from the beginning what kind of win you are going for; it used to be fun to switch governments or whatever as the need arises. Why must my civilization be "free" for all time?
    4. The number of poorly balanced abilities, buildings and wonders is just astounding. The Ottomans have a CHANCE to convert Barbarian NAVAL units? Are you joking? You could playtest this for 15 minutes and realize it sucks. I will not go through these balance issues identified by many others. But I am simply baffled, in part because (contrary to many posters) I don't think this game seems particularly "beta" in many ways. It isn't all that buggy, at least for me, and it looks quite polished, and has a lot of great UI features like the built-in mod menu etc. I understand why programming AI is hard especially with the new 1upt. But why in the world couldn't they fix absurdities like the Colussus's lame ability expiring early? The total crappiness of the Forge/Barracks/Stables/Workshop/Granary? The hilarity of a 5g maintenance and infinitely long-to-produce courthouse? The unbelievably over-fast late technology development? I saw all these problems during my first playthrough after having not played any Civ game for like five years, and I assumed I was just misunderstanding the role of all this stuff because these buildings couldn't really be that terrible. Oh well.

    Anyway sorry for the rant, and mods do help somewhat, but mostly I just wanted to put my thoughts down somewhere.
     
  2. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Maritime needs to be nerfed into oblivion or so. Culture/happiness/gold/research really isn't any worse-off than previous models IMO, just different.

    I completely agree on tile improvement balance and think it needs help. It's slightly less dynamic than IV (though more than any other civ game)...but the real problem is just as you say; yields make things so slow. Especially production, where without perfect terrain buildings can take an impressive eternity to finish. Hopefully they move tech around a bit to allow more early game hammers, and that they nerf maritime. I'd also like to see some legit strong tile-food sites other than STRICTLY rivers. Right now America is better than a lot of people think just because it's biased to start riverside X_X.

    The uniques imbalance is reasonably flagrant, but I disagree on the ottoman building taking 15 minutes of play testing to know it sucks.

    You can tell it sucks without any play testing at all :p.
     
  3. SuperJay

    SuperJay Bending Space and Time

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    Good points all. Congratulations (I guess) on pinpointing many of the reasons some folks felt like the Civ5 release was a big letdown. I'm still hoping that given time (and patches, and mods, and probably an expansion or two) it'll become a more engaging, replayable game on par with previous iterations of the Civ franchise, but I'm not expecting that to happen anytime soon. At least they're actively patching it so far; I'd be far more concerned (and a lot more pissed off) if we were still waiting on news about the first patch.
     
  4. ezysquire

    ezysquire Warlord

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  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan Prince

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    I've played Civ 1 to 4 and I generally agree with all of this. There are some good ingredients in Civ 5, but the cook hasn't put them together right.
     
  6. ThERat

    ThERat Deity

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    Great post that puts all the major shortcomings together...well written :goodjob:

    You do wonder what happened during beta :crazyeye:
     
  7. kaltorak

    kaltorak Emperor

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    Agree. Specially with point 1
     
  8. I_qua_I

    I_qua_I Prince

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    Hi snaktime, great post. kaltorak (above) pretty much summed up my thoughts on it as well.
     
  9. ddd123

    ddd123 Prince

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    for you

    for me its enough fun, making infinite cities is unfun, thinking b4 building a settler and positioning him very well is way more fun
    also not having the chance to build over and over is way more fun than civ4 with brainless cities


    dunno i come from italy
    and all the ppl i know tells italy its very cool cause there is venice and florence and rome and stuff like that
    and most of them NEVER went to rome or venice
    they are happy to be italian cause THERE IS venice, even if they dont go there
    so this sounds realistic imo

    agree, it wouldnt be so much complicated to add a minor bonus like +1 for each luxury over the first or even better making the luxury bonus dependant on the population size


    this is not a simulation
    this is a GAME
    in games sometimes realism has to be sacrified to gameplay
     
  10. Zogar

    Zogar Warlord

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    And here we go, the distinction between god-based game and board-base game.

    Unfortunately, the gameplay they chose isn't very interesting for a lot of players.
     
  11. Duraska

    Duraska Chieftain

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    I suspect the playtesting was done solely to find bugs. Barring the entire multiplayer side of the game, I think it's about on par with other modern PC games in terms of amount of bugs at release, so I guess they "did their job."

    I do wonder if there were any internal team debates while making this game though. It just doesn't feel like "Civ," afterall. Did Sid Meier allow John Shafer to have abdolute say over all developement decisions? I can't believe that... There would have to be a few different designers around to flesh out a game as huge as a Civilization game, right? If so, then I can only assume this must be how they wanted the new Civ game to play - which, again, is strange to me...
     
  12. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    Correct me if I'm confused, but you seem far more moderated in your defense of Civ5 now... in my memory, you are registered as one of the harsh defenders, but I may be confused with others (the charon/Jhari club).

    Anyways, if my impression is correct, well, it is an interesting development... something that many predicted here: that the more you play the game, the more you notice its real quality.

    c-ya
     
  13. Akka

    Akka Moody old mage.

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    It's sometimes true. Sometimes, but certainly not always.
    The problem is how it's used as a catch-all excuse for any stuff that doesn't make sense (and it's not limited to Civ forums here, basically ANYTIME someone point something that just doesn't click because it's nonsensical, you can be SURE that someone else will come and say "hey, we can launch fireball/take a bullet in the head and not die/have a unit crossing barely 10 km in 20 years/whatever, so why do you bother with realism ?").

    A good designer find inspiration in realism to make good gameplay. Rules that take inspiration in things that MAKE SENSE are easier to accept, more fun to deal with and better for immersion. Nobody was ever bothered that you required gunpowder to create musketeers, right ?

    Slashing into realism to put arbitrary rules create only disconnected metagaming, not immersion or good design.

    SOMETIMES it's desirable, because it's just hard to integrate some realist elements into the game in a fun way. But more often than not, it's not, and it's always better to at least try to make things the most sensical possible.
     
  14. evrett37

    evrett37 Prince

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    1) I think the bugs/gameplay issues were left in on purpose - when you can only patch through steam it becomes another form of copy protection.
    2) The best thing we can do from here on out is demand that any testers involved in the release testing explain their failure or step down. I am sure there are tons and tons of people who would love to test this game..and we dont want people who are undependable and will fail the game taking up those spots.
     
  15. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

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    Don't blame the testers. From the evidence of what's in the game you have to assume the end of development was rushed with system testing and beta testing cut short too. Another poster wisely pointed out that the game was released in time for the sales revenue to be shown on this year's balance sheet rather than next year's. You need to blame the highly paid directors who saw their financial plans slide and decided to balance their books by releasing an underdeveloped product.
     
  16. SuperJay

    SuperJay Bending Space and Time

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    Haha, that's interesting that you noticed - and wow, that was quite a while ago that was 'defending' Civ5. I haven't really done so since the second week it was out. For the first week or so I was playing Civ5, I enjoyed it and I thought a lot of people here were being "haters" for criticizing it; I was drinking the Kool-Aid, plain and simple. As I continued playing, I got bored quickly, realized there was very little depth or engagement, and got really disappointed. I don't think I've played the game since the third week (and only then b/c my brother got it and we were trying MP; big mistake).

    Ironically, the post you quoted isn't a defense at all. I agree with the OP's points about why Civ5 feels like such a letdown. But I try to be moderate with my language and include things like "it has potential" and "I hope it can be patched" because if I don't, it makes other people very mad. And then they start attacking me for not liking a game, and then I retaliate, and then it's a downward spiral that prevents any real discussion, and it makes the mods' life hell and generally just turns the forums into a cesspool of e-rage. So I try not to blatantly insult the game because doing so isn't really being a responsible citizen of CFC.

    Besides, I'm not angry or upset that people DO like it. I'm glad they do; that increases the chances it'll get patched and modded to a point where I can enjoy it. Also, I still like to help people out, so I try and answer questions about the game and give new Civ players some encouragement and a helping hand, because it's cool that people are still discovering the Civ series. I may not personally enjoy Civ5, but I'm glad it's drawing new folks to the game and making some new Civ fans out of em. :goodjob:
     
  17. ImperialGuard

    ImperialGuard Prince

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    Very interesting thought .... I'd never considered such a possibility....
     
  18. Mad Hab

    Mad Hab Warlord

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    Too bad - you missed the best part of the series... ;)

    I agree with every comment you made. From my first game I couldn't believe how long it took to build everything and how useless/expensive most of the buildings were...

    Cheers!

    Mad Hab
     
  19. GKling

    GKling Chieftain

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    I am an instant fan of the OP. Well put.:goodjob:
     
  20. Rohili

    Rohili King

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    Excellent observations you made, snaktime. Refreshing to hear from someone who did NOT play Civ IV (and thus would be coming from a less "biased" perspective). I liked in particular your points regarding on how happiness and culture have been treated in a utilitarian fashion to achieve game balance such that they have lost all meaning.
     

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