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How to Fix BE (Why AC is a classic game and BE is not)

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by dwcole78, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. Galgus

    Galgus Chieftain

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    Honestly yes, I would pay money for my favorite mods.

    They can easily add one or two expansion's worth of content and quality changes: and knowing how to mod to some extent lets me improve some things I see as flaws.

    Modded generally work to make their own vision since it isn't purely a labor of love, but there's nothing new special about professional designers accepting feedback.

    And in my opinion the BE deva should have listened more to feedback on pushing what makes the game unique more.

    Playing without mods would feel like a huge step back for me - like playing Civ V with no dlcs.
     
  2. HEF

    HEF Chieftain

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    If it hasn't passed Firaxis' quality seal of approval, I wouldn't. :nope:
     
  3. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    For a person who has by their own admission not used mods, you say a lot of idiotic things that generalize modders in a negative way. There may not be any big mods for Beyond Earth that can compete with the quality of a properly developed product, but there are certainly mods for other Civ-games that reach that standard. (Not that Beyond Earth itself has ever reached the standard of a "finished product"..) The Community Patch for Civ 5 turns a good product into a fantastic one that has SO much more to offer than BNW has in its final, unmodded stage, and the Enhanced User Interface Mod turns a usable but clunky interface into a much more convenient interface that has all the information you want without having to click through half-a-dozen menus. Of course you don't know that and won't test these mods either because you have set that nice little loop for yourself that allows you to say ignorant bs without evidence to back it up.
     
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  4. HEF

    HEF Chieftain

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    This is the wrong type of argument to present into a debate regarding why "one title is a classic and the other is not" and a perfect example of why I am not in the business of volunteering to be a beta tester for third party materials that falls below the standards of an amateur vendor.

    The right kind of argument would be to state reasons why Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a classic and Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, Rising Tide is not and leave it at that.

    So far, I haven't read anything in this entire thread that persuades. My position remains the same:

    Both are classics. Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, Rising Tide may not be as detailed as Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri but it's a damn good effort! ;)
     
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  5. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    You were on board with telling everybody what you think about modding, did so in multiple posts, so don't act like I'm the one dragging this thread offtopic just because I gave my 2 cents on the issue. :)

    That aside, this thread is not a discussion of whether BE is a classic or not, it's not a contest to persuade you away from an opinion that you'll hold to dogmatically anyway, it's about what BE could have done better. Nobody cares about whether you think it's a classic, that's a purely arbitrary standard that everybody has to set for themselves.

    The reality is of course that Beyond Earth can be summarized as "It's not a finished product.", which is why it will probably never achieve cult status with the general gaming audience.
     
  6. beetle

    beetle Chieftain

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    What bar are you setting for a game to be considered a “classic”? Sure, you like BE well enough. Is BE a classic just because you like it?

    I agree that thematically Emancipation fits, I just wish there was more to it than throwing units down a hole. If the player is “lucky”, he will also simultaneous be trying to fend of the AI. Then sparing units is a logistics challenge, and therefore the endgame is engaging.

    The BE Transcendence victory is almost meaningless without all the background not-actually-in-the-game details being filled in by one’s experience with SMAC. From a game mechanics perspective, it is on par with the Contact and Transcendence VCs, and similar enough to the Promised Land VC.

    The Harmony VC should not be labeled as Transcendence, that VC not tied into a Singularity, and there should not be anything about the planet gaining sentience. The game mechanics could stay the same. As an alternative to the Khalsa you mention, the Harmony VC could just as easily be recast as being able to fully harness and arbitrarily control Miasma, to the point that the other factions surrender in futility. Every tile spawning Miasma would make the “one-more-turn” option fun too!

    I like the VC you postulate. I would also point out that Supremacy pursuing a technology Singularity fits thematically, and does not require awakening the planet.

    As a Civ5 mod, BE is good enough. The real tragedy in all this is that it was the devs who set up the comparison to SMAC. They should have said something like, “We all played SMAC. We all loved that game. As much as we might like to, BE is not SMAC2. BE is just Civ5 in space. We plan to give you a great and enjoyable game, but please do not hold us up to the legend that is SMAC.”

    It is only by comparison to SMAC that BE looks like a failure. No, BE is not a classic, but there are very many quite decent games that are not classics. That is okay!

    I think that is exactly all it is. But that is okay! Civ5 in space is great fun!

    Because the rendering engine only allows two views, see the first page of this thread. Strategic view was sacrificed for the Orbital layer. There cannot be be other layers.

    Sure, if they were trying to recreate the feel of SMAC. But the developers were not up to that, and should have been honest about it. The aliens being barbs (and with barbs being irrelevant to the Civ end game), fits perfectly if BE had been marketed as merely being Civ5 in space.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
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  7. Galgus

    Galgus Chieftain

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    Improving the AI would generally make the victory conditions much more interesting.

    At very least most colonies that do not share an affinity with the play should try to stop then, and be somewhat competent at it.
    ______________

    Expanding on the Transcendance victory quest could make it feel more immersive, instead of basically research techs - get affinity - build thing.

    Maybe add in some bit of studying Alien Nests. Generally I think quests are a great way to give background information through gameplay.

    And generally the planet should feel much more like an ally and an asset to Harmony.

    I'm neutral on the name Transcendance, but my ideal for the victory would be Khala-like link between Harmonists and the planet that lets them literally communicate with it. That could be useful for things ranging from growing things for food, energy, and materials and calling up Siege Worms and the like in unprecedented numbers.
    ______________

    A singularity fits Supremacy, but it feels a bit bland to me compared to Emancipation or the Endless Voyage idea.

    I think the affinity's philosophical perspective on neural uploading is the most interesting part about it.

    It also seems to threaten disturbing the setting in a way with the potential it would show when all the affinities are presented as more or less equally powerful.
    ______________

    I'd say BE is far beyond the level of a Civ 5 mod, especially after Rising Tide, by there is a lot of room for improvement.

    Agreed that the Devs shouldn't have compared BE to AC.

    Standards aside the games are very different thematically.
    ________________

    I've always felt like they intended to make the Aliens a real threat, but backed off for fear of it irritating some players.

    In some ways Barbarians are more dangerous in Civ 5 because they will actually go for non-military units regularly if given the chance. As a side note I enjoyed mods that made barbarians a bit more of a threat in Civ 5.

    They should have made Aliens a threat with options for no Aliens, tame current Aliens, and an actually deadly frenzied Aliens option.

    I favor much weaker unit combat strength increases with upgrades mostly because I'd like to be able to fight Aliens with tier 1 units while the Aliens can still be a threat at tier 4.

    That and the huge power spikes between units always felt weird to me.
     
  8. beetle

    beetle Chieftain

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    A little beyond, but not far beyond. On this thread we have had discussion on the excellent work that the free-as-in-beer modders have contributed, reference to the excellent mods included with Civ4 BtS, and mention that some mods really are worth paying for. On top of that, @HEF mentioned he would like more QA and I will confess to being in that camp too. Ironically, I think I would have purchased BE sooner and happily paid more for it if only they had marketed it as Civ5 in space. The devs started talking about BE being the spiritual successor to SMAC, and that just turned me (back) into a frugal skeptic when BNW had me ready to pay full MSRP for a high quality mod.
     
  9. beetle

    beetle Chieftain

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    Firaxis has such an odd history with generating then burning consumer good will!
     
  10. Galgus

    Galgus Chieftain

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    I love using a ton of mods in Civ 5, but none I can think of came close to the added features and altered theme of Beyond Earth.

    Though that said the sum of the mods I use feel like one or two expansion's worth of content for Civ 5.

    Personally I seem to remember talk on how scary the Aliens were from Firaxis before BE released: which was obviously either false or something that changed before the game released.

    Though what actually caught my interest for BE was the affinities.
     
  11. dwcole78

    dwcole78 Chieftain

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    So I am going to bump my own thread to reply to this and a couple other things. (1) I disagree the leaders have solid backstories but part of the problem I think is that it is locked in the civlopedia which as someone who has been playing civ games since 1 (yes I am that old) skipping only three I don't really read. BE the faction characteristics were in the game since they AFFECTED gameplay. This was critical. As others have mentioned they were also political leaders with true beliefs - yes they were extremists but look around you we have those today and people who would go to another world and want to start over are EXTREMELY likely to be the extremists with strong ideals they don't back down on. (2) most of my issues are with the plot and characterization not with the UI but I like majority of the UI changes suggested here. (3) I can not comment on resources used or given but I get the feeling the devs (including Sid Meir who honestly I have lost a lot of respect for) didn't know what made AC good which was why I spent so much time writing out my ideas for what made it good. (4) Yes AC has a ton of nostalgia power behind it but I think a game could be made that would compete - but it would have to hue closely to what made AC great. (5) Thank you for the corrections on the mechanics - honestly I care more about story than mechanics so if I am going to forget something it would be mechanics.

    The most important criticism I can give about BE is that EL is a MUCH better game. A french studio with very little experience with turnbased strategy who offloaded most of the development to fans who will contradict each other made a MUCH better game. (Do not get me wrong game has problems - story for each faction quickly becomes the same, city growing mechanics don't work as well- but it is still loads better than BE).

    Is anyone working on a conversion mod for BE to AC? I would love to help. Also man I wish I had bought the books way to expensive on sites now but I hear they were actually amazingly good - not as good as classic sci-fi but light years beyond traditional tie in novels.
     
  12. dwcole78

    dwcole78 Chieftain

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    sigh wow - I am going to try very hard not to come off sounding bad here but wow. The LAST thing we need is more control over people's ideologies and censorship even self censorship of games. It is a GAME and even an 8 year old is not going to play this game and think these are good things. These things exist in the real world so YES they should exist in games. Games as political vehicles to effect social change is disgusting - but then I am not a millennial.

    Edit - sigh so there are people who think the transcendence victory is EVIL???? Wow man - you are joining with God or something with that power level - how can that be evil. Wow man. Well I knew reading through this would make me angry as the philosophy of AC was one of the things I liked ((see my avatar)) but yup going to have to go before I read enough to post something that gets me banned...
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  13. beetle

    beetle Chieftain

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    Thanks for coming back to your thread @dwcole78.
    I know there was a pretty serious AC mod for IV (Planetfall). Did you try that? I do not see how it is really possible to implement the core experience without:
    1. A mechanism to tie eco damage into the flora and the fauna.
    2. Civic choices that can be switch on and off to influence AI behavior.
    3. Psi combat that is quite different from regular combat.
    I would probably be willing to boot Windows for a terrific AC port, but it would have to be really good. I do not think the tools that the mods have available to them cover any of the three things above.

    The Psi combat was a way to keep the mind worms as a relevant threat. It might be possible to skip that if there is another way to let the alien life get stronger as the game progresses.

    Flexible civic choices would be a real challenge to mod in, I would think. Civ3 had a bit of that, but it was weak as compared to SE in SMAC. With IV, V, and BE, Firaxis went to a model where the civics are strictly additive and every choice is good, with no real opportunity costs. Now V has Ideologies of course, but that is late game and the player cannot switch more than once. One of the best features IMHO with SMAC is that a player likely made SE choices based on their neighbor. It was also a strong feature that SE choices were reversible, and that each choice also had a weakness.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  14. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    For Virtues, there is lilgamefreek's Social Engineering mod which is pretty fantastic.
     
  15. Galgus

    Galgus Chieftain

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    As I stated earlier, I view it as evil because it seems to imply the destruction of many individual minds to form a hive-mind.

    Aside that I've personally always found AC's glorification of Transcendence creepy and off-putting. Anyway, I've already said what I had to say on the OP.
     
  16. Blue3

    Blue3 Chieftain

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    Could Beyond Earth inspire a meme like this?



    or


     
  17. gimley_gunner

    gimley_gunner Chieftain

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    I've only got the basic game and this mod makes a big differrance. Good to see there's a version for Rising Tide now.
     
  18. beetle

    beetle Chieftain

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    That looks pretty good! Thanks for sharing! I still have not tried it, but I don’t expect it to be mac compatible.
     
  19. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Chieftain

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    It's actually quite interesting to see this discussion so far in after the BERT release.
    As with many of my older game, I actually do play a bit of BE from time to time, so why not add my 2 cents here.

    I suppose in terms of actual gameplay, this isn't really a contest. SMAC is outdated in that regard, there is no better way to put it. It is also annoyingly clunky.
    But gameplay is not what I remember that game for. Where SMAC shines - even after all these years - is the narrative element, and the fact that everything in that game is tied into it.
    SMAC has philosophy, probably still more than any other video game in that genre to this day.

    Shortly after the BE release, I created a little mod that replaced the original BE tech quotes with the ones from SMAC - and I was amazed how much better the game felt just with this little change.
    Yeah, the leaders in SMAC are over-the-top caricatures of their ideologies. But - that is fine, because we got to explore them as we played the game.
    There is a feeling of intimacy when you hear Pravin Lal mourn the death of "his chosen one". You can feel with Miriam when she tells "her children to go through".

    ...and, yes, I am one of those people who has played BE for hundreds of hours, and yet I can't even remember the leader names in that game.
    The only one I could remember was Hutama, and for some reason I actually thought he was the leader of PAU.

    There is also the great tragedy in terms of narrative gameplay when it comes to BE.

    Someone here called SMAC dystopian. I will agree that the setting starts at a horrible point - earth is gone and the last remnants of humanity are fractured into radical splinter factions, landing on a hostile alien world. They discover technologies that can be used for unspeakable atrocities, and the game does allow you to commit them. But here is the thing: It is your choice. The game offers you alternatives. With proper planning, there is no need to nervestaple ANYONE. You will probably end up at war with another faction at some point, but nobody forces you to deploy nerve gas, to conduct psi-warfare or to level their cities with Planetbusters. You can have a Thought-Control Police State - or you can have an Eudaimonian Democracy. It is up to you.
    When I look at SMAC, I see a cautionary tale about what science can do - but it also gives the glimmer of hope that the cynical vision of its future is NOT set in stone.

    The one thing that BE(RT) shows us is that we have learned nothing. We doomed Earth with our shortsightedness, we got a second chance - and what do we do? We repeat the same old mistakes.
    By the end of the game, the map is plastered with Farms, Manufactories, Academies or (if the planet is lucky) Biodomes. The aliens are either dead or ignored due to their triviality. And over the course of the game, the nation-state-like stakeholders engage in petty tribalistic warfare over land and resources. Worse, I never feel any moral weight when playing the game. Where SMAC smacks the player in the face with the horrible possibilities of its technology, BERT waves them off with a cynical comment at best.

    Either way, despite all of that and a ton of gameplay and balance related problems, I actually found a way to enjoy BERT - and that is going down the immersion route.
    Turn off all sound sliders except for Ambience - and crank the latter to 100%. Play on a frigid world. Put on your headphones.
    Even the shortcomings in terms of balance and design don't really matter in that case. Just pick whatever difficulty you feel comfortable, then lean back and start clicking.
    It is actually a really good experience if you just want to relax a bit. Maybe not what the devs had in mind - but it works for me.
     
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  20. cinattra

    cinattra Chieftain

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    I play BERT on marathon to truly enjoy it. I have not played SMAC in a very long time so I have only fond memories of it. Yes, it was very dystopian and haunting indeed. BERT is only suffering because of the nostalgia factor for SMAC and because of Civ6. BERT is in my opinion better than both of those games.

    BERT is what Civ6 wants to be but can't and that is truly a sandbox type game where you can build your civilization however you want. That is what limited SMAC, but SMAC is intense the way it is because of its story and that makes it a great game in its own aspect. I would still love to play an updated SMAC and that would not take away from me playing BERT at all. It would be great to delve more into the SMAC colonies and get attached again.

    BERT is not philosophical enough the way SMAC is. Your decisions should have moral and ethical ramifications beyond just effecting your affinity. I think also if they should incorporate not just leader personality traits, but personality traits of the people you lead. I just want to feel like I'm truly invested into the game.
     

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