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


Dec 25, 2008
Pretty good take on the differences between the games:

AnthraxCat said:
SMAC is radical. You are refugees fleeing a dead planet to which you will never return. There is a complete break from Earth's history, and ideology becomes wrapped up entirely in the existence of the factions. They are not motivated by history, but by the fatal terminus of Earth's history. So each faction, despite their completely different ways of dealing with that death, is related. Despite the complications of your arriving, the message is fundamentally optimistic: that you will survive, thrive, and transcend humanity's failure on Earth.

BE doesn't do any of that. Earth is still relevant, not just as a victory condition, but each faction brings Earth with it in their own way. So it ends up feeling very terrestrial. It's not a story of survival, it's a story of exploitation, so it ends up feeling completely different from SMAC. Rather than deal with the death of Earth, you are doing the same thing you always do in Civ: conquering it.

It was also just lackluster. SMAC was revolutionary in the genre. It could not be followed up with something as derivative as BE.

I think the problem is that the only characterization the Sponsors get besides their personal obsessions (Sochua's research, Koslov's rockets, Fielding's spies) is the vague gloss of being future nations/blocs/interest groups created in the aftermath of the Great Mistake. So we're asked to judge these amorphous future countries based on the Civilopedia entries, the online teaser passages that used to be on Firaxis' site, and the tech quotes. None of which are that great, imo- I still think the style seems a little bland and the substance too shiny and good-intentioned to be believable. Whether you share my opinion or not, the quote above is correct in saying that BE pins the fate of the new world back to the concerns of terrestrial entities on vacation, some of which actually intend on going back!

The follow-up quote is good too.

Derdiedas812 said:
To be fair, BE tried (tried is the keyword here) to look at some questions about the future of humanity not in the hands of some strange alien god, but about the future that technology brings, how the technology changes our relationship to environment - and even redefine what humanity is.

The affinity system had a lot of potential and is IMHO wrong to paint BE as some simpleton - but this is the problem BE had a potential, but the execution was flawed. Mechanics were too constrained by the Civ5 engine, the ambient story telling was a disaster, technology web have its own issues and the main problem was for me that affinity points were not awarded on the basis of actions (build lot of farm and mines - gain purity, lost harmony) just a handful of quests....

I agree the affinities were a neat innovation. I think BE fails to really capitalize on it the same way AC handled the environmental/Planet themes, though. There's no story passages or in-game events that reinforce what you embracing a affinity really means. Sure it gives you modifiers and gameplay boosts and different art assets, which is great! But sometimes you need to both show and tell- and these in-game effects don't tell us what becoming more Purist/Harmonist/Supremacist really means for your society or your human nature. It's just vaguely described without any tantalizing details that AC's writing, like the tech quotes, convey. The hybrid affinities being up to player interpretation leaves room for discussion, but also fails to convey what exactly we're looking at with them, and how or why the hybrids would come into conflict with any of the others.
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