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Hubris - The solution to late game rut?

IMO, the reason the late game feels tedious is because nothing really happens that matters. You have finished expanding and settling new cities. It is all about building up your cities. You might complete some wonders, complete some new buildings, get some Great People. But there is nothing to shake up the status quo. The powerful civs tend to remain on top. The weak civs are hopelessly behind. Part of it is because the AI is too passive. They don't go to war with me and if they do, they are no match for me, or don't really try to do anything. When you are about to win, and there are no wars going on, no threat, you just end up clicking "end turn" a lot waiting for the official victory screen.

My issue with the hubris concept is that I fear that it would be frustrating and not fun for the player. I mean, why bother building a great empire if the game is always going to undo everything in the end?

I do think you could introduce crisis events. For example, you could have a massive barbarian invasion around the mid game, similar to the Mongol invasion in Europe. This would give the player something to do as they would need to defend their territory to avoid getting their cities plundered. In the modern era, you could have a special event that could push two civs closer to war and if civs have alliances, it could cause a world war scenario, similar to how WW1 started with an assassination. So imagine a pop up that says "an assassin has managed to kill your heir to the throne. People blame civ X". The player could choose two options: A) go to war with civ X. B) Do nothing and suffer a revolution (suffer 2 turns of anarchy and forced to change governments). These types of events with decision trees could shake things up a bit. Also, there could be crisis events like a global pandemic that causes population to drop.

I will add that I am generally not a warmonger type player but I do find that in most civ games, wars make things more interesting. It is periods of peace where you are just building stuff that tend to be boring. When another civ attacks you and you have to defend, that is when things get interesting because there are stakes (losing your cities) and you have to move units, strategize about how to defend. Or if you need to conquer some territory in order to get needed resources, planning the invasion and then moving the units and attacking, is interesting. Again, you are doing something with stakes and having to strategize. I am not saying the entire game should be about war. Civ is more than just war. Civ is about building. But like history, there should be periods of peace and periods of war. This would keep things interesting since you would need to prepare for war. You could not just click "end turn" building stuff. And wars tend to be more interesting because they shake things up. Cities might change hands. Civs that were once strong might become weak. Civs that were once weak might become strong. New techs might be discovered. Revolutions might happen as a result of the war that causes governments to change. It is why human history often focuses on wars and we have so many documentaries about wars. Of course, this sort of assumes that the AI will be good enough. As I mentioned above, you could have AIs declare war and nothing happens because the AI is too weak to fight a war. But assuming the AI is better at war, having periods of war, could shake up the game IMO and help avoid that rut.

Lastly, I would say that just having more geopolitical tension can help. I know when a neighboring civ conquers a city-state that I was trading with, that adds tension. I have to decide how to respond. Do I go to war to liberate that city-state or not? If a neighboring civ is on a conquest spree, how do I stop them from getting too powerful? I've had games where 2 neighbors are at war and I have to decide if I stay neutral or if I get involved, which one do I ally with? Maybe I have no aluminum, how do I get some? Maybe the closest aluminum is owned by another civ, do I attack them to get it? Maybe some aluminum is available on an empty small continent, and I am in a race with another civ to colonize that continent first. Maybe my neighbor just got nukes, so I am in a race to get nukes too. Those types of things can make games more interesting too, not just wars themselves.
While I do agree the late game doesn't offer any meaningful choices, I don't think making the CPU player more aggressive and/or competent would solve that issue. If anything, it'll just result in the CPU players, rather than the human player, winning the snowballing game, resulting in heaps of complaints from the more casual fans about "the AI cheating" while also fostering a "git gud"-attitude among the veteran crowds, something I think is already plaguing too much of gaming culture in general; we don't need to add even more fuel to that particular fire.

No, I still stand adamant that the issue is not enough opportunities to level the playing field, and I think a lot of that is due to the players, both human players and the CPU, are prompted at basically every step towards, as you put it, "building a great empire." And I think that's the reason most 4X games have this issue: "One Empire To Rule Them All" is the expected victory condition(s), and there's not much introspection as to why that should be. Implied to be included with my suggested system, would be a vastly expanded assortment of civilian infrastructure, that wouldn't necessarily benefit The Empire™, but would definitely benefit its people. That way, you the human player can point and laugh your CPU-controlled rival collapsing in itself, because they spent all their resources on military expansion and various vanity projects, while you actually provided each of your local communities with schools, hospitals, public housing, youth centres, parks, food banks, water treatment plants etc. This may or may not go directly against what most would consider to be the spirit of the game series, and may honestly be somewhat ahistorical (polities caring about its subjects more than about its ruling class and/or how they're seen by other polities, has basically never been the norm, exactly), but it's the direction I personally would like to see the series take, moving forward.

Finally, the suggestions you've provided so far, seem to rely on the assumption that war is the great mover of world history. And well, that's an assumption that's nowadays hotly contested among academic historians (at least, historians sans the prefix "military-"; that branch of academics still loves to rag on about the supposed importance of war, for obvious reasons). There's something to be said about how human history has moreso been determined by the whims of, say, climate change (not just the man-made we see today, but also the natural changes that, like those that diminished the Khmer and the Maya to practical irrelevance), or by developments in agriculture, or social movements. Of course, recognizing those factors do imply the genre would have to abandon its wargaming roots and/or its strictly top-down perspective, and I get the sense that that's not what most of you actually want from Civ or its alikes
 
While I do agree the late game doesn't offer any meaningful choices, I don't think making the CPU player more aggressive and/or competent would solve that issue. If anything, it'll just result in the CPU players, rather than the human player, winning the snowballing game, resulting in heaps of complaints from the more casual fans about "the AI cheating" while also fostering a "git gud"-attitude among the veteran crowds, something I think is already plaguing too much of gaming culture in general; we don't need to add even more fuel to that particular fire.

No, I still stand adamant that the issue is not enough opportunities to level the playing field, and I think a lot of that is due to the players, both human players and the CPU, are prompted at basically every step towards, as you put it, "building a great empire." And I think that's the reason most 4X games have this issue: "One Empire To Rule Them All" is the expected victory condition(s), and there's not much introspection as to why that should be. Implied to be included with my suggested system, would be a vastly expanded assortment of civilian infrastructure, that wouldn't necessarily benefit The Empire™, but would definitely benefit its people. That way, you the human player can point and laugh your CPU-controlled rival collapsing in itself, because they spent all their resources on military expansion and various vanity projects, while you actually provided each of your local communities with schools, hospitals, public housing, youth centres, parks, food banks, water treatment plants etc. This may or may not go directly against what most would consider to be the spirit of the game series, and may honestly be somewhat ahistorical (polities caring about its subjects more than about its ruling class and/or how they're seen by other polities, has basically never been the norm, exactly), but it's the direction I personally would like to see the series take, moving forward.

Finally, the suggestions you've provided so far, seem to rely on the assumption that war is the great mover of world history. And well, that's an assumption that's nowadays hotly contested among academic historians (at least, historians sans the prefix "military-"; that branch of academics still loves to rag on about the supposed importance of war, for obvious reasons). There's something to be said about how human history has moreso been determined by the whims of, say, climate change (not just the man-made we see today, but also the natural changes that, like those that diminished the Khmer and the Maya to practical irrelevance), or by developments in agriculture, or social movements. Of course, recognizing those factors do imply the genre would have to abandon its wargaming roots and/or its strictly top-down perspective, and I get the sense that that's not what most of you actually want from Civ or its alikes

Do you mean You would like a Happiness victory?
 
@BackseatTyrant , I wouldn't mind a victory condition where I was rewarded for meeting my people's needs. I remember some of the demographics screens in Civ3 and Civ4 that tracked derived/simulated metrics like "literacy" or "health/disease." At its root, though, the game is a race for which player, human or CPU, reaches one of the victory conditions first.

What I would *not* prefer is a game where progress is "3 steps forward, 2 steps back", where the game enforces a level playing field. I just spent the last 75-100 turns planning, building, out-thinking the CPU players. I want that effort to mean something; I earned my in-game advantage by playing well. If the game introduces mechanisms where my gains are at risk, then the game should offer ways to mitigate that risk. I don't want to lose progress towards a religious victory, or diplomatic victory, or cultural victory, just because of some "gotcha" mechanics is the last few eras.

I've played the most Civ3, so most of my examples will come from that game. The designers included two units in the 3rd era (of 4), the Rifleman which could upgrade to the Guerilla; neither required no strategic resources to build. Each had competitive attributes with the units that *did* require resources: Civ3 Musketman (Saltpeter) analogous to Civ6 Musketman (Niter), Civ3 Infantry (Rubber) analogous to Civ6 Infantry (Oil). The intent was to give smaller civs a way to avoid being steamrolled by larger civs, even if they lose their access to resources. The playing field is NOT level, but it's possible to give a lifeline to weaker civs in the latter eras.
 
While I do agree the late game doesn't offer any meaningful choices, I don't think making the CPU player more aggressive and/or competent would solve that issue. If anything, it'll just result in the CPU players, rather than the human player, winning the snowballing game, resulting in heaps of complaints from the more casual fans about "the AI cheating" while also fostering a "git gud"-attitude among the veteran crowds, something I think is already plaguing too much of gaming culture in general; we don't need to add even more fuel to that particular fire.

I am not suggesting just making the AI more aggressive/competent. I am talking about presenting more events and stuff for the player to react to. I believe the late game needs more opportunities to shake up the status quo. That could be war but not only war. It could also be uprisings or revolutions that change your government, new alliances, climate disasters etc...

I would agree that we don't want the AI to snowball where it becomes hopeless for the player. When that happens, most casual players will just rage quit. We don't want that. However, there needs to be some competition. We don't want the human player to snowball either because then they get bored. So I would agree that there should be opportunities for the AI or the player to level the playing field if they are behind. It is the potential for reversals that keep the game interesting.

Finally, the suggestions you've provided so far, seem to rely on the assumption that war is the great mover of world history. And well, that's an assumption that's nowadays hotly contested among academic historians (at least, historians sans the prefix "military-"; that branch of academics still loves to rag on about the supposed importance of war, for obvious reasons). There's something to be said about how human history has moreso been determined by the whims of, say, climate change (not just the man-made we see today, but also the natural changes that, like those that diminished the Khmer and the Maya to practical irrelevance), or by developments in agriculture, or social movements. Of course, recognizing those factors do imply the genre would have to abandon its wargaming roots and/or its strictly top-down perspective, and I get the sense that that's not what most of you actually want from Civ or its alikes

I am not saying that war is the only mover of world history but I maintain that it is a pretty big one. Any time you destroy on a mass scale, and kill a lot of people, you will inevitably shake up societies. But yes, there are other movers like climate change, tech developments and social movements just to name a few.
 
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