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I think Civ4 has retired my Civ career

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by astralis, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. astralis

    astralis Chieftain

    Jun 26, 2004
    Since the day I secretly played Civ I on a university library computer in the early 90s, I've been a Civ addict. I bought and played all the versions for so many guiltless hours. I also played lots of other games that have come around, including first-person shooters but nothing could compare to the adventure I got from playing Civilization besides SimCity.

    Then came along Vice City and Battlefield 1942 which opened up a new world for me in gaming. They were unlike other games out there. Vice City had an open-ended world and style that was beyond compare and BF1942 had the huge realistic world and multi-player gameplay that was finally technically possible (I don't play Everquest or the other online RPG). But even with these first-person three-dimensional adventurous worlds, I still played many hours of Civ III and SimCity.

    Then the turning-point came when SimCity 4 was released. It was a slight upgrade from the earlier versions, billed as a completely new version. Technically it was but the game-play hadn't changed for years and still placed the gamer on top of an isometric map while the rest of the gaming world was playing in an immersive battleground or exploring the fictitious cities of San Andreas and Vice City.

    But city and empire building remained in the hands of SimCity and Civ III and that's what I really loved. Unfortunately, the new technologies were starting to take me in and the gameplay of Civ and SimCity felt forced and stale. I started to feel like I was working on a huge database program or creating a dynamic website. SimCity and Civ stopped feeling like a game and started to feel like work (SimCity, in fact, just got boring). Civ III still offered a bit more of the spirit of adventure. But, I could "see" the back-end database working and compiling my actions. Everything became a chore and I was no longer playing: place bus stops every three tiles, start each city with a temple.

    When I read about Civ IV's development, I was eager for an upgrade in game-play; something that took strategy and city/empire building into the immersive and three dimensional world with other real players. Everything I read, though, showed there wasn't going to be much of an upgrade. Was this going to be another SimCity4, I thought? I tried not to think about it and followed the development hoping that there must be something new with it. So, when the game came to the store, I bought it, of course.

    Then I tried to play it.

    I'm not exactly sure what they meant when they advertised "3D living world" on the back of the box. Surely it wasn't just smoke and mirrors, but something that really mattered. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The 3D doesn't really look 3D as most gamers expect today, and it adds absolutely no functionality to the game. In fact, I played it for a while without even looking at the graphics because they were frankly distracting - sure, some were cute, but I don't need cute. Indeed, I was manipulating a database and went through the motions over and over (build a temple in each city, don't make anyone mad, build four galleons to transport 12 troops to a different continent). CivIV tried to break the assembly line feel by adding a few more possibilties, but this is where they make the mistake of SimCity4. They tried to fix the fundamental flaw of the gameplay by adding more possibilities. For me, it became even more of an assembly line/database management program and just added more micromanagement. Civ4 failed to spark my imagination. Let me explain that the earlier Civ games also don't spark my imagination today like they did years ago. I also feel like I'm simply manipulating a database with those games when I play them.

    This leads me to believe that the time for these games has come and gone for me. I need something different. But I absolutely love city and empire building and strategy and having complete control. But I no longer like it to feel like I'm manipulating a database by putting in a query and getting canned responses.

    The execution of the gameplay needs redesigned.

    I feel like the Civ franchise should have matured and still maintained the spirit of the game. Civ 4 has not accomplished that for me and I really had my hopes up and spent the money to be entertained by a great game where I looked forward to turning on the computer in the evening and escape for a few hours, not even looking at the clock, running my own empire.

    That never happened. Civ4 isn't fun. I actually forgot I bought it until I found it in my CD drive - it wasn't on my mind.

    I'm not the only one who has recognized this maturation of gaming. Wil Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, also had this revelation when SimCity4 failed to attract gamers' imaginations after it launched. He admitted there was just too much micromanagement that it became work, and that simplifying it wasn't the answer because people want to be in control; it was time for a new direction. He decided to take SimCity into the 3D immersive realm with a new game, Spore. Whether this game that he's currently working on will accomplish that, I'm not sure, but the problems with SimCity and Civ no longer being fun are for the same reason. Th new versions are not able to bring back the same exhiliration from the early days when I put the CD in the computer and fired it up for a few hours of fun.

    I can only speak for how I feel, but I do believe that the testament of SimCity4 is going to be the same for Civ4. Firaxis and Sid Meier have the technology and imagination to let gamers create and escape in their own worlds, but they're relying on yesterday's execution which isn't working for me anymore - and I suspect a few other gamers might have the same feeling.

    If my two cents are worth anything, I suggest Sid Meier takes the Civ franchise back to the drawing board and reinvent it and recapture the excitement in a new gameplay.
  2. HeXeD_3010

    HeXeD_3010 Chieftain

    Nov 17, 2005
    Nicely thought out and written message. Mine will not be so long, however I'd like to make a few comments regarding your thoughts.

    You sound like an intelligent person. So I'm assuming that you already thought of the possibility that you are bored with Civ games and they feel like your manipulating a database because you have played it too long? I understand you want something different, but really, that's not going to be Civ. Alot of people wouldn't have civ any other way, in fact, most people are complaining that civ4 is too different than civ3.

    You must understand it's tough to keep an old userbase happy. However it's easy to keep reinducing a format that has been proven and worked to a new crowd with each coming version.

    I think what you're looking for is something like Black and White I, or Black and White II, however I heard the second one was a bit of a disappointment even though I haven't played the second.
  3. troytheface

    troytheface Deity

    Mar 26, 2002
    there is a over use of the words "data base". Which is no small wonder.
    Ur projecting ur dry, boring view onto gaming . There is no imagination in your words or story- just a collection of data- like ur complaint of the game.
    Sounds like ur getting old and have suddenly realized u have not or will not create anything of ur own - so ur mad at games and want them to create something new.
  4. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

    Dec 7, 2001
    Berlin, Germany
    Well written post, although I don't agree with the final verdict.

    To be blunt, I don't think that any reinvention of the game would save it for you, because ... well ... you seem to be looking for some "childhood magic" that you just can't get any more as an adult. That's not meant to be offensive, it's something that I've experienced myself on a number of occasions.

    When Civ1 came out 15 years ago, I was much, much easier to impress (and to satisfy). For example, I played it for years before I even noticed how horribly the AI was cheating, and even when I found out, I just shrugged. For Civ4, I find myself designing testbeds with the world builder to see whether the AI plays fair. I know much more about computers, games, game design etc. now than I did 15 years ago. The AI didn't *feel* like a cheating idiot back then because I didn't know how to unmask it. Today, I see behind the mask. Playing Civ1 isn't much fun any more for me.

    I think the same happened to you. When you first encountered Civ1, it didn't *feel* like a giant database because you didn't have enough knowledge to spot the database behind the mask. But every strategy game is such a database at heart. There's no way for you to "unlearn" your knowledge, and there's no way how any game can ever bring you back the magic of the days when you couldn't see behind the mask.

    In a way it's a Santa Claus effect - as a child, not knowing the truth behind the mask, you can experience the magic. But after learning that it's just your uncle in strange clothing, there's no way going back. You may still enjoy the performance for what it is, but the magic will be gone.

    I think you've just grown up. ;)

    Personally, I don't think I'll ever grow up this way. I know that games are just numbers and databases. But I still have no difficulties immersing myself in a game's world. I think I'll never stop playing these games.
  5. Orca

    Orca Warlord

    Dec 9, 2005
    I think almost the exact contrary about CIV IV, let me explain why :

    The Graphics arent that bad. To me, and im sure to many other civ players, that isnt actually something major important anyway because we all like the game for its gameplay and not really for its graphics.

    One thing which i find really appealing with CIV IV is that it has taken some useless micromanagement away. I like the workers now much better, i think to give them one extra movement and give them more options was a really good move. Same goes for unrest, it was just a pain if in earlier civ whole cities went into unrest if you overlooked something, now you still have a disadvantage if you make a failure in this sense but its not like that you have to go through every city each turn checking their happyness as i tended to be in previous civ versions which i really considered a pain. As a result you can play a game during one or two days which i really like because you spend more time to make strategic decisons instead of being a micro management monster.

    The second thing i really like about CIV IV are its new features.
    Religion puts a completly new aspect into the game making it sometimes very difficult to stay peacful with AI civs - really a good feature imo.
    Great People are awesome too. They are interesting and a new strategic element of the game in the same time - very good imo.
    Negotations with AI civs are much more reasonable now , the +/- what they think about you really helps here, like that pretty much also.

    I think you missed really something fundamental while trying out CIV IV - that is specialization of cities. To play effectivly you have to build some cities which are specialized in science or production or have other purposes like for example building military units. As you describe that it is boring to build a temple in every city - that is exactly how you are NOT supposed to play this game !
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Aug 28, 2005
    Stamford Bridge
    i agree with the "childhood magic" comment.

    it was incredibly easy to impress me when i was young. games were just starting to take off, EVERYTHING i played seemed amazing.. every single game i played i felt like i was IN the game.. and i didn't really understand how any of this worked, so it seemed magical to me.

    fast forward to 2005. not too many games interest me anymore.. i went to university and studied computer science.. so any game i play at first might seem new and exciting, but (at least conceptually) i know how it all works and how it might have been coded. it all makes sense. there is no magic.

    i think the problem of the OP is that he wants some of that original magic back.. and that's impossible. it's sort of like getting bored of relationships because you've been through so many and you understand the underlying dynamics. are you going to stop dating and dump your current girlfriend/wife? maybe..

    life loses a lot of magic as you get older.. it's quite tragic, but it's true. i would never expect a video game to make me feel like i felt when i played civ1, space quest 2, leisure suit larry 3, sim city 1, quest for glory 2, ultima 7, etc. this will never happen again.

    having said all that, i can't stop playing civ4. it manages to take me half-way to where i used to be when i played civ1; in an imaginary land where i'm the emperor of an empire. OP: maybe you've gotten all out of the civ series that you ever will. maybe you've gotten all out of video games that you ever will? at least for now? give video games 5-10 years.. we're going to be seeing some amazing developments during that time; perhaps it will spark your imagination once again.
  7. troytheface

    troytheface Deity

    Mar 26, 2002
    i disagree with the childhood magic idea. I mean most recognize the "loss of innocence" idea at like 16. Find it hard to believe anyone would be so stupid as to not consider that.
    In so far as "losing magic" - not sure if that is true- one loses lies like Sanata Claus in favor of much more diverse psycholgical and mystical dynamics.
    The complaint was more to do with technology.
  8. allhailIndia

    allhailIndia Deity

    Feb 22, 2001
    Casa de Non Compos Mentis
    ..I still want to play one more turn at 1:00 a.m. in the morning...
  9. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

    Dec 7, 2001
    Berlin, Germany
    While I *know* such things in a general way, I nevertheless find myself sometimes not realizing that they are actually in effect in a certain situation. I guess I must be stupid by your definition. ;)

    Well, you nevertheless lost the magic. True, you gained something instead. With games like Civ, I lost the magic of the days when I simply couldn't see behind the scenes due to my growing growing knowledge of the inner workings of such games. But knowing these things now enables me to change and mod the games I like, to get even more enjoyment from them by adapting them to my personal taste, and for me, modding even is a joy in itself. So yes, I gained something, and I'm glad that I did. But that doesn't change the fact that the magic of my first gaming days will never return (an hence I don't try to get it back).

    Actually the complaint was more about the feelings the OP had while playing, or, more specifically, th lack of those. I think that's where the OP and I differ. He thinks that a redesign of the game may bring the immersion back that he wants. Maybe. But from the wy he describes his feelings, I don't see a way how this could be possible. Every strategy game is a huge database at heart, you'll always see it once you know it's there. You will always "put in a query and get canned responses", at least for next dozen of years.

    Of course, you can still be immersed in a game although you know it's a database at heart. I'm immersed in Civ4 although I know that. I probably simplified that in my previous post, it's not just black your white. Perhaps the OP could be immersed in a game where he actually roleplays an emperor, with his advisors approaching him as "real" persons in the 3d world of his palace, acting without giving canned responses. This might create the kind of immersion that the OP may want or need to mask the database underneath. But that would sacrifice a lot of the usability and efficiency that other players want, so I don't think it will happen for the Civ franchise. Besides, it would be technically difficult to do (perhaps not even possible with today's technology), and would be expensive, and wouldn't be Civ any more.
  10. troytheface

    troytheface Deity

    Mar 26, 2002
    well i certainly did not mean to call u stupid there- i was really being a bit curmudgeny (?) and i hear what ur saying- (find meself hard put now to argue how accurate u may or may not be) But i would speculate that the user is not prone to high imagination (hence the focus on "data base" ) Such people crave new technological advances to fill the creative void. But then again - not sure i could still play "pong"
    Chess players were the adult gamers in the past. A small crowd. Computer games have broadened the gaming audience - the desire to play for game sake has been replaced with the desire to be entertained (for many) - somewhat like going to the movies.
    Only so many times one can see the same flick.
  11. SLM

    SLM Warlord

    Dec 28, 2005
    CIV still is the game for me. I can still play it hour after hour. Years ago I was playing CIV for almost 24 hours, reported in sick at work and kept on playing for another 24 hours. Now that doesn't happen anymore, maybe because I'm older or maybe because the game doesn't get to me that much anymore, but I still lose any sense of time when playing the game.

    I don't know if I will keep on playing CIV IV as I have kept on playing CIV III CONQ, but it will be one or the other. I have played CIV, Alpha Centauri, SIM City, Dune, AOE, Warcraft etc etc, but CIV (and Alpha Centauri) are the only games I've kept on playing time after time. I've bought Pirates and played it a couple of times but now it's just plain boring. I've played AOE a few times, but it just didn't have what it takes to keep me interested. WCIII is a nice enough game but once you're at a certain point in the game you always win or always lose.

    CIV IV is a nice enough game and has pretty much all the character traits of a real CIV game in it, but nonetheless I keep having an "Is this all there is?" feeling while playing it, something CIVIII Conq didn't give me. It's a real shame though that game manufacturers don't seem to really ask the fans what improvements should be made in a new version of a game except maybe in some lame multiple choice polls.

    What bugged me in previous CIV games was:
    - the game stops advancing after stealth, no new improvements, techs or units
    - in the modern era, new techs follow too quickly, i.e. you've just built your first rifleman when you invent infantry.
    - AI cheating more in stead of being more intelligent at harder levels
    - weird combat outcomes (spearman defeating tank) or too random

    All these things are still present in CIV IV.
  12. Vladesch

    Vladesch Warlord

    Nov 22, 2005
    Adelaide, Australia
    Civ 3 felt like a chore to play, but I find civ 4 new and refreshing. It definitly recaptures the feel of civ 1 for me. Maybe if people are finding it boring they might find a higher difficulty level gets them back into it? Dunno, just a suggestion.
  13. Shirak

    Shirak Chieftain

    Jul 28, 2005
    Well, I am a bit perplexed by the finite comments about Civ4. If it said on the back of the box 'This game is perfect and gauranteed to please evryone' then i would not be so puzzled.
    Civ4 is a massive upgrade from all the previous offerings, and i have played EVERY version of civ ( incl playstation.......if you wanna have a moan, load and play that one!!!) and i reckon it's great to use new features and find variations on old stratagies and decision making techneques.
    As for the graphics, i was so impressed i bought a new graphics card to get the best from them.
    Sorry m8, i am definatly on the 'YES' side of the house.
  14. Colonel Kraken

    Colonel Kraken Deity

    Dec 27, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Astralis, your opening post is very well written and expresses some of the sentiment that I and many others on this site feel. You will find that members like dh_epic and AussieLurker have advocated, for over a year, a Civilization that finally has the immersive element of which you speak --truly dynamic systems of government, religion, ethnicity, trade, economy, diplomacy, immigration, emmigration, on and on and on.

    It could be done, but instead, the Civ franchise continues to use the same simplistic formula . . . and I think it's a tired formula, just as you stated. Granted, I believe Civ IV is a very nicely refined and beefed up Civ I. Just last night my wife and I kept saying "just one more turn" for two hours! We were having a lot of fun. BUT CIV COULD BE SO MUCH MORE!

    I think a lot of fear exists that if the game is significantly changed from the city-based settle, build, settle formula they will lose most of their audience. I don't think that's true at all.

    I thought I would not buy Civ IV if it used the same formula as Civ III. But, alas, I gave in and bought it. The reason is because we, as the consumer, can really modify this game to our liking. That's what I look forward to.

    Even so, I think I may say, if Civ V does not venture into new and exciting territory and include some amazing dynamic civilization experience, I will relegate it to the fate of Sim City IV.


  15. Napo981

    Napo981 ***ernEmperor

    May 26, 2005
    I remember feeling the same when I look back the first time I played to the civ franchise. It was in fact AlphaCenturi.

    Excitement was at his highest because I was exploring a new world, finding new technologies and new enemies (worms). Of course, after a few games, these feelings were gone. I already know about the worms. I already know about that new tech, and so on.

    Civ 4 is far from being a bad game. But of course, if you already have visited the world 300 hundred times, civ isn't new to you.
  16. Aku Armoton

    Aku Armoton Chieftain

    Dec 16, 2005
    Lahti, Finland
    Playing civ1 was magical experience, even when it took almost half an hour to start a new game with amiga. It putted stop to my roleplaying gaming.
    Civ 2 also gave me that feeling since it changed the game so much.
    Civ 3 on the otherhand didn't change the game that much compared to parts 1 & 2, but still it was magical.
    Now with civ 4, WOW! I'm impressed how it still is so addictive and fun to play with.
    Ability to mod the game is lifesaver for games like civ and total war series.
  17. Smidlee

    Smidlee Deity

    Jul 10, 2003
    Everytimes I read one of these posts, I can't help but to think about John Madden. You can look at his face and tell that football doesn't excite him like it once did. Still every game he claims how exciting the game will be. football is basicly the same ole game.
    In my opinion what made civ a success is it's simplicity (same as chess). The more you add to the game the more flaws and exploits starts to show up. For example , Civ3 armies is a good idea but AI couldn't handle them well so in conquest armies became almost unstoppable.
    There is a thread at GalCiv2 forum where many MOO fans wanted this game to included tactical ship battles but it was pointed out it's hard to everything well. Most games that plays both on a strategic level and tactical level, players usually find way to win againest unbelievable odds on the tactical part that makes the strategic part meanless.
  18. Fanaza

    Fanaza Warlord

    Apr 5, 2003
    You just grew up, lost your imagination, fell into a boring endless repeditive life, really are not going anywhere, probably are not an artist or creative person, and lost all your innocence. That's where building games like this get boring. We're all going to get to this phase someday.

    I'm still young though so I'll keep enjoying it for as long as I can!

    When I play civilization, even with the latest one, I think of the people I am ruling, the type of life they live, the beautiful landscapes surrounding my cities, the art they are creating, and also the epic battles that occur often. I immerse myself in a thrilling world full of imagination, and I am finding myself unable to get bored with this. I don't even realize this game is repeditive and strict since I am so taken away by my own mind.

    But like I said I'm young. You've grown up though.

    Move on.
  19. Zydor

    Zydor Emperor

    Dec 3, 2005
    I tend to side with the trend many have expressed that the current "formulae" is starting to get into a deadend. I am a great Fan of the Game, and I am fully into Civ IV as it stands.

    The next incarnation aka Civ V hopefully will take it down the road of more ...... complexity I suppose .... lots of ways that can be achieved of course, and I dont trivialise the coding issues involved. On the surface the Tech tree expansion and additional Civics, Religions, Promotions, etc etc all point down the road of an expanded Civ Baseline - lets hope so.

    The commercial pressures are of course intense, and what seems sensible on the surface, can be Commercial suicide. I dont envy the designers role in all this - they cant make it so complex and deep that it shuts off a Sector of the Consumer Market.

    All in all, still definitely a Fan, but am watching with interest as to how Soren is going to develop the changes further. The next 12/24 months are going to be interesting :)

  20. Helmling

    Helmling Philosopher King

    May 2, 2004
    Well, the forums as much as anything lured me back to Civ. I was curious when I heard all the negative reports about Civ4, I just had to investigate. I actually kind of hoped I agreed with the people who said that Civ 4 just wasn't that addictive.

    To my dismay, I find myself just as addicted as ever. I've played pretty much non-stop for 2 weeks and now I have to ween myself off so I can actually get some work done before classes start again week after next.

    I don't know why some people are frustrated, but I do remember a lot of the same complaints about Civ3 way back when. I'm not sure why some people find this iteration to be less appealing than the last, but I think it's interesting that there's always some degree of this response with a new Civ release. Perhaps people are simply in a period of adjustment. Perhaps the experience of the previous Civ's was so ingrained that this new version just doesn't feel the same, and so we have a natural reaction away from it.

    I don't know. I wish we could trade emotional responses to the game through some sort of Frankenstein apparatus. I, for one, am definitely hooked, but I simply don't have the time to maintain a Civ habit. I sincerely wish that when I looked at Civ4, I was as apathetic as you gusy are.

    Life's little ironies, eh?

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