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Ideas for The Perfect 4X Historical Game

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by AsH2, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    #5: Population
    I'm no professional dev like the firaxites, but here's a loose take on a civilization based system of population units and what they could do. I'm not married to any of this, but looking at what i posted about earlier, here's something that could mesh with it.

    Growth
    Growth is often unbalancing is 4x games, and while it shouldn't be so painfully slow that late game cities can't catch up, like civ5, it shouldn't be so easy that the optimal strategy is simply spam city centers. Civ6 isn't too far off a decent balance in this regard, as far as surplus food->growth. That can be inherited. It's a familiar thing that everyone knows.
    One thing civ6 gave us was the return of a growth limiter in Housing, a la health from civ4. I like this, and I don't think it needs to be done away with for anything much more complex. But what i would change is how housing interacts with growth and the choices players have in dealing with it.
    Housing
    First, one of the big historical issues that the current system sidesteps is overcrowding. This is because the game applies a 50% penalty to growth if you are one point below housing cap. For starters, I would have no growth penalty until you hit the cap. This keeps cities naturally tending to hurtle toward a problem point. Cities that are overcrowded suffer a number of penalties. First, a growth penalty - this is to keep things from spiraling, but also to prevent min-max players from ignoring this entirely like you could ignore health. Second, the city would suffer from an amenity penalty. The solution to overcrowding is to either build more housing, or if you exceed the cap by at least 2, expel the excess as a new "Migrant" unit:
    Taken from an idea I had about settlers, this unit would have charges; it could be activated on a city center and add 1 pop point to the city. It could not be used on overcrowded cities. The functionality of migrants would be baked into settlers as the game went on-settlers would start founding cities with more than 1 pop and could also be used to resettle those pops in other places. A Migrant unit starts with at least 3 charges, and creating one takes at least 3 pop from the city. This way, an overcrowded city will end up 1 point below the cap, applying some temporary breathing room. Expulsion does apply a penalty for a few turns, which would act to keep the overcrowding penalty active for a few turns. This is to disincentivize players from just using overcrowded cities as early game pop farms, and instead nudge them to try to fix the underlying housing problems.

    Speaking of which, Housing would be less tied to city center buildings existing and more to things that must be on the map. Improvements, yes, but now districts would grant innate housing. That growing population will demand to sprawl out. Fresh water is still the big early game source, with neighborhoods still being the late game way to build up huge towns. Aqueducts still exist as a way to get fresh water and add extra housing. Districts don't provide that much extra housing - 1 per tile at first. Since this is woefully inadequate to handle the 3 pop a district needs to be built in the first place, there will still be a natural city size cap before neighborhoods. There are other methods, but they are more limited and expensive - remember, infrastructure has meaningful upkeep now. The Aqueduct could support a building to give it more utility (eventually it would gain the housing and other benefits of a neighborhood, as would canals) and the sewer building would now grant +1 housing from districts in the city. See how I'm making you pay for those districts? Yet, this aligns the visual feedback with the game effect: Literally more city sprawl-> higher housing->bigger city. The goal of housing balance is to create a system that says "sure, you can spam a carpet of many or few cities, but cities need space, and city size is ultimately quite limited by space. So you will hit the wall one way or another." The inherent city benefits for existing would be partially offset by upkeep - twice as many cities means more instances of universities etc to pay for.

    Amenity
    The amenity usage of a city would be based on a per city penalty [generally small (~1) and not at all like civ5, but also not a free amenity like civ6] and also on its population. Pops use amenities based on their Living Standard, which I previously went through. The positive bonus of the amenity system is baked into the living standard. The penalty for not meeting amenity needs is quite harsh - at first it removes that living standard boost, then a penalty, then you start getting serious problems like Rebels, free city, etc. Luxury resources give a nice amount of amenities as always and will be distributed between cities. But, they are really just a way to avoid having to pay for the upkeep costs of entertainment complexes, buildings, and the entertainer specialist (more on that.)

    Citizens as workers: tiles and specialists and districts
    Districts

    Currently, districts are just adjacency bonus+flat building boosts. I don't like this. Now, districts will retain adjacency, which I believe is a very fun and engaging mechanic at multiple levels of play, and they will be mostly focused around the specialists that can be placed into them. Most specialty districts start with 3 specialist slots. Specialists are not cheap to run. Many of them have extra upkeep over a normal citizen, representing the fact that they need to be supported by resources and infrastructure beyond a farmer or miner. I don't mind having 3 buildings per district, but they would definitely be something built around providing +% and other utility bonuses than flat yield grabs. As a broad rule, tier1 and tier 2 buildings grant +1 citizen slot, and tier 3 improves them (often in exchange for power consumption.) So a fully built out district has 5 specialists and a boosted output. Some effects can also boost specialists- the analog to rationalism, for example, gives extra science to scientists. BTW, the general ratio of yields is that 1:c5science:/:c5culture:/:c5faith: = 3:c5gold:, 1:c5food:/:c5production:=2:c5gold:. This is how civ6 terrain yields do it, and I think it provides a good split in value between the primary yields and the more complex ones like science.
    Here's a loose cut at districts, their timings, and specialist slots:
    upload_2020-2-12_18-17-48.png
    Note how the campus isn't an ancient era district any more - it and theaters have been push back to (early) medieval! In exchange for this, though, the city center has picked up the library building. Holy Sites are still ancient to support early religion.
    Except for Commercial Hubs and harbors, most districts would have upkeep starting around 2-3 gold. This forces players to think about overbuilding. In addition, one could have the district upkeep increase as your government tier advances.
    There is another aspect i would add, City Specialization, which in conjunction with these upkeep and specialist changes, would hopefully push players to only want to build districts where they have a great location or if they have the economy to support it. City Spec. would be a way for cities to essentially declare that they are an industrial city or a research center etc and really boost that district/specialist/yield. Because you could only have so many specializations per city (really big cities might get 2) for the purpose of cost effectiveness this would incentivize having a city specialized for its best district.
    Specialists
    Note from the districts graphic that every specialist has an effective net output of 5 gold equivalent, except merchants and captains, providing 6. Entertainers would get a little more benefit from the civics tree to account for rising living standards over time - in the early game, citizens wouldn't use as many amenities as late game, so it's not as onerous as it seems. All specialists provide 1 :c5greatperson: great person point, rather than buildings. (These numbers are for comparison to our current civ6 system.) The goal of the specialist system is to force active investment into areas like science or culture to create trade-offs. The more international trade routes and merchants you need to run, the less pops you have working tiles, engineering, research, etc. While gold income is a strategy, you don't otherwise want to run a surplus when you could be using it for other outputs.The science maximizing player would seek to "run as many scientists as I can afford while not having a deficit of gold or amenities." I thought about having adjacency be the base for that district's specialist output, but imo it constrains things to a huge degree- suddenly you can't have unique mechanics allowing for high adjacency (ie Hansa) because it would break the entire game. Having some buildings work off of adjacency, though, is a great system.

    Tiles
    In order to have a flexible economic system, tile improvements need to incorporate a few things from various civ games. First, adjacency stays - this is a great mechanic. However, I think it could be expanded a little to more things than farms.
    Second, a gold yielding tile improvement would return - this would be an attempt at bringing in "improvable improvements" where a builder charge could be used to convert an improvement into a better one. One of my first posts on CFC talked about how the game might bring back cottages - I think builder charges are a great way to bypass awkward things like "must be worked for X turns." The key interaction would be something like build a trading post->build a town on that->get a 50% cost discount if you place a neighborhood on a town. "Why won't players just spam towns everywhere to get around your onerous upkeep?" Because - a town isn't being farmed or mined, and that pop working it isn't working a more lucrative specialist job. For their part, neighborhoods might also have a gold yield so there is a clear progression. One could also force towns to be built on tiles that contain roads.
    Third, the addition of improvements that have upkeep. I really liked how Beyond Earth had this entire tier of improvements that cost upkeep, and i think such a system could make for some really neat "quasi district" improvements. As long as the option exists, this has a lot of potential.
    While I would bring back the city connection to capital system, it would mostly be an indicator used to grant other bonuses.

    Traders
    I haven't given the full necessary thought to this system, but trade routes would be partially decoupled from districts. You total trader capacity would be determined mostly by your total empire population, with a few slots coming from other sources like the tech tree, wonders, etc. However, any given city could only run a set number of routes based on its infrastructure. All cities would start with 1 available, with city center building options like "Caravansary" and some commercial hub and harbor buildings increasing how many you can run from one city, as well as improving the output of those routes. This means that any size empire can invest in having great trade routes, but they have to invest. An empire of many cities would pay a high cost to all have good routes, and simply having a lot of routes doesn't mean you can push them all out of one city. That doesn't mean certain governments or policies (merchant republic anyone?) couldn't change that a little...
    Because of how important upkeep is, having profitable international routes would be critical for anyone trying to really push their empire without heavy reliance on commercial hubs.
    Water trade would be worth more than land trade. Initially, up to 2x. Railroads would also offer 2x, but late game techs/civics would increase the benefit of water routes up to 3x.
    I haven't come up with a great way for trade route value to work, so I'll have to revisit it.
     
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  2. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Deity

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    Just want to say I LOVE these two posts, and not just because it's almost Valentine's. You've nailed pretty much all of the core design changes I'd like to see implemented to get a true, fresh historical 4x experience.
     
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  3. mitsho

    mitsho Deity

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    Blushing. Thank you for the nice words. I tried to implement systems that are easy to handle and quick to understand, but at the same time allow for a lot of sophistication if the player chooses to do so.

    Spoiler for example :
    For example: Choosing to build a religious district instead of a campus first is an early decision in civ6 that pre-determines a lot later on. In my dream game, you would build a district and then fill it with either a library or a shrine or both. A good player can switch them around between city centre and district to maximize their output, but it would just be okay to just let them be there. Put your temple on the trade route and it will spread your religion faster, put it isolated and near a mountain and you will get a higher chance of unlocking an apostle. If it's near the sea, you may unlock the God of the Sea pantheon. Put your district next to a river and you can build a watermill there, maybe enhancing your temple somehow along the way. Micro-Managers can milk that system, but if you leave it be, it works by itself and maybe surprise you. And it doesn't disturb you with constant things to do.


    I made it a bit easy for myself since I am light on details, but I don't think that's worth the work. I find the militia-professional-elite unit proposal very intriguing as well, so that could really be swapped out for my system. That's not my point. I just want a game that tells a story.

    Spoiler also... :
    I also think the game needs to be pretty: Maybe you sit on your throne and look at the room filled with persons representing all the civilian units, you give a task to a scout or missionary and off he goes. You turn around and see the map (it's alive, it's not a hyper-realistic representation). You turn once more and are in the back room with the other leaders sitting around a table. I'm not sure what the other turns would be, but I prefer this to spreadsheets. In short, your throne room/parliamentary chamber/commando tent is the main screen, not the map. Not sure if that works by the way, but why not try?
     
  4. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Here's my take on Districts (preliminary: starting point for Discussion).
    A District starts as Generic: it is distinguished by the Structures you put in it. Each District has room for 5 Structures. IF 3 or more are of the same type (Religious, Military, Production, Commercial, Entertainment, Administration, etc) then the Buildings get extra Bonuses from being in a 'X District" (Religious Quarter, Market District, Crafts Quarter, - the exact names may even change as the game progresses)
    ANY District can also include extra Housing in addition to an 'automatic' housing, because until at least the Industrial Era, people live where they work, with few exceptions.
    Bonuses are all tied to Buildings/Structures, not Districts except for the potential 'Specializing' of the entire district as above.
    So, for instance, in your small first city, the City Center might originally and for a time be the only District, and in addition to the Palace/Chief's House, it might have a Shrine, Monument, and House of Warriors (Barracks). When you build a second District, you might also have the Tech for Potter's Wheels and therefore decorated pottery as a Trade Good, so in that District goes a Caravanserai for the pack trains running the Trade Route, a Market, a couple of Pottery Workshops, and (extra) Housing.
    And so on.
    Obviously, as you progress Buildings can be torn down to be built in 'new' Specialty Districts, or replaced by Bigger and Better Structures: the Shrine gives way to a complete Temple, which in turn gets 'torn down' and replaced by a Gurdwara/Stupa/Mosque/Cathedral, etc
    Adjacency Bonuses are also between Buildings, not Districts. so, a Market in a District next to a District with a Caravanserai will get an Income Boost from the Trade Goods coming in that can be sold there. Housing next to a District with a Shrine/Temple will add to Religion in the city, next to a District with a Market will have Happier people in the Housing because of access to 'retail' goods. Any Housing near the Palace-containing District (City Center) is automatically full of 'happier' people because they are Close to Power - better jobs working for the Leader and his family and ministers.

    Man, I used to love 'building' my Throne Room in Civ II!

    I don't think we can get away from the 'world map' as the basis for the game, but I think there is a legitimate Mini-Game that could be played out in the Palace/Parliament/Throne Room - with the graphic artists going wild with the potential graphic backgrounds by Civ and Culture.
    For one thing, and I've posted this idea before, I would not have any animated Leaders. Instead, Diplomatic/Trade and other negotiations would take place between Diplomats or Functionaries in some room of the Palace/Government building. The game could include almost anything here: presenting a new map to ingratiate yourself with the other Empire and they put it up on the wall next to their own map (and neither one of them is exactly accurate compared to the 'real' game map!). A Trade Agreement is concluded with gift-giving ceremonies (the Cree giving a Buffalo Robe to the Burmese Foreign Minister, who stands there sweating buckets under the massive thing while attendants fan him with great palm fronds and the rain forest can be seen out the window baking under a tropical sun), War is declared to the acclamation of the King's Bodyguard in the background, etc., etc.
     
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  5. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    Some people like the specialty from the start, some advocate for being able to have multiple districts of the same type, and still others like the generic district that becomes specialized concept.
    I wonder if such systems leaning towards generic approaches would do better if the scale of your "population units" (number of citizens) was magnified 2-3x what civ games normally use. Then you'd have enough fidelity to really represent the diverse ways to put a city together. If you needed, say, 10 pops to fully staff an industrial region instead of 3, then there would be a lot more choice. And you could extend this to multiple citizens working one tile improvement too in some cases- perhaps a generic farm has one farmer, but you can have 3 citizens working in the local iron mine, producing more ore. Maybe that's too wild.
    Although with something leaning towards what you propose, I can see making a large class of basic buildings, like what neighborhoods and city centers have, along with first tier district buildings, able to be built in any "generic district" with the first tier building being required to specialize to unlock the higher tier stuff. I still like adjacency from the map, although there is no reason you couldn't just have first tier buildings essentially inherit that terrain bonus- markets next to rivers do better. Workshops with access to strategic resources do better. Etc.
    I also think that stuff like canals, aqueducts, and dams, should be able to be more than just set pieces: they should ultimately be a water way running through a district, acting as its specialty or taking up some slot. Especially if you could work out a clean graphical way to integrate a river with your canals...
    I have always felt the city center was left too high and dry in civ6, but your remark here has made me think maybe if one were to have a "government district" that was build-able everywhere (perhaps providing more efficient management of things/increasing "administrative capacity," improving loyalty/governors/etc, what have you) having that be one of the potential functions of the city center would be neat. Then you can have all sorts of stuff like the governors mansion/provincial palace/count's keep/etc. (Sneaking in something like the Walled Quarter district from the plague scenario...)
     
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  6. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Couple of additions to your as always excellent comments/additions:
    1. I'd like to separate Specialists from General Population. That's because the percentage of the population that was Workforce and the efficiency/capabilities of the Workforce changed dramatically with the Technology, Civic and Social Policy changes in history/the game, and as education, training, personal tool access got better, the influence of each worker also changed - mostly for the better. Again, though, Specialists would be applied to Buildings, not Districts. It doesn't matter who's wandering around the District. It does matter that the best trained/educated and most motivated workers are all in the local Pottery Workshop cranking out Black Ware pots for sale overseas, increasing your Trade Income as they go. Your job as God-King/Grand Poobah is not to place individual Specialists in Slots (Too much like Micromanagement!), but to Encourage them with Social Policies, Tax Policies ("Tax Breaks for Potters!") and such to go where they will do the most good.
    Specialists, by the way, and not General Population, would also be one of the limiting factors in building your Army: Each military unit other than Scouts requires a Specialist, representing the young, healthy, fit men that should be manning the Irrigation pumps or throwing pots but instead will be dragging spears/pikes/automatic rifles around the countryside.

    2. Water Management is a HUGE part of early city development. That includes first, placing a city where it has access to water and then, making sure the water gets to where it is needed. So, for example, you'd never build or place a Farm - farmers do that, either singly or in groups. You, the Government's job, is to provide the Infrastructure that makes Farms more efficient, which means Irrigation systems of various kinds in the early game, and later, ways of getting expensive Improvements to the farms (Tax Credits again, adding Mechanization, Chemical Enhancements, Advanced Seeds) and Markets - meaning transportation systems to get the Food/Resource to anywhere in your Civ or foreign markets.
    There were some pretty sophisticated water management systems very early in the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization and the Minoan complexes, and Irrigation systems in the very first cities of the Middle East, dating back to our proposed Neolithic Period - and Irrigation mechanisms were constantly being improved, so there will be quite a few Technologies that can be applied to Better Irrigation, right down to the Modern Era.

    One of the Basic Requirements for a 'working' or 'real' City is a Heirarchy - somebody who can give orders who is not 'merely' the clan chief, family head or elder. Unless the group living in the city gets beyond the Family structure, they will never form either a city or a Civilization. So, an early 'Civic' of Heirarchial Structure is a Requirement to turn a Settlement into a City.

    A good example of what I mean is Catal Hoyuk in Anatolia - one of the first 'cities' except that all the buildings in it are virtually identical in size, and there is no sign of any communal buildings - no temples, no central storage areas, no 'palace'. Consequently, it was abandoned completely as soon as they had Drought problems - there was nothing in that group above the family to keep them together, so they split back up into separate families/clans and dispersed looking for food. In the game, Catal Huyok would be a Settlement, not a City, because it lacks a basic requirement for Citiness.

    That means that a 'true' City not only has to have a City Center District, but in that City Center there has to be an Administrative Center. These could vary by Culture/Tech/Social Structure. One common attribute of early such Communal Structures is that they were also where the surplus Food was stored - the earliest Granaries beyond the 'family larder'. In many cultures, the "Big House' was also where the Comitatus lived - the professional warriors that were the Chief's bodyguard and core of the army. IF the Leader was also fulfillng a Religious Function (very, very common) then the Shrine/Temple would be in the same District for sure.

    Taking it another step, in my tentative reworking of Great People, I'd include a Super Governor: the Great Minister. This fellow can be used to give Diplomatic, Political, Social, - all kinds of Bonuses. So far, among my identified potential Great Ministers are people like Solon of Athens, Hasdai ibn Shaprut of Cordoba, Nizam al Mulk of the Seljuks, Tlacaelel of the Aztecs, Thomas Cromwell of England, Rajah Todar Mal of the Mughuls, Axel Oxenstierna of Sweden, Cardinal Richelieu and Tallyrand of France, Duke of Olivares of Spain, John Law of Scotland/France, Benjamin Franklin and George Marshall of the USA (Both of these are 'Double Great People': Franklin can show up as either a Great Minister or a Great Scientist, Marshal as either a Great Minister or Great General).
    So, in my Ideal 4X, many of the 'local' Administrative Centers would have an In-Game Personage (Governor/Great Minister) in residence - another way of individualizing and 'personalizing' your cities.
     
  7. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    One thing I was thinking about was that the "encampment" district really doesn't have a use for a specialist in yield terms, but something analogous to "provides X additional free units" or "enables the city to support more levied units" or some similar thing would do the trick - at the end of the day it's a diversion of labor from productive uses towards feeding your military.
    Without bringing in heavy details like social class etc, one thing that i think my earlier post on how the economic mix of a civ would be pops working terrain vs specialists was trying to claw at was the same abstract concept. That is, most of your true power derives directly from specialists & how well supplied they are ("living standard" basically) and the rest of the pops are there to support that via food, commerce, etc. Exact implementation of districts notwithstanding, you can't just have ancient era farmers and hunters supporting a whole town of scientists. You have no way to pay for /support that stuff. One needn't be bounded by gold upkeep like I proposed; you could have specialists taking up more amenities, or even :c5food:/:c5production:/:c5science:/:c5culture:/:c5faith: upkeep. For example, one concept I've toyed with since civ5 was the idea that cutting edge units or structures would actually consume from your raw science output, since you need a whole technical backbone to make a stealth fighter happen. Or you could be having priests use extra food to denote temple sacrifices; a theocracy might reassign some costs as faith; etc.

    Combined with some nod to infrastructure being more efficient when everyone is grouped up, and you have a decent mix between "develop dense cities with a higher % of specialists right away" and "develop many cities with a strong economic base to support more specialists right away."

    Assuming you had a decent variety of governments, you could have each major government type provide some "administrative building" effects. Primarily, a flavor rename, and then some extra effect. Perhaps a specialist slot appears, or some bonus yield or effect (the feudal king gets elite 'knights' in addition to peasants when he levies from a regional center of power.) I don't see why you couldn't also/instead have a dedicated specialist slot, like a "Bureaucrat" with varying effects and numbers based on the government type.
     
  8. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    To maintain a well-trained, professional Army requires infrastructure. There is a reason there were large, permanent Roman Camps all over the Empire - they were not only to house the legions, but also locations for drill and weapons training and workshops for weapons and equipment maintenance. Today those types of facilities are even more complex and armies have a huge investment in trained and experienced manpower in 'support' functions. We could, therefore, have a Specialist in the Encampment's Barracks/Stable/Siege Machinery Workshop or (later) Tank Depot Maintenance Facility who could be called a Centurion (Roman), Prodromoi ("front rank man" or 'File Leader" - senior NCO in the Macedonian Army), Swordmaster (Or Mistress, in Celtic and Medieval), Drill Sergeant, Ordinance Technician, and so on.

    Perfect Blend - not only does it require Specialists to maintain high-Tech equipment and weapons, but it should take some of your Science and Ecomic (Gold) resources. The development and maintenance of weapons systems have a technical support requirement that has gone up almost exponentially throughout the 20th century. For a good and extreme example, in WWII the Soviet Army only formed 10 Mechanized Corps, their largest and best-equipped Armored Unit. They couldn't form any more, because the requirements in highly technically trained personnel to man and maintain those units outstripped the education and training level in the USSR. By 1943 the Red Army had over a million men in schools, trying to catch up with requirements for technically proficient personnel to man tank, mechanized, combat engineer, artillery and air force units, all of which required high education and proficiency levels. In both Germany and the USA that problem didn't arise, because both societies had much higher general education levels, yet they still needed an average of 12,000 (Germany) to 32,000 (USA) 'extra' personnel to keep an infantry division in the field and operating continuously. In all cases, a huge percentage of University graduates (and professors) ended up working on military equipment instead of doing anything else, an exact Trade Off of Science to Military Maintenance.

    Bureaucracy and the technologies that contribute to it (Paper, Calculating Machines, Record-Keeping and Library Science, Punch Card systems, Computers, Electronic Communications back to the telegraph, Confucian Schools) I think needs to be in the game. The efficiency of government administration and its techniques affect everything the society/Civ tries to do: from the percentage of Taxes/Gold the government can lay its hands on to the number of men they can actually get to show up for the army, Bureaucrats make it all happen. And because much of it is related to general Literacy and schooling levels in the society, it also reflects directly on Science as well as (Internal) Politics and, of course, potentially to Unrest and Rebellion.
    An Efficient Tax Collector is definitely a Two-Edged Sword.

    I would like to see Government divided: On the one hand, the Structure of the Government - Democracy, Monarchy, Theological, Constitutional, Totalitarian, etc, and then How Well it actually does what it says it wants to do: a Totalitarian government without an efficient Bureaucracy is almost impossible, for instance: the government type requires a certain level of Administrative Technology. Likewise, some non-government activities are equally dependent on Administrative Tech: Trade, Banking, and large Religious Institutions spring to mind.
    This is would allow the same 'type' of government to effectively change dramatically simply because it becomes more efficient: the difference between, for instance, the British Constitutional Monarchy of the late 17th century which was barely governing the British Isles and the same type of government in the late 19th century, when it was governing a large percentage of the World using much improved communications, record-keeping, and educational resources.
     
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  9. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    And now a word about Decision-Making in the game and Micromanagement.

    I have come to the conclusion, from playing both Civ since Civ II and Endless Legend (and a bunch of other less-well-known 4X type games) that two things will make more difference in the amount of trivial decisions and micromanagement than anything else.
    1. Streamline City Management. City management of Production, Population, Luxuries/Amenities are one of the fundamental aspects of 4X Historical games, because so far, most of the games revolve around Cities.
    2. Allow Unit Stacking. 1UPT = Move Every Single &@%$#^ Unit One At A Time. Aside from the fact that nobody has come up with a commercial AI that can handle that, it is immensely time-consuming and as your Civilization and its armies get bigger, gets worse. A system in which your 30 separate units is reduced to 4 x 6-Unit Armies and some garrisons that don't move at all is at least a 75% savings in 'mouse-time' every single turn.

    Easy to say, How to Do.

    City Management.
    First, I've come around to the Endless Legend system where All tiles next to part of the city are automatically 'worked' - no placement of workers, movement of Workers, building of 'Improvements' like Farms or Pastures - people do that, not the State. The State may have to provide the centrally-directed-and-built Irrigation Systems, but that's more a matter of Paying for them with Gold and Research to get better ones, not individually placing Irrigation Canals on the map.
    Even Mines or Fishing Grounds away from the city center can be 'automated' - if there is a Copper Deposit within Transportation Radius (which will change throughout the game as Transportation Tech advances) and you have a Need for what Copper can do for you (better tools, better weapons, Bronze, electrical wiring, shiny baubles), then all the State should have to do is Pay the local Entrepreneur his Start Up Costs and stand back.
    Add to that what I've posted elsewhere about 'devolving' Adjacency Bonuses from District to Building, and you don't have to agonize over District placement, either - slap it down next to the rest of the City, put Buildings in it - with the knowledge that very few buildings are Permanent (Candidates for Possible Permanency are the Historical Ones: Monuments, Shrines/Temples, Palaces, Wonders) so you can replace them later and don't have to worry about the Adjacency/Bonus effects 2000 years of game time later while you are placing a Market in 100 BCE.

    Ideally, the only time you should be delving into 'micromanagement' of an individual City is when you have a Crisis: you don't trust your AI governor and need to maximize some aspect of the city because of War, Natural Disaster, Revolt, or whatever other Horseman of the Apocalypse is trotting past.

    Units & Armies.
    1UPT is very tactical, and I love that, but it is completely out of time and distance scale with the rest of the game. It results in 'battles' that last 100s of years, archers that can fire from one side of a city to the other, and ancient armies (therefore, no more than a few thousand men) that cover the countryside from one city to another. I can believe 2 Impossible Things Before Breakfast (because I used to be a Christian), but that's three Historically Impossible Things and that's too many for a Historical 4X Game.

    The only way (so far used) to combine Tactical Battles with a Grand Strategy Game like a 4X is to have a Tactical Display for the battles and a 'regular' Strategic Map for everything else. On the other hand, I like the concept of Everything On The (regular game) Map announced 'way back when Civ VI was released, so leaving the regular map completely to roam around a battlefield is Not Optimal. EL (and, apparently, based on at least one screenshot, Humankind) turns part of the regular map around the stacks into a tactical map, keeping the regular map as a fade-out in the background. This worked fine in a Fantasy setting, but has a major drawback in a historical one: Nobody picked an Ancient/Classical/Medieval/Renaissance battlefield that was cluttered - since almost all troops had to fight in formations of some kind, they needed nice, open, unobstructed terrain. A battlefield based on the strategic map that is covered with forest, cliffs, etc. simply is not a realistic option, and it tends to maximize the effect of certain types of units over others - ranged units behind a river, for example, may be almost Impregnable, whereas realistically, normal bows could barely reach the far side of your average river. Then later in the game, in the Industrial and Modern Eras, battlefields were picked specifically because they were cluttered - the British defended the farmhouse at Houffalize on the Waterloo Battlefield, everybody with a rifle wanted a stone/brick village or town to hide in, every river or stream became a barrier in front of your defenses if you could manage it.

    So, how to get Realistic Battlefields and Tactical Battles into a Strategic-level game.

    My ideas (so far!) are to use the concept that the battle is being fought in a single tile, the one into which the attacker moved to confront the defender. That tile 'expands' into a Tactical layout superimposed over a grayed-out regular map. IF the average army is 4 - 8 units (Endless Legend size, so a good starting point, anyway) then a 9 x 9 tile grid is about right. The 'tactical terrain' on that grid will depend on three things:
    1. The terrain on the original tile: plains, grasslands, forest, marsh, Farm on any of those, etc - on a 9 x 9 or 81-tile tactical layout, that will form 50% of the tiles.
    2. The terrain on the 6 adjacent tiles: each will form 5% of the tiles
    3. Random Terrain Superimposed. As in, a ridge or hill somewhere, a small copse of trees, an orchard, a vineyard, a fenced pasture, a farmstead - any potential obstacle to 'clean' maneuvering.
    Random Terrain will expand as the game progresses: get muskets, and the percentage of obstacles that an army can fight over increases, rifles increase it further, modern infantry can fight almost anywhere so it may reach 33 - 40% of the Total.
    Random Terrain can also be modified by Troops and Leadership. Have a Great General and the enemy does not, and you can, to a great extent, Pick Your Battlefield - you place or remove Random elements almost at will. Professional Troops versus Militia can Pick Their Battlefield to some extent - the degree of difference, assuming low to high capabilities are: Militia - Levy- Professional - Elite: Elite with a General versus Militia means the Militia are going to start at least 3/4 beaten unless it is a very peculiar battlefield - like they are defending The Tractor Factory at Stalingrad.

    A Battle would last 3 - 4 tactical turns, after which there is a chance that any troops on adjacent 'strategic' tiles may join the fight - but only a chance, because in the Ancient/Classical/Medieval/Renaissance Eras battlefields were really very small and battles rarely lasted more than part of a single day - another force more than 10 miles away simply won't arrive in time, assuming they even know that a battle is taking place. On the other hand, starting with the mass armies of the Industrial Era (Napoleonic Armies and later) Operational Flank Attacks or attacks on the rear of an engaged army are both possible and devastating - those Militia you thought you were pounding were only there to keep you in place until the Iron Division comes up behind you.
    I think 2 'phases' is enough for a single-turn battle, and within those phases there should be a mechanism for one of the armies 'breaking' and running away and possibly being pursued by light cavalry (which may have no other useful purpose on the battlefield if they aren't horse archers or lancers) and suffer accordingly.

    And, of course, there should always be an option to Automate the entire battle - move a stack into the tile, one click and see the results, or, an In-between Mode, move to contact, select a Desired Result of Destroy, Damage, Hold, click, get another Decision Point if the battle lasts into the second 'tactical phase'.

    That should be enough variation from 'tactical micromanagement' to 'strategic overview only' to keep most gamers happy.
     
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  10. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    I've been thinking about this idea lately. I believe a partial solution is:
    A. Create an economic system such that having the map littered with military units is not common/possible
    B. To allow something analogous to the "army" system very early, with extra levels
    Expounding on B, imagine if we could have 5 levels of formation instead of 3. To prevent the combat formula from going wild, what we would do is have the early game effect be extra HP, and the later game benefit (once you have the needed civics to actually command forces like this) is start adding in the combat power. So, for example, suppose at some early civic like military training allows you to combine your troopers up. So now you can put spearmen together into a unit with 100/200/...500 HP. This unit will be half as effective as separate individual units in an abstract way - each side has 500 hit points in total but the stack has 1 attack and the individuals have 5 - but it is localized and has all those Ai advantages, because it acts like a stack.
    Supporting rule change: when you combine multiple <Spearmen> together like this, you don't suffer the "unit is damaged penalty" until the last 100 hp. This threshold goes up with civics that raise the combat power of the unit. Possible rule change contingent on veterancy/promotions: allow these stacks to be split up later. You'd just have to be careful with how to handle promotions to prevent abuse.
    Upshot: if an AI wants 30 units, they can just form up 6 stacks and move them around. If a player wants to move through ought terrain, they can do the same. Large stack of units would be ideal when dealing with a siege - since you can take 100hp of damage without actually losing a unit. This also retains the tactical simplicity of 1upt and avoids the problems with resolving true stack combat.
    Downside: it doesn't allow combined arms forces on one tile which some people really want, although IMO true stacks still don't handle that properly - only a tactical layer of battlefield can.

    This is something that I hope would somewhat approximate a lot of the issues you have written about in the past with huge armies in antiquity - you basically have a big mass of people in one spot but you can't micromanage them effectively. This is why there wouldn't be any boost in offensive ability until later - you really just have "reserves." We can tell the AI to form up units into these formations and it should be a lot better at dealing with things- especially if given a production/upkeep advantage.
    The key is making the number of times you have to touch the city - the number of "clicks" close to the number of decisions about it you need to make. If I want to build a research lab in an empty campus, let me select that and have the game add the library, uni, and lab to the queue. Allow perpetual projects. Make trade routes something you set once, run for their duration, then able to be reassigned anytime after that - but will continue their route without your intervention. Create a trade route screen where you can assign routes from a list instead of being pulled all over the map. That cuts down the majority of clicking and can make a "finished" city something you don't need to touch for 100 turns.
    This principle was inspired by corn, where you lose about 2% every time you handle the grain. Ideally it should be taken from the field to a final shipping container, but it isn't.
     
  11. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    @Gedemon 's Complete Change of Everything in Civ VI Mod has a Unit System in which each unit consists of 'fighters' and 'support/reserves'. That's been rattling around in the back of my mind as a concept applicable to a 'perfect' combat system: From Antiquity, every army had 'non-fighters' trudging along with it - servants, cart drivers and pack mule/camel drivers with supplies, the Great King/General's suite of handers-on, etc. One Tang Chinese Army that they had actual figures for consisted of 1000 heavy armored cavalry (the shock troops), about 25,000 other troops (mostly infantry spears, halbards and crossbows) and almost 50,000 'supply' or support people. I strongly suspect that is not exceptional throughout history - I know in the classical Greek armies each Hoplite usually had at least one servant along with him, and at the beginning of the 18th century the average British Regiment (1 battalion - about 900 men) averaged 500 drivers, servants, grooms, etc - all non-combatants.

    That would be a neat way to show the problems of sustaining your army a long way from home: for every 100 HP or other 'combat' measure, you need X points of 'non-combatant' population tagging along to keep your Unit from taking 'damage' - sick. starving and injured men leaking away. Once you start 'projecting' armies overseas, the Non-Combatant percentage gets ferociously large: I believe in WWII it averaged 2:1 (German, Soviet) to 5:1 (USA - trans-oceanic support) - and that's in addition to naval support for over-ocean supply lines/routes.
    And, of course, the overall size of an Army is heavily dependent not on 'Era', but on Technologies of supply, command and control, which should be represented by various Technologies and Civics.

    Exactly what I was aiming at: reduce the direct control required, reduce the number of times you have to bounce from one city to the next, the number of times you hav to go into any kind of 'City Screen' or Zoom Down.
    Be able to set a Default Mode for each city that keeps them steadily Growing, or producing Units, or Gold, or Science, or whatever other 'currencies' are in the game, so that you only have to go into the city in detail when something in the game changes, not every time their Production Queue empties or a Trade Route reaches 30 turns.

    Speaking of loss through handling, another Technological evolution missing from all 4X games so far: Containerization. Where starting in the mid-1950s (first Container Port: 1954 CE) cargo of almost any kind could be piled into a Standard Shipping Container at the origin, moved by truck, rail, ship, airplane to the destination, and Never Be Handled anywhere on the route. Damage/Missing Cargo dropped by almost an order of magnitude, volume of shipping tonnage increased by another Order of Magnitude, and within 40 years it had affected everything from labor (number of Longshoremen dropped by 75 - 9% in American ports) to Manufacturing ("Just In Time" Inventories would be impossible without container shipping). It also affects Strategic Mobility of military forces: for those Forces that invest in bases and air transport, it allows the military equipment to be kept ready and sealed in containers, and only the troops and their personal gear airlifted to the base, unseal the containers, and be fully equipped and ready to go in less than 24 hours. Shipping the equipment, in most cases, would take twice as long and 10 - 50 times more airlift capacity.
     
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  12. mitsho

    mitsho Deity

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    I fear a realistic combat system with logistics included would simply not be fun. But supply, attrition and so on needs to be represented somehow. So the system needs to be calculated automatically, and the player should be able to intervene. I would thus constrain the system to big units.

    i do agree that unit movement is bad and the primary reason against 1upt. Thats why i favor a army system. About city management, have we talked about whether we need cities at all? Maybe we can do with a tile-based system, so in war, borders are constantly shifting with troop movement. Every district, every farm, every port, every mine would be on its own.

    hey, we are talking about the perfect system after all :)
     
  13. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Agree, playing a complete Logistics System would be only slightly less fun than being shaved by a drunken friend with a rusty jackknife.
    When I thought about a Supply Line System for Civ, my conclusion was that the most complex I could put up with was a system that simply penalized you for concentrating more people than could be supplied. You had to be able to 'trace' (done by the computer) on the map a line X tiles long (varying by Tech and Terrain) to the nearest friendly city, which could supply as many units as it had Population points without straining. Supply Lines along the coast or along rivers could be much longer. Likewise, all cities connected by coastal waters or rivers (later, by an Ocean as well) could combine to support army or armies. Units in excess of the 'Supply Limit' would suffer damage as if in combat. As an alternative, you could always Live Off The Land, but that temporarily Pillaged every tile the army moved through - friendly, neutral or enemy, hungry soldiers or warriors don't discriminate. And, of course, some tiles won't support anybody: Tundra, Ice/Snow, Desert. Some armies, notably pastoral horse-nomads, can 'supply themselves' better than others, so would suffer less 'attrition' - but still could crumble in Bad Terrain, which for them would be Tundra, Ice/Snow, Desert, Forest and Rainforest - where there is no forage for their horses and thus are Deadly to them.

    Done right, the only thing the Gamer would have to keep track of is don't wander an army into the snow or the desert, don't stray too far from a friendly city unless you have a water route back to it or can live off the (enemy) Land - shouldn't be too difficult, and would preclude marching an army across half a continent to scoop up some City State, at least until somebody has built a railroad or you have a stream of steamships delivering supplies.

    Cities = Civilization is the basic equation in Civ games, and to be honest, they aren't far wrong in that. At least as a center for activity, the concept and physical presence of a city is hard to beat - even in my neck of the woods, people don't say they are going to Pierce County, unless they are going to the rural areas on the east side, they say they are going to Tacoma, the largest urban concentration.

    BUT, I think you have a point that the area around a city, and as Tech advances increasingly far from it, can be almost as important for many of the developments that are important in the game. From Classical Times, both Athens and Rome had separate Ports - Piraeas and Ostia - not directly connected to the cities (Athens built the "Long Walls" to connect to Piraeas, but the name shows that it was considered an Exceptional bit of construction work). Today, the separate Research Park or Industrial Park is increasingly a Regional rather than an Urban concentration.
    That's almost an argument for Endless Legend's (and Humankind's) Region system, but I still think that is a little too rigid. I'd rather have an increasing ability to place some kinds of Districts as separate 'speciality' sub-urban settlements: 'mining towns', 'fishing villages', a 'college town', 'crossroads (Trade Hub)' - even a Monastic Community and the village/town that grows up around it. Eventually, many of these might become part of the vast Megapolitan Sprawls of the Modern and Post-Modern Eras, but for most of history (and the game) they would be separate from the Urban Cities.

    Some of those Extra-Urban Districts, by the way, could be as early as the Classical Era - that's when the separate ports grew up in Greece and Rome, the Academe 'science' establishment was outside the city walls of Athens, and the 'Camel's Pasture' where trade caravans collected was well outside of the Persian city of the same name: Gaugamela. Most mines, of course, had a village of workers associated but were where the metals were, not anywhere near even the nearest City.
     
  14. nauberry

    nauberry Chieftain

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    Speaking of cities and more dynamic maps: In my opinion a big problem is the scale of the cities. In real war cities can change ownership quite rapidly and unless they are a major industrial city, wont cripple a country. In civ it feels that loosing one city in a war is a huge penalty. My suggestion would then be to make cities more dynamic in wars, so that they can be captured more easily, if no occypying army is present. That would make it both easier for the AI to capture cities, and also for the human player tofight a strategic war.

    If the amount of the cities would be more on the map (The map would have to be bigger) the importance of one city would be much smaller.
     
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  15. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    The problem of the "Over-Important Individual City" and the need to give it automatic Protection is a product of the fact that since Civ IV, the Civ Map and size of Civilizations has been steadily shrinking. In Civ IV, having a Civ of 15 - 20 cities was Normal. In Civ V and VI, a Civ of 8 - 10 is closer to Normal, and then not until the Renaissance Era or later. So, especially in the first half of the game, losing a single city is a much greater Disaster than before.

    Unfortunately, the only way to 'go back' would be to reduce the pressure on GPU and CPU from the game, which means, chiefly, reducing the animations now part of almost every Improvement, District, City and Unit. Given that Humankind, the new 4X Historical Challenger, is emphasizing vastly improved graphics with all kinds of 'mini-animation' in it (individual people wandering the streets of the City, elephants and deer romping through the countryside) I don't see this happening in a competitive, commercial game.
     
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  16. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    Another mitigation strategy would be to have cities that are captured/under siege be able to generate refugee pops that flee to nearby cities in your empire. If the balancing was built around total number of pops in your empire, and war refugees could help you recover ~half the threatened people, then you would effectively halve the "lost a city" effect. (This could be a combination of automatic - when a city is captured pops try to flee - and manual, such as button to evacuate. A fully besieged city would result in no success... they might even be killed between the two armies!)

    Edit: I don't know how successful wartime evacuations and resettlement were, but certainly losing access to whatever infrastructure and territory the city held would not be fun. So it would be a bad but not game ending hit - especially if you could actually up and abandon the place (leaving ruins or something behind that could be partially restored later, or something.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  17. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    There are several things that come to mind:
    1. Early in the game, up until about the Medieval Era or so, Cities were a lot more 'volatile' than we think of them. They could naturally depopulate because of continued crop failure, climate or local terrain change. So, we get Pompeii and Herculanum wiped by a Volcano, Port Royal by an earthquake/tsunami, and Neolithic sites by the score tempoarily or permanently abandoned due to crop/food failure from drought, flood or Too Much Raiding. Chester in Medieval England depopulates when its harbor silts up and disappears. Rome, through a combination of lack of food and sacks/raids. goes from almost 1,000,000 people to 30,000 in a century. A mechanism or set of mechanisms to make more of this happen - so that it becomes an accepted part of the game - would make loss of a city to another Civ less catastrophic relatively.
    2. There have been a number of massive population movements between regions. nations, or cities for various reasons. Aside from the 2- 3 century-long emigration to North America in the 18th - 20th centuries, largely for economic reasons, within the USA in the early 20th century there was a massive shift of rural black and white people from the poor agricultural South to the industrial factory jobs in the North. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries there was a steady flow of Russian population from the old 'heartland' of northwestern Russia to the south and east - not so much, in voluntary numbers, to Siberia, as to what is now the eastern Ukraine, Don and Volga basins - again, for economic reasons as in the USA.
    3. Once you have Cultures/Nationalities firmly established, there has to be a severe Disconnect between the levels of culture/technology for a city or a region to 'convert' completely. So, the Aztec or Incan areas became a hybrid of Spanish/Native, but Portugal did not become Spanish even after the entire country was conquered and supposedly 'absorbed' into Spain in the Renaissance. In the post-Industrial Era, the only major city I can think of that became completely Something Different after conquest was Konigsberg, which became Kaliningrad after WWII because the Soviets moved a bunch of Soviet citizens in and most of the original German citizens had already fled at the end of the war. But it takes such a complete population exchange and the massive coercive structure of a totalitarian state to make it happen - otherwise, you get situations where the Soviet Russians can occupy East Germany for 45 years, but it remains completely German and reverts as soon as the military weight on it is removed.

    All of which are grounds for making City Population vary dramatically for both internal and external reasons so that an utter loss of a city may have less affect, but also for making a complete Conquest and Eternal Absorption of a City very, very difficult. As another example, both Spain and later, France at one time or another conquered and occupied most of what is now Belgium, but despite both being in their time much more powerful militarily, politically and diplomatically and having much larger populations and established cultural and religious institutions, Belgium remains an independent entity both culturally and politically. That's an argument that even City States cannot be completely absorbed into a larger Civ without a lot of effort: simple military conquest is never enough.

    Finally, here's another idea: why should Victory or Success in the game depend on numbers of cities and population at all? At the End of the Game (which, presumably, means Now or the near future) an argument could be made that tiny Dubai or Switzerland are as successful or more successful than the mega-states like Russia, China. India or the USA. Switzerland, as an example, has higher levels of general contentment and 'happiness' in their population, as high a standard of living as anyone, access to cutting edge technologies, and despite centuries of being smaller than any of its neighbors, has maintained its own distinct culture and political entity.
     
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  18. mdl5000

    mdl5000 Warlord

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    some ideas

    - different victory types. "public approval victory" not dependent upon THE MOST but the highest percentage. already mentioned here in several iterations.

    - unit strength should be based on superior training, supply, morale, favorable weather, and leadership (each General would have different perks), instead of promotions. get rid of promotions.

    - automate building, eliminate micromanagement. I should give an order to my empire to build certain things without having to direct each city to do it.

    - different map overlays. a combat map was already suggested. but when it comes to air and sea battles, I always found the Civ games to be pretty lacking. maybe air and sea "routes" ought to be larger and fewer tiles to help bottleneck things a bit more and make enemy encounters more likely, and control over "routes" more critical. otherwise it's just hide-and-go-seek when it comes to naval battles in particular.

    - gold. I don't think it was perfect, but the sliders in Civ 4 made me interested in the concept of having an actual budget: you didn't get gold from resources, but gold was the profit from your spending on research, cultural borders, and espionage.

    - an empire that's tall? or wide? how about, cities can only be founded within your cultural borders. so you must go tall in order to go wide, to then go tall. it's cyclical.
     
  19. HorseshoeHermit

    HorseshoeHermit 20% accurate as usual, Morty

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    No matter how many times I see the gifted historians around here hash this out, I cannot believe that a mechanic that replicates catastrophe -of that magnitude-, at that critical point, will ever play well. I think the only hope is to make the player civilizations all, uniformly, "the lucky ones", who simply roll high on the dice by fiat.

    ... however much I really want to play a game where losing many cities can be part of what the winning side rolls with. It's just... it's so hard.
    Maybe Humanity!game starts on the right foot for this. The tiles are populated and civilized in themselves. But then adding on "Cities" are like big success stories if you can make them stay up, even for a while!, between plagues and other failures. Still, the same worry of immutable math hangs over this: If there's a way not to lose the city(ies), then only those perfect rolls will compete.
     
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  20. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    No 'historical' game - 4X or 'shooter' or RPG or whatever - can afford to hit players with the kind of 'negative events' that actually happened.
    *Bubonic Plague just hit your army - too bad, all those units you spent 20 turns each building are GONE
    *The work force building your Panama Canal Wonder were too susceptible to Yellow Fever - the Wonder evaporates, your Great Engineer dies, and everything you put into the project just went Poof!
    *Earthquake hit your city: whether it was named Lisbon, or San Francisco, or Edo, the whole thing, every District, City Center, every building, is now Pillaged. Sure hope you have a lot of Workers standing by . . .
    *About that Volcano next door - yep, another city just vanished. Are you sure you want to play this?

    Rhetorical question: NOBODY will want to play that.

    So, IF we want to add some 'negatives' to any game, they have to have certain characteristics to make them 'playable':
    1. There has to be something the gamer can do to lessen the impact, or in some cases avoid the effects, or at worst case, speed up the recovery. A Thunderbolt From On High that wrecks your game at random might be accurate, but it will also be a game that is not played twice.
    2. They can't be Historically Catastrophic. No plagues that take out half your population, no Volcanic activity that wipes the whole city off the map, no Tsunamis that depopulate the coast, destroy the infrastructure, and, just for good measure, wreck your Nuclear Plant and poison the area before you can rebuild.
    3. There has to be some good In-Game reason to risk the Negative. Civ VI actually got this one right, in that Volcanos and floods may be damaging, but they also give extra Yields to the tiles to help recover. On the other hand, not having any 'plus' side to tornado bundles or hurricanes just makes those more annoying to the gamer.

    So I will keep arguing for some Negative Events in the game, but not completely historical ones - I don't think they are playable: more specifically, I don't think anybody who isn't a masochist would want to play them.

    BUT for instance, if you start a game as a Nomadic, presumably hunter-gatherer or herding group, ala Humankind, what's to keep you from settling down as soon as possible to start a City and start 'really' playing the game? In other words, what keeps the whole 'Neolithic-Nomad' start from being just an extended First Turn?
    Well, one possible answer might be that an early city is fragile: a local drought, flood, epidemic, Mammoth stampede, might make the inhabitants throw up their hands and leave. But that cannot mean the game ends there, or Why Bother? In game terms, the city turns back into a 'roving' Unit and goes back to herding/gathering. You might 'luck out' and start an early city and be able to keep it going, but it should be a long shot - the majority of the very early Settlements/Cities (8000 to about 3500 BCE) were abandoned at some point, most of them for good, or at least until thousands of years later, when agricultural and other technologies made it easier to sustain an urban population in that location.
    To make this work, there has to be a way to 'gather' Science while you roam the landscape, as well as Food, so that the roaming start is not an utter waste of time waiting for your first City. Right now, I think this could be handled by Resources: roam over a tile with Rice or Wheat, and there should be a good chance you will figure out that planting this stuff (Agriculture) will give you a more steady food supply than wandering around looking for it. Roam over a tile with Cattle or Sheep, and Animal Husbandry/Domestication should be a possible result.

    Historically, during the Neolithic (roughly, before 3500 - 4500 BCE, or the nominal Start of Game in all previous Civilization games) is where a bunch of post-4000 BCE Civ Technologies actually belong: Agriculture, Animal Domestication and pasturing, Boating (not Sails, but paddling to off-shore islands) Fishing (including whaling), Pottery (including fired, glazed and decorated pots and statuary) and Archery. All of these have been found associated with groups that were not building 'cities' yet, from Japan to Europe and across North Africa, Mesopotamia and South and Meso-America. That means we could have a very busy game in the Neolithic scouting parts of the map, finding Resources, learning how to exploit some of them (Technologies) and possibly garnering the first Social/Civic Policies as well.
    And dodging 'disasters' that are designed to keep us moving in most cases for at least the first turns (centuries) of the game.
     

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