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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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    6. Loyalty & Disloyalty
    I think a concept of loyalty is needed to represent a variety of historical forces, such as a failing state getting picked apart by neighbors, the effects of religious or ethnic blocs that transcend borders, etc.

    Where I think civ6 came up a little short was not extending their system beyond the diplomatic arena into empire management by having a lack of loyalty be disloyalty or revolt instead of "loyalty to someone else." In a vacuum, the loyalty system we have means that the only thing that fights your loyalty is another empires. You can be the worst ruler ever and as long as no one else is within 9 tiles they will never split. It is a linear system of You vs All your neighbors instead of a "polar" system of all empires vs free state/anarchy. As an example of what i mean, imagine if not managing a city well - unemployed pops, negative amenities, overcrowding - gave you a negative loyalty number on its own. But instead of this meaning some other empire would take the city, the city would simply revert to independent status. You would need to convince such a settlement to join you and your wonderful empire. So this means that settling the frontier and letting them be neglected could lead to some settlements going independent. It could mean that encampments of other people - the idea mentioned in this thread that there really aren't "empty" tiles, there are people there - that evolve into settlements might be swayed to join you. It also means there is a real penalty to bad management and this sort of scheme can be used to generate larger scale rebellions if desired. IE, when one city goes, nearby disloyal cities may join them.

    There are a ton of things in this game and previous games, like the cultural ties from civ4, or ideological pressure from civ5, or amenities in 6, that can all be rolled into +/- modifiers on a loyalty/disloyalty scale. You could even include things like empire level effects (perhaps your nation is bankrupt, or you have decided to be a rogue state in defiance of World Congress resolutions.) By having this condensed figure, designers have an expandable system that can accommodate almost anything. And players have a simple rating they can keep an eye on and understand what will happen when you don't keep it together.
     
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  2. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Instead of a Loyalty - Disloyalty duality, I'd like to propose a continium:

    Loyalty - Apathy - Disloyalty

    And, boy, can this be expanded over the current limpid Civ VI system!

    First, 'Loyalty" effects can modify almost everything else you do:
    1. Most obviously, the effectiveness of your military Units: Apathetic troops are never going to rise above a mediocre level of effectiveness, Disloyal troops may either march home (desert) or, in relatively rare but potentially catastrophic cases, join your enemies. Disloyalty or Apathy would also increase the cost of raising/building new Units - by 1813 after 20 years of war, the French government had to send troops into the countryside to physically round up new recruits because nobody was voluntarily responding to draft notices any more!
    2. Economy. We tend to forget how much of tax collection and positive response to the government is based on voluntary cooperation. When people don't care or are actively disloyal, that cooperation disappears, and Gold collected by the government can drop dramatically. Your merchants operating trade routes to other political entities may manage to hide all their taxable profits (Smuggling springs to mind) or 'squirrel them away' in the other countries, so even your Trade Route income drops. Disloyalty can diminish Income until your Civ is, effectively, Bankrupt - which is not going to increase Loyalty at all, and may precipitate Revolt or Civil War.
    3. Type of Government. To a certain extent, coercion can replace or simulate Loyalty, but some Government types coerce better than others. A Democratic government with a Disloyal population will see a change of government. A 'democratic' government that resists that change will likely have its military declare for the opposition and crumble to nothing - to make the coercive forces effective, 'democracy' almost has to become something else, like an Ideological government that can claim legitimacy outside of popularity. And, of course, having a large military to keep the Apathetic - Disloyal population in line only works so far: see the tax collecting and military recruiting problems outlined above.
    One likely result of Apathetic - Disloyal population and a government that insists on its 'right' to govern is the hiring of Mercenaries - either as foreign individuals or entire groups. This, of course, opens up another box of troubles: the Islamic caliphates invited the Turks to serve as mercenary soldiers and ended up with Turkish Sultanates running the caliphates, and the Romans recruited heavily among German tribes and ended up with German Generals running their army - and then their state.
    4. Population Loss. This is largely an Early Game phenomena, but there is strong archeological and even some early written evidence that entire populations 'voted with their feet' and simply moved away when their government/chief/civil state failed them. In other words, the government that fails to deal effectively with Natural Disaster, invasion, raids, religious upheaval, Crime In The Streets, etc will see the population lose Loyalty and migrate - in Neolithic and Ancient periods, leading to the voluntary abandonment or depopulation of entire cities.
    5. New Civics/Social Policies. Disloyalty can spawn entirely new Social systems. Basically, these start as opposition to the current system that has, for one reason or the other, Failed to deal with problems, but can quickly evolve into something else entirely. Best historical example, in 17th and 18th century Europe the 'Divine Monarchies' in England, France and other countries proved increasingly unable to deal with the social and civic problems of Enlightenment thinking, incipient industrialization, and the economic disruption caused by colonial ventures (like, farmers back home being turned into Processors of colonial raw materials and forced off their farms). That resulted in Anti-Monarch movements culminating in Regicides in both England and France - and the restoration of the monarchy in a new form in England, and an entirely new form of, first, Imperial Monarchy in France, followed (after military incompetence provided the Impetus) by a Republic. You have to look long and hard to find serious Anti-Monarchial movements in either country before increasing dissatisfaction and then Disloyalty provided the impetus to try Something New.
    On a different level, increasing dissatisfaction with the disruption of the Industrialization and concentration of wealth among Industrialists led to a host of 'new' Social/Civics: Communism, National Socialism, Social Democracy, the Progressive movement in the USA, and all the political, social, 'civic' manifestations of those that are still with us.

    In a nutshell, Fail to deal with problems or Needs of the population will increase Disloyalty. Once it crosses the threshold to Apathy, without radical measures the 'slide' will normally increase as it gets harder to get a positive response out of the population. Once it hits Disloyalty, you are looking at a change in Social Policy or Civics and/or a change in government.

    This could be tied neatly into a Fame or Happiness score for Victory: any Civ that has gone through multiple violent changes of government, policy, social structure will be taking negative modifiers to any cumulative Happiness score every time, unless the resulting changes produce near-Ecstacy among the majority of your people.

    Also, Random Events (which I think are needed besides Natural Disasters in the game) can include lots of plus and minus events to the Loyalty-Apathy-Disloyalty axis and recovery from Disloyalty. Timely or Untimely assassinations, writings, unforeseen interactions between religion, politics, social systems and fanaticism in varying degrees can keep the game from ever becoming entirely predictable, a condition from which late-game Civ VI suffers at the moment.
    As an instance, Guy Fawkes and his Plot in England was a product of politics and religion. Its failure pretty much discredited violent assassination for a while and resulted in a new Vacation/Celebration in the United Kingdom. Had it succeeded, it would have, at least, disrupted the current government, and (very low probability) might have resulted in changing political, civic, or social policies in the Civ.
    Read up on the effects of the writings of Tom Paine in both the incipient USA and England and France: an excellent historical example (along with K. Marx later) of the truism that Words Matter: the right (or wrong) writer at the right time can have the effect of a Random Event.
     
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  3. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    I was thinking something like this:
    upload_2020-2-22_16-9-33.png
    Where the city would move from the outside of the circle to the inside, or vice versa, and could exist in a Free State status wholly outside of any other civ's influence. There could be some debate about whether cities need to cross to the free state zone from apathy to actually rotate to someone else. And of course, being able to simply grant a block of cities their independence to dispense with the petulant whiners.
    A measure of good game design would also include some hysteresis so that you avoid one big pitfall of what we see with loyalty now, which is a city flipping back and forth constantly. That really shouldn't happen.
    I suppose taking certain modifiers and attaching them to loyalty - instead of putting all the chips on amenities - would be a good way to get those things like tax efficiency etc. The only thing to avoid is a empire level death spiral - those should stay localized so that if you're overextended, you'll lose the vulnerable spots and the remnant will be closer to sustainable. A cascading failure like "Random event reduces loyalty and thus tax income"->"citizens everywhere are mad about empty treasury"->"all cities become unhappy and provide less income"->repeat is not going to be a fun time.

    With that said, i do think just committing to having each empire's free cities as a faction, aka Gudenof Empire has "Gudenof Secessionists" or "Gudenof Rebels" that inherit certain diplomatic concerns from their home country would be far superior to the free for all barb towns we get now. A free State that had very high disloyalty to their home country could be solely antagonistic to their home country and no one else. Other conditions could give rise to something else, IE inverted diplomacy (enemy of my enemy is a friend) or a religious separation or some other thing.
     
  4. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    I suggest that once a City 'flips' from one status to another: Working part of Empire - Free City or Part of Empire - Revolting City or even Revolting City - Part of Empire it should 'reset' so that it doesn't go into a constant cycle. If nothing else, this can be justified on grounds of simple exhaustion: everybody is tired of all the revolutionary/rioting/unrest drama and wants time to make a living

    IF there is one thing that would bring the game closer to my "Perfect 4X Historical" it would be more interaction and interconnectivity between Culture, Civics, Social Policies, Military, Loyalty, Politics, Taxes, etc. So, there should be elements of Social Policy and Religion that will cause unrest/disloyalty, and others that may increase Loyalty but also may have other nasty side-effects. Some things are obvious: reduce the amount of Gold that you, the government, is leaching out of the economy, and people will love you - until their defensive walls start falling down, the harbor silts up, and plague breaks out because you stopped training doctors. (Almost) Everything should be a Trade Off, and the gamer should be in a constant Balancing Act, not a steady Upward Plod as in Civ games now.

    I would make it a Principle that Loyalty Is Local: what pushes one city into open revolt will merely annoy another one. There should be very few actions that would have a uniformly Negative Effect across an Empire - unless, of course, that 'empire' is composed of a single city!

    No City that has been in existence for any length of time will start a new political entity as a Blank Slate. At the very least, they start with many of the Social/Civic/Religious attributes of the 'Mother Country', and although they may have an entirely new Political structure or government (or an Old One: "The True King Has Returned!" sort of thing) they will remain very close culturally to the Homeland. BUT the longer they are Independent, the more they will diverge. What they diverge to, however, should remain modifiable by all kinds of Other Factors - who are they trading with, who has a similar government or Social structure/policy or Religion or cultural/diplomatic similarities. The Single Track in Civ VI, where city rebells, becomes Free City, joins Other Empire every time ad nauseum is Not Optimal.
     
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  5. nauberry

    nauberry Chieftain

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    Based on that and the discussion on how people don't want to have purely negative effects I got an idea. What if having disloyalty/displeasement on the current goverment could lead to two outcomes. The first outcome would be that a rebellion occurs and a new state emerges, as eas discussed here before. The second outcome would be, that a rebellion occurs, but letting it win would allow you to gain a reformed goverment, which would not be available otherwise. For example if a country with a communist goverment rebels and wins, a more democratic government emerges, such as after the soviet union. However this new government could be an oligarch led modern oligarchy government with unigue benefits and social policies.
     
  6. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Great discussion, lots to digest.

    Not going into details, I do that in my project's forum, but here is a draft for the 4X historical game I'd like to play :

    Economy
    • Stockpiling resources in cities, not globally
    • Raw resources -> Refined resources -> equipment (units "healing"/upgrade) / goods (citizen for amenities) / food (citizen, units)
    • Internal and external trade routes (sea, rivers, roads, rails, air...) to move resources from cities to cities, with different efficiency per resource and per route type (change with tech/era)
    • Population classes (lower, middle, upper) : effects linked to city yields, production, stability (needs), military, trade, governement, etc...

    Dynamic Civilizations
    • Prefilled map with Ethnic groups : linked to stability and migration mechanisms
    • Change both way from/to Tribes <-> City States <-> Civilization
    • True (or Dynamic) Spawning Dates (including ethnic groups)
    • Ability for the player to switch to another Civilization mid-game (on True Spawn Date or when splitting an Empire on collapse for example)
    • Asymetric rules and dynamic difficulty : Applying the same rules to the human and the AI has been tried long enough, but IMO it always fails to provide constant challenge, for example see how the Barbarian (using asymetric rules) in civ6 are the main opposition in the early game. But that's tricky to implement (see again civ6 Barbarians with early rushes being too penalizing and too dependent on RNG), the player must not feel "obvious cheat" and the game should still reward "good players" without always punishing them by dynamically raising the difficulty when they succeed.

    Diplomacy
    • Multiple type of alliances, possibility to have more than 2 players in an alliances
    • Tributary states, proxy wars, embargos
    • possible alliances with multiple (ie more than 2) players

    Combat
    • Limited stack, return to an "Army" mechanism which allow to stack multiple units on one tile (and unstack on adjacent tiles), with combats opposing armies, not individual units.
    • Supply mechanism to limit stacking, changing with techs/eras
    • Supply lines from cities/fort to units, moving frontlines mechanism during war (territory capture)
    • No "archer unit" firing over a 100km wide tile, limit ranged attacks to late era, but use support mechanisms (with animations) in armies combats (preparatory fire, counter-fire, opportunity fire, ambush, flanking, etc...)

    Research

    • Multiple fields for research (science, military, production, economy, culture...)
    • Prerequisite could be something else than another tech (resources, location, combats, shared knowledge from another civ, ...)
    • Separation between research and application, with "local knowledge"
    • Research points can be gained based on your actions, situation, resources, ...
    • Tech diffusion mechanisms

    Victories

    • No game-stopping victories, but victory points on intermediate objectives
     
  7. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    All agreed, with the one modification: rather than trying to model society by Social/Genetic Classes, I'd have an overall population number (as now) but also a number of Specialists. That number would almost always be different from the base population, because it represents that percentage of the total population that actually does the work: the technicians, craftspeople, farmers, priests, scribes, scientists, government book-keepers,. IF you have a society in which women are excluded from the industrial workforce (NO society completely excluded them from farming and craft work, like clothmaking, brewing, and pottery decoration) and the aristocracy doesn't get their hands dirty and the bulk of the population are Illiterate, you may have a relatively small number of Specialists that can be applied to your Craft Workshops, Factories, or Administration positions in your Palace to make everything else run smoother. Since Specialists also represent the healthy young males that go into the military, raising lots of military Units would cut into your available Specialists, which I think would neatly show the problem to a state of military versus industrial/civil manpower. It would also neatly show the 'advantages' of slave labor or mercenaries - Specialists imported from Elsewhere, but arriving with their own inherent problems attached.

    All good stuff.
    I already have a list in my Historical Timeline/Database of over 50 Neolithic/Prehistoric groups that could be applied as 'Tribes' to populate the map, and that number is just A Start.

    I think divorcing Victory from any necessity to play the same Civilization from start to finish of a game would go a long, long way towards making the game more Dynamic. IF you should manage to keep a civilization intact from 10,000 - 4000 BCE to 2020 CE that should be a major source of Bragging Rights/Victory Score - but it should also be almost Impossible in any normal game (Hint: NO civilization has historically ever even come close)

    Applying Asymmetric Rules may be an answer to the Incompetent AI, but always feels like 'cheating'. A more subtle way of doing this might be the inclusion of Random Events in the game: the birth of a Genius to boost science, technology, military, religion - or disrupt your entire Civ with a new Technology, Religion or Social Movement - or do the same to your AI opponent(s), including the Minor States/Factions. Unpredictability should be part of the game, because it's just about the only way we have to offset the Human ability to know what should be happening next that is inherent in any historically-based game.

     
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  8. nauberry

    nauberry Chieftain

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    How about a mechanic, that would buff the specialists, the longer they have been assinged to the same building/slot etc. This would simulate, that people, who spent their whole lives in the military, don't have the time to become experts in their professions. For example, the specialists would gain 1% increase to their yields per turn, until a total of 50% is reached in 50 turns. If you then take this specialist to the military, it would have to start all over again.
     
  9. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Right now I am contemplating (without having had time to pursue it too much) the idea that Specialists would be specific and have separate titles, based on the Social, Civic and Religious characteristics of the Civ, the Technology and Administrative level, etc.

    So, for example, the Specialist Slot in an early Craft Workshop (Ancient Era) could be filled by a Craft Worker that boosts the output of the Workshop.
    By the Medieval Era (roughly), that Specialist may be 'upgraded' with things like Apprenticeship programs and Guild Memberships into an Artisan - still a Specialist in a Craft Workshop, but now adding some research factor to improve the Craft production.
    With the advent of Powered Machinery and the 'Industrial Revolution', the 'craft specialist' , by application of Literacy and possibly Technical Colleges, becomes a Machinist, who, in a Factory Slot, can boost the industrial output enormously.
    BUT none of these Specialists can be easily replaced or used elsewhere: take the Craft, Artisan, or Machinist Specialist out of the Workshop, Guild Hall or Factory and make him, say, a soldier to form a new Millitary Unit, and it may be several turns before he can be replaced as an "Production Specialist".

    Many Structures could take more than one type of Specialist.

    For examples, the Palace would start with several Slots for Specialists: at least 2, maybe more based on later developments.
    Those Slots, early on, could be filled by a Priest Specialist, because much of the early 'leadership' was both religious and civil/military. You'd want to move him into a Religious Structure as soon as possible, unless you intend to become Theocracy. Another Slot or the first Slot could be occupied by the Craft Worker described above or an Artist, because the Palace was always the best market for Luxury Goods of all kinds.
    Once you get Writing, you would want to fill at least one Slot with a Scribe, a primitive Administration Specialist, who will make everything else in your City or Civ work a little more efficiently. Later that Scribe could be 'Upgraded' to a Bureaucrat and then a Minister, each upgrade improving the Bonus he gives to all the other activities in the City/Civ.
    A Temple Slot would be filled by a Priest, but later might get a second Slot that you could fill with an Artist or Craftsman/Artisan to decorate the Temple edifice - the Church was always another good market for Sumptuous Decoration, at least as good as the Palace.

    In a Library, the Slot could be filled initially by a Scribe, but this one literary instead of administrative. His Upgrade Path would be to Natural Philosopher and then Scientist.

    The Market would start with a Merchant Specialist, who could eventually become a Banker and then an Entrepreneur - both of the latter could also influence the availability of Gold to produce new Factories, Guild Halls, Workshops, Trade Routes, etc - and if you, the Government, wants to get your Taxes out of them, you'd better have a Bureaucrat or Administrator slotted to keep an eye on them!
     
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  10. AsH2

    AsH2 Warlord

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    A small update since this thread was transfered to a darker place of civfanatics forum..

    Info about Soren Johnsons Old World gave me reason to try evolve my thoughts as there are some conceptual similarities - especially Orders and Legitimacy; see history through a dynasty aspect has crossed my mind, though would not fit well with the Civ concept (I think it would split focus).
    Spoiler from Old World :

    Old World is an epic, historical turn-based strategy game from Soren Johnson, Lead Designer of Civilization 4 and Offworld Trading Company. Set in the classical era, Old World gives players the chance to not just build an empire but to found the greatest dynasty of its age. The game has many innovative features that are worth describing in detail:

    Orders
    Orders are a resource used to issue commands across your nation. Instead of moving every unit every turn, as is traditional in 4X games, each unit can be moved as many times as desired, until the player runs out of Orders. There are many other ways to spend this resource: Combat, Construction, Events, Diplomacy, and so on.

    Legitimacy
    Each ruler must prove that they are worthy of the throne. As you accomplish Ambitions, finish Wonders, and gain renown (as “the Wise” or “the Avenger” or “the Peacemaker”), your Legitimacy increases, granting additional Orders each year and improving your standing with the people.

    Succession
    Every turn in Old World represents a year, and the rulers are mortals who won’t last forever. They will need to get married and produce an heir to continue their line. When a ruler dies, the heir who takes the throne chooses a new Ambition to make a new name for him/herself.

    Events
    Old World has a powerful and deep dynamic event system that generates a procedural story for your nation based on your decisions, your accomplishments, and your characters. The game has over 1,000 unique events, many of which are inspired by historical events from the period. These events give characters Memories, Traits, and Relationships, which can then trigger later events, so be careful what you choose.

    Ambitions
    Your dynasty achieves victory by fulfilling 10 Ambitions, each one more difficult than the last. These Ambitions are dynamically generated from the Events of your game and the desires of your characters. No two games will ever play out the same way, and the wise ruler will know when to change direction.

    Politics
    Each nation has four noble families who can be granted stewardship of your cities, with each one providing unique and powerful bonuses. You’ll want to balance how to distribute cities among your families carefully as those with too many will begin to think they deserve the throne while those with too few will grow envious of their rivals. Pleased families will keep their citizenry under control while angry ones will incite revolts.

    Territories
    Cities form cohesive blocks of territory, with an urban center and rural hinterlands. Each improvement occupies a single tile, including Wonders and urban buildings, such as Shrines, Amphitheaters, and Garrisons. This territory grows based on where the player constructs Improvements and trains Specialists on the map.

    Resources
    Resources in Old World, such as Food, Wood, Stone, and Iron, are stockpiled as they are produced, to be spent on units, improvements, Wonders, and so on. Borrowing some algorithms from Offworld Trading Company, a dynamic marketplace allows players to buy and sell the resources at any time, with the prices fluctuating based on supply-and-demand.

    Technology
    The technology tree borrows mechanics from card-building games to add variety and create interesting decisions. Each technology available to research is added to the player’s deck, and when it is time to choose the next technology to research, the player draws four cards, chooses one, and then discards the others, which will not reappear until the deck is reshuffled. Thus, choosing between two desirable technologies is a difficult decision as the player knows they will not see the card they just passed over for many more turns.

    Old World is available for pre-purchase on the Epic Games Store and will launch as an Early Access title before Summer 2020.

    The perfect 4X historical game (according to me) should attract almost everyone (and then my spent time would be less of an issue for me). How to make it happen:
    Lure and catch with an arcade game feeling
    in a reasonable big web of options,
    to put and keep in a deep dungeon of possibilities (*1)​
    - kind of what Firaxis already is trying to do (but bad UI, AI, et c and halfbaked concepts will never make a total success *2).
    Spoiler 1*Lure and catch, to put and keep :
    arcade game feeling - You know, that intuitive feeling when trying a new game that don't need to be explained.
    reasonable big web of options - You know, just enough to get and keep focus.
    deep dungeon of possibilities - You know, just one more turn and then just one more game..

    Spoiler 2*Firaxis faults :
    User Interface - Are Firaxis letting script kids putting things together? To move things in Production queue: Click and then click again; To move things in Great works: Hold-click, drag and release. There's no excuse for inconsequential chosing techniques.
    Artificial Intelligence - 'Nuff said, but they'd better get back to basic and make sure AI is working as intended.
    et c and halfbaked concepts - Don't get me started.. Just hope they will give civ6 a great finish.

    From Sid Meier's Civilization: The game's objective is to "Build an empire to stand the test of time".

    Here I would like to have a nomadic start and let us define our civ through game instead of using presets. That is,
    an empire founded and built on organization and leadership to deal with more than just threats to cities,
    while exploring the world and what perks it may attribute you​
    - let presets of civs in campaigns/scenarios hint players of what cultural identities (and ethnicities) are in the (main) game and what they are about, just to attain some specific (hidden) accomplishment to be able to add that to the player/AI civ's defined identity (You know, so we can wonder about who's the netherlander, the hollander and the dutchman).

    To keep Micromanaging - for fun, but optional I would use an Authority system that (similar to Old World's Orders) would limit and make you valuate the choices -
    give Authority (free hand) to a commander or
    use Authority to intervene (micromanage) or
    just let it be by either
    reject (stop) or
    approve (execute) what's been suggested..​
    Your choice will both directly and indirectly affect your organization and further leadership.
    (to be continued)

    So to comment my initial post..
    The historical leaders (as we know them) should not allways be there in the main game, but may do grandiose presence during right circumstance - most of the time we'll just face anonymous/generic leaders.

    Instead of civ6 preset city governors, I'd like to have a rough variety of characters to present different departments in a civ's organization and factions in general.
    Those characters would be the department/faction keeper of whatever experience and knowledge they gain
    - eg the military commander-in-chief would hold long lasting "promotions" while troop units may gain themselves temporary buffs during an event (in-between turns).

    Add the Grievance system to this and a chart over relations could turn into a dense shrubbery. Though the relevance of factions will fluctuate and major events (like revolutions) will shake the chart like an etch-a-sketch - minor factions may unite in a common enemy or turn idle and built up tensions between major factions will be released in events..
    (to be continued)
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  11. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Just a few comments to specific points of an excellent overview:

    I think this captures the crux of the problem with Civ VI - there is no Test, not even a Pop Quiz of Time. Not only is there no real challenge from the AI, there are no unexpected challenges from the game itself. Once you know your own Civ and your opponents and the map, there are few if any surprises left in the game - you plod to victory 500 turns or so later along a path set in stiffening concrete with almost all digressions from the path left to the Gamer's discretion - the game itself throws no surprises, tests, or questions at you.

    At the very least, any improved 4X Historical game HAS to include an element of surprise and uncertainty - "Random Events" or situations that you have to React to, not that you can choose at will.

    More especially, make any 'presets' or Cultural/Civilization-specific factors a product largely of what that Civ faces in that particular game. So, whether a Civ is the England that develops and exploits Steam Machinery first or the England that produces gunpowder-armed infantry of special prowess or the England that develops the largest naval and merchant fleets in the world - Depends on what happens to England, what England does, and where England is in your particular game. And if your Nomadic Starters start in the middle of the continent, then without a lot of wandering, you ain't playing any recognizable England at all! (i.e., in most cases, you won't pick a historically-recognizable Civ to play until some time after the start, after you settle down)

    To make it even simpler: Reduce Direct Control unless you Pay For It. In other words, especially before 'Instant Communication' in the Atomic/Information Era, in most cases you can send a unit or units off, but what happens after that may or may not be possible for you or your 'government' to affect. To fall back on my military history background, you will give "Mission Type Orders" to your Units: "Go to X and Build/Destroy/Attack/Negotiate Z" - and off they go, and sometime later you learn what happened and what you can do to modify the outcome - if anything. Pre-Modifications should be available, as in giving them all the resources possible to accomplish the goal, attaching a Great Leader as appropriate (General, Envoy/Diplomat, Merchant, Engineer, Apostle. etc) or other available modifications as defined, possibly, by your Technology, Social/Civic Policies, Government, Religion or Random Events in effect at the time.

    NO Pre-Determined Leaders/People!

    Or, more precisely, no Guarantee you will get a specific Great person/Leader, as Civ VI does now only for Great People. Why should you know in 4000 BCE that your 'England' will be magnificently led by Alfred the Great 4800 years later? Or wretchedly run by Charles II a few hundred years after that?
    There should be a 'pool' (a Large Pool) of Historical Special People in all kinds of fields, but whether you get a specific one, and when, and how useful they are, will depend, again (all together now) on In-Game Events in your specific Game.

    And, absolutely, the majority of 'Special People' that appear will be either generic or so obscure you cannot be sure what their effect will be. As in golf, you gotta play the ball where it lies or the Person based on the situation in which they appear.
     
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