Improved Future Era(s)


Oct 3, 2022
At the moment, the future era in Civ VI is pretty inconsistent, dragging its feet in some ways (when it comes to units like machine guns and helicopters for example, or "future tech") but taking huge leaps in others (giant death robots, interplanetary missions, seasteads, etc.).

I think something worth thinking about for Civ VII is splitting this into two separate, more detailed eras: the Near-Future and Far-Future eras.

The Near-Future era
  • This would represent the upcoming decades, maybe to 2050 or so.
  • It would encompass a lot of nascent or impending technologies, for example:
    • quantum computing and communications
    • automated or predictive supply chains
    • blockchain
    • next-generation network infrastructure, and the Internet-of-Things
    • advanced manufacturing
    • virtual/augmented realities
    • brain-computer interfaces
    • space tourism
    • precision medicine and genetic therapies
    • 'smart' and/or 'super' materials
    • energy transition and decarbonisation
    • maglev trains
    • coilguns/railguns
    • direct-energy weapons
    • hypersonic missiles
    • advanced stealth composites
  • And potentially more far-fetched advancements like:
    • fusion reactors
    • artificial general intelligence/general AI
    • species de-extinction
    • theories for gravity and/or dark matter
    • advanced recycling (plastic reclamation, waste gasification, etc)
    • 'smart' currencies
    • active camouflage (e.g. cloaking)
    • oceanic habitats (seasteads, basically)
    • space habitats, industrialisation (such as asteroid prospecting), or even militarisation (with the potential for orbital weapons or troop deployments if not outlawed)
    • space elevators (could begin during this era at least, requiring a smart/super materials tech)
    • universal basic incomes (more of a civic really)
  • It would also be the era where climate change (if it occurs to the same extent as real-life) would begin to exert some severe effects, causing widespread droughts, floods, polar melting, extinctions, refugee crises, etc.
  • Units for this era would comprise the last generation of human combatants, interspersed with considerable automation:
    • High-tech ground forces with exoskeletons, drones (land and air, potentially including drone swarms and microdrone scouts), advanced sensors and communication networks, 'optionally-manned' support weapons, etc.
    • A combination of manned and unmanned vehicles – futuristic tanks and IFVs, next-generation aircraft/ships with autonomous wingmen, 'smartillery', etc.
The Far-Future era
  • This would represent the years beyond 2050.
  • It would encompass more out-there concepts, for example:
    • anything from the "far-fetched" list in the above Near-Future section
    • a 'theory of everything'
    • automated workforces
    • advanced cybernetics (including brain, organ and sensory implants... basically transhumanism in tandem with other techs)
    • decentralised fabrication (printing whatever you want, whenever you want)
    • advanced nanotechnologies
    • cryonics, therapeutic rejuvenation, or even immortality
    • extensive space infrastructure – energy relays, orbital superweapons (if not outlawed), large orbital habitats (around Earth, potentially the Moon or even Mars), possibly going so far as thriving planetary colonies or Dyson swarms, or interstellar travel (if the game needs to include it)
    • antimatter reactors
  • Unless mitigated, climate change impacts would be at their most pronounced here. Basically the previous era but worse – huge swathes of coastal territory underseas, severe droughts, floods and heatwaves, high risk of ecological collapse, etc.
  • Units for this era would be entirely automated, for example:
    • Androids and/or non-humanoid combat drones
    • Nanite smart-clouds
    • Where vehicles still exist, they are entirely automated, far smaller and sleeker, and may be capable of replication (of themselves, or of subservient drones) in the field
    • If we absolutely need to have a GDR, it goes here
As an aside to this, future eras could also introduce the chance of one or more 'superdisasters' that act as late-game crises and disruptors – able to unite, divide or rebalance any remaining civilisations. For example, cosmic threats (such as asteroids, solar ejections or gamma ray bursts) or just souped-up natural disasters (like magnetic pole reversal, or a Yellowstone/supervolcanic eruption event).

These detailed future eras could also very easily arrive in the form of DLC that appends the existing game, which may be highly attractive from a developer viewpoint.

Thoughts? Issues?
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I like these ideas, especially the distinction between "Near-Future" and "Far-Future". These would be especially welcome in a sandbox kind of game, where empire management comes to the fore. What sort of game mechanics would we need to keep people happy/content/avoid revolutions in these eras? Would the religion mechanics change as humans became more aligned with, or augmented by, their technology? A whole bunch of interesting anthropological and sociological questions would arise for the next eras of human civilization. The next two chapters of human history, so to speak.

But I find myself wondering about the game itself and its victory conditions. Civ1 and Civ2 had only two VCs: conquer the world or launch a spacecraft. Other games in the main franchise added diplomatic victories, religious victories, variants on the military victory, and cultural victories. BERT retained conquest but also invented 4 new victory conditions that involved various kinds of tech advances and wonder building.

If we want people to keep playing into the "Near-Future", and not just win in the Industrial or Information Eras, we need to imagine a victory condition that can only be achieved in that era. The victory condition for the "Far-Future" would need to be enticing as well, or players would finish the game before exploring those cool techs.
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