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Interview with Dennis Shirk on Front Towards Gamer

Discussion in 'News Updates' started by Ginger_Ale, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. Ginger_Ale

    Ginger_Ale Lurker Retired Moderator

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    Shanghai Six of Front Towards Gamer posted on the forums recently about an interview he conducted with Dennis Shirk, producer at Firaxis, about the transition from Civ4's gameplay to Civ5's, as well as design decisions.

    In Shanghai Six's own words, here is a summary of what Shirk had to say:

    If you get a chance, it's worth it to hear about Firaxis' decision-making straight from the source.

    >> Listen to the interview at Front Towards Gamer
     
  2. dojoboy

    dojoboy Tsalagi

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    That's disappointing.
     
  3. Aussie_Lurker

    Aussie_Lurker Deity

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    I concur. It does give some weight to those who claimed that Civ5 was being "dumbed down". Certainly Shirk himself seems to admit that-compared to Civ4-that was largely the case.

    I also don't buy his excuse about the permanency of Social Policy. History is littered with examples of Civilizations that have slipped from Democracy to Autocracy-& back again-in a limited space of time. France in the 18th & 19th Century is a great example, as is Classical Rome. When I play, I really want the ability to move out of an existing policy branch if I can see a better way forward-at a cost!

    Aussie.
     
  4. Mathalamus

    Mathalamus Emperor of Mathalia

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    well, here it is folks. civilization 5 is dumbed down. its official. i seriously hope they release somethign to reverse that.
     
  5. dojoboy

    dojoboy Tsalagi

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    Maybe an expansion that offers complexity. :please:
     
  6. Shakes

    Shakes Warlord

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    I don't think he said that. He said it's less complex, which isn't the same as dumbed down at all. You can have simple but deep games, go and chess being classic examples.
     
  7. katipunero

    katipunero Prince

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    i really don't get this CIV analogy to go and chess. I don't think they share substantial similarities. square tiles and turn-based action are all there is to match civ with go and chess.
     
  8. SkyknightXi

    SkyknightXi Chieftain

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    Well, hexagon-shaped tiles, now...

    Nonetheless, it does worry me when I see people claiming that appealing to the masses MUST involve dumbing down (I know the appeal part hasn't been brought up specifically yet, but I can sense its approach...). I can't trace the line of causality; why must it always be the least common denominator, and not the greatest common numerator? Never mind I see no reason to believe the masses are literally stupid--or, more importantly, irrevocably so.

    In any case, the point with go and chess wasn't a straight comparison with Civilization--just a point that simplicity and depth don't have to vary inversely. So, the challenge is: Don't make the game so complex that the average gamer will give up in frustration trying to take account of everything, but make sure not to relinquish even a cubic micron of depth. Let's not have this unnatural separation of casual and hardcore, shall we?
     
  9. Shakes

    Shakes Warlord

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    I'm not using it as an analogy, I'm using it as an example.
     
  10. killmeplease

    killmeplease Mk Z on Steam

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    i dont think Civ 5 was dumbed or whatever.
    what they did they removed some redundant complexity imo, and changed one things to another.
     
  11. Le Sage

    Le Sage Emperor

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    Geez. If Civ5 was to appeal to the crowd that wants Civ Rev, they could at least ahve made Civ5 beautiful and impressive. As it looks now, it doesn't appeal to those crowds for sure, since it's really graphically simplistic and even Civ4 looks better. They should have made a game with people walking in the streets of the cities and trucks travelling on the roads between cities.

    As it is now, the map we get with Civ5 is totally dead and looks like plastic. Not even the trees wave in the wind. If they made a game to appeal to the populist masses, they failed in that department too, so the only thing left now is for the modders to make it, at least, into a sophisticated and indeed complex strategy game, and I believe that is going to happen so I stay here. Also, Firaxis gets 10 points for bribing me with free Genghis!
     
  12. killmeplease

    killmeplease Mk Z on Steam

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    I agree.
     
  13. Horizons

    Horizons Needing fed again!

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    In Civ4 you won the game by spamming dozens of axemen from a single source of copper and then spam cottages in all the conquered territory. In order to defeat enemy towns and SoDs you spammed catapults and canons and suicide-bombed them. What was go complex about all that?
     
  14. Mathalamus

    Mathalamus Emperor of Mathalia

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    axeman rush: does not always happen, and you sometimes risk the rush failing because some other thing came up or defeated it. you also had to produce it just right, position it just right, mak sure the enemy dosnt have the right counters, its a lot of work and depth as a result. Dozens of axemen wouldent last that long. sure you may take one city, maybe two but the enemy will eliminate it.

    same largely goes for the combined arms... stack. you risk losing everything oif the enemy gets smart. it usually does. if they didn't fall to armies, then it may fall to nukes. ive seen the AI nuke the invasion force out of existence even though it was in their territory. im not 100% sure but they may even nuke their own city to keep it out of my hands.

    in short, stacks of doom are expensive, and quite risky, more so in the modern era. i had a smallish stack of all modern vessels plus 3 planes, just to harass Portugal. it was nuked out of existence. if i had based the majority of my army to really invade, i would be finished.
     
  15. PickledDictator

    PickledDictator Warlord

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    At least you had to build the axe's to win, now it takes 3 horses and wow, game over. You didn't have to go to war if your diplomacy was just right, a tough thing to do, in this game, you virtually HAVE to go to war.

    Cottages had to grow 50 turns, unlike tradepost spam on EVERY TILE

    the land values are so similar its a joke, at least in CIV 1-4 the tiles actually meant something.

    I like the new changes, I don't like how the ai has no clue what to do with them. 1UPT actually makes this game so much easier to win

    In fact, there is no challenge at this point left in this game....

    crossing my fingers that patches, expansions, and mods will make the game playable b/c its not in its current state.

    If you can't win on at least emperor after one month, perhaps you should go and play Civ Rev....oh wait, were already playing Civ Rev 2:rolleyes:
     
  16. Bastian-Bux

    Bastian-Bux King

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    What a simplistic bs... Ideas are fluid. Memes have a lifecycle, and a life expectancy, which isn't much longer then a human life length ... Give an idea 125 years, and it goes from birth, over wide acceptance to replacement by another idea. Heck, turns in Civ V can be longer then that.

    The USA is a mere 200 years old, and has changed beyond recognition from a rebellious colony to a superpower, to an aspiring empire and might morph even further in our lifetime. To assume that a political decision and idea made in 3000 BC still holds true in 2000 AD is like saying history doesn't happen. It's true that social policies should be changeable by a whim ... but in a game that spanns 6000 years, changes can and should happen.
     
  17. Horizons

    Horizons Needing fed again!

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    Actually the social policies system is fine. Most cultures have a particular nature that is fixed over time e.g. the British love a minimal state and free commerce, the Germans order and authority, Americans freedom, the French culture and their republic, etc. You people are talking about nations that were swept along in the U.S.'s determination to make the whole world 'democratic' but the nature of those false democracies has always been autocratic and that's why they have always tended towards autocracy and order - e.g. Russia, most African states etc.
     
  18. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

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    This is, unfortunately just as the example Shirk chose, a very simplistic, and imho also plainly wrong view on history.

    So you say Germans value order and authority. Let's see. Even if we discard the centuries in which we were seen as disorganized barbarians, our history has 840 years of small mini states in the Holy Roman Empire, led by a Kaiser who was only as strong as his electors (or his army) permitted. Very strong authority indeed. Then nationalism kicked in, and the desire to form a strong nation under a single monarch produced the short-lived German Empire. Then we had the Weimar republic which was a mix between trying to have every opinion represented in a parliamentary system while still having a strong head of state, then we had Hitler who suppressed all opinions different from his by any means possible, and now we have a republic where the head of state actually has no power except that he theoretically may object to signing a law (which almost never happens, and if he does, there are immediate complaints that he overstepped his boundaries), i.e. he has even less power than one of the weaker Holy Roman Emperors who were just puppets of their electors. Also, note that prior to the swing to the very authoritarian Nazi regime, a swing to a communist system was regarded as just as likely. Where you see a fixed desire for authority in this history is a mystery to me.

    Saying that Germans have a "fixed" desire for authority is nothing more than a bad stereotype. And as the timeline above shows, it doesn't hold more water than claims that the French under Louis XIV. wanted a republic, or Americans in the McCarthy era were particularly fixated on freedom. Wait, weren't the French and the Americans examples that you also used? Well.

    Seeing that Shirk uses such a simplistic and stereotypical view of a nation's history as an argument is ... surprising. Seeing other people defend this view as historically correct saddens me.

    The point is, if this simplistic view of history is really something that the design team was convinced of (and not just a cover-up argument which Shirk used, knowing that it would probably "sound reasonable" to many people), then they have a far more naive view on history than I thought.
     
  19. Horizons

    Horizons Needing fed again!

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    Social policies are tied to a civ's culture and reflect the cultural attributes of that civ. I can see why hardcore players want to be able to switch - the number-crunchers who insist on ultra-efficiency and maximization in every game that they play - but I'm just putting forward an argument from the point of view of a less mathematically-minded player who doesn't mind social policies being fixed and lasting decisions. And to me it feels superior to the endless switching of civics to get specific bonuses and the tedious anarchy periods of Civ4.
     
  20. Psyringe

    Psyringe Scout

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    Well, that's the problem apparently - or, to be precise, two problems:

    1. You assume that there are "fixed cultural attributes" of real life nations, which (imho) is a concept that was clearly disproven decades ago. It was popular for a while to think in such stereotypes ("Germans are inherently authoritarian", "Jews are inherently greedy", etc.) but I really wouldn't want these times to return. The historical fact is that nations do radical changes (like France going from monarchy to republic to empire to republic in short succession), as well as gradual changes (e.g. the decline of religion as a defining factor of a European nation from medieval times til now).

    2. You think that a player must be a "hardcore number cruncher" in order to enjoy a system that can model the changes described in (1).

    What you're not seeing is that a whole (and pretty large) group of players isn't interested in number crunching at all, but still prefer a Civ game's rules to model plausible historical developments. For these players, the fact that key moments in history, moments that redefined whole nations or ideas, arguably the most important moments that exist in the history of nations, simply aren't available in Civ5, is very disappointing.

    As an example: I know that it was possible in Civ4 to continuously switch government styles, especially with the Spirituality trait. And yet i never did it. Why not? Because to me, it would have been silly to have a civilization that kept switching its government structure several times a year. I wouldn't have enjoyed that. Now what does Civ5 do? It removed an exploit that I never used and introduced limitations that historically make no sense. So what have I gained from this switch? Nothing. I'm now forced to play the game in a way I enjoy less.

    I don't know if you're familiar with Soren Johnson's player typology. Soren described three types of Civ players: challenge players (who enjoy to "beat the game"), narration players (who enjoy to actively take part in the unfolding of a believable alternative history), and sandbox players (who just enjoy the atmosphere, the feeling of building up a civilization, and who don't want to be bothered too much by opponents). Your whole argument is focused on challenge players, for whom the question "policies vs civics" is a question of strategizing, number-crunching, and potential exploits. Even if you try to understand people with different preferences, you're still arguing solely from the perspective of a challenge player. And by coincidence, this is also the design philosophy with which Civ5 was developed. But fact is, there are large groups of players who had a very different way of enjoying civ. For these players, being forced to develop their civilization with completely ahistorical government limitations means a serious setback for their enjoyment.

    And to those players, Shirk's attempt to justify this design decision with historical plausibility is quite a downer. Because it shows that either the team at Firaxis was surprisingly naive in their modeling of history, or that Firaxis didn't care about their way of playing Civ, neither of which is particularly encouraging.
     

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