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Live Q&A with Firaxis on Thursday (11am PT/2pm ET)

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by SupremacyKing2, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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  2. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Here's hoping the baby plays nice, I have time off so I can maybe watch this one!
     
  3. Eagle Pursuit

    Eagle Pursuit Scir-Gerefa

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    Anyone planning to watch? I can't and am hoping for updates here.
     
  4. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    I am planning to watch.
     
  5. Barathor

    Barathor Emperor

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    A lot of Civilization questions... :undecide:

    Hope there are some Beyond Earth fans in the chat. I'm not an Apple guy, so I can't get the app to ask anything myself.
     
  6. nimling

    nimling Prince

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    Ended 8 minutes ago.
     
  7. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    I missed it.
    Anything substantial ? I don't didn't expect any bit announcements like Civ 6 or a new XCom, but did they say anything about BE 2.0 ?
     
  8. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    Nothing really new was said. To the question of future games (civ6, BE 2.0 etc), Pete just said that Firaxis will continue to make the games that fans are interested in. Pete answered some questions like "what are your favorite books to read?". Someone asked if Sid's dino game will ever be released. Answer: maybe, who knows.

    There were also a lot of civ questions:
    1) "will the ancient era be longer?"
    Pete's answer: civ has to carefully balance eras in terms of game pace but there are cool mods out there that already do this
    2) "How about mixing history with fantasy?"
    Pete's answer: that sounds cool. Fantasy does present a challenge to get players to understand it and care about it, whereas most people immediately have a sens of history.
    3) "How about putting natural disasters in civ?"
    Pete's answer: natural disasters take something away from the player's choices. When they happen to the other player, they are liked, but when they happen to you, they are not liked. So civ5 devs steered away from them.
    4) "How about an official WW1 scenario in civ?"
    Answer: that would be great. WW1 was a fascinating period in history. Official scenarios are difficult for the devs to do right.

    One interesting question was "will Firaxis release a civ SDK (software development kit) to help modders?" Pete said that was a great idea and Firaxis would think about it. He said that doing the live stream on modding in BE made him realize how cool but also how daunting modding can be, especially to newbies.
     
  9. Eagle Pursuit

    Eagle Pursuit Scir-Gerefa

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    Ah. I didn't expect any fantastical announcements, but the q&a seemed odd so I had a small hope.
     
  10. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

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    I think if you were to look at natural disasters in-game from a strictly psychological perspective, this can be classified as negative reinforcement, something game developers try to avoid (i.e. "games should be fun!"), and I agree with the decision not to include them.
    However I personally feel there is an analogy present in BE (i.e. a random event that can be rewarding or taxing, depending on a random roll of the ethereal dice) in regards to the placement of Stations, as when a Station lands in the early game right where I am focusing on establishing one of my early settlements, I will rage-quit the game, and I attribute this to previous experiences in attempting to continue to play in such games where my best lands were taken away from me, and my choices in-game narrow down to "destroy the station".

    I find this to be an extremely interesting comment, given the feedback in the below Firaxis poll. The background on this is that this Firaxis poll ran from approximately 2005 - 2010, and I did the below screen capture somewhere in 2008, three years after the poll was published. So it should have been evident to Firaxis that the fans, the Vox Populi of the games they develop, supported a SMACX 2. Yet Firaxis has said that even if they did have the rights to SMACX, they wouldn't have done a SMACX2.

    D
     

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  11. Packherd2

    Packherd2 Warlord

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    I get where they're coming from. I imagine that the market has shifted away from so called hard core gamers towards much broader and far more profitable segments where the audience expects more diversion and less devotion. Video games in general, however, have shifted too far in favor of this philosophy. The result is a general audience video game market with ever simpler games run on ever more powerful hardware. I worry that the strategy game market is also shifting this direction.

    A few months back, Sid did an interview while revisiting his remake of Pirates! I really enjoyed that game for its immersion and open-world quality. While playing it, however, Sid noted that certain aspects of the game play, such as the remarkably simulated sailing, would not have survived a contemporary design process. The struggle of learning how to tack and sail against the wind was just too realistic. This response appalled me. I had hoped very much that Starships might be Pirates! in space, an open-ended exploration game that would encourage the player to make his own story. Instead, Starships seems more like an especially clever board game.

    Don't misunderstand me: I love the idea of using computers to operate complex board game concepts. Axis & Allies just screams out for a Firaxification. And if video games and board games are converging into one product, that's fine. What bothers me is the sense that in the world of strategy video games, rather than evolving towards innovative design like Twilight Struggle, we're de-evolving back towards Risk.

    Risk is a great game! But dissolving Axis & Allies down to Risk—and calling it fun—turns me off.
     
  12. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    wow. I can't believe that something so obviously important like understanding wind direction in a game all about ships with sails is considered "too realistic".
     
  13. Sherlock

    Sherlock Just one more turn...

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    Disappointing. Seven months since BE's release and blah, blah, blah.

    I'm guessing (hoping) they're holding announcements for E3 when whatever they announce will get more buzz.
     
  14. Verrucosus

    Verrucosus Warlord

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    Games should be fun, but (to me) the huge appeal of the earlier versions of Civilization was that it was more than just a fun game. In a very entertaining way, they tried to convey something about the grandeur and the drama of history. The occasional occurrence of disasters added to that drama and to the richness of the virtual world in which it unfolded.

    Disasters were included in Civ1, they went missing in Civ2 (curiously, the manual contains crossreferences to an inexistent "disasters" section), returned in Alpha Centauri (but could be disabled with the "Bell Curve" option), were limited to disease from flood plains and jungles in Civ3, excluded from Civ4 and Civ5.

    The argument that disasters take something away from the player's choices is only valid if you design the disasters to be completely outside the player's influence. If you offer counters to disasters, you add to his choices rather than take away from it. Civ1 perfectly illustrates that: Of course, it's annoying to watch pirates raid my coastal city 4 turns away from finishing an expensive wonder, but it is adds drama to the game and the real possibility of that annoyance is what turns the choice between building a barracks in a coastal city that I want to build improvements and wonders rather than units or saving the barracks' build and upkeep cost at the risk of having bad luck from a no-brainer into an "interesting choice".

    Maybe today's designers should spend some time playing the really old games like Civ1 that had the benefit of relative simplicity and lots of pre-release testing and learn from that rather than make pretentious assumptions about players' psychology and end up with a bland world, boring choices and a predictable flow of the game.
     
  15. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    Yep, it all boils down to how disasters are implemented. It is a no-brainer that disasters should not be something OP that completely ruins a player's game for no reason and that the player cannot control. The key is to make disasters reasonable and understandable for the player and give the player ways of dealing with them.

    Here is an example of what I am talking about:
    - Climate Change (aka global warming)
    1) Bad way of implementing it: the game randomly rolls the dice to determine if the "global warming" event should happen. The event is rare but if it happens, it automatically destroys all coastals cities and reduces all grassland tiles to desert tiles. This implementation is bad because the event is completely outside the players' control and the effect completely ruins the game for the player.
    2) Good way of implementing it: each factory that is built anywhere in the world (regardless of owner) adds +1 to a global warming counter. There is a random chance each turn (proportional to how high the counter is) of a small number of random grassland tiles becoming desert tiles. Players would have options for combating this event from disbanding factories, building "green" buildings or passing a UN resolution. This would be a good way to implement this disaster because even though the event has a random component, the player still understands the mechanism for what causes it and has a way of fighting it. The player has choices. If they choose to spam factories, they will face the consequences.
     
  16. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    Well, the player has. But the AI will still do whatever the hell it wants. And I highly doubt such a system would be something that the AI can understand. But overall, yeah, such an implementation would surely be fun. Especially if it becomes a diplomatic factor later on - Nations that "produce" too much climate change get problems with Nations that want to preserve the planet, etc.

    I don't think that's really what most people think of when they talk about disasters though.
     
  17. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

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    This kind of thought process could certainly explain design decisions such as the 'quest' system in BE where choosing one of two [badly balanced] options is considered a 'quest'.

    We've seen some great games from Firaxis over the years - the best games, in fact, there's basically nobody else able to put out such gems as Alpha Centauri or Civ IV. But what goes on these latest years is, to use that same word, appaling. Firaxis needs to stop treating their fans like idiots; they're destroying their good name by doing so. No more dumbed down games avoiding being 'too realistic' for their IQ-challenged customers and no more selling games that are obviously unfinished and/or outright appalingly poorly designed (BE). Get back up on that horse, Firaxis, and put an end to this whole lowest-common-denominator business. Start selling us games that you can actually be proud of, again - which, mind you, is typically precisely those games deemed 'too realistic' here.
     
  18. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    I'm sure the development team is proud of every game they put out. I'm not sure how familiar you are with games dev, but any shipped product is usually met with some pride from the developers, nomatter how terrible the game ends up being, or however many bad commands come down from management. It's a labour of love, often made through horrendous working hours.

    What you're asking for is a game that appeals to you that you can say that they're proud of . . . in a weird world where they apparently need your personal validation. This is flawed thinking, and is end-user focused more than developer-focused in terms of vision (and analysis).

    Contemporary design involves making a game as accessible as possible without compromising the design aims the studio sets out to achieve. This is both sound economical strategy (to maximise sales) and also in terms of user enjoyment (as a greater variety of players can enjoy and thus provide feedback on the game). Video games aren't some niche hardcore simulation material that only appeal to a minute percentage of humanity anymore. What you think is "good design" could merely be vastly overcomplicated and serve only to make you feel happy about what good games are.

    On the other hand, if we were actually to have debates about contemporary design in video games (the good and the bad), that would be interesting. Simply calling games poorly-designed does you no credit, and gets the discussion nowhere as a consequence.
     
  19. Verrucosus

    Verrucosus Warlord

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    Of course, the second option requires programming, testing, tweaking and balancing whereas cutting the feature is an appealing option that saves designers from all that trouble while allowing them to say that you have made the game more fun by "streamlining gameplay".

    In my opinion, the first Firaxis game that really suffered from that trend was "Railroads". It's funny how the original "Railroad Tycoon" with its simple graphics gave you the feeling of opening up a continent whereas its pretty successor prided itself in simulating a model railroad. Civ5 put so much effort putting the quite correct observation that "Civilization" is really just a virtual boardgame so much in the player's face that the epic nature of history somehow got lost.

    It's not all about complexity, by the way. Even some changes that made the gameplay more complex have somehow contributed to the loss of magic. For example, I felt that the concept of great people was represented more impressively by the 7 wonders of the Middle Ages in Civ1 than by the mechanism introduced in Civ4 where great persons tend to get used and forgotten so quickly that you don't even bother to notice their names ... a soundbite from their texts or a picture of their art might have stopped them from becoming so bland.

    Admittedly, all of this comes down to personal preference. I simply preferred the old approach when the designers took on a new subject matter, be it Pirates, Railroads or Civilization, thought about why that topic was fascinating and tried to convey that fascination through game design and documentation (including tons of background information) to the player. The bad news is that that approach seems to have fallen out of favour. I vaguely remember a presentation by Mr Meier himself where he mentioned about how "in the old days" he tried to make his games "railroadyer"; there was an undertone of "boy, I was naive back then". The good news is that the old games still exist. To those who have aged appreciating them, they have aged very well indeed.
     
  20. nimling

    nimling Prince

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    Alpha Centauri was pretty unbalanced yo. So easy to beat the AI on transcend, and the game would end around the midpoint.

    It is possible to make compelling games that are accessible to new players. If I were a young kidlet and you showed me Civilization V, I'd be less likely to get into it than the first Civilization, even though my "strategy" as a 9-year old was a city on every tile, chieftain difficulty, games lasting to 2400 AD in despotism. etc.

    Even 9-year-old me would have balked at Civ5's 1UPT and ranged units, and the AI's inability to play it with anything like remote efficiency; just like I felt unit stacking in the original civilization was way too harsh. Bad game design is often self-evident. Combat issues in Civilization IV aren't so much because lots of units can be stacked in one tile, but because unit combat is single file, siege units were too strong, cities are deathtraps, and unit healing trivializes any war of attrition.

    Of course a lot of those issues come largely because Civilization is not a war game, and it's difficult to play out a 6000 year wargame in the time span players are given, and for the game to remain fresh. Marathon turns in the later Civ games can be really dreadful, but come close to the timescale needed to turn Civ into a serious war game.

    Biggest problem in Civ 5, beyond the lack of tradeoffs, is 1UPT and ranged units, by far. When the original developer acknowledges that it's a flawed system and why it was flawed, it's a sign someone at Firaxis should not only revamp BE, but Civilization V as well.

    In closing I don't even think it's a matter of games being dumbed down, so much as games just being dumb period.
     

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