Measuring the success of BE

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by mike20599, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    The central contention I would make, and which I think Gorbles is making, is that the BE launch was comparatively much smoother than the Civ5 launch. Player retention is largely irrelevant to that contention. Retention rates are a function of how many people enjoy the game, once you get past any technical issues and game-breaking bugs that plague the game upon its launch. But if 80% of Civ5 players upon launch absolutely loved the game, and 20% of them couldn't get past turn 5 because of constant crashes, then that launch could be said to be less smooth than the launch of BE, if only 20% of players absolutely loved the game, but only 2% of them were facing game-breaking technical issues,

    I don't think there's much dispute that, when you put aside the technical issues, Civ5 turned into a more successful game than BE. Civ5 vanilla faced huge criticism that was unparalleled with BE, but that's probably because of a larger total player base, and because of the initial technical issues. Overall, it was clearly a more popular game than BE, and that was capitalised on with G&K in a way which hasn't really been done with BERT. But the launch itself was clearly more problematic.

    It's hard to pick a metric for demonstrating this. I'm basing it on anecdotal evidence, having been a keen observer of both launches. Perhaps the number of bug reports and tech support threads might give an indication. But player retention rates do not.
     
  2. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    Actually, no. If the question is what happened to each game at launch, we need to look at what happened to each game at launch.

    "Where are they now?" is a completely different question.

    Looking at the launch, Civ 5 had a huge spike that dropped off to a consistent level that didn't really jump until the first expansion hit.

    Beyond Earth had a spike that dropped off to a lower level than Civ 5 vanilla. The reasons are anybody's guess.

    I'm much more interested in the chart showing that Rising Tide didn't make as much of a difference as Gods & Kings did.
     
  3. Haig

    Haig Deity

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    I bought Civ V back in 2010, all the expansions as they arrived and still play the game weekly.

    Only started a few games with Beyond Earth and didn't bother to get Risting Tide.

    For me the main let-down was the "sameness" to regular Civ V, mostly because of the same engine used. The trade routes etc. just seemed like regular Civ, and while I love that game, it's hard to get into an alien planet -atmosphere with BE.

    As they used the Civ V engine, they shoud have gone really wild with design choices and thrown the usual Civ V rules to trashcan, they should have stretched that engine to it's limits with imaginative new concepts.

    I'm totally ready to move to Civ VI anyway, even Civ V is getting sometimes repetive. (but after a break I start playing it again always..)
     
  4. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    Er, in what sense are we using "engine," here?
     
  5. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    The same way most laypeople use the phrase :) It's understandable of course, but it leads to mistaken assumptions which pervade these kinds of topics.

    I've spent some time correcting these in the past (and not just on here), but the important thing is the end user typically doesn't care. The phrase "extend the game engine" is used as a catch-all reason for their chosen suggestions to be implemented, which in my opinion is what the developer(s) should focus on - the suggestions themselves.

    Required engine improvements and feasibility of said suggestions comes down to a cost / benefit analysis on the production side of things, the end user will never care about that. They'll only care about what ends up in the game vs. what they personally wanted to end up in the game :p
     
  6. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    I always consider this philosophical approach to be foolish, and as such, in any creative endeavor I undertake I will focus on what content I want to include, not what any particular end user would desire. I've never seen any particularly rational argument as to why a creative endeavor should be a service industry that places a higher emphasis on what end users desire as to what content creators desire.

    If an end user wants creative content that satisfies their personal desires... they can go and make it themselves. :p
     
  7. legalizefreedom

    legalizefreedom Inefficiency Expert

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    Except when you are a professional content creator (that is you're getting paid to do a job), it is no longer a creative endeavor.
     
  8. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Well, I have always thought it a good policy to have public funding of "creative endeavors" precisely for this reason. I have a great deal of sympathy for this perspective.

    However, as Gorbles points out it is not really applicable to the video-game industry, which exists (in theory) to meet the needs and wants of gamers ("end-users" in your terms).

    Of course, in reality the video-gaming industry exists to bring profits to its owners, but the "creative endeavor" thing is no more applicable. Ideally what is profitable is meeting the needs/wants of end-users but that is not necessarily the case.
     
  9. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    I have a great deal of empathy for this position, and indeed agreement a lot of the time. But it is key to understanding your target demographic to understand what they expect from your product(s).

    As a more realistic example, change <X> has a relatively minor ingame impact, but requires a lot of complicated work to underlying systems. The community wants <X>, and won't be particularly inclined to listen to what they can consider excuses. Some people would go as far to argue that they shouldn't be inclined to listen. I stop short of that, as all information is useful in bettering ourselves, but that's a bit of an idealistic worldview, hah.

    To tie this back to "game engine", people (ab)use the term in any number of ways to drive the validity of their own suggestions. And this is fine. I barely understand the complexities of a complete AAA game engine myself, given that it spans various expert knowledge areas and proficiencies. It is up to the developers to make the unfortunate decision of where to stop / what to not implement.

    Your post on a design-level neatly encapsulates the disconnect between end user and developer though, speaking specifically about the game's design and mechanics. Especially when there is more than one optimal solution to a creative issue (such as a flawed or broken mechanic). And there usually is!
     
  10. Hajee

    Hajee Prince

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    IMO, BE was really concept idea build for a new civ game (civ6). BE being built on the civ 5 engine, and really it is just a huge mod of civ5, I think they wanted to try new ideas features going forward for a new civ game. I really like BE in terms of the ideas and concepts. The diplomacy with the capital and the convert actions are wonderful ideas that can fit into a new civ6 game. The tech tree was also a wonderful idea, although I am not sure if it can fit in a history type civ game, but the unit upgrades mixed into the affinity system could work in a civ 6.

    Going forward I think BE was a success in terms of game play and concept design. I would very much like to see many features and concept from BE worked into civ 6.
     
  11. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Case in point :D

    The Civilisation engine, like most game engines, is a piece (or pieces) of tech that has been built on for years. There will be code from numerous past game engines within the BE codebase. The only argument that anyone could make for it being a modification of CiV is the one where you accept that all Civilisation games are mods of each other (i.e. of their predecessors).
     
  12. bouncymischa

    bouncymischa Synthetic Genie

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    I view video game design to be about as creative an endeavor as producing a film. And while there are arguments to be made about how film schools and Hollywood make a definite effort to weed out creativity and imagination in filmmakers, there are still plenty of directors, producers, and other individuals that work in the film industry that get to express their creative intent through the medium. Arguably, many of the best movies are the ones where that creativity and imagination get to shine through. Similarly, I'd say video games are best when their designers get to express their own creative vision and intent, rather than being forced into a mold of making a product aimed at catering to the market.

    I'll agree that game designers are caught between multiple competing demands. I do still feel that most people that go into creative industries do so because they want to bring their own ideas to life -- I've known plenty of artists that got frustrated at the constant parade of individuals who come by asking for someone to make their ideas a reality, rather than those the artist wants to do. At the same time, the people that run the companies, whether they be film studios, publishing houses, or video game companies, want to make money, and the most effective way to do so is to cater to what the market demands. And so those designers, writers, artists, film directors, and so on, are typically caught between their own creative desires, and the demands of those who handle their budgets.

    So I'll agree that people that produce creative content (whether books, movies, video games, or whatever) have to pay attention to what the public wants in order to maximize profitability. Exactly how much any particular producer wants to emphasize profitability vs. other priorities is up to them, however. I know of at least one privately owned gaming company (a tabletop gaming company) that, due to being privately owned, can choose exactly how much they wish to cater to the public to maximize profits, and how much they can follow their own creative interests. They've used the profits from their main game to produce several side games (of varying quality) that they wanted to make, even if their primary fanbase didn't really ask for them (or even want, in some cases). But since it's their money, they can decide what to do with it.

    In the case of a larger corporation like Firaxis, they likely have shareholders to answer to, and thus have less freedom in deciding to eschew profits in favor of vanity projects or other, more creative endeavors. But at the same time, that still doesn't mean they'll be committed to providing what certain vocal parts of the market demand. There are plenty of productions that ultimately cater to the lowest common denominator and the largest markets -- look at things like the Twilight films, or Konami's move away from more traditional video games towards mobile games. There are enormous markets out there that can apply much more market pressure than a few hardcore, traditional gamers can, and thus having a company focused on profitability over other priorities (such as making a high-quality game, or one that has a steep learning curve as some games had in the past) can ultimately work against what some in the gaming community would desire. Look at all the complaints about how companies are "dumbing down" games in order to appeal to the more casual gaming crowd with games that have less barrier to entry.

    So you have people that end up arguing that companies should prioritize "making a quality game" over profitability, but then those some companies can choose to put their own "creative vision" over creating a game those particular people desire.

    In the end, probably the main reason I dislike the whole "the gaming industry exists to serve the desires of the market" argument is because it is one that reduces agency and free will -- it's based on a philosophy that other people exist not to fulfill their own goals, but to serve the will of the person speaking. It's not particularly egalitarian, and often comes across sounding like indentured servitude. "You're not allowed to make the game you want... Your entire existence is to serve me and make what I want." In the end, of course, reality doesn't work that way. The people in these companies are all out there seeking to fulfill their own personal goals, whether that's to fulfill a particular creative vision, or to line their own bank accounts with more profits. "Serving the public" as an altruistic motive is probably pretty low on their list of priorities. Which is why I suspect those that feel those people who make entertainment products exist to satisfy their personal desires are ultimately just going to end up feeling frustrated that no one is particularly listening to them... and hence, why it's a rather foolish philosophy to follow. :p

    In the end, I would argue against the idea that "companies should listen more to the market", and more that "people should stop expecting others to provide them with what they want, and instead work towards it themselves" -- a philosophy that is more self-reliant and less dependent on others.

    And as for whether or not BE was a success... I would determine that by how many of the goals that the people involved in making it set for themselves were achieved.
     
  13. legalizefreedom

    legalizefreedom Inefficiency Expert

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    Agreed that this is the way art and by extension games should be created... through creative endeavor. It is how games become great.

    Unfortunately, there are very few (if any) companies with the funding to create AA or AAA games that value creative expression at least equally with profits.

    There are a bunch of creative people working on the games, but their creativity is severely limited due to time and money constraints.

    The best games in history were made by people whose single objective was to make a great game. That of course is unsustainable after a couple of iterations because what constitutes a great game always costs more than the last one brought in.
     
  14. MadDjinn

    MadDjinn Deity

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    this is less true than you're thinking.

    The gameplay part of the "engine" is actually able to be removed and replaced quite simply (provided you know how to code).

    Modders get the ability to change the gameplay part of the engine, in C++, but not the underlying parts. So yes, the majority of the changes from CivV -> BE is in the moddable level.

    I'm sure there was changes to the underlying structure to support some of the changes, but not directly to support some new gameplay feature in BE (aside from MP which is not in the gameplay code).

    Not that it really was a 'mod' per se, but a 'total conversion mod' with some engine tuning isn't as far off as you make it seem.

    where your argument line actually falls apart is that, while yes there is some 'old' code in the engine from previous Civs, the major title changes always change the engine code sufficiently to the point where the gameplay layer in one title can't be used with another one. Ie, upgrade from dx9->dx11, x16->x32, new techniques, new drivers, new IP protocols, new 'core engine code' (Unreal 2->3->4 sort of deal), etc.


    Major publishers vs Indies is a prime example.

    the Major Publishers (1st-3rd parties) will skew towards gruel for the masses and dodge creativity. Creativity is a risk and is boxed into being creative inside the box.

    where you start to get creativity more is when you have development houses (can have big publishers) that are independent enough to want to be creative. It's how they will make a name for themselves and get bigger/be able to keep making new games.

    Then there are the self-publishing indies. Creativity is the only reason they exist, really. It's also why there is a lot more of them and why most of them make 0-3 games then go under or get bought out by someone bigger, or make it to the next level and stop being as creative.
     
  15. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Oh, I know all of that, but having an actual engine talk is rare. I was having to be generic, but still precise. There is tech in BE that isn't backwards-compatible with CiV, and so on, and so forth. Even the rendering pipeline in RT advances the tech featured in Beyond Earth due to the coastal / ocean layer, by admission of the developers (which you're right, might not have changed since CiV), and the rendering engine is a key component in any game engine.

    I can expect there will be a multitude of changes within BE that don't exist within the G&K-timeline CiV branch or the BNW-timeline CiV branch, but likewise given the likelihood of parallel development BNW is likely to have code (but, like you said, at a gameplay level more than anything else) that BE doesn't have.

    It's a lot more complex than anyone tries to make out, and given my experience with total conversions by the time you get to calling something a "total conversion" it's often a lot more than what people mean by "modification" (depending on the game). Much like modifications with DLL injection / recompilation (see: CiV with DLL released) blur the line, in the opposite direction.

    tl;dr: there is enough variance in BE's codebase at a glance, ignoring what data-level code can be exposed to modders and even with DLL exposure from CiV's game engine to call it a new iteration. RT further separates and advances the core tech in ways even BNW didn't.
     
  16. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    Well, I have to say Gorb did a good job dragging this thread into a discussion about game engine and other forms of literalism.

    Of course arguing about these things doesn't change anything about the arguments. Whether or not Beyond Earth differentiated itself enough from Civ 5 or adds enough to the table to be seen as an unofficial addon still depends on the person asked.

    Whether or not Beyond Earth was a success probably depends mostly on whether the person values sold copies or player numbers.
     
  17. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Sure, but at least the former question can be answered by something more literal than personal opinion, though. Otherwise we just go in circles forever, with a bit of name-calling to boot :)
     
  18. MadDjinn

    MadDjinn Deity

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    Are you new here? :badcomp:


    ;)

    anyways, this thread is unlikely to get 'answered' anyways as it is definitely somewhat subjective, assuming everyone agrees on the objective facts.
     
  19. bryanw1995

    bryanw1995 Emperor

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    One way that I considered the success or lack thereof of ciV was the number of people actively viewing discussions here at civfanatics. I took General Discussion + Strategy and Tips + Creation and Customization for both forums and compared them regularly. Back when I stopped coming by here regularly a few years ago, ciV and cIV were typically pretty close in total viewing numbers, with ciV starting to pull away over time but cIV holding strong. Looking at the numbers today:

    ciV: 410
    cIV: 129
    BE: 29

    I would say that, based upon complete lack of interest in the game within just a few years of launch (and soon after an allegedly good expansion), BE has been a huge failure. That makes me sad, as I REALLY wanted to like it, but it's hard to argue with the evidence before my eyes.
     
  20. EvilNed

    EvilNed Chieftain

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    Hey,

    I never played Civ5 so my opinions might be of interest to some.

    I played Civ2 as a kid, SMAC and Civ4. I never got any expansions for any of them. Never been a Civ fanatic but I always thought the Civ games were solid, polished and fun games. The reason I never got Civ5 is because there's an inheretent sillyness in Civ games when you run around with Marines and encounter a Medieval knight - and besides I was just tired of researching pottery for the Xth time. BE seemed to move away from that and approach from a new angle, while still being a Civ game.

    I enjoyed the basegame. I won't say immensly, but I had a good playthrough or two. I conquered the world as Supremacy and thought it was fun. Some things bothered me tho, like why is the world so earth like? Here you have the oppertunity to go bonkers with an alien world and we get is a green, very earthlike world? Why?

    Another gripe I had was all these Quest decisions. They were always the same. That is, whenever I built a Xenonursery, the dilemma posed to me would be identical each playthrough. It couldn't have been hard to spend like two or three extra days for two designers to come up with some alternative dilemmans - even tho I get that balancing them would take more time.

    I read a lot about the factions getting critiqued. In the end, I can see why. I'm not to bothered by them. But yeah, some are dull. What I think is most dull of all is the lack of variation between factions. No matter which you choose, their faction "bonuses" don't really matter at all. As for a gameplay point of view, maybe it would have been better to just have them be representative of Nation states back on Earth... I think people would have responded better to that. The ones that are, are the most interesting - Like Franco-Iberia.

    The other thing is that what you pay in variation, you lose in scope. The span from space marine to cyborg super soldier isn't that great. I do think there's enough variation to keep in interesting however and I like the Unit upgrades - they add a lot.

    I think the affinities are a great touch to add variation to the game. They add different playstyles. Research was likewise interesting. I'd seen the tech "web" once before in another 4x I enjoyed - Endless Space. Also a sci-fi game. The only 4x game I managed to get absolutely awesome at (Go for Sophons and Science victory, it's kinda easy).

    So overall, I enjoyed it. But the kinda lackluster game design made it kinda dull in the long run.

    I'd like to add that most of my gripes was fixed in Rising Tide. There's more worlds to pick from, the span of units grew bigger and the addition of Ocean cities I love. After Rising Tide, most of my gameplay takes place on the oceans. In my current game, I haven't had a single land battle but I've had several ocean battles. (By the way, did they add more dilemmas? It feels as if they have.)

    Overall I enjoy the game, especially now with Rising Tide.
     

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