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Realism vs symbolism - or why Civilization isn't a Paradox game

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by JtW, May 29, 2016.

  1. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    I know a lot of us, myself included, judge Civilization based on how "realistic" it is. I remember 1UPT breaking my immersion at the beginning when I saw archers shooting over the English Channel. I loved Rhye's and Fall of Civilization because let's face it - a civilization surviving for 6000 years is the exception, not the rule.

    However, I think it's important to remember that Civilization was never meant to be realistic. I know it's not an original point, but it's an often overlooked one. Civilization is highly abstracted in many ways, and always has been. It's more symbolic than it is realistic.

    Starting with Civ1, it was the idea of persistent civilizations "to stand the test of time." It was the centuries-long construction of buildings. It was the same units being upgraded from neolithic warriors to modern infantry. Etc. I feel that the evolution of the franchise that peaked in Civilization 4 tried to move more towards realism - look at the complexity of Civ4's systems like health, culture, vassals, etc. This is one of the main reasons why Civ4 is still so popular, I feel - it is the most "realistic" instalment in the series.

    Civ5 took bold steps back towards abstraction and symbolism, for better or for worse. 1UPT is arguably anything but realistic on maps of this scale. As is picking policies and sticking to them 'til the end of time. As are City States the way they work in the game. In that sense, I feel that Civ5 really went "back to the roots" - picking a symbolic and recognisable representation of phenomena over a realistic one in most cases. Whether it works or not is a matter of personal taste but the commercial success of Civ5 shows that it works for most people, at least.

    Now, I feel that Civ6 is further following this trend, de-stacking of cities being the prime example. I mean, London will span throughout the British Isles on a typical map now. "Eureka" moments (boosts to research) are a great example of this, as well. They take a realistic premise ("your environment shapes your civilization") and they implement it in a highly abstracted way ("meet a civ, get writing quicker").

    When they announced it, at first I was hoping it would be impossible to research boats without access to ocean, etc. But it's not how Civilization works. It's not meant to be realistic. It's meant to be recognisable, iconic - a highly distilled version of human development. It is more a game than it is simulation. (Which is why many of us also play Paradox games - to scratch that other itch.)

    What do you guys think? Do you prefer realism or symbolism? Where do you see Civ6 going in that context.
     
  2. Callonia

    Callonia Deity

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    Relax guys, Its a game. I see it as a game. Civilization has never called it as realistic simulator. Not even once.

    Your soldiers doesn't fear death, and will fight to the last man standing. Your civilians in cities never flee to other safer cities with impending siege about to happen. Your tanks/ships don't run out of fuel. Equipment malfunction never happens. Your soldiers doesn't flee the moment coward wind hits them. Your civilization never haves a civil war. Your subjects is selfless and follow your every single whim and order, building a settlement in that distant arctic, desert place that they really really hate. They pay you 100% of the money they earn in commerce. You know everything they do. Cities never decline and become abandoned.

    If realism is desired, become the leader of what country you currently live in. lol Only then, you will know what a realistic simulator needs.

    If you want realism, Hop on over to Total war games and start up a pvp match with armies. Its the closest we can get with current games that's been released with battles in it.

    Only then you guys will realize that it sucks, because if it was realistic, and you lost your first battle.... do your best to outrun those horses or be cut down. Or be good at hiding.
     
  3. HisDivineShadow

    HisDivineShadow Chieftain

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    "Realism" and "Civ" are not even remotely connected - and of course, nor should they be. Civ is all about abstraction. How could it possibly be otherwise?
     
  4. Ezumiyr

    Ezumiyr Chieftain

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    If we are talking about realism, we should stop to use the word "civilization".
    It's a concept that can work well when we are talking about Incas or Japan. But take the case of France for example... Nobody can deny that it has a very specific culture, but when does it starts, and what defines it ?
    Historians and archaeologists tend to avoid that word, it is not enough definite and it is not useful. It is also too much associated to tendentious political ideas (you can adhere to them, and I don't want to debate about that here, but the point is that they are political, not scientific).

    So yes, Civilization is and has always been about iconic figures and representations of well-known cultures and states.

    Paradox games are maybe more realistic, but they are still about alternative history, and their more recent games leave more ground for fun elements, like restoring the Roman Empire or converting Great Britain to Hinduism. It is also a lot about shaping a dynasty/state that can stand the test of time, face the Mongols, things like that.

    In fact, I fail to see what would be a realistic historical strategy game. I don't think we have the technology to make realistic simulations of History... I guess it's more a question of degree, but so far every game focus one very specific aspects of history that fits in a game. For example, in every game you get to choose "technologies", including Paradox Games, and it's very unrealistic. Let's not talk about combat in Paradox games... When you see that they needed to give big death stacks to the Mongols so they can "realistically" invade Persia (and convert to Nestorianism)... At least in Civ5 you can conquer a city with only a few units. And what about the way "westernalization" is treated in Europa Universalis 4 ?

    I don't play Paradox games like simulations, and I think it would be a mistake. They are simply different kinds of games, associated with different feelings. Of course realism has its importance (we don't want to see Joan of Arc as the ruler of France in Civ6, and we don't want to see Aztec invaders in Crusad... wait)
     
  5. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    :confused: I'm only one person and I'm not stressed out. And this is why I made this post in the first place - to point out that looking for realism in Civ is not the most helpful mindset. :crazyeye:

    Reading through the responses, I think what I really look at is not realism but the potential for roleplay. If the abstraction goes in a direction that makes it more difficult for me to become a part of the story, I tend to hate it. This is what I didn't like about 1UPT at first.

    So let's rephrase my question: do you like the direction Civ6 is taking when it comes to symbolism/abstraction? Why or why not?
     
  6. EgyptRaider

    EgyptRaider Warlord

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    If anything, Civ has always been more of a complex, digital board game with the evolution of civilizations as its core theme than anything else. It's no historical simulator and should therefor always put gameplay over historical correctnes (All hail Cleopatra).
     
  7. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    I prefer symbolism and don't care much about realism, but the sense of immersion must be kept intact.

    To take Beyond Earth as an example: The fact that in Rising Tide's Diplomacy System Leaders judge you with what can very easily be broken down to numbers without the player really having much direct influence goes very much against what makes the game feel alive and immersive.

    A nuke-throwing Gandhi however is not realistic (as in 'it does not match the real Gandhi'), but he as a character is still believable.
     
  8. CGPanama

    CGPanama Warlord

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    I tend to stay out of the debate around "realism", but I really appreciate the OP comments and thoughts. I play Civ for a different reason than when I play CKII or EU.

    In my opinion Civ is like an impressionist's painting. Up close you see the brush strokes, the individual colors, and impurities of paint. But step back and the picture becomes clearer and often more alive than a realist's painting which tries to capture the exactitude of a scene. Reading the debate here reminds me of the conflict of opinions in the late 19th century art world in this way.
     
  9. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    I "upgraded" from playing Empire to Civ1 in the early 90s. Civ1 was a combination of Empire-like Strategy Game and a Serious Game (like Sim City) where you had to deal not only with food/production/research and war but also with unhappy/content/happy people, different kinds of government, trade, corruption, pollution, civil disorder, diplomacy ...

    In terms of seriousness, Civ1 was a milestone (EUREKA) ... Most of the serious aspects of the game were removed in later iterations to improve playability and fun/entertainment. Todays Civ Games are no longer serious games and teach you less about the world we live in.

    I do think that the later versions of Civ went into the wrong direction ... they are great games, but they are no longer serious, especially Civ5 and probably also Civ6. Maybe they should do a reboot of the series with Civ VII and go back to the roots.
     
  10. rastak

    rastak Emperor

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    I followed the exact path Historix69 did. Played lots and lots of Empire and Civ was a much more complex version of that. I have a Civ 1 game going right now with DOS box and things really changed with 3 & 4. They changed again with 5 but I still get the same feeling of exploration, building great cities and fighting wars against those that hate me. For me 5 is completely immersive and added many interesting concepts. Hope 6 is just as good.
     
  11. Spartan_X

    Spartan_X Chieftain

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    I think it is a balance between realism and symbolism. And usually the Civilization games achieved that balance very nicely, that is why they are so successful. The Civ game that is probably the closest to being realistic is Civ IV - although it is still very far off from being a ... Paradox game.
     
  12. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    Civ 3 had some really great fetures like :
    - ethnic population, ethnic workers from razing cities
    - tech trading
    - map trading
    - introducing culture and tile flipping, taking over cities via culture
    - they introduced Great Persons
    - they introduced armies
    - they introduced strategic resources
    ...

    Civ 4 dropped some of these and came up with new features
    - automatic trade routes
    - health resources
    - religion
    - colonies
    - vassel states
    ...

    Civ 5 dropped most of these and came up with new features ...
     
  13. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    Civ has always been historically themed rather than trying to emulate history.

    It's similar to say 7 Wonders in that regards where the mechanics have little to do with reality but the arts and theme is historical.

    I don' really care either way. I just want a good game first and so far I'm satisfied with the civ series boardgame feel.
     
  14. darko82

    darko82 Emperor

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    Civ games have nothing to do with reality, just like most games out there. This is a game that tries to immitate something. And this has never been a game about reflecting history or something but about re-creating it, re-immitating it, arousing our imagination etc.

    I think this is a game that makes you want to win more than experience a reality of some kind. Even though, I prefer the experience of a game itself than actual winning.
     
  15. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    Did you ever play Civ1?
     
  16. darko82

    darko82 Emperor

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    Actually, I started playing it in the mid 90s, :lol: Probably spent hunderds of hours just on Civ I. Still, it lacks enough to be called "realistic". Back then, it was imagination that played a big role, in fact. I mean, it still does, despite the technology and all the new features.
     
  17. Sir_Lancelot

    Sir_Lancelot Emperor

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    What is 1UPT? An abbreviation for what? It would be nice to spell it out at least once in the opening post. I have never seen it before, and Google could not help me. Don't assume that everybody knows.
     
  18. historix69

    historix69 Emperor

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    1upt = 1 unit per tile
     
  19. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    1 Unit per Tile

    /edit: Toooooo late.
     
  20. Tabarnak

    Tabarnak Pô Chi Min

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    Civ5 list of acronyms and terms
     

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