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Recent Q&A - 12/05

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by kwidem, May 12, 2014.

  1. AriochIV

    AriochIV Colonial Ninja

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    Civ III did have separate attack/defense attributes, and Civ IV had promotions that did essentially the same thing, specializing for attack or defense. Such specializations are only useful for the stack combat system. Civ V doesn't have attack/defense specialization because each tile can only hold one unit; instead, it has melee and ranged units.
     
  2. beetle

    beetle Deity

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    I am not remember either of those at all.

    Are you saying that with CivIII I could have a fast but essentially defensive striker???

    For IV, are you thinking about the “first strike” promotion? That was nice (and something I miss from V), but not really “essentially the same thing” as distinct values for offense/defense. There were also machine guns which were defense only.
     
  3. beetle

    beetle Deity

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    Refreshing my own memory, here are the links for Civilization III: Units and Civilization IV: Promotions.

    I think it is fair to characterize these as pale imitations of range and variety we had with the SMAC unit workshop. For III, there are only a couple units with notably higher defense than attack, and no striker units like how range rovers were used in SMAC. Naval units tended in both to be tanks, with the base attack twice as strong as defense (the ratio used in several III units).

    I had forgotten about the City Garrison promotion available in IV, even though it was one of my favorites. But again, it was applied to units that were strong on the offensive (because IV does not have split strength).

    I would argue that IV gave up the separate A/D values because the distinction was so poorly implemented in III. V did not bring it back. Without giving the player better control, I don’t see any virtue in bringing it back.

    Sadly, I had forgotten that I prefer the promotion tree from IV than what we have in V, so maybe CivBE will be an improvement?
     
  4. Lord Shadow

    Lord Shadow General

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    I agree. And I made the MoO2 comparison mainly from the aesthetic point of view: pick an appearance you deem cool/fitting and then customize features from whatever selection the game provides. While Beyond Earth likely won't let us choose unit looks beyond the overarching affinity decision, the units shown so far seem pretty good, and I wouldn't mind all the customization taking place under the hood, without affecting graphical representation further.
     
  5. AriochIV

    AriochIV Colonial Ninja

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    In Civ IV, most important combat took place attacking or defending a city, and so the City Raider (only available to Melee, Armor, and Siege unit) and City Garrison (only available to Archery and Gunpowder unit) were crucial. Even though they did not have split attack and defense attributes, Swordsmen were dedicated offensive units and Archers were dedicated defensive units.

    I am seeing what appears to be some minor variations in the infantry units; some appear to be carrying heavy weapons. So it may be that when you take something like an anti-armor promotion, you actually see a visual change in the unit. That would be pretty cool.

     
  6. Lord Shadow

    Lord Shadow General

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    Yes, there's a subtle change noticeable between the first two shots. It's harder to tell in the latter two, due to the poor quality. But if I were to venture a guess, I'd say the first two shots are generic Marines, the third is Supremacy infantry and the fourth possibly Harmony alien "cavalry" of sorts, or domesticated aliens and their handlers. I can't tell whether there's alien creatures or soldiers with really big guns. Also, there's the off-chance they're some kind of Supremacy mechs, but... I find that unlikely.
     
  7. stealth_nsk

    stealth_nsk Deity

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    Ha-ha-ha. I mean you're serious? If developers would be so stupid they would never be able to make such a game. Everyone knows how to utilize separate attack/defense mechanic. The problem is - it's too simple to use, not too complex. Unit abilities are much more interesting thing. For example, Civ4 Archers have bonuses to defense on hills and cities. This requires a little more tactical thinking than just all-time around.

    Everyone had those units you're describing. You don't need any bit of thought to invent them. And what do you mean by all units in Civ5 being "tanks"? The unit diversity in Civ5 is much bigger, because you can't have just 2 unit types (offense and defense) in stack to defeat anything.
     
  8. Catalytic

    Catalytic Chieftain

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    "Everyone had those units you're describing. You don't need any bit of thought to invent them. And what do you mean by all units in Civ5 being "tanks"? The unit diversity in Civ5 is much bigger, because you can't have just 2 unit types (offense and defense) in stack to defeat anything."

    In SMAC, you'd build a unit with either offensive strength or defensive strength. You'd stick the defensive units in the city and never attack with them and you'd stick the offensive units out in the open and do your darndest never to defend with them because it was a guaranteed loss. You did that because it was the cheapest build cost to get what you wanted. The exception was your infantry which you'd build with both offense and defense and use as assault vehicles. These are the "tanks" he's talking about - able to both deal damage AND take damage. They were more expensive, so you'd only make them for assaulting cities.

    In Civ5, they don't have separate offensive and defensive numbers. The units use the same combat strength whether they're attacking or defending. They function like those expensive assault infantry. They're "tanks". Civ5 gets around that by having big XP-related modifiers to boost the attacks of cavalry, ranged, and siege, so it's a bit of an exaggeration, but I understand what he's trying to say:

    He likes the SMAC dichotomy between dedicated offensive and defensive units. Personally, I just found it annoying to know that if I ever had a unit in the open on defense, it was going to die, and die without doing any appreciable damage to its attacker. I do enjoy the tactical elements of Civ5's promotion based system and 1UPT ruleset.
     
  9. Kissamies

    Kissamies Prince

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    I liked the idea behind the unit workshop in SMAC but the implementation could have been better. The interface made it tedious. Didn't mind it so much when designing new and unique units, but it made the chore of making the garrison units and such that I always made even more of a chore. I wished I could just save those designs and have "engineers suggest" them automatically. The infantry units looked silly with their laser cannon carts, yes. Wouldn't have minded if the unit design was limited to vehicles. I also disliked the simplicity of defense determined by armor and offense by the weapon solely. Wouldn't things like mobility and cover affect them too?

    Anyways, I do love the ship design in old and more modern 4X game series like Master of Orion or Sword of the Stars, but those have zoom in tactical combat where it matters more what kind of arnament you placed on your ship and where. Not really that comparable, I guess. Still I think a some sort of streamlined workshop with mostly meaningful options could be possible.
     
  10. beetle

    beetle Deity

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    I think there is a big difference between having units which end up with dedicated roles, and being able to construct low offense / high defense garrison units, and high offense / low defense raiders. Maybe most people just used infantry and naval, where the lower mobility meant that “tanks” were the way to go?

    I miss the CR and CG promotions in V. Late game SMAC had the ! blink special ability. Also don’t forget that units earned experience and became much better fighters rather than gaining new abilities. Veteran units had +100% attack, so that is equivalent to 3 level of promotion in CR/CG/rough/clear.

    Agreed, looks good!
     
  11. Bezurn

    Bezurn Prince

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    Well I got most of the answer I was looking for. Thanks everyone for your feedback I enjoyed reading it. Picking on the graphics and models of a ~15 year old game is not really relevant, as of course it is going to look bad compared to today's standards. Sure the infantry look silly with their grannie laser carts. Perhaps they used those "crawlers" as semi-autonomous combat vehicles and stationary mounts they could deploy on the battlefield, who knows why they had those guns on wheels.

    I will say that I enjoyed the unit workshop in SMAC. The computer would generate you very generic units which you did not have to customize at all. I did not really find it tedious, though it would have been nice to save designs for later use. When you discovered a new tech just hit approve to the ones you wanted and they would be applied to your unit roster. But it also gave you some nice options to add special abilities to units (via the mod slots) such as orbital drops, artillery, nerve gas pods ect.

    However, the promotion system works well for the roll that the special abilities you could assign in the unit workshop. So adding a second layer of customization on top of that system seems like a new system that will be superior. The fact that you don't have to micro manage the upgrade of units once a new "skill" from the "skill tree" is selected reduces to micro management, which is great.

    It looks like there will be a "skill tree" for your units. The choices may be binary such as in X-COM for class abilities. I am hoping it is a little more complex than that with mult-branch lines that meld back and forth into each other. Of course this would make it more difficult for the developers to balance.

    Now the question is will the unit upgrades for each affinity be different between the three? Or will they share the same "skill tree" while the affinity choice will just change their appearance and add some minor abilities?
     
  12. AriochIV

    AriochIV Colonial Ninja

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    We don't have any specific examples yet of the statistical value of an upgrade, just some visual examples. I think it's reasonable to assume that there will be some variety in the different upgrades available to different Affinities... otherwise there wouldn't be much point. Perhaps we will learn some more about this in the blog post tomorrow about Affinities.
     
  13. Ga1Friday

    Ga1Friday 2K Community Manager

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    Hi there. There have been several questions regarding this answer, and we have worked with Firaxis to provide a more clear response. The blog post has been edited to say (change has been underlined):

    Q. How many turns will we have at the start of a game of Beyond Earth before other factions arrive? Will they then all arrive at once?

    You can choose to have all of the factions land at the same time, or you can have the factions arrive throughout the early game, meaning that they will not all land on the planet together, so one might arrive on turn 5, another on turn 8, and so on. In either case, all players will be in the game within the first 40-50 turns. We found that in the beginning, fighting for survival against the alien world is usually enough to keep players focused. In order to keep the game competitive, late-arriving factions will get some bonuses to help them catch up. Maybe they left after you did, and arrived with more people or better technology? Eventually you’re going to have to confront them if you want to win.
     
  14. Lord Shadow

    Lord Shadow General

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    There's a difference between design and graphical quality, and I criticized the former, since the latter can only the judged within the limits of the technology of the time. But design is timeless, and many units resulting from SMAC's workshop end up looking poorly from the design perspective, early 3D aside.

    Criticizing the 3D vs. 2D choice is also quite valid. 2D was pretty advanced by the late 1990s and early 2000s, whereas 3D-rendered graphics were in a primitive, nascent stage. Even at that time, people realized 3D was very blocky, basic and not always the best choice. You had gorgeous 2D games like Commandos or Age of Empires II, which still look very decent today. Yet many games went with 3D because it was new and, in some cases, easier to craft than intricate 2D. Not to mention the fact genres with non-fixed camera perspectives and complex animation gained far more from 3D than largely static-looking games like SMAC.

    So yes, them choosing 3D over 2D for SMAC's units wasn't optimal, from my point of view. I would say it was probably a financial decision, considering all the bits and pieces which could be combined on a single unit (with several base models) due to the workshop mechanic. And if they wanted everything to be represented on the units' graphics, doing that in 2D would've been perhaps a lot more expensive than the 3D route.

    Anyway, sorry about veering off-topic. That's about it. :hatsoff:

    And thanks for the clarification, Kate! :)
     
  15. Bezurn

    Bezurn Prince

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    But no part of the question or answer had anything to do with the graphical aesthetics or artistic style and modeling choice for the units in the workshop, past or present. That is why I called it out as being irrelevant to the discussion really. I'm sorry if you took offense to it, you are of course entitled to your opinion, but I enjoyed the graphics at the time.

    Some things had to be blown out of proportion to make them stand out easier on the game map. So having bigger guns and tools made those units stand out. Perhaps the big walker lasers carts were needed as a means of transporting the advanced power that they packed.
     
  16. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    If I remember correctly (I'll have to dig out the interview), during the lead up to/launch of Civ 4, they experimented with an unit workshop and one of the issues was, indeed, aesthetics and user-friendliness due to it:

    To make the workshop work in a modular fashion, all pieces, chassis, reactors, armour and so on must fit together, making them very similar. This makes them hard to distinguish, this is especially an issue considering how important reactors were.

    In the main Civ games, the units are distinct enough that there's almost never a chance to mistake, say, a swordsman for a gatling gun. In SMAC/X, it's rather hard to distinguish a laser infantry from a quantum fusion laser infantry despite a massive difference in stats.

    Even if you liked the aesthetic, it led to very similar units. Good design needs to make the aesthetic useful, SMAC/X's units weren't.

    The Civ:BE system seems to want to tackle that by having the tiers with their visually distinct looks. Units in the same tier will probably be of similar combat strength and the affinities will allow you to get a rough idea of their specialisation, making the visuals useful.
     
  17. Bezurn

    Bezurn Prince

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    In a game which allows military units to stack it doesn't really matter how much information you can glean by just looking at the artwork of the unit on the map. You will, in most cases, need to examine the stack and determine the composition of the units that are attacking / defending. So the utility of unique artwork for different units loses a lot of supposed 'good design' when you still have to use the alternate means to typically discern the unit composition you are facing
     
  18. Lord Shadow

    Lord Shadow General

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    Thing is, you've just disproven SMAC's necessity of having visually representative units. Being a stack-based game, that effort is wasted and you end up with ugly, samey units for no benefit at all.

    Anyway, I was talking about aesthetic design, whereas Lord Tirian posted about functional design. The SMAC units are visually functional, as he explained, and you rightfully questioned that functionality given units often move in heterogenous stacks, depriving players of the ability to tell much at a glance. But many people don't find the resulting artwork aesthetically pleasing unlike, in my case, contemporaries such as Civ3, Civ2 Test of Time or even base Civ2. Technological differences between today and then don't come into it.

    Finally, to clarify, I began mostly arguing against this statement of yours: "Picking on the graphics and models of a ~15 year old game is not really relevant, as of course it is going to look bad compared to today's standards."

    I don't know what your original question was, but as a graphic designer, I felt the need to address that misconception and expand upon the validity of my criticism. A different discussion was sparked, unrelated to your question. Which apparently had already been answered, besides.
     
  19. beetle

    beetle Deity

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    I agree that the ability to stack units lessens the need for units to be visually distinctive. That said, stacking was possible but bad tactics in SMAC, so as a human player you minimized that. I don’t remember having trouble knowing what my units were. I remember the overall color of the units offering sufficient cues. Maybe I just never fielded much variety in my infantry?

    What you say is true, but I don’t remember it being much of an issue in actual play. Do you agree with that assertion? If so, why wasn’t this side effect a bigger problem? I think maybe the AIs were good at keeping units upgraded. Were ranged (artillery) sufficiently visually distinct from non-ranged infantry? Probe teams were not easily confusable with their weaponized peers.
     
  20. Lord Shadow

    Lord Shadow General

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    There was enough differentiation between unit types, but within them it's difficult to tell, which is what Lord Tirian's saying. It required an extra step in SMAC to check a unit's capabilities because, aside from the telltale basic details of the unit's class (artillery, recon, infantry, etc.), it was all just recolourings of the same base model plus or minus tiny, tiny bits. Unlike, say, Civ2 or Civ3, where you could instantly tell between a spearman and a marine.
     

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