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Research and Tech tree

Discussion in 'Gedemon's Civilization, a total overhaul project' started by Gedemon, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. Knasp

    Knasp Chieftain

    Sep 10, 2011
    I agree that there were alternatives to the Eurasian development model(s)/agriculture and they definitely had other species and means for producing food. But I believe there were real limitations to these viable alternatives, which in my mind makes them less competitive (and that's what we're discussing right?). I'm not saying they didn't have agriculture. I'm just saying they didn't have the same intensity in production and rate of development (made possible by draft animals etc). And yes, the European colonisers were very ignorant (and ruthless).

    Of course I haven't studied pre-colombian history, so I'm basing most of my current analysis on "Guns, Germs and Steel" and various short texts/wiki summaries.

    From what I've gathered it was the case that Europe had a larger population per area than the indigenous people of the americas (meaning a more effective agriculture), and also more advanced metallurgy and arguably military development. North America never really developed smelting unlike in South America where they did work several metals, e.g. bronze and meteoric iron, but they didn't get to mass producing metal tools and equipment, and they didn't really develop and adopt iron mining and smelting (lack of demand?).

    Of course, if it hadn't been for the Old world microbes, it would prrobably have been very hard for the European colonisers to invade and settle. On that note it would be interesting to see diseases and pandemics represented in the Civ games, although it would probably just be frustrating to players to lose say 95% of their population.

    Using the system of demand/need however, one could argue that there sinply wasn't need/demand for more intensive agriculture and metallurgy (apart from prerequisites), which I'm sure you are more knowledgeable of than I am.

    Vanilla Civ and modern people in general like to view history by the perspective of constant striving to get to where we are today, but the activities and motives of historical peoples are more varied than that. In my opinion the Civ series as wells as many other games/stories have an exaggerated focus on warfare and downplaying of culture. The initial use for metals were for art and jewelry/ornaments amongst other things. Many copper and bronze items were arguably made for cerimonial purposes rather than for war or tools.


    I see 2 major ways to implement these separate development paths:

    Either you retain vanilla Civs abstract tech tree and development, trying to include all Civs regardless of climates/biogeographic conditions/resources. Where a European Civ can travel to a tropical location with a settler and improve those resources with a generic Farm or Plantation. I guess you could have a lot of Applications/Projects that are dependent on your biogeographic starting point, though I would argue it would be difficult for players to discern which ones that apply to their specific Civ and location.

    But if we're using a design of unequal/separate development lines, then you could have several different initial lines of development (giving access to similar or slightly different Applications/Projects).
    All of these lines could join together in the later eras, once the whole world is more or less explored and connected (communications and trade).
    That should bring the benefit that players would have an easier time overlooking the paths "forward".

    Although it would also be interesting if possible to remove the visibility of the techs in latter eras, to force players to guess and do some trial and error to find their way "forward".
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    dunkleosteus likes this.
  2. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

    Mar 11, 2012
    north of Steilacoom, WA
    Diamond's book is a good start, but Charles Mann's books 1491 and 1493, on the real situation in the Americas before European contact and the changes made in the rest of the world by American botany after the contact are eye-opening. Mann is a science writer, not an anthropologist or historian, so he cites work from the fields of botany, medicine, economics, archeology, linguistics, and a host of other disciplines (and includes a massive bibliography on each subject covered for further research)
    The gist of his thesis is that the Native Americans used alternative means of food production not found in the Eurasian continent(s), partly as a result of access to different resources (Maize, Potato) and partly as a result of compensating for lack of resources (draft animals) BUT that the result was not materially inferior to the 'Old World' agricultural models, just different. And, building on Diamond's work, one major deficiency in the Americas was that having primarily north-south connections, the complications of terrain and climate made contact between various native civilizations in the Americas almost impossible, so they didn't get the 'spread' of technologies and resources or the impetus from competition that occurred in the Middle East and Europe.

    The population question is still under debate. When I was in school (50 years ago) the estimate of the native population in North America was about 1,000,000 people. At the time Mann wrote a few years ago, that estimate was 30,000,000 and rising. English sailors fishing the New England coast in the generation before the pilgrims arrived reported villages everywhere along the coast - every running mile of coast occupied by somebody. French explorers on the lower Mississippi, before the first small pox epidemics hit, reported both banks of the river 'lined with villages'. When the Spanish arrived, Tenochtlan the Aztec capital was as large as any city in Europe or the Middle East.

    The biggest deficiency was in metal-working technology. Cold-worked copper blades and tools from copper deposits in Canada/Minnesota have been found as far away as Florida, so they appreciated the utility of metal, and several civilizations in South and Central America worked silver and gold, but nowhere in the Americas had they started alloying other metals or working Iron in any form. That turned out to be a fatal technological gap, along with the American natives' more deadly susceptibility to epidemic diseases originating in animals they hadn't lived with for centuries (pigs, cows). BUT they had achieved monumental stone-working and earth moving (Inca, Aztec and other Central American civilizations, Cahokia and Mississippians) and political sophistication as far as multi-city governments (Aztec, Inca, Maya) and multiple-group councils (Iroquois, Algonqian). Also, in a few states, written language and in others, multi-lingual sign language and 'trade tongues'.
    Which means technologically much of the Americas was either just reaching or already past the technology level of the ancient Middle Eastern and early Dynastic Egyptian civilizations, at least.

    The real problem is that, intentional of not, ALL the Civilization games have assumed a European Bias for technology, and assumed that the technology and technological timeline of the Old World leading to the European civilizations was the 'norm' to be ideally followed by Everybody. This does not just warp the view of the Americas, but also of China and Asia, which had highly-developed iron working, cast iron, blast furnaces, and such techniques a thousand years before Europe did. India was producing high-carbon steel in the 4th century BCE - 1600 years or more before Europe could reliably do the same. We now know that the Greeks had intricately-geared navigational instruments before the Roman Empire was formed, and easily thirteen hundred years before Europe started making the same kind of gear trains again. To misquote Rudyard: "There are nine-and-twenty ways of constructing Tribal Lays (or research) and each and every one of them is Right!"

    The game desperately needs that kind of flexibility and 'alternative' research possibilities. My own reading leads me to the conclusion that almost all 'research' and development comes about because:
    1. There was a Need - more food, more protection, better organization, better adaptation to local terrain/climate
    2. There was a combination of terrain. climate and Resources that 'led' the research into Solutions for the above in certain directions.

    Some of those directions are practically universal: All human warriors quickly picked up on the fact that dodging only got you so far, then it was a Good Idea to have a Shield for protection - whether the shield was wood, leather, reed, or a combination depended on what was available and the nature of the Threat.
    The type of Food Production, however, depended heavily on Local Conditions: very early cities in the deserts of southern Peru/Chile had no agriculture at all, but used what plants they could find to weave elaborate nets and snares and heavily-harvest the coastal waters and (few) rivers for fish. With draft animals (cattle, donkeys and horses were all 'domesticated' before the nominal Start of Game in 4000 BCE) Europe and the Middle East both planted Grains in big fields, could then plow them and irrigate them where necessary for ever-increasing food production. Without draft animals, North Americans never cleared fields for mass-planting, but their combination of maize, squash and beans (described as the "Holy Trinity" of American Agriculture) could be planted together in small plots everywhere, even in the midst of open forest land (cleared and opened by burning off the underbrush) so that Europeans frequently didn't even realize just how much agriculture and 'land management' the Natives of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New England were really doing.
    As a footnote to this, though, until the invention of heavy iron wheeled plows in the 11th century CE, ploughing the heavy clay soils of northern Europe was very, very difficult - 'broad field' agriculture spread only slowly north out of the Mediterranean/southern France area until well into the so-called 'Dark Ages'. Ironically, the North American agriculture 'model' would have worked fine here (as it did in similar terrain/climate in the northeastern USA) without requiring Iron Working or large teams of draft animals.
    This brings up the point that once you have started down a particular Research Path - draft animal plowing, broad fields, cereal production - it is almost impossible to Change Direction and/or model of food production, even when the alternative could be done sooner and produce a more balanced diet.

    Definitely, to really make the game a dynamic thing, the Historical Alternatives need to be available.
    As stated above, I think the 'key' to the alternatives is a wide Variety of Resources, terrain and climate with varying ways to exploit the combinations.
    In the example I gave in an earlier Post, if Agriculture is a basic Technology but the Applications include a variety of ways to exploit specific terrain/resource types, then your Civilization is free to develop the alternatives based on its own Needs and Resources.
    The only proviso being that once you have started down a 'path' that includes Draft Animals, Broad-Field Agriculture, and exploitation of cereals (wheat, rye, barley, oats), changing that Path would require wholesale reorientation of your research.

    For example, if you start by 'researching' Agricultural Applications relating to Broad Field Agriculture because you have access to draft animals and Wheat, then there will be Eureka-type bonuses for further research on that line (iron plows, better harness, better wheels) BUT there will also be negative modifiers to suddenly start 'researching' Forest Gardening or other alternatives - unless a great Need arises.
    And all these will have to be carefully studied, because sometimes, historically, a single plant or modification of a plant can have huge consequences. Examples:
    1. The incredible botanical research in the 'primitive' Americas that developed useable Maize from a tiny seedpod. That gave every culture from Central America north their basic 'grain' crop (basis for bread or bread-substitute)
    2. The development of improved Rice around the 11th century CE which allowed farms in southern China to harvest two crops a year from the same hand-worked plots of land - leading to a massive increase in China's population, productivity, and wealth
    3. The introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th-17th centuries CE. Because it could be exploited using the same techniques already familiar to Europeans (broad fields, draft animals plows, etc) and grown in more marginal soils and climates and produced a 2- 300% increase in calories per acre, the population of Europe also 'boomed' in those centuries. Mann put it neatly: "Any history of Europe in the 16th - 18th centuries that does not mention the potato is not worth reading."

    So, we need alternative research strategies based on wide variations in Resources available for exploitation, we need specific and limited initial distribution of some resources (Chief among them historically: Maize, Cotton, Silk, Coffee, Tea, Potato, Bison, "Wootz" pure iron ore, kaolin clay) and finally, after the 'Scientific Revolution' of the late Renaissance and the rise of Directed Research/Science in the late Industrial and Modern Eras, it becomes easier to 'switch' exploitative technologies and strategies and research, to the point where Variety of Food sources becomes a goal (Amenity?) in addition to sheer Quantity and Sufficiency of food.
    dunkleosteus and Knasp like this.
  3. Knasp

    Knasp Chieftain

    Sep 10, 2011
    I know that redesigning the tech-tree is a far-reaching goal that comes after establishing the fundamental game mechanics, but nonetheless I've started working on a draft for my own enjoyment.

    I call it a time line, because it will be presenting technological and societal development as items on a time axis, in a Civ 6 inspired format.

    Basically I've started by taking the wiki/google research previously collected and then I've grouped these items by theme or geography, and placed these groups within time intervals (for e.g. 1000-500 BC).

    My first goal is to produce a chart that is starting from Prehistory to c. 1 BC, similar to the Google sheet compilation. And I'm currently working on the finishing touches for the first draft.

    Just wanted to give a heads up (shout out?) before I get around to finishing it.

    @Gedemon : If you'd prefer it, I could post it in the general forums instead. I just think it would fit better here, since I like where this mod is going and the resource mechanics that you've introduced opens many possibilities.
    dunkleosteus likes this.
  4. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

    Oct 4, 2004
    I suppose that where you want to post it is depending of the feedback you want for it.

    For a general timeline and it's coherence, the main idea & suggestion would do.

    If you want to also talk of multiple paths / alternative ways to get an advancement in relation to this mod mechanisms, this thread may be better (unless you want to get general feedback about multiple path for research too, without going into details)

    Wherever you'll post it, I'll read it, I'm following the main I&S forum anyway.

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