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Terrascapes: Disconnect Between Flavor and Mechanics?

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Amrunril, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. Amrunril

    Amrunril Emperor

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    In terms of the game’s story, the terrascape seems to be the perfect improvement for the purity affinity. The idea that it represents- taking an alien planet and making it more like earth- is a core part of what that affinity stands for. As far as I can tell, however, the game’s mechanics give no particular incentive for purity players to build this improvement (terrascapes being unlocked by the same technology as floatstone quarries does provide a small connection, but this technology is also on the pathway to supremacy satellites and is only a minor detour for harmony players). With upgraded farms and culture from biowells, purity players already have excellent food/production tile improvement options. Likewise, their access to holomatricies gives them a way to add culture to any type of terrain. These options do not make the terrascape obsolete, but they do mean that the marginal benefit provided by investing 6 energy/turn and 20+ turns construction time in one of these improvements is smaller for purity players than it is for harmony and supremacy players.

    The game’s mechanics likewise provide counterintuitive incentives when it comes to placing terrascapes. These improvements are depicted as lush tropical forests, so it makes sense that they would be constructed primarily in warm settings with high rainfall (and even putting aside the specific vegetation shown, it makes sense that colonists attempting to replicate earth’s most habitable and productive ecosystems would start in the planet’s most hospitable regions). However, because terrascapes replace, rather than supplementing, underlying tile yields, they provide the largest productivity increase (and the least yield forgone from other potential improvements) when placed in desert and tundra tiles. Admittedly, terrascapes rising out of deserts look pleasantly dramatic, and the construction of irrigation systems does seem plausible, if not practical. However, the placement of the identical terrascapes a few tiles from the planet’s ice caps looks highly surreal and is almost impossible to justify.

    Terrascapes are a very interesting part of the game, both as a representation of what some colonists would attempt to do on an alien planet and because their high-cost/high-benefit nature provides distinct strategic options. However the disconnect between what they represent and what their game mechanics suggest makes them feel somewhat odd to use, and this has probably kept me from experimenting with them as much as I otherwise would. Do others feel the same way, or do you find the connection between flavor and mechanics easier to justify (or ignore). Do you think there are changes that should be made in a patch or expansion, or do terrascapes function fine as they currently exist?
     
  2. Doviello

    Doviello Warlord

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    Ya, i agree. It's fine as it is right now, but totally not cool.

    There is a lot of things in BE that are disconnected from their description. Wonders are the worst offenders. For example: Nanothermite: a kinda of futuristic gunpowder so powerful, bombs loaded with it are called planetbusters (+30 city defense, in 1 city); daedalus ladder: turns humans into perfect beings (+3 health), etc.

    Placing an improvement inside an affinity tech doesn't make it an affinity advantage, unfortunatelly, it only makes so that sponsors that went purity will usually get that improvement before other sponsors. I wish there were more affinity specific things, there isn't much difference in gameplay between all 3 philosophies.
     
  3. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    I think they actually had a basic terraforming system in place at some point during development, but it seems that wasn't working as desired and got kicked out.

    I remember some entries in the XML files that apparently were supposed to change the terrain types (tundra -> plains, plains -> grassland) and one entry that was related to forst growth, but they had all been commented out in the release version (just like the religion mechanic). So it is quite possible that Terrascapes are the leftover/compromise of the scrapped terraforming system.

    As for their implementation in game, I consider the tropical jungle to be some sort of abstract representation of what they are supposed to be (I suppose it was not really worthwhile to create unique graphic sets for different terrain types). In the end, they are just one of the many issues that feel "odd".
     
  4. Victus75

    Victus75 Chieftain

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    Given the sci fi nature of the game, the fact that the Sponsors are already advanced to colonize an alien planet, the ability to build terrascapes on desert or tundra is not a stretch of the imagination for me. So that aspect is a non-issue. Same pretty much goes for the affinity aspect of them, honestly I don't see Harmony players on Apollo even investing in that tech as it would increase the amount of turns to win going for a tech that is not needed, and so it's still a pretty situational tech most of the time.

    On easier difficulties however, you can pretty much choose what you want. It would have been cool to choose to change the land type as someone mentioned before, depending on how that would have been implemented.
     
  5. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    So I agree that it's really not a huge stretch to imagine that an advanced society could recreate virtually any biome in any environment, however, it would have been nice to have had different tilesets depending on location (desert versus grassland versus plains versus snow).

    On the lower difficulties there's almost no reason not to spam terrascapes everywhere as gold isn't a hug problem.

    I would have liked to have seen a more comprehensive terraforming system and I didn't know that was a feature the creators actually worked on.


    I do have to say though that I do think the terrascaping tech should be restricted to a higher-level purity tech. It doesn't make a lot of sense to make it so easily available for all affinity levels.
     
  6. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    Would be very cool in general if terrascapes, biowells and some other buildings were more affinity-related and not available for everyone. They could even create some synergies with the affinities so that these tile improvements become worthwhile. For a fast victory right now basically nobody will EVER build terrascapes.

    Though that "Purity = Green" thing still doesn't feel right for me. The way they look they'll robably always resemble harmonies way of making the planet prosper for me.
     
  7. liv

    liv Emperor

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    I like them in the abstract but very rarely build them.


    I agree that some of the features or changing and developing terrain really should be specific to your chosen path.

    I think the idea of a science web is really hard to combine with three linear affinities. And all that potential interesting terrain modifiers get lost because they are never specific.
    But I guess if you can limit certain buildings to needing certain affinity points, it should not be that hard to do that with terrain modifiers.
     
  8. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    An easy alternative for a "soft-lock" would just be adding more yield bonuses for these improvements to affinity leaf technologies. Everyone could build everything, but as you develop your Civ into one direction the improvements that are designed for that affinity become stronger, thus making them more interesting for you and everything else less interesting.
     
  9. liv

    liv Emperor

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    yeah, that is a good idea - unlocking bonuses with affinity points

    I also like the suggestions (made by many) that the terraforming or/and resource availability should somehow also help or hinder you in achieving the needed affinity point.
     
  10. Amrunril

    Amrunril Emperor

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    I think that this is an excellent idea, and you do see a little bit of this for some improvements. Nodes, for instance, are flavored as a supremacy improvement and gain +1:c5science: from hypercomputing (not a leaf tech, but a high priority outer ring tech for supremacy), and domes gain +1:c5gold: from biospheres.

    In some cases though, the upgrades don't match up (biowells should be improved by harmony rather than purity), and even when they do, they usually aren't very dramatic. The exception, of course, is purity farms, and I think that these could serve as a useful model for other improvements. Obviously not everything has to change as dramatically as going from +1:c5food: to +2:c5food: +1:c5production: +1:c5gold: +1:c5science:, but giving two or possibly three affinity related upgrades to improvements like nodes, biowells*, terrascapes and domes would do a lot to distinguish affinity playstyles.

    *As an aside, I would probably either reduce biowells' base food yield or give all affinities access to a basic farm enhancement to keep biowells from being such an obvious food choice even for non-harmony players.
     

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