The core of 4X games "boring endgame problem" - a short essay about Rapidly Increasing Complexity

ezzlar

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I would say that the problem with increasing complexity in a 4X-game is that the potential yields also become more complex during the game. In the first part of the game every decision is somewhat balanced. By the end game the player has learnt how to multiply some aspect of the game that pays off extremely well over time. And as you are now too strong, none of your actions matter that much. But the micro managment has also increased creating a dull and unrewarding situation. Therefor you might as well congratulate yourself and start a new game.
 

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Civinator

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I agree, that this is a very interesting thread about a general problem of all kind of 4x games, among them all games of the Civ series.
All games are a waste of time ultimately. But good games make you want to waste your time. They keep you engaged by being fun and challenging.

In my eyes this is the key statement of this thread. The core problem is how to deal with the situation of a 4x game when reaching the point in a game, when it is no more fun and challenging:

A. If this point is really reached, make the end of such a game more friendly. Rename the quit-button to "Declare yourself as marginal winner".

B. Much better is, if this point can be avoided in the game (or at least can come as late as possible):

1. Create an external or internal challenge when the game is coming near that point in the game.

Much better suited than an external challenge (invaders from space, etc.) for historical games like the Civ series, in my eyes would be an internal challenge as it happened for "oversized" empires in history, per example with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

When the human player reaches this "critical point" a message appears, that the player has achieved a marginal victory and the game now changes to the "iron man mode". In this mode no reloads are allowed and the current game can only be continued. Each turn there is a mounting chance, that the empire is collapsing and the civ is in a civil war with big parts of its former empire. The best AI opponent in my eyes is an opponent, that the human player has built himself over a lot of eras in the game and winning in that situation should be rewarded by a big bonus in the score. Only the iron man score is counting in the hall of fame.

2. The "GröFaZ"-Victory (= German soldiers' derogatory acronym for Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten, literally, the "Greatest Field Commander of all Time"):

This is a special kind of military victory I try to introduce in the next version of the C3C scenario "Storm over Europe". In that WW 2 scenario a civ must conquer the capitals and a number of core cities of their greatest military opponents (and sometimes friends) and construct a monument of victory in that city.
This is a special version of the Civ 3 space race victory, but it can happen much more early than a space race victory and has the additional challenge of conquest.

In epic games after the first era, the human player could receive a message with a list of cities he must conquer in the current era to construct such a victory monument. In the next era that list becomes obsolete and the human player receives a new list with cities of strong military opponents that he has to conquer in that era.

3. Very helpful would be to streamline the later game and to come back more to the line of the earlier versions of the Civ series (Civ 1, 2 and 3) to avoid the, especially in the later stages of the game, unnecessary accumulation of additional micromanagement.

Per example with the new options of the Flintlock patch, even in C3C, small wonders can provide a kind of building to every city of a civ. So per example in the industrial era a SW Ministery of Science can give a laboratory to every city of a civ, a SW Ministery of Economics a marketplace and so on. The player must no longer take care of the core infrastructure of the cities and it is not necessary to save a production queue and apply it to a new city like it is in Civ IV.

For the improvements of terrain, in my eyes Civ 2 holds a very nice feature: The option in the later game, to terraform terrain to a kind of "super-terrain", that holds the combined advantages of many single alternative improvements that can be installed on the "base-terrain". So the, at least in the later stages of a game, annoying superfluous micromanagement can be massively reduced.
 
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KayAU

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Humankind had some built-in mitigation to end game "bloat" by being able to merge cities. This was a pretty cool feature even if the game was a bit of a dud (haven't played it much since the initial excitement, where we sort of broke the game with neolithic populations booms and turn 70-ish science wins abusing builder and science cultures). Humankind fails because it lacks identity and is a bit bland (choosing new cultures every era was a design mistake IMO), CIV has much more personality, which is really nice, but the gameplay gets so tedious.

I'm very divided on the "unpacked cities" and districts thing. On the one hand, it's a fun mini-game which rewards optimal play, on the other hand it's a slog because even for "generic city 29" you still need to sit and ponder where to put that damned district, and placing a district removes the tile yield (bad!) and that's not really fun - It may be fun for the first few cities, late game = just a waste of time and annoying. Much easier and faster to just queue up the correct infrastructure on a macro level.

I'm convinced the solution is to return to making "tall" play viable (less "entities" to manage, but those entities matter more), maybe have the "merge" functionality of humankind, while at the same time doing something clever on automation (linked to "orders" to governors or something as was mentioned). If we can make more meaningful decisions for less entities, I think the game would be more fun.
It's interesting to see the different approaches taken by recent contenders like Humankind and Old World. Humankind is a game I have played for 150 hours, and I am still not sure if I like it or not. The merge feature is good, as is the soft cap on how many cities you can have without suffering penalties. This cap starts at 2, but is increased through tech advances and social policy choices, which is just how I would want it. I don't particularly enjoy how cities are built. Regions make the map feel small, and city sprawl is extreme. I end up not paying much attention to where I place districts, even in the early game. Infrastructures are a little bit better now that the UI tells you which benefits they give, and when you are settling new cities in the mid- to late game, you can use settlers which make your cities start with a bunch of infrastructure already built. A bonus to not caring much about district placement, though, is that in the late game, it is not nearly as much of a chore as in Civ 6. Just go into a city, queue up a bunch of stuff with placement as suggested by the UI, and you don't need to think about it for a while.

Oh, and cultures, that's another one I don't know how to feel about. In one way it is kind of neat to have so many cultures represented and playable, but it also feels very schizophrenic. I would have preferred an approach where each player has a continuous identity throughout the game, but you get to adopt the *traits* of certain cultures as you advance. I would also consider putting it into a tree of sorts, so that the cultures you could adopt traits from would depend on your previous choices somehow.

Old World I do like. It has a limited scope, and a smaller development team, and in some areas it shows. The design feels a lot more "tight", and city development is quite different from Civ. There is a limited number of city sites on the map, for which you will be competing. Buildings are mostly constructed by workers, while the city itself uses three different currencies (Growth, Civics, Training) to make different units or specialists. It holds a kind of middle ground between Civ 6, where district placement is extremely important, and Humankind, in which I just blindly do what the UI suggests.

There's another upcoming game which seems to do things in a different way, Ara: History Untold. I dismissed this one at first, but after taking a closer look at who is making it (mostly Civ 5 devs) and the details of the screenshots, I am more intrigued. They seem to have some middle ground between stacked and unstacked cities, where each tile can take a limited number of buildings. Not much is known, though, so this is just my speculation.
 

Kaan Boztepe

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unlimited resources from start finish , never ending mines , never changing trade routes are not helping the endgame either. imagine you finished the techtree and can built modern armor but lack the resources to build them , since you spent the resources you had on earlier stuff like buildings or precursor armies and now the technologically backwards civ refuses to trade or worse trades it with your rival. it would force a conflict that you might not win since you could not use your tech advantage enough till you get that resource. and also your rival could get involved in order to not lose its supply.
 

kaspergm

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I agree with what others have said here many many times, end game is in desperate need for new things to do. Here are a few thoughts on things that could qualify to fill the gap.
  • Civ5 had ideologies.
  • Civ4 had corporations, that needed active spreading and promoted resource hunting (Civ6 corporation mod has a bit of this in a very poorly fleshed out version).
  • Civ2 had farms and infrastructure, that didn't upgrade automatically.
  • Civ5 had world congress that was, well, less un-fun than the one in Civ6.
  • Terra maps have new continents that you can't access in early game.
  • Civ3 had corruption that limited empire growth (not a fun implementation, but the idea to limit empire growth in early game can be carried over).
  • Civ6 City Lights mod has city specilization where cities develops into urban or rural centers.
  • Humankind has victory conditions that sum over entire game.
Here's what Civ6 has:
  • Roads that upgrade automatically.
  • Farms that upgrade automatically.
  • Even on continents map, you can use polar caps to travel to other continents before ocean navigation is a thing.
  • Mines and resource deposits that last forever.
  • Low degree of city specialization.
  • Low degree of empire management restrictions (i.e. super forgiving happiness system).
  • Victory conditions that's only a question of who's first above the finishing line.
So I think obviously there are places that one can target to at least try to make the problem less severe.
 

EscapedGoat

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I would say that the problem with increasing complexity in a 4X-game is that the potential yields also become more complex during the game. In the first part of the game every decision is somewhat balanced. By the end game the player has learnt how to multiply some aspect of the game that pays off extremely well over time. And as you are now too strong, none of your actions matter that much. But the micro managment has also increased creating a dull and unrewarding situation. Therefor you might as well congratulate yourself and start a new game.

This was an elegant way of putting it.

There's another upcoming game which seems to do things in a different way, Ara: History Untold. I dismissed this one at first, but after taking a closer look at who is making it (mostly Civ 5 devs) and the details of the screenshots, I am more intrigued. They seem to have some middle ground between stacked and unstacked cities, where each tile can take a limited number of buildings. Not much is known, though, so this is just my speculation.

I'll have to check that one out!
 

Noble Zarkon

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Terra maps have new continents that you can't access in early game.
Even on continents map, you can use polar caps to travel to other continents before ocean navigation is a thing.
That reminds of another point, too many people play on maps with one landmass :) I agree though that this bit needs sorted - in Civ IV it was exciting when you got to another continent, would you find a religous lovefest? A bunch of equal civs? A rampant Monty who had vassaled everyone else? Would they be technologically superior or inferior??

Also the World Congress shouldn't kick in until say 80% of the civs have met each other.
 

Krajzen

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That reminds of another point, too many people play on maps with one landmass :) I agree though that this bit needs sorted - in Civ IV it was exciting when you got to another continent, would you find a religous lovefest? A bunch of equal civs? A rampant Monty who had vassaled everyone else? Would they be technologically superior or inferior??

As for map scripts, I am torn between "I love pangea for a lot of civs interacting on one gigantic Eurafrasia style landmass" and "I love continents for exploration reasons you mentioned".
Honestly I'd mostly plan on nonexistant yet script of "continents with proportions like Earth history: one is gigantic like Eurafrasia and like 75% of civs are there, second is smaller like Americas and like 25% of civs are there, and another one is Australia which is super resource rich and open to colonization after you figure moral conundrum of how to deal with natives no please don't -". And then you get to choose on which of former two do want to begin, and I'd always choose Old World.

Also the World Congress shouldn't kick in until say 80% of the civs have met each other.

Honestly World Congress doesn't make sense until modern era (League of Nations, United Nations). It is only then when communication technology and globalisation created both possibilities and needs for this kind of organisation to exist. Civ5 idea to have it available since renaissance era as soon as all civs meet was silly enough: there is no historical handwave for that, no Vienna Congress was nothing like UN Jesus Christ come on, how exactly do 17th century leaders from all over the world coordinate communication well enough to have conferences, how does 17th century religious mentality exactly tolerate all other faiths by default, and so on. UN - style organizations make no sense before globalization, secularism and at least telephone to coordinate global multilateral talks.

Civ6 congress I dont even mention as it is of course a complete misery and abomination in every aspect, and almost everybody agrees from day 1 about this, so my trust in Firaxis simply counts on that widespread reaction to warrant this spawn of darkness never rising its head again. Just please, if and when United Nations come back (and they should because its an awesome new layer of strategy in 4X games), please make it sensible, realistic, predictable, sane, unlocked in late industrial era at earliest, like Gandhi or whoever intended.
 
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The reason this problem of "we have already won" is very naturally occuring in 4X games is because to some degree it resembles real history they are trying to model.

I would also put some of the blame on the game is designed to keep the early game play relevant to who wins the game. They big exception is some strategic resources can't be predicted from start and can reduce the value of your early moves.
 
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Honestly World Congress doesn't make sense until modern era (League of Nations, United Nations). It is only then when communication technology and globalisation created both possibilities and needs for this kind of organisation to exist. Civ5 idea to have it available since renaissance era as soon as all civs meet was silly enough: there is no historical handwave for that, no Vienna Congress was nothing like UN Jesus Christ come on, how exactly do 17th century leaders from all over the world coordinate communication well enough to have conferences, how does 17th century religious mentality exactly tolerate all other faiths by default, and so on. UN - style organizations make no sense before globalization, secularism and at least telephone to coordinate global multilateral talks.

Civ6 congress I dont even mention as it is of course a complete misery and abomination in every aspect, and almost everybody agrees from day 1 about this, so my trust in Firaxis simply counts on that widespread reaction to warrant this spawn of darkness never rising its head again. Just please, if and when United Nations come back (and they should because its an awesome new layer of strategy in 4X games), please make it sensible, realistic, predictable, sane, unlocked in late industrial era at earliest, like Gandhi or whoever intended.

This is yet another subject that has been beat about its collective little digital head before, and as before I'd expand it a bit:
1. Yes, there was no such thing as a 'International Forum' for diplomacy before the 20th century unless you count the extremely limited (like, Europe Only) instances like the Holy Roman Empire or Congress of Vienna
2. There were, however, a great many Non-Government Entities that were 'Supra-national' or International, if you will. Inter-State Trade as far back as Classical Athens (5th - 6th century BCE)
was in the hands of consortiums of individuals complete with a form of shipping insurance and 'shares' in voyages bought and sold to investors quite independent of what any of the States might want or desire.
Flash forward to the late Medieval, and the international Banking Families that se up shop from the Italian city-states made money extremely mobile all over Europe, providing loans to states, princes, rebels, and anybody else in the market.
By the 18th century you not only had State Sponsored international companies like the East India Companies of England and Netherlands, but also multi-national.international stock trading establishments like the Amsterdam Bourse that sucked in capital from all directions to the benefit of - well - Amsterdam and other political/economic entities.
By the Industrial Era capital was really international, and no government had much of a handle on it. Companies like Hudson's Bay, Vanderbilt's and Astor's were only nominally under control of any government, and within a generation or two J. P. Morgan dictated financial terms to governments.

So, while any kind of 'World Congress' should be relegated strictly to the late game (Modern Era and later) other Non-Civ, Non-City State, Non-Barbarian Actors like international trading companies, banks, stock markets, and industrial firms which take on really massive international presence by the late Industrial Era should be added.
Like Religions, these are not controlled by the Civ Gamer, but provide events and actions to which the gamer has to react.
 

HorseshoeHermit

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I want to have another crack at making the game not have a boring tedium of "making the game realize you won." The game - any game - should be designed so that when you for sure did win, the game IS actually over. There is a problem with pacing or with victory conditions if there are extra steps after "supremacy" has effectively been reached.

So I proposed this thing a couple years ago (really? 2?) of wanting to help the snowball problem also. And I proposed that the way to do it is you have to make player decisions operate in a plane that has transcendental reward , throughout the game (at least after some starting point, not necessarily turn 1). Players making this class of decisions, can upturn the profits of the passive accrual of all the 4X goodies your opponent built. There's still a formulation problem here because it's a mystery how to make "the 4X expansion matter" but also "it is overcome by something else"; all I can say is that, of course there is only so great a disparity that this transcendent system can be allowed to give.

If this disparity is some kind of quantity that can be considered a given constant - even if it is fuzzy in practice - then this is the wiggle room for "declaring victory", and I propose that Victory is (most of them) achieved by actually announcing an ambition, which then becomes something you achieve via one half of the system, for which you must maintain actual dominance in the other. In this way, to actually pursue it, you must cut off the feedback effect of the two systems , which in principle would allow other players to use their two systems, which they don't need to break up to contest your Victory ambition, to catch up to your level overall and thus stay in the game -actually-. If you misjudge the Victory, then players come into reach of winning because that is defined as exactly what margin cancels your Victory (for now). And if they don't, then, you win! And it was pretty clear you deserved it because you had All The Things + made even more good decisions in your finale.

There's two options. If the normal resources, in the 4X system, are "spent" to make moves on the Victory, then the transcendent playing field would have no form except to counter your opponents (it can't be allowed to keep fueling other gains or there is no duality), so, the first possibility is that BOTH your systems, your entire game, is put toward the Victory. It makes the "moves" to win there, putting the brakes on things otherwise. The other option is, if you dedicate only your transcendent resources to the Victory attempt, then other players are tasked simply with making "numbers big" in the usual way. It's a more straightforward realization of this design, with less peculiar dynamism to this Victory mode/stage of play.

EDIT: You have to give something up no matter what though. You must either let games have a minimum length of some hours as-is, because victory is not allowed before something like industrial era emergence; or you allow victories that do not depend on "all of Human history" being anywhere near shown in-game, sometimes. In the first case, if you also want to not have extra hours, you simply have to make it that the total "advantage" gained, from ALLLL those hours and all those simulated centuries, overall very, very small. (but if the industrial era were made the explosion of incomes that it really was, then this would surely be true.)

3) Bottleneck of some sophisticated socioeconomic processes which are really hard to model in a game like this (like how do you model in Civ casual game "economic miracle" of certain 20th century countries, or backbone of Dutch economy overtaking Portuguese in early modern era?)
Just as a one-off, because I have an answer to this.
I am a history buff by no means. In fact I'd say I suck at retaining information you tell me about "what happened" and certainly of producing a reasoned opinion from a set of biased records. But a history buff I know explained how a certain point in history, China was able to "catch up" to the West because, to put it his way, "They didn't need to reinvent all the technology." It was already there. And I expanded on that to say, "... okay, but what precisely is the economic gain of not needing to invent the technology?" And the answer is that no one has to do any experimentation or attempt any capital investment projects that you don't know are going to work, just for the sake of learning. No one has to be set aside to pay the toll of experimentation and exploration. You can use your population to "cut the R&D sector to 0" and boom from almost pure capital intensification.

To recreate -that- effect, in that way, the game needs to have technology diffusion , and it needs to have an amount of citizen assignments , at a percentage scale instead of a maximum science slots, go to concentrated science gain. In this case, the China player took all citizens out of this second one, just to enjoy the technology that was already at hand - building infrastructure in the cities.
 
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reddishrecue

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Civ 6 takes a while even on quick. I tried out a game on single player and the game took a while 2+ hours. What kept me going was the quest for dominance because once someone attacks you, everyone else eventually ends up attacking you also. Diplomatic issues cause other civilizations jump in to defend the civilization you're invading when they attack you. For example, return a city to its rightful owner is an opener to dominating other civilizations without the warmongering penalty that you get from attacking other civilizations by yourself. The science, cultural and diplomatic victories can get a bit slow sometimes and often cause the game to last a lot longer, but when you can really tech (I don't know how, I've seen other show up with the results) then you don't have to wait as much. Also, when you can dominate, you don't have to wait as much. However, I do notice that the game gets huge, and you have a lot of units to move, cities to build in, expansion, envoy distribution, social policy card placement, etc. the game does get kind of tiring- sort of like a job almost but then you still come back and try to finish it because it seems successful. You pass it, you get your victory, a video, a picture of a trophy or a medal (and achievements throughout the game as you take your turn), your score and a ranking of leaders that have been there in history and finally your score gets compared with the ranking of leaders from time such as Augustus Caesar, Hammurabi, Abraham Lincoln (if I remember correctly), Nelson Mandela, Catherine the great etc.
Not only that you also get quotes throughout the game as you research technologies or inspire social policies. You also get more quotes at the end. I think it does get boring because it's so long, but I come back to play and continue where I left off even after a long time of not playing it and it's not as boring. The game is boring especially when you find out everything and pass it and don't want to continue again.
 

aieeegrunt

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A big part of the late game tedium is that the AI poses zero threat or challenge after the initial power spike of higher difficulty bonuses (bonusii?)

There IS an effective anti-snowball mechanic in Civ6, and it ties brilliantly into how they changed making warfare rewarding without taking cities by having massive pillaging bonuses.

Taking a city, regardless of who started the fight tends to tilt all the other AI against you because of the big swing in the power balance

This would work, except the AI’s denouncing and what not is completely toothless because they can’t wage war or build an effective military.

They react the same way to being forward settled, but again the threat is toothless.

Fix this problem and you fix a lot of the gameplay issues. Late game if you are post 1870 Germany and are starting to outpace everyone else suddenly a coalition forms to drag you down and it doesnt matter that France has been an aggressive dick for centuries YOU are the bad guy for taking Alsace.

Part of this is 1UPT and ranged units being stupidly OP. Part of this is the AI being incapable of managing their economy. The first is trivial to fix; limited stacking and one hex range for all ranged units

The second is a bit more complex. Civ6 is mosttly designed around the “Design for Cause” paradigm “When a game's design has players follow all of the logical steps and procedures to obtain an outcome; when players experience a methodology and must consider its many facets. ”. Like building campusii to get science beakers

The problem is that the AI is also following these rules, and it’s bad at it. Design For Cause is often tough to get right, and if you don’t it falls apart

Contrast this with Barbarian Clans: which is VERY good at what it is supposed to do, and is one of the few parts of this game that is “Design for Effect: When a game abstracts complex procedures for simplicity’s sake so that the players can get straight to the "boom.”

Barbarians don’t research techs or build things with yields, all of this is largely abstracted; they get units when certain conditions are met, and upgrade when certain conditions are met and It..Just…works.

Honestly for Civ6 at this point I’d rather have a mod that makes the AI for Design For Effect like the barbs do so they are’nt passive punching bags
 
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Just as a one-off, because I have an answer to this.
I am a history buff by no means. In fact I'd say I suck at retaining information you tell me about "what happened" and certainly of producing a reasoned opinion from a set of biased records. But a history buff I know explained how a certain point in history, China was able to "catch up" to the West because, to put it his way, "They didn't need to reinvent all the technology." It was already there. And I expanded on that to say, "... okay, but what precisely is the economic gain of not needing to invent the technology?" And the answer is that no one has to do any experimentation or attempt any capital investment projects that you don't know are going to work, just for the sake of learning. No one has to be set aside to pay the toll of experimentation and exploration. You can use your population to "cut the R&D sector to 0" and boom from almost pure capital intensification.

To recreate -that- effect, in that way, the game needs to have technology diffusion , and it needs to have an amount of citizen assignments , at a percentage scale instead of a maximum science slots, go to concentrated science gain. In this case, the China player took all citizens out of this second one, just to enjoy the technology that was already at hand - building infrastructure in the cities.

Let me add to this because, as a few of you might have guessed by now, I am a history buff and then some.

China's historical technology rush to catch up with Europe started much earlier than most realize, and started from a solid technology base that was already there. China developed all the early gunpowder and metal working technologies well before anyone else (cast bronze hundreds of years before Europe, cast iron almost 1000 years earlier, high-temperature coal-fired furnaces at least 500 years earlier, simple cannon and muskets several hundreds of years earlier, etc) BUT China's technological progress was not subject to any outside pressure or Need - China's neighbors adopted Chinese technology, but China adopted very little from the outside and had no competitive reason to 'push' technological progress. Any such pushing came from the whim of the government/emperor and lacking that, China reached a comfortable level of tech (wheel-barrows, fine porcelain, fine metal-work, a high level of food production) and stopped. The Europeans in the 15th - 16th centuries, basically lapped her.

China very quickly caught up by copying matchlock mechanisms from Europe and adopting volley fire techniques originally used with crossbows (also several hundred years before Europe developed the same techniques), so that Chinese, Japanese and Korean small arms technology and techniques quickly matched European.
Cannon were harder, because the great wall-smashing Bombards of Europe were almost useless in East Asia: walls were made largely or rammed earth or solid earth dozens of feet thick, and the large solid shot simply did not do any damage to them the way they could smash stone curtain walls in European fortifications. So here the technological advance or 'catch up' was slowed enormously by a lack of Immediate Need. That need appeared when Portuguese and other foreign ships showed up with heavy shipboard cannon and sank everything Chinese in sight in the late 16th century. The Need was satisfied when a bunch of heavy cannon were salvaged from the British ship HMS Unicorn that ran aground and sank in a Chinese coastal river, allowing the Chinese to 'reverse-engineer' the guns and produce their own - stolen technology, if you will, but helped by the fact that the guns were cast iron, a technology that China had originated over 1500 years earlier!

The next 'catch up' was harder: when European steam-driven gun boats began appearing in Chinese waters in the mid-19th century, since a steam engine required much more complex and precise metallurgical technology than China possessed. With French engineering help and Chinese engineers trained in American and European universities, the Chinese government managed to build a shipyard in Fuzhou that by 1873 was building Chinese steam gunboats with modern guns that a British naval officer described as "“better than . . . British vessels of the same type"!

So, IMHO, to include Technological Diffusion in the game without making it a Fantasy mechanic, three things have to also have to be included:
1. Need. This should be one of the most basic driving forces for the Tech Tree (or Bush, or Creeper Vine, or whatever form technological change takes in Civ VII). People will not bother researching and adopting technology that they don't need. There will be no boat-building Tech in the desert. There will be no development of Wheel technology if you have no draft animals to pull the wheeled vehicles (Fun Fact: the Aztecs and Incas were perfectly familiar with the Wheel - they both had wheeled toys for their kids. But they also had no draft animals to pull larger wheeled vehicles, so never developed spoked wheels, harness, or any of the other tech that goes with 'real' wheeled vehicles). If you need it enough - like your opponent appears with steam warships to your wind-driven Junks - you will beg, borrow, or steal the Technology as fast as possible.

2. Each Technology has to have a Diffusion Score indicating how easy it is to copy and adopt. See a solid wheel, it's not hard to see how to use it and copy it. See a Steam Engine, it's going to require a lot more Prior Knowledge to reproduce it no matter how much you need it. A large component of the Diffusion Score for your Civ will include how much related Prior Technology you already have. China had very little problem adopting superior European metallurgical products like matchlock muskets and cast iron ship cannon, because she had already been making intricate metal products and cast iron objects for centuries. No American native Civilization ever managed to develop its own iron or steel technologies, because only a few of them had any metal-working/smelting technologies at all.

3. Individuals as Diffusers. Civ's unique strength has always been its personalization of History. Named leaders, governors, Great People, etc. It's been a standard part of Civ throughout the series. A lot of Technological Diffusion and Knowledge Diffusion throughout history hinged on individuals, many of them named, so that this Civ Meme can and should be included in Civ VII. Chinese development of Steam Engines and modern (Industrial Era) naval architecture sprang from a single Chinese engineer (Yung Wing) trained at Yale University in the USA, who bought a complete machine shop (with Chinese government money) in New England and brought it and his knowledge of how to use it back to China. This shop became the nucleus of China's first modern shipyard and Arsenal producing modern ships and artillery. An 'individualized' Technology Diffusion/Spread mechanic would fit right in with Civ's individualization of game mechanics in general and advance the spread of Technology to avoid the ridiculous imbalances that occur in the late game now.
 

Krajzen

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Sigh, so my post on reddit with this content got 17 800 total views, which sounds cool, and 110 upvotes, and after less than one day of existence got swept under the rug of order of magnitude more popular "look what crazy things happened on the map!" cool image posts, just confirming what I already know: reddit is a good platform for memes, news compilations (Ukraine etc), birds eye view on topics, "interesting pictures scrolling", and utterly useless for sustained meaningful discussion.

I just hope devs will notice this thread at some point. Maybe 100 times less people attend these forums, but it is compensated by 100 times more actual indepth discussion here rather than shallow, social media, fireworks content of reddit.
 

aieeegrunt

Emperor
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1,181
Let me add to this because, as a few of you might have guessed by now, I am a history buff and then some.

China's historical technology rush to catch up with Europe started much earlier than most realize, and started from a solid technology base that was already there. China developed all the early gunpowder and metal working technologies well before anyone else (cast bronze hundreds of years before Europe, cast iron almost 1000 years earlier, high-temperature coal-fired furnaces at least 500 years earlier, simple cannon and muskets several hundreds of years earlier, etc) BUT China's technological progress was not subject to any outside pressure or Need - China's neighbors adopted Chinese technology, but China adopted very little from the outside and had no competitive reason to 'push' technological progress. Any such pushing came from the whim of the government/emperor and lacking that, China reached a comfortable level of tech (wheel-barrows, fine porcelain, fine metal-work, a high level of food production) and stopped. The Europeans in the 15th - 16th centuries, basically lapped her.

China very quickly caught up by copying matchlock mechanisms from Europe and adopting volley fire techniques originally used with crossbows (also several hundred years before Europe developed the same techniques), so that Chinese, Japanese and Korean small arms technology and techniques quickly matched European.
Cannon were harder, because the great wall-smashing Bombards of Europe were almost useless in East Asia: walls were made largely or rammed earth or solid earth dozens of feet thick, and the large solid shot simply did not do any damage to them the way they could smash stone curtain walls in European fortifications. So here the technological advance or 'catch up' was slowed enormously by a lack of Immediate Need. That need appeared when Portuguese and other foreign ships showed up with heavy shipboard cannon and sank everything Chinese in sight in the late 16th century. The Need was satisfied when a bunch of heavy cannon were salvaged from the British ship HMS Unicorn that ran aground and sank in a Chinese coastal river, allowing the Chinese to 'reverse-engineer' the guns and produce their own - stolen technology, if you will, but helped by the fact that the guns were cast iron, a technology that China had originated over 1500 years earlier!

The next 'catch up' was harder: when European steam-driven gun boats began appearing in Chinese waters in the mid-19th century, since a steam engine required much more complex and precise metallurgical technology than China possessed. With French engineering help and Chinese engineers trained in American and European universities, the Chinese government managed to build a shipyard in Fuzhou that by 1873 was building Chinese steam gunboats with modern guns that a British naval officer described as "“better than . . . British vessels of the same type"!

So, IMHO, to include Technological Diffusion in the game without making it a Fantasy mechanic, three things have to also have to be included:
1. Need. This should be one of the most basic driving forces for the Tech Tree (or Bush, or Creeper Vine, or whatever form technological change takes in Civ VII). People will not bother researching and adopting technology that they don't need. There will be no boat-building Tech in the desert. There will be no development of Wheel technology if you have no draft animals to pull the wheeled vehicles (Fun Fact: the Aztecs and Incas were perfectly familiar with the Wheel - they both had wheeled toys for their kids. But they also had no draft animals to pull larger wheeled vehicles, so never developed spoked wheels, harness, or any of the other tech that goes with 'real' wheeled vehicles). If you need it enough - like your opponent appears with steam warships to your wind-driven Junks - you will beg, borrow, or steal the Technology as fast as possible.

2. Each Technology has to have a Diffusion Score indicating how easy it is to copy and adopt. See a solid wheel, it's not hard to see how to use it and copy it. See a Steam Engine, it's going to require a lot more Prior Knowledge to reproduce it no matter how much you need it. A large component of the Diffusion Score for your Civ will include how much related Prior Technology you already have. China had very little problem adopting superior European metallurgical products like matchlock muskets and cast iron ship cannon, because she had already been making intricate metal products and cast iron objects for centuries. No American native Civilization ever managed to develop its own iron or steel technologies, because only a few of them had any metal-working/smelting technologies at all.

3. Individuals as Diffusers. Civ's unique strength has always been its personalization of History. Named leaders, governors, Great People, etc. It's been a standard part of Civ throughout the series. A lot of Technological Diffusion and Knowledge Diffusion throughout history hinged on individuals, many of them named, so that this Civ Meme can and should be included in Civ VII. Chinese development of Steam Engines and modern (Industrial Era) naval architecture sprang from a single Chinese engineer (Yung Wing) trained at Yale University in the USA, who bought a complete machine shop (with Chinese government money) in New England and brought it and his knowledge of how to use it back to China. This shop became the nucleus of China's first modern shipyard and Arsenal producing modern ships and artillery. An 'individualized' Technology Diffusion/Spread mechanic would fit right in with Civ's individualization of game mechanics in general and advance the spread of Technology to avoid the ridiculous imbalances that occur in the late game now.

I have always felt that Need, as you put it, was something Civ badly, badly needed as a historically accurate anti-snowball/runaway mechanic.

In Civ you just keep piling on the beakers because Hail Science. Meanwhile, In The Real World once a level of “good enough” is reached things tend to taper off rapidly. In the absemce of outside challenge sometimes things can go backwards if iit’s to the advantage of the ruling class, like Japan banning gunpowder weapons

China getting lapped by European savages is an excellent example.

Here is a historical example of your “individual impact” phenomenon, the “Fisher Reforms” of the Royal Navy aproximately 1890-1910.

This was an era where some potentially new naval technologies were on the horizon, but the status quo in the RoyalNavy was very, very reluctant to persue because the Royal Navy already had a very comfortable lead in warships, where as pushing the adoption of new technology would essentially reset the naval race

Fisher dragged the Royal Navy kicking and screaming into the Dreadnaught Era anyways, and it’s an interesting question whether it would have happened as easily or quickly without him

Sigh, so my post on reddit with this content got 17 800 total views, which sounds cool, and 110 upvotes, and after less than one day of existence got swept under the rug of order of magnitude more popular "look what crazy things happened on the map!" cool image posts, just confirming what I already know: reddit is a good platform for memes, news compilations (Ukraine etc), birds eye view on topics, "interesting pictures scrolling", and utterly useless for sustained meaningful discussion.

I just hope devs will notice this thread at some point. Maybe 100 times less people attend these forums, but it is compensated by 100 times more actual indepth discussion here rather than shallow, social media, fireworks content of reddit.

But Muh Yield Porn

I feel your pain, this is such an idiotic timeline
 
Joined
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Messages
718
Location
Adelaide, Australia
I really hope that they turn civ 7 into basically a pseudo team game. Make co-operation so critical to development (science, culture) that you can't exist in splendid isolation and win the game. The game should give you this uneasy feeling of right now I NEED to work together with my opponents but ultimately either I or they will betray each other when we get to the final 20% of the game.
 

HorseshoeHermit

20% accurate as usual, Morty
Joined
Apr 5, 2013
Messages
1,455
Location
Canada
I really hope that they turn civ 7 into basically a pseudo team game. Make co-operation so critical to development (science, culture) that you can't exist in splendid isolation and win the game. The game should give you this uneasy feeling of right now I NEED to work together with my opponents but ultimately either I or they will betray each other when we get to the final 20% of the game.
I'd settle for it being possible to collaborate at all. In Civ games actually the only thing you can do is trade luxuries (which is an automatic thing and involves a single moment of management and then forget about it) and not attack people who send you trade routes. Gold gifts are hilariously foolish, strategic resource trading is a trap.

Boris' reply reinforces what I am thinking about a combined "research" and "education" system driving technology progress. It also makes me think, of the idea of "main techs" and "leaf techs", and, maybe the key distinction to bear out that rule is something to do with diffusion coefficients? I also like this again, to interact with diffusion, and he's exactly right that diffusion should itself be a system with some mechanics to it (more than 1 number), mostly out of touch of the player but whose effects are relevant to decisions.

A Wheel is easy to copy because what you need is the inspiration of the image. The mere idea of it, and then -seeing- its usefulness is now clear. You can't find the idea you need the Wheel, and also design the wheel, all too easily, but being shown the Wheel makes both those things clear. Other technology, maybe you can make clear what the idea is (if you have a literate team looking at it), but even so the engineering of using it still takes yet again a precision and knowledge you need to back up with technological infrastructure and an established curriculum I guess is the word, to have technicians competent to ... do whatever the thing is. So, there's a role for education here. Your research is an expression of what records there are, in the Civ... anywhere. "Research", the empire process, corresponds to taking things at the frontier of knowledge and codifying them. But, your overall literacy can lag behind this. People need to have structures and institutions for being instructed in these fields of knowledge. It has to be someone's job to even merely pass on the information; your society develops ways of doing this past Oral Tradition and it gets going really fast. But not just transferring the knowledge, there's , as I gestured to, the issue of supporting individuals to become technicians and artisans and engineers to keep that knowledge alive, in your society (with the constraints of political economy, etc.)
Having education will make the possibility of technology diffusion *much* more ready, than the reverse. Your mere technological "contact" is usually a lot less - with the exception of those techs which are like the Wheel, as Boris said.

Having a Needs-driven research has the issue of the game playing itself. I've got tinkering Im doing but it's still beneath anything I would put in words right now.
 

aieeegrunt

Emperor
Joined
Jan 8, 2021
Messages
1,181
I'd settle for it being possible to collaborate at all. In Civ games actually the only thing you can do is trade luxuries (which is an automatic thing and involves a single moment of management and then forget about it) and not attack people who send you trade routes. Gold gifts are hilariously foolish, strategic resource trading is a trap.

Boris' reply reinforces what I am thinking about a combined "research" and "education" system driving technology progress. It also makes me think, of the idea of "main techs" and "leaf techs", and, maybe the key distinction to bear out that rule is something to do with diffusion coefficients? I also like this again, to interact with diffusion, and he's exactly right that diffusion should itself be a system with some mechanics to it (more than 1 number), mostly out of touch of the player but whose effects are relevant to decisions.

A Wheel is easy to copy because what you need is the inspiration of the image. The mere idea of it, and then -seeing- its usefulness is now clear. You can't find the idea you need the Wheel, and also design the wheel, all too easily, but being shown the Wheel makes both those things clear. Other technology, maybe you can make clear what the idea is (if you have a literate team looking at it), but even so the engineering of using it still takes yet again a precision and knowledge you need to back up with technological infrastructure and an established curriculum I guess is the word, to have technicians competent to ... do whatever the thing is. So, there's a role for education here. Your research is an expression of what records there are, in the Civ... anywhere. "Research", the empire process, corresponds to taking things at the frontier of knowledge and codifying them. But, your overall literacy can lag behind this. People need to have structures and institutions for being instructed in these fields of knowledge. It has to be someone's job to even merely pass on the information; your society develops ways of doing this past Oral Tradition and it gets going really fast. But not just transferring the knowledge, there's , as I gestured to, the issue of supporting individuals to become technicians and artisans and engineers to keep that knowledge alive, in your society (with the constraints of political economy, etc.)
Having education will make the possibility of technology diffusion *much* more ready, than the reverse. Your mere technological "contact" is usually a lot less - with the exception of those techs which are like the Wheel, as Boris said.

Having a Needs-driven research has the issue of the game playing itself. I've got tinkering Im doing but it's still beneath anything I would put in words right now.

Some map driven limits would be nice. Currently you can research all the neccessary technology to build a supercarrier without having a single km of coastline.
 
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