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Unique abilities vs. "Geography is destiny"

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Phobetor, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    It would work fine for historical factions as well.

    What everyone seems to miss here is that the current system of 'Limited Uniques' makes a basic, totally false assumption: that civilizations did not change historically In Response To Historical (read: In-Game) Situations. This is so demonstrably false as to be self-evident, yet that is exactly what the current system (and the so-far-revealed system for Civ VI) of Uniques assumes.
    The bankruptcy of the system is indicated by the number of alternative uniques that the Mod community has come up with for the current Civ V civilizations. In addition to numerous, sometimes pretty obscure, new civilizations, by my count there are 3 new Americas, 4 different Egypts, 3 different Romes, 5 different Chinas, and 4 different Russias - not counting Russian 'predecessors' like Novgorod, Kiev, and the Grand Duchy of Muscovy.
    In other words, the current system includes a tiny fraction of the real historical 'uniqueness' of the civilizations.

    Instead, make a 'suite' of Uniques available, some peculiar to the geographical - technological - social policy - religion - whatever condition of the civ, and some absolutely peculiar to the civilization, based on its characteristics throughout its history. And those would 'become available' mostly only as you progressed through history/game, not all at the start of the game when the conditions are only potential, not real.

    Example: England/Britain, which currently looks to have very geographically-specific Uniques in Civ VI - almost all of them are dependent for use on Britain building a multi-continent empire. This is perfectly appropriate for Victoria as the leader of Britain, but not at all appropriate for the entirety of British/English history.
    Instead, give the starting English Player a set of choices: Uniques based on starting position geography.
    Some of these would be 'generic' - better movement/food/fighting/resources from Jungle, Desert, Hills, Forest, etc.
    Some would be English-Specific: better Resources from Stone, for instance (based on the prehistoric stone monuments, buildings, etc all over the British Isles)
    Later, England would get choices based on the in-game situation:
    English Uniques:
    faster sea movement
    Longbowmen
    Billmen - an English Pike-Equivalent with more effect against Swordsmen
    Magna Carta - more happiness from the nobility, faster adoption of advanced government types
    Henry VIII - get one free complete Change or Adoption of Religion for Free
    Race-Built - better warships in the Renaissance
    Sea Dogs - legal pirates, basically
    Royal Charter Companies - a way of extracting more money from Trade Routes and resources
    The Royal Academy - an English-specific National Wonder for science
    The '74' - a very cheap and efficient Ship-of-the-Line
    Red Coat - musket infantry specialized for 'overseas' fighting
    British Museum- more archaeological and tourist attractions
    Battle Cruiser - a faster, but slightly weaker, Battleship that can be converted into an Aircraft Carrier later

    These are just off-the-top-of-my-head examples, but I hope you get the point: ALL of the historical peculiarities of England/Britain can be included, not just a handful. Which ones you actually implement in a particular game will depend on how that particular game develops.
    Start next to the Aztec, Zulus and Mongols? - plan on using lots of Longbowmen and Billmen to stay alive!
    Have cities on three different continents? Develop Charter Companies and Race-Built ships, then '74s', Sea Dogs and Red Coats to protect it all.

    In other words, with a well-designed and researched system of Uniques, I can play England a different way each time without feeling like I've wasted the unique abilities of that civilization.

    In every case, the civilization will be uniquely England/Britain, but not necessarily exactly the same England/Britain in every game. In a game where, since the very first version, England has been able to build the Pyramids, isn't that kind of Alternate History what the game is al about?
     
  2. LDiCesare

    LDiCesare Deity

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    No.
    Civ I and II were like that: No special ability for any civ. Although actually, France had more wine and China more silk, but you had to really look very deep for very small details to actually notice it.
    However, each leader behaved in a different way. Being next to Stalin or Shaka was not at all the same as being next to Gandhi. So, your assumption is flat wrong.

    I'm also in the camp of preferring generic civs to ones with unique abilities/units. My favortie civs inCiv I were Rome and France, but I rarely played them in Civ IV because I didn't like Rome's units, and France even less.In Civ V, France's special ability 'ancien regime' just made me cringe.
    My issue with unique stuff is that it's a choice of viewing a civilization in a certain way, and if my view of the civ is different, then I simply can't enjoy playing them. I want a revolutionary France, not an ancien regime one.
    Having unique abilities unlocked if you do stuff in-game would be great, but I think it would be a lot of work to design and very hard to get right.

    As for maps, I doubt that large swathes of similar terrain will be interesting. It is, however, very easy to create map scripts that do that, particularly on big maps. It's much harder to get a nice (realistic) looking varied terrain.
     
  3. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    I am definitely not in favour of generic Civs.

    It may not be historically accurate but the game isn't supposed to be a history lecture and more of a very fun exercise playing a game loosely based on history. :)
     
  4. IronfighterXXX

    IronfighterXXX Work Hard - Play Hard

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    I really don't care much about balance between civs, as long as it's not ridiculously imbalanced ;)

    However I care very much about balance between features/strategies eg. if tradition 4cities or trade routes (BE) are always the strongest options it's really bad.

    Summarizing: balance between features is more important than balance between civs (Poland's UA is better than Byzantium's) imo.
     
  5. Calyxx

    Calyxx Warlord

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    I don't think anyone would disagree with this - in fact, I would argue this is the direction in which things are going (though very slowly), and the primary reason why people are hoping for multiple leaders per civ.

    England's current abilities are very fitting for Victoria, but obviously don't do a great job of representing the entire history of England - which, after all, is quite long. Playing England under Richard I would presumably be quite different, and capture another aspect of England's history.

    Of course, this is still a long ways away from the dynamically evolving set of unique elements that you imagine, as things would still be locked in from the start of the game. And while your idea is clearly superior, I can't help but think that it would take a lot of work to implement this for each civ and balance it. Balance is already terrible for the relatively simple abilities of Civ V. How many civs would people be willing to sacrifice to have these type of in-depth uniques? Would a game shipping with only 12 civs be alright with most people?
     
  6. chaosprophet

    chaosprophet Warlord

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    Considering we can either have one or the other, then at least it's much easier for modders to just strip away the unique traits of the civs.
     
  7. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    I agree, they are apparently, slowly moving in the direction of more in-game peculiarities to civilizations, based on geography and placement - I'm not so sure that they are moving towards Civilization Uniques that allow more flexibility in playing the civilization in all its historical aspects.

    And shipping with 12 civilizations might not be so bad if you could play each of 12 civilizations in 3 - 5 different ways. What price an England that can be played as Henry V's military powerhouse in the Middle Ages, Elizabeth's Pirate Kingdom in the Renaissance, AND Victoria's World-Girdling Empire in the Industrial Age - all in, potentially, the same game?
     
  8. qwerty25

    qwerty25 Prince

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    Yep like to give a concrete example for BNW techtree there could be Horseback riding vs Elephant riding. And also Catapults vs battering ram replacing mathematics. Either one you choose will fulfill the next tech requirement and youre not obilgated to research it later on. To make it even more fun, might want to increase the research cost of the alternate choice.

    Like theyre alternate routes. I like leaf techs but the problem with them in a techtree is that you fall behind if you research them as youre researching an extra tech that didnt have to be researched. While with alternate techs it gives you choice without you falling behind.

    Sent from my LG-H850 using Tapatalk
     
  9. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    I really like the leaf tech idea. I've played a couple mods that have had a similar set up and it was kind of neat. Would've been even better if the AI were programmed to handle it.
     
  10. Brianstorm

    Brianstorm Warlord

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    Well people have complained about that direction with Civ V, and I have to slightly agree. I've always thought it would be cool if you started as various culture groups and eventually got to the point where you became a certain Civilization. For instance you could be a generic Mediterranean culture and if you went in certain direction you would end up as (or have the choice to be) Rome or Carthage or Greece, then after you'd earn your leader. You'd need multiple leaders per Civ obviously, but that's not the worst standard bearer for inclusion.
     
  11. Tagma

    Tagma Chieftain

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    I'm not sure I understand this drive for generic civs with emergent abilities. We already have it!!! Sink all ypur policies into piety and you become a religious civ. Build barracks and pick drill and you are a nation of skilled mountain warriors. Beeline the great lighthouse and you are now a naval civ.
    This stuff is not reflected in your UA, but the UA is a only one part of your civ's capabilities; the rest you can shape as you please, in response to your environment.
    If nothing else the uniques are great for creating strong, dramatic, interesting characters for the player to love, hate, fear, admire and triumph over.
     
  12. Colmar

    Colmar Warlord

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    Late to the party, but I agree with the original sentiment. For all the cursing railroading gets from the Civ developers, the new uniques seem too railroad-y. The closest CiV seems to get in that regard is maybe with Indonesia, but even then it's not like all three uniques conspire into one clear path. I hope the rest of the civs are more of a smorgasborg of that civ's military, culture, religion, etc. instead of a united gameplay style, like USA, England, and China seem to be going for.
     
  13. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    "Blank slate" and "random" are two different things. AI opponents in Civilization have never been "random" (unless you chose "random leaders" ;) ). They always had a preprogrammed set of behaviors that intended to make them act like their historical counterparts. For me, that diplomatic aspect of leaders is enjoyable, and I am very happy for the new agenda system.

    So saying that without uniques civilizations will be "random" is "pish and tosh." And reframing the argument as "wanting every civ to act the same" is completely wrong.

    I haven't played BE so your comparison went right over my head. I never responded to that part.

    For every mechanic people dislike in every game I discussed, I have seen this argument pop up. "Simply ignore the mechanic." C'mon... "Yeah, simply don't play the game as it was designed, with the features it was balanced for. Pretend it was a different game." It's a weak argument, and an annoying one.

    When it comes to Civ specifically, I cannot ignore the mechanic - if I play as Morocco in Civ5, my trade routes *will* work differently than for other civs. Etc. Secondly, a lot of people don't enjoy playing suboptimally. While I'm not in the "Excel data crunchers" camp, I do want to use the tools I have at my disposal.

    I don't play MP and I already know that talk of Soren's.

    This actually sums up my problem with uniques. When I launch the game, I don't feel like playing a specific game from round 1. If you do, good for you. I want to see what I can do with the situation the game creates for me (for that reason, I never reroll). The uniques force me into a false dilemma: should I try to maximize these bonuses (often having to bend over backwards to get the right terrain/resources/whatever into my empire to fulfil some preconceived notion of my civilization) or should I ignore them and be at a disadvantage? Why all of you think this is a good situation to be in is beyond me.

    I am not against civ uniqueness, mind you - I am against bonuses that push you towards a specific playstyle. I don't mind diplomatic and aesthetic differences. I can live with UUs and UIs for the most part - although I think it'd be better if they were up for grabs like wonders and policies. My biggest problem is with bonuses that last the whole game and force you to adopt a specific playstyle to use them optimally - like those of Korea or Assyria.

    So why not leave it at that? I would like to understand why the supporters of UAs don't see a problem with wonders being built by the wrong civ, for example. Doesn't it make civilizations "random"?

    For the most part, it's diplomatic modifiers that create those characters, not uniques.
     
  14. Hail

    Hail Satan's minion

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    you forgot about EUREKA moments. those add some more rails. :D
     
  15. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    They are a different kind of rails, though. They are rails you build yourself through your actions, not something that is there from the start and cannot be influenced.
     
  16. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    And one of the reasons I believe that the designers of Civ VI are starting to inch away from the Hard Wired 'Uniqueness' of the civilizations in the game. They are, apparently, giving the player more control over his own development (need boats - settle on the coast) and have even mentioned in interviews that there are several alternative strategies built into the game - like concentrating on the 'culture/Social Policy' tree instead of the Tech Tree.

    This is all to the good, I just think they should have taken it further.

    And I am not arguing for a 'random' or 'blank slate' civilization at the start of the game. Just the opposite, I think your starting abilities should reflect the Pre-Game Situation. It seems to have escaped a lot of peoples' attention,but civilizations in various parts of the world had already done a lot of things before 4000 BCE: discovered coastal and river travel, agriculture, tamed and domesticated animals, developed pottery and weaving of cloth. Reflect this, relate it to the starting position and the Starting Peculiarities of the Civ.

    What I don't think is appropriate is for 4000 BCE-England to get Sea Dogs 5500 years later regardless of what the player does...
     
  17. Phobetor

    Phobetor Chieftain

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    The developers certainly have emphasized that the main point of many of the new game mechanics is to offer the player interesting choices that depend on the situation and earlier choices. Eurekas, terrain bonuses, splitting the tech/civics trees, the card system for governments... these new systems are all about providing flexibility and alternative strategies as the game progresses, and making the decisions meaningful. These are the things I'm most excited about in Civ VI.

    In Civ V the social policy system (the other main mechanic representing the different features of civilizations) was also structured to encourage choosing one strategy and sticking to that. For example, you had to choose between Tradition and Liberty (or Piety or Honor..) on turn 20 or earlier - basically early enough that there's no meaningful possibility for choosing based on what already happened in the game - and as the policy tree finishers were so strong, you were encouraged to keep on the path you chose in the very beginning. But this time the developers want us to think on our feet and to adapt to the game situation.

    Contradicting this, to me it looks like the hard-wired uniqueness of civilizations is even stronger than before. America is to turtle up and develop culture, England is to expand overseas, Egypt is to settle on rivers... I don't see is how one could possibly argue that the decision to hard-wire even more uniqueness to civilizations wouldn't water down the design goal of giving the player more flexibility and encouraging adaptation to the game situation.

    We could argue forever about whether civ-specific abilities are fun, realistic or immersive or whether they support replayability better than alternative mechanics such as context-specific wonders or whatever. In the end what one considers fun, immersive or even realistic is a matter of individual taste. Personally I dislike strong unique abilities as they distract with the experience of rewriting world history on the macro level (and for some other reasons), but I understand that someone else can be equally distracted by realistically-named civs not exhibiting any the features they were most known for (or for any other reason mentioned in this thread). This wasn't my main point in starting the thread. What I'm concerned about is that the developers are contradicting themselves, on one hand saying they want more flexibility and context-dependent choices but on the other hand making mechanics that incentivize sticking to a predetermined strategy even stronger than before.
     
  18. the_jeff

    the_jeff Chieftain

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    Not necessarily. The uniques so far look to be specific in their scope, but we haven't seen anything to suggest that they can't be used to shore up weaness as much as enhancing strengths. In other words, it helps you win directly if you go that route, and helps reduce the opportunity cost of going the other route.
     
  19. Phobetor

    Phobetor Chieftain

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    This might be somewhat true of America's culture abilities as any civ will need culture to some extent. But certainly England's bonuses for overseas colonization or Egypt's bonuses for settling on rivers are simply wasted unless used.

    (Of course, my concern is in some sense premature as we don't know how valuable the bonuses will really be. But the point stands. It could be that the bonuses are strong enough that they significantly affect the players' strategic choices in a context-insensitive way. Or the bonuses could be weak enough that they don't really matter - in which case there is no reason for them be included.)
     
  20. the_jeff

    the_jeff Chieftain

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    Not necessarily. Redcoats and the UA might not be that valuable, but the Harbor and Museum will be universally useful (or universally not, as you said).
     

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