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Unique abilities vs. "Geography is destiny"

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

  1. Scaramanga

    Scaramanga Brickhead

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    More like the Netherlands was responsible for the rise of England :).
     
  2. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    There were some pretty generic civs in V. America, Russia, Poland, Germany, Sweden, to name a few. None of their uniques really pegged you into one niche. Were they your favorites?
     
  3. King Jason

    King Jason Fleece-bearer

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    I've always sort of been against deepening the chasm between civs in regards to their uniqueness; I don't really need to play a game of civ with zerg/protoss/terran levels of separation where anytime I want to play a civ that I feel like playing I have to completely switch my playstyle. Civ4 had probably my preferred level of uniqueness with the mixed set of traits. That said, as the gap between civs has widened over the years, I find myself growing fond of it if only for the reason that I feel it makes the opponents that vary from each game more interesting.

    Since they started adding in unique attributes I've observed the kinds of logic that if you're playing X game, going for Y victory, then you must play Z civ. It's this trend that annoys me to no end and so long as the uniqueness doesn't really reach a point where playing as one civ over the other absolutely requires a different strategy, and it's simply non-sensical to attempt certain victory types with certain civs.. Then I welcome it. Though, some civs with entirely unique gameplay have turned out to be interesting. Venice was interesting.

    In closing, I think civ6 has a good level of uniqueness - I especially like how thus far, none of the civs that we have definitive information of necessarily emphasize one strategy over the other; If nothing else they may have a "primary" victory condition and then a "secondary" that they also have bonuses for. This is important to have. No one civ should feel shoe-horned into a specific playstyle.
     
  4. Phobetor

    Phobetor Chieftain

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    Sure, that's probably more accurate :)

    Yes. I definitely preferred to play civs that didn't have any special mechanics attached to them. But in Civ V the social policy system forced some permanent characteristics on the civ anyway, so the uniques didn't feel so out of place there. Not that I still liked them very much, but that was just the kind of game Civ V was. To me that lost much of the epic feel of Civs I to III. (IV I never played.)
     
  5. Plus Ultra

    Plus Ultra Conquistador

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    You have clearly misunderstood my proposal.

    The Create-a-Civ system is a substitute for nothing, just an extra option that allows the player to create his own Civ using the unique stuff already present in the game, if he wishes to.

    Nothing changes for the rest of the Civs, at all, nothing. They are all exactly as unique as they were.

    As a player, you would have the option to choose between all the standard Civs or create your own if you want. That's all.

    Agreed. No one did it for Civ V though. Already posted it on the mod request thread for Civ VI.
     
  6. Ikael

    Ikael King

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    I think that the developers are answering this dylemma magnificently: By creating civs with lots of uniques than rather than being a one trick pony, adapts to lots of different types of terrain and different strategies (see Egypt, which can be wonder, trade or faith focused), even if of course, some civs will be better than others at certain things. If you couple of this with an overall design philosophy of "thinking with your feet", you can have a game that rettains lot of character while also forcing you to shape your civilization in different ways according to your particular circumstances.

    That being said, I cannot for the life of me to comprehend the people that actually wants a generic blob of a 100% customizable, inchargeable civ, and with all due respect, I doubt that these people represent a big part of the community. You would get less options, less complexity and less depth in exchange for what, exactly? Adaptability? Customization? There is already a big deal of adaptative customization built into the very core of the game (policies, wonders, goverments, etc).

    I understand that different people have difference preferences, but for me historical flavour and roleplaying are some of the more attractive traits of this saga, and even if you ignore these factors, uniques opens strategic possibilities and most importantly, they add a lot of replayability.

    That being said, If you want to play an utterly generic civilization you can always pick Civilization 5's America or the Ottomans. Afterall, one man's generic, worst civ might be another man's favourite pick.

    EDIT: A game civ editor a la Master of Orion 2 race designer could be lots of fun, even if it would be a little tad too alien for the core game, me thinks
     
  7. Plus Ultra

    Plus Ultra Conquistador

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    My sentiments exactly.
     
  8. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    Agreed - it seems there is a good mix of builder bonuses and war-related bonuses for each civ revealed so far. It looks like uniques in Civ6 will annoy me much less than those in Civ5.

    Did you read the thread? People gave several reasons why. You don't have to agree but not being able to comprehend? Hyperbole much?

    I am not so sure. CivFanatics is itself a vocal minority. I don't know many "casual" Civ players but those few I know react strongly to visuals, including UUs and UIs, whereas UAs tend to confuse them.

    These are key factors for me also but I guess I look at history differently. I am a Guns, Germs and Steel kind of person, and starting with predetermined bonuses strikes me as ahistorical. You have no idea how happy I am for the Eureka system - finally something right up my alley.

    Out of curiosity: doesn't the inclusion of America annoy you if you like historical flavor? I mean - an offshoot of the British Empire starting as a "civilization" in 4000 BC - and with cultural traits they acquired within the last two centuries? (I understand the commercial reasons to include them - but it baffles me that people claim to like historical flavor but aren't bothered by stuff like that.)

    They add replayability if done well. It looks like Civ6 might be going in the right direction with them. In Civ5, I didn't play most civs more than once because their uniques felt constraining or meant for a different playstyle than mine.
     
  9. Plus Ultra

    Plus Ultra Conquistador

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    I also enjoyed Guns, Germs and Steel (very much so, in fact) and would love to see a game built around that concept. I of course agree that predetermined bonuses would make no sense whatsoever in that case, that's a given.

    I keep saying you have an awesome idea for a game, but Civilization is something different.
    The list of key things missing in Civilization for your idea to work as intended is absurdly high. Some examples:

    -Your tribe might not develop agriculture if they have enough resources to remain as hunter-gatherers.
    -Plagues and germs should develop differently depending on the types of animals tamed by each Civ.
    -Seeds (and therefore most food resources) should be tradable, duplicable and thrive, when the climate is the correct one.
    -Flora and fauna, in general, need to be buffed. Having Cows instead of Rhinos changes everything, as you already know.
    -Technologies should be shared between Civs - at least within a reasonable timeframe. Isolated Civs will not advance as fast.
    -Some technologies should be impossible to develop (not just harder, impossible) without certain flora/fauna/climate/neighbour.
    ...etc.

    The key think here, as you already know, is that "geography is destiny" means Civs don't have the same opportunities of success. That is Jared's main idea: Geography (Climate, Flora/Fauna, shape of continents) is the key factor to explain why musket-armed Aztecs didn't invade Spain mounted on battle-Llamas, or the colonists found hunter-gatherers enyoing their simple lives in New Zealand, rather than a secretive and technologically advanced Maori civilization with plans to colonize alpha centauri. There was no other outcome but the one we got.

    Civilization today has a different premise: Choose one of the most important/famous/biggest Civs in history and compete against inmmortal leaders in an alternative reality in which every Civ starts at the same era, and has more or less the same chance of sucess. With that premise, having as much flavour and unique stuff for each Civ is better than having 100% generic blobs. There is no way around that, and that is why your proposal makes little sense for this game.
     
  10. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    Whoa, don't lump all of Civfanatics in with you and the two other guys with the opinion that no uniques would be better. The majority of users in this thread can barely wrap their minds around the idea that less unique=better for some people.
     
  11. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    I find it interesting that we have two civs now (Egypt and Japan) that have unique abilities that seem specifically tailored to geography. Moreover, their uniques seem tailored specifically to TSL maps (Japan on an island, Egypt on a long river). Even America and England have bonuses that seem to favor their historical behavior. England's uniques allow her to be a commercial empire that spreads across oceans and America's bonuses help her defend her continent and be a late game culture power. It seems like civ6 is designing civ uniques much more for TSL than civ5 did.
     
  12. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    I am not the OP and I don't have any proposal, to be honest. And please give me some credit - I may not be the smartest person around but I have been playing the Civ franchise for 25 years now, I know rather well what it is about.

    All I'm saying is that I preferred the unique-less ways of Civ1 and Civ2 and that if we have to have uniques, at least make them useful for each victory type/play style.

    Lol. I must be really bad at communicating if you so completely misunderstood what I wrote. Let me rephrase: "Even if everybody on CivFanatics wanted uniques, it wouldn't tell us much about the general audience for Civilization, as CivFanatics is a vocal minority that looks at the game rather differently than most people I know."

    Yeah, I noticed that. TSL maps are my favorite so it's a win in my book. Fingers crossed that they will get the map generation and start biases right - otherwise many of the uniques will feel weird and out of place.
     
  13. Plus Ultra

    Plus Ultra Conquistador

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    My bad.

    In fact, I see you already adressed some of the problems of the "geography is destiny" approach yourself, even making exacly the point I was also trying to make:

    So again, my bad.
     
  14. JtW

    JtW Prince

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    Thanks for taking the time to read the discussion. :)
     
  15. Phobetor

    Phobetor Chieftain

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    More content doesn't necessarily mean more depth or complexity. Many would argue that Go is the deepest and most complex turn-based game there is, but it has even less "content" than chess.

    But even as far as variety in itself is concerned (I have no objection to variety!) the fact that there's already so many mechanics for adaptive customization just means that the game wouldn't have to lose out if civ-specific unique abilities were dropped. Any unique ability you can think of could easily be turned into a wonder or social policy. Especially with the new terrain (or more generally, context) based mechanics this would still allow for lots of distinctiveness to civilizations - of course the distinctiveness would change from game to game, but that would just make it all the more interesting to me. For concreteness, imagine that instead of the Mongols getting +1 movement to all mounted units or Huns getting +1 production to pastures, these bonuses would be granted by the civic Predatory Nomadism that can only be chosen by a civ that has built two Encampments on Plains next to Horses. The requirement wouldn't be accidentally satisfied very often, but if you want to relive Genghis Khan's conquests you easily could. And if the Mongol civ has a starting bias for Plains and Genghis' personality is as aggressive and expansionistic as ever, an AI Mongol civ would be very likely to have the horse bonus.

    We seem to have different preferences here. I'm surprised, as you already many times argued for exactly the points I would have wanted to make! :)

    I'm quite concerned by Civ VI's uniques. To me the First Look videos seem to point towards pretty specific playstyles for civs, just not necessarily in terms of victory conditions but in how they will build their empire. The trend seems to be encourage a historical civ to settle in its historical terrain type. I'd rather improve the starting bias mechanic: let England not only start on a coast tile, but try to look for an area of the map that has islands or lots of bays and fjords. This would make it likely that when you meet an AI England they'll have had some interest in shipbuilding, but wouldn't do so by a special in-game mechanic.

    This sounds very strange to me, especially the conclusion that a game that incorporated some of these ideas would necessarily be so different as to make the game not Civilization. Civs I to IV, for example, had tech trading, which often achieved the effect of pre-ocean travel continents having quite different levels of tech. (Or at least that often happened to me in I to III.) Sure, it was a bit random and not as balanced as Civ V where every civ was basically on its own as far as science is concerned and developed roughly in the same pace, but I liked the fact that first intercontinental contact was exciting and dangerous.

    I also wouldn't mind biomes made more influential somehow - it always bothered me that crossing the Sahara on horseback on a true world map is as easy as crossing the Central Asian Plains, which in turn is represented as a fertile grassland well suited for agriculture. But you don't have to add very much detail or game mechanics to address these problems. For example, just increase the movement cost of desert tiles to make them more difficult to cross, at least for units on foot or horseback.

    And yet again, Civs I and II didn't have unique abilities at all and in III you could turn them off. So certainly there's precedent, and those were very successful games.

    I didn't really have any concrete proposal for replacing unique abilities in mind when starting the thread, but let's go with the one I suggest above: for any civ-specific unique ability you'd like to see in the game, come up with a wonder or social policy that reproduces the effect and is somehow constrained to the context of the historical civ you'd like to give the ability to. This idea doesn't go anywhere as far from the Civilization games we already know of as you imply above, but would go a long way towards making Civ VI more enjoyable to us who'd prefer in-game development and specialization of civs over unique abilities. (Well, based on my expectations anyway, and this is not to say I don't expect to like Civ VI. Most of what we've heard up to now seems very nice and I expect to like it much more than V. Even if uniques can't be turned off :) )
     
  16. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Lots of talking past each other here - it shouldn't take a page of back and forth for people to understand what the other guy is saying, but it's a tribute to the folks on this forum that people will take the time to understand...

    So, time to state my case - again.

    I'm always arguing for the historical basis for the game. BUT that does not mean recreating history, or 'realism' (whatever that means - for a start, we're playing a game in several hours that covers 6000+ years of history!).
    It does mean, wherever possible, using an historical basis for the design instead of 'flavor' (okay, call it 'Uniques') made up by a developer with a passing knowledge of history.

    And, wherever possible, it means avoiding Obvious Boners like: "I'm England in 4000 BC, if I survive, I can get Sea Dogs in 5500 years, Oh Boy!"
    Really?
    What if in 5500 years England is the Greatest Trading Nation on earth (about 300 years early, but not impossible..) with Trade Routes among 3 - 4 continents (Huge Map, obviously) and raking in the Gold from those Routes.
    Why in the name of Meier would they develop a unit - Sea Dogs - designed to attack Trade Routes?
    That is not to say that Sea Dogs are not a great, England-specific Unique Unit. It is to say that in a specific game, they may be totally inappropriate, or even counter-productive for England In That Specific Game as the game develops between 4000 BCE and 1550 CE (approximately).

    What I want is for each civilization to start with a combination of Uniques that are In Play, so to speak, from the beginning, with possibly additional Uniques based on the starting position: terrain, climactic surroundings, City Placement, etc. - And, Joy, Joy, it looks like Civ VI is making a start on including just these types of factors in the Civilization development.

    But.
    Civ VI is also including - From The Start - 'Unique' abilities and characteristics that are totally irrelevant at the start (Rough Riders? Sea Dogs? Samurai? All 'Hard-Wired' to the Civ in 4000 BCE?) and may or may not be relevant when their respective time comes - Okay, maybe not Samurai - who doesn't want such an utterly characteristic Assault Unit in their army in almost any period? But that's one out of three, and that's not a good percentage except in baseball.

    But.
    How much better if Civilization Specific Uniques are available throughout the game, in each Era, but only if you have the conditions 'ripe' for them and you choose to implement them?
    So, England in the Renaissance Era might not need Sea Dogs, but might instead choose to develop the Joint Stock Company to maximize Gold from colonies and trade.
    And, in this design, the number of Uniques specific to each civilization would increase, because, say, out of the myriad of unique aspects of England/Britain's or German, French, Russian, Chinese history only a portion of them are likely to be applicable in every single game, and some only in very specific 'unique' circumstances.

    And, in addition, there are 'generic' Uniques that might be applicable to Any civilization that develops the prerequisites - some based on geography, obviously, but others based on a combination of social, religious and technological developments.

    Also, there are characteristics that can apply to several civilizations, each in a slightly different way. For instance, the now-revealed Samurai characteristic for Civ VI: fights at full strength even when damaged. If you read Robert Citino's "German Way of War" and his follow-up books, that characteristic is also applicable to the German/Prussian military land forces from about 1700 to 1945CE - but only in the attack. (AND, a book several years ago had the thesis that this characteristic: "Attack and Die" was also true of the Celtic forces against Caesar and the Confederate armies in the US Civil War, so as a Unique Characteristic it might be applied in slightly different forms to several 'civilizations' or some of their units)

    Now, doesn't that provide a much better set of possibilities for the gamer to develop 'his' civilization based on both the particular civilization as it starts but also as it develops in the game?
    And, playing England you know there will be a bunch of Unique abilities and traits available to you if you develop 'historically' (trade, colonization, industrialization, multi-continent, etc) BUT you are not Locked In to that path from 4000 BCE on.

    I am well aware that having a list of not 4 - 6, but 12 - 20 Uniques for each Civilization (including, necessarily, a bunch of 'artificial' mid and late-game Uniques for those civilizations that didn't last that long: here's looking at you, Aztec, Huns and Celts) is going to require both some serious historical research to formulate the Uniques in the first place and some major dedication to play testing to make sure they don't 'warp' the game in unforeseen ways.

    I just happen to think that neither of those is a Bad Thing, and that they are worth doing for the results.
     
  17. Ivan Hunger

    Ivan Hunger King

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    Isn't the problem you're describing specific to unique units though?

    Unique abilities are with you through the whole game, from beginning to end.

    Unique infrastructure (buildings, improvements, and districts) aren't available right away, but once you do get them, they continue to be useful throughout the rest of the game after that point, and are universally beneficial no matter what type of strategy you're pursuing. Even if you're not playing a heavily economic game, a tile improvement that gives you extra gold is always going to be nice to have.

    It's only unique units that are exclusively available in a very narrow window, and only actually useful under specific circumstances (being at war).

    From that perspective, a much more cost-effective solution would be to just get rid of unique units all together, maybe giving each civ one or two extra unique abilities or unique infrastructure to make up for it.
     
  18. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Not entirely. Morocco in Civ V had a Unique Improvement, the Kasbah, that could only be built on desert tiles - and, therefore, was Uniquely Useless if you didn't have desert tiles within your city boundaries.
    The Aztecs notoriously had a Unique Building, the Water Garden, that required a lake within your city boundary. I lost track of how many times I played the Aztecs, and I NEVER got a lake anywhere near my starting position, and in 5000 + hours of playing Civ V, I have built exactly one Water Garden. Not a great use of Developer's or Programmer's talents


    Except that I would argue that Unique Units are the most flavorful part of the entire Unique System. You are asking gamers to give up Roman Legions, Japanese Samurai, Mongolian Keshiks - I put it to you that none of those civilizations will feel 'right' to 99.9% of gamers without those absolutely defining Unique Units. While Unique Abilities, frankly, all too frequently appear to have been cobbled together by a developer focused on a single aspect of the civilization, the Unique Units are Iconic - ask even the most casual amateur historian to match the Civilization/State with the following units: Cossacks, Hoplites, Conquistadors, Longbowmen, Panzers.

    Now, even though they may be much more useful for longer periods in the game, try to have them match up the following Unique Buildings or Abilities with their respective Civilizations:
    Kasbah, Krepost, Coffee House, Mud Pyramid Mosque.

    -and, even if they correctly match the building to the civilizations, I defy any non-Civ V player to figure out what their effects would or should be!

    Therefore, I suggest that giving up Unique Units is not an option for a mass market game.

    It's why I suggest an alternative that makes sure that the Unique Unit or Units for the Civilization you are playing are actually usable in the game you are playing.
     
  19. Ivan Hunger

    Ivan Hunger King

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    It still seems like there are more cost-effective ways of solving that problem.

    They could just not have any unique buildings or improvements that require specific terrain. Indeed, most civs don't have those, so they clearly aren't necessary.

    They could also just increase the weight of the starting biases, to make certain every civ has the type of terrain they need every game.

    Between losing a few sales or exponentially increasing the cost of development, I think I know which option Firaxis would choose.

    (The correct answer is neither, they'd just keep doing things the way they are now.)
     
  20. qwerty25

    qwerty25 Prince

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    Well if we want to continue the path of "geography is destiny" why not let there be extra techs that give you the unique unit. With eurekas based on nearby terrain. So for instance a eureka could be settle city near lake and the tech would unlock a water garden.

    Sure it'll be weird with Egyptian samurai or other mismatches and I imagine the art wouldn't accommodate all the different combinations. But it is after all the theme of this thread. Anyways perhaps for a mod.
     

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