Visions of the Seventh Civilization

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My Civilization VII: Hopes and Dreams

Realistic expectations of Civilization VII are not the primary objective here. The purpose of this essay is to establish what I would like to see in a Civilization VII game, not what I expect to see or even what I think would be popular among the majority of gamers and therefore commercially possible or successful.

A great deal of what I will relate here has already appeared in some form over the years in posts all over the CivFanatics forums. I make no apologies for repeating them here, since the recent posts about what people would like to see in a future Civ game make it obvious that very few people have ever actually read the previous threads or posts, or remember them if they did read them.

And so, in no particular order of Importance, Here We Go Again . . .

Purpose of the Game:

Great Tides of History have their place, and they should be represented in some way in the game, but I want to Tell A Story. I want to play Narrative History, if you will, all about the people, digital though they may be, in my Civilization. That includes not only the Leaders, Generals, Governors, Ministers, and other named folks, but also the un-named traders, artisans, farmers, herders, miners, and other inhabitants of my cities, towns, plantations and such.

That means, all else being equal, I come down on the side of Named People in the game mechanics, even when the result is a named personage that lasts centuries. Think of it as a dynasty, a lot of adoptions, a personal Inherited Title, or whatever you choose: it’s a game, and in this instance it is My Game, and that’s what I want.

Appearance and Graphics:

No cartoons. If I want to watch or play with a cartoon, I’ll watch some old Road Runner cartoons or re-read Asterix the Gaul or Pogo: all of them did it far better than Civ’s graphic artists ever managed, and the result in Civ VI gave the impression that the company wasn’t taking the game very seriously, so I shouldn’t either.

I want a map that splits the difference between the very bare, utilitarian Civ look and the animated beauty of Humankind (or Anno 1800) which, however, in Humankind at least, was so varied and ‘busy’ that it was difficult to play on – basically, it failed as part of the GUI.

Furthermore, and at least as important, I want a map that looks Good. So, why not use as the graphic artists’ inspiration, the great landscape artists of the past? Specifically, the Romantic Era artists who made everything in nature look good by selectively emphasizing the good-looking parts of it. This aesthetic, applied to the game map, could give us both dramatic and beautiful terrain to play on and a map that actually shows us what we need to see to play the game.

The map should also show visually and distinctively the variations in different biomes. That means not only cold blue ice and snow in the Arctic, but different ‘styles’ of terrain based on continent and region. That would mean:

Mountains
Chinese steep tree-covered mountain peaks
North American Rocky Mountain hanging valleys, box canyons, granite peaks
European Dolomite-like rocky cliffs

Deserts/Desert Mountains
Massive Sand dunes like the Saharan Sand Seas
Rocky plains like the Gobi
Dramatic Mesas as in the American Southwest
Frequent bright colors in cliffs and rocks.

Forests
Division into Coniferous, Deciduous, Dryland, Rain Forest, Taiga, but with a purpose in showing different latitudes and biomes.
Dryland could be coniferous ‘lodgepole pine’ as in the American West
OR
Deciduous scrub oak as in Tunisia/North Africa
High latitude deciduous would combine marsh, massive oak and hemlock and maple forests
High latitude Coniferous would segue into Taiga
Rain Forest would be mostly heavily-vined tropical with perhaps one example of a Temperate Rain Forest of giant trees (Red Cedar, Sequoia)

Forests next to or near Cities would automatically be ‘cleared’ or cut down early in the game for firewood, building materials, etc unless stopped by building a Special Something on it, like a Sacred Grove, Hunting Preserve, etc.

Prairie
The new “grassland/plains’ of Civ: Tall Grass, Short Grass, Savannah (scrub)
Marshlands: Much more extensive, very variable with even slight climate/sea level changes

Animation:
We tend to forget just how much non-human life used to be on the planet: herds and flocks of land animals and birds, rivers and lakes literally teeming with fish. And, for that matter, there should be People moving around in our cities, along our roads, with carts and wagons and coaches and cars, and on railroads (trains, dammit, I want trains!). There is no excuse for having to play on a static, dead map.

Dynamics:

Civ VI nodded to climate change, but only at the end of the game. Terrain and climate change have been taking place since before humans, so, again, there is no excuse for not including both the micro and the macro versions and examples.
Micro:
Rivers and harbors silt up, rivers overflow their banks, cities or parts of cities sink into the ocean from earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.

Droughts can be much, much more influential than the transient events that are all we got in Civ VI: they caused some cities and populations and civilizations to pack up and move, for one thing, and required in other cases (it is theorized) major efforts towards alleviating them with irrigation and water management systems – which in turn transformed the society and Civ.

Animals: some animals change the terrain: Elephants and Bison both trampled grasslands and killed trees and so turned tiles from forest to prairie or grasslands and then back again as they moved around. Beavers change rivers into marsh, wetland or floodplains – but without floods because the rodents are very good at managing their environment. These ‘micro-changes’ (1- 2 tiles at a time) would be like the current Forest fires in Civ VI, but not all bad – another flavorful element missing from all the games so far.
Macro:
The biome/map should change over time – ALL the time, not jus in the last bits of the game. Forests change from evergreen to mixed to deciduous, and back. Prairies grow and decline. Especially early in the game, when time-frames for turns can be measured in Decades, this should be the normal flow of the game.

Coastlines change. They rise or fall, and so ‘seaports’ move inland or have to deal with rising water (the original port of Alexandria, Egypt is now several meters below ‘sea’ level). Some rivers not only flood regularly, but also (most notoriously China’s Huang He/Yellow River) change their banks every once in a while by hundreds of kilometers – requiring people living in the area to adapt to it, at least until Modern Construction gives them the potential to control it.

Basically, I want a map that is both good to look at and endlessly fascinating to study and still a clear GUI to play on. It’s a fine balance, but not impossible: there are, Dog Knows, plenty of Bad Examples to show what Not to do!

Resources Reconsidered:

A bunch of Resource Ideas for consideration:

First, get rid of the rigid classification of Natural Resources into Bonus, Luxury, and Strategic: those definitions, if used at all, depend on the Civ and its technology and Needs and may change even within that Civ: for example, Copper as a component for Bronze is a Strategic Resource of extreme importance in early game, a Luxury for jewelry and household items at the same or earlier times, and later a component for electrification of cities in the Industrial and Modern Eras – for Amenities and Luxuries both, if they are distinguished as to their effects.

Second, at least until the Industrial Era, most Resources are not Required, they just make it cheaper and easier to build something. In the quantities required for most purposes, Someone will always trade it to you – until the Industrial Era requires resources in the thousands of tons, like Iron, Coal, Oil, etc, and then the Resources become restrictive.

Third, most Natural Resources should be replaced by Manufactured Versions as the game progresses. Let’s face it, natural Dyes are a niche market now, and Ivory is banned internationally – both have been replaced by various chemical or plastic substitutes, the product of the Industrial and Modern Eras.

Fourth, Resources deplete and/or can be Moved. You can plant plants in any suitable biome (tile) and later, with technologies and resources, even unsuitable biomes can be made to work. You can move animals with varying amounts of effort. Deposits of minerals get used up – and more get found as you discover new ways of looking and new ways to literally Dig Deeper for them.

All of this would make Resources Dynamic within a game. No more looking around the map once when a certain tech is discovered for all the Coal, Iron, Aluminum, or Arsenical Ores that appear all at once: some of them may be too deep to see until later, and others may turn out to be easily substituted for by other resources or Technologies. You will have to keep looking for and considering resources and the sources for them.

Tech Trees, Tech Shrubs and Bushes, Tech Kudzu Vines

Civ has enshrined the linear Tech Tree in the canon of 4X gaming. Recently, games like Old World and (apparently) Ara are varying that by adding ‘card-based’ systems to vary the linearity, but the artificiality of those that I’ve experienced are off-putting – discard a Tech, draw a Tech, bet your Civ on a Tech: Poker is already a perfectly good game that doesn’t require a computer to play.

BUT this only highlights the fact that a linear Tech Tree, no matter how complex, is far too predictable and therefore, after your first 50 to 500 hours of play, Boring. You know you need Basketweaving Tech to eventually achieve Rope and Ships of the Line, so you research Basketweaving – even though your Civ has started in a bone-dry desert and the only thing you can weave is camel intestines. I hope you can see the potential problem here: short of mass lobotomies for all gamers, you cannot stop a gamer from Gaming the Linear Tech Tree.

Civ VI tried to ‘change up’ the Tech Tree a bit by adding Eurekas, which boosted the speed with which Techs could be researched based on what you were actually doing in that particular game. Great Idea, but, as usual in Civ VI, so poorly implemented that many Eurekas bore only the mildest relationship to what you were supposedly researching. We can still use ‘Eurekas’ as a concept, though, but with a Twist.

The principle: ‘Tech’ is actually two things: a way of doing something that you need to do to satisfy some perceived Need, and the capability of implementing that Tech. That second might include boosts from Very Desperate Need, like impending Starvation, or political, social, or resource impediments to using that particular idea or tech to solve your problem.

So instead of choosing a Tech, let’s choose a (potential) Solution to a problem.

This sequence also neatly divides many of the aspects of the game into two categories: Problems and Solutions:

Problem Categories: Food, Defense, Gold, Knowledge.
Solution Categories: Science (Technology), Social Policy, Civic/Political Choice, Religion, Commerce.

So, first you identify the Main Category of Problem (at least this turn or set of turns) you need to Solve.

Then, a set of possible roads to a solution will present. Some may be Techs. Some may be Civic or Social or Political or even Religious ‘solutions’. Many will have Unintended Consequences, especially the social, civic, religious or political ones, but even Technologies can develop in Ways Unforeseen – check the application of Lasers to playing music in CD players, something totally unpredicted when Lasers were first being developed in the 1950s.

IF you don’t have the prerequisites, you won’t even see the ‘Tech’ solutions. This is where the ‘Eurekas’, where applicable, come into play. Instead of Boosts, they become Requirements. No cities on the coast, you won’t even see Fishing or Sailing, or any other ‘Naval’ Tech as a solution to anything (You might see Celestial Navigation if you are still in the middle of that Desert, because desert navigation without land markers uses celestial markers as much as ships on the sea do).

For an example, the need for Defense might give you potential solutions of Better Weapons, Better Metallurgy leading to better weapons (but only if you have Enabling Techs like Pottery or earlier metals) – and the types of weapons will/may depend on your social/civic structure – a bunch of city dwellers and farmers, like most Civs, will not get a chance to build Horse Archers, but may get Crossbows, Pike Phalanxes or Gunpowder, depending on what they have already – or they may get a chance at the Civic of Drilled Formations that make their existing simple Spears much more effective, but may also require changes in the Social and/or Political structure of the Civ – a potential for Unrest, at least.

Technical changes are only one set of solutions, although a massive one, and potential techs that become available should be heavily modified by what comes with them and what they require in Resources, civic, social, political, or even religious changes also. A highly Hierarchial society led by a relatively small group of aristocrats will not want or adopt the big, compact phalanx of commoners with spears, pikes, or muskets. They will adopt better armor for the aristocratic tiny group, or chariots to carry them in and out of battle, or War Horses to do the same thing even more efficiently.

All of this means that, when playing in the game at least, you may never see the same set of Techs twice. And for some ‘solutions’, may see No Techs at all! What you see depends on what you already got, what problems you are trying to ‘solve’, what your resources, situation, civics and social policies and religion – a host of non-Tech as well as Tech Factors that influence your ‘research’.

The shape of your society Will be reflected in what kind of Tech you develop and how you use it: you may play Slobbovia ten times in a row, but it shouldn’t develop exactly the same society with the same Civics, Social Policies, Religion, or Politics every time and therefore will not develop the same Technologies in the same way every time.

If that isn’t enough to keep the game interesting, go back to Poker.

If all this hasn't put you into a glaze-eyed coma, Part Two follows . . .
 
Trade Tricks and Tricky Traders:

First, get rid of the two-Tier Civ VI Trade ‘System’. ALL Trade should be by Trade Route, on the map, subject to all associated limitations (of some kind) due to distance, terrain, piracy, technologies available and, sometimes, Diplomatic Standing.

Second, get rid of the rigid restrictions on Trade. No matter what the Gummint says, someone is always willing to trade if there’s Profit to be made. Diplomatic ‘bans’ on trade should be porous, sometimes extremely so, and very early Trade should be common in very profitable goods and Resources. Right now, bottom line, there is way too little Trade of any kind in the game.

Third, change the way Trade Routes are depicted on the map. The emphasis should be on the Route, not the individual Trader. Put a caravan/ship graphic on the route for every turn of travel, and when pirates, barbarians, or any other mechanic interrupts the trade route it removes one graphic – one turn of Trade and trading profits. No single raid ever stopped a trade route completely: let’s end that farce right now. Only continuous raiding causes a trade route to be stopped – or more often, simply re-routed to go around, reducing the potential profits but not removing them completely. And one of the attempts to ‘go around’ resulted in the discovery of the Americas, so this stuff is Potentially Important!

That also means that:

Fourth, some trade routes will be out of your hands. You want/need Iron in 500 BCE? Someone will bring it to you, from somewhere, in whatever quantity you need – for a Price. You don’t have to establish that Route, but you will have to pay a pretty penny for the Resources being delivered, and maybe even deploy some military force to protect the route if it’s valuable enough.

In short, More Trade both generated and implicit, less constant worry about Lack of Strategic Resources early in the game when here is little or no evidence that anybody had any such worries in Real Life. Save that for the Industrial and Post Industrial Era, when lack of industrial quantities of raw materials means life or death for your industry and military.

Barbarians, City States and NPMCs

Forever, Civ has had several ‘layers’ of entities at or below Civ level. The playable Civilizations are basic to the game, of course, but we have also had ephemeral Tribal Huts or ‘Goodie Huts’, Barbarian Camps, and more recently City States cluttering the map. Barbarian Clans mod in Civ VI even offers the (faint) hope that a Barbarian Camp may turn into a City State.

I want more.

Specifically, ‘Barbarians’ are now our only Smaller Than City entity on the map with any permanence at all, and it seems a crying shame to keep them as One Dimensional as they have been. So, let’s tweak the barbarians and tribes into a single on-map Entity:

Settlements. From the beginning, would be both or either Barbarian Camps or Tribal Huts. Specifically, Settlements could be Hostile (current Barbarian Camp Mode), Friendly (current Tribal Huts, but stay on the map) and Neutral who could turn Friendly or Hostile depending on actions by neighboring Civs, including yourself. Friendly or Turned-Friendly Settlements could be hired as mercenaries, might support you diplomatically or with information (maps showing terrain, other States, resources, contact with other City States and Civs, etc) or could be traded with for Resources general or specific.

Settlements could also Advance. Stay around long enough, they could become City States. City States, in turn, might become NPMCs – Non-Playable Minor Civs, which might even, eventually, have a second city or satellite Settlements. This, among other things like increasing the Dynamics in the game, would also provide a way to ‘sneak’ otherwise impossible Civs into the game. Since they wouldn’t require a fully-animated Leader with proper language voice-acting, Civs like the Harappans, Olmecs or Minoans, Etruscan city-states or Toklamakan cities could be included as NPMCs. You could ally with them, maybe eventually they’d join your Civ voluntarily, maybe they’d still be allied co-conspirators at the end of the game. Diplomatic Victory might even include how successful your relationships were with both Civs and NPMCs. They could certainly be a source for Unique Units, Resources, even spread technologies, civics, social policies, religions to you – whether you wanted them or not!

Military Meanderings

First, change the common identification of all military units. Civ has always marked combat units by their weaponry: spearmen, slingers, tanks, bomber aircraft, etc. This is only part of what makes a combat unit effective, and by no means the most important. Instead, identify every combat unit as either Amateur or Professional. Amateurs are Cheap: for most of history they showed up only when called up and went home pretty quickly, but they also provided their own weapons and didn’t expect to be paid (much). Professionals have to be paid, fed, and provided (usually) with their weapons, but they are always available and can master some very complicated military stuff like Drill, Maneuvering, and special weapons like Missile Artillery and Swords. By the Modern Era, whether a nation had an Amateur (draft, conscript) force or a Professional force was the most important thing about their military.

Second, make the military units look like Units rather than Cartoons. 4 Men is not a unit, it is, at best, a half-squad on Parade. Change the graphic convention back to showing a decent-sized military force (other than Scouts and their ilk, who should be graphically obvious as much smaller units) and also show off their common formations: slingers spread out to shoot, archers massed, Chinese crossbows in a block, Alexander’s Hetairoi charging in a solid wedge pointed at the enemy, etc.

Third, Speed Up all military operations. Taking several centuries to resolve a war makes the war more than faintly ridiculous: victory goes to your five-times-great grandchildren? Start by making almost all military units formed in one turn, with limitations caused by the effect of city population, production, Social and Civic policies, politics, etc. Then stack units into armies and resolve battles in one turn. Presto: the actions that take many, many turns in Civ VI are resolved in a few turns, the campaign or war decided, and you can get on with the game instead of interminably gathering resources, building units, dragging them across the map and fighting the enemy One Unit At A Time taking more decades or centuries. Enough already.

And, by the way, turning the emphasis back to Armies rather than Units has another potential Effect:

Fourth, the characteristics of your military don’t all have to be effects on Units: Armies or combinations have effects as well, sometimes far more important than whether your spearmen are wearing leather or Kevlar armor. Build an army of Hoplites, and you are guaranteed they will be immensely steady and tough – and slow as molasses. Build an army of light cavalry, and they will be very speedy, but also won’t go anywhere near those Hoplites with their armor proof against the horsemen’s javelins or arrows and their very sharp, very long spears. Organize into permanent larger units like Legions, Taxeis, divisions, etc, and you can command more units in a single tile. That allows a whole new dimension of military construction in the game, especially when What you can build in units may be modified not only by raw resources available, but also by Social Policies, Civics, Gold, Politics, and other factors you rarely had to consider before.

In short, your military should reflect the Civic/Cultural/Economic/Social society of the Civ you are building, not just how many points of Production and Technology you have piled up.

Combat

No 1UPT, no ‘sub-tactical maps’: both are completely out of scale for distance, time, and command level for a 4x game spanning 1000s of years.

Instead, you build your individual units, you stack them into armies whose size depends on the command, communication and supply technologies available, and then you move them around the map strategically.

When you move into the same tile as an enemy unit or army, or they move into one of your occupied tiles, a battle takes place, but all you do is give your army a general order as to how you want the battle fought: solid defense, mobile defense (Or, Run For Your Lives But Pretend You Aren’t Really), hasty attack, deliberate attack (your Hoplites: it’s pretty much All They Do) – a ‘Posture’ for the army – and they (and the computer) do the rest. Having a Great General, good supply versus no supply, Religious Fervor, Special Events all can affect the battle, as can the number and types of weapons, morale of the troops, their level of training and proficiency, and even the ‘doctrine’ or normal tactics they prefer to use. BUT none of that is the concern of the Lord High Grand Poobah of the civilization – that’s what you have invisible little digital Colonels, Centurions, Sergeants and Quartermaster-Generals, and a Computer for.

If you want to play a battle game and move individual companies/battalions/regiments around a map, go play another game at a battlefield scale (my advice is switch to miniatures – it’s All Tactical), don’t drag the scale of a Grand Strategy 4x game down to the tactical level where it doesn’t belong.

And Units themselves can be a lot more variable than they are now. In every Civ since 1.0, a Spearman is a Spearman is a Spearman unless it is a Unique Unit. Whether the Spearman is a professional, like a late Imperial Roman legionary, or an amateur, like a 9th century Anglo-Saxon Fyrdman, has made no difference. That should change. Instead of having to Upgrade a Spearman to a Pikeman to get anything more out of him, how about Technical Upgrades – metal body armor, a good side weapon like a long sword or a machiera short sword such as the Spartan hoplites carried, a throwing spear to break up the enemy formation before you cross points with them? Always voluntary, and some others might come from Promotions – tactical tricks a unit learns through experience – or even from exposure to an enemy using them, rather than ‘pure’ Technology.

Add these kind of “1/2 Upgrades” plus the distinction between Amateur – cheap, quickly raised and quickly dismissed – and Professional – expensive to raise and keep but Upgradable and Promotable in every way – and in Civ VII a Spearman can be an Amateur Fyrd/Ban/hirdsman or a Thematic Spearman (with long sword and javelins or darts) or even a Half-Pikeman, all before you start converting their basic equipment, formations and tactics to Pikemen or Pike and Shot.

And finally, let’s Personalize the outcome of a battle. IRL, Battles Won are Celebrated – and sometimes, even Battles Lost (see Thermopolye, Borodino, Camerone, Little Big Horn). At the very least, let’s have a quote from the commander of the battle to you, the Grand Mackeral. There are literally thousands of examples that could be used or modified to be used. And in many eras, civilizations, cultures there were specific after-action conventions: displaying the loot or captives, distributing medals and awards to men, units, and commanders, having a Triumph or ticker-tape parade, etc. Let’s make having a battle Mean Something besides On To The Next Turn.

Eras Erratic

The game should not progress by arbitrary and Eurocentric Eras, Ages, or Epochs. Instead, those will be largely invisible and if used, only for dating. The graphics and other changes that used to take place by Era will now be tied to specific changes in Technology or Civics/Culture.

For instance, let’s apply Vernor Vinge’s and Kurzweil’s “Historical Singularity“ concept to Civ VII.

Basically, that concept is that certain technological, social or other ‘transformations’ were so great that the people living before them could not foresee at all what life would be like after them. In other words, they could constitute real Era changes in the game not based on arbitrary labels.

Sample List of Potential Singularities:

Agriculture/Cities: 6000 BCE

Development of steady food production and gathering of peoples into heirarchially-controlled Cities: the basis for the old Ancient Era with the first Cities in the game

Artificial Metal-Working: 3000 BCE

Development of alloys like Bronze and worked and smelted metals: resulting in tools with entirely new properties that can be applied in entirely new ways. The new materials also affected the very shape of societies: Heroic Warriors, Aristocracies, later Democracies became the norm.

Could also, of course, be divided by the Major Metals worked:
Bronze Working (3500 – 3000 BCE)
Iron Working (2500 – 1000 BCE)
Industrial Steel (1850 CE)
Artificial Composites (1970 CE)

Axial Religions: 800 - 600 BCE

The development of multi-cultural religious beliefs like Monotheism or Natural Philosophy: whole new ways of looking at man’s relationship with the world and the God(s)

Moveable Type Printing: 1200 - 1450 CE

Ability to mass produce and widely disseminate Knowledge – and Lies, and Political Theories, and Heresies, and other Very Disturbing stuff.

Steam Power: 1700 - 1776 CE

Application of moveable, controllable artificial power to almost any Human endeavor. The world Shrank dramatically, and people’s individual worlds expanded equally dramatically for the first time in Human history.

Telegraph/Telephone/Radio: 1837 - 1920 CE

First long-range, virtually instantaneous communication systems. The Anarchist Bakurin used to be a month away by cart, then a day away by railroad, now he’s In Your Face.

Personal Computer: 1965 - 1976 CE

Puts previously-unimaginable computational power into millions of hands, most of whom have no idea what to do with it other than play Solitaire – or Civ VII.

The triggers for these could be technological: technologies like Agriculture, Animal Domestication, Metallurgy, Printing, Steam Power all spring to mind, but they could/should also be a combination of factors, many of them not technological at all. The rise of Ideologies like Socialism, Communism, Fascism, of new ways of concentrating and organizing labor and money like Capitalism and Limited Liability Corporations, of political concepts like Liberal Democracy, Universal Suffrage, etc may have indirect technological antecedents, but also have cultural, political, social or civic causes and consequences. It should be pretty hard to ‘stumble into’ another Era, but require (usually) a number of factors and change a huge number of things when you do.
 
City Building

Districts: I like ‘em. I like being able to tell at a glance at the map what’s going on in a city, what has already gone on in that city, and what I probably need to do next in that city. That means distinctive Buildings graphically obvious on the map in the Districts – and animated cities with the population walking the streets, later driving around in carts and coaches, still later puffing about in their Model T equivalents, and finally crashing into each other in their Not Ready For Autonomous Driving Teslas. – And also rioting or cheering in the Central Square based on what I, the Grand Fothersnork, have achieved or Messed Up.

BUT the Civ VI adjacencies are simply silly. Scientific gets a bonus from being next to a Mountain? That will come as a real surprise to the people who placed Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the Sorbonne, and the majority of the great universities in the world IRL, and is only one of the many sillinesses when the adjacencies are tied to Districts rather than the actual Buildings in them. Any adjacency bonus (and they have a place) should be related to the Buildings, not the Districts: a Market next to a Harbor should jack up Trade and Gold in the city, a Cathedral is more effective in the middle of the city with access by the maximum number of people, etc.

That means that the Districts/Precincts in the city don’t need to be distinctive in and of themselves. The center of the city, the original District, can be, because it will have some distinctive graphic features – some kind of Palace or Governor’s Mansion, a central Square, plaza, ceremonial Place. After that the distinction between Districts comes from what’s in them. Each District, I propose, should have 5 ‘slots’ for structures – and some structures may take up more than 1 slot, like Factories of the Industrial and later periods, or an Amenity/Happiness-producing City Park like Central in New York or Regent’s in London. IF more than half the slots are filled with Buildings of a particular type, they will get a Bonus from Concentration into a Type District: Entertainment, Cultural, Scientific, Commercial, etc. All Buildings can be rebuilt, replaced, or moved – Urban Renewal has been a Thing since Uruk in 3000 BCE, and not to have it with all the changes that take place in the game in our cities is just more silliness.

Oh, and the majority of Buildings can potentially be replaced by Wonders: especially, early on, by Religious or Palatial Wonders, later by Industrial, Military, Commercial, Scientific, Trade or Special Wonders (I have a Little List . . .)

All City Districts must be adjacent, and the distance from the City Center is severely limited early on because if you cannot get from one side of the city to the other in half a day while walking, the city is unviable. Canals, Rivers, coast with boats, later improved Roads, railroads, etc will expand the city radius of potential Districts dramatically, but you ain’t going to have a sprawling city until, basically, you get railroads and automobiles.

BUT there will be ‘Districts’ that are separate from the city: mining centers, ranches/plantation centers, Religious centers and towns, harbor/port towns like Ostia that serve the main city in some way. These will probably be absorbed into the City later, but may spend thousands of years as separate Towns, Settlements, Hamlets, Villages, etc and may even feed their resources to other cities than the one they were originally founded for as Events change things.

You can work any tile adjacent to a District, including tiles next to a separate Settlement-type District. The basic Population number is the folks who work the Land, or tiles. BUT each City also generates a number of Specialists based on culture, social policy, Civics, technology, education, etc that can work the Buildings in the city, dramatically increasing their output. A Factory of 1900 CE taking up 2 slots in a District with a Power Plant and all three slots with (Industrial) Specialists can out produce a dozen Medieval Workshops or 18th century Textile Mills even if those 1-slot Buildings all have Specialists as well – later Production Buildings should be dramatically better than earlier ones.

Empire Building

City Radii need to be rethought, because they segue neatly into Empire/Civ boundaries.

First, they need to be a lot more flexible, and for a very basic reason: Assuming they represent the distance from which a city can draw resources on a regular basis (i.e., not requiring specific Trade Routes) then early in the Civ games so far they quickly get way too long, and in the post-Industrial period they are way too short. At the beginning of the game, when your best land transportation is a pack animal or a solid-wheeled cart, you cannot really transport bulk cargo – like food and bulk raw materials for production (clay, stone, timber) very far at all. Yes, with great effort they managed to haul 50 ton stones overland for Stonehenge, but it took major effort, and you will notice that there is so far not a lot of Stonehenges that have been uncovered. We now know that the massive amounts of stone for the Egyptian pyramids were hauled by water, sometimes using specially-built canals to get as close as possible to the building site.

So the answer is, without a river or coast and boating, you get a very tight city radius. Expanding your ‘Empire’ to include wider areas and other cities takes Civic/Cultural improvements: Bureaucracy, Heirarchy, Literacy, and such to make it possible to govern from Far Away. Even then, over land routes each city will draw its food and raw materials from a very short distance – like 1 tile away. Navigable rivers and coastal boating will extend that much farther, and especially allow the bulk goods (food, raw materials) so vital for city growth, to be hauled in. And yes, Sinter Klaus, that means only a river or coast-based city early on can draw a city radius the size of Virgina (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

As transportation technology gets better, the city radius should expand. Better roads, better wagons and carts, harnesses, new draft animals, will/should all allow the city radius to expand. Then when you get railroads, the city radius effectively becomes Infinite – wherever the railroad goes, you can haul goods from there. At that point a City Singularity occurs: instead of each city being an individual production entity, drawing its own pile of resources from its own radius of action, ALL your connected cities draw from everywhere that steamships and steam railroads go: any production limitations become based on the capabilities of the industry/buildings in the city, because raw materials can and will be hauled in from everywhere.

This is the Great Effect of the Industrial Era, which Civ has never really modeled before. But modeling it turns the individual cities into a real Empire of Wealth or Nation State and allows that massive expansion of cities on the ground that occurred from the railroad/Industrial Era on, culminating in the Megalopolis sprawl we see today from orbit: solid masses of urban light from Boston to Washington DC, Chicago to Milwaukee and Gary, along the entire coast of China, along the Rhine from Amsterdam all the way to Mainz in Germany.

Narrative Events

History is Weird. In fact, many historical events and persons, if put into a Novel, would get the novelist hooted out of town as a dangerous fabelist. But, in a great many cases, they are precisely what makes history so fascinating, and such a fantastic background for a game. You cannot make up things as strange as what several millions of people all going about their business can come up with. The Defenestration of Prague sounds ridiculous, but it happened – twice! Alcibiades was a totally outrageous character – unbelievable as a fictional creation – but he actually existed, and is recounted by at least three classical authors.

So, I want a chance for Alcibiades, or someone like him, to sneak into my game. I want an evil Leader who attacks without mercy, enslaves enemy soldiers, burns palaces and cities, and also plays the flute and writes opera like Frederick the Great of Prussia. Whatever set of mechanics and conditions puts some of those characters and events into the game, I’m for them. That could include near-random Events, real personalities and quirks to Great People or Governors, or even Personalizing other mechanics in the game: if a city survives a disaster of some kind, perhaps a message from the mayor, satrap or El Gubernador on how they are doing – and possibly begging for help, which would require a decision on your part: Narrative Events should, after all, advance the Narrative.

Victory

Victory in Civ games has never been about the fabled “One More Turn”, it’s always been about The Last Turn – did you make it to Mars or Alpha Centauri first, did you convert the last hold-out Heretics, did you conquer the last capital.

Instead, I’d like it to be more about How You Played The Game – about the previous 500 turns instead of the last single turn and its Events. The game already tracks things like Happiness and Loyalty and Cash On Hand (‘Gold’) and has and has had Revolting Cities and Rebels (spawned ‘Barbarians’): why not make Victory at least partially dependent on how well you managed to keep people Happy, Wealthy and Content and how well you avoided or dealt with rebels and other malcontents?

After all, in every survey of Happiest Places in the world lately, smaller countries tend to be highly represented. Making Victory about keeping people Happy, then, also makes a good mechanic for getting around the Tall Versus Wide controversy that has bedeviled Civ for several iterations going back at least 15 years or more. IF one Victory type, at least, is about the highest average per turn Happiness throughout your Civ, no matter how big or small, that gives the Minimalist Civ-Builder something to shoot for.

Which brings up the last point (Thank Dog, I hear the exhausted readers cry): More Variety in Victories. Religious, Cultural, Domination, Scientific: all the ‘victories’ so far have come down to Piling Up Some Resource: scientific or religious or cultural ‘points’ or a list of conquered capitals. Why not add another: Your Own Personal Victory Condition. Allow the gamer to set their own goals of a more specific nature that add to their Victory Conditions:

1. Build a transcontinental Railroad on a Pangaea Map – adds major points to your Scientific, Cultural, or Political Victory

2. First men to the Moon, first orbiting Station, first World Wide Satellite Comms system – all add to scientific Victory, and a world wide communications system adds Diplomatic and Cultural kudos as well.

3. Build X Wonders or Type of Wonders – all kinds of potential points for these.

Setting specific individual victory conditions’ helps to Personalize your game, and also ‘pushes’ your Civ and Play into directions you might not normally go – adding to the Replayability Factor so necessary to keep a game attractive for many, many years.

I cannot honestly say that any game that included all or part of all of this stuff would be even playable, or that I would refuse to play a game that had few or none of these things in it (well, if it had absolutely none of them, I wouldn’t spend any money on it – life’s too short for such mental self-abuse). But I think a game that concentrates on letting the gamer Tell A Story of his own, distinctive Civilization and It’s Discontents is one that should at least be attempted.

What? Is He Done? Is it safe to go back to CivFanatics?

Yeah, for now at least . . .
 
Regarding to forestry features.
When did the first man-grown forests came to be?
I'm sure that it associates with naval developments (In the middle ages. Navies of various Italian City States run mangrown forests and these were conveniently located near shipyards or ports) but i'm not sure when? did the man-grown forest first emerged in the classical era? (where monoremes evolved into various kind of bigger polyremes, also freight ships became bigger, and thus the increasing needs of timbers for bigger ships) or before that?

And TI for forests. should it also be 'camp' to represent forestry managements? there even exists a science called 'Forestry Engineering' and AFAIK this one is quite ancient to me
 
Short answer is we don't know for certain.

Modern Reforestation efforts are all dated no further back than the 19th century, when Forestry Departments started to be established in various governments, but that is very late and so worthless for establishing a First Date.

As far back as the Paleolithic people were 'rearranging' the land with fire - setting fires to burn offunwanted plants, drive game into traps, etc. This implies that some of the plants that regrow are trees, so this is, at least, 'unintentional' reforestation over 10,000 years ago.

Natives in the Amazon have apparently replanted most of the Amazon rain forest. At least, the distribution of trees over most of the area is not natural, and the trees clustered around settlement sites are all the most useful in the fruits, nuts, vines and wood they provide. This implies extensive clearing and replanting of the forest with the native population being the only agency we know of that could have done it.

"Forest management" in general seems to have been far more common in the Americas than in Eurasia. In North America, the tribes of the northeast burned off undergrowth and brush every spring to clear the forests, which provokes growth of new plants that attract deer and other potential game, and also clears the forest edges to plant human crops BUT there is no indication (that I'm aware of) that this practice included any replanting of trees or anything but specific food crops like the Three Sisters.

The problem is, from a cost/time balance, replanting trees and waiting for them to grow to useful size could take decades. Most human populations seem, therefore, to have used two other techniques:

1. They went elsewhere for their Big Timbers. As the cedars of Lebanon started to thin out in the classical era, for example, large timbers were shipped to the Mediterranean from still-forested areas like the Balkans - Macedonia did a good business in selling ship timbers to Athens to build her trireme navy, for example. The Royal Navy of England was already shippping in tall straight timbers for masts from Scandinavia in the 16th century, because there simply were no such timbers available in the British Isles any more. In the following century they started sourcing similar timbers from North America.

2. They found substitutes. The largest use for timber of any kind was for Heating and Cooking - firewood for cities and towns, which generally cleared out any patch of forest within walking or carting distance of the city within a relatively short time (this may have led to the abandonment of several Cucuteni prehistory cities on the western end of the Ukrainian steppes, which reached populations of up to 20,000 before they 'deforested' the steppe and riverlands all around them). The answer to this need, which was pressing in Northern Europe's colder climate, was 'coppicing'. In a wet climate, most deciduous trees will resprout from stumps of cut timber, and grow thinner saplings within a year or two. This provides wood for firewood, wattle-and-daub architecture or spear shafts in half the time required normally, but it does not provide any larger timbers for ships, bridges, or monumental architecture. There is evidence of coppicing in the British Isles dating back to the Bronze Age, so this technique was known in Prehistory and used where it could be used - it does not work in dry climates like the Mediterranean or in conifer (evergreen) forests.

Purposeful planting of specifically useful trees is hard to find evidence of in the historical or archeological record, because, of course, such trees also grow normally in their preferred climates/biomes. A good example of how hard it is to 'prove' that a given forest was planted by humans is the California-Spain situation: when Spanish explorers first sailed up the coast of California they saw 'wild' forests of scrub oak from which the natives harvested acorns, which they had learned how to process to provide a meal that they used in place of grain flour. The Spanish assumed, therefore, that these natives had no agriculture, but were 'mere' hunter-gatherers. In fact, the oak forests were largely planted by the natives to concentrate their food source. The Spanish didn't recognize the 'unnatural' nature of the forests because they looked just like the 'wild' oak forests of cork oak back in Spain - which had been planted about 1500 years earlier by the Romans to provide the useful cork bark. In that case, the cork oaks were, technically, 'orchards' rather than reforestation, but it illustrates the difficulty of telling one from the other or even telling for certain if humans were involved in the 'construction' of a given forest or grove.

In game terms, I would like to see a technological/social policy mechanism in which one civ or group of civs (like the North American natives) 'branches off' from Agriculture into Forest Management as an alternative to the 'normal' Clear Fields, Plant Crops method that has been assumed in all the games so far. Given that the Iroquois Three Sisters fields provided up to 6 times the caloric production of European grain fields, this would not be an 'inferior' alternative, just a different one.
 
Military Meanderings

First, change the common identification of all military units. Civ has always marked combat units by their weaponry: spearmen, slingers, tanks, bomber aircraft, etc. This is only part of what makes a combat unit effective, and by no means the most important. Instead, identify every combat unit as either Amateur or Professional. Amateurs are Cheap: for most of history they showed up only when called up and went home pretty quickly, but they also provided their own weapons and didn’t expect to be paid (much). Professionals have to be paid, fed, and provided (usually) with their weapons, but they are always available and can master some very complicated military stuff like Drill, Maneuvering, and special weapons like Missile Artillery and Swords. By the Modern Era, whether a nation had an Amateur (draft, conscript) force or a Professional force was the most important thing about their military.

Second, make the military units look like Units rather than Cartoons. 4 Men is not a unit, it is, at best, a half-squad on Parade. Change the graphic convention back to showing a decent-sized military force (other than Scouts and their ilk, who should be graphically obvious as much smaller units) and also show off their common formations: slingers spread out to shoot, archers massed, Chinese crossbows in a block, Alexander’s Hetairoi charging in a solid wedge pointed at the enemy, etc.

Third, Speed Up all military operations. Taking several centuries to resolve a war makes the war more than faintly ridiculous: victory goes to your five-times-great grandchildren? Start by making almost all military units formed in one turn, with limitations caused by the effect of city population, production, Social and Civic policies, politics, etc. Then stack units into armies and resolve battles in one turn. Presto: the actions that take many, many turns in Civ VI are resolved in a few turns, the campaign or war decided, and you can get on with the game instead of interminably gathering resources, building units, dragging them across the map and fighting the enemy One Unit At A Time taking more decades or centuries. Enough already.

And, by the way, turning the emphasis back to Armies rather than Units has another potential Effect:

Fourth, the characteristics of your military don’t all have to be effects on Units: Armies or combinations have effects as well, sometimes far more important than whether your spearmen are wearing leather or Kevlar armor. Build an army of Hoplites, and you are guaranteed they will be immensely steady and tough – and slow as molasses. Build an army of light cavalry, and they will be very speedy, but also won’t go anywhere near those Hoplites with their armor proof against the horsemen’s javelins or arrows and their very sharp, very long spears. Organize into permanent larger units like Legions, Taxeis, divisions, etc, and you can command more units in a single tile. That allows a whole new dimension of military construction in the game, especially when What you can build in units may be modified not only by raw resources available, but also by Social Policies, Civics, Gold, Politics, and other factors you rarely had to consider before.

In short, your military should reflect the Civic/Cultural/Economic/Social society of the Civ you are building, not just how many points of Production and Technology you have piled up.

Combat

No 1UPT, no ‘sub-tactical maps’: both are completely out of scale for distance, time, and command level for a 4x game spanning 1000s of years.

Instead, you build your individual units, you stack them into armies whose size depends on the command, communication and supply technologies available, and then you move them around the map strategically.

When you move into the same tile as an enemy unit or army, or they move into one of your occupied tiles, a battle takes place, but all you do is give your army a general order as to how you want the battle fought: solid defense, mobile defense (Or, Run For Your Lives But Pretend You Aren’t Really), hasty attack, deliberate attack (your Hoplites: it’s pretty much All They Do) – a ‘Posture’ for the army – and they (and the computer) do the rest. Having a Great General, good supply versus no supply, Religious Fervor, Special Events all can affect the battle, as can the number and types of weapons, morale of the troops, their level of training and proficiency, and even the ‘doctrine’ or normal tactics they prefer to use. BUT none of that is the concern of the Lord High Grand Poobah of the civilization – that’s what you have invisible little digital Colonels, Centurions, Sergeants and Quartermaster-Generals, and a Computer for.

If you want to play a battle game and move individual companies/battalions/regiments around a map, go play another game at a battlefield scale (my advice is switch to miniatures – it’s All Tactical), don’t drag the scale of a Grand Strategy 4x game down to the tactical level where it doesn’t belong.

And Units themselves can be a lot more variable than they are now. In every Civ since 1.0, a Spearman is a Spearman is a Spearman unless it is a Unique Unit. Whether the Spearman is a professional, like a late Imperial Roman legionary, or an amateur, like a 9th century Anglo-Saxon Fyrdman, has made no difference. That should change. Instead of having to Upgrade a Spearman to a Pikeman to get anything more out of him, how about Technical Upgrades – metal body armor, a good side weapon like a long sword or a machiera short sword such as the Spartan hoplites carried, a throwing spear to break up the enemy formation before you cross points with them? Always voluntary, and some others might come from Promotions – tactical tricks a unit learns through experience – or even from exposure to an enemy using them, rather than ‘pure’ Technology.

Add these kind of “1/2 Upgrades” plus the distinction between Amateur – cheap, quickly raised and quickly dismissed – and Professional – expensive to raise and keep but Upgradable and Promotable in every way – and in Civ VII a Spearman can be an Amateur Fyrd/Ban/hirdsman or a Thematic Spearman (with long sword and javelins or darts) or even a Half-Pikeman, all before you start converting their basic equipment, formations and tactics to Pikemen or Pike and Shot.

And finally, let’s Personalize the outcome of a battle. IRL, Battles Won are Celebrated – and sometimes, even Battles Lost (see Thermopolye, Borodino, Camerone, Little Big Horn). At the very least, let’s have a quote from the commander of the battle to you, the Grand Mackeral. There are literally thousands of examples that could be used or modified to be used. And in many eras, civilizations, cultures there were specific after-action conventions: displaying the loot or captives, distributing medals and awards to men, units, and commanders, having a Triumph or ticker-tape parade, etc. Let’s make having a battle Mean Something besides On To The Next Turn.

0. Well unless the entire Earth is populated by a race that unusually lives very long . someone that ages every one thousand year.. with female members don unusually long hair like Lady Godiva and Rapunzel (LaMetallians from Space Operas written by the late Leiji Matsuoto )
1. How troops movement should be resolved without game turn being too nasty 'a killer'. and yet avoid a situation where an entire large civ is blitzed within JUST ONE TURN?
there should be a kind of mechanism to move troops from one end of a player's empire to the other end to meet enemy without being anachronistics. (and to represent how far could a player pushes into enemy's territory and take their cities, or how well can player resists enemies advance into one's own domain.
there should be a system that will realistically substitutes this status quo.
 
0. Well unless the entire Earth is populated by a race that unusually lives very long . someone that ages every one thousand year.. with female members don unusually long hair like Lady Godiva and Rapunzel (LaMetallians from Space Operas written by the late Leiji Matsuoto )
1. How troops movement should be resolved without game turn being too nasty 'a killer'. and yet avoid a situation where an entire large civ is blitzed within JUST ONE TURN?
there should be a kind of mechanism to move troops from one end of a player's empire to the other end to meet enemy without being anachronistics. (and to represent how far could a player pushes into enemy's territory and take their cities, or how well can player resists enemies advance into one's own domain.
there should be a system that will realistically substitutes this status quo.
1. IF you haven't bothered to garrison any city - and note that City Walls would have Specialist slots representing their Garrison, so you don't even have to 'build' any for them. Then any 'blitz' amounts to ransacking the countryside or advancing to battle - and since the game is played in turns, trying to hold the countryside and survive the battle and the opponent's counter-turn.

IF necessary, the concept of a Strategic Movement when outside of enemy influence could be added to the game. Within your own territory, on your own roads witin your own Supply from your own cities and production, you should be able to move faster. Add in Roman or Gallic good roads, or later railroads and autobahn/interstate highways, and the difference in speed between your Strategic Movement and the enemy's Tactical Movement To Contact should be even greater.

In the Modern Era, France was conquered in less than 2 months in 1940: 1/6 of a turn in game time. That should be a complete outlier, because otherwise it will happen far too often - as in, more than once in 6000 years. Other examples of Rapid Conquest usually indicate extreme imbalances in force numbers, Leadership or technology between the opponents: if you are playing Muhammad II of the Khwarazmian Empire in Central Asia and go to war against Chengis Khan and the Mongol Tumans at the very peak of their effectiveness, fresh off the conquest of Jin China, you should expect something similar to what happened: utter destruction of your Empire in about 3 years, or about 1/3 of a turn in game time. But again, that kind of thing should be exceptional.
 
All very good ideas to handle some of Civs' challenges.
 
Victory

Victory in Civ games has never been about the fabled “One More Turn”, it’s always been about The Last Turn – did you make it to Mars or Alpha Centauri first, did you convert the last hold-out Heretics, did you conquer the last capital.

Instead, I’d like it to be more about How You Played The Game – about the previous 500 turns instead of the last single turn and its Events. The game already tracks things like Happiness and Loyalty and Cash On Hand (‘Gold’) and has and has had Revolting Cities and Rebels (spawned ‘Barbarians’): why not make Victory at least partially dependent on how well you managed to keep people Happy, Wealthy and Content and how well you avoided or dealt with rebels and other malcontents?
Twas not always thus. The score calculation in Civ3 took into account multiple factors, including happiness and wonders over the course of the game. I remember reading in the manual that simply "blasting" the luxury slider for the last 5 turns would not significantly increase the player's score. The player could be penalized for pollution not cleaned up. In addition, the player received a boost to their score by winning early: the boost was proportional to (MaxTurn - WinTurn)

To be fair, the conditions to *win* the game took place on a much shorter time horizon. The UN vote for a diplomatic victory takes place on a single turn; launching the spaceship takes a single turn. But winning a Civ3 cultural victory required one of two elaborate strategies: 1) building culture buildings in dozens of cities, to accumulate 100k culture (standard map/standard speed), or 2) building a single, wonder-filled metropolis in a city that accumulates 20k culture (standard map/standard speed). One could not lauch the spaceship without building 10 parts, involving multiple cities and dozens of turns. Either of the military VCs required devoting most of the games turns to brutal, effective and efficient warfare.

I like your ideas about rewarding the player for skillful empire management, not just in the score but also in the victory condition itself. In Civ3 terms, allowing a player to win who achieved X turns of WLTKD (We Love The King Day), or in Civ6 terms, having the most turns with the most ecstatic citizens.
 
1. IF you haven't bothered to garrison any city - and note that City Walls would have Specialist slots representing their Garrison, so you don't even have to 'build' any for them. Then any 'blitz' amounts to ransacking the countryside or advancing to battle - and since the game is played in turns, trying to hold the countryside and survive the battle and the opponent's counter-turn.

IF necessary, the concept of a Strategic Movement when outside of enemy influence could be added to the game. Within your own territory, on your own roads witin your own Supply from your own cities and production, you should be able to move faster. Add in Roman or Gallic good roads, or later railroads and autobahn/interstate highways, and the difference in speed between your Strategic Movement and the enemy's Tactical Movement To Contact should be even greater.

In the Modern Era, France was conquered in less than 2 months in 1940: 1/6 of a turn in game time. That should be a complete outlier, because otherwise it will happen far too often - as in, more than once in 6000 years. Other examples of Rapid Conquest usually indicate extreme imbalances in force numbers, Leadership or technology between the opponents: if you are playing Muhammad II of the Khwarazmian Empire in Central Asia and go to war against Chengis Khan and the Mongol Tumans at the very peak of their effectiveness, fresh off the conquest of Jin China, you should expect something similar to what happened: utter destruction of your Empire in about 3 years, or about 1/3 of a turn in game time. But again, that kind of thing should be exceptional.
Then again turn counting system should be 'turns and phases'
And then back to roadbuilding (and later on, railroadings). is it better done as 'city projects' or what else if using separate worker units working on the map doesn't really a do.
 
Funny I've often thought about creating a similar thread....

Narrative History - Would be cool to get a street level view of your city/countryside etc and if they bring back the timeline (they should) to have more names appear in there (for instance John the Wise completes your first splendid campus). Beyond that I think is too much though. Events for me are too far.

Graphical continents - Yes but it's not a big priority to me. I'd like to see different bonus animals running around different continents though.

Terrain Types - I'd like to add Savannah since clearing Jungle/Rainforest leading to plains never made sense to me. I'd rename Marsh to Wetlands since it's more broad a definition.

Animation - Yes

Climate change - I'm not convinced it can be made "fun".

Resources - Generally agree

Technology - Too complicated

Trade - Generally agree

Non-playables - I think city-states and barbarians are enough

Warfare - I want like, one turn warfare 5 units each, something like that. Winner has to pay gold for every tile they take from the loser.

Eras - I prefer using era gates if for no other reason than to make science not be the main contributor to a faction advancing through time.

Districts - Generally agree

Empire building - Generally agree

Victory - Generally agree
 
or
My Civilization VII: Hopes and Dreams


.....

Appearance and Graphics:

No cartoons. If I want to watch or play with a cartoon, I’ll watch some old Road Runner cartoons or re-read Asterix the Gaul or Pogo: all of them did it far better than Civ’s graphic artists ever managed, and the result in Civ VI gave the impression that the company wasn’t taking the game very seriously, so I shouldn’t either.
......
I'm really agree with scales.
But when it comes to galley. what should it be to represents all kind of galleys under this constrains (no cartoonish lookings) since these galleys tend to have more than 5 oars per side (port and starboard) even as basic monoremes. let alone sophisticated polyremes of the Hellenic Era or Medieval and Earlymodern galleys.
 
First off, thanks for the post.
The map should also show visually and distinctively the variations in different biomes. That means not only cold blue ice and snow in the Arctic, but different ‘styles’ of terrain based on continent and region. That would mean:
Custom terrain should come in each DLC. I know it's something I would pay for. They have civ based feature naming so they could do the same for terrain types.
I would not mind more 'uncrossable' terrain without certain technology.

Instead, identify every combat unit as either Amateur or Professional.
Custom units would be somewhere between? Amateur units who can perform professional manuvers?
 
First off, thanks for the post.

Custom terrain should come in each DLC. I know it's something I would pay for. They have civ based feature naming so they could do the same for terrain types.
I would not mind more 'uncrossable' terrain without certain technology.


Custom units would be somewhere between? Amateur units who can perform professional manuvers?
Uniques are a Case by Case basis. Hoplites, for example, were Amateurs (except for the Spartans), while the post-Marian Reform Roman Legions were Professionals. Each Unique Unit would have to be defined very carefully, although mos of them would certainly show a lot of the characteristics of the Professionals even if not part of any 'profession' in their time and place.

A good example would be the Viking Berserkers, who were not formally trained and organized like any professional military force, but were terrifying in their assault and had to be supported as full-time warriors by some chief, so cost as much as Professionals to keep around!
 
Civ7 must be compatible with mobile phones and tablets. I know it's painful to hear for us fellow PC-only players but a larger player base is healthy for the series.

Increase unit maintenance cost. The number of units - number of actions - per turn should not increase exponentially from the early to the late game. Playtest the game in single-player and multi-player to see how many hours it takes to finish.

Military units should pay a "distance maintenance" from your territory. Unit maintenance should not only gold, but food, production, other resources like faith or diplomatic capital.

Why micromanagement so many workers? Tile improvements should mainly be the responsibility of cities and their citizens, using food, gold, and other resources. Workers can still be a trainable unit.
 
Civ7 must be compatible with mobile phones and tablets. I know it's painful to hear for us fellow PC-only players but a larger player base is healthy for the series.

Increase unit maintenance cost. The number of units - number of actions - per turn should not increase exponentially from the early to the late game. Playtest the game in single-player and multi-player to see how many hours it takes to finish.

Military units should pay a "distance maintenance" from your territory. Unit maintenance should not only gold, but food, production, other resources like faith or diplomatic capital.

Why micromanagement so many workers? Tile improvements should mainly be the responsibility of cities and their citizens, using food, gold, and other resources. Workers can still be a trainable unit.
I've posted on this before; because the average size of basic units goes up though history, there's much less need for multitudes of separate units to show bigger army sizes. AND I don't want individual units (other than Scouts/Recon) wandering around the map anyway: combat should be between armies, moved as a single group, which alone reduces the profusion of mouse clicks or scrolls required by Civ V/VI's 1UPT.

And, IMHO, Civ Needs some kind of Supply Rule - your "distance maintenance". That can be kept as simple as a line to your nearest city, unobstructed by enemy units or ZOCs, the length determined by Technology and possibly extra resources you've put into Logistics in the Industrial and later Eras.

Among other things, this alone would keep individual non-Recon units from wandering from one end of the continent to the other in the Classical Era: it was never possible IRL, and it shouldn't be possible in Civ without extraordinary measures in Logistics, Diplomacy, or spending Gold to buy supplies from everey village along the way . . .
 
or
My Civilization VII: Hopes and Dreams


Realistic expectations of Civilization VII are not the primary objective here. The purpose of this essay is to establish what I would like to see in a Civilization VII game, not what I expect to see or even what I think would be popular among the majority of gamers and therefore commercially possible or successful.

A great deal of what I will relate here has already appeared in some form over the years in posts all over the CivFanatics forums. I make no apologies for repeating them here, since the recent posts about what people would like to see in a future Civ game make it obvious that very few people have ever actually read the previous threads or posts, or remember them if they did read them.

And so, in no particular order of Importance, Here We Go Again . . .

Purpose of the Game:

Great Tides of History have their place, and they should be represented in some way in the game, but I want to Tell A Story. I want to play Narrative History, if you will, all about the people, digital though they may be, in my Civilization. That includes not only the Leaders, Generals, Governors, Ministers, and other named folks, but also the un-named traders, artisans, farmers, herders, miners, and other inhabitants of my cities, towns, plantations and such.

That means, all else being equal, I come down on the side of Named People in the game mechanics, even when the result is a named personage that lasts centuries. Think of it as a dynasty, a lot of adoptions, a personal Inherited Title, or whatever you choose: it’s a game, and in this instance it is My Game, and that’s what I want.

Appearance and Graphics:

No cartoons. If I want to watch or play with a cartoon, I’ll watch some old Road Runner cartoons or re-read Asterix the Gaul or Pogo: all of them did it far better than Civ’s graphic artists ever managed, and the result in Civ VI gave the impression that the company wasn’t taking the game very seriously, so I shouldn’t either.

I want a map that splits the difference between the very bare, utilitarian Civ look and the animated beauty of Humankind (or Anno 1800) which, however, in Humankind at least, was so varied and ‘busy’ that it was difficult to play on – basically, it failed as part of the GUI.

Furthermore, and at least as important, I want a map that looks Good. So, why not use as the graphic artists’ inspiration, the great landscape artists of the past? Specifically, the Romantic Era artists who made everything in nature look good by selectively emphasizing the good-looking parts of it. This aesthetic, applied to the game map, could give us both dramatic and beautiful terrain to play on and a map that actually shows us what we need to see to play the game.

The map should also show visually and distinctively the variations in different biomes. That means not only cold blue ice and snow in the Arctic, but different ‘styles’ of terrain based on continent and region. That would mean:

Mountains
Chinese steep tree-covered mountain peaks
North American Rocky Mountain hanging valleys, box canyons, granite peaks
European Dolomite-like rocky cliffs

Deserts/Desert Mountains
Massive Sand dunes like the Saharan Sand Seas
Rocky plains like the Gobi
Dramatic Mesas as in the American Southwest
Frequent bright colors in cliffs and rocks.

Forests
Division into Coniferous, Deciduous, Dryland, Rain Forest, Taiga, but with a purpose in showing different latitudes and biomes.
Dryland could be coniferous ‘lodgepole pine’ as in the American West
OR
Deciduous scrub oak as in Tunisia/North Africa
High latitude deciduous would combine marsh, massive oak and hemlock and maple forests
High latitude Coniferous would segue into Taiga
Rain Forest would be mostly heavily-vined tropical with perhaps one example of a Temperate Rain Forest of giant trees (Red Cedar, Sequoia)

Forests next to or near Cities would automatically be ‘cleared’ or cut down early in the game for firewood, building materials, etc unless stopped by building a Special Something on it, like a Sacred Grove, Hunting Preserve, etc.

Prairie
The new “grassland/plains’ of Civ: Tall Grass, Short Grass, Savannah (scrub)
Marshlands: Much more extensive, very variable with even slight climate/sea level changes

Animation:
We tend to forget just how much non-human life used to be on the planet: herds and flocks of land animals and birds, rivers and lakes literally teeming with fish. And, for that matter, there should be People moving around in our cities, along our roads, with carts and wagons and coaches and cars, and on railroads (trains, dammit, I want trains!). There is no excuse for having to play on a static, dead map.

Dynamics:

Civ VI nodded to climate change, but only at the end of the game. Terrain and climate change have been taking place since before humans, so, again, there is no excuse for not including both the micro and the macro versions and examples.
Micro:
Rivers and harbors silt up, rivers overflow their banks, cities or parts of cities sink into the ocean from earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.

Droughts can be much, much more influential than the transient events that are all we got in Civ VI: they caused some cities and populations and civilizations to pack up and move, for one thing, and required in other cases (it is theorized) major efforts towards alleviating them with irrigation and water management systems – which in turn transformed the society and Civ.

Animals: some animals change the terrain: Elephants and Bison both trampled grasslands and killed trees and so turned tiles from forest to prairie or grasslands and then back again as they moved around. Beavers change rivers into marsh, wetland or floodplains – but without floods because the rodents are very good at managing their environment. These ‘micro-changes’ (1- 2 tiles at a time) would be like the current Forest fires in Civ VI, but not all bad – another flavorful element missing from all the games so far.
Macro:
The biome/map should change over time – ALL the time, not jus in the last bits of the game. Forests change from evergreen to mixed to deciduous, and back. Prairies grow and decline. Especially early in the game, when time-frames for turns can be measured in Decades, this should be the normal flow of the game.

Coastlines change. They rise or fall, and so ‘seaports’ move inland or have to deal with rising water (the original port of Alexandria, Egypt is now several meters below ‘sea’ level). Some rivers not only flood regularly, but also (most notoriously China’s Huang He/Yellow River) change their banks every once in a while by hundreds of kilometers – requiring people living in the area to adapt to it, at least until Modern Construction gives them the potential to control it.

Basically, I want a map that is both good to look at and endlessly fascinating to study and still a clear GUI to play on. It’s a fine balance, but not impossible: there are, Dog Knows, plenty of Bad Examples to show what Not to do!

Resources Reconsidered:

A bunch of Resource Ideas for consideration:

First, get rid of the rigid classification of Natural Resources into Bonus, Luxury, and Strategic: those definitions, if used at all, depend on the Civ and its technology and Needs and may change even within that Civ: for example, Copper as a component for Bronze is a Strategic Resource of extreme importance in early game, a Luxury for jewelry and household items at the same or earlier times, and later a component for electrification of cities in the Industrial and Modern Eras – for Amenities and Luxuries both, if they are distinguished as to their effects.

Second, at least until the Industrial Era, most Resources are not Required, they just make it cheaper and easier to build something. In the quantities required for most purposes, Someone will always trade it to you – until the Industrial Era requires resources in the thousands of tons, like Iron, Coal, Oil, etc, and then the Resources become restrictive.

Third, most Natural Resources should be replaced by Manufactured Versions as the game progresses. Let’s face it, natural Dyes are a niche market now, and Ivory is banned internationally – both have been replaced by various chemical or plastic substitutes, the product of the Industrial and Modern Eras.

Fourth, Resources deplete and/or can be Moved. You can plant plants in any suitable biome (tile) and later, with technologies and resources, even unsuitable biomes can be made to work. You can move animals with varying amounts of effort. Deposits of minerals get used up – and more get found as you discover new ways of looking and new ways to literally Dig Deeper for them.

All of this would make Resources Dynamic within a game. No more looking around the map once when a certain tech is discovered for all the Coal, Iron, Aluminum, or Arsenical Ores that appear all at once: some of them may be too deep to see until later, and others may turn out to be easily substituted for by other resources or Technologies. You will have to keep looking for and considering resources and the sources for them.

Tech Trees, Tech Shrubs and Bushes, Tech Kudzu Vines

Civ has enshrined the linear Tech Tree in the canon of 4X gaming. Recently, games like Old World and (apparently) Ara are varying that by adding ‘card-based’ systems to vary the linearity, but the artificiality of those that I’ve experienced are off-putting – discard a Tech, draw a Tech, bet your Civ on a Tech: Poker is already a perfectly good game that doesn’t require a computer to play.

BUT this only highlights the fact that a linear Tech Tree, no matter how complex, is far too predictable and therefore, after your first 50 to 500 hours of play, Boring. You know you need Basketweaving Tech to eventually achieve Rope and Ships of the Line, so you research Basketweaving – even though your Civ has started in a bone-dry desert and the only thing you can weave is camel intestines. I hope you can see the potential problem here: short of mass lobotomies for all gamers, you cannot stop a gamer from Gaming the Linear Tech Tree.

Civ VI tried to ‘change up’ the Tech Tree a bit by adding Eurekas, which boosted the speed with which Techs could be researched based on what you were actually doing in that particular game. Great Idea, but, as usual in Civ VI, so poorly implemented that many Eurekas bore only the mildest relationship to what you were supposedly researching. We can still use ‘Eurekas’ as a concept, though, but with a Twist.

The principle: ‘Tech’ is actually two things: a way of doing something that you need to do to satisfy some perceived Need, and the capability of implementing that Tech. That second might include boosts from Very Desperate Need, like impending Starvation, or political, social, or resource impediments to using that particular idea or tech to solve your problem.

So instead of choosing a Tech, let’s choose a (potential) Solution to a problem.

This sequence also neatly divides many of the aspects of the game into two categories: Problems and Solutions:

Problem Categories: Food, Defense, Gold, Knowledge.
Solution Categories: Science (Technology), Social Policy, Civic/Political Choice, Religion, Commerce.

So, first you identify the Main Category of Problem (at least this turn or set of turns) you need to Solve.

Then, a set of possible roads to a solution will present. Some may be Techs. Some may be Civic or Social or Political or even Religious ‘solutions’. Many will have Unintended Consequences, especially the social, civic, religious or political ones, but even Technologies can develop in Ways Unforeseen – check the application of Lasers to playing music in CD players, something totally unpredicted when Lasers were first being developed in the 1950s.

IF you don’t have the prerequisites, you won’t even see the ‘Tech’ solutions. This is where the ‘Eurekas’, where applicable, come into play. Instead of Boosts, they become Requirements. No cities on the coast, you won’t even see Fishing or Sailing, or any other ‘Naval’ Tech as a solution to anything (You might see Celestial Navigation if you are still in the middle of that Desert, because desert navigation without land markers uses celestial markers as much as ships on the sea do).

For an example, the need for Defense might give you potential solutions of Better Weapons, Better Metallurgy leading to better weapons (but only if you have Enabling Techs like Pottery or earlier metals) – and the types of weapons will/may depend on your social/civic structure – a bunch of city dwellers and farmers, like most Civs, will not get a chance to build Horse Archers, but may get Crossbows, Pike Phalanxes or Gunpowder, depending on what they have already – or they may get a chance at the Civic of Drilled Formations that make their existing simple Spears much more effective, but may also require changes in the Social and/or Political structure of the Civ – a potential for Unrest, at least.

Technical changes are only one set of solutions, although a massive one, and potential techs that become available should be heavily modified by what comes with them and what they require in Resources, civic, social, political, or even religious changes also. A highly Hierarchial society led by a relatively small group of aristocrats will not want or adopt the big, compact phalanx of commoners with spears, pikes, or muskets. They will adopt better armor for the aristocratic tiny group, or chariots to carry them in and out of battle, or War Horses to do the same thing even more efficiently.

All of this means that, when playing in the game at least, you may never see the same set of Techs twice. And for some ‘solutions’, may see No Techs at all! What you see depends on what you already got, what problems you are trying to ‘solve’, what your resources, situation, civics and social policies and religion – a host of non-Tech as well as Tech Factors that influence your ‘research’.

The shape of your society Will be reflected in what kind of Tech you develop and how you use it: you may play Slobbovia ten times in a row, but it shouldn’t develop exactly the same society with the same Civics, Social Policies, Religion, or Politics every time and therefore will not develop the same Technologies in the same way every time.

If that isn’t enough to keep the game interesting, go back to Poker.

If all this hasn't put you into a glaze-eyed coma, Part Two follows . . .
For the game to actually work on the platforms they release it on. Wold be absolutely spiffing if they didn't take £130 from me before breaking the game and going radio silent about it.
 
Art direction is always a fun one. Very much the epitome of another person's poison, etc. Certainly, I wouldn't call Firaxis' art team(s) anything less than highly competent, personally.

It's definitely one of the things where the vision will really diverge, I think. Mechanically, people are either locked in by Civ VI, or put off (given the trend since V), with some few stragglers perhaps waiting to see what VII changes.
 
I think the stylized art they used in civ6 was a good call. Playing 4X games with realistic art styles has been tougher for me after I got used to how easy it is to read the map at a glance in Civ6. So I very much hope they keep the map stylized.

Leader screens I am ambivalent one, if they made them in a more realistic art style I don't think it would make much of a difference to my play experience

The somewhat-official Civ5 art style mod was a good idea to release too, let people who disagree with me also have their cake.
 
I think the stylized art they used in civ6 was a good call. Playing 4X games with realistic art styles has been tougher for me after I got used to how easy it is to read the map at a glance in Civ6. So I very much hope they keep the map stylized.

Leader screens I am ambivalent one, if they made them in a more realistic art style I don't think it would make much of a difference to my play experience

The somewhat-official Civ5 art style mod was a good idea to release too, let people who disagree with me also have their cake.
ALL art in games is stylized. Attempts at completely realistic terrain/graphics/units at the scale of a Grand Strategy Game like Civ would be incomprehensible to the average gamer without training - take a look at an aerial photograph of virtually any terrain and try to pick out individual things like buildings, 'districts', terrain types and try to identify them - it take very specific training in Terrain Analysis, which means you couldn't start the game until you had finished several months of training!

The question is, What Style?
I have noticed a trend, if you will, in recent and incoming 4X-type games: the maps and depictions in Humankind, ARA, and Elaborate Lands all have much more animation and detail in their maps than Civ, and, frankly, look a lot better to me. Humankind, as has been frequently noted, went a little too far, and produces maps that are hard to track and identify the various types of terrain on them. ARA seems to be gett ing closer to a nice balance between Enough Detail to be Interesting, and More Detail Than The Mind Of Man Can Comprehend. It's a very fine balance, but it's worth pursuing, IMHO.
 
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