Visions of the Seventh Civilization

Millennia tried this mechanic of having resource variety into production chains, and it flopped. However, one of the things that your concept reminds me of is the resource system in Caveman2Cosmos, which is somehow fun even though you could expect it to be tedious and/or daunting. You harness resources on the land, but then you build city structures that convert/consume the resource into a specific refined resource, and you enjoy the benefits of this processed resource. I feel like there's a secret sauce here to making the resource idea work. First you have access to Elephants (Elephant herds as a tile feature), then you hunt them so you have their bodies, then you turn them into Ivory (luxury), Carcasses (Raw food), or Trained Elephants (military asset). And yet, if it feels like pushing accounting tables around, it's dull or annoying.

I think what makes this game element enjoyable is clarity of progress, and the snappiness of the refinement pipeline. You want to get Trained Elephants? Click Elephant Training (project/structure) in the build queue. Or, go to the tech that allows it, then click that thing. Bam, Trained Elephants now available. Fits snugly and intuitively into the basic mechanisms you're already playing the game with. Millennia feels like I'm playing one of those Settlement/Colony games except on tiles instead of the continuous countryside. Like I said, it seems the pass/fail is a secret sauce.
 
Millennia tried this mechanic of having resource variety into production chains, and it flopped. However, one of the things that your concept reminds me of is the resource system in Caveman2Cosmos, which is somehow fun even though you could expect it to be tedious and/or daunting. You harness resources on the land, but then you build city structures that convert/consume the resource into a specific refined resource, and you enjoy the benefits of this processed resource. I feel like there's a secret sauce here to making the resource idea work. First you have access to Elephants (Elephant herds as a tile feature), then you hunt them so you have their bodies, then you turn them into Ivory (luxury), Carcasses (Raw food), or Trained Elephants (military asset). And yet, if it feels like pushing accounting tables around, it's dull or annoying.

I think what makes this game element enjoyable is clarity of progress, and the snappiness of the refinement pipeline. You want to get Trained Elephants? Click Elephant Training (project/structure) in the build queue. Or, go to the tech that allows it, then click that thing. Bam, Trained Elephants now available. Fits snugly and intuitively into the basic mechanisms you're already playing the game with. Millennia feels like I'm playing one of those Settlement/Colony games except on tiles instead of the continuous countryside. Like I said, it seems the pass/fail is a secret sauce.
What I think Millennia missed is that when you are making the system more complicated - like requiring you to build 'Production chains' to make better use of Resources when originally all you had to do was plunk the required Improvement down on top of the resource - you are already making the System more complex, so you Must Not start complicating it even further Just Because You Can.

So: one Tech to identify the Resource if it's not Intuitive on the landscape (Elephants, Cattle, Horses are really hard to Hide, especially since they are found in large Herds), then a Project to get more use out of it, Maybe, and only in certain cases, a later Tech that allows a Structure or new Project that provides more utility.

Don't try to pull a Anno 1800-style Production Chain with several buildings and improvements all building on several Resources and expect the gamer to keep track of that - and his Units, and Culture, and Cities, and every other System the 4X game will throw at him.

Trained Elephants, by the way, would first give you a nice Production Bonus for any Districts, Buildings, or Wonders - the Indus Valley Civ was using elephants to haul materials for construction as far back as 2000 BCE, while the earliest evidence of elephants used in battler is about 1450 years later. A trained Asian Elephant can lift up to a ton and drag a 2 - 3 ton load on a sled, so it's a Big early Production influencer.
 
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.
 
Another thing I realized, about resources. One of the values of having a resource node with a big icon on it that says "DYES - luxury resource" or the like, is that it's telling you up front what the actual usefulness of that tile is going to be, really. If we create abstractions so that we represent just that the tile has certain plant life on it, and we have somewhere in our infrastructure megalist the ability to yield luxury dyes from the resource harvested from tiles, then we're requiring a reference to the manual, or another screen, for the player to use the information in the game strategically. This lowers accessibility, it changes the feel of the game. And, if counted as an obstacle, I don't know what to do about it. I still want production chains, because I think that's going to be 100% the way to go to bring in the possibility of economic warfare gameplay, but making the exploration and settlement phase become technical "reading" instead of chewy "seeing colorful commodity and consuming" is a hit to popular appeal. (I also want to have more things done on tiles, numerically. Maybe even returning to an "improved" tile and improving it some more, with better technology, or even extracting multiple things. A more productive coal mine, for example.)

(I think one step you could take to re-orient the design to going for that anyway, is to cultivate that interest in settling through an interest in accessing the variety and the quantity of resources. So, instead of the bright icon being "DYES, YUM", we somehow train the player to like to see the resource AS the bonus tile feature, and expect it to "be good" eventually. And not betraying that mode of engagement.)
 
Another thing I realized, about resources. One of the values of having a resource node with a big icon on it that says "DYES - luxury resource" or the like, is that it's telling you up front what the actual usefulness of that tile is going to be, really. If we create abstractions so that we represent just that the tile has certain plant life on it, and we have somewhere in our infrastructure megalist the ability to yield luxury dyes from the resource harvested from tiles, then we're requiring a reference to the manual, or another screen, for the player to use the information in the game strategically. This lowers accessibility, it changes the feel of the game. And, if counted as an obstacle, I don't know what to do about it. I still want production chains, because I think that's going to be 100% the way to go to bring in the possibility of economic warfare gameplay, but making the exploration and settlement phase become technical "reading" instead of chewy "seeing colorful commodity and consuming" is a hit to popular appeal. (I also want to have more things done on tiles, numerically. Maybe even returning to an "improved" tile and improving it some more, with better technology, or even extracting multiple things. A more productive coal mine, for example.)

(I think one step you could take to re-orient the design to going for that anyway, is to cultivate that interest in settling through an interest in accessing the variety and the quantity of resources. So, instead of the bright icon being "DYES, YUM", we somehow train the player to like to see the resource AS the bonus tile feature, and expect it to "be good" eventually. And not betraying that mode of engagement.)
No Problem. You are forgetting the usefulness of having the game in a computer instead of on a cardboard map.
The icon for any Resource can simply reflect what You can use it for, based on the Technology or other factors that you can employ At That Moment.

So, DYES might normally indicate Luxury Resource, but if you can also use Dyes to create Camouflage uniforms for your troops it might indicate on the map as you see it: "DYES: Luxury, Strategic Resource"

And in the late game, when 'natural' resources like Elephants, Whales and such may be protected by International Law, the tag on those as Strategic, Luxury or Bonus Resources may disappear entirely, indicating to you that it's Past Time you went looking for an artificial substitute "Resource" - in those sample cases, manufactured Plastics and/or Oil.
 
Top Bottom