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'We should have been more audacious' - A Civilization: Beyond Earth retrospective

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Ari Rahikkala, Mar 6, 2015.

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  1. JokerJace

    JokerJace Prince

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  2. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    IIRC at Firaxicon it was noted that the role of Firaxis QA was primarily to look at balance and fun, rather than bugs.
     
  3. Ikael

    Ikael King

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    Either I've expressed myself badly here, or you have misread what I said. Affinities ought to be more differenciated from what they currently are, each should be giving bonuses to certain areas and rewarding certain gameplay styles. Say, it is not as if choosing harmony should curtail you from pursuing a domination victory or offering weaker military power, but rather than its military strategies and strenght ought to be significantly different from other affinities. This would actually expand and offer a greater plethora of strategic options and thus, increasing the game's replayability.

    The current model of extremely similar factions and affinities in the name of "balance" makes for some really boring, bland and repetitive games with little to no inmersion nor strategic choice in them. The game desperately needs flavour and embrace a game design approach based in asymetrical balance, me thinks.
     
  4. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    I might have misread what you said, that was a while back now so I can't really remember either. Sorry in any case, what you're suggesting here is of course a valid approach for design. The problem in that is that despite the apparently simplicity there's actually a large number of interconnected systems even within the Affinity system.

    I mean, if we don't respect balance as a premise, you may get arguments from other people (not necessarily me though)! If we were to go down that route I'd keep a classic game mode for those who prefer it, as even if Firaxis devloped such a major rework of the system, it likely wouldn't resemble the game as it is at the moment.
     
  5. Lord Tirian

    Lord Tirian Erratic Poster

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    Though, I'd argue that makes them suffer from being too close to the source. Civ:BE certainly got better and more atmospheric for me through repeated play, just because you started to learn the mechanical intricacies and the lore.
     
  6. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    On Twitter, Lena Brenk announced that she is leaving Firaxis to go back to her native Germany. Yesterday, was in fact her last day. So, it looks like BE will get a new producer to lead the way into any future patches and/or expansions.
     
  7. Darsnan

    Darsnan Emperor

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    It will be interesting to see who the new producer is, and what their vision for this game is moving forward.

    D
     
  8. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    Doubt the producer has much of a role in design. Well he's still responsible for managing budget and the team so it still is important for the future of the game.
     
  9. Dalerian

    Dalerian Chieftain

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    Agreed!
    As a contrast, in SMAC, if you went the "Harmony-equivalent" route, your military became alien-flavoured. First the tactics, and eventually (potentially) the whole army.
    This was an example of the affinity changing the gameplay.
    I'd hoped for something similar in BE. There's a little bit with units that get bonuses from running solo vs. being in formations, but that's pretty minimal.
     
  10. Dalerian

    Dalerian Chieftain

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    Originally Posted by Gorb:
    "You don't design the highest difficulty for these players, because you don't want a part of the game locked behind something so technical only 5 players out of 5,000 can beat."
    Personally, I'd agree with you. I like that there are levels in the civ games I'll never play - but which challenge people who like the altered game style.

    However, I'll offer a counter example here: Diablo3.

    All through dev the team said "we're making this level that's designed to be way too hard, as an almost-impossible challenge mode". It wasn't a secret - it was explicitly stated all the way through. I loved the idea, and quietly cheered them on.

    Come release, there's a massive outcry (about many valid things), but one was how bad the tuning was, how unfair it was to have a level that people couldn't beat, gear they couldn't get, achievements they couldn't earn and so on.

    I rolled my eyes at it all - we all knew that level was coming! Still, it was nerfed (hard) to respond to that feedback.

    I understand that the civfanatics crowd is different from a D3 audience. (Though, not all BE's market would be Civfanatics level.)
    Key point - the studio repeatedly and bluntly said "we want this to be too hard for you" - and that wasn't enough to prevent that situation.

    Totally agree. The other, system-level, problems that people in here have repeatedly stated clearly are where I'd focus more than tweaking / adding difficulties. But I'm biased, because I don't usually play at those levels anyway. :mischief:
     
  11. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    The analogy doesn't really hold.

    Playing a H&S is about progression through the levels. You are forced to hit Inferno at some point. Also even if I beat Inferno before the nerfs I personally think it was very poorly balanced and deserved some of its changes.

    Playing a TBS is on the other hand about playing a new game each time with a new civilization. There is no forced progression through the levels. Complaining about it being too hard is a bit like saying chess is too hard when you put the computer above your level. The difference being of course that a chess game increases its IA strength while Civ5 increases the bonuses. I stil think the idea holds despite this though.

    The difficulty problem in civ would be more if say the AI started at Prince and by the information era it reached deity bonuses.
     
  12. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    You're actually misrepresenting what happened by a LOT. I assume that's not intentional, but rather because of a lack of information. The whole story:

    Diablo 3 is a game that is based around the idea of getting better and better gear. The potentially best Equip (Itemlevel 63) dropped only on very high difficulty (Inferno Act 3+4, a later patch added a small chance of them dropping in Act 1-2 (especially Inferno Act 1 was very doable with somewhat good equip)).

    Now, that alone wouldn't really have been a problem if the curve at which you got better gear wouldn't have been so steep - and if the Auction House had not been in the game. Literally any equip that you could get in Inferno Act 1+2 (Itemlevel 61+62 at that time) was pretty worthless, because a mediocre rolled Itemlevel 63 Item already was better than that (with the exception of Rings and Amulets as they had the most difficult time actually rolling a set of ideal affixes, so the actual numbers did not matter THAT much until the pool of available items in the auction house begin to grow). So a few weeks after the release you were pretty much in a situation where you would not make much progress, because the items you found did not improve your gear and were rather worthless in the auction house - so getting better gear was done by sitting in the auction house, buying and selling stuff for profit - or by spending real money to buy stuff. Because by just playing the game your progress just stagnated.

    The outcry wasn't really that there's content that not everyone can reach (which Diablo 3 now once again has, in form of potentially endless levels of Greater Rifts), but that people just couldn't improve their gear on their own - which completely destroyed the aspect of the game that was fun in Diablo 3.

    So I think that problem doesn't really have anything in common with the difficulty settings in Civ.
     
  13. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    That bit is actually quite strong. Isolated Harmony units are though nuts to crack. At tier IV you are virtually immune to air strikes and ranged attacks from non-top tier units.

    I use isolated Marines as my primary defence against the AI. Works better than hiding in cities.
     
  14. Dalerian

    Dalerian Chieftain

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    Thanks for the respectful responses. Discussions so easily go sour in forums.
    I think that is my point though - you're forced to reach Inferno by virtue of completing the level below. But you're not forced to play at Inferno; it was stated to be a too-hard, after-completion area - not to be End Game.
    Players finished Hell (for non D3 people, that's the next level down), saw this one ahead, and decided to go on to Inferno and have that as End Game. If Inferno is End Game, then it follows that Inferno will have most of the player-base, and should be playable, when it wasn't intended to be (other balance issues aside).
    Agree it's not a direct parallel, and the game types are very different.
    Still, putting a chess game above my level and losing feels (to me) much the same as putting a hack&slash game above my level and losing. In both cases, it's my own choice to play that level, and I should either play lower or get better :D
    I think you're saying that nature of strategy games makes that a smaller concern - which is valid.
    I'm not intending to misrepresent anything - thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt there. :) I'm trying to simplify a mass of problems and extract one isolated point.
    Getting better and better gear is certainly one of the goals of D3, and re-thinking the way I key-farmed in D2, etc., that's probably a larger driver than my example holds for. Point taken.

    Trying to say it in another way to see if the core point is valid:
    From the initial cautions about Inferno's challenge, I could see the devs thinking "Hell is 'end game' and most people will play that. Only the masochists will attempt Inferno, and generally will fail."
    In that sense, it was a floating 'too-hard' level clipped on the end. But players didn't take it that way, despite the cautions. They took it as the End Game area where most people should spend most of their time. (Noting Acken's point of a smaller visible break in game\level and Ryika's comment that the gear issue contributed here.)
    In the same sense, an impossible difficulty in any other game could be viewed the same way; not as a clip-on challenge, but as End Game. (Noting Acken's point that this may apply less to the strategy genre.)

    In case it gets lost ... let's come back the first quote I replied to; whether a "nearly impossible" level is a good thing. While I don't mind it existing, I don't think it's good for a game overall. Note: That doesn't mean you shouldn't have something harder than the current level.


    To contribute to the overall difficulty discussion :)
    Personally, I'm a fan of a challenge-control that I think was in Warcraft2. In game setup, I could choose how many of each type of starting unit, tech, building, etc. every player had. This allowed a lot of control over scaling, and I'd love to have that easily back in game without having to mod.
    I realise this isn't full scaling - it doesn't change the AI's intelligence, or any other bonuses it should get. Still, I'd like the granularity of having less difficulty levels, with larger jumps between them, and more control over our starting conditions to tune that.
    I understand that this makes Achievements harder to manage. That doesn't concern me, but I know it would to some others.
     
  15. Acken

    Acken Deity

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    Well that is where I don't really agree. Inferno was created as an End Game, like Hell in D2. And at the very least that's how people perceived it and why the outrage sparked. It's the only place a level 60 character go to evolve. If there was no reward for Inferno then people wouldn't have perceived it as the next step but only as a challenging one. The truly "difficult but optional mode" is more the Hardcore setting.

    But this is getting offtopic.
     
  16. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

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    D3 on release was a frustrating mess. I got that game for free with my WOW subscription back then and still bought Torchlight 2 because I couldn't stand it.

    I don't mind high difficulty (I was, for example, pretty sad when Blizzard nerfed the Cataclysm dungeons shortly after release), but in D3's case, there were actual design and balance issues with the difficulty settings. When I can't get good gear in hell anymore, but I am still too weak for inferno, when it is lack raw of power instead a lack of player skill, then there is something wrong.

    And dear god that item drop system was infuriating. Hey, look! After 20+ hours of playing I got my first legendary, a wand for my sorc - with STR on it! YEAH! :sad:

    By contrast their current design for max difficulty shows how you can make it better:
    The player can set his own handicap for extra challenge, while the game rewards him with better rewards without invalidating the difficulty levels below.
     
  17. michaeljhuman

    michaeljhuman Chieftain

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    I enjoy the game. Sure, it could have been a different game. But I still enjoy it and my friends do as well.
     
  18. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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  19. HorseshoeHermit

    HorseshoeHermit 20% accurate as usual, Morty

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    I think that is the pivotal point. Inferno was built with rewards that go into the whole game. Playing in Inferno actually gives you something - and that objectively makes it the next step, intention is irrelevant.

    H&S can have this because a play session is part of a prolonged game experience. A TBS session is a game that ends when the session ends (with intermissions between). So the settings are not 'the next step' in the same way, nor could they be. They are not somewhere else to take your game because they literally are knobs for a different game.

    Which would seem very well to conclude this IS off-topic, as hardcore difficulty settings are not content. Of course, if such settings are content, then they concern alleged audacity from the designers and then it is ON-topic. Which means having this argument is on-topic.
     
  20. Socratatus

    Socratatus Emperor

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    I think this entire article is spot on. I watched the utube vids and saw what the game entailed and it was simply boring as hell. I have loved every Civ game, but when I saw BE I was flabbergasted at just how `non-event` it was. I never bought it and I`m glad i didn`t.

    They were right: they played too carefully, too safe. They forgot that people play these games to feel invested in their own `story` strategically, tactically, emotionally. This is what happens when you do not dare to stand out from the crowd.

    Perhaps their next game will have learned from this.
     
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