This is now an incredibly cold take, but I finally wanted to write down my thoughts on Civilization: Beyond Earth (BE), and how it compares to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (SMAC), which is sort of its predecessor.
I've been thinking about the Civilization series of games again. It's weird that after so many iterations, their fundamental problem is still not fixed: the end-game is painfully slow. As the number of entities (cities, units) you control rises, and the number of options you have for each rises as well, turns take longer and longer. At the start of the game, a turn is a few seconds. By the end, a turn can be twenty minutes of mind-numbing individual decisions.
I've previously written about how to tackle rising end-game complexity by reducing the per-entity complexity over time. This time, let's drill down to the core of this problem: In Civilization, more cities means more resources, and more resources means winning.
A quick idea I've just had about ideology trees in Civ V: So in the late-ish game, you pick between one of three ideologies, Freedom, Order and Autocracy. You then get a bunch of policies you can unlock in your chosen ideology, but you're locked out of the others unless you switch ideology entirely, which is pretty painful.
So a vaguely fun thing could be that each ideology has two mid-level policies that lets you branch out into one of the other trees.
I've been playing Civ V again and thinking about alternate versions of the civilizations in the game. There's actually a whole lot to unpack about the Civilization series' idea of history, which is far more ideological than I think its creators realize. But for now, let's start with this: the game generally picks the era of history in which a country was at its most powerful or "iconic" as a basis.
A mod for Civilization V that introduces a bunch of religious elements inspired by HP Lovecraft. Right now, the mod simply adds some new pantheon beliefs which are powerful but have some drawback as well:
I've been at it again, playing Civ V and coming up with ideas for mods I'm probably never going to write. This time: hero units!
Each civilization in the game gets some special ability, one or two special unit types, and maybe a building or tile enhancement. This mod would also add an unique unit to each civ that can only be built once. This unit would be quite a bit stronger, but since there's only ever one of it, its presence doesn't massively unbalance play. Nor can it be upgraded. But when it dies, it produces a quantity of faith, culture or science that is its legacy.
I may write more about Civ: Beyond Earth later, but suffice it to say for now that it's a bland and tedious thing not worth the asking price. One of the tacked-on victory conditions is the good old "the planet is quasi-sentient and we must merge our minds with it", just like in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Now this is a perfectly decent staple trope, but it's getting a bit long in the tooth, and I wonder what other Great Secrets a planet being colonized in this sort of game could have.
As I mentioned before, as much as I like my Gods and Things concept for Civ V, it's really far too complex for me to attempt to build. So I've been thinking about a massively stripped down version that just introduces a bunch more beliefs, which are distinguished by having a downside as well as an upside:
I've been thinking about my Gods & Things concept for Civ V again. I would dearly love to create it, or at least a simplified version, but as it stands, I don't have the time or the knowledge to do so. If anyone has experience with Civ V modding and would like to collaborate, hit me up. Anyway, here are a whole bunch more Horror beliefs:
I confess that despite my mixed feelings, I've been playing Civ V again, and having more thoughts on how to improve it. In Civ games, you can build World Wonders, very expensive buildings with massive benefits that can only be built once. This generally leads to a race to build wonders, which is a fun mechanic. What's less fun or well-defined is what happens if you lose the race.
The other day I caved in and bought the expansion packs to Civ V. I've been having a fair bit of fun with it, and definitely enjoying the new religion and trade systems. Of course, it didn't take me very long to give my religion a very silly name, and from there a concept was spawned: Gods & Things - a Lovecraftian expansion for Civ V.