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VentureBeat: Hands on with Civilization VI This is a Very Different Game

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  • VentureBeat: Hands on with Civilization VI This is a Very Different Game

    http://venturebeat.com/2016/05/25/ha...ifferent-game/

    I have to say that this turn-based strategy game — the next entry in the award-winning Civilization franchise that Sid Meier created 25 years ago — is going to be a drastic change from Civilization V, which came out in 2010 on the PC. Just how different is an important question, as the Civilization franchise has sold more than 33 million copies since Meier’s original released in 1991.

    And Take-Two and Firaxis would love to see many more sold.

    Civ VI lead designer Ed Beach said in an interview with GamesBeat that the transition from V to VI wasn’t a small one, like the launch of a new expansion pack. It was a big one, and so the team had to take some risks like “unstacking” the cities and allowing them to spread their districts across multiple hexagons. With Civilization V, the designers previously unstacked military units, so that only one unit occupied each hex. Now the cities can spill over the map, and you can’t build everything you’d like in them. That means the cities get very specialized

    This system comes with a lot of restrictions. You might drop a harbor into a tile on the water. If you do, you can’t build something else in that tile, like a Wonder. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the maps will be huge, with armies and cities spread out. You may wind up with a few cities or lots of burgs.

    When I interviewed Beach, I told him that this change disrupted my sense of scale on the maps. He felt that way at first, too. “It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with as well,” Beach said. “I live in the mid-Atlantic area. If you think of Washington D.C. as the city for that area, there are lots of regional pieces nearby. Norfolk might be the harbor. That’s where the Navy is based. There are great universities like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. That might be the campus district. West Virginia is where all the mining goes, a couple of tiles away. That might be the industrial zone. If you think about it in those terms, it’s okay. I’m not saying it’s perfect. It’s still an abstraction, for sure.”

    Beach said, “You could do the same thing with the UK, the Benelux, things like that. Antwerp is the huge port for Belgium, but Brussels or Bruges is more the cultural capital. You can take any place in the world and divide it up like that.”

    Defending a city can be complicated. But Beach pointed out that you can now make use of natural barriers, like mountains or the shoreline, so that you don’t have to commit a lot of military units just for defense.

    I have to get used to this change, as it throws me off. Now the defense of a single city could play out over hundreds of miles and a couple of centuries. That’s a pretty long military engagement, and it could just be a battle in a much larger war. What happens if the technology era changes during that time? That would be really screwed up.

    The idea is to take full advantage of the terrain. Each hex that is near another can modify how your tile grows. You may get a bonus based on what is adjacent to the tile. Before, you could put down a building in a city and be done with it. Your districts can be containers for additional buildings. You can create a holy site that will eventually house religious buildings such as churches or temples. If you have a mountain pass, you may want to put a military encampment there to create an easily defended zone. You can put a science building near a mountain and discover astronomy more easily.

    Firaxis’ Pete Murray showed us a couple of civilizations in our first play session. I started out as the Chinese, with a single settler and a scout in the Stone Age. I created my first city on a coast, near some good resources. The first unit I made was a warrior, but that was a mistake. I should have made a scout instead, as it takes only one turn to do that. I sent my warrior and my scout out to explore. I built a worker and started creating a couple of farms. My city’s borders and population expanded slowly. The Chinese architecture with curved roofs looked beautiful.

    In my short playthrough, I didn’t get a feel for what made the Chinese unique. But I did get a sense for the action. I ran into barbarians pretty quickly. I was too weak to attack them, and that may have been a mistake. Knowing what I know now, I should have created a strong military force quickly, and pushed out with scouts.

    Beach told me that if you run into barbarians and then leave them alone, they will be much smarter and star their own preparations.

    “We haven’t talked about this yet, but this is something that I can clue you in on as far as how it’s working,” he said. “Barbarians can generate scouts now. You may have seen some of those around. If you leave a camp around long enough, it generates a scout. The scout explores the map just like you do. But what it’s looking for is targets. If a scout comes up to the outskirts of your city, that means he knows you’re there, and he’s going back to his camp to tell his buddies that they have a target.”

    Beach added, “It’s important to watch that. You can know, ‘Okay, if the scout came from four turns away, it’ll take him four turns to go home and five or six more to build an army.’ But eventually, 10 or 15 turns down the line, that scout reporting back is going to be bad news for you. You can prepare for that, though.”

    I created a slinger military unit, which is a ranged attacker. I sent that one south and mopped up one barbarian camp pretty quickly. But in the north, the barbarians multiplied. There were three units coming in toward my cities. I had to build some military units fast and send my main force north. This took a lot of turns to do, since you can only move one or two hexagons per turn.

    By the time I got there, it was all over but the shouting. The Americans had come into the region, and they wiped out the barbarians. I was finally ready for war, but peace had broken out.

    The experience of dealing with the barbarians made an impression on me. The artificial intelligence of the computer-controlled players are improved from the previous game.

    And that is visible in more ways than one. This time, the non-player A.I. will always have some kind of agenda that drives their behavior. You can’t really change someone’s agenda, such as Manifest Destiny. But you can change their attitude toward you very quickly if you invade them.

    This means that diplomacy will be dynamic, changing as the ages evolve and as the leaders show their character.

    “We have a system that has a historical agenda linked to a leader, but they also have random leaders, chosen game by game, that are hidden from the player,” said Andrew Garrett, an A.I. expert on the Civilization VI team.

    When I expanded into new regions, I ran into the Americans, headed by Teddy Roosevelt. He talks softly and carries a big stick. That means that he will be very wary of anyone amassing military troops on his borders, and he will do his utmost to defend his territory aggressively. That kind of agenda was very easy to see.

    You can find out what the agenda of a particular leader is by spying or just understanding their behavior. If a leader is obsessed with Wonders, he or she will strive to out-build the other societies when it comes to creating wonders. If you challenge that leader in the Wonder race, you’ll likely come into conflict. You may even be able to set leaders against each other through careful observation. Civilization VI will have a new espionage system, but Firaxis isn’t describing it yet.

    I didn’t face off against Roosevelt for very long. After his initial alarm at my armies drawing near, he made a peace treaty with me, and we coexisted on that border.

    The visual style is distinct from past games. I loved the way that Civilization V looked, with its shift toward greater realism. It really made me feel immersed in another world. I also like the art in this game, but in a completely different way.

    Things are spread out more on the map. Every building in the game is modeled. You’ll see birds flying around the buildings. You’ll be able to zoom in and see the fruits of your labor now. The world is more vivid and alive. The leaders will be more expressive and realistic, all with the aim of making you believe the world is real.

    This new game’s art style is geared toward enabling you to zoom all the way on your units and districts. I enjoyed zooming up close and then pulling back to get a better perspective.

    I did recognize one flaw in the graphics. If you explore an area, it can go a little dark on you once your units leave that area. When it goes darker, you can still see some of the general outlines like mountains. The map goes from colorful to a drab brown in these areas. But the borders of the darkened region look like jagged coastlines. In the watery region that I was exploring, this effect fooled me. I thought that there were jagged coastlines in parts of the map — which I had already previously explored — when in fact this was really just open ocean. I think Firaxis needs to fix this flaw.
    More at the link.
    One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
    You're wierd. - Krill

    An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

  • #2
    Well that was weird. I got here by following http://apolyton.net/showthread.php/2...6?goto=newpost

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    • #3
      The vB forum software uses the thread number to determine which thread to show, the text is all meaningless (to the forum). You can test this by changing the text in the URL, while leaving the number. Since we lost a lot of threads and the counter on those threads was also lost, new threads will be created with numbers that are in URLs to old threads that were lost.

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      • #4
        The first unit I made was a warrior, but that was a mistake. I should have made a scout instead, as it takes only one turn to do that.
        That's interesting. One of the things I disliked most about Civ 5 was how much waiting there was to do anything early on. Being able to get Scouts out quickly sounds good. It may also suggest that the early game in general has a quicker pace.

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        • #5
          Yes - a faster beginning would be good. Workers making improvements faster also would seem to speed things up in the beginning. He says that the AI is smarter. I wonder just how much? I definitely like the idea of a smarter AI as opposed to giving the AI huge advantages.
          It's never too late to shut the **** up and hope for the best. - Kentonio
          If social security were private, it would be prosecuted as a Ponzi scheme. - me
          Check out https://shauchi.wixsite.com/fire

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          • #6
            The AI gets smarter with each new edition and expansion pack...
            Click here if you're having trouble sleeping.
            "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." - François de La Rochefoucauld

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            • #7
              Anything that bumps up production speed is a good thing. Otherwise players will sit there hitting end turn over and over in the early game.
              Try http://wordforge.net/index.php for discussion and debate.

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              • #8
                personally, i prefer a slower early game and taking time to build things up. i'm not sold at all on this idea of spread out cities; and i expect the maps will be small, which will limit things a great deal. one thing i didn't like about civ V (reading about it; i never actually played it) was the way people said that one should have just 4 or 5 cities. i expect that this game will be similar in that respect.

                as for the AI, developers always promise a lot but often don't deliver. we shall see.
                "The Christian way has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found to be hard and left untried" - GK Chesterton.

                "The most obvious predicition about the future is that it will be mostly like the past" - Alain de Botton

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by C0ckney View Post
                  personally, i prefer a slower early game and taking time to build things up. i'm not sold at all on this idea of spread out cities; and i expect the maps will be small, which will limit things a great deal. one thing i didn't like about civ V (reading about it; i never actually played it) was the way people said that one should have just 4 or 5 cities. i expect that this game will be similar in that respect.
                  So they've said happiness is local again, which should mean players have more freedom to expand.

                  as for the AI, developers always promise a lot but often don't deliver. we shall see.
                  Indeed.
                  Click here if you're having trouble sleeping.
                  "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." - François de La Rochefoucauld

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lorizael View Post
                    So they've said happiness is local again, which should mean players have more freedom to expand.
                    that sounds like a good move. but i wonder just how room there will be to expand into with these new spread out cities. is there any information on map sizes?
                    "The Christian way has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found to be hard and left untried" - GK Chesterton.

                    "The most obvious predicition about the future is that it will be mostly like the past" - Alain de Botton

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lorizael View Post
                      The AI gets smarter with each new edition and expansion pack...
                      And typically the games get more complicated, which I would think counter-act the benefit of an improved AI. I wonder how an AI designed for Civ1 today would do against the original AI.

                      I also wonder whether the AIs are better (beyond simple brute force processing power) with each iteration or just tweaked for the current iteration to try and incorporate strategies that human players have identified as the most successful.
                      One day Canada will rule the world, and then we'll all be sorry.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dauphin View Post
                        And typically the games get more complicated, which I would think counter-act the benefit of an improved AI. I wonder how an AI designed for Civ1 today would do against the original AI.

                        I also wonder whether the AIs are better (beyond simple brute force processing power) with each iteration or just tweaked for the current iteration to try and incorporate strategies that human players have identified as the most successful.
                        I do wonder about that. Every iteration, they say the AI is better. And every time, we say it's awful. In computing generally, AI has improved over the last 25 years (Chess and Go and Watson and robotics), but I wonder how much of that has filtered down usefully to AI design in a massively complicated game like Civ.
                        Click here if you're having trouble sleeping.
                        "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." - François de La Rochefoucauld

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                        • #13
                          I think adding more systems to the game makes it harder on the AI. Just more things to sift through to hit on what works for the given situation. So as things like Culture, Religion, Corporations get added ... the AI has to improve just to maintain difficulty.

                          In regards to building the AI has probably gotten quite a bit better over the years. But military tactics is still where it falls flat. I think 1UPT hurt a lot in that regard. Before the AI bonuses could be brought to bear in numbers, but with 1UPT there is no numbers advantage. In fact, numbers can actually be a disadvantage in some cases ... making it difficult to get the right units to the right spots at the right time.

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                          • #14
                            I have mixed feelings about the continuing "unstacking" of things.
                            The maps just end up not looking right.

                            This reminds me of one of the things that broke civ 5 for me - how your empire/country looks like a few splats on the map for most of the game instead of a continuous political entity with a single border. (by the first impressions civ6 is the same in this regard)
                            The few splats on the map might actually be a more realistic representation of what most of world history was like but I just don't like it.
                            Quendelie axan!

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                            • #15
                              Well, there is real-world precedent for expanding cities in the form of the modern megalopolis or whatever it's called; the bulk of the NE US is basically one massive urban area where cities have sprawled out to the point that they merged. Ditto Washington DC, which in theory is a tiny mangled diamond shape on the Potomac but in practice extends its influence over hundreds of square miles of MD and VA.

                              A Civ6 map of the US might have a bloated DC-Baltimore-Richmond megacity monstrosity halfway up the east coast, a still bigger NYC-Boston monstrosity farther up, the Orlando-Tampa-Miami tangle around a swamp on a southeastern peninsula, the whole urban coastal snarl that is California on the far coast, and then the writhing mass of Seattle north of that. Oh, and maybe some sparse tumors in the middle for St. Louis, etc. And Texas. The rest of the cities would presumptively be represented by cottages/villages/towns (assuming they still exist), while places like Montana and Wyoming would just be oil wells and cattle pastures within the civ's cultural borders.
                              1011 1100
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