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  • IGN: Civilization 6's new game changer features

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/05/...anger-features

    As an experienced Civilization fan, playing the first 60 turns of Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 felt familiar. A bit more so than I’d expected, relative to Civilization 5 – this isn’t as dramatic a departure as we saw from Civilization 4 to 5, for example. But even in these early-game moments, there are a large number of crucial differences that already started to make their significance felt.

    One of the first you’ll notice – after the impressive hand-drawn map art style that covers undiscovered and fog-of-war-covered territory – is that Workers are now called Builders, and have a limited number of uses before they vanish from the map. Playing as the Chinese in this pre-set scenario, I benefitted from one of their cultural bonuses that causes Builders to have four charges instead of the three other civs have. Another distinguishing feature of Civ 6’s Builders is that their terrain improvements happen instantly, instead of over the course of several turns.



    “It’s streamlined the game for us in a really good way,” says Lead Designer Ed Beach, explaining the thinking behind the change. “You don’t really want to have someone sitting on a tile for six or eight turns and then have them wake up, and you don’t really remember what they were doing.” Additionally, Beach says the limited uses created balance improvements. “Players playing on a high difficulty found that stealing workers from another civ or a city state was a great strategy, because they were around for the rest of the game. With charges, they’re not around long, so it’s not worth it.” I can also see these changes making a huge difference when it comes to late-game unit congestion, when Civ 5’s Workers have nothing left to do and are simply idling until you disband them.

    What’s more, Firaxis has eliminated the ability to automate Builders’ behavior – and Beach has some strong words about that feature. “To some extent, automation is a sign that your game design is weak,” he says. “Hitting the automate button and then not looking at that unit, there are no interesting decisions at all there.” Firaxis’ guiding principle, as laid down by founder Sid Meier himself, is that games are a series of interesting decisions – so that makes a lot of sense. And as someone who at first leaned too heavily on that crutch in Civ 5, I’m glad to see that automation scaled back so that I’m forced to make those decisions instead of putting city development on autopilot.

    However, when Beach attempted to extend that philosophy to the auto-explore feature that sends ships off to automatically uncover the map, after what he called “somewhat fierce internal debate,” Beach conceded that some automation can be a good thing, especially when it comes to exploring all the corners of the ocean. Auto-explore was absent from my demo, but it will be in the final version.



    The interface also has some nice touches. It shares the elegance of Civ 5’s UI, but has a notable focus on explaining not just what something does, but how you can do it better. Mousing over the gold icon, for instance, gives suggestions for how you can generate more income. In the diplomatic screen, you’ll see suggestions for actions you can take to improve or worsen your relationship with a given leader. It’s all information that could’ve been found by delving into the Civilopedia, but exposing it like this is a good move to make this complex 4X strategy game accessible to new players without sacrificing depth. Also, the city-view screen has finally been completely eliminated – clicking on a city displays all the relevant information (such as citizen work assignments) directly on the world map.



    As I established a city, the research boost system Firaxis unveiled in the Civ 6 announcement quickly came into full effect, with boosts coming rapidly with just about every action I took. Building a coastal city, building a quarry improvement, destroying a barbarian unit, and other typical early-game tasks all gave me a 50% bonus toward certain technology research options. From my initial experience I was a little worried that there were too many of these bonuses – that my research path would be all but determined entirely by circumstance of what was near me on the map, creating “right” and “wrong” decisions. Beach assured me that won’t be the case: “We’ve been working to balance that sweet spot for a couple of years. The key number is what percentage of a technology do you get from a boost? If it’s too high, all people are doing is playing the boosts.” According to Firaxis’ testing, a 50% boost is that sweet spot, and doesn’t discourage choice.

    The new government system is another significant departure. “Looking at Civ 5’s system, the biggest criticism of it that I agreed with is that it was really hard to pivot in a new direction,” says Beach, referring to how once you’d invested points into one government-development tree you’d be ill-advised to spread your points thinly into new ones. So early on in development, the team came up with a new system: researching civics (a separate, parallel tech tree to the standard scientific one that contains all the social technologies) unlocks color-coded “cards,” which can be mixed and matched into a government type’s various slots. A simple starting government has one military slot and one diplomatic slot; a more advanced form might have three military, one diplomatic, two economic, and one wildcard (which can take either any of the three types or a unique wildcard card type). Different forms of government, such as democracy or communism, are distinguished by both their individual locked-in bonuses and their distribution of these customizable slots.



    The cards I saw included (among others) bonuses like a +5 attack rating boost against barbarians, or a 50% production bonus for producing Classical-era ranged or melee units. For economic bonuses, I could choose between options like +1 additional production top all cities or increased income from trade routes. And every time you unlock a new set of these cards through research, which happened fairly frequently in the early game, you can swap out any of your cards for free (without paying the gold it would cost to swap at will). With the selection of cards I’d unlocked in the early game, including a few wildcards that were largely focused on generating points toward unlocking Great People, that system could allow for some interestingly specialized builds. It should be noted that the card unlocks are not randomized, so there will always be a specific order you can follow to get the build you want.

    Speaking of Great People, I unlocked a single Great Scientist during my run, and it revealed an interesting reworking of that system. One historical figure of each category is available at a time, and when you earn enough points in science, engineering, military, etc, you can either elect to recruit that great person or – if you don’t like that person’s specific bonuses – hold onto those points until someone else takes them and exposes the next Great Person in that category.

    During my demo I didn’t get much of a sense of how the new concept of Districts will affect city layout, since in the first 60 turns I was only able to build a scientific district (and a library within it) and a military encampment in a city that wasn’t attacked. Later on, I’m told, we’ll be able to build many different types of Districts to help specialize our cities. However, the main takeaway that had already begun to take effect is that the big investment of building a District is that it occupies flat land that could otherwise be used to produce food for your people. Depending on the landscape, that could be very costly for a city’s development, so those decisions could be weighty ones – and that one mega-city you had where you built all the Wonders? Forget about that in Civ 6, because Wonders take up a tile each, too.

    Faith and religion are, at this early stage, apparently nearly identical to Civilization 5’s current setup – I got as far as founding a Pantheon that increased the food yield from my hunting camp terrain improvements – but Beach says there’s more to come there. “What we’ve shown you so far is pretty much the same, but there are some interesting new wrinkles,” he promises. (You still get to name your own religion, I’m told.)

    Trade also works very similarly to Civ 5, where automated caravans travel back and forth between cities of your choosing and provide both ends with resource bonuses. There’s one major difference: trade caravans are, at least during these early turns, the only way to build roads between cities. “We thought that was a good way to go for the early game, because historically roads were built along trade routes,” says Beach. It also contributes to his larger goal of reducing tile-by-tile micromanagement, while dramatically increasing the role of both domestic and international trade until you research military engineers in the mid-game and can build your own roads.

    One way Civ 6 has returned to the pre-Civ 5 ways is in how happiness works – it’s no longer an empire-wide status. Because Firaxis wants you to expand more in this game, each city is now responsible for its own happiness, which is based on its own supply of happiness-generating amenities. That’s a game-changer in terms of running a large empire, as your big production centers will no longer be dragged down by frontier settlements that are having a bad time.

    All of this is on top of the new diplomacy systems, which begin with a new option when you first encounter a new civilization: you can invite them to visit your capital, uncovering the map around your home city for them and generating good diplomatic vibes in return. (You have to be invited to their capital to uncover it on your map - it’s not a two-way street.) It’s nice to have a new decision to make when first encountering someone on the map other than declaring war or saying “Okay, bye!”

    After that your goal is to improve your diplomatic visibility with each nation through a variety of means: sending delegations (for a gold cost), establishing trade, espionage, setting up embassies, or giving gifts. Leveling up that relationship (over five stages, as the system currently exists) takes you from basic-level information about declarations of war and building wonders all the way up to seeing not just a leader’s randomized hidden agenda, but also which victory condition they’re pursuing, military operations they’re considering, and deals they’re making with other factions. Beach describes it as “a much more detailed and nuanced version of Civ 5’s intrigue system.”

    As mentioned in our last Civ 6 preview, one of the things that will be revealed is a leader’s hidden motive: a randomized goal or preference that will influence an AI’s behavior in addition to their consistent “historical” motive based on their real-world personality. For instance, I first encountered America’s President Teddy Roosevelt, whose Big Stick motive makes him act aggressively toward anyone who bullies city-states on his continent. This system of knowing part of the picture but not all of it definitely made this leader seem unpredictable – I’m not sure why he declared war on me, for instance, because I didn't have that level of access. Naturally I’ll need to play a lot more before I can tell if that makes their actions seem more or less logical.

    Illustrating that systems are still in flux, Beach hinted that Firaxis is considering making the AI’s motivations even more mysterious by adding a second hidden trait that will come into play in the mid-game. “We had a big pivot point in Civ 5 when you got to ideology. We’re looking at this the same way,” said Beach, adding that while the AI behavior might change, it wouldn’t be a totally new personality.

    When dealing with City-States, it’s no longer about who can pay them the most money or doing one-time quests. Instead, each City-State has a set of goals that can be accomplished in any order, such as destroying a nearby barbarian encampment or establishing a trade route with them. Accomplishing one or two of these tasks earns you increasing bonuses from that City-State, but accomplishing three makes you that City-State’s ally, for a larger bonus that can go only to one civ at a time. (In order to displace another civ as a City-State’s ally, you have to get one more point than they have.) It’s a simpler system than Civ 5’s gradually declining favor, and seems less dependant on who throws the most money around to buy allies. And while I only saw the one City-State in this demo, Beach says we’ll see a variety that mirrors the types of Districts available in terms of the bonuses they offer as allies.

    If you’re wondering: no, there’s no tech trading. Beach says he’s in agreement with Civ 5’s Lead Designer John Schafer on that topic, in that neither of them liked feeling compelled to talk to every other civ every turn just to see if they’d developed a new tech to trade for.

    Having played the opening hour or so, I’m left feeling that Civilization 6 is familiar yet very different from its predecessors in some potentially very interesting ways. The first 60 turns have only hinted at where it’s all going – the real impact will manifest in the mid and late game – but nothing I’ve played has led me to believe Civilization 6 will be any less catastrophically addictive than its predecessors are.
    Some more screens at the link (ones widely seen elsewhere)
    One who has a surplus of the unorthodox shall attain surpassing victories. - Sun Pin
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    An UnOrthOdOx Hobby

  • #2
    I'm too lazy to recreate the threads I made yesterday, but here were my two main comments after reading the IGN preview:

    ...Workers are now called Builders, and have a limited number of uses before they vanish from the map. Playing as the Chinese in this pre-set scenario, I benefitted from one of their cultural bonuses that causes Builders to have four charges instead of the three other civs have. Another distinguishing feature of Civ 6’s Builders is that their terrain improvements happen instantly, instead of over the course of several turns.

    “It’s streamlined the game for us in a really good way,” says Lead Designer Ed Beach, explaining the thinking behind the change. “You don’t really want to have someone sitting on a tile for six or eight turns and then have them wake up, and you don’t really remember what they were doing.” Additionally, Beach says the limited uses created balance improvements. “Players playing on a high difficulty found that stealing workers from another civ or a city state was a great strategy, because they were around for the rest of the game. With charges, they’re not around long, so it’s not worth it.” I can also see these changes making a huge difference when it comes to late-game unit congestion, when Civ 5’s Workers have nothing left to do and are simply idling until you disband them.

    What’s more, Firaxis has eliminated the ability to automate Builders’ behavior – and Beach has some strong words about that feature. “To some extent, automation is a sign that your game design is weak,” he says. “Hitting the automate button and then not looking at that unit, there are no interesting decisions at all there.” Firaxis’ guiding principle, as laid down by founder Sid Meier himself, is that games are a series of interesting decisions – so that makes a lot of sense. And as someone who at first leaned too heavily on that crutch in Civ 5, I’m glad to see that automation scaled back so that I’m forced to make those decisions instead of putting city development on autopilot.


    So because Builders have a limited number of uses, it looks like instead of having a Worker corps you reactivate whenever a new tech gives you a new tile improvement, you will build Builders on demand. This means you now have to balance improving your tiles against building city improvements, military units, and everything else. On the other hand, that might just be more tedium, because before when a new tile improvement became available, you just mindlessly set your workers to building it (or even automated the process depending on the improvement) and gave it no more thought. So at least it wasn't much of a hassle. But Beach says there he's specifically trying to get away from decision-less choices, so I understand the goal.

    The new government system is another significant departure. “Looking at Civ 5’s system, the biggest criticism of it that I agreed with is that it was really hard to pivot in a new direction,” says Beach, referring to how once you’d invested points into one government-development tree you’d be ill-advised to spread your points thinly into new ones. So early on in development, the team came up with a new system: researching civics (a separate, parallel tech tree to the standard scientific one that contains all the social technologies) unlocks color-coded “cards,” which can be mixed and matched into a government type’s various slots. A simple starting government has one military slot and one diplomatic slot; a more advanced form might have three military, one diplomatic, two economic, and one wildcard (which can take either any of the three types or a unique wildcard card type). Different forms of government, such as democracy or communism, are distinguished by both their individual locked-in bonuses and their distribution of these customizable slots.

    The cards I saw included (among others) bonuses like a +5 attack rating boost against barbarians, or a 50% production bonus for producing Classical-era ranged or melee units. For economic bonuses, I could choose between options like +1 additional production top all cities or increased income from trade routes. And every time you unlock a new set of these cards through research, which happened fairly frequently in the early game, you can swap out any of your cards for free (without paying the gold it would cost to swap at will). With the selection of cards I’d unlocked in the early game, including a few wildcards that were largely focused on generating points toward unlocking Great People, that system could allow for some interestingly specialized builds. It should be noted that the card unlocks are not randomized, so there will always be a specific order you can follow to get the build you want.


    I've seen elsewhere that they're really trying to emphasize this parallel tech tree thing. Like, the traditional tech tree is pursued with beakers and gives you rocketry, masonry, etc., whereas the civic tree gives you drama and poetry and is gotten to through culture. And it looks like getting specific civics will give you cards that can be put into broad government slots, and the slots you have available depends on the government (democracy, communism) you've chosen. What I'm not clear on is how you gain access to democracy and communism. Are they just another civic--possibly the root of a particular civic tree--that you can research? And how easy is it to switch government types, rather than the cards for a government?

    ...

    Okay, I guess I wasn't too lazy.
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    • #3
      That is one of the better articles I have seen so far.
      Try http://wordforge.net/index.php for discussion and debate.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree - one of the better articles, but I am put off by the game even more now.

        *I like worker concept

        *automation is a sign of "weak design" *takes gun shoots foot*
        * "Civ V elegant UI design" *kneecap* (my interest in the game)
        * "Firaxis is considering making the AI’s motivations even more mysterious" *death*

        * one improvement they are making is removal of global happiness, but with the rest, it is just one big "meh" for me...
        Socrates: "Good is That at which all things aim, If one knows what the good is, one will always do what is good." Brian: "Romanes eunt domus"
        GW 2013: "and juistin bieber is gay with me and we have 10 kids we live in u.s.a in the white house with obama"

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        • #5
          The opening line "As an experienced Civilization fan, playing the first 60 turns of Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 felt familiar. A bit more so than I’d expected, relative to Civilization 5 – this isn’t as dramatic a departure as we saw from Civilization 4 to 5" is what scares me.

          I would rather it felt more like Civ 4 and not 5
          Keep on Civin'
          RIP rah, Tony Bogey & Baron O

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          • #6
            I could see getting rid of workers entirely and making terrain improvement an aspect of cities, so that e.g. your population can be plunked down on a grass tile and told to convert it to a farm, with eventual dividends but short-term loss of productivity. This sounds like more of a Zerg/classic Colonization nuisance: "Crap, gotta get more tools/drones AGAIN. Sigh."

            I'd like to be more positive, but as with Civ5, everything I'm hearing is either "okay, why?" or "that sounds kind of dumb." Especially giving spies the ability to mind-read AI players. What does that accomplish beyond disadvantaging the AI?
            Last edited by Elok; May 26, 2016, 21:04.
            1011 1100
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Elok View Post
              Especially giving spies the ability to mind-read AI players. What does that accomplish beyond disadvantaging the AI?
              I like the idea of the AI having agendas that we can adapt to/manipulate, and I even like the concept of being able to discover what those agendas are, but I don't like that it's an asymmetric mechanic. I'd be okay with it if, say, human players had some incentive to adopt a particular footing or stance (that mirrored the agendas of the AI) and the AI could learn our stances via espionage.
              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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              • #8
                They have at least two layers of agenda, IIUC. The main layer is no secret, as the article said; TR will go bulldog on you if you threaten his dwarf neighbors. I could see giving the human player a bonus for meeting the TR-agenda conditions, though I could also see that getting old if it means you can't play your favorite civ or leader without being forced into a preset strategy. The second layer is more variable, more or less randomly assigned, and can be discovered and exploited. I have no idea how you could make that symmetrical without being a colossal jerkbag to the player.

                EDIT: I just noticed
                I’m not sure why he declared war on me, for instance, because I didn't have that level of access.
                Apparently, the game's designers are feeling nostalgic for the GWB years.
                1011 1100
                Pyrebound--a free online serial fantasy novel

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                • #9
                  In early game, roads come from caravans. I used to build roads to advance my troops more easily. Now, it appears that one has to trade first. This turns the game more defensive. You have to trade a lot to get roads, and this makes it easier to move troops around for defense. If you have to trade before going on the offensive, you've just been boosting the economy of the empire you are trying to attack for X number of turns.
                  It's never too late to shut the **** up and hope for the best. - Kentonio
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                  • #10
                    Hmm, no more workers sounds like a big change. I would like to hear more about these builder units which replace workers.
                    Try http://wordforge.net/index.php for discussion and debate.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      They are workers only with limited uses. Like workboats. Or more like missionaries in 5.
                      Indifference is Bliss

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                      • #12
                        One wonders why tile improvements aren't just something in your build queue if they wanted to go this route.
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                        "We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones." - François de La Rochefoucauld

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                        • #13
                          Beach says he’s in agreement with Civ 5’s Lead Designer John Schafer on that topic, in that neither of them liked feeling compelled to talk to every other civ every turn just to see if they’d developed a new tech to trade for.
                          I'm pretty sure Civ4 had a screen where you could check what techs all the other civs had at once.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lorizael View Post
                            One wonders why tile improvements aren't just something in your build queue if they wanted to go this route.
                            Yeah. I guess since you can get the bonus of resources outside your workable radius, that makes some sense, but one feels that it'd make more sense to append it directly to the city build menu.

                            Constantly tacking missionaries onto the queue in 4 was a nuisance IMO. Having work boats used up was (I think) either to save players the bother of disbanding them or give players a reason to ever build more than one.
                            1011 1100
                            Pyrebound--a free online serial fantasy novel

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by giblets View Post
                              I'm pretty sure Civ4 had a screen where you could check what techs all the other civs had at once.
                              really? i never saw that.

                              Originally posted by Dinner View Post
                              Hmm, no more workers sounds like a big change. I would like to hear more about these builder units which replace workers.
                              they have a limited number of uses and then disappear afterwards. rather like the pre-historic gatherers in caveman2cosmos that you could only use once.
                              Last edited by C0ckney; May 29, 2016, 12:30.
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