A look at the popular game franchise and my take on the next iteration of the series.
Up to this point, I have covered how the idea of how civilizations are represented should evolve (in my opinion). I have also covered Leaders and their new roles, and how armies and cities are handled. Today, I begin to look at the various systems that I would carry over from previous Civilization titles. Some have been absent for a while. Others have been mainstays or recent additions that would be tweaked to work with some of the new systems discusses previously. Without further ado, let us begin…
One of the elements that I always love in any game is tracking statistics. There is something satisfying in seeing how I fare with a game’s mechanics. This is something that Civilization has missed in recent iterations. At least, any inclusions were very minimal or seemingly added as an afterthought (or the modding community). It is obvious that the game does track many feats and statistics as these are often used for “achievements,” leader agendas, and, to a lesser extent in Civilization VI, “Historical Moments.” From unit statistics (like number of kills, number of units built, etc.) to great feats (such as circumnavigating the world and other “firsts”), having a set place to see all of these statistics would satisfy all of us statistic lovers. And I am sure that a game like Civilization has many.
Another aspect of the statistic game is the statistics of other civilizations in the game. Perhaps this could best be incorporated via the espionage system with only certain info being available due to certain conditions. Having only met a civilization will provide only the name and not much more. Establishing diplomatic relations, however, opens a lot of information including their government type and general army composition (not exact). Spies and technology (internet, etc.) can increase the information available as well.
Finally, I would like to know how my civilization is faring with land/sea/air makeup of its army. Civilization VI tracks this as some agendas even stress navy size and air strength. I would like to know how my civ stacks up in these individual areas and how they compare to other civilizations as the game goes on.
Random Events are clearly a controversial subject when talking to Civilization fans. The feature was implemented in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. These events would randomly pop up throughout the game and could spell out a significant gain or loss to the player. Some would even present options that could lead to certain affects for the player. While many enjoyed this feature, many others loathed it. Still, it was an option that could be toggled when playing the game.
Since then, random events have all but been removed. Echoes of them may exist in the City-state missions of Civilization V and disasters in Civilization VI. For me, they represent a needed element to help balance against the runaway civ that just dominates the game. Random Events are the great equalizer that gives everybody a chance. And they are the little anecdotes in history that change the course, like the Tornado that chased the British out of Washington, D.C. during the war of 1812.
Think of it like this, in the Mario Kart franchise, you have a race between multiple characters. Without powerups, it is most likely that whoever is leading by the end of the first lap will win the race. With powerups, however, it can still be anybody’s game up to the final stretch. The same thing with Random Events in Civilization. Sure, it sucks to be on the negative end of one but overcoming the negative events can is the supreme challenge. It makes victory all the sweeter. It may even make it worth pushing on through the rest of the game. Whereas having a strong lead by the Medieval Age just makes the game stale. For me, the return of Random Events would be a welcome addition to next Civilization.
Districts and Wonders
Districts and Wonders (both manmade and natural) would of course be in this iteration as well. With smaller hexes, some Wonders may take up more space than one. So, there would be more of a tactical element in planning cities. Besides that, as with many of the carry-over systems, they would have to be tweaked to adjust to any new implementations such as the Civilization Level and Armies (for example).
I like how religion has been adapted in the last two iterations of Civilization with the “customize” feel. It made for a more organic feel to the game and was the basis for my concept of Dynamic Civilizations relayed earlier in this feature. I am not sure how I feel about Religious Combat, however. On one hand, it was an interesting feature, but on the other hand, it almost seemed like a tack-on element. Still, with some work, Religious Combat could make its return. Perhaps even include Anarchists and Cults that could throw the religious aspect a curve ball as the game progresses.
Trade is one of the elements that I think has been done well, for the most part. I like having traders traveling the globe to other cities. I also like the fact that they create roads, though I mentioned earlier that I would like to see more control over road creation. In any case, if anything that I would like to see improved about trade is making them more of a risk. One idea is to make Privateers have hidden nationalities (as they have had in previous versions). They can attack without provocation to war, however, espionage could the source. Also, maybe a mid-game addition could be Pirates and Marauders. These are sea and land independent groups that spring up and behave much like post-barbarian update Barbarians in Civilization VI. They can be bribed to attack trade routes, etc from other civilizations. That is something to think on, at least…
This is an area that I feel needs a major overhaul. It should be more fluid throughout gameplay history. This could be tied to Great Leaders who have certain playstyles attached to them. When an AI civilization adopts a certain Great Leader, they may have a focus on a particular aspect of the game such as wonder creation or conquest. Other Leaders may change this down the road. A change in leader could affect how other civilizations view the source civilization. And the Great Leader focus should include bonuses or the like to encourage the human player to play in that manner.
Also, civilization reactions should be based more on relationships. If CIV A is friendly with CIV B and you attack CIV B, then CIV A will not be happy with you. However, if CIV A and CIV B are at odds, then your attack of CIV B will not hurt your relationship with CIV A (and might even improve it). This can create a tangled web, but that is the true glory of Civilization… the politics. (I hope that wasn’t too confusing.)
I’ve already mentioned Espionage a couple of times. For me, one area that I would like to see improved is the time when it becomes available. After all, since people started getting together, they have wondered what their neighbor was up to. I think that it is a system that should grow over time. Essentially, at the start, a few espionage abilities would be available. These would expand over time (with some possibly becoming obsolete). There would be passive espionage such as learning details about other civilizations, and active espionage such as missions to Steal Technologies or Eliminate Leader.
Well, this has been a long journey. Tomorrow comes the exciting conclusion to this feature where I wrap up my thoughts and ideas. It has been fun exploring these concepts and receiving some feedback. Don’t hold back, now. Share your thoughts below on what you think so far. After tomorrow’s conclusion, look for a compiled version later in the week for those who want to read it all at once. Until then, I will be hard at work finishing this feature.