A look at the popular game franchise and my take on the next iteration of the series.
What would make the next evolution of Civilization stand out? Each iteration of the series featured something that changed it from its predecessors. Yet it retained the core of what made the game. Resources, Wonders, Eras, and many more aspects have arisen and became staples in the franchise. From my following suggestions, some aspects would be removed as they are replaced by the “new” systems that I lay out. Others that I mention will naturally carry over, though possibly altered to fit with the new systems. This is NOT a design document, just a fun exercise of my own personal vision. Of course, I would be extremely happy if any of my suggestions are implemented in the next (or future) versions of Civilization.
The first major change is to have dynamic civilizations. What that means is that the traits that are usually associated with civilizations are no longer so. Instead, they are general traits that can be selected. As the player progresses and reaches certain milestones, new traits can be selected that are context sensitive to the situation. For example, if the player begins in a desert region, one of the possible traits could be “Desert Folk” which would give them bonuses to that environment. However, civilizations not in the desert would be unable to select the trait. Also, once a civilization has selected a specific trait, that trait would no longer be available for other civilizations. This is how the player defines their civilization’s identity.
Clearly, this is inspired by how religions have worked in both Civilization V and VI. It develops a more natural flow of development as the civilization progresses through the ages. But what would this mean for selecting Civilizations? Wouldn’t this mean that whether you choose Rome, Egypt or Japan would be irrelevant? Well, these civilizations could have one basic trait that goes along with their civilization. Unique Units, buildings, improvements, etc. could also be associated with the civilizations allowing for some variety between civilizations, along with likelihood of civilizations spawning in certain areas. Also, the traits are permanent, even if the civilization is downgraded in level. Though new traits can be selected should the civilization reach a level upgrade threshold again.
That leads to the next big change. Gone are City-States and Barbarians. Yes, you heard that right. However, they are not truly gone, just integrated into a “level” system of civilization growth. Each civilization begins at a basic level that could even predate the traditional start of past games. As they develop, they can be “upgraded” to greater levels that expand their capabilities and interactions. Depending on map size, limits can be inposed as to how many civilizations can be of a certain level. That said, the levels are:
- Tribal – A nomadic civilization that essentially take the place of barbarians. There is minimal diplomacy available with tribal civilizations and often war with them carries no penalties. The player can play a Civ in this state (or even be reduced to this) as per the “Prehistory Mode” to be discussed later. After a certain threshold, the civilization can found a settlement which lays the foundation of the next level.
- City-State – This is the foundation of Civilizations. It is the earliest stage with increased diplomatic ability. They can send out colonists to form settlements that are independent yet subservient to the founding City-State. Two or more Colonies or allied City-states leads to a Pact.
- Pact – Formed through early alliances of City-States, some increased diplomacy with Civilizations that are part of the pact. When a particular civilization becomes dominant in the pact, they gain full control and become a State.
- State – This is the level where a civilization can truly begin to establish themselves on the world stage. Formed when a civilization becomes dominant of a Pact and is chosen as leader (or through conquest) the State level allows for greater diplomatic options.
- Empire – An Empire is a more powerful form of the State. It encompasses a large area but starts accruing penalties that could cripple the empire if left unchecked. However, there will be tools that can be used to counter these penalties and maintain stability.
- Superpower – The ultimate level of civilization. Superpowers are at the top of nearly all lists. A Superpower typically won’t be achieved until late game. They may receive special benefits; however, lesser civilizations may admire or fear the superpower, causing problems with diplomacy and politics.
These 6 levels are milestones of achievements. However, they are not necessarily secure once you reach them. What goes up can certainly come down and civilizations are no exception. And since the starting map is removed of city-states (in the V and VI incarnations) and barbarians, there is room for more civilizations overall. This gives way to a feature that had somewhat been implemented in IV, related Civs.
As stated, this was seen before to a certain degree in the franchise. However, I look deeper at the various civilizations big and small throughout history that could be included. Civ VI includes Athens and Sparta both as versions of Greece. In this version, Athens, Sparta, Troy, and many others can be “civilizations” at the start of the game. Tribes that roam the world looking for a place to prosper. When they settle, similar “tribes” may settle nearby. These form the basis of later civilizations like Greece.
This could also lead to variety of gameplay. In one game, you could come across the Civilization of Rome. In another playthrough, you could meet the civilization of “Etruscia.” Both are the same basic civilizations but depending on which related civ came to dominate the area. Later civilizations could be shattered and form smaller states, city-states, or tribes. This will lead to another topic which I had alluded to earlier.
This mode is a sort of “prologue” to the main game. It could be an optional mode that leads into a full game where the player starts out a Tribe (as opposed to a City-State). You wander around the map establishing “camps” that serve as your base for a few turns as you gather supplies from surrounding areas. Wild Animals could make their return in this mode and be part of the quest find a suitable location. Oh, and fog of war clouds over any area out of sight range. In other words, you cannot see where you have been, only where you are. Ultimately, you must settle your first settlement, and this is where the main game begins.
This is just the beginning of my examination into the future of the franchise. Tomorrow, I will take a look at Leaders and their new role in this hypothetical version of Civilization. A small look at the only graphical change I would implement (at least that is relevant to the rest of this examination). Until then, let me know what you think so far.