Apr 12, 2013
Earlier this week I spoke to Ed Beach, Lead Designer on the Civilization V: Gods & Kings expansion, as well as the upcoming Brave New World expansion. I asked Beach for his thoughts on Civ V designer Jon Shafer's recent self-criticisms regarding Civilization V's one unit per tile system and leader AI quirks. "He was a little harsh on it," said Beach. "And I won't try to guess as to exactly what his frame of mind was, where he's coming from."
"Unit stacking can be a problem in Civ V, and I definitely think we've been acknowledging that for a while," continued Beach. "In Gods & Kings we made a change so that embarked land units could stack with naval units, because there was a lot of congestion out in the seas. So, there were definitely issues, but I'm still a big fan of one unit per tile. I think it improves the combat in so many ways, there's so much more tactical maneuvering and positioning."
Though he didn't address Civ V's notoriously fickle AI leaders, Beach went on to explain how the one unit per tile system has been improved over time.
"I think you just have to make sure, when you're designing a game like this with a one unit per tile system, that you're setting out for one unit per tile where it's helpful for you, like in spreading out the combat units and adding that tactical positioning play to the military side of it, and you're not enforcing one unit per tile rules in places where it's just getting in the player's way.
"So, I'm a big fan of one unit per tile, but I think we didn't quite hit it right with the initial release, in terms of where it was important to enforce it, and where we could just relax the rules a little bit. As long as we keep that in the forefront of our thinking, we'll be fine."
I also pointed out that Civilization is a series which is known to improve over time with expansions, but wondered what informs the decision to tear it all down and start over with a new numbered game.
"You want to set things up where you have a great foundation to build upon, and when you've invested in building that initial framework, you want to leverage that and get as many cool systems in to play off of that base as possible," said Beach.
"There is a point in time where, as you put each of those systems in, you learn a lot about the base game...and you see where things are working, and where things are still holding you back a little bit. You start to get to the point where, those things you can't change about the base game, because they're so fundamental to this particular iteration, are holding you back from what you want to try, then it's time to start looking at a new foundation."
I acknowledged that Beach obviously couldn't hint at plans for Civilization VI, to which he responded, "It is true that there are now 43 civs in the game, and the most any Civ has had up until now was 34. We actually hit 34 with Gods & Kings, and now we're going to be nine beyond it. So, that particular number is getting way up there."
Apr 12, 2013
Preview by Philippa Warr
A fire has been raging through Paris for the past four decades. Also, Jesus has just been born.
"The caravan unit is essentially a 'business camel' who brokers trade agreements."
That's the news from the other end of the bank of desks as I settle in to preview Civilization V: Brave New World - an expansion aimed primarily at spicing up the late stages of the game. My own Parisians, however, remain unroasted and un-Jesused because I've spent the last few turns ignoring Napoleon and trying to work out whether it would be prudent to build a windmill.
The windmill situation is clearly too complicated so I build a caravan unit instead. This is mostly because the caravan unit is essentially a "business camel" who goes off to other cities and brokers trade agreements on my behalf. In my head he has a pinstripe suit and a briefcase full of important documents.
The caravan appears as an option as soon as you research animal husbandry and creates trade routes. Looking to other civilisations, the most profitable trade routes are built between cities with few resources in common - business camels appreciate a diverse portfolio. But trade routes can also be established between two of your own cities. If one has a workshop, the trade route can export production giving a boost to cities founded late game which would otherwise be outpaced at every opportunity.
"Brave New World tries to deal with the late game peaceful play problem."
As time passes and you get deeper into the expansion you'll realise that the roving business camel was foreshadowing. Brave New World is actively trying to deal with the late game peaceful play problem - namely that you end up hemmed in on all sides with no will to explore, hitting "Next Turn" and eating biscuits.
"It's been a symptom of all Civ games - the late game just isn't as compelling as the beginning," admits Dennis Shirk, senior producer. Firaxis' solution? To prod you into activity via a mixture of international trade (business camels plus cargo ships), cultural scuffles, and the introduction of a World Congress for equal quantities of diplomacy and dickbaggery sans frontiers.
Culture now comes in two flavours: defensive and offensive. Defensive culture is the stuff of previous Civ iterations and is created by building wonders or landmarks. In Brave New World it serves to counter aggressive culture: tourism.
"Invest in tourism and artwork becomes a weapon. You're Charles Saatchi with a diplomatic passport."
Invest in tourism and artwork becomes a weapon. Your civilisation can now gobble up a great artist and spit out one of their famous real-world creations to be installed in a cultural institutions. Pair your burgeoning art scene with increased interaction with other civilisations and tourism flourishes: you're Charles Saatchi with a diplomatic passport.
The World Congress also appears in the latter part of the game; a cyclical system where two players - the host civilisation and the one with most delegates - make proposals. Nations preferring the diplomatic route to victory (or just partial to a spot of political wrangling) can spend turn after turn lobbying for support, indulging in espionage or trading votes to get their preferred policies approved.
These can be positive mandates for the good of humanity or a chance to indulge spite and retribution. "It's not always going to be a clean and shiny, optimistic future," observes Shirk. Indeed, the expansion's title, "Brave New World", explicitly references Huxley's dystopian novel and the ideological and cultural upheavals of the twentieth century.
"Don't expect Firaxis to stop tinkering with Civ V just yet."
But, whether you choose to play as a cynic or an optimist, Brave New World is hellbent on keeping you actively participating to the final turn. So although the expansion tentatively marks Civ V as complete don't expect the tinkering to stop just yet.
"We've already got updates on our schedule," says Shirk. "You can't know how the ideal arc for a game is going to fall until a million people are playing it - we want to have the best version of the game out there."
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Firaxis is slowly unwrapping Civilization 5's next expansion, Brave New World, as we approach its July 9 release. Today the company revealed a large increase to the number of available civilizations, along with details on the new trade routes and ideology systems.
This expansion will bring the number of civilizations to 43. New civilizations include Poland under the rule of Casimir III, Assyria with Ashurbanipal, Brazil with Pedro II, Portugal with Maria I, and the Zulu under Shaka. The trade system is getting major revisions, becoming less abstract and letting players determine their own precise trade routes to pick who they trade with.
"So imagine you're building one of the wonders of the world in Krakow," Firaxis' Ed Beach told Polygon, "you could have all your trade units channeled internally to get that extra production out there and build that wonder faster than someone else and finish it first."
The game will also introduce a new ideology system, which will open up as players reach the Industrial Age. You'll be able to choose from the ideologies Freedom, Order, and Autocracy. Each one comes with its own perks, and can either enhance the victory condition you're currently aiming for, or switch it up completely to try for a new one even that deep into the game.
These additions join a host of other changes like revisions to the cultural and diplomatic victories.
Mar 29, 2013
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Civilization 5 is preparing to reinvent itself, again. The Brave New World expansion, which launches July 9, is going to make serious shifts to the late-game content, revising both the cultural and diplomatic victories. We talked with lead designer Ed Beech and senior producer Dennis Shirk about the expansion's focus and goals.
In a way, Brave New World is the other half of Civ 5's last expansion, Gods and Kings. The two are are complementary in the pieces of the game they address--so much so that Brave New World will include many of Gods and Kings' underlying systems for players who didn't buy the first expansion. The second is really meant to work with the first, combining to create a marked shift in the experience.
The two said that this is targeted towards late-game, both to make up for the developer not having the chance to address those systems in the first expansion, and to add more depth to a part of the game that speeds toward the finish.
"If a player is going to run out of things to do, it will be in the second half of the game," Shirk said. "Once the world is all discovered and you're going through that threshold into the Industrial Age, you start running out of things to do as everyone is running up to finishing the game. [In Brave New World], there's a lot focused on that second half of the game to make that race really compelling."
Most of that comes in the revised victory types. Cultural victories now rely on raising great artists, musicians, and writers to create famous works that will spread throughout the world. Beech described how you could build a large museum like the Louvre, giving you plenty of space to fill with great paintings and cultural artifacts dug up from past battles. Tourists can come see your culture, and countries could steal great works to take some of your culture for their own. All of this is built around giving the player more agency in the cultural victory.
"We found that when you're playing for the military victory, it's a very active, aggressive playstyle. You really interacted with all the nations," Beech noted. "But when you played for a cultural victory before it was very passive. You built a few amazing cities, but you just weren't interacting with the other empires in the world. We felt that was a real missed opportunity. We've emphasized in Brave New World that you're going to build a culture that's really the envy of the rest of the world. You not only have to build it, you have to spread it to the rest of the world."
This is all against the backdrop of the new diplomatic victory system as well. Starting around the time the Renaissance starts to give way to the Industrial era, the nations make a World Congress. This doesn't result in an immediate victory, but it does introduce the concept of proposals--specialized rule changes. You'll have a vote to cast in these matters, such as voting against anti-whaling resolutions if that's your primary source of income.
Shirk said these resolutions can be "cooperative or vindictive" depending on your play style, and they can be used to shape the kind of victory you want to attain. In this way, the diplomacy system doesn't just impact its own victory, but it can manage to touch every kind of victory.
Now that the game has dealt with both its early and late-game content, though, I wondered what was left to tackle. When is Civilization 5 complete? "I don't think we're out of ideas," Beech said, tight-lipped.
Shirk, pointing out the expansiveness inherent in a game that is about the entire human experience, remarked: "Obviously with a game like Civ you could go on making content for any number of years."
As it typically does for a major game launch, Nvidia has updated its GeForce card drivers to 314.22 for boosts in performance and stability. It claims recent titans BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider both get a significant bump in frames-per-second, with the former increasing by 41 percent and the latter by an astonishing 71 percent.
Nvidia's article provides benchmark results and pretty green graph bars to scrutinize. Though the company's test hardware was an Intel i7-3960X and a GTX 680—a beefy setup most definitely on the high-end of priciness—Nvidia says the improvements apply to most other cards in the GTX family.
Other frame gains include an extra 30 percent for Civilization 5, 22 percent for Sniper Elite V2, and 12 percent for Sleeping Dogs. Smaller boosts are given to Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Borderlands 2, Black Ops 2, and Skyrim. Really, if you're playing nearly any graphics-heavy game from the past few years, and you're a GeForce user, pick up the drivers on the official website or through the useful GeForce Experience tool. It's green across the board.
Mar 25, 2013
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Kotaku reported the release date, along with a European date of July 12. As previously reported, the Brave New World expansion has a new cultural victory system that relies on producing masterpieces and finding ruins with archeologists, a revision to the diplomatic victory with the World Congress, along with eight new Wonders, two scenarios, nine civilizations, new units and buildings.
Brace yourself for an influx of exciting Firaxis news from PAX East. Are you braced? Good good. In addition to revealing the release date for the recently announced Civilization V expansion Brave New World - it's July 9th in the US, and July 12th elsewhere - the team also teased a distinctly XCOM-like new project (thanks, Kotaku), which Firaxis are describing as a "big" release. The only clues lie in a leaked teaser trailer - oh and the very XCOM-like font displayed at the end.
The brief trailer consists of a shadowy military type saying the following stuff. "Hello, Commander. The war continues at great cost. We now believe another force is at work against us. If not dealt with swiftly, it could destroy us. What we are able to tell you…" - and that's where he's cut off by a giant 'SIGNAL LOST' message, which appears to be written in the XCOM font. So - XCOM2? A new expansion pack? Well, whatever it is, Firaxis are "not going to be able to talk about it for a while". The big teases.
In further XCOM news, it also emerged at the Expo that Civ V's Brave New World will feature XCOM squads as late-game units, delivered via (what else?) Skyranger. XCOM is also set to get a Mac release on April 25th.
And that's it - I've exhausted today's quota of the word 'XCOM'. Still, this is all very exciting - we'll bring you more news as soon as we have it.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Alec Meer)
There’s going to be a second major Civilization V expansion. It’s called Brave New World, it introduces 9 new Civs, the concepts of tourism, ideologies, international trade routes and archaeology, and basically it sounds like it’s pretty huge on an under-the-hood front. I had a big chat with Firaxis lead programmer Ed Beach and senior producer Dennis Shirk on what’s in there, why, how it works and why we’ll be forming impressive in-game art collections.>
Firaxis have announced the second expansion pack for their life-destroying 4X strategy Civilization V. Brave New World not only increases the number of leaders, scenarios and wonders for budding empire builders to play with, but looks set to drastically overhaul two key areas of the game: Culture and Diplomacy. This is particularly great news for anyone who's spent hours attempting to cajole Civ V's fickle rulers.
A World Congress will let you create and vote on resolutions - imposing trade sanctions on rogue nations, capping resource usage, electing a host for the "World Games", and setting rules for the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, ideology will only be a small part of a nation's decision: vote trading and intrigue are both required for a successful resolution. Firaxis say this will also provide a new path to the Diplomatic Victory.
Speaking of victory conditions, there's a new one: Culture Victory. It sounds like a more active prospect than the Cultural Victory path. Here you must spread your culture far and wide, using Great Writers, Artists and Musicians to create masterpieces that will prove your dominance in the arts. You'll also have access to archaeologists to investigate ancient battle grounds and ruined cities for rare artifacts.
The other big change is the introduction of international trade routes, letting you spread your cities' produce by land and sea. Not only can you send goods to other civilisations, but also to other cities within your own empire - sending aid to cities that are lacking the raw resources. And trade routes expand into other areas of the game, with science, religion and culture also taking a trip on your caravans.
In addition to all that, Brave New World will bring nine new leaders, eight world wonders, new Industrial Age ideologies, and scenarios covering the American Civil War and the colonial push into Africa.
In the hope of gleaning some state secrets, Evan sat down for a peace accord with Firaxis' Lead Designer Ed Beach and Senior Producer Dennis Shirk.
PCG: What’s a new Civilization that contributes a new playing style? Can you describe this playing style?
Firaxis: Poland’s trait is called Solidarity, and they receive a free Social Policy when they advance into each new era. Poland gave us the opportunity design a Civ with extremely strong mounted units in the Medieval-Renaissance era. When you see the bonus for the Winged Hussar, it should give players a lot of flexibility in terms of changing the way a battle unfolds tactically. Since their Civ trait is extremely flexible, I think Poland is an effective Civ for a wide variety of victories.
How are International Trade Routes formed?
Firaxis: Trade Routes are established between two cities of different civilizations using trade route units like the Caravan or Cargo Ship. Although both parties gain gold from the route, the civilization that the trade route originates from gets a larger sum of gold than the destination civilization. Additionally, other systems hitch a ride on trade routes, like religious pressure, science (science can be gained from more advanced civilization this way), Tourism bonuses, and more.
Trade routes can also be created between two cities of the same civilization. Once the origin city has a Granary, it can send food to the destination city, and once it has a Workshop it can send production. This can be powerful if you have a new city that needs to be “pumped up”, or a city that’s constructing a Wonder that could use a production bump.
Will masterpieces created by Great People be named? e.g., Will you be able to create the Mona Lisa?
Firaxis: Yes they will! We’ll be talking more about those soon.
Does the World Congress vote by majority? When are measures voted upon?
Firaxis: A resolution doesn’t always have to receive majority support. Sometimes a resolution can pass with a single delegate supporting it, as long as there are no delegates voting “no”. The way the process works is the Congress is founded, typically in the Renaissance, by the first player that has discovered all other civilizations. The founding civilization becomes the Congress's host and receives special benefits, like the ability to propose resolutions.
After the first resolutions are proposed, there’s a countdown until the Congress convenes, which will give you time to get allies on your side before the Congress votes on the proposed resolutions. The process then begins again, with the proposal of resolutions. There are quite a few resolutions that can be voted on. You can vote to outlaw the trade of certain luxury resources, sanction rogue nations economically, start a worldwide project like the World’s Fair, and much more. You can use it to slow down a Civ who is running away to victory, or really put a major rival at a disadvantage.
Civilization V is due out this Summer for a suggested price of $29.99
Mar 14, 2013
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Culture, trade and diplomacy are to become more important in Civilization 5 with Brave New World, the second expansion pack, announced today by publisher 2K Games. Arriving this summer, it'll bring a new culture victory condition, international trade routes, the new World Congress, and heaps more.
Overlords will be able to achieve a cultural victory by being the world's dominant culture, exerting a majority influence on every other civilization. To help along this way, you'll be able to place masterpiece works to display in certain buildings, and scour battlegrounds and ruins with archaeologists.
If you fancy a diplomatic victory, you'll want to get stuck into the World Congress, where civilizations can vote and pass resolutions on everything from host cities for the World Games to nuclear weapons and sanctioning "rogue nations." Canny folks can trade their votes too.
Which leads to trade routes, which help your civilization run and expand smoothly while spreading religion, cultural influence, and science along their path.
The spotted listings for a 'One World' expansion weren't too far off, then.
Brave New World also introduces eight new Wonders, two new scenarios, and nine new civilizations, each with their own new units and buildings. Hit the official website for more details.