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."

PC Gamer
BioShock Infinite

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.
Shacknews - Steve Watts

Civilization 5 is heading into the Brave New World this summer. Firaxis put a pin on a release date during its PAX East panel this weekend, stating it will be available on July 9.

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.

PC Gamer
New Firaxis project

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.

Cheers, Joystiq.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (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.>


PC Gamer
Civ-V-BNW logo

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
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.

Product Update - Valve
A Civilization V SDK update has been released. Change list:

- World Builder would hang indefinitely for some users rather than loading into the main menu. This is now corrected.
- Visual C++ 2010 Redist and .NET 3.5 are now installed automatically, removing a required step after the initial install.
Product Update - Valve
A Civilization V update has been released. Change list:

- If you build defensive structures in your city, then save and reload, the hit-point bonus would disappear.
- Hun Battering Ram promotion which allows it to only attack cities is now lost upon upgrade
- Civ5 Touch - Fixes the oddness when rotating tablets
- Graphical - Fix issue with Rock of Gibraltar not showing up correctly.
- Fix the bug where the Maya AI didn't have to pick a different GP for each Baktun
- Fix an issue on a city flip/gift which would cause loss of city plots forever.
- Fixed a bug where liberated CS would not show their vote correctly in the Victory Progress UI screen
- Fix graphics bugs when the game was restarted too many times in a row.
- Shortcuts created through the launcher now function correctly.

- Fix a crash that happens when an AI loses its capital, but still has units, so is still alive.

PC Gamer
At the Gates 201

As of the writing of this article, there is just over a day and a half left in the Kickstarter for At the Gates, the upcoming, Dark Ages 4X game from Civ V designer Jon Shafer. The team at Shafer's new studio, Conifer Games, has already demolished the original, $40,000 goal. Notable stretch goals already met include full mod support and two new factions. We caught up with Jon in a follow-up to our announcement interview to get his thoughts on how the campaign went, and what we can expect from At the Gates after it's funded.

PC Gamer: The Kickstarter is almost over, and you guys have already doubled your original goal. What has the experience been like, overall? How has the level of success compared to your original expectations?

Jon Shafer: I was pretty confident going in that we’d hit our $40k goal and expected that we’d finish a small bit above that. But you really never know. Hitting our target in under four days was a big surprise, and we had to nail down our stretch goal plans sooner than we’d planned. Based on the number we’re trending towards I would definitely say it’s surpassed our expectations by a fair bit.

Was there anything in particular that surprised you?

"Another surprise was the number of other companies that reached out after seeing the Kickstarter campaign."Yes, there were a few surprises along the way.

The first was the sheer volume of questions and supportive messages we received. For a couple weeks I was getting over a hundred messages per day, and there were definitely times when I was tempted to waver on my commitment to answer everyone individually. But the activity calmed down eventually and I made it through to the other side.

It was great to see people I’d never met or spoken with take up the At the Gates banner and wave it as their own. When people say that Kickstarter is more than just a way to fund a project but also a marketing campaign in and of itself they’re not kidding. This wasn’t even something I’d thought about before, but based on my experience the effect is very real.

On a related note, another surprise was the number of other companies that reached out after seeing the Kickstarter campaign - many of them through Kickstarter. Investment, distribution, localization, conversion to other platforms, IT, music... you name it, I’ve been asked about it. I’ll probably be sorting through these opportunities for several weeks after we’ve wrapped up. So far nobody’s offered a huge pile of free money, but I’m still holding out hope!

The core team at Conifer is about as lean and indie as you can get.

Are you still planning on keeping the team very small, or will some of this new funding allow you to expand a little?

The higher budget will definitely allow us to hire on more contract work. Prior to the campaign I was unsure of how much animation we’d be able to incorporate in the world, but we’re now looking at utilizing it for pretty much all the art. It’s also likely we’ll bring on some help to help with modding tools like the map editor.

"I want to explore new ideas and experiment with innovative features. They might not all work out, but with a small company they don’t have to."Aside from that, the core team and the goals are the same as they’ve always been. We’re mainly viewing the extra funds as giving us the ability to polish the game more than would have otherwise been possible. The gameplay is still our focus. I feel that many companies that smash through their funding goal and dramatically change their scope lose sight of that a little bit.

What is/are the best thing(s) about making a game through Kickstarter without the oversight of a commercial publisher?

The biggest perk is that you can focus entirely on making the best game possible. Every publisher wants to deliver great games, but large businesses have to be focused on the bottom line. If they’re not, people lose their jobs.

The advantage of being an indie is that you can set priorities for yourself. I certainly need to make enough money to keep doing this, but beyond that my goals are all creative. I want to explore new ideas and experiment with innovative features. They might not all work out, but with a small company they don’t have to.

Have you discussed post-launch content among the team members at all? Might we see some of the stretch goals (if they don't end up getting funded) as paid DLC or expansions down the line?

It’s possible. I’m not a big fan of the traditional DLC model, but the prospect of making the Roman factions playable really intrigues me, as that would require making big changes to the core design. My general philosophy is that as long as there are interesting ideas to explore I’m there.

I wouldn’t hold your breath for any map packs or sequels from Conifer though. If you do right by your community and offer an adequate level of modding then they can take care of that themselves.

What do you feel like you'd do differently, having just about wrapped up your first Kickstarter experience?

"If you do right by your community and offer an adequate level of modding, then they can take care of that themselves."I tried to prepare as much as possible before we launched and the campaign as a whole went fairly smoothly and has obviously done incredibly well. If I could go back and do it again there are a couple changes I’d make though.

Big, meaty articles are a great way to show potential and existing backers that you’re serious about what you’re doing, and that they have reason to trust in your promises. But each one requires a major time investment, and trying to squeeze those articles in with everything else can be exhausting. “Current me” would be a lot happier with “past me” had I been able to knock those out before hand.

The leadup for getting the Kickstarter out the door was also pretty rushed. In a recent update I shared the story behind the creation of Conifer, and those final couple weeks were pretty intense. Fortunately, next time I won’t also be launching a company at the same time, which should simplify the process quite a bit.

I’d also tweak the reward tiers. I received many comments along the lines of “I’d like to give you more than the base amount, but I’m not willing to go all the way up to a hundred bucks - what can you do for me?” We made an early decision to avoid physical rewards, but there are still other opportunities like digital strategy guides, soundtracks, etc. We added some of these after the launch, but a more organized approach would have helped both us and our backers.

Thanks to Jon for talking to us, and keeping us posted about the project all along the way with some very detailed dev blogs. Those interested in backing At the Gates still can—$25 gets a DRM-free copy of the game.

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