Monday, 28 July 2008

Conventional warfare

Aside from the fact that it thermally shuts down my laptop every time I play the game for more than 10 minutes, Civilisation IV is a great game.

At least, I'd like to think so. My understanding is that Soren Johnson 'single-handedly' redesigned the somewhat clunky Civilisation III interface to stream line the amount of interaction required to achieve world domination, whilst retaining the 'essential' game play. Of course, not streamlined enough for a console, which is why Firaxis has seen fit to release Civilisation Revolution, which at least gets away from having to develop a separate Archery technology from Bronzeworking.

And that is my basic problem. The technology tree. I'm not especially interested in the differences in the very convential technology tree on offer - the order I learn Engineering against Monarchy is not of the slightest interest to me, provided that the game demands I learn both. Sure, I can fail to advance a particular technology beyond the dark ages, but all that guarantees is that every lesser civilisation will offer it as a trade item every turn in return for my continued understanding that we are friends.

And where the technology tree fails to deliver.

I want to break convention, to escape the mundane and predictable advancement across the middle ages from swordsman to war elephant to Renaissance pike. I want to experience a world where no one discovers the Bernoulli effect - which confused even Einstein - restricting modern civilisation to lighter than aircraft: zepplins, dirrigibles, balloons, (even the words sound beautifully steam punk, rolling off the tongue). I want to plot a path through civics where genetic relationships are more signficant than social bonds, democracy is never discovered but sibling hive minds and the social glue of naked mole rats and of termite societies holds sway over the realms of men.

I want to end up in the year 2000 with flying cars and rocket pistols and jetpacks as common technology modes, and the mundane existance of petrochemicals, solar power and hydro turbines just a whisper in high Aztec society.

I want a technology tree with exclusions.

Nothing less.


Radio Babylon said...

i cant remember which game it was (im thinking "sword of the stars" but im not positive), but i played one 4x game that had a randomize tech tree every time you played.

kept things interesting, because you could never rely on having access to a particular tech, or even if you DID have access to it, the path to it may be different...

FalconNL said...

You might want to keep an eye on Spore. You can choose exactly what type of vehicles you want to make.

tormodh said...

Feels like we're in the comments of this again:


Ids said...

The game space empires also has a very large tech tree, but that game solves your problem. There are a lot of different things to research, and they take up a very large amount of time. It is impossible to research them all, as they take up to much research points. Instead of a research tree in depth, it has a research tree in width.

tech tree:

J. Random said...

IIRC, and I may be wrong, but you could check out Alpha Centauri. The tech tree there was pretty good. And it's hard to beat the gameplay, IMO.

VRBones said...

In my mind the greatest achievement of Civ4 was the implementation of luxuries and strategic resources. Since it would be very unlikely that you have access to all resources it creates tension in the game akin to not having a technology. In fact I've gone to war with many a neighbour for their oil deposits just out of reach across the border.

This is amplified by playing scenarios that simply do not have specific strategic resources. Even though the tech tree is still intact it nullifies certain aspects of the tree to create different dynamic.

Tom Hudson said...

Didn't MOO have a large list of techs (not a true tree) with random exclusions?

This was per-race, so somebody else would have it and you could trade for it, but that's a step in the direction you seem to be looking for.

The problem I'd expect with exclusion in trees is that excluding a prerequisite could prune large sections of the tree, in turn significantly unbalancing any tech race. e.g. if you're pursuing military techs in Civ4 while somebody else is pursuing cultural, only to discover that gunpowder doesn't work in your world, you're losing because the random number generator invalidated your strategy. Discovering that only mid-game seems like a game-ruining experience to me.