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Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth Announced

By on April 14th, 2014 12:44 pm

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth | Alien worm fighting early explorers

Firaxis Games and publisher 2K Games have recently announced that the Civilization series will be going into space, with their recent reveal of the sci-fi themed 4X strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. The developers have even stated this title is the spiritual successor to SMAC (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri) and that a few of the original designers from SMAC are still on the team. Here’s the official announcement trailer.

To answer the first question why not call it SMAC 2? The Alpha Centauri trademark is owned by Electronic Arts. It also seems the developers may be using a different background and lore for this new title, though many of the themes are similar. The Earth has reached its limits and humankind embarks on its greatest journey to settle a new world for itself.

Information is still scarce but there are a few tidbits of information out already (mostly gathered from a lengthy PC Gamer interview with the devs):

  • The faction selection will be expanded from previous games; the player does more than just select a starting faction but also chooses what they are taking with them on their expedition, influencing the player’s starting conditions.
  • The developers mention that not every faction arrives at the same time. The human player will arrive alone on the alien world and the other factions will arrive later but better prepared to balance their late arrival (no information on how multiplayer will be handled at this moment).
  • The new planet will be highly varied between playthroughs, offering diverse biomes and alien creatures. The aim is to give the impression that these are unknown alien worlds (not always the same one between playthroughs), but also to help keep a level of mystery and uncertainty between playthroughs.
  • The game will also support the modding community and already hint to the potential of player generated alien worlds.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth | Setting up an outpost

  • There will be an orbital layer in which players will be deploying satellites in order to offer many bonuses which will range from military to economical and scientific.
  • The game will still use the 1 unit per tile (and a hex based map) from Civilization V. The developers expect the orbital layer will add more tactical depth to the combat and are aware of the complaints about the combat AI in Civilization V, which they are hoping to address properly in this title.
  • There will be a quest/mission based system that will guide the player as they explore the lore of the planet and help them forward through the game.
  • The technology tree will be non-linear and will branch out into three separate affinities (Supremacy, Harmony, and Purity). These will be affected by the player’s choice and in turn have an impact on the player’s faction and their interactions with their new world.
  • The game will have 5 victory conditions, three of which will be tied to the three affinities, with two others which will be affinity neutral for those that do not want to fully commit down one path.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth | Alien Landscape

The developers went into a little more detail about the technology paths and affinities. So, the three paths are Supremacy, Harmony, and Purity. Supremacy revolves around fully embracing technology which involves robotics, AI, and cybernetics. Purity revolves around terraforming and adapting the planet (forcefully if need be) to human needs, while Harmony is adapting humanity to its new home and developing a symbiotic relationship with the planet.

Talking to Joystiq, the developers have also addressed fears some people have that the game might be ‘dumbed-down’, saying they are focusing on giving a deep experience to the player.

The new systems that are implemented here give this game complexity. I know our fans [are always] afraid of us dumbing something down. This is not dumbed down. -Lena Brenk, Producer at Firaxis Games

However, such statements are best observed than promised, it is still a good sign the developers are addressing such concerns quickly.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games. It’s slated for a 2014 Autumn/Fall release. The anticipated price is set for $49.99 USD and will most certainly be made available on Steam. So we can expect this spiritual successor to SMAC to be out by the end of this year. It really has big shoes to fill, but fortunately the developers seem to know this fact. We will keep you updated as more information is made public.

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92 Comments


  1. Ben says:

    Holy crap. This is like, the biggest newsbomb in 4x gaming for the last decade. Or ever. WOOHOOO!!!! I think I speak for everyone when I say…

    OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.

  2. ashbery76 says:

    This is top of the list for upcoming games by some margin.

    • eleazar says:

      Me too.

      I really like this:

      “The new planet will be highly varied between playthroughs, offering diverse biomes and alien creatures. The aim is to give the impression that these are unknown alien worlds (not always the same one between playthroughs), but also to help keep a level of mystery and uncertainty between playthroughs.”

  3. Ben says:

    Well, this and GC3. ;)

    • ashbery76 says:

      Errr no. :)

      • Ben says:

        I see your point. If I may offer a differing viewpoint: Err, yes! :)

      • Lens Flares Suck says:

        Agreed. Stardock is NOT an ‘A-list’ software game company. Not by a looooong shot.

        • Ben says:

          What the hell does that even mean? Only AAA companies with billions of dollars in revenue can make a game worth looking forward to?

        • AstralWanderer says:

          @Ben: “Only AAA companies with billions of dollars in revenue can make a game worth looking forward to?”
          No, but Firaxis’ record of game development is far better than Stardock’s. And the original (1999 release) Alpha Centauri beats any version of GC for gameplay and production values hands down.
          Stardock *may* pull a rabbit out of their hat with GC3 but I wouldn’t bet anything on it.

        • DevildogFF says:

          I completely disagree with you, Lens. Stardock is one of the best developers in the game. Legendary Heroes was free for me and it’s one of the best 4X games I’ve ever played.

          They are certainly “A” list. Anyone saying otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

        • csebal says:

          I sorta agree with SD not being A list.

          They have great ideas, but their development “end game” is horrible.

          I could not name a single game in the last decade that was a success out of the hat. (or ever really)

          Out of the two major games they made, GalCiv is clearly the more successful one, but even that manages to split the fans of the genre through its controversial design choices. As far as Elemental goes, its best to just ignore that for this discussion, as there are hardly any good points there for SD.

          Even with Legendary Heroes, its more of a shell for what could be great game, than a really complete game in its own right.

          So yea, as much as I admire SD’s attitude and dedication to its players, they are not A list.

        • Ben says:

          Space Sector is a civil place, and I am happy to keep it as such, so I will just say that although I disagree with your opinion, I hope, as I’m sure you do, that C:BE is a rousing success!

          I thank you for your time!

        • csebal says:

          @Ben:
          Sure. And how does that make you feel?

          Hint: I can’t make heads or tails of your comment’s purpose.

        • Noldor says:

          Stardock’s problem is that there’s no depth in the civilizations. The AI is better than most 4X games, but the games themselves are superficial in a sense. Nothing that distinguishes the games atmosphere, and often limited ways to make a civilization unique. It’s not like say, Starcraft where the 3 races are really unique. SOTS too, despite its other flaws tried to make races that were somewhat unique.

          Twilight of the Arnor started in the right direction, but it needs to be expanded upon. The universe too doesn’t feel as “alive” as in other games. They also seem to be consistently underwhelming at making engaging tactical combat, with only Sins being interesting (and the bulk of that wasn’t Stardock but Ironclad).

      • Mark says:

        Agreed, I’m very underwhelmed by what I see with GC3, looks almost identical to GC2 which I thought was very a mediocre 4x.

        • Ben says:

          These comments have to be from people who either 1) didn’t like GC2 (?!??!) or 2) have an axe to grind with Stardock (?!?!!), or 3) don’t understand what the GC3 alpha is.

          Here! I’ll educate you:

          Do you know why GC3 looks an awful lot like GC2? Because in its early alpha state they just reused all of the old assets. It looks absolutely nothing like what it’s going to look like. This is already confirmed, and confirmed strongly by Brad and everyone else over there.

          And to state that Firaxis’ record is better than Stardock’s is theater at its most absurd. Stardock has had one (1) failed/disastrous release. And for those who fell victim of that release, they’ve received, for free, the total remake of the game, and all of its expansions/DLC. So the one (1) time they screwed up, they went out of their way, far more than any other company I’ve seen in the business, to make it right.

          I love Civ 5 to death, but not a lot of people were happy with it in vanilla state. I didn’t see any free upgrades for those customers.

        • Mark says:

          Category 1) for me. I didn’t hate GC2 but I thought it was quite an average to below average 4x. It didn’t impress me at all although I did like the AI.

          And when I say “looks the same” I don’t mean the graphics and UI. I mean that everything I have heard about the gameplay, the total lack of tactical combat, the brain-dead rock paper sissors system being retained…etc, looks like its going to play almost identical to GC2. Thanks but no thanks.

        • Chuki792 says:

          Agree with the look of GC3 at the mo, but as Ben says, they confirmed the graphics are currently placeholder assets from GC2 and will be upgraded as development cprogresses (this was on the steam page for the early access if i recall), they’re about a year from release if i remember.

        • Mark says:

          Personally I couldn’t care less about the graphics of GC3. What concerns me is that the *gameplay* looks like its going to be almost identical to GC2.

          Having no tactical combat in a modern space 4x simply isn’t good enough. Fail stardock.

  4. Kordanor says:

    Would love to hear from the devs about multiplayer. Is the game (as Civ 5) built around the player (the AI’s purpose is to entertain the player) or is the game designed a bit around competitive gameplay (the AI actually tries to win). This would also have high impact on multiplayer. Wondering if and how they will tackle the problems Civ5 MP had and mostly still has.

  5. megalomaniacs4u says:

    skip until first expansion fixes everything…

    • eleazar says:

      Since this is based on the Civ V engine, I expect they will be able get into balancing at a much earlier point, and maybe do that better.

      Also this might just be a single game, like Colonization that they did based on Civ4– not that i hope this is the case.

      • Lens Flares Suck says:

        I want this and a second ‘complete game’ – ‘Ancient Civilizations’. Anything after the dark ages gets really boring but exploring, inventing writing, building the pyramids… that stuff rocks.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      I see where you’re coming from, but I’d like to remind you that Firaxis’ Alpha Centauri’s expansion Alien Crossfire can be arguably said to be worse than the base game (at least from the “game world consistency” standpoint).

  6. vmxa says:

    Hum, loved SMAC, did not care for civ V. Not sure where that puts me with the new SMAC. I guess I will wait and see and hope that Sid is actually involved in the creation.

    Would feel better, if Brian Reynolds was working on it. Is Chris Hartpence still around? He wrote the SMAC guide. Was very ill last I heard.

    • Alien JD says:

      Same here. I didn’t hate Civ 5 but I didn’t like it very much either. A big part of what I didn’t like about Civ 5 was one unit per tile and slowly slowly slowly moving around the carpets of death.

  7. Nua Sidek says:

    Will wait and see. Knowing the fact that they are concern about the possible backlash on being dumbed down, I will hold my enthusiasm… *holding*

  8. StarMate says:

    well pandora first contact already did some kinda alpha centauri remake, this is good news but hardly the best news of the cenutury^^.

    now distant worlds 2 would be another thing :D.

    • Ben says:

      Well, I enjoyed Pandora quite a bit, but “some kinda alpha centauri remake” is not an Alpha Centauri remake. ;)

      • BlueTemplar says:

        I’m willing to bet that for a real Alpha Centauri remake, Brian Reynolds would have to be on the design team again.

  9. Peter says:

    Need to see ingame reviews before I can say if its awesome or not.

  10. Jeff P says:

    This is great news! Regardless of what you may think of Civ V, you can be assured that because this comes from a major publisher and is based on an existing engine:

    1. Beyond Earth will require less development time than an indie game and should be released on or about the date promised.

    2. Beyond Earth will likely be released with relatively fewer bugs and balance problems than most indie games.

    3. The graphics and sounds will top notch.

    4. Additional content will be released through DLCs.

    To me, however the BEST news is that Beyond Earth being published at all, as it suggests an increased interest in the space genre by a major player in the gaming industry. If Beyond Earth is financially successful, it will mean more space-related goodness coming our way in the future.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      1 and 2 are kind of meaningless, because most indie games are crap anyway (oh, unless you were only talking about indie games that are not completely unknown, which are in the minority)… and I think that even for top tier company games based on an existing engine, there are frequent releases of bugged and especially unbalanced games… not to mention that development times tend to be much longer.

      4. What makes you think that? Civilization 5 had expansion packs in addition to (paid) DLC’s.

      • Jeff P says:

        One of the greatest frustrations for gamers (judging from forums) are serial delays waiting for the release of an anticipated game. 2K/Firaxis is both big and working with a mature product to create Beyond Earth. We waited 10 years for Horizon and it still wasn’t right. I doubt that will be the case with Beyond Earth.

        Re: DLCs/expansions, my point is that the Civilization series has consistently expanded play by releasing additional content. Whether you like the game or not, at least they don’t abandon their products after the initial release.

    • AstralWanderer says:

      “…because this comes from a major publisher…”

      The publisher in question is 2K Games (Firaxis are the developer) who have been responsible for inflicting DRM like Securom on Bioforge and Steam on Civ V, and will likely do the same for C:BE. For the record I boycotted Civ V since it required Steam and will boycott C:BE if it does likewise (I own all previous Civ versions, which are available DRM-free). Firaxis as a developer have tended to be one of the more reasonable ones, patching out DRM after a few updates up till Civ V so in this regard, I see 2K’s involvement as a minus.

      Expecting this to be better than an “indie” game *because* it comes from a large publisher is therefore misplaced – both groups have released great and execrable games in the past and a big budget is no guarantee of great gameplay.

      • Jeff P says:

        Regarding Steam, to each his own. A great many people like Steam (including me), which is why it is so dominant. A brave indie publisher who refuses to bend his knee “to the man” and only sells his product through Steam’s competitors or his own distribution will likely sell far fewer units. If that is OK with you, fine. I’d rather see publishers and developers enriched so they will have the filthy euchre to invest on other projects. Like I said, to each his own…

        • AstralWanderer says:

          “A brave indie publisher who refuses to bend his knee “to the man” and only sells his product through Steam’s competitors or his own distribution will likely sell far fewer units.”

          The problem here isn’t excluding Steam users, it is making Steam (with its contractual, security and privacy issues) *compulsory* which is what 2K and some other publishers have done by using Steamworks. Even if you buy a retail copy of Civ V, it still requires a Steam account before it will run.

          And sadly, it is people who prefer such services that make things harder for everyone else.

      • Laird says:

        At this point, the Steam haters have become the fringe element. Because of some weird bug with mods, Steam Cloud is the only way I can play a fully modded game of Civ V. Gaming has gotten better because of the service.

        • Jeff P says:

          Here here! I don’t buy games exclusively from Steam, but frankly I feel more secure when I do so. I’ve never had a problem purchasing or installing a Steam-based game, but I can’t say the same of some of its competitors.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          That’s actually a bad thing because Steam then can rest on it’s laurels, not willing to bother trying to fix the remaining issues it has, some of which can be extremely annoying if you don’t have a good Internet connection.

          Thankfully, some of the Steam competitors, like Gog.com and Humble Bundle seem to have grown even more than Steam recently.

        • Mark says:

          @ JeffP; I feel most secure when I have a disc with no DRM and no faceless company that can decide to deny me access to games that I paid for whenever it wants.

  11. Mark says:

    Very interesting and exciting news. A lot of good ideas being proposed too, I really like the idea about the new world being different every time you play.

    Cant say I’m too happy about retaining Civ V’s horrible 1 unit per tile rule. I’m really not looking forward to ponderously shuffling my carpet of death across the continent 1 unit at a time every turn….. oh god even thinking about it makes me wince. Hopefully they’ll also be able to teach the AI how to move it’s carpet of death better than Civ V, it would be hard to make it worse.

    It’d be even better if they just totally abandoned the whole “carpet of death” idea and went with a separate – zoomed in – screen for tactical battles similar to Age of Wonders. But they probably wont, that would make far too much sense.

  12. RedArgo says:

    +1 for the carpet of death AI (funny name, never heard that before), I usually feel like, whatever else is going wrong with my nation in Civ 5, I can always fall back on taking out the AI militarily.

  13. Keith Turner says:

    This totally caught me off guard. I’m very interested to see where they take this. How often do we first news about a game so close to release these days? Typically we are waiting a year or often even longer. It’s great to hear that we won’t have to wait that long to see how this pans out.

    • Same here!

      I am surprised they kept this under wraps for as long as they did. You have other games which we hear wind of 2-3 years (sometimes even 4-5 years because of delays) ahead of time.

      When I first saw the announcement I expected a 2015 release, so I was surprised when I saw 2014!

      • Lens Flares Suck says:

        You wait – it will be March 2015. Just a guess but I’d be surprised if I’m wrong.

        • Personally, I do not mind delays. I rather have a late game than an unfinished early game.

          However, even a 2015 Spring release means they kept this game under raps for quite a while before they announced it.

  14. Edward Ryan says:

    I personally can’t wait for this because I loved alpha centuri and played it till there was no silicon left in the disk :), and the fact that it has firaxis and some of the team that actually made alpha century tells me this is in safe hands. I have waited ages for firaxis to put some proper future mechanic in the civ series like in call to power 2, but instead they decided to make a full game dedicated to the future from one of the greatest developers of all time and one of the greatest games of all time….Ya I’ll take that and ask you considering those facts what are you worried about? This is not some indie developers.

  15. August says:

    What puzzles me is where are new Sid Meier guys? That one chap influenced industry so much, with SMAC, Civilization, Colonization, Railroads, Pirates!, you name it. Why we should cry out “Oh, finally SMAC remake” and be excited? Why can’t people to, pardon my French, move industry a bit further? Should we fix something in education maybe or in technology or what is it?

    And yes, Stardock is far from AA. Their original Elemental was gigantic flop, and Legends is badly programmed and badly designed game (Derek tried to rescue, but still it does not feel alive) with bad artwork. Their artwork in Legends is dull, bugs are laughable (e.g. ship movement, when you need click miles from the goal in order to make it move).

    Design got a bit better after Derek involvement, but it is not Master of Magic promise land by any stretch of definition.

    Also, Derek’s problem is that he has no understanding of simplicity. He always overcomplicates mechanics to his own peril – as can be seen both in FFH and E:FE.

    • Mark says:

      I agree, with few exceptions today’s game designers seem to be only capable of producing shallow, dumbed down garbage, broken mechanics and improved graphics. Of course to most die-hard strategy fans graphics are the least important aspect.

      Seems like good, deep game-play and clever game design became a lost art at some point in the mid 90’s.

    • Adam Solo says:

      They had to. They didn’t had the luxury of having nice aesthetics to offer back then. Not only graphics but also quality sound and music. To really sell, they had to produce highly addictive and fun gameplay.

      But, even Sid relied on the ones that came before him. He openly states that he got a major influence from Simcity for Railroad Tycoon and Civilization. He, as any other designer, also got some influences from other places, in his particular case from the Risk board game and probably other board games he played.

      I’m not devaluing Sid’s importance on the game industry in any way. He’s brilliant and the father of many of the games we love and play.

      Now, your comment really struck me when you said “where are new Sid Meier guys?” and “Should we fix something in education maybe, or in technology?”.

      Well, in my view, Stardock is trying its best to follow on the footsteps of Sid. At least, in the types of games they make. As for other younger strategy studios (not many though). But, to really innovate you need to combine your passions with what you know and played in new ways, and frankly I don’t think many people have the ability, the time, the skill, the desire, the culture, the opportunity and the brilliance of Sid to do it properly. You need a lot of stuff to come up with something sufficiently new and brilliant at the same time.

      And now, games are becoming easier and easier to sell, and have better aesthetics to offer. So, there seems to be less reasons to think about new ways to push the boundaries of the industry. Did this sound too pessimistic? Perhaps Virtual Reality can be an answer to push that boundary further. Or if not, what then?

      • Cláudio Fernandes says:

        This is a hell of an interesting topic.

        How can our society produce minds like Sid’s in the future? Today we live in an era where we just consume (we have free access to infinite entertainment 24/7) and are not encouraged do create.

        It seems kids nowadays are really fast learners on how to use an iPad and a computer, but not in a way that embraces curiosity. They want to play/use apps, with no desire to understand how it works and how they can create content for it.

      • Mark says:

        I kinda wonder though, is it we who have changed and not the games? Are all modern game designers talentless hacks or have we just become so jaded that nothing excites us as much any more?

        Maybe nothing can compare to the memory of the first games we used to play as kids? I mean what do today’s kids think about modern strategy games, are they as blown away by them as we were by X-Com, SMAC and MOO?

        Or is it a fact that modern games simply cant compare in depth and complexity to the old classics and the only thing that gets better is the graphics while the games themselves get progressively dumber and dumber? It seems to be that way but I sometimes wonder how objective I’m being.

        • I think it is a case of a little from column A and a little from column B.

          Watch yesterday’s (April 14th) episode Jim Sterling’s Jimquisition. He addresses the problem that may have been responsible for this. I too happen to have a few ‘industry insider’ friends (sadly none are in the 4X or strategy genre) and they confirm this. Heck some even embrace it… Sadly, a lot of publishers try to emulate the ‘big guys’ and the well we get what we get.

          However, I do feel on the other hand, because we as gamers get jaded by the industry in its current state (especially those that are fans of the genre that is not getting catered too as much) we may become too critical of those that do try. Sometimes we may hold them up to ideals that can not be fulfilled as we were wearing mighty thick nostalgia coloured rose-tinted glasses.

          Yet, I consider this jadedness a good thing! Sure it will spark heated forum debates that will result into ‘troll-flame’ wars. It may even divide fan bases, and may even cause some gamers to resent the fact they are gamers… but it also means those that do try, have to try!

          I suspect a lot of indies are seeing the window that is open to them and expect us as starved wolves to eat any half-conceived meat they send our way. You end up with games that are barely playable or the AI is totally broken. Their intentions may be good, but their execution is terrible.

          The end result are jadedness might make it hard for us to realise something that is indeed good is good, but it keeps those that try to improve this market on their toes to excel since even successes will be met with some (and sometimes harsh) criticism, and from this criticism the next project from the same person or the next person can improve more.

          I just wish we could be more civil in our jadedness. Though I do embrace the sort of overly critical and hard to please mindset, I find we sometimes need to show some restraint as if we were having this debate in person.

          We can be critical and jaded without flailing our arms or storming the Bastille every time something we don’t like happens.

        • AstralWanderer says:

          @Mark: “Or is it a fact that modern games simply cant compare in depth and complexity to the old classics and the only thing that gets better is the graphics while the games themselves get progressively dumber and dumber?”

          One danger in comparing past with present is that we only remember the outstandingly good games from the past – old bad and mediocre games get forgotten while present ones still get to infest bargain bins.

          However the current structure of the gaming industry has done a lot to inhibit risk taking, creative design and new genres in favour of regurgitating the tried and tested. The stranglehold that a few publishers hold over retail, and retail’s increasing tendency to minimise PC sales in favour of more profitable console games is another factor.

          What it means though is that we, as gamers, have to look further afield for quality titles, with smaller publishers (Matrix, Shrapnel, Iceberg) and indie developers. Age of Wonders 3 may be making the headlines currently, but it can’t hold a candle to the variety of spells and units of Dominions 4 (hint: maybe Spacesector should give this some coverage if AoW3 is fair game?). Crowdfunding provides a chance to generate some real game-changers (hint 2: FTL Advanced Edition should merit some love here too, given how much it adds to the base game).

          So with great jadedness comes great responsibility… :)

        • BlueTemplar says:

          FTL seems to me an excellent example that new, brilliant games are still being made today.

    • csebal says:

      Actually it is simplier than what many people are thinking.

      “In the beginning, the gaming industry was without form, and void.

      But bright minds shone upon the sleeping industry and deep inside the brittle crust massive potential waited to be unleashed.

      The sprites parted and great algorithms were formed. The platforms shifted, genres arose, FPS games spawned massive hype waves, Volcanoes erupted and spewed forth massively multiplayer games and charged the atmosphere with strange gases.

      Into this swirling maelstrom of ideas, hype and technology, the first stirrings of life appeared. Tiny organizations, university groups, clinging to tiny sheltered garages.

      But the seeds of gaming grew, and strengthened, and spread, and diversified and became incorporated, and soon every platform and genre teemed with games.

      And with games came money, and fandom, hype, journalism, publishing, preorders, trolling, and finally there evolved a species known as …fade into silence…”

      11 things really:
      1) Aging of the players
      10) Aging of the industry
      11) Slowdown of tech advancement

      Explained
      1) The older we are, the more games we have seen. When I look at a game today, the creators have a very hard time to really impress me, simply because I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see when it comes to game ideas and the room for improvement is pretty small.

      10) The older the industry, the less virgin territory there is to exploit. Unless some huge shift in technology happens, we will likely not see anything significantly new in the near future, but rather have variations of the same ideas. Kinda like the movie industry. Thats why many of the classics are still considered the best. New ideas are exponentially harder to come by.

      11) Tech slowdown. Maybe the biggest influencing factor. Games were always driven by technology. Just think back to the 90s, how the FPS genre was advancing simply because of how the graphical possibilities were being improved. If you compare the quality shift from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s and the shift from mid 2000s until today, you will notice that there is literally none. My GPU is four generations behind the latest and while I can spot the difference when two screens are put next to each other, four generations 10 years ago would have been similar to a Mona Lisa versus a stick figurine.

      Add those three together and you will realize while there are no new Sid Meiers to talk about. Or no new Bill Gates, or John D. Carmacks or Steve Jobs.

      They were active in the gold rush era of the industry and were successful in using it to make their fortunes. Unless we get another similar gold rush opportunity in the future, there will not be another IT generation like them.

      • Mark says:

        Yeah I’d agree with those but I’d also add….

        100) Devs using technology as a crutch: A lot of games today seem to be all flash and graphics with little to no game-play. Its like the devs are just relying on the graphic gloss to get people to buy their paper-thin excuse for a game. Back in the old days, game-play was more important because you couldn’t draw people in purely with eye candy.

    • AstralWanderer says:

      @August: “What puzzles me is where are new Sid Meier guys?”

      They’re producing the games we currently play. Brian Reynolds was the main designer for Civ 2 and Alpha Centauri (and went to do Rise of Nations) while Soren Johnson was the principal behind Civ 3 and Civ 4 and Jon Shafer for Civ V. Sid Meier’s name (and likeness) has been used as a figurehead since the original (1991) Civilization was the last he took a leading role in making (along with Bruce Shelley).

  16. Electrolux says:

    Doh, we wait forever for this and it comes out while Firaxis are still suffering from their 1UPT delusion. Oh cruel fate.

    • Mark says:

      My thought exactly! Wish there were an anti-1UPT petition to sign or something.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Well, hopefully they’ve learned from their past experiences with 1UPT in Civ5, which clearly has some deficiencies in this department, and perhaps they have found a way to perfect it somehow. I’m still convinced that there’s room for a 1UPT model to work as great or even better than stacks.

      • Osito says:

        Adam, when you say, “I’m still convinced that there’s room for a 1UPT model to work as great or even better than stacks”, do you mean that you think it would be fine if the AI could handle it competently?

        The reason I ask is because, although I understand the point about the AI, my main problem with 1UPT is the sheer tedium of individually moving the units around the board. I found this particularly with CIV 5, where I never went for a military victory and just built the bare minimum number of units to fend of the (incompetent) AI.

        I also found that 1UPT spoils immersion completely, when you have a game (like CIV 5) where each tile represents a vast area of land (at least in my mind).

        Do you think those problems could be overcome with 1UPT too, or are they not really on your radar?

        • Adam Solo says:

          Let’s see.

          The AI could handle it competently for sure. I understand that it’s harder to hide the AI’s mistakes with 1UPT (archers in front of infantry), but I don’t see why it can’t be perfected.

          On the number of units. We know how tedious it can be to operate dozens and dozens of units in late game with stacks. Do you enjoy giving dozens of consecutive orders in Civ4’s late game? Because that’s what you end up doing most of your turn-time when you attack with your stacks of doom. I guess you can automate the process but it wouldn’t be optimal would it?

          I suspect that you don’t need to have many units to have fun. Isn’t it fun when you produce your single swordsman unit? Or a couple of catapults? When you can only produce a couple of mounted units because that’s as many horses you have? I tend to defend less units in games. So, that’s why I think a 1UPT model can work.

          On immersion, I understand why it may be an issue for many people. This is the trickier part. Here we enter the zone where some people accept, or even enjoy, abstract thinking more while others prefer a simulation-ish approach more. Say you have a catapult squad, a couple of cavalry regiments and let’s say, three ranks of swordsman. They occupy 6 tiles in Civ5. In a straight line that could be a stretch of 100 miles or more. Of course, they are not 100 miles away from each other, but distributed very tightly.

          Now this is where the abstraction enters scene. Civ games don’t make much sense both spatially and timely. They never did. Wars taking centuries, voyages taking decades, units the size of cities, battles occurring right there in the strategy map. We know it works but it doesn’t really make sense, but we accept it. Now, 1UPT pushes the suspension of disbelief even a bit further because you now have units spread over hundreds of miles. But they aren’t, of course, it’s just a way to merge tactics with strategy in a seamless way, and as long as you have fun it’s not a big deal. But, I can understand that some people may not suspend their disbelief as easily.

          1UPT is a way to inject more tactical depth in a Civ game. If the AI was better I suspect nobody, of very few people would have a problem with it. Now, if they uplift the AI in Civilization: Beyond Earth and are able to generate maps that are more 1UPT-friendly, then I suspect that it can be a lot of fun.

          But, don’t get me wrong, stacks work. They work beautifully for strategy. But if you want more tactical depth, than I think a 1UPT model could work better.

        • Mark says:

          Wouldn’t it make more sense to move stacks on the strategic map and then when enemy stacks meet, zoom into a close-range tactical map where you then conduct the battle (using the units in the stack spread out at 1UPT) similar to the way Age of Wonders does it?

          You then avoid almost all the suspension of disbelief problems with archers firing arrows over mountain ranges and armies being spread like a carpet over half the continent while still retaining all – or even more tactical depth.

          Why create *huge* immersion problems with the game design if you don’t need to? That’s just bad game design.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Or Total War, or Master of Orion 2.

          The thing is that I suspect that would violate a sacred Civ rule. All Civ games were always fought 100% in the strategic map without separate instances. I tend to agree that although not realistic in any way it’s the simplest way to play and part of what makes Civ Civ. Moving stacks and then fighting in a separate instance inevitably takes you out of the strategic game. With Sid’s way, you’re always fighting in the strategic map where all things are happening.

          Civ was never a tactical game. It’s a bit more, or kind of, in Civ5. They tried to go tactical without violating the “everything in the board” rule. Although Civ5 with both expansions is an excellent game, the 1upt didn’t quite work that well. Perhaps they’ve found a way to make it work in Civilization: Beyond Earth. Or, it’s just Civ5 1upt with better AI. We’ll have to wait and see.

        • Mark says:

          You’re probably right about the reason, but IMO not using a completely obvious, logical and viable approach that would solve all your considerable game-play and immersion problems because of some arbitrary sacred historical rule is…… wrong.

        • Adam Solo says:

          I don’t think it’s that of an arbitrary rule. You’re forgetting that always being in the map has many advantages over going to a separate instance to fight tactical battles, something Civ was never about. Including immersion reasons, the feeling of being engaged and in “the zone” for the famous “just one more turn” feeling. And, it can’t be wrong or bad game design when Civ is probably the most successful PC game franchise ever.

          Things start to become blurry in Civ5. Where before you had almost 100% strategy, you now have a bit more tactical thinking to do. But, it still worked. I mean, the game (with expansions) is so good in so many aspects, that most people accept the fact that the 1upt in Civ5 is sub-optimal. But, imagine if they manage to perfect it.

          Of course, the double-instance strategy/tactical gameplay approach you propose has worked well for other franchises, but it’s not clear that it will work as well in Civ.

          So, I think that they decided that it was best for the franchise to keep the “everything in the board” rule and try out the 1upt (Civ5). Would it be best to return to stacks and perfect that? Maybe. Can 1upt be improved? Most certainly. But, splitting the game into two phases it’s probably something we will not see that soon.

        • Mark says:

          Well I don’t remember ever losing that “one more turn” feeling with MOO2 or Age of wonders just because it had separate tactical combat, quite the opposite really the tactical battles were always my favorite part. But I take your point that Civ Devs might not see it that way.

          Guess I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that they figure out 1-UPT for the AI and get used to shuffling my carpet of doom slowly across the map each turn……. sigh.

        • Adam Solo says:

          It’s hard to see and difficult to remember well, and this will of course vary from person to person, but if I had to say which game provide me more the “just one more turn” feeling, I think I would say Civ. And, MoO2’s combat was probably it’s best and worst feature at the same time. I mean, MoO2’s late-game combat… But that’s a MoO2 issue.

          They’ll probably improve the AI (how couldn’t they). And perhaps they’ll find a way so that you don’t need to shuffle your carpet of doom “slowly across the map”.

          If they fail, they have always Civ6 to try and perfect the stacks :)

          ***

          In my personal experience with Civ5 (w/expansions) the 1UPT was not the issue, the sub-optimal AI implementation was. I didn’t feel disconnected with the game, but I did find the units’ distribution across the map clumsy and not particularly fortunate. Is that an 1UPT issue or was the 1UPT particular implementation of Civ5 the issue? That’s what’s left to be seen.

        • AstralWanderer says:

          “The thing is that I suspect that would violate a sacred Civ rule. All Civ games were always fought 100% in the strategic map without separate instances.”

          Big exception here – Activision’s Civilization: Call to Power and Call to Power 2 games. In both, units (up to 12) could be combined into a single army that would then move as one piece. Any combat would occur on a separate battleground window where artillery units (at the back) would fire first, then units in the front lines would engage each other (and those with flanking ability and no opposition could add their strength to the front line). It had very little player intervention (the attacker could choose to retreat) which made it quick.

          Good aspects – no stack of doom (large invasions would require several armies – which could be engaged individually), less micromanagement and armies could be optimised for certain roles (e.g. more artillery to deal with fortifications). Essentially more scope for player skill (and error) rather than button mashing. Downsides – transport networks (road, rail, maglev) had to go past rather than through cities (to avoid having to move garrisons out accommodate armies in transit), AI didn’t make good use of the feature (or anything else for that matter).

          Overall, a nice innovation but given it came from a competitor (and one which Firaxis had a bitter dispute with over the “Civilization” word), I suspect they’d swallow faeces than offer anything similar.

          Call to Power had other innovations too – the first Civ game (predating SMAC) to include future tech (sea and space cities, maglevs, etc), society settings (you could vary the working day, getting better production at a cost to happiness or vice versa), resource trading and extensive modding capabilities (notably a scripting language SLIC). The second game’s source code was released publicly allowing for subsequent patching (check the Apolyton forums for more) and it can be picked up from GOG.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          I don’t buy the lessened immersion problem, and especially not the lessened “just one more turn” feeling. I’ve never had any feeling of losing immersion or not wanting to play another turn of Sword of the Stars 1 because of the separate tactical combat.

          And especially, I don’t really think that 1UPT has better tactical combat. I would actually say the opposite, as the number of possible unit combinations is lower. I would say that SMAC has a deeper tactical aspect than Civ5 (just read Velocyrix guide). It also solved the “stack of death” issue that so many people are complaining about, more specifically that big stacks are supposedly overpowered (isn’t that because the people tend to play mostly against the AI, and it doesn’t know how to use catapults against big stacks?). With the automatic collateral damage on unit death, it’s a bad idea to make big stacks of units outside of bases/bunkers.

        • Mark says:

          @ BlueTemplar,

          Yes I also thought that the stack of death problem had been mostly solved in Civ 4 and SMAC with collateral damage units. Certainly it was a good incentive not to make huge stacks of units.

          It makes the whole 1UPT thing even more annoying because its basically a broken, immersion-killing mechanic which was introduced to fix a problem that had already been largely solved. Even worse, it only ends up replacing the stack of death with the even more annoying carpet of death. Fail.

  17. DrBalthar says:

    This made it immediately to the top of #1 game of 2014 I am looking forward to. By passing all other space games by a long mile. The only thing which I am a bit skeptical is the 1 UpT thing I really wished they would have abandoned that and go for the Pandora First Contact approach instead.

  18. ACEofHeart says:

    Wow,, comments are so varied. First off in regards to GC2, It was a well made game but for me it always played out like a board game, mostly due to that flat setup of traveling to Stars. If they improve on that it would make a BIG difference.
    As for Civ:Beyond Earth, if they just throw a purple surface onto Civ 5, that’s not going to do it.. AC, besides having great strategy gameplay, had a unique feel to it, it was the atmosphere and the Diplomacy and the choice Research and the Politics, and the Riots (staples). And while it’s great Sid is involved, lets not forget that Brian Reynolds had a lot to do with AC’s success and he is not involved now..
    I’ll hope for the best but I for one will be VERY surprised if it comes close to AC..

  19. SQW says:

    One of my gripes with Civ games is that during the period when you’ve established your territories, uncovered as much fog as you can and you aren’t at war with anyone, there’s nothing to do but to click the Next Turn button.

    I think boredom is the reason why a lot of player chose the conquest option; there’s just more happening when you are fighting.

    Hopefully, in the next iteration, there will be some thing like random pop up events, ‘quests’ etc that requires player input but the risk/reward doesn’t affect the overall game – something to break up the monotony.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I know what you mean. Civ5 vanilla (released version) suffered from that particular problem you describe. It became quite boring by mid game if you choose not to go to war.

      Civ5:Gods & Kings (to an extent with religion and espionage) mitigated that boredom feeling a bit. However, Civ5:Brave New World changed all that. The trade routes, tourism, archaeology, ideologies and the world congress give you a lot to look for during mid-game and late-game, even if you choose not to go to war. In my view, they really addressed the “Civ late-game issue” with Brave New World. That’s why it’s right there on the top of the blog for so many weeks in a row :)

      So, if you’ve not played Civ5:BNW, and you’re a big Civ fan, I suggest you give it a try.

    • SQW says:

      Thanks Adam, I got the NW expansion the other day on sale so just working through a new game atm.

      Unfortunately this also means vanilla Space Civ is likely gonna need an expansion or two just to reach full potential. It just doesn’t make economic sense nowadays to spend extra development time to make a game that’s feature complete when a decent game + a couple of expansion packs a year down the road is so much better (expect for the consumers).

      • Adam Solo says:

        It’s natural to assume that a game will always get better with expansions. However, in the case of Civ5, and a few others, it was only up until the first or second expansion that the game has reached its full potential.

        Sometimes the game gets better with iteration. That’s just a natural thing to expect. However, in other cases it’s perfectly clear that the game was released prematurely. Civ5 was definitely one of such cases.

        Not to say Civ5 was a bad game at release, but it certainly was half-baked in some areas, most notably the AI, diplomacy and the lack to do (boredom). Even so, it already was a good game in many aspects, but not an excellent one for sure. So, I put it on the shelf quite fast. It was only after the Gods & Kings expansion that I resumed playing Civ5, which fixed the game to the point of being very enjoyable, at least for a Civ fanatic like me.

        • Happy Corner says:

          This kind of thing seems to be more and more common these days. Besides Civ 5, Distant Worlds was another game that you (and I) would say started off bland, but got much better with expansions.

          I’d cite Sword Of The Stars: The Pit as another example. I wasn’t too thrilled about the original version of that game, but it got significantly more enjoyable with the Mindgames and Gold DLC.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yes, that seems to be more an issue with vanilla Civ5 than with Civ games in general.

  20. JD says:

    Brain Reynolds designed Alpha Centauri, also he was responsible for the writing. Sid had nothing to do with the design, just as Civ 2 was designed by Reynolds.

    Soren Johnson (AI of Civ3 and designer of Civ4) has stated on his twitter that Firaxis has big shoes to fill with this game. And that matching AC will be difficult.

    Rob Zacny wrote this very interesting piece:
    http://www.pcgamesn.com/civilization-goes-beyond-earth-not-back-alpha-centauri

    This new game will not be what we expect. It will not match what we find so endeering about AC.

    But, that does not mean this game will be bad. New directions are ok, look at what Jon Shafer is attempting with At the Gates. There are interesting times ahead. Change can be very good, we just need stop comparing everything and always judge a game on it’s own merit.

    Love all this discussion, it’s why I keep coming back to spacesector. Keep up the great work Adam.

    • Exactly.

      We need to be careful when the term spiritual successor is used. It only means there is nods, inspiration, and perhaps some themes that get borrowed. The game is not a sequel and not just because of EA owning the original brand name.

      It is its own game, with its own lore and aspiration. This doesn’t mean they won’t take lessons from the original SMAC, but this is not any different than any other games borrowing inspiration from the greats that came before it.

      I believe Space Sector will endeavour to review and cover the game on its own merit (or failing, but hopefully more merit than failing). Though comparisons will happen, I do not believe they will effect the final verdict.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I completely agree about giving a lot of credit to the lead designers. SMAC was Brain Reynolds’s baby. Of course, under the direction of Sid. The same for Civ2. A lot of credit is also due to Soren Johnson for Civ4, no doubt. To find a main responsible for Civ4’s major success, I would say he’s the man to blame first.

      The same could be said for XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the designers Jake Solomon and Ananda Gupta, also under the direction or supervision of Sid, for how “light” that really was, but we know for a fact that Jake Solomon spent countless hours debating XCOM’s problems with Sid.

      Where I slightly disagree with is with this sentence “Sid had nothing to do with the design”, in the context of SMAC, Civ2 and other Firaxis games. I suspect that he’s always involved in the creative process somehow. And, he seems to be the one everybody looks to when they have a problem and need to “find a fun” in a game.

      So, giving a lot of credit to the lead designers is mandatory, and I’m glad you brought this up. But, I wouldn’t devalue Sid’s influence in every Firaxis game creative process, especially when involving Civ games. He IS the father of Civ (and the one who hired Brain Reynolds let’s not forget), and probably the man with the final word on what gets in and gets out. And by being the Creative Director of Firaxis, he’s probably consulted for all games Firaxis produces, including Civilization: Beyond Earth most certainly.

      So, thanks a lot for your comment JD, and I hope you do keep coming back to spacesector for more lovely discussions! :)

      • JD says:

        According to the designer notes in the original Civ2 manual Sid was involved in a round table discussion, but gave Reynolds and his team free reign. I think Sid’s function is more of a sounding board for all these designers, than to actually say yes and no.

        But you’re right that he started it all. Civ1 is my most played version. I still play on my Amiga emulator or DosBox.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yes, trying to do a remake of SMAC is probably a losing proposition, you can’t recapture the magic, even if I would love to see a graphical upgrade for SMAC. Better to make a brand new game, even if inspired by SMAC. This article gives me more hope this will turn out to be a great game, even if he prbably nailed it by saying “Alpha Centauri is a work of dystopian sci-fi, while Beyond Earth is a continuation of the fundamentally optimistic Civilization series.”

      As an aside, I happen to have read the SMAC books by Michael Ely, and SMAC itself is actually quite lighthearted compared to those books!

  21. Njordin says:

    i´d bet they dumb it down.

    Terraforming? ambitious lore / smart references? challenging gameplay / mechanics?
    i think we will see something more like Pandora and not like SMAC.

    I dont say civ5 isn´t a good game >with both addons< but the direction… the mainstream… the UI. It´s the Zeitgeist that made me become a pessimist.

  22. Buatha says:

    When looking at the screenshot, I’d swear I was looking at Pandora: First Contact.

  23. Rodor says:

    I don’t believe in 50$ games… And I don’t believe in Firaxis anymore.

  24. Njordin says:

    >>” Earth will have completely different game systems compared to SMAC. Same genre, same vibe, completely different Civ5-esque gamedesign approach. Probably radical streamlining and accessability in favor of shrewd stuff. Also quests ?”

    >>”This is what I expect and why I’m not excited at all about this game and probably won’t even play it. SMAC is so good that I think they could just copy the game with updated graphics and it would be awesome. Instead they are probably going to ruin it.<<

    “It’s a tough balance to strike because we want to reach a new audience. We want to get to those XCOM fans who may not have played Civ because history wasn’t their thing, or strategy gamers that are playing a lot of these strategy games on IOS, that haven’t tried Civ before. We want to reach those people, so we’re trying to make the game more accessible for them, but also catering to our hardcore fans. We think a lot about ‘oooh, what would they think if we took this out and put this in’. We try to listen to that, but we really want this product to stand on its own, and we’ve taken some risks, and made some changes that are surprising I think to fans, but I really think that they’ll like it. David and I are relatively young designers. This is our first big Civ product. We’ve worked in Civ a little bit. We’ve done our time on Civ stuff, but it’s really a testament to Firaxis to trust us and let us take this chance and make this new thing.”<< Interview-quote


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