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Make Culture the Prime Factor in a Futuristic Civ?

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I have in mind a game about building a future civilization where culture shapes the empire. Unlike how it functions in Civ (territory acquisition and diplomacy bonus), I'd like to figure out ways that players can influence the culture in unique and colorful ways. I thought of a few factors-- criticism appreciated: National Unity and Internal Cohesion Your homeworld and its colonies National Unity and Internal Cohesion. National Unity affects Morale, a combat, production and research bonuses. Independence movements arise when National Unity is too low. Balkanization and civil war arise when Internal Cohesion falls too low, and the world can even destroy itself. Social / Political Moods and Events Every empire experiences sociopolitical mood cycles. Optimism, Paranoia, Patriotism, Back To The Land Returnism, Superstition, etc. all impact the colony's stats and generate events. The moods start off somewhat random and plain. Your response to events dampen or strenghen them. Moods have a chance to change with each generation (based on the depth of Tradition) or with an great event, such as war, famine or disaster. Left long enough, a strong enough mood becomes the colony's national character. Factions and Leaders Your empire is made up of factions and leaders that provide positive and negative effects. Factions and leaders can be supported or opposed. They, in turn, influence moods and generate events that you get to respond to. For instance, if a militia forms on a colony after a great disaster, you can strenghen it or fight it. Supporting the militia gives them the power to weild more influence over the colony and thus it's culture. Ultimately, the colony becomes more militaristic, producing better, more loyal warriors and highly unified populace. They also produce few artists, tolerate little dissent, and are useless for producing non-military tech and units. That's the basics... improvements welcome. btw, you might be able to see that I'm trying to focus heavily on people. I want people and factions to be not only modifiers, but in some cases gateways to certain ways to play the game. If, for example, you eradicate the pacifists in your society, maybe you lose the option of even negotiating peace?

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I actually always wondered why a game based solely on culture cultivation hasn't been made. I think it'd be an absolute riot. In the turn-based games that I do play, I typically find that winning games without ever resorting to any violence are the most intriguing victories to achieve but, unlike your focus, the "culture victories" in a lot of turn-based games right now are just a matter of massaging certain numbers provided by buildings, not people.

So, I guess, if there are city-building games then why not have people-building games? On certain levels, I see Spore being the gateway into this kind of game -- a game where the focus is the society. Spore doesn't fulfill the kind of criteria you set forth but some of the basic principles are still there in certain stages of the game (the evolution from the individual/small group settings into an actual first "city").

I think you're on to something with certain types of people being the gateway to features within the game too. Cultivating a certain type of atmosphere within a city leads to your people adhering to a very specific type of gameplay, such as a leader who takes the time and money to fund the militia will, eventually, have the most militaristic people. This kind of change would affect a player's entire game and opens up for some truly marked differences between gameplay paths (artistic versus militaristic, for example). The only problem I would see with this scenario is that the actual gameplay wouldn't differ much from a typical city-building game, you're just working with people instead of structures or whatnot.

That said, I like the idea and it's one I've been very interested in pursuing for some time.

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I do like the idea, especially the idea of modelling and defining social groups by leader characters that can appear and change over time. Of course like many things the devil is in the details.

As I see it culture consists of:
Popular Trends
Social Values
Traditions
Customs
Beliefs
Language
Art

I would be interesting to see a game where those factors and traits impacted the society’s development. For instance maintaining a traditional culture with very few changes over the years would make the society less adaptable to change, less innovation, slower to adopt new technologies. But with a strong rich heritage and cultural identity. Changing culture often would have the opposite effect the society is quicker to adopt new technologies, is more innovative, but less of a solid social structure with a lot of diversity
and different factions.

Embracing the social values of Commercialization and Materialism would quickly increase the nation’s wealth but also increase corruption and reduce population growth as the family unit becomes less important.

Likewise an artistic society might be consider grand and sophisticated to other artistic ones, but decadent and weak to a militaristic one.

Have you considered taking from none empire view? What if the player was the leader of race or social organization? For instance if the player was the Pope guiding their religion over the course of a thousand years, helping spread, shape global policies, reacting to problems in different nations, and trying to become the dominate society over other competing societies.

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I don't have anything extra to add other than noting that Civilization 4 has a culture victory condition.

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Quote:
Original post by mittens
In the turn-based games that I do play, I typically find that winning games without ever resorting to any violence are the most intriguing victories to achieve but, unlike your focus, the "culture victories" in a lot of turn-based games right now are just a matter of massaging certain numbers provided by buildings, not people.


I know what you mean. I just won my first cultural victory in Civ IV recently and found it very hollow compared to what I had to do to win a diplomatic or conquest victory.

Quote:

Spore doesn't fulfill the kind of criteria you set forth but some of the basic principles are still there in certain stages of the game (the evolution from the individual/small group settings into an actual first "city").


Spore looks cool, but I get the feeling that much like Sims, it's going to be more about objects than people. Sure, the objects look like people, but they're still as devoid of personality as the tank or orc that appears in so many combat games.

I think that's why I like the idea of people with flaws and personality being the cultural generators. They'd be far more expressive than a building, and more variable. It would seem that that last aspect would make for a wider variety of gameplay situations.

Quote:

The only problem I would see with this scenario is that the actual gameplay wouldn't differ much from a typical city-building game, you're just working with people instead of structures or whatnot.


What if the people interacted with one another to create situations and you had to decide whether or not to intervene? For instance, you fund the militia guys, they become popular and take over, and then you're dealing with a junta? Or the militia guys imprison and are about to execute a great prophet, which may cause your religious colony to go to war against them?

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
For instance maintaining a traditional culture with very few changes over the years would make the society less adaptable to change, less innovation, slower to adopt new technologies. But with a strong rich heritage and cultural identity. Changing culture often would have the opposite effect the society is quicker to adopt new technologies, is more innovative, but less of a solid social structure with a lot of diversity
and different factions.

Embracing the social values of Commercialization and Materialism would quickly increase the nation’s wealth but also increase corruption and reduce population growth as the family unit becomes less important.

Likewise an artistic society might be consider grand and sophisticated to other artistic ones, but decadent and weak to a militaristic one.


Thanks TechnoGoth! That's exactly the kind of interplay that I had in mind!

Quote:

Have you considered taking from none empire view? What if the player was the leader of race or social organization? For instance if the player was the Pope guiding their religion over the course of a thousand years, helping spread, shape global policies, reacting to problems in different nations, and trying to become the dominate society over other competing societies.


I think it would be amazing to be something other than the traditional emperor. I would really like to figure out how to play different factions in a more sandbox mode game where conquest didn't end your game (only drove you into exile or underground). I'd like especially to give players the ability to compete as factions in the same empire.

A pope, for instance, might have the power to play different rulers off of one antoher and placate or agitate a ruler's citizenry. But without a large standing army, they'd be dependent on the strongest leaders (and their excesses).

I think there's room for lots of different culture shaping leadership roles: Corporate, for instance (like Henry Ford and his company towns that only allowed square dancing); paramilitary rebel leaders (using aid or terrorism); criminal kingpin (giving food and gifts to win the people and buying off
politicians); etc.

But all of these roles would have to not feel like an emperor with a different title.

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Quote:
Original post by Umbrae
I don't have anything extra to add other than noting that Civilization 4 has a culture victory condition.


You're right. But it doesn't feel like a cultural victory. I build three cities and get enough culture producing buildings and great people in them to make them Legendary and I win.

Maybe it's because I don't see it. The AI doesn't role play it at all, I don't see them wanting to be more like me, or asking for my opinion in things and all those other elements that go with being admired. Maybe that's why it feels hollow.

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I like this general idea. Sid Maier's Alpha Centauri offered an early version of it by having a wider range of cultural choices than just your form of government. Still, that game had you playing as an inexplicably immortal god-king with absolute power over your faction.

What if you were playing instead as an idea? Imagine that you represent, say, the notion of Freedom, and your goal is not to advance the status of a particular group of cities but the power of the people who believe in you? Over time you might build up one empire, then intentionally destroy it and side with another. (We might say that Ancient Greece is still scoring victory points today!) A challenge here would be to have a decent array of ideas that players might want to play.

A variant that might be more workable would be for you to play as an actual god, with the catch that you're innately "content neutral" but your power depends on whatever people think you represent. So at first, there's some tribe that believes in you, and the goal is just to help that tribe, but over time they decide you're the God of War because you keep driving them to attack people... and as a result your influence spreads, and your power starts to depend on how good you are at promoting war and destruction, regardless of what happens to the original tribe. Don't like that status? Start influencing people to build schools and libraries, and eventually you become known as the God of Knowledge instead. This way, your victory conditions would depend on what you as a player seem to consider important, and you're not arbitrarily tied to the fate of a particular group of cities.

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Quote:
Original post by Kris Schnee
What if you were playing instead as an idea?


I like the idea of trying to keep your ideological flame alive. A long time ago I thought about something a bit similar where the player embodied concepts similar to your idea idea.

While I thought it was interesting to keep the concepts alive, the major problem I battled with was depicting the abstract without making it remote. Take freedom: What do you see in the world that tells you that freedom is alive and well? How do you show freedom being harmed?

Over and over again I returned to the need to somehow embody the concepts so that they were emotional enough to relate to.

Quote:

A variant that might be more workable would be for you to play as an actual god, with the catch that you're innately "content neutral" but your power depends on whatever people think you represent.


Yes, this I think would have more traction because conceptually its something that more people could understand.


One spin on this could be god-like AIs. In the colony scenario, maybe the type of culture controls the type of god-like AI that can be built-- whether it be the god of war, god of knowledge, etc.

I'm considering what it means if players all play in the same territory, rather than their own distinct territories. Similar to your god idea, if you're all part of the same nation, but that nation is mixed up of many ideas (as Earth would be settling the stars), then you may not be too concerned with individual colonies, but rather want an idea / aesthetic to survive.

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