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pananl

Early game Civ-like game

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I'm currently developing/experimenting with a game that plays a little bit like Civilization(im definitely not claiming its as good or that things will work out eventually). I'm currently trying to create an exciting early game to drag players in, so I would love to hear from you what aspects of Civilization's early game you liked or didn't like. Or what features you would like to see in a game like that.

 

Currently I have:

- The player can immediately expand at the start of the game.(immediate strategic choice and more things to do)

- The player can tweak aspects of his government(immediate strategic choice)

- The player can improve generals and gain something by beating neutral armies.(giving the player a chance to improve something is fun)

- The player can/has to start producing goods and start trading.(Trade and the power to control trade is supposed to be a core feature)

 

So what would your perfect early-game, in a game like this, look like?

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Irrelevant.

 

We are talking here about turn based strategies, it's not like fans of this ganre are into fast paced gameplay :) Otherwise they would play RTSes instead. Plus, you can simply click the EndTurn a few times if you find it slow at the beginning, no problem at all.

 

I'm a hardcore turn based strategies player, and I would say this does not bother me at all. Actually, I would prefer a slower start, since I have a lot of "other problems" at that stage and I don't need "additional entertainment".

 

Ignore early game, concentrate on the mid and late game. That's the sign of a good turn based strategy. If you do it then there is a fair chance I would buy your game :)

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Irrelevant.

 

We are talking here about turn based strategies, it's not like fans of this ganre are into fast paced gameplay smile.png Otherwise they would play RTSes instead. Plus, you can simply click the EndTurn a few times if you find it slow at the beginning, no problem at all.

 

I'm a hardcore turn based strategies player, and I would say this does not bother me at all. Actually, I would prefer a slower start, since I have a lot of "other problems" at that stage and I don't need "additional entertainment".

 

Ignore early game, concentrate on the mid and late game. That's the sign of a good turn based strategy. If you do it then there is a fair chance I would buy your game smile.png

Thanks for your comment. I personally think that the early game is incredibly important to hook players so they will actually give my game a chance. I'm a hardcore strategy player myself, yet I've stopped playing many games at early stages because it just couldn't interest me. I personally believe that small things like being able to improve your general(people like progress) is important.

I'm actually focusing a lot on having a very satisfying late-game. I'm trying to design a game system where power fluctuates so things remain interesting, instead of big nations constantly getting bigger.

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The "early game" of Civilization is really about learning about your position as best as possible. Every discovery you make whether it's a resource, terrain feature, or where your neighbors are gets you brain thinking about what position you want to get yourself in. The rewards of finding this out early are weighed against the vulnerable position you put yourself in by producing and sending units out to explore and stake claims. Each advantage you acquire, each choice you make early on has an impact on what the borders will look like when it's much more difficult to expand and what you will ultimately need to do in the late game. I think giving this sense to the player is important as well as establishing that you can have an entertaining experience in the late game even if you don't end up on the top militarily early on.

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We are talking here about turn based strategies, it's not like fans of this ganre are into fast paced gameplay

I absolutely agree -- if we're talking about hardcore fans of the genre -- but playing devil's advocate, there are a lot of people who aren't fans or only casual fans of this particular genre, and improving the slow start to the game might be something that could attract some of those people to a new game; it's a choice between targeting the existing demographic or trying to expand to a new audience, and I think both approaches have merit.  Changes to the formula to try to attract a new audience may alienate existing fans, so it is worth thinking about what you're trying to do, who your target audience actually are, and what they'll expect from your game.

 

See for example "Space Crack", Daniel Cook's theoretical design for a more casual turn-based strategy; probably something that wouldn't appeal to many hardcore fans of the existing genre, but may be more accessible and appealing for a more casual or time-strapped player.

 

 

Whether you're aiming to expand your audience or happy to stick with the traditional crowd, it's important that the early game is meaningful.  It's pointless making people play through the early game if there's only one superior strategy that the player should or must play through each time before getting to the interesting stuff; they should instead be making interesting choices and decisions as kseh is describing above -- carefully exploring and making the most of their initial position to maximise the benefits to whatever strategy they intend to pursue.  A carefully played early game can absolutely tip the balance later on in most good games.

 

You definitely don't want to skip over the early game entirely and then have players feeling that they could have done better than the set-up they're given to begin with; existing games featuring an "accelerated start" option unfortunately often leave players thinking "why was a city built there", or "why hasn't this been used to full effect?".  When playing Alpha Centauri I often find the first one or two turns to be fairly trivial and boring, as to my reasonably experienced eye there's only one valid choice of action, but I never use the game's "accelerated start" option because of the sub-optimal decisions it often ends up making.

 

 

I think to make the early game interesting you need to ensure that there is something meaningful for the player to do (even if it's just choosing the most optimal starting position and the opening moves of their chosen strategy), and that it's obvious that these decisions are meaningful, at least in hindsight later in the game; you don't want the player to feel that they wasted their time going through pointless decisions or dealing with the illusion of decision if there's really only one "right" choice.

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Something I've considered is making a Civ Like game, but with far more flexible units and cities.

 

The main unit in the game becomes a "Group of People". GoPs are the members of your civilization. They are your armies, your workers, your settlers, and your cities. As long as they are in a tile that can provide abundant food and shelter each GoP will slowly increase in size (and power) till it splits in two, except all GoPs on the same tile will feed into the same new unit.

 

While on a tile they can create improvements or take actions with what is there. They can 'gather food', or 'construct improvements'. Each GoP will have a limited number of turns they can last without food, which can be increased with technology and improvements. Units could 'share' food over a given range, which is extended by things like roads, rivers, logistical organization, etc. Some improvements would be quick to build, such as basic shelter, simple farms, construct primitive weapons, etc. Others would take longer, build fortification, build advanced bridge, etc. Then other actions could be to use an existing building/improvement: such as to construct complex weapons.

 

So you start the game with a dozen or so GoPs. These you can spread around, but since multiple GoPs 'breed' faster when they are together, you would be encouraged to group them. But having a larger number means you can start scouting more and gaining more information about the world around you.

 

GoPs that are armed as soldiers aren't as effective at other tasks, but would take a few turns to train even if a weapons stock pile was already made for them. This would limit people from going "All soldiers, all the time".

 

And since your settlements are flexible, you are free to shift your GoPs around the map as the game advances. Of course sooner or later you will start constructing buildings and such that take enough time that abandoning them becomes less and less effective, and eventually your cities become far more permanent. 

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You could build mines in "remote" locations to supply your cities early on while later on, when you the player has more resources, he can build cities near those resources and remove the mines, it'd mean he'd still have to fight over/claim the resources early on and later on, but seperate those two choices(which resources to go for) so a new player will  not have to make choices early on that might cost him his/her late-game, while still allowing for choices that affect the outcome.

combined with some fortress/defenses buildings(near such resources) early game may still have a significant(but not over-significant) effect on late-game.

This gives (new) players something to do from turn 1.

 

@luckless: nice idea, it would reflect a much more tribal-game, including that cities are not taken with population in it(i assume) so only living-space(including structures as cities) but a conquerer still needing to make proper use of it(as history showed, this is something not all tribes could do well)

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The "early game" of Civilization is really about learning about your position as best as possible. Every discovery you make whether it's a resource, terrain feature, or where your neighbors are gets you brain thinking about what position you want to get yourself in. The rewards of finding this out early are weighed against the vulnerable position you put yourself in by producing and sending units out to explore and stake claims. Each advantage you acquire, each choice you make early on has an impact on what the borders will look like when it's much more difficult to expand and what you will ultimately need to do in the late game. I think giving this sense to the player is important as well as establishing that you can have an entertaining experience in the late game even if you don't end up on the top militarily early on.

...

 

 

It is already in my game design to have a meaningful early game. But even when you make important decisions, the early game will always be a part of the game where there is very little to do. Civilization fixes this by having exploration, barbarians and ruins to keep you entertained. So i'm exploring some options to have some fun aspects added to the early game. I think both hardcore and casual gamers would enjoy this.

 

 

 

 

<a data-ipb="nomediaparse" data-cke-saved-href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_Meier" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_Meier" s_alpha_centauri"="">

You could build mines in "remote" locations to supply your cities early on while later on, when you the player has more resources, he can build cities near those resources and remove the mines, it'd mean he'd still have to fight over/claim the resources early on and later on, but seperate those two choices(which resources to go for) so a new player will  not have to make choices early on that might cost him his/her late-game, while still allowing for choices that affect the outcome.

I actually quite like the idea of being able to claim territory, without the being-able-to-mine part. This would surely create tension from the beginning of the game and cause some small early game skirmishes.

Edited by Plunjukl

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What if you made the early portion of the game a nomadic phase?  

Don't tie the civilizations to cities initially but give them nomadic units that explore, harvest resources, and make contact with other civilizations. They can establish small settlements near resources and once you acquire enough tech and resources then you can establish your first city.  Building a city should be a a major undertaking. It could be done in stages by upgrading settlements or all at once if you find an ideal location. 

 

That's one thing I always found lacking in CIV.  You have to build a city on your first turn otherwise it counts against you and the map seed in the latest one ensures you have a mix of resources near your starting point.  But there is no initial exploration or growth from nomadic people into an empire. Building your first city should be an major accomplishment it should be placed in a strategic location either at a cross road of trade routes, or with access to large amounts of valuable resources and of course it should be on a river.  Since almost all major cities are either on the coast or on a river.

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Early civ is exploration, claiming good land and planning for mid-game (where to expand, who to defend against). This is great fun and often very important. You can add fluff like ruins that give bonuses when explored if you want. But adding too much stuff early on will feel artificial and remove the feeling that your empire actually grows (you SHOULD have more stuff to manage later on, it's an empire-building game).

 

That you do "less per turn" in the beginning isnt a big problem as you just press "next turn" quicker (single player turn-based). As stated:)

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