SMAC Your Lips: Civilization Beyond Earth Announced

Firaxis are laying the SMAC down, etc.

This is news worth working on a weekend for. Firaxis have announced Civilization: Beyond Earth, a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. There’s an announcement trailer below, which doesn’t show any of the game but does set the scene. (The scene is of me, rubbing my thighs at all the spaceships). Also, it’s due out this “Fall/Autumn” which i) is not far away at all and ii) it’s nice that they wrote both Fall and Autumn because it makes me feel included as a non-American.

There’s very little info on the Civilization site other than the trailer, but there is this description under the YouTube video:

Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, lead your people into a new frontier, explore and colonize an alien planet and create a new civilization in space. A New Beginning for Mankind is coming Fall/Autumn 2014.

Firaxis released Alpha Centauri in 1999 as a spin-off from the Civilization series, putting a scifi bent on the 4X formula. It was and is beloved, but the rights remain with the game’s original publisher, Electronic Arts. Beyond Earth is Firaxis’ attempt to re-capture the original, only without the name.

The designers are still up on stage at PAX East, talking about the game, but PC Gamer are first to the punch with a meaty interview on the game’s factions, planets, alien life, AI and more.

PC Gamer: How did you go about moving the narrative into game systems?

Will Miller: We try to take as much as we can from the fiction and put it in the map. When you kill the siege worm, you see its skull, and when you pick the skull up you may find a new quest thread that you can pick up and follow, and each time you complete an objective in that thread, you get a little bit of the fiction. We decided very early that we would imply more than we say. I think that’s really important, because the gaps the player’s going to fill in with their imaginations is a story that’s way more interesting than the one we could write ourselves. I think the more explicit you are about the narrative, the less the player gets to build it themselves. We’ve tried to strike a balance between content that we write, and building blocks of content that the players get to assemble into something really cool, and it belongs to them.

Shacknews follow along with a wee write-up of the announcement, which includes a couple of screenshots (one of which is above). These screenshots technically leaked earlier this morning but maybe they have been officially released now? Who knows!

What do you think? To my mind Firaxis are some of the safest pairs of hands around, and even without Brian Reynolds at the helm and Sid Meier only in his normal supervisory role, I trust them to release something worthwhile.


  1. rockman29 says:

    I would love to love this game, but I need to know the turns don’t take ages before I get too excited.

    • jezcentral says:

      So not a fan of MOO3, then.

      • spindaden says:

        There are fans of MOO3?

        • Dana says:

          Modded? Yes. Modded MoO3 is better than 2, for me. Search for Strawberry, Vanilla or Tropical, and give it a try. If fixes all the shit that was broken, balances and tweaks too. It’s a really solid and underrated (justifiably so) 4x.

          • Grisamentum says:

            How can something be “justifiably” underrated? “Excusably,” perhaps. The entire concept of “underrated” revolves around the idea that something isn’t rated as highly as it deserves.

        • makute says:

          *shyly rises a hand*

    • buxcador says:

      My exact same toughs.

      I played every CIV game since CIV 1, and also Alpha Centaury, but with the last one I lost interest because it was unplayable due to long waitings between turns (which sometimes ended in crash).
      It was ridiculous. I was reduced to less than 10 turns each hour, and terribly bored between turns.

      I have a state of the art PC, well over the recommended requirements for the game, but it was unbearable. And I also used every tweak available (like replacing a script processor with a faster one), but it was not enough.

      I totally will not buy this game unless that’s fixed.

      • VileThings says:

        I’m guessing you tried it shortly after release and then never touched it again? I’ve never had your problem but I haven’t heard a complain like that in a long time so I assume they fixed the issues at some point.

        • Swanny says:

          There’s a really fantastic unofficial patch that fixes most of the issues that weren’t fixed by Firaxis. I’d look into it, if you’re thinking about diving in again:
          link to

      • mr.ioes says:

        They released a performance patch at some point that significantly reduced the loadtimes. Was around the release of G&K IIRC.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Just another example of a game needing 6 months – 1 year before it is up to scratch. I didn’t personally get too annoyed by the turn times at launch until very late game but it’s undeniable that the game is so much smoother to play now.
          The annoying thing is, there are some issues with games that are unforeseen until the playerbase reacts negatively. Long turn times shouldn’t be one of them, its something they can clearly test in-house. Buying games at launch is generally a mugs game but I will probably be suckered in by this one like I was Civ 5.

  2. jasimon says:


    I still have Alpha Centauri installed on my PC. Probably my favorite game of all time

    • Martel says:

      Same here, even still play it occasionally. Cautious optimism engage!

      • CannedLizard says:

        Research Complete: Cautious Optimism

        “And when I my eyes first fell on the trailer for all I have hoped for, I felt…happy, yet anxious.” – Academician Prokhor Zakharov, For I Have Tasted the Fruit

        • staberas says:

          Of course we’ll bundle our new videogame with the new unlockable DLC’s! Our customers expect no less of us. We have never sought to become a monopoly. Our products are simply so good that no one feels the need to compete with us.
          CEO Nwabudike Morgan, Unlimited DCL’s Research.

          • Fenix says:

            “The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the day 1 DLC of yesterday fades into the F2P of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil.”
            – Sister Miriam Godwinson, “A Blessed Struggle”

          • CannedLizard says:

            “Beware of he who would deny you access to your game unless you have a network connection, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.” – Commissioner Pravin Lal, “U.N. Declaration of Rights”

          • rhubarb says:

            “It is the final duty of every successful IP to be given a DLC-heavy remake, and become one with all the investors.” – Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Ethics For Tomorrow”

          • Jeroen D Stout says:

            Drone riots.

          • staberas says:

            My gift to industry is the genetically engineered gamer, or Gamerjack. Specially designed for gaming, the Gamerjack’s muscles and nerves are ideal for his task, and the cerebral cortex has been atrophied so that he can desire nothing except DLC’s. Tyranny, you say? How can you tyrannize someone who cannot feel pain?

            Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, “Essays on Mind and Matter”

          • Stargazer86 says:

            All of you are my new heroes.

          • kingbiscuit says:

            This is why I love you nerds

          • Mormont says:

            In the great commons at Gaia’s Landing we have a polished and particularly stable build of Sid Meier’s Colonization, developed at the time of the first colonies. It represents our promise to the people, and to the industry itself, never to repeat the tragedy of Civ5.

            — Lady Deirdre Skye, “Planet Dreams”

        • Kollega says:

          Hello, players of [insert your game here]. My company the Firaxis have a small problem. Our main series has become so average, stale, and samey that we are no longer able to sell it – but I, Chairman Drek, have a solution. We are constructing a pristine new game, using the choicest 4X components available. So, what does this mean to you, you might ask? Using highly sophisticated technology, which you couldn’t possibly understand, we will be extracting a large portion of your game and adding it to our new one. Unfortunately, this change of mass will cause your game to spin out of control and drift into the bargain bin, where it will explode into a flaming ball of DLC, but of course, sacrifices must be made. Thank you for your cooperation. Cut! And if you don’t like it, you can take your whiny, snivelling, snot-nosed fandoms, form a line behind me, and kiss my- what do you mean we’re still on?! Well turn it off, you idiot!

          Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek, The Whys and Why-Nots of Planetary Larceny

          • Smashbox says:

            Bah! You’re being a sourpuss. Civ V is a very nice game. If you prefer a different version, you can still play it.

          • Ringwraith says:

            This misdirection instead of ratcheting up the Alpha Centauri references is something I heartily approve of.

          • Kollega says:

            To Smashbox: I don’t actually have anything against Civ V, it’s pretty great. I’m just pretending to be cynical about the game and quoting a certain other game.

            To Ringwraith: I like it too, obviously :P But I always felt that intruding on a quote-train of SMAC fans is a pastime for the owners of a pair that clank.

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Happy Day!

  4. RedViv says:

    Risks of new concept: considerable. But rewards of grand design: who can measure?

    • Gap Gen says:

      You are from a brianless studio, earthfiraxis. You are welcome among us, but we ask you: will we too catch this brianless disease?

      • jalf says:

        Gaah, this has been driving me nuts all evening, since first reading this comment. What was the original quote?

        I can practically *hear* the quote being read out in the game, but I can’t remember those few words you swapped out.

        • penryn says:

          It’s a combo of two planet quotes:

          “You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but may we ask this question–will we too catch the planetdeath disease? ”


          “We welcome you, earthdeirdre and earthwheat and earthtree as honored guests, for you add great power to our ancient song– planetfungus and planetworm and planetmind sing and play here, and you are welcome among us. “

          • Gap Gen says:

            I wrote it on my phone queuing in the supermarket so it’s a horribly mangled quote, sorry.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            All I can think is, without Brian, there is no reason to go on

            EDIT: Oh hang on. i just did that thing where I didn’t realise the joke, but made the joke, thinking it was not a joke, a incident, I did one of them didn’t I. Maybe I should delete this comment and just post a smiley or a LOL or something. How embarrassing.

            If anybody needs me, I will be in my self excoriation room.

          • penryn says:

            Haha, no worries! It’s better than I could have done w/o references.

          • jalf says:

            You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but may we ask this question–will we too catch the planetdeath disease?

            Oooh yes, that was it. Thank you!

  5. Robert says:

    Oh my, this is hyping me.

    #Iwanttobelieve (apologies for the hashtag, but it seems apt.)

  6. SilentDawn says:

    Can’t wait for the DLC’s :)

    • Rovac says:

      I think I’ve come to accept this as their business model (not the gazzilion factions) : Big DLC to improve and add stuff to the game. I hope they stay with big dlc rather than those useless factions dlc.

      Civ 5 is fun without any dlc. Gods and Kings and Brave New World just made it a whole lot better. I hope the same is true with Beyond Earth.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        If their business model still includes “make core changes that drastically and positively alter gameplay and sell them for $29.95 despite the fact that we probably should add such major changes for free to the vanilla game so we don’t look like greedy shortsighted bastards” by the time this game gets released, I’m going to be very disappointed.

        • Scifibookguy says:

          It’s their business model that lets Firaxis just make this game, instead of bringing it to Kickstartr first :)

        • Shadow says:

          Boy, you must’ve hated Civ4 then.

        • Vandelay says:

          Since when did we expect major changes that drastically alter gameplay to be given away in free patches?

          • Grygus says:

            Apparently since they stopped calling them expansions. I think DLC is a fairly loaded term at this point for some gamers.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            You youngins don’t remember the days before DLC was so rampant, do ya? Used to be that kind of content was patched in free of charge.

            Those were the days.

          • P.Funk says:

            Its a complete fabrication that ALL game altering content updates came as free patches. SOME games had them SOME didn’t. Many saw these innovations occur in expansion packs which could cost upwards of if I recall correctly $40.

            The difference between DLC and Expansion packs? Expansion packs were beefy as fuck. Starcraft Brood War was an expansion pack. DLC however is usually them nickle and diming you on a bell curve that explains how little they can package for how much before gamers stop buying it.

            DLC is the result of digital distribution allowing us to constantly be marketed to. Expansion packs were borne of a time when they could only count on selling you something the once every few times a month you went into a store or the once a month you read a PC Gamer or Computer Gaming World.

            This was only like 15 years ago you fools. Stop romanticizing the past! It never existed!

          • soldant says:

            I don’t remember those days when things that radically changed the game were given away as free patches either. They were called expansion packs, and even among their number there were some that did bugger all. Red Alert: Aftermath for example added a handful of new units (of dubious utility) plus a new campaign. Some of them were basically professional mods. There were expansions that added practically a new game’s worth of content, but they weren’t the rule.

            Let’s not rewrite history here.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Gods and Kings and Brave New World pretty much WERE expansion packs.
            In general I hate DLC but people bashing those Civ 5 expansions/DLC BECAUSE its DLC are just morons. They brought a lot to the game and made it feel fresh and new again. Civ 5 was good, with BNW its much better, nobody disagrees with that, yet idiots are still complaining.

          • HadToLogin says:

            @SkittleDiddler: Could you name… 10 of them? Shouldn’t be that hard, seeing how it was “normal practice” those 15-20 years back.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I guess I should have been clear from the start as to what I meant by “core changes”: the kind of content, mechanics. and bug fixes that players complain should have been in the vanilla game to begin with, much like the kinds of things that got fixed in X-COM with the Enemy Within release or the problem with extended AI turns in Civ V that finally found some relief in the form of BNW. If you all need better examples, think Paradox and their (old) habit of releasing certain content patches exclusively with their expansion packs or Diablo III’s Reaper of Souls and its Adventure Mode end-game pacifier.

            There was a time when companies actually gave that stuff away to their customers out of courtesy. Nowadays, with DLC being an industry standard, we’re more often than not expected to pay for it.

          • Archonsod says:

            “There was a time when companies actually gave that stuff away to their customers out of courtesy”

            Ten or even twenty years ago you’d find the same moaning about DLC applied to expansion packs, including the old favourites such as “should have been in the base game but was deliberately removed for the expansion”, “They should be giving this away to original game owners instead of making us pay for it in an expansion”, “They’re just trying to milk more money out of the idiots who bought it” and of course “they’re just splitting the community with these expansions”.Then of course you had the multi-expansion pack complaints (along with the “I’ll just wait for the GOTY edition”), the accusations of critical patches only being available if you paid for the expansion (somewhat more common, particularly given the internet was non-existent) .

            I can’t however think of any golden age where you got stuff free. Sometimes you’d get the odd free unit or map (usually to encourage you to register with the dev or similar) and of course there was the always cheeky ‘bundle some mods in and claim it’s free content’

        • Moraven says:

          Wait for the Complete edition then.

      • Kentauroi says:

        The thing about DLC is that it just makes me even less likely to buy a game full price. Why would I bother paying for a game at launch when in my mind I’m thinking “But in a year a goty-style edition will be out with all the DLC, and probably for half the price”.

        • Grygus says:

          Because you want the DLC to even exist? Nothing wrong with thinking as you describe, but if everyone does then the game fails. If it’s a game series/developer you care about, there’s your reason.

          • The Random One says:

            That’s like saying that if you really love you friend who is a heroin junkie, you should buy her heroin so she would be happy.

          • Molay says:

            @The Random One:

            It’s more like saying that, if you are a heroin junky, and your heroin using friend which supplies you with heroin is broke, you’d give her money so she can fix you some. Nothing wrong about that. Except the heroin part, maybe.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:


        • P.Funk says:

          But 15 years ago everyone would pay $50-60 for a full game then buy the $30-40 expansion pack a year or so later. It just sounds to me like you’re all a bunch of babies who love the good parts of digital distribution and hate the bad parts which happen to be very similar to the way it used to be, just often with a slightly worse value curve.

          People who basically refuse to say that any kind of additional paid content is good or reasonable are just idiots. SOME of these companies actually do need to charge you for stuff because not everyone is the enormous evil empire of EA.

          I’m not one to get on people, but sheesh modern gamer are real pricks about value. Prices for many games at launch are going down down down and they still bitch. If you examine the cost of a new computer game today versus 15 years ago you’d think that inflation was going in the opposite direction.

          • soldant says:

            Agree, although lately the price I pay for a new game is about $60 when back in the ‘good old days’ it was $89.95. The only complaint I have about some expansions is that they’re priced awfully close to a new game (Firaxis are sometimes guilty of this)… but then again if you shop around, you don’t have that problem.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Also lets not forget that a new game 10-15 years ago was pretty much the same price it is now, people forget this. The industry has to move forward with inflation like everyone else. The way most companies do this is to sell more post launch content. If they stop selling DLC they would have to charge £80 for every game, then people would bitch like crazy, instead they sell DLC, and people bitch like crazy. At the end of the day people just love to complain, if they gave away everything for free someone would still have a fucking problem with it.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Also, 15 years ago these games were produced by much smaller teams and sold to a fraction of today’s consumer base. Remember the time when not everybody played computer games?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            This is a good point, although with Civ being PC only it would be interesting to see the difference in sales between Civ 5 and Civ 2. Sadly these figures just don’t exist.

          • pepperfez says:

            Speaking only for myself, I’d be happy to see games selling at the same real price they were in the 90s if that meant less gimmickry in plucking out bits to sell separately.

          • DrollRemark says:

            See also: People will drop money on far shallower “Early Access” betas, yet moan when having to fork out for a more complete product, in order to help fund further development of it.

      • HadToLogin says:

        IMO bare/Vanilla Civ 5 is utterly rubbish compared to Civ 4 Complete (which costs same money) – only thing that is really better in Civ 5 is lack of stacks-of-doom, improving time of turns where AI doesn’t need to move those 2000 units after every turn.

        It’s nice game by itself, but it’s quite poor Civilization and expansions really fixed it.

        • AngoraFish says:

          So a game with multiple full-sized expansion packs is better than, more or less, the exact same game without any expansion packs? Who’d have thunk it?

    • Syphus says:

      He mentioned the Progenitors in the PC Gamer interview. Alien Crossfire confirmed?

  7. rikvanoostende says:

    I knew there would be a good reason to get out of bed today, and I’m glad I was right!

  8. Zenicetus says:

    Excite-o-meter pegging, but Big shoes to fill, caution engaged,

  9. Keyrock says:


  10. Anthile says:

    My cybernetically enhanced body is ready.

  11. kwyjibo says:

    It seems weird having the fog of war for a space game. Surely, you’d survey the planet before you land. Hope it’s more than just Civ in space.

    • Sheogorath says:

      The plot of the original Alpha Centauri was that the ship is destroyed in orbit.

      • Zenicetus says:

        And, I suppose all the data records of the early automated reconnaissance visits that led to selecting the planet, or something. They’ll find a way to hand-wave it away.

        I always treat Civ games as sci-fi scenarios anyway, because the setup (outside of specific “historical” scenarios) doesn’t make sense otherwise. We have famous faction leaders from different time periods and everyone researching basically the same tech tree? Really? So, I play on random maps that feel more like an alien planet, and pretend my faction is one of the survivors of an interstellar ship crash, fighting against AI leaders of other factions modelling themselves on famous Earth leaders while we slowly recover our old tech.

        This new game will just be the version where we keep more of the tech as a starting point. It’s not that big a stretch, and hopefully they can move more polished code into this game and avoid the brain-dead AI of the initial Civ 5 release.

        • pack.wolf says:

          It wasn’t so much that the ship was destroyed that the SMAC colonists lost almost all there knowledge about the planet and earth technology. It was that in the last few hours there was absolute chaos on board with each of the factions trying not to get murdered by another faction. So basically you had tons of terrified people trying to get into evacuation capsules. Making sure they took some of the maps, science literature, and schematics with them was probably quite low on everyone’s list.

          • LionsPhil says:

            At least one of the tech tree quotes also points out that it’s all good and well knowing how to build a quantum supercomputer, but when you’re standing on the shore with nothing but a handful of toxic fungus and a mindworm nuzzling at your ankles you’ve got a whole global infrastructure to bootstrap and alien material science to rediscover to actually make one.

          • Gap Gen says:

            That said, I assume that having maps in an escape pod is probably quite important. But sure, it’s fine, I think.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yeah you have to take it with a pinch of salt. At the end of the day starting a game with Xcom squads and death robots and airlift capabilities would break the game pretty bad. The power creep needs to exist, for that to happen the early units need to be fairly basic, even if we are supposed to believe that we just won a space race game in Civ and then went to a new planet.

        • The Random One says:

          My personal backstory for Civ games involves supernatural entities stealing the souls of great political leaders for unscrutable purposes.

        • P.Funk says:

          People like you are no fun at all.

        • Archonsod says:

          Alpha Centauri was chosen simply because it was the closest star system, not because anyone had any data on it. Whatever crisis had happened on Earth was severe enough that the world governments figured the best hope for humanity’s survival was to fill a ship with a few thousand people in suspended animation and fire it off blindly into the stars with a computer deigned to wake people up if it found any solid rocks.
          Sabotage on board means that when it does find that rock (Alpha Centauri), the crew aren’t the first to be woken, and the ship is already falling apart by the point most of them are awake. The Unity did complete a scan (the data of which can be retrieved from the wreckage), but nobody managed to download the complete scan before the ship went down.

      • E_FD says:

        One of the optional rules you can select when starting a new game is actually called Unity Survey and starts you off with the world map revealed (you don’t see the terrain types of each individual square, but you can see the overall shape of the continents).

    • Fox89 says:

      Well…. *technically* it’s not in space at all, it’s ‘Civ on an Earth like planet but not Earth’

      • Shadow says:

        It’s spacier than Alpha Centauri thanks to the orbital layer, which hasn’t been seen since the apocryphal Call to Power games. You could even build space colonies in that one. But if I remember correctly, the layer was rather underused.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Alpha Centauri had orbital deployments too, although it was a very shallow feature, pretty much a numbers game. This sounds slightly more involved.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Well, in SMAC that was actually an option on startup, as I recall.

  12. Sheogorath says:

    That sound you heard was the pants zippers of every Alpha Centauri fan exploded simultaneously.

    Followed by the winces as their nostalgia boners deflated and they remembered Civ V.

    Don’t get me wrong, Civ V is enjoyable…but at the same time, many (myself included) feel it was oversimplified and suffered mechanically compared to III an IV. Although at least Ghandi wasn’t a total madman in V.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Civ V and XCOM have shown that it takes them at least 1 expansion to arrive at the game it should have been in the first place. (XCOM still isn’t quite there after 1 expansion, but Civ V was already there before the 2nd expansion)

      But once they do get there, the games are fantastic.

      Going by that history it’d be smartest to wait until Beyond Earth gets it’s first proper expansion – with the bonus that the base game is going to be cheaper by then too.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I think they’ll do better than XCOM, which I enjoyed in spite of the flaws, which were mostly in the thin strategic side of the game. It felt like they didn’t have the time, budget, or personnel to do both sides of the game well, so they focused on the tactical layer. With this new one, they’re only working on a single strategic layer, and they have the framework of Civ 5 to build on.

      • Shadow says:

        I think few people actually remember the release state of Civ3 and 4, which by now have been fully patched and expanded for years. They had issues as well, let me tell you. At the very least I remember people raging around Civ4 release and going back to Civ3. Civ3 in turn had its issues with the RNG and combat (including the infamous Spearman beats Tank problem) and even the AI at first, but in 2001 the internet wasn’t as massive as it is today, to show discontent on the level of what Civ5 initially generated.

        The truth is more and more is expected from sequels as time goes by. It wasn’t much of a challenge to improve on Civ2, but 3 was harder and making something better than 4 much more so. Or perhaps expectations remain the same, and it’s development complexity which keeps ramping up.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          There is also the fact that companies feel the need to do new things with a sequel to justify it (well unless your making CoD). Game mechanics that had been refined over the course 4 previous games get tweaked and even completely altered so that they aren’t just completely rehashing the previous game. This results in things being put into the game that aren’t necessarily well received. Unit stacking being an example of this. It then takes some post release work and some DLC to fix those problems.

      • c-Row says:

        “Beyond Earth: Beyonder!”

  13. amateurviking says:


  14. liquidsoap89 says:

    Well… There’s one way to top Civ 5!

  15. pack.wolf says:

    And just when I got over my Brave New World addiction like a month ago. Firaxis is pure evil. TIME DOESN’T GROW ON TREES, DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THAT?
    Also, I want to be able to create my own units, like in SMAC. And I want to be able to change social policies at a later point, like in SMAC. Basically I want SMAC all over again, with BNW trade routes and ‘one turn of combat doesn’t necessarily end in death’.

  16. Evil Pancakes says:

    Oh hell yes. First GalCiv 3 and now a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri?! Good times ahead.

  17. DrScuttles says:

    The drones need this.

  18. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I want to go into space where there is lens flare, Daz-fresh whites and sexy voiced women.

  19. Kidneythump says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that the narrator of the video was the same one who did the voice of Lady Diedre Skie from the Gaian faction? One more wink to all the old SMAC players

    • Gap Gen says:

      The trailer was really encouraging, yeah. It’s hopeful that they get how important the first game was, although equally it’s going to be easy to disappoint, straddling a fine line between recapturing what made the original so special and at the same time doing something new and interesting. Unless they just Colonization it and make a near-clone without the folk music.

      Having briefly skimmed the PC Gamer preview, my chief fear is that they might have lost the philosophy/literary influences that grounded SMAC – Clarke may have been a technical visionary, but his prose wasn’t great. But we’ll see, I guess.

  20. DrManhatten says:

    About bloody time!

  21. BenLeng says:


  22. rexx.sabotage says:

    I was going to say something rather witty and clever

    but, then I shit my pants in all the excitement

  23. nimbulan says:

    It’s finally happening…

  24. Vinraith says:

    I really want this to be great, but that screenshot appears to be infected with “one unit per tile” syndrome, and nothing good can come of that. 4x combat should not be a sliding block puzzle.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah and it doesn’t look like it has SMAC’s terrain system and maybe it won’t have unit designing either and EXCITED EXCITED EXCITED EXCITED

      • Gap Gen says:

        The PC Gamer preview mentions the various civic types being able to slot guns onto things, but it’s difficult to say whether this means unit customisation or not. I admit that I kinda liked the unit customisation from time to time – stuff like drop formers or flying colony pods featured in my workshop at various points, and I dumped resources into a drop amphibious squad once to capture an annoying coastal base.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Yeah, reached the part where they’re talking about it. Interesting.

          It sounds like it’s not going to be SMAC: Now With New Graphics. But that’s probably good. And they’ve done their homework, it seems.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      One Unit per Tile is fine if you don’t strip out all the complexity you get from using it like they did with Civ 5. Look at Fantasy General, with it’s supporting fire mechanics, multiple layers of units and retreat mechanics. Or hell if you wanna go super complex look at Panzer General with entrenching and long range support mechanics. What made Civ 5’s version bad (and Warlock’s version bad) is that pretty much everything has melee range and the stuff that doesn’t just acts exactly like a melee unit that hits at range.

      • Vinraith says:

        It’s a fair point, I suppose, but part of the problem with 1UPT in a game like Civ is simply the size of the tiles. Since the combat map is also the strategic map there’s a tile size compromise going on that just doesn’t work. The tiles are huge, because they have to be for cities to fit in them, but then the result is that you’ve got too few spaces and everything just becomes a sliding block puzzle trying to get unit x around unit y. Pure tactical games can size their tiles more sensibly and get around this problem.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          That’s true too of course. The random nature of the maps might also hurt. I’m not sure I know a really great hex wargame like FG or PG that has random maps. And multi-tile cities really helps with the siege stuff too.

          In Civ it’s like: Units only have Health and “Attack Power” because they need to stack in a single tile and you can’t really do stack on stack combat if every unit had different damage types and stuff. Then they got rid of stacks – but units still have single number value power for the most part. They didn’t take advantage of the stack/single unit switch.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Civ IV didn’t even do stack-vs-stack combat; the “best” unit of each stack fights on behalf of the others. If I have horsemen in one tile, and you have pikemen and cannon in another, no tactical possibility exists for me to flank your pikemen to get to the cannon; they will always be positioned correctly “within” the tile to intercept.

            On that basis, Civ V should have been a huge improvement, and was as far as it worked, but with the huge caveats of scale mismatches and knock-on effects from there. And just general failures to adapt systems to it at all—in 4, you can tell a unit to move halfway across a continent, and unless an enemy spooks it, leave it to do so. In 5, it will interrupt you ever turn because other movements have blocked its planned route and it must be told to re-route and try again.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s not just that tiles have to contain cities, it’s that tiles have to represent the world at the right scale to make interesting strategic decisions. You could make tiles small and cities grow a hundred tiles wide, but then you’re making the player choose which side of a river to deploy their settler, and you’ve got too fiddly for Civ’s scale, same as if the turn interval was just a month to resolve the weird movement vs. research discontinuity. To push it to the absurd extreme, make the divisions small enough and the positioning decisions fuzzy enough and you get an RTS. A TBS needs bigger divisions so you can meaningfully reason about and agonize over which of two adjacent grassland tiles you want to settle on. Civ works at large scale, and with large scale abstractions.

          They might have been better changing how stack combat works so it’s worth at least putting ranged behind melee, and having fast flanking units actually flank, but they’ve been toying with that since collateral damage in 2. It’s a really awkward tension in the design.

          • Trithne says:

            The Call to Power games toyed with resolving stack battles by taking the stack and putting the units on a tactical board, then resolving combat based on all the units, so if your army lacked flank defense, flanking units would get into the backline and attack artillery units. I don’t remember how well it worked though.

        • Strangerator says:

          I also had problems with the aesthetics. All that pretty countryside had to be covered with military units even in times of peace. This changed the look to something a lot like a pure wargame, and arguably the victory condition in Civ V relied more heavily on warfare than in previous entries.

        • Gap Gen says:

          SMAC’s combat really came into its own with needlejets. With those, you could stop enemies without interceptors from attacking, cut off supply lines, weaken enemy defences in bombing runs before an amphibious attack, cover troop transports, etc. I agree the early infantry phase was a brutal sliding tile puzzle, but then it did capture the sense of scrabbling for land as you’re still eating tinned legumes from the escape pod and building assault rifles out of empty legume cans.

      • Leb says:

        1UPT’s biggest issue IMO was the AI sucking at using it. You can defend a chokepoint in Civ V with like 3 archer units and the AI will run 10x the amount of units at that choke point and not adapt its strategy.

      • apocraphyn says:

        Fantasy General! My god, thank for you for reminding me of that one. Takes me back! Eighteen years old…

      • cpt_freakout says:

        Fantasy General, now that was a great strategy game…

        • DatonKallandor says:

          Fantasy General is still great by the way. It’s one of those games you can play every year and it still beats whatever TBS comes out that year.
          It’s also the poster child for “simpler does not mean dumber”. It’s from a pure design standpoint a simplified version of Panzer General. But the removals make it a lot faster, both to play (because it’s not hard to figure out how to use your units in any given situation) and in terms of unit mobility (because there’s no resupplying or entrenching).

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Yes yes yessss. Still absolutely one of my favourite TBSs of all time, and still gets fairly regular replays.

      • Strangerator says:

        I agree 1UPT needs more complexity, and is more appropriate for a true wargame. I absolutely loved Panzer General 1 and 2. But to me, earlier civ and AC combat was more appropriate to a civilization game.

        The much loathed “stacks of doom” had some problems, but they made more sense from a simulation standpoint. All they needed to do in order to fix some of the issues was to add some sort of “generalship” for each stack, something that could be tied into actual generals leading your armies (stacks). When attacking with your selected unit, you would have a % chance to be able to CHOOSE which unit in an enemy stack you would be able to hit. The % chance should never be too terribly high, but it would better simulate the better general being able to take apart a superior force by lining up the right engagements.

        Another cool thing you could do with this aesthetically would be to zoom into the two tiles engaged when several units were stacked on each, so you could visually see the battle a little better.

        Having recently delved back into Civ IV a little, the combat is decent enough, you just have to figure out how to best break enemy stacks. Spicing it up a little would have been preferable to trying to copy a PG or FG type game, where combat is the primary focus, and with deeper mechanics (but no civ management).

  25. Gap Gen says:


  26. welverin says:

    So you know, Americans use autumn as well, fall’s probably more common, but that could just be where I live.

  27. Haplo says:

    Oh, sweetness. I bought SMAC a year or so ago because of the praise, and whilst it had some really great stuff going on, I’ve been spoiled by the time gap; SMAC and the Civ series at the time had a lot of annoying crap in it that they’ve long since ironed out. I’m looking forward to having a crack at it from a more modern perspective.

  28. iucounu says:

    Obviously I am mashing wads of tenners into the screen right now, but the ‘unit workshop’ does kinda sorta seem to be gone? In that now you have a big catalogue of generic units that can be upgraded with ‘perks’. This sounds a lot like unit promotions in Civ? Or at least, if you could build units with lots of inbuilt promotions.

    I always want these kinds unit design mechanics to let me do utterly mad things, and this sounds like a very Firaxis solution – stripped of anything they might feel irrelevant or unbalancing. Which would make me a little bit sad?

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Yeah that’s the real problem here. Firaxis nowadays is all about making everything extremely simple and polished. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole terraforming/ecology stuff with the mountains, wind direction and rain was gone (or heavily simplified) too.

      • Geebs says:

        As somebody who is so dumb that the constant stream of Things Happening in SMAC just confused and intimidated me – I think they might be making this for me

        • E_FD says:

          I’ve been playing Alpha Centauri for over a decade, and it’s only in the last year or two that I finally felt confident enough with the terraforming system to not just automate all my formers.

          That’s not a criticism, mind you, quite the opposite; I think it’s sorta awe-inspiring what a complex and comprehensive system they came up with.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Let’s wait and see, eh? “Firaxis nowadays” hasn’t been making a new SMAC – until now. If they have any inkling of just how important the original was, they’ll think long and hard about what made it so great. And while I have no faith whatsoever in a lot of devs’ ability to see the importance of older works, that isn’t true for Firaxis. Not yet at least.
        I say give ’em time.

  29. Vendae says:

    I find quite interesting that the whole Mediterranean coast is in complete darkness, save for present-day urban centres, at least comparing with this superpower Egypt (and Libya).

    All that lore left unexplained…

    • Gap Gen says:

      Good catch. Given that Egypt barely has enough food as it is without global warming, and its political situation is a giant mess, I’m not sure how realistic that is, but then who knows what will happen, I suppose. Another point is that Greece and the Balkans are quite mountainous, so not that conducive to megalopolis construction.

      • Mormont says:

        It’s surprising how much can change in just a few decades. SMAC launch date was 2060- back in 1968 who could have confidently predicted the EU, the Indian space programme, or the skyscrapers of the Arab Emirates?

        • Gap Gen says:

          Well, the EEC was 1958 (and the Eurozone crisis was predictable and predicted by anyone who knew about monetary policy), oil wealth was apparent in the Middle East from the early 1900s when the British and French fought over the remains of the Ottoman Empire, and India is a huge country with a lot of potential. The true test of Middle Eastern wealth will be whether it has staying power once the oil dries up, and India is still vastly poor in large areas with rebel insurrections being fought in various parts of it. Political/economic forecasting is a reasonably successful field, it just doesn’t really filter into the newspapers or TV news because of their obsession with events over trends. Stuff like the Arab Spring wasn’t really predicted by anyone, sure, but its outcome certainly was (the idea that it would lead to stable democracies wasn’t that realistic, although Tunisia seems to be doing OK). To make Egypt a massively urbanised place you’d have to pump water inland in huge quantities into a country which is mostly desert, which isn’t impossible, but seems a stretch – then again, if space-based power becomes a reality and is open to all, it’s not physically impossible to desalinate the Mediterranean, I guess. You’d also have to fix the political situation, which is dire at the moment, but then this isn’t completely unthinkable in 50 year’s time. My main problem would be that there’s no movement to urbanise the desert – cities tend to grow around transport links like rivers or coastlines, whereas there’s no reason at the moment to settle the desert other than if you’re just putting people down wherever and are prepared to foot the artificial infrastructure costs. There’s also demographic collapse coming up, but then the West and South-East Asia are being hit harder than other places with that, and other places will still be growing until late in the century, if I remember correctly.

    • -Upandaway- says:

      There’s a clue right there in the game’s title. Since this is a “Civilization” game, what it will do is assume that all the nations in your average game of CIV (the ones that survived that is) are doing the Tech Victory. That Egypt, the Zulus or the Cherokee end up being superpowers and sending people to other planets is only wierd from “our” point of view.

      In the world created by a game if CIV, it’s a-ok!

      • Vendae says:

        I prefer to think of it parting ways with our present Earth, not with 5000-years-ago-Earth. Not only because I find it easier to relate to, but also because this alternate world still has the Eiffel Tower in a French-speaking country (being France the only one that is playable through the Civ saga, so pretty much in the same place that it is nowadays), the Pyramids in Egypt and the Cristo Redentor in a Portuguese-speaking country within a city that does look like Rio.

        I personally think that story-wise the trailer is inconsistent because even if we assume that those going into space are those who can*, France does send a spaceship but does not look like better off than the non-Egypt (and surroundings) Mediterranean.

        *regardless of whether we consider a future-world starting today or a “Civ world” where somehow some countries like France and Egypt are still in their actual place and some so-called wonders are where they belong

        • Gap Gen says:

          France does its best to look run down in many places. Various parts of the Paris metro either don’t work regularly and much of the rolling stock looks like it’s decades old, and much of the city is poor and crime-ridden (although this was also true in the Belle Epoque, thanks to the wonders of unfettered capitalism). Assuming Europe loses pace with the rest of the world (particularly as trade has moved away from the Atlantic towards the Pacific and Indian Ocean), it’s not inconceivable that it’ll look more run-down in the future. Certainly I don’t see them doing anything insane like the Haussmann renovation of Paris any time soon, where they demolished and rebuilt basically the entire city in the late 1800s.

  30. guygodbois00 says:

    It’s stuff like this. And the tea, let’s not forget about the tea.

  31. KirbyEvan says:

    I hope they keep the often weird and creepy philosophical ramblings the first game had, as that was a lot of the fun for me.

    That feeling of slowly becoming less human as you invent these technologies that perhaps you shouldn’t have invented, is why this game sticks with me.

    Sure, it was pretty much just Civ 3 in space, but that background discussion of morality vs science was pretty awesome.

    • Leb says:

      Very much so!

    • Jac says:

      Polygon have a nice sized interview up. The last part certainly has me excited if its implemented as I’m imagining from his sentence:

      “Every time it’s a different story, a different imaginary tale about who humanity grew up to be over the next 5,000 years on this strange, alien planet,” he said. “[It’s about] starting from a place of safety and taking a journey that’s both dangerous and invigorating into a strange new future and the revelation of wonder along the way, the feeling of gradual mastery as you start to take control of the planet and feel like you’ve found your footing, reacting to the different choices that you’re AI opponents make. Friends and enemies start to take on a whole new meaning when your enemy has transformed itself into a robot. What does that mean for your civilization? How could you ever get along? That sort of thing: putting interesting decisions like that in front of of the player, all the way through the game.”

    • Horg says:

      ”Sure, it was pretty much just Civ 3 in space”

      I think Alpha Centauri elevated itself well above just being ”civ in space”. Primarily it had some genuinely interesting factions that each produced a significantly different game play experience, with even the AI handling each one according to the factions ethos. Diplomacy was much better and let the faction leaders personality really shine through. They shook up the underlying game play in some fun ways, such as semi random tech advancement, designing your own units, the persistent threat of alien life forms and the planet becoming more hostile as you developed the land. I hope they preserve these qualities and give the combat / unit stacking system a complete rework.

    • biggergun says:

      Basically, this. The best thing about AC was it’s clash of actual ideologies. I wish more strategy games were like this – allowing you to fight for something you can directly relate to, as opposed to some entirely made-up faction.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        And that horrifying revelatory moment where you realise that there are people who relate to the factions you just… don’t.

      • Gap Gen says:

        My favourite part was how they took some very simple economic modifiers with narrative meaning and made such a radically different set of factions out of them. You could really turn around an ailing faction by going into the social engineering window and switching to, say, a planned economy at the risk of angering Morgan.

      • c-Row says:

        I think it also helped that they reduced the overall number of factions to make them more distinguishable. In Civ you reconigze all the various world leaders by the country they stand for but you can hardly connect their faces with an actual coherent playstyle (except for Gandhi no one really stuck with me), but in SMAC you could easily tell them apart from each other.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I liked that about SMAC – since it was fictional, immortal autocrats could be made to make sense in the fiction of the universe. By contrast, Civ’s leaders never changing always gave a cartoony sense to the world, like somehow Elizabeth I is there swapping cave paintings with you at the start and ICBMs at the end. I don’t mind a lighter, less serious tone, but I did enjoy SMAC’s sense of place and scale implied through the snippets of text and voiceovers that’s ironically lacking in a game about real human history.

    • E_FD says:

      The atmosphere was so much of what makes Alpha Centauri great. I think it’s the closest I’ve seen to a game that fits into the hard sci-fi genre.

  32. Joshua IX says:

    Will Captain Garland survive this trip I wonder?

  33. Don Reba says:

    They did not mention terraforming at all. That’s sad!

    Well, there is always hope for the sequel — Civilization: Beyond Civilization: Beyond Earth.

    • The Random One says:

      : Beyond the Sword?

      • MichaelGC says:

        It sounds like one of the victory types is going to be building some sort of warp doodad to get back home.

        So that would make the sequel Civilization: Beyond Beyond Earth: Earth.

  34. Rufust Firefly says:

    I mostly used the unit designer in SMAC to make amphibious Probe Teams, since the stock team was not able to swim. And armored terraformers, since they were vulnerable to mindworm attacks. But after a while it was a bit of a timesink to keep prototyping new weapons/armor and upgrading units.

    The archetypes of the leaders have stuck with me over the years. Nobody was ever as bloodthirsty in a Civ game as Miriam was in AC.

    • LionsPhil says:

      A lot of that is its excellent characterization; she burned with fury not because she was out to Make Win Videogame Happen, but because she was righteously angry at what she percieved as the horrific inhumanity of the other factions. (Except Lal, I guess.)

    • E_FD says:

      I made colony pod needlejets. Those were awesome. No more laboriously trudging your colony pod one square at a time across fungus-covered terrain where they’ll probably get killed by mindworms if you don’t have a guard accompanying them. And leapfrogging over rivals’ territories to build your base at an ideal landmark way across the map.

      Obviously not a conventional use the designers planned for, but one of the many awesome things you could do with Alpha Centauri’s broad range of customization.

      • MaXimillion says:

        I’m pretty sure it was planned for, since other parts like probe and former are disabled for jets.

  35. corvisrex says:

    This made me sqwee in a very un-manly fashion…. Glad glad no one was around to witness it.
    Also heartened by the fact that it is only 6 months away…personally, games being announced YEARS before release is getting a little old.

    • Shadow says:

      It’s a pretty refreshing change, considering many games tend to be announced at least a year before the projected release date as of late. Not to mention all the early access culture. I’m rather tired of playing unfinished games, burning out on them before I should.

  36. MeestaNob says:

    As long as this isn’t a lazy cash in like Colonisation 2 they can have all my money.

    I wonder if they ever tried to buy back the rights. What does EA intend to do with them?

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      If this turns out to be successful I imagine it would be an excuse for EA to get a “reimagined” version going.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Oh great. It’ll take 200 turns to build a colony pod, but you’ll be able to “hire” one straight away for just $0.69 or regional equivalent excluding taxes.

  37. CaptainFtang says:

    As I understand it ‘the fall’ is what we used to use in Britain, but we went all European ‘on it’s ass’, as we did with so many other terms (faucet being another example). As a Brit, I’ve always preferred it, much more poetic in my book.

    Also, yay for more Alpha Centauri!

  38. Frank says:

    Yay! I like the modern Firaxis’ work better than SMAC (seriously, you want me to take time to design the units? to learn your nonsensical farming rules? really?), so I’m very optimistic. Intuitive tradeoffs, weighty decisions and fast turns FTW.

  39. Frank says:

    Someone please tell PC Gamer that a pagination is not mandatory, even though we call it a “web page.”


  40. The Random One says:

    That first shot of the trailers is pretty excellent.

    As for the game, is there a reason to call it Sid Meier’s Civilization in SPAAAAAACE as opposed to SMAC? If there isn’t that’s not very heartening.

  41. Big Murray says:

    I came.

  42. Chedruid says:

    Amazing news mates, what a beautiful way to start my day!

  43. sinister agent says:

    I’m not sure I like the title. They should have stuck with “Sid Meier’s – Sid™ Meier Games®: Civili”z”ation(;)© Beyond Earth™®”. You know, because you need to put all that fucking nonsense in your title. Because of the reasons.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      “The Colonization of Sid Meier.”

    • Strangerator says:

      Civilization: OMG we’re sorry we didn’t let Sid do much with the last Civ please buy our new game that will be kind of like that thing you loved in space but is actually more Civ V. Seriously Sid Meier is going to put his magic into this one.

  44. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Chu-Chu Thought train.
    1. Oh craphells yes!

    2. Chances it will have the detailed terraforming with elevation, rockiness, energy, humidity and all the other intricate systems (and a not-shit diplomacy system)?

    3. Is it an expandalone like Civ4: Colonization and will feel more like a mod this time too?

    4. As long as it’s got an interesting setting like SMAC and the fun from Civ 5 it will be enough. Even if it’s simplified to Settlers of Catan level.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Hammer says:

    I really hope they sort whatever it is in the engine that makes Civ V so crash prone. I’ve only been able to complete one game as near constant crashes (on a more than capable machine) are utterly off putting.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Are you talking about Civ5 fully updated today or the state of the game at release?
      It had a serious memory bug that made the game almost impossible to play after release.
      Every time you loaded a save while playing, the game state didn’t clear properly and if you saved again all the junk got added to the file.
      In my ~380 hours play time since the bug was patched I haven’t had a single crash. So you might want to try it again if that’s the case.

      • rfa says:

        Currently, crashes ~ every 3 hours. With mods on the hour. My pc is pretty good (i5, 760, ssd) so that really onl leaves the (lack of) optimisation – it always seems to happen after either meeting a new civ or other milestone.

  46. racccoon says:

    Its clever that they implied a theme of movement in the finish of this video of a space cadet looking through a hexagon window, the game itself is seen by way of the screenshots, looks yet another hexagon movement game, kind of boring to see this. Not really futuristic either or advanced, This is the one and only thing I loath in a game these days, that movement.and pattern is why I don’t buy these games. I don’t really call it a new beginning either with this built in. I do like the run of idea of the game just not

    • Frank says:

      Buh. What is the alternative? You like squares? Triangles?

      I think this genre is not for you. Please move along (though not along a grid of hexagons if they bother you so much).

  47. Wachepti says:


    • PikaBot says:

      They can’t, EA still owns the rights to AC.

      • Shadow says:

        And it’s not like it needs to be called Alpha Centauri 2 to be functionally the same thing. The name’s alright: at least it’s not Civilization V: Beyond Earth, a la awkward Civ4Col.

  48. PikaBot says:

    I’m not the only one for whom scenes, even fictional ones, of a whole country looking up in the sky and cheering as a rocket jets up through it renders me slightly misty-eyed, am I?

    I just get really emotional about space travel. Planetes fucking destroyed me, man.

    • BenLeng says:

      You’re not the only one.

    • Turkey says:

      It’s incredibly refreshing when you get a video game about the future where there’s some hope and everything’s not just a garbage pile of broken dystopian nightmares. Although some of those cities looked they’d seen some rough times.

      • Shadow says:

        I saw a sort of hopeful dystopia. Earth’s beyond repair, overpopulated and thoroughly polluted, as shown by the city scenes. The pyramids scene also hints at severe global warming and considerable melting of the ice caps.

        But there’s hope in life off-world, a fresh start somewhere among the stars.

        It’s quite moving.

      • Hypocee says:

        Um, statistically there’s not actually any hope. The narration boils down to ‘We’re fucked’, and I don’t understand why those people are cheering. Those ten or so rockets don’t look like they carry a billion people apiece, and regardless the folks on the ground are presumably going to starve/cancer to death. Yeah it’s better than the complete end of humanity, but while I’d be glad to see someone else escape a fire I was going to burn in, I doubt I’d feel the urge to cheer.

        • bill says:

          And the guys in the rocket are probably just going to end up as severed heads inside flying razor-drones that go back in time and enslave them all anyway.

  49. Moraven says:

    Linux release. Be a first for them.