The Eternal Golden Age
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall wants to solve a problem. That problem is perpetual growth, and it plagues many 4X games. Whether your aim is world conquest or cultural hegemony, victory in Civilization and many of its cohorts depends on domination. However peacefully you try to play, you’re often straight-jacketed into a utilitarian-psychotic view where all resources and people are just raw material to be assimilated, Borg-like, until the whole map is monochrome.
But as the early excitement of exploration and expansion ebbs to late game stagnation, the fun runs out. Historically, stagnating empires tend to fragment and collapse. But in Civilization VI, like many games, you’re the star of the show – and there’s nowhere to go but up.
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Strategy of place
Big, slow, sweeping strategy games expose their rules in a way no other game does. Call of Duty doesn’t have floating numbers above enemy heads, telling you their movement speed, for example. But in most 4X and grand strategy games, there is no attempt to hide exactly how everything works: the stats, their interactions, are all laid out and plain to see. Yet these games are utterly dependent on their ability to evoke a sense of place, scale, and history – they have to be much more than just a fancy chessboard, they have to feel alive, or they’re just not much fun. How can these games survive and thrive under such conflicting pressures? I spoke to three of the world’s top strategy game designers, from Firaxis, Paradox and Amplitude, to find out. Read the rest of this entry »