Ideas for a Turn based strategy game

Let’s just say that one of my happiest memories of me and my computer was some years ago when I played Civilazation for the first time. It had a lot of short comings but it was my favourite game… after Star Con 2 and Fallout.
Some years later Civilazation II came to light, that was a true masterpiece. It is my opinion that most of the other games of the kind are bad copies of this first to games.
So strongly suspecting that there are a couple of game programers in this boards I say let’s post our ideas of how to improve Civilazation kind games so that in the future we can all enjoy one.

  1. In two words custom units: You get to design your units. For example you can decide how much armament, armour, ordinance, fuel etc your tank will carry. This will have a lot of consequences. The more features you add the more expensive it will be. Imagine for example that you like building a heavy infantry (ancient age) it will stand no chance against mounted archers because they will lack the ability to manouver.
    I think this idea is very good because it adds to the “playability” of the game. You become the designer of your units. If done properly I bet many of us will spent hours just painting our “Super King Tigers”.

  2. What I don’t like that at the beginning it is nice to built your cities, but after a while micro management becomes tiresome. Most game try to solve this issue by an “Automatic Mayor”. I wonder if it wouldn’t be best if after your cities achieve a certain size you no longer control them (they elect their own authorities for example) and new features in the game are open to you (I am open to ideas).

  3. I heard (I have not played it) that in Civilazation III you not only need gold but natural resources in order to built units. If that is taken into account, the idea exposed in 1) is even more atractive. For example, you could build tanks but your lack of iron would make them very poor in armour, infantry units could destroy them easily.

  4. Diplomacy is always the weakest part in all strategy games. I have no idea how but this has to be improved. If done properly it make the game more complex and enjoyable.

  5. If you conquer a happy city you should spent the next couple of turns pacifying it (sending more troops in, building jails, etc). If you fail to do so the inhabitants can have the ability of liberating the city. On the other hand, conquering and unhappy city, no matter how strongly defended should be very easy.

I am out of ideas, how about you?

I allways hoped for a Civ game which makes huge empires all but impossible. So that as soon as an empire gets too big, pressure starts forming to break it up again into smaller countries. This way the rise of Persia, Greece, Mongolia, Brittish Empires could occur within one game, but the Empires would split as in real history. This would have to be combined with a very strong diplomacy AI. So that winning would only be possible through co-opperation with other countries, or else extremely well managed economics within one whole world state. I’d also like to see free form politics and religion in the Civ like game as well.
Cheers, Bippy

In theory, national breakdown would be an interesting thing to deal with in a single-player game, but as you say, diplomacy AI would have to be strong for it to avoid being just a novel annoyance. Additionally, games that go on too long might end up rather cluttered with too many splinter-states. Diplomacy never seemed to be a massively strong thing in any of the turn-based strategies I’ve played, but I have to add a caveat here: I haven’t played many or played them much, and I’m generally rather horrible at them. I’ve never had the patience to run the same game deep into development or encounter more than one rival civilization.

A couple other problems rear up with state-splintering. First, how do states splinter? Likely regionally, of course, but would you get a say in which region you take with you more sophisticated than just a certain perimeter around your capital? It seems to me like irregular nation-shapes would produce odd splinter-states. I also have a gut feeling about it not really working quite as well with multiplayer as single-player, but I don’t really have any cogent arguments that spring to mind to back that up, so I don’t know why I’m mentioning that at all.

And yeah, new poster. Been lurking for a good while; never really had much of value to say. I just feel a responsibility to add that little line as an afterthought for some reason.

If you liked the Civ games and are looking for something with some of the features you suggested, try Alpha Centuri, also by Sid Meyer. It uses the Civ engine and is similar, but includes expanded diplomatic options, (there’s a UN in the game, and you can vote to do things like heat or cool down the planet, changing the climate, and to allow or disallow atrocities), more customizable units, and you’re able to set up your governmental system and the values your society holds.

My biggest frustration is the micro management. I want a big army, but then I need to do a command for each unit every turn for every one of my frikkin troops. Very time consuming. And then I get lazy and use auto-move (in Play the World) and that takes forever to move all the guys anyway, only now I can’t control them. I know this gets better in later ages with “Army”, but I have rarely made it that far in the game, since I just get frustrated and make a new game. Managing all the cities- which if you play the game well is MANY, is a huge pain. Even if you install a governor. There is still a bit of work you need to do to make a city run well. And with 30 cities, well it isn’t fun.

I’d just like a really simple strategy game- yeah. Not one where you have a massive squadron of Catapaults and Archers roaming the mountains even as you are researching Nuclear Fission. Make the combat system on a smaller scale (you should only have 5-10 fighting units ever), and separate big towns from cities- cities should be difficult to take care of, towns easy. It is usually the other way around for me, as cities are self-sufficient and towns are usually in hell. And make it so 10 cities is all you need- even if that means it’s harder to make a city.

Just cut out the micromanagement basically.

While it’s a RTS instead of a turn-based game, Impossible Creatures has this concept. I can’t think of any way they could’ve implemented this better, but it’s still not very engaging. Granted, I haven’t played it a lot (I only have the demo), but it has two problems: first, it separates the game into two separate games, designing units and then a typical RTS. They end up just feeling too disparate – maybe for a turn-based game, that would be different?

And second, the combinations are neat to look at, but the stuff you can customize all boils down to a set of relatively dry characteristics – attack power, speed, manuverability, etc. This is necessary for reasons of play-balancing and also just because there’s a finite number of things you can simulate in a computer game. As a result, they don’t feel all that unique. I’m inclined to think that the “hero” model from Heroes of Might & Magic and Warcraft III is more the way to go. You only get one special unit, and it’s not infinitely customizable, but it is unique. It has character, and you get attached to it and learn the subtleties of how it works.

I think Civilization 3 handles this very well; I hardly ever feel like I’m having to micromanage. Any city and any unit can be set on automatic at any time, so you can choose which ones you want to manage directly and which ones you want to leave alone. I usually end up building cities towards a certain goal (my wonder generator, my army generator, my money generator) and then leaving them on automatic to concentrate on new cities on the outskirts.

I wonder if a hero model would be neat here, too. Once you’ve built up a hero unit through combat or exploration, you can appoint him in charge of one of your cities and let him make all the decisions for you, based on his experience. Heroes that have seen heavy fighting will be more inclined to build military units, while heroes that have been used for exploration will build scouts or research units.

That’s an interesting idea. Civilizaton 3 just doesn’t let you build the unit if you don’t have the right resources. It would be neat to have the resources allow unit upgrades, but you could still build them without. Incidentally, one of the neat things about resources in Civ 3 is that you can trade for resources in the diplomatic game – if you don’t have a saltpeter supply, for example, you can still build units that require it if you set up a trade route with one of the other civs.

I think adding real personality would be a good first step. The other leaders in Civ 3 don’t seem all that distinct from each other apart from the very basics (Shaka Zulu is very aggressive, for instance). If they were more distinctive and had better AI, that would solve 99% of the trouble. I’ve heard that Alpha Centauri has a much more interesting diplomacy game, because of the different factions, but I could never get into that game. The terminology was too confusing. (I have a good idea what a catapult can do for my city, but no idea what building a Reverse Tachyon Pulse Synchrometer is going to do for me.)

Again, Civ 3 does exactly this. The interesting part, to me, is that you can take over cities without military force. If you have a high culture rating, small opposing cities near your borders will sometimes overthrow their governors and go under your control. That’s my favorite aspect of the game.

If it’s not obvious already, I like Civilization 3 an awful lot. And that’s saying a lot, since I’m terrible at the game and have yet to see a game all the way through to the end. My biggest problem with it is just that the games go on for so long, and I can spend hours building up a Civ and then get in a completely unwinnable position just as the result of one mistake. Last night, for instance, I was actually ahead in the game after about three hours of playing, but chose the wrong item in a dialog box and accidentally went to war against my neighboring country. They had a much larger military force, and had destroyed or captured four of my outlying cities within a couple of turns.

Another game I’m interested in is Rise of Nations. It’s being described as a cross between Civilization 3 and a real-time strategy game. I’ve never found an RTS that I’ve liked, mostly because I’m terrible at them, but this one I’m going to give a chance.