After living together with Civlization V for a few weeks, the sparkle of love at the first sight starts to fade, revealing her strange habits and weird friends.
Scientific research and technology is a curious thing in Civilization. The player can select a certain piece of technology (the wheel, compass, acoustics, computers…) to research. The tech will enable the player to build something, or gives static bonuses or abilities to cities or units. The technologies advance in a tree-like fashion, which enables the player to advance very far in one branch, leaving other, older technologies unresearched. One of my civilizations had nuclear fission without the aid of electricity. This tends to break immersion somewhat: Even within one civilization, the different levels of technology are radically apart, if the player wants. And all technologies must be researched at some point; Despite my fission power, I had to research electricity to research ecology.
Another thing is the civilization itself. Right after realizing that one can grow food by putting seeds into ground, a small tribe in a faraway land declared themselves the Mongols, deciding to put fear into small city-states. From that moment on, through thousands of years of history, the Mongols stay Mongols. I’m not a historian, but I’m pretty sure the nations in Civilization V did not spawn into existence as themselves, but instead evolved organically. Now every nation feels more or less the same; Every one has the same tech tree, the same pool of social policies and same buildings. There are special units available, but technological progress usually makes them obsolete very fast. The wonders are also quite arbitrary; London can have Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, library of Alexandria and the Great Wall, despite that every one of those wonders was originally built for very specific, cultural reasons.
Effectively, the game has the same problems as Spore; It does not evolve organically. Instead, the player just slaps on the most efficient blocks, making the civilization a mess of different concepts. Let’s fix this, by creating The Realistic Civilization.
At the beginning of the game, the player does not get to select a civilization. For now, he only has a unit of warriors and a settler. The first thing he or she does is install a city somewhere. The game, based on the immidiate surroundings of the city, calculates different research points. There are deers, some forests and a sea nearby. The game prompts the player to select research. He can select one of three things: Hunting, animal husbandry or fishing. The research times are different, depending on the research points. The player selects hunting. A countdown to new technology appears in the UI. The computer gives new technologies, analoguous to the old technologies, by calculating the player’s technological orientation and available resources.
There are several Main Technologies that every culture gains with time. Writing and Navigation are good examples. Then there are Situational Technologies. These are dependant on the civilizations surroundings and preferences. If there are no horses in the player’s empire, the player does not research Horseback Riding, and can’t have anything inherited from that technology. As the player’s science progresses, the player unlocks Situational Technologies, enabling more buildings and units. The Main Technologies represent the player’s overall technological prowess.
Next, the player selects new construction. At the beginning, there are roughly two types of buildings: Practical buildings and Social buildings. Practical buildings help the civilization concretely, giving more food, better production etc.. Social buildings improve the people, giving out more happiness and culture. Building a practical building makes the people more practical and level-headed, making future Social buildings slightly more expensive. This represents cultural evolution. The player can buy social policies as normal, but they are very mutually exclusive, and only in modern times can one evolve into a multicultural civilization.
When the player selects his or her first social policy, the civilization has evolved enough to become a distinct nation. The game gives the player three closest civilization identities to choose from, based on his current values. The player then chooses one and keeps it for the rest of the game. These identities are the nations from the main game.
Now the game is a bit more organic, and the civilizations have more personality. When the player encounters a new civilization, he says “Ooh, it has evolved in that direction” instead of “Ooh, it is at that tech level”.