Polycast Too

So, my design mistakes list made Polycast as well. They did a nice job going through all of my points. Once again, my story point sparked the most disagreements. To clarify, I am not against story in games. I am against the idea that having a story necessarily makes a game better. Many example exist where adding a story reduces the designer’s flexibility, such as in my Rise of Legends example. Everything you put into a game comes at a cost, and story is no exception.

10 thoughts on “Polycast Too

  1. Nice of you to link to us 😉

    Soren, I wonder if you’ve played any of the Command & Conquer RTS games? I think the entire series makes very good use of the story, it’s part of what makes me like the C&C campaigns. Their storytelling is also fairly original.

  2. I played Tiberium Sun but – predictably – only in skirmish mode. I did like the WarCraft 3 story enough to finish one of the campaigns but that’s pretty much it for me and RTS stories. I just don’t feel a need for it in a strategy game. I’ve never played a game of, say, Settlers of Catan and wished it had a story.

    Just to be clear, I expect games in either genres, such as RPG’s, to have stories. Avatar-based games have a much more natural affordance for pre-canned narrative.

  3. In many ways, Warcraft III was more RPG than strategy. But it was still an RTS. I think we can all agree that Civ should never have a “story”, but there is a grey area for strategic games designed in a certain way to incorporate stories well. All of the Blizzard strategy games do this to some extent, and it’s one of the reasons their games have been so popular.


  4. Jon I think your comment needs refining, “I think we can all agree that Civ should never have a story”.

    I think we can all agree that CORE Civ should never a story.

    Scenarios/Mods can benefit greatly from a story, look at Fall From Heaven.

  5. Jon that breeds the question, “Well, what IS Civ”?

    Is Civ a historically based nation simulator?
    Or is Civ the set of rules that define the sandbox the game plays in?

    One would argue that if the first, then that means many games out there are Civ, even Rise of Nations and Age of Empires.

    But if you think the rules and ideas form Civ, then the only engine to provide that is found in Sid Meier’s games (interestingly, including Pirates, Colonisation, Alpha Centauri and Civ).

    For example which would you class as Civ:
    1. A set of cities owned by a player that collect resources and build stuff.
    2. The rules define the inter-dependence between cities and the other sub-systems in the engine.

    To me, Civ is all about the rules and dependencies that form the engine.

    Thus, FFH is Civ.

  6. “Is Civ a historically based nation simulator?
    Or is Civ the set of rules that define the sandbox the game plays in?”

    I would say it’s both. And then some.

    Just because Civ and FFH use similar mechanics (obviously), the “experience” of playing the two is quite a bit different. FFH has a more tactical, RPG-ish feel than normal Civ. There’s a number of places where there’s more depth, while other parts of Civ that are completely omitted or glossed over. If you argue that FFH is Civ, what about a game like MoM? Or GalCiv? Are they Civ too? I say no. If they were, they’d have a numeral after them. 🙂 To put it less facetiously, I believe there’s a very distinct “Civ Experience” just as there’s a “FFH Experience” and a “GalCiv Experience”. They’re all different and enjoyed by different people.

    Which is why FFH isn’t Civ, which is why Final Frontier isn’t Civ, which is why SMAC isn’t Civ, which is why Colonization isn’t Civ, which is why MoM isn’t Civ, which is why Rise of Nations isn’t Civ. They all borrow (VERY heavily, in some cases) from Civ, but they’re not the same thing. If FFH is Civ but these others aren’t, where do you draw the line?

    The rules in FFH deviate from the original as much as some professionally-made Civ knock-offs. At the end of the day, these games all have some very strong Civ elements to them, but they’re not the same. Personally, I think that’s a compliment and a testament for the great work the FFH team has done.


  7. I think scenario play in Civilization is pretty fun. But the most fun IS writing your own story in the epic game.

    Even a simple 4-5 episode campaign might be a great tutorial, and a fun way to introduce new game concepts to veterans and newbs alike. The first episode is ancient mesopotamia, and each episode you jump to a new civilization in a new era — to classical Greece, to Rome, to the rise of Islam, to the Mongol expansion…

    But Soren’s ultimately right. It’s all about resources. For each thing that you add, there is a hidden cost. And sometimes it’s better to give players a new tool to create their own story than it is to actually make a story.

  8. Jon, sorry to come back to this so late but….. 🙂

    I don’t agree with you on SMAC not being Civ. It plays exactly the same as Civ. It’s experience is exactly the same as Civ. SMAC is exactly like Civ in every respect, except for starting 6000 years later and being on a different planet.

    To take your definition of Civ further, does playing on a non-Earth (or random even) map upset the delicate balance of the Civ experience? If something as simple as a time-shift (as in SMAC) means it’s not Civ (even though the rest of the experience is identical to Civ), then something as game-altering as a non-Earth map should too.

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