Author Topic: Alpha Centauri sequel announced! - Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth  (Read 13794 times)

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Quote
Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth - Hot News : Alpha Centauri sequel announced!





 Probably the biggest news of the week has just hit the Indie Retro News HQ as Sid Meier is back with a new Alpha Centauri (1999), one of the greatest sci-fi turn based strategy games I've ever played. Sid Meier's Civilization Beyond Earth as it's titled, will not be a simple remake of Alpha Centauri but rather a "what would happen after Civilization V" (according to the devs). There will also be 3 types of planets from lush vegetation to airy decaying worlds. You will start with an Outpost and your only goal will be to survive! Are you alone on this world? Will you build cities upon the lush or decaying landscape? Will this be as good as the original? Who knows, but I'm sure many of us will be waiting for even more news on Beyond Earth!
Release date : Late 2014





 (There will be orbital devices)

Goals:
 - Find proof of existence of an ancient life on the planet and try to make a first contact,
 - Resume contact with Earth by deploying a satellite,
 - Return to Earth (if you find out it still exists),
 - Host Terran refugee on your new planet.

 -Thanks Jeuxvideopc for the heads up
http://www.indieretronews.com/2014/04/sid-meiers-civilization-beyond-earth.html

Take with a grain of salt - there was supposed to be an announcement today at PAX East, but this was out at least three hours too early.  Said announcement is still over an hour 1/2 away as I write this...
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 05:27:56 PM by sisko »

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This is from the site that allegedly broke the news:

Quote
Beyond Earth : le nouveau Civilization de Firaxis se dévoile


SOMMAIRE

 1 « Vers l'infini et au-delà ! »
 2 Des planètes extra-terrestres variées
 3 Un avant-poste, puis une ville
 4 Il y a de la vie...
 5 Revenir sur Terre ?


Firaxis donne une sorte de suite spirituelle à Alpha Centauri avec le nouveau Civilization baptisé Beyond Earth.

Alors que Brave New World est disponible depuis un peu moins d'un an, Firaxis a décidé de mettre un peu de côté Civilization 5 et de changer (très légèrement) de registre. Avec Beyond Earth, le studio poursuit tout de même l'aventure initiée par Sid Meier, mais pour se projeter au-delà de notre système solaire. Un concept qui n'est pas sans rappeler Alpha Centauri. Apprécié de nombreux joueurs, le vénérable ancêtre est effectivement l'une des inspirations de Firaxis qui ne cherche cependant pas à en faire un simple remake. Premier coup de projecteur en compagnie de David McDonough et Will Miller.


« Vers l'infini et au-delà ! »Retour au sommaire




Si le succès de Civilization ne se dément pas avec les années - Civilization 5 a signé les meilleures ventes de la franchise - il était surprenant de voir Firaxis ne pas donner suite aux aventures spatiales d'Alpha Centauri. Quinze ans après cet épisode « extra-terrestre », ce devrait donc être chose faite cet automne grâce à Beyond Earth. Afin de clarifier d'entrée, il est utile de préciser que nous n'avons pas encore eu l'occasion de jouer, ni même de voir de session de gameplay du jeu, et que ce premier contact s'est fait au travers d'un entretien avec deux des principaux développeurs.

 Des développeurs qui reconnaissent volontiers l'inspiration d'Alpha Centauri, mais souhaitent mettre en garde les vieux de la vieille comme nous l'a expliqué David McDonough : « Évidemment, nous nous inspirons d’Alpha Centauri, un jeu auquel David et moi jouions lorsque nous étions plus jeunes. Il nous a beaucoup influencés, mais il ne s’agit pas d’une suite ou d’un prélude à Alpha Centauri : c’est notre propre représentation de ce à quoi ressemblerait Civilization dans l’espace ». S'il n'est donc pas question de faire une suite directe à Alpha Centauri, on comprend que le concept s'en rapprochera sensiblement.


Des planètes extra-terrestres variéesRetour au sommaire
Sans surprise, David McDonough ajoute d'emblée qu'il « existe des similitudes entre les squelettes d'Alpha Centauri, de Beyond Earth et des jeux Civilization ». De fait, le joueur débutera par la personnalisation de sa partie et de sa civilisation : des caractéristiques de celle-ci dépendront de nombreux aspects du jeu et en particulier le départ de notre peuple. Dans Beyond Earth, on ne débute pas sur Terre, mais sur un monde extra-terrestre que l'on paramètre en même temps que notre peuple. Will Miller explique que trois types de planètes spécifiques viendront compléter les options.





« Il existe trois types de planètes uniques, appelées "biomes". Leur surface entière est colorée et elles vous apportent une expérience différente en fonction de celle que vous choisissez. Nous avons la planète "lush" (luxuriante), une planète dotée d’une végétation dense, un peu comme une jungle. La planète "airy" (aérienne), avec des dunes, un sol craquelé et un climat sec et chaud. Enfin, la planète « fungal » (fongique) est assez sauvage ». Des types de planètes qui ne préjugent pas d'autres attributs comme le relief ou la présence et la taille des océans par exemple.


Un avant-poste, puis une villeRetour au sommaire
Dans son déroulement, une partie de Beyond Earth ne devrait pas perturber l'amateur de Civilization. « L’ADN de Civilization 5 est conservé » précise Will Miller. « Vous construisez toujours des villes, vous améliorez toujours des tuiles, des champs, mais nous avons étendu cette formule. Par exemple, les factions terriennes n'arrivent pas en même temps et vous pourriez être le premier sur la planète : les vaisseaux des autres peuvent arriver par étapes, après 50 tours peut-être. Autre différence : les villes débutent au stade d'avant-postes. Il faut les protéger - ils sont très fragiles - pour qu'ils puissent se développer ».





L'idée de l'avant-poste est quelque chose de très important dans la mesure où il coûte des ressources et ne produit pour ainsi dire rien : contrairement à une ville, il n'exploite effectivement que la tuile sur laquelle il se trouve, et sa croissance est loin d'être instantanée, il faut de nombreux tours avant qu'il ne devienne une cité. « Il faut planifier les choses consciencieusement, faire preuve de stratégie et rester sur ses gardes » précise Will Miller avant d'ajouter que « la mécanique d'expansion est sensiblement différente de celle de Civilization 5 ».


Il y a de la vie...Retour au sommaire
Qui dit planète extra-terrestre dit aussi vie extra-terrestre et Firaxis ne pouvait manquer pareille occasion d'introduire des créatures un peu plus exotiques au monde de Civilization. David McDonough explique qu'il y a des extraterrestres dans le jeu, mais ils n’ont pas de conscience, ils n’ont pas une attitude humaine. Vous ne pouvez pas communiquer avec eux et vous ne pouvez pas incarner un extraterrestre. Les extra-terrestres jouent malgré tout un rôle de par leur présence : il est possible d'aller contre eux - les détruire - ou de vivre en harmonie et ainsi profiter de certains bonus.





Au-delà de cette seule vie « animale », les joueurs trouveront au cours de la partie des reliques, des preuves d'une civilisation particulièrement avancée, mais aujourd'hui disparue. Trouver des preuves de leur existence, déterminer qui ils étaient et tenter d'entrer en contact avec ce peuple mystérieux est un des objectifs de Beyond Earth, une des conditions de victoire. « C’est l'aboutissement de tous vos efforts sur la planète » pour David McDonough. Une autre condition de victoire est de parvenir à renouer le contact avec le berceau de l'humanité, avec la Terre.


Revenir sur Terre ?Retour au sommaire
Will Miller précise que « lorsque nous quittons la Terre, nous partons dans un état précaire, il y a des pressions politiques, environnementales et nous ne sommes pas sûrs de ce qu’il va se passer sur Terre suite à notre départ ». Plus tard, probablement vers le milieu de la partie, le contact avec la Terre est rétabli via le déploiement d'un satellite. Will Miller explique qu'une des autres conditions de victoire est « soit de revenir sur Terre et de les aider à prospérer à nouveau, soit de faire venir des réfugiés de Terre vers votre nouveau monde et de les y installer ».





Nous n'en saurons pas plus pour le moment sur les autres conditions de victoire, mais celle-ci fait logiquement intervenir les progrès scientifiques pour rétablir le contact et être en mesure de voyager de manière beaucoup plus sûre à travers l'espace. La science est sans surprise au cœur d'une partie de Beyond Earth. En début de partie, on dispose de quelques technologies plus avancées que dans un Civilization classique, et il est par exemple possible d'entrer en communication avec les autres factions dès leur arrivée sur la planète : la diplomatie débute d'entrée de jeu.

 En revanche, les développeurs ont tenu à garder une dimension exploration en début de partie et la carte conserve donc l'idée du brouillard de guerre. Par la suite, la recherche scientifique aidant, il devient possible de développer des armes inédites dans un Civilization, mais aussi d'apporter une seconde couche à la carte avec la gestion d'éléments en orbite : des satellites peuvent être envoyés pour améliorer les unités au sol, mais il n'est par contre pas question de s'engager dans une véritable « guerre des étoiles ». Beyond Earth a encore beaucoup à nous dévoiler, mais ce premier contact avec le jeu de Firaxis laisse augurer du meilleur et d'un certain renouvellement de la franchise : on est impatient d'en apprendre plus !





Tellement + sur JeuxVideo.fr : Beyond Earth : le nouveau Civilization de Firaxis se dévoile http://www.jeuxvideopc.com/jeux/sid-meier-s-civilization-beyond-earth/beyond-earth-civilization-firaxis-actu-695618.html#ixzz2ygITJEXY
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:OPxSFvZv51wJ:www.jeuxvideopc.com/jeux/sid-meier-s-civilization-beyond-earth/beyond-earth-civilization-firaxis-actu-695618.html+&cd=3&hl=fr&ct=clnk&gl=fr&client=firefox-a

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And here, run through Google translate:



Beyond Earth : The New Civilization Firaxis unfolds


SUMMARY
 1 " To infinity and beyond ! "
 2 Various alien planets
 3 An outpost , then a city
 4 There is life ...
 5 Back on Earth?


Firaxis gives a sort of spiritual sequel to Alpha Centauri with the new Civilization called Beyond Earth .

While Brave New World is available for a little less than a year , Firaxis decided to put a little aside Civilization 5 and change ( slightly ) registry . With Beyond Earth , the studio still continues the adventure started by Sid Meier, but to project beyond our solar system. A concept that is reminiscent of Alpha Centauri . Appreciated by many players , the venerable ancestor is actually one of the inspirations of Firaxis which do not seek to make a simple remake. First spotlight with David McDonough and Will Miller.


" To infinity and beyond ! »Back to overview





If the success of Civilization unabated over the years - Civilization 5 has signed the best-selling franchise - it was surprising to see Firaxis does not implement the space adventures of Alpha Centauri . Fifteen years after this episode " alien " , it should be done this fall, thanks to Beyond Earth . To clarify input , it is worth noting that we have not yet had the opportunity to play or even see gameplay session , and that the first contact was through to an interview with two of the main developers.

 Developers who readily acknowledge the inspiration of Alpha Centauri , but wish to keep the old timers as we explained David McDonough: "Obviously, we draw Alpha Centauri , a game that David and I played when we were younger . It has influenced us a lot , but it is not a sequel or a prelude to Alpha Centauri : it is our own representation of what look like Civilization in space . " If there is no question of making a direct sequel to Alpha Centauri , we understand that the concept is in substantially closer .


Alien planets variéesRetour to overview
Not surprisingly, David McDonough immediately adds that "there are similarities between the skeletons of Alpha Centauri , Earth and Beyond Civilization games ." In fact , the player will start by customizing its part and civilization : the characteristics of the latter depend on many aspects of the game and in particular the departure of our people. In Beyond Earth , it does not begin on Earth, but on an alien world that one parameter at the same time that our people . Will Miller explained that three specific types of planets will complement options.





" There are three types of unique planets , called" biomes " . Their entire surface is colored and they bring you a different experience depending on which one you choose . We have the " lush" planet ( lush ) , a planet with a dense vegetation, like a jungle. The " airy " planet (air ) , with dunes , a cracked soil and a warm, dry climate. Finally, " fungal " the planet ( fungal) is pretty wild . " Types of planets that do not prejudice other attributes such as terrain or the presence and size of the oceans , for example.


An outpost , then ville Retour to overview
In its course , part of Beyond Earth should not disrupt the amateur Civilization . " The DNA of Civilization 5 is preserved ," says Will Miller. "You always build cities, you always improve tiles, fields, but we extended this formula. For example, earth factions fail at the same time and you could be the first on the planet : the vessels of the other can happen in stages, after 50 laps maybe. Another difference is that cities begin to outposts stage. Must be protected - they are very fragile - so they can grow . "





The idea of ​​the outpost is something very important as it costs resources and produces virtually nothing, unlike a city , it actually operates the tile on which it is located, and its growth is far from instantaneous, it takes many turns before it became a city. "You have to plan things carefully , be strategic and be on guard ," says Will Miller , adding that " the mechanical expansion is substantially different from that of Civilization 5 ."


There is life ... Back to Contents
Who says alien planet also said alien life and Firaxis could not miss such opportunity to introduce some of world's most exotic creatures Civilization . David McDonough explains that there are aliens in the game, but they have no conscience , they do not have a human attitude. You can not communicate with them and you can not embody an alien. The aliens play a role nonetheless by their presence : it is possible to go against them - destroy - or to live in harmony and thus enjoy some bonus .





Beyond this life alone " animal " , players will find in the part of the relics , evidence of a particularly advanced civilization, but now extinct . Find evidence of their existence, determine who they were and attempt to contact this mysterious people is one of the objectives of Beyond Earth , a victory conditions . "This is the culmination of all your efforts on the planet" for David McDonough. Another victory condition is to achieve reconnect with the cradle of humanity, the Earth.


Back on Earth? Back to overview
Will Miller states that " when we leave Earth , we leave in a precarious state , there are political pressures , environmental and we are not sure what will happen on Earth after our departure ." Later, probably around the middle of the game , contact with Earth is restored through the deployment of a satellite. Will Miller explains that the other conditions of victory " is to return to Earth and help them thrive again or to bring refugees from Earth to your new world and to install ."





We will not know more for the moment on the other victory conditions , but it logically involve scientific advances to reconnect and be able to travel much more safely through space . Science is no surprise in the heart of a part of Beyond Earth . Early in the game , there are some more advanced Civilization than in a conventional technologies, and it is for example possible to communicate with the other factions since their arrival on the planet : diplomacy outset begins

 However, the developers wanted to keep exploration dimension early in the game so the card retains the idea of ​​the fog of war . Thereafter , scientific research help , it becomes possible to develop new weapons in Civilization , but also to provide a second layer to the map with the management of features in orbit satellites can be sent units to improve ground , but it is by no question against engaging in a real " star Wars ." Beyond Earth still has much to reveal to us , but this first contact with the game Firaxis portends the best and a renewal of the franchise : we are eager to learn more!





So + on JeuxVideo.fr : Beyond Earth: the new Firaxis Civilization unfolds http://www.jeuxvideopc.com/jeux/sid-meier-s-civilization-beyond-earth/beyond-earth-civilization-firaxis-actu-695618.html#ixzz2ygITJEXY

Offline sisko

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the link on the french site is not working anymore..  ???
Anyone else feels like it's time to fix the faction graphics bug?

Offline Dio

I have mixed feelings regarding this announcement. I hope it is not just another carbon copy of the game.  I also hope this game does not shutdown any current or future efforts to improve Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Could it cause this community to disappear?

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Civ 5 hurt the civ forums REALLY bad a few years ago by syphoning off the attention from everything else and then turning out to suck.  I mean, it was hard to believe how much damage it did the overall civ community - Including SMACX.  So, yes, there is potential for harm.

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I have mixed feelings regarding this announcement. I hope it is not just another carbon copy of the game.  I also hope this game does not shutdown any current or future efforts to improve Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Could it cause this community to disappear?
everyone here is looking for his own AC2, but i don't see why one should leave even if he finds it..
Anyone else feels like it's time to fix the faction graphics bug?

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I've been looking for the old SMACX all along.  I am a pessimist.

Beyond Earth being good or not changes nothing about the original, so I sure hope everyone doesn't get carried away...  We've already got a good thing going with this community.  Stay the course; enjoy Beyond if it's good - we'll make a place for it.  But stay the course.

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Seems to be on the level - am I recognizing that voice?  A little thrill, there.

Civilization: Beyond Earth (Announcement)

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Quote
We're Getting A Sci-Fi Civilization, And It Sounds Fantastic
Kotaku
Jason Schreier  30 minutes ago





Civilization is going to space. The next game in Sid Meier's iconic turn-based strategy series will take place on an alien planet, where you'll explore, colonize, and fight other factions as you attempt to navigate uncharted sci-fi territory.

Sound familiar? Civilization: Beyond Earth, as it's called, seems very much like a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri, the wonderful sci-fi Civ spinoff released back in 1999. Beyond Earth will be out this fall for PC, Mac, and Linux, which should excite more than a few Civ fans. Strategy game addicts have been waiting almost 15 years for another sci-fi 4X game, and the next big thing from Firaxis is just that.


The Alpha Centauri comparisons can't be avoided. But the folks at Firaxis—most recently responsible for XCOM, a much different kind of sci-fi game—say they want Beyond Earth to feel different than that 90s classic.

"This is going our own direction," Beyond Earth designer Anton Strenger said in a phone interview earlier this week. "But that's not to say that we have not, you know, drawn some inspiration from Alpha Centauri. When I was in sixth grade I played Alpha Centauri. That was my first 4X game, and I remember learning it over my friend's shoulder and not knowing exactly what was going on but loving every minute of it."

In Alpha Centauri, you'd pick one of seven factions and colonize an alien planet, fighting off nasty mindworms and workshopping new units as you negotiated and battled with your fellow human settlers, like the zealous Believers and the draconic Hive. It mixed the brain candy of a Civilization game with some solid sci-fi fiction, and the results were engrossing and addictive. Fans spent years craving and demanding a successor, but that could never really happen—Alpha Centauri is owned by the publisher Electronic Arts, while Firaxis is now owned by one of their competitors, 2K Games.

(Full disclosure: I have spent many, many hours playing Alpha Centauri. Too many. I'm glad there's no way to track that.)

So what about this upcoming game, Civilization: Beyond Earth? Well, for starters, here's a CGI trailer, released by Firaxis today:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2grKk4Fv0k&feature=player_embedded


Let's break down some of the basic features, as described to me by the Firaxis folks.

Pre-game preparation is a big thing here. "When you start a game of Civ: Beyond Earth, your choices start before turn zero," said Strenger. "You're composing your spacecraft on your expedition to this new alien planet." So you'll get to make some basic decisions—colonists, cargo, type of spacecraft—before the game starts. That, the designers say, will impact the outcome of your entire game.

"Even when you arrive you're not just this kind of pre-baked factional identity, you're this composition of different choices that plays out a little bit different every time," Strenger said. "That goes for the human player and also for the AI players as well."

Factions are a little different than they are in Civ. Instead of playing as familiar civilizations like, say, the Romans, or Russia, you'll play as futuristic fictional factions—like the American Reclamation Corporation. Or the Panasian Cooperative.

"Factions each have distinct personalities," said producer Dennis Shirk. "You might have an aggressive personality and they have a specific trait, but it's going to vary greatly, because depending what they start out with, those loadouts are gonna mean that you're gonna get a different experience each time."

You can't play as an alien race. Sadly. Maybe that'll come in an expansion pack later, like it did with Alpha Centauri's Alien Crossfire. For now, aliens in Beyond Earth will be more like barbarians in a Civ game—you can ignore them or pick fights to clear them out of your way.





The tech tree is non-linear. Really, it's more web than a tree, the designers say.

See, in most Civilization games, you go through technologies by progressing linearly, moving from discoveries like masonry and writing to philosophy and mathematics and eventually working your way up to modern times, where you can learn how to blow things up. In Beyond Earth, you'll be able to pick one of a few different branches—like chemistry or engineering—and head down that particular branch. As you progress through the game, you can either stick with the branch you chose, or switch paths to unlock other kinds of stuff.

"Once you go to ecology, for example, that can lead into technologies for terraforming, and for advance satellites, and for geoscoping," said Strenger. "Whereas if you go down the engineering route, that leads to civil support, cybernetics, and other technologies instead. You can advance in many different directions, and at any point you can go back and say, 'OK I've gone enough down this branch for now,' and go back and focus on other things."

You probably won't be able to get every piece of tech by the end of a match, Strenger said. "Each decision you make, each thing that you wanna go for is gonna come at the cost of not being able to get something else."





Surrounding that technology web are big-picture decisions. Themes, really. The developers at Firaxis call them affinities. Based on how you choose to progress through the tech web, you'll find your civilization leaning toward one of three different "post-human identities": purity, harmony, or supremacy.

"Purity is very concerned with maintaining the glory of old earth and the tradition and the culture," Strenger said, "so they're kinda rejecting these new influences on the alien planet. The harmony affinity embraces genetics and alien life forms on the planet and tries to integrate with the planet. And then supremacy does the same sort of integration and moving past what humanity was, but they do it in a technological direction. So they implant cybernetics into their own bodies, and they link up their minds to neural networks."

You'll also be able to...
·Do quests and side missions while exploring the planet.
·Negotiate with other factions, build trade routes, and do all the other little management activities that make a Civ game a Civ game.
·Find alien relics, not unlike in Alpha Centauri.
·Build satellites for different kinds of military, economic, and technological advantages.
·Go insane and declare war on everybody in a mad attempt to take control of the planet by killing everyone else.


Hopefully they can capture what made Alpha Centauri so great. Anyone who spent long nights battling with Zakharov and Santiago undoubtedly has fond memories of transcending humankind and merging with the Planet in Firaxis's sci-fi classic. It was a top-notch game, and though the Civilization series has been consistently great since Sid Meier programmed the first Civ back in 1990, Alpha Centauri always stood out, possibly because it could create its own story, unconfined by history or realism.

The folks at Firaxis seem to agree. And if anyone can pull off a great spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri, it's Sid Meier and crew. Who else could do it?

"This is, for the whole team, just an amazing thrill to be able to cast off the shackles of historic context and work on something amazing like this," Shirk said. "Because it's been a while since Firaxis has gone into space, outside of XCOM. So just to go through the whole process, watch the designers go through the whole process, has been amazing."
http://kotaku.com/were-getting-a-sci-fi-civilization-and-it-sounds-fant-1561510976

Offline gwillybj

I have mixed feelings regarding this announcement. I hope it is not just another carbon copy of the game.  I also hope this game does not shutdown any current or future efforts to improve Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Could it cause this community to disappear?
everyone here is looking for his own AC2, but i don't see why one should leave even if he finds it..
I'm not worried. I think it's safe to say SMACX isn't the only game each of us plays. But it does seem to one with a re-attraction when we stray. I play Space Empires IV with nearly as much immersion as SMACX. I also play tabletop games: Ambush!, Patton's Best, and Flashpoint: Golan; each with its own draw and satisfaction (win or lose).
Some of us have invested quite a lot of hours in our SMACX experience; some have invested real money. I don't think we're going to go away, no matter how good a game this C:BE might turn out to be.
Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. ― Arthur C. Clarke
I am on a mission to see how much coffee it takes to actually achieve time travel. :wave:



Offline Rymdolov

Let's hope for great modding opportunities and a more forgiving scenario editor. And, yeah, I'm skeptical too, but I have to admit that the trailer tickled the old SMACX nerve a bit.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth interview - everything you need to know about the new factions, aliens, technology and more
Tom Senior at 12:01 on 12 April 2014





Civilization: Beyond Earth has been announced. We're the first in the world outside of Firaxis to play it, and you'll be able to read my hands-on impressions in the next issue of PC Gamer UK. While I was at Firaxis, I had the chance to sit down with the two lead designers, Will Miller and David McDonough for a comprehensive hour-long chat about every aspect of Beyond Earth. Read on for details on Beyond Earth's affinities, its dramatic sci-fi tech research web, orbital gun platforms, alien Siege Worms, new high-concept win conditions and loads, loads more.

It's a great big interview, so we've split it into chunks. Here's what you'll find on each page, if you want to skip straight to a bit that interestes you.

Page 2: On building your own faction, merging narrative with game systems, and the three affinities that your civ can pursue.

Page 3: On the planet itself, what the different biomes will be like, alien life, the extreme technologies you can research on the new tech web and the new victory conditions.

Page 4: On AI, diplomacy, extreme espionage, the best units you can research and launching satellites that can shoot lasers.

Page 5: On Beyond Earth's science fiction influences, the design process and the legacy of Civilization.






PC Gamer: When you started designing this, did you design it from the perspective of looking at Civ and trying to make Civilization better, or did you think of it as redesigning Alpha Centauri, or did you think of it as creating something altogether new?

David McDonough: I grew up on the Civ games. Like you, I played Alpha Centauri until my eyes bled. When we very first got the option to make the game, to us it was making a game about the idea of Alpha Centauri, the idea of the future of humanity. That as expressed by a Civ game, we sort of figured out. Part of that was inspired by Alpha Centauri, part of it was inspired by the Civ legacy, and part of it just invented. Civ is about the history of mankind, it travels ground that everybody knows already. This game is about the future, which nobody knows, so we get to make it up. That's where I started.

Will Miller: Yeah, the influence of Alpha Centauri will be apparent, but it's in winks and nods—it's an homage to that game—this game really is meant to be our version of the place that game sat when it came out. It's our version of this idea of mankind in space, and we started with that perspective of the fiction and the narrative, and also of Civ V. Civ V has enjoyed a huge success. There are lots of parts of that game that people really like, and we're building on the Civ V technology, so we took a lot of influences from that as well. If you're a Civ V player, you'll feel right at home.

PC Gamer: I think it's interesting that you build your own race at the start, you say this is what this corner of humanity is, whereas in previous Civs and in Alpha Centauri there were preset characters that you occupied.

David McDonough: I think Alpha Centauri did set characters very well and I think historic Civ has to, you can't invent the leader for Great Britain, you have to pick from the many they've had. In this game it goes back to the fact that this isn't a story that's been told yet, as part of every stop along the way we wanted the player to be able to tell it. Emergent narrative isn't really something Civ has done before, or is really meant to do in a historic context, but it was ideal for this context. It was just the first and best way of getting the player to decide, to be in control of who they are and who they're going to be.

Will Miller: Replayability is also very important. Just those few decisions you make in the very beginning of the game can dramatically change how your trajectory will be throughout the rest of it. If you can imagine how your playstyle will be changed by that, imagine also interactive AI opponents that are also similarly altered. We really liked the strong personalities of Alpha Centauri. People really latched onto that, we wanted to keep that. Our leaders definitely have personalaties that you can latch onto, both for their fiction and for their gameplay implications, so there's still the Genghis Khan leader that's a little more truculant than the rest of them but he may have taken different loadout options from one game to another, so you can't always predict what they're going to do, but you can get a hint. We never want there to be a critical path through this game. We never want there to be this very quick analysis of the map at the beginning, and I build this and I research that and I build this building, etcetera. We want it to be a much more adaptive, organic experience.

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.

PC Gamer: So there are three 'affinities' that you can take, which define your relationship to the planet. How will they operate, what do they affect?

David McDonough: They influence not just the way things look, but the way that they move, and the way that they build. The three identities are the combination of who humanity is when they land on the planet, and what they find, and how those two collide for the next two thousand years.. Harmony finds that the planet is a beautiful place. It's a gem, a jewel. Maybe the mistakes that they made on Earth, pillaging, polluting and so on, they don't want to repeat, so they find a way to make themselves belong on the planet. They say 'this is going to be our new home'. We're going to be fully of this world, and not ruin it, not spoil it, so they take a very positive, welcoming, inclusive approach to the planet. Their territory is large, they grow very easily, they have a lot of free movement over the terrain. They're very fluid, they're very nimble.

The Supremacy player says "well, technology is the salvation of humankind. The ability to build a colony ship is what got us off that world, we've got to keep going down that road, it's the only way we'll be safe and keep humankind going. So, robotics, advanced artificial intelligence, machinery, things that are immune to an alien world and the depths of space. They start to leave behind organic ties, including up to a point their own bodies, eventually.

Purity is I think the most interesting thing, because it's not exactly a rejection of the two. It's a very plausible philosophy of what humanity would do if faced with, as the quote goes, "the unimaginable strangeness" of space", which is that they'll hold on very tightly to what they know, and what they recognise, and where they came from. So the player tries to push away the alien, they try to make the planet more like Earth, they try to avoid conflict with the alien life forms by building massive defences, by being tough and very hard to kill, very secure in the territory they've made safe, then at the same time try to devote themselves to the preservation, or you might say the conservation of the idea of humanity, hence the name. If you just think about those philosophically, you can imagine how they start to become playstyles, how they become conflicts, how they become wars when you're the Purity player with your big strongholds and the harmony territories are around you from all sides. That sets up a lot of options for both players.

Will Miller: Mechanically, the Purity player is the one that's going to put guns on things. Giant platforms with lots of guns.

David McDonough: We're going to build a fortress, and we're going to make it fly.

PC Gamer: I think I know which one I'm going to play already.

David McDonough: (laughs)They're my favourite, they're very cool. I was never a fan of Batman, Superman, I like the Hulk. You don't need fancy tricks and gadgets, you just need to hit things really, really hard. That's the Purity attitude - overwhelming force.

Will Miller: Then the Harmony player can take advantage of all the things that are threatening to you in the beginning of the game, even to the extent that they start to design their own alien creatures. You get to play these big alien things at the end of the game, they even ride them. They're not space elves, they're still very tough. In fact, the ground unit trajectory for Harmony, they look like Football players, huge genetically modified guys,

David McDonough: They've got as much influence from the Predator as they do from Avatar.

Will Miller: Then the Supremacy player is very finesse oriented. It's going to be about building units and putting them in a geometry that lets them harmonise with each other. You have units that are very specialised, but if put in the right places relative to others, you get a lot of buffs that way. Each of the three playstyles have an influence on all of the game systems, so they all can use orbital units, they all take advantage of those things, but just differently. They also don't suggest a military one, or an economic one. You can play canonical Civ gametypes with each one. Each are different takes.

PC Gamer: You mentioned the orbital layer, briefly. How does that interact with the ground layer?

Will Miller: The planet's surface, and what's on it, is the star of the show, and that's been the case with Civ forever. The map is the coolest thing. So the orbital layer is built to reinforce that idea. You can shoot satellites up into the atmosphere, and they project an influence onto the ground. If you wanted to clear the Miasma from your capital, you would send a satellite above it and clear it over a certain number of turns. Satellites are temporary. We're still balancing the numbers, but they won't last forever, and they'll de-orbit, and it's good because they can't overlap, so they have this footprint which is the affected area on the ground, and you can't have two that have overlapping effects, and that's a pretty cool secondary territorial acquisition problem that the player are engaging with in addition to what's going on on the ground. So the strategy might be I shoot down the satellite above your capital, and I might just have time to get mine up there, and you can't - there's this bin-packing problem you're dealing with, and there are offensive satellites and defensive ones and they can't shoot each other, which is realistic, right? But they can shoot things on the ground, so you can have orbital strike platforms, and terraforming and stuff like that.





PC Gamer: Where did you draw inspiration from for the planet itself?

David McDonough: We're big fans of the sweep of the sci fi canon. There's no shortage of strange and incredible worlds out there, from Dune to the Buggers from Ender's Game. There's no new ideas about alien planets out there, there's just fun good ones. It's an interesting balance of making the planet recognisable to the human eye so you can tell what's good, where do I want to live on this planet, and maknig it alien, so it's totally bizarre. A lot of the new things like the canyons, the Miasma, the new resources and so on are ways to do that at the same time. We cleared the decks and rebuilt the very idea of map generation. We have these biomes with whole-world palettes with unique plantlife and unique colour schemes and unique layouts and so on, so when you go to one it feels like a different world each time. Earth version B,C and D, it's like you went to a whole different part of the galaxy where planets are different.

PC Gamer: Will the monsters be different from from world to world?

David McDonough: The actual units will be the same. Their behaviour will be different, because they take advantage - the AI reacts to the terrain it has, so a Vulcan planet, which is all land and a lot of canyons, will probably have a lot more worm activity. The problem you have to solve regarding the alien life will be different than if you were on a nautical planet with a lot of the sea creatures that we have. It was more a constraint of keeping the learning curve down to keep the player from having to relearn the game every time they start a different planet.

PC Gamer: What technological extremes can you explore on the tech web?

Will Miller: That's where the reading list came in. The first thing we did was go on Wikipedia to the Alpha Centauri webpage, and it has the books that Brian Reynolds and his team read, so we read those, and that was our starting point. And we read a lot more, and got a survey of all the weird things we could do and the weird places we could go, and the tech web really reflects that. They cater to each of those affinities as we mentioned, but there's always this thread of plausibility through the whole thing. It was important to us not to start high sci-fi, but to gradually get there through a route that seems very plausible to the player. I don't remember the exact Karl Sagan quote, but he says humans of the future will be quite different from us, fewer of our weaknesses, more of our strengths. We wantes to show this evolution all the way through, and have it be plausible.

PC Gamer: I saw transhumanism as one of the paths, how else can humanity progress?

David McDonough: The web represents the frontiers of science. Your culture can embrace any part of it on the way to where it's going. You can say that the strong arms are, off to the left there's alteration to the human form, so cybernetics, human augmentation, surrogacy, putting your brain in a can, that kind of stuff, that's where transhunanism shows up. Near it is artificial intelligence, super advanced computing, artificial sentience, robotics, machine life and so on. Then there's information and communication sciences, so lots of orbital stuff, data collection storage and analysis. Imagine a world run by the unholy alliance of Twitter and Wikipedia.

PC Gamer: Oh god.

David McDonough: Another analogy would be the Hitchhiker's Guide, data flows freely and the Purity player will find lots there, like human archivism and holding onto what came from Earth. Next to that is planetary sciences starting with alien fauna and alien geology and then moving onto terraforming, all the way to the point of planetary engineering where you can dig into the mantle and mine rare ores right out of the lava. Or you can build machines that shake the very ground under your enemies and stuff like that.

Above it is genetics, starting with what the human genome is and what the genome is we find on the alien world, and then extrapolating, blending them, hybridising, breeding new life, reverting humanity to an earlier genome stripped of all its flaws, like the promethean idea of the ultimate idea of human, and then in between body modification and genetics are the xeno-sciences, about the alien world you find, things that are unique about the Miasma, the alien ecosystem, the bizarre resources you find and what that means for new technologies. You'll get some combination of those, maybe about 75%, and you can decide which one's the most important to you. Whatever you want to do, those techs are how you do it. They're the engine of the game.

PC Gamer: How do victory conditions work in Beyond Earth?

Will Miller: They're quite different. We decided early on that we wanted victory in the game to be something you start a little bit earlier, and a bit of a gamble. This is it, you're taking your shot, you're making your run and be very dramatic, so the victories are couched in our quest system. So you get these four victory quests at the beginning of the game and it tells you step by step what you would need to do them, and they're reach tailored to one of the affinities, and then there's one that anybody can do. This is the contact victory, you get a signal through some means, either by researching it and finding it in a transcendental number, the ?mentissa?, or finding it in an alien ruin, or getting it in space when you put a radio telescope up there, and then you build a beacon, and then you have to turn it on and protect it while it's on, then several turns later the aliens, the progenitors, turn up and then you win.

There's the transcendence victory, this is the Harmony victory, this is a nod to Alpha Centauri of course. In this victory you discover that the planet is a living being, like Solaris almost, a living thing, and find a way to communicate with it, and integrate yourselves into its consciousness.

Then there are the promised land and emancipation victories, and these are my two favourite. You reestablish contact with Earth. You leave Earth in a very ambiguous state. They're on the mend, but resources are running low, and you're not really sure, so you re-establish communication with Earth and then you build a warpgate and if you're the Supremacy player and go for the emancipation victory, you send military units through the warpgate to conquer - to emancipate earth, to bring it in line with you. If you're the Purity player you bring settlers through and settle them, so that's a cool victory to go for because you have to plant these settlers and protect them until you have enough to sustain a new human colony.

PC Gamer: So once you've built the warpgate, there's more play after that?

Will Miller: That's where the gamble starts. You build the warpgate, which is a planetary wonder, which is a new concept in the game. It's a wonder that takes up an entire hex, and you have to give up that hex as part of your city to build this thing, and it takes a while and a lot of resources to build, and then if you're sending things through it or taking things out of it you have to protect it, they're very weak, so there's a military presence that has to be there, and there's a certain number of units you have to send in, and a certain number of units you have to pull out, and it it's the same with all of the other ones. It's not just "I build this thing and I win," it's "I build this thing, and you turn it on, you have to protect it and all the other players know you're gunning for it. It's a neat twist on winning Civ.

PC Gamer: It sounds less abstract than previous victory conditions in Civ when you'd just research the technology at the end of the tree, and you don't quite know where everyone's at.

David McDonough: The way we designed them philosophically is that, it's a little easier in historic Civ to point to what makes a civilization great, because we already know. In the future, you're all going in these different directions and you have these different affinities, and what is the end point? Well there really isn't one, it's just the beginning of one, right? So we pointed to the victory conditions and said this is going to represent humanity taking the next leap, leaping into a new epoch where they've met another sentient alien race, or they've achieved a transcendent level of consciousness because they've discovered this other level of lifeform, so the victory conditions are all funnelled around that, and they're exclusive, right? If you want to wake up the planet, the guy who's trying to settle Earthlings on it probably isn't, they're not going to be harmonious, so you put humanity to another turning point, and it's either going to be the one you want, and you win, or the one that your opponents want, and you have to stop them.


(continued next post)


http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/04/12/civilization-beyond-earth-interview-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-factions-aliens-technology-and-more/

 

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