I started playing the beta just before the release, and v.1. Then, I put the game down for a while, and have recently picked it back up with the beta builds leading up to 1.1.
There are a lot of improvements, and I like the improvements – they do make it better. But the feeling I get now is how I felt after playing through version 1.0 the first two times – there’s nothing to look forward to, to entice "just one more turn."
In MoM, there were cool spells (I know, the spell book is being revamped). But there were also cool creatures – Sky Drakes, Archangels, Giant Spiders with their damn webs. I always looked forward to getting those beefy high end creatures – paladins, warlocks and the like. In HoMM there were Titans and Black Dragons. In MOO2 I got to build death stars. In Elemental, I get to look forward to Lord Hammers and Full Plate Armor – it’s less than thrilling.
In Civ4 with every tech advance I get to hear Leonard Nimoy recite a succinct yet profound bit of wisdom – and it’s thrilling even after hoards of games of Civ. In Alpha Centauri I always found the tech advance descriptions/movies interesting (even after playing it dozens of times over). In GalCiv there was always some goofy or nerdy reference in there (though I probably only read the techs every 5 or 10 games). Elemental doesn’t have much life in its tech advances – I find myself just crunching numbers to determine what boosts I need most right now.
In MOO2 I always loved getting those high level governors, and sending large fleets to destroy those massively powerful guardians (essential boss fights), and then colonizing and pumping up those beautiful planets they guarded. In MoM there were those nodes guarded by 8 Sky Drakes or Great Worms that were savagely difficult to win and had massively powerful goodies. In Civ4 I had my towns that slowly grew up over dozens of turns, that couldn’t simply be replaced if pillaged.
The battle animations are great. The detail of the town when zoomed in is great. The way borders expand, and how caravans build roads and travel back and forth, and how monsters and heroes band together over time – all great. But those are all aspects to be taken for granted. They’re the background of the game, and they make it gorgeous – they’re just nothing to look forward to. There’s no motive for “just one more turn.” There’s nothing to look forward to*.
*(Except, maybe, dragons – but they’re such a pain on the battlefield they’re more frustrating than fun).
*Edit – A short summary of this thread. I have by no means included all of the ideas, thoughts and opinions put forth in the 55 posts below (as of the time of this edit).
First – Much of this thread is a reply to Frogboy's comments in post 4 (it's short - scroll down a bit and read it).
I may be interpreting his comments wrong, but what his proposal seems to me is parallel to what Blizzard did with Starcraft. In TBS, 4X, we're all playing the same game - we research the same techs, build the same buildings and units, pursue the same resources. What changes from game to game is our strategy. What I read in the idea of streamlining to three tech trees is the creation of three wholly separate, but (eventually) balanced games (Compare Magic, Civilization and Adventure to Zerg, Protoss and Terran). Someone focused on rebuilding a shattered world through cities, kingdoms and empires would entirely different needs from someone seeking to rediscover lost magic, or treasure hunters looking to uncover pre-Cataclysmic ruins. In theory, it's an idea that would change 4X gaming entirely, similar to what Starcraft did with RTS. It's a fascinating idea. Or I'm just reading too much into it.
In post 19, Nonjin has offered a thoughtful commentary on how he feels about the state of the game.
In post 28, Tanafres puts forth an idea that I find very interesting. Summarized:
- Assuming 3 tech trees, each tree would be researched by different means.
- Civ and Warfare would be lost technologies researched in (for example) libraries.
- Magic would be researched in (for example) mage towers (or arcane towers).
- Adventure would be researched by adventuring (I imagine something similar to Great General emergence in Civ4. Great Generals had an experience meter that filled up whenever the player fought a battle. Then, after so many GG XP had been accrued, it would level up and a Great General would appear. Similarly, every time someone “adventures,” the adventure bar would get a few points. After it filled up, the adventure tree would advance, with the next level being more difficult to attain.)
In post 31, Vinadil offers in the third paragraph a different perspective on why 4X games appeal to him/her.
In post 33, WhiteElk, a long time 4X player, offers a detailed explanation of why version 1.09e had greater “just one more turn” appeal, along with his/her thoughts on what makes 4X a great genre. The post is long, but is well formatted for skimming/scanning.
In the 40s posts – A discussion arises regarding monster lairs. This idea has been around since pre-release, and (I think) is still a pretty cool idea.
In post 53, quoting Sir_Linque “Yes there are special units you can research up to, but the total customization of human troops feels too much like a game of Excel.”
To reiterate, the above is NOT a comprehensive summary of this thread. It is just a quick synopsis of what caught my attention. *
*Edit 2 - 69 replies.
In the 60s, Several comments on lending a more RPG-esque nature to heroes, where the Adventuring tree would unlock more "Different weapons, armors and kits" for different types of classes (Rogues, Wizards, Clerics, Sword Saints etc...), and also abilities. It seems an interesting concept as it could effectively segregate the RPG elements, allowing the player to spice his 4X experience however he/she might choose (Perhaps taking a healthy dose of warmongering with a side of RPG, or vice versa).
Post 69, TarlSS asks for "an end to building spam," proposing instead that each building should have multiple levels. I say keep both the building spam as an option, but also allow for leveling up buildings. Some kings are messy, sprawling their nations across the wasteland; others are meticulous magekings building tidy enclaves.
[Digression - Having just played a game of Civ5 (new patch, large map), I was thrilled to win a game having only built three cities. My capital was able to produce higher research, culture and production than any other civilization.] *