Why Not Games




The First Build Point in Syphilisation

Very early in a game of Civ 6 you're presented with your first build menu and a whole assortment of choices. This is surprising to me due to the complexity hit associated with that information dump. There are a fair number of options that are presented immediately and that can be intimidating for new players. Additionally, it starts the build / research chain on a strange note and it just feels very arbitrary.

So, for my first pass of Syphilisation, I built it without a range of starting build options. Instead, the player needed to research before being able to build anything with their cities. As a result of this, it would take a few turns before the player had any choice of what to build with their cities. When I played this though, I found that the game only really opened up when enough research was complete to give the player a set of options for what to build.

The core of the game is in choices with deferred rewards. These are the interesting decisions that Civ is famous for. Of these choices, it definitely feels like the choice of what to build with cities is the most important. The things that you can build with cities are the most tangible of the rewards from these choices. It feels more concrete to construct a building or a unit than to unlock a policy card or set of building options. When you build something like a library or an aqueduct, it feels like a tangible improvement for the people of that city and so your entire empire. It also just feels like an advancement of civilization.

If this is the core action of any Civ game, then delaying it is clearly a mistake. It's surprisingly visceral how much better it feels to be able to choose what to build next with a city. There are signs of this in Civilization 6 itself, where it actively feels bad to have a city where you don't want to build any of the options it gives you but it took implementing a period without that decision point for me to fully understand how critical it is.

- @murthynikhil

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Written for Why Not Games.