Tuesday, June 13, 2017 01:22 PM

Guest-hosting Polycast episode 283

in Video Gaming by MegaBearsFan

PolyCast logo

This past weekend, I was once again honored to be invited onto the Polycast podcast about the Civilization games. This was my third time on the show since the release of Civilization VI (back in November). Those two episodes were focused more about initial impressions of the game. This time, we got to have some more substantive discussions.

The 1-hour archive of the episode can be streamed from civcomm.civfanatics.com/polycast/polycast/season9/episode223.mp3:

This archived episode is edited down to 1 hour (from a 2-hour recording), so not all the following topics may be included in this particular episode. The remaining topics may be included in later episodes, so be sure to check back at Polycast.net if you want to hear it all!

The bulk of our discussions were focused around a handful of Civfanatics forum topics regarding criticisms and suggestions for enhancing the district mechanics. The first thread was about users' ideas for possible districts in any inevitable expansion for the game. This gave me an opportunity to link back to a previous blog that I had written about my own ideas for new districts (and other ways to make better use of the game's map). Ideas from other users ranged from new districts focused around diplomacy and envoy-generation, to railroad hub districts, a fortress / castle district, espionage district, and (of course) a canal district. Other users pitched the idea of stacking multiple districts into a single tile. This idea seemed unfavorable to the Polycast hosts (as well as myself), as it generally undercuts the fact that "unstacking" cities was a core design philosophy of Civ VI. However, it is worth pointing out that "unstacking" units was the core design philosophy of Civ V, but Civ VI added limited stacking back into the series. So back-pedaling on a philosophy of unstacking is not without precedent.

Civilization VI - Russian A.I. district placement
Russia is pretty much the only A.I. that places its districts well, due to its free extra border expansion.

The next topic was a thread about removing districts. The general consensus seemed to be that we were all in favor of having a city project to remove or relocate districts, if -- for nothing else -- but to relocate poorly-placed districts in captured A.I. cities. The last forum topic discussion was about user dunkleosteus' ideas about rethinking districts. I think we all agreed that the poster's ideas seemed to be far too complicated, but there are some ideas of merit in there. Having more options for further specializing districts and cities would be fine, and we'd all like to see more bonuses based on nearby districts and the map so that district placement doesn't feel quite so ... mechanical...

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PolyCast logo

The past few weekends, I've been lucky enough to be invited to guest host on a pair of episodes of PolyCast, the Civilization podcast series. Both episodes were dedicated towards first impressions and thoughts about the release of Civilization VI (which I've already reviewed).

The first episode (episode 268) was recorded the Saturday following Civ VI's release. In this episode, a bunch of people in the Civ community were invited to briefly discuss their first impressions of the game, including things we like, things we'd like to see improved, and things that are just plain bad. About a dozen guests (including myself) offered our first impressions of the game, and a lot of good insight was given.

I invite all my readers to listen to the full episode. This episode of PolyCast was recorded on October 29th, and can be streamed in its entirety at civcomm.civfanatics.com/polycast.

The following episode (269) was the more involved one. I was a guest host (along with Alpha Shard) for the duration of that episode.

The biggest topic of discussion in this episode was the news that eSports team, Team Liquid, is attempting to recruit competitive Civ players to join their team. We discussed the possibility of Civ entering the eSports arena, as well as our reservations about it.

A big point of concern was whether or not the game is "balanced" enough for such competitive play. We all agreed that any league that would play Civ competitively would have to agree on certain settings (and probably on specific maps) that would be exclusively used for competitive games. The variation and randomness of maps, resource distribution, civilization uniques, barbarians, goody huts, and so forth would probably not be welcome by many competitive gamers, as there are admittedly many games of Civ in which a player lives or dies by the map conditions - which are wholly outside of the player's control. In single player, you have the luxury of being able to simply restart the game on a different map. But in multiplayer (and especially in formal, competitive multiplayer), you can't simply mulligan the game because you got a bad roll for where you start and what's present around you.

Team Liquid's Civ leader
TeamLiquid's Civ leader is recruiting members.

I went on a bit of a tangential rant about how I feel online gaming has hurt another of my favorite game franchises, Madden NFL. I was trying to be as brief as possible, since I didn't want to talk too much about Madden in a podcast about Civilization, so I'm not sure if I made myself entirely clear, or if I really explained the connection between Madden and Civ that I was trying to make.

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PolyCast logo

I had another opportunity over the weekend of June 11th to participate as a guest host on the Civilization podcast PolyCast for their 257th episode. I joined regular hosts DanQ, TheMeInTeam, MadDjinn, and Makahlua as we discussed the latest news regarding Civilization - specifically, some new information regarding City States in Civilization VI. We discussed how the new envoy system works, what exactly Firaxis might mean by city states being "streamlined", took a jab at Beyond Earth by joking that stations are "streamlined" city states, and then teased Dan with the apparent lack of a "bully" option on the city state interface that is shown in the screenshots.

Civilization VI - City State Hattusa
City State "diplomacy" is now handled by sending envoys rather than by buying their alliances with gold.

The new city state system relies on sending diplomatic envoys to a city state. Once certain thresholds of envoys have been reached, the city state grants certain bonuses based on its type. The civ with the most envoys gets the privilege of being the suzerain of the city state (seems to be just a renaming of "ally" or "master"), which confers a unique bonus to the civ from that city state. Having unique bonuses from city states is a cool new feature that adds more variety and personality, and helps inform the player of the history of that city states in the same way that the civilizations' national powers were informed by some aspect of the respective civ's culture and history. Very nice addition.

The envoy system seems to be an attempt to make city states feel more diplomatic and less like bribery subjects. It sounds like it should work towards that goal, and city states alliances will require more long-term commitment and hopefully won't be subject to the same kinds of mass-gold buying to suddenly swing their alliances from one civ to another. I just wonder if city states will still play a major part in the diplomatic victory?...

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PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of May 24 (Memorial Day weekend), I participated in a special edition of the bi-weekly Civilization podcast called "PolyCast". It was the two hundredth episode, and in celebration, the hosts (DanQ, MadDjinn, Makahlua, and TheMeInTeam) invited as many of the guests hosts from the previous seasons as they could track down. First, however, listeners were treated to a special Q&A session with some of the Firaxis staff, in which Civ V was discusses, as well as the recently-announced Civilization: Beyond Earth!

The episode can be streamed in its entirety at thePolyCast.net.

Among the notable points of Civ V discussion was the Firaxians' response to the question of whether Civ V would receive any more patches. Although a straight "no" was not given (leaving the door open to the possibility of one more patch this summer), they made it seem like [to me] that support for Civ V has effectively ended. This was no surprise to me, but it was still a bit of a disappointment, considering that there are still a few annoying bugs (lingering auto-annex issues, broken promotions, and multiplayer bugs) as well as some in-game descriptions that are outright misleading (such as Shoshone's Great Expanse trait description). There is also still a great deal of concern on the forums about the balance of the initial policy trees (Tradition feeling much stronger than Liberty, Honor, or Piety). So it's a shame that these issues are not likely to be addressed.

Civilization: Beyond Earth - title

The bulk of the conversation, however, was focused around the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth. I'm excited about this game, but also a bit skeptical, considering the poor quality of Civ V's initial release. However, I'm hopeful that Firaxis has learned their lessons, and will release a much more stable and compelling game this time around, so that we won't have to wait for six-to-twelve months of post-release support to get a decently-playable game.

The remainder of the show was brief discussions with many of the guest hosts who have participated in the show during the years. My segment was the first such chunk. I used the opportunity to thank the PolyCast hosts for discussing and publicizing my strategy posts, and talked a little about my future plans for Civ V and Beyond Earth strategies before they had to stop me to allow others to speak. I hope I didn't come off as too self-promoting or inconsiderate...

Anyway, I look forward to PolyCast continuing to provide great material, and the release of Beyond Earth should give them plenty to talk about in future podcasts. I hope I will be invited back soon, as I enjoy the discussions with my fellow Civ-heads.

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PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of June 15, I participated in a bi-weekly Civilization podcast called "PolyCast". This episode was number 175, and it was titled "In Response to That", and focused on responding to several forum topics. The episode can be streamed in its entirety at here.

It was an interesting show, full of confusion and technical difficulties when it was broadcast live; although some of those difficulties were edited out in order to fit into the standard 1-hour format for the show archive. The show started out with difficulties getting the audio to work in the live steam, and it took us around 20 minutes to get up and running. That was a great start to the show. On top of that, I suffered several power outages at my house that disconnected me from the group chat and caused me to stumble through the show's closing sign-off. Oops. I'll do better next time.

This was my second time on PolyCast. The first time I appeared on the show, I predicted Civ V's first expansion. This show wasn't quite as prophetical (is that a word?), but I can't be Nostradamus every day!

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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