|About This Civ 5 Map Editing ...
||[Apr. 12th, 2013|07:15 am]
Plus, this epic American run was a great test of my first custom map.
After playing on the map, I found it is practically flawless, for what it achieved versus what I envisioned. Essentially, it's a Continents-plus type of map. That's a map with a few larger land masses, plus some scattering of islands.
Note: Interesting side-fact about Civ 5 ... the game recognizes only four continents: Asia, Africa, America, and Europe. Where Australia and Antarctica went, I have no idea. And don't get me started on continental classifications ... I looked that shit up, and apparently people IRL can't completely come to an agreement on what is and isn't a continent.
What makes my map different from vanilla maps and other custom maps ... I put a ton of resources on my map. By hand. Made the continents too, by hand, after I kept randomizing and not getting any random map I liked. It took me days to craft ... and it was totally worth it. Everything looked fantastic, rendered in the 3-D top-down mode in the game.
Note: This first version of my custom maps, titled "Genesis 001," is a quasi-backstoried idea that I had about life in general, with credit to the excellent film (and book), 2001: A Space Odyssey. The idea centers itself on making new versions of Earth among the stars, on other planets similar to Earth in the habitable zone of their solar systems. Basically, it's not an original idea, but let's say that life was spawned from previous eras of intelligent life, in the form of, say, an advancement-helping tool like 2001's monolith. So all life has been a never-ending series of rising from the seas, advancing in sophistication, eventually reaching the stars and traveling the cosmos, then planting seeds for new forms of life to rise and repeat, all in a similar re-birth pattern to that of supernovae and nebulae.
Pictured: Crab Nebula, or as I make my case, part of the circle of existence.
So, let's say our planet was cultivated by a similar style of species, with similar nations rising up from the Earth, with similar-forming features, all in the grand eventual leaving of this home to do more of the same, possibly with intent to create more forms of human-like organisms, elsewhere. Complete with similar Natural Wonders and so on. Thus my branding of my custom map as "Genesis."
No, not the band .......
Although, you can't go wrong with them, either. They had some great tunes.
I used an SDK (software development kit) for the game that I could download for free, which included a 'world builder' function that let me craft my map, hexagon tile by hexagon tile.
After the land-shaping, I started on plopping the resources.
I had a theory that the vanilla version of the game doesn't give you enough in terms of available resources, and if I made more of every resource, that somehow the game would play better.
In a vanilla game, for example, if you find an Iron resource in a tile, you might find a handful of Iron (2-5 units). 5 doesn't seem like enough, but that tends to be the usual resource amount one usually finds. It's a huuuuge find in a vanilla game if it generates 7 to 10 of something. Oooooh, seven oil! You're rich now.
Better round up your clan and head to Civ-Beverly Hills to freak out your neighbors.
Problem is, if you want to build a big number of anything in the game, like say, I did in this last run with the bombers (they require one unit of oil), you basically have to deprive pretty much all the other Civs of literally everything, because there's never nearly enough for even a couple superpowers to do much with ... of which, IMO, that's pretty silly. That's also the case, even if you choose the "legendary start" option for the resources.
So I said "Fuck that ... I'm gonna go big."
Ahhh, wasn't feeling hillbilly rock or poppy divas. Urbaaaaan cruuuuunk!
Find a deposit of 6 coals on my map? Sorry about that. You got a shallow amount. Many other places, it wasn't uncommon to find a pack of 20 horses, or 15 uranium, in them hills. I made about the same number of random-ish strategic resource plops (stuff you need for military units and some city upgrades), but in any particular plop I upped the total units by a lot.
As an example, in this test run with the Americans, I only held a small section of the total map (largest map size is 128 x 80 hex tiles), but I had anywhere from 25-75 of every strategic resource. Comparatively, in a vanilla game, you're lucky if you get a total of 10-15 units in anything. For example, I had around 35-40 coal, plus whatever excess I got from city-states, making the total probably around 60-70. In terms of land that I had to find and cultivate such resource, I only had six cities, which isn't much territory on a large map. So in that small section of the map, I had more than enough coal to feed one to every city and build them all factories (production-boosting upgrade), leaving plenty to field a formidable fleet of Ironclads (mid-late game Civil-War era battleship). On top of that, I still had plenty of coal left over to use in trade negotiations.
Note: As for why coal is the only requirement for a unit that clearly denotes "iron" in its title, well, if you sweat the little details, all games will break your immersion. And yes, they used coal for a lot of things like trains and such in that era. Still. But moving on ...
Other types of resources, like luxuries (gold, spices, sugar, pearls), I plopped a whole lot more of those. Luxuries and Bonus resources don't stack like the Strategics, so I littered the map with those goodies.
Between having a very small piece of the world's land-pie, and my trades with city states, I managed to possess at least 1 of every luxury, something that's almost entirely impossible for even the most successful Civs on a vanilla map, as Civ 5 is is prone to randomly plop only 2 of something. As a result, those 2 units end up being fawned over by everyone, and they cause senseless wars on top of the frequent bickering, bombarding, and backstabbing.
YEAAAAH, WE GOT THE LAST PEARLS RESOURCE! WE CAN RUN BARTERTOWN!!1
Note: I understand that we're currently running through our world's natural resources at an alarming rate, but in general, my opinion is that our species was blessed with more than enough of everything we needed to become what we are. If this was a post-apocalyptic game, then fine, short some necessities and let's get to Thunderdome. But it's not, and it doesn't even have programming built in to erode resources, so let's just go with plenty of everything for everyone.
As for quantities per plop, I wish you could stack luxuries and bonuses because it would be consistent with strategic resources. I wanted everyone to have a more life-like representation of such commodities, so I had to make sure there was enough plops on every continent. I only varied the amounts of plops per continent, to give some continents an advantage in a particular resource over another, and the like.
My theory ... turned out to be correct. It was a vastly different experience with everything. And it was faaaaantastic.
First big difference ... you don't run out of building ability. You're more limited by your building capacity, meaning, how developed your lands and cities are. Second difference was that you could do even more trading with other Civs (until late in the game). Since there was more of everything, you had even more to share with the others, plus I still had to get some stuff from city states, or other Civs, for the first quarter of the game. By the time I had enough of the land, and built up my lands, and did enough partnering with city states, I had everything I needed, which was the third difference. Plus, along the way, I had already profited plenty from became a trading king.
The trading ability was what worried me the most, before I had a chance to test the map. My fear was that if you shower the map with a lot of everything, that trading would disappear rather early, and it would cause for more discontent among Civ relations. One of the reasons that turned out not to be the case was because the AI-controlled Civs don't develop all their available resources, or at least they don't develop them as fast as I did. And even among those that seemed to develop a lot of their land, they seemed to hold off on development of particular resources, if they could get it in trade from you. Once they knew you had something, they just kept coming to you for it, even if you could see several of the same commodity lying dormant and undeveloped on their map. It was awesome, actually.
The best difference showed up in the rival Civs. Many more Civs survived in this game than I normally experience. I think because all the Civs had enough resources, especially strategic-related ones, that they were able to better defend themselves from more aggressive rivals. The extra resources they had also gave them a better ability to generate their own gold. And that is probably the best part of the changes, since the usual playthroughs on regular maps feature 75% to nearly all the Civs being completely bankrupt by the late game, constantly operating with a large negative number of gold per turn. This run featured plenty of Civs making almost as much per turn as I was (+100 to +500, compared to my +700).
There were only two anomalies with my map. You shouldn't be able to farm on snow tiles, but on some of them, farming was possible for me. That's more of a happy accident than a problem, since those tiles are generally worthless unless you build a special tile on them with a Great Person. Another oddity was a graphical glitch near the edge of the map around Gibraltar ... tiles were showing their output one tile below and to the right of where it should have been. As for the game itself, it seemed to be recognizing those glitched tiles correctly, showing the right output if you hovered over them, so it's just a small bug from what I can tell.
I'm not sure if this playthrough was the norm or an isolated event, so I might go through another game on it, probably trying another Civ for the new run. I'm guessing these are signs of a repeatable and better result, overall, with my map, due to the fact that I can pretty much reason out why things might have changed the way they did, among all the differences.
While I'm still playing with the Americans and whatever next Civ I choose on the 2nd run, I'll definitely start poking around with a 2nd map, maybe making more sea tiles in the next one (more of an Archipelago map). As for the 1st map, if you're interested in using it in your own game, just drop me a line, and I'll email you the file. You will likely need all the DLC and the Gods & Kings expansion in order for it to work correctly, as certain features I put into it use the extra content, so if you have everything Firaxis has published for this game like I do, then feel free to give me a shout and give this map a shot.
So yeah, Americans are an awesome choice to use in the game, much much much of the game was discussed, and my map was pretty cool. That about covers it for now. Happy gaming!