Civilization IV part II: A turn

| Monday, November 28, 2011
I don't enjoy making decisions without proper information, especially when that information is available but is obscured by a bad UI.

Example: At the start of turns in Civ IV you get bombarded by new production order requests. You cannot get rid of these until the cities have their orders. So stumble through and get them out of the way, and maybe you gave sensible build orders. Then go look up tech progress, where your enemies are, what techs you can buy, and then go back and change a few cities. Civ V has a much better system, with new production being something you just need to pick before the end of a turn, similar to new research and giving orders to units.

And yet, Civ V managed to create all sorts of annoying problems when dealing with turns. Automated units act at the start of the turn, rather than at the end. This means that exploring units have a bad habit of blundering into big groups of barbarians. Hitting "end turn" results in a giant pile of truly awful game design. Units with movement points remaining will demand that you use them up or skip action, which in the case of workers means a lot of moving a unit one more tile, intending to have it build something, but nope, you released the mouse and now you are DONE. Sometimes the remaining movement is because a worker got scared, a useful indicator of enemies nearby but not necessarily in your territory, except you cannot move units to defend, because your turn is DONE. All you can do is shuffle the worker off somewhere.

The autosave for a turn is effectively done at the end of a turn in Civ V, so that the turn numbers are all off by one.

Both games force decisions on conquered cities, though both also allow for an inspection of the city first. At least in V you can raze a city later, though doing so will require annexing it, raising the culture cost of social policies. It would be nice if these were also handled the way production is: get it done before the end of the turn. This might be a problem because of how culture borders are drawn and affect movement speed, but that's a non-issue in IV because newly captured cities have very weak borders.


Injera said...

It took me years to notice this, but you can actually get rid of those annoying city pop-ups. There's an option in the UI to put them as side alerts more similar to Civ 5 (it's something vaguely but appropriately named like "Minimize Pop-Ups".)

You can also navigate around pretty well if you hit "Examine City..." - you can access all your main advisor screens from there and the plus and minus keys will let you navigate between your cities. If you select production on a city there you won't get a pop-up, so another option is just whenever you get a pop-up to just go through and +/- cycle between all your cities, make sure the right tiles are worked, they're happy, etc, and then queue up some builds for the next 10-20 turns. No more pop-ups until it's time for another round.

It's definitely bad design out of the box, though.

Klepsacovic said...

How many years and I never found the option to minimize pop-ups... wow. Go me. Thanks.

Injera said...

Yeah, I had no idea it existed until I read an off-hand comment in a Civ 5 preview that compared the Civ 5 alerts to it. For 4 years I had assumed it disabled the "Most Enlightened Civ"-type windows and never bothered to try it out.

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