Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword with Alex Mantzaris
Sam Gibson wants answers concerning Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, addressing Alex Mantzaris, Lead Designer and Programmer at Firaxis Games on the new expansion.
How will the new expansion tie in with Warlords and will it include any of the code from that expansion?
Beyond the Sword will include some of the code from Warlords - specifically the stuff that impacts the core game functionality. The assets and code from the scenarios in Warlords will not be included.
The introduction of religion was one of the most splendid features of Civ IV. Corporation sounds equally intriguing. Can you elaborate on how this will function and what benefits (and drawbacks) this will entail for players?
Corporations represent commercial entities, each consuming specific resources in order to provide benefits to their city. The more instances of resources they consume, the more food, production, commerce, or resources they supply. The downside is that any city hosting a corporation has to pay a maintenance fee for its services. It really pays to have the headquarters of a corporation, since the founding city gets royalty income for each city in the world hosting a branch of that corporation. Players can block foreign corporations from operating in their cities by adopting the Mercantilism civic, and they block all corporations (even their own) by adopting the State Property civic.
Will there be any new commodities or resources in the expansion and will the trade screen be getting any attention to make it more informative and user friendly?
Actually, there will not be any new resources in Beyond the Sword, because by the industrial era there is already an abundance of health and happiness in the game without adding new sources. However, the aforementioned corporation game mechanics make it advantageous to control as many instances of certain resources as possible, something that was not important in previous versions of Civilization. Therefore, securing resources, one of the most fun elements from the early-game, is now extended into the late-game.
The foreign advisor screen, which is where all foreign trades and possible deals are listed, is indeed getting an overhaul.
It's good to see espionage getting some love as I felt this was an aspect of Civ IV that did not have the same scope as previous incarnations. What sort of fun can players now expect to have with their shady units?
You now have the ability to divert part of your income towards espionage activities against other civilizations. Once you have reached certain levels of espionage investment, you gain some automatic intelligence benefits over rival civilizations, like visibility into their cities, access to their demographics and power graphs, or knowledge of their current research efforts. You may also take a more aggressive approach to espionage, sending your agents into foreign territory to perform various destructive missions, like blowing up terrain improvements and buildings, poisoning water supplies, or stealing gold. Spies can also influence foreign affairs by spreading propaganda into their target city, and even by coercing their target leader to switch civics or state religions!
What can you tell us about the new wonders in the game? Any information on the new units, buildings and technologies would also go down very well. The released images of the new buildings hint at some very high tech additions; does this mean that the final date for the end of the game has been pushed back further into the future?
The final date is still 2050 AD, although we did add considerable content to the modern era. For example, there are new buildings to support your espionage strategy, like the Security Bureau that makes it harder for foreign spies to perform missions in your cities, or the Intelligence Agency that enhances your espionage spending. Other buildings include Public Transportation, Industrial Parks, and Levees. There are new modern technologies like Laser, Superconductor, and Stealth. New modern units include the Mobile SAM, Mobile Artillery, Tactical Nuke, Attack Submarine, Missile Cruiser, and Stealth Destroyer. Finally, the Cristo Redentor Wonder allows you to switch civics without Anarchy.
What changes have been made to the way the AI conducts its campaign?
The changes are too numerous to list, but the result is that the AI plays more like an experienced human player would play, and therefore needs fewer bonuses in order to compete at a higher difficulty level. The AI has gotten considerably better at its previous major weakness, which was conducting military operations, especially naval invasions. It is even stronger at managing its economy, and of course, it also knows how to use all the new features we are adding.
What changes have been made to the Space Race Victory and will there be new espionage options to help players in their struggle against wannabe-NASA AI players? And will players be able to name their spaceship, maybe choose a colour scheme for their thrust into the stars?
Space victory is not achieved until the spaceship actually arrives, not when it's launched, so you may pull out a victory even if you launch late by building a faster spaceship and overtaking your opponent on the way to Alpha Centauri. Espionage is, therefore, essential in knowing what type of spaceship your opponent is building and its estimated date of arrival. Of course, once your spies gather intelligence on what your opponent is building and where, they can also go sabotage its production.