Civilization developer Firaxis Games announced Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth at this year’s PAX East in Boston on Saturday, April 12. As reported by Polygon , this new addition to the Civilization series will take humanity beyond the confines of Earth and place it unto fresh planets in which to colonize, a concept that harkens back to the studio’s Alpha Centauri .
Beyond Earth is set about 200 years into the future, where living on Earth has become a struggle to survive. This came about due to an event which Firaxis dubs as “The Great Mistake”.
” The state of Earth a couple hundred years from now becomes rather dire, ” lead designer Anton Strenger told Polygon. ” There’s a series of events which we call The Great Mistake. Internally, we’ve written out exactly what those events are, but for the player, we’re leaving it vague and allowing their imagination to fill the gaps. ”
Because of the game’s deliberately vague narrative, Strenger believes that this will allow for players to discover the narrative as they play on their own without the justification of having said narrative thrusted upon them at the beginning, and to also allow for their imaginations to fill in the gaps. The narrative’s ambiguity will also allow for a lot of replayable and customizable experiences with Beyond Earth .
” We don’t take such a strong stance on narrative for the game because we want this to be a really repayable experience, a really customizable experience, ” he explained. ” A lot of the gameplay systems we’re putting in really address that. Players create their own story. If we, as designers, go in and say, ‘This is the backstory of why you’re here,’ I think that’s a missed opportunity for the players. I think our philosophy as a studio is to show restraint when it comes to narrative. You’ll see the same thing in XCOM. Until the very end in XCOM, you don’t really find out about why they’re there–and even then, it’s kind of left up a lot to the player’s imagination. ”
Another contributory factor to Firaxis’ vague approach to the game’s narrative is that Beyond Earth is touted to allow for players to literally determine what becomes of humanity once it leaves Earth after enduring a geopolitical struggle, events of which that could be a reason for The Great Mistake.
” We came up with, as designers, this geopolitical series of cataclysmic events, ” he said. ” There’s a nuclear exchange that a lot of nations fell under. ”
Producer Lena Brenk believes that too much story in Beyond Earth would go against the spirit of the Civilization franchise.
” If you think about it, ” Brenk began, ” in Civ historically, it’s similar. The player has the reference of history and [can] fill in the gaps with their imagination and what their play style looks like. They know the rough outlines. They probably are not all historians. They probably don’t all know the specifics and details, but they know the rough outline of what happened with Genghis Khan or who he was.
We’re trying to provide something very similar, except here for the future, where we give rough outlines and the player fills in the gaps with their imagination because that will really be the place that they remember: the choices they made and how that impacted their playthrough. ”
Firaxis Games’ full interview with Polygon can be found over on its website here . Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will release on Linux, Mac and PC for $49.99. A release date has yet to be revealed.
[ Polygon ]