Published on November 16th, 2015 | by Genevieve Mc Bride


Civilization Beyond Earth: Rising Tide Interview

I recently got to speak with Will Miller & David McDonough, co-lead designers, Civilization Beyond Earth: Rising Tide.  We loved what we saw of the game at E3 and now we can give you even more news on what is to come.


  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, players are creating a customized civilization of their own, rather than developing their worlds based on historical empires and figures.  How do you decide what needs to be tweaked or added in creating an expansion pack?



We’re never short on ideas! All throughout the development of Beyond Earth, we would come up with ideas for additional ways to extend the base game. We also listened to our community and their experience with the game, and the kinds of things that players said they wanted to see more of or things that they’d like treated with greater depth.


  • Based on feedback from the game launch, have you tweaked any part of the gameplay with this expansion?



Most of the systems within the game have been adjusted significantly, but probably no system has changed more than diplomacy. We’ve added an entirely new resource for players to manage (diplomatic capital) and added a system that allows you to use this resource to improve your faction. It feeds into your relation with the other factions on the planet, with alliances leading to improved and tangible outcomes for both of you. It’s a thorough replacement for what was there before.


  • How did the decision to make Naval battles come about?



We’ve added a lot to the oceans. Not only are there more resources specific to the oceans, but you can build floating cities (and move these cities!) as well. Since there’s more happening at sea, this means we can add ocean aliens and new military units as well so it was a natural fit.


  • As such what new units will we see as a result?



Just as in Civ, there are submarines now, which can lurk in concealment until they’re spotted or attack. There are also patrol boats and naval settlers as well. But there are some nasty aliens now at sea, from the pack-hunting Rippers to the giant Makara, which can be on land or at sea.


  • What new faction, creatures, and tech, will we see with the move to the High Seas?



We talked about the Rippers and the Makara, but there’s also Hydracoral, which is halfway between an alien life form and a terrain feature. It grows and expands on sea tiles and blocks movement, but you can attack it like an alien. Keep in mind that doing so will also agitate the aliens, so you have to be careful you don’t bring the planet down on you as you’re clearing the ocean.


We’ve also added specific buildings and wonders that can only be built on aquatic cities, and that will be part of making sure that these cities have unique choices and roles that can be played as you build out your colony.


  • What have been the biggest challenges and biggest success stories with the expansion?



I think our biggest challenge has been to find a way to drive home the fantasy of Beyond Earth: so that players feel they are not just living in the future of Earth, but living in the future on a new planet, and making sure that they’re engaged with that vision. We got a lot of feedback on Beyond Earth, and we knew there were things we could do to further build out the player experience.


It’s hard to pick a biggest success. So much of a game like Beyond Earth consists of interlocking systems, so as we were able to support those in different ways, it felt like the game improved in all ways. We’ve got more art, more units, more factions, better diplomacy, new gameplay systems, and all these work together so the sum is bigger than the parts. We feel our biggest success is that we were given a chance to continue to make more cool stuff for a game we love making!


  • Have the political exchanges changed in any way and if so how?



Most definitely. The different traits you purchase with political capital allow you to unlock agreements which can be set up with other factions. A faction will give you a certain amount of political capital, and then they get access to an ability related to your traits. You get the political capital each turn, and they get something that helps them out. It feels very much like a political exchange.


We’ve also added diplomatic levels of fear and respect – fear representing how much another faction feels about your military force (and how you’ve used it) and respect representing how much another faction feels about how you’re acting in the world. You can use these levels not only as barometers of the AI attitude towards you, but as a way to cajole a faction into an alliance with you. If another leader likes what you’re doing (or if they’re scared of being on your naughty list) then they’re going to accept an alliance with you.


  • What new characters will players have to deal with?



We added four new factions to the game. Here’s a quick rundown:


Al-Falah is a faction from the Middle East. They’re unique in that their faction didn’t travel in hibernation, but through generational ships. They’ve undergone quite a bit of cultural drift in the course of travel, but that expertise in keeping their ships going means their city processes are more efficient.


The North Sea Alliance are masters of oceanic construction and settlement. They’ll begin the game with their first settlement in the ocean if that’s a possibility, and their aquatic cities are stronger in combat and cheaper to move.


INTEGR is a political movement from Europe, and they are the political specialists in Rising Tide. Their political agreements are cheaper to enact, and their political buildings are cheaper to build.


Finally there’s Chungsu – a clandestine organization founded as an interstellar defense organization by futurists. They are masters of spycraft and their covert ops produce science as a bonus.


  • What do you expect players to be most excited about and why?



We hope players will enjoy the entire expansion, but we think the diplomacy changes are really the biggest revision to Beyond Earth: Rising Tide. We think this makes the other leaders in the game feel more like personalities with agendas, and because diplomacy touches on the other game systems,  there’s always something you can strive for on that front.


  • When can we expect an expansion to Civ 5, or dare we hope, an announcement for Civ 6?



We’re just focused on Rising Tide right now!



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