A 4X turn based sci-fi game where multiple sponsors (civilizations) land colonies on an alien planet in a bid to escape a post-apocalyptic Earth. Subsequently, these sponsors compete to realize their vision of a new idealized humankind by defeating their competitors militarily or discovering and achieving one of four different philosophical objectives to advance humanity beyond its earthbound form.
Lens 01: Essential Experience
The essence of the game is to land on an alien, unknown planet, then use its unique resources with your unique leader abilities to achieve success.
- Mastery through control
- By studying futuristic technologies and making branched decisions, each civilization will attain affinity experience from one of 3 unique philosophical affinities. This affinity ultimately improves their civilization and their military units visually and game-play-wise.
- Every turn taken brings the civilization one step closer to a new technology/civic/building/unit that could boost the player’s game-play, thus encouraging the player to use these improvements to advance the civilization to gain even more or better technologies/civics/buildings/units. This creates an effort/reward cycle that creates immersion.
- Social experience
- This game implements a then new diplomacy system where different players can enter into diplomatic agreements with each other where the nature of the agreements depend on the leaders’ unique abilities and non-preset personality traits players acquire mid-game depending on their play style or immediate needs. Even the AI controlled civs like or dislike you based on these personality traits. This allows different players to enter into alliances during game-play where each player’s unique play style are apparent.
Lens 02: Surprise
The entire game map usually starts out unknown to all players and each player has limited vision depending on how many cities and units they have and where they are located. Thus, the player will inevitably occur positive surprises, like resource pods or resource rich locations, as well as negative in the form of hostile alien nests and unexpected terrain obstacles.
Lens 05: Endogenous Value
This game has 2 main forms of collectibles: artifacts and quest objectives. Collecting artifacts and activating them in sets of three gives civilizations unique buildings or abilities that give them unique advantages. Achieving quest objectives grants the player additional story information that gives additional context to the game world, some quantitative reward, and implicitly guides the player to take actions that improves game play.
Lens 06: Problem Solving
To maximize game play advantage, the player has to solve problems like where to settle cities, which technologies and civics to research and what to focus city production on. The correct decision to take is never fixed due to variables like surrounding resource nodes, each civilization’s unique abilities and what the other civs are doing.
Lens 07: Elemental Tetrad
- At the beginning of the game, all civilizations start out looking like standard space explorers. As they advance technologically and devote themselves further into the in-game affinities, their cities and units visually to reflect this.
- To support the sci-fi alien theme, players research highly abstract technologies while fending off hostile native aliens, researching abandoned ruins that once belonged to an alien civilization and even contacting them with a contact beacon as a win condition. Due to the desire of players to focus on more than one affinity, hybrid affinities with their own perks and aesthetics were introduced in a subsequent expansion.
- The story features a select few human colonies leaving behind the rest of humanity on a post-calamity Earth after an event known as “The Great Mistake” hampered Earth’s ability to support life. After they settled the new alien planet, the civilizations that sprang from these colonies pursued the ideological affinities of technological Supremacy, cultural Purity or biological Harmony to rectify their past world’s mistakes. The victory conditions of building unique affinity wonders that aim to achieve each affinity’s ultimate goal is in service to this story.