After last week’s success, the bar was raised: this week, I’m making an entirely new Civ, one that can be played against any of the existing ones. It’s significantly more work but I should know what I’m doing now.
I’m also raising the amount of effort I’m putting in. This isn’t a test mod that noone’s ever going to see; I plan to publish this for anyone who owns Civ 5 to download. The choice of which Civ I want to make is therefore quite important, but I think I’ve picked a good one.
I outlined in post one some loose ideas of what a “Good Mod” is, so to be a good addition to Civ 5 what I add has to be something that makes sense, has a strong theme and well-balanced mechanics.
I decided to go with the setting of the game Dishonored, one of my all-time favourites that, like Civ V, is getting a sequel soon. I’ve already talked about it here, but the short version is you play as a framed magical assassin trying to restore his name. One of the outstanding characters in the game is actually the city it takes place in. Loosely comparable to 19th century London, Dunwall is the centre of a trade-based Empire that relies on oil harvested from magical whales to function. It’s also in the grip of a deadly plague, but I’m going to sidestep that by making the Civ based on just before the game takes place, when everything hasn’t fallen apart yet.
For my purposes here, it’s a great choice. For a start, unlike a lot of even very obscure real historical civilizations, no-one else has done this yet. Secondly, Dunwall as presented in Dishonored has a very strong theme: they’re a maritime power solidly in the Industrial Revolution. So, led by Empress Jessamine Kaldwin in her first appearance in the Civilization series, I present to you the
EMPIRE OF THE ISLES
Unique Ability: Maritime Power: All Coast and Ocean tiles yield +1 Food.
Unique Building: Whale Oil Refinery, a Seaport replacer that gives more production and gives a huge boost to Whale resources.
Unique Building: Solokov Devices, a more effective Police Station replacer that also gives +50 to City Strength.
I went for two unique buildings rather than any unique units partly because I wanted Dunwall to be a strong economically rather than militarily, but mostly because I know I cannot make a 3D model for a unit.
The unique ability is, I reckon, a strong one. Coastal cities will grow fast and population is power in Civ 5. To hopefully balance it out a bit, the two buildings are by design underwhelming.
I really wanted to include Solokov Devices – the electrical traps you have to find your way around in Dishonored – as they are a fundamental part of that game. I put them as a better replacement for Police Stations, which conveniently enough unlock at the Electricity tech. They also improve the city’s defence, the weakness here being that hardly anyone builds Police Stations and the bonus to city strength is a nice but largely irrelevant boost by the time they can be built. The Seaport replacement similarly thematic – it’s slightly better than the base Seaport and means the Dunwall Civ is really going to want to prioritize Whale resources- but while a strong boost it’s highly situational and won’t be applicable to every city. In fact, it may not apply to every game; as a Luxury Resource, Whales aren’t even guaranteed to appear on every map.
I originally wanted Dunwall to have a bonus to Trade Routes as the ability, but sadly for me Trade Routes are a mechanic added in the last expansion, one that hardcoded a lot of things. As such, modding Trade Routes is considerably more difficult than changing other mechanics. In fact, one of the only things as difficult is changing map generation. I’d like to guarantee Dunwall started next to a Whale resource, but unfortunately the best I could do was giving them a preference for coastal starts.
Much like the test mod for America, I did get this all working in the game entirely through XML code. I’m proud of the ability in particular, which works by giving every city Dunwall founds or captures a free, invisible building that adds the food to sea tiles but destroys itself if another Civ takes one of Dunwall’s cities.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Dunwall has a unique niche among even the sea-focused Civs already in the game because they really will benefit from city locations others would find marginal. Once they reach the Industrial Era and Dunwall’s coastal cities have all the naval buildings and boosts, they’ll be a food and production powerhouse.
With all that work, the mod still isn’t quite ready for release yet. All the mechanics are in place but (as can be seen in the screenshot!) there’s still a few text strings to be cleaned up. I also really want this to look as good as I feel it is. I’m currently borrowing England’s emblem and Elizabeth’s leader art and while adding a 2D picture for a leader isn’t too complicated, it needs to be in a specific format. I’ve got a friend with Photoshop who’s going to help me out over the weekend, so if all goes well, I should be able to publish early next week. I’ll post as soon as it’s done!