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Three Moves Ahead Episode 44 – Religion

December 23rd, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Podcast, Religion, Three Moves Ahead

A subtle shifting of the guard as Julian Murdoch is back after hiatus, but Troy Goodfellow is off for a week, leaving Julian at the mercy of the far more stable Tom Chick and Bruce Geryk. The topic is religion: does it work in a strategy game as a mechanic? Has anyone done it better than Civ IV? Bruce argues for Dominions and random boardgames about the reformation nobody’s ever heard of. Tom revisits the Sims and Europa Universalis, and Julian goes off-topic and spoils all of Assassins Creed 2 (You’ve been warned.)

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • nullspace

    Religion is a pretty deep subject for a gaming podcast, but I thought your discussion was very interesting and entertaining, even without Troy.

    I never liked the argument that Civ 4’s treatment of religion is just a cop-out. Each of the seven religions are the same, but religion gets its own category of civics. This lets you choose how your state religion is practiced by choosing between theocracy, pacifism, organized, or free religion and each of those has its own bonuses and penalties.

    So any given religion can be practiced in different ways in different civs and time periods. I’m most familiar with Christianity, and I think you could argue that it has been practiced in all four of those ways. This is more realistic than making up some traits that are supposed to represent all Christians everywhere. And the flexibility is good in a game that’s as much about alternate history as it is about actual history. Would an ancient Aztec Buddhist be at all like a real Buddhist?

    It does sidestep the issue of differences between religions, which are real and complex. Religion in civ is a simple mechanic, and it really can’t say anything interesting about the subject. A game with a more focused setting could go into more detail.

  • Quinten

    I liked the discussion, even without Troy. I think that Civ 4 has a good system for religion, and it is similar to how they handle corporations. Bruce once wrote that anything beyond the players control should be abstracted, and that is what the religion and corporation systems do. They still grant great bonuses, enough to want to discover a religion and spread it. Same with corporations: they made my ideological keeping of Free Market a viable end game.
    The handling of religion as an idea, rather than as just numbers, can be lazy like Medieval Total War, or inspired, like Medieval 2 Total War. In Medieval, you were frowned on attacking Catholics or other Christians, go kill some Islamic people. In 2, they instead have you receiving missions and crusades directly from the pope, but you can still go to war with the Holy Roman Empire without pissing off his holiness. Churches would be used to show off and placate the people, same with cathedrals, and this is an interesting mechanic for the time. It is about as much about religion as Caylus, but still uses it in an interesting way.

  • Skipper

    I’m with Quinten, although I kind of wish Troy had been there because he would have brought up MTW:2 and talked about it in the scope of the discussion.

    Great podcast though. Thanks for ruining AC2 Julian!!! Just kidding. Actually I listened though I haven’t played it yet and now I want to play it more. The easter-egg, Dan Brown style tidbits might throw in a little irreverent fun.

  • Troy

    I wish I could have been there, too, but – alas – familial duties kind of got in the way of a lot of holiday plans. I picked the topic, too.

    I finally listened to the show last night, and the guys did fine. Good to know that I can count on them.

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    The subject of Religion kind of leaves me a bit out in the cold really, its not something I’ve actively looked for in a game, so its not something I’ve noticed being there or not.

    The only things I can add, I suppose, is that Religious content *should* (or perhaps *could*) be there in most wargames because a lot of wars have their very basis firmly planted in the ideologies and prejudices almost promoted by religion. As long as game designers conjur relgions that have very little connection with real world relgion they can more or less do what they want with them. RPG designers have been including fantasy religions in their games for years, and they often have a major influence over roleplay choices.

    How do people think Solium Infernum comes across from a religious angle?

    Does making games about the more evil or even satanic side of religious belief make it easier to peddle to the public without fear of stepping on religious sensibilities?