This week aimed at cleaning up the UI and the appearance in general. Of late, I’ve been unable to fully test features in the game because of the high complexity of the game as it is. It’s very difficult to make decisions in the way that the player will because it takes so long to parse the information that the game presents.
The first thing that I did this week was to change the color of the tiles. Broadly categorizing the tiles into two types makes it much easier to decide where next to setup your cities and so smoothens the flow of the game. I turned away from the purples that I had started with to a green and brown like those of the Civ series. What I lose in selling the setting of the map being the relationship, I more than make back in readability and aesthetics.
The second major piece of work for the week was a massive change in the UI. I moved away from the light-weight, non-delineated UI of Civ 6 to something with huge blocks of space reserved for UI purposes. There is now a big panel on the right of the screen that is purely for the UI and the map is correspondingly smaller, like in Civ 2. This is a feature that I expect will take a lot of iteration as I figure out how best to use it and is one that I expect to become correspondingly important for the final game. There’s a lot of data that can be presented here and a lot of ways that I can do that and I expect that if I can figure out the right approach, it will make the game much less opaque. Right now, I’m experimenting with a single list of all of the things expected in upcoming turns whether techs, production or city growth.
The third thing is also something that I expect will want some playing with and some serious thought. I’ve grouped the types of actions that the player takes in a turn and made it easy to switch between the groups. When playing Civ, I often find the game breaking my flow when I’m at war to make me finish the chores of running a bunch of cities. This aims to ameliorate that issue, but I think that there’s space here for something neater and I will keep an eye on that.
The basic structure of colonial economics is in the import of raw materials from the colony and the export of finished goods to the same colony. It’s easy to see how this can be made very profitable and this was the source of the wealth of Lancashire and Manchester for a large part of the colonial period. This basic concept is familiar to anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of colonialism, but what I found interesting is that the early Indian nationalists were key to understanding this dynamic and being able to express its workings. Dadabhai Naoroji in particular is often credited with the Drain theory as he was the first to put numbers to the amount of money that flowed out of India. He called it “the knife of sugar. That is to say there is no oppression, it is all smooth and sweet, but it is the knife, notwithstanding.” Incidentally, Dadabhai Naoroji was an MP for the Labour party between 1892 and 1895, when he represented the Finsbury Central district of London. His margin of victory was precisely five votes.