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Subject: What is a 4X game? rss

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Kevin Garnica
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More to the point, what do eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate correlate to in terms of mechanics? Can someone please give me some hypothetical correlations so I can understand how each one might be tied to some sort of mechanic or mechanics? Thanks in advance!

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Wayne Schulatz
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Well, I may be wrong about this… or I may not be answering your question correctly, but I feel the mechanics of a game have nothing to do with the fact that the game is 4X. 4X is more thematic and has less to do with specific mechanics. For example, a game could use the roll-to-move mechanic to accomplish the exploration. But so what? That's not the point. A great many of mechanics could be used to accomplish any one of the X's. The point of 4X is the journey and the scale of how you take your tiny, worthless civilization and turn it into the strongest and most powerful of all the land! 4X is not dependent upon any one mechanic, it transcends simple mechanics! 4X is a state of mind.

 
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pacman88k wrote:
More to the point, what do eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate correlate to in terms of mechanics? Can someone please give me some hypothetical correlations so I can understand how each one might be tied to some sort of mechanic or mechanics? Thanks in advance!


eXplore - tile laying/RtM
eXpand - area control
eXploit - resource management
eXterminate - direct player conflict
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Kevin Garnica
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Wayne Schulatz wrote:
Well, I may be wrong about this… or I may not be answering your question correctly, but I feel the mechanics of a game have nothing to do with the fact that the game is 4X. 4X is more thematic and has less to do with specific mechanics. For example, a game could use the roll-to-move mechanic to accomplish the exploration. But so what? That's not the point. A great many of mechanics could be used to accomplish any one of the X's. The point of 4X is the journey and the scale of how you take your tiny, worthless civilization and turn it into the strongest and most powerful of all the land! 4X is not dependent upon any one mechanic, it transcends simple mechanics! 4X is a state of mind.



Fair enough. I may have worded it insufficiently. Go with what you were saying, and tell me what are the "thematic" elements of the 4X game.
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pacman88k wrote:
Wayne Schulatz wrote:
Well, I may be wrong about this… or I may not be answering your question correctly, but I feel the mechanics of a game have nothing to do with the fact that the game is 4X. 4X is more thematic and has less to do with specific mechanics. For example, a game could use the roll-to-move mechanic to accomplish the exploration. But so what? That's not the point. A great many of mechanics could be used to accomplish any one of the X's. The point of 4X is the journey and the scale of how you take your tiny, worthless civilization and turn it into the strongest and most powerful of all the land! 4X is not dependent upon any one mechanic, it transcends simple mechanics! 4X is a state of mind.



Fair enough. I may have worded it insufficiently. Go with what you were saying, and tell me what are the "thematic" elements of the 4X game.


4x does not necessarily have to transcend, but it can. World building and tech growth are popular themes.

You usually have some form of technological innovation, population management, military infrastructure, and world building/exploring.
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Wayne Schulatz
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pacman88k wrote:
Wayne Schulatz wrote:
Well, I may be wrong about this… or I may not be answering your question correctly, but I feel the mechanics of a game have nothing to do with the fact that the game is 4X. 4X is more thematic and has less to do with specific mechanics. For example, a game could use the roll-to-move mechanic to accomplish the exploration. But so what? That's not the point. A great many of mechanics could be used to accomplish any one of the X's. The point of 4X is the journey and the scale of how you take your tiny, worthless civilization and turn it into the strongest and most powerful of all the land! 4X is not dependent upon any one mechanic, it transcends simple mechanics! 4X is a state of mind.



Fair enough. I may have worded it insufficiently. Go with what you were saying, and tell me what are the "thematic" elements of the 4X game.


I kind of touched on it in my first post, I think. The idea of taking your small, weak, rag-tag group of followers and unleashing them into the big bad unexplored world to learn new secrets and gain new knowledge. Growth is a key factor, I'd say. By accomplishing these 4X goals, your people become stronger and gain advantages. The word "epic" definitely comes to mind. Time passes in a 4X game. There are uncertainties and opportunities to prove your worth. 4X games can be swingy… one moment you look great and then you make one wrong turn and it sets you back a bit.

One thing that is kid of in the genre of "mechanics" might be the interactive nature of many 4X games. There is negotiation and diplomacy and lying and all kinds of engaging activities.

Many times, for me, once I have finished a 4X game- regardless of winning or losing- I feel like I have done something.
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pacman88k wrote:
More to the point, what do eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate correlate to in terms of mechanics? Can someone please give me some hypothetical correlations so I can understand how each one might be tied to some sort of mechanic or mechanics? Thanks in advance!

4X is really a computer game concept. The basic idea is that you have a hidden map (explore), colonies (expand), a tech tree usually tied to resource bonuses (exploit), and military units to attack other players (exterminate).
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Kevin Garnica
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Thanks everyone. These are the types of answers I was looking for. If anyone else cares to add their two cents, please do. This is kind of a nuanced thing for me, so I'm just trying to get a better handle on it.
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"4X is a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate". The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion [MOO] for Computer Gaming World." --4X, Wikipedia

1. You explore unknown star systems or terrain to discover the best to...

2. Expand into and...

3. Exploit, to become part of your economic engine, which you use to...

4. Exterminate competitors--or defeat them by peaceful means, even in MOO.

Computer Civilization is usually considered a 4X game, as is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (not an interstellar game like MOO) so themes can vary wildly.

In a sense, the zombie-themed Rebuild series is a 4X if you accept exterminating a single zombie opponent. You explore, expand into, and exploit blocks in a city to exterminate the zombies.

The same argument applies to StarCraft.

Obviously, I think of it as mechanics.


MOO1 & MOO2 and Alpha Centauri are available from GOG.com for $6 each ($6 for both MOOs). Rebuild and Rebuild 2 are available at most Flash gaming sites, Kongregate.com for one.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
"4X is a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate". The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion [MOO] for Computer Gaming World." --4X, Wikipedia

1. You explore unknown star systems or terrain to discover the best to...

2. Expand into and...

3. Exploit, to become part of your economic engine, which you use to...

4. Exterminate competitors--or defeat them by peaceful means, even in MOO.

Computer Civilization is usually considered a 4X game, as is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (not an interstellar game like MOO) so themes can vary wildly.

In a sense, the zombie-themed Rebuild series is a 4X if you accept exterminating a single zombie opponent. You explore, expand into, and exploit blocks in a city to exterminate the zombies.

The same argument applies to StarCraft.

Obviously, I think of it as mechanics.


MOO1 & MOO2 and Alpha Centauri are available from GOG.com for $6 each ($6 for both MOOs). Rebuild and Rebuild 2 are available at most Flash gaming sites, Kongregate.com for one.


Civ and AC are 4X games, but of a specific sub-group.
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lamaros wrote:
Civ and AC are 4X games, but of a specific sub-group.

Sure: they both occur on cylinders, as adequate approximations to planets minus their polar areas. Civilization V is on hexes, but in the whole scope of the game, that's rather a minor detail. Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game is on a plane, but still has many of the elements of Civ 4; while the game isn't played to extinction, in it's elements, it's a 4X.

But SMAC (or SMAX) have an additional mechanic, an over-arching story, something I expect to be missing from the Civ V based Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth.

MOO1 & MOO2 are actually on planes themselves, though many space empire theme games use networks, as I think Starfire did.

Rebuild is on a plane as well, and one a little bigger than the MOOs', though the things you can do on a MOO1 planet or in a MOO2 star system are far more complex than Rebuild's blocks--and I doubt Rebuild 3 will change this.

But, the point is that having radically different themed 4X games makes it rather untenable to call the 4X group of mechanics a theme.
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