Soren Johnson, design director of Mohawk Games and lead designer of Old World and Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. They also presented a postmortem analysis of his hit strategy game Old World at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC). While describing the technical and creative challenges of designing a new 4X turn-based historical game. And doing so under the shadow of his prior titles.
With Old World, Johnson and Mohawk Games set out to revive the historical 4X genre. Doing so by reducing thematic scope and removing rote decisions. All due to make room for procedural characters and story. Among the ideas that made the final cut are fixed city locations, family trees, and a dynamic story engine. This also enables the creation of over 3,000 events. Each with their own unique triggers and effects.
Old World | Announcement Trailer
The design team at Mohawk rebuilt the 4X genre with a focus on improving the player experience. While adding new content in the right places and increasing variety, texture, and depth to the game. Without bloating the design. In the process, they reexamined and often rejected genre protocol. Including the deterministic tech tree and the diplomatic bargaining table. As well as the typical citizen tile yield model.
Two of the most creative choices are the addition of an undo button. Since this allows players to rewind their last action. Even an entire turn and the creation of an Orders system. Removing the classic turn-based strategy requirement. Moving every unit every turn in favour of a collective pool of movement shared by all units in a faction.
The presentation is “My Elephant in the Room: An ‘Old World’ Postmortem”, and is available on GDC’s website.