Reading on the Civilization IV developer’s blogs, I gleaned the following great tidbits!
On Great People:
“Great People are created at the city level, as each city can generate “great people points” based on conditions and structures in the city. You can affect the amount of people points generated in several ways. One very dramatic way is through the creation of a great wonder. For instance, building the Pyramids will make it more likely the city will generate a Great Engineer, while building Stonehenge will make the city more likely to generate a Great Prophet. You can also generate more great people points by taking city population away from working the land and turning them into specialists. Certain Civics choices can work to make your specialists more productive and that can also have a positive effect on your great people point production.
All Great People share certain common abilities that differ somewhat based on the type of great person. All can be used to immediately research a new technology with the type of technology determined by the great person – Prophets would give you a religion technology like Priesthood, Artists may give you a technology like Literature, and Merchants would perhaps give Banking. All Great People can also settle in a city for a period of time and give a constant boost to that city’s production, based on their type. Finally, all Great People can be used to trigger extra golden ages for your Civilization, with each subsequent golden age requiring more Great People. Each use of a great person consumes that unit and it is removed from the game.”
On Religion (on of the facets I’m MOST excited about):
“Through our tests, it was determined that the optimal number of religions for gameplay purposes was seven (a number that seems to come up quite often when designing versions of Civilization). We then set about making a list of seven important and recognizable religions. After a lot of deliberation and more testing, we narrowed the list down to these: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism.
If you are the first to discover the technology associated with a religion, the religion is founded in one of your cities. Religion can spread passively throughout your cities and even into neighboring cities belonging to your opponents. Establishing trade routes can help spread your religion faster and farther. Certain religious buildings can also help this passive spread but if you want to move the process along, you will want to create missionaries. Missionaries are units that you can move to another city (your own or an opponent’s) and attempt to directly convert that city to your religion.
In addition, having cities that have converted to your state religion can give you monetary and happiness bonuses. You can also get some line of sight benefits, and provide yet another interesting decision in a game already filled with interesting decisions.”
On Civics (the Civ4 replacement for governments):
“In the game, when you first open the Civics page you will see 25 options divided into 5 categories. The categories are: government, legal, labor, economy, and religion. Initially, you will be limited to the lowest levels for each (making you a barbaric, decentralized despotism with tribal labor and practicing paganism), but you will unlock more of the choices based on your research. Changing to new Civic forms will have a dramatic effect on the character and success of your civilization. You’ll be able to boost or cut productivity, wealth, and happiness, make choices to increase/decrease the spread of religion, and even affect your ability to produce and maintain a large standing army.
Of course, it’s not just as simple as picking all the highest level Civic options. A monarch needs to make the tough decisions. Every choice has an upkeep level assigned to it and you could end up with a really great government that puts you in the poorhouse. In addition, your current circumstances might make it impossible for you to use some of the higher-level choices. The good news for all the leaders out there is that you will be able to play around with all the choices and get an idea of the costs and benefits before you have to “Start the Revolution”.
So, the choice is up to you. Will you be a despot or a king? Will your people respond better to a democratically elected ruler or a theocrat? Will you have a free market or is everything state property? Make the best choices and lead your people to their rightful place in history!”
I have to say that I am very excited for the prospects of this game. I love how wonderfully complex it has become to enable a better modeling of reality. However, I just hope that it hasn’t become SO complicated that it won’t be fun to play. Suffice to say, because of all of the interesting features and the way they interact, I may never get to do what I did in Civ3 – develop a strategy that always works. Afterall, the personalities of your enemies are determined by their leaders, something which may change each time I play!