Humankind aims to tell 'historically authentic' stories with diplomacy options

Humankind won't be out as soon as we expected: The grand strategy game, which is clearly trying to elbow into Civilization's territory, has been delayed from April to August. Diplomacy is one of the systems the developers at Amplitude say they're putting more work into during those extra months, and it was discussed in a video shown today at the Future Games Show. You can watch it above or on YouTube.

Diplomacy has never been Civilization's most compelling victory route in my view, and it's challenging to design for the obvious reason that it involves abstract human things like "trust" and "negotiation," which can be cartoonish when defined quantitatively—with an anger meter, more or less. Humankind is not necessarily going to solve the problem, but the video emphasizes "the stories that players tell each other," and some Crusader Kings-ey verbs are being used.

"In order to be historically authentic, we needed to add a little bit more; more tools in the player's toolbox, things like 'bribe,' or 'propose,' 'threaten,' 'demand,'" says senior game designer William Dyce in the video. "We want things to feel nicely immediate. We don't want to have sort of a round-robin vote of everyone deciding what to do."

(One way to earn points toward a diplomatic victory in certain Civilization games is to get votes in a World Congress, which is perhaps what Dyce is referencing at the end there.)

The "grievance" system described later in the video sounds pretty familiar, though. Do something another civilization dislikes, and they'll make a demand of you, such as money, support in one of their wars, or control of one of your bordering territories. Refusal to comply with a grievance can be used to justify dissolving an alliance or declaring war. And when you're at war, you'll need to manage your citizens' morale, and can damage the morale of your enemy's people. 

All of that sounds pretty Civilization-ey on the surface, but the details may turn out to be significant. I don't have first-hand experience with it, but Amplitude's Endless Legend has a pretty complex diplomacy system.

With the delay, Humankind will release August 17 on Steam and the Epic Games Store. The developers say they're working on improving "accessibility, pacing, diplomacy, AI and much more." For more on how the 4X game works, here's everything we know about Humankind so far.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.