Maybe its "graphical enhancements" that kill the genre? Just as 3D did to RTS games (in my humble opinion). Perhaps the pressure on developers to have up-to-date visuals that ultimately do poor in functionality, caused X4's demise. I'm generalizing of course..
There's something to that. Civ 4 seems like it has some interesting changes to the series, but the massive 3D approach just bogs my machine down so much, it's basically unplayable (Mac Quicksilver 2002).
There's a difference between killing a genera, and killing slow computers.
True, but by it's nature, TBS generally doesn't *need* the 3D game optimized PCs that programmers are aiming at. If I could/would install a powerful 3D video board, Civ4 would run just fine on my machine. Not everybody buys the latest-and-greatest game machine every 2 years.
Excessive focus on graphics is a problem, but you can't blame that all on the companies... most players buy games based to a large degree on graphics. When almost everybody is focusing on the pretty-shiny stuff, innovations and refinements in gameplay get left behind.
Absolutely. And TBS depends on good gameplay, not eye candy. I'd happily buy a game that looked about like Civ2, if it had good, innovative game play, and came out for Mac
So far as i can tell the improved graphics in civ 4 did not have a detrimental effect on the game. IMHO it's just as easy to understand and manipulate, and the gameplay IMHO is an improvement over previous versions. However they certainly could have provided the same gameplay quicker and/or cheaper if they went for a lesser graphics level. But it's questionable weather the game would cost the player any less. Less pretty graphics equals less sales, and therefore to recoup the cost of development, a higher price per player. (A gross simplification, but basically true)
So give the player the option. Many games allow setting how good the rendering is, so take it a little further. Once you've got the gameplay engine working, whether it displays in state-of-the-art amazing 3D graphics or much-easier-on-the-machine graphics shouldn't be an issue. Having *both* interfaces doesn't cost that much more, and opens up *both* markets.