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Ask The Civ IV Dev Team 384

On Monday, we asked you for questions for industry legend Sid Meier. Today, we're asking for question to put to the folks behind the technology of Civilization IV. Besides the actual coding and development that went into the game itself, the team has made Civilization IV infinitely moddable through technologies such as XML, Python, and a fully developed SDK. Led by lead designer Soren Johnson, the team will answer your questions about the creation of the fourth chapter in one of the most influential game series out there. So, fire away with your questions. One per comment, please, and keep them topical. We'll pass the ten best questions to Johnson and the team, and the answers will be posted as soon as we have them in our hands.
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Ask The Civ IV Dev Team

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  • The Civ4 AI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:01PM (#13668072) Homepage
    My only question for Civ4 concerns the AI: Have you made it a crafty enough opponent yet that it can compete at the higher skill levels of the game without resorting to the "cheating" that we've seen in previous incarnations of the game?

    If so, how?

    As a player, I almost always find the key to really taking control of a game is to react well to the overall shape of things. Nuances with the terrain, the way cities are arranged in respect to each other, grabbing some resources at the expense of others -- this all provides opportunities for the human player that I wouldn't think an AI could easily pick up on. How can you get the AI to "consider the map", so to speak, rather than simply reacting to the stimulus around it and carrying out a set of predetermined functions (which, at least in my estimation, is the limitation that prevents it from competing fairly at high difficulty levels in the previous Civ games).

    Or does the AI find its effectiveness in, say, it's ability to reexamine every city every turn? Or will it, you know, just continue to cheat to compete at advanced levels?


    PS: My wife's traveling on business most weekends over the next couple of months. If you wanted to, you know, mail me an advanced copy... Just tossing that out there.

  • Mac Version (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:02PM (#13668086) Homepage
    Will there be a Mac version and will it be released at the same time as the Windows version?
  • Portables (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BMonger ( 68213 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:05PM (#13668106)
    Is there any chance we'll get to see some of the Civ titles moved to portables? I think the game would play wonderfully on the DS.
  • Linux Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by big_groo ( 237634 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <sivoorg>> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:05PM (#13668109) Homepage
    Will the game ship with a Linux installer? If not, will an installer be made available?
  • by BishonenAngstMagnet ( 797469 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:05PM (#13668115)
    Will the game support Internet as well as LAN play? How extensive is the multiplayer going to be (if any)?
  • Unit Moddablity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EngineeringMarvel ( 783720 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:06PM (#13668120)
    Will there be any limitations on the moddablity of the units in the game? This ranges from the textures (the way they look), the abilities (can new ones be added), and stats (A/D/B). Or to rephrase the question, what do you expect modders will look forward to the most when it comes to modding the units in the game?
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:07PM (#13668129)

    Planning on releasing a Linux version? Or any other OS other than Windows?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:07PM (#13668132)
    In regards to adding units with custom/new graphics to the game..
    In civ2 adding units was very simple. Cut/Paste an image, add a line to a single text file. In civ3 this was a serious PITA, we needed to use external software to render in hundreads of animation frames, hope things were on scale and lined up correctly, then edit no less than three config files just to add a single unit. Can you give me, any hope that adding custom graphics for a unit to civ4 will be easier in the vein of civ2 and less like the crosspatched swamp that was civ3?

  • Extensibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frac ( 27516 ) * on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:10PM (#13668157)
    With Civilization IV being so flexible and moddable, do you see a Civilization V in the future? Or do you see IV becoming a platform where new content become expansion pack, just like The Sims franchise?
  • Family Gaming (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:11PM (#13668165) Homepage
    Growing up, playing games with the family meant getting out classic boardgames like Monopoly, Risk, etc. The Civilization games seem like a prime candidate for breaking into the family-game-playing field. What, if any, steps has your team taken to bring your game(s) to the level of "game night with the kids?" What technologies, such as display and control, need to be developed before such an environment is realized?
  • Politics... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:11PM (#13668168) Homepage
    How much will CiV4 use political shifts in countries as a cyclical change in approaches (e.g. new democratic leader with a different political alignment will form different alliances).
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) * on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:13PM (#13668184) Homepage Journal
    It seems like every sequel that comes out Sid is less and less involved in the product. How much is Sid involved in 4? Does he help code? Help design? Help produce? Or stamp his name on the finished product?

    No bad vibes, meant to the Gaming God... just curious how involved he is with the 5th (counting "Alpha Centauri") cantation of his classic...
  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Silverlancer ( 786390 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:13PM (#13668185)
    Cheating AIs are always lame. AIs that rely on doing things faster than humans could (see RTSs) are also lame.

    A while back I played a game called Galactic Civilizations, a 4X game set in space (compare to Master of Orion). Its best show was the AI, which on the high difficulty levels is simply ingenious. It can spot when you're plotting to do something before you're even half ready to strike, and stop you, without cheating. It is very hard to distract the AI on hard difficulty levels using bait, or any of the classic anti-AI tricks. Even the old tried-and-true get-the-AIs-to-shoot-each-other-until-you-overpowe r-them trick does not work--they will notice that you're circling over the battling AIs like vultures, and team up to kill you.
  • Why to purchase (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jkmartin ( 816458 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:14PM (#13668194)
    What was done wrong or poorly in Civilization and its numerous sequels and expansion packs that is being addressed now and provide a compelling reason to purchase Civilization 4?
  • How customisable? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m50d ( 797211 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:21PM (#13668264) Homepage Journal
    Civ3 was wonderfully customisable as long as you were sticking with a civ-type game, but even basic reaching beyond this ran into trouble, e.g. I found no way to get the map generator to have different weighting of tile types, or extend the number of varieties beyond the land/sea split. Have all these kind of limitations been removed? How possible is a total conversion? What about conversions to a different game type?
  • 3D Modeling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:22PM (#13668277)
    Will modders be able to create and modify the 3D models used in Civ4? If not, the modding will be somewhat limited (although the Python scripting and XML based configuration will be great). As I understand it, there are no open-source or free tools for modding the NIF 3D models used by the new version of Gamebryo, which Civ4 is using. With closed-source 3D models, no creating your own units or modding the look of existing ones. Maybe there's a tool in the SDK? What's in that SDK anyway?
  • Civ Economy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reynard_ze_fox ( 831911 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:23PM (#13668279)
    Do you have any plans to include other means of warfare, such as economic warfare and the use of interest rates, bonds, companies and good old fashioned money to conquer? It could add another layer of depth once players approach the modern age.

    Imagine a small country becoming a trading / banking power, sort of like the Dutch (minus the whole tulip fiasco), or Switzerland, countries that can buy their immunity and economically dominate other countries.

    Just a thought...

  • by Anubis333 ( 103791 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:24PM (#13668288) Homepage
    As a long time Civ player, I would have to say that I really didn't understand why it moved to 3D graphics. The 3D rendered sprites weren't really comparable to the 2d artwork, and it didn't really feel like a needed addition. Will having the engine be entirely 3D actually add to the gameplay in any way, other than have objects occlude one another?

    When I say 'add to the gameplay' I mean, add to the game experience in a way 2D sprites couldn't. For example: Physics, multipls views, wind, etc.. (I have only really seen the 3D globe, and like the idea)

    As a 3D game developer, I have seen so many of my favorite games rehashed into 3D versions just because the developers thought that a 2D sprite-based game cannot make it in this market, and that annoys me. From Pirates! to Monkey Island, it seems developers would rather make a 3D game without any real need for 3D art or gameplay elements. Do you feel this pressure, or do you feel that a 3D game is inherently better because it has a new dimention? (Even if it still has the same locked off camera angle and usually poorer quality art assets)

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:29PM (#13668333) Homepage Journal
    And what would you do differently if you could go back and reverse that decision?
  • Working with Sid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Avacar ( 911548 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:31PM (#13668356) Homepage
    As the Dev Team, how do you feel working with Sid? Did you play his games before you became a game developer? If so, do you feel intimidated working with an icon of the industry? Were you part of Sid's original team? If so, how has project management changed throughout the years on his projects?
  • by spicydragonz ( 837027 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:39PM (#13668409)
    Is there any plan for a short form game? It would be nice if i could sit down and finish an entire game in 1-2 hours instead of many many hours.
  • civ2 - civ4 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:43PM (#13668442) Journal
    As many, I started with civ1, which was a nice game, for its time. I simply adored civ2, which I have played over and over again, and it continues - even today - to be a game I (re)play now and then. This may seem as no big deal, until one realises I have *never* felt an urge to repeatedly play a game several times; mostly I play it once through, and I'm rather bored by it, be it an RPG, a first-person-shooter, or a strategic oriented game - which usually I like the most and on average I play 3-4 times. After a while, *no* game can hold my interest I've noticed, the notable exeption being civ2.

    Alas...when civ3 came out, it didn't do it for me. Despite the poor graphics compared to civ3, I still prefer civ2. It's not easy to put the finger on the the reason why, but I suspect it's because civ3 has become a bit *too* complex. It's all very nice to have borders of influence, and insurgents in cities, and elaborate negotiation...but, somehow, I find civ2 is just easier and more fun to play. Sometimes, one just wants to 'go for it', without all the extra complexity. Now, will it be possible to play Civ4 in a 'easy' mode, which makes it more simple and user-friendly according to the lines (and rules) of civ2? I really think such a 'easy' setting would be greatly appreciated by those who want less complexity, and more simple, user-friendly gameplay.
    Alternatively, will you place the civ2 game (and engine) under the GPL or similar licence, so people might freely hack and expand on that?

  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freidog ( 706941 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:45PM (#13668453)
    Just to follow up on that,
    Is the AI going to be as moddable and customizable as the rest of the game content?

    I know Mr. Caudill mentioned an 'AI SDK' for 'experienced programmers' over on the IGN Civ 4 preview to tailor the AI to their desires. But it was mentioned as a seperate entity from the XML unit files and the basic Phython scripts.
    Is this because the AI is more hard coded (less of it in easily accessible scripts) than say unit stats, or just an attempt to give a helping hand to less experianced modderings in a rather complex enviorment like the AI.

    Basically I was hoping you could go into some more detail on what AI and other more complex modding might entail.
  • by stretch0611 ( 603238 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:49PM (#13668485) Journal

    I Agree. I am an oldtime gamer now. I want to know what game play enhancements you are creating. I am not interested in how the new version is pretty and uses 3d graphics. What are you doing to the underlying game to get me addicted to it?

  • Portability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Parity ( 12797 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:54PM (#13668530)
    On my Linux box, I have the Firaxis game 'Alpha Centauri', ported by Loki Games. (As far as I know, Alpha Centauri is the only Firaxis game that runs on any non-Microsoft platform.) While any game could eventually be ported to any platform, choosing to use traditional sockets for networks and OpenGL for graphics and so on will make such action significantly smoother, and I believe is a strong consideration in choosing games for the Linux porting houses. Is there any thought going into portable design, any plan to release on any operating system other than Windows, and in particular, any plan - or thought of - releasing on Linux?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:57PM (#13668547)
    I agree with another poster above...

    I'd like not only the ability to name geographical locations (like Salty Dog Sea or Cmdr Taco Mt.) but similar to SimCity 3K be able to plant named flags -- that the other players don't see, of course -- so that I can remember my strategy when I come back to the game. Kind of like you see in old movies where the Generals are discussing their war strategy.

    For example, it would be really nice to be able to put a pin onto the map and label it "objective 3 - after tanks invented" or "Don't forget to reinforce here from London".

    That way I could take a break, eat some food, get some sleep.... heck even wait for the next weekend. That would go such a long way towards convincing my wife I wasn't obsessed.
  • Classic modes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me AT brandywinehundred DOT org> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @01:58PM (#13668564) Journal
    With the extreme modability will we be able to get classic modes of play?

    for example will I be able to play Civ 1,2 or 3, and not just their rules, but their units, tech trees and civilipedia?

    Will this be provided or will it (if possible) have to be user add-ons?

    If they are user add-ons will the team help a serious community effort to help them get the propper algorythems for combat resolution and what not (so our precious bomber can still be killed by the phalax that walks away undamaged)?

    Is this one question? I think it counts as such.
  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:07PM (#13668641) Homepage Journal
    How, in constrast to how Masters of Orion 3, will the Civ team be addressing macro and micro management aspects of the game? RTS games are forced to place heavy consideration into managing in real time units and control and the scope of an RTS prevents a snowball effect. Turned based games become burdened by logistical considerations as a result of not having that same focus on micromanagment. Managing 55 workers in Civ3 along with 35 cities becomes a logistical nightmare when governor AI doesn't learn from your play style. Directing 22 to build 13 fortresses across a continent while running rail lines to each with production queues rallied to those location but only to a max of 25 units per fortress ares and having to manually intercept an invading force resultsed in a single turn while playing Civ3 that took 2 weeks to process (thats 2 weeks of play time. It actually took about 2 months to move to the next turn.) Additionally having a stack of 75 units attack a city is a rather dull event, even worse when the computer attacks.

    Ken's Rule of Gaming: Complexity in feature should be inversly proportional to the amount of player control.

    The more complex a process is in real life, the less direct control a person has, this is what MOO3 tried to resolve.

    MOO3 was a real shock to many players but once you learned to let go of micromanagment the game becomes rather plesant and suprising. A good contrast is what Sim City is To Civilization as Civilization is to M003.

    Which Direction is Civ4 taking?
  • Re:Linux Support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meanfriend ( 704312 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:08PM (#13668653)
    Maybe this could be tacked on as two parter:

    I think we can all appreciate the extra resources required to port a game to a different OS. The size of the current linux market may not make a native linux port financially attractive, though Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri did see a linux version, so the idea of a linux SM game is not without precedence. If no native Linux version is planned, have you ever given consideration to working with the Transgaming people to get Civ IV running under Linux using Cedega?

    Even if not officially supported, that would enable you to reach a larger segment of the gaming market yet not require the level of resources of a full blown port.
  • Re:Linux Support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Radres ( 776901 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:10PM (#13668667)
    "D) With a tiny amount of planning at the beginning of a project, and using the correct cross-platform libraries, making a game run both on linux and windows is an essentially negligible problem."

    Nevermind the added testing required, the unexplicable differences in behavior between both platforms, and having to reduce design decisions to the lowest common denominator amongst all platforms.

    Game development should be about making a great game, not winning some political battle.
  • Mod tools for XML (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SurryMt ( 773354 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:12PM (#13668689) Homepage
    What tools do the developers use themselves, and what tools do they envision the mod community using to adapt Civ IV?
  • Colonization (Score:3, Interesting)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:15PM (#13668719) Homepage
    Do you remember Colonization? Why isn't there a sequel to that great game, it being even more addictive than Civ.
  • by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:17PM (#13668732)
    Will the images of cities as they appear on the world map accurately refelect the developments in the cities? That is, if you build a courthouse in a city, will you be able to see that courthouse when you're at the regular zoomed-out view of the world? I always thought this would be a visually neat, and actually useful addition to the game; useful, because it would remove the need to zoom into a city to see what you've built in them.
  • DRM in Civ IV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:21PM (#13668770) Homepage
    Civ III requires the installation CD be inserted every time you play, even though none of the content on the CD is used by the game after installation. This annoys your customers by making them juggle CDs, unnecessarily wear out their hardware, and shorten their battery life. Consequently, many of your customers install "No-CD Cracks" to fix this flaw in your software.
    How do you feel about the existence and use of such cracks? Will you include this CD requirement in Civ IV even though it does not prevent copyright infringement but still inconveniences your customers?
  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:24PM (#13668795)
    Civ III is not Civ II.

    If you want a tech lead, what you are doing will simply not work. There is a pretty harsh penalty for committing too much to science; you are throwing money out the window. A few AIs that are trading amongst themselves will naturally research faster than a single, larger civ without any cheating.

    You need to be the civ that's making those trades and benefitting from them. If you have a tech that one other civ has, then you must immediately sell that tech to all other civs for whatever you can get for it. If you don't, then the AI will, and you lose out.

    In making these trades, you need to constantly strip the AIs of all cash and all income. Once they have no resources left to trade techs with each other, you can safely stop sharing and get your nice tech lead. This won't happen until the renaissance/modern eras however.
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:25PM (#13668803)
    My question is AI related as well. Since the parent is a good question, I'd like to tack this on:

    Will the code for the AI routines be user-editable, easy to mod and documented?

    Rationalle: As an fan AI-coder for CRPG's (I worked with David Gaider on AI in the Ascention mod of Baldur's Gate 2), it's my experience that with no deadlines and lot of playing experience (very important), a community of modders are willing and able to write a much smarter AI than any game engineer. Nothing would more increase my willingness to replay the game than the promise that this time, a newly modded AI really will give me a run for my money. In my experience, it only took several solid weeks of playing and a few weeks of coding before I could make a computer-controlled magic-user in BG2 who could regularly kick the ass of an identically-able human controlled magic user, without cheating.

    For Civ-specific AI issues, here are the features of what I take to be the holy grail of AI:

    1. No omniscience: The input information available to each country's AI would be the same as what would be available to a player if she controlled that country. (No "seeing past your range of view".)
    2. The AI is completely blind as to which rivals are human and which are AI.
    3. There are several very good AI's that each favor different strategies, and a meta-AI that determines which strategy is the best fit for the situation.
    4. Exactly the same rules apply to the AI civs as to the human-controlled civs (regarding science, production, trade, etc.).
  • Re:How customisable? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:25PM (#13668806) Homepage
    Civ3 was wonderfully customisable as long as you were sticking with a civ-type game, but even basic reaching beyond this ran into trouble, e.g. I found no way to get the map generator to have different weighting of tile types, or extend the number of varieties beyond the land/sea split. Have all these kind of limitations been removed? How possible is a total conversion? What about conversions to a different game type?

    I imagine there will always be some aspects that won't be moddable, if for no other reason than you gotta anchor the game system somewhere.

    For example, I have no great hopes of seeing my "alien invaders" scenario get much easier to implement. The premise is that you are a space-faring alien civ (with all techs) crash landed on an already developed planet. Basically, you're given one settler and a couple defense-only "mecha" units in some random spot on the map, but all the other civs have already had 40-80 turns to build up their empires. The only way I could do this in Civ3 was to force the "alien invader" player to build a large and difficult wonder only available to them (I called it "Spacecraft Salvage") before they could build any new units. This basically forced the player to sit there and press "next turn" 40-80 times in order to give the enemy civs a head start. It was a fun scenario because the strategies get really weird when it's one small hyper-advanced civ vs. a half dozen crazy beligerant iron age, renaissance, or industrial age civs; but it was always a pain to sit there and hit space for 10 minutes at the beginning of every game.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:26PM (#13668814) Homepage Journal
    Do you have any plans to include other means of warfare, such as economic warfare and the use of interest rates, bonds, companies and good old fashioned money to conquer? It could add another layer of depth once players approach the modern age

    I for one would like to see methods like the British used in the Falklands War, where they parasailed in units that counterfeited large quantities of Argentinian money, or the current economic supports the Saudis (or I guess technically the Saudi rebels - how you can call 99 percent of a country "rebels" is another matter) give to the Iraqi Resistance in the current Iraqi War, or what we did in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation - anyway, I would love to see this in the final version of Civ that comes out.

    Reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper to research and develop simulations for.
  • Re:The Civ4 AI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:35PM (#13668890)
    Not so much. In the original C&C, try starving the enemy of resources (by killing harvesters) and then watch his silos run dry. Now let one harvester go out and come back in - bing! All his silos are now completely full from just one harvester run.

    Now that's cheating :)
  • Open Protocalls? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hswerdfe ( 569925 ) < ... m ['rd.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:36PM (#13668898) Homepage Journal
    Will the communication, on multi player games be designed so that

    1. 3rd party clients, can play games against CIV 4 clients?
    2. will CIV 4 Clients be able to connect to 3rd Party servers to play multiplayer games?
  • by leshert ( 40509 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:36PM (#13668903) Homepage
    Civilization I was a game that you could play through in a few hours.

    Civilization II (still my favorite!) sometimes took two sittings, but it was manageable.

    Alpha Centauri took a bit longer, but the "storyline" helped break things up.

    Call to Power and Civilization III each seemed to take longer than the last. I bought Civ III, spent several nights playing the same game, and uninstalled it.

    Skill with a game is acquired through repeated plays, but each version of Civ has taken longer and longer to play through a game. Is Civilization IV continuing this tradition, or are you making changes to keep a game from taking weeks of real time?
  • Clock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cybergrue ( 696844 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:50PM (#13669033)
    Are you going to include a real-time clock in the game so us lowly players know when to quit playing so as to be able to schedule the lower priority but still necessary activities such as sleep, studying and work into our lives?
  • Globe? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by atomray ( 202327 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:02PM (#13669123) Homepage
    I have enjoyed the Civilization series since the beginning, but with the third incarnation it was pointed out to me that it's rather disappointing that the game continues to be played on a tube rather than a globe. If Civilization IV is also on a strip, could you explain what difficulties the development team is having in implementing what seems to be such an obvious and simple detail?
  • Python+XML vs lua (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:15PM (#13669229) Homepage Journal
    I've noticed many other games have engines based on lua. I believe the first two Warcraft series use lua extensively for level development and is what people wrote custom mods with if they didn't want to use the built in map editors.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan of lua or anything. I've only done minor programming in it. My question is why did you choose the language that you did (python + xml files), what are the advantages to this approach, what are the disadvantages and finally, how much development time would you say is needed using your SDK would take vs attempting to design a mod for some of the other popular games (Quake3, Half-Life2, etc.)

    Oh and I guess one more thing. How far have we come in modding games since Doom I .wad files?

  • by zxnos ( 813588 ) <> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:30PM (#13669349)
    I like the idea of an AI reacting to the subtleties of the map.

    that is a good idea. i have always been annoyed how the AI would cross into my area, find a single open tile where the influence of my towns convereged but didnt cover and build a city. it would be like me moving to france and starting a city in the country and considering that city part of the u.s.. i did use this against the other civs since my culture was often much stronger. so my question:

    will the other cultures in civ 4 truly respect my borders and not build in the 'middle' of my 'country'?

  • by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:35PM (#13669388)
    Si, what we need is the ultimate sim game: design your city, a la SimCity, and the AI learns how a successful city works -> Move up and produce a state/country of AI run cities (a la Civ) -> Move up and run a planet of AI run states -> empire of AI run planets. Of course you could be anal and start from the Sims level, or even the SimAnt level ("Can you drive your ants to take over the universe?!").

    and so forth. Anyway, what I was getting at was that Scalability and self-maintaining systems are good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:41PM (#13669427)
    In CivIII I've noticed that when you get into the Industrial era, the rate at which you can build thing doesn't diminish. I start a city in, say 1900. It takes me a minimum of 40 turns to build anything and at that point it is literally years! While I love the game, taking 40 years to build a library is totally nuts. I understand that resources come into play, but once you are industrialized, how can it take so long to build stuff!?!
  • by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:46PM (#13669457) Homepage
    > I hope that rivers make more sense generally -- i.e., movement by river should be faster than overland. The model in Civ III leads to
    > explorers going from mountaintop to mountaintop, which is not at all historically accurate.

    Or the often maligned fact that trains move across the world instantaniously, but it takes an aircraft 20 years to do the same. Civ has always been great up to about the invention of gunpowder, then it breaks down into a total mess.

  • Governments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baron von Blapp ( 767958 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:49PM (#13669475) Homepage
    How will governments break down? what I mean is, what stats will they have in game that will effect the way they work? I figure if the governments have more variables to work with it will be easier for the fans to add governments they want that are actually different from the stock ones. Who doesn't want a Theocracy that gives bonuses to recruitment depending on the culture of your civ?

    I know I want my own little Iran, and I sure would have more nukes than you could sheik a stick at :D

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:51PM (#13669487)
    Do you have a solution for networked play that doesn't involve a central, irreplaceable node (say, for example, or a specific brand (say, Microsoft) of firewall? A networking paradigm that works regardless of number of NATted players? That would make Civ dominate the multiplayer world in the same way that it has dominated its niche as a single-player game.

    Once a week, ever since the original CivNet was published, the droogs and I play multiplayer Civ on a home LAN. We've probably canceled six or seven games total in that time span- typically due to the host's wedding anniversary or something similarly earthshaking. Members of the group have literally driven through hurricanes and blizzards to make the game, and when the host (originally me, not anymore) is on vacation, spare house keys are distributed so that the LAN can still be accessed.

    We like Sid Meier games, and we want you to keep making them, so we do not bootleg them. Every member of our group owns every (Sid Meier) version of Civilization ever published! We require that you own a CD in order to play, even though we use no-CD cracks and similar tricks to make network installations (this speeds up the game start and ensures patch level compatibility).

    Each time a new version of the game has upped the hardware requirements, I've rebuilt all nine of the LAN's PCs accordingly. When I moved to a new house, the LAN was moved to another player's house first, so that the game could continue even while I was in the process of moving (and there it has stayed, incidentally). All the machines are built from dumpster-diving booty, except the video cards - Civ 3 required more video $$ than we could find in corporate dumpsters, so we each bought a card.

    We have played every Sid Meier version of Civ so far (including Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire). Of these, the most robust is the original Alpha Centauri, followed by Civ2 (there are certain crashes characteristic to each version that show up when you play them thousands of times, AC and Civ2 have have the lowest frequencies of such problems in real use). We are very familiar with "messages from the network underworld". ;)

    I think I can authoritatively state that the quality and capabilities of the networking stack took a nosedive when you went to Microsoft's DirectPlay gaming system. The simultaneous movement capability, for example, was much better in the hoary old (Civ1 based) CivNet than it is in Civ3.

    I believe this is because a third party vendor, particularly when it's an OS vendor, has completely different motives than a game producer. You, the game producers, want maximum capability presented to the programming staff and the end users, but the vendor wants to use the game as a wedge to drive end users with other systems (or older systems) into an upgrade path that generates income.

    I recommend a test case with 3 players outside a single-IP-address NAT gateway, and 3 inside, and one computer player. If you can do that, you have a clean multiplayer networking stack!
  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:58PM (#13669563)
    Will the Mac version of the game have the same editors and customization options as the PC version? Or will we -- once again -- be left without any tools? It's a story that has gotten old, old and hurtful, in the Macintosh world.

    On a different topic. . . I was disappointed to read that Civ4 will have lots of animation. Animation is cool when it corresponds with the user doing something. But simply staring at the map while it's "working alive" with units going through their little motions is awful. That only makes it hard to find your cursor. It's like camouflage.

    I'm highly skeptical of all the religious stuff. Seems like something else I'll have to micro-manage in a game I thought should be made more streamlined, not more complicated. Just another complicating factor I have no interest in, that my enemies can use against me. (like culture. . . only worse?)

    What I would really love to see in the game is an optional "Empire mode". It would be a simplified game mode where all the micro-management is bypassed, and the focus is just on fighting a war. Instead of having to spend hours and hours building up your civilization first, you could dive into military conflict quickly.
  • by Leuf ( 918654 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @04:24PM (#13669797)
    We hear a lot in general terms how testing and input from various sources influenced the game. Focusing on one game feature, how was it envisioned in the design document and what does it look like now?
  • Re:Globe? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ralp ( 541345 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @04:33PM (#13669877) Homepage Journal
    If Civilization IV is also on a strip, could you explain what difficulties the development team is having in implementing what seems to be such an obvious and simple detail?

    Well, I can't speak for the dev team, but my monitor happens to be flat and rectangular.
  • Alpha Centauri (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demachina ( 71715 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @04:36PM (#13669916)
    Why don't you do a new version of Alpha Centauri? It was hands down better than any version of Civilization I've ever played. Civilization III was IMHO terrible. I recall some game ranking sight that still shows Alpha Centauri in the top 20 all time though it is ancient and hard to find now. If you could retain all the brilliance of the original, improve the AI's, add the ability to do mods, and get a new online community going it would return to being one of my favorite games to sink hours in to.
  • by natebrau ( 726736 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @05:04PM (#13670276)
    The old Civ II (on the Mac port, at least) was fantastic in its support for multiple monitors. Everything was implemented as its own individual window/palette- the main game screen was one window, the tool palette was another window, animations popped up in another window. This was spectacular for multiple monitors, since the main monitor was free to show the main game screen and only the main game screen, while all secondary activity could be displayed on the second monitor. Civ 3 destroyed this, and brought everything back into one single monolithic ueber-window, where any action brought up a dialog box/window which was drawn on top of the main game screen, obscuring game information. Will Civ 4 continue this approach and assume that everyone must have a single, solitary monitor, or will it go back to a floating palette approach, where those of us with multiple monitors can really take advantage of them? Thanks in advance for your time, -Natebrau
  • by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:32PM (#13671715)
    Alpha Centauri had excellent diplomacy, and the A.I. players could have many intelligent things to say, e.g. Gaians got pissed at me for polluting, or the Morganites wanted to share their maps and coordinate their attacks. It also had a planetary council were decisions pertaining to the whole planet were made, like doing something to decrease global warming or decreasing human rights. Compared to that, the Civ3 trade-o-matic-screen was quite pathetic.

    Which kind of diplomacy will Civilization IV be having?
  • by Rick Genter ( 315800 ) <rick.genter@gm a i l . c om> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @10:22PM (#13672698) Homepage Journal
    Do you use neural nets?
    Do you do any game recording/playback?
    Do you have the game play itself?
    What kind of "tuning knobs" do you have?

    Inquiring minds want to know!
  • Screen resolution... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by socrates09 ( 897158 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:55AM (#13673482)
    Will the screen resolution be artificially restricted??

    Civ III forced a resolution of 1024x768 or similar, which was extremely annoying given the small amount of map area visible (a big problem with the game IMO). The ability to zoom will somewhat alleviate this problem, but it would also be nice to use the full 1920x1200 resolution I have available. This is particularly relevant to a tactical game like Civ where you often need an overview of an area for strategic planning, and having to scroll back and forth to get this is detrimental to the playability of the game.

    btw. FreeCiv allows any resolution (being window based), so if an Open source clone can do it there's no excuse for a commercial release :)
  • by socrates09 ( 897158 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @01:08AM (#13673531)
    Will Civ IV support hexagonal grids, eithere built in or via modding??

    The screen shots I have seen are all square grids. Hex grids make for a fairer movement system, as opposed to square grids where a diagonal move costs the same but takes you further than left/right/up/down moves. FreeCiv provides a hex grid/tileset that I find preferable to the 'classic' square style.

    If there is no support for hexagonal grids, what has been done to resolve the issue with movement points and other problems resulting from the use of a square grid system?
  • by Aussie_Lurker ( 918457 ) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:23AM (#13673827)
    Hi guys. Well, what can I say, all the info coming out about Civ4 is making me practically drool with anticipation ;)! This is looking like the best civ yet, and you should be congratulated. OK, my question is a two parter, but both relate to city development. Firstly, what role do food units (bread) and health actually play in the new population growth system? Secondly, do city improvements and wonders come with any kind of per-turn maintainance cost, as they did in Civ2 and 3, or will this all be subsumed into the new city and civic maintainance cost? Thanks for your time :)! Yours, Aussie_Lurker.
  • Spearman v. Tank (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fastball ( 91927 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:43PM (#13687373) Journal
    Let's admit it, it's the most beautiful thing in all of the Civ series. Losing your cherry to a spearman (wow, what a pun!).

    Any thought given to expanding guerilla tactics?

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