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Answers From The Civ IV Team 439

Posted by Zonk
from the watch-out-for-the-visigoths dept.
Late last month we asked you for questions to pass on to the Civ IV team. Last week we posted the responses from game designer Sid Meier to your questions about his design philosophy. Well, this week Civilization IV has shipped, and we have responses from lead designer Soren Johnson for the Civilization development team over at Firaxis Studios. He has some thoughtful answers to your questions, and they're well worth taking a look at. Many thanks to Mr. Meier, Mr. Johnson, and the entire Civ IV team for accommodating us. Read on for the responses to your queries.
1. The Civ4 AI - by Skyshadow
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?

Soren Johnson:
A great deal of effort has been put into making the Civ IV AI the best yet. For the first time ever, we have received direct input from the world's best Civ players during the game's development, via a very selective, closed beta that began very early. This feedback allowed us to iterate on the AI's design much more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Much of the information cheating has been removed from the game (such as knowing where a resource is before it is discovered, sending off galleys with settlers to undiscovered lands, targeting cities with fewer defenders, etc.) Further, the heuristics it uses to make decisions, such as for diplomatic demands and declarations of war, are the same ones available to the player (such as from the power chart on the Demographics screen). However, as with all versions of Civ, the AI has production and research penalties at the lower levels and bonuses at the higher levels. The level of the bonuses are lower than they have ever been before; in fact, the AI never receives any bonuses whatsoever for building wonders - a far cry from the "free AI wonders" in Civ 1. Noble and Prince are the difficulty levels where the AI's rules are closest to the human's.

2. DRM in Civ IV - by Lord Ender
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?

Soren Johnson:
Like our previous games, Civ IV requires the CD to be in the drive on start-up. The funding we get for all of our games, which allows us to hire developers to work on the AI, graphics, interface, etc., is a direct reflection of how many copies our previous games have sold in the marketplace. Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us. Frankly, I do not agree that requiring the CD to be in the drive "does not prevent copyright infringement," even though I understand that this is almost always true for the technically adept. This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used.

3. Politics - by MosesJones
How much will CiV4 use political shifts in countries as a cyclical change in approaches?

Soren Johnson:
Each of the leaders in the game has a certain political leaning that will become clear over the course of the game. Mao may pressure you to adopt State Property while Roosevelt would encourage Universal Suffrage. Indeed, playing off these various interests is a core part of the diplomatic game. We do not, however, have political shifts modeled - outside of the anarchy that occurs whenever the player chooses to change Civics. Perhaps it is an idea to consider for the future.

4. Family Gaming - by carambola5
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?

Soren Johnson:
Civilization is a great game for families, especially now that true team-based play is possible. One could easily imagine a parent and child playing together to Take Over the World. However, that situation does require a couple computers...while hot-seat is the option for families with one computer. I am sure more could be done in this area, but the assumption of a single mouse and keyboard is certainly the limitation. On a console, "family-night" may be more viable as multiple controllers would be available.

5. Portables - by BMonger
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.

Soren Johnson:
We are very intrigued by the idea of Civ on a portable. Certainly, turn-based gaming has proved quite viable on that format - many of us are big fans of Advance Wars. The fact that Civ can be put down and picked up at any time makes it a good fit. There are, however, no official plans at this time.

6. The Civ4 AI - by freidog
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. Basically I was hoping you could go into some more detail on what AI and other more complex modding might entail.

Soren Johnson:
The AI for Civ IV is written entirely in C++. However, all the AI code (as well as game code) is compiled into a separate DLL which can be replaced with a modified version. Essentially, the SDK release will be all of the files required to build this DLL. Thus, changing the AI and "core" game rules (such as terrain, movement, production, etc.) is possible - one could implement a completely different combat model, for example.

7. Alpha Centauri - by squiggleslash
I'm wondering if plans are afoot to work on Alpha Centauri, and if so, how the original will be improved upon. Some of us see AC as the best in the whole (greater) Civilization series. Awesome game.

Soren Johnson:
There are no official plans to make a sequel for Alpha Centauri although it's certainly an idea we kick around every now and then. In many ways, Civ IV is an attempt to incorporate many of the things which were great about SMAC into the core series. Civics obviously derives directly from Social Engineering. Also, the promotions system can be seen as a more reward-based version of the Unit Workshop. The increased role of leader personalities is also inspired by the diplomacy from SMAC. Thanks for the feedback...it definitely pushes us to take a closer look at the idea of making a new version of SMAC. We'll keep you posted.

8. Python+XML vs lua - by SumDog
My questions are:
Why did you choose the language that you did (python + xml files)?
What are the advantages to this approach?
What are the disadvantages you've found using these technologies?

Soren Johnson:
We chose to use python because we wanted a well-supported scripting language that could extend our core code. Indeed, we wrote much more code in python than we were expecting, including all in-game screens and the main interface. It was a huge win for the project because writing code in a language with garbage collection simply goes faster than writing code in C++. The fact that users will be able to easily mod the interface is a nice plus as well. The downside of python was that it significantly increased our build times, mostly from linking with Boost. XML was chosen because it is a very flexible system for storing data, which is important for a game like Civilization that is essentially "built" from numbers. Using an off-the-shelf XML editor, anyone from our designers to end users could modify our game data. We also have a high-level file system which allows you to override any specific art, sound, python, or XML file simply by setting a specific "mod directory" that contains only the modified files. If a specific file is not found in this directory, the game just uses the default one.

9. Macro and Micro Management - by kenp2002
How did the Civ team address 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 micromanagement. Managing 55 workers in Civ3 along with 35 cities becomes a logistical nightmare when governor AI doesn't learn from your play style. Which Direction is Civ4 taking?

Soren Johnson:
Removing unnecessary micromanagement from the game was a high-level design goal for Civ IV, one which paid off huge dividends in the final product. We systematically looked at every piece of micromanagement from which Civ 1-3 suffered and figured out ways to remove it without altering the underlying game dynamic. Pollution was removed in favor of a high-level health system. Beaker and hammer overflow was introduced to end the incentive for min-maxing your citizens each and every turn. City riots were simply turned into angry citizens to take away the need to continually check on your cities' happiness in case something went wrong. Workers now have two moves so that a move and an order can be given on the same turn -reducing the number of times the player deals with an active worker by half. Also, some high-level controls to allow micromanagement were added. For example, workers can be grouped together and given an infinite number of sequential orders. Multiple cities can be selected at a time, allowing the player to change all cities on one continent to build tanks with just two clicks.

10. Do you think 3D graphics will enhance gameplay? - by Anubis333
As a long time Civ player, I would have to say that I really didn't understand why it moved to 3D graphics. Will having the engine be entirely 3D in Civ IV 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).

Soren Johnson:
Graphics succeed in a Civilization game when they provide a good representation of the world's state. Simply put, what-you-see-is-what-you-get is a lot easier with 3D than with 2D. Wonders and buildings now appear on the map, so the player doesn't need to reference an advisor screen to see which city has the Pyramids. Improvements like farms and mines animate differently depending on whether a city is working them or not. Multiple units can now be used to signify hit-points, instead of the old red/green bars. Now, most of these ideas could have been executed in 2D, but certainly with more difficulty as everything displayed in 2D requires an algorithmic system which must be built from scratch. From a pure design perspective, 3D provides an incredible amount of flexibility for free.

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Answers From The Civ IV Team

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  • by revscat (35618) * on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:38PM (#13890367) Journal
    A Mac version? Please? I know women of loose virtues with whom I could aquaint you! And gee whiz, with enough alcohol my virtues are known to flutter around a bit! Let's make a deal!
    • by GabrielF (636907) <GJFishman AT comcast DOT net> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:42PM (#13890405)
      Aspyr just announced today that it will be publishing Civ 3 Complete and Civ 4. Civ 3 has been on the Mac for awhile now and this looks like just a new edition which includes the two expansion packs. Civ 4 unfortunately won't be available until early 2006. Announcment at MacCentral [macworld.com]
      • <Kaylee voice> Oooh Granpa! </kv> so, rev, how many MacTinis did it take?
      • Early 2006? What, is it too difficult to comprehend that such a game would be extremely popular on OSX?

        Now I know how the rest of the world feels when a good movie comes out in the states a year ahead of them.
        • What, is it too difficult to comprehend that such a game would be extremely popular on OSX?

          Ooooh, is it too difficult to comprehend that they can only afford so many programmers working at any one time, and that ports have to be done by the same people who are working on the original platform?
          • by Brad Oliver (604118) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:44PM (#13890968)
            Ooooh, is it too difficult to comprehend that they can only afford so many programmers working at any one time, and that ports have to be done by the same people who are working on the original platform?

            Allow me to interrupt this Sarcasmathon with some facts. ;-) I work for Aspyr and am the lead programmer on the Mac Civ4 port.

            The port isn't being done by the same people who did the PC version - it's being farmed out to a Mac developer and Mac publisher. This is the typical case with most Mac game ports. It also means that we have to wait for legal hurdles to clear, code drops to arrive, and naturally, for the Mac code to start working and stop being buggy. ;-) Now you might think that rewriting a game that depends on several third-party libraries with no Mac version and a dependence on DX9 might be trivial, but alas it is not.

            • by Sethb (9355) <bokelman@gmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:53PM (#13891653) Homepage
              Great to hear you're working on it, Brad, you've done great work on the previous ports, and you've always been forthcoming with the community, which we appreciate immensely. While my desktop is a PC, my portable is a PowerBook, and I'm looking forward to buying the new versions, especially Civ 3 Complete. I just hope that Civ 4 will be playable on my PowerBook (12" G4 1.33Ghz, 1.25GB RAM), I picked it up yesterday for the PC, and found that huge maps simply aren't going to be an option on my PC, (2.2Ghz Pentium 4, 1GB RAM, and Radeon 9700 Pro). I played a game on a standard map through last night (on Settler difficulty), just to get a feel for the techs and building improvements without having to actually compete much, and I'm already hooked, there's just obviously a lot more going on in Civ 4, both graphically and computationally, and I think that many of us turn-based gaming fans don't have the latest CPU & GPU gear that the hard-core shooter crowd does.
    • First rule of slashdot. We do not talk about slashdot.
      Second rule...
      We do not about games on platforms other than windows. [slashdot.org]

      BTW, 4 of the 36 +5 modded comments for this interview were about platforms other than windows.
    • You're going about this all wrong. You need to skip the developers and go straight to the Slashdot crowd. Offer the loose women and liquor for a PC, and you'll be playing in no time.
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:41PM (#13890397)
    The AI for Civ IV is written entirely in C++. However, all the AI code (as well as game code) is compiled into a separate DLL which can be replaced with a modified version. Essentially, the SDK release will be all of the files required to build this DLL. Thus, changing the AI and "core" game rules (such as terrain, movement, production, etc.) is possible - one could implement a completely different combat model, for example.

    It is surprising that the AI was not written in Python, which is highly integrated with this game. Indeed, Python is just the sort of language for writing such code. However, was it not done this way due to the slower execution speed of Python code, relative to C++?

    • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:50PM (#13890475) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

      I'd like to take the opportunity to completely disagree with Soren on the point of No-CD cracks and anti-piracy measures to insure high sales. Epic has done excellent with every UT release even though they have no irritating protection measures. Scene releases are usually dumped if they dont come with the cracks necessary to run a game, so by forcing a paying user to keep his CD in you are just spitting in the face of your loyal customers. If I buy Civ 4, I'll want to just get the CDkey, and let someone keep the scratched CD. By game publishers requiring a no-cd hack, I am tempted to just skip the license and hack the cd key as well.
      • by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:10PM (#13890627)
        Epic has done excellent with every UT release even though they have no irritating protection measures.

        Not exactly true. Every version of UT that I've owned (UT, 2k3, 2k4) has had copy protection out of the box. The difference is that Epic and Atari (the publisher) have come to a consensus that the majority of sales happen in the first few weeks/months, and a few patches down the line the copy protection is removed. I believe that for 2k4 it was removed in the 2nd patch.

        OTOH, they also have online play as a major component, and use serial numbers to cover validation for that.

        I do think that any game, online or not, should be removing the CD protection check after 4 months or so just so it pisses off the gamers less.

      • It should only take a competent programmer a couple of days, if even that, to become well accustomed to Python. And it's often far easier for your average person to learn than C++ is.

        I reject your hypothesis on the basis that the assumptions it makes are incorrect.

        Perhaps somebody will embed the Python (or Lua, etc.) interpreter into such an AI DLL, allowing for the AI to be written in a language that is often better suited for such complex tasks.

        • Ever thought of performance reasons?
          I am sure civ spends at least 90 percent of its cpu time in the ai subroutine, so needlessly useing a slower language would bog down the game. (and of course all sheep that know shit about gpus and hw t&l would cry that the graphics make it slow)
          • Yes, I thought about performance reasons. You obviously didn't bother to read my initial post on this matter:

            However, was it not done this way due to the slower execution speed of Python code, relative to C++? [slashdot.org]

            See, I specifically covered that very topic.

            With a game such as this, increased AI "intelligence" could very well mitigate the slightly slower execution. Python allows for extremely complex systems to be developed very quickly, at the expense of runtime performance. Neural nets, for instance, can be
            • It's faster to write anything in the language you're comfortable with. This is undoubtedly why they did most of the game in C++.

              I have a real problem with using Python for large projects simply because of the lack of static typing. Dynamic typing is great for scripts, but well-documented interfaces become the most important factor when a project scales beyond a single team. Static typing forces you to put important interface information in the code, rather than hoping someone added it to comments.

              Of cour
      • Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

        I doubt it. Python is a whole lot easier to get into than C++ (and yes, I do multi platform C++ for a living), so if your primary goal is to enable easy modding then Python is the obvious choice. In fact, they seem to have made that choice for the majority of the interface and code.

        But it probably would've been a bad choice for the AI, which is hig
      • Perhaps it is because more people are familiar with C++ than Python, and by writing the AI and other game rules in C++ the Civ 4 team has made modders job easier.

        While that reason has been used by many a person, I don't think it's a particularly good one. The problem with doing something like AI in C/C++ is that all the memory management issues cloud the actual logic, thus making it more difficult than necessary to understand. Using a higher level language like Python, Java, or (God forbid) JavaScript tends
      • What I don't understand is why they don't just get around the aggravation with the CD check by having the CD/DVD actually store stuff on it that is read while the game runs? If the disk has to be in the drive when I start an app, the app had damn well better utilize the disk to free up space on my drive (I know, big drives are cheap these days; it's the principle of it).

        I do not pirate games, but if one wants that disk but doesn't make use of it, I WILL use a hack to disable the check. You want that disk in
    • I get the impression from all the complaints about xbox 360 not being powerful enough to enable Really Good AI that AI can be very cpu-intensive. So perhaps it wouldn't be the best fit for Python after all.
  • No CD fix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:44PM (#13890425)
    I'd happily fax over my receipt if Firaxis provided an executable with no-cd check. Make it so that I'd have to have the CD in the drive to patch the file. Then the file is patched and the CD can go back on the shelf.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:4, Interesting)

      by enigma48 (143560) * <jeff_new_slash&jeffdom,com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:52PM (#13890496) Journal
      It's a good idea but the no-cd EXE will leak, they'd have to verify receipts were real, hiring more staff, etc.

      Copy protection and theft/copyright infringement (whatever) is a hard thing to crack. I'm just glad I'm technical enough to know how to fix my own problems when they arise; 90% of gamers wouldn't know where to start.
      • Re:No CD fix (Score:4, Insightful)

        by radish (98371) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:38PM (#13890912) Homepage
        It's a good idea but the no-cd EXE will leak
        The no-cd EXE has already leaked (or rather, will very soon be created). This kind of dumb copy protection doesn't stop piracy but it does annoy customers. There are several games which I haven't bought simply because I've heard of people having trouble making it work due to some protection mechanism.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:53PM (#13891059)
        There is a site that has cracks for all new games. They come out almost immediatly after the game, they are updated with new patches, etc. All you do is download and use them, no technical skill required. Anyone that wishes to copy the game illegally will have no problem doing so.

        However for those of us that want to stay legit, it would be nice to have a legit way to do it. I don't like having CDs in my drive because I'm careless. I like to install teh game, put the orignals in their box and put the box where it won't get damaged. A CD on my desk is just asking for trouble.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Surt (22457) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:59PM (#13890558) Homepage Journal
      ... or rather than the shelf, you could give your cd and the patch to a friend and then ... oh.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Scorpius-nl (827901)
      DRM can be tied to hardware also, like windows XP does.

      It can easily be done during setup time, with online verification so that you can't lend your CD to you neighbor.

      After setup is done, you can just start your game without CD.
      • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bradee-oh! (459922)
        Ehh... I played Civ3 on my desktop at home and on my laptop while out. I had Civ3 installed on both (with the no-cd patch) and shifted the savegame files from one to the other as I arrived home or left home.

        Having two installs against the EULA? Probly. Completely legitimate usage of the software from a moral standpoint? Sure. Would I have even purchased Civ3 if there was WinXP-style hardware lock-in? Seeing as I spend about 60% of my time at home and 40% away and like to have my games available every
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:5, Informative)

      by gid (5195) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:12PM (#13890642) Homepage
      I doubt this would happen. In the mean time, you can make a safedisc mini-image [cdfreaks.com]. I'm currently using it with battlefield 2 and dungeon siege 2.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mercano (826132) <mercano@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:18PM (#13890690)
      On a tangential note, I found that the disc labeled "play disc" is in fact the second install disc, with just one huge data3.cab file on it. To actually play the game, you use the first disc, helpfully labeled "install." Snafu?
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:5, Insightful)

      by neosake (655724) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:32PM (#13890827) Homepage
      From TFA
      ... Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us.

      If I steal the cd from the store, how does enforcing the cd to be in the drive enforce purchase?

      /disclamer I know I'm being pedantic, but i'm gettig fed up of people using "steal" to give themselves more importance.

      • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drew (2081)
        If I steal the cd from the store, how does enforcing the cd to be in the drive enforce purchase?

        If you steal the CD from the store, Firaxis already has been paid just as much money for the CD as they would have recieved had you purchased it legally. It's only the store that loses money.

        And yes, I know that wasn't your point.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Interesting)

      by greenskyx (609089) *
      How about something like this... Civ IV enters my key information into Steam (or something like that) and then uses Steam to provide authentication.
      • Steam is a major pain in the arse when it comes to playing a game. The enforced updates frequently mean that clients get out of sync with servers (that don't patch as often as clients are forced to, lagging the update by 6-12 hours or so). The required 'spotcheck' with the authentication server means that, if for some assinine reason, the login servers are down but the play servers are up, you CANNOT play. It agrivates the hell out of me, even though I tolerate it. If all games were like this, I'd probably
      • by Kalzus (86795)
        As it stands, I'm upset that I own a game that is likely to become unplayable forever unless the publisher has the forsight to prepare a patch that utterly removes the Steam requirement. I'm not paying Valve another dime.
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Insightful)

      by enjo13 (444114)
      Its a pain that keeps me from buying many games in the first place. My PC Gaming is basically completely relegated to my laptop.. carrying around the CD's for all of the games I would want to play is both inconvenient and rather unncesary. There is nothing more frusturating than being in the airport wanting to play something and realizing that I left the CD at home.

      For games I really like I'll go through the trouble of getting the no cd crack... more and more, however, I simply don't purchase games. They ma
    • Something different does need to be done in this area. I hate having to have the CD in the drive as well, and I doubt it really helps much. And, as several people pointed out, I suspect it hurts sales by almost as much as it helps them.

      I think that copyright law is broken in this regard too. It doesn't reflect the reality of what's easily possible. Games occupy a category that's more closely similar to music than software. Perhaps similar models could be adopted for funding games in a 'copies can't re

    • Re:No CD fix (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hard_Code (49548)
      Even if this "registration" or whatnot has to be done on a per-machine basis, which would still serve to prevent piracy (so you couldn't take one no-cd binary and move it to another machine), it is MUCH MUCH MUCH better than CD jockeying. I hate CD jockeying. I will not play a game that requires this. If you make me get up and try to find the right CD and put it in my CD drive and then wait for the program to spin the drive up and engage whatever DRM it needs - you have just lost me as a gamer. As gamer
    • Re:No CD fix (Score:5, Informative)

      by skintigh2 (456496) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:17PM (#13891316)
      Requiring a CD is so stupid. At home I have to have piles of CDs around for all my games, and on the road I have to remove one of my batteries (halfing play time) to insert the CDROM drive which just spins and wastes more power, resulting in my batteries dying halfway into a plane ride. Obviously that is unacceptable, so I end up downloading a possibly infected crack from russia just so I can play on a long plane ride. Thanks Firaxis!
  • Nice... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800)
    Good questions, good moderation, good answers. Nice work, all around.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:45PM (#13890433) Homepage Journal
    The Civilization games seem like a prime candidate for breaking into the family-game-playing field.

    Isn't Civilization loosely based on a Wargame of a similar name? i.e. Thus the use of a hex grid and all? Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I could have sworn I saw it in a list of board games a few days ago. (I'm currently learning to play Starfire, for those of you who know what that is.)

    Ah, here we are. It's under 'C' on this page [grognard.com]. The link to the website seems to be defunct (along with the company?), so I really have no way of verifying this. Anyone?
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:57PM (#13890539) Homepage Journal
      Ah hah! Rfunches post below mine spurred me to do a smidge more research, and I found this link [eaglegames.net] where you can purchase the board game from Eagle Games. Which would figure. The list I linked to in the parent post didn't link to the Eagle Games website.

      The Eagle Games site makes it sound like the board game was based on the video game, not the other way around. This may have its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you'll probably get an experience closer to the video game, on the minus side the rules may be overly complex due to numbers that a computer can crunch easily whereas a human must keep track of paperwork.

      If you've never played a Wargame before, I probably wouldn't recommend starting with the Civilisation board game. Wargames are *tough* if you've never played them before, and tend to require a mentor. Since you might have trouble finding one in this day in age of Computer Games, I highly recommend starting with the free Battle For Moscow [grognard.com] board game. It's fairly easy to pick up, and should help you get down the basics of wargaming.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You are correct. Well, not really. It was a board game, not a war game (think Settlers of Catan type of thing)

      A bit of a history
      http://www.strategy-gaming.com/reviews/civilizatio n_call_to_power/index.shtml [strategy-gaming.com]

      (this is about 7 years out of date, so there's some other stuff that's happened since then -- obviously Firaxis got the rights to use the name again from the Hasbro collective).
      • Wow, what a mess. So Hartland Trefoil gets acquired by Avalon Hill who licenses the name to Microprose, but then Sid Meier breaks off to do his own Civ, but Activision gets its own permission to do Civ, thus causing Hasbro (who wants to get in on the game) to acquire AH and Microprose, then allowing Eagle Games to do a board game that's a spinoff of the computer game which is a spinoff of the board game. Whew. Am I missing anything?

        Mods, if you could, please give the parent (and the other fine and helpful p
    • by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:04PM (#13890595)

      The boardgame Civilization has been around for a very long time. It was the inspiration for the compter game, but it is a similar but significantly different game. You don't have hexes or regular areas but rather regions like you would see on a Risk board. Each turn, your chits (little cardboard counters) which represent people, double. They can then move and if you can get enough into the same region they can form a city. Move them into a different region with other players chits and they fight through attrition till only one player's units are there. Then you get resource cards for every city you have. the more cities, the higher level or resources. You collect and trade these resource cards to buy tech. First person to reach a suitable tech level wins.

      A computer game that was much similar to the boardgame did come out at one point with called Advanced Civilization IIRC.

    • No hex grid! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gorimek (61128)
      Civilization (the computer game) does not use a hex grid. It's a regular grid of squares that is rotated 45 degrees and squished a bit, but it's not in any way a hex grid. Each cell has 4 direct heighbors and 4 diagonal ones.
  • by rfunches (800928)
    It was pointed out that Civ for the family is hard because it would require multiple computers. I was in the Discovery Channel Store over the weekend at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and they had Civilization the board game -- I don't know for how many players but it was [obviously] multiplayer and looked a lot like Risk. If it wasn't selling for $49.99 I would've bought it.
    • The board game predates Civ I by a good bit. It's a fun game, but not what I would call a war game. Closer to Settlers of Catan than Risk.
      • That depends on which board game he saw. Odds are good he saw the new board game, which is based on Civ III, and is entitled something like "Sid Meier's Civilization: the Board Game." This is not the same as the original Avalon Hill board game entitled (IIRC) Civilization, which does, as you say, predate Civ I.

        Personally, I bought SMC:tBG just for the fun of knowing I bought a board game...based on a video game...based on a board game.
  • Thank God... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stonedog1104 (141492)
    ...they got rid of pollution. Easily the most annoying aspect of Civ3. The ability to select multiple cities is also good news. Can't wait for my copy to arrive!
    • Re:Thank God... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stlhawkeye (868951) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:56PM (#13890531) Homepage Journal
      ...they got rid of pollution. Easily the most annoying aspect of Civ3. The ability to select multiple cities is also good news. Can't wait for my copy to arrive!

      My girlfriend bought me a copy for Christmas and, bless her heart, had it sent directly to my house so I could play it now. That's a good woman. Even though I waste inexcusable quantities of time playing Warcraft, he buys me more video games because I like them. Plus she'd prefer me to play Civ over WoW. I can get up and walk away from Civ at any moment. Not so with WoW.

    • Hope you don't have an ATI video card then, with all the issues popping up...
  • ATI Video (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Someone should have asked why the CivIV team didn't test it with ATI video cards.
  • go python! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mach5 (3371)
    Final Score:
    python: 1
    semicolons: 0
  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:19PM (#13890699)
    Thus, I hope people will understand that making sure that our games are purchased instead of stolen is very important to us. Frankly, I do not agree that requiring the CD to be in the drive "does not prevent copyright infringement," even though I understand that this is almost always true for the technically adept. This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used.

    I wonder how not making the game available in the UK for another week affects piracy. I see that copies are already available on P2P, yet I have to wait till Nov 4th for it to go on sale here. I've pre-ordered it (so I probably will get it even later than that), but at least I'm paying for it; if I hadn't, it'd be mighty tempting to download the cracked version instead. Hell, it's mighty tempting to get the cracked version now anyway, and just read the manual of my 'proper' copy when it turns up, so I don't have to worry about the CD check.
    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:44PM (#13890974) Homepage Journal
      Hell, it's mighty tempting to get the cracked version now anyway, and just read the manual of my 'proper' copy when it turns up, so I don't have to worry about the CD check.

      And why not? Which is more valuable, the version that costs $50 (or whatever) and requires a CD to be in the computer, or the version that costs a 6 hour download (or whatever) and has no CD requirements?

      Seriously, I'm fed up with the CD requirement. I'm not the freaking enemy, I'm a paying customer. Why the hell do the pirates get a better version of the game than I do? I'm the one paying money!

      Who here honestly thinks requiring the CD in the drive actually helps prevent piracy? Anyone? All it takes is one enterprising programmer to start up the game with a debugger active, and NOOP out the part where it checks for the CD. Then, suddenly, EVERYONE has access to the game! (Oh, and go ahead and try and prevent debuggers. Too bad virtual machines pretty handily defeat that. Or the enterprising coder can look for certain methods of disabling debugging, and, guess what, NOOP them out!)

      I pay for my computer games. But, well, I don't play too many. Why? Because I'm fed up with requiring the CD, and then the patching required to make the CD-checking software actually work on my PC (when it was released, Black and White took FIVE MINUTES to actually decide my CD was real, some patch eventually fixed that). Not to mention I can't play the Blizzard version of WCIII any more because it thinks I'm a pirate.

      Why should I bother paying for these games if the publishers are going to treat me like I'm a criminal? If I'm going to be treated like a criminal anyway, I might as well go the actual criminal route and get the version that doesn't treat me like a criminal.

      The PC games I do play, I usually play through once, and then that's it. The CD goes over onto the shelf, and since the game requires the CD, I never play it any more. And because I never replay it, I don't care about it, I don't think about the publisher, and I stop caring about their sequels.

      So, please game publishers, please stop treating me like I'm a criminal. I'm just a paying customer. And if you want me to continue being a paying customer, let's see some respect. I'll put up with CD keys. Those I can understand. But the CD-in-the-drive requirement? That has to go.

      • by Surt (22457) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:26PM (#13891416) Homepage Journal
        The problem is, the game publishers study this on a yearly basis.

        Comparable games from comparable publishers from comparable design houses sell more units with cd copy protection on them.

        Until customers get sufficiently fed up with cd copy protection to not buy the games at a rate greater than the prevented casual copying rate, you can expect to see this form of copy protection persist.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @05:06PM (#13892345) Homepage Journal
          Well of course it does. If there's no copy protection, NO ONE has to buy it. If there is copy protection, then the stupid people will have to pay for it. Paradoxically, stupid people often have lots of money...
        • by demonbug (309515) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @05:07PM (#13892356) Journal
          Where are all these mysterious games without copy protections they are using for comparison? I don't seem to remember seeing any major releases without copy protection in at least five years.

          I'd say the publishing houses claim this on a yearly basis (probably far more often than that), but they probably all refer to one case back in 1997 or 1996 when two games in the same genre were released near the same time, and the one with protection sold better than the other. That's enough proof for the publishers.
        • I have never seen such a study (and I've looked). I've never heard of such a study, although I had imagined they must be done (and probably overwhelmingly by companies who produce copyprotection).

          "Comparable games from comparable publishers from comparable design houses sell more units with cd copy protection on them."

          Except that in all likelyhood their game wasn't comparable...it was probably just plain better. And since AAA games need a publisher, and publishers ALWAYS require copyprotection, I'm pretty s
  • by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:38PM (#13890914)
    ...the future of game development depends on preventing piracy...

    If that's true, you'd better come up with some new ideas, because the way you are thinking now guarantees that games development has no future.

    • A pithy, catchy statement, but hardly an "insightful" truth.

      I'd agree that the original statement isn't very meaningful and probably not true, but neither is this reply. Thinking that games should require CDs in the drive has been going on for some time now, and sales haven't fallen off as a result. How many people do you know who would definitely have bought Civ4, but now won't because it requires the CD in the drive?

      It's incredibly annoying, and probably just unwise, but hardly a showstopper for the vas
  • How about 1 copy of the game can run on 4-6 PCs on a LAN? I'd hate to have to buy 3 or 4 copies of the software just to have a family game.

    Hotseat would work, but if you have the extra PCs, why go that route?

    Sean D.
  • I picked up my pre-order of Civ 4 yesterday and had just enough time to whip through the tutorial game to see what is new. Overall, there seems to be a lot of improvements both in graphics, gameplay, and strategy. Its hard to give a real detailed review, only playing it for 2 hours, but its just as additive as civ III if not more.

    The real refreshing thing about this game, is that it actually includes real documentation. Its amazing how many games, especially console games, have absolutely hideous docs. The late 80's/early 90's PC games usually came with heavy duty docs.

  • by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:47PM (#13890996)
    I hate to admit it, but I would probably be willing to accept some kind of DRM that was tied to my hardware in exchange for doing away with CD checks. The main reason is that I'm a laptop user and I quite frankly need the extra slot for a battery. Yes, I can just swap the CD drive in and out, but I generally don't carry it with me and then if I get the urge to play a game, I'm screwed. Well not really but I'm certainly not doing things the "white-hat" way.

    I don't see why every media company...traditionally the most anti-computer bunch on the planet...can grudingly let go of their precious content when it's wrapped in DRM protections like Apple's FairPlay and Window's DRM...but computer game companies still dragging their feet. What if the game used FairPlay? You could install it on as many computers as you want and have two registered (I'd like five but I'm sure the bean counters would have a fit) If you wanted to play on a different computer, you would have to unregister one of your existing computers. That way I could install a game like Civ on my computer and my laptop, and those copies would only work on those devices. No crappy CD hassle, but no single authentication that can be passed around the office.

    I know I'm advocating the spread of evil, but in this case, it's the lesser. It seems clear that after more than a decade, CD checks are not going way. Regardless of how painfully easy they are to bypass. I'm not even talking "techie" type easy. I'm talkind download CloneCD or install Daemon Tools type easy. I know nine-year-olds that know how to copy a game CD for their friends for crying out loud. That's not even counting the people who actually crack and release No-CD checks (which break needed game updates).

    I applaud the Civ team giving an honest answer. They could have totally blown that question off. But I will bet a million imaginary dollars that there's not a single developer at the company that was swapping out CDs every time he compiled or tested the program. It's not about having patience. It's about someone telling that the emperor has no clothes so he can finally get a clue and go cover up his saggy pock-marked ass because we are tired of looking at it.

    -JoeShmoe
    .
  • by Evil Pete (73279) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:10PM (#13891240) Homepage

    I don't understand why they don't take the path that Blizzard took with Starcraft. Have a spawn option that allows the use of installation of a multiplayer only version for use in local networks. Then you still need that one original installation with the CD. I think one thing that made Starcraft so popular was that at work you could easily create spawns to play after hours, then buy your own copy to play at home/online.

  • by Distan (122159) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:46PM (#13891605)
    This comment by Soren really caught my eye:

    Also, some high-level controls to allow micromanagement were added. For example, workers can be grouped together and given an infinite number of sequential orders.

    My computer only has finite memory, so I'm curious how they are able to take an infinite command sequence and compress it to fit? It seems like I could take two arbitrary commands, assign them to represent binary 1 and binary 0, and then encode any arbitrary binary sequence of infinite length within the game.

    Where do they store this?

    I see how they can trivially consume all available physical memory and disk space on the local host, and assume that once that is exhausted they begin uploading the data to some network storage. But even Google and the NSA combined don't have infinite storage, so then what?

    How do they encode data once they have exceeded the total capacity of all mass storage ever produced by humans?

    Where does the data go once they have surpassed the storage capacity of the Universe?

    This "infinite command sequence" is the most amazing thing I've ever heard come out of Firaxis, I've got to know more!

    Soren, please answer!
  • by ERJ (600451) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:05PM (#13891773)
    Something that existed in CivNet that has not existed since is the ability to play concurrently in multiplayer mode. This could lead to some aggravation (haha I attacked with my chariot before you could attack me with yours) but overall really sped things up and made it much more enjoyable for me. Any chance this is in the new civ?
  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:13PM (#13891847)
    XML was chosen because it is a very flexible system for storing data, which is important for a game like Civilization that is essentially "built" from numbers. Using an off-the-shelf XML editor, anyone from our designers to end users could modify our game data. We also have a high-level file system which allows you to override any specific art, sound, python, or XML file simply by setting a specific "mod directory" that contains only the modified files. If a specific file is not found in this directory, the game just uses the default one.

    Chris Sawyer? You out there? [wikipedia.org] People like it when they're trusted with changing the numbers to mod the games. Amazingly, an even stronger community develops when you try not to hide the code. More people talk about it, more people purchase your game, and heck, sometimes even the developers are surprised. Unless the ego is too high for that.

    I know this sounds rantish, especially since it's his code. But a lot of potential creativity with the game engine from the first RollerCoaster Tycoon was stifled for a long time because they were trying to undo run-time RLEs and other instant-crash modifications. Somehow, I can't imagine that putting them in there benefitted him at all.

  • Soren Johnson: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @04:41PM (#13892102) Homepage Journal
    "...
    This is a sensitive issue, but the future of game development depends on preventing piracy, ..."

    This is false. If getting sales depend on your cds being uncrackable, the gaming industry would have collapsed by now.

    Anone with even the slightest technical skill, or just curiosity, can get a crack to any game.
    It also assumes people who can do that, won't buy a game. I can do this, and I will download a crack so I can play a game I have purchased without needlesly wearing md cd, and have to listen to it spin up and down.

    "...so I hope people will have patience with the basic safety measures we have used."

    No.

    nice of you to relate useless CD protection with safety. I'm sure without it we would have many more CD game playing related injuries.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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