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Remaking Civilization In Your Own Image 36

Gamecloud has a piece on the moddability of Civilization IV. The article goes into detail about the numerous levels at which content creators can change the game of Civilization. From the article: "The next level offers Python and XML support, letting modders with more experience manipulate the game world and everything in it. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) files can be edited in standard text editors or in special XML file editors that have ease-of-use features like a grid view. Editing these files will allow players to tweak simple game rules and change or add content. For instance, they can add new unit or building types, change the cost of wonders, or add new civilizations." This is a more detailed look at a topic we've discussed before. Gamespot has a preview of the upcoming title, as well.
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Remaking Civilization In Your Own Image

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  • Re:PC console (Score:5, Insightful)

    by servognome ( 738846 ) on Friday September 23, 2005 @07:08PM (#13634291)
    DIY content is why The Sims is so incredibly popular

    I doubt it, most people who play the Sims don't know about mods, or even care. What made it so popular was how it appealed to a wide audience
    NWN and Total Annihilation were very mod friendly, but didn't have the same level of popularity.
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @11:06AM (#13637892) Homepage
    While this idea might sound great at first glance, I think it speaks volumes about what kind of play balancing we can expect from this title. I played CIV III and always felt that while the historical permutations were pretty cool, the play balancing was quirky at best. The end result is that the CIV series has started to feel like a MAXIS "Sim" title, and less of an actual game. Or rather, the title is a "toy" and not a "game".

    Its funny how a promise of "open source" and "modding culture" early on in a title so often means -- "We're not going to spend much time on play balancing". Morrowind was another perfect example of openness vs. gameplay. In Morrowind the emphasis on open-endedness, freedom and expandability ultimately translated into a disastrous in-game economy, weapon imbalances, impossibly overpowered characters and ultimately a play experience that depended on story-line (which was actually excellent) rather than the aspects of the game itself.

    I think I'll wait before breaking out my wallet [] on this one.

  • Not what's needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkmartin ( 816458 ) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @04:20PM (#13639590)
    Did anyone notice that the article references early 2006 as the release date? The Civ4 site still says winter 2005. Anyway, the problem with content creation for Civilization has never been in the type of units or gameplay rules. Look at Conquests. The content creation problem has been in the art department...something which doesn't add anything to gameplay but is difficult for individuals or small teams to do with high quality. Is Civ4 going to ship with 3D modelling tools? Frankly the screenshots I've seen look awful. Full 3D is a mistake for this series. Even the unit animations in Civ3 are probably taking it too far. I'd much rather see changes to the glaring problems with gameplay - airpower, unit stacking, combining units, civilization size, civilization attributes, better resource and luxury usage, and production orders to name a few. From the previews I've read some of these are being worked on. It's funny some have mentioned rebuilding SMAC with the Civ4 engine. I think Civ4 would benefit by trying to be more like SMAC, especially with the unit editor.
  • Not that simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday September 26, 2005 @08:09AM (#13649564) Journal
    _Some_ games have been moddable to _some_ extent, yes, but not all and typically not by much.

    The gaming world doesn't start and end with the HalfLife and NWN engine, you know. Yeah, there the only "problem" was that you needed a C compiler or to learn Bioware's script respectively. But in other games you didn't even get that.

    E.g., I was one of the people who whined at the authors of "Die Gilde" ("Europa 1400: The Guild" in America) to let us mod the damn thing at all. They never released any tools or specs at all, and all you were left with were a bunch of binary files that noone had any idea how to edit. I would have loved to build my own cities for it, or, add a new profession, but really, noone knew where to even start with it.

    E.g., for all the praise The Sims got for being moddable, it happened mostly in spite of EA. To get any scripting at all, some people had to basically reverse engineer it and figure out Maxis's byte codes. Heck, even to figure which part of an object's file are the bytecodes for the script at all.

    And in The Sims 2, while EA will cheerfully let you recolour pants and skirts... well, let's just say that not only they still don't offer any support for scripters, but the latest expansion pack ("Nightlife") flags any downloaded script mods as potential problems, and by default disables them all. Now I'll admit that, what with TS2 scripting being mostly a hack, and based on an unstable ever-changing API (each expansion pack changes it), some of those downloads do cause problems. But it would have been damn nice of EA to actually offer proper scripting support and a stable API in the first place, instead of telling the users to not run those hacks.

    E.g., even Civ III was only moddable in that you could change the values for the existing units, but not much else. You couldn't actually change the rules, nor script anything, nor even just add a new unit type. I tried it. The game crashed when loading the mod if you did add a unit.

    And so on and so forth. Basically "Games have been moddable for some time" is quite the extrapolation. Most devs were happier to let you stumble on your own with a binary file than to help you at all, and some seemed actually pretty opposed (and occasionally even hostile) to our modifying their game. Moving to XML and Python won't just make things easier, it might just make things possible at all for a change.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.