Children of the Nile questions

I just picked up this game and I have some questions about some city problems.

  1. A lot of things in the game seem ‘free’ like roads, shops, etc. Are they?

  2. What is the benifits of roads? Do they actually do anything? People seem to move just as fast on all terrain reguardless if there is a road or not.

  3. Do they gods actually do anything? IF you get a bunch of shrines/temples to hapi, will you get better floods each year or is it merely a please the people thing?

  4. People in my city are always upset about a lack of worship. I made 2 temples, a shrine to every god, and a megga cult temple. I had 7 priests, and people will still very pissed about worshipping. WTF?!

  5. People get upset about lack of wares, yet in thier neighborhood there are merhcants who have everything in stock. What do I do about this?

  6. Once I had two bad years, ran out of food, everyone got pissed, things are going down hill rapidly. I had a good year, but sill got no food. Is there any way to recover? Seems like this city is toast.

  7. Do the kind of tombs your pharo is buried in have a big influence? Does Making tombs for nobles do much?

  8. Is there a way to get a high cap of educated workers? It seems that I am am alwasy far short of my ability to tend to the needs of my city.

  9. Does beutification such as bushes or gardens do anything?

  1. Yes. These things are free. The only real cost of shops is that they will draw employees from the farm population. Buildiig a lot of shops you don’t need will hurt you pretty quickly.

  2. Roads are more to make city planning easier and for visual nicety.

  3. The people want temples to satisfy their needs, but the gods will neither smite you nor bless you. Hapi is important because people worry about the flood a lot.

  4. Maybe when they get to the temple there is no one there, or the shrine they are interested in is too far to walk. One of the key things to remember in this game is that you will never make everyone perfectly happy. That’s not your job. You’re Pharaoh, not Santa.

  5. If they don’t have the bread to buy the goods it doesn’t matter how stocked the shelves are. Or if they have to walk to far to get the stuff they need to run their own business and don’t have time to shop. If it’s merchants who have bread but no goods, put some servant shacks nearby. They can hire someone to do the shopping.

  6. Granaries are your friend. Never overspend in a good year. Sometimes use the decrees to get more bread into the economy. You can recover from a crashed economy more easily in CotN than the other games. But it’s OK to suffer a little. Remember that if you have trade routes exporting bread that you can shut them down until you are back on your feet.

  7. The bigger the Pharaoh’s tomb, the more prestige for your dynasty. Nobles like having places to bury their dead. Plus every filled tomb adds some prestige.

  8. The easiest way to raise the educated cap quickly is to improve your palace. Paint some murals, build a wall. This stuff is pretty cheap, but can add those crucial two or three extra workers at the beginning.

  9. Beautification is just about beauty.

Troy

1, 2, and 9 are things that I hope they change for Caesar IV. I understand their logic, but I sort of miss having to pay (whether it’s with money, or prestige, or whatever metric they want to use) for those sorts of improvements. It may be a gamey mechanic, but it’s also a good one.

Roads should also make people walk faster (and cost money), and beautification should make people happier (and cost money). I think Rollercoaster Tycoon set a pretty good standard for making little things like that matter. Different sort of game, I know, but still.

That said, I’m enjoying CotN quite a bit. I agree with others who said that a lot of the reviews missed the boat on this game. In a lot of ways, it’s a big improvement over the previous city builder games.

So long as there aren’t “walkers” who are confined to roads, I’m fine with a faster pace or even just higher land value - a mechanic that makes a lot of sense for Rome. I like how people can cut across country in CotN and don’t want to lose that. I’m all for making roads more than cost-free lines. Does anyone build trails when they can just build roads?

That said, I’m enjoying CotN quite a bit. I agree with others who said that a lot of the reviews missed the boat on this game. In a lot of ways, it’s a big improvement over the previous city builder games.

I really thought it was a huge step forward and said so in my review. But many of the reviews penalized the game, I think, because they got wrapped up in the details of the lack of menus or, what Allen Rausch called in his middling GameSpy review “big picture information”.

I found CotN full of big picture information because the player is encouraged to watch and identify with his/her subjects, but not necessarily with their every concern. Some stuff is more important than others; some concerns are only of the moment while others will lead to your laborers Exodus-ing.

CotN is so not about the details. If one noble is really upset because he can’t worship Horus, a simple double click lets you know which are nobles are pissed. And from there you can decide if the hawk-god is worth the bricks.

Now people who were really wedded to the Impressions games of walkers and tax rates and math puzzles would find the new approach scary in some ways. CotN is pretty zen in many ways - learning what you can control, what you can’t and how to fix things efficiently.

Troy

Another one is what to do about vagrants, the manual implies you can click on them to see why they are vagrants, but I found no such info.

Never noticed this. You can check on their previous career choice but I never noticed a reason for the begging.

Vagrants are really a non-issue if your kingdom is halfway decent. They’ll take the first open job. Crime is almost non-existant most of the time. If you want to waste an educated worker, you can put together a city guard, but I never bother.

Troy

Yeah, I agree. I like that people don’t need roads, but I wish roads had some purpose other than aesthetics. As you say, in Rome, that would be even more glaring. The Romans didn’t build roads because they looked nice.

The fact that people can walk cross-country would be a great way to determine where roads are needed, though, so that should definitely stay. And while I liked some aspects of the walkers mechanic, I can’t say that I really miss it in CotN. The new method of having people intelligently seek out things they need makes a lot more sense, and is more intuitive.

I really thought it was a huge step forward and said so in my review. But many of the reviews penalized the game, I think, because they got wrapped up in the details of the lack of menus or, what Allen Rausch called in his middling GameSpy review “big picture information”.

I like how you can learn nearly everything you need to know about your city just by observing it. The game is so incredibly visual, and the visuals give you useful information about how your city is functioning. You can see whether your shops have goods for sale or not (and how much stock they have), or where your farmers are working, or if your builders are falling behind the progress of your miners, or how much food you gathered at harvest. And the game sort of wants you to troubleshoot problems investigatively–“My priest isn’t teaching at the school, let’s click on it. What!? It hasn’t been open in five days? Why not? Okay, let’s see where the priest is… what the hell is he doing there?! I’d better watch him for a bit to see what’s going on”… and so on. And the game is paced well for that sort of play, but it really requires a mental adjustment on the part of the player to do it. Once I got into the groove, though, I found that I liked this system better than the old one.

CotN is so not about the details. If one noble is really upset because he can’t worship Horus, a simple double click lets you know which are nobles are pissed. And from there you can decide if the hawk-god is worth the bricks.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that you simply can’t please everyone. Some people are always going to be pissed about something, but you can live with it, as long as people stay content in general, and your lines of production are working properly.

Well the people I have had problems with have not been commoners, but mostly nobles or educated people. Like my nobels who manage farms start bitching about lack of common goods and luxry items while there is a row of shops right next to them of both kinds all with stock. Or they are griping about being hungry when there is a bakery a short walk down the road full of bread. The same things with overseers, priests, and whatnot. Toward the end my educated people kept leaving cause they were pissed about this or that. I assume both of them have money to buy stuff with since they are employed and not shop keepers who have to sell.

If they make another game, Id much prefer a more complex economy like ceasar III where you can actually export bricks or pottery opposed to these weird trade routes. I never have seen a way to buy food from merchants or outposts. Food flows one way, out of the city, not into it. Since food == money, this is quite irritating. Its not like you can become the regional brickmaker and sell bricks to surrounding towns.

I also found monument constuction more intresting in Pharoh, they were bigger and more intresting to look at. I do not just mean pyramids either, but really neat things. I think what Id like is more of the sim city III experience where you can get some really cool architectuaral buildings in your city.

On a slightly ‘unrealistic’ note, Id also like the gods to be much more prevelent, and infact be quite real in the game. In a way you can pick up a lacking in your city by really kissing up to a god. You could also plan your whole religion based on what you want to do. If you were going for war, then set would give you a lot of help, if you wanted to win by bribery then another god would be chosen, or perhaps the god of trade and commerce would allow you to win allys.

I am not sure what is next on tilted mill’s plate, but if its an ancient city builder of some sort, I hope they consider these things.

One day I hope, however, these city building games expand and maybe try modern or future cities. Imagine all the fun you could have if scenerios took place on strange planets with a whole unique set of challenges. You could start off making moon colonies, then deal with venus and mars, and eventually building the captitol city of some intergalactic empire.

Well the people I have had problems with have not been commoners, but mostly nobles or educated people. Like my nobels who manage farms start bitching about lack of common goods and luxry items while there is a row of shops right next to them of both kinds all with stock. Or they are griping about being hungry when there is a bakery a short walk down the road full of bread. The same things with overseers, priests, and whatnot. Toward the end my educated people kept leaving cause they were pissed about this or that. I assume both of them have money to buy stuff with since they are employed and not shop keepers who have to sell.

not all citizens can take food from Granaries. Nobles rely on the produce from their farms for food/money. When that runs out they have to wait until the next harvest. Likewise servants, shopkeepers and I think farmers. The first two are paid by the nobles or the rest of the population and the farmers get a cut of the harvest.

Food is normally key to any shortage if population is complaining about lack of goods in a stocked city, though it is entirely possible that they are complaining about a previous shortage although there is not an apparent one now. I.e. they went for pottery a few game weeks previously and there wasn’t any stock. It takes time for the dissatisfaction to fade. Check whether a) they have food b) they now have the commodity in question, if they do, they are just [still] annoyed about a previous shortage but will get over it in time.

For the first couple of game years don’t expand too rapidly, although your reported food needs will probably be much lower than your harvest, it takes time and a significant amount of food to filter out into the general population before that figure starts to look accurate. I build mainly bakeries until my city is almost complete size wise. They store food just as well as granaries (though in far smaller quantities) and a lot of bakeries means that you can distribute a food far quicker to the population that needs it. When the bakeries are no longer empty come harvest time, then I start to think about placing granaries. you want to be placing bakeries anywhere you have a) Graduates (priests etc) b) Soldiers c) Labourers d) Brickmakers/papyrus makers and other government workers. Where you have more than a couple of these concentrated in one place, put down multiple bakeries. Two (or more) shoppers will commonly head to the same shop, first one buys up the goods, second one, if there is no alternative carrys on there and then gets upset that all the goods are gone, with an alternative source they will re-route and give the original destination time to start making more goods.

There are some game problems with some of the classes, scholars in particular are very difficult to keep happy because their wives will sit around the house instead of going out shopping most of the time. And overseers don’t seem to be much easier to please for pretty much the same reason.

On a slightly ‘unrealistic’ note, Id also like the gods to be much more prevelent, and infact be quite real in the game. In a way you can pick up a lacking in your city by really kissing up to a god. You could also plan your whole religion based on what you want to do. If you were going for war, then set would give you a lot of help, if you wanted to win by bribery then another god would be chosen, or perhaps the god of trade and commerce would allow you to win allys.

In some respects this is already catered for. I realise that whether or not the gods are actually causing the [lack] of floods etc is left up to you to decide, but the population will flock to certain types of god depending on circumstance. If you fail or succeed in a military campaign the desire to worship Set increases. Personally I quite like the ambiguity and really don’t want a return to having half of my city flattened because I’d overlooked building a massive temple to some minor diety.

The “Food” economy in CotN is intially difficult to grasp because different groups get their food from different places.

Farmers and Nobles get food directly from harvest. Shopkeepers get food by producing items that other people buy. Government officials (Priests, Brickmakers, Bricklayer, etc) are essentially paid workers who pick up their paycheck of food at the local bakery.

The complexity sets in when you realize that food is a consumable item and a currency. When food runs low it lessens the ability of people to buy the goods they want. This sends a shockwave through your merchant class, who will suddendly not have enough bread to put on the table either.

Thankfully, as someone mentioned above, it’s fairly easy to ride out an economic storm by cutting spending and waiting for a good harvest. Food Shortages are also a good indication that you might need a few more Nobles so that you can expand your farming operation.

Religion can be tough, but just keep in mind that not everyone will always be satisfied. About Shrines and Temples: Shrines are a good quick fix for people who need to worship, but when people use temples it increases the time they’ll need to worship that god again. If you’ve got high religious dissatifaction check to see which gods are the ones most of them want to worship and then build a temple or at least a couple of shrines in several locations around the city. And make sure you have a few priests that are dedicated to tending the gods and nothing else.

I have problems with Overseers too. But I think part of the reason is because I generally place them away from the city center and closer to the worksite. The further you are from things, the longer it takes to satisfy those wants and needs.

With any kind of satisfaction problem in the game, it can take a few years to smooth over. You won’t notice immediate changes because it takes a while for changes you make to fan out.

Just echoing a few of the comments here, I’ve been playing this recently too. In the beginning I couldn’t get a handle on the game at all. You see the people complaining about lack of access to goods or services and the natural instinct is to place more for them. Equally I was getting frustrated when people with full access to nearby services were making the same complaints It did take me a little while to start getting my head around why I shouldn’t just place more facilities. I think it just comes down to the fact that people can be busy, somethimes too busy to get all the services they want, sometimes the services themselves are too busy to provide for everyone at the same time… a little like real life. In general people just put up with it and be sure to catch that service the next time.

Religion wise, i’ve played throught a nice bit of the game and only once have I placed any shrines dedicated to a particular god. Normally I’d place one temple near the nobility, another near the farmers (I usually keep these groups nicely apart) and that’s about it. Maybe the odd Cult Temple dedicated to the citys patron if I’ve the materials for it. I do however, keep a priest for each temple and just set them to tend gods.
Sure people complain about not being able to worship particular gods properly but as long as the can get a little general prayer time they stay happy enough.

As has been mentioned previously, I don’t know where criticisms over ‘big picture’ information are coming from. It’s all there on screen. I think the interface is very helpful in this regard, and the inclusion of easy access to the index of terms (question mark icon, bottom right) is a stroke of genius. On thing to keep an eye on is the announcements that pop up at the very bottom centre of the screen, they often give useful general information, like what age you are. You can always view them later if you miss any though.

At the end of the day the best thing you can do to help youself play this game is remember that you’re the Pharaoh… They’re working for you, not the other way round. I had my Pharaoh moment during the middle of one mission where I had enough resources to take an objective on the world map, but the floods had failed. I deliberated for a moment on the world map before thinking 'Fuck ‘em, they’ll survive’ and clicked on it… and not only did they survive, but they loved me for it (my prestige went up).

Any idea how too far away from X is? IE: If you create a commerical district, is there any good notion of how far people will go to shop? IE: it seems to me it would be good to place a lot of shops close to the resources they need, but then again, they will be far from the customers. Also the markets seem to imply that all sorts of goods will be conviently available in them so that people will not have to travel as far, yet when I make them its rare to see more then one stall in them and even that one stall doesn’t seem to be there very long.

People will go pretty far to shop, but there comes a time when some other need or just frustration will interfere and they will turn around. Not sure what X is. A citizen who is otherwise pretty content seems to be more patient about the walking since they have fewer competing needs.

It’s a balancing act. If you have too many identical stalls too close to each other, only one or two of them will actually make money since they will sell enough to meet their own needs in bread. A stall that’s always full is a sign that not a lot of people are shopping there.

Troy

I’d like to pay a little for roads/beautification etc also. IT may be gamey, but it feels weird getting it for free. I’m sure Pharoah would have had to pay people (or use slaves) to build roads and it wasn’t totally free.

Since they don’t do anything, I think it’s ok for them to be free. Ideally, though, the roads and beautification would serve some purpose, and have a cost.

Exactly. I understand why they didn’t want to charge for them, but I think they should have a function, too. Everything the game lets you build should have some sort of game function, even if it’s minor.

Quick points- Egypt was a society that evolved, it was not planned- it grew out of thousands of years of living and working by the Nile. CotN is a game about exploring that.

We never said it was a sequel to the previous series- despite others acting like we did.

That leads me to my next statement. Caesar IV is the proud successor to the Caesar franchise. When in Rome, build stuff like the Romans did.

So, we really hope to have the best of both systems for Caesar IV, but I wouldn’t change things for CotN. Why? Because Egypt is a different society and part of what Chris and I thought would be fun would (please forgive me here) be an almost ‘role playing’ immersive experience of what Ancient Egyptian life was all about. Making ‘roads’ more important would have seemed so phony, we couldn’t deal with it. Same with the beatification issues in a feudal society. When you are starving, foraging, or sweating all day in a bakery, you don’t care too much about beautification. We tried to represent the fact that elite society would- by giving them walls, and entertainment as society evolved.

Roman society was already evolved, so they expect things.

Happy to answer questions, as would fans in the tiltedmill forums.

Great points :) Costs for roadbuilding is so ingrained into our gaming past it’s sometimes difficult to look past it.

Dumb question from someone just starting (just finished the World’s Longest Tutorial): When it gives you a choice of three cities at the very beginning, is that just choosing one mission, or a series of missions, or setting the difficulty for the whole campaign?

Having played all of the “walker” games, I was very pleased with the divergences in CotN. After near-fatal amounts of Zeus in particular, it was nice to have a game that wasn’t about managing warehouses and gods walking down the street granting stuff +10%. In the walker games, there’s really a lot less flexibility – when I remember the way that everything had to be exactly, geometrically perfect in Zeus (and even moreso in E:RotMK), I am very pleased to play something where one citizen having a bad day doesn’t make you want to reload a quicksave.

I like to take advantage of this by ignoring religion as much as possible.  As long as people have their other needs met, it's not too much of a problem.  I find it much easier to make sure that most people have food, goods, and medical care than to kowtow to each peasant's individual fever-dream of divinity.  When I built shrines all over the place, people didn't get any more content with the worship situation; they just wanted to worship different gods.

When I build cities now, I mostly ignore shrines in favor of schools and hospitals -- maybe even a city guard, which I like to have around.  If I build any shrines at all, I stick a Hapi shrine in the lowlands where the farms are, and that's usually it.  A shrine in your labor camp or noble quarter is strictly optional.  I may eventually build a cult temple.

In the walker games, this kind of urban planning triage would be disastrous -- you'd have the gods themselves farting their way down the streets, killing property values and harming the feng shui.  In CotN, though, it works pretty well.  The way the game works has led me to believe that I would be retarded for letting a hospital stand unstaffed during a plague outbreak while a priest twiddles his thumbs in a 0 served/0 last year Thoth shrine because Thoth would be mad if he didn't.  And that seems pretty much like the way it should be.

I keep meaning to pick this game back up, because I really enjoyed it.  I had some hard drive problems and lost my saved games, but that's not going to stop me forever.  I get a lousy framerate and can't reasonably zoom out, but that's not going to stop me forever either.  One of these days I'm going to have to replace this tired old computer, which was state of the art circa 2001.  You know you're behind the curve when you're having trouble running a city-builder.

Unfortunately, I can't go back to the walker games, which I can run just fine, after having played CotN.  Curse you, Tilted Mill, for improving gameplay!  You're spoiling all the classics.  How am I going to support my tedious "it were better in them olden days/pc gaming is domed" usenet-style rants now?

P.S. -- It would be nice if roads and beautificiation meant something, and I'll be pleased to see them matter more in C4, but it's okay with me that they don't do much in CotN.  And yes, I use paths instead of roads where appropriate -- particularly as layout guides for farming communities in the lowlands.

Edit: Orpheo, IIRC, the campaign covers five time periods, each with a choice of three cities, which are designated "easy," "medium," and "hard."  When you've beaten the city, you move on to the next time period and get to pick from a new set of easy/medium/hard cities.

Edit: DeepT, I think you're totally wrong about the role of religion in these games, but you've definitely got some good ideas with those alternate settings.  How about a game that revolves around a modern suburb?