Children of the Nile questions

BTW, I LOVE the military model in this game. You just hire commanders and soldiers, equip them, train them, and that’s it. No lame pseudo-RTS directing them manually. Are you keeping that for Caesar 4?

Just to get it clear up front–I like this game very much. I have very few complaints, but…

…Since your game is about planning an Egyptian city, you’re already sort of flying in the face of that. I do appreciate the attention to historical detail that obviously went into tailoring the game for the setting… but I still think that if you’re going to have the player build roads, then roads should have had some sort of specific game function. Alternately, perhaps you could have left them out of the build menu altogether, and just have them appear over time in places where people walk a lot.

By the same token, I get what you’re saying about visual improvements, but I still think you could have found some sort of in-game justification for building them. Maybe have them cumulatively add to your prestige, if you build a lot of them.

Like I said, these are pretty minor quibbles in a game that I’m otherwise enjoying a lot. It’s just weird to have stuff in the build menu with tooltips that read “no cost, no game effect.” Especially when it’s something as basic as a road.

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

Fair enough. For what it’s worth, though, I think it would have been a fine sequel to the other series.

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.

I love this aspect of the game. I think you succeeded in this goal admirably, and I very much hope you carry this philosophy over the Caesar IV.

And ditto to what Orpheo said about the military and town guards. I like the fact that all my people (including the military) are smart enough to do what they need to do without micromanagement on my part.

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?

At each stage of the campaign you have a choice of three cities to manage, each with different goals and difficulty levels. So you’re not committing yourself to a difficulty level or style of play for the entire game, just that city.

The general split in tasks appears to be set up a feeder city to supply the rest of the empire/main city with commodity X, Military conquest and building, although there are others. Regardless of the difficulty I tend to stick with building stuff simply because I’m a sucker for a pyramid and a few palm trees.

So the next one is Ceasar IV? Hmm, I like the way direction Impressions was going with thier series before they dissapeard (what happend to them anyway?) Asside from better mechancis and all that, I do want a fantasy or sci-fi element to these games. In rome, or egypt it really would be cool for the gods to visit and grant you boons and banes. I think the greek city building campeigns featured this. I remember when I had high favor with ares and my city was attacked he showed up and killed most of the invaders and hades (I think) spawned this undead army which finished them off. Of course there was the time Cerces was being a bitch and sent locusts to eat all my crops too.

I guess what I am getting at is that a lot of these games have done just about everything there is to do without expanding by adding new game mechanics. Pharoh brought us megga monuments, ceasar III brought us the resource model present in all these games since, also it brought us the basic millitary model (which I think was topped in CoTN), and it brought us the ‘living city’ that you could watch. It’s biggest lacking was the walker service delivery depending on random rolls rather then an intellgent AI causing parts of the city to suffer serious problems because the walker decided to not got that way 4 times in a row.

So, what will Ceasar IV bring us? Are there going to be megga monuments/epic contruction level projects akin to pyramids? There are only a few I can think of they did. Romans were not known for ‘wonders’. So what is the next step in these games?

Troy, thanks for the you are Pharaoh, not Santa Claus comment. That is perfect.

DeepT, the tail is still waving the dog. You are not DeepT, gaming enthusiast- You are Pharaoh DeepThamen III. Your people look to you for guidance and after a thousand years of rule begin to worship Sobek. You can ignore their desires to worship this cult god and suffer some minor penalties, or you can open your ‘purse strings’ and build them a shrine and pay for it.

Is Sobek going to appear in the streets and do anything for your people if you allow them to worship? We chose the real route and said no. But if something goes wrong in your city, and Sobek has been neglected, then your people can get really upset, and blame you for leading them astray and not taking your proper seat amoung the gods. Worshiping the gods does nothing positive for you. Ignoring your peoples desire to worship is a very dangerous thing. IE- If your people can’t properly worship RA, when something goes wrong, your people blame you for 'RA’s wraith- just ask Pat Robertson. So this is totally against what other games have done in the past- the Egyptian gods are revealed as being central to providing an opiate of the masses. If you have great religious coverage, your people get distracted and let you get away with all kinds of screwups, failures or can rebound from natural disasters. We felt this was more real than the gods actually preventing a flood.

So sit in your ivory tower. Let them eat cake. Faster on my pyramid you dogs!! (You need to care about disatisfaction, because it affects worker productivity damn it. Get that guys leg fixed- he needs to get back to work! Building a Utopia is not what the game is about- but it is possible and even more challenging than other CB games for this reason.)

Very important concept that even core CotN fans forget. The individual citizens must have earned food for barter before they can go shopping. Re-read that. The fact that two nobles right next to eachother are living in virtually two different social classes might have nothing to do with the perfect city you are running. Maybe the wife died, maybe a child died and there was no shrine to Anubis availible so the family is distraught?Heck, even having no children is a disadvantage for middle class because the kid helps the family get the chores done. Chris and I looked at these kinds of bad luck situations very hard. Honestly- what can a real leader do? Nothing, except try and provide for a better future to prevent them from happening again, and let time go by.
(This is the crux of why some people prefer other CB games. They feel that games should allow more control, they want to identify these problems and fix them right away, not just prevent them from happening again. Power. I am in control and I want to fix this now. But these kind of fixes really are unrealistic and would lift the veil of your role as a hapless human blundering through history. We definately understand about the fun of control, and not everyone wants to play a human-even if your spirit is immortal- so we may have overdone it or not had enough Edicts to make up for it, but it is all part of the charm of actually being able to be a hapless human blundering through history.)

The fallout of the fact that everyone needs a source of revenue (harvested food), is that you need to grow alot of it, and make sure everyone can gets their share. It 100% a trickle down economy. The rich get the food and go shopping. The middle class, the lower class- the private citizenry have no right to the granary. The good thing, and the bad thing, is that the rich spend fast and loose. They quickly distribute bread to the working class when they go shopping for cottage industry goods, and those shop keepers then go shopping for their meager items, further redistributing the bread. The bad thing is, a scribe virtually needs its own bakery. Don’t share with others. That is why scribes are not shopping. They want 100 food in their bakery. (note-farmers claim their share before the excess goes into granaries).

Roads are really good for cutting through impassable terrain. They are also very cool to use if you want to make a Necropolis on a hillside like in Men-Efer.

Edicts can get you far, and are needed for the harder scenarios.

Try playing some of the scenarios outside of the campaign, they are very different. (There are lots of user created scenarios for download on our site, including one we released-Akenhaten, and many that fans have done including at least one good one from designer/fan Gordon Farrell.)

Your people are really resiliant. Even when things seem really, really bad- try playing through it. When you have a thriving society and you get three or four failed floods in a row, you can see how the first Intermediate Period in Egyptian history could come about. But you probably can recover. If you are being raided at the same time- that is a different story.

One more thing that people just take at face value. There is no gold, or coin in the game. It was an interesting challenge to try and model a barter economy, or one where money really did grow on trees (okay floodplain.)

Vagrents take any job they can get. Not having work will turn them into criminals. If they succesfully mug or murder people and get away with it over time, they are less likely to take open jobs down the road as they become succesful criminals.

Curious about poor performance on any system. Should run well on any machine made in 2001 or later. Check out the tech forums or PM me your DxDiag.

Hope you all enjoy your trips down the Nile. Oh, if you want to see some fun people are having with the game, check out our StorySet pages-

Yes well that is very intresting and all and I like CoTN a lot. I am not saying you should have made the gods real and all in CoTN. However, what I am saying is in future games I would like to see some unrealstic things as long as they are not applied to the core mechanics (ie: people still need food and you still need to buy/sell goods to meet city needs, etc…). However to add spice to a genra I would like to see unrealstic things such as real gods or maybe a sci-fi city builder game.

Asside from that, I think the next big step is to add an empire to these games, such like Rome TW, where you build cities in as much detail as you did in Ceasar III, but also manage large scale conquests, trade, treaties, etc… So like in CoTN each city would have an army, but overall they would be part of the imperial army which would help you defend all cities or attack other ones.

For example in these secerios where you are attacked frequently what you do is typically not have the enemies attack for some peroid of time (giving the player time to make a city with some troops) and then they attack regularly. While this is very unrealistic, it serves gameplay. However what if you didn’t do that at all and had people attacked from the second the scenerio started? You could then have other cities commit some troops for some time (you pick from where and how long from the imperial map) and resources to make a settlement. The troops, supplies, and settelers arrive at the same time, and the enemies begin attacking very soon. If you need supplies, as emperor/pharoh you could tell other cities to send 1000 food, 500 bricks or whatever, to city X and a few weeks or months later they arrive.

Furthermore cities you are not personally controlling are run by administrators with differant skill sets to help manage your empire. An npc controlled city may grow, stagnate, or shrink depending on the skills of the NPC administrator. Anyway, I think this kind of stuff would be a way to evolve this kind of genra of game.

I don’t know if it’s a good idea to mix the city-builder genre with the RTS and 4X genres. I think you might wind up getting three third-assed games instead of one great one. The Total War series has done arguably the best at combining RTS with 4X but you still get a lot of gripes about the strategy AI and city control and they didn’t even try to add on city building. Oh, and Rise of Nations has doen a good job of bolting on some 4X to the RTS genre too. Conversely I don’t think too many people were happy with Stronghold 2 which tried again the city-builder and RTS route.

No, I think I’m cool with TiltedMill continuing to make the best damn city-builder games out there and leave the RTS to the Blizzards and Relics and 4X to Stardocks and Civ Teams.

No I was not going to RTS route. Take what CoTN has now with armies and allow you to tap armies from other cities. Let you keep old cities and manage them while aquriing new ones. Maybe making a great pyramid adds prestige to your civlization giving you trading bonuses that care over from scenerio to scenrio.

I do agree the danger exists in making two medocre games instead of making one good one, but still if you could have your cake and eat it too, wouldn’t you want both in one game?

Basically what is there left to do in the Ceasar III style city game? Sure some polish and tweaks can be made, but what is something new?

My fear is that these games may get into a rut like RTS games had been in for so many years. Basically you had TA with new gameplay, then AoE added the whole age tech tree which in a way isn’t new just very granular. After that it was years and years before anything new came along, until RoN came along. Sure there were really pretty games like Starcraft (for its time) and Warcraft III, but there was no new gameplay. RoN came along and not only introduced a new gameplay element, but a whole bunch of them and solved a lot of game play problems. Remember how back in the good old days someone who clearly lost got a few pesants to escape and just started running all over the map building houses and then running off to make another one? It could take a long time to cover the map and kill those pesants and all thier farms they had hidden. RoN solved this issue. Its a distant memory.

Since there are not a half-dozen city building games done each year, this genra evolves slowly. I do not want it to sit in a rut for 4 or 5 years where each game is simply prettier with better AI and a few ‘rule’ changes. I want new gameplay, I want this genra to move forward, not just latterally.

Thanks for this – far preferrable IMHO than having the gods walk around. I like very much that you have hard choices to make, and can’t satisify everyone.

The bad thing is, a scribe virtually needs its own bakery. Don’t share with others. That is why scribes are not shopping. They want 100 food in their bakery. (note-farmers claim their share before the excess goes into granaries).

I practically build my city around it’s Scribes. They’re the most difficult for me to keep happy, and having them get dissatisfied and leave is devestating.

Your people are really resiliant. Even when things seem really, really bad- try playing through it. When you have a thriving society and you get three or four failed floods in a row, you can see how the first Intermediate Period in Egyptian history could come about. But you probably can recover. If you are being raided at the same time- that is a different story.

I had one game where a flood failed badly and I had recently built too quickly, so I couldn’t come close to feeding all my workers. So I raised taxes briefly… and all the farmers went back to being villagers, and the Scribes left too! I was sure I was hosed, but played it out just to see it fall apart. I lost another year because the farmers were gone, but it eventually came back together while I frantically spent all my bricks building temples.

Excellent game! I very much like that it has a sort of mini economy rather than the previous “walker games”. I could never go back.

I’d much rather have city-builders evolve in amazing mechanical ways like CotN has done than cobble another genre on top of it. And if genre blending is to happen, I’m not sure that making it yet another world conquest game is the way it should be done.

I’m all for more interaction between your city and the outside world. I’d also like to see more interaction between your citizens and between you and your little ants. Why not a Majesty type game where you can set goals and missions for elite workers?


I understand what you’re saying but I would contend that modeling each individual’s wants and needs and having them act accordingly instead of an abstracted walker system is a huge innovation in the genre, on the order of what RoN did for RTS games, and is much more appreciated than bolting on another genre.

Improving on how a city interacts with the larger world would be a good next step as long as the focus is still on building my city and not fighting battles or running an empire.

DeepT, Tilted Mill pretty much IS Impressions. If you’re curious as to the extent, check out the credits for an Impressions game next to the credits for CotN. A lot of names match up.

Allow me to add a ringing and profanity-laden “seconded!” to any objections to making these games more military in nature. I love grand campaigns, where the sum total of your previous decisions is a major gameplay element, but these games already have that mechanic incorporated into the city itself.

I’d rather not spend tons of time futzing around on the world map – it’s an adjunct to the city, not the focus of the game. CotN seems to do it pretty well – you meet production goals on the world map, you can get prestige, you can get trade goods that you couldn’t get otherwise, you can get some special benefits, you can shut down raiders… but it’s not overwhelming. The depth is in the city, not in some half-assed RTS or Command & Conquer-style mock grand campaign.

Having spent many an hour in Zeus band-boxing all my guys and then ckicking on the other guys, I think that the hands-off military model in CotN is a huge improvement. The military is another production goal to meet and logistics challenge to surmount, not an end unto itself. It’s really not that different from building a pyramid or quarrying limestone – can I afford to have these guys doing something with no immediate benefit for a while? Are there enough farmers that I can feed 50 laborers plus the rest of the city? Can they get sandals? Will a single tear roll down my cheek when one of them breaks his leg and then malaria kills his wife and then he can’t worship Anubis? (The answer to the last question is, of course, no. Unless at that very moment I accidentally dump the contents of a salt shaker into my eye. I am a callous but somewhat clumsy ruler.)

I do not want to be commanding sieges in a city-builder. I do not want to have to maneuver my stupid troops. I do not want to have to deal with an occupied enemy city. These are problems for my commanders – that’s what they went to school for. If I had to do that crap myself, it would just detract from the whole point of the game: MY city. If the city doesn’t hold the player’s interest and he wants more gameplay elements, then the solution is to improve the city gameplay, not to add a bunch of extraneous crap.

If, when I get C4, I discover that it incorporates Dune 2 as a minigame that pretty much determines the fate of your city, and the world map has been changed to strongly resemble the sad little “campaign map” from Emperor: Battle for Dune, the fact that it’s now about colonizing a planet (probably Dune) won’t stop me from making hysterical “fuck you Tilted Mill” posts on the official boards (which is what official boards are for).

After a while, though, I’ll get some perspective and assign blame more realistically. I’ll track you down, DeepT. And, to borrow an amusingly inept threat from a friend of mine who invented it in case he ever becomes a pro wrestler, I’m gonna get in my car, and I’m gonna drive to ass-kick town. And you’re gonna be in the car with me. (For added effect, imagine me miming getting in my car, driving, and looking over at the passenger’s seat.) Also, you stand no chance… against my… CANADIAN MONSTER DANCE! (And then I do a little monkeylike dance.)

Jeff, I sent you my dxdiag via PM. I am still prepared to believe that it’s a legitimate problem, but if you discover otherwise, hey, I’d pretty much be thrilled, although maybe not at a Blueberry Hill level. IIRC I had the second patch installed. Thanks for caring – no, seriously, thanks for caring. I mean it. Enjoy my fifty bucks, plus another fifty when C4 comes out in like a year. And I mean that too.

Allow me to add a ringing and profanity-laden “seconded!” to any objections to making these games more military in nature. I love grand campaigns, where the sum total of your previous decisions is a major gameplay element, but these games already have that mechanic incorporated into the city itself.

No argument here. I bought COTN to build cities, I bought Rome:TW to mess around with armies and build an empire.

The COTN military model works fine for me. Pharoah provides a commander or two, some kit, a training ground, some men and maybe a couple of ship. I ask the commander if he reckons he can take that rebel camp and the answer is no, yes or probably and off he goes or we build up some more men first. Works just fine and dandy for me.

Aparrently I am not being clear. I keep saying it will not be an RTS game, but then everyone turns around and says they do not want and RTS game or compares my ideas to an RTS game. You say you do not want any more focus on millitary and then say the CoTN millitary model is fine, which is pretty much what I am sticking too, yet people still object on the grounds that they do not want and RTS game.

Take the EXACT millitary model CotN has. Then allow you to also tap millitary from other cities you previously built for simialr purposes the city you are currently focused on builds a millitary. There ya go. That is it. That is all I am purposing as far as extending the millitary.

If we are going for ‘realism’ then its stupid to be the ruler of an empire with several cities who have armies and yet the current city you are in can not have a contignent of soldiers from other cities to help in defense. It is equally as stupid to have some camp of raiders bugging you that you can not take out becuase you have not locally created such an army even though 5 other cities have standing armies, any one of which could crush these raiders without a second thought.

As for the ‘walker’ mechanic being a ‘big step’ either in terms of aquireing or getting rid of, I totally disagree. It was a neat idea that tanked becuase of piss-poor AI. In Ceasar II the buildings had a service radious that magically caused nearby buildings to get whatever services they needed. You could build more realistic cities in grid patterns rather then this giant snake pattern from Ceasar III onward.

Now in Ceasar III, as we all known, walkers with services were introduced. I think this was done simply to make the city seem more alive along with all the other things we saw done in Ceasar III. This change in mechancis would have gone almost unnoticed if it was not for the non-existant pathing AI. For whatever reasons, the designers thought it was perfectly fine (while wildy unrealstic) that walkers moved randomly when they hit any kind of decision point. The most notorious was the “market lady” who might refuse to walk to the granary for some time just because of bad luck leaving her market bare.

Now imagine that in ceasar III all the walkers had an intellegent traveling salesman AI. The market lady would always make a beeline to the granary when she needed to. All service deliveries would be calculated in priority. For example, the water delivery guy gets to an intersection and picks the direction which leads him to the strogest need for services rather then randomly picking a direction. Or better, doing a traveling salsemen algorithm would find the optimal route to service all buildings per trip. Even if all that was beyond the programmers, the least they could have done is let the player setup patroll routes manually doing all the ‘AI’ work themselves.

Had any of the above been done, walkers would have been huge asset instead of a problematic game mechanic forcing you to make these unrealsitc cities.

Allright assumign that no one wants anything like what I want, and were all quite conent with the way the things are… Is there anything anyone else would like to see in the next gen versions of these games or is everyone truly happy with how things are and wouldnt mind if the next 10 games are exactly the same except for ‘theme’ and graphics?

So you’re talking about something kind of like Homeworld where resources from one scenario are available as a leg up in another? That makes sense to tie in the different scenarios and give you more of a feeling of a dynasty and not just running one city at a time. Perhaps having the resources from one city for trade on a world map would be directly related to the import/export needs of the city you built? Even though you are ruler over all they may not want to give up the resource for free. Kinda like SimCity4 with the regional desires?

I’ve got to disagree with you there. Even if walker had perfect pathing and decision making AI CoTN’s individual people AI is a huge leap forward in city-building. Probably even more so than going from buildings having a radius of effect to walkers.

It changes the dynamics of the city and it’s inhabitants so much by having the shopkeepers acquire raw resources on their own and have to get basic living necessities and having to manufacture the finished goods. Then the patrons of that shop have to split their time between working and acquiring goods as well and on up the economic chain.

IMHO the added complexity of every individual in a household balancing work vs. acquiring vs. other needs like health and religion versus staying in one place and having needs taken care of like beads thrown from a passing Mardi Gras parade cannot be overstressed.

Actually, the later games introduced “roadblocks” which gave the player greater control over walker routes. This allowed for more reasonable “housing block” city layouts. Of course, Caesar III had other problems besides the lack of roadblocks, like the market lady bypassing a nearby granary in favor of a different one across town.

  • Alan

The roadblocks worked well enough, but honestly, after playing CotN, I’d be just as happy never having to deal with walkers again.

Umm CoTN still has walkers. The only differance is instead of the market lady delivering food, each house spawns a walker to go get food, which Ill agree is far more sensable. You do not expect your local supermarket to send out people to deliver stuff to your house. However, we do expect things like water delivered to our house, although this is delivered via plumbing, not walkers.

Roadblocks just seemed like a clumsy workaround. You could rationalize them as just marking someone’s route, but it always felt gamey to me.


CotN “has walkers” in the sense that it has people that walk places. But in terms of game mechanics, they are completely unlike the walkers in the Impressions games.