SeanD did a great job collecting all the new information about CTP that we learned on the CTP Programmers Chat. First there is a summary (roughly in the order topics came up in the chat) and then there are details for specific features.
- In my opinion, the best thing we've learned is that Activision folk are willing to spare the time to actually come and chat with us ordinary fans. As Markos said, it was great!
- We learned a little about the three Activision people who participated: Mark Lamia, Producer (aka Patton), Joe Rumsy, networking and game engine programmer (Mr Ogre); and Steve Mariotti, lead programmer (Mr Owl).
- We discussed combat, major innovations being whole-stack combat and a difference between assault units and support units (e.g. tanks backed up by artillery). There will be an optional display showing the whole combat.
- Multiplayer capacity is very much built into the game, and many ways to hook up (network, hotseat...) and styles of play (e.g. possibly capture the flag) will be available.
- For protection against piracy, a copy of the CD will be needed to play.
- Activision has big plans for the future of the game engine.
- Modifiability: Graphics not as easy as Civ2, but an easy-to-use event scripting language ("a thing of beauty") and the chance to write AI routines in C++. Most game features in modifiable text files.
- 40 Civs available, including Canada(!). List to be posted "at a later date".
- 8 Civs, possibly more, in one game.
- 35 Wonders, including Forbidden City, Global E-bank.
- They talked about AI thinking and personalities, hopefully an improvement on Civ2.
- Disasters: No random disasters in normal game (?) but some caused by global warming - floods, droughts and the like.
- Changes made for the convenience of the player include an improved 'go to' function and automated management of cities.
- City growth now indirectly affected by happiness.
- We learned something about what the programmers had worked on in the past.
- Mac and possibly Linux versions are on the way.
- Maps can now wrap north-south as well as east-west (there's a thread about this somewhere).
- Mr Owl couldn't comment on the space race and aquatic cities, but see my "Wormholes" post and the screenshots.
- Settlers' functions have been changed, and terrain improvements are now built directly.
Mr Owl: The AI uses several different established AI principles to make decisions. It uses Boolean rules (if this and this but not this, then do this), it uses priority-based list processing (give me the best 15 things to do here), and it uses a fuzzy logic system for evaluating options.
Mr Ogre: The personalities are primarily controlled via fuzzy logic rules, there is a lot of tweaking we (NB anyone) can do just playing with numbers in text files. Example: Hitler could be represented as a Land grabbing Warrior who goes for Fascist government as soon as possible.
The AI will send a few light raiders to your backfield to loot and pillage as well as massive invasions. ('Tweaker', "Don't you just hate when..." thread.)
Animals will appear as 'special resources' on the map. Those we have seen already include elephants and crabs.
There will also be a 'cattle' unit (a black-and-white cow), which can be used to boost food production around your cities, but must be protected against "rustling" (stealing) by other civs. You can build it after you discover "domestication".
Mr Ogre: You can set a city to try and place its population to most effectively increase trade, science, production, or city growth, and it will always try to find the best balance between what you asked for and not starving. There are buttons for each of those settings, easily accessed on the control panel...
Mr Owl: You can create, save, and load lists of units/improvements/wonders for a given city to build.
Mr Ogre: Our combat system pits groups of units against each other instead of one unit at a time, it makes for a much greater variety of possible combats. You can take up to nine units and group them together, so that they move as a unit and fight as a unit. When they get into combat, you can see a screen (it's optional) showing the results, and all the units are involved at once. Damage is done on a one-on-one basis still, but every unit may be fighting several other units at once. One stack or the other always wins though, there are no ties. The winner is whoever has at least one unit left at the end.
Mr Owl: During stacked combat, assault (hand to hand units) and support (ranged attack units) are handled differently. You can have a front line of tanks with a bunch of artillery units behind blasting away.
Mr Ogre: There's an optional screen to show the battle as it happens. It shows the units lined up on both sides, shows who attacks who, shows who dies and why, lots of pretty animations, our artists are too cool for word. (Mr Owl) Big fiery balls of death. I love the sound of the cannon blast, especially with the subwoofer on!
In addition to visible squares and black "unexplored" squares, squares you have explored but cannot see into at the moment will be "fogged" - they appear grey and enemy units there will not be visible.
'Goody huts' The stone heads like those on Easter Island, and also stone henges (yes, henge is a word) will replace goody huts.
Mr Owl: Let me say initially that the game was designed with multiplayer capabilities from the very first day of production. The networking code is tightly interwoven with the whole of the game. It was very important to us that multiplayer be a fundamental part of the program design. Whether your opponent is a local guy, a remote guy, or an AI DLL, the game doesn't care.
Mr Ogre: I can't talk about the styles of games yet, but I can say we are supporting IPX, internet, hotseat and email play, and that, like Steve says, networking was always a top priority.
Patton: For Internet play, each player will need a CD. Not everyone will need CD for network play.
Mr Owl: CTP ships with a built-in server-based game hosting/matchmaking/chat system. It totally rules.
Patton: We will leave it up to others to have ladders, but we will have matching boards.
Mr Ogre: Activision has an in-house network API that's been used for several games already (like Battlezone), so the servers are pretty stable now.
Mr Patton: We're really looking forward to league play with all of you.
Special resources we have seen so far include:
- Animals - elephants, crabs
- Plants - poppies, pipes (representing tobacco), and sugar (according to Lt John)
- Minerals - oil (in desert), undersea volcanoes.
They will be important for trade.
Wonders in CtP have been completely redesigned. There will be 35 (7 each from 5 ages, Ancient through to Future(?) I imagine). Some of the old ones have been kept, but given new functions. New ones include the Sphinx(?), Global E-bank and Contraception (game function unknown), a Wonder which allows emancipation of slaves and:
The Forbidden City, which prevents other civs from establishing embassies with you, and protects you from diplomatic attacks.