-Edit- Text was a bit too large on that first go...
I support Mark’s (and I’m sure others) view that most tiles in the world should be inhabited from the start of the game. There were small bands of people in nearly every corner of the Earth after all, so it is realistic and logical. With that said, I also support Laurent’s comment (somewhere fairly recently) that settling is fun (at least a little bit of settling is). Therefore, we should have some “state-sponsored” settling and auto-settling as well. In previous Clash Demos (demo 4 and earlier), you had to conquer any land that you didn’t start with to expand, and there was little to no virgin land, which was not entirely realistic*, but playable. It was from these early demos of Clash, plus the population research I did for EIT, that gave me the ideas described here, so in a way this idea is basically just finding its way home.
*I say not entirely realistic because places like New Zealand and Iceland were totally virgin land (even though these early Clash demos didn’t include them anyway), and the population of many civilizations simply settled anywhere they chose, displacing the native peoples or absorbing them, thus it hasn’t always been necessary to conquer these lands.
The basis for including Natives is adding a property to each terrain type that indicates the starting population for that type of terrain. The map is then seeded, tile by tile, with Natives (a special EG**) in the appropriate places (which for now could simply be every land tile in the scenario) with the indicated starting population of the terrain type in the map cell. There is some detail that I’ll skip regarding setting up civilizations that pertains to random map placement. When the time comes to do proper random maps (with civ placement), I’ll fill in those details, but for now, if Natives are included in the scenario (ideally as a sub-tag of the scenario tag [i.e. <natives/> - in a similar manner to the civilization tag’s sub-tag <selectable/>]), then Natives exist on every tile on the map. If Natives aren’t included in the scenario, then the land is virgin land, just as currently done.
**Natives are a special EG because they have the following characteristics (always, until assimilated, of course):
<asceticism>0.00</asceticism> (not sure about this one)
<individualism>0.50</individualism> (not sure about this one)
Also, (once cultural assimilation is a part of the game) they assimilate much faster/easier than other EGs do.
These Natives are not a civilization. They have no province, no owner, nothing. They do adhere to the population growth and migration rules as all other populations do (even migrating into civilization territory). When military units of civilizations move across these tiles, they may spawn militia to fight off invaders. Other than these few characteristics, the tiles inhabited by Natives behave just like current (as of demo 8) un-owned tiles do. That is, any civ’s units may freely walk across them without changing ownership. To change the ownership of a tile, a Civ must have a settled population there (via auto-settling or state-sponsored settling). Tiles inhabited by Natives behave just like current un-owned tiles do, so auto-settling occurs the same as it currently does, with the minor exception that some people of the Native EG come with the tile (for free, though they also bring lower education and the problems of a multi-ethnic empire). State-sponsored settling (loading up a unit with settlers) occurs just as it does currently as well, with the same minor exception.
One major exception to the rule that “tiles owned by Natives behave like current un-owned tiles” is that they may spawn new civilizations. Every civilization maintains a tally of the number of Native tiles it has “absorbed” through settling. This tally gives the percentage chance (tally/10 actually) of a great leader uniting the Natives against their conquerors. This chance is checked each time that a new tile is absorbed, and if there are enough Native tiles available in the immediate area, a new civilization is created in the area. This new civilization is immediately at war with the civ that spawned it. Note that spawning of new civilizations need not make it in the first incarnation of Natives, to make Natives a useful component of the game.
The second major exception to the rule that “tiles owned by Natives behave like current un-owned tiles” is that mass migrations can occur from large swaths of Native land. Mass migrations are triggered by Native tiles being beyond the critical population threshold, which is 3 times the starting population of the terrain type. Each time a tile reaches this threshold, it checks with its neighbors, and if enough tiles in the area are also beyond the threshold, then mass migration occurs. This is basically a grid of tiles, picking up all population except a number equal to the starting population for the particular terrain in the given cell, and migrating to another location of the world (they just pick a direction, not a destination), in formation, then settling, in formation, once they have traveled for at least 20 moves. Note that mass migrations need not make it in the first incarnation of Natives, to make Natives a useful component of the game.
That’s the general idea. If I’ve been unclear on any points, feel free to ask for more clarification. Also, any comments are welcome, as always.