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Children of the Nile info

The 3D world and controls

Children of the Nile is the first 3D city building game. Below you can find quotes related to this 3D world and its functions and controls.

The interface and city feedback

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ken Parker at the Tilted Mill forums:

Three main interface panels are always visible at the center bottom of your screen. The topmost is the People Report. When closed, it displays a "light tree" with a small indicator for each profession in the city. As long as all the lights are green, satisfaction is, um...satisfactory. As problems develop, the little lights turn light green, then yellow, and through the spectrum to red. Opening the panel gives you more detail, and lets you select all of the homes belonging to each occupation. You can then see individual dissatisfaction indicators for every craftsman household in the city (for example), and turn your attention to the reddest ones first. You investigate specific dissatisfaction complaints one household at a time, but it's very easy to find the problem homes, right on screen, without drilling through a lot of menus and reports.


Zoom Levels

Saturday, August 07, 2004

From the HeavenGames interview with Chris Beatrice:

What viewing techniques will there be for players, for example fly-by, zoom function?

Chris Beatrice:

There are three different camera modes, the most robust of which is full camera control. This allows you to zoom and rotate the view freely. You can zoom further in and out than in just about any game. When zoomed all the way in, the scrolling behavior is reversed, so you can move through the streets in a manner similar to what's done in a first-person game. You can also lock the camera onto any individual in the city, and track him/her by three different methods.


(part of) Interface controls

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Vovan posted part of the interface from a screenshot on the Tilted Mill forum and guessed the functions of the numbered parts:

1 - Camera Control?
2 - Camera Control?
3 - Camera Control?
4 - This is actually a set of eight icons. They are collapsed by #5 on another screenshot. I imagine they have something to do with the person selected. I guess they are the person's ratings. Now, what does each mean? I'm guessing, going through the symbols from left to right from top to bottom, food, luxury, something, easy shrine access, something, safety, religion, pharaoh. What that all means, though I am not entirely sure.
5 - This is some kind of indicator. Green = good, no doubt. Maybe this is overall happiness of the person?
6 - What the person is carrying. We got something similar in the noblewoman screenie, where she apparently is carrying some luxuries that she's just bought.
7 - Move camera to the person's home?
8 - Move camera to person's spouse?
9 - Move camera to person's child?
10 - Historical info about the person. In this case, would take us to a blurb about bricklayers in Egypt.

Tony Leier's reply on these guesses was the following:

Nice analysis. It's too much fun to read the comments (not to mention informative feedback for us) to give it all away, but you're mostly right already. We're still revising this stuff too, BTW.

1-3 Yep, camera controls.
4: On the right track here. Even got half of the icons without having much context, and with a dim screenshot of them. The right ones are food, luxury (wares), easy shrine access (general religion actually, but the phrase is perfect), safety (we call it security).
5. Pretty well, yep.
6. Or, what they are doing.
7-9. Yep
10. Yep.


Following your people

Monday, May 31, 2004

Ken Parker at the Tilted Mill forum:

I have to be vague about design questions, because the current state of the game is not what goes out the door in the end. Things change. However, I can say that you have complete control over the camera, and you can "attach" it to follow particular individuals around the city.


Walking the streets of your city

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Chris Beatrice at the HG forums:

Tearing down the wall between you and your city was of primary importance to us when we started designing the game more than two years ago. It's something so many of us have craved, yet to date has been difficult or impossible due to technological limitations, and what's more, because if you could have zoomed in and walked the streets in prior city building games, you might have been disappointed in what you saw. The inner workings of CotN are so much more complex and organic, what you see when you do zoom in adds even more credibility to the game world. It's sort of like when a movie has seamless special effects vs. when you go back and look at an old classic and it's not as good as you remember it.


You will not be disappointed by the wide variety of ways in which you can follow the action in your creation!


3D and the camera

Sunday, March 28, 2004

From the GameStar interview:


Many strategy game players still seem to prefer 2D over 3D. How will you make sure that they won't get confused in a 3D world? Will there be a fixed camera angle?

Chris Beatrice:

Well that's just because no one has done it right yet! With Caesar I, Impressions introduced life into strategy gaming. Simple though this was, that made the game very different from other strategy games. We have now taken that concept all the way to the end, where you feel like you are building and looking at a real place. For that to work you need to be able to interact with it in a more natural way, i.e. walking the streets, listening in on conversations, etc. But all that is separate and apart from the strategy gameplay, which remains eminently playable.

The 3d engine does not get in the way of playability, but is what makes it feel like it matters. The credibility of the world dramatically raises the bar in terms of what's at stake for you as a leader. The union of a challenging strategy game and a comprehensive, immersive game world, where your "suspension of disbelief" is not broken, is what makes this game unique, and as I've said before this was where our biggest design challenges have lain. So the issue of camera movement, along with other components of the game environment and how the player relates to it, is fundamental to the game, and something we have taken ownership of from the beginning.

The only specifics I can give now are to say that the camera angle is not fixed, and how you navigate the city relates directly to the people whose lives you're looking in on. We also have several other tools to help control the camera, and obviously as we progress we will keep working on these to ensure their usability meets our goals, and the needs of players.


The contribution of 3D to gameplay

Saturday, March 20, 2004

From the GameSpy interview:


Explain what the ability to enter your city in 3D contributes to the actual gameplay beyond the obvious benefit of "being cool"?

Chris Beatrice:

In our view this is the only (non-FPS) game that actually uses the 3D technology itself to communicate vital information about the game. Everything you look at or hear is some part of some living, breathing entity you have created.

We see it a bit like this: in the past, there were 2D games and even more recently 3D games with either life simulation or building elements that looked real, until you understood what was being represented. These games all kept you at a visual distance lest you pierce the thin veil and realize you were looking at people whose behaviors are in fact a lot like what you see in one of those vibrating football games.

In Children of the Nile you walk the streets with your people, and observe their lives first hand as they unfold, from the parties they throw to the funerals they hold, to their daily shopping excursions. The lifestyle they live is based on the environment you have provided and this is communicated to you directly by what you see and hear in the game environment - begging, mugging, celebrating, farming, stonecutting - basically the vignettes of daily life that you witness up close and personal.

What's more, life is all around you, not just where you are looking. This creates a strong feeling that the place is real. On top of this we give you a fully controllable camera, and we want you to come in and observe the model and the people in the greatest detail. Everything you observe is 100% relevant and real, so gathering real information is fun, cool and useful, giving you the tools as a leader to make gameplay decisions about what to do.


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