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Children of the Nile info

Economy, trade and resources

Ancient Egypt was rich in resources but in turn also lacked a few important ones. This often resulted in trade with other regions, which in turn led to a healthy economy at times. The quotes below are related to the economy, the trade and the resources in Children of the Nile.

More on raw materials and trade

Friday, July 16, 2004

Chris Beatrice at the Tilted Mill forum on raw materials again, and he talks quite a bit about trade:

First, regarding raw materials. Yes, those used for common household wares are readily available, and yes basic ones used for luxury wares are also readily available. Then, many fine raw materials for nicer luxury wares are available locally, but require mass (government funded) labor operations to obtain them - you must employ teams of laborers and overseers to mine gold & copper, quarry stone, etc. On top of that, many exotic raw materials are available in other parts of the world, for importation. All these fine raw materials are controlled by you and your government - you mine/quarry/import them and then sell them to private luxury shopkeepers. As far as how you physically get them to the shops, well, distribution always works on the "retrieval" principle, not a delivery principle. In other words, shopkeepers go to your "store" and buy these things. So strictly speaking you do not have to import any raw materials, but according to the principle I first laid out, the more variety of fine raw materials, the more valuable the luxury ware. This is very organic and dynamic. If you only supply gold, jewelers make gold jewelry. If you supply emeralds, they can make emerald jewelry. If gold and emeralds, they can make gold & emerald jewelry, and so on. As with all systems in the game, this is not a linear chain that must be connected or can be broken. It's more about optimizing and maximizing through various means (all of which push against one another for the challenge, of course).

As far as importing and exporting and how you pay for things, I'll try to be as brief and concise as possible (though that's not really in my nature...). There are all different kinds of cities and other sites in the world. The nature of the given location governs how you deal with it. For example, if you send a military expedition to set up a turquoise mining outpost in the Sinai peninsula, once you do that you own everything that mine produces. So you've got free turquoise coming into the city, which you sell to private shopkeepers, which boosts your economy, forcing / encouraging nobles to grow more food so they can buy all the cool stuff your widespread contacts have made available for them, which results in your receiving more taxes from them because you get half of everything they grow (well, half of the crops you are aware of ... but that's another story). Of course, such a mining outpost may require additional periodic upkeep, i.e. you must send them food every year, but this is very flexible (like everything else in the game) - if you can't make it one or two years they'll try to make do.

Other sites are not directly owned by you, and with these you are swapping valuable raw materials and produced goods that are abundant in Egypt (gold, papyrus, etc.) for those that are rare or non-existent (wood, tin, etc.). Remember, there is no money in this game!! This type of government trade is pro-rata: make more gold, papyrus, etc. available and the foreign traders will take it, and leave you with more wood, tin, etc. Once those materials arrive in your city they are acquired by shopkeepers in the same manner as those you might have mined or quarried locally. As far as the whole "storage yard" thing, again, as with all systems in the game there's the lazy less efficient way and the precise more efficient way - if you do nothing, cargo ships arrive in the city and drop their stuff wherever, then leave. Local consumers will find the items, though (to beat a dead horse) the more time it takes them to do so the less time they have to be doing what you really want them to. If you want more control, you can designate specific cargo drop-off points, and go further, dedicating these to specific sites if you want.

Then there are private commercial merchants who come to the city to buy and sell luxury items. They sell exotic things like animals, furs, incense, and so on, and they buy fine local wares, like jewelry, perfume, sandals. To buy these things, they visit local shops, just like everyone else. To sell their exotic imports, they set up stalls which local consumers visit, just like they visit shops. This all happens whether you do anything or not, but, again, if you want to get the most out of this you designate a trade center and employ scribes to monitor the activity there to collect tariffs. This commercial trade also benefits you and your city by boosting the economy, which has a trickle down effect (except here it really works :) ), increasing taxes as noted above. Hey, Pharaoh taxes only the rich, how's that for progressive leadership?

Like so many things in the game (kind of like real life), the explanation takes a lot longer than just experiencing it (and I still left a bunch of things out!). Our goal was to make the city work according to standard principles that we are all familiar with. In fact, the only times fans on the forums tend to "get it wrong" are when they're thinking of how games typically work. But games don't have to work that way. One of the driving principles in CotN can be looked at as "fail safes" or an organic model, whichever you prefer. But the point is most things work, however poorly, even if you do nothing. Your decisions and expertise center around optimizing, and focusing your people on what you are trying to accomplish at the given time. Like a real city, whether one can ever achieve perfection remains to be seen (though with some of you guys I wouldn't rule that possibility out).


Resources provided by the government

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Chris Beatrice at the Tilted Mill forum, in reply to a thread about productivity:

Luxury shopkeepers *do* benefit from fine raw materials, which your government harvests and imports for their use. So you harvest gold, gems, etc.; or import exotic minerals, then the city's jewelers, perfumers and so on not only *pay you* for these things, but they don't have to spend any time harvesting AND the items they make sell for a lot more (so they make more "money") AND these items last longer so consumers don't need to go shopping so much. These benefits are based on the value and variety of the materials that go into the finished item.

Very simply, your pumping better and better raw materials into the city benefits everyone, and "optimizes" production. You can see that it's not entirely accurate to say it simply "maximizes production", because though the jeweler does increase production (not having to spend time harvesting), he also increases the value of what he's producing. You can look at this the other way around: you use laborers and traders to supply raw materials to the city's luxury shops, but (or and) if you don't they can still function and scrape by making cheaper wares from materials readily available in the natural environment. This is a good example of one of the many fail safes integrated into the game. If you fail to provide that harvester or importer, the shop still functions, just not as well.


Government "trade"

Monday, July 12, 2004

Tony Leier goes a bit deeper on how trade works, at the Tilted Mill forum:

Trade's a bit different in CotN - we've modeled the economic and political reality better I think. Most government trade isn't really the 'trade' you're thinking of - Pharaoh rules all of Egypt, so he already owns everything being traded. So what you get is you sending supplies to a mining outpost, and getting gold and gems in return- trade of a sort. You can also trade with a few foreign states, and again that's more or less bartering, where you trade Egypt's riches (food, papyrus, gold) for things you don't have (cedar wood from Lebanon for example.) Also, Egypt isn't at a trade crossroads, or really known for mercantilism - they were customers or exploiters for the most part (or exploited in some eras.)

Apart from that, you can have external merchants arrive, who sell directly to nobles looking for exotic luxury wares. This is private trade though.

A little lower in the same thread, Tony explains how you actually acquire the trade goods:

It'll cost you food and goods sometimes - depends on what's going on. If it's a vassal or other self-supporting location, they may just send tribute. However, if it's a mining colony you set up, you better send them regular supplies of food if you want them to be able to send back metals or gems.


Production Chains

Monday, July 12, 2004

In reaction to one of the questions, about technology, in the HomeLAN Fed interview, Caesar Alan posted this:

While Chris' comment would seem to rule out long production chains, it certainly doesn't rule out complex ones.

Tony Leier's reply on that:

That's a good way to put it. For instance, you can make simple jewelry out of faience (quartz glass), which the jewelry can harvest and do himself. To make gold jewelry requires gold obviously, and getting that gold is where the production chain is interesting- you need people to mine the gold, people to oversee the mining of the gold, and then you need a scribe to manage the goods exchange where the jeweler can buy the gold.

Come to think of it, try thinking about it in terms of managing people and what the people need (food and services) rather than thinking of it in terms of managing resource flow around a city, which is basically what you did in prior games. Rest assured that you still have various levels of complexity in the systems, it's just associated differently.


Economy in a nutshell

Monday, July 05, 2004

Tony Leier at the Tilted Mill forums about economy:

Like some folks noted, the economy is based on food. It's kind of a feudal system; you've got farmers who work on a noble's estates, and you, the Pharaoh, can take a cut of that food in taxes. That food is your wealth, and you mostly use it to feed and sustain the people you have working for you on your important government projects, like that enormous pyramid you just have to get done.

There are also shopkeepers in the city, who specialize in making various household wares, from cheap baskets or linen up to expensive jewelry or perfumes, for example. These shopkeepers sustain themselves by bartering these wares in exchange for food.

That's the economy, in a nutshell.


The World Map and resources

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

From the IGN preview:

You can get a limited amount of resources from your town and the immediate area, and make a few knick knacks and such, but if you want your city to really grow, you'll have to expand your empire. This is done from an overhead map of the Egypt/Syria area. You'll see mines you can acquire for making weapons, cosmetics and jewelry, spots for forts to defend the inner cities of your kingdom, and more. When you take one of these, one or two more locations will pop up, in a branching, explorational style.


Economy and currency

Thursday, June 03, 2004

From the IGN E3 preview:

The economy has also been completely rethought. Those that played Impressions' games will remember that it was a government run economy. Players owned everything in the city and made money from transactions and taxes in order to put it back in the community. Children of the Nile takes a different approach by putting the economy largely back in the hands of the private sector as it normally would be. This will actually mean the economy runs itself as long as the goods can be traded.

Things have also been simplified a bit by making food the currency instead of coin. When you see citizens going out to buy goods, they'll have a pack of food with them to trade. What's important to note here is that this one move really does make your citizens the children of the Nile. The entire city's well being almost entirely depends on the harvest, which of course depends on the flow of the Nile river. So families are making goods to trade for food so that they can eat and trade for other goods.


World map and Trade

Sunday, March 28, 2004

From the GameStar interview:


One of the most fun parts in Pharaoh was, in my opinion, establishing trade routes to open up new resources. Will there be a "world map" in Children of the Nile, too?

Chris Beatrice:

Again, I'm not going to get into specific features, but I will say this about your relationship to the rest of the world: first, we felt it was very important for this genre that the main game environment feels 100% real to the player, that is, that he feel like he's really there. So we are very careful not to take your focus away from the city too much, or for too long. However, in CotN you are building more than just a capital city - you are building an entire civilization that spans many centuries. When you are done, Egypt will bear your own unique thumbprint.


Economics and production

Sunday, March 28, 2004

From the GameStar interview:


Could you tell us a little about the economic system? Will there be production cycles etc.?

Chris Beatrice:

The details of city mechanics will have to wait for the next interview : ) I will say that CotN uses a very innovative barter-based economy, where people and entire cities in the game swap those things they have in abundance for those things they need more of. As far as management, the player is much more intimately concerned with the government side than homes and businesses in the private sector. Much like being a real leader, you don't need to know exactly what's going on in every household to make decisions, but if you want to, that is all there. The model is very deep and organic - if you want to go door to door and find out what's in each family's cupboard, you can do that!



From the HomeLAN Fed interview with Chris Beatrice:


What will the diplomatic system be like in Children of the Nile?

Chris Beatrice:

For the period covered in CotN, Egypt was the dominant world power. Much so called "trade" between countries was in fact Pharaoh personally bartering with the leaders of other nations, sending out military expeditions to acquire exotic resources, or swapping Egypt's natural resources (gold, papyrus and food), with items not available locally (like wood, certain gemstones, etc.). World level activity in CotN sees you, as Pharaoh, dispatching exploratory missions to uncover and establish new sites throughout the known world, providing new resources, earning prestige, and other benefits, as well as setting up partnerships with foreign governments, and helping them militarily. Certain special achievements are also carried out on the world level, such as circumnavigating Africa, etc.

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