Elemental & Civilization 4

By on April 2, 2009 4:43:53 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Those of you who know me and the GalCiv team (who are now all on Elemental) know we’re huuuuge Civilization IV fans. If you don’t have Civilization IV, I’m not saying you’re a bad person for not having it.  But I’m not saying you’re not a bad person either.  Though, wait until it shows up on Impulse next month before buying it if you haven’t already.

Anyway, at GDC, Soren Johnson (designer of Civ IV), myself, and Paul “Mormegil” Boyer) had a long lunch together and talked about the challenges we’ve been having in Elemental random map generation.

One of the big challenges we’ve been having has to do with rivers and roads – how do you make them look good in a randomly generated map?  Soren was nice enough to walk us through some of the algorithms they used in Civ IV since they ran into the exact same problem. It’s a real pain in the butt.

We also talked about the challenges of doing big maps.  This is where Civ and Elemental are fairly different largely because of the differences in the engine being used.

In Elemental, the strategic zoom feature lets us have much bigger maps since it’s very easy for people to manage much larger areas because the Elemental map turns into a cloth map where players can instruct units and cities and the like from afar.

Another advantage Elemental’s engine has is technology.  That is, the hardware is just a lot faster which means we can easily create a lot more “stuff” that players can automate without it slowing performance.

One result of that is world size.  In Civilization 4, the largest default map size “Huge” is 104x64 tiles. There are custom maps bigger (138x96 for instance).  But in Elemental, the map size is 224x160.  To give you an idea of that:

CivToEle_HugeMapComparison

And that’s on the 32-bit version of the game.  Assuming Intel gets us a 64-bit Havoc, the 64-bit version of Elemental could be even bigger.

Of course, we also have map sizes that are ridiculously small too (one called “wee” even). 

Having a big map, of course, is pointless if you don’t have the UI and automation in to keep micromanagement from being a pain and of course, like I mentioned, you have to have hardware fast enough to be able to navigate quickly and seamlessly through such a map (A Civilization V would no doubt have maps on the same scale as Elemental for instance).

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Fade2White
April 2, 2009 5:24:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Any chance of having Civilization IV Complete in Impulse AND being able to bind it with my retail copy? As I also have the vanilla Civ IV (with a manual that I expect to be thin compared to Elemental's.... really ), that could also be nice, altough I only play BTS.

On topic, could I ask for a Earth map for retail made in Elemental? I really enjoy playing such maps. And that 224x160 seems really nice and scary too... Don't dare to imagine the 64 bits version. The word "Epic" is going to get quite outdated with this game.

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April 2, 2009 5:33:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is really looking great, guys I love Civ IV, especially Fall from Heaven, tho I expect Elemental to be a gazillion times better  I can't wait!! Btw, I was meaning to ask, is it too late to be considered in the beta testing? And i totally agree wintersong, those 64 bit maps are gonna be pretty sweet, I call first game

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April 2, 2009 5:37:04 PM from Stardock.net (Stardock Games) Stardock.net (Stardock Games)

I can't wait for 64Bit Elemental!  The question is... will I have to buy it twice (32bit/64bit)? I can see why it might be necissary, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to.

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April 2, 2009 5:37:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you're doing random map generation, you should really have a chat to ToadyOne who makes Dwarf Fortress. His world generation, in fact his procedural content generation in general, is mind bogglingly amazing.

Edit: To some people, the DF world generation is a game in itself.

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April 2, 2009 5:58:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@PunningPundit  - that is already been explained.   Both the 32-bit and 64-bit version will be one 1 disc, i.e. you will only buy it once and get both versions.

 

man, the jokes that are going to come from playing on a 'wee map'     (I highly support having a size under tiny called 'wee')

I actually have never heard anybody from the official stardock members talk much about civ, enough that I could assume they were fans anyway.

 

Man, I wish I could get a better look at that map  *strains eyes to see what exists under the dull carpet)

One bit of feedback (which you may already be aware, but accept this as an alpha build)  the elemental world seems kinda.... blank and a bit square.  I see too many straight coasts.  Naturally there will be a few (there are in real life) but they have little pensulas and stuff.  That island in the lower right especially does not look like it could form naturally (I mean, how would the movement of the world cause that shape?

I REALLY like the mountain chains.  They seem real and logically placed where I imagine there might exist plates rubbing bast each other, but it seems like mountains fail to exist everywhere else.   I see too many completely barren plains.  Having a empty prairie or desert might be good for one or two places, but it really doesn't look natural as it stands.

There also isn't what I can see to be rivers or inland seas or any of those other things. 

I could go on, but I don't have enough information.

 

Suggestion:  You've already created mountain chains.   Logically, rivers would be similar but would start near mountains.  so just make sure you start them somewhere near where mountains would be. 

Roads are a bit harder, obviously they have to go somewhere, and probebly would take the easiest route.  So in the case of rivers and mountain chains, they would likely have to have 'passes' in mountains or narrow bits of river that are generated with the chains.  Then roads that must pass through them would have to snake to where the passes are, which would prevent the super straight lines that are seen in MoM.   Though, civ 4 used effectivly the same road system as far as I could tell... just straight lines between two towns with something that shaped the road to meet other neighbor roads.

 

So, what will happen if you can't get a 64-bit havoc?   I mean, would that mean that 64-bit elemental doesn't happen?

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April 2, 2009 6:02:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting RisingLegend,
Btw, I was meaning to ask, is it too late to be considered in the beta testing?

IIRC, all you have to do is pre-order before the actual beta starts (it hasn't yet) and you're in.

And even if you pre-order after the first beta starts, you should get in with the next stage of the beta. (just make sure to pre-order before running out of beta stages )

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April 2, 2009 6:02:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That is frickin' huge! I can't wait to try out those large maps!

PS- Did Soren mention anything about Civ5?!

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April 2, 2009 6:19:36 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Civ 5? Oh no, what have you done! *Forgets elemental*  

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April 2, 2009 6:22:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can't wait for 64Bit Elemental!  The question is... will I have to buy it twice (32bit/64bit)? I can see why it might be necissary, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to.

No, both versions would come with Elemental (when you buy Elemental you're getting both versions no matter what you'd just run a different EXE).

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April 2, 2009 6:23:57 PM from Stardock.net (Stardock Games) Stardock.net (Stardock Games)

Woot!

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April 2, 2009 6:24:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That is frickin' huge! I can't wait to try out those large maps!

PS- Did Soren mention anything about Civ5?!

Soren's at EA now. He just got done working on some "Spore" game.  We don't know anything about a Civilization V other than hoping Firaxis is working on it. 

Civilization (the game) is why I became a game developer in case you're wondering just what level of worship I have for that game.

 

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April 2, 2009 8:34:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Man, I wish I could get a better look at that map *strains eyes to see what exists under the dull carpet)

I blew it up. The text is illegible and the colth map looks like any other screenshot.

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April 2, 2009 8:38:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think I just had an EWOMgasm(tm).

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April 2, 2009 8:47:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Massive maps + intelligent automation for management + magic + war = epic win (the equation of champions)  

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April 2, 2009 11:30:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Dude... Amazing Cant wait! BIGGA MAPS! Actually I have Civ 4... but I still love GC2 MORE! I like both games alot but GC2 is fantastic.

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April 2, 2009 11:37:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Awesome! I'm actually on a Civ IV binge at the moment (been reading Civfanatics like, well, a fanatic). I bought the Complete Edition for $25 during Steam's holiday sale; would much rather have purchased it on Impulse

(Will Civ IV Colonization also hit Impulse?)

Soren Johnson has a nice little blog about videogames if anyone's interested. Rock Paper Shotgun interviewed him about the making of Civ IV. Of particular interest: the tradeoffs of moving from a 2d engine to a 3d one and the effect on maximum map size.

Anyway, I think Civ is one of the best games ever made (seriously, counting board and card games). Soren, Frogboy, and Sid Meier should team up and create an Omni 4X game. A venerable supergroup of TBS game devs.

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April 3, 2009 1:24:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ha, I'm so glad I'm not not not a bad person

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April 3, 2009 1:30:23 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

"No, both versions would come with Elemental (when you buy Elemental you're getting both versions no matter what you'd just run a different EXE)."

Awesome!  _very_ customer friendly...

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April 3, 2009 3:34:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

That is frickin' huge! I can't wait to try out those large maps!


PS- Did Soren mention anything about Civ5?!



Soren's at EA now. He just got done working on some "Spore" game.  We don't know anything about a Civilization V other than hoping Firaxis is working on it. 

Civilization (the game) is why I became a game developer in case you're wondering just what level of worship I have for that game.

 

Hey Brad have you checked out Fall from Heaven? That is one amazing CIV IV Fantasy Mod!

http://forums.civfanatics.com/forumdisplay.php?f=190

 

 

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April 3, 2009 5:46:37 AM from Stardock.net (Stardock Games) Stardock.net (Stardock Games)

I hate to harp on about this matter, but... will I be able to buy Civilization IV from Impulse if I live in Europe? When I tried buying Civilization III it told me that it was North America only (which was the case for all of 2Ks games).

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April 3, 2009 5:50:05 AM from Stardock.net (Stardock Games) Stardock.net (Stardock Games)

Ooh come on Frogboy. Open it up so I can get my paypal method pre-order through already.  

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April 3, 2009 8:27:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's a really big map!

 

I'm curious about roads. Do roads give movement bonuses? If so, can you build them yourself during the game?

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April 3, 2009 9:30:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Gosh, When I play Galciv2 I never use a huge map I find it to intimidating. When I played MOM I always found the huge map to be to small. When I play a fantasy game like Elemental I can't wait to try out the huge map.

 

Seeing troop movements all over the world, knowing some of my armies might not be able to get support because the nearest troops are 50 turns away seems incredibly WOW to me.

 

I hope alliances will work at the galciv2 or better level. I can just imagine how alliances with other channelers might be vital in such a big map to win the game.

 

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

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April 3, 2009 1:05:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PunningPundit,
I can't wait for 64Bit Elemental!  The question is... will I have to buy it twice (32bit/64bit)? I can see why it might be necissary, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to.

  Just so you know...  you will need a  64-bit operating systems to use the functionality of 64_Bit within Elemental.  Based on your original question you are most likely using a 32-bit operating system... I would place a $10,000 gambling bet you are using 32bit OS.   This doesn't mean you need to purchase a new computer...  just setup your system to dual boot with a 64-bit operating system or pay a technician so your computer can dual boot. (Make sure all related 64bit drivers are also installed).   If you have an older computer than most likely you'll have trouble finding drivers and may need to purchase a new computer.  

Secondly you will also want to verify you have at least 4GB of memory to truly benefit from creating worlds even larger than what we see listed.  If your current computer has only 1GB of memory the 64_bit operating system won't do you much good.  

Anyone interested in playing with these really really large maps using 64-bit technology should start  making sure they will have a system ready.

Quoting Frogboy,

One result of that is world size.  In Civilization 4, the largest default map size “Huge” is 104x64 tiles. There are custom maps bigger (138x96 for instance).  But in Elemental, the map size is 224x160.  To give you an idea of that:

    {{map_image}}

And that’s on the 32-bit version of the game.  Assuming Intel gets us a 64-bit Havoc, the 64-bit version of Elemental could be even bigger. 

  Can you provide more details on that last sentence? 

Does this indicate the development of 64-bit  might be delayed ? 

 

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April 3, 2009 1:07:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Level/world generation is something I'd like to try myself. Will players be able to create maps with external tools and import them into Elemental ? I like to play around with Python...

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