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The years go by - is any idea for a community Civ3-clone utterly dead? :)

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Creation & Customization' started by Kyriakos, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I suppose it is. That said, with a number of game creating engines available - some of them free - it would actually be viable by now. I wouldn't attempt it by myself, or even take center-stage role on it, but would be providing gfx :)

    I sometimes think of trying it, using AGS (freeware), but the scope would be way too large for me to focus on as the main creator (ie not just gfx, but scripting; i can script in AGS, but such a project would just be of a larger scale than i can spend time on)...
     
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  2. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel -- Turns to Completion

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    Nope.

    In other news, I just became Unity certified.
     
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  3. Ogedei_the_Mad

    Ogedei_the_Mad Caffeinated Khagan

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    I've been wondering about getting the Unity engine. I know the editor itself is a free download, but do you get the game engine license through a one-time purchase or do you have to subscribe to it on an annual basis?
     
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  4. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel -- Turns to Completion

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    It's free unless your organization makes >$100k revenues. The only technical limitation of the free edition is a Unity splash-screen on startup.

    If you're curious about professional use, they recently switched from purchase to subscription model. The details are on unity3d.com
     
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  5. Ogedei_the_Mad

    Ogedei_the_Mad Caffeinated Khagan

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    OK. Good to know. None of us here are going to make >100k anyway, especially not with a Civ3 clone.
     
  6. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Well, if anyone starts something, you can count me in for (at least static, but also map animated objects, eg cities or terrain) gfx :)
     
  7. Vuldacon

    Vuldacon Dedicated to Excellence Supporter

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    Yes... Could be a Good Thing to do if many are interested. Perhaps we could make many of the changes we have wanted for years.
    Lets see who is interested and go from there.
    I would help.
     
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  8. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I think it would be relative easy to first have a set scenario-game (eg crusades, or peloponnesian war or whatever), and then get funding for the game while developing it, through Steam. Just noting it as a thought, cause by now such things do happen. Furthermore, it surely is far easier to finish a game with a set map, than have an editor ready as well :)
     
  9. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel -- Turns to Completion

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    IF I were to make an attempt, this would be my approach:
    • Open development with public issue tracking, code repo, sprint planning, etc
    • .NET Core DLL implementing the game mechanics, to be as portable as possible
    • Unity C# front-end providing a playable UI
    • Starting with a minimally "playable" program and build out features incrementally, always fully usable
    • Start with hotseat mode to develop game mechanics, defer AI and networking
    • Modding via modular config files and/or scripts, with minimal built-in tools to support core game development
    • Compatible with most Civ3 visuals but using better file formats, with conversion tools to import Civ3 graphics
    • Modernize the UI to be more flexible, scriptable, and informative
    • If practical, support square, diamond, or hexagonal map tiles
    • Add a few optional features from our collective wish-list
    • Ultimately shoot for something between a clone and a new game: minimal hard-coding and maximum flexibility, with a very C3C-like default package
     
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  10. Nathiri

    Nathiri Commander

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    Something that holds civ3 back quite a bit is the extra customization of the interface, besides just backrounds. If new interface screens were possible in existing civ3, then it would be easier to implement newer systems like religion.

    If a clone would truely be like civ3, but had newer systems, I would be all for this. I like some things about the newer civ games, but it's just way too different from the simpleness of civ3, that I cant bring myself to play them. If I could bring the extra stuff back, I would.

    While the interface could use an update, I do think its simplicity and minimalism should be kept. Civ5's takes up so much screen space. But there can be improvements.

    Not sure if this is a good idea, but I have had ideas of making the leaderhead space bigger, and maybe even show "yourself" on the map interface, giving out orders or making sayings. But not sure if it's efficient use of screen space to warrant the little thing. I just find it a bit lacking that leaderheads are only shown in diplomacy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  11. register

    register Chieftain

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    Maybe, instead spending a time for a clone which as I see from your previous posts won't be exact as original game, is better to sign a petition and look for sponsors and send the results to Firaxis and do proper remake of Civilization 3 Conquest?

    There are quite many remakes this days, Age of Empire is a good example:


     
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  12. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    ^They won't. People here had even tried buying the civ3 code from Firaxis, many years ago.
     
  13. Quintillus

    Quintillus It's Mueller Time Supporter

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    ^Kyriakos is right. That has already been attempted, by community members who (as I understand it) had as many resources and connections as can be expected here.

    WildWeazel, I think your suggested approach is along the right tracks. Minimally playable game and hotseat are two particular ones that I think are wise, limited initial goals. Trying to do everything up front would be way too much; simply displaying sufficient graphics to have a game is itself a significant hurdle. I'd probably leave off square/hex/isometric and just go with one - isometric if you want to be able to re-use existing graphics - since I suspect supporting more than one would drastically increase the complexity of the code needed to handle game rules (unit attack, movement, route calculation, connected cities, multiple types of graphics, etc.).

    The age-old debate is open-source versus closed-source, and free versus commercial (there have been free, closed-source attempts). I also think free, open-source is the best approach. Could someone try to do the commercial route? Yes... but what are the chances of success? You might as well try your own original idea without the restrictions of being similar, and that's not even counting the potential hazards of trying to commercialize something that is intentionally similar to an old game. Dedicating enough time to a game to get it off the ground within a reasonable period of time would also require more time than most people with a day job have, which pretty much limits it to those who are retired or financially self-sufficient... and if that describes you, and you want to make a Civ3 clone, why would you bother commercializing it?

    Not that making it open source will necessarily speed up development by having multiple contributors. But it does allow the possibility, which previous attempts have not. And even if the attempt fizzles out, someone can pick it up again later. The local Civ1 clone has had contributions from five people other than the initial creator, and while the initial creator is still responsible for 99%+ of the code, it's something.

    What we do need is a leader with time to dedicate to getting it off the ground, and enough expertise to build enough that people start seeing it as a real project that could go somewhere. Finding someone with both of those has proved challenging. Those who have attempted have not had enough time to get quite far enough before life circumstances reduced their available time. And I know that realistically, I wouldn't have the time even if I had the skills.

    But if that leader can be found, I'd be interested in contributing occasionally. The one area I wouldn't be of much use is the graphics, as I essentially know nothing about that (which I know sounds odd since I'm the person who wrote an editor with a visual map component, but that was learning as I went, slow going, and would probably horrify someone who knew what they were doing in the graphics department). But general program logic, reading in data from various formats, even networking and perhaps some sort of AI I could contribute to, and if something got off the ground I could probably be convinced to dust off some rusty knowledge of whatever programming language was chosen.

    -----------------

    On a different note, has anyone else thought about implementing Civ3 within the Civ4 engine? Other than the obvious isometric vs squares difference and the subsequent effect on graphics, and the fact that scenarios wouldn't be automatically playable, I suspect you could re-implement the rules as Civ3 has them. The interface is at least somewhat customizeable to new concepts (Nathiri's post reminded me of this), and the AI is scriptable as well, so you could teach it to use any concepts that Civ4 doesn't have, and probably wind up with a better AI than Civ3 eventually. You could also keep any parts of Civ4 you liked, such as religion. It would still be a massive undertaking, which is why I haven't tried it, but probably less so than starting from scratch. And it would allow us to get around several of the common Civ3 limitations, such as 31 civs, though admittedly perhaps trading them for others, such as higher memory usage. Other Civ versions as a base might also be possible, but AFAIK Civ4 is the pinnacle of Civ customizeability, which would seem to make it the one to choose.
     
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  14. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    The issue with open-source games is that they have to rely on a community. Which would seem to be something even more difficult - and likely pointless ultimately - to form than even some token commercial price for the game as is usual for indie games (eg 1-3 $).
    At any rate, we first need to decide on an engine to use, which also means to have one person who will be in the center of the project. While you and others, myself too to some degree, can provide some things, apparently none of us have time to be that leader or center person :)
    Imo such a person should have the following two qualities:
    1) be able to at least script some things in the engine (ie not rely on others for all scripting)
    2) be on friendly terms with the team members.

    Anyone? ^_^
     
  15. Pounder

    Pounder Phaethon was here

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  16. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I don't think so, eg FreeCiv has no copyright issues. Besides, it's not like we would have to call it "Civilization III - a clone" :D
    Similar names are many, eg Civilizations, All Civilizations, Way of Civilization etc. Doesn't even have to feature the term 'civilization' either.
     
  17. Quintillus

    Quintillus It's Mueller Time Supporter

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    I think Pounder is right if you went commercial and broadcast it as a clone. C-Evo, FreeCiv, etc. are all non-commercial, and likely seen as beneficial to Firaxis (by making community members happy and involved), rather than as a threat. And while Valve may have been cool with Black Mesa - essentially an update/clone of Half Life - they also were getting 30% of its sales via Steam. That's certainly part of why I think any commercial effort should pursue its own idea.

    I think we're also looking at the price very differently. From my perspective, I'd estimate at least 4 people-years to get something good enough to sell and of high enough complexity to be satisfying, and if you estimate $30K/year per person - low in the U.S., and well below what anyone with the requisite skills could make, but livable if you aren't in big coastal cities - you're looking at $120K. $3/copy would require 40,000 copies, which while not impossible, I wouldn't consider likely. Targeting, say, $15 (not rare for good PC-focused indie games) would require 8000 copies, still likely above what we can realistically expect. Granted, living expenses vary a lot. My friend who tried to go into indie games concluded it was better to target something like Patreon, where supporters can chip in $5/month if they support your idea, as that allows you to be sustainable with only 1000 supporters or so. Still, that's far from a sure thing.

    For me, at least, it's not worth taking a chance on that over my reliable and well-paying day job, and I have too many interests to try to do the day job and start that up on the side. But if someone is well-informed of the chances and still wants to do it, more power to them.

    Though I do agree with both of your required skills. They wouldn't have to be the best scripter, but being able to proof-of-concept is valuable, and good relations (and communication) makes a huge difference in software development.
     
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  18. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    ^I don't insist on a game having to be commercial. Afterall, as you said, it isn't that likely it will be sustainable anyway. So yeah, i too would want to take part, from a supporting role (providing some of the gfx) :)

    I mean, it's not like i can let go of my so lucrative job as a literary translator; the river of euros just keeps flowing :o ;)
     
  19. Nathiri

    Nathiri Commander

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    I have had some interest in learning coding, especially if I could somehow do something with civ, but I find it rather complicated personally, and not sure if I want to put in the time at this time to learn. Part of me does want to learn, and another part, doesnt really want to. I have had a lot of time on computers in the past several years, and my interest with them has ebbed some. So while I do like trouble-shooting and problem solving, trial and error, I also dont like spending all day on them, which is what I would end up doing with coding. I did have quite a bit of free time on my hands, but now its quickly being taken up in a variety of projects, both off computer and on. At the moment, most of my days are spent working with wood and cement, and then I play a little in the late afternoons and a bit in the evenings.
     
  20. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel -- Turns to Completion

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    I pretty much agree with everything you say here. Even the alternate tile shapes would just be my personal stretch goal, and something that might be worth exploring early on.

    I would strongly favor open source. Commercial comes with its own additional challenges, and I don't think we'd be going for something commercially viable anyway. You can always slap Early Access/Patreon/Kickstarter onto something later, but I think time rather than money would be the bottleneck for our likely suspects. And if there's one thing the previous attempts have in common, it's that we can't pick up where they left off because we don't have the code.

    Speaking of open source code, I had not heard about CivOne. Will definitely look into that. I see they're also using C# and .NET Core :)

    You're probably right about using the CivIV engine. As far as I know - I haven't looked into modding V or VI - it's the most capable modding platform by far. Between the Python API and the SDK I'm sure you could build something that closely approximates Civ3, but with a different look & feel. I think though, that part of the appeal of a CivIII more-or-less-clone is kind of the inverse, to expand the possibilities while keeping the familiar style and especially reusing much of the past 16 years' (!) worth of work.

    Re: copyright, only software assets (code, graphics, etc) are copyrighted, not mechanics. We'd be wise to avoid trademark infringement in "Civilization" and "Civ" names and their logo styles, but a behavioral clone that doesn't try to pass itself off as or associate itself with the real thing should be fine. A game based on real history should be especially safe since there is no in-game intellectual property to speak of. Freeciv is doing fine. That said, IANAL.

    @Nathiri Being a bit biased I'd recommend learning some programming to anyone, but no need to let that stop you. Any good development project needs dedicated testers, and sometimes it's better if they're not programmers. Not to mention wiki authors, artists, designers...
     

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