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Think Tank

Discussion in 'Civ3 Future Development' started by Blue Monkey, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. Vuldacon

    Vuldacon Dedicated to Excellence Supporter

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    I agree with Jürgen... not only is everyone accustomed to it but it adds to the Game without detracting from it as some High Resolution games can.

    I have basically been under the impression that we all wanted more ability to Change and Add what we wanted in the Original Game without changing the Graphics, keeping the "Tools" and Thousands of Graphics and Unit Work that has already been created able to continue to be used.

    I continue to believe it would be best to keep all we can as it is in the Original CIV game that has to do with being able to Use what has already been Created... also adding that if the existing Games (MODs) could be adjusted without too much time and effort like Starting Over, that would be Excellent.

    If the above cannot be accomplished, any new and improved Game Engine that comes close would be used at least for New Games and if existing Games would require too much work to be able to play in the New Game Engine, they would simply stay as they are using the Original Game Engine. That will probable be the case but this is all still being evaluated for what can be accomplished. For example, Eric has said he plans to post about making a New Game Engine from scratch and has alluded to it being able to play existing MODs and using the "Tools" and what has already been Created. While this seems too good to be possible, I am certainly looking foreword to seeing his presentation.
     
  2. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    On the topic of the user interface - I believe we could use it as is. WildWeazel's screenshot shows it at 2560x1440 resolution, and things such as the mini map and the buttons don't scale... well, none of it does for that matter. But aside from the fact that you might need to lower your resolution or bring a magnifying glass, it works.

    More specifically, other interface elements such as the City Screen are limited to 1024x768, which becomes increasingly tiny on high resolution monitors. But we also have some beautiful custom graphics for the interface. Thus, I'd be inclined to at least have a "compatibility mode" that would keep the existing interface. I think we could also consider scaling options. On a 2560x1600 or 4K monitor, a straight 2X scaling would do wonders for readability while not having any of the potential scaling problems of a non-integral multiplier.

    Edit: We also could make it easy to switch resolution in-game, so it's less of a hassle to choose something between 1024x768 (keepRes=... false? in the conquests.ini file) and whatever your monitor's native resolution is.
     
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  3. Vuldacon

    Vuldacon Dedicated to Excellence Supporter

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    Yes, I agree with at least a Compatibility Mode for the Interface, then as far as possible, keep the ability to use all Tools and Graphics that have already been made.
     
  4. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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    I just want to say that this is all awesome and I absolutely support it. But I don't have the time or energy to be actively involved, despite being kindly invited for my input. I'm nowhere near a good enough programmer to make any material contribution! But naturally I'm happy to share the benefits of my immense wisdom if anyone wants them.
     
  5. Civinator

    Civinator Blue Lion Supporter

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    Welcome Plotinus. It´s always good to have a supermoderator in the team. :)
     
  6. Vuldacon

    Vuldacon Dedicated to Excellence Supporter

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    Wisdom is always needed and welcome. Your thoughts can be more helpful than you know and anything you have the time and desire to post will be appreciated. Great to see you here!
     
  7. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    Thanks for stopping by @Plotinus ! That's totally understandable but you can't fool me, I've seen what you've written. Your immense wisdom is always welcome though.
     
  8. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Archivist, redux Supporter

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    First off, I think that we should begin by focusing on the fact that we want a game which is both more fun for us to play, and mod. Accordingly, I think that we should view the project as having 3 stages:
    1. Making the game more fun, overall, to both play and mod. This means both fixing what's broken (a long list of items and features) but also being add a large number of items from our various "Wish Lists," and then some (yeah, I know, my specific design thoughts remain, "Soon to follow.")
    2. Next, "Extensions," which would encompass items like like addressing the issues already raised about higher resolution graphics. Each of these should also be standalone, as well, so that they can be developed and tested separately from the game itself.
    3. Third would come, "Major Changes," like adding multiple map layers, as was done in Ciiv2
    Thus endeth the sermon ( :D )
     
  9. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    Ok, so I'm rethinking interfaces. Seems I'm the only one bothered by it. Say we match the current layout and size by default. It wouldn't be hard to then have a scaling factor that can be applied at sufficiently high resolution. (It's a shame that Civ3 was designed for 1024x768 and not 1280x720- that would have scaled much more cleanly to modern standards.) There's of course also the option of running windowed instead of fullscreen.

    A good UI is decoupled from the application code, so if there's enough interest later we could build a whole separate modernized one and swap them out even in-game. Or maybe that's something to leave to the mod API (UI mods are pretty common in other games).
     
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  10. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    :bump: and everyone welcome @Lanzelot to our conspiracy!
     
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  11. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Archivist, redux Supporter

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  12. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    Also welcome @Flintlock to the team, author of the latest exe patch!
     
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  13. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Archivist, redux Supporter

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    At the risk of being a tad redundant ... :think: ...
    @Flintlock - :dance: :dance:

    -:Dz
     
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  14. Flintlock

    Flintlock King

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    Hello everyone and thanks for the invite.
     
  15. Vuldacon

    Vuldacon Dedicated to Excellence Supporter

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  16. Lanzelot

    Lanzelot Moderator Moderator

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    Hi all!
    Just finished reading this thread and getting up to speed...

    The first thing I have to say now: when WildWeazel invited me, I was apparently under a slight misconception: I thought the plan was to take the existing game and then fix/modify its short-comings in some way (either by getting our hands on the source, or, failing that, by dis-assembling the thing and linking in alternative entry points for the functions we want to fix/modify, similar to what Antal1987 has done a couple of years ago: https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/useful-patches-for-civ-3-conquests-v1-22.526285/).

    But now I realize: you want to re-implement the entire thing from scratch!! :faint:

    I have never done any game development, so can't really estimate this, but wouldn't an undertaking like this take years for the handful of people we are? I mean, there was an entire company working on that, and it took them how long? Civ2 came out in 1996 and Civ3 in 2001.

    However, back in those days, the concept of "Game Engines" did not yet exist, as far as I know, so they had to write everything themselves... And if we re-use the sounds & graphics from the original game, we only need to write the code, but don't need to do any arts design. So if you think it's doable, I'll believe you... :)

    Let me give you the background where I come from:
    • started coding almost 40 years ago, mainly assembler, because I had quickly gotten fed up with the slow-poke Basic interpreter of the C64 I had at that time... :badcomp:
      (But as I already pointed out to WildWeazel: for the "Antal approach" of dis-assembling the Civ3Conquests.exe and then inserting modified assembler routines into the binary and changing the jump addresses, I would first have to re-learn everything, because the entire architecture and instruction set of the early-80s CPUs is a completely different world than today's CPUs... My know-how would be hopelessly out-dated - if I would be able to remember it in the first place... :D)
    • Moved to Fortran and C during my University days (first on VMS, later Solaris WorkStations)
    • Joined a software company in 1998, where I did mainly Java and C/C++ projects (Unix, Linux, Windows)
    • Added C# to that around 2010, when we had a major Windows-only project

    So the choice of C# would be fine with me. And OpenSource is obviously the way to go for a project like this!
    The big "but": as yo can see from my resume, I've always been a "low-level" guy. No experience in graphics programming and game programming. If I can be useful for this project, will depend mainly on whether you guys can point me to the necessary learning materials ("what is a Game Engine and how do we use it"...)


    I hope you don't mind, but I think you forgot the most important stage:
    0. Making the game run at all​

    :crazyeye:
    (I think, that once we have something that can load a .sav file saved by the original game and run that without error the same way (or at least in a "similar" way...), we have achieved already quite a major milestone...)
     
  17. Lanzelot

    Lanzelot Moderator Moderator

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    BTW: I had also already heard rumors in the past that someone tried to obtain the source code. Didn't know it was Steph, though. Can you share a bit more about that? There's really no chance of getting it, not even for money?
    (I know there has been a community effort to port Microsoft's Age of Empires II from 1998 to today's high-resolution. I have seen it on Steam and it looks really nice. So Microsoft must have granted the community access to its source code. But then: Microsoft has no plans of earning big bucks with "Age of Empires VI"... :( )
     
  18. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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    Well, maybe. Probably. I mean some of us want to. The idea of this forum is to first figure out the best thing(s) to do. There are at least 4 options under consideration:
    • Continue the work of Antal et al in reverse engineering and patching the executable
    • Continue developing BIQ and SAV editing tools to wring more functionality out of the game
    • Build on top of an existing open-source 4X game (or possibly the Civ2 TOT Patch Project?) to convert it to a Civ3 clone
    • Create a new game that is as compatible as possible with Civ3 files and features, with options for new features
    The discussion here is biased towards the new game because a it's the easiest (and most fun) to talk about in the abstract, and a plurality of us had a preference for that direction before we started this forum. If you check out the "Analysis" threads they cover (lacking some context from previous conversations) each of those 4 options.

    FWIW Civ3 was made in about 18 months, but with (at least) several professionals working full time. As you say, we have some advantages: modern game engines, reusable media, and an already designed game. But yes "years" is the right order of magnitude if we go that route. Regardless, once we've decided on a direction and have something workable to demonstrate we can go public and try to attract more support.

    Now that you and @Flintlock are here they may be more support for the patching route, which may be more in your wheelhouse. We can certainly share resources though. Godot is our preferred game engine, which we've been learning together.
     
  19. Ozymandias

    Ozymandias Archivist, redux Supporter

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    Steph knew a project manager at Take2, and thought - well, whatever he thought.

    I had a classmate - mind you, no one I even remembered meeting, but who was at least willing to engage in a round of email exchanges (he also at least knew "of me" due to some of my professional escapades - unroll the Spoiler in THIS POST). Anyway, I proposed (1) setting up a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corp. for educational purposes, meaning any code could remain the IP of a not-for-profit, and not in the Public Domain; and (2) I deliberately floated a ridiculously high price - $100,000 - a number well above any hypothetical market value, but I was at least curious to see if he would take the nibble, and run it up the metaphorical flag pole, which he did not.

    Frankly, at that point, 2K was raking in enough cash that I doubt that my offer was even worth having someone ask a paralegal to consider it - which I do understand.

    That being said, I'm now trying to figure out the best way to contact Soren Johnson directly (even though I doubt he has direct legal access to the code; nonetheless.) Given his known arc of interests, from Civ3 to (critically) Spore, and now Old World, I know believe that we share a profound interest in how complex systems develop over time. 2 are already obvious: Games & IT, and IT & business models. Next: evolutionary biology. 3rd (well, probably, 1st really) history to the "depth" of historiography - Insofar as I could be said to have had an undergraduate "specialization," it was the nature of the intersecting sets of technological and societal systems which saw Western Europe transform itself from feudalism to capitalism. It's an admitted long shot, but, whether it works or not, it's a matter of little effort for me.

    That being said - I've also read about his moving into developing Civ3 about 1/2 through the process; of the implied chaos therein - And how plainly delighted he was to move, from there, into a lead role in Civ4. Meaning that I suspect that there's more than a bit of a mess to be found in the code; there are certainly no .dlls; and that much of the AI's behavior is, and can never be, much more than chaotic. - Still, Excelsior! and all that ...

    ... I'll certainly keep all of you posted, but I'd also advise you not to hold your breath in the interim
     
  20. WildWeazel

    WildWeazel Carthago Creanda Est

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