Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not So Glorious

Glory of the Roman Empire is
a pleasant diversion. Like a fishbowl.

You can scatter flakes in a fishbowl and watch the fish do things and you can set down a little treasure chest that opens and closes and shoots bubbles every few seconds.

You can set down buildings in GotRE and watch the people do things and set down more buildings and get notifications every few seconds that something has gone wrong or right.

And also like a fishbowl, the game becomes boring in a short amount of time.

Portico has the sense of things.

There is a tendency among city-builders to assume that only one growth model is necessary, that such a design "simplifies" the game.

By one growth model, I mean the way in which a city is grown, such that certain complementary parts are necessary to maintain an area.

One of my cities had trouble getting timber. I built a few isolated woodcutter huts and placed houses near them. The idea being that the people living in the houses would work in the huts. That worked for a time. Then the houses depopulated, for reasons unknown, with no clear way in the game to repopulate them without over-developing the area. I would have to make this resource point a functioning village, a microcosm of my city center.

Resource distribution is confusing. A trade post might have over 200 units of flour inside. The bakeries don't store a lot of flour and make loaves of bread slowly. Likewise, getting that bread to the people takes time. So it is possible that a house next door to a trade post filled with flour and a bakery filled with bread will be without bread.

There are times when slaves will stay on a building plan even when resources are not available. You can watch the slave toil all day long, accomplishing nothing.

The scenarios often feel rigged, and they often are rigged because of the strict goals in each. This restriction of choice detracts from the experience. Why do I have to build fishing shacks on docks? Why doesn't the woodcutter live in the woodcutter's shack?

There simply aren't enough options. There's no social aspect. How is labor divided up and how do the people feel about that? Is this a modern, progressive city? Is it traditional? Do they like Rome or are they resentful? Why does everyone want an altar?

I haven't gotten to the real big-city options yet, because fulfilling the scenario conditions can be so tedious. Often it's just a matter of speeding up time and waiting for a building to be completed.

Perhaps more on this game later.

Design was on the right track, but ultimately poor. Tells me very little about Rome, or civilizations in general, or myself or the human condition or even the difficulties of maintaining a city.

Cesar III was better.

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