Chris Beatrice Interview

The Game Engine

ARR: Are there any changes being made to the standard C3 / Pharaoh game engine? If so, can you tell us what they are?

Chris Beatrice: Sure, though of course we’ve striven to maintain the core fun elements from both games, which largely derives from the city-building and management system established by Caesar III. A couple of things we’ve added to the basic engine are terrain elevation (this was important to represent the rocky, hilly Greek environment) – this is much more robust and versatile than the plateau system we had in Caesar III. We’ve added an alpha channel for pyro graphical effects (a necessity when dealing with the gods, am I right?), and we’ve also included some “natural” disasters such as lava floes (another mythological necessity, but I don’t want to say too much about that right now).

We’ve changed the way livestock is handled. Now, you purchase individual animals such as sheep and goats, which are tended by shepherds (and goatherds). They actually eat the terrain, so you’ve got competition between animals and crops for arable land (ancient Greece was really not very lush, contrary to popular belief). We’ve also completely revamped the Caesar III/Pharaoh interface, which I hope will be a welcome change. Also, though we haven’t eliminated all the rich detail formerly provided by the Advisors/Overseers for people who want that, now you can play the entire game from just the city & world levels. Simpler information is provided right on the control panel for you… and we’ve event set up a messages system where you can skim over your messages without interrupting the game.

The military in Zeus is a “citizen army”, made up of well-to-do residents of the city. You need to provide them with horses, armor and the other fine things in life or all you’ll have is a mob of rabble throwing rocks at your city’s attackers (but at least you’ll have crews to man the triremes…). In times of war, you summon them forth or “muster” them to defend the city, or embark upon foreign missions of conquest or defense (or maybe to slay a Hydra…).

There are of course a whole host of other engine/model changes, such as the way raw materials are acquired from the land, the way housing is built and evolves (there are now two distinct types of housing), the way food and goods are acquired and distributed by the Agora, the way Sanctuaries (have I mentioned those yet?) to the gods are constructed, the way trade is conducted from the Trading Post and Pier, the way troops are supported by the Palace… the pathfinding… and so on.