First Impressions on the demo

Everything Caesar IV that doesn't fit elsewhere
FAS
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First Impressions on the demo

Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:38 pm

I just wanted to give my first impressions on the demo. First, I want to say that I played Caesar II (a little bit), Caesar III (a lot), Pharaoh (a lot), Zeus (a little bit), Emperor (a little bit) and the demo of Children of the Nile. For me, the best of all these titles is, and by really far, Pharaoh. It's simply the best city-building game I've ever seen.

Now, concerning the demo. The first thing I want to say is... I HATE THE INTERFACE ! No, really, I don't like it. I'm happy that the bar on the right of the screen (I name it "Command bar") looks like the one in Caesar III/Pharaoh, but for the rest, I really don't like it. I'll explain :

The interfae is, I think, "poor". It's not nice to look at. Excluding the command bar, it's only a colored background with a thin border. First, I don't like this colored background. Next, I really hate the fact that, like in CotN, the text in white on a dark background. This is, I think, a really bad idea. The game is way less atractive, the text less easy to read, and it simply looks bad!
Continuing with the interface, I don't like the "advisors" panel. It also looks "draft" : the semi-transparent dark background just doesn't look right, and one more time, the text is less easy to read than it would be with a black text on a light background. And concerning the button on the right, they also have this "standard look", they don't have any icon like in Caesar III/Pharaoh, they are not appealing, and without icons it's slower to find the right advisor.
Last thing about the interface : where is the right-click ?? The idea of a left-click on the buildings and people to show information is strange, but what I don't like, is the fact that this information appears only in the tiny space on the command bar, and not on a window like in Caesar III/Pharaoh. This space is too small, a window would have been MUCH better.

That's it for the interface. Now, the gameplay :

I don't like - I know, there is a lot of things I don't like :D - so I don't like very much the "house types" like in Emperor (pleb, equites). I prefere to have a single type, like in Caesar III/Pharaoh, but this is not really disturbing, I can live with it. But I don't know if I can live with the fact that you can't "Click and drag" the houses ! That's really disturbing for a Caesar III player ! It takes a lot more time to build houses. And the fact that you actually build HOUSES, like in Caesar II, I don't like it either. I prefer to build places where people build their tent, and then upgrade it to a more descent house, etc...

Finally, I don't like the fact that you can't "click and drag" gardens, that the plazas are not easy to build (you have to click exactly on the road, and since the road is 3 or 4 tiles large, is not as easy as in Caesar III).

So, now the good points : the economy seems pretty much like Caesar III/Pharaoh, and I like it (yeah, really, I can like something ! :D ). The "overlays" are usefull, the diagonal streets are a little bit strange, but that's ok :D

I like the music, even if sometimes it doesn't feel really "roman" (I think the romans didn't have violins, did they ?)


To summarize, I'm a little bit disapointed with this game... I know that this points probably aren't going to change by the release, even if all the community agreed with me, but I just wanted to say what I thought. Maybe this post will be seen by developpers, and maybe for the next game we'll see improvements (in the UI, pleaaaase).

(please note that this is only my FIRST impressions after 30mn of demo)


PS: Please excuse me for the english mistakes I surely have made, I'm still learning :D

Pat D.
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Postby Pat D. » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:46 pm

My first impressions? So far, so good...very robust economy...I'm just starting so not much more to say at this point...but one thing I did notice...WOW..what a system hog! Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing but holy moly! The Lag is Stronghold 2-like!!! Still, hog or not, damn nice graphics and seems to be a fine blend of C3 and CotN, which me likey!!!!

So, so far, so good!!!

later,
pat!

Sanantone
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Postby Sanantone » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:54 pm

Quote:
I like the music, even if sometimes it doesn't feel really "roman" (I think the romans didn't have violins, did they ?)
Unquote

LOL didn't Nero fiddle while Rome burned :D
thanks for the review, when I finally get it to work I'll have a gander.

dorn
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The Hammer

Postby dorn » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:57 pm

This is kinda what i expected it to be: solid, good to handle, just a CBer.

THIS is CAESAR IV!!!!! :D

I am playing. I cannot believe it, the rebirth of something so fantastic, with a predecessor being 8 years old.
I think its amazing to play that game, for which i waited sooooooooooooooooooooooooo long. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

The gameplay is a bit different from C3, but its easy to learn those little things, nice to look at the people doing their daily work, the cute graphics and the convincing economy.

I am just so overwhelmed to say anything detailed, i guess will have time in the next days, cos its just so cool to play C4, absolutely unbelievable. :D

FAS
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Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:03 pm

It seems that some people have a totally different opinion. Well, I expected it, maybe I'm a little bit too much attached to Caesar III and Pharaoh :D

But at this time, I don't plan to buy it anymore, I will stay a while on Caesar III and Pharaoh ;) (but I'm happy that other people like it, Titled Mill seems to have done a great job ;) )

Gizza
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Postby Gizza » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:04 pm

@FAS. U sound like u were expecting C3 with 3D graphics. Everyone of your gripes almost was how this game is different to Caesar 3.

Its 4am here so i only mucked around with it, but the first thing i noticed that really bugs me is that the rotate doesnt rotate around a central point. If i have a house in the middle of the screen i expect that when i rotate that same house will still be in the centre of the screen, but it doesnt work this way, the pivot point seems to be below the centre of the screen.

The only other problem I have is the advisor screen takes quite some time to open (most likely something that will be optimised for release). Apart from that it seems pretty solid.

Just one thing tho, I noticed the fountain doesnt have a icon for whether it requires plebs or equites, does this mean it can take either? And the wood cutter and furntiture has a yellow pleb icon, whats this mean?

Ill play it much more after some sleep and will post back.

anandus
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Postby anandus » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:09 pm

I haven't played the demo yet, still downloading, but I'd like to make some comments already:
FAS wrote:[...]
Last thing about the interface : where is the right-click ?? The idea of a left-click on the buildings and people to show information is strange, but what I don't like, is the fact that this information appears only in the tiny space on the command bar, and not on a window like in Caesar III/Pharaoh. This space is too small, a window would have been MUCH better.
Oh, that's a true shame :(
But I don't know if I can live with the fact that you can't "Click and drag" the houses ! That's really disturbing for a Caesar III player ! It takes a lot more time to build houses.
That sounds very RSI-intensive, what's wrong with clicking & dragging? Why didn't they go for that?
And the fact that you actually build HOUSES, like in Caesar II, I don't like it either. I prefer to build places where people build their tent, and then upgrade it to a more descent house, etc...
:eek:
You don't designate a place? Why? That's about the best bit of this whole game :P
I wonder what the design-reason was to leave that out and opt for houses?
Finally, I don't like the fact that you can't "click and drag" gardens, that the plazas are not easy to build (you have to click exactly on the road, and since the road is 3 or 4 tiles large, is not as easy as in Caesar III).
That's a shame as well. Apparently it's harder to design click&drag when it's a 3D-engine or something?
So, now the good points : the economy seems pretty much like Caesar III/Pharaoh, and I like it (yeah, really, I can like something ! :D ). The "overlays" are usefull, the diagonal streets are a little bit strange, but that's ok :D
Nice, can't wait for that! :D

I'll post my opinion of the game as wel as soon as it's in.. damnit... can't wait :p

(Edit: Oh, and Caesar IV should actually be Pharaoh II, but maybe they'll go for Pharaoh II after Caesar IV, hehehehe :D )

FAS
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Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:12 pm

To be really honest, I was expecting a Pharaoh in 3D with some Emperor and Zeus ideas :D

I don't like the evolution of the CityBuilder serie since Zeus, but I know that it's only a personal feeling ;)

For the advisors screen, I didn't say it wasn't solid, it seems to be pretty much like Caesar III and Pharaoh, but it's simply not good looking (the 3D people in the background are a waste of ressources) and difficult to read, due to this "white text on dark background", and to the font (which I also don't like, to add one more thing :D )

Will Jennings
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Postby Will Jennings » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:16 pm

Gizza wrote:Just one thing tho, I noticed the fountain doesnt have a icon for whether it requires plebs or equites, does this mean it can take either?


Fountains are staffed by equites.

And the wood cutter and furntiture has a yellow pleb icon, whats this mean?


The yellow icon means that a workplace is partly, but not fully, staffed.

Thanks, y'all, for the kudos and constructive criticism so far!

JuliaSet
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Postby JuliaSet » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:19 pm

Are there options and settings in the demo game? I have not downloaded it yet.

FAS
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Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:21 pm

In fact, if I was asked what I would want to be changed to buy the game, I would answer 2 things :

1. The points that anandus quoted from my post

2. Make the interface skinnable ! :D I suppose that some people like the new one, so simply give the ability to change it to the players who want it ;)

That's it for the moment, for the rest, I must play more to say ;)

EDIT : JuliaSet >> Yes, you have Video, Audio and Interface options in the demo.

Pat D.
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Postby Pat D. » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:21 pm

Julia..yep a ton of them!! The options are quite extensive...

pat!

Mr. J
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Postby Mr. J » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:22 pm

Yeah, you can change the camera settings to see the sky and a ton of graphics settings.

This demo has me sold so far. :)

FAS
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Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:26 pm

I just looked a little bit into the game installation folder, and it seems that all the interface files are just there (not in a special "archive" format, impossible to edit), so maybe I can hope to modify this interface ;)

EDIT : Hey, there is a Data\Scripts folder with a C# source code file in it ! Seems like Caesar IV is scriptable ?

...And also some source code into the Scenario folder... Is this a mistake ? Will it remains so "Open Source" ?

Christian IV
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That's it?

Postby Christian IV » Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:31 pm

Okay. My impression so far.

Downloaded the demo and played it. First comment: It's too short! Only one mission. That's it. :(

Positive:

It looks good. Nice graphics. It has a bit of the same feel from Emperor over it, which I like a lot. And the sounds and music is good as well.

The economy seems to work as in the "old days" (C3, Pharaoh, Zeus, Emperor) with raw materials, workshops/factories and warehouses. But one thing HAS been taken from COTN - and thank you VERY MUCH for that TM! - people do their own shopping themselves now. They don't sit around at home and wait for the infamous market ladies to pass by with their goods.

Well, that's more or less that because:

Negative:

As stated above, the demo is way too short. You hardly have the time to get caught - really caught - before the first and only mission is already completed. :(

But one thing, I HAD ample time to notice: My God, I do miss my full close up zoom from COTN. :eek: I can't get close enough to my little people. :(

Another thing, mentioned by others too, is the loooong load time, when changing between advisory and city screens. Especially as you need to go to the advisory screen to get many of the informations you need to check out how things are going. Where are the short pieces of info from Zeus etc. telling you many workers you have, when having the industry menu selected, or how many people your current food stocks can feed, when having the farming menu selected? I miss that. Easy access to important information.

-----

Performance:

With all settings maxed, things (scrolling around, changing angle, zooming) were going a little slowly (my stats: AMD 64 3000+, 6600GT 128 MB, 1 GB RAM) but going just one step down from best graphics towards best performance removed such problems. Later, I will of course mess a little more around with custom settings, to see what does it for me.

-----

Will I buy the game?

I think so. But perhaps I will spend a little time here first checking out peoples reactions when it comes. Because I really feel the demo was a bit too short to really get the taste of the game. And there's the different issues, I mention above. The unability to enjoy full zoom really disappointed me after having gotten so used to it and so fond of it, while playing COTN. Full zoom is to me just as important an aspect of 3D as is the abililty to rotate freely in all dimensions.

Now shoot me. :p
Last edited by Christian IV on Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

FAS
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Postby FAS » Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:51 pm

You can unlock the camera in the "Interface" options ;)

Keith
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Postby Keith » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:35 pm

I can see why they tell you to have 2GB of free space. The demo installer unwraps a ton of files from the CAB file. For a while there I thought I was stuck during the install because the progress meter stoppe around 10% and sat the for the longest time.

I've played the demo.

My Radeon 9800 Pro w/128MB is having a hard time with the game on the highest settings. Scrolling is laggy and the mouse clicks don't respond well. I backed off a bit and it still seemed to be laggy.

I see we still have the double mouse click problem that we had in CotN. You have to click several times for the mouse click to register sometimes making it hard to get things done in a timely manner.

The laying down of roads are a bit "iffy". They don't always place when I release the mouse button. They also have a tendency to "fishtail" on the ends and I end up with a crooked bit on the end of roads sometimes.

How do you empty a warehouse? There doesn't seem to be a command allowing you to transfer goods from one to another.

On the video settings menu when I hover over the Best Graphic button the text that appears on the screen starts out of frame and ends out of frame. I other words the first words are off the screen on the left and the last part of the text is off the screen on the right. I'm running in 1024x768 mode.

Why-oh-why did you change the way the zoom and rotate the view works?

It was so much better in CotN? All one had to do in CotN to rotate the map was to click the mouse scroll wheel and drag the mouse in the direction you wanted the map to rotate. You could zoom in by scrolling the wheel at the same time. Now we have got a clunky two-button function, the wheel still zooms, but you have to use the right mouse button to click and drag the map to rotate it. This is much less comfortable and convenient than the way it was handled in CotN.

The skinny columns in each category on the ratings menu look kind of "cheesey." You should have stuck with the nice columns that were used on the Caesar III ratings menu. Just my personal opinion.

I found the menu of choices when I click on something like the Market button gets in the way of what I want see. Couldn't this list of options have been made to open over the toolbar itself?

That tips panel is kind of annoying. After the first few tips I gave up reading it and forged ahead on my own only to be interrrupted by the panel spawning yet another unsolicited tip. It needs a manual "close" button that kills it altogether.

It's hard to tell when water is actually flowing in the aqueducts and reservoirs. I had to zoom in to be sure even then it was hard to tell until you see a reflection of light from the surface.

It's also hard to get the aqueduct hooked up to the reservoir at times when you are zoomed out. I ended up with the two slightly offset most of the time and had to UNDO. I also had problems tracing out my aqueducts at certain points. I'd get gaps in them and have to go back and fill them in or if I stopped and then tried to turn in a new direction I would sometimes endup with a useless aqueduct spur pointing in the the wrong direction which I had to remove or UNDO.

Why don't aqueducts go over small trees? Seems silly to have to trace around a patch of shrub size trees.

I miss the street-level zoom of CotN.

I miss the scroll-wheel rotate function when a bulding placement ghost is selected.

I miss the little red facing arrow in the click and drag facing function.

The graphics were very nice, but to run them on the highest settings you better have a highend graphics card with plenty of RAM.

I liked the music, but didn't have a lot of time to pay attention to it because I was busy dealing with menus in the way, tips popping up, and trying to figure what was going on.

I managed to complete the demo mission but my city wasn't very pretty looking. I know I'll get better as I play it more.

The demo installed smoothly enough and ran well enough on my system (P4 3Ghz) with no major crashes or problems. I made sure to purge my temp folder before the install.

The clear land removal tool doesn't seem to quite as precise as I would like it. It just doesn't feel right to me. It seems like the one CCR has where things are a bit offset from where you would expect the active end of the tool to be. It seems like the tool has be placed well over or slightly past the item for it to work. The red indicator color seems to be laggy in appearing too when I click on the item with the tool to confirm the delete.

I'm running ATI Catalyst 6.6 drivers from May 2006.

I let the demo installer update my DirectX 9.0c version and that went without problems.
Last edited by Keith on Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

anandus
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Postby anandus » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:39 pm

Okay, I've played my first game! :)
I played on the one graphic setting under the highest. 1280x1024, 2xAA.
My specs: P4 3,0Ghz, 1Gb Ram, 6800 Ultra 128Mb.

The Plus:

* The feel.
It has a very good feel to it. When you've build a little town it really starts to feel a bit alive. It really retains the Caesar-feeling! I must congratulate you on that.

* Graphics.
I like the graphics, a mix between cartoonish and realistic. Although, for some reason (maybe a different CB-game), but I felt the colour olive underrepresented. But maybe that's just me, maybe it's because there so much brick-brown. Dunno.
Nice animations, and the farms are nicely done too. I also like the water and the environment.

* Economics.
The economic engine is very good indeed. The Caesar economic model (which I love) has been kept, but for the villagers it's much more pro-active. Good call.

* Freedom.
I loved the freedom in 3D mode. The 45 degree angles, the fact that you can space buildings a bit is very nice.

The Bad (mind you, I'm a real critic, so don't feel offended :p ):

Where shall I start?

* The feel.
The game lags. Big style. I've done some beta-testing for a few games and it feels like it's a bit beta-ish. It feel's like the graphic engine isn't properly tweaked, some debug code is left or there's something else lagging. Maybe it's the mouse-sensitivity.
I've really had a hard time pressing buttons and placing objects. I really needed to press hard and for a second at least 'til my click got 'registered'.
Also rotation is slow, which makes it a pain.
Switching from screen to screen (e.g. from city to advisors) also takes quite a while.

* The graphics.
As people pointed out it's al a bit bland. Maybe because it's because the demo is mainly industry and pleb-homes. Maybe beacuse rome wás dirty ;) . But a bit of brighter colours or slightly lighter textures for some buildings can fix it. It could also be livened up a bit with some wildlife of birds. Also a few more citizens on the streets (though not too much) could also liven it up.
It's a shame you can't zoom in up close. I'd love to have a 'shoulder-cam' or a 'walkabout-mode' or something to really get into the city.
The game is also very foggy (lots of it), I also think the fog is too strong. When you play relatively zoomed out, you can barely see the roads or buildings. (maybe it's a particle setting I've set high in the settings?).
One thing that I really, really miss are the desirability-showing roads. Especially in Emperor I liked them. Just the simple fact that the roads are dirtroads near industry, partial stone roads near plebs and fully paved roads near high desirability areas. It also feels like cheating that I can plaza everything from factories to pleb-homes.
I was also missing filling-things. Like instant bushes, flowers or grassfields to fill the gaps between the buildings, the roads, etc.

* Gameplay.
Not that much actually, the game itself is very solid and consistent. Although I felt I lacked information. The corner-right infoscreen is a good find it doesn't clutter the screen, but I felt I was urging for some sort of 'more info' button.
Also I felt the list of buildings in the way when I wanted to place something. Especially with the beautification a large part of the screen is unuseable.

* Controls.
The rotating of the camera didn't feel natural, but maybe that's the lag. Also cancelling with the right mouse-button sometimes shifted my camera.
And also on cancelling: I'd wish Esc would also cancel a screen or building. No I get the option-menu everytime. But maybe I can change that in some hotkey or control setting I didn't see.

That's about it I think :)
Would I buy the game? Yeah I think so, after a few minor changes like the lag. The lag MUST go.

But I DO love the game already, I was surprised how it managed to get that Caesar/Pharao/Emperor-feeling. It also lookes quite good.
Oh, and the demo was too short, can't wait until the 26th of sept :cool:
Last edited by anandus on Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:44 pm

You can adjust the fog plane in the settings menu. Set it for MAX for little or not fog, but the game could get very laggy on less powerful machines and graphics cards if you do.

anandus
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Postby anandus » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:46 pm

Keith wrote:You can adjust the fog plane in the settings menu. Set it for MAX for little or not fog, but the game could get very laggy on less powerful machines and graphics cards if you do.
I tried that but it didn't work. If I'd turn fog down, my view also was less, or it seemed. (the fog-slider is the one on the top, right?).
And apart from the lag (I also varied the scroll-rate), the performance is fine, actually. It's just the responsiveness of the game is very slow.


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