Children of the Nile
(Version of November 10th, 2004)
This document offers answers to frequently asked questions about Tilted Mill's new release, "Children of the Nile" (CotN). As of writing the present version of this FAQ, the game has just hit the shelves, and there are many questions from players that do not know the game, but would like to learn more about it. The purpose of this FAQ is to give you an overview of the game, its features and its gameplay options. This is an unofficial document and does not necessarily reflect Tilted Mill's opinions; all information within is subject to change, and there is no guarantee that all answers are accurate. Please do not distribute the document without permission. No one would benefit from different, outdated versions of a resource that is meant to be useful. For suggestions, corrections, or questions, please leave a message at the official forum at http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/ or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is likely that there will be several revisions of this FAQ.sp check back frequently. Until then, I hope it provides useful insights to one of the most interesting games in recent years.
A revision history can be found at the bottom of the document.
- What is Children of the Nile?
- What is Immortal Cities?
- When will Children of the Nile be released?
- Who developed Children of the Nile?
- Who publishes and distributes Children of the Nile?
- Where can I download a demo version?
- Will there be a Macintosh or a Linux version?
- Was there a pre-order bonus for Children of the Nile?
- How much does it cost?
- What does the game's box look like?
- Is there a printed manual included?
- Are there fan sites for Children of the Nile?
- Is there a fan kit for Children of the Nile?
- What are "Luminaries"?
- Where can I download CotN wallpapers for my desktop?
- Does Children of the Nile come with an editor?
- Can I create only scenarios or even campaigns?
- Can I download additional scenarios?
- Is there a sandbox mode?
- Is there a random map generator?
- What engine does Children of the Nile use?
- Is Children of the Nile "modable"?
- Does CotN have a day/night cycle?
- Are there weather effects in the game?
- Is there a multiplayer mode?
- Does the game have a tutorial?
- What screen resolutions are supported?
- What is my role in Children of the Nile?
- Can my Pharaoh die? What happens if he does?
- These virtual people, are they like The Sims?
- So, I don't have to pamper my citizens?
- You mentioned families. Are there children?
- Are there many different professions?
- How do the citizens choose their profession?
- I read that people have "needs". What are they?
- How do people satisfy their needs?
- What happens if needs are not satisfied?
- How do people get money in the game?
- How do people get bread and other food?
- What happens if someone doesn't have bread?
- How are trade routes established?
- If there is no money, is building free?
- Does it matter where I build something?
- Do I have to connect everything with roads?
- Does it take long to erect monuments?
- What kind of monuments can I build?
- Do monuments make my people happier?
- What is the significance of prestige?
- How does one obtain prestige?
- Are there gods in Children of the Nile?
- What role do the gods play?
- Can you tell me more about the military?
- What kind of computer do I need for CotN?
- What is meant by a "DirectX 9-compliant 32 MB video card"?
- Can you give me a list of video cards that are supported?
- Uh, how can I tell what video card I have?
- What are the best drivers for my video card?
- Can I run the game on a LCD display?
- What screen resolutions are supported?
- Which copy protection system does CotN use?
- Should I prepare my computer by updating drivers?
- I need technical help. Who can I contact?
- Web Forums (official and unofficial)
- Fan Sites (English and German)
- Media (music, videos, screenshots, fan kit)
- Miscellaneous (designer notes, interviews, previews)
Q: What is Children of the Nile?
A: Children of the Nile (CotN) is a strategy game. This is pretty broad, though, and could mean just about everything from a puzzle to a real-time war game. So, let's take a closer look! CotN is a city-builder in the rich tradition of such legendary titles as Caesar 3, Pharaoh and Zeus, but also SimCity and similar games. Unlike these games, however, CotN is far more focused on the actual citizens in the player's realm: the society. This doesn't mean that it is a game like The Sims, though, and you won't actually have to micromanage the every day life of your virtual people. This innovative twist to the city building genre will be discussed in more detail later in this FAQ (in the Gameplay section). If you liked any of the aforementioned games, you are very likely to love Children of the Nile. And if you have never built a vibrant city inside your computer, Children of the Nile will gently introduce you to this exciting type of video game.
Q: What is Immortal Cities?
A: The full name of the game is "Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile". Some players are thrown off by this when they look for the game, but can't find it listed in the "C" section of a catalogue or an index. While this is only a guess at this time, it seems likely that Tilted Mill plans to release more games in the "Immortal Cities" series that are set in different epochs of humankind's history.
Q: When will Children of the Nile be released?
A: Children of the Nile was released in North-America on November 8th, 2004. The European release was a little delayed but finally hit the shelves in early spring of 2005. The game is of course still available all over the world.
Q: Who developed Children of the Nile?
A: Children of the Nile is developed by Tilted Mill Entertainment. If you have never heard of this studio, don't worry about it! Granted, this is the first game developed by Tilted Mill, but the people on the team are far from unknown or new. In fact, a large number of them are former members of Impressions Games. Sound familiar? Yes! This was the very studio that brought you classic city-builders like Caesar 3, Pharaoh and Zeus. This is also why the press (and certainly many gamers) think of Children of the Nile as a 3D version of the popular Pharaoh title. This is only true insofar that Children of the Nile is the spiritual successor of the city-builders of old, but the concept is entirely new. As the designers put it, CotN is what city-builders always should have been.
Q: Who publishes and distributes Children of the Nile?
A: In North-America (United States and Canada), Children of the Nile is distributed by Myelin Media. The European publisher is SEGA. Distributors for Australia, Asia and Africa are not yet known.
Q: Where can I download a demo of the game?
A: The demo can be found at: http://www.immortalcities.com/cotn/downloads/demo.php
Q: Will there be a Macintosh or Linux version?
A: No, there are no plans to port the game to the Macintosh or Linux platforms at this point in time. Children of the Nile will run on most MS Windows (98SE through XP). Note that Windows 98FE is not supported.
Q: Was there a pre-order bonus for Children of the Nile?
A: Yes, there was. Players who pre-ordered the game received a bonus CD with ten strategy guide videos, the music archive in MP3 format, calendar wallpapers for 2005, and concept artwork. The videos are especially cool: While you watch in-game footage, you can hear the designers talk about the game and its unique concept! More information can be found here: http://www.immortalcities.com/cotn/preorder.php.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: This depends on where you order Children of the Nile, but most large game dealers ask 39,99 US dollars. The price in Europe will be about 40 Euro. Check some stores for good prices. If you are European and want to support the game and help to get it on the shelves, consider pre-ordering it.
Q: What does the game's box look like?
A: Here is a photo of the CotN box including the pre-order bonus CD: http://www.similarities.org/images/cotnbox.jpg. The European packaging will most likely differ, but I don't have any photos or further information.
Q: Is there a printed manual included?
A: Good news! Yes, a printed manual is included. While it is smaller than the 300 pages compendiums of the old days, it does contain everything you need to know to get started. For those players who prefer an electronic manual, there is also be an identical PDF version included. Children of the Nile features a sophisticated, context-sensitive, hypertext online help system that allows players to look up relevant information and tips in every situation. If you've played Civilization III and liked its help system, CotN's online help will not disappoint you.
Q: Are there fan sites for Children of the Nile?
A: Yes, there are quite a few, even international ones. Please scroll down to the "Resources" section of this document. You can find a list there. Tilted Mill is supportive of player-run sites and encourages enthusiastic fans to create pages and sites dedicated to Children of the Nile and the Immortal Cities Series.
Q: Is there a fan kit for Children of the Nile?
A: Yes, there is a fan kit for players who would like to create a fan site for Children of the Nile. The 3.25 MB small package can be downloaded at http://www.immortalcities.com/cotn/downloads/fansitekit.php. It contains logos, screenshots, animations and assorted information.
Q: What are "Luminaries"?
A: Luminaries are a small group of volunteers who were chosen by Tilted Mill to work closely with the development team and the community. They are sort of "go betweens" and frequently "release" bits and pieces of new information to players. If you have questions about the game, they make excellent contacts. There's an official page with a description of the Luminaries and their tasks: http://www.immortalcities.com/cotn/luminaries/about.php. Here's a list of the current Luminaries: Afterburner, Angelisis, Bugsy, Caesar Alan, Cironir, Dgsavoie, Dsmith, EmperorJay, GillB, Granite Q, Ineti, Jaguar, Jayhawk, Keith, Koppi, Miut, Pecunia, Tobing, Triggercut, Vovan. These are their names on the official TM boards (http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/) where you can contact them via the private messaging system.
Q: Can I download CotN wallpapers for my desktop?
A: Yes, there are various wallpapers available in different sizes. Check out the collection at http://www.immortalcities.com/cotn/downloads/wallpaper.php.
Q: Does Children of the Nile come with an editor?
A: Yes, the game will ship with a fully featured editor.
Q: Can I create only scenarios or even campaigns?
A: Yes to both. It's been confirmed that the editor will be suited for making stand-alone scenarios as well as entire campaigns.
Q: Can I download additional scenarios?
A: It is very likely, almost certain, that many fan sites will offer player-made scenarios for download. Heavengames.com, for instance, has done this for previous city-building games, so this is definitely a good place to start your search at. Please take a look at the "Resources" section of this FAQ for more fan sites.
Q: Is there a sandbox mode?
A: Kind of. That wasn't very helpful, was it? Okay, to be more accurate, there are so-called "sandbox scenarios". These are maps that are not goal-oriented. You can build your city as you see fit, without the game expecting you to meet specific aims in order to win the scenario. There will still be random events such as exceptional and poor floods, but no scripted events. For all practical purposes, these scenarios work exactly like the sandbox in many other games.
Q: Is there a random map generator?
A: Unfortunately no, there is no random map generator. This actually isn't as bad as it may sound, since the above mentioned sandbox scenarios offer quite a bit freedom. Maps in Children of the Nile are actually fairly large, so there are numerous ways to "populate" a map.
Q: What engine does Children of the Nile use?
A: CotN uses the Empire Earth engine, though it has been heavily modified and enhanced by Tilted Mill. It's important to note that this does not mean that CotN resembles Empire Earth in any way or shape -- it does not. It is an entirely different game.
Q: Is Children of the Nile "modable"?
A: This is another "kind of" answer. When asked about this topic, Jeff Fiske, CotN's Design Director, said: "With a little creativity, 'moding' the game will not be too difficult, either." This pretty much means "yes", but no details are available yet, the game is still new. Check the official forums and the fan sites for more information.
Q: Does CotN have a day/night cycle?
A: Yes, it does, and the time of the day actually has an effect on the behaviour of your inhabitants of your city: they go home during night, and they come back out of their houses in the morning. At least they do this most of the time and when it "makes sense". If your jeweler's child is on his way to a far-away location of quartz, he will not turn around and go home when it gets dark; otherwise he'd never make it to his destination. Graphically, the day/night cycle is beautifully implemented, with realistic lightning, shadows and colours. Dawn and sunset are especially impressive.
Q: Are there weather effects in the game?
A: No, in the "vanilla" game there won't be weather effects. Well, that's not entirely true! If you're unlucky (or just neglected something!), you might experience an entirely too "good" flood that drowns half your city. But there is no rain or wind, at least not in the initial release.
Q: Is there a multiplayer mode?
A: No, and there are no plans to add one. Children of the Nile is a pure single-player game. That doesn't mean that there isn't a community, though. Check out the fan sites (listed in the Resource section of this FAQ) and the official forum at http://www.tiltedmill.com/forums/ -- these are great places to meet other CotN fans and discuss the game.
Q: Does the game have a tutorial?
A: Children of the Nile comes with a dedicated tutorial campaign that covers everything from the very basics of society building right up to advanced methods of design and management of a complex, magnificent city worthy of a Pharaoh. My estimate is that finishing the entire tutorial will take you a few hours.
Q: What screen resolutions are supported?
A: The game supports just about any resolution that you could ever want. Specific resolutions for LCD monitors and notebooks are also available. The minimum resolution is 800x600. The setting menu will only display resolutions that can be handled by your monitor, so that the hardware won't get damaged by overly adventurous players.
Q: What is my role in Children of the Nile?
A: This is a loaded question! The short answer is: You're the Pharaoh! Now, this means everything and nothing, so let me try to explain this in more detail. As has been mentioned in various places (including this FAQ), the inhabitants of a city in CotN are individuals, not just numbers. They not only have individual names, but also individual minds. Similar types of NPCs (Non Player Characters) do behave similarly, but there are also plenty of differences that depend on individual circumstances. We'll talk more about people further down in this document. For now let's just remember that they are individuals. You, the Pharaoh's current incarnation, only have indirect control over them. Your chief tasks are to allocate land to specific purposes (for instance: areas for farm houses, shops, etcetera), give orders for the construction of non-trivial buildings and structures, manage the "global" trade, instruct the military, and sometimes issue edicts. Sound simple? The tasks by themselves are easy indeed, and there is no tedious micromanagement involved, but maintaining balance, building the "right" structures, and generally making wise decisions is not quite as easy. In fact, the game's depth is incredible and will challenge the strategic (and creative) portion of your mind in refreshingly new ways.
Q: Can my Pharaoh die? What happens if he does?
A: Yes, a Pharaoh only lives for a limited period of time. The game isn't over then, though. You'll keep playing as the Pharaoh's offspring. One thing you should not neglect during a Pharaoh's life time is the funeral preparation. If a Pharaoh deceases without there being a suited burial place for him, the royal family will not be thrilled.
Q: These virtual people, are they like The Sims?
A: No, fortunately not! They don't need to be told when to pee, for one. In fact, they don't need to be told anything, and even if you wanted, you couldn't control individual citizens of your city (but you can follow them around!), except in very specific cases. Your influence on the population is almost always indirect. If you think about it, this is much like how things work in "real life". The government doesn't usually tell you what to exactly do, but "manipulates" every day life with regulations and decisions. Here's an example: Let's say your city council decides to build a swimming hall in your area. They make the decision, they provide the money for its construction, and they hire someone to build it. While all of this is done by the mayor and his people, and not by you, it still affects you indirectly: you now have a recreation building near you that you can visit whenever you like! There is also a negative impact: Since the city spent quite a bit of money on the swimming hall, their budget may be exhausted now and they can't build a kindergarten that might have been more important to other people. There are no swimming halls and kindergartens in Children of the Nile, but the principle is the same. Just like your home town's mayor doesn't control you directly, but still influences your life with his or her actions, you, the Pharaoh, determine the well-being or the misery of your virtual citizens by making decisions.
Q: So, I don't have to pamper my citizens?
A: That's right, you don't and you can't (there are very few exceptions to this rule). They have minds of their own, and they decide what to do, when to do it, and in some ways even how to do it. You can attach a camera to an individual citizen (they all have names, too) and follow her or him around, watch what they do, and even listen to them. They often talk, and it can pay off to listen to what they have to say. It is easy to see what citizens are doing, and whether or not they are happy. The worst that can happen is that a family moves away, because they have lost faith in your city and your rulership. (Okay, this isn't entirely true, the really worst is that you get kicked out for incompetence, but this isn't a frequent occurrence.)
Q: You mentioned families. Are there children?
A: Yes, there are husbands, wives and children, or in short: households. Each household lives in their own house, though not all have children (most do).
Q: Are there many different professions?
A: Yes. there is quite a number of professions that your citizens can have, ranging from farmer to overseer. It is also possible for a member of a specific profession to specialize further. For instance, a priest can choose between teaching, tending a temple, and a variety of other tasks. This is something you, the player and Pharaoh, can decide, though you can't "create" a priest directly. You have to "hope" that one wants to work in your city, build a home for him, and then you can tell him what you want him to do. Pretty much the same applies to overseers, scribes and military commanders.
Q: How do the citizens choose their profession?
A: When you start a new city, there will only be villagers. Once you've built some farm houses, a number of these villagers might decide to become farmers. You can't "make" them to want to become farmers, but chances are that they will not miss the opportunity to live a better life. Then later, when you decide to allocate some land for shops, some of your farmers may wish to climb the social ladder a bit further and move into the vacant shopkeeper houses. By the way, you can either allocate land for one specific type of store (for example, a pottery), or just leave this open, in which case a "random" family will claim the shop for themselves and start to produce goods of their own choosing.
Q: I read that people have "needs". What are they?
A: They have the same needs as people today. They need food, basic goods, medical care, a place to worship, security, sometimes luxury items, resources for their trade, and so on. Not all citizens have the same needs, however. This isn't so different from how things were in the classic city-builders. What is different, though, is how the citizens of your city get what they need. In fact, this is perhaps the most important aspect of the game, so let me put this in a separate question!
Q: How do people satisfy their needs?
A: This is perhaps the biggest, most significant difference between Children of the Nile and other city-building games you may have played in the past. In CotN, people go to places to get what they need! If you have never played one of the previous city-building games from Impressions Games, this will not seem unusual or noteworthy to you, because this is how the "real world" works, too. But you see, in those previous games, goods basically came to the people. The market sent out a "walker" who automatically supplied all invisible, anonymous people living in houses that the "walker" passed by. In CotN, there are shops that make and sell certain items, and the citizens walk there when they are looking for something. They will not only go to the nearest shop and then give up, but will try different ones on their quest for goods. There are other types of needs, too, such as wanting a place to worship, or the desire to live in a safe city. The former is satisfied by walking to a temple or a hospital, the latter is indirectly satisfied if the Pharaoh hires some city guards (or rules wisely so that there is very little crime plaguing the city).
Q: What happens if needs are not satisfied?
A: This isn't easy to answer. Obviously, people who do not get the item(s) or the service(s) they "need" won't be happy campers. But then again, how many real people do you know who are always satisfied? Probably few to none. It's the same with your virtual citizens. It is common that they can't get everything they want, so they might be a bit disgruntled, but that's not really the end of the world. It's more problematic if multiple needs are not satisfied over a period of time, or if the lack of a specific good/service becomes permanent. If a family becomes too dissatisfied, they might pack their stuff and leave your city. While this should make you think about how to improve your city, it's not a catastrophe. There are other people who might be happy to give your city a try. Still, the goal is to design and build a city with a low level of dissatisfaction. The goal isn't to prevent any dissatisfaction, which would be an unrealistic aim, but balance is crucial.
Q: How do people get money in the game?
A: There is no actual money. The virtual inhabitants of your ancient city trade food (more specific: bread and vegetables) for finished goods. They can also be eaten. It is not the only type of food that your citizens can consume, but it's the only bread and vegetables that can be used for trading. Foraged food (Dates/pomegranates/fish/fowl) can not be used in trade.
Q: How do people get bread and other food?
A: Everyone likes to eat fresh bread, but if there is none available, people will forage for food in the wilderness. They do this automatically, you don't have to instruct them to search or hunt for edible things. The downside is that if they are out foraging food, they aren't working. If they aren't working, they won't plant, harvest, make or sell goods, or provide services to other people. Bread is obtained in different ways. Some people, such as farmers, bake their own bread with their share of crops form the fields they tend. Nobles do the same, though they have personnel doing the baking for them. Shopkeepers can only get bread if they trade their finished goods for it. Lastly, there are government employees (people who work for you, the Pharaoh). They get their bread from state-owned bakeries.
Q: What happens if someone doesn't have bread?
A: If a household doesn't have bread, the family will grow dissatisfied. While a shortage of other goods or services only dissatisfy a person in one way, the effects of not having bread are more severe. Without bread, a household cannot trade for other goods, which will further increase the level of dissatisfaction. A lack of bread also lowers the productivity of a household, since the members of the family have to forage food so that they don't starve.
Q: How do craftsmen and shopkeeper get raw materials?
A: Most resources are located in different areas on a map. Craftsmen and shopkeepers requiring a raw material to produce finished goods will know where to find what they need. They, as well as their children, will quite literally walk to the source and gather clay, quartz, henna, kohl, and so on. If they have to travel a long way, they will produce fewer wares, which may put them at an economical disadvantage. There are some more valuable resources that need to be imported and be made available (via an exchange) to shopkeepers and craftsmen. Establishing trade routes, hiring personnel who operate the exchange, making sure there are docks, etcetera are all tasks for you, the Pharaoh.
Q: How are trade routes established?
A: Children of the Nile has two "modes": the city level and the world level. The world level is a strategical map where you can perform global actions such as sending an expedition to far away destinations. The world map is also where you set up trade routes with other cities or locations. In addition, you'll need to construct docks and drop-off spots in your city (on the city level).
Q: If there is no money, is building free?
A: Good observation, and a good question. The answer is a vague "depends". In essence, building is indeed free. That said, there are some types of buildings and structures that require raw materials. Small farm houses, roads, decorative items and other "low level" objects can just be placed, as often as you want (allocating land for fifty farm houses doesn't necessary mean that all of them will be built and inhabited, though!). Advanced buildings will require a number of bricks and need to be constructed by professionals (the bricklayers). Bricks are made by brickmakers who gather clay and then produce these useful building materials. In addition to the raw material requirement, there is also a time factor: the bricklayers have to move the bricks to the construction site, and then erect the building. This takes time. Monuments can't be built just with bricks -- for those you'll need different raw materials, such as limestone. Some of these luxury building materials can be quarried by your own workers, others need to be imported from foreign locations. In short, while you don't have to pay for any building or structure, you need to have the required materials and the infrastructure.
Q: Does it matter where I build something?
A: Yes, but in different ways than in the classic city-builders. In those games, a building had a "radius of effect", and if a household was outside of this radius, it was simply not supplied with goods or services. This is different in Children of the Nile, since the people will go to the needed facilities. While you have a lot more freedom when building your city, the locations of buildings is still not insignificant. If your potterer has to walk half a day to gather clay, the shop's productivity will be fairly low. Likewise, if your priest has to tend two temples, but they are a day's walk apart from each other, both temples will be closed to the public inefficiently often. So, while your people won't necessarily be without supply if they are a longer distance away from a source of a good or a service, making sure that the ways are short is quite important.
Q: Do I have to connect everything with roads?
A: No, roads or pathways are not required, but if you build them, your citizens will use them.
Q: Does it take long to erect monuments?
A: This depends on the type of the monument. A large pyramid will require a lot of effort on the government's end and won't be built in a day. A small obelisk can be completed much faster. Obelisks, for instance, can be built in memory of a great event (think "propaganda" here). If you manage to build an actually, truly "great pyramid", you'll feel like you really accomplished something! Don't expect it to be an easy or quick task, though.
Q: What kind of monuments can I build?
A: There is a large selection of available monuments that fall into three different categories: tombs, propaganda and statues. To give you a better idea: there are five different types of pyramids alone, three differently sized mastabas, a dozen of statues, various sizes of Sphinx statues, small and large obelisks, and a couple of steles. Impressive, neh? By the way, a "great pyramid" really is great! Even small ones seem fairly big.
Q: Do monuments make my people happier?
A: No, they dont directly affect satisfaction at all, except as a secondary effect of allowing more educated workers to provide more services to the populace.
Q: What is the significance of prestige?
A: Prestige is important. For instance, the number of educated workers/employees you can have dependings on your prestige. Not many elite class members will want to work for a meaningless Pharaoh. If you wish to employee a small army of priests, scribes, overseers or military commanders, you'll need to work on your prestige. If you want to build a large pyramid, but your reputation isn't high enough to employ the required number of overseers, you can't erect the pyramid. Prestige, by the way, decays over time.
Q: How does one obtain prestige?
A: Prestige is gained from monuments and remarkable achievements. The more elaborate your palace, the greater the magnificence of your pyramids, the higher your Pharaoh's prestige raises, and the more educated workers will offer you their service. Prestige is not a static matter, however. Your people's fascination with that beautiful obelisk in memory of your sweeping victory over an enemy will slowly wear off. They just get used to it, and the memory of the event slowly fades -- and so does the prestige you get from the obelisk. The decay isn't fast, and you won't have to constantly impress your population, but you also can't rest on yesterday's laurels (yes, I know that Pharaoh's did not wear laurel wreaths!).
Q: Are there gods in Children of the Nile?
A: There are no less than a whopping fourteen gods and goddesses in the game. When you build temples or shrines, you can dedicate the religious building to one of them -- or leave them unspecified. The following gods and goddesses are in CotN: Osiris, Isis, Horus, Ra, Hathor, Amun, Ptah, Thoth, Anubis, Bast, Sobek, Ma'at, Set, and Hapi.