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Civilization III - Conquests Developer Update: Mesopotamia

Design Diary - Mesopotamia


By Charlie Kibler, BreakAway Games
and Michael Fetterman, Firaxis Games

Sid Meier's Civilization III: Conquests, Firaxis' second expansion pack for the mega-hit Civilization III, features nine professionally-designed scenarios that introduce concepts never before seen in any Civilization title. The third designer diary in this series provides a glimpse at the design process and decisions made during the development of the Mesopotamian Conquest. Mesopotamia was designed by Charlie Kibler of Breakaway Games.


In the Beginning...
The original Mesopotamia scenario, as conceived and actually committed to scenario format, was quite different in form and texture when compared with the version that will appear in Civilization III: Conquests. It was to debut Civ-Conquests' new "Wonder Victory" condition and act as a showcase for the Sumerian and Hittite civilizations. The map was even larger, the scenario featured a few more civs, and its tech tree was very similar to the one used in the default "random" game. So, what happened?

New Resource: Oasis
New Resource: Stone

More is Not Always Better...
As mentioned previously, the initial layout of this scenario was very different from the final product. Notably, it originally had an even larger map that extended all the way to the western shores of present-day India, including the fertile Indus River valley. The original plan was to also include the ancient civilization of Harappa in the Indus valley, as well as the Aryans (a non-playable civ) rooted in the mountains to the north. However, it soon became apparent that these two civs were just far too isolated from the other Mesopotamian and eastern-Mediterranean-based civilizations. As I was unable to come up with a suitable civilization to breach the gap between the Harappans and their Mesopotamian brethren, the Harappans and Aryans were both cut, and the map was significantly reduced. As can be seen in the thumbnail below, the final map for this Conquest stretches from western Greece to the Persian Gulf, and the Black Sea southward to the Lower Nile.

Mausoleum of Mausollos
Temple of Artemis

Honing the Weapons
Originally, there was little change in the values of the ancient units appearing in this Conquest, nor were there any units present not encountered in the normal "random" game. To make things more interesting and different from the standard game, however, the attack and defense (and even some movement) factors of the combat units were massaged quite a bit. The goal was to "beef up" the units' attributes while still retaining each unit's overall purpose. Thus, the basic Warrior of Mesopotamia is a 2/1/1, the Spearman is 2/3/1, and the Egyptian War Chariot is now 3/1/2. Additionally, in the earliest version of this scenario I also experimented by doubling the movement rate of most units to better traverse the more expansive map (remember, the map used to be bigger?), but I soon decided that this modification was a bad idea, since all units had essentially become "fast units" enabling them to retreat from combat. We reverted these movement attributes back to values of 1's and 2's. Finally - two all-new, powerful, end-game units were added: the (5/4/1) "Companion Infantry" and the (5/2/2) "Ancient Cavalry", which are two of the most expensive units in the game at a cost of "50" production points.


A Wonderful World
Without doubt, the biggest departure that Mesopotamia takes from the standard game is its "Tech Tree" - which has been completely customized to better simulate the rise of civilizations from the early "Bronze Age" to the "Age of Empires" (i.e., about 200 BC). Techs encountered in the standard game's "Ancient Age" are now spread over three ages (Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Age of Empires) - and a lot of all-new techs have been thrown in to liven things up. For instance, the player will soon discover that his people do not yet have the knowledge to irrigate or build mines. While most civilizations are able to do one or the other, no one civ will begin with the ability to do both. "Road Making" is the only worker-action that all civs have from the "get go".

Epic Work Projects

Throughout their journey along the Mesopotamian Tech Tree, players should concentrate on quickly mastering technologies that allow access to building the Great Wonders - as this scenario can suddenly end the moment the last of the seven Great Wonders of the Ancient World has been built. The victory points scored for completing each wonder has been greatly increased, further emphasizing the prestige and importance of these impressive, man-made structures during ancient times.

7 Wonders of the World

And the Winner Is...
Weighing in at a relatively light 160 turns, most civ fans should find that Mesopotamia is not only relatively quick to play, but is also a completely unique and challenging departure from the standard game. With seven featured civilizations (Babylon, Egypt, the Hittites, Mycenae, the Medes, Phoenicia, and Sumeria), it also makes an excellent choice for a multi-player contest.

- Charlie Kibler

Click here for the Middle Ages Design Diary.

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