Interviewer’s note: The answers provided have been edited for clarity.
Ancient Cities is an upcoming city builder created by Uncasual Games. Players begin the game by building a Neolithic-era village, discovering more technology, interacting with other cities through systems of diplomacy and trade, defending against raids and natural disasters, and more. It boasts several deep gameplay systems, including a fully simulated ecosystem and the simulation of various the attributes and knowledge of individual citizens, as well as a simulation of day/night cycles, seasons, and weather.
I recently had the chance to ask Uncasual Games several questions about the game via email. The questions that I asked and their answers are as follows.
Me: How many people are working on Ancient Cities? How long have you been working on it?
Uncasual Games: Ancient Cities was started a year ago by two people, a coder and an artist. Since then, we have brought on a new coder and a sound designer.
What inspired you to create Ancient Cities?
The project started as an opportunity. At some point, we realized that we have the knowledge, expertise, and basic funding to start it, not to mention the passion. We are also gamers, as well as history and strategy lovers. A game like Ancient Cities was a natural step for us. We also analyzed the market and realized that there was a gap that hadn’t been covered for years.
Our artist has always loved to visit ancient cities and archaeological sites around the world. He is obsessed with realism and fidelity in recreations.
To some extent, the recent archaeological destruction around the world, in the Iraq war, and last year in Syria pushed us towards this project. It is our little contribution to the conservation and respect of the people who lived thousands of years ago.
I see that every citizen will have simulated “attributes, experience, and knowledge,” but how much of that will the players have access to? Will we be able to see all of that by clicking on the citizen and pulling it up or will most of it remain hidden?
In the current design, the player can see them all as a way to understand why the citizen acts in some way or another, but they can’t change them. Some attributes are inherited from parents while others evolve over the course of the citizen’s life.
How does the game’s technology system work?
The game will feature a new technology system, but we don’t want to reveal it yet. While it is not complicated, it has been designed with the intention of emulating how technology spread around the world. Of course, it will not be a typical tech tree.
Will there be simulated NPC cities or will players mostly just have to build their cities and fend off attackers? I see that there is a “simulated world context” with “different factions,” but also that “in the first release, there will be combat in the form of raids.” Does this mean that there will be no NPC cities, but that the people of said cities will be simulated?
There will be other settlements or cities around the player, but they won’t be in the city map. These cities will provide world context to trade, warfare in the form of raids, migrations, diplomacy, and so on. The player can not go outside the city map, as this is a city builder, but can send representatives to the other cities.
What means are players given to keep from driving specific animals to extinction? Will there be a way to say “don’t hunt this specific animal?”
The city map has its limits, which are still to be decided, but those limits will not encompass the whole world. Wild animals will enter and leave the city map in the same way that citizens do. Wind will spread new seeds, too, so it is not possible to drive plants into extinction, but the player can reach the point where they will need more than the map can generate or refill. At this point, the answer will be in the outside world.
What kinds of natural disasters will be simulated in the initial release?
There will definitely be natural disasters, but which ones will be in the first release is still to be decided.
If you do introduce additional ages at some point, will they be paid DLC?
If all goes well, we plan to do free updates to the game, which will include new content like new wildlife, new buildings, etc. that are related to Neolithic age. New ages or world locations will be paid expansions. They will feel like a new whole game, and will even introduce new gameplay features, but will be installed over the same Ancient Cities platform when possible for the sake of continuity.
I see that you are currently considering a Kickstarter. Are there any preliminary details that you can share about it, should you decide to run a Kickstarter campaign, including potential funding goals, stretch goals, backer rewards, etc?
We are working on the Kickstarter, as new funding could allow us to grow into a full studio, which would help development and ensure the quality that we want to achieve, as well as help to ensure our release time frames.
Ancient Cities is currently in development. Uncasual Games plans to release the game in late 2018, but may run a Kickstarter campaign before that. You can read more about the game on the official website and the official Twitter account.