What is Civitas?
"Can't play SimCity? Civitas has you covered..." - gameinformer
"A DRM free city simulator that challenges the model EA's using" - IGN
"Civitas is the DRM-free SimCity game you have always wanted" - slashgear
Civitas will be a revolutionary, open ended, community driven, highly moddable city building game, where you are not only responsible for terraforming the land, zoning, and building the structures, but you will also be able to manage many other aspects of your civilization. Civitas can either be played as a single player game, or you can play online with other city builders to make entire regions, share resources, and compete for citizens to build the largest city. We will not limit you to one or the other, both will be full featured and complete. Feel free to play it whenever, wherever, and however you want. Civitas will be available for Mac and PC through various digital download services.
The word "Civitas" is the Latin term for "citizenship" or "city-state", which is a great description in itself for what you will be able to build from the ground up in this game.
The very basic flow of the game will follow this design:
Terraform the land
Zone the land for your city
Build the structures that make up your city
Manage all aspects of the city for everything from transportation, utilities, emergency management, natural resources, and commerce.
Continue to grow your city. Meet the demands of the civilization you have created and respond to natural and unnatural disasters to make your city as great as you want it to be. Civitas will include a fully featured day-night system for added realism.
We have already started working hard on the tools and features to allow players to experience a level of freedom that has never been offered in a city simulation game before. But, we are not setting anything in stone. We want to build a community as well as amazing game. We will be asking for feedback from beta users through out the entire development cycle to make sure players have everything they need, and as much freedom as possible.
For instance, the terraforming system in Civitas is going to be far beyond what anyone else has offered in a city simulation game before. We are working towards letting the player do more than simply just flatten land or add trees. You will be sculpting everything from shorelines and river systems, to entire mountain ranges and canyons. We want you to be able to truly create the perfect canvas for your city. But we also need this system to be extremely user friendly so that it can be as powerful as we need it to be. We will need your feedback early in this process.
This level of depth will extend to every aspect of the game. From zoning and resources to utilities and tax systems, as a player you will have a new level of control of your creation. As a contributor, you will have a say in how this is all accomplished.
Using "Permits" will be key to building your city the way you truly want it to be built. When you zone your land you will have much more control over what it is used for than has been offered before. You will have the ability to limit what the land can be used for to help develop areas of the city more realistically. Like say for instance you want to build a lake front community in the mountains. First you zone the land that you want to use for residential buildings as "Residential". It does not stop there though. No matter the size of your city, or any other unrelated characteristic of your city, you can issue a permit that only a certain amount of houses can be built on that section. The smaller the amount of permitted houses will cause the houses to be much larger. You can also limit it by price as well. So in the example of the lake front community, you can issue permits so that only nice houses can be built there. This enables you to build truly realistic cites.
This feature will also be used when setting up roads, power sources, and other aspects of the city.
Civitas will also of course feature realistic weather, natural and unnatural disasters, and daytime/nighttime cycles.
One of the main reasons we are working toward giving you such freedom is the fact that we are going to develop the tools necessary for mods of all types.
Civitas will release as a city building game with modern tools and structures. For instance, it will feature modern power sources such as wind, solar, natural gas, and hydroelectric. The architecture will also be modern. This will be perfect for our vision of Civitas, but you may not want to play in modern times. You might want to build a city from the Wild West, ancient Egypt, or even a completely fictional setting from a book, movie, or TV show. We will give you the tools to build your own structures, power systems, and other tools to make Civitas the game you want it to be. It's all about giving you the freedom to do that. We will even help you create unique natural disasters as well. I mean you never know when you might want a giant lizard to attack your city right?
Civitas will not only be a fully featured city simulation game, it will also be built to be a strong engine for your creations as well.
Time for another round of updates! We are going to answer a few of the more frequently asked questions that have been piling up for the past few days. Make sure you check out our website civitasgame.com and check out the forums at civitasgame.com/forum. Also make sure you like us on facebook.
1. Will Civitas be translated into other languages?
A. Yes we will be translating Civitas into as many of the most common languages as possible before launch. Of course this will have to be handled externally. Any languages we can't get into the launch version, we will be adding with language packs in updates.
2. Will Civitas be released on the OUYA, Steam, or Wii-U?
We have been in talks with one of the creators of the OUYA (amazing guys by the way with an amazing product, you should support them) and they helped us get all setup for developing on the OUYA. We will try our best to make this happen! As for the Wii-U, it is nearly impossible to become a licensed 3rd party developer for Nintendo, trust us, we've tried. They will never have any real 3rd party support. We know we could do some amazing things with Civitas using the handheld touchscreen, but the hurdle of getting a dev kit alone takes months and an anal exam. So no, we won't be supporting it at this time. We will also be making Civitas available for Steam for people that want to get it that way.
3. How will you be spending the $250k if you are successfully funded? And do you have a plan to gain more funding moving forward?
Every dime that we gain from contributions will be used directly toward the development of Civitas. It will mainly go toward acquiring licenses for some of the software we will be using and hardware for developing and testing. We know with the scope of our project that we cannot waste a dime on anything not absolutely necessary. We will be very open with our accounting. And yes, we are thinking about using the minecraft model of kind of preorder though selling beta access. We do feel like that would be a great fit for us, and when we have something a lot more playable, we will be looking into starting that.
4. Who are you guys? And what makes you think you can make video games?
Wow, we honestly never expected to be hit with this one so much, but hey its a fair question with money involved. We will be answering all of your questions over at our forums. Feel free to come meet us, find out our credentials, ask us all of your technical questions. Feel free to run us through the wringer. I will start a thread immediately for you to ask all you want about us :)
5. We have also been getting a lot of people asking about joining our team. There were a lot of people affected by that wave of layoffs. Talented people need work.
A. Please do not be shy about this. We will need to grow our team. If we are successfully funded, we will be growing quickly. We will HAVE to. We know there are good people needing work, send us your resume, we want to help. firstname.lastname@example.org Any extra money raides over our initial $250k will also go straight into picking up new talent.
6. Will you do an interview?
A. We would be glad to! We wanted to get all of this framework in place before we started accepting them, but we are ready now. Feel free to message me, and we can line it up. Also, if you have already asked me for one, I will be getting back to you later today.
A game of this nature has a lot of really technical questions that can be, and have been asked about Civitas. There is simply no way to discuss them here, as much as we would like to. Please go to our forums at civitasgame.com/forum to start those discussions!
Thank you all again for the amazing support!
Coming soon: More gameplay videos to show more features of Civitas.
We have been getting a lot of people messaging us asking about three major features that have been missing from SimCity and other city simulation games. We had already addressed these issues in our current plans, so I want to just add this info to help clear these two issues up to let people know they will be in our game.
1. Will Civitas feature curved and custom roads? This question is coming up because other simulation games do not offer this.
Answer: Yes. Civitas was planned for this from the beginning. You will be able to lay out your roads any way you like. This is the only way you could truly clone a real city using Civitas, and we want to make sure you can do this. Also, when you zone an area, for instance a residential area, you can put a big curvy road straight through it if you want. You will just have to be careful to make the land still be usable for buildings. This is the type of freedom Civitas will feature. We will have automatic roads for people that are lazy, but its not forced on you.
2. Will Civitas feature public transportation?
Answer: Yes. We are already planning for trains, buses, monorails, and of course the big one subways. We will add more as we can. Subways is a big one because you cannot logistically even build a large city without them, yet SimCity has removed them.
3. Can we save our city so that we can destroy it with natural/unnatural disasters, and then just reload it?
Answer: Absolutely! This is what made city simulation games of the past fun! Our game is not online only, you will have local saves, and can save and reload your city at any time. HAVE FUN WITH IT! Why would anyone remove this feature?
Out of all of the possible types of games our fledgling studio could pick as our first project, why did we pick a city simulation title as our first effort?
Easy, it was out of a combination of how much we loved some of the original city simulation games back in the early PC days and our displeasure with the direction the new SimCity has taken under the iron fist of EA. We don't agree with the removal of single player, the lack of terraforming, lack of modding, and above all them forcing the worst form of draconian DRM on its players known as the "Always On-line" requirement. They are seriously not going to let you play their game if you aren't online. Anyone that has ever been forced to play under that DRM knows how terrible it is. Not only can your internet access stop you from playing, if EA is having any server issues (Yeah those never happen right?) you'll get a nice fat error message instead of your game starting. Forget playing while traveling or anything. This is not a good recipe for a simulation game. EA should really just rename it SimFarmVille and get it over with.
Those issues aside, this type of game is actually a perfect fit for the talent that we have assembled currently. We are suited very well to work on a very technical game of this nature. Not only can we make it technically sound, but we can also make it a beautiful experience with our artists real time experience. Can we make cut scenes that rival Blur or Blizzard? No, not yet, but we can make it look really good in real time.
Plus this type of game can only survive with a dedicated fan base. We know that. We are not building another FPS for the masses; we are building a game for a niche market of players that love this genre as much as us. And we will work with everyone to make sure Civitas is well worth your investment of time and money.
Who we are.
As you all may have already heard, there have been quite a few studio closings around Austin TX and elsewhere lately. Well, some of us were among the unlucky few caught up in all of that.
Each of us spent the last few years pouring our efforts into making those studios and their titles successful, and we succeeded. But there is big difference between "successful" and "successful enough". Make an excellent game, make a profit, still get shut down. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that's just the reality of how this industry works today. We used to think that finally hitting the release date on the game we have poured our lives into for months or even years would be a day to celebrate, but now we all just dread them. Release date = Layoff date. That's a very sad realization. No parties, no building a community, just uprooting our families again and trying to find more work. Even on the AAA caliber games we have built and shipped that literally earn hundreds of millions of dollars, this holds true. The current game development pipeline is directly to blame for this. Most publishers just bleed the studio dry of money and creativity, then just leave it to shutdown.
So a ragtag team of us released from various studios, of various disciplines in the game development pipeline, and a few that can already see the same "release day layoff" writing on the wall in their near future, decided to try to make a go at it ourselves. I mean, we have spent years working for other people, building their games from the ground up, so why not just do it ourselves? We have worked on several recent AAA titles such as Mortal Kombat, Darksiders 2, Borderlands 2, Quake 4, Section 8, F.E.A.R., and multiple IOS and mobile titles. Not to mention several unreleased games, some older titles, and some that are still TBA. We have proven ourselves capable of developing quality titles.
We have the talent, the skills, personnel, and drive to make a quality game that we hope you will enjoy, but we are missing only one key ingredient...... Which brings us to the uncomfortable part....
We Need Your Help!
Funding. That is the scariest word that came up when we were discussing starting our own studio to work on Civitas. We know we can make a great game and we already have a lot of the tools to get started, but we still need some tools, hardware, and other various things. We also just want to be able to eat while we work on this game. But we kept going around and around about how we should try to fund this project.
First we thought about the traditional route. We could call up the publishers that we have relationships with and pitch to them. Then we could try to find a few investors to get this thing off the ground. We just could not get excited about this approach. This is the approach that has failed every studio we have worked at, and has stripped all of our projects of the flexibility to make our games truly based off of our original vision. We would have to give up a large chunk of ownership of the studio to investors, and we will always be beholden to them. We will also always be at the mercy of a publisher. We will have to hit their deadlines, and give up so much creative control to them. Even if we are doing a good job, we could be shutdown or could go down with a failed publisher. Not to mention we will be held down by their ideas on other aspects such as marketing, distribution, and DRM standards. Having a publisher means losing major control of core concepts. We certainly wouldn't want to see crap like our fans being banned for disagreeing with a publisher we don't even agree with ourselves. Who would do something that stupid....Oh that's right, one of the largest studios + publisher combinations on Earth is doing exactly that right now.
We want to talk to the people that play our games directly. We want to build a community. We want to deliver our games directly to our players. We want their input and feedback, good or bad.
We want to be a different type of studio.
With all of that in mind, one of our team members mentioned taking our ideas straight to the people that would want to play our game. We all agreed that this was the perfect idea. It fell directly in line with the entire philosophy we are building our new studio on. So our Kickstarter was born. Through rewards and the community we have the possibility to build with a kickstarter, we can create a game the community will love because they will have direct input. We can finally break down all the barriers between you and us. This is something that is absolutely impossible to do in the traditional studio setup. We all truly hope that this will be the route that helps us get started.
We want lots of feedback and great ideas from a very involved community. That is why we are starting this kickstarter so early in our development. We are not using kickstarter as a "store" to sell an already finished product through the reward system. We will let other people abuse kickstarter that way. Our game is very early in development. We hope that anyone that contributes to help us achieve our funding goal, will also help us make Civitas the great game we know it can be. We didn't want to build 90% of the game, and then hit you up for money. That wouldn't allow anyone to help sculpt Civitas. This is a true kickstarter, we are all starting this together.
Our only other choice is to get private loans and funding, which is a burden we are more than willing to take on for our dream, and we actually prefer it, by far, to the first option. We believe we have a winning formula, so we are going to do whatever it takes to deliver. Our team hopes that you will want to take part in it, and help us create something special.
The Beta Program:
Within two weeks of the closing of our kickstarter, should we successfully meet our goal, we will be launching our full website for Civitas. This website will feature a forum that will only be open to contributors with beta access. Through this site we will make the constantly updated beta versions of Civitas available to our beta members as we build them. We will also document every release here with any and all changes.
This forum will also be used to communicate directly with the development team. We welcome any and all feedback and feature requests.
Contributors that kick in enough to receive a t-shirt or poster will have 3 colors of shirts to choose from. Sizes available: Small, Medium, Large, XL, and XXL:
Posters Decals and Wallpapers:
The posters and wallpapers are currently being designed. We want them to reflect the final art style of Civitas, and we will be developing that with your help.
Online Production Meetings:
Contributors that are nice enough to donate $250.00 or more (did we mention how much we love you?) will be invited to join our team on our Bi-Weekly production meetings via Skype. You will be talking directly to our team to discuss and concerns or suggestions you may have. And because of your involvement in these meetings, you will be credited as a producer in the credits of Civitas.