Newsletter 1 - 15/6/99
Join us for a question and answer session with the Pharaoh development team this Thursday, June 17, at 7pm EST. You can participate in this online press and fan conference using either an IRC client or your web browser. In IRC, connect to chat.annex.com in room #Impressions. Using your web browser, connect to http://www.annexcafe.com/chat/impressions
Direct from E3: Crowds React to a First Peek at Pharaoh
Impressions Games displayed a prototype of Pharaoh at the Electronic Entertainment Expo held in Los Angeles May 13-16. The prototype showed off many features promised in the full game: the Nile's floods, flood plain farming, combat on water, irrigation, ferry crossings, entertainment squares, etc. The highlight of this early version of the game was pyramid construction, which could be seen assembled block by block. The game was supported by an animated trailer, available for download from http://www.pharaoh1.com.
The game went over like gangbusters. IGN named Pharaoh runner-up as the Best Strategy Game of the Show (http://pc.ign.com/news/8153.html), and several media outlets interviewed members of Impressions staff. Chris Beatrice, Director of Design and Development for Impressions Games, reported a steady flow of traffic by the booth. "We gave so many presentations, we lost our voices. We would have killed for a big box of lozenges," Chris reports.
Everyone who visited the booth seemed pleased with the game, especially with the pyramid building. The trailer was a huge hit, too, and a crowd-stopper. According to Chris, "Whenever traffic would slow a bit, I would just run the six minute Pharaoh trailer, and by the time it was done there would again be a crowd standing around our booth. The trailer was magnificent, and led people straight into the game."
Pharaoh was a unique offering compared to other games shown at the Expo. In a sea of first-person 3D shooters, Pharaoh provided a refreshing change with its appealing graphics and lack of emphasis on fighting. All in all, E3 was a great success for Impressions and an indication that we are headed in the right direction with Pharaoh.
Pharaoh: An Insider's Look
We managed to drag Chris Beatrice, Director of Design and Development for Impressions Games, away from his computer long enough to talk about Pharaoh and answer a burning question or two. Expect more of your questions to be answered in subsequent newsletters.
As I'm sure most of you know, in our upcoming game, Pharaoh, we've taken the popular Caesar 3 city building experience and transplanted it to ancient Egypt. Of course this means that you won't be building structures like the Coliseum & Hippodrome, but it also means much more than that. For Pharaoh we've redesigned pretty much every game system and subsystem, both to more appropriately present the Egyptian setting and to introduce new types of goals and objectives for the player to achieve. We want players to feel like they're really building a living, breathing Egyptian civilization. Lastly, of course, based on your input and our own observations, we've made every effort to tweak, adjust and improve any areas of the core game engine that we felt needed attention. So, as a city building game, many of the fundamental activities of Pharaoh will seem familiar to Caesar3 fans (such as placing buildings, drawing roads to connect them, looking at overlays to see how your city is faring, etc.). The "feel" of the game and the game dynamic, though, are purely Egyptian.
This means that aside from the obvious fact that you're looking at Egyptian buildings and landscape, you're dealing with the problems the ancient Egyptians were faced with. At first you're just trying to eke out an existence in the sparse climate of the Egyptian desert, but later you're trying to build and lead one of the world's first superpowers! You'll help pull together the early independent Egyptian settlements and unite them as the "twin kingdoms" of Upper and Lower Egypt. You won't be bringing Egyptian culture to the rest of the ancient world; rather, you'll be honoring the gods and the Pharaoh (the living god on earth) with massive monuments of limestone, sandstone, granite and even mud-brick, while at the same time struggling to provide the Egyptian people with those luxuries they craved but could not possibly hope to produce themselves in their unforgiving climate (such as ivory, incense, perfume, ebony...even leopard skins!). You'll face periods of foreign invasion and civil war, where you must choose which side to support as the rightful successor of the Egyptian throne. You'll witness the development of new technologies of war and manufacture, and see new (by Egyptian standards) kingdoms come into the picture, such as the Minoans, Hittites and Greeks.
Eventually (if you play your cards right) you'll ascend the throne yourself. Then you can decide whether to expand the empire through foreign conquest, or stay at home and build your own monument, on a scale that your predecessors would not have thought possible!
Top Ten Reasons to Work at Impressions Games
10. Our names appear in red when we post messages on our bulletin boards instead of plain old black.
9. We get free soda.
8. To escape the hurly-burly world, we can step out on our very own roof deck.
7. Our non-disclosure agreements. At parties, when asked questions about what we do for a living, we can answer mysteriously, "I'm sorry. I can't tell you that."
6. We know what's going to be in Pharaoh and you don't.
5. Some of us show up to work in our pajamas. Nobody notices.
4. We release tension by shooting pool, playing ping-pong and eating free food every Friday.
3. Did we mention the free beer?
2. Our games have wonderful, supportive fans (awwww, isn't that sweet).
1. We get paid to play games.
FROM THE MARKETING WEASEL
Pharaoh is slated to ship in October of 1999. If you want to make sure your local store has plenty on hand when it comes out, talk to the manager and let him or her know how excited you are about this product. This will help them determine how many copies of Pharaoh they need to order.
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