Developer Diary | Millennia Announcement
Hello, everyone! We’re excited to present the first Dev Diary for Millennia. In this, we’ll talk a little about the vision and features for the game and also about us, C Prompt Games. You can expect additional Diaries that go into more detail on various features and the thought behind them in the coming months, leading up to our release next year. If you like what you see, you can wishlist the game right now!
C Prompt Games
Before we get rolling, we should say a few words about who we are. C Prompt Games was formed by experienced strategy developers who have worked together on some of your favorite stuff. We are probably most known for our work on the Age of Empires franchise. We love working in smaller teams – there are around twenty people on Millennia currently. Our office is in Colorado, but we are organized to support hybrid remote / in-office development and the team is in numerous other locations, including Texas, New Mexico, and Oregon. At our core, we are life-long hardcore strategy gamers and we have basically wanted to make a 4X since forever. We started Millennia in 2019 -- it is definitely a labor of love and we are very excited to start being able to share it with you.
If you haven’t seen anything else about the game, Millennia is a new turn-based 4X that features alternate history, custom tech trees, and deep economy and combat. In The Beginning…
We have carried the concept of Millennia around for a long time (please note my intentional avoidance of a pun there). That is fairly typical of our process. We tend to have a lot of rough game directions percolating and these get worked on here and there until we feel like it is the right time for one of them. In the case of Millennia, a few things motivated us to make this our next game:
As strategy game developers, 4X is a cornerstone of the entire genre. It’s something we love and something we want to work on. (Designing alongside Bruce Shelley while at Ensemble certainly provided some motivation in this direction.)
As strategy game players, we saw 4X as receiving less attention than it deserved. To us, the amount of obvious player interest was far greater than the number of games being provided and amount of new gameplay being explored. Certainly, we personally wanted more 4X games and we had talked to a lot of fans who felt the same way.
Shortly after we started to flesh out the systems that would become the pillars of Millennia, we really felt the spark. Not only did we see how things could fit together, but we also started to see something unique, something we really wanted to play ourselves. (The Age model in particular quickly developed into something that everyone saw potential in and was excited about.)
During the early stages of development, C Prompt shared a prototype of Millennia with our friends at Paradox and happily discovered agreement on those motivations.
4X is a large genre and can support a lot of different experiences. One of the experiences we felt had been overlooked was that of player authorship, of feeling like you’re the one writing the story. When we played, we often felt less like we were leading a nation and more like we were trying to remember boardgame rules. So, from a very high level, one of our goals was to steer in the direction of more open-ended, systems-based gameplay - to deliver a feeling of being the guiding spirit of a nation. First and foremost, that direction informs a lot of our decisions.
Pillar: Alternate History
A key innovation in Millennia is the Age-based design. There are ten Ages in a “normal” game, ranging from the Stone Age to the near-future. Each Age provides the experience of the Age – the Iron Age has Iron Age technologies, Iron Age units, Iron Age buildings, and rules specific to the conditions of the Iron Age. If you keep things within “normal” parameters, you might progress through 10 “standard” Ages, each delivering historical gameplay. However, Millennia allows history to go off the rails. If you make some different decisions, you might steer your timeline into alternate Ages. These Ages are still historically themed, but explore some “what-if” territory. The Age of Aether is based on a history where the internal combustion engine doesn’t come about as soon as it did and steam-power develops further. The Age of Blood is based on a war raging out of control and spreading across the world. Ultimately, most of the things you have to use in a game come from the Ages, so you can end up with very, very different scenarios depending on the specific history and alternate history you timeline moves through.
Pillar: Custom Tech Trees
Millennia features a system called “National Spirits.” Think of National Spirits as “things a nation can be famous for.” Are your people known as great engineers? Is one of your major cities seen as the center of global banking? Does the world fear your unbeatable warriors? Mechanically, each National Spirt is a technology tree. You get to pick National Spirits from a set at different points in a game. Doing so makes the technologies of the National Spirit available to you. Through National Spirits, you get customize your Nation, to decide what you will be famous for, during the course of the game.
Pillar: Deep Economy and Combat
Economy and combat are key to Millennia. As you lead your nation, you’ll need to design the right economy for your strategy. Not all resources in Millennia are the same. Cutting down trees for Logs can provide Production, much like mining Copper. However, with the right Improvements, you can create a chain where your Logs are made into Paper which is then made into Books, getting you Knowledge (or Religion or Government or Wealth) instead of Production. Some resources are (like the Logs) broad and capable of steering into a variety of different Goods while others are more focused and less flexible. How you decide to structure your economy has an impact on your capabilities and your ability to respond to changing conditions. One of the places this is felt is with combat. The best military for you to field changes based on your economic design (and the Age you have moved into and the National Spirits you have selected). You might be better with more Production to train troops, or more Warfare Domain to support them, or more Wealth to pay the upkeep on expensive elite troops or… Beyond the economy, combat offers its own interesting decisions. Different types of Units have different capabilities. You design your Armies by assigning multiple Units to fight together, allowing you to create different Army types for different needs.
This is the tip of the iceberg -- Millennia is a huge game. The outline above is an introduction but there is plenty to cover regarding the pillars, plus a substantial number of major systems that haven’t even been mentioned. Over the next few weeks, we will present additional Dev Diaries to showcase more of the game and to dive deeper into specific features. Next up, in two weeks, we’ll talk about the building blocks of your nation, Regions, Towns, and Outposts, and also cover a bit of the World Map itself. We hope you’ll check back and join us for more on the game. And, of course, if this sounds good, please wishlist the game on Steam and join the community.