Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I think Lyddie is finally moving on from The Sims, as she has now discovered...


- which is a different kind of game altogether. It's meant to be a strategy game, but she's not using the combat scenarios - just the economic freeplay option. So there's no enemy and no fighting. It's all about town-building, the way she's currently playing it.

So first there's a bit of reading and typing required in the intro, and you choose a name for yourself and select the kind of scenery you'd like for your little people. The game begins, and you have to site your castle keep, your stockpile and your granary. Then you have to get on with providing enough resources to keep people happy. Unhappy people leave the town and once they start going the place can empty pretty quickly!

You are provided with a very limited amount of the basics at the start, but once they're used up - which takes about five minutes - you're on your own. You need wood, stone and sometimes gold for building. So you need to find some trees and some stony land and open some quarries and woodcutting stations and build a market so that you can trade resources for gold.

Your people need houses (for which you need wood) and food - four different kinds, ideally. So you need farms, mills and bakeries. They like a few inns, for which you also need breweries, and churches, which use a lot of stone. And for every job created, you need more housing and food supplies.

Then there's the whole issue of politics. What kind of ruler will you be? If you're benign and you build parks, gardens, statues and maypoles your people will love you. But build too many and they become lazy and their efficiency drops until they start consuming more food than they're producing. When the granary is empty, people leave town. On the other hand, if you're too much of a tyrant your popularity drops and they'll leave town anyway. Tyrants can choose from all kinds of grisly installations of the stocks, guillotine and duckpond variety.

Success in the game invoves taking all of the above into consideration and making the right decisions at the right stages of your township's growth.

Lyddie's doing quite well so far. She was learning about how the market system works last night. I like the way she wants to know what every available option means so that she can keep control of the decision-making process and therefore her learning process. She's picked up the numbers very quickly and now understands how to buy and sell resources and why the prices fluctuate.

Is home ed supposed to be always about building real life tree houses and skipping through the daisies? We do that too. But sometimes it's raining.


Blogger these boots said...

Oooh yes, A and M are just starting to fiddle around on Pharaoh a bit - there's a load of 'sandbox' options, and they can build stuff without worrying about wars, etc. They're learning about how houses need roads near them, need shops nearby, need places of worship, etc. I like how little town planning details can make things go very, very wrong in the society (people don't get access to a market place, or fresh water, they move out and leave the city, and then there's not enough workers, and things start collapsing ... or there's high unemployment and people start getting unhappy - problem is this is all presented in text and statistics - although you can see little people walking out of the city - so it's just a little bit too reliant on reading for the girls to play completely autonomously). I've also got Ceasar and Zeus lined up for some future point ... when they can read (so get the finer details) and to introduce different historical thingymummys. I'll have a look into Stronghold though as it looks good on the box! Our main problem is that these games are all P.C, and we're Mac. I have to run a PC emulator for the girls to play the games, and that means there's only one laptop (mine!) they can use for it. I'm resisting having one of Dad's old PCs cluttering up the place just to play these sorts of games, but perhaps when the girls are older .... :-)

12:14 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger these boots said...

Ooooh it *looks* as though Stronghold (being a bit newer than Pharaoh etc.) might be available in a Mac version ... which would be *fab*! Thanks! :-)

(and yes, we do sometimes skip through the daisies too, but not everyday!)

12:19 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

I'm sure we've got a copy of Pharaoh somewhere. I bet L would like that too!

"I like how little town planning details can make things go very, very wrong in the society.." Yes, that's how it is in Stronghold. The two are very similar games, I think. (Tom keeps explaining to me about game engines(?) and I think he'd say they both use the same one. Or the same sort. Or something.)

Oh, but Stronghold has the population numbers on a big graphic in the righthand corner, which is perhaps a little easier. The numbers are on an image of a book, which is held by a man whose face changes from happy to unhappy, according to their mood. So you can see how well you're doing just by his facial expression!

Hope you manage to find a Mac version xx

Off to skip through daisies now ;-)

1:19 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Merry said...

I am off to buy that, it looks great. Fran and i both love... The Settlers, CivCity Rome, Caesar 3, Pharoah, the greek one of the same range with a name i forget and there is a Chinese imperial range one too. Love the look of stronghold though.

The Rome CivCity seems to combine Civ and Caesar and is potentially very tricky (i had to reply the 4th level on medium hardness about 6 times. I've liked it more than anything else i've had for ages. Settlers is great though.

2:11 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Settlers! I'd forgotten about that too. Will go and find it. Hope you all enjoy Stronghold Merry :-)

2:36 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

ROFL, I said 'duck pond' and I meant 'ducking stool'!

3:38 pm, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Tim said...

I think this might be worth a look for us too. I found a downloadable demo, which I will test drive.

5:15 pm, April 24, 2008  
Blogger ruth said...

D loves Stronghold too:)I don't think you can underestimate how good they are as a fun learning tool.

6:17 pm, April 24, 2008  

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