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Topic Subject:The possibilities for new 2d city builder games
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 01-19-12 20:01 ET (US)         
Hello,

Here is a list of ancient and medieval city building games for anyone interested in exploring the ancient city building genre more. The list starts with the original ancient city building series by Impressions Games and Tilted Mill, followed by links to the latest 2d and mobile versions as well as other related game series, and includes independent games in various stages of completion.

There are many excellent scenarios that continue to be made for these classic games, but I haven't seen that many major mods or attempts to create new games within the existing games, this may be because of the games inherent limitations or some other reasons. So it will need to be determined if it is possible to mod or use the existing games to create new ones, after (or if ever) they become public domain in that context.

There is still much potential in the ancient city building genre, for example here is a list of historical ancient city building civilizations for which games haven't been made yet. There have mostly been many Roman, Egyptian, Greek and European themed games. If anyone is familiar with other languages then maybe you can search for games in other countries and contact any developers that may be interested in working on their own version of an ancient city building game and release localized language packs.

I also posted a similar thread here in Simtropolis about modern city builder games. As you can see, it seems there have been more attempts at independent projects for modern city builder games than ancient city builder games. I figure there is a cross-over between these games in terms of history, development and interest so if anyone has any ideas for new ancient city builder games as well any relevant entries and links, please post them here or message me and I will add them. Lastly there is a section for links to forums and discussions.

On the Tilted Mill forum there were many threads with people posting ideas about what city builder games they would like to see be made. It seems the most popular requests were for more Roman, Egyptian and Greek city builders, presumably in 3d. These don't interest some of us as much as making games using unexplored ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, Arabia, Persia, India, North and South Native Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe. I think by now, 10 years later after the last 2d game Emperor (2002) was released, we should have the ability and potential to make our own 2d city builders based on the classic ones. There is much untapped potential in new historical settings. Below is a list of the original 2d games, new versions, and independent attempts at creating similar 2d city builder games. Feel free to mention any relevant games I may have missed or am not aware of and I will add them to this list as a historical reference. Please feel free to copy this post or link to it elsewhere.

Ancient and Medieval city building games:
Caesar 2 (1994)
Caesar 3 (1998)
Knights and Merchants (1998)
Pharoah (1999)
Cleopatra expansion (2000)
Zeus (2000)
Poseidon expansion (2001)
Emperor (2002)
Children of the Nile (2004)
Alexandria expansion (2008)
Medieval Lords: Build, Defend, Expand (2004)
Caesar 4 (2006)
Glory of the Roman Empire (2006)
Arabian Lords (2007)
Imperium Romanum (2008)
Grand Ages: Rome (2008)
Grand Ages: Medieval (?)
Villages and Cities (?)

Various new 2d, flash, browser, mmo, social and mobile versions here
Various new mmo browser versions here

Independent projects:
Widelands (2002)
Unknown Horizons (2008)
CaesarIA (aka Open Caesar 3) (In progress/?)

Other related city builder and economic game series:
Anno series
Patrician series
Settlers series
Alien Nations series
Cultures series
Port Royale series
Tropico series
SimCity series
Various new/mobile 2d versions
Various merchant and trade-oriented games

Related game and mod links:
Heavengames Forums
Sierra Chest
Tilted Mill Forums
Anno Fans
Settlers Forum
Stronghold Forums
Patrician, Tropico and Port Royale Forums
Simtropolis Forums
SimCity Societies Forum at Tilted Mill
City Builder Games Forum
Game Mod Database
Indie Game Database
City Building Games at Wikia
City Building Games at Wikipedia
Chronology of City Building Games at Wikipedia
Mobygames Videogame Database and Forum

Related Projects:
Caesar 3 Mod Squad (2008, ?) - incomplete, some ideas continued by others here and also discussed here.
Ymir Online (2011, ?) - in progress

Discussions:
Compatibility of future TM CBs by Son of Moose (8-23-2004, Tilted Mill forum)
Caesar 3 Mod Squad by Crashe (6-17-2009, Tilted Mill forum)
Is Tilted Mill working on anything new? by gamester (6-6-2011, Tilted Mill forum)
Legality of making a game clone by cyberfish (11-13-2011, Cprogramming forum)
Making your own city builder game by DenSomKastade (11-20-2011, City Builder Games forum)
Caesar 3 Mod Squad new phase of project by RandomEd and gaddas (1-15-2012, Caesar 3 Mod Squad forum)
The possibilities for new 2d city builder games by alincarpetman (1-19-2012, Heavengames forum)
A list of original and new ancient city builder games by nuyokcity (4-25-2012, Simtropolis forum)
The possibilities for new city builder games by alincarpetman (5-17-2012, Tilted Mill forum)

List of related rts and city builder projects and discussions:
- 0 AD (2000, ?) - an ancient military rts game, sort of a Age of Empires 3d "remake" but better, is open for game testing and will have the option for custom modding.
- Glest (2004) - is a game engine for fantasy rts games.
- Zero-K (2010) - is an open source futuristic military rts game.

Related thread lists
These game lists have been cross posted on related gaming forums:
A list of ancient city builder games here, here, here
A list of modern city builder and global civilization builder games here
A list of fantasy and sci-fi rts and city builder games here, here, here

So some options for new city building games may be the following:
- port the classic 2d games onto new systems which will give the developers money for new projects
- mod the existing games in some ways such as the Open Caesar 3 project for something different
- try to get the original 2d game info to make new games in a similar style independently using the old versions
- create new games independently from scratch which will take time if funds and talent is limited, but is certainly possible
- it's up to gamers to post on various forums, social networks, and game mod websites to generate interest and potential collaborations
- ideally an open source version of a city building game can be made where anyone can go in and mod it to add any historical time periods and civilizations or completely new settings, including ancient, medieval, pre-industrial, modern, post-industrial, alternate history, fantasy, scfi, alien, custom, any specific historical time/culture/location, etc.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 02-08-2015 @ 10:18 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
RandomEd
Pleb
posted 01-20-12 05:38 ET (US)     1 / 23       
My intention (and others' also) is to reimplement Caesar 3. This would also mean that with minimal changes, we could remake Zeus or Pharaoh.

What I can say almost for sure is that no one wants to decompile old games to try to add new functionnalities. Also, Caesar 3's engine (which is also used in Pharaoh and Zeus) is not designed to be modded. The only thing we can do is take the graphics from the old games. That way, we can have a game that looks like the old one (see VCMI, a remake or HOMM3). There's a nice little tool to extract the Caesar 3 graphic elements. There's also some code to extract the map information (although that is not a critical issue, considering that we will probably want to establish a new map format).

Basically, porting means that you take the pieces of code that you have written for one platform and modify them so they can be executed on another platform. With games like Caesar3 and Zeus, you cannot do that, because you don't actually have the code.

I think the only reasonable thing to do is to completely reimplement the game. In doing that, it's important to think about the game engine, which is basically the most important part of the game and also the hardest to implement.

Now, there's the possibility to implement a really basic game engine, develop the modules around it, and in the mean time, search for a developer to design a "real" engine. The other solution would be to take the engine from another game and modify it to suit our needs. The latter seems to be the best, because it takes less time, and the engine might be more flexible, which in turn, can lead to more types of mods being developed.

Your mentionning of 0 A.D. got me thinking maybe we can use that engine (without the 3D part) for Caesar 3. After a 10 minute strawl through the code, what I could discern, is that we can use some parts of the code (at least the GUI). I think the best thing to do is to contact the 0 A.D. developers and ask them directly if it's possible to modify their engine for our needs. I will do just that, and come back with the "results".

Now, considering the development of the game, I think it's not a good idea to attract too many people before we actually have a minimal version working. When you try to recruit people, either for code development or graphics or sound, it bauds well if you have some screenshots to show off. Plus, if people that want to mod the game come in too quickly, they will get bored waiting for the development to advance. It's not so much fun do some graphics and not have the possibillity try them out in the game.

So I'll try to contact the guy (cyberfish) that mentioned he wants to implement Caesar 3 on Android. Since Android is basically Linux, almost everything that runs on Linux should also run on Android.

As for iPad, I highly doubt we can make it work. First, some of the programing tools are not alowed on iOS and secondly, the standards of the AppStore don't go well with open source projects.

Anyway, as I picture it, the game should be cross platform (Linux, Win, Mac, Android), under GPL and in C++.
Eswen
Pleb
posted 01-20-12 23:44 ET (US)     2 / 23       
If you actually want to use 2D only, you should consider Qt as your base point. I as a C++ developer use it most often than not, and I'm really pleased how the library was designed. Not only it provides tools for threads and GUI, but also OpenGL rendering, double buffering and more. It has the advantage of being free (if the software you're developing is noncommercial) and most importantly platform independent (which I can vouch for Linux and Windows only). At some point I was thinking of developing a clone of C3 with it, but since I never had the time between the university and work, never got around to it.

Regards.

[This message has been edited by Eswen (edited 01-20-2012 @ 11:46 PM).]

alincarpetman
Angel
posted 01-21-12 17:40 ET (US)     3 / 23       
Thanks for explaining the details, RandomEd, I understand more of the situation now. So there's some good news after all which is inspiring.

I was thinking about 2d versus 3d - it would be interesting to see a 3d city builder inside a game engine such as 0AD, I'm not against that at all. I think the two groups of games made by Impressions (2d) and then later Tilted Mill (3d) both have their own unique aspects and gameplay. Personally though I miss the feel of the crazy colorful bustling city that the 2d games gave, so maybe that type of game could be made inside an 3d engine like 0AD for a new unique style, or a fully 2d engine in the classic style, or both.

Since 0AD is mainly a military rts game similar to the Age of Empires series, I'm not sure if it could be modded with the economic and city building elements that the Impressions/Tilted Mill series have, but maybe this could be added in somehow, I hope, if that is one of the best options to create a new city builder game.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 01-21-2012 @ 05:41 PM).]

RandomEd
Pleb
posted 01-23-12 09:44 ET (US)     4 / 23       
Well, if you want a 3D city building game you have Caesar 4. I don't know why, but it didn't quite appeal to me.

It should be possible to make such a game using the 0 A.D. engine. They have customizability through javascript.

What I would like to do is implement the plain old Caesar 3, with the same graphics (and maybe new ones) and some additions to the game. Pretty much add in all the things that we felt that were missing from it. Maybe even multiplayer if it's possible.

Honestly, I don't know what to say about using Qt. As far as I've seen, most of the games use SDL for capturing events, 2D graphics and even sound. What I'm sure of is that SDL is cross platform (even on Android) so it seems like the logical choice.

Ultimately, I didn't contact the 0A.D. team since I looked through the code and decided for myself which parts I can use.

I think the best thig would be to take some code from VCMI and some code from 0A.D. I'm not yet sure we can mash togeteher those pieces of code, though.

Anyway, before actually starting to develop the game I have to find another 2 or 3 developers. One of them has to know some things about game engines, since I don't. I can take care of the administrative part, documentation and write some code.

[This message has been edited by RandomEd (edited 01-23-2012 @ 09:53 AM).]

alincarpetman
Angel
posted 01-25-12 22:14 ET (US)     5 / 23       
RandomEd,

I feel similarly about Caesar 4. I have added a few more independent games up there on the list which might be worth checking out in your quest. I came across the Spring game engine while searching for more indie and rare games and this game creator website.

Also if you google "free rts game engine" and "free city builder engine" there are many results, though I don't know which are the best for your project. I came across this post and another in the City Builder Games forums which also discusses making your own city builder game. I have also posted there here. That forum covers a lot of related games and there are a lot of people there playing and posting.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 01-26-2012 @ 11:03 PM).]

alincarpetman
Angel
posted 02-27-12 20:34 ET (US)     6 / 23       
I made an incomplete list of the time periods covered by the Impressions and Tilted Mill game series as well as a list of possible city-building civilizations for inspiration on the untapped possibilities.

The timeframe covered by all the games in the series is from 3500 BC to 1234 AD (or 35th century BC to 13th century CE) which is quite vast and covers many other civilizations around the world in such time. There are certain common characteristics in the games such as significant urban centers, monument building, trade networks, and grid layouts for cities which aren't all present in all human cultures in the same way and are sometimes contained in a different unique version. This list of potential civilizations for new games is a temporary incomplete list which can be refined.

Ancient city building games:

Caesar 3 (1998) - Rome, around 100BC to around 100AD
Pharoah (1999) - Egypt, 3500 BC to 1279 BC
Cleopatra expansion (2000) - Egypt, 1490 BC to 35 BC
Zeus (2000) - Greece, around 800 BC to around 600 AD
Poseidon expansion (2001) - fictional Atlantis, circa ? BC
Emperor (2002) - China, 2033 BC to 1234 AD
Children of the Nile (2004) - Egypt, 2950 BC to 332 BC
Alexandria expansion (2008) - Egypt, ? BC
Caesar 4 (2006) - Rome, 637 BC to 197 AD

Possible ancient city building civilizations for new games:

Mesopotamia: Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria, Hittites, Phoenicia
Arabia: Ubaid, Umm an-Nar, Wadi Suq, Thamud, Arabian kingdoms
Persia: Elam, Media, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthia, Sassanid Persia
India: Harappan, Veda, Maurya, Indian Middle Kingdoms
Southeast Asia: Đông Sơn, Malay, Pyu, Funan, Chi Tu, Văn Lang
East Asia: Gojoseon, Korean Three Kingdoms, Jōmon, Yayoi, Yamato
Africa: Berbers, Carthage, Mali, Ghana, Nok, Kanem, Kerma, Kush, Aksum
Europe: Iberians, Celts, Balts, Teutons, Slavs, Thracia, Minoa
North America: Mississippians, Mogollon, Hohokam, Anasazi
Central America: Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Toltec, Mixtec, Aztec
South America: Caral, Cañari, Chavín, Inca, Cambeba

Other civiliations:

Polynesians and other Pacific seafaring cultures: some of these had built stone monuments such as the megalith builders of Nan Madol and other sites in Pohnpei, Kosrae, Yap, Easter Island, etc but it doesn't seem like there were any major cities as present in other places. They did explore, colonize and trade in the Pacific with entire families and provisions on their large catamarans, so perhaps an Anno-type game could be made for an island-to-island colony simulation.
Northwest Native American cultures such as the Salish, Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Haida, Nootka, Quinalt, and Tillamook: these coastal seafarers built massive plank houses and totems and though they had no conventional empire they had complex cultures. Again maybe this would best fit in an Anno-style game, perhaps an ancient Pacific themed one.
Great Plains Native Americans, North and Central Asian khanates, Central and South Africans, Amazonian Natives, Australian Aborigines, Inuit: these cultures are generally similar in that they were nomadic and didn't settle down to build major cities, so maybe a nomadic simulation game could be made.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 04-25-2012 @ 00:19 AM).]

maydayp
Pleb
posted 02-27-12 21:34 ET (US)     7 / 23       
I think it would be awesome to have a Mesopotamia or india civ game.
JoeExplorer
Pleb
posted 02-28-12 09:47 ET (US)     8 / 23       
I too have been yearning for another City Builder game. Or for that matter a new RTS game.

It is beyond my conception as to why developers are leaving this stuff alone. Considering the number of people who play these games. Someone is gonna make alot of money.

Look at the Tycoon games: Railroad, Rollercoaster, Zoo. There's a mint to be made here.

I love SimCity. But the user content has become soooo much and indepth now. Since I got a new computer I've been hesitant to get back into that game.

I remeber about 2 years ago the folks making Cities XL were baiting all the SimCity players leading them to believe that they were gonna use "User" ideas and more or less make it a new SimCity. That failed miserably.

We waited with baited breath for a new Caesar. That failed IMO. We waited for the new Stronghold. Which the last I looked was getting real bad reivews and is up to patch number 7. Finally got a new Patrician. But they totally changed that game and messed that up. The ANNO series is a great game. But they didn't listen to the user. Now the new one is futuristic.

There's got to be a developer out there who will listen to the user. Maybe we're old fashion when it comes to PC games. I'm 53 years old. But by golly there's enough of us out here in the PC world that somebody is going to make alot money if they would just listen to the cries.
maydayp
Pleb
posted 02-28-12 17:56 ET (US)     9 / 23       
lol, I'm only 22 and I truthfully prefer to spend/waste my time playing a CB game then a first shooter, or half the games out there. if you have the money, and an xbox you could try out kingdom of/for keflings. it's pretty decent. (oh yeah, you might also need gold membership, but silver (free) might let you download the demo and game)
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 03-01-12 19:59 ET (US)     10 / 23       
Yeah it would be great to get any of those civilizations as a game, even if it was 2d which might be easier to make. So far we have Rome x4, Egypt x2, Greece x1, Atlantis x1 and China x1; not counting other series which would bring the total number of Rome and Egypt games up even more.

Maybe some people would feel that making each of those civilizations I posted above into a game of its own would become repetitive but I don't feel that way. There would be new environments, music, culture, monuments, layouts, etc every time you play and an entire new world to explore, learn, build, and immerse yourself in.

JoeExplorer - have you seen 0AD, whenever it gets completed it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I haven't checked out the newest Patrician and Anno but they are on my list. I think Anno 2070 is definitely unique, it seems they wanted to try something new kind of like Big Huge Games did with making Rise of Legends. Those kinds of games are pretty rare so it's nice to see something different and creative come along every now and then.

I made a similar list here for the modern city builder games like SimCity if you care to check it out for other games. It seems like the same story with most of the developers, they have turned to the recent era of social networking and simplified mini games. Maybe the era of classic rts and city builders has already come to an end, I don't know. I do know it is possible to work on independent projects but these would take a lot of time and dedication. But yeah, I agree, there does still seem to be a group of people waiting and willing to pay for a new ancient/medieval city builder game, even a classic 2d style version would be nice.

I added an "Other" section to the list of civilizations above of other historical cultures that didn't build cities but for whom a different type of game could be made.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 03-01-2012 @ 08:47 PM).]

Sayang
Pleb
posted 04-01-12 04:48 ET (US)     11 / 23       
Hello,
Iam big fan of these Sierra series, starting as a child fascination
I would be glad to help with this project- I studied on art school i can do some graphics and iam willing to learn more...

For 3 years iam fascinated with Indonesia and from time to time I dream how beautiful it would be play in the historic world of my boyfriend.

YOu mentoined some civilization youd efienetly forgot Indonesian, although its very colorfull (many types of native buildings) it would be still beautiful. Here are some examples. Native home building and two biggest monuments
[JPEG, (138.91 KB)]
[JPEG, (262.28 KB)]
[JPEG, (100.14 KB)]
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 04-08-12 00:59 ET (US)     12 / 23       
Hi Sayang,

Those are some nice photos of architecture.

I did add some of the ancient city-building Indonesian civilizations in the Southeast Asia category. I'm not an expert on history and it is sometimes difficult to label things. For example some cultures had large empires while others didn't, some were small kingdoms, and some civilizations were ruled by a certain dynasty at one point which makes it difficult to summarize simply.

From what I read about the Borobudur monument is that it was built during the Sailendra dynasty which was part of the Malay civilization.
Sayang
Pleb
posted 04-08-12 08:12 ET (US)     13 / 23       
Iam not that much expert either...
YOu are right there is a slight mess in that area, its hard to tell there something like indonesian Kingdom was,
But surely this area is very interesting
Eurotool
Hero
posted 04-12-12 19:34 ET (US)     14 / 23       
Just realized Zeus Heaven's forums fusioned with Caesar3's ones. I must have been lost for a long time
kluelos
Pleb
posted 04-17-12 02:11 ET (US)     15 / 23       
It's been a long time, but I don't think that's the right track.

The art is a major inspiration for a game. I'd hate to see it lifted from an old version, even Zeus, to a new version. I think the inspiration of new art fires up the enthusiasm of the whole team, and that it should all be redone in a new vision that is not hampered by the old.

The game engine is also problematic. You need somebody, or somebodies, who really like a particular engine and want to play more with it. What you don't want is to tell somebody what tools they have to use. If you want them to deliver inspired code, you have to inspire them.

If you can find some coders, designers, artists who are fired up about the project, it might go somewhere. Trying to just repeat old art, old code, old design? Nah, that won't go anywhere. Betcha half of them quit before the job is done.

When? Well, I admit that my heart belongs to the first city-builder. No, it wasn't Caesar: much older. 'Way back to the TRS-80 Model I with block graphics on a B&W screen, around 1980, there was a game called "Santa Paravia and Fiumaccio", set in early renaissance Italy. That's where I think you could do a great new city-builder, in Florence, and Venice, with Raphael and Michelangelo, using "The Prince" as your interaction guide. Build a cathedral to the glory of God. Build an army for conquest, or hire condottiere to defend yourself, create philosophy and great art...

Fire up a whole new generation of city-building fanatics.
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 04-24-12 23:36 ET (US)     16 / 23       
I forgot to mention that if anyone knows any other languages besides English, then maybe you could do a search online for any city building games made in other countries around the world. There are a few up there on my original post list, but I'm sure there are more we don't know about.

Also, if anyone knows of any game developers in other countries then maybe they can be contacted with the list of ancient civilizations that haven't had a city builder game made yet. It's possible there are other popular and independent developers who might be able to do something such as create a game in their native language and offer more language packs for other countries.

It's possible not every culture will be able to be depicted, for example because of different Islamic viewpoints on culture they prohibit certain depictions. So it's possible that we might not get an ancient pre-Islamic Arabian city builder game from that region or at least from certain publishers. There are a few games such as Arabian Lords (2007) and Quraish (2007), these are mainly from a historic religious perspective.

Kluelos - your idea for a Venetian city builder game sounds nice, it could be the focal point or part of a Renaissance age themed city builder game. As for the technical game developing aspect, I don't know much but there are others discussing it. I have updated the forum discussion links section at the top of this thread in the "discussions" section.

SimCity 5 has recently been announced for 2013 and there are new forums for the game at Simtropolis and City Builder Games. Tilted Mill also announced Medieval Mayor for 2013.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 12-29-2012 @ 00:59 AM).]

Chris Beatrice
VIP
posted 12-01-12 16:06 ET (US)     17 / 23       
We sure share your yearning for a classic city-building game like Pharaoh, Zeus or Caesar III! Though obviously those games are not up to some of today's technological or graphical standards, we really hit a high point there, I think, a real sweet spot in terms of the unique kind of fun of strategic real-time city-building.

In that spirit we are in the process of developing Medieval Mayor - a real time city-building game set in the Middle Ages! And whether you're 22 (maydayp) or 53 (JoeExplorer), I hope you'll waste (a lot of) your time on this new game.

Before that, though, please check out the Tilted Mill Forums, and ideally join, so you can let us know what you'd like to see in the game (still plenty of time for that) and also get some insights into what we do and why we're doing it.

And btw, though not 100% historical, Medieval Mayor runs from about 800 AD to 1350 AD, so at least we've added a decade to alincarpetman's list

-Chris
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 12-11-12 16:40 ET (US)     18 / 23       
Hi Chris, thanks for replying. Looking forward to Medieval Mayor!

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 06-23-2013 @ 03:58 PM).]

castaras
Pleb
posted 01-12-13 18:13 ET (US)     19 / 23       
There's also Clockwork Empires being released sometime in 2013, which aims to be a Victoriana city builder with elements of Lovecraft included.

Cake.
alincarpetman
Angel
posted 10-08-13 22:05 ET (US)     20 / 23       
That's where I think you could do a great new city-builder, in Florence, and Venice, with Raphael and Michelangelo, using "The Prince" as your interaction guide. Build a cathedral to the glory of God. Build an army for conquest, or hire condottiere to defend yourself, create philosophy and great art...

Looks like Kalypso just published a game in this Venice setting recently - Rise of Venice (2013). See this list for more new city builder games.

[This message has been edited by alincarpetman (edited 10-08-2013 @ 10:06 PM).]

alincarpetman
Angel
posted 01-18-15 01:15 ET (US)     21 / 23       
wisco
Pleb
posted 06-13-15 02:58 ET (US)     22 / 23       
new city builder game coming out on steam in a few weeks. its based on the impressions games.

Lethis - Path to Progress
cailureloaded
Pleb
posted 09-10-15 04:10 ET (US)     23 / 23       
Although it's possible to create games with good looking 3D-graphics which are not too demanding concerning the hardware ("Banished" is a good example), I believe 2D-graphics could be still superior, but they need to be zoomable and rotatable. 2D-graphics are not only less demanding, but have more details and trees and vegetation can look better.
Concerning landscape, the citybuildergames (Caesar3/Emperor...) are quite simple, but the landscape at least is playable. There have been games like Rise of nations which mix 2D/3D-graphics successfully, but the landscape isn't very playable.
I don't think a new game need be rooted in history, because we don't know enough about old civilisations. For example, there are some mainstream ideas how the egyptian pyramids were constructed, but they sound stupid in my opinion.
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