By February 23, 2007

More information about Settlers of Catan on the Xbox 360

Gaming site Joystiq.com has an interview with Brian Reynolds, CEO and director of Big Huge Games, who is making the Xbox 360 version of Settlers of Catan. In case you don’t want to read the interview, here are some important points for those of us who have loved this table top classic game for years:

  • Klaus Teuber had direct input on the project, especially in the areas of the computer AI. Apparently he showed up with an Excel spreadsheet full of strategies and tactics, which were leveraged by Big Huge Games during the development process.
  • There is a sixty-second time limit to complete your entire turn during ranked play. There is a ninety-second time limit during unranked play. You can set the limit to whatever you choose in a “custom” rule set game.
  • Reynolds is a big fan of SoC, taking first place at a Maryland tournament. It’s nice to see that the person in charge of the project loves the game so much, but I’m surprised that he didn’t mention jSettlers. He also stated that all of the Settlers games are for the “PC.” It’s unclear if he means not for gaming consoles, or personal computers, wherein “PC” is often synonymous with “Windows OS machines.” The reason that’s important is that JSOC and the other online Settlers games are not Windows-only, and such an oversight tells me they didn’t trouble to Google “online settlers of catan” even once. However, I could be wrong, and Reynolds just means that Settlers has never been on a console before.
  • You will be able to see how the dice have rolled for your current game. This is motherfucking awesome. No longer will a player (usually me) bitch that 6es are less common than 12s during any given game.
  • There will be voice chat (a common Xbox 360 Live! feature), as well as sixteen emotes called “ticklers,” which help communicate why you’re refusing a trade, or your frustration with a die roll — in which case, a hammer smashes the dice to bits.
  • The AI characters will have different strategies from one another. One might favor expansion, while the other concentrates on road building/longest road, etc.
  • The game is due out in mid-to-late-March.


http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/2079-2/360_catan_board_living.jpg
Example tilesets from the game. You can pull the right trigger to hide the settlements, and possibly the 3D landscape (I hope).

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/2083-2/360_catan_trade.jpg
The trade screen.

I am looking forward to this game. I’m a bit worried about a few things, such as the time limit. Sometimes it takes awhile to put together a complex, multi-player trade. “If I give you two sheep, you’ll give me one brick, which I’ll trade to another player for the one wheat that I need.” The voice chat will help, but I’m concerned that sixty seconds isn’t enough time.

I’m also very concerned about the tilesets. Sure, they look pretty, but one of the major complaints about the SoC American board game is that the tiles are too distracting. While I was turned off by JSOC’s bland interpretation of the tiles, I got used to them and now game play is more simple and faster. We don’t like going back to the board game at this point, and someone is always confused as to which green tile is timber, and which green tile is sheep. If the Xbox 360 game’s tiles are animated (I fear the “living world” description on the tileset prototype) then the screen might be too busy.

I don’t know if I like the idea of the NPCs playing with set strategies. Once I know Sun Tzu is an expansionist, for example, I can try to contain him during settlement placement. Again, this makes me worry if Big Huge Games didn’t know about JSOC. JSOC was written as an AI research project, with a game bolted on top of it. The computers in JSOC are built to beat a human opponent, and the creator said he had to ratchet down the difficulty so that human players would win enough to not be discouraged. The Joystiq interview doesn’t mention NPC difficulty, but it would be nice if that could be adjustable as well.

All in all, I am very excited about this game. I don’t know if it’s the magic bullet to get me to purchase a 360, but it would certainly be a game I would download and purchase from Xbox Live! Arcade.

To my knowledge, the pricing of this game is still unknown.

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4 Comments on "More information about Settlers of Catan on the Xbox 360"

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  1. Ed says:

    Makes me more tempted by the 360

  2. Stomper says:

    I want to see the sheep jump the fence and go eat the wheat!! OK maybe not. 🙂 It sounds really cool. Hopefully the bot strategies are more sophisticated than they sound and that there are more of them than there are bots so that the strategies rotate in and out of the game and randomly assort tothe different bots.

  3. Thanks for summing up the interview. I saw another article about the Live Arcade SoC game a few days ago and feared that it would put the wife to lusting after a 360.

    But now I know that I should search for a few platform independent alternatives first 🙂

  4. Bond says:

    You’re welcome to test the game on my 360 for a review once it’s released.