Alternate Files

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How to give your scenario greater replayability by creating a range of starting positions (Fantastic Worlds or higher only).

by Cam Hills (January 2000)


Variations on a Theme

Many changes came with Fantastic Worlds — extra slots for advances and units, new 'events' capabilities, and the ('take it or leave it') scenario editors. Another inclusion was the 'alternate' game — within the one scenario a range of different starting positions that gave divergent playing experiences. Two of the official scenarios took this new function up:

The Samurai scenario ('The Reunification Of Feudal Japan') provided alternate games where the barbarian presence streaming down from Hokkaido in one instance was widespread while the alternate saw this barbaric influence much more restrained.

The widely praised Verne scenario ('The World of Jules Verne') presented no less than six variant starting positions. The focus of this game was very much a 'search and destroy' mission, and the alternate game concept was thoughtfully embraced here to give the player a new adventure (upon the first few attempts at least!)

Sl altfiles verne.png

Which variant (including the 'base' scenario) is presented is done randomly. If you want to increase the odds of one particular scenario set-up appearing, you may copy that scenario set-up and save it as another variant (effectively doubling the chance that it will be the one randomly chosen). Testing at length may also see some variants appear far more commonly than others, while the 'base' scenario may sometimes not appear at all — in which case simply include it as yet another variant.


Creating alternate scenario files, technically, is surprisingly simple. In essence, you develop your 'base' scenario, save it, make the desired changes, save it as another name, go into Windows Explorer and rename the variant. This can be done multiple times to create many varied starting positions.

Step-by-step instructions;

  1. Create your scenario's starting position
  2. Save it as a scenario: 'Cheat' > 'Save as Scenario'
  3. Continue to make modifications to the scenario. It is usually desirable to begin with the 'white' or first listed tribe and progressively make the changes to each tribe by: 'Cheat'>'Set Human Player' ensuring that the turn is not completed on each occasion. If the turn is completed, the game will run through a turn that may cause inconsistencies with your other scenario variants.
  4. Once you have made your desired changes, save the scenario with a different name to the first one.
  5. Continue to make changes and create variants as you see fit. Bear in mind that many variants will make the scenario's total size larger and also may negatively impact upon game balance if the created variants are too dissimilar.
  6. For Windows™ users, go into Windows Explorer and change the scenario's name to the same name as the base scenario, but instead of the suffix '.scn' use '2.alt' for the first variant, '3.alt' for the second variant. Note that the first alternate scenario begins with '2'. As such, the example scenario 'Rhino.scn' would have alternates 'Rhino2.alt', 'Rhino3.alt', etc.

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Introductory Text Files

As was the set-up with Samurai and Verne, if there is some introductory text, this too should accompany each alternate file. Simply open the introductory text that you've written in Notepad and save it as the scenario's name with a number corresponding to the alternate scenario file created. To illustrate, the base scenario 'Rhino.scn' and variants; 'Rhino2.alt', and 'Rhino3.alt', then the introductory text would be saved as 'Rhino.txt', 'Rhino2.txt', and 'Rhino3.txt'.

Test of Time

Not only does Microprose's Civilization II Test of Time™ allow for the inclusion of alternate scenario files, but there appears to be broader scope to include other alternates, namely substitute event files.

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Should you wish to have alternative sets of events within your scenario range, again it's a case of saving the text file under different names. For the base events file and three others for example, the files would be saved in a program such as Notepad as 'Events.txt', 'Events2.alt', 'Events3.alt', and 'Events4.alt'.

Note that the scenario file randomly chosen and the event file randomly chosen from the respective ranges of each available are done independently. That is for example the scenario file 'Capone3.alt' need not necessarily bring about the events file 'Events3.alt'.

As Miner has indicated in the Apolyton discussion boards, it is possible to create a set-up for a Test of Time scenario to determine which variant is being used. Triggering an event that relates specifically to only one variant, and from that point guide the game around that particular variant may do this — if this is desired. Thanks for that pointer!

Test of Time is another huge leap forward for scenario developers, with many exciting features. The events file macro language has even more randomised possibilities than the more traditional Civ2 add-ons. The option to include alternate events only adds further scope to offer the player a fresh gaming experience.

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