Instant Advice

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Altering the instant advice boxes to better customise the scenario and reinforce the theme.

by Carl Fritz (March 1999)


Instant Advice: What it's Worth

Here's an easy way to enhance the atmosphere of your scenario. Include a new version of Advice.txt in your distribution package. This tip explains what it is, why you might want to include it, and how to edit it.

What Is Instant Advice?

Advice.txt contains the messages displayed in the two advisor boxes at the top of the city screen whenever you choose something to build. They urge you to build either a military unit or a city improvement. As players we don't pay much attention to the advisors. Perhaps if the messages were different, we might take notice? Please acknowledge the instant advise option of the game options has to checked for these messages to appear.

Reasons to Edit Advice.txt

If you have renamed most of the military units and city improvements, a new message is probably needed to go along with the new names. Otherwise, you get the default message, "We should build a...".

Although a unit or improvement may have the same name, you might have something better to say than the standard text. If you have a sense of humor, you could even make it funny...

An Example

For a French and Indian War Scenario I changed the standard message for a caravan from "We should build a caravan to establish trade routes with other civilizations" to a message more suited to an trader, such as, "We should send a trader to take advantage of the Indians."

Sl advice trader.png

Editing the File

To edit Advice.txt, you have to use a text editor. Fantastic Worlds (FW) has no editor for this. The only thing you can change are the messages themselves. You can't change which units or improvements the advisors will recommend.

The first two entries of the file control the titles of the military and domestic advisors and look like this:

Sl advice file1.png

Except for the @title entry, I don't recommend messing with any of this.

Then there are three entries controlling science advice that show up when you have to select a new advance to discover. They are similar to the above. Don't change them either!

Finally there are the messages for improvements and military units. They look like this:

Sl advice file2.png

  • The first line is a lone @ which starts the advice entry.
  • The next line is an @@ItemName where ItemName is the name of the military unit or improvement. It must match what's in the rules.txt file or else the default message will be used. Here you can have one or more items. When you have more than one item they share that message.
  • The "%STRING0" is a variable representing the name of the item the AI is recommending. In this case it would either be Caravan or Freight, depending of course on which one you could actually build. Don't make the messages too long or too wide because they have to fit into a small dialog box.

Other tips for working with instant advice entries:

  • You can safely remove the entries for military units and improvements that aren't active in the scenario, but you don't have to either.
  • There are a couple of special names that the AI uses: @@default and @@wonder. Don't change them, however you can change the text message under them. You can't have specialized messages for individual wonders.

That's about all there is to it!

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