Great, great thoughts all. Definitely a thread I'll be revisiting throughout development to ensure we're on the right path.
3) Timeline: I'm glad Dan brought this up because this was another concern I had with the game. From my understanding the games time period is 375 to 475/493 AD, which is a hundred years... that means about 1200-1416 turns of play, nearly Marathon length for a Civ V game. That's a lot of time. Of course, maybe I'm off on my timeline and instead of the Fall of the Western Empire as your goal, you are actually targeting the sack of Rome in 410. If that's the case, then you're timeline works for a 400 turn game (technically 420 turns, but who's counting?). This would also change my perception of the goals of the game.
While the game starts in 375 AD, the end date is completely open. That having been said, the total number of turns for a game using the default pace is very
unlikely to exceed 300. I just can't see the game's mechanics working for longer than that.
My biggest concern is about the distribution of the game for Alpha and Beta builds.
The distribution method I'm looking into is pretty secure, so if things pan out there it shouldn't be a concern.
Even so, it's not something I'm going to stress out about. Yes, there are some naughty folks out there. But there are also thousands upon thousands who are willing to pay for something that provides them with entertainment. Were that not the case, then you could count the number of people who purchase software with your fingers. After all, once something is released you can pretty much always find ways to get it for "free."
If the game leaks out early it's a bummer, but there's no way I'm going to bend over backwards and inconvenience everyone (especially those who contributed extra to be part of the testing group!). Companies are better served by rewarding honest users of their products, rather than trying to bend the dishonest ones to their will.
It would be nice if you could learn ways to spawn new resources. For iron, maybe early on you are only able to obtain easily mined and processed ore, but as you develop through romanization you learn new mining and processing techniques that allows you to obtain resources you could not either obtain before or process effectively?
I haven't worked out the details yet, but new Resource Deposits will definitely spawn over time, and there will be ways for players to affect this. They're a major factor in motivating players to migrate to different regions - over time some areas become exhausted, while others grow to become attractive. It'll take some finesse to get right, but I believe the general concept is sound.
One thing which would be nice is to make scouts valuable in the late game by allowing them to "search" for resources on tiles as an action. There should only be a small chance, but this would keep "exploration" prominent even in the end game.
I've always found Civ V to be lacking in late game exploration options. This would be a nice one to have.
Late-game exploration is a tough one. I agree, this is something that would be a big improvement, but there are no obvious answers. You suggest giving units the ability to search for something new on already-explored tiles, which is something other games have done (e.g. SSI's Imperialism). The problem is... it's not really fun! Or strategic for that matter. You just scrub across the map and occasionally get lucky with where you place your units. It occupies units and your time, but doesn't really add anything.
It's unlikely we'll tackle this in AtG (a lot of other stuff going on!), but it's very much something I'm thinking about for my next game.