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Sid Meier on Civilization Revolution and his next plans
While the original MS-DOS version of Civilization (1991) had only 16 colors, it had easily five times the game length of the to-be-released 2008 version Civilization Revolution.
GamersGlobal: You’re heading Firaxis Games together with Steve Martin, and you’re also Director of Creative Development. What’s your workday like?
Sid Meier: I am definitely on the game development side, and Steve is in charge of the studio and the business side and keeps everything going. He lets focus me on the game design, because that’s what I enjoy doing. So my workday is pretty much about doing games. I’ll talk to Steve, I’ll talk to our incredible publisher Take 2, they have all the details about selling the games and marketing them. I am very lucky: I get to write games and design them, that’s all I want to do.
GamersGlobal: You’ve mentioned MMO games as a new genre. You have invented several genres or sub genres yourself, for example submarine simulations with Silent Service, or the Civilization type of games. So what do you think about MMOs?
Sid Meier: I think someday I would like to try a game in that genre. It really benefits from creativity and new ideas, but we’re still in the very early stages of exploring the possibilities of it. I certainly would like to play around with a MMO concept in the future.
GamersGlobal: But while nearly all of your games have been emphasizing the solo mode, and your games were mostly easy to use but hard to master, MMOs are something entirely different. Graphics and specific rules aside, they seem to be more about the interactions and relations between players. Does this suit your way of creating games?
I enjoy the idea of doing something I haven't done before, so a MMO would fit perfectly
Sid Meier: There’s definitely a difference in MMO games, and that’s part of the interest for me: to try something a little different. But our games certainly have focused on the singleplayer side, although we try to make Civilization Revolution into a very playable multiplayer game, too. I enjoy the idea of doing something I haven’t done before, so a MMO would fit perfectly, but I really can’t say if that would be the next game we do or if it’s still a couple of games down the road before we come to that. Because I have new single player games I want to do, as well.
GamersGlobal: Let’s talk about Civilizaion Revolution. It’s supposed to take about three hours for one match in solo mode. That reminds me of those “executive summaries” style of books, where you get a strongly shorted version of a popular book on 20 pages -- so that people without time can still claim to have read recent books at Dinner parties.
This interview was done per telephone, the last time we met Sid in person was last August at GC, Leipzig.
Sid Meier: Well, Civilization Revolution is all the best parts of Civilization. Of course, we’re addressing a new audience, and we want to take the best advantage of the nextgen console hardware. We have a lot of animations, a lot of cool stuff going on on the screen. We want to take advantage of the network capabilities of Xbox Live and PlayStation Home. We really wanted to make games playable in a shorter amount of time. If you want to play a multiplayer game, not everybody has 10 or 15 hours to get a group of their friends together. So the game moves along at a nice, fast pace, and a lot of interesting things happen. The game still has got all the excitement of a Civilization game, like diplomacy, combat, economics, building, discovering, with a lot of new features added to it. There’s all the decision making which the fans love, you really get to be the king and lead your great civilization through thousands of years of history. But no, Revolution doesn’t have the micro management of hardcore strategy games.