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Ask Sid Meier

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the why-do-i-lose-at-civ-so-much dept.

Games 604

Sid Meier is a household name in gaming. Titles he's designed, such as Railroad Tycoon, Pirates!, and Civilization, are pillars in the history of PC gaming. This year the fourth chapter in the Civilization series of games is being released, and we have a great opportunity. Today we're asking for questions about design and philosophy to pass on to Mr. Meier. On Wednesday, we'll be asking for questions to give to the Civilization IV development team. That day you'll have the chance to ask technical questions about the moddability and design concepts that went into the game. For today, here's your opportunity to put questions to one of the most respected game designers in the industry. Keep them topical, and one question per post please. We'll pass on the ten best questions, his responses will go up as soon as we get them back.

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Different Aspects? (4, Interesting)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652532)

What do think are the most important aspects of game design and do you think they vary greatly for different genres?

Re:Different Aspects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652676)

And the answer will be......

GAMEPLAY and Yes, it varies greatly from game to game as each genere has a different focus.

stop askign stupid questions.

Better question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652718)

Why does Slashdot crash Mosaic?

The grimy future (2, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652534)

Mr. Meier,

Recent studies suggest the traffic and ad revenue for "shock sites" may surpass that of online games and pornography[1]. Estimates of growth range from 15%[2] to a whopping 200%[3] per annum.

With those hard numbers what are your thoughts regarding games capitalizing on this until-now dark side of the net? For example, an online version of Railroad Tycoon in which a train tunnel morphs into the goatse man with the use of a cheat code.

It may not be for everyone but considering the extremes to which games such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt go, is this really that far fetched?

Thanks for your time,

1 - "The Internet's Hidden Gold Mine" 2004, Dahg & Felch
2 - "NSFW! Don't Click There!" 2003, Don Bayomi
3 - "'Shock Sites' to Surpass Porn by 2008." 2005, T. Johns

Re:The grimy future (0, Offtopic)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652576)


We can't take you anywhere!


Re:The grimy future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652577)

EXCELLENT question. I read some of those articles too. Surprising that those sites are so popular.

Re:The grimy future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652594)

I wish someone would take a picture of his face when that question comes up...

Re:The grimy future (1)

espek (797676) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652598)

I was fine until I hit "goatze man"... what a riot! The best part is he's serious and it makes perfect sense to use goatse for the example!

Re:The grimy future (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652600)

Are those references to magazine articles, weblog entries, newspaper articles, books, studies, or what?

What is your opinion... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652538)

...on open source clones such as FreeCiv? FreeLoaders, or flatterers? :)

How does the quality.. (4, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652662)

It's a technical question, but I'd rather not wait until Wednesday:

How does the source code and implementation design quality of such open source engines compare to the actual products?

Re:What is your opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652693)

Or openttd?

keeping pc gaming alive (5, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652551)

What factors do you think help keep PC gaming alive when competing with consoles, and do you foresee that PC gaming will continue to survive when confronted with the next generation of consoles? Or from the reverse perspective, what prevents consoles from finally killing off PC gaming?

Re:keeping pc gaming alive (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652601)

What factors do you think help keep PC gaming alive

More lesbians. Preferably naked.

Re:keeping pc gaming alive (1)

GecKo213 (890491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652606)

Aren't the next generation consoles getting to be more and more like a PC?

Originality (4, Insightful)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652552)

Here is my question... When is the gaming industry going to start introducing original games and not producing sequels just for the sake of production and/or profit? Take Doom 3 for example... yes the graphics are creative and great (that is when you can see them and you're not in the dark) but it is more-or-less the same game as Doom. I'd rather play something new even rather than rehash the same plot outline in a sequel.

Re:Originality (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652596)

Hey, Doom 3 is exactly what I expected, and it was fun as hell. Please don't critisize it for being unoriginal - it was never meant to be original, nor did anyone promise that.

There are a large number of titles which promise originality and fail to deliver, but doom is not among them. It is exactly what it says it is.

What sort of "original" game do you propose? (2, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652629)

You seem to be sure that the "originality" in the gaming industry is missing. So perhaps you could tell us what exactly you'd like to see. I mean, you must have some "original" idea that just isn't being implemented, correct?

Perhaps if you tell us what sort of original game that you'd like, an individual or gaming company will run with the idea and create the sort of game you're thinking of.

Re:Originality (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652654)

"When is the gaming industry going to start introducing original games and not producing sequels just for the sake of production and/or profit? Take Doom 3 for example..."

Or take, perhaps, Civilization IV?

Re:Originality (2, Insightful)

stephenslashdot (661755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652689)

Exactly, even Firaxis is doing the same thing, look at their game list from the time they became a company: (Each of them prefaced with Sid Meier's....) Pirates - remake of his old Pirates game. Civilization III - remake of Civ II/Civ. Sim Golf - a Tycoon game for Golf, but at least a new thing for their lineup. Alpha Centauri - Civ II.5, Civ In Space Civil War Collection - Re-release of two older games And now, working on Civilization IV. Yes, they are great games, and yes, I love Civ and will be snapping up Civ 4, but I'd also pay for Sid Meier's ... something else, because I know they are quality games (if not, at present, original games).

Re:Originality (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652699)

When is the gaming industry going to start introducing original games and not producing sequels just for the sake of production and/or profit?

Why stopping one of those trends, when industry can do both?

Re:Originality (1)

stephenslashdot (661755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652719)

And why is Firaxis just re-releasing or updating games that Sid made previously? (Civ 4, Pirates, Civ 3, Civil War Collection)?

Re:Originality (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652769)

Well, DOOM is more or less the same game as Wolfenstein 3D, too - and Wolfenstein wasn't the first ego-shooter, either (that honour probably goes to Maze Wars, although it probably depends on your definition of "ego-shooter"). I agree that pretty much 100% of all games are just new variants of something that has already been done before, but the situation wasn't much different 10 or 15 years ago (when DOOM was released), either.

Advances in technology (hardware) allow the designers more freedom, but ultimately, we've already seen it all - sports games, simulations (like the ones Sid is famous for), strategy games, shooters, puzzle games, RPGs, racing games, adventures and so on. Genres do wane in popularity sometimes, of course (adventures are one example of this, and jump'n'runs are another), while others become more popular (like ego-shooters), but I honestly can't remember the last time an entire new *genre* was invented (as opposed to "just" a new twist on an existing genre).

Re:Originality (3, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652772)

Doom 3 is actually different in the whole scheme of things, in regard to "Sequels for money and profit". From what I recall, there was a big "gathering" at iD where the staff said "We make Doom 3 or else!!!". So the staff actually WANTED to do this addition to the Doom series.

Here is a quote from a non-difinitive source (found via some googlin'): /doom_3.htm []

"Kevin Cloud and (Click link for more info and facts about Adrian Carmack) Adrian Carmack, two of the id Software owners, were always strongly opposed to remaking Doom. This is after many old fans complained that id was going back to the same well too often. However, after the warm reception of (Click link for more info and facts about Return to Castle Wolfenstein) Return to Castle Wolfenstein and latest improvements in rendering technology, most of the employees agreed that a remake was the right idea and confronted Kevin and Adrian with an ultimatum: "allow us to remake Doom or fire us" (including John Carmack). After the relatively painless confrontation (though artist (Click link for more info and facts about Paul Steed) Paul Steed, one of the instigators, was fired in retaliation) the agreement to work on Doom 3 was made."

Though, I THOUGHT someone DID get fired as a result of that ultimatum, I can't find anything to back that up

General Questions about Adventure Games (4, Interesting)

SumDog (466607) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652553)

This is just a general game design question. Have any of you worked on Adventure games (Kings Quest, Full Throttle, Star Trek: Judgment Rights, etc). Adventure games were my favorite genre and were part of the reason I started down a path that led to my computer science degree. Now days, it seems like that genre is dead with many games of that era that were scheduled for sequels in eternal limbo (the Tex Murphy series and Gabrial Knight are examples).

My question is, what do you think led to the move away from this genre? Comsumer demand? Replay value? Do you see a return to the old inventory/pont-n-click/story driven games eventually in the future?

Re:General Questions about Adventure Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652742)


Just in case you weren't aware there are some relatively current adventure games:

The Longest Journey (about 4-5 years old? Very good story, not sure how hard it is to locate)

Runaway ( 1-2 years old. Fun story, some very funny jokes, and some very annoying game play... i.e. not being able to pick up items or examine some things until the *character* feels they will be useful, even if you feel they will be useful... later you can pick that stuff up... grr, availibility, again, might be difficult)

Syberia and its sequel. ( Pretty decent story in the first (haven't finished or played the second one yet), not so buggy, very easy to find )

I thought I'd mention these, because, like you I used to live for the Adventure Game and I didn't see these titles in your list. They are pretty current... and sadly these are the only PC/console games I've played in years...

Good question to pose. I'm interested in how this might get answered if it gets submitted.

so... (0)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652558)

Which day do we get to ask questions of the PR Department [] ?

Have we any assurances this debacle won't be repeated?

I'd like to see responses from Sid Meier and the dev team (whom I admire), not flacks.

Re:so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652622)

Which day do we get to ask questions of the PR Department []?

Have we any assurances this debacle won't be repeated?

Because your time is so valuable that Slashdot should be obligated to ensure that all Q/A sessions are up to your exacting standards.

Re:so... (1)

LowneWulf (210110) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652692)

I'd be surprized to see that again. The response seems unique to Blizzard, who is obsessive about shielding their developers away from the real world at all costs.

Plus, Firaxis doesn't have a huge revenue stream from Civ4 yet, so can less afford to insult their community pre-release.

balance (5, Interesting)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652559)

How do you balance great game play with actually creating a product and shipping it within a reasonable time frame? More to the point, how do you create an entertaining game without falling into the 'duke nukem forever' release schedule?

Netcraft Confirms it ... Don Adams, dead at 83 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652561)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - actor/cartoon voice actor Don Adams was found dead in his Hollywood home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Technical questions. (3, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652567)

Could you please describe some of the more technical aspects of the games you developed? Specifically, what language(s) did you choose when implementing your games. Why? Which compiler(s) did you use, and why did you choose them? Were there any compilers that either stood out in a very positive or negative way for you? What libraries did you use, if any, and why did you choose them?

Re:Technical questions. (1)

Joe Mucchiello (1030) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652703)

I don't think Sid has been involved in the development of a game at this level in 10 years. Do you really care about the 10-year old opinion of a game designer about how good compilers of 10 years ago were?

Re:Technical questions. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652752)

Yes, I do care. That is why I asked.

Having been involved with compiler development in the 1980s, I am quite interested in seeing what his experiences were. It is often the game developers who truly push compiler technology to the limit.

Why? (5, Interesting)

codergeek42 (792304) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652569)

I think the big question on a lot of our minds is: Why did you start doing game design and programming in the first place?

Balance (5, Interesting)

Avacar (911548) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652583)

When building any strategy game, where do you start when you attempt to balance the game? Do you find that you personally need to play test and try new concepts to balance games, or do the inherent mechanisms of your games lead towards making balance easier for you to to achieve?

Question... (5, Interesting)

Chickenofbristol55 (884806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652585)

Since the first Civilization game in 1991, how do you think the gaming industry has changed? And, is the change for the better or for the worse?

Complex Game Factors (0, Redundant)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652586)

I know alot of readers would really like to hear about how you approach the task of balancing complex strengths and weaknesses in games - for example, the relative speed and power of a unit in an RTS.

Dear Mr. Civ Creator (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652589)

Dear Mr. Creator of Civ;

Can I please have my softmore year back?

Re:Dear Mr. Civ Creator (5, Funny)

realmolo (574068) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652613)

Not until you learn to spell sophomore.

Re:Dear Mr. Civ Creator (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652627)

Apparently that was the year they taught spelling.

other uses (1, Interesting)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652592)

One quick question... Have you explored the possiblity of actually taking one of your great sim game engines and using it in a 'real world' type environment. (i.e. a city planner laying out their city in simcity 4000) Obviously things like an alien attack wouldn't be part of it, but with some changes I imagine it could make a relatively accurate sim. Your thoughts on it?

Re:other uses (2, Informative)

Xarius (691264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652709)

I think you may have confused Sid Meier with Will Wright.

Meier is responsible for the amazing Civilisation series and Alpha Centauri, which are more games than attempts at simulation, whereas Wright is the creator of the brilliant Sim City games and its friends. (0, Troll)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652593)

I'm developing a game based around trashing web servers, but Slashdot already dominates this genre. What advice do you have for new developers entering an already crowded/mature space?

AI (5, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652595)

I've been a huge fan of Civilization since it first came out. I've always thought the AI of the computer players is relatively good, especially how each has certain characteristics which differentiate them and give them strengths and weaknesses. But AI in strategy games doesn't seemed to have advanced drastically in the last 15 years. What do you imagine the next big advances in game AI will be? When will games really learn how you play? When will we not be able to tell the difference between a human and computer competitor?

A Meier MMORPG? (5, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652604)

> Today we're asking for questions about design and philosophy to pass on to Mr. Meier.

You've got a consistent track record of making some of the most interesting single-player turn-based strategy games ever to grace our screens. Civ and its descendants also make great turn-based multiplayer strategy games.

On the other end of the scale, we have MMORPGs - which to date, have been the direct opposite of single-player turn-based strategy games: repetitive skill grinds, no story arc, etc. The problem tends to run down to the fact that not everyone wants to run an empire - but by the same token, not everyone is content to PVP or grind all day.

It seems that many of the concepts that make a TBS great (IMHO the list includes, but is not limited to, a largish number of factions, shifting alliances between those factions, territorial control, resource management games requiring player allocation of resources between the generation of infrastructure and expendable units, a God's-eye view of history, and a story arc that emerges out of the economic, social, and political interactions between the factions) could be translated to the MMORPG genre - at least, given a suitably inspired design team and suitably-large time/dollar budget.

To what extent (if any) can TBS aspects be translated to a genre as radically different as a MMORPG, and to that extent, what advice would you have for a MMORPG designer?

Re:A Meier MMORPG? (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652684)

Gee, thanx. If Sid Meier creates Civilization MMORPG I'll have to move into my parent's basement so I can play it 24/7.

Are you the Phantom? (1, Interesting)

mokiejovis (540519) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652607)

Mr. Meier,

Is it true that you are the face of the Phantom of the Opera in Microprose's Return of the Phantom? The role of the phantom is uncredited and listed as, "???????."

Inquiring minds would like to know!

FreeCiv & Free Software (5, Interesting)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652611)

Have you ever played FreeCiv? If yes, how did you like it? Do you believe in Free Software, and, more specifically, have you considered releasing (older) game engine sourcecode under the terms of the GPL, or "vintage" game content under a Creative Commons-like license?

What are your thoughts on the revolution? (1)

Pinefresh (866806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652616)

And how will having a mouse like ineterface on consoles effect the style of game youre known for. Are you planning on designing new or porting old games over to the new console?

Question on governement types (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652619)


The evolution of the Civilization line has brough exciting new features with each new title. One thing though never changed much, I am talking of the government types. Do you have any plan and do you think it would be possible to have a system that could permit the creation of new government types, a kind of building block system (pretty much like unit building in Alpha-Centauri) that would give the opportunity to assign different modes of operation to different government levels, based on the separation of powers, the social choices, the economic models, etc. Thank you for your time.

Xavier Guilbeault

Re:Question on governement types (3, Informative)

Orne (144925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652720)

If you check the Civ4 sites, apparently this is how Civ4 is treating governments, basically you check-box the qualities out of 5 separate lists on how much or how little of certain civic freedoms you wish to endure.

Will Civ 1-3 ever be open sourced? (5, Interesting)

ziggamon2.0 (796017) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652620)

Some game producers, mainly id software usually release the source code for older versions of their games, have you ever thought of doing the same?
What are your reasons for/against? How do you feel about current free software Civ "clones" like FreeCiv?

Hot Coffee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652621)

Will there be a Hot Coffee patch for the next release?

New genre (5, Interesting)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652626)

It seems as if the mass market has become rather stagnant for several years. The last 'big new thing' was MMORPGs, and they've become fairly mature and standardized. Civ (although not the first 4X game) certainly sparked an entire class of games, Doom kickstarted first-person shooters and multiplayer. RTS games are still doing well, but classic adventure and turn-based have been somewhat in decline, as have RPGs. What do you see becoming the next genre in computer games?

Getting a Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652631)

This question is asked all the time of game industry pros, but I'd like to hear your take on it. Say you've got your masters in Computer Science, you've been programming games in your spare time for years, and you're ready to try and get that coveted job in the field or, god willing, start your own game company. What kind of advice do you have for the new folks, having yourself successfully become one of the grandmasters of the profession?

Console Vs. PC Gaming (1)

Puhase (911920) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652633)

With the next generation of consoles about to be released, there has been much discussion about the increase in development time it takes to produce games for these systems and the subsequent effects on price and originality in gaming. While PC gaming has, in my opinion, taken a back seat to the surging console market in the last five years, is it possible that in the future we could see a resurgence of a strong and varied PC gaming market? Does the PC, with its guarenteed massive install base and its relatively consistent hardware/software standards, give developers can edge to take more chances and develope more efficiently?

Nintendo Revolution and its possibilities (5, Interesting)

Spaceman Spiff II (552149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652634)

With the unveiling of the Nintendo Revolution and its point-and-click interface, do you think Civilization-esque strategy games will finally come to home consoles? And with this new, entertainment-center, living room environment will there be new ways for you to expand on the genre? Perhaps, for example, with regard to teamplay and multiplayer, as these are big in the home console setting?

The Wisdom of Alpha Centauri (5, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652646)

Sid -- I've always been curious: In Alpha Centauri, how did your team come up with as many snazzy future quotes as they did? Several of them seemed downright smart enough that I was suprised to see them credited to in-game characters rather than historical writers. Thanks for all the great games; I just dusted off Civ 3 for my yearly week of nonstop obsession.

What kind of game do you enjoy? (4, Interesting)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652657)

Good games (and specially videogames) entail a great deal of simulation of reality: they are bits of everyday life simplified for casual enjoyment.

What do you feel is more important for a game to be great and/or successful: that the bits of reality captured in the simulation will create an environment with interesting and complex possibilities, or that the game mechanics are fun and easy to grasp?

Is balance required between these two design forces? And which of the two do you enjoy most in your own experiences as game user? (provided that you actually enjoy playing games and not just design them!)

A Question (3, Interesting)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652658)


Who or what is your muse? When and how did that first big 'spark' click in your brain for games like Pirates! and Civilization?

Thank you,
Tom Darby

(P.S. If you feel that you simply can't answer this question properly in plain text, I'd be more than happy to drive on up to Firaxis...)

Question: Map Sizes (5, Interesting)

Androclese (627848) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652659)

I found great joy in being able to play Marla's Earth map against 15 CPU players in Civ III. The game took at least a month to complete... partly because of the size of the map, but a great part of it was the game took up to 10 minutes to process the CPU Player moves. What changes, if any, have been made to speed up game play without sacrificing the CPU's ability to formulate a realistic strategy?

Re:Question: Map Sizes (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652700)

As a follow up to my question, will we be able to see more than 8 other countries at once on the diplomatic screen without having to swap them in and out?

Burning time (4, Funny)

Mick Ohrberg (744441) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652660)

How would you respond if someone accused you as being the reason for hours upon hours of neglected work, laundry, yardwork, homework, pets, spouses, wifes, dental appointments...? *guilty of all of the above*

Complex Gameplay (1)

KalaNag (871736) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652663)

I'm a big fan of Alpha Centauri, at the point i'm still playing it. I think it's a great game with one of the most complex tech trees i've ever used, a "gameplay haven" that is incredible funny without any fancy graphics. The tech tree in Civ is also complex too, but I like more the gameplay of SMAC. Are you planning in a new release of SMAC with new graphics, more tech (you just never have enough tech!) and enhanced AI? Thank you...

What has Civ IV to offer? (1)

flogger (524072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652666)


Let me allow you the chance to "talk up" your upcoming game with this question.

I love most of the civilization games! I remember well buying Civ I and opening it at a friends house to check it out, then reshrinkwrapping it to give to my wife for a birthday present. I remember the improved units of Civ II. I loved the many hours spent playing on Civ Net. However, I looked forward to Civ III. The whole concept of cultural influence baffled me and made the game less fun for my wife and I. And as there was no multiplayer support out of the box, I was turned off from the series. I refused to purchase an expansion that would add the multiplayer that was promised originally. Hopefully Civ IV, if I purchase it, will have multiplayer. Anyway, on to my question:

What does Civ IV have to offer that will draw me back into your franchise? What elements for Civ I and II are included/excluded and what elements from Civ III are included/excluded?


Sweep of Time? (5, Interesting)

Alkaiser (114022) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652668)

A two-parter. I had read before you were making Civ III that you were planning on merging the two worlds of Civilization and Alpha Centauri, giving the player the ability to play through a big "sweep of time". Was this idea just too ambitious, and had to be shelved for the design process, and will it be revisited? If so, what about the design specifically was it that put this idea on the back-burner?

Future Directions in Gaming (4, Interesting)

WhiteBandit (185659) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652672)

I admire many of the great game designers who have pushed the boundaries in gaming (yourself, Will Wright and Peter Molyneux to name a few). However, I can't help but feel that many of today's genres are stale and a lot of new games are mostly repeating past formulas as we see many sequels or derivatives of previous games being released. This appears to be a trend that will continue.

Where do you think the future of gaming is headed and how hard is it to introduce radical new ideas into the industry (for example, Firaxis shelving Dinosaurs [] or Will Wright's bold idea in Spore [] )?

Civilization on Nintendo DS (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652675)

I heard a rumor that Civilization was coming to the Nintendo DS. Can you confirm or deny this? What are your thoughts on such a release?

Playability vs Graphics (5, Interesting)

Amoeba (55277) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652677)


In any Slashdot gaming discussion invariably the debate between playability vs. graphics comes up. "This game is pretty but the game sucks!" "Nethack is all I need man."

Of all the games you've had a hand in, the intricate strategies and complex ways one can enjoy the game have always seemed paramount, with graphics playing a backseat for the most part. Some of the most successful games in the past have been very simple on the surface but can have amazing depth, all without gee-whiz factor of purty lights and pictures of bleeding edge graphics engines (Tetris, Nethack, Civ series, etc). How much focus do you place on the graphical aspects of gaming and do you think there is a way to achieve a balance without sacrifices on either end and how do you tackle that problem? Nintendo's approach of focusing on "fun" and innovation in their games seems to be one example of how it can be done but sadly they are an exception to the rule it seems.


Open game (2, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652678)

You were one the first to really allow people to easily go into and modify aspects of your game. The first mod work I ever did for a game was to take the units for Civ II and revamp them.

At the time that prompted learning photoshop and my first real in depth look at the Internet. In retrospect that helped spur my career in IT, by making things accesible enough for somoene who wasnt a programmer to go under the hood and make changes, to play with it.

Was it your intent to help spur interest in technology as a career, or was this just an easy way to make the game? Is making the game that easily modifiable in the future something you still plan on doing down the road?

inovation? (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652681)

Here's a question: As games budgets become bigger and bigger, are flashy graphics and marketing become more important, is creativity and gameplay going out the window? What role will inovation play in the game industry as time goes on?

Copyright terms (5, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652683)

The first version of Civilization was released 14 years ago. With the original copyright terms, it would now be entering public domain. But copyright terms have been extended many times, so Civilization will not enter the public domain for many decades, perhaps not at all.

As one of the more innovative game designers, I think your opinion on this is quite relevant. Is it necessary for copyrights on these games to last for longer than 14 years? Do you depend on revenue from the first Civilisation game? Do you even get any anymore? Would you still have created Civilization had the 14 year copyright term still been in effect? What is the rationale for longer copyright terms?

What I'm getting at, is that Civilization is a landmark in gaming; it's part of our culture and I feel that you have already been duly rewarded by society for creating it, so the reason for you having copyright - so that you can create games as a profession - is no longer valid. Do you agree, and if not, why? If you do agree, do you think there are any situations in which a game company should have longer copyrights?

Please bear in mind the distinction between trademarks and copyright - Civilization entering the public domain would not mean that people would be free to create their own games called Civilization.

Independence (4, Interesting)

USSJoin (896766) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652690)

Mr. Meier,
You've displayed a remarkable ability to keep yourself free of the major game publishers, even as groups such as EA begin fairly hostile takeovers of other game development companies. My question, then, is twofold: Is this simply an intent to wait for the right price, or is it instead a personal calling to stay out of the mega game houses? And secondly, what do you feel would be lost by allowing major publishing companies to acquire one (or more) of your original titles?

Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652691)

Don't you think your greatest mistake as a game developer was including Germans as a "Civilization"?

Question to Sid (2, Interesting)

TabardPhantom (670289) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652695)

Mr Mier,

Have you improved the AI? CivIII was much the same game as CivII. The AI had the same failings. For many of us who play your games, and replay them, we are less interested in the pretty pictures as the game play. A smarter AI goes a long way towards keeping your loyal people loyal.

Are you planning on giving finer grain control of the difficulty settings? If not, why? One of the most annoying features of the game is the way that the difficulty is handled. Once you get past a certain point in difficult, it just cranks up the advantages to the AI (initial start, production, combat) globally. It would be nice to control which advantages it gets. For example, the huge initial advantage makes it difficult to play on the smaller maps. Yes isn't that the point? But the real thing is that if you want a smaller map for time reason (some of us have kids) but want to play a challenging game, you can tell in 10 moves (oops 3 opponents are close) it is time to quit. It would be nice to say, "Give them all the production and combat advantages possible, but only a small initial seed bonus" or conversely on a large sparse map, "give them a huge initial bonus and reduce the production and combat advantages to moderately high" being able to tune things like this will allow the players to create more difficult or easy scenerios.
Even better would be for the scenerio editor to have the further away AI get different bonuses to the close ones.

One question... (1)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652696)

How would you rate the SimGolf game, on a scale from 1 to 10?

What is different about your games? (2, Insightful)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652698)

What is it in the brainstorming, design, implementation, or other stage you may find more interesting that YOU think sets your games apart from other games that have not done as well, had the same staying power, or popularity?

Has innovation slowed in the gaming industry? (1)

Phoenixhunter (588958) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652701)

Do you believe that innovation has slowed in recent years with the increased number of sequels and 'mainstreaming' of PC and Video games? Do you welcome console gamers as an untapped market, or do you see them as a counter to games that require strategy and actually engaging one's brain?

Technically (2, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652704)

How much of the design work deals with the technical aspects of a product, as oppposed to the playing itself?

Meaning, do you start with what the machines can do, and design a game to fill those functions, or do you dream up a game and then design it so that it will fit the technical limitations of the machines?

You nearly made me flunk out of College! (4, Funny)

ellem (147712) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652707)

Was your intent to release Pirates! with the final years of my College education a conincidence or were you attempting to have me fail out of college and live a life of squalor?

Are you, in fact, my long lost arch nemesis?

What have you done with all the money you've made? (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652710)

Certain others in the gaming industry who have hit it big have gotten financially involved in ventures such as space travel.

Have you done anything interesting with the millions of dollars that you have made?

Dear Mr Meier (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652717)

Why is it that your games suck harder than Paris Hilton on turbo setting?

Development outside of the West Coast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13652723)

Do you feel that your development efforts have been helped or hindered by being outside of the West Coast tech centers.

Railroad Tycoon (4, Interesting)

carlivar (119811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652725)

You've been involved with all of the main sequels in the Civilization series. I was wondering if you ever plan on getting involved again with Railroad Tycoon in a similar way? I know two sequels have already been made without your involvement -- they were pretty good. But I felt that something was "missing" in those sequels. Perhaps it was the Sid Meier touch? I honestly had more fun with the original Railroad Tycoon! I know I'm speaking for many when I ask if it's ever possible we'll see a TRUE sequel to your original Railroad Tycoon?

Behind the scenes balancing of game play (1)

rgbe (310525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652726)

Hello Sid,

I've been a fan of yours since the original Civilization. Ever since getting hooked on Civilization I've wondered about the game design and how you achieve a excellent balance between all the aspects of game play. Although the later versions had more features, I often found I was trying to finish the game instead of playing the game. What are you in-house techniques in striking such a balance, and how have these techniques changed since the original Civilization?

What I want to know is (1)

Ben Newman (53813) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652727)

Can I have back that half a GPA point the first Civ cost me and the half a point Civ 2 cost me? You can have the girlfriend Alpha Centauri cost me, she wasn't that great anyway. I would like a new version of Alpha Centauri though, any thoughts on when that might be happening?

How do you define 'it'? (1)

Ransak (548582) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652729)

The intangible element to game play that makes the game fun has eluded many and been stumbled upon by others. What is the Sid Meier recipe for that elusive quality that some games simply lack? Is there a singular formula for 'fun'? (Pirates saved my sanity many times in college by the way, thank you!)

The Square Grid (5, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652737)

Why do you keep using a square grid (however distorted by perspective) when a hexagon grid is known to be more accurate for movement across a landscape? I do understand that this would influence a number of other things, such as the Local City Area would be 18 surrounding hexagons instead of 20 nearby squares, and that when surrounding an enemy you only have 6 ways to attack instead of 8, but those are not insurmountable issues. For example, if the SCALE of the grid compared to the map was shrunk a bit, you could "enlarge" the Local City Area by another ring of hexagons, for 36 total surrounding cells. Productivity in every cell is merely set a little lower than before. In combat distance weapons having a range of 2 cells could allow an enemy to be surrounded by up to 18 of your units (probably only after Cannons are invented). Alternately, simple construction of roads and railroads already allow distant units to engage an enemy; why can't building roads and railroads near a city extend the Local Area of that city? And other ways of accommodating a hexagon grid are possible, I'm sure. So, why not?

Take M.U.L.E., for example... (1)

Meagermanx (768421) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652740)

The Civilization games all seem to be pretty much the same, with the only difference being upgraded graphics and features. Do you feel the strategy game genre needs to introduce new concepts to keep itself innovative and interesting?

How do you feel about multi-threaded design? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652746)

How do you think multi-core/multi-threaded system will effect future games?
What about asymmetrical systems like the Cell?

Could the future of game design eventually lead to every unit being a separate thread?

What about managed code? Will future games start using garbage collection to speed development?

Your Most Underrated Game (5, Interesting)

myc18 (77888) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652750)

Thanks for your contributions to computer gaming. Out of all the tremendous games that you have developed, which one do you feel is the most underrated? That is, the one game that you found very rewarding to develop, but didn't garnish the attention that it should have.

The question that's on all of our minds: (5, Funny)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652751)

How exactly DO spearmen beat tanks?

Colonization (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652759)

To Sid: Thank you for creating the Civilization games. I've spent more time playing any one of them than I have playing any other games. Any chance of the Colonization game ever being updated? I remember it being a very good game as well.

Game modifications (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652760)

What do you think of user modifications of your games- patches, hacks, cheats users rebalancing the game and reworking it into something hardly recognizable, and playing the game in ways you never intended it to be? I know that some designers take a rather dim view of this; specifically I recall how in Roller Coaster Tycoon, some later versions had special checks so that if it detected you cheating, then it would not just delibrately crash the game, it would set a special internal flag so that it would keep crashing every time you started the game from then on (until you reinstalled or deleted/tweaked a special data file); what do you think of these sorts of practices?

Colonization (1)

T'hain Esh Kelch (756041) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652764)

Dear mister "You are responsible of taking the most out of my life with Civ and Colo".

When are we going to see Colonization 2?

Did You Design Crack Cocaine, Too? (1)

W. Justice Black (11445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652773)

I swear, Civ, Colonization, and Pirates are just as addictive...

Civ type games on other platforms (1)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652778)

What are the chances that games such as Railroad Tycoon, Civ, Colonization, etc., may be released for non-PC platforms?

I enjoyed them in the past and I would gladly pay to have a compilation of them available for my PS2 or my Treo (Palm OS). I like the turn-based "god" type games and I would like to be able to play them on something other than a PC. Why haven't these games already been released for PS2/Xbox/Gamecube/handhelds?

Drugs in the gaming workplace. (5, Interesting)

sudog (101964) | more than 9 years ago | (#13652781)

In the book "Hackers" by Steven Levy, there is an implication that Sierra, with Ken Thompson, implicitly tolerated drug and alcohol abuse in the early games development studios he commanded. There were huge parties, huge hangovers, and general debauchery on a regular basis. Obviously this kind of atmosphere wouldn't be tolerated today--if only for the potential liability, but I wanted to ask you whether or not you found, in your experience, addictive personalities being attracted to the game programming and design profession? Did you ever have any negative (or positive) experiences related to drug use in and around your offices, especially in the early days? Do you condone (or not) the use of mind-altering substances as a creative aid during the design phase?

Putting aside their (potential lack of) work ethic for the time being and concentrating solely on the economic value of the artistry of game design, of those users you knew for a fact were using drugs, did you find them to be more or less creative than normal people?
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