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Sid Meier Responds

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-plan-on-building-the-great-wall dept.

Games 365

Late in September we gave you the chance to put your questions to eminent game designer Sid Meier, the man behind the Civilization series. Creator of a series that has squandered the spare time of many a reader of this site, he took time out of the Civ IV release window to hand us back some thoughtful responses to your queries. Read on for the results of "Ask Sid Meier".1. By Anonymous Coward:
What is your opinion on open source clones such as FreeCiv? FreeLoaders, or flatterers? :)

Response:
It's tough to make a blanket statement about all open source clones, but since developers and publishers rely very heavily on intellectual property rights, any infringement or dilution of those rights can be detrimental to companies, games, and consumers. In the case of Civilization, Take Two Interactive now owns all rights to the game series and fortunately, the franchise is still a mainstay at Firaxis...so we feel pretty protective of the IP.

2. By Surt (22457):
Keeping PC gaming alive:
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? From the reverse perspective, what prevents consoles from finally killing off PC gaming?

Response:
Believe it or not, I think the biggest thing PCs have going for them in the console war is the mouse/keyboard interface. So many game types are nearly unplayable without this simple mechanism. Real-time strategies, first-person shooters, point and click adventures, are all best suited to a mouse and keyboard. Another important factor is the innate upgradeability of PCs vs. consoles. The fact that you can still have a viable machine two years after it has been on the market, by simply adding RAM or a new video card is priceless. PCs also benefit from fairly cost effective high-resolution monitors. Finally, you can't ignore how easy it is to connect PCs to the internet (another mouse/keyboard must by the way). Being able to quickly, easily, and cheaply connect is a major plus, as it allows all sorts of flexibility - from finding opponents to downloading patches and content to browsing forums and FAQs.

On the reverse side, consoles offer many positives as well. They represent a known quantity so it is easy to take advantage of everything they have to offer without worrying about the least common denominator. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to operate. They work well with your home theater and your living room without requiring a lot of technical know-how. Even with all of that, they will never "kill-off" computers because they aren't competing for the same market in the same fashion. There will always be room for both and that's good for me.

3. By codergeek42 (792304):
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?

Response:
I caught the computer bug in college, but never imagined that one day I would have a career making games for the computer. As a kid I really enjoyed playing board games and card games, and was interested in reading books about history, pirates, airplanes...all of which have been the topics in the games I've created. Bill Stealey and I started Microprose on a dare really...we were at a business conference together and were playing a flight-sim arcade game. Bill was really impressed that I kept winning and I told him that I could tell what the AI was going to do each time, so it was easy to win...and I said that I could make a better game in two weeks. Bill challenged me to do just that and so began our game development company.

4. By Avacar (911548):
Balance:
When building any strategy game, where do you start when you attempt to balance the game? Do you find that you personally need to playtest and try new concepts to balance games, or do the inherent mechanisms of your games lead towards making balance easier for you to achieve?

Response:
My whole approach to making games revolves around first creating a solid prototype and then playing and improving the game over the course of the 2-3 year development cycle...until we think it's ready for prime time. My experience in this area helps me to know what to do and where to start. I definitely spend a lot of time playing the game before I let anyone else look at it. I also have quite a code base that I've been using for a long time, so I know how certain systems will work before I even throw them in. Once the basics are in and I'm comfortable letting other people see it, I like to watch brand new players play it first. It's much harder to make a game balanced for newbies than for hard core gamers. I like to see where they have trouble and I try to eliminate things that are too troublesome or difficult to grasp... it's really important that players feel rewarded at all times, so this step is critical for that reason. Of course, once I have a good grasp on the new player experience, it's time to throw the game to the seasoned testers. For them, I just keep ramping up difficulty by factors of 2 until they beg for mercy - it seems to take longer than it used to for that to happen. :)

5. By WhiteBandit (185659):
Future Directions in Gaming:
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?

Response:
The cost of making games has gone through the roof, so understandably, publishers want to invest in games that are sure to sell...and sequels for successful franchises are safe bets. It's very difficult to convince publishers to invest millions of dollars in a new game idea...it's too risky. And, fans certainly seem to want more of what they love...Civilization, AoE, Sims...we keep making those games because people keep asking for more.

The game industry will continue to grow and become a bigger part of main stream entertainment...and eventually take over the world J The constant advances in gaming systems will drive new ideas. I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg in gaming...there's so much more to come.

6. By Amoeba (55277):
Playability vs Graphics:
In any Slashdot gaming discussion, invariably the debate between playability vs. graphics comes up. "This game is pretty but the game sucks!" vs. "Nethack is all I need man." The games you've had a hand in seem to emphasize intricate strategy, with graphics taking 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 bleeding-edge graphics engines. 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? How do you tackle that problem? When I got started, there was only so much you could do with graphics so we had to leave a lot up to the player's imagination. That was the beauty of those old games; the player filled in the gaps for you. If you put a green blob on the screen and called it a dragon, it had the tendency of becoming a dragon so long as you were engaging the player's mind. Times change, though, and technology marches on. People expect a lot more out of a computer or video game these days and we have to adjust. I still like to engage the player's imagination, but they don't have to fill in so many gaps themselves.

Response:
This is very cool because I don't have to use so many info screens to show players what they need to know - which is a dream come true for me. When we were remaking Pirates, it was very important to us that players be able to see the towns, discern their nationality, and see how large and wealthy they were all by looking at the screen. In Civ IV, the guys have taken that concept even farther and you can see at a glance everything you really need to know about a city.

On the other hand, it seems there are many times when graphics get the better of good judgment. I must say that I am a big fan of racing games like Gran Turismo, but sometimes it seems they are more focused on the replay than the race, which feels a little backwards to me. In fact, lately I've been let down by a bunch of racing games that looked amazing but were tragically flawed in some way. So, I'll stick with Gran Turismo 3.

One final note on this... Recently, I've been working on several prototypes and was surprised to find that I reached a point fairly early on when I just couldn't find any more fun in the concept - until I had some professionally created art. In the past, I was content to create my own art and never had any trouble envisioning gameplay, so this represents a fundamental change for me.

7. By truthsearch (249536):
AI:
I've been a huge fan of Civilization since it first came out. I've always thought the AI of the computer player is relatively good, especially how each has certain characteristics which differentiate them. But AI in strategy games doesn't seemed to have advanced drastically in the last 15 years. What do you imagine the next big advance in game AI will be? When will games really learn how you play? Will we not be able to tell the difference between a human and computer competitor? I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but in my opinion, the goal of AI is not necessarily to simulate a human response. The goal is to generate interest for the player by providing the illusion of a human-like response - or not at all human-like, if that's what it takes to engage the player. I'm not entirely sure that complex games like Civ could ever have true human responses because there is so much complexity that the AI would bring almost any machine to its knees.

Response:
Consider this: we have only recently been able to truly simulate intelligence that can compete with a human in chess. Chess is obviously a complex intellectual game, but it is ultimately fairly easy to define because there are only 64 squares and 6 types of movement. Plus, the rules of engagement are simple - attack and win. Add to that the huge amount of known strategy that has been collected and studied throughout the years and it is even more definable. In a game like Civ, we have over 80 units, all with different movement rates, strengths, special abilities, experience levels, etc. We also have to decide where to place cities, what to build, who to be nice to and who to make war with. We also have to decide what to research, what religion to spread, what Civics to adopt, etc. All in all, I don't expect to see anything close to true human intelligence any time soon, as long as games continue to get more complex.

9. By Chickenofbristol55 (884806):
Question:
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?

Response:
Obviously the gaming industry has grown exponentially since 1991. The cost of entry is much higher than it was when I started. The days of guys building a game in their garage and then selling it to a publisher are behind us, I'm afraid. To make a game today it takes more money, time, people, technology...which is why there are fewer independent developers and the big publishing houses run the show. Frankly, I liked it better in the old days, when things were less complicated (I'm showing my age here). We were breaking new ground, and it was really fun. Not to say that it's not fun now...I still love making games and have a bunch of new ideas for games I'd like to create.

The stakes are much higher now, but the quality of many of the games produced today is pretty impressive. The changes in the industry have definitely benefited the consumers - they have an array of game systems and games to choose from...and the competitive environment drives developers to strive to out-do each other...which pushes game design forward.

All things considered...there's nothing else I'd rather do for a living than make games. It's the best job in the world.

10. By TuringTest (533084):
What kind of game do you enjoy?:
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 mechanics create an environment with interesting and complex possibilities, or that they 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 player?

Response:
I like to play all kinds of games...on a variety of systems. My son and I play games on the PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube...and they range from Warcraft, to Halo to Grand Turismo...to Civilization. :)

I definitely try to create, and most enjoy playing, games that strike a balance between depth/complexity and ease of use. My goal when making a game is to find the right mix of story and mechanics that will deliver many hours of fun to players. We try to put the player in a situation where they can be something great - King, Pirate Captain, Tycoon, Entrepreneur - and create an interesting world where they can have an adventure, build an empire, conquer the world etc. The game can be as deep as a player wants it to be. In Civ for example, a game can last from 1 hour to 40 hours, depending on what the player wants. I've watched kids play Civ on a very surface level and have a great time with it...and I've seen hard core gamers go as deeply into the game as possible...where things become pretty complex...and those folks have a fun experience too. We've tried to make Civ IV easy for anyone to pick up and play...and then created layers and layers of depth and complexity just waiting to be explored by those who dare to venture there. But...the interface remains familiar and easy-to-use throughout....and the visuals add a whole new dimension to the experience. Sorry for the shameless plug...but it's our baby. :)

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first poop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13845888)

i hope this is the first poop, i mean post.

Thanks, Sid! (-1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845890)

I just want to give a big thanks! to Sid, even if he doesn't read this. He's done us all a great favour by taking time out of his no doubt very busy day to give us some insight into game development today.

Re:Thanks, Sid! (1)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845995)

I fully agree. Thanks, Sid, for the thoughtful, candid responses. Like many others here, I played the original Civ (yes, 320x240 and all--boy was the Windows version eye-popping!), and I still play it occasionally today.

This certainly is a marked contrast to the Interview with the Blizzard "developers", where all we got back was a load of marketing bull.

Re:Thanks, Sid! (1)

Meagermanx (768421) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846311)

Hell yes.
Those were great questions. Noticed how he answered them? Look closely, if you will, at the great examples and insight he shares?
 
Hey, Blizzard! Sit up straight in your chair and pay attention. Stop staring out the window.

Re:Thanks, Sid! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846200)

Fuck off crackwhore.

Is this all you post anymore? (3, Interesting)

Work Account (900793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846206)

Every time I see your username in the comment section it's next to a modded-up post "thanking" whatever the article is about.

A Firefox article is posted, and within 15 minutes there's you with a "Thanks, Firefox developers!" comment.

Google announces a new feature of their Print service and immediately it's "Thanks Google!!" in a comment of yours that shoots straight up to 4 or 5.

I guess what I'm saying is... shut up.

Re:Is this all you post anymore? (5, Funny)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846380)

Thanks, Work Account (900793)!!!

Please refer to my posting history, my good sir. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846422)

Of course not. Please, feel free to check my posting history:

http://slashdot.org/~CyricZ [slashdot.org]

That said, when somebody does something worthy of appreciation, I will let them know that. Common courtesy, you know.

Cheerios, my friend!

What are you, kidding me? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846474)

Number of hours I've spent on Civ, Sid needs to be putting at least an hour a month here for a few years. Factor in all the other /. readers, and Sid Meier games, that number should ramp up to about 8 hours/week, for the next coupla years. Get comfy Sid, it's payback time.

bkd

Who's the shmuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13845900)

Who sent the email to daddypants telling Zonk that it was "emminent" not "imminent?" I was so looking forward to all the jokes...

Re:Who's the shmuck? (-1, Offtopic)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845932)

:-)

(and actually, I pointed out it was "eminent", not "imminent", the "emminent" was interstitial.

cid meyer (1)

Dragoonkain (704719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845903)

the cid I know about is LSD, other than that, I am sure most are not interested

Nice dodge (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845946)

It's tough to make a blanket statement about all open source clones, but since developers and publishers rely very heavily on intellectual property rights, any infringement or dilution of those rights can be detrimental to companies, games, and consumers. In the case of Civilization, Take Two Interactive now owns all rights to the game series and fortunately, the franchise is still a mainstay at Firaxis...so we feel pretty protective of the IP.

Apparently, Take Two also owns all rights to the Sid Meier's Personal Opinion franchise.

Still, the rest of the interview was very interesting.

Re:Nice dodge (5, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846014)

Actually, I think he did answer the question, or at least he came a lot closer to answering it than "dodging" would imply. He's telling the developers of those clones to be careful about copying or risk being sued. I get the impression he doesn't really like the clones that much, but he probably hasn't looked at them closely and so doesn't know how much or how little they copy his work.

Go ahead and try it, Sid (0, Troll)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846126)

"He's telling the developers of those clones to be careful about copying or risk being sued."

Sue who for what? 100 developers and contributors for a portion of all the profits they've earned?

Surely, after all the massive hits he's made and the piles of money he sleeps on, he can afford to be a little gracious towards an open source game project.

Re:Go ahead and try it, Sid (1)

Hrvat (307784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846207)

Even if Sid was as gracious as an angel, Take 2 still owns the rights and can sue whoever they want whether or not he approves. He is warning people that others own the IP and can sue.

Re:Go ahead and try it, Sid (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846218)

He doesn't own the IP anymore, Take2 does.

And Take2, like any big publisher, will move to quash clone developers when they become a threat.

It's a business. It's not there to promote independent developers, it's there to make money.

We should be happy that Sid & Take2 are continuing to develop games, to improve the Civ franchise, instead of sitting back and slapping lawsuits on anyone who tries to copy older games.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Take2, but I'm in the same building as them.

Take2... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846501)

The guys who forced David Braben into releasing Frontier: First Encounters early - when it still had numerous bugs - and allegedly owe him money over the fiasco? Yeah, I'd trust their opinion on Intellectual Property. Since you're in the same building and all, can you go over and tell them to cut the crap and release games WHEN they're ready? And to get First Encounters - along with their other games - to that point?


I actually have a lot of sympathy for programmers wanting to make money. That's a perfectly valid purpose for programming. I have substantially less sympathy for companies that peddle faulty goods - knowingly - for the purpose of making money from goods that really don't yet exist, rather than waiting until they can make that money fairly and honestly.


Sid Meier deserves sympathy and support for reputable conduct that deserves payment in kind. Take2 deserves a vacation in Siberia.

Re:Go ahead and try it, Sid (2, Interesting)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846303)

"Surely, after all the massive hits he's made and the piles of money he sleeps on, he can afford to be a little gracious towards an open source game project."

Ahh, spoken like a true Socialist!

'I say he's made enough money, and I think he should be compel^H^H^H^H^H^H happy to give back to the people who played his games!'

Re:Go ahead and try it, Sid (1)

Cyclon (900781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846317)

Sue who for what? 100 developers and contributors for a portion of all the profits they've earned?

Well, I'd guess their first target would be whoever runs the website that distributes FreeCiv to get it shut down. They could also try for damages from the same people for distributing the allegedly infringing materials.

Re:Go ahead and try it, Sid (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846319)

Sueing doesn't have to be "for" anything. There don't even have to be losses, expecially in copyright law. Statutory infringment does away with such silly notions.

Re:Nice dodge (1)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846090)

Actually this dodge was pretty clumsy. And it is only needed if he is not happy about FreeCiv. I find it rather sad, that he cant find anything good about these games - FreeCiv for example was very innovative in multiplayer, networked Civing.

Anyway, Im off to buy Quake4 for my linux box.

Re:Nice dodge (5, Insightful)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846149)

Apparently, Take Two also owns all rights to the Sid Meier's Personal Opinion franchise.

Translation from Slashbot into English:

I like Sid and his games and I'm pissed off that he cares about making money off his innovation instead of blindly embracing open source like I do. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. One more person I can't respect.

Dude, seriously. If I was in his shoes and had my career aspirations, bankroll, retirement, and basically every financial aspect of my life hinging upon the legal protection of what amount to ideas, I'd wouldn't even be THIS evasion about it. I'd be saying something like, "Are you seriously asking me what I think of people who take my ideas and produce half-assed clones of them that they distribute for free while I'm trying to run a company that feeds six dozen developer's families?"

Insert cliched rebuttal about how ideas don't have owners here.

Re:Nice dodge (1)

Observador (224372) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846362)

Is it me, or did Sid's answers where the dryest (read boring) to date in a Slashdot interview?

OTOH, I've been asking myself for forever: What bussiness model can sustain open-source game developers?

It doesn't seem to me like the traditional pay-for-support model works well with games. Subscription models will alienate some users...

Ideas anyone?

Re:Nice dodge (4, Interesting)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846364)

I'd be saying something like, "Are you seriously asking me what I think of people who take my ideas and produce half-assed clones of them that they distribute for free while I'm trying to run a company that feeds six dozen developer's families?"

There are few things that the half-assed clones and Sid Meier's Civilization have in common that is not already in this:
Civilization [boardgamegeek.com]
And that one was designed by Francis Tresham, so yes, I it makes me sore, if Sid bitches about "his" IP.
Also the half-assed clones have features that are missing in the Civ games, or have been implemented there much later (useable networked gaming, hex tilesets, etc.)

Re:Nice dodge (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846423)

Well spoken, and this should not have been modded funny, but insightful. I guess it's only the grace of a few slashdotters that you haven't been modded flamebait ;)

Re:Nice dodge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846482)

Just a note, on this very divisive subject...
Ideas do not have owners, however an implementation is not an idea, it is an idea made into a product. Commercial or open source product, it is still 'ownable'. Don't like it? Roll your own. The problem comes in when people try to tell you you aren't allowed to 'roll your own' becuase it looks too much like their implementation.

Also, I doubt Sid is losing sleep worrying about losing market share to any open source clone or competitor.

Posting AC from work - sorry.

Re:Nice dodge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846245)

He also dodged question #8 apparently. Where did it go?

Re:Nice dodge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846306)

Why don't you open sores make some real innovative games instead of games like tux racer and frozen bubble?

Something a mother would be proud of.

First-person shooters (1, Interesting)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845980)

are best suited to mouse and keyboard control? I must be missing something here. Of course, my experience with "first-person shooter" games has been nil since "Duck Hunt" on the original NES. But still... does he honestly believe a mouse and keyboard are the best way to experience such games? Strikes me as odd.

Re:First-person shooters (3, Interesting)

spleentor (873802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846033)

well i don't know about anybody else here, but i hate playing a fps on a console. i'll take my good ol' keytronic kb and intellimouse optical over a controller anyday.

Re:First-person shooters (5, Interesting)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846049)

Yes, frankly. Two-sticking ala Goldeneye is tolerable, at least for a fairly simple FPS, but having easy access to dozens of keys for things like weapon switching, and having a mouse which can aim far more accurately than a joystick, still makes for a far better experience.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846116)

Haha, Duck Hunt, the original FPS!

Back in the doom days, I always prefered the keyboard over the mouse or joystick, but these days you have to use a mouse for aiming, just for the speed you get out of an analog device (your aim moves as quick as you move the mouse), whereas a keyboard is a fixed speed.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846214)

Haha, Duck Hunt, the original FPS!

What about Star Raiders in 1979 on the Atari, then? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Raiders [wikipedia.org]

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846365)

Oh yes, I do remember that one .. wasn't that the only game whereby they re-mapped the colour/black&white switch to toggle the map view or something? Really great game, by the way.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846118)

A mouse is near perfect as aiming device, much faster and more accurate than a light gun. The only other control method with any hope of being as accurate is mouse + trackball, and as most people learn with mouse it is not popular. If two equally skilled player compete, one with mouse+keys and one with console controller, the mouse+keys player will dominate.

Re:First-person shooters (5, Interesting)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846135)

It's the fine detail aiming with the mouse, combined with the movement and weapon selection on the keyboard. It only works because you have both of them on a desk, so you don't have to have something light enough or wieldy enough to hold in your hands.

With consoles, you need a small controller you can hold in mid-air, so for example aiming and button use has to be done with your thumbs, rather than most of your fingers. I've played Halo on the PC and XBox, and the PC version is unquestionably better in my mind.

That said, the next generation nintendo with it's gyro controllers will actually use the mid-air movement of the controller(s), so FPS games on it may well end up equal or superior to the PC experience. We'll see.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846168)

With current on the market controllers, yes, absolutely.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Brakz0rz (773616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846187)

There is no competition. While an analog stick offers good multidirectional movement the mouse is far more intuitive and accurate. It's easier to overshoot with a stick while the mouse tends to stop when you want it to.

If you play a fps on a console you notice that the programmers have slowed down enemy responses to suit the sluggishness of the game controller. I noticed this when playing MOH:Allied Assault on my friends x-box. The analog stick can only rotate your line of sight at specific speeds (usually 3-4 levels of difference from the axis to the edge limit) where the mouse simply reacts at the speed which you move it.

The problem most folks experience is getting used to pointing your 'head' with the mouse and walking with your keys. Once you get that down there is no going back.

Re:First-person shooters (1)

PacketShaper (917017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846197)

As opposed to your inherently clunky and inaccurate opposible digits with a 1/2 inch movement range to aim? I'll stick with my mouse... thanks

Re:First-person shooters (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846212)

He is absolutely correct. With a track-ball and keyboard, I have better and more accurate control over any console controller out there.

Play Call of Duty on PS2 and on a PC, the difference is instantly noticable; PC controls are vastly superior.

Re:First-person shooters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846369)

I agree 110%, I will not play FPS with a gamepad. Combine the pitiful resolution most consoles pump out (even in HD) with the alternately under or over responsive reticle control you wind up with on these tiny analog thumbsticks, aiming sucks hugely and becomes frustrating to the point of rage. The only FPS type game I have ever enjoyed on consoles employed a "close enough" aiming system where the reticle was snapped to a target if you got within 5-10 pixels of the edge of it (ala Goldeneye or Dark Forces on N64). It boggles my mind that anyone could possibly prefer a gamepad to KB+mouse for the current crop of FPSs.

Re:First-person shooters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846486)

The fact that you think Duck Hunt is a first person shooter shows how utterly unqualified you are to have any opinion on the matter. Play one and you'll see.

Or to answer your question, yes, you are missing something.

What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (4, Interesting)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13845987)

The most popular questions from the slashdot comments don't get picked.

For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored.
Come one, slashdot. Just ask the questions we've modded up.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846060)

There's a good chance they emailed him all the score: 5 comments, and told him to answer 5 or so and he simply didn't respond to that one.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846087)

Think about what you've just said. This being /., of course comments about linux posts are going to get modded up. That doesn't necessarily make them worthwhile or interesting questions in their own right, though.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (2, Insightful)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846158)

That's really neither here nor there.
The questions are supposed to be the ones that slashdot users and mods find interesting. The fact that a slasdhot editor disagrees shouldn't factor in.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

Braino420 (896819) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846434)

Yes, those bastard /. editors. How dare they do this to us! Someone needs to do something about this. I'm so tired of being forced to read and comment on the things that THEY post! man, i'm NEVER coming back!

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (3, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846152)

Answer: To give the illusion of audience participation.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846417)

What CSM marked the parent "troll"? It's a perfectly fair comment IMHO.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846165)

Perhas you missed the part of the article where it was said they'd pass on the "10 best questions," not the "10 highest rated by the cheerleaders regardless of how asinine."

Here, let me solve your problem.

"We have no plans to port Civilization or any other game to Linux." - Sid Meier

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (2, Informative)

Zonk (12082) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846254)

With some folks, like game developers, we're limited to only 10 questions. There were a lot more than 10 questions modded +5 in the original post, so the 10 questions to be sent needed to be the ones with the broadest appeal that would likely result in a substantial answer.

I wish we could have covered all the questions that were voted popular too, but making games is a busy job and we needed to pick and choose.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (2, Insightful)

Drey (1420) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846347)

Here's an alternate idea.

* Let us rate the questions, like we do.
* You tell the interviewee "we'd like you to answer at least 'x' of them" and then hand over the top-rated ones, all of them.

And here's the important part:

* Let the interviewee pick the questions. Maybe he or she will even choose to answer more then 'x' of them. Maybe they'll pick ones you wouldn't have.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846383)

Thanks for the reply, Zonk.
Maybe nextime you could post all on topic questions and ask him to pick ten, or answer more than that if he'd like?

Given that Sid allowed loki to port Alpha Centauri to linux, it may have been something he would have wanted to answer.

BTW, tuxgames.com has some more stock of alhpa centauri. Its the top seller again.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846418)

The most popular questions from the slashdot comments don't get picked.

Really? Every single one of the questions asked was rated to +5. Maybe your most popular question didn't get picked, but your statement is baseless.

There were 61 comments rated to +5 on the original story (note -- it's not the one that's linked to in the post; that links to the "Ask CivIV Devs" which in turn links to the proper story). They can only submit 10 questions to be answered (and hey, where'd #8 go?) -- submitting much more than that isn't reasonable. Can you imagine if you'd agreed to answer 10 questions and got a list of 60+ and were told "just answer the 10 you like"? If I was in that situation I'd answer precisely zero -- because you clearly don't understand what the hell your job is as an interviewer.

For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored.

Uh, frankly, the answer is blindingly obvious. Even id Software, which provides Linux ports, has stated that it doesn't make financial sense. And their codebase is "relatively" easy to port because it's not completely tied to DirectX.

Really, I do want to know what happened to question #8. We got jipped an answer! And maybe it'd even be the one to make you happy.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (1)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846479)

There were 61 comments rated to +5 on the original story (note -- it's not the one that's linked to in the post; that links to the "Ask CivIV Devs" which in turn links to the proper story). They can only submit 10 questions to be answered (and hey, where'd #8 go?) -- submitting much more than that isn't reasonable. Can you imagine if you'd agreed to answer 10 questions and got a list of 60+ and were told "just answer the 10 you like"? If I was in that situation I'd answer precisely zero -- because you clearly don't understand what the hell your job is as an interviewer.

Good point. I clicked the link in this story's write up and didn't notice it was for the other interview. That one had 4 of its 36 +5 modded questions related to platforms other than windows. Guess we'll have to wait and see how that one goes.
The world of warcraft repsonses left out any of the linux questions.

Re:What's the point of these Q&A sessions? (4, Insightful)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846420)

For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored

The reason this question is never asked is because the answer is always the same.

Civ IV shameless plug (1)

mejesster (813444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846015)

I know I'm ready to dive into those lucious layers of depth that Meier is tantalizing us poor souls with.
Other than that, I do appreciate his plugs for mouse/keyboard and PC gaming in general. Come on developers, you can't ever give those damn controllers(or consoles) the versatility of a PC.

PC Gaming's Days are Numbered (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846143)

I think the mouse and keyboard define a paradigm of control that has been very successfull - but by no means perfect. The mouse is a better aiming mechanism than, for example, a joystick, but still not better than an actual pointing mechanism like a gun.

There has to exist some compromise between a tool built for the job and a tool built for all jobs - at last as long as we're defining our tools in a physical world. While a gun like object would probably be a better pointing mechanism for Quake 4, it's likely not the best pointing mechanism for Black and White 2.

As the price of technologies like gyroscopic pointing devices and virtual keyboards come into the range of the average user, we may see a change in game controllers. In a battle where the controller preferance is no longer the defining characteristic seperating PC gaming from a living room set top box, the increased expense and varied specifications of the PC will likely prove a fatal blow to the platform.

Ignoring my keyboard and mouse - I'd much rather be doing my gaming on a 40+ inch HD Tv with a nice Dolby 5.1-7.1 surround system than at my PC. With comparable prices between those two systems, Joe Sixpack isn't going to buy PC games if the interface suddenly doesn't matter.

What a dick! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846016)

What does "intellectual property" have to do with clones, unless they are using assets lifted or derivatived from the original work? You can't own ideas and if you could, there would be no games industry.

Re:What a dick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846039)

s/derivatived/derived

I've had a hard week

Re:What a dick! (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846107)

I know! That "flying around, shootin' at stuff"? That was my idea! But do I get any credit? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Slow games in Civilization (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846041)

I really hope he figured out a way to make Civ4 playable after a hundred or so turns. I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.

Re:Slow games in Civilization (5, Funny)

tktk (540564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846140)

I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.

Hmm...you must have accidentally researched political red tape.

Re:Slow games in Civilization (5, Funny)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846188)

I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.

As soon as your PC hits the modern age you'll be fine :)

Re:Slow games in Civilization (3, Informative)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846202)

How much RAM do you have?

I'm playing on an older P4 (2.something GHz I think) but I've got 1GB of RAM and I don't notice that much of a slow-down in the modern era. I usually play on huge worlds with lots of civs on them, too. I bought this machine about 3-4 years ago.

There is a slowdown in gameplay, but you don't seem to be discussing that kind of thing since you are mentioning processor and not things like the actual gameplay. I find that by the modern era, in those huge worlds, I have so many things to move and do that each turn can take me 10 minutes or so. I definitely hope that, in Civ4, I'll have even better automating options for city stuff. (Civ 3 really pisses me off that, despite orders to the governors to never build units or to always build any city improvement they can, it still sometimes builds units, or shifts to "wealth" instead of building improvements from the expansion packs. GRR! All the time I save with automation gets spent fighting back against the automation when it misbehaves. Bad expansion!)

Just recently, in honor of City of Villains, Civ4, Quake 4 and FEAR, I have bitten the bullet and upgraded to an AMD 64 system w/SLI and 2GB of RAM. What I spent in hardware costs, I'll save in heating expenses, for sure.

Re:Slow games in Civilization (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846232)

I really hope he figured out a way to make Civ4 playable after a hundred or so turns. I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.
Could just be because by the time you get to the modern age you haven't slept for 36 hours...

Civ Dissapoints Met (0, Offtopic)

codemakesmecry (924115) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846045)

Used to play Civ but latelly it has been letting me down, I don't know maybe I am graphics junky but I want more.

Re:Civ Dissapoints Met (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846094)

No problem. The updated Civ IV will have greatly improved, 3-D graphics. I can hardly wait although the old graphics are still fine for me.

PC Upgradability (3, Insightful)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846054)

The fact that you can still have a viable machine two years after it has been on the market, by simply adding RAM or a new video card is priceless.

Yea, but the thing is that these days you can buy a new console for LESS than a decent video card...

Re:PC Upgradability (3, Funny)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846193)

...and the console is viable for 4-5 years, AND the games typically look, run, and play *better* the longer you own the console (as developers exploit the console better).

Still, PCs are great machines. For coding console games. [duck]

Re:PC Upgradability (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846341)

With a PC, you don't NEED to upgrade your graphics card all the time. When a console comes out there are many games unique to it that require an upgrade. When pc titles come out you can still run them on older hardware with some settings turned down. Very rarely will a game come out which won't even run on a 4-year old graphics card.

Re:PC Upgradability (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846379)

4 years ago would mean a geforce 3 card. Try running modern games on a GF3 and sub-ghz cpu...

Re:PC Upgradability (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846390)

Yeah, but it's still the same old console, as good or bad as it was two years ago. Not so with the PC :)

Reusing Code == Unoriginal Game Play (3, Insightful)

katana (122232) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846064)

"I also have quite a code base that I've been using for a long time, so I know how certain systems will work before I even throw them in."

My first thought on this was, Wow, wouldn't it be great to Open Source this code base. My second thought was, isn't this a symptom of a larger problem? We want code to be modular and reusable so complex games can be developed quickly, yet we complain that games aren't original enough because people are reusing code. Seems like a fundamental problem to me.

Re:Reusing Code == Unoriginal Game Play (4, Insightful)

merdark (550117) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846290)

The overall "game logic" code is probably a very small fraction of the overall code base. All games need certain functions, game time/event code, graphics rendering code, animation code, etc etc. Reusing code does not have anything to do with game play being original or not, unless they are also reusing game logic ideas (and code).

Re:Reusing Code == Unoriginal Game Play (1)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846389)

Nobody is complaining that games aren't original enough because they're reusing code. Reusing code hardly has a serious effect on the concept of the game. The concept of the game and the code which they're reusing are not that tightly coupled. Graphics code for instance is very reusable in many cases regardless of the type or concept of the game it is being applied too.

Waste of a question (4, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846086)

Keeping PC gaming alive:
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? From the reverse perspective, what prevents consoles from finally killing off PC gaming?


I missed this question when the original article asking for questions was posted. But this is a silly waste. Sid's answer is spot on, and I wish I knocked this down a knotch with a mod point.

Lumping an entire market together and insisting they are direct competitors for the exact same dollar is stupid. Civ4 cannot be played well with a PS2 controller, and Grand Turismo plays crappy on a keyboard. You can find a way to make it work, but no one is going to spend the time to try to code it. It's a waste. The market will show you that there is room for both, and while there are lots of crossovers, you will also see that there are lots of areas where there is absolutely no crossover, simply because of interface issues.

Sid makes some other great points about graphics and upgrades you can do to a PC. This goes into the fact that a $100-$300 console can run a fast paced racing game with better performance than a $1500 computer. PC games are notorious for being slow and skipping frames. Some console games do this, but that's considered a bug in the console game and it doesn't do so well if it performs badly. However, in the PC world if a game has godly system requirements for any reason, the blame is more often put on the PC and not the person who coded it to require too much power. Sometimes that's deserving but having to spend hours just to fine tune your system to play Quake or Doom is nuts.

They are all gaming companies, but different games for different platforms will always be here, and I hope it gets even more diverse, because we need the diversity.

Re:Waste of a question (1)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846331)

That used to be true, but my recent experience of Xbox and PS2 is that frame rate hit is now allowable on consoles...

Re:Waste of a question (2, Interesting)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846335)

Not only is there a waste of a question, but apparently question #8 is completely missing. Did the editor/submitter remove question #8, or did Sid decline to answer a particular question? Any guesses as to what the omitted question might be?

Re:Waste of a question (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846371)

That wasn't my experience with racing games on PC vs. console.

First, there is no reason why you can't hook up a console-type controller to a PC. There are even adapters that will allow you to directly connect a PS2 controller to the USB port on your PC. I'm sure that there are similar products for the other consoles. There is most definitely racing wheels for the PC. My experience with racing wheels has been that while on the PC I can tweak all of the variables like dead zone and response, the hardware-agnostic nature of the console will only allow you to adjust some parameters (Gran Turismo does not have a controller set up utility; you have to adjust the settings with the hardware itself), and ultimately the wheel you just spent money on is inferior to the controller that comes with the console because the dead zone can't be made narrow enough, or the pedals aren't responsive enough, etc.

Second, there are some great racing games for the PC, like TOCA Race Driver 2, and more recently, GTR FIA GT Racing.

The real reason why racing games have been vastly more successful for the console is because the console controller solution is "good enough" and there are way more consoles in circulations than gaming PCs, so the racing game developers are going to focus on producing their games for the larger market. It has nothing to do with the console performing better than the PC or not having access to a PS2-style controller on the PC. If anything, the performance is better on a PC and the control options are much more varied.

Re:Waste of a question (2, Insightful)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846395)

PC games are notorious for being slow and skipping frames. Some console games do this, but that's considered a bug in the console game and it doesn't do so well if it performs badly.

Many modern console games run 20-30 FPS, with 30 FPS being a 'goal'. They also generally do not necessarily attempt to run at a fixed frame rate, unlike consoles of previous generations. Unless, that fixed frame rate is capping off the frame rate at the lower end of a fluctuating spectrum so as to prevent uneven performance.

Re:Waste of a question (1)

alen (225700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846416)

a normal TV is less than 640x480 resolution where a PC is usually 1024x768 minimum. It takes a lot more horsepower to make graphics on a PC monitor compared to a TV. HDTV is around 1024x768, but a lot of the new PC graphics cards can play at 1600x1200. Do the math to see what the difference in pixels is.

My Question to Mr. Meier: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846121)

Frankly, I was surprised at your nomination. Many of us would like to know: With your background as a game designer, what in particular do you feel makes you qualified to sit on the Supreme Court?

What I really want to know... (2, Insightful)

jason ward (581483) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846146)

When's Civ IV being released?

Re:What I really want to know... (2, Informative)

no_pets (881013) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846174)

October 2005 http://www.firaxis.com/ [firaxis.com]

Re:What I really want to know... (2, Insightful)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846215)

On Tuesday. No, really.

Re:What I really want to know... (1)

VMEbus (873863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846391)

I believe it's next Monday, the 24th. I've pre-ordered it already :)

Re:What I really want to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846436)

Yup, Gamestop says I can pick up my copy on Monday, 10/24/05

Re:What I really want to know... (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846444)

According to the "gone gold" announcement [tothegame.com] , it'll be shipped on 10/25 in the US, and one week after in Europe.

Dinosours (1)

MSBob (307239) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846177)

I regret my question wasn't picked but I'm really curious why the Dinosaurs project got abandoned. From the initial description it sounded like a terrific idea. Was the technology immature, was it too complex for an average gamer? I guess we'll never know the complete story behind that story.

He actually responded! (1)

moo083 (716213) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846239)

Wow, he responded.....unlike, some other developer team I know....(cough, cough, Blizzard, cough, cough)......

Thanks a lot Sid! Very insightful.

Wow (1)

Chickenofbristol55 (884806) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846259)

I can't believe he answered my question. But seriously, thanks again Sid, you have changed the way we play video games forever. Surely without you, someone else equally as brilliant would have come along. But in the end, what counts is that you were there, and YOU siezed the moment. Thanks.

Input devices (3, Interesting)

digidave (259925) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846322)

Given his comments on input devices on PCs being so far ahead of those on consoles, I wonder what Sid Meier thinks of the Nintendo Revolution controller. It seems to close some gaps while widening others. Then it also does things the PC hasn't yet dreamed of. IMO, it will be perfect for playing strategy games.

Disappointing... (2, Interesting)

glMatrixMode (631669) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846357)

As a big fan of Civ1&2 and Alpha Centauri, I find Sid's answers to be very disappointing.

The silliest one is the answer to Question 7.

Sid makes the following argument : Chess, which has simple rules, is the current limit of what computer AI can do as well as a human. So Civilization 4, which has much more complex rules, is too difficult to allow computer AI to compete with humans.

This argument is false : for instance, look at the traditional Asian "Go" game. It has very simple rules, much simpler than Chess. If Sid's argument made sense, computer should be able to play Go very well. But the reality is that as of today, Computers cannot compete with a skilled human. Thus : there is no direct relationship between the complexity of the rules, and the difficulty to design a strong AI.

Not to mention Sid's answer to the question on Free clones... he has no interest in software freedom.

Re:Disappointing... (1, Flamebait)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846445)

No, go is MUCH MUCH more complicated than chess. Not simpler.
Much more degrees of freedom.

Now I'm jealous (3, Funny)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846402)

I like to play all kinds of games...on a variety of systems. My son and I play games on the PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube...and they range from Warcraft, to Halo to Grand Turismo...to Civilization. :)

And all of that legitimately tax deductible. Nevermind how much fun the guy has at work, that's the really cool part. Government subsidized computers, console, and games. I'm in the wrong industry.*

Cheers
-b

* (well, I do get to deduct pr0n, so I guess it's not all that bad)

Grand Theft Auto as Carjacking Prevention Trainer (5, Funny)

Elyjah (108222) | more than 8 years ago | (#13846404)

Violence in current videogames? A South Carolina man was able to foil an attempted carjacking [cnn.com] using methods learned from Grand Theft Auto. I think both sides of the "violent games" story need to be told!

Spare time ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846431)

Only spare time? Is homework spare time?

Sid, you forgot to answer the most IMPORTANT one!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13846462)

Can I Have My Freshamn YEAR OF COLLEGE BACK??!?!??!?!??!111oneoneone!!
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