When it comes to PC royalty there are few developers more highly revered than Sid Meier. When he created the original Civilization back in 1991 little did he know that he would revolutionise the strategy game and plunge millions of gamers into gloriously hopeless Civ addiction.
Now, almost 15 years after the original Civilization IV is under development at Meier's studio Firaxis. Promising a new 3D game engine, new civilizations, new units, new game techniques, a fully customisable government system and all that classic, one-more-go gameplay, Civ IV should be the jewel in the King Meier's crown.
Our colleagues on PC Zone magazine recently had the exclusive pleasure of attending Meier's court, where he talked about his role on the new game, the history of the series, and where it's headed with this instalment.
Not only that, but Zone also got closer to Civ IV's new features and additions than anyone else. For the full in-depth lowdown, check out the world-shattering exclusive in the new issue of PC Zone, on sale today.
What's your official role on Civ IV?
Sid Meier: I'm the spiritual leader. I'm kinda here to represent the tradition and what made the game fun for the last 15 years. We've got a lot of great young guys who want to use the latest technology and cool latest stuff to build on that.
How do you think it's had such a long-lasting appeal?
Sid Meier: There's a gameplay appeal that's key to games, and the ideas of Civilization 15 years ago are still valid today. I think there are some key game ideas that are timeless, so it's really a question of us using the new resources and the new technology to add some freshness to it, but not to lose what was fun about Civ in the first place.
Do you think people who've never played these types of game could be convinced to play Civ IV?
Sid Meier: I think they can. I agree it's a challenge, that people expect bigger explosions, more visceral, more movie-like gameplay. The good news for us is that those are things that can become part of the Civ experience, bringing the wonders of the world alive, bringing the interaction with other leaders.
A lot of the ideas we could only imagine in the earlier Civ games we can now bring to life, and I think that brings in a new generation of gamers, they can interact with great leaders or watch their cities being built or see the battles take place on-screen in 3D. So that's fun, that's appealing and so we do have a new generation that we have something to offer to.
You're one of the very few people who can put your name on a piece of software. What gives you that right?
Sid Meier: I don't know - as long as the marketing folks think it's a good idea! It is partly a marketing issue. It means things continue in the style and tradition, a way of gaming we've built upon. Civ IV will keep the tradition alive. It's built on some ideas I pioneered a number of years ago. It's not something we stamp on everything, but if there's a minimum amount of 'Sidness' in it we feel it's OK. But if we put it on, crap we've got to live with it. So we take it pretty seriously.
So do you feel somewhat disassociated from 'Sid Meier', the name on the box?
Sid Meier: I've become this icon-person, I'm not a real person any more. I don't want to live in the past, I'm interested in the next game we're doing. I'm proud of the past and happy with all the Civ games and the other games, and there is the Sid Meier who did those games and whose name is on the box, but I'm still looking forward to new things we're doing.
Civilization IV will be available on PC towards the end of the year.