Sid Meier Talks Civ

Feature: Alone with the Godfather of strategy

Sid Meier is a strategy guru who has been buried deep in game design since the early 1980s, and is today regarded as one of the best designers games have ever seen.

His career began when he co-founded Microprose and he then went on to form Firaxis where he's currently Director of Creative Development.

During his time in the games industry his name has become so big it's virtually evolved into a brand in its own right. He has, of course, numerous acclaimed intellectual properties stuck firmly in his belt, the most prominent of which is Civilization.

In our latest Creative Minds interview, we query Meier on Firaxis's new Civilization game, Civ's move to console and whether this marks a completely new direction for Firaxis, his love of strategy games and the conception of Civilization and the influences on its birth.

So, can you tell us about Civilzation: Revolution?

Sid Meier: Well, its full official name is Civilzation: Revolution (laughs). What's revolutionary about it is that it's Civilzation, all the great gameplay of Civilization, brought to the console. We're building it for Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS and the Wii. So there's a lot of interesting console hardware there for us to work with.

When are you expecting to release, and is it the same game across all platforms?

Meier: The Xbox 360, PS3 and DS versions are coming out in spring next year, and the Wii version is out later in 2008. The gameplay is identical in all four versions, but the interface and presentation - the graphics, obviously - are different.

But we are really intent on making the game the same game, whether you're playing on your PS3, your DS, your Xbox 360 or whatever.

Has the game been built from the ground up for consoles?

Meier: The game has been redesigned for the consoles, it's not a port of the PC Civs. Certainly we've kept all the great Civ gameplay, the decision making, the ideas, technologies, wonders, the military, diplomatic, economic, all that exploration - those essential elements are the things we've really focussed on in the game.

But we wanted to bring them to life in a really new way and take advantage of the graphics power of the consoles, the ease of use of the controllers.

We've added a lot of new features to make the game move faster. We have a feature with armies, for example, that allows you to combine your units together and build one more powerful unit. The areas of the map tiles are larger so you can move really quickly from one area to another, you can explore more quickly.

We've added all-new effects to the wonders, we've added ancient artefacts, which are things that you can explore - you can discover them - we've got special cool stuff with the city of Atlantis, the Ark of the Covenant, the Knights Templar. There's some very cool places out there to discover as you're exploring.

The infrastructure's there for multiplayer, so we've added a lot of new functionality - head-to-head games, team games, ladders rankings, Xbox achievements, PS3 (whatever's going to be the equivalent to achievements).

We have what we call 'The Game of the Week' which is a single-player game but you download the information from the network to start the game, which means that you're playing exactly the same game as everyone else in the world. Your score can really be compared to others playing exactly the same game.

Every week there'll be one world's greatest Civilization player with the highest score in The Game of the Week.

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