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Monday, October 31, 2005

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Interviews with Sid Meier, Civ IV Team
7:51 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

In late September Slashdot provided their readers with the opportunity to pose questions to legendary game designer Sid Meier and members of the Civilization IV design team. The answers to those questions are now available on the Slashdot website. Meier's questions cover a range of topics about his career and the future of gaming in general, while questions directed toward the Civ IV team, not surprisingly, center around the game.

From the Sid Meier Q&A:

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?

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.
From the Civ IV Team Q&A:
As a long time Civ player, I would have to say that I really didn't understand why it moved to 3D graphics. Will having the engine be entirely 3D in Civ IV actually add to the gameplay in any way, other than have objects occlude one another? When I say 'add to the gameplay' I mean, add to the game experience in a way 2D sprites couldn't. For example: Physics, multipls views, wind, etc.. (I have only really seen the 3D globe, and like the idea).

Soren Johnson: Graphics succeed in a Civilization game when they provide a good representation of the world's state. Simply put, what-you-see-is-what-you-get is a lot easier with 3D than with 2D. Wonders and buildings now appear on the map, so the player doesn't need to reference an advisor screen to see which city has the Pyramids. Improvements like farms and mines animate differently depending on whether a city is working them or not. Multiple units can now be used to signify hit-points, instead of the old red/green bars. Now, most of these ideas could have been executed in 2D, but certainly with more difficulty as everything displayed in 2D requires an algorithmic system which must be built from scratch. From a pure design perspective, 3D provides an incredible amount of flexibility for free.

The hard working folks at Aspyr recently announced they are working on a Mac port of Civilization IV. To read all the questions and answers follow the links below.

Slashdot: Sid Meier Responds
Slashdot: Answers From The Civ IV Team
Civilization IV
Aspyr Media
Firaxis Games
Buy Civilization IV

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