Sid Meier, Chairman and Director of Creative Development, Firaxis Games
1. What kind of historical research did you do in preparation for Civ III?
Sid: Well, much of the general historical research was done during the making of Civ and Civ II. Most of the research in Civ III revolved around the new features we’ve put in the game like new technologies, culture, expanded diplomacy, more intricate trade system, more powerful combat options etc. and how the interaction of all of these elements has impacted civilizations throughout history.
2. What is the present relationship between Firaxis and Hasbro following the split some years ago?
Sid: I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say the “split”. I was a partner in Microprose (which is now owned by Hasbro) and left there in 1996 to start Firaxis with Jeff Briggs. Infogrames, through their recent acquisition of Hasbro Interactive, now owns the rights to Civilization. We are developing Civ III and Infogrames will publish it this fall. Our relationship with Infogrames (Hasbro) is really strong and there's a lot of benefit to having both the groups emotionally attached to the Civilization name.
3. Does Civilization look to examine the nature of human history or simply recreate battles? Is Civ III a war strategy at heart or a leadership simulation?
Sid: Civ is an empire building game that challenges the player to rewrite history as they explore the earth, build their civilization, conquer some of history’s greatest leaders and eventually rule the world. They can do this through military prowess (which could then make the game a war strategy game of sorts) or peacefully through a strong culture and shrewd diplomacy with other civilizations (which makes it more of a leadership game).
4. Civilization is an archetype of modern strategy. How do you approach creating a sequel to such a legend in the games industry?
Sid: We’re in a fortunate position with Civ III because we’ve had a tremendous amount of player feedback over the years, that has helped us shape the game. Our goal has been to keep the things that people have loved in Civ and Civ II (the light-hearted fun elements of Civ, the depth of Civ II), refine and improve them and add many new features and ideas we’ve gathered from years of Civ player feedback. We’ve done just that and think that Civ III is the best Civ experience ever.
5. Describe the multiplayer capabilities of Civ III? Is the game primarily designed as a single player or multiplayer experience?
Sid: The single player experience has always been the main focus of Civilization. We are working on some cool multiplayer concepts that will take a fresh approach to the challenge of making multiplayer for a turned-based game fun. We’re not yet ready to give details, but stay tuned.
6. How did you compromise between reproducing the visual familiarity of the originals and competing in a market obsessed with 3D visuals?
Sid: Our primary focus is always on making the gameplay fun. We use the latest bells and whistle only if they enhance gameplay. We built an entirely new graphics engine for Civ III through which we’ve created the best visual experience ever. From the 3D animated units to the gorgeous organic terrain, Civ III delivers visual realism like never before.
7. Explain the concept of territory in military and trade terms.
Sid: Territory represents areas of land that your civilization dominates. With regards to the military, this is land in which the enemy cannot build or access improvements (such as roads) and land from which he can be ejected. With regards to trade, territory determines whether or not a colony is required to exploit a good and can be used in diplomacy in place of the more detailed world map.
8. How have you maintained a balance between the different cultures?
Sid: Playing them! To start with we made some minor tweaks to existing units in order to slowly ratchet up their impact on the game. Persian immortals for instance, are beefed up swordsmen. We also keep the era of a specific civilization in mind, so that while a Zulu Impi (since it appears early) may not be nearly as powerful as an American F-15, an aggressive Zulu player can ensure that the Americans never make it to the modern age.
9. In terms of cultural context, what units and Wonders are available to achieve this end? A Movie Industry, superstars or Globalisation for example?
Sid: Wonders are powerhouse cultural generators, contributing substantially even after their direct impact is obsolete. Units don't contribute to culture.