Throughout history, men and women have emerged to perform great deeds, thus having profound and lasting effects on the world around them. They are people whose genius, vision, and perseverance set them apart from the rest. The development team at Firaxis wanted to recognize the integral role these visionaries have played throughout history, so we added a new feature in Civilization IV called "Great People". There are five types of Great People in the game: Artists, Engineers, Merchants, Prophets, and Scientists. Each can have a profound impact on your Civilization, just as in real life.
Great People are created at the city level, as each city can generate "great people points" based on conditions and structures in the city. You can affect the amount of people points generated in several ways. One very dramatic way is through the creation of a great wonder. For instance, building the Pyramids will make it more likely the city will generate a Great Engineer, while building Stonehenge will make the city more likely to generate a Great Prophet. You can also generate more great people points by taking city population away from working the land and turning them into specialists. Certain Civics choices can work to make your specialists more productive and that can also have a positive effect on your great people point production.
All Great People share certain common abilities that differ somewhat based on the type of great person. All can be used to immediately research a new technology with the type of technology determined by the great person - Prophets would give you a religion technology like Priesthood, Artists may give you a technology like Literature, and Merchants would perhaps give Banking. All Great People can also settle in a city for a period of time and give a constant boost to that city's production, based on their type. Finally, all Great People can be used to trigger extra golden ages for your Civilization, with each subsequent golden age requiring more Great People. Each use of a great person consumes that unit and it is removed from the game.
In addition to their common abilities, all Great People can also do one "really big thing," for lack of a better term. Each Great Person type has a specific ability and their effects can make an indelible impact on the game. Great Artists can make a great work of art that automatically gives that city a huge culture boost. Great Engineers can "hurry" the production in a city, giving you the ability to build a Great Wonder in one turn perhaps. Great Merchants can conduct a trade mission to a far away city and give you a quick and sizeable boost to your treasury. Great Prophets can create a religious shrine, but only in the city in which the religion was founded. Finally, Great Scientists can construct an Academy, a building which boosts a city's scientific research and culture.
When Great People show up in the game, they are represented by a unit that is only visible to the player. For all but one (Great Prophet), there will be an ancient and a modern representation of the unit. To add flavor, each Great Person will be named after a great person of that type from history. So you may find yourself with the likes of: Shakespeare, Nichola Tesla, Leonardo da Vinci, Marco Polo, Marie Curie, J.S. Bach, or Chuang Tzu, to name but a few! The Firaxis team has been playing Civ IV for over two years now, and we're all really happy with the new level of depth the Great People feature brings to the game. We hope you'll like it too!!
Barry Caudill, Producer