Civilization celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, marking it as one of the most successful strategy game franchises we've ever seen. Its popularity hasn't waned either. If you look at the list of top played games on Steam right now, you'll likely find both Civ 6 and 5 holding their own. This series is huge.
But here's a thing (heh), the Civilization games aren't content-driven in the same way as a series like Uncharted or Mass Effect. Players aren't going to return to see what happens to their favourite characters, or to experience a new storyline or setting. In fact, the basic concept of Civilization has never really changed: explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. That's set in stone. Instead, it's the mechanics that really matter.
That's got to be one hell of a design process though, right? Starting from scratch each and every time. Once you've designed a Civilization game, how do you summon the same kind of creativity all over again? Well, it turns out, you probably don't.
Alright, that's episode two! This is officially a video series now.
This week's Here's A Thing is a little longer than our look at stealth in World of Warcraft, mostly because I really overdid it with the intro (48 seconds, sheesh), but the whole point of these videos is that they remain compact.
If you're after a little more bang for your buck, either because you're a big Civ player or a fan of game design, then boy do I have some treats for you.
First up, you can watch the entire interview I had with Sid Meier, or read a full transcript if that's more your bag. The process of creating a Civilization title has altered dramatically since the early '90s, when Meier worked as the programmer, artist and musician on that first game. That's why his name's on the box.
As well as that, I've uploaded the audio from my Skype call with Soren Johnson, the lead designer on Civ 4. He gives some much-needed context for how, in reality, this pattern of new lead designers and their rule of thirds occurred very naturally over many years, rather than being something the team had planned out from the get go. Give this a listen, it's great!
As ever, I'll be in the comments if you have any questions or feedback for these first two episodes. Want to see more of something? Let me know.