Posts Tagged ‘Sid Meier’s Civilization V’

Civ V designer Jon Shafer parts with Paradox, “creative differences” blamed

Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Firaxis’s Civilization V and his own strategy game At the Gates, is gone from strategy specialists Paradox only six months after joining. Paradox say neither that he ditched the company nor that they fired him, rather that they have all “decided to part ways due to creative differences.” How enigmatic! We didn’t even know what he was working on. Read the rest of this entry »

Jon Shafer on designing Civilization 5, joining Paradox and making strategy games better

Jon Shafer was 21 years old when he became lead designer of Civilization V. Now working at Paradox on an unannounced project and on his own historical strategy game At The Gates in his spare time, he says he’s learning from the likes of Spelunky along with the more obvious strategic influences. We spoke about how the second half of every Civ sucks, the part the series played in his life, the perils of boredom in strategy design, how much we love maps, and what the future holds for both Shafer and Paradox.

I began by asking how he ended up sitting at the Paradox Convention, in Stockholm, the city that has now been his home for two weeks: “It’s quite a long story, actually.”

That story begins in Denver, around 2003.

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How historical games integrate or ignore slavery

Video games always come with an expectation that the player will suspend disbelief to some extent. Genetically engineered super-soldier clones don’t exist, radiation has never and will never work like that, and overweight Italian plumbers could never make that jump. In most cases, if we are unwilling or unable to suspend our disbelief, we may well struggle to enjoy the game and our questioning of the basics of its ‘reality’ would probably make us insufferable to be around.

There are some games however, where the realities of our world are key to enjoying the game. These are the builders like City Skylines, simulators and sports games like Prison Architect and FIFA, and even crime games like Grand Theft Auto. One genre has a particular problem when it comes to maintaining a foot in the real world yet still creating a setting where one can have fun without becoming mired in morally questionable events and choices: historically based games. And among historical games, few subjects are as complex to represent as slavery. Many have tried, from Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II to Civilization and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and in this article I’ll investigate the portrayal and use of slavery in these games and more to explore what they get right, what they get wrong, and how games could do better in future.

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Civilization VI Brings The Series Back To Its Best

A month ahead of its release, I’ve spent a week with Civilization VI [official site]. The build of the game is near-complete, though only ten of the twenty civs are playable and there are some limits on startup settings. When I heard that I’d be able to play so much of the game so long before release, I hoped that was evidence of 2K’s confidence in what they had to show.

Whether that’s true or not, they should be brimming with confidence. Civ VI is excellent.

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Civilization VI: Four Hours Of Wars And Wonders

Last month I spent four hours playing Civilization VI on a very hot day in central London. I came away wishing I could play for another four hundred hours, and also wishing that I had an ice cream. Mint and choc chip preferably.

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what Civ VI is doing and how its many systems create a brilliant competitive race through history while also producing some weird tensions around the idea of what a civilization actually is in the context of the game. Are cultures defined by the choices they make, by their surroundings, their neighbours, by determination or by chance? Whatever the answer might be, one thing is sure: Cleopatra hates me.

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Civilization VI Egypt Vid Is Comin’ Atcha

Cleopatra can't even

I made a silent promise to myself that I wouldn’t post every single new leader/civ reveal for Civilization VI [official site] because, really, do you need a video to tell you that France is likely to have some big cultural advantages based around museums, and that Japan might have its own warrior code, and cities that enjoy the benefits that come from island life and seafood? The Egyptian video is a good one though, teasing out some details of the new adjacency bonuses for improvements, and the ways that early game strengths might change through the course of a campaign.

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Have You Played… Sid Meier’s Civilization V?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Sid Meier is famous for his line that games are “a series of interesting decisions.” Which makes it interesting that Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a game about telling people to stand still over and over again.

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Steam Charts: Demons And Souls

I say top ten, but there are actually only seven different games in the past week’s Steam charts, once pre-orders and deluxe editions are filtered out. It seems like a lifetime ago that Stardew Valley and Factorio were doing a little indie rampage around the charts, as Steam’s best-sellers have now very much reverted to big-brand type. Also: pre-ordering sure doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, no matter how unwise it might seem.
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Civilization VI Releases October: Here’s Every Detail

As if 2016 didn’t already contain a rich enough seam of strategy games, Firaxis announce today that Civilization VI will be released on October 21st. Development duties are in the hands of the team behind Civ V’s expansions, Gods & Kings and Brave New World, and when we spoke to designer Ed Beach and associate producer Sarah Darney last week to learn all the details, they told us that almost every system from the complete Civ V will be included in the sequel: trade routes, religious systems, archaeology…there’ll be no need to wait for expansions, it’s all in the base game.

The game is running on a brand new suite of software, built to be far more mod-friendly than its predecessor, and as well as brand new AI systems, there are a host of new mechanics that will explore and emphasise your relationship with Civ’s greatest character: the map.

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Wondrous: The Civilization V Community Patch Project

The last big official update to Civilization V [official site] came in 2013 with its second large expansion, Brave New World. Three years later, and almost six years after the game’s original release, there’s another big new release expected, but it’s not an official expansion. It’s the Community Patch Project (CPP; to be named Vox Populi on release), a community-made mod that overhauls and improves a majority of the game’s systems in an attempt to make Civilization V the best game it possibly can be.

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The 4X Genre Has Grown Stagnant, Here’s How To Fix It

When Civilization II came out, I spent an entire summer playing it for several hours a day. The only check on my binging was the fact that my parents would eventually come home and force me to pretend, for a few hours at least, that I cared about things other than Civilization II.

I was a senior in college when Civilization IV arrived. I’d barely played strategy games at all for the previous four years, and “senioritis” brought with it a case of intense nostalgia. I bought it in the spring before graduation. It was still consuming my days and nights when the leaves fell later that year.

That was probably the last time my enjoyment of a 4X game was pure and uncomplicated. Lately, I’ve been wondering where that joy has gone, and why so few games seem to add anything essential to those old experiences.

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The Beginner’s Guide: A Journey Through Genres

One day I’ll write a Desert Island Discs about the games I’d keep with me until the end of days, given a choice of ten. It’ll no doubt be a Desert Island Digital Downloads given the absence of physical media in my life. I live with the ghosts of entertainment.

Rather than compiling the list of games I’d take to the Vault with me though, today I’m aiming to put together a collection, one from each genre, that I’d use to introduce those genres to a PC gaming newcomer, or a lapsed gamer. A friend inspired this particular bundle of joy, someone who grew up with an Amiga but developed other interests and hasn’t touched a game for more than a few minutes at a time, either console or PC, for over fifteen years. A recent illness has left him unable to engage in his usual outdoor hobbies and games have filled the gap.

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Civ BE Rising Tide Patch Makes Peace Less Ridiculous

Oh, Civilization: Beyond Earth [official site], how sad you make me. You work so very hard to make me love you but… well, maybe you’re fundamentally unlovable. The Rising Tide expansion, that was a good try. You became more alien, less like your dad trying to wear a spacesuit, but gosh, you made a pig’s ear of Diplomacy, didn’t you? Bugs and bonkers design decisions queered the pitch.

But maybe it’s not too late. I hear there’s a big new patch intended to address one of your biggest problems; what flowers are you bringing to my door this time?

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Wot I Think – Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide

Rising Tide [official site] is the first, and some might say much-needed, expansion pack for Beyond Earth, the sci-fi Civilization V spin-off which met a somewhat muted reception. It’s out tomorrow, but I’ve spent the last few days with it.

It’s so much better. It’s so much worse.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide Trailer Intros New Powers

Here’s the latest Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide [official site ] trailer talking about hybrid affinities, overthrowing dictatorships, and combining harmony and purity in a part faux-propaganda, part technical rundown of what the upcoming expansion has to offer.

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Far Cry 4 Meets Civilization V In Pagan Min Mod

Delicious!

Who’d win in a war: Pagan Min out Far Cry 4 or Gandhi? Sure, Min’s great at murder and oppression and has a crack army and all that, but push Gandhi too far and nukes will fly. In Civilization V [official site], anyway.

Custom civilisations are one of the more common Civ mod types, but I do like the look of a new mod adding Pagan Min and the nation of Kyrat. They’re mostly focused archeology and exploration, see, though can always deploy those horrible sneaky Hunter soldiers, the gits in the hoods who pelt you with arrows then vanish. Yeah, you can have them.

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The AI Wars Continue: Civilization V Battle Royale

Toward the end of February, Richard Moss documented the great AI wars that were sweeping through the Civ V [official site] community. If you haven’t read that feature, you should do so immediately. I’d intended to follow the 42-player AI-only game as updates arrived but when I checked in yesterday, it was my first visit in a good while. And, to my horror, I found that the game had stalled. Something was rotten in the code of Japan and the save file crashed when processing the nation’s 239th turn.

The save file ended up in the hands of Firaxis but Battle Royale organiser TPangolin managed to find a solution before hearing back from the devs. A few hours after I checked in, the problem had been fixed. The AI wars continue and, by thunder, they make for good reading.

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Why People Are Making The AI Fight Itself In Civilization

A strange thing happened in the Civilization community r/civ on January 10, 2015. Inspired by similar, smaller-scale offerings by a Twitch.tv livestream and fellow redditor DarkLava (from whom he explicitly sought permission), user Jasper K., aka thenyanmaster, shared the first part of an experiment he was conducting wherein he put 42 computer-controlled civilisations in their real-life locations on a giant model of the Earth and left them to duke it out in a battle to the death, Highlander style (except instead of heads they need capital cities).

Since then, the practice has exploded in popularity. Reddit’s Civilization community has AI-only fever, but what exactly is so compelling about watching the computer play a very slow-paced turn-based strategy game with itself?

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Early Impressions: Offworld Trading Company

Offworld Trading Company is a combat-free, sci-fi real-time strategy game from the lead designer of the sumptuous Civilization IV.

A great concept with a great pedigree – can it possibly be as good as it sounds? But enough about Snickers More Nuts, let’s talk about Soren Johnson’s new game, an Early Access version of which was released this week.
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The Random Element: Scenario Generator

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Scenario Generator is a tool that creates random restrictions, goals and startup settings for a variety of games, and it’s the reason I’ve become happily lost in Crusader Kings II [official site] and Civ V [official site] again. Reinvent an old favourite with the click of a button, as you find out precisely how often you can commit Unprovoked Murder.

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