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Historical Outlook: A Civilization V Interview
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Historical Outlook: A Civilization V Interview

June 11, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Do you think the revised tactical combat, along with the decision to abandon stacked units, will become more of a challenge for players who are less interested in the combat side of the game? Has it been difficult to ensure all of the methods to achieve victory in a Civ game receive the proper weight?

DS: I think a lot of people are going to be surprised. Right now we're talking about combat because that happens to be the section we're discussing right now, and it's the most interesting.

When you come out of the gate [doing publicity], you show something that has a lot of flair. The combat system is probably the biggest addition to the game, but for the city builders out there, of whom I am one of, combat is just there to serve the rest of the game.

We've showed this overwhelming military game in our public demonstrations, but the peaceful players, the cultural players, and the science players are all going to be able to play just as easily without having to focus on the combat game.

In terms of the ease of use, we like to look at it from this perspective: For anybody who even enjoys Advance Wars on the Nintendo DS, it's the same sort of principal combat gameplay. It's just a shift from how you're used to thinking about it.

What was the rationale behind removing religion from the game?

DS: Jon did an enormous number of changes to diplomacy. Religion was a really cool mechanic in Civilization IV. It allowed you to tack on bonuses to that diplomacy. With what Jon is doing to diplomacy, with the agendas that these new diplomacy AIs use, with the city-states in play, [religion] added a variable that didn't quite make sense.

Now, aside from that, although we are removing religion as it was in Civilization IV, we're never removing something completely from the game, especially something that fans liked, and leaving an empty hole. There are other systems coming into play that we're not talking about yet that are going to make people very happy.

In Civ V, there's only one choice of leader for each civilization, and you've indicated you want the civilizations and leaders to have more of their own unique character. I think there's a spectrum when you look at games themed around world history.

You have Civilization, which is very much a blank slate. As Washington, you can take the United States in a direction it has never gone. On the other end, you have the Total War series, which is much more about specifically what it's like to be Napoleon, for example. Are you trying to move that needle a bit by asserting more of the character of these leaders?

DS: I don't think we're trying to move that needle. People still have their civs be whatever they want it to be. If you're going to play as Gandhi and then take over the world, that option is there. Jon did like [multiplatform console entry] Civilization Revolution. Instead of just subtle number variances and traits, Sid gave each Civ a unique flavor. When you were playing against Napoleon, you knew that he was building churches and cathedrals -- playing that cultural game. Jon wanted that same flavor.

We're not trying to keep people absolutely accurate. They're still going to do random things. We're still going to make them mad, and they're going to do things uncharacteristically, because that's part of what makes Civ fun. If you're playing against Gandhi and he doesn't declare war randomly on you at some point, then we haven't done our job.

I think that's where we still want to live. We like that in the past versions of Civilization. I think Jon's just trying to give them a little bit more flavor.

You mentioned Panzer General. Are there other games that Jon or anyone on the team looked at and thought, "That's an interesting angle we might want to look at"?

DS: That's definitely a question for Jon. Panzer General is the one he talks most. But Jon is a strategy gamer in general. He plays real-time; he plays turn-based. He loves it all. He loves any historical strategy game. That's one of those Sid cornerstones he teaches all of his designers. He says, "You don't have to come up with it all on your own. There are good ideas out there. If you find something that you like that's interesting, then go in that direction."

Even though Civ is more about revisionism, there's something interesting about any historically-themed game, which is a certain level of accountability you have. Gameplay is the priority, but you're representing things that have happened or could have happened in world history. You've talked about going and finding linguists who speak long-dead languages so you can represent those cultures properly in the game. How much do you think about those issues?

DS: We're always thinking about that. At Firaxis, it's an ongoing argument with the fan community: we always have to put gameplay above historical accuracy, but we always want to start out at a square that's accurate. Before players actually make their first move in the game, we know that everything in the world makes sense. Then it goes all over the place from there.

So you ruin it, but you're starting at the core at least. (laughs)

DS: Yes. We want to start it in the right place. (laughs)

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

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