Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games Entertainment

Sid Meier Responds 365

Posted by Zonk
from the i-plan-on-building-the-great-wall dept.
Late in September we gave you the chance to put your questions to eminent game designer Sid Meier, the man behind the Civilization series. Creator of a series that has squandered the spare time of many a reader of this site, he took time out of the Civ IV release window to hand us back some thoughtful responses to your queries. Read on for the results of "Ask Sid Meier".
1. By Anonymous Coward:
What is your opinion on open source clones such as FreeCiv? FreeLoaders, or flatterers? :)

Response:
It's tough to make a blanket statement about all open source clones, but since developers and publishers rely very heavily on intellectual property rights, any infringement or dilution of those rights can be detrimental to companies, games, and consumers. In the case of Civilization, Take Two Interactive now owns all rights to the game series and fortunately, the franchise is still a mainstay at Firaxis...so we feel pretty protective of the IP.

2. By Surt (22457):
Keeping PC gaming alive:
What factors do you think help keep PC gaming alive when competing with consoles, and do you foresee that PC gaming will continue to survive when confronted with the next generation of consoles? From the reverse perspective, what prevents consoles from finally killing off PC gaming?

Response:
Believe it or not, I think the biggest thing PCs have going for them in the console war is the mouse/keyboard interface. So many game types are nearly unplayable without this simple mechanism. Real-time strategies, first-person shooters, point and click adventures, are all best suited to a mouse and keyboard. Another important factor is the innate upgradeability of PCs vs. consoles. The fact that you can still have a viable machine two years after it has been on the market, by simply adding RAM or a new video card is priceless. PCs also benefit from fairly cost effective high-resolution monitors. Finally, you can't ignore how easy it is to connect PCs to the internet (another mouse/keyboard must by the way). Being able to quickly, easily, and cheaply connect is a major plus, as it allows all sorts of flexibility - from finding opponents to downloading patches and content to browsing forums and FAQs.

On the reverse side, consoles offer many positives as well. They represent a known quantity so it is easy to take advantage of everything they have to offer without worrying about the least common denominator. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to operate. They work well with your home theater and your living room without requiring a lot of technical know-how. Even with all of that, they will never "kill-off" computers because they aren't competing for the same market in the same fashion. There will always be room for both and that's good for me.

3. By codergeek42 (792304):
I think the big question on a lot of our minds is: Why did you start doing game design and programming in the first place?

Response:
I caught the computer bug in college, but never imagined that one day I would have a career making games for the computer. As a kid I really enjoyed playing board games and card games, and was interested in reading books about history, pirates, airplanes...all of which have been the topics in the games I've created. Bill Stealey and I started Microprose on a dare really...we were at a business conference together and were playing a flight-sim arcade game. Bill was really impressed that I kept winning and I told him that I could tell what the AI was going to do each time, so it was easy to win...and I said that I could make a better game in two weeks. Bill challenged me to do just that and so began our game development company.

4. By Avacar (911548):
Balance:
When building any strategy game, where do you start when you attempt to balance the game? Do you find that you personally need to playtest and try new concepts to balance games, or do the inherent mechanisms of your games lead towards making balance easier for you to achieve?

Response:
My whole approach to making games revolves around first creating a solid prototype and then playing and improving the game over the course of the 2-3 year development cycle...until we think it's ready for prime time. My experience in this area helps me to know what to do and where to start. I definitely spend a lot of time playing the game before I let anyone else look at it. I also have quite a code base that I've been using for a long time, so I know how certain systems will work before I even throw them in. Once the basics are in and I'm comfortable letting other people see it, I like to watch brand new players play it first. It's much harder to make a game balanced for newbies than for hard core gamers. I like to see where they have trouble and I try to eliminate things that are too troublesome or difficult to grasp... it's really important that players feel rewarded at all times, so this step is critical for that reason. Of course, once I have a good grasp on the new player experience, it's time to throw the game to the seasoned testers. For them, I just keep ramping up difficulty by factors of 2 until they beg for mercy - it seems to take longer than it used to for that to happen. :)

5. By WhiteBandit (185659):
Future Directions in Gaming:
I admire many of the great game designers who have pushed the boundaries in gaming (yourself, Will Wright and Peter Molyneux to name a few). However, I can't help but feel that many of today's genres are stale and a lot of new games are mostly repeating past formulas as we see many sequels or derivatives of previous games being released. This appears to be a trend that will continue. Where do you think the future of gaming is headed, and how hard is it to introduce radical new ideas into the industry?

Response:
The cost of making games has gone through the roof, so understandably, publishers want to invest in games that are sure to sell...and sequels for successful franchises are safe bets. It's very difficult to convince publishers to invest millions of dollars in a new game idea...it's too risky. And, fans certainly seem to want more of what they love...Civilization, AoE, Sims...we keep making those games because people keep asking for more.

The game industry will continue to grow and become a bigger part of main stream entertainment...and eventually take over the world J The constant advances in gaming systems will drive new ideas. I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg in gaming...there's so much more to come.

6. By Amoeba (55277):
Playability vs Graphics:
In any Slashdot gaming discussion, invariably the debate between playability vs. graphics comes up. "This game is pretty but the game sucks!" vs. "Nethack is all I need man." The games you've had a hand in seem to emphasize intricate strategy, with graphics taking a backseat for the most part. Some of the most successful games in the past have been very simple on the surface but can have amazing depth, all without gee-whiz factor of purty lights and bleeding-edge graphics engines. How much focus do you place on the graphical aspects of gaming, and do you think there is a way to achieve a balance without sacrifices on either end? How do you tackle that problem? When I got started, there was only so much you could do with graphics so we had to leave a lot up to the player's imagination. That was the beauty of those old games; the player filled in the gaps for you. If you put a green blob on the screen and called it a dragon, it had the tendency of becoming a dragon so long as you were engaging the player's mind. Times change, though, and technology marches on. People expect a lot more out of a computer or video game these days and we have to adjust. I still like to engage the player's imagination, but they don't have to fill in so many gaps themselves.

Response:
This is very cool because I don't have to use so many info screens to show players what they need to know - which is a dream come true for me. When we were remaking Pirates, it was very important to us that players be able to see the towns, discern their nationality, and see how large and wealthy they were all by looking at the screen. In Civ IV, the guys have taken that concept even farther and you can see at a glance everything you really need to know about a city.

On the other hand, it seems there are many times when graphics get the better of good judgment. I must say that I am a big fan of racing games like Gran Turismo, but sometimes it seems they are more focused on the replay than the race, which feels a little backwards to me. In fact, lately I've been let down by a bunch of racing games that looked amazing but were tragically flawed in some way. So, I'll stick with Gran Turismo 3.

One final note on this... Recently, I've been working on several prototypes and was surprised to find that I reached a point fairly early on when I just couldn't find any more fun in the concept - until I had some professionally created art. In the past, I was content to create my own art and never had any trouble envisioning gameplay, so this represents a fundamental change for me.

7. By truthsearch (249536):
AI:
I've been a huge fan of Civilization since it first came out. I've always thought the AI of the computer player is relatively good, especially how each has certain characteristics which differentiate them. But AI in strategy games doesn't seemed to have advanced drastically in the last 15 years. What do you imagine the next big advance in game AI will be? When will games really learn how you play? Will we not be able to tell the difference between a human and computer competitor? I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but in my opinion, the goal of AI is not necessarily to simulate a human response. The goal is to generate interest for the player by providing the illusion of a human-like response - or not at all human-like, if that's what it takes to engage the player. I'm not entirely sure that complex games like Civ could ever have true human responses because there is so much complexity that the AI would bring almost any machine to its knees.

Response:
Consider this: we have only recently been able to truly simulate intelligence that can compete with a human in chess. Chess is obviously a complex intellectual game, but it is ultimately fairly easy to define because there are only 64 squares and 6 types of movement. Plus, the rules of engagement are simple - attack and win. Add to that the huge amount of known strategy that has been collected and studied throughout the years and it is even more definable. In a game like Civ, we have over 80 units, all with different movement rates, strengths, special abilities, experience levels, etc. We also have to decide where to place cities, what to build, who to be nice to and who to make war with. We also have to decide what to research, what religion to spread, what Civics to adopt, etc. All in all, I don't expect to see anything close to true human intelligence any time soon, as long as games continue to get more complex.

9. By Chickenofbristol55 (884806):
Question:
Since the first Civilization game in 1991, how do you think the gaming industry has changed? And, is the change for the better or for the worse?

Response:
Obviously the gaming industry has grown exponentially since 1991. The cost of entry is much higher than it was when I started. The days of guys building a game in their garage and then selling it to a publisher are behind us, I'm afraid. To make a game today it takes more money, time, people, technology...which is why there are fewer independent developers and the big publishing houses run the show. Frankly, I liked it better in the old days, when things were less complicated (I'm showing my age here). We were breaking new ground, and it was really fun. Not to say that it's not fun now...I still love making games and have a bunch of new ideas for games I'd like to create.

The stakes are much higher now, but the quality of many of the games produced today is pretty impressive. The changes in the industry have definitely benefited the consumers - they have an array of game systems and games to choose from...and the competitive environment drives developers to strive to out-do each other...which pushes game design forward.

All things considered...there's nothing else I'd rather do for a living than make games. It's the best job in the world.

10. By TuringTest (533084):
What kind of game do you enjoy?:
Good games (and specially videogames) entail a great deal of simulation of reality; They are bits of everyday life simplified for casual enjoyment. What do you feel is more important for a game to be great and/or successful: that the mechanics create an environment with interesting and complex possibilities, or that they are fun and easy to grasp? Is balance required between these two design forces? And which of the two do you enjoy most in your own experiences as game player?

Response:
I like to play all kinds of games...on a variety of systems. My son and I play games on the PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube...and they range from Warcraft, to Halo to Grand Turismo...to Civilization. :)

I definitely try to create, and most enjoy playing, games that strike a balance between depth/complexity and ease of use. My goal when making a game is to find the right mix of story and mechanics that will deliver many hours of fun to players. We try to put the player in a situation where they can be something great - King, Pirate Captain, Tycoon, Entrepreneur - and create an interesting world where they can have an adventure, build an empire, conquer the world etc. The game can be as deep as a player wants it to be. In Civ for example, a game can last from 1 hour to 40 hours, depending on what the player wants. I've watched kids play Civ on a very surface level and have a great time with it...and I've seen hard core gamers go as deeply into the game as possible...where things become pretty complex...and those folks have a fun experience too. We've tried to make Civ IV easy for anyone to pick up and play...and then created layers and layers of depth and complexity just waiting to be explored by those who dare to venture there. But...the interface remains familiar and easy-to-use throughout....and the visuals add a whole new dimension to the experience. Sorry for the shameless plug...but it's our baby. :)

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sid Meier Responds

Comments Filter:
  • Nice dodge (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:33PM (#13845946)
    It's tough to make a blanket statement about all open source clones, but since developers and publishers rely very heavily on intellectual property rights, any infringement or dilution of those rights can be detrimental to companies, games, and consumers. In the case of Civilization, Take Two Interactive now owns all rights to the game series and fortunately, the franchise is still a mainstay at Firaxis...so we feel pretty protective of the IP.

    Apparently, Take Two also owns all rights to the Sid Meier's Personal Opinion franchise.

    Still, the rest of the interview was very interesting.

    • Re:Nice dodge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Skater (41976) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:41PM (#13846014) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I think he did answer the question, or at least he came a lot closer to answering it than "dodging" would imply. He's telling the developers of those clones to be careful about copying or risk being sued. I get the impression he doesn't really like the clones that much, but he probably hasn't looked at them closely and so doesn't know how much or how little they copy his work.
    • Actually this dodge was pretty clumsy. And it is only needed if he is not happy about FreeCiv. I find it rather sad, that he cant find anything good about these games - FreeCiv for example was very innovative in multiplayer, networked Civing.

      Anyway, Im off to buy Quake4 for my linux box.
    • Re:Nice dodge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stlhawkeye (868951) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:55PM (#13846149) Homepage Journal
      Apparently, Take Two also owns all rights to the Sid Meier's Personal Opinion franchise.

      Translation from Slashbot into English:

      I like Sid and his games and I'm pissed off that he cares about making money off his innovation instead of blindly embracing open source like I do. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. One more person I can't respect.

      Dude, seriously. If I was in his shoes and had my career aspirations, bankroll, retirement, and basically every financial aspect of my life hinging upon the legal protection of what amount to ideas, I'd wouldn't even be THIS evasion about it. I'd be saying something like, "Are you seriously asking me what I think of people who take my ideas and produce half-assed clones of them that they distribute for free while I'm trying to run a company that feeds six dozen developer's families?"

      Insert cliched rebuttal about how ideas don't have owners here.

      • Re:Nice dodge (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sweetshark (696449) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:21PM (#13846364)
        I'd be saying something like, "Are you seriously asking me what I think of people who take my ideas and produce half-assed clones of them that they distribute for free while I'm trying to run a company that feeds six dozen developer's families?"

        There are few things that the half-assed clones and Sid Meier's Civilization have in common that is not already in this:
        Civilization [boardgamegeek.com]
        And that one was designed by Francis Tresham, so yes, I it makes me sore, if Sid bitches about "his" IP.
        Also the half-assed clones have features that are missing in the Civ games, or have been implemented there much later (useable networked gaming, hex tilesets, etc.)
      • Well spoken, and this should not have been modded funny, but insightful. I guess it's only the grace of a few slashdotters that you haven't been modded flamebait ;)
      • Well said. Right now I have an idea for a new game that's quite different than anything I've played before. I am concerned that as soon as I create it, an army of clones will erupt which are better than my original game (since I wouldn't have the budget of the cloners). I have the idea, put in the work, get screwed. My alternatives are what... Patents? Ugh!

        ~D
      • You might have a point except for one small problem.

        What's the best civ game currently in existence? Freeciv. Meier hasn't produced anything really good since civ 2.

        So, translation of your message from Slashdot into English:

        I like money and Sid should be able to cash in on his idea despite the fact that it's inferior to equivalent games that people have been able to produce for free, without spending all that money on it.

        The free market doesn't work like that. If Sid, spending all that money and development
      • As if half-assed clones of 5 year old games built on wholly different operating systems are really taking any businness away...

        -matthew
      • Re:Nice dodge (Score:3, Informative)

        by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
        Insert cliched rebuttal about how ideas don't have owners here.

        Wow, people are very mis-informed in this thread today. Game rules are un-copyrightable! You can copyright the art, the rulebook etc but the rules of the game get no protection.
  • by LDoggg_ (659725) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:38PM (#13845987) Homepage
    The most popular questions from the slashdot comments don't get picked.

    For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored.
    Come one, slashdot. Just ask the questions we've modded up.
    • There's a good chance they emailed him all the score: 5 comments, and told him to answer 5 or so and he simply didn't respond to that one.
    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:56PM (#13846152)
      Answer: To give the illusion of audience participation.
    • With some folks, like game developers, we're limited to only 10 questions. There were a lot more than 10 questions modded +5 in the original post, so the 10 questions to be sent needed to be the ones with the broadest appeal that would likely result in a substantial answer.

      I wish we could have covered all the questions that were voted popular too, but making games is a busy job and we needed to pick and choose.
      • Here's an alternate idea.

        * Let us rate the questions, like we do.
        * You tell the interviewee "we'd like you to answer at least 'x' of them" and then hand over the top-rated ones, all of them.

        And here's the important part:

        * Let the interviewee pick the questions. Maybe he or she will even choose to answer more then 'x' of them. Maybe they'll pick ones you wouldn't have.
      • Thanks for the reply, Zonk.
        Maybe nextime you could post all on topic questions and ask him to pick ten, or answer more than that if he'd like?

        Given that Sid allowed loki to port Alpha Centauri to linux, it may have been something he would have wanted to answer.

        BTW, tuxgames.com has some more stock of alhpa centauri. Its the top seller again.
      • by JonToycrafter (210501) on Friday October 21, 2005 @03:01PM (#13846694) Homepage Journal
        Thank you for the reply...but what about raising the maximum score on the "propose interview questions" stories to 10, 20, or infinity?

        This doesn't mean you have to pass on the highest-rated questions, but it's been a long time since the +5 meant much on these stories.
    • The most popular questions from the slashdot comments don't get picked.

      Really? Every single one of the questions asked was rated to +5. Maybe your most popular question didn't get picked, but your statement is baseless.

      There were 61 comments rated to +5 on the original story (note -- it's not the one that's linked to in the post; that links to the "Ask CivIV Devs" which in turn links to the proper story). They can only submit 10 questions to be answered (and hey, where'd #8 go?) -- submitting much more than
      • There were 61 comments rated to +5 on the original story (note -- it's not the one that's linked to in the post; that links to the "Ask CivIV Devs" which in turn links to the proper story). They can only submit 10 questions to be answered (and hey, where'd #8 go?) -- submitting much more than that isn't reasonable. Can you imagine if you'd agreed to answer 10 questions and got a list of 60+ and were told "just answer the 10 you like"? If I was in that situation I'd answer precisely zero -- because you clear
    • by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:29PM (#13846420)
      For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored

      The reason this question is never asked is because the answer is always the same.
      • >> For the second game developer interview in a row +5 modded questions about linux ports of the games have been posted and ignored

        > The reason this question is never asked is because the answer is always the same.

        No, it's not. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri from Firaxis Games was ported to Linux (and of course, just yesterday the Quake4 Linux client was released). So, even if the new Civ -isn't- going to be ported to Linux, this answer would be different from 'the usual' in that they actually have exp
  • What a dick! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What does "intellectual property" have to do with clones, unless they are using assets lifted or derivatived from the original work? You can't own ideas and if you could, there would be no games industry.
  • I really hope he figured out a way to make Civ4 playable after a hundred or so turns. I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.
    • by tktk (540564) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:54PM (#13846140)
      I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.

      Hmm...you must have accidentally researched political red tape.

    • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:00PM (#13846188) Homepage
      I've been playing Civ3 on a pentium M lately and it's still way too slow when the game gets into the modern age.

      As soon as your PC hits the modern age you'll be fine :)
    • by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:02PM (#13846202)
      How much RAM do you have?

      I'm playing on an older P4 (2.something GHz I think) but I've got 1GB of RAM and I don't notice that much of a slow-down in the modern era. I usually play on huge worlds with lots of civs on them, too. I bought this machine about 3-4 years ago.

      There is a slowdown in gameplay, but you don't seem to be discussing that kind of thing since you are mentioning processor and not things like the actual gameplay. I find that by the modern era, in those huge worlds, I have so many things to move and do that each turn can take me 10 minutes or so. I definitely hope that, in Civ4, I'll have even better automating options for city stuff. (Civ 3 really pisses me off that, despite orders to the governors to never build units or to always build any city improvement they can, it still sometimes builds units, or shifts to "wealth" instead of building improvements from the expansion packs. GRR! All the time I save with automation gets spent fighting back against the automation when it misbehaves. Bad expansion!)

      Just recently, in honor of City of Villains, Civ4, Quake 4 and FEAR, I have bitten the bullet and upgraded to an AMD 64 system w/SLI and 2GB of RAM. What I spent in hardware costs, I'll save in heating expenses, for sure.
      • > What I spent in hardware costs, I'll save in heating expenses, for sure.

        Get AMD's CPU drivers if your motherboard supports Cool-N-Quiet (tm). I've tested it out, and my brand new AMD 64 chip underclocks to about 1 Ghz when idle. That translates to less heat, which can in turn lead to a quieter system, as well. (Some mobos can dynamically undervolt the fan to slow it down when the chip is cool.)

        What you save in electricity, you can use to heat your house more efficiently. :)
  • PC Upgradability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:45PM (#13846054)
    The fact that you can still have a viable machine two years after it has been on the market, by simply adding RAM or a new video card is priceless.

    Yea, but the thing is that these days you can buy a new console for LESS than a decent video card...
    • ...and the console is viable for 4-5 years, AND the games typically look, run, and play *better* the longer you own the console (as developers exploit the console better).

      Still, PCs are great machines. For coding console games. [duck]

    • With a PC, you don't NEED to upgrade your graphics card all the time. When a console comes out there are many games unique to it that require an upgrade. When pc titles come out you can still run them on older hardware with some settings turned down. Very rarely will a game come out which won't even run on a 4-year old graphics card.
    • Yeah, but it's still the same old console, as good or bad as it was two years ago. Not so with the PC :)
    • by Dracolytch (714699)
      Yes an no... The xbox 360's releasing at like $400 for a complete package, while you can get a used xbox for like $100. Meanwhile, you can get a good solid midrange video card for $150.

      Consoles are going up in price as they try to match PCs in terms of graphics power. Since xbox and ps2 run at resolutions way lower than PC resolutions, they don't need the processing power PCs do. This is changing as TVs become HDTVs, and get the same resolution as computer monitors. I just built a /fast/ PC for a buddy for
    • ... and play at 1/6-1/4 the resolution. I play at 1900x1200 with anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, and other goodies with a midrange PC; while console fanboys are getting all wet about the next gen systems doing 720p if they're lucky.

      Throw in the control advantages of a mouse and keyboard, the connectivity advantages of a real computer, and the fact that I'd have to buy a nice PC anyway to work, and the PC just keeps looking better and better.
    • Re:PC Upgradability (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jeff Carr (684298)
      The advantage that I see is maintainability.

      When I want to, I can still play my favorite PC games from up to 20 years ago on my current PC (Masters of Magic, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Star Control, Dragon Wars, Nethack, etc). If I wanted to play my favorite non-PC games, I'd have to pick up a working Atari 2600, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Playstation, etc.

      Keeping all your favorite consoles in working order for the next 20 years would be more expensive than upgrading a PC every few years or so. Emula
  • by katana (122232) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:46PM (#13846064) Homepage
    "I also have quite a code base that I've been using for a long time, so I know how certain systems will work before I even throw them in."

    My first thought on this was, Wow, wouldn't it be great to Open Source this code base. My second thought was, isn't this a symptom of a larger problem? We want code to be modular and reusable so complex games can be developed quickly, yet we complain that games aren't original enough because people are reusing code. Seems like a fundamental problem to me.
  • Waste of a question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@PASCALgmail.com minus language> on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:48PM (#13846086) Homepage
    Keeping PC gaming alive:
    What factors do you think help keep PC gaming alive when competing with consoles, and do you foresee that PC gaming will continue to survive when confronted with the next generation of consoles? From the reverse perspective, what prevents consoles from finally killing off PC gaming?


    I missed this question when the original article asking for questions was posted. But this is a silly waste. Sid's answer is spot on, and I wish I knocked this down a knotch with a mod point.

    Lumping an entire market together and insisting they are direct competitors for the exact same dollar is stupid. Civ4 cannot be played well with a PS2 controller, and Grand Turismo plays crappy on a keyboard. You can find a way to make it work, but no one is going to spend the time to try to code it. It's a waste. The market will show you that there is room for both, and while there are lots of crossovers, you will also see that there are lots of areas where there is absolutely no crossover, simply because of interface issues.

    Sid makes some other great points about graphics and upgrades you can do to a PC. This goes into the fact that a $100-$300 console can run a fast paced racing game with better performance than a $1500 computer. PC games are notorious for being slow and skipping frames. Some console games do this, but that's considered a bug in the console game and it doesn't do so well if it performs badly. However, in the PC world if a game has godly system requirements for any reason, the blame is more often put on the PC and not the person who coded it to require too much power. Sometimes that's deserving but having to spend hours just to fine tune your system to play Quake or Doom is nuts.

    They are all gaming companies, but different games for different platforms will always be here, and I hope it gets even more diverse, because we need the diversity.
    • That used to be true, but my recent experience of Xbox and PS2 is that frame rate hit is now allowable on consoles...
    • Not only is there a waste of a question, but apparently question #8 is completely missing. Did the editor/submitter remove question #8, or did Sid decline to answer a particular question? Any guesses as to what the omitted question might be?
    • That wasn't my experience with racing games on PC vs. console.

      First, there is no reason why you can't hook up a console-type controller to a PC. There are even adapters that will allow you to directly connect a PS2 controller to the USB port on your PC. I'm sure that there are similar products for the other consoles. There is most definitely racing wheels for the PC. My experience with racing wheels has been that while on the PC I can tweak all of the variables like dead zone and response, the hardware-
    • by MaineCoon (12585)
      PC games are notorious for being slow and skipping frames. Some console games do this, but that's considered a bug in the console game and it doesn't do so well if it performs badly.

      Many modern console games run 20-30 FPS, with 30 FPS being a 'goal'. They also generally do not necessarily attempt to run at a fixed frame rate, unlike consoles of previous generations. Unless, that fixed frame rate is capping off the frame rate at the lower end of a fluctuating spectrum so as to prevent uneven performance.
    • a normal TV is less than 640x480 resolution where a PC is usually 1024x768 minimum. It takes a lot more horsepower to make graphics on a PC monitor compared to a TV. HDTV is around 1024x768, but a lot of the new PC graphics cards can play at 1600x1200. Do the math to see what the difference in pixels is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:52PM (#13846121)
    Frankly, I was surprised at your nomination. Many of us would like to know: With your background as a game designer, what in particular do you feel makes you qualified to sit on the Supreme Court?
  • When's Civ IV being released?
  • I regret my question wasn't picked but I'm really curious why the Dinosaurs project got abandoned. From the initial description it sounded like a terrific idea. Was the technology immature, was it too complex for an average gamer? I guess we'll never know the complete story behind that story.
  • Input devices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digidave (259925) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:17PM (#13846322)
    Given his comments on input devices on PCs being so far ahead of those on consoles, I wonder what Sid Meier thinks of the Nintendo Revolution controller. It seems to close some gaps while widening others. Then it also does things the PC hasn't yet dreamed of. IMO, it will be perfect for playing strategy games.
  • Disappointing... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glMatrixMode (631669)
    As a big fan of Civ1&2 and Alpha Centauri, I find Sid's answers to be very disappointing.

    The silliest one is the answer to Question 7.

    Sid makes the following argument : Chess, which has simple rules, is the current limit of what computer AI can do as well as a human. So Civilization 4, which has much more complex rules, is too difficult to allow computer AI to compete with humans.

    This argument is false : for instance, look at the traditional Asian "Go" game. It has very simple rules, much simpler than C
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      No, go is MUCH MUCH more complicated than chess. Not simpler.
      Much more degrees of freedom.
    • You think Go is simpler then Chess?

      A common saying is that no two Go games have ever been played in the same manor. Do have any idea of the number of moves [wikipedia.org] open to a player?

      • I'm talking about the complexity of the *rules*. That is also what Sid was talking about. Go has simple rules. Chess has more complicated rules. Civ has even more complicated rules.

        By the way, I know a civ-like that's a very good AI that doesn't need to cheat at all to compete with a human (except in the most difficult levels). That's Galactic Civilizations, www.galciv.com. The trick is that the AI thinks while you're playing, so it gets lots of CPU time.
    • Not to mention Sid's answer to the question on Free clones... he has no interest in software freedom.

      It stands to reason that Sid, being someone who makes his living creating and selling software, is not very interested in software freedom, and wants to retain and enforce the rights to his software. His added value to his games is arguably not the lines of codes, nor the artwork or sound effects, but his creative ideas and game concepts. Naturally he'd be pissed if someone wrote a free cloe of his games

    • by Diablerie (195323) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:49PM (#13846591)
      Not true.

      The reason that computer Go is much harder to implement that computer chess is because the problem space is much larger. Chess is played on an 8x8 grid, with only a few dozen possible moves on each turn. Go is typically played on a 19x19 grid, so at least at the beginning of the game, there are many times more possible moves. When you start calculating a few moves ahead, then things get *really* complicated. Also, despite the simple rules, distinguishing a good move from a bad move in Go is quite hard.

      The complexity of the rules is not that important -- it's the number of possible moves and figuring out the effect of each move that makes programming the AI hard. I think Sid's right on this one.
    • by amalcon (472105) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:57PM (#13846667)
      Sid is not referring to the complexity of the rules themselves. He is referring to the branching factor -- that is, the number of possible situations some number of turns down the road. After each player's first moves in chess, there are precisely 324 possible positions. After each player's first turn in Civ 1, there are at least 4^(number of civs) possible positions (rest, found city, build road, disband, there are also more b/c I don't think it can start you on a 1x1 island). With five civilizations, this is already greater than the initial possibilities in chess. It grows far more rapidly from this, as you have choices of what to research, what to build, where to place cities, how much to research, etc. and there are also random events.

      Go, on the other hand, has over one hundred thousand possible board positions after each player has one move. After the second turn, there are over sixteen billion. This branching factor is what causes complexity for a computer. The actual mechanics of the rules have very little to do with it.
      • With five civilizations, this is already greater than the initial possibilities in chess. It grows far more rapidly from this, as you have choices of what to research, what to build, where to place cities, how much to research, etc. and there are also random events.

        What I'd like to see is an AI that can formulate strategies and then use those strategies to prune their search space. Basically, say "I'm going to expand for awhile, how can this piece contribute?".

    • Well, what is definitely true is you are unable to read for content. Sid never said chess was simple, he said it had a small number of movement types (6) and squares (64), so it is fairly easy to *define*. Go would be significantly harder than chess to *define*. Something like Civ IV would be even more difficult to *define* than Go.
  • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks.tangentry@com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:28PM (#13846402) Homepage
    I like to play all kinds of games...on a variety of systems. My son and I play games on the PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube...and they range from Warcraft, to Halo to Grand Turismo...to Civilization. :)

    And all of that legitimately tax deductible. Nevermind how much fun the guy has at work, that's the really cool part. Government subsidized computers, console, and games. I'm in the wrong industry.*

    Cheers
    -b

    * (well, I do get to deduct pr0n, so I guess it's not all that bad)

  • by Elyjah (108222) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:28PM (#13846404)
    Violence in current videogames? A South Carolina man was able to foil an attempted carjacking [cnn.com] using methods learned from Grand Theft Auto. I think both sides of the "violent games" story need to be told!
  • A minor note on my question that Sid answered:

    My question ends at "How do you tackle that problem?" and Sid's response begins from that point forward and not where the current Response: is listed.

    All that aside, the answer is not quite what I expected and was pleasantly surprised tha in some cases Sid needs the visuals in order to proceed. That method/criteria for balance never crossed my mind :)

    -Amoeba
  • Priceless? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676) on Friday October 21, 2005 @03:36PM (#13846984)
    The fact that you can still have a viable machine two years after it has been on the market, by simply adding RAM or a new video card is priceles

    No, that has a very definite price. Consoles are still viable machines two years (and longer) after purchase without any upgrades. They generally have much better compatibility with new games than old computers do.

10 to the 12th power microphones = 1 Megaphone

Working...