Meier on crafting the 'epic journey,' full keynote video inside

GDC 2010: The creator of Civilization, Colonization, and Alpha Centauri talks about his three decades in game development in the presentation "The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong)."


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SAN FRANCISCO--At the 2008 Game Developers Conference, Sid Meier was honored with a Lifetime Achievement trophy at the Game Developers Choice Awards, the same honor bestowed on id Software's John Carmack last night. That year, the Guinness World Record holder was also a featured speaker at a Q&A session about building games that "stand the test of time." The legendary game designer has done just that, having just announced Civilization V, the latest iteration of the "god game" strategy series he cocreated back in 1991.

Firaxis Director of Creative Development Sid Meier.
Firaxis Director of Creative Development Sid Meier.

Now, two years later, Meier is the keynote speaker at GDC 2010, delivering a presentation called "The Psychology of Game Design (Everything You Know Is Wrong)." According to the official GDC site, Firaxis' cofounder and director of creative development will be discussing how traditional game design theory is deeply flawed. The official description of the keynote address reads:

"Using actual examples from Civilization Revolution, Pirates!, and other games, we'll look at how including player psychology as a fundamental part of game design can lead us to some strangely counterintuitive places and save us millions of dollars in time and resources. Along the way, we'll learn why AIs should not be too smart, how nuclear weapons are like knocking over a chess board, and why gamers can’t be trusted.

[10:27] The Moscone Center's cavernous North Hall, usually the site of the GDC show floor, has been transformed into a massive auditorium, complete with a shimmering display behind a long stage.

[10:28] GDC workers in florescent green shirts scurry around like day-glo insects, asking attendees to cram as far into the center of the long rows as possible.

Meier's podium awaits.
Meier's podium awaits.

[10:32] And we're off! GDC event director Meggan Scavio takes the stage to introduce Sid Meier.

[10:32] "Please welcome the 'Father of Computer Gaming,' Sid Meier!" Thunderous applause.

[10:33] Meier takes a long drink of water, pauses, and begins.

[10:33] "The title of this talk is The Psychology of Game Design: Everything You Know Is Wrong. I thought that would get the juices flowing."

[10:33] Meier believes games are a psychological experience, and the reason he makes historical games is so he can make them as realistic as possible.

[10:34] He said his biggest issue at first was that, by trying to make a game as accurately as possible, he didn't consider what was going on in the player's head.

[10:34] A slide lists several concepts: egomania, paranoia, delusions.

[10:35] "If you play civilization, you are an egomaniac. It says it right there on the box: 'Build a civilization that can stand the test of time.' You're thinking 'Oh yeah, I can do that."

[10:35] Meier outlines another concept, "The Winner Paradox."

[10:36] In real life, not everybody wins. He uses the NFL and NBA as an example--only one team can win.

Meier holds forth.
Meier holds forth.

[10:36] However, in the world of games, almost everybody wins.

[10:37] "People don't complain about that. I don't get letters saying, 'Sid, I win at your games too much."

[10:37] The player is always looking for a satisfactory conclusion to a game, and Meier keeps that in mind in the design process.

[10:37] Another concept: Reward vs. Punishment.

[10:38] When you reward the player, the player gladly accepts it. He doesn't ask, "Did I deserve that? Did I earn that?"

[10:39] On the other hand, if something bad happens to players, it's very important for players to understand why that happened and for them to be able to learn how to avoid it next time.

[10:39] Allowing players to learn is key to replayability, which Meier feels is key to development.

[10:39] Another concept: The first 15 minutes of any game must be compelling. Developers need to let people know they're on the right track early on to keep them engaged.

[10:39] This doesn't negate the concept of difficulty levels.

Getting inside Meier's head.
Getting inside Meier's head.

[10:40] Meier isn't advocating giving games an elastic difficulty setting.

[10:41] In the past, he advocated four difficulty levels. Now, he believes there should be nine, as Civilization IV has.

[10:41] New concept: "The Unholy Alliance," with the slide showing Ralph Nader with an attractive cartoon female devil.

[10:42] "I should trademark that term," he says, and a "TM" symbol appears next to the words.

[10:43] This concept makes players want to feel as though they're good. This was the case with flight simulation games, which started out simple but eventually became so realistic that players got confused and turned off to the genre.

[10:43] Another part is the player's role--players need to suspend their disbelief.

[10:44] They need to take on the role, whether it's king of a civilization, a railroad tycoon, or a "cool pirate."

[10:44] Meier is not using a teleprompter; he's just shooting from the hip, which is impressive.

Yes, that is a voluptuous devil on Ralph Nader's shoulder.
Yes, that is a voluptuous devil on Ralph Nader's shoulder.

[10:45] He says old-school game developers got really good at the suspension of disbelief because they only had 16 colors to work with.

[10:45] Next concept: Moral Clarity.

[10:46] He uses the example of the leaders in Civilization Revolution, who remain defiant even though they only have one city left.

[10:46] He said play-testers thought that was unrealistic.

[10:47] However, if the leader is begging for his life, that would eliminate the moral clarity. "I want to get Genghis Khan, not have him beg."

[10:47] Now for a new concept: Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

[10:48] He likens the relationship between developer and player to the Cold War.

[10:48] He thinks either party can totally mess up the balance.

[10:49] He talks about a stillborn adventure game at MicroProse that had players go to a benevolent king at the end of the game…only to find out the king is evil and be sent back to the beginning.

[10:49] At design meetings, the developers thought it was very clever.

[10:50] He said, "Players aren't going to think that's cool! They're going to think they just wasted eight hours of their lives!" The project was canceled.

[10:51] The time when I realized that player psychology was not tied to rational thought was designing the battle system in Civilization Revolution.

[10:52] The game shows the odds of battle before the battle starts, and as a mathematician, he looks at a 3-to-1 battle rationally.

The suspension of disbelief is key.
The suspension of disbelief is key.

[10:53] Players don't think that way.

[10:53] Players will say, "I was in a 3-to-1 battle, and I lost!"

[10:53] "Well, statistically, you will lose every once in a while."

[10:53] "No! I had 3! That's big!"

[10:53] When the situation was reversed, he asked a player how he felt when he won a 1-to-3 odds battle.

[10:53] "Don't you feel that's wrong?" asked Meier.

[10:54] "No, not at all! I did everything right," said the player.

[10:55] He also found players were fine losing 2-to-1 battles, but would freak out when they lost 20-to-10 battles. "I had 10 more! It's not fair!"

Math can defeat the best of us.
Math can defeat the best of us.

[10:55] Players would also complain about losing two 2-to-1 battles back to back, so Civilization games now take into account past battles.

[10:57] Meier admits all these psychological concepts are counterintuitive, but they are important.

[10:57] Now Meier is going over his past mistakes in a section called "my bad."

[10:58] The first Civilization was real time, but Meier found that this made players more of a observer than a player.

[10:58] The motto was "play to be the king," and once it went turn based, players began to think more and act more kingly.

[10:59] Another mistake in the Civilization evolution was "Rise and Fall," which would have a player's fortune crumble before a triumphant comeback.

[11:00] What they found was that once players started doing badly, they would simply load a saved game. "So Civilization isn't about rise and fall, it's about rise, rise, and rise."

Even the legendary Meier makes mistakes.
Even the legendary Meier makes mistakes.

[11:02] Next up was the tech tree, which was originally randomized so people couldn't simply go for iron working in order to get to gun powder. They also planned for Sim City-style natural disasters that could bring a civilization down.

[11:02] "You do that, paranoia sits in. Players starts to think the computer is out to get them."

[11:03] Another past mistake was "The Dinos Game," a title that they tried to create in three different versions: a card game, an RTS game, and a civilization game.

[11:03] And now he lists Civilization Network as a mistake, even though the Facebook application isn't even out yet.

[11:04] He thinks Facebook is a fun world to bring the Civ franchise into.

[11:05] One concept that he thought would be cool was to let players exchange gold. Slight problem, though--no testers ever gave any gold to anybody else.

[11:05] "Not sure what this says about the fate of mankind," he jokes.

[11:05] Now onto a new section: "AAA Games on a shoestring."

[11:05] The first rule: Use the player's imagination.

[11:06] If you can make players imagine off-screen action, then you've saved money you would need to create those assets.

[11:07] He uses the text-alert boxes in Civ Rev as an example. In one, players get a message saying "The Sultan of Zanzibar has sent you a gift of a dozen dancing bears."

[11:08] There is no Sultan of Zanzibar in the game, nor are there any dancing bears. However, the player--already playing a monarch--is inclined to believe those things exist.

[11:08] Another tip: "Tap into what the player already knows."

Meier doles out advice for making games on the cheap.
Meier doles out advice for making games on the cheap.

[11:10] That means using character designs that players will recognize. In Pirates, that means giving the bad guy a black mustache so he'd be easily recognized.

[11:11] Now, Meier is going to discuss the "Role of AI."

[11:11] He thinks that AI needs to be part of the overall experience but should not be considered a person.

[11:12] He warns that making the AI do surprising things will have bad effects either way. If it does something bad, the player will assume it's stupid. If it does something overly clever, the player will assume it cheated.

[11:13] Meier likes to think of the AI as a metric. It will make the players better and better and will give players feedback. In the case of Civ Rev, the leaders give feedback, since they're the "only friends players have in a game."

[11:13] Next topic: "Protecting the Player."

[11:14] Meier thinks the prime duty is to protect the player from him/herself. Another job is to deal with load/save issues.

[11:14] "I've seen time and time again players who save before every battle so they always win."

[11:15] Civ Rev gets around this by saving the battle data before a battle so the outcome will remain the same. "Ha, ha, ha!" jokes Meier.

Lest it not be said,
Lest it not be said, "AI is not a person."

[11:17] He also warns against overcustomization in games. He feels turning too much to the player is dangerous and is essentially letting the players do the developers' jobs.

[11:17] Meier also feels cheats are questionable.

[11:19] One build of a Civilization game had cheats on the main menu, which would let players run over pikemen with tanks. Meier felt the players should play the game first, so he ordered the cheats buried.

[11:19] Meier is a big fan of mods, however.

[11:19] Next topic: "Listening to the Player."

[11:19] The first tenet is to listen to what players are really saying.

[11:19] Just offering solutions to complaints about one part of the game may break another part of the game.

[11:20] He thinks it's more prudent to drill down to the psychological reasons behind a player's complaint.

[11:20] Another concept to take into account is the player's emotional state.

Apparently, cheating isn't always a good idea.
Apparently, cheating isn't always a good idea.

[11:21] "You have to ask yourself how to take away a negative emotion and how to reinforce a positive one."

[11:21] Being aware of a player's personality is also vital.

[11:21] "So what is the point of all this, you might be asking?"

[11:22] It's what Meier calls "The Epic Journey."

[11:22] No matter the type of game, each is an epic journey.

[11:22] Meier offers several tools to make a game "feel more epic-y or journey-y."

[11:23] The first is interesting decisions--make sure to pack your game full of them.

[11:23] Choices that offer two interesting paths are the most powerful because players will be wondering about the path not taken.

[11:24] Learning and progress are also important. Players need to feel that they're always progressing, always learning.

What they're really saying? More Civ please!
What they're really saying? More Civ please!

[11:24] Meier thinks a great example is World of Warcraft's leveling system.

[11:25] Another concept is "One More Turn," the idea that the player is leaning forward and anticipating what's coming next. Foreshadowing is a great way to do this.

[11:25] All these concepts lead to the Holy Grail of game design: replayability.

[11:26] "Now you know everything," says Meier, ending his presentation. Thunderous applause.

[11:26] Now it's Q&A time.

[11:26] "I'm sure much of what I've said is wrong so I'll be more than happy to take your questions."

Meier's design credo certainly makes a great game title.
Meier's design credo certainly makes a great game title.

[11:27] First question: "How do you tell your animators and artists what your vision is?"

[11:27] Meier will often build a prototype himself to help show them how the art fits into the big picture.

[11:27] He thinks it's also important to let artists be artists.

[11:28] "Games, as a collaborative medium, need to allow everyone's talents to work."

[11:29] Next question: "Do you think that this egoistic approach to games is prefigured by the themes you give them, since you're telling them you're going to be a king or a railroad tycoon?"

[11:30] Meier thinks that the whole point of games is to let people go places they can't in real life. "What you're looking for in a gameplay experience is something that will take you out of the real world and into a cooler world…and at the end of the day, that world seems cooler if it's been around for 3,000 years."

So, everyone's ready to make a game now, right?
So, everyone's ready to make a game now, right?

[11:31] Next question: "With the limited amount of time people have to play games, wouldn't it be easier to make a shorter game instead of an epic journey?"

[11:31] He thinks that people choose the games they want to play with the time they want to play.

[11:32] A Midnight Club developer says his game was "slammed by critics" for being too hard. How do you get players used to the concept that they won't always win?

[11:32] "You're walking uphill there," says Meier, who thinks players get frustrated when they lose too much.

[11:33] Another questioner asks about the increasing trend to make moral choices in games.

[11:34] Meier says that he isn't a fan of those type of choices unless the game is very up front about the fact it is offering moral choices. He thinks that if you're not clear about that, players can become worried they made a poor moral choice, which will take them off the beaten path.

[11:34] Next question: Where will the next great game concept come from?

[11:35] "Where do I see gaming going? I think this is the year of Civilization, frankly!"

[11:36] He says some interesting things are happening in social gaming but also that the "energy and dynamism" of the industry makes it hard to predict where the next big thing will come from.

[11:38] Next question comes from someone who found himself not trying to beat the computer but beat his own score. How does one develop for that type of person?

[11:39] In Civ Rev, he said that the game kept track of how many times a player saved and loaded in an effort to discourage people from trying to artificially inflate their scores.

[11:39] The next question is about social-network games being copycatted.

[11:40] He says that with the Civilization Network, they're just trying to make the best game they can.

[11:40] Next question: Did you ever do something that flew in the face of expectations?

[11:41] He says not really, and he points to the Civ Rev combat system, which he said went to great lengths to keep players in the game.

[11:42] Actually, he did do that by putting ballroom dancing in the recent Pirates! remake. "That could've been on the 'My Bad' list," he jokes.

[11:42] Next question: How are the nine difficulty levels implemented?

[11:43] That's not an easy question, says Meier. He considers the first level to effectively be a guided tour of the game and the hardest level to "kick your ass or you feel like it's not working."

[11:44] Next question: Do you like hard games like Demon's Souls?

[11:45] Not really, says Meier. If he is frustrated with a game for 20 minutes straight, he tends to put it down and never pick it up again; if he feels it's being gratuitously hard.

[11:46] Being asked about blending genres, he feels that "two games are not necessarily better than one." He felt that Pirates! may have blended two genres too much.

[11:47] Last question: "When I was young, I loved the detail of your games. Now, as an aging gamer, I find the choices overwhelming. How do you deal with that?"

[11:48] Meier says he, too, is an aging gamer, and his response to that was Civilization Revolution, which was designed for the non-hardcore audience. "Not that you wouldn't want to play the full PC experience of Civilization V!" he jokes.

[11:48] And that's it!

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Avatar image for Khatjal

I can't wait for Civ 5.

Avatar image for thestrateger

So long... - my brain is going to explode...

Avatar image for Neo_Sarevok

He didn't mean to insult gamers intelligence, but rather he was advocating simplicity. How do I make my product more compatible with gamers psychologically? It's done all the time in the realm of design. As a graphic designer, I was taught to assume my default clients are those with 6th grader intelligence (unless my target audience suggests otherwise). If you can connect with 6th graders, its easy to connect with others. Take Windows XP for example: Ever notice how blatantly big the "START" button is in the bottom left? It's not insulting, its about designing for mainstream audiences.

Avatar image for maverick_76

After reading all of the comments in this thread I feel that people do know what they want, they just have a hard time explaining it. We all have an image in our heads of what we would consider the perfect game, but what separates the actual developer/designer from a gamer is the ability to take current technology and try and make a game that fits the idea that they have in their head. The easiest way to relay that a game needs to change or improve is by voting with our money; Sid sees that the games that sell are ones that use simpler strategy techniques, is it his fault that he "wins" the economy "game" by making products people pay for? Also, if you want a deeper game, make one then. Learn how to make games, that is the ultimate strategy game in itself.

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

@aces155: Well, given that the next game that fireaxis is working on is for Facebook. I win your argument hands-down with that information! Guess maturity wins out due to IQ and patience and researching, which younger people (probably you) just aren't willing to do. I is obvious from the posts here many are too immature to understand what Sid Meier is actually saying, and implying, so it is wasted on many. You, by your argument, are a graphic whore who is happy with less sophistication. How do i know? Because your movie argument was purely based on camera an therefore what you SAW, not the sophistication of older movies in terms of script and dialogue. Do you really think a Citizan Kane would be made and released into the major markets? So fine. Go talk about the graphics and the editing, because that's the dumbed down part. I talk about the dialogue and the story and how modern movies and games contain less and less in those areas. Planescape Torment or X-Com in 2010? Too hard, too ugly and too difficult to understand. But, thank god, back in the 90's, gamers had brains and bought these games and found out how great they were, In today's market, these games wouldn't be released, so we would never know, the intelligent or the dumb amongst us, but only the intelligent care. Hence my post. because he dumb don't miss them.

Avatar image for aces155

@Humorguy_Basic Oh yeah! I totally feel you. It's the same with films. They were so much better when everything was in master long shot. It was so sophisticated back then when everything used one flat camera angle. All these film-makers with their sophisticated editing techniques and their use of close ups are just pandering to the dumbed-down audience. They should go back to filming everything from one wide angle and let the camera roll for hours and let us intelligent audience members try and figure out what is going on. If you don't get the sarcasm here then please don't make anymore comments about how you are part of the older crowd who is more knowledgeable. Now it is true Sid Meier's games are definitely more light-hearted these days, and it is true that a lot of games are built to have more mass-market appeal. Game development is expensive, and Sid is definitely developing a game that caters to the wider demographic that Gamers constitute now, but streamlining elements of the game doesn't mean a game is any less smart. I would expect a more thoughtful conclusion from someone old enough to have played a Commodore 64 than "well this game has less sliders, obtuse menus, and overly complex controls, so that means its for dumb people."

Avatar image for aces155

@The_Greg You, sir, have just won this thread and several million internets. The response here isn't because anyone can really discredit what Sid is saying, its an issue of Ego bruising. Gamers think they have a lot more control in the gamer/game designer relationship, but really game design is, as my fiance puts it, a lot of "strategic babysitting." Games are manipulative in that they present us a reality that caters to what we want; sometimes that means fudging the numbers so that we feel cooler than we really are. I think this is the first time that really connected with a lot of the people commenting here and it hurt some feelings. The fact of the matter is that Gamers are human beings, and human beings are not purely logical entities. We are irrational, fickled folk, and a good game designer learns just like a film maker, or a writer, or a musician, to use their craft to evoke the emotions they want from their audience. Evoke is just a nice way of saying manipulate. Does that mean the audience is stupid? No. Well yes, but only in so much as the collective phrase "humans are dumb" is true. We are more than number crunchers, and a good artist knows how to get inside your head and pull the levers. I hope all of you take a step back and really think about what Sid is saying before you get all butt hurt thinking he is just calling you stupid.

Avatar image for The_Greg

@Uthar_Wynn the thing is that gamers have no idea what they want. Which is why games are always hated even when they're good. they say they want more freedom, when they get it they say its aimless. they say they want more realism, when they have it they say its boring or too hard and that games are supposed to be FUN. I am a pretty hardcore gamer, but i acknowledge that we need to shut our mouths when it comes to development. Gamers DO NOT know what they want.

Avatar image for bioghost

Sid Meier is pertaining to game designers, not gamers. That's why it is psychology of design. He explain it all clearly with just a little "uhm", i had to agree with some points but some are not. Maybe not a good public speaker though

Avatar image for Uthar_Wynn

It's funny, Sid Meier keeps talking about giving what the gamer wants. And yet the responses here to his philosophy are overwhelmingly negative. Clearly Sid Meier has no freaking clue "what the gamer wants". :(

Avatar image for wigan_gamer

I do not like the new idea of the battle odds... who was he talking to? an idiot? seriously.... so basically they have dumbed the game down? great. Just what we need, another strategy game ruined.

Avatar image for Uthar_Wynn

So basically, "dumb it down", "dumb it down", "dumb it down". Not exactly what I would have expected from the creator of one of the deepest strategy games of all time. I was worried about Civilization V already and this does nothing to gain my confidence.

Avatar image for fillup0

I do not agree with alot of his principles. The whole speech made him sound like a casual game designer who should be pushing for the wii, but some of his ideas are great too. Leaving it to the players imagination so you can save a bit of cash? Visual impact and the details help you with your suspension of disbelief. Text boxes break this. In AC2, you can rennovate a town, the more you rennovate it, the less grimey it looks and the more people visit. I found this to be a great mechanic, I felt a real sense of progression. Sid said that rise and fall is a bad thing due to the save system which he criticised himself...

Avatar image for cd146

I can't agree with Sid's comments at around the 14 minute mark. A civilizations shouldn't stay completely defiant and arrogant when you are dominating them. As they become increasingly weak they should plead and bargain for forgiveness. This gives the player a well-deserved sense of power and control, and only sweetens the deal (especially if the player had previously felt threatened by that nation). The "moral dilemma" as he calls it, is what makes the experience all the more compelling.

Avatar image for mad_gamer23

During the "odds in battles speech" he makes it sounds gamers are completely retarded, and he actually adapts to that! It's one thing to listen to demands that are reasonable. But to change basic laws of probability is idiotic. I agree with Giant_Pands: sounds like he's advocating dumbing down gameplay to please all demands and quick fixes by the impatient masses.

Avatar image for Metronome1982

@ gandaf007. kids dont understand thats as you get more older and thus more intelligent,you tend to think about things for a couple of seconds to make sure you give a descent answer and not just blurt things out without thinking first,so you fill in the blanks with a few,um/uh/ect.

Avatar image for daabulls23

I like the slide "Now you know everything." Haha.

Avatar image for gandaf007

To the people complaining about him saying um/uh/etc too much. Try and come up with a speech pretty off the top of your head, no teleprompter, and in front of thousands of people. Sid is awesome and this presentation was pretty great.

Avatar image for brian_13un

I Really Respect Developers with these kinds of minds ^_^

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

(Continued from previous post) If the industry doesn't get back to the 90's mentality of original and more sophisticated gaming, we are going to see the end of AAA PC games, and eventually the end of all hardcore gaming. The way things are going, in 5 years all we'll have is the Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony 'Wii' producing 'Wii' type games, with all hardcore gamers just having to be content with playing their old console/PC games and the odd indie title!

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

(Continued from previous post) So I say this with a sorry heart. Sid Meier and his ilk are now just living on past glories. They have given up the battle. You can see from the comments above, Sid Meier now only wants to write games for the dumbed down masses. God forbid a game should be hard, god forbid a game be written with intelligent gamers in mind, god forbid we get games with deep, adult orientated stories! Yes, sure, we get the odd Omikron, Fahrenheit and Hard Rain, but they tend to come from one insightful developer. Across the range of the market, the market Sid Meier and other great 90's developers are still a part of, we see more and more games written for the dumb rather than intelligent gamer. Is it any wonder that retro web retailers like do so well, and games like X-Com and Morrowind fly off STEAM's virtual shelves when they are first announced on it? PC gamers are at the more intelligent end of the gaming spectrum, they tend to be older, been in gaming longer and have a wider range of knowledge of the technology they use and the gaming market they are a consumer in. They are not being serviced by the industry. Hence a 23% decline in PC game sales last year, and a 40% decline over the past 3 years. PC gamers want the Dues Ex and Baldur's Gate's of this world, not the Deus Ex 2's and Jade Empire's! This is the reason games like STALKER and The Witcher do so well, and Why Mirror's Edge and Dead Space don't! (Continued)

Avatar image for Humorguy_basic

As a Commodore 64 gamer of yore, I still have my machine and practically every single Microprose game game for it, nearly all with Sid Meier influence, from Silent Service to the original Pirates and Stealth Fighter to Gunship and the Sid Meier wargames, like Decision in the Desert. I eventually went on to PC and Microprose and Sid Meier was still my number one publisher. All the way through the 90's, with great RPG's like Darklands and action-RPG's like Midwinter, then you had the tank sims like M1 Tank Platoon, the naval sims like Taskforce 1942. This period from 1985 to 1995 were Sid Meier's and Microprose's heyday. But those days are pretty much gone. Since Alpha Centauri, in 1999, what have Fireaxis done beyond Civilization III, IV and soon V, each getting streamlined for the console market, and updates to the Railroad Tycoon and Pirates game (few of which better the originals). (continued)

Avatar image for talshiarr

Sid's games used to be extremely hardcore for their day compared to anything else. Even as far back as F-19 Stealth and the original Railroad Tycoon, they were intelligent and complex, but not overwhelmingly so. Recently games that Sid has been involved with have tended towards the shallower end of the pool and I don't like that. Sid Meier's Railroads, the supposed reimagining of the original RR Tycoon, was a hopeless pile of simplified junk, IMO. It left out the "annoying" things you had to pay attention to and work towards in exchange for pretty colors and easy access.

Avatar image for Shiftfallout

@ melante actually Sid knows quite a bit when it comes to behavioral sciences and more importantly interaction. His approach to design is more old school however, and a lot of younger image saturated kids will most likely not relate. If anything, Sid has more of a background with analog gaming theories and practice, he is huge on player choice, which creates emotional response and thus immersion and interest.

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Sid is undeniably a great guy and game designer but most game designers have a big problem: they know a bit of anything but they are not ANY thing... Sid is not a psychologist. If these kind of conferences were really "professional", they would have arranged a keynote where Sid would have had a dialogue/colloquium with a real psychologist about some themes of interest and see how these were faced/applied in his or other games as case studies.

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Wow this guy is an idiot. Civilization was never even that good. And YES, I did play it. And really kinda...well....hated it. But the one thing that is very hilarious about this presentation is he is very uneasy about everything, and yes. As said in the comments already...way too many "uh" "um" "uh" "um". Haha. Wooow. It's time for him to step down from the stage of gaming development and go live a nice retirement life.

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I uh um this uh um um that uh um um uh

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Meier is a bloody legend.

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He says 'Uh' and 'Um' at least 1000 times throughout the vid. Not a good public speaker but a great dev.

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HEY SID! TWO WORDS: PIRATES! pleaseeeeeeeeeee

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what is he rambling about this incoherent message is going nowhere just making examples of examples that lead nowhere and he's a nervous wreck um a um um how many times u going to say it

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That is such an incredibly depressing presentation on so many levels. I almost cried that it was all CIV and zero Rails. CIV is such a garbage game and Rails is never taken seriously. What a broken, out of touch, and irresponsible man.

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@White_wolf_eye It's up now.

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1. I'm having trouble linking this file to facebook and other apps. I'm trying to help pimp gamespot. Help me help you. 2. Sid is a genius because he has been making games for almost 30 years now. While others were playing Nintendo, he helped spearhead real PC gaming with Railroad Tycoon, Pirates, Civilization for an awesome company called Microprose. I can't expect the younger crowd to understand that but there it is, history. All games with a tech tree have Sid to thank. I think smart devs should listen to what he has to say!

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Most of the stupid comments about design that Sid make in this reak of casualization. It sounds like to me he is trying to dumb the franchise down.

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Is there a vid of this because im not the reading type.

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Civ reached its peach at Civ 3 and it hasn't improved hardly at all since. Amazing games still, but come on, all Sid has brought to the gaming world is one good franchise. He's hardly a legend.

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Very well put Ib_felix, I enjoyed the making of Sid Meirs Pirates also they really do put all there heart in soul into there games.

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He is simply a genius. Best game designer ever. DOT The first Civilization was just the same as the chess game. A must, something that any other person can't imagine. People like this guy are moving the world, pointing forward. Is very difficult to watch someone working and immediately thinking "oh here we have someone who knows his job. It's a pleasure to see he while working". Its' almost impossible to see someone working and immediately thinking "oh my God, he is changing the way this job is done, and he's right" he is this guy. Thank you Sid, you have a big debt to me. You must pay a number of night of loss sleeping. Sorry for my terrible english

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Shardz7, a 1000 gigabyte drive is fairly cheap now, and you are worried about 2? "No! I had 3! That's big!" - I've seen this often in MMO forums. People SWEAR that the random number generator is screwed up. It's nothing new. Common sense just doesn't seem to handle prob/stat very well, especially when you ask people about the chances of a few unlikely events happening in a row. Oh, and Civ isn't a "god game". That term is used for games like Populous. Civ is a 4X strategy game. You're playing as a ruler, not a god.

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i had great fun with civ IV cant wait to see how this one turns out

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Just please devise a much cleaner installation than previous carnations of this game. It is unacceptable to end up losing 2 gigs of space on my system drive when I install the game to D:. I know that Microsoft preaches the joys of inefficiency and prompts every game developer to waste drive space on the system drive by default, but please break the trend and make Civ V more intelligent than that. Upon loading Civ IV and the two addons to my D partition, I noticed that 2 gigs of space was used up on C: during install. I won't play a game that abuses my system like this...

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Damn that Sid is ugly! And those eyes... Still he's genius with his ideas and all.

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While I love civilization games, they are not epic in the time scale, as is suggested. All marathon is, is an enter click-fest. Going from normal to marathon, they just made production scale as well. Atleast in terms of my style, I could finish a marathon game and a normal game in about the same time frame. How about for civ 5, actually give us an option marathon game, instead of a normal game where I just click enter more often.

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Civ V. Nuff said.

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Civ IV will be a hard game to live up to. But given all the thought going into Civ V, I think it will be done easily. I really liked the whole 9 levels of difficulty it had. What if you gave an FPS game something like that?

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Yeah i wouldn't exactly call all those games where you basically track stats "engrossing", in the least, but some people like em, i guess.

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I've never played a civilisation game, never appealed to me that much. But really, meier the "father" of computer gaming?

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no wonder i didn't care for civ revolutions on the 360 - felt too shallow and i got bored after my 2nd playthrough