Each version of Civilization, from one through four, seems like it has its own distinct character and charm. The sequels add new features but don't obsolete the earlier games. They're all still playable. So the question is: which version of Civilization is your favorite: I, II, III, or IV?
Sid: [laughs] Well, they all have something special. Civilization I is my sentimental favorite, because that was the first one. And we were really charting brand new territory. I think Civilization IV is a great version. There's a lot of cool new stuff, a great interface, and multi-player support -- the best it's ever been. And there are some new ideas with religion and things like that. So I'd have to say Civilization I and Civilization IV are my top favorites.
Did you have any direct involvement with Civilization II?
Sid: Civilization II was primarily Brian Reynolds' design. We talked about ideas, and I played it, but that was mostly his design. I was there; I was available, and I played. But primarily, he was the main designer behind that.
Did you like how Civilization II turned out?
Sid: Yes, I think it turned out very well. It fixed a few things that were not working right in Civilization I, and it really expanded the game. We were a little hesitant to make the original too big, and I think Civilization II said, "OK. You know how to play Civilization. Now let's give you more units, more technologies, and more stuff to do." So, it was a natural evolution from the first game. I think if we'd brought it out first, it would've been too much; but once people got used to playing it, Civilization II was the right game at the right time.
What's the earliest year in which you've blasted off to Alpha Centauri?
Sid: [laughs] I actually don't play so much for the most awesome victory, or the most, you know. I'm often intrigued by, "What would happen if I do this?" or "I probably shouldn't do this, but what would happen if I tried this?" So I generally don't play for points, or score, or quickest victory. I try to get more into the experience and say, "How can I make this whole game play experience more interesting?" by trying something that I haven't tried before. I don't keep track of those kind of statistics.
So you don't keep your high score etched on a desk somewhere? "800 BC." [laughs]
Sid: No...I know it's just a number that I could patch, so it doesn't mean a lot to me. It would be too easy to cheat. [laughs]
Could you sum up why you think Civilization has been continuously popular for the last sixteen years?
Sid: Well, I think Civilization is based upon some good, sound, fundamental game design principles: giving the player some very interesting things to do and immersing them in a world that is kind of familiar, but also has lots of possibilities. And even though the technology has evolved tremendously over the last 15 years, those kinds of core game play elements, I think, stand the test of time.
Finally, is there anything else you'd like history to know about Civilization that we haven't covered? Any misconceptions or rumors that you would like to put to rest?
Sid: No, I'd just like to reiterate that it's been a great experience for me. Civilization is a game I'm very proud of, and I'm very happy to have been a part of it. I appreciate all the game players who've played it, sent us their great ideas, and have been part of making it a success.
1957, Risk, the board game created by Albert Lamorisse, was first released as La Conquête du Monde ("The Conquest of the World"), in France.
1959, Parker Brothers publishes Risk in the United States for the first time.
ca. 1973, Students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington program a computer game titled Civilization (later popularly known as Empire) for an HP2000C mainframe computer, based mostly on Risk.
1980, Hartland Trefoil publishes Civilization, a strategy board game designed by Francis Tresham, in Britain.
1981, Avalon Hill publishes Civilization, the Hartland Trefoil board game, in the United States.
1982, Sid Meier and Bill Stealey found MicroProse Software.
1984, Avalon Hill publishes Incunabula, a computer game based on their Civilization board game, for MS-DOS computers.
1989, Broderbund publishes SimCity, designed by Will Wright and developed by Maxis.
1989, Electronic Arts publishes Populous, designed by Peter Molyneux and developed by Bullfrog.
1990, MicroProse publishes Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon.
1990, MicroProse publishes Sid Meier's Covert Action.
1991, MicroProse publishes Sid Meier's Civilization.
1993, Spectrum Holobyte purchases MicroProse Software, Inc.
1995, Avalon Hill publishes Advanced Civilization, an official computer version of the Hartland Trefoil Civilization board game.