I have loved the Civilization game series since 91 – Civ 1 was my first truly engrossing game experience, at age 18.
I consider the latest incarnation, Civ 4, to be my all time favorite game.
Unlike so many sequels, its emphatically superior to all predecessors and derivatives (AFAIK), and displays a profound level of richness and subtle game balance. And its still really fun to play.
To me, Civ creator Sid Meier and SimCity creator Will Wright are both game design geniuses. But the diverging trajectories of SimCity and Civ 4 reveal some interesting differences in their characters and illustrates the great value of Follow Through (something I myself often struggle with, but are determined to improve through my life’s learning):
Sid Meier & Civ
Sid Meier created Civ in 90/91 and has continued to guide it’s evolution since. Each Civ title has been a refinement of the last without varying the fundamental formula.
- Civ 2 managed simultaneously to be massively and incrementally better than 1.
- Civ 3 introduced key new concepts Resources and Culture, both very cool, but strayed a bit with rampant Corruption.
- Civ 4 threw away stinky features like Corruption, Civil Disobedience and alot of Micro-management, and added Religion, Promotions, Great People and better Displomacy.
Its amazing how the Firaxis design team stuck at the problem and got the decicions right time after time, so that the resultant game has kept evolving better and better. Sid could have gone and done something completely different (he did: Railroad Tycoon, Colonisation, Gettysburg), but he kept on following through with his original creation. A+
Will Wright & SimCity
Will Wright, on the other hand, didn’t follow through as well.
- Simcity was brilliant, but a beginning, like Civ 1 was.
- Simcity 2 was great, the highpoint of the series.
- SimCity 3 felt like Simcity 2.1, technically better and yet a dissapointment.
- And then, along came SimCity 4,which is a nice looking, but really awfullly designed game that is not much fun to play! Not much Will Wright left in it by then.
Wright was no doubt already consumed by Spore. Im sure Spore is going to be brilliant; it’s recently infected Civ4’s lead designer Soren Johnson, who moved over to EA from Firaxis. But surely Will could have spared a day a month to keep an eye over his firstborn, have ensured whoever led design on SimCity 4 was competent, and have taken corrective action when it became apparent the game was on the wrong track. Now it seems like there wont be anymore SimCity, which is sad because the idea of a City Simulator is still as awesome as ever. More Follow Through needed. A-