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THE COLUMN 100: BRIAN IS GONE BUT Civ3 IS STILL GOING STRONG

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  • THE COLUMN 100: BRIAN IS GONE BUT Civ3 IS STILL GOING STRONG

    The Column
    By korn469

    February 12, 2000

    In the past few days there has been an uproar in the self-contained world of Apolyton sparked by Brian Reynolds unexpected departure from Firaxis. When I first heard that Brian Reynolds had left Firaxis under dubious circumstances I thought that Civ3 was in serious danger but with Tim Train's reassurance, and the Civ3 FAQ appearing, I think that the worst is behind us. We are all worried about Civ3, and I think Yin voiced it best in the Brians leaving Firaxis thread where he said:

    "I can't imagine Civ3 being as good a game without him. So in my most profound English: THIS SUCKS!"

    Well, seeing as a core of very talented game creators remain there shouldn't be that much to worry about, but the fans are still worried. Most people don't think that Civ3 can be what they are hoping for, in general most people are worried. For a moment, Brian's departure made those of us who worry about Civ3's development push the panic button. Basically, Tim Train had to come and assure us that the sky wasn't falling, but I think there is still a great fear that one day the sky will fall.

    Where does this worry come from? We all consider Civ to be our baby; it's our thing. SMAC wasn't even my first choice in Software Ect. I actually bought SimCity 3000 first and returned it three days later an extremely angry customer. I called it SimCity 2050 and felt that that the design team had ripped me off. It seemed like the design team hadn't put in enough work to make SimCity 3000 worth my hard-earned money; the game sucked to the point where it was a personal injustice to me. I remembered loving SimCity 2000, so how in the world could they have messed it up? So I went back to Software Ect. and exchanged that vile piece of crap called SimCity 3000 for the last copy of SMAC, because I had played Civ and Civ2 and loved both of those games. I remember the wonder and excitement I felt nearly a year ago when I spent about six hours playing SMAC and drinking Hershey's Chocolate milk.

    That sense of wonder, that feeling that everything was brand new, it was a great feeling; this memory I am having right now of the wow I felt when I first played SMAC was worth the 47 bucks I paid for SMAC (it was actually three dollars cheaper than SimCity 3000). Well shortly after playing SMAC I got the patch, and I also figured out that SMAC was very similar to Civ2, the same design concept but much more refined. Well with the first patch probe teams didn't work, and that there was the infamous IMRB (Infinite Missile Range Bug) all of this quickly eroded the wonder of the game (it started going away as I didn't need the tutorials anymore). Nevertheless, I still remember my first game of SMAC, I was the Spartans and I quickly ran into good old Chairman Yang, I never finished that game but it was great fun. Six hours straight from a game I didn't expect anything from, well I did have one expectation and that was it had to be better than SimCity 3000.

    Before the wonder went away I became part of the SMAC community at the EA site, and two of the people that had great impact on me during those early days were Yin26 and analyst. At first I thought Yin26 was a complete idiot who just wanted attention, then one day I realized that I agreed with Yin, and that he was more of a showman (showboat perhaps? No offense Yin! ) than an idiot. A few days later I realized that Yin was one of the most intelligent and interesting people at the OWO forums. I started looking in the TIHQ and reading up on analyst and player2 strats and then I tried my first game at Transcend and I lost, but I won my next one. By this time SMAC had it's hooks firmly into me. The final step was Yin's informal Patch 3.0 list of which I found a couple bugs that Firaxis fixed (drop transports anybody?). When Tim Train responded to a save game I sent him about the IMRB and when I learned that Firaxis had fixed drop transports SMAC became my baby.

    Fastforward to now.

    This week scared us, because we are like expectant father's pacing around in the waiting room, waiting for our pride and joy (Civ3) to be born. However, fathers pace for a reason: we are worried that our baby won't turn out like we wanted, we are afraid that something will be wrong with our baby. I feel that THE LIST has raised our expectations even higher than before and has increased our stake in Civ3 like in no other civilization release before this one. We as fans love the participation, and with THE LIST feel like we have told Firaxis what we want.

    However, THE LIST is a failure in my opinion. I have posted to it and was even a TM for a while; I did the first summary for radical ideas. There are distinct ideological groups in the Civ3 forums. Some are extremists who don't want more than two changes in Civ3 while others are basically advocating making Civ3 into a completely different game. I am going to an extreme in my example, but there was one thread here that said Civ3 should include a FPS part to the game. But it seems that the more a person wants to change Civ3 the more they posted into THE LIST. It contains enough ideas to make hundreds of game, all of them being very different. The size, amount of ideas, and the principles of being unbiased and including every idea has hurt THE LIST by muddling the spirit of THE LIST. I believe is that the fans should band together and ask ourselves really hard questions, and then send Firaxis a MANDATE.

    What I mean by MANDATE is the truly important things that Civ3 must have to make it a good game. The individual tech cost of researching Mongol horse archers is a nonfactor in making Civ3 a great game. The fact that virtually everybody agrees Civ3 needs more civs is part of the MANDATE. We should all realize that the most radical of ideas probably won't be in Civ3, and that is for the best as far as Civ3 is concerned. The civ formula is tested and is a winner, but there is so much that can be improved on. The fans need to prioritize what is important and what isn't, and we need to focus on the important things. We shouldn't let Firaxis have an excuse to make Civ3 anything less than the true successor to Civ2 and an all around great game. Yes we are all worried about our baby, but if Civ3 does turn out to be a dud we can show our displeasure by not buying it and realizing that it's not the end of the world. Yet, if the fans clamor for specific goals for Civ3 Firaxis will listen!

    One hundred letters sent to Tim Train about one specific goal for Civ3 will be more effective than ten thousand letters to him about non-related trivial things. We, the fans, are not designing Civ3, few (if any) of us could match the team who is working on Civ3, but the game is ultimately for us, the fans. We MUST get our act together while Civ3 is in the prototype stages and can still be changed, and we must tell Firaxis what is important and what we will not compromise on. The spirit of the list is much greater than any suggestion included in it. After we get our act together and tell Firaxis what we must have to make it Civ3 and not Civ2.5 then we can set back, relax, and realize Civ3 is in good hands. Brian will be missed, but lets take this as a wake up call to let Firaxis know what big things must be in Civ3, and then we can stop worrying (especially about the details).

    Dr. Meier, Dr. Briggs, Dr. Train, and Dr. Pine will deliver us a healthy baby: they are, after all, the best we could have.

    ---------
    About the author (quote): "Hmmm... can't really think of anything good to put here at the moment".

  • #2
    Civilized remain always strong.

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    • #3
      Ah Civ3, the forgotten Civ..
      Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

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