Civilization (series)

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This article is about a game series. For the TV series, see Civilisation (TV series). For other uses, see Civilization (disambiguation).
"Civ" redirects here. For other uses, see CIV (disambiguation).
Civilization
Civilization logo.png
Genres Turn-based strategy
Developers MicroProse
Activision
Firaxis Games (Currently)
Publishers MicroProse
Activision
Infogrames Entertainment, SA
2K Games (Currently)
Creators Sid Meier
Platforms Main series:
Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X
Spin-offs:
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, iOS, Android, Nintendo DS, Windows Phone, Facebook Platform, PlayStation Vita
First release Civilization
1991
Latest release Civilization: Beyond Earth: Rising Tide
October 9, 2015

Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy, 4X video games, many of them produced by Sid Meier, first released in 1991. There have since been six main games in the series, a number of expansion packs, and spin-off games. There also include traditional board games inspired by the video game series.

All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centered on building a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. Each turn allows the player to move his or her units on the map, build or improve new cities and units, and initiate negotiations with the computer-controlled players. In between turns, computer players can do the same. The player will also choose technologies to research. These reflect the cultural, intellectual, and technical sophistication of the civilization, and usually allow the player to build new units or to improve their cities with new structures. In most games in the series, one may win by military conquest, achieving a certain level of culture, building an interstellar space ship, or achieving the highest score, among other means.

The series was first developed by Meier while at MicroProse, the studio he founded. After MicroProse was acquired by Spectrum Holobyte, Meier left with other designers to form Firaxis Games in 1996, who has been the principle developer of the series since. Over the years part of the crew involved in developing the series became successful in producing their own strategy games, such as Bruce Shelley (Civilization I co-designer) of Age of Empires fame, Brian Reynolds (Civilization II lead designer and programmer) who went on to create Rise of Nations, and more recently Soren Johnson (Civilization III co-designer and Civilization IV lead designer and programmer with Spore). Some issues associated with the Civilization name, due to the 1980 board game of the same name created by Francis Tresham, arose during the late 1990s but has been resolved through agreements, settlements, and publishing company acquisitions; presently Take-Two, the parent company of Firaxis, owns full rights to the series.

As of February 2016, the series has 66 different releases across all platforms and has shipped more than 33 million total units.[1]

History[edit]

Conducting negotiations with Stalin of the Russians in the original Civilization
The main game screen in Civilization II

Development at MicroProse (1988-1996)[edit]

Sid Meier and Bill Stealey co-founded MicroProse in 1982 to develop a number of flight simulators and military strategy software titles. Around 1989, Meier wanted to start developing new types of games to expand his repertoire, inspired by the recent successes of the god games SimCity (1989) and Populous (1989).[2] Meier considered these games demonstrated that video games did not need to be about destruction all the time.[2] He worked with a recent hire, Bruce Shelley, a former board game designer from Avalon Hill, to craft new god games. They first created Railroad Tycoon in 1990, inspired by Shelley's work at producing Avalon Hill's 1830: The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons, inspired by Francis Tresham's 1829.[2] Meier then became to brainstorm ideas on combining global conquest inspired by Risk, city management from the early Empire games, and adding in the concept of a technology tree.[2] Meier worked back and forth with Shelley to refine this prototype before presenting it to the company in full to bring to a full release, which became the first Civilization game, published in 1991. The name was selected late in the process, and after realizing that Tresham had already published a 1980 board game of the same name, MicroProse was able to negotiate a license for the name from Avalon Hill.[2]

Following on Civilization, Meier was prompted to develop a number of similar simulation titles, a situation that did not sit well with Stealey who wanted MicrProse to continue to develop flight simulators; at this point, Meier did not actually work for MicroProse but served as a contractor, having sold his shares to Stealey.[2] One of these titles included Sid Meier's Colonization (1994), during which Meier worked with another recent hire, Brian Reynolds, as he had done with Shelley.[3] With Meier less involved with MicroProse, he opted to give Reynolds the development lead for creating Civilization II (1996), the first sequel to any of Meier's previous games. Meier gave Reynolds some advice on the direction to take the game, and subsequently, Reynolds worked with Doug Kaufman, another MicroProse employee that had worked on writing their adventure games, for Civilization II.[3]

Formation of Firaxis (1996-2001)[edit]

Stealey had pushed MicroProse to look towards home video consoles and arcade games based on their flight simulator software, but these investments did not pan out, putting the company into debt.[2] After trying to arrange financing from an initial public offering, Stealey opted instead to sell the company to Spectrum Holobyte in 1993, and eventually sold his remaining shares in the company and departed it.[2] Initially MicroProse was kept as a separate company from Spectrum Holobyte.[4] By 1996, Spectrum Holobyte opted to consolidate its brand under the MicroProse name, with that cutting many of the MicroProse staff. At this point, Meier, Reynolds, and Jeff Briggs (one of MicroProse's developers and music composers) left MicroProse to found Firaxis.[5]

Firaxis published additional titles by Meier, the first being Sid Meier's Gettysburg! (1997). Lacking the rights to the Civilization name, they subsequently produced Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a "space-based Civilization-style game"[6] released in 1999 and published by Electronic Arts.[7] Alpha Centauri uses a game engine similar to the one used in Civilization II[8] and its storyline continues from where the Civilization franchise ends, namely the colonization of a planet in Alpha Centauri.

Naming rights litigation from Activision and Avalon Hill (1997-1998)[edit]

Prior to the first Civilization video game, an existing 1980 board game of the same name had been developed by Francis Tresham, published in Europe by his company Hartland Trefoil and licensed for publication in the United States by Avalon Hill.[9] Though the board game and video game share many common elements, Meier stated he had not played the board game or was influenced by its elements.[2] When MicroProse opted on the name Civilization for the video game, the company worked out a deal with Avalon Hill to allow them to use the Civilization name.[2]

In April 1997, Activision acquired the rights to the name "Civilization" on its PC games from Avalon Hill. Seven months later Avalon Hill and Activision sued MicroProse over trademark infringement over the rights to the "Civilization" name.[9] In response to the lawsuit, MicroProse bought Hartland Trefoil in December 1997. This move sought to establish "MicroProse as the preeminent holder of worldwide computer game and board game rights under the Civilization brand".[10] In January 1998, MicroProse counter-sued Avalon Hill and Activision for false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and unfair business practices as a result of Activision's decision to develop and publish Civilization computer games.[11]

In July 1998, Avalon Hill and Activision settled their case against MicroProse out of court. Under the terms of the settlement, MicroProse kept all the rights to the Civilization brand, Avalon Hill had to pay MicroProse $411,000, and Activision acquired a license from MicroProse to publish Civilization: Call to Power, released in March 1999.[9][12] Avalon Hill accepted this settlement as there already discussions for Hasbro Interactive to acquire both Avalon Hill and MicroProse. The acquisition of both was completed a month after this settlement, giving Hasbro Interactive the full rights to the Civilization name.[9][13] which consolidated the Civilization franchise under Hasbro.

Publishing by Infogrames (2001-2004)[edit]

In January 2001, the French company Infogrames bought Hasbro Interactive for $100 million,[14] which included the rights to the Civilization franchise, the rights to the Atari brand,[15] and Hasbro's Game.com handheld game console.[15][16] Following the sale, Hasbro Interactive was renamed Infogrames Interactive, Inc.[17] In May 2003, Infogrames changed the name of Infogrames Interactive to Atari Interactive.[18]

Infogrames/Atari Interactive published several of Firaxis' games, including Civilization III, released in 2001. Briggs served as the lead designer with Soren Johnson as lead programmer, and the title was the first in the series to include two expansion packs, Play the World and Conquests.

Publishing and acquisition by Take-Two (2004-present)[edit]

Take-Two bought the rights to the Civilization franchise from Infogrames in 2004 for $22.3 million.[19][20] In October 2005, 2K Games, a Take-Two subsidiary, published Civilization IV, which was developed by Firaxis with Johnson as game designer.[21] By this point in the series, Meier had adopted a design philosophy of making sure each new Civilization game had "one-third old, one-third improved, and one-third new", a means to allow the new game to be enjoyed by existing fans while able to draw in new players.[1]

Take Two bought Firaxis for $26.7 million including possible performance bonuses in November 2005[22] which resulted in Take Two owning both the developer and the publisher of the Civilization franchise. Since Take Two's acquisition, Firaxis has developed several more titles in the series, including two main releases, Civilization V (2010) and Civilization VI (2016), two lightweight versions of Civilization for consoles and mobiles in Civilization Revolution (2008) and it's sequel Civilization Revolution 2 (2014), and Civilization: Beyond Earth (2014), inspired by their previous Alpha Centauri title.

Gameplay[edit]

The main Civilization games are turn-based 4X games, where players attempt to achieve one of several victory conditions against other human and control-controlled opponents though the actions of "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate". Civilization uses historical aspects from the development of mankind's civilization, and turns take place over a time scale that starts with the dawn of civilization in the millennia before 1 A.D., and continue through present times and beyond. On each turn, players oversee their civilization's government, determine what technology, culture, and civics the civilization should develop, engage in diplomacy with other civilizations, set production and place improvements within cities, and move their civilization's units across the game's world map, often engaging in combat with other civilizations' enemy units.

Games are played on either pre-defined or procedurally generated maps, creating a world with a vary array of terrain including mountains and oceans. Map generation can be set by several parameters, such as average climate or landmass types. Maps can vary in size, which will affect the number of civilizations that can be played by that map.

A representative city management screen, from Civilization III. The player can see what resources each space controlled by the city produces, the city improvements and units in the city, reallocate resources, and assign new production targets.

Players either select or are randomly assigned a civilization led by a historical figure, based on several factual reigns and empires, including the Romans, Aztecs, and Americans; the civilization choice provides certain unique bonuses, units, and improvements for that player. Players start at random locations on the map, and must found their first city, becoming its default capitol until changed by the player, and explore the map and lift its fog of war to find out what is nearby, including potential resources that can be used in production, and where other civilizations are located. Cities will generate several resources based on how large the city is which affects how many map spaces it takes up: food which is required to sustain large cities and allow them to grow; production units used to determine how fast a city can build new units and improvements, science and culture which affect progress along the technology tree, and currency which can be used by the player for several tasks including upkeep of cities and units, speeding up production of a unit or offered as gifts in diplomacy actions. Once a city is founded, the player can then start to produce new units or city improvements. Units include military units, commerce-based units such as caravans to establish trade routes with other cities, and civilian-based groups like workers to help improve the land areas around a city such as by constructing fields or mines. City improvements include buildings that help to boost production types, such a library or university to improve research output, or World Wonders, unique buildings that can only be built by one civilization that grants a large bonus to the first to complete it. Cities will grow over time, expanding to cover more territory on the map while requiring more food and money to maintain, and players can create units that will be able to found new cities, expanding their empire.

Units typically move a set number of spaces per turn, limited by terrain: swamps may slow down faster units, mountains are typically impassible except by air, and water spaces can only be traversed with sea-going vessels that can carry other units. Combat occurs when any unit moves into a space occupied by another unit that is not currently on diplomatic terms with that player. Each unit has attack, defensive, and health values, often factored by the type of terrain they are presently in and if the units are fortified. The results of combat are determined with a degree of randomness based on the attack and defense strengths. Defeated units are eliminated from the game, and if the attacks are victorious, that unit will occupy the space if no other enemy units are there. If this battle took place on a city's main map space, then the attacker unit takes over the city for that civilization, though some games in the series provide the option of razing the city as well. In this manner, a civilization can be conquered by taking over all of its cities, at which point that player is out of the game. In more recent games, cities can also be taken over through the influence of culture or religion from a nearby opposing city. Several units are available for performing espionage work, which are hidden from other players unless certain conditions are met. These units can gain information normally hidden to other players, steal technology and culture, or create unrest in an opponent's city to make it easier to capture.

The player also oversees the general aspects of their civilization. They set specific types of government that can affect production rates, growth, and other factors, though these government civics must be gained through research and culture growth. The player also manages the tax rate on cities, which helps to collect currency to pay for unit and improvement maintenance. The player must manage the happiness of their population, which can be impacted by government choices, taxes, nearby military units and actions, overcrowded cities, and pollution, and mitigated by special units and city improvements. Once a player has discovered an opposing civilization, they can send communication to them to request peace treaties, non-hostile relationships, or offer trades of currency, resources, units, cities, and technology; such trades can also be used to intimidate opponents to threaten to go to war if such demands are not met.

Multiple victory paths are available to players; the following victory conditions are general routes available in most games while other routes can also exist in others. The conquest victory route requires the player to wipe out or take over all capital cities of the other civilizations on the map while still retaining their own. A player may also attempt to win through a diplomatic victory. By establishing friendly ties with other civilizations, the player can achieve victory by having their allies vote appropriately once the United Nations facility is established. Technology victories can be achieved by progressing through the technology tree to study space travel and constructing the parts required to launch a generation ship to Alpha Centauri. With culture elements in newer games, players can achieve a cultural victory by accumulating enough culture over other civilizations and building necessary structures to guide their civilization to a utopia-like state to claim this win. Finally, a player can achieve victory if they have the most points after a set number of turns have been reached; points are based on several factors including the size of the civilization, their progress towards technology and culture, and currency at hand.

To help newer players, the Civilization games include a number of artificial intelligence advisors that suggest which units, city improvements, and technology and cultures they should invest in based on the current state of the game.

The Civilization games can be played in a single-player mode, and both local and online multiplayer modes, along with a number of computer-controlled opponents. Some games provide a means to play asynchronously, where each player is given a set amount of time, such as within a day, to decide their actions and send results to a game server, when then determines the results of all actions and returns this information to players.

Civilizations and leaders represented[edit]

Throughout the various different Civilization games, about 50 different civilizations and over 110 different leaders have been represented. The following tables below delineate the appearances of various civilizations and leaders.

Chronology[edit]

Main series[edit]

Main Series
Title Release Notes
Civilization 1991
CivNet 1995 A remake with improved graphics and sound, and support for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.
Civilization II 1996
Civilization II: Conflicts in Civilization 1996 The first expansion pack for Civilization II.
Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds 1997 The second expansion pack for Civilization II.
Civilization II: Test of Time 1999 Includes the original Civilization II plus new scenarios and improved features, including an alien landscape.
Civilization III 2001
Civilization III: Play the World 2002 The first expansion pack for Civilization III.
Civilization III: Conquests 2003 The second and final expansion for Civilization III.
Civilization IV 2005
Civilization IV: Warlords 2006 The first expansion pack for Civilization IV.
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword 2007 The second expansion pack for Civilization IV.
Civilization Revolution 2008 The first game in the series designed specifically for consoles, iOS and Windows Phone; not released for the PC or Mac.
Civilization V 2010
Civilization V: Gods & Kings 2012 The first expansion pack for Civilization V.
Civilization V: Brave New World 2013 The second expansion pack for Civilization V.
Civilization Revolution 2 2014 A mobile exclusive sequel to Civilization Revolution.
Civilization VI 2016

Spinoffs[edit]

Spinoff Titles
Title Release Notes
Sid Meier's Colonization 1994 Created by Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier while still at MicroProse.
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 1999 Created by Sid Meier's team at Firaxis Games.
Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire 1999 An expansion pack to Alpha Centauri.
CivCity: Rome 2006 A city-building strategy game inspired by the series.
Civilization IV: Colonization 2008 A spin-off based on Sid Meier's 1994 game, Colonization built atop the Civilization IV engine..
Civilization World 2011 A Civilization game for Facebook. The game was discontinued in 2013.
Civilization: Beyond Earth 2014 A spiritual successor to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri built atop the Civilization V engine.
Beyond Earth: Rising Tide 2015 An expansion pack for Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Sid Meier's Starships 2015 A tie-in game to Civilization: Beyond Earth.

Compilations[edit]

  • The Explorer (1997), includes Civilization and the Colonization spin off.
  • Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition (1998), includes Civilization II and its two expansions: Conflicts in Civilization and Fantastic Worlds.
  • Civilization III: Gold Edition (2003), includes Civilization III and the first expansion, Play the World.
  • Civilization III: Complete (2005), includes Civilization III and its two expansions: Play the World and Conquests.
  • Civilization Chronicles (2006), includes all the games from the main series from the first Civilization to Civilization IV.
  • Civilization IV: Gold Edition (2007), includes Civilization IV and its first expansion Warlords, as well as a bonus poster illustrated by artist Greg Hildebrandt.
  • Civilization IV: Complete (2007), includes Civilization IV and its two expansions: Warlords and Beyond the Sword.
  • Civilization IV: The Complete Edition (2009), includes Civilization IV, its two expansions, Warlords and Beyond the Sword, and Civilization IV: Colonization. It does not feature any DRM (copy protection).
  • Civilization V: Game of the Year Edition (2011) includes Civilization V and all DLC prior to the Korea and Wonders of the Ancient World packs released through Steam.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gold Edition (2013) included the original plus the Gods & Kings expansion with all the DLC released between them both.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V: The Complete Edition (2014) includes the original plus the Gods & Kings and Brave New World expansions with all the DLC released between them.

Related games[edit]

Due to licensing disputes between Avalon Hill and MicroProse, the Civilization: Call to Power series was developed by Activision instead of MicroProse. However, the series was consolidated into the Civilization franchise when Hasbro purchased Avalon Hill and Activision in 1999.[9][23] Additional games, such as FreeCiv and FreeCol, have taken inspiration from games within the Civilization franchise, but were developed by third parties unrelated to 2K Games or Firaxis.

Freeciv 2.1.0 SDL client
Related Titles
Title Release Notes
Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization 1995 The computer version of the Advanced Civilization board game.
Freeciv 1996 Latest release: 2015[24]
Civilization: Call to Power 1999 Created by Activision.
C-evo 1999 Latest release 2013, created by Steffen Gerlach[25]
Call to Power II 2000 Sequel to Civilization: Call to Power. Due to licensing issues, Civilization could not be in the title.[26]
FreeCol 2003 A clone of Sid Meier's Colonization, latest release 2015.[27]
CivilizationEDU 2017 A modified version of Civilization V aimed to be used in the classroom as an education tool to examine the interaction between military, technology, political and socioeconomic issues. Development is in partnership with GlassLab.[28]

Board and card games[edit]

Board and Card Games
Title Release Notes
Civilization: The Boardgame 2002 An officially licensed board game published by Eagle Games and based on Civilization III.
Civilization: The Card Game 2006 A card game designed by Civilization IV lead designer Soren Johnson and based on Civilization IV.
Civilization: The Board Game 2010 An officially licensed board game published by Fantasy Flight Games and based on Civilization IV.
Civilization: Fame and Fortune 2011 The first expansion to the 2010 Civilization based board game.
Civilization: Wisdom and Warfare  2013 The second expansion to the 2010 Civilization based board game.

Influence[edit]

Scottish science fiction and mainstream author Iain Banks has noted that he spent much time playing the game (appearing to refer to the first version) and that it was one of the inspirations for the concept of the 'Outside Context Problem' central to his Excession novel - the appearance of invaders or travelers who are so advanced that they are totally outside the society's frame of reference. In an interview, Banks specifically compares this to having a Civilization battleship arrive while the player is still using wooden sailing ships.[29] One of the two viewpoint characters in his novel Complicity plays Civilization compulsively.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Takahasi, Dean (February 18, 2016). "Civilization: 25 years, 33M copies sold, 1 billion hours played, and 66 versions". Venture Beat. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Features - The History of Civilization". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Brian Reynolds Interview". IGN. February 11, 2000. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Company News; Microprose Plans Merger With Spectrum Holobyte". The New York Times. 1993-06-18. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  5. ^ "History for MicroProse Software, Inc". Mobygames.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  6. ^ "Sid starts up. Again - Forbes.com". Forbes. 1997-07-25. 
  7. ^ "IGN: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri". Pc.ign.com. 1998-11-21. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  8. ^ "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri". Kickstartnews.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  9. ^ a b c d e The Fall of Avalon Hill
  10. ^ "MicroProse Buys out Hartland Trefoil". Mimgames.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  11. ^ "Hasbro Takes Over The Hill and Others". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  12. ^ "Monarch Services Inc - 10KSB40 - For 4/30/98". SEC Info. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  13. ^ Evangelista, Benny (1998-08-13). "Hasbro Buying Alameda's MicroProse / Computer games-maker sells out for $70 million". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  14. ^ "Company News; Hasbro Completes Sale Of Interactive Business". The New York Times. 2001-01-30. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  15. ^ a b Press Release
  16. ^ "Hasbro Inc - 10-K405 - For 12/31/00 - EX-13". SEC Info. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  17. ^ "Civilization III: Home". Civ3.com. 2002-05-08. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  18. ^ "Atari Inc - 10-KT - For 3/31/03". SEC Info. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  19. ^ Feldman, Curt (2004-11-24). "Civilization sold off to mystery buyer - PC News at GameSpot". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  20. ^ Winegarner, Beth (2005-01-26). "Take-Two takes over Civilization - PC News at GameSpot". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  21. ^ Firaxis Games: Games: Sid Meier's Civilization Chronicles Archived January 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-01-31). "Take-Two reveals acquisition prices, hints at future lawsuits - PlayStation 2 News at GameSpot". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  23. ^ Evangelista, Benny (1998-08-13). "Hasbro Buying Alameda's MicroProse / Computer games-maker sells out for $70 million". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  24. ^ "Freeciv - Summary". Gna! project Freeciv. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  25. ^ Steffen Gerlach (2008). "Old Versions". C-evo. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  26. ^ Bruce Geryk (2000-11-20). "Call to Power II Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  27. ^ Mike Pope (2015-03-08). "FreeCol 0.11.3". SourceForge project FreeCol. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  28. ^ Francis, Bryant (June 23, 2016). "Firaxis partners with GlassLab for educational version of Civilization V". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 23, 2016. 
  29. ^ Excession: A Conversation with Iain Banks (interview originally published in SFX magazine, via 'sandm.co.uk' website. Accessed 2009-01-04.)

External links[edit]