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Interview with Firaxis' Dennis Shirk!

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Shanghai Six, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. ohioastronomy

    ohioastronomy King

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    I just don't see it as successful even for a casual audience. It's extremely slow and boring at the start; worse in fact than prior versions. The MMO companies, by contrast, give new players tons of goodies - you level up at every turn almost no matter what you do. Ditto for the Facebook games.

    It's not just that Civ 5 isn't aimed at the Civ 1-4 crowd; it's that it's still too complex for the FarmVille gang, too slow at the start, and things like the poor AI are obvious even for new players (e.g. why don't they ever seem to invade me over seas.) If you're going to sell out, at least you should do so well.
     
  2. Becephalus

    Becephalus King

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    I would love for a company to try this, but since none have I would assume there are very good reasons.

    As for paying $200, so would I, but I am not really a very large market. 29 year old white male, high income, but still loyal to PC games and studied game theory in college. I am about as serious a strategy gamer as you will find and I don't steal things. PC gaming is still coming out of a period where up to 50% of potential sales were being eaten by pirates (the industry was claiming 90%, but I think the evidence was more around 50%, still a huge problem). So raising your price point when people are already stealing a lot is probably not the best idea.

    Selling people like me 10,000 copies of a $200 game is way less profitable than selling people like me AND the schlubs 1,000,000 copies of a $100 game in pieces.

    Those who download and steal games illegally are the ones who have helped create Steam and the current state of the PC gaming industry. I am sure some of the people complaining fall into that category and should look at themselves and their lack of ethics instead of being so focused on Firaxis.
     
  3. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    I actualy liked Civ4's complexity. Not in the way that most people like it, but because I couldn't keep track of half the stuff so it felt more like I was running an empire, not an omniscient diety controling every aspect of my pititful minions lives.
     
  4. SuperJay

    SuperJay Bending Space and Time

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    Listen, streamlined and organic games can appeal to everyone. Someone could pick up Civ5 and master the fundamentals it inside a week, because it's so streamlined. That's what streamlining is: taking away the unnecessary clutter that would confuse and alienate your new target audience - Civ Rev fans who wanted something a little more robust, but not too difficult.

    You do have a point, though - is Civ5 streamlined enough? Maybe there's room for more streamlining; that would help it more quickly appeal to players who enjoyed Civ Rev but aren't quite ready for the complexity of a challenging strategy game. Future patches could potentially help, especially by spicing up the early game with some more engaging content, as you noted. Plus, there would be financial benefits to to adding (or removing) features that would attract more of those players and retain a newer, more casual audience with the Civ5 franchise. It's important for Firaxis to expand their profit margins on this product line, and it looks like Civ5 is a step in the right direction in targeting that untapped market segment.
     
  5. Becephalus

    Becephalus King

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    I would hope that you are smart enough to understand that while I

    a) Enjoy the game and find it fun and a step in the right direction, if badly in need of fixes.

    I also

    b) Am trying to correct people's misperceptions about what is realistic to expect out of a business even granting a characterization of the product I disagree with.

    Moderator Action: *snip* we don't allow any flaming here.
     
  6. Peregrine

    Peregrine The Swift

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    So many things . . .

    First, Ischnarch has a great point. Can you say, "contradictory argument?"

    Secondly, Thor, can I join your "tag team?" I repeat; complaints and criticisms SHOULD be posted here. This site serves the civ community. That means all of us. This is exactly the correct place to do so. Given the point that Ischy just made, it seems now (especially in light of this interview) that either the defenders of the thing are not so much damage control by company employees, but simply irrational folks feeling bad about being burned by their fav game company.

    The whole idea of the console crowd vs. hardcore gamers bothers me too. The unspoken assumption is that the general run of people are dimwitted clods too stupid to learn how to play a strategy game. Not sure that I agree with that or that that attitude is good. I feel that a large segment of the general population could play a game like civ. Maybe they simply have better things to do. A good portion of the time, so do I. Honestly it's not that complex compared to the games I played as a kid. Anyone old enough to remember the name Avalon Hill will see this point. Making the thing even more simple-minded is a step in the wrong direction. The reasoning is both insulting and flawed; "most of you are too stupid to get this." :rolleyes:

    The coffee shop analogy; Accurate. The thing to do, though, is, as a consumer, simply take your patronage elsewhere. The sales process has to function on both sides of the sale. If they're not selling what I want, I don't purchase. I'm now buying games from other companies who ARE giving me what I want. That's the ethos of the marketplace, especially nowadays. Loyalty seems like a dead concept--but it works both ways. Goodbye firaxis, hello Paradox. And it doesn't mean that I shouldn't tell the coffee shop folks WHY I'm taking my business elsewhere either. ;)

    Paying for expansions; I'm in a unique position here--bought vanilla civ4 only a couple months back. Within a month, purchased BTS. But it was the STRENGTH of the vanilla game that encouraged me to go ahead and pick up BTS. If the vanilla was bad, I wouldn't have bought the expansion. What's happening here is different. The vanilla V is bad, and the expansions are, according to some, required to bring quality to the game. The quality should have already BEEN THERE. It's not, and now, it doesn't matter to me what expansions appear. I won't be buying them. It's a dual issue; the game itself is bad, and no expansion will improve it AND I AM sending a message to the company by not purchasing it. (Posting that statement here helps that message be understood, and if someone doesn't like it . . . then whine a little more about how great the game is and how anyone who doesn't agree with you is a 'hater.') :rolleyes:

    The homogenizing impulse; well-put. I'd have, less generously, called it "lowest common denominator." But as I stated above, it's the top-down decisions that I don't like, the assumption that most people are mouth-breathing idiots capable of nothing more complicated than, say, checkers. :rolleyes:

    About Thor/Zonk/et al ; I'd have said that the dispute has become polarized, rather than "radicalized." When I began to monitor the post-release chatter on the site, there were several (ok, a LOT) people posting complaint threads . . . and they were attacked repeatedly. Ad hominems galore, and all the silliness we've come to expect from the defenders of the thing; it's different; it'll get better with mods/patches/expansions; you guys are haters; go back to CIV. If a critical thread tries or tried to be moderate, it ran into the attack dogs, replete with all the variant replies that I just listed. I don't agree that "to the man" is inappropriate in being aimed at Schafer. If he is responsible for this disaster, then he deserves to shoulder the blame. Such are the perils of leadership--if you fail, you EARN the criticism that appears. Most of the comparisons to CIV are valid--CIV demonstrates conclusively that a game CAN be made well. CiV, well, it demonstrates the opposite. I don't think that Thor or anyone else who is unsatisfied is "derailing" anything. They are doing precisely what they should be doing, given their feelings about the game--they're expressing their dissatisfaction. I am too. If anyone has a problem with that . . . go play CiV. It's SUCH a great game, after all. :rolleyes: My position is clear too; it's a failed game, revealed to be dumbed down by the developers, who essentially gave up on the idea of IMPROVING the civ series and admitted to taking it a step not just backwards, but into a completely different category. If it was a good product they shouldn't NEED to "fix it." :rolleyes:

    The comment about gfs is outrageous as well. The unspoken assumption is that women are incapable of comprehending a strategy game because they're too stupid. I'm just going to let it go at that. Hopefully the blatant stupidity of such an assumption is clear to all. My girl and I discuss the whole issue quite a bit, actually.

    The age assumption; I'm 52, and yet, so highly dissatisfied with this product that I won't purchase it. In this instance, for or against has very little, if anything, to do with age. It does, however, say something about the reasoning behind this assumption (or speculation or assertion, etc.) What it says is not good. :rolleyes:
     
  7. City Raider

    City Raider Warlord

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    Yeah, I'm a bit dissapointed about the whole dumbing down thing. There is absolutely no reason you couldn't have a Civ 4 complexity type game for Civ 5. No alienating/splitting the fan base and you can actually bring in new players who started with Civ Rev.

    Here's how...

    You have different skill levels within the game. For example: Settler, Warlord, Prince, King, Emperor, Immortal, and Diety. Yes, being a bit sarcastic, but that's what these are for! There is no reason a new player to the new Super Complex latest Civ game HAS TO START at higher levels. If you are new, that is what settler and warlord level are for, you get the tips, helpful hints, etc. But us civ vets can fully explore the complexity of the governments, diplomacy, balncing economies and science, and all the new stuff that needs balancing to really win a challenging game on a higher level (Emp+).
    Unfortunately what they did is just make the game so easy (dumbed down if you will), the built in skill levels of the game (Settler to Diety) mean nothing.

    It used to take me forever to move up skill levels in a new Civ game, but with Civ 5 it was game 1 on Prince, okay a bit too easy. Game 2 on King, Ummm boy that was pretty easy too and I really didn't have to do anything. Game 3 on Emp, Uh-oh, still not really feeling a challenge and I'm still not even really doing much, etc.
     
  8. sketch162000

    sketch162000 Warlord

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    See, this is the thing I don't understand...Civ IV was deep and complex, but it's not like the game was convoluted or incomprehensible. Who says that the Civ IV mechanics are too complex for CivRev players?

    I have a confession, my first Civ experience was with the CivRev demo for the PS3. After playing through it a couple of times, I grasped the basic game mechanics, decided that I wanted the full experience, and bought Civ IV. And then I played the crap out of Civ IV, just learning anything that was not in the demo as I went.

    I mean, there are several more features in Civ IV compared to CivRev, but they aren't exactly hard to grasp. The Civlopedia is rich and accessible if there is something that you REALLY don't understand. More than likely, players will discover a mechanic when the AI uses it against them. As far as I can see, the only way that you should be intimidated by any Civ title is if you are completely new to the series. CivRev players are at least familiar with how to play the game. Did they poll CivRev players to determine whether or not Civ IV was too inaccessible? Did they have CivRev players test Civ IV to determine whether or not the game was too difficult or which mechanics were unnecessary? Or did they just decide to start scrapping things at random, alienating a sizable number of fans?
     
  9. JLoZeppeli

    JLoZeppeli Prince

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    598
    That's offensive, childish and very stupid...

    I used to buy my games, and passing to steam was far better, because i can DD my games without the fear of damaging the support... I cried when my cd n1 of Shogun Total war was damaged... These false accusation are meaningless and i hope the moderators will punish you for that.
     
  10. Clement

    Clement Layman

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    I suppose all games are an art form, and since all opinions on art are subjective there are bound to be dissagreements, on thinking more about the game i may have been too disappointed without reason, perhaps streamlining it was'nt such a bad idea after all if it allows new gamers to play it, and if it becomes more complex over the years once the new players become accustomed to it then all the better.

    I'm not mad at Civ 5 anymore, with any luck i'l give it another go some time in the future, i've had a lot of fun with the civ series over the years and i'd feel selfish to not want other new players to experience some of the good stuff too.
     
  11. Ayt

    Ayt Warlord

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    Glue.
     
  12. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    I am also sure that some of the people vigorously defending Shafer 5 pirated the game too. What's your point? :confused:

    Besides, the hardcore fans who love complexity and are complaining about Shafer 5 being watered down/ dumbed down are among the least likely to pirate the game.

    It's a nice try at an insult but it really doesn't make any sense.
     
  13. SuperJay

    SuperJay Bending Space and Time

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    Dennis Shirk does, apparently. I agree, though; I wouldn't have thought the previous Civilization franchise was too complicated for anyone to grasp, really. I enjoyed the older Civ games (since Civ1) and I'm not exactly a genius or master strategist. But when you're designing a game to appeal to a vast, untapped, and hugely lucrative market segment that enjoys casual games, you can't afford to take any risks. Given that that's their target audience for Civ 5, I'm sure they felt that it was better to provide a more streamlined, accessible game up front, to help eliminate any obstacles for new players.

    Kudos! That's really cool, seriously. Welcome aboard!

    I think they're gambling that the financial gains netted by appealing to more casual players will offset the few veteran fans of the old Civilization franchise that they may lose by making the game more accessible and streamlined. Which is a sound business decision; again, it doesn't matter who buys their products specifically, just how many people do overall. And in that sense, Civ5 may prove to be quite profitable for Firaxis and 2K Games, as it should appeal to a larger consumer audience that historically has not purchased Firaxis products in large numbers. Hopefully, Civ5 will change that trend.
     
  14. zonk

    zonk Prince

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    I guess one thing I would say in counter - though....

    As often as larger firms go belly-up - and it happens quite a bit - I wouldn't be so quick to say "they must have a reason".... One thing I've learned myself 15 years in the white collar world, executives usually aren't as smart as we might be led to believe growing up (heck - one's paying me right now to post on this forum!)

    As much as I dislike Steam - once someone comes up with a better DRM system that is less "underfoot, overly friendly dog that wants attention" - digital distribution IS, I think going to radically change the equation.

    A PC game developer chasing the console market might make sense short-term -- but ultimately, there's simply a difference in game types between what works on a console and what people want on a PC.

    There will always be cross-overs... but I guess the warning that I would send to Take2 -- they cannot count on a legendary title always saving them. It certainly didn't save Atari, nor did it save Microprose -- I know that both were ultimately acquired rather than going out of business (but if memory serves, both went through bankruptcy... Atari multiple times, I think).

    At some point - it wouldn't shock me in the least if some small niche shop basically looks at the lay of the land and says "Hmmm... Looks like that hardcore, deep, and complex Civilization market is available..." Given the elimination of brick-and-mortar dsitribution as an obstacle, together with low cost web advertising --- it's not hard to see a challenger emerging to meet the hardcore needs.

    Then - the cycle starts all over again... eventually, that niche shop takes market share... the big boys notice... one of them buys the niche shop... and rides the nameplate title into the ground... and the cycle repeats.

    Believe me - I've seen instances in my own professional experience where small, niche divisions get spun off because they're too "niche" -- and then, unencumbered by corporate demands for "organic growth" -- they're allowed to focus on those niche markets and do them well.... then - 5-10 years later - after the old CEO has been canned, the new CEO looks that niche spinoff and says "they're siphoning market share - we should acquire them"... The only problem with the system is that CEOs are never beheaded (OK, that's too rough... perhaps made penniless and never given another executive job) like they should be.... so the same mistakes keep getting made by the same people, but in different settings.
     
  15. PickledDictator

    PickledDictator Warlord

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    BTS as admitted in the interview - is a perfect game balance wise.

    So they took a different direction, admitted to dumbing down the game like Civ Rev!

    If they want a dumbed down version for the console, I have no issue with that....but for a PC game????? The reason I play strategy games on a PC and not a console is for the STRATEGY. Its far too complex to do this on a console.

    Sigh, I like many of the changes they made, but the streamlining bothers me b/c what separates "deity" from "prince" players was the ability to micromanage their empire.

    I disagree entirely when he said he would "lose" fans by making the game too complex. Players who like civ for what it is, like the complexity, those who don't, will not like this style of game ...period!

    Let curious fans play Civ Rev, if they like it, then they can move to the PC and play a "real" civ game. Instead, he has angered a core of civ fans with this debacle.
     
  16. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Good point. Perhaps they should look for inspiration in the Civ VI thread. There are some pretty solid ideas they could use there. :lol:
     
  17. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Excellent post. :)

    By all means use the tag. If it helps get the message out, I'm all for it. We all deserve the best Civ possible.
    I honestly believe if we don't stand up for what we truly believe in then it's just going to go downhill with Civ VI. :(
     
  18. DiabolicX

    DiabolicX Chieftain

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    I still feel like I was lied to and conned out of my money. Why were they just not up front with all the facts initially. Yea I know they wanted to make money now but wtf dont advertise apples and sell me oranges. I still feel duped for spending $50 on civ rev 2 instead of getting what the name says, civ 5.
     
  19. PickledDictator

    PickledDictator Warlord

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    ditto what he said....

    very well put.
     
  20. Clement

    Clement Layman

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    I agree with you, i played consoles for a long time because i could not afford a pc, whilst i enjoyed many of the games on them when it came to strategy games i could only dream about playing them because there were none available.

    The only ones that came close to strategy titles were the "romance of the three kingdoms" series made by KOEI, while i was grateful for them they were'nt exactly challenging although i assure you i am no Einstein, i'm pretty average, the assumption that as a console owner i was too dumb to play strategy games was quite hurtful and for years i never got to play one.

    I think that so many developers assuming that console/new players can't handle a decent strategy game does a real disservice to everyone involved.

    (i do breathe with my mouth though, what's wrong with that?:))
     

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