Interview with Jon Shafer on Gamasutra

A lengthy interview with Civ5 lead designer Jon Shafer has been posted on Gamasutra, offering a chance for readers to gain some insight into the logic behind Firaxis' decisions. It is an excellent read that reminds me of some interviews with Sid Meier that discuss the philosophy of game design. With that said, an excerpt:

How long has the development cycle been now? About three years?

JS: We started at the very beginning in the summer of 2007. That was back when it was just myself and our lead artist Dorian [Newcomb]. It was a very small team at the time.

We were making big design decisions and exploring the rough art style for the terrain in particular. It was a little while later until we had a full team. It’s 52 people now.

Dustin Browder, the lead designer of StarCraft II, told me they instituted the rule, “Every time we add a unit, we take a unit out,” to keep the complexity from ballooning relative to StarCraft I. With all your new features, do you have that kind of balance in mind?

JS: Yeah. We felt comfortable with the level of complexity that Civ IV had, and we didn’t want to change that dramatically, either more or less. It’s been one of our goals to kind of keep it at the same level. Obviously, not all the features are going to be the same, but we wanted it to be the same amount of depth. We didn’t have the literal “one for one” rule, but that’s the idea.

How did you decide to remove religion, for instance?

JS: The main reason is that we wanted to go a different direction with diplomacy. Instead of having specific modifiers and numbers on the screen that affected relations between different players, we wanted a little more mystery and even more rationality behind the AI players. Religion was something that we think didn’t really fit with that, because you could just send your missionary somewhere, convert somebody, and then they would be your ally forever.

We wanted you to have tools to affect diplomacy, but not so directly. It was just a completely mechanical system. We wanted something that was a little bit more mysterious. That was the main reason.

Thanks to gunsnroses for passing along the link!

>> Read the full interview

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