« | Home | »

Firaxis Rage

posted on July 14th, 2008 by golden jew

I love Civilization. I really do. I’ve been on a massive kick of Civ 4: BTS multiplayer recently, and I’m eager for Civilization Revolution, as are many of my friends. But I can’t excuse some of the ridiculous activities that Firaxis has been engaged in lately.

First, they release ANOTHER faulty patch for Civ 4. Fanboys would tell me to shut the fuck up and enjoy this wondrous bounty from Firaxis: after all, with Civ 3 Conquests they promised a patch that never came. But despite this, I can’t help but be angry that they produce another patch that is so bug-ridden it requires a user patch. After their criminal negligence with this title, the least they could do would be apply QA resources to ensure that their name is more synonymous with “quality programming” than “you suckers will buy anything we produce, ha ha ha.”

They then follow up this indignity by revealing that in addition to diverting all of their resources to Civilization Revolution, they are going to be releasing a Colonization remake. Now this sounded fun until I found it uses the Civilization 4 engine. The same engine that leaks memory (still not fixed), and has been neglected by you assholes for over six months.

Great. So not only did you neglect us, you decided to re-use the engine for another brand you own to churn out an easy unit sale from nostalgic suckers who will buy anything (myself included). The real question will be the price point–a fair $30, considering you are re-using your engine, or will you kick us in the nuts for $40, or shit on us for $50? Time will tell.

And to ice the cake, there were reports of graphical bugs in the ship version of Civilization Revolution. Fortunately, the Xbox 360 and PS3 have the ability to be patched, so Firaxis can rely on rapid patches with more bugs, that will be saved by the user community doing their job for them. Oh wait, Xbox 360 and PS3 don’t support user patching. And the DS doesn’t support any patching. Can we all say “class action lawsuit” for DS version owners? That’s gonna hurt the old bottom line.

Because I have so much pent up rage towards Firaxis (mainly because I love their products, and like Obama and McCain’s campaign efforts, I know they can be less scummy and do BETTER) this little rant wasn’t quite enough. I took it upon myself to do a little commentary on a recent “interview” based on user submitted questions with Sid Meier. I put “interview” in quotes because much like Zimbabwe’s “election” it was a travesty that betrays the refusal on the part of gaming industry’s “journalists” to ask hard questions and publish real news.


You’ve watched the game industry truly evolve over the last 26 years. What excites you as a developer today?

The same things that excited me about being a developer in the early 1980s – I love to design and code games. I come to work every day and look forward to being at my keyboard writing code and iterating on whatever game we’re working on at the time. It is pretty thrilling to see how many people are playing and enjoying games today. Our industry continues to come up with new ways for people to play games — new platforms, game ideas etc. that keep things exciting and interesting…and growing. I hope to be making games forever — it’s the greatest job in the world.

I make games and you don’t. Study hard kids, and maybe with a few lucky breaks you could be like me: tremendously successful because my name is in front of a game I haven’t actively participated in coding for fifteen years. At least, until it came time to sell out on consoles–then I got on that gravy train like a fat kid eating pocky.

Why turn your back on the largest installed base on the console landscape today, and not release the “game you always wanted to make” on the Wii? Or are you planning to release the Wii version of Civ Revolution later after all?

We’re still in the process of making decisions on that and will keep you posted. We certainly think the Wii is a fantastic system and have no intentions of turning our backs on it!

You guys are really having trouble with the concept of “selling out,” aren’t you? As soon as we saw the average age of a Wii owner was under 16, we decided to scrap the Wii for now–but don’t worry, Civilization Revolution: My Little Pony Wars will be out soon enough. Pussy. Buy a real system.

I’ve read about your interest in possibly working on an MMO. What is your next genre of game going to be? Are you going to be making a new kind of game in the future?

I’m exploring lots of exciting ideas right now. A Civ MMO is a really intriguing idea and we’re spending time thinking about how we could make it the fun addictive experience Civ players expect. Beyond that I have some new ideas that are quite different from games I’ve made in the past — and that’s all I’m able to tell you right now. Stand by for more information in the near future!

If you thought taking our games to consoles was a sell out move, wait till we hit MMOs. We’ve been able to thrive and flourish in an environment where our forgiving fan base lets us put out versions that are horribly bug ridden, hell, Solver and Bhruic patch them for us–so clearly MMOs are meant for us. Wait, we can’t have user patches for MMOs? Let me call up Nokia, I think the N-gage might be our next “platform play.”

What are the odds of an Alpha Centauri sequel? Who owns the license these days, and would you make it if you got the chance, or is it more Brian Reynolds’ brainchild? (And do you know if *he* would be interested in making a sequel?)

Electronic Arts owns the rights to Alpha Centauri, and we do get lots of requests from fans to make a new version. I don’t know what EA plans to do with it, but we would certainly love to make a new Alpha Centauri for today’s gamers.

We’d happily milk this title for as much money as possible, probably using the Civilization 4 engine, a la Colonization, but EA owns the rights and failed to buy Take Two. Go complain to EA, I hear they’re a big evil company that drowns puppies and makes franchise games.

What is the most interesting ‘story’ you have heard from a school that is using Civ to teach students about history?

It is pretty amazing how many teachers around the world are using Civ in the classroom to teach everything from history to communications to economics. We were hearing from so many of them that we decided to create a section on Firaxis.com called the Educator’s Exchange which provides a place for teachers to share stories and ideas about using Civ in the classroom.

I’ve heard lots of great stories, but one of my favorites came from a young teacher who I met recently at the ComicCon show in New York City. I was signing autographs and she came up to the booth and said that Civilization had saved her teaching career. She was a recent college graduate who had gotten her first job teaching freshman History at a pretty large public school. Her classes had about 30 students in each and she was really struggling with keeping them engaged and holding their attention. It was extremely frustrating and had her questioning her chosen career. She read on a forum that teachers were using Civ in the classroom to teach the topics she needed to cover and it was working really well. She happened to be a Civ player and was thrilled with the idea, but skeptical that she could make it work with her rowdy group. She decided to integrate Civ into her curriculum the following year and it worked…so well in fact, that after two years of seeing the grades of her students increase, the administration asked the other History teachers to try it too. They’re now a Civ department!

Here’s a touching story of how a teacher in the embattled NYC Public School System weakened her curriculum by introducing video games and lax grading in the face of a horribly corrupt and abusive setup. She’s also an alcoholic. Protip: Instead of video games, China uses discipline and pain to encourage their kids to study. Children who don’t make it into a university end up in factory jobs with a life expectancy of 30. How’s that for motivation? You’ll note that their economy is growing rather well these days while we are mired in recession.

You’ve confirmed that there will be a Civilization 5 for the PC. Considering how well the development of Civ Revolution for consoles is going, do you think Civ 5 might also be released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Is there any reason why we can’t have epic 12 hour games on a console as well? Also, in what direction do you think Civ games will go in the future – so far it’s been about improving graphics and adding more options – where can you go from here?

That’s news to me! I’m not sure where you would have heard that, but the truth is that we haven’t confirmed that there will be a Civ V. We’ve just finished Civ Revolution and are making decisions now on what’s next for the Firaxis teams. We’ll get back to you with more information in the near future.

As for where Civ could go in the future…as I mentioned above, a Civ MMO is definitely an interesting idea and could take the game in exciting new directions. We’re still exploring those ideas.

Seriously. Guys. You’re lucky this is a text interview because the PR person writing the answers on my behalf can’t help but smirk at your idiocy. We’d love to keep making incremental PC games, but we figured out we can bilk you assholes for a lot more money on consoles, and goddamn, if we were taking a subscription fee from you I could have my rims redone in platinum instead of gold. Based on forum research, we’ve determined 40% of you would pay us monthly no matter what, while a solid 20% of you hate us for our neglect of Civilization BTS so much you won’t buy any more of our boxed games. You do the math, or hire a Chinese kid to do it for you.

Do you agree with the phrase “Gaming is a new media, not just games” and how will gaming evolve vis-à-vis the other entertainment sources in its broadest sense (i.e. films, TV, etc.)?

That may be a bit too esoteric for me. To me, games are fun entertainment. Some designers may view it differently, but our goal when making games is to deliver a fun experience to players, so it’s not so much about the presentation of the game as it is about how a person feels when they’re playing. We keep the focus on the player and let them drive the experience. The games industry is growing exponentially and continues to capture a larger share of the consumer entertainment market. I think games will remain a permanent part of mainstream entertainment and will reside right up there with TV and movies.

Woah there cowboy, our PR intern writing the answers hasn’t even completed college yet, and her degree is in communications, not French. Hell, she had to use thesaurus.com just to throw the word “esoteric” in so I don’t sound stupid.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make sure that the price point for Colonization is $50, even though it uses the faulty Civ 4 engine and took us all of three months to make.

1 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Review - Civilization 4: Colonization? | videolamer.com on October 15, 2008


  1. chris said on July 15, 2008:

    Civ4 is finally stable with the most recent patch. I haven’t played BTS in a while, though.

    I’m not too impressed with Civ Revolution. I still think Alpha Centauri’s where it’s at with the Civ system, though… I don’t know if I’d want Firaxis working on a sequel given their recent track record. It’s hard to believe the same studio did SMAC and Civ4.

  2. jselsmark said on July 17, 2008:

    Funny reading man, and sad at places to. Why sad you ask? Because some of it is actually true (other things taken to the extreme, but you ment to do that) I still consider myself lucky that I didn’t go out and buy Civ4 Warlords considering that almost all the features from warlords are in the BTS version… what a waste of money that would have been.

  3. anonymous123 said on July 17, 2008:

    You might have more readership if you didn’t let your personal dislike for a particular Firaxis developer drive you into a raging rant.

  4. jay said on July 17, 2008:

    We have our two readers precisely because we give our personal opinions. Maybe more would enjoy a jillionth “objective” news site but then what would mom and dad read?

    An actual discussion would be great but it is easier to marginalize unhappy fans by deciding they’re just ranting incoherently.

  5. Golden Jew said on July 17, 2008:


    I’d respond to your comment in detail, but I expect it to be corrected to acknowledge my humor and self admitted over-the-top rant with an upcoming patch. I’ll re-check my post in 9 months when the patch goes live and then we can have a meaningful, non anonymous debate about Firaxis’ performance with the Civilization franchise.

  6. Christian said on July 17, 2008:

    Since when does Golden Jew know any particular Firaxis developers?

    Unless you mean Sid Meier, in which case – I don’t think there is hate? Game blogs love to take a prominent figure in a studio and use them as representative of the company’s actions through parody (and photoshops of moneyhats). I’ve never thought of it being directed at them personally.

  7. TrueTallus said on July 20, 2008:

    I agree with jselsmark, that was a riot. Good to read a rant that’s long enough to really pick up steam :) As an information question to continue the education of my sim-newb mind, how hands off is Sid Mieir from the franchises bearing his name at this point, joking aside? Has he reached Tom Clancy like levels of detatchment, or is he actually still fighting the good fight?

  8. CM said on July 21, 2008:

    Wow, you have a lot of wasted time in your life.

    It’s a game. A game. A g-a-m-e.

    It’s a game. That’s something you play in your spare time to have fun.

  9. Christian said on July 21, 2008:

    CM – pretty sure he had lots of fun in all that time. He just wants to make sure it continues to provide fun. Otherwise he’ll move onto something else.

    The few hours or less spent on this article is hardly a lot of wasted time.

  10. jay said on July 21, 2008:

    CM, please leave now. This site is an absolute waste of time because all we do is discuss games. Also I recommend you stop reading movie, book, music, and all entertainment reviews in general because they are all just wasted hours spent on thinking and writing about things that are meant to be fun and entertain us.

  11. Golden Jew said on July 21, 2008:

    TrueTallus: I don’t know, to be honest. Up till Rev, he was hands off like Tom Clancy, but he was supposedly heavily involved in Rev– and certainly made the PR circuits supporting it.

    CM: I pounded this article out in about 15 minutes, half as long as I (insert random mom and/or sister joke here). Thanks for your opinion, next time make it something worth a deeper response and maybe we can have a real discussion.

  12. cripp said on September 24, 2008:

    One of my biggest complaints about CivIV is Firaxis decides to disable the ‘stickey keys’ function! Being disabled I can’t use ANY shift-alt-ctrl keys for the game! only mouse. so like queue stacking, group binding, etc.. CAN’T DO IT! makes the game a lot longer have to tell troops where to go after being built, telling what to build everytime. It’s a simple fix I’m sure

  13. Gorakshanat said on October 11, 2008:

    Good job genius! :-)

Leave a Reply