How to Build Games the Sid Meier Way

June 19, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Railroad Tycoon, Pirates!, Colonization, Civilization… Sid Meier has a massive library of successful games titles under his belt. While he might take a back seat to development of titles that feature his name these days, the fact remains that these titles are among some of the finest to have graced Windows PCs. They have been copied, cloned and even given unofficial sequels, and the ownership of some titles has even been in question as publishers scrambled to get Sid to work for them.

So what is his secret? What is so special about a Sid Meier game?

How to build games the Sid Meier way

The answer to this could be akin to explaining the rules of alchemy, so instead of trying to unravel the mysteries of Sid Meier’s mind, let’s look at the key elements of his games so that you can successfully plan your own gaming title as well as get an idea into the workings of Sid Meier games and become more successful when playing them…

It’s All About You

You might work for a tribe, or have a team, have the specific aim of reaching a position of strength and power, but ultimately Sid Meier games are about the player, and how well he does in his interactions with competitors. This is why there is always a score chart running from the very beginning of the game.

Territorial Dominance

Whether you’re building railroads to transport goods or creating settlements around your capital to protect you from attack, having plenty of territory is vital for continued success and survival. With a railroad network, for instance, no competitors can cross your tracks…

Call Me AI (Artificial Intelligence)

There is always a competitor, whether it is a real world opponent or an AI managed character. These are there to act as agitators, either directly (plunging you into conflict with them) or indirectly (getting you involved in their own battles). However, opponents in Civilization, for instance, are also useful for trading with.

Research and Building

Bonuses aplenty are available in Sid Meier games for building improvements to stations, settlements and cities, and these all contribute to improved management of your resources and infrastructure. Additionally, bonuses can be achieved by selecting a particular type of governance or management structure.

It’s All About the Benjamins

You cannot get anywhere in a Sid Meier game without some money saved up. This can be used for building networks, units, bribes and tributes and when managed correctly gold and money generally allows you to grease palms and wage wars (military and trade) without worrying too much about the consequences.

So there you have it: five ways in which Sid Meier games work from a gameplay perspective. The titles listed above are all great experiences that all demand focus and organization, as well as a clear idea of what your aims are, as well as a backup plan.

Most importantly, they’re great games for finding out how you might react under stressful situations, not least for determining how good a leader you might one day become.

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