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Alpha Centauri Goes Online
PC Gamer Dec 98
Column by Jason Bates

The December issue of PC Gamer has a two page column by Jason Bates discussing Alpha Centauri. This is a quick summary of that column. Much of the column was an interview with Firaxis.

What we are seeing now is what Sid Meier calls a paradigm shift -- having multiple players within the same game profoundly changes the play dynamics of a game. In fact, it changes the game's very design.

Headline Quote #1 in the column: "Can Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, and the Firaxis crew bring their classic brand of strategy into the online age?"

PCG: Was anyone at Firaxis involved at all with CivNet [an earlier multi-player version of Civilization]? Were there mistakes made there you may have learned to avoid?
Jeff Briggs: Nobody on the Firaxis team was directly involved in that project. ...The product had some problems, but it's important to remember that it was one of the first truly multi-player (more than two players) games out there. ...The mistake was that original Civilization was not meant to be a multi-player game, and there was no built-in support for this concept. These are issues that didn't concern us, since both Gettysburg! and Alpha Centauri were designed for multi-play from the ground up.

Caption in the column: "Alpha Centauri will be one of the first turn-based strategy games with a multi-player mode designed for the internet from the beginning."

PCG: How does the multi-player work in Alpha Centauri?
Brian Reynolds: Simultaneous movement, by all means. It's a classic "record locking" system, so when you go to move a unit, it "locks" that local area of the map (about 25 squares worth) temporarily. Players can select different time controls to speed up or slow down the game, depending on whether they want an intense "speed chess" experience or a more thoughtful, slow-paced game.

PCG: What lessons did you learn from Sid Meier's Gettysburg! in designing multi-player games?
Jeff Briggs: One thing is that players love cooperative play. ...In Alpha Centauri, the cooperative play has been expanded with a new, full range of diplomatic options. You can work with other humans to defeat the AI, exchange tech to help in the race for Transcendence, and even exchange bases and energy credits.

Headline Quote #2 in the column: "Being old guys, Sid and I come from multi-player boardgames as a background. We all have an intense interest in human interaction as a factor in game design." - Jeff Briggs, Firaxis

Yes, now you can challenge CaptComal to a multiplayer game ... just keep the map tiny or small and settings at NO CLOCK. Contact by ICQ using the number published in the Reliable Alpha Centauri Players site or EMail to CaptComal@hotmail.com

If you find any errors please report them to CaptComal@hotmail.com so they can be corrected. Thanks.
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