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Programming Games

Sid Meier and the 48-Hour Game 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the crash-course dept.
MMBK writes "Sid Meier is possibly the most influential game designer ever, having developed the Civilization series, among others. This video documentary looks at his past while he travels to the University of Michigan for the 48-hour game design competition, which was hosted by his son."
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Sid Meier and the 48-Hour Game

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  • These one-to-four-day game-making events are usually called "game jams". I believe the idea originates with Chris Hecker [wikipedia.org] circa 2002.

    Not that it won't be cool to see what Sid Meier makes, but the idea of a 48-hour video game isn't some insane thing nobody's tried before!

    • by dskzero (960168)
      These "game jams" aren't innovative, but given that someone of the fame and influence of Sid Meier attending one is certainly something out of the ordinary. That said, one of the really good things about Meier is the attention to detail. How much detail can you cram in 48 hours?
      • by holmstar (1388267)
        It could be that he has had an idea floating around in his head for years, that he thinks that he could code in 48 hours. While there is still a limit to what can be coded in that time period, he could still have an innovative and interesting game in mind.
  • Deadlines (Score:3, Funny)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@nospaM.gmail.com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:06AM (#31868036)
    These days it feels like all games are being made within 48-hours.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      People don't even really make "the games" anymore. The just fill an existing engine with art.
      • Re:Deadlines (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:39AM (#31872614)

        I've boycotted cookie-cutter games like that. Same with movies. Do you know how few filmmakers bother designing their own quarks and leptons and stuff? The lazy bastards think they can just fill an existing engine with art.

        • by nbehary (140745)

          Wish I had Mod points. Love that post. Hard to pick between Funny and Insightful. Made me laugh first, but after that it's the latter.

    • Not Starcraft 2!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Ohh, 48 hours to make a game. This being Sid Meier I thought it was 48 hours to complete the game.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      These days it feels like all games are being made within 48-hours.

      Counter point: Duke Nukem Forever

  • Hi Everyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald AT zenipex DOT com> on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:30AM (#31868172) Homepage

    I'm one of the three co-coordinators of the contest. You can find out more information about it on our webpage:

    http://wolverinesoft.org/event/contest/48hourcontest7/ [wolverinesoft.org]

    If you have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

    • by hellop2 (1271166)
      Thank you for your offer.

      I see from your link that you have to use approved libraries. But it says, "In the case of a MOD, a copy of the original game must be available to install.".

      This raises some questions for me. Co you can bring in any game you want and make a "mod" for it? What's the reasoning behind restricting users to approved libraries, if they can use any existing game? If you're making a mod, you would usually have access to the original game's sound/music/graphics. Does the music, sou
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bazald (886779)

        Anyone is allowed to write their own library before the contest and submit their code for approval.

        1. We need to verify that any such library doesn't contain 99% of a game, just waiting for them to make a few tweaks to fit the theme.
        2. We need to verify that the library's license allows anyone to use it for free, and allows us to distribute the games produced for free.
        3. We need to give others time to learn how to use the custom libraries, or it doesn't matter that the licensing is permissive.
        4. If we know

    • You should participate in Global Game Jam [globalgamejam.org]. It's like what you're doing, but simultaneously with a few thousand other people. My club participated this year, and it was much fun.
  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:30AM (#31868180) Journal

    While it's an intellectual challenge, and appeals to geek curiosity, how many really meaningful, influential games were written in one of these contests?

    I mean, Sid's famous for writing games that required incredible amounts of research, iterative design, playtesting and balance. Those are what most grognards are interested in... not the next casual twitchfest, nor even another NP Hard gem no matter how elegant.

    Sid, if your reading this, give us a modern, multiplayer version of NetHack (and not a click orgy like Diablo, but a "the dev team thinks of everything" masterpiece), or an updated turn-based strategy game like Fantasy General... I'm waiting for another trend of well balanced, challenging games to come along. Desperately.

    • by bughunter (10093)

      if your reading this

      [mimes shooting self in head]

    • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Friday April 16, 2010 @04:06AM (#31868804)

      While it's an intellectual challenge, and appeals to geek curiosity, how many really meaningful, influential games were written in one of these contests?

      This is supposed to be news for nerds, please hand in your /. userid. The correct nerd response to a 48 hour game competition is "that would be fun" and not "what is the point". Some people do actually program for their own fun and not just to give you an updated version of NetHack. Anyone playing the games that result from these competitions are not doing so to find the next big classic game, but to see what people can achieve in a short time.

      Sorry to sound confrontational, but I can't understand why anyone could even think that this sort of competition should end up with some meaningful and influential game. This is the epitime of the original, true geek. The goal of the geek is the same as a mountaineer: you climb a mountain or solve a problem because it is there.

      • by inviolet (797804)

        This is supposed to be news for nerds, please hand in your /. userid. The correct nerd response to a 48 hour game competition is "that would be fun" and not "what is the point". Some people do actually program for their own fun and not just to give you an updated version of NetHack. Anyone playing the games that result from these competitions are not doing so to find the next big classic game, but to see what people can achieve in a short time.

        Yep yep.

        Sorry to sound confrontational, but I can't understand w

      • by brkello (642429)
        Somewhere along the line, Slashdot changed from a news for nerds site to news for "Nerds who are so smart that everything sucks and you better agree with my Libertarian views or get off my lawn" site.

        I think they haven't updated it because the former is more catchy.
      • by bughunter (10093)

        A lot of you have said I'm "missing" the obvious aspect of this exercise.

        No, I didn't miss it. When I hit reply, all of the other replies to the main article addressed it. So I chose to open another line of discussion.

        Also you seem to have misinferred my comment into, simply, "what is the point of this contest?"

        I'm not questioning the point of the contest. If I'm questioning anything, I'm questioning the sensationalism of the news that Sid Meier will be there, when he is famous for an entirely different

    • by Targon (17348)

      The purpose of these sort of contests isn't to come up with a REAL game, but it is more about the encouragement of being creative in game design and implementation. Remember, those who compete will probably end up working in the industry if they are lucky, and the more they focus on game design and implementation, the better they will be when the time comes for them to make a commercially viable game. The game industry really has been suffering from a shortage of NEW games that are not just a modern c

    • by sowth (748135) *

      To make a game as hard as nethack is easy. Here is some pseudocode:

      If playeraction and rand(10)==2 then playerdie

      Based on my experience anyway. ;-)

  • When I read the headline I was certain it was referring to the time required to complete a single game of Civilization. I just concluded a single-player civ4 game on standard speed and spent around that amount of play time. It's certainly a change of pace from games like Starcraft where 2 hours is epically long.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday April 16, 2010 @11:27AM (#31872466) Journal

      When I read the headline I was certain it was referring to the time required to complete a single game of Civilization. I just concluded a single-player civ4 game on standard speed and spent around that amount of play time. It's certainly a change of pace from games like Starcraft where 2 hours is epically long.

      Ha - Hahaha!

      Man, I know I've spent Well over 48 hours in a single player civ game - and multiplayer has taken over 100 hours of game time to even reach a level nearing climax.

      As for Starcraft, 2 hours isn't epic. I'd say 2 hours is breaching what one might call a long-ish game. A quick game is about 20 minutes. A regular game is about an hour. An Epically long game, which is to say, 3 players on an 8 player Map, goes from 9 pm till 6 am, with all players remaining till the last 20 minutes.

      Yes its happened, and yes I have the replay.

  • Sid Meier is possibly the most influential game designer ever!
  • never realized keanu reeves was into programming
  • There's another game-making competition coming up next weekend: Ludum Dare 17 [ludumdare.com]
  • sounds like the usual development time for Playfish before sticking it up as a perpetual "beta"...
  • Sid Meier is possibly the most influential game designer ever

    What? How could anybody say that with a straight face? Granted, I love his games, but that statement is just silly. For one thing, Civilization was designed as a macro-level version of SimCity. Will Wright would be a better candidate: SimCity, The Sims, Sim.*, Spore...

    • by pydev (1683904)

      For one thing, Civilization was designed as a macro-level version of SimCity.

      It was also designed 20 years after the first turn-based strategy game, curiously also called Civilization (also Empire), and years after the first graphical game of this type. And Civilization copied liberally from a board game of the same name.

  • Am I the only one that sees irony in the fact Sid Meier, a guy who takes 3 years to make games that take 30 hours to play being mentioned in the same sentence as 48 hour game making session...?

    • by kramerd (1227006)

      Am I the only one that sees irony in the fact Sid Meier, a guy who takes 3 years to make games that take 30 hours to play being mentioned in the same sentence as 48 hour game making session...?

      Yes, because that isn't irony. Also, his son is hosting the contest, the article is about a documentary about Sid Meier.

      I find you to be particularly lazy to not read 2 sentences with enough reading comprehension to get the point.

  • dull (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pydev (1683904)

    I found the Civ games to be pretty dull derivatives of various UNIX simulation games, including some world and space conquest games. I don't think Sid Meier really deserves that much credit.

  • Empire was first developed in 1971, and in 1973 renamed Civilization. There were numerous other versions afterwards.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Classic_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_Empire_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

    xconq was a clone of Empire, later extended, and first released in 1987, and with a graphical user interface.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xconq [wikipedia.org]

    Civilization was first released in 1991, 15 years after the Empire game. It was neither the first computer-based turn-based strategy

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      Hey, thanks for mentioning Xconq! I didn't know about that yet. It looks really interesting!

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