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The Father of Civilization: Profile of Sid Meier 208

Posted by timothy
from the he's-just-this-guy-you-know? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to Kotaku's recent profile of Civilization creator Sid Meier, and includes this snippet: "One year, as [coworker John] Stealey recalls, the two men went to an electronics trade conference. On the second night of the show, they stumbled upon a bunch of arcade games in a basement. One by one, Meier beat Stealey at each of them. Then they found Atari's Red Baron, a squiggly flight game in which you'd steer a biplane through abstract outlines of terrain and obstacles. Stealey, the Air Force man, knew he could win at this one. He sat down at the machine and shot his way to 75,000 points, ranking number three on the arcade's leaderboard. Not bad. Then Meier went up. He scored 150,000 points. 'I was really torqued,' Stealey says today. This guy outflew an Air Force pilot? He turned to the programmer. 'Sid, how did you do that?' 'Well,' Meier said. 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.'"
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The Father of Civilization: Profile of Sid Meier

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  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @04:02AM (#44146299) Homepage Journal

    'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' The ACTUAL ALGORITHMS! Not the patterns resulting from them like a mortal man would.

    I see three possibilities here:
    1. Sid Meier, super genius.
    2. Sid Meier, not knowing as much about computers as we though.
    3. The person that say that he said 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' is an idiot.

    Which one do you subscribe to?

    the algorithm results in the pattern. if it's simple then yeah, he observed how the algorithms work. if you memorize how koopa troopers walk and by what rules, then you know where they will walk and then you know the algorithm(that the actual game might have more complex code than is actually necessary to complete the algorithms in the way they manifest to gameplay is of no issue to this).

    if you just memorize how every enemy on the screen acts on the screen you're none the wiser in a new level. once you can guess how the pattern will go for a new level then yes, you have deduced the algorithm. this is when a game loses it's magic.

    if it never deviates from it, then the quickly observed pattern is the algorithm.. look, it's not rocket science. if you notice that everytime you're in the direction D from the enemy sprite a thing X happens. they you know the algorithm.

    many games even nowadays have algorithms you can guess (accurately, mind you) what they are for enemy "ai"(which is a fucking joke still). even in games like WOW - that's what instancing, pulling and all that depends on. you even have "street names" for the internal variables like aggro.

  • Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @05:06AM (#44146431)

    This is what Red Baron looks like:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06vBHL51LBg

    I don't think being a Air Force pilot would help a lot. The reason Sid won was because he was better (or more used to) playing computer games, including seeing patterns how the enemies arrives (from left or right etc).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @06:06AM (#44146549)

    Which one do you subscribe to?

    4. Sid Meyer said 'While you were playing, I memorized the algorithms.' for brevity since he counted on his coworker's ability to deduct that he meant "the patterns resulting from the algorithms" Smart people speaking to smart people don't need many words to say a lot. With precision.

  • Civ is overrated (Score:4, Informative)

    by devent (1627873) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @08:16AM (#44146913) Homepage

    Now Alpha Centauri was a really good game. I wish I would see innovations like in AC instead the x remake of the same game.
    AC had:

    * real 3D map
    * real atmosphere and a good story
    * innovated combat system
    * innovated diplomacy
    * and in my opinion way better game then Civ III and the remakes (Civ IV, etc).

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @09:37AM (#44147277)

    2D side scroller? No, the whole attraction of Red Baron [wikipedia.org] was that it was full 3D perspective, in a day when real-time 3D calculations were well beyond the reach of commodity hardware. (It ran on a 6502, capable of a blazing .5 MIPS, and used custom hardware for the 3D transformations.)

    I mastered Battlezone, its sister game, but the one and only Red Baron game in our town spent most of its time out of order. The joystick mechanism just wasn't durable enough to stand up to drunken teens. (On Battlezone, you'd pull the cabinet over on top of you before the joysticks would break. Don't ask me how I know this.)

    Assuming that a one-joystick "flight simulator" running on 1980 hardware would have anything in common with flying an actual fighter? Yeah, that was kind of silly.

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