To mark the release of Civilization VI, MyM’s James Pickard sat down Sarah Darney, the game’s associate producer, to talk about the making of a new era-defining world builder…
MyMBuzz: When you first set out to make Civilization VI what were some of the things you wanted to bring over from Civ V, but also what were the key things you wanted to change or improve?
Sarah Darney: “It’s always very tricky doing the next iteration in a franchise because you want it to feel like home. You want it to have that familiarity so you know that this is a Civ game, but it’s the next one. It’s the next generation so it needs to have enough different stuff to make it fresh and exciting. Really, just finding that balance of the old and new and marrying them together in a way that has created what I think is a very, very successful final product. Finding the balance was very important.”
When you look at some of the additions from the Civilization V expansions were those things you wanted to include from the start?
“Yeah, absolutely. With Civilization V and its expansion packs we had a very big game. It was a very big experience and had a lot of systems that all worked together quite well. We didn’t want people to start Civilization VI with a new game that was smaller and didn’t have those things that they were used to, so that was why we brought back things like religion and espionage. The religion system was so successful in Civilization V that we changed it around a lot and added a lot more to it to the point where we’ve now given it its own victory condition.”
How did you go about choosing which civilizations and which leaders to include in Civilization VI?
“Civilization is a game where you’re playing on the world, so you want to feel like you’re actually playing on the world. You need a good, broad range of cultures and characters. We wanted to hit all those different major areas. So just making sure that it feels like a good representation is important. For Civilization VI especially we wanted leaders that were big characters that had a story to tell. Leaders who could stand on their own and you knew, even if you didn’t necessarily know who they were, by looking at how our art style has brought them to life that this one is a warrior or that guy is the leader of a great naval force. Just finding these big characters was really important to us.”
How do you feel about the educational value of a game like Civilization? Obviously you have the Civilopedia, which players can use to delve into the history of different leaders and other historical events.
“It’s very cool to me that people learn from this game. Not just that you’re learning facts and that’s good because people should be educated. It’s that it sparks this passion for history, culture, the world and humanity as a whole. That to me is very cool, just creating that passion and making people think about the world as this big place and not just the bubble that they live in. I think that there’s a lot of games, now especially, that have created a lot of these rich worlds. For me, I see a game that’s set in a city I might not be familiar with and then because I like that game so much, and because I like the world they’ve created, I want to travel there.”
Something the Assassin’s Creed games do pretty well, for example?
“Yeah, that’s a great example. So just sparking that imagination and making people want for more out of the world – that’s pretty cool!”
Perhaps there have always been elements of it throughout the series but to what extent would you say board game design has influenced Civilization VI, in particular?
“Ed Beach, lead designer on Civilization VI, comes from a board game background and he’s made a lot of very cool board games. With Civilization it definitely feels like this living board game. I think there is a lot of inspiration there and a lot of that comes from Ed’s history and the things that he’s done.”
Looking to the future, what are some of the next steps you want to take with Civilization VI?
“I want to get the game out! Honestly, I just want people to play it and see what everyone thinks. I really want to see how people are playing this game, that’s very important for the process – seeing the way people use these new systems, which ones they are drawn to and how they are drawn to it. I want to see how people are approaching the different victories and stuff like what the favourite leaders are for specific victory types among the majority of players. That is very valuable information for our team. Really though I’m just stoked for people to get their hands on it and start having fun!”
Civilization VI is out now for PC via Steam