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Sid Meier's Civilization is the first in a series of turn-based "4X"-type strategy video game created by Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley for MicroProse in 1991. The game's objective is to "Build an empire to stand the test of time": it begins in 4000 BC and the players attempt to expand and develop their empires through the ages from the ancient era until modern and near-future times. It is also known simply as Civilization, Civilization I, or abbreviated to Civ or Civ I.
Civilization was originally developed for DOS running on a PC. It has undergone numerous revisions for various platforms (including Windows, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, Super NES, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and N-Gage) and now exists in several versions. A multiplayer remake, Sid Meier's CivNet was released for the PC in 1995. The N-Gage version was the last game released for the system in North America.
Meier admitted to "borrowing" many of the technology tree ideas from the board game Civilization, published in the United Kingdom in 1980 by Hartland Trefoil (later by Gibson Games), and in the United States in 1981 by Avalon Hill. The early versions of the game even included a flier of information and ordering materials for the board game. There is also a board game based on Sid Meier's computer game version of Civilization that was published in 2002.
Meier was the third major designer to plan a computer version of Civilization, but the first to actually carry out that plan. Danielle Bunten Berry planned to start work on the game after completing M.U.L.E. in 1983, and again in 1985, after completing The Seven Cities of Gold at Electronic Arts. In 1983 Bunten and producer Joe Ybarra opted to first do Seven Cities of Gold. The success of Seven Cities in 1985 in turn led to a sequel, Heart of Africa. Bunten never returned to the idea of Civilization. Meier's designs of Pirates! and Colonization both contain elements of Bunten's The Seven Cities of Gold. Don Daglow, designer of Utopia, the first simulation game, began work programming a version of Civilization in 1987. He dropped the project, however, when he was offered an executive position at Brøderbund, and never returned to the game.
Civilization originally started off as a real-time game, but Meier found it too similar to other real-time strategy games such as SimCity, instead opting for a system where each turn takes a predetermined amount of time, and will automatically execute. This plan was widely disliked and was abandoned. Meier began developing it as a "heavy", textbook-like game, but did not find it "fun". He returned to the game after Railroad Tycoon and increased its emphasis on entertainment. Meier chose to, for example, not simulate a fall of civilization despite its historical accuracy because he did not want the game to regularly destroy the player's country. He reduced the size of the game world to avoid repetitive gameplay, but also reduced automated city management to keep players busy. Meier incorporated warfare because, he said, "The game really isn't about being civilized. The competition is what makes the game fun and the players play their best. At times, you have to make the player uncomfortable for the good of the player".