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Civ Chronicles – Full Disclosure

September 7th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 18 Comments · Uncategorized

The compilation pack is an odd marketing device. Aimed squarely at completists – people who simply must have every part of a beloved series – their success can be tough to gauge.

I say this by way of the announcement of the new Civilization Chronicles Box Set. All of the Sid Meier Civs, tech trees for each version, a DVD thing with Soren Johnson and friends, a board game…lots and lots of extra stuff.

I am responsible for some of that extra stuff. I was offered a chance to contribute to a compilation pack for my favorite series of all time and couldn’t say no. With the generous assistance of Bruce Shelley, Brian Reynolds, Jeff Briggs, Soren Johnson and Sid Meier (of course) I was able to write a history of the franchise largely told through the eyes of those who made it. Most of the Johnson and Meier stuff is contained in an interview with the two. It’s really just me saying a few words and then them talking about Civ. It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate that I was convenient enough to hire.

This small part I played is why there have been – as yet – no extensive comments on Civ IV Warlords or CivCity: Rome. It is also why I won’t be professionally reviewing any 2k Games products in the near future. I want to be clear to my readers that I was – for a brief and enjoyable moment – a contract employee of 2k. For the next few months, any comment I make on either of those games (or any to follow) will have a link to this disclosure.

As for the compilation pack itself, there are already people who are complaining that this is a way to squeeze more dimes out of the Civ name. If you don’t want to buy it, you don’t have to. Me being the self-important twit that I am – I’ll buy three to pass out to family and friends. But compilation packs by their nature are targeted products.

Now, I haven’t played Johnson’s game. Nor have I seen the DVD. But this is a lot of stuff for seventy dollars considering that Civ IV itself still goes for 50.


18 Comments so far ↓

  • Taranis

    It sounds interesting, I have only played Civ3 and Civ4. I think it would be fun to look at the earlier versions of the series. I wish the pack would also include SMAC (I know its not part of the series but..), I have been meaning to buy it and this would give me the nudge I need.


  • baby arm

    Since you are now (or were) a rich Take 2 employee, I expect you to send one of those $70 bundles of joy my way. Afterall, I did spend 20 bucks to subscribe to that awful magazine you write for.

    But yeah, congratulations on scoring the Civ gig. I think anyone would’ve jumped at that opportunity.

  • Michael A.

    Congratulations on the gig. Good job.

    I had both Civ1 (lost the disks) and Civ2 (still have), skipped the third and moved to Civ4. Never really was enthused with any of the expansion packs. If this was a series of adventure/action/rpg games, I guess I might see the point of buying a “mega-pack” for completeness sake (and the possibility of playing the games I haven’t tried), but for Civ…? I don’t think so.

    No doubt Civ-purists will disagree, but to me each new version has primarily updated the graphics of the game. Of course, new gameplay elements have been introduced in each version, but never anything (IMO) that fundamentally changes the key formula of the game. in short, why would someone bother to play Civ1, 2 or 3, if I can get to play Civ4 (seriously, if anyone has their reasons, it would be interesting to hear)? It seems to me this pack is targetted on the “collector” mindset even more than most such compilations. And even then, not really, since it doesn’t contain the Warlords expansion.

    Ah well – I suspect it’ll sell well enough.

  • Jozef

    I, for one, will buy it, if for nothing else at least for the pretty packaging. No, seriously: The DVD, history of Civilization and card game (even though I don’t expect to play it) are reasons enough to purchase this title. And don’t forget Civ III: Conquests, the only Civ game I don’t own. After the atrocious Play the World I didn’t trust Firaxis enough to buy another potentially awful expansion from them.

    That said, I still think the package is overpriced. I purchased Civ IV last december for $24.99 – new, in a store. Amazon has it now for $40. For someone who’s got the game $70 for the special features is not all that cheap; those who didn’t buy Civ IV may think otherwise, though. I also think that without the expansion for Civ IV this compilation is incomplete; the publisher should’ve waited until the Civ IV cycle is complete.

    In addition, to make me pee with excitement, this collection should’ve included the following:
    * CivNet. This game is comparable to Play the World, in terms of features. Including the latter but not the former is the greatest ommission I see here. It is an integral part of the Civilization franchise, and I’m very surprised it’s not listed among the games.
    * Paper manuals. The news release doesn’t mention whether the manuals will be printed or not, but based on the picture, I doubt it. Microprose was legendary for its manuals, and I still remember spending an entire day reading the Civ maual before installing it. Even though I’ve got the manuals to all games, I want them again, new and shiny.
    * Colonization. Let’s face it: this was simply heavily modded Civilization, comparable to the Total Conversion Mod in Civ IV or some of the scenarios (Master of Orion, anyone?) in Civ II Fantastic Worlds. I guess this is largely a judgment call – I don’t consider Master of Magic to be a Civ modification, for example – but I’d like to see it in the package.
    * Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire. Ask any Civilization fan, and everybody tells you that this is a true Civilization game. I see it the same way. This game has aged very well, much better than any other Civ game. Even today, it’s incredibly entertaining even for someone who’s been playing it for years. This game and its expansion would tremendously increase the value of the compilation.

    Finally, I’ve got a few questions I’d appreciate an answer for before purchasing the collection:
    * Are all games optimized for XinXP? I still play Civilization using DosBox, but I’d prefer foregoing that extra step and being able to play it, with sound enabled, directly in WinXP.
    * Are Civ III and Civ IV simply the latest patched version, or will they be different? If the latter is true, I’d wait until a no-CD crack is available for these particular version. Especially Civ III was terrible with the CD in the drive.

  • steve


  • Gremmi

    I guess this is semi-inspired by the Total War Eras and C&C:First Decade collections. Probably the idea to do it was there, but the (apparent) success of these might have pushed the idea forward a bit.

    More collections like this needed, as long as there’s no damn PDF manuals, anyway.

  • Bruce

    “For the next few months, any comment I make on either of those games (or any to follow) will have a link to this disclosure.”

    But then you’ll stop, and people will forget, and you will insinuate yourself into consumers’ minds as an agent of the corporate-driven media-advertising conspiracy.

  • Troy

    I’m sure I can count on you and Steve to keep reminding me what an untrustworthy sellout I am.

  • jason bergman (2K)


    CivNet is a controversial product that we left out for that reason. For the few people who want it, you can get it on eBay.

    Paper manuals were NEVER considered. They’re HUGE! In order to have paper manuals for every game, we’d have to have a separate box for them. There are PDFs. If you really really want one, go to kinkos and print it yourself.

    Colonization is not a Civ game. It’s close, but it’s not a Civ game.

    We don’t own the rights to Alpha Centauri. Complain to EA. :(

    All games run in XP. Even Civ 1.

  • jason bergman (2K)

    Oh, and Gremmi: this was not inspired by the Total War or C&C collections. Those (with all due respect to EA/Sega) sucked. The C&C box was shovelware. They just copied them onto a DVD. The Total War collection was better, but that “book” was a joke, featuring marketing images and only a bit of concept art.

    This is much more like a CD/DVD boxed set like you’d get with a movie or your favorite band.

  • Troy

    I’ve heard very good things about the Total War Eras pack, Jason, so I’m a little surprised to see you dismiss it almost as easily as the bug-ridden CnC pack.

  • jason bergman (2K)

    I shouldn’t have lumped it in with the C&C one…it’s definitely better than that. It’s certainly comprehensive, as it has all the expansions (including the ones that were never released to retail) and printed manuals (which we can’t claim). But the book was really disappointing, and I have no idea why they included postcards in there. Also the video DVD is a single interview, albeit a very long one.

  • Gremmi

    Well, I meant inspired in the sense that “Compilation boxsets are appearing”, rather than “EA are a bunch of idiots who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, let’s copy their idea”. :P

    Incidentally, why was the pre-order edition of Civ4 not released in the UK? I wanted my leatherbound box with ringbound manual. :(

  • jason bergman (2K)

    Gremmi: I haven’t a clue…that’s a marketing question. I handled PR for Civ IV (I’ve since moved into production), but that was only PR for North America, so I have no idea why the pre-order edition wasn’t offered out there.

    Chronicles is for now North America only, but we’re hoping to get it out in Europe early next year.

  • Jozef

    Jason, many thanks for your reply. I’m glad all games would be able to run under WinXP. As for Alpha Centauri, I understand the copyright ownership issues. All I was saying was that it would greatly increase the value of the package. I don’t know how difficult EA is, but considering that all they do with AC is to release it occassionally in a compilation (SMAX was included only once, in the Laptop Collection), they shouldn’t value the franchise too highly.

    CivNet is another story. True, it is controversial, and I still remember how I cursed Microprose two months after I purchase it, when I saw Civ II in a store window (at that time, I didn’t have Internet or game magazine subscriptions to learn about Civ II before it was released). Still, this compilation creates the perception that it includes the history of the series. For historical purposes, it should’ve been included. For marketing purposes, of course, you don’t want to show it, but I’m too much of a purist to be happy about that decision.

    Manuals are another story. I understand why the printed manuals are not included. However, before replying I ran a small test at home. I took the Civ III metal box and placed four DVDs and all Civ manuals in it. It fit. I paid $60 for that metal box, which at that point included only one game, a documentary DVD, the manual and the tech poster. That was at launch. I consider payig $70 for another metal box with games of an age ranging from one to fifteen years old to be a fair price. Not so for a cardboard box with CDs and .pdf manuals, which I’ll purchase only because I’m a fan of the series and because of the history book (which, I hope, does include a CivNet entry).

    I’m not trying to recommend a different marketing campaign for the compilation. I know next to nothing about the game publishing industry, and I was never fond of my marketing classes. However, I learned that sometimes the opinions of those who choose not to buy a product are more important than those of people who will purchase it. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you the former, but I can always play the devil’s advocate.

  • roberton

    “I’m sure I can count on you and Steve to keep reminding me what an untrustworthy sellout I am.”

    Yes, Bruce “Dominion” Geryk will keep you pure :-)

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