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S T R A T E G Y   G A M E S

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Civilization (Microprose)
Boundary-Pushing: High Civilization didn't push any technology envelopes. But it was the first game to bring "conquer-the-world" strategy gaming to the masses. Previously this genre had been limited to mainframe games such as Empire; the only similar games for consumer machines were wargames. But as these appealed primarily to those who were familiar with rules-laden miniatures gaming, they never caught on with the public. Civilization changed that by simplifying the combat rules and adding exploration and "research" of new and more powerful technologies. The result was a game that singlehandedly expanded a genre into profitability.
Addictiveness: High The simplicity of control in Civilization was key to its very high addictiveness. As a strategic game, long-term planning was important, so there was always an impulse to play one's plans through to determine their outcome. But what made that so tempting was how simple it was to do so. A turn generally consisted of moving a few units around on the map, and possibly changing a tax/science/luxuries rate or choosing a new technology to research. With very little to do in most turns, it was easy to say, "Well, I'll just make this one move." Then the game would react to the player's moves, and the player would think, "Hmm, I'd better deal with that threat before I sleep and forget my strategy... OK, just one more move...." The next thing the player would see was the sun peeking through an east-facing window.
Replayability: High Civilization came with several pre-built scenarios that recreated various historical conflicts. This led to some replaying, but more effective was Civilization's random map builder. This allowed the player to generate different kinds of maps: ones which traded off good farmlands for lots of metals, or which tended to produce a few giant continents or many isolated islands. This dramatically enhanced Civilization's replayability. Every game would require different tactical choices, while still allowing a grand strategy to be formulated and tested.
General Although a sequel to Civilization was released, in many ways it merely improved the graphics and tweaked a few unit values. The original game, years later, is still highly playable... and given the speeds of modern processors, the long waits while the moves of computer players were processed are over!
Master of Orion (Microprose)
Boundary-Pushing: Medium "Conquer-the-galaxy" games had been around for a while when Master of Orion was introduced. MOO (as it quickly became known) merely used the latest video technology to display star system information. Where MOO deviated from what had gone before was in its merger of the old galaxy-conquering themes with the approach taken in Microprose's hit game, Civilization: explore, defend territory, and improve technology so as to gain better defenses and weapons. (This model has now become known as "4E"--Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate.) Like Jedi Knight, MOO didn't do any one new thing; it simply took a number of related old things, combined them in a consistent way, and did them all well.
Addictiveness: High One feature MOO shared with its sibling product Civilization was employing a simple user interface to control game units possessing varying tactical strengths and weaknesses. This format ensured the necessary basis of addictiveness: high interactivity with unpredictable results. Each unit was simple to move, but doing so might cause new information to be obtained or a battle to be joined. This is highly interactive in that many small things need to be done, and doing each one results in rapid feedback of an unexpected nature. In other words, the player is always doing something, and the results of that action tend to be surprising; this motivates the player to keep finding out what will happen next.
Replayability: High Again, like Civilization MOO could generate random fields of play; this allowed consistent strategies to be tested. In addition, MOO included the notion of player races, each with different strengths and weaknesses. This permitted the development of new strategies in different games, since what worked with one set of advantages and disadvantages might not work under other conditions.
General Like Civilization once more, a sequel to Master of Orion was released. But while it included more thoughtful improvements than those of Civ 2, it still did the same things as the original MOO. Because the original was such a strongly addictive and replayable game, it still holds up well even when compared to its flashier remake.

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