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Almost three years after launch, Civilization V's promised Pitboss multiplayer mode is finally arriving today in a new patch. The update also brings an observer mode, support for custom maps in multiplayer, AI tweaks, new terrain art, bug fixes, and more, making everything spick-and-span for the launch of the Brave New World expansion next week.
Pitboss is, in the words of the patch notes, a mode "which allows players to connect, take their turn, disconnect, and come back later. Email notifications and steam notifications are built into the system." A more laid-back mode for people who don't want to sit and play a round for several hours straight, see.
At first Pitboss will require someone to act as server, but developer Firaxis plans to release a standalone server that doesn't require a Steam account, "once the system has received a healthy amount of feedback from the community"--ie it's ironed out bugs and niggles.
The patch brings loads of other fine changes, especially to multiplayer, so do check the notes. It's due out later today, and should update automatically through Steam.
Civilization 5's fast-coming Brave New World expansion focuses heavily on the late-game, according to the creators. A new launch trailer highlights that by showcasing several of the world's more recent events, like the advent of movies, tanks, airplanes, and rocket ships.
In fact, it gives such a rousing summary of our greatest accomplishments over the last century or so that it's easy to momentarily forget it's advertising a game expansion pack. That's just the kind of opportunity you have when your game is all about human achievement. Check it out below.
A lengthy piece on Polygon details the process. For starters, the team is handed a number of new civilizations by the production team, which determines it by how much bandwidth it has to create new art. It chose nine for Brave New World, in part to match the number from the last expansion, Gods and Kings.
Then it came down to determining which countries would make up those nine. Part of it came from noting what's underrepresented. It looked at the community to determine these, and came up with Indonesia, Brazil, Zulu, and Morocco. Three of those four are from South America and Africa, which Firaxis had already decided needed more representation.
After that, choosing the other five came down to deciding which countries fit with its design goals, or what could add new twists. Portugal and Venice were natural fits for the new trading system, and Poland's social policies worked well with the revised policy system. Assyria was a unique mix of science and expansionism, while the Shoshone allowed a more peaceful game based on a defensive bonus.
Check out the full piece for more details. Brave New World is due out on July 9.
Sid Meier's name is well known in gaming circles for the addicting "just one more turn" mentality associated with his strategy games. Of course, there is never any mistaking what his games are because his name is usually in the game's title.
It can't be because of ego, as colleagues say Meier is a very soft-spoken, unassuming man. "In the  years and all the people I've worked with at Firaxis," said designer Jake Solomon, "there has never been anyone who's had a personality issue with Sid, 'cause it's not possible. He's such a wonderful person."
So just how did it happen that the brilliant strategy designer's games get that title treatment? It started in Meier's days at MicroProse with partner Bill Stealey, as Meier was pitching the idea for a pirate game.
"Bill said, 'When's my next flight simulator coming out?' And I said, 'I'm not doing a flight simulator; I'm doing a pirates game,'" Meier told Kotaku. "He said, 'Well that's crazy, 'cause people want your next flight simulator ... Wait a minute. Put your name on it. Maybe if they liked your flight simulator games, they'll recognize the name and buy this crazy pirates thing.'"
However, Stealey remembered things a bit differently: "We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and [actor] Robin Williams was there. And he kept us in stitches for two hours. And he turns to me and says 'Bill, you should put Sid's name on a couple of these boxes, and promote him as the star.' And that's how Sid's name got on Pirates, and Civilization."
Sid Meier's Pirates! came out in 1987, and since that time, his name has appeared on two railroad games, five Civilization games (plus expansions and a console version), two Civil War games, one space game, a colonization game, and even a golf game. Ironically, Meier and Stealey originally teamed up to make flight sims, but the first airplane game to bear his name was the recently released iOS title Sid Meier's Ace Patrol.
While we were distracted gushing over horseback stealth and hair dragons last week during E3, 2K Games quietly released another Civilization V: Gods & Kings trailer. Now that we've had time to see it, hey, it's a short but interesting look at one of the expansion's big new features: the World Congress and its new diplomatic win.
The World Congress is a United Nations analogue where every civilization gets together to vote on resolutions. These include hosting the International Games, enacting trade embargoes, banning particular luxury resources, taxing armies, and stopping the construction of nuclear weapons. They can also build things like the International Space Station together.
At a certain point, seemingly once the Information Era is reached, every civilization will vote for a leader of the world at the World Congress. If any one civ wins, they win the game. Huzzah!