4X

4X

4X games are a genre of strategy video game where players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate." This term was first used by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of "Master of Orion" for "Computer Gaming World". Since 1993, other game commentators have adopted "4X" to describe any game with similar design.

4X games are noted for their deep, complex gameplay. These games emphasize economic and technological development, as well as a range of non-military routes to supremacy. Managing the details of a large empire can cause 4X games to take longer to complete than other strategy games. Since the amount of micromanagement required to sustain an empire scales as the empire grows, 4X games are sometimes criticized for becoming tedious near the end of the game. As a result, several games have attempted to address these criticisms by reducing micromanagement.

The earliest 4X games borrowed ideas from board games and 1970s text-based computer games. The first 4X games were turn-based, but real-time 4X games have been released. Many 4X games were published in the mid-1990s, but they were outsold by other strategy games by the late 1990s. In the new millennium, several 4X releases have been critically and commercially successful. One well-known 4X game is Sid Meier's "Civilization" from 1990, which popularized the level of detail that has become a staple of the genre.

Definition

The term "4X" originates from a 1993 preview of "Master of Orion" in "Computer Gaming World" by Alan Emrich, in which he rated the game "XXXX" as a pun on the XXX rating for pornography. The four Xs were an abbreviation for "explore, expand, exploit, exterminate".cite news | author = Alan Emrich | title = MicroProse' Strategic Space Opera is Rated XXXX| work = Computer Gaming World (Issue #110) | date = 1993-09 | page = 92–93 | accessdate = 2008-05-21 ] Other game commentators eventually adopted the "4X" label to describe a game genre with specific gameplay conventions:For sources that go into detail about each of the four Xs, see: cite web | url=http://uk.guides.ign.com/guides/818084/page_2.html | title=Civilization IV: Warlords Guide | publisher = IGN | author= J. "PyroFalkon" Habib | date = 2006-08-17 | accessdate=2008-07-26 ; cite web | title = Ironclad Games - Sins of a Solar Empire Gameplay | publisher =Ironclad Games | url =http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/gameplay.aspx?c=1 | accessdate =2008-06-23 ; cite web|url=http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/4x-games|title=Moby Games' 4x games Group Description|publisher=MobyGames | accessdate=2008-06-23]

*"Explore" means players send scouts across a map to reveal surrounding territories.
*"Expand" means players claim new territory by creating new settlements, or sometimes by extending the influence of existing settlements.
*"Exploit" means players gather and use resources in areas they control, and improve the efficiency of that usage.
*"Exterminate" means attacking and eliminating rival players. Since all territory is eventually claimed, eliminating a rival's presence can be the only way to achieve further expansion.

These four elements of gameplay have been described as the four phases of a 4X game session. These phases often overlap with each other and vary in length depending on the game design. For example, "Space Empires III" and "" have a long expansion phase, because players must make large investments in research to explore and expand into every area. [i. cite web | url = http://www.malfador.com/se3.html | publisher = Malfador | title = "Space Empires III" Manual v1.10 | date = 1998-01-21 | accessdate = 2008-06-24 ii. cite web | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/763/763792p1.html | author = Steve Butts | title= Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar Review | publisher = IGN | date = 2007-02-12 | accessdate=2008-07-26
iii. cite web | url=http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/galacticcivilizations2darkavatar/review.html | author=Jeff Lackey | publisher = GameSpot |title= Review - Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar | date = 2007-02-28 | accessdate=2008-07-26
]

Difficulties in definition

Many strategy games arguably contain a similar "explore, expand, exploit, exterminate" cycle. But game journalists, developers and enthusiasts generally apply "4X" to a more specific class of games,cite web | url= http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3157333 | publisher = 1UP.com | title= Sins of a Solar Empire Preview | author = Sean Molloy | accessdate = 2008-06-23] and contrast 4X games with other strategy games such as "Command & Conquer". [ cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/sinsofasolarempire/review.html?tag=tabs;reviews | title = Sins of a Solar Empire for PC Review - GameSpot | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2008-02-13 | author = Jason Ocampo | accessdate = 2008-07-31] Hence, writers have tried to show how 4X games are defined by more than just having each of the four Xs. Gaming authorities such as 1UP.com have stated that 4X games are distinguished by their greater complexity and scale, and their intricate use of diplomacy beyond the standard "friend or foe" seen in other strategy games. Reviewers such as Wired have confirmed that 4X games feature a range of diplomatic options,Several reviewers refer to diplomacy as a generic 4X feature: cite web | url=http://www.deafgamers.com/sudg.htm | publisher = Deaf Gamers | title= Starships Unlimited: Divided Galaxies | year = 2000 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ; cite web | url=http://www.tacticularcancer.com/content.php?id=29 |author = YourConscience | date = 2006-12-16 | publisher = Tacticular Cancer | title= GalCiv2, SotS, SEV: a 4X Comparison | accessdate =2008-07-26; cite web | url=http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/03/review-sins-of.html | title=Review: Sins of a Solar Empire Sinfully Good | date=2008-03-17 | author= Earnest Cavalli | publisher = Wired | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ; cite web | url=http://www.gameshark.com/pc/reviews/2919/Sins-of-a-Solar-Empire-Review.htm | author = Dave VanDyk | publisher = GameShark | title = Sins of a Solar Empire Review | date = 2008-02-14 | accessdate =2008-06-23] and that they are well known for their large detailed empires and complex gameplay.cite web | accessdate = 2008-03-31 | url = http://goty.gamespy.com/2006/pc/index6.html | publisher = GameSpy | title = GameSpy's Game of the Year 2006 - 6. Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords] cite web | url=http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/03/review-sins-of.html | title=Review: Sins of a Solar Empire Sinfully Good | date=2008-03-17 | author= Earnest Cavalli | publisher = Wired | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] In particular, 4X games offer detailed control over an empire's economy, while other strategy games simplify this in favor of combat-focused gameplay.

Fifth X: eXperience

In 2002, the pending release of "Master of Orion III" sparked claims that it would be the first "5X game". Alan Emrich announced that the fifth X would be the "eXperience" of delegating the ruler's authority to subordinates and sharing control over the empire.cite web | url=http://archive.gamespy.com/interviews/february02/moo3/ | author = Dan Quick | publisher= GameSpy | title=Master of Orion III Developer Chat | date = 2002-02 | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] This experience would require players to make judicious use of "Imperial Focus" each turn, and determine which details of their empire are pressing enough to require their direct intervention.cite press release | url = http://moo3.quicksilver.com/press/0511a.html | publisher = Quicksilver Software | date=2000-05-11 | accessdate=2008-07-26 | title = MicroProse's MASTER OF ORION III Takes Galactic Empire Building a Step Higher] "Master of Orion III" received mixed comments from reviewers and players. Although a few reviewers liked the experience of delegating power to bureaucrats, the majority of reviewers found these limits on empire management frustrating or boring.

This new "experience" also included the threat of unrest and revolt if players did not meet the demands of their citizens. However, unrest and revolt had already been seen in the 4X genre. "Civilization II" included the possibilities of civil unrest in unhappy cities and of being over-ruled by the senate. In "Galactic Civilizations", the player's party can even be voted out of office.

Gameplay

4X games are a subgenre of strategy games, and include both turn-based and real-time strategy titles.cite web | url= http://archive.gamespy.com/reviews/january02/sudg/ | title= GameSpy Reviews: Starships Unlimited: Divided Galaxies | publisher = GameSpy | author = William Abner | date = 2002-01 | accessdate=2008-06-23] The gameplay involves building an empire,cite web | year = 2006 | author = Sal Accardo | accessdate = 2008-06-23 | url = http://goty.gamespy.com/2006/pc/index6.html | title = GameSpy's Game of the Year 2006 - 6. Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords] which takes place in a setting such as Earth, [cite web | author = Brad Cook | title = Find New Ways to Conquer the World in Civilization IV | publisher = Apple | url= http://www.apple.com/games/articles/2006/07/civ4/ | date = 2006-07 | accessdate =2008-06-27] a fantasy world, or in space.cite web | author = Tom Chick | title = PC Retroview: Master of Orion II |publisher = IGN | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/085/085828p1.html | date = 2000-10-02 | accessdate = 2008-07-26] Each player takes control of a different civilization or race with unique characteristics and strengths. Most 4X games represent these racial differences with a collection of economic and military bonuses, although a few games such as "Sword of the Stars" offer widely different abilities to each race.cite web | url = http://pc.gamezone.com/news/03_31_06_12_19PM.htm | author = Arinn Dembo | date = 2006-03-31 | title = GameZone: Exclusive Sword of the Stars Developer Diary – Part 5 | publisher = GameZone | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] 4X games do not typically feature a campaign or scripted narrative, as this would interfere with the freedom of building a massive empire over multiple hours of gameplay. [cite web | url = http://www.videogamer.com/pc/sins_of_a_solar_empire/review-2.html | title = Video Gamer - Sins of a Solar Empire Review | author = Iain McCafferty | date = 2007-06-13 | publisher = Video Gamer | accessdate = 2008-08-12 ]

Research and technology

4X games typically feature a technology tree, which is a series of advancements that players can research to unlock new units, buildings, and other capabilities. Technology trees in 4X games are typically larger than in other strategy games, and feature more choices. cite web | url=http://www.joystiq.com/2008/02/01/joystiq-interview-ironclad-talks-4x-strategy-with-sins-of-a-sol/ | title=Joystiq interview: Ironclad talks 4X strategy with Sins of a Solar Empire | author = Jason Dobson | date= 2008-02-01 | publisher = Joystiq | accessdate=2008-06-23 ] Empires must generate research resources and invest them in new technology.cite book|author=Andrew Rollings|coauthors=Ernest Adams|title=Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design|publisher=New Riders Publishing|year=2003|pages=321–345|url=http://safari.adobepress.com/1592730019/ch10 | isbn=1592730019] In 4X games, the main prerequisite for researching an advanced technology is knowledge of earlier technology.cite web|url=http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/4x-games|title=Moby Games' 4x games Group Description|publisher=MobyGames| accessdate=2008-06-23] This is in contrast to non-4X real-time strategy games, where technological progress is achieved by building structures that grant access to more advanced structures and units.

Research is important in 4X games because technological progress is an engine for conquest. Battles are often won by superior military technology or greater numbers, with battle tactics playing a smaller part. In contrast, military upgrades in non-4X games are sometimes small enough that technologically-basic units remain important throughout the game.cite web | url=http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/starcraft/review.html | date = 1998-04-15 | publisher = GameSpot | author = Ron Dulin | title=StarCraft for PC Review | accessdate=2008-06-23 ]

Combat

Combat is an important part of 4X gameplay, because 4X games allow a player to win by exterminating all rival players, or by conquering a threshold amount of the game's universe. Some 4X games, such as "Galactic Civilizations", resolve battles automatically, whenever two units from warring sides meet. This is in contrast to other 4X games, such as "Master of Orion", that allow players to manage battles on a tactical battle screen. Even in 4X games with more detailed control over battles, victory is usually determined by superior numbers and technology, with battle tactics playing a smaller part.i. cite web | url = http://archive.gamespy.com/reviews/march03/galacticcivpc/index.shtml | publisher = GameSpy | title = GameSpy Review - Galactic Civilizations | author = Allen "Delsyn" Rausch | date = 2003-03-28 | accessdate = 2008-07-30 ii. cite web | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/749/749070p2.html | publisher = IGN | title = IGN - Space Empires V Review | author = Steve Butts | date = 2006-12-04 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] 4X games differ from other combat-focused strategy games by putting more emphasis on research and economics. Researching new technology will grant access to new combat units. Some 4X games even allow players to research different unit components. This is more typical of space 4X games, where players may assemble a ship from a variety of engines, shields, and weaponry.

Peaceful competition

4X games allow rival players to engage in diplomacy. While some strategy games offer shared victory and team play, diplomatic relations are restricted to a binary choice between an ally or enemy. 4X games often allow more complex diplomatic relations between competitors who are not on the same team.i. cite web | url = http://www.gamedaily.com/games/sins-of-a-solar-empire/pc/game-reviews/item/5553/1948/ | title = Sins of a Solar Empire Review (PC) | author = GameDaily Staff | date = 2008-02-05 | accessdate = 2008-07-31 ; ii. cite web|url=http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/4x-games|title=Moby Games' 4x games Group Description|publisher=MobyGames | accessdate=2008-06-23; iii. cite web | url= http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3157333 | publisher = 1UP.com | title= Sins of a Solar Empire Preview | author = Sean Molloy | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] Aside from making allies and enemies, players are also able to trade resources and information with rivals.

In addition to victory through conquest, 4X games usually offer peaceful victory conditions that involve no extermination of rival players. For example, some 4X games offer victory to a player who achieves a certain score or the highest score after a certain number of turns.cite web | url = http://pc.gamezone.com/gzreviews/p14156.htm | publisher = Game Zone | title = Space Empires IV Preview | date = 2000-08-31 | author = Michael Lafferty | accessdate= 2008-07-26] Many 4X games award victory to the first player to master an advanced technology, accumulate a large amount of culture, or complete an awe-inspiring achievement.cite web | url= http://pc.ign.com/articles/392/392858p1.html | publisher = IGN | author = Barry Brenesal | title = Galactic Civilizations Review | date = 2003-04-08 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] Several 4X games award "diplomatic victory" to anyone who can win an election decided by their rival players, [i. cite web | url = http://reviews.cnet.com/pc-games/master-of-orion-iii/4505-9696_7-30989341.html?hhTest=1 | publisher = CNet | title = Review - Master of Orion III (PC) | author = Sam Parker | date = 2003-03-24 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ii. cite web| url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/798/798385p1.html | publisher = IGN | title = IGN Preview - Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword Hands On | author = Steve Butts | date = 2007-06-21 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] or maintain peace for a specified number of turns.

Complexity

4X games are known for their complex gameplay and strategic depth.Several sources have stated that 4X games are notable for their complexity and depth:
i. "complexity" in cite web | url=http://www.gameshark.com/pc/reviews/2919/Sins-of-a-Solar-Empire-Review.htm | author = Dave VanDyk | publisher = GameShark | title = Sins of a Solar Empire Review | date = 2008-02-14 | accessdate =2008-06-23
ii. "complex" in cite web | url=http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/03/review-sins-of.html | title=Review: Sins of a Solar Empire Sinfully Good | date=2008-03-17 | author= Earnest Cavalli | publisher = Wired | accessdate = 2008-06-23
iii. "deep, hardcore strategy" in cite web | accessdate = 2008-03-31 | url = http://goty.gamespy.com/2006/pc/index6.html | publisher = GameSpy | title = GameSpy's Game of the Year 2006 - 6. Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords
iv. "strategic depth" in cite web | url = http://www.cbsgames.com/games/story/10646599 | publisher = IGN | title = News/Reviews - Sins of a Solar Empire | date = 2008-02-15 | author = Steve Butts | accessdate = 2008-06-23
v. "tremendous depth" in cite web | url=http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=10283 | publisher = PAL Gaming Network | title= Sins of a Solar Empire Review | author= Neil Booth |date=2008-02-19 | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] Gameplay usually takes priority over polished graphics. Whereas other strategy games focus on combat, 4X games also offer more detailed control over diplomacy, economics, and research; creating opportunities for diverse strategies.cite web | title = Sins of a Solar Empire FAQ| publisher = Ironclad Games | url =http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/faqs.aspx | accessdate =2008-06-23] This also challenges the player to manage several strategies simultaneously, and plan for long-term objectives.cite web | author = Jason Bates | title = IGN: Space Empires IV Review | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/165/165204p1.html | publisher = IGN | accessdate = 2008-04-01]

To experience a detailed model of a large empire, 4X games are designed with a complex set of game rules. For example, the player's productivity may be limited by pollution.cite book |url=http://www.jonsullivan.com/misc/moo.pdf| format=PDF| title=Master of Orion - Game manual| author = Steve Barcia |year=1993|publisher=MicroProse|page=62|accessdate=2008-05-21] Players may need to balance a budget, such as managing debt, [cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/galacticcivilizations2/news.html?sid=6143839 | publisher = GameSpot | author = Jason Ocampo | title = Gamespot Review - Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords Hands-On - The Spiritual Heir to Master of Orion II? | date = 2006-02-07 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] or paying down maintenance costs. cite web | url= http://pc.ign.com/articles/719/719278p1.html |title = IGN Preview - Civilization IV: Warlords | publisher = IGN | author = Steve Butts | date =2006-07-17 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] 4X games often model political challenges such as civil disorder, cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/spaceempiresv/review.html | title = Gamespot Review - Space Empires V | author = Jeff Lackey | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2006-11-03 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] cite book | title= Sid Meier's Civilization II Instruction Manual|author=Jonatha Caspian-Kaufman|year=1996|publisher=MicroProse|page=67–71,80–83|accessdate=2008-08-16] or a senate that can oust the player's political party or force them to make peace. cite web | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/384/384930p1.html | title = IGN Preview - Galactic Civilizations | publisher = IGN | author = Steve Butts | date = 2003-02-04 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ]

Such complexity requires players to manage a larger amount of information than other strategy games. cite web | url=http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=10283 | publisher = PAL Gaming Network | title= Sins of a Solar Empire Review | author= Neil Booth |date=2008-02-19 | accessdate = 2008-06-23 ] Game designers often organize empire management into different interface screens and modes, such as a separate screen for diplomacy,i. cite web | url = http://archive.gamespy.com/reviews/march03/galacticcivpc/index2.shtml | title = GameSpy Review - Galactic Civilizations | date = 2003-03-28 | author = Allen "Delsyn" Rausch | publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2008-07-26
ii. cite web | title = Review - Lost Empire | publisher = Tacticular Cancer | url =http://www.tacticularcancer.com/content.php?id=39 | author = YourConscience | date=2007-10-07 | accessdate =2008-07-26] managing individual settlements, and managing battle tactics.cite web | author = Bruce Geryk | title =History of Space Empire Games - Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares | publisher = GameSpot | url =http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/pc/history_spaceempire/p3_04.html | date = 2001-08-08 | accessdate =2008-07-26] Sometimes systems are intricate enough to resemble a minigame. [cite web | author = William Abner | title = Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords Review | url = http://www.gameshark.com/pc/reviews/2327/Galactic-Civilizations-II-Dread-Lords-Review.htm | date = 2006-03-28 | publisher = GameShark | accessdate = 2008-07-26] This is in contrast to most real-time strategy games. "Dune II", which arguably established the conventions for the real-time strategy genre, was fundamentally designed to be a "flat interface", with no additional screens.cite web | author = Bruce Geryk | title = A History of Real-Time Strategy Games - Dune II | publisher = GameSpot | url = http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/real_time/index.html | date = 2001-03-30 | accessdate = 2008-07-26]

Absorbing gameplay

Since 4X games involve managing a large, detailed empire, game sessions usually last longer than other strategy games. cite web | url=http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3157343 | date = 2007-02-20 | author = GFW Staff | title=Previews: Sins of a Solar Empire | publisher=1UP.com | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] Game sessions may require several hours of play-time, which can be particularly problematic for multiplayer matches. For example, a small-scale campaign in "Sins of a Solar Empire" can last for over 12 hours. However, fans of the genre sometimes expect and embrace these long game sessions. [cite web | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/682/682382p1.html | title = Feature: Galactic Civlizations II Alien Races, Part IV | author = Stardock | publisher = IGN | date = 2007-01-19 | accessdate = 2008-08-15 ] Other 4X games such as "Stars!" aim for greater simplicity, resulting in quicker playing sessions. [ cite web | url=http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/stars/review.html | author = T. Liam McDonald | publisher = GameSpot | date = 1997-02-05 | title=Stars! for PC Review | accessdate=2008-06-23 ] Turn-based 4X games typically divide these sessions into hundreds of turns of gameplay. [cite web|url= http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/masteroforion3/news.html?sid=2902095&mode=all | author = Sam Parker | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2002-12-18 | title = Master of Orion III Hands-On Preview | accessdate = 2008-08-19 ]

Because of repetitive actions and long-playing times, 4X games have been criticized for excessive micromanagement. In early stages of a game this is usually not a problem, but later in a game directing an empire's numerous settlements can demand several minutes to play a single turn. This increases playing-times, which are a particular burden in multiplayer games. cite web | url=http://www.gamerevolution.com/preview/pc/master_of_orion_3 | publisher = Game Revolution | title=Master of Orion 3 preview for PC - Game Revolution | date = 2001-07-04 | author = Joshua Villines | accessdate=2008-07-26 ] 4X games began to offer AI governors that automate the micromanagement of a colony's build orders, but players criticized these governors for making bad decisions. In response, developers have tried other approaches to reduce micromanagement, cite web | url=http://pc.ign.com/articles/096/096013p1.html | title= IGN - Galactic Civilizations Interview | author = Steve Butts | date = 2001-06-21 | publisher = IGN | accessdate=2008-07-26 ] and some approaches have been more well-received than others. Commentators generally agree that "Galactic Civilizations" succeeds, which GamingNexus.com attributes to the game's use of programmable governors. [ cite web | url=http://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/Galactic-Civilizations/Page0/Item260.aspx | date =2006-06-16 | title=Galactic Civilizations Review | author=Tyler Sager | publisher=Gaming Nexus | accessdate=2008-07-26 ] "Sins of a Solar Empire" was designed to reduce the incentives for micromanagement, [ cite web | url=http://www.gameinformer.com/News/Story/200802/N08.0204.1124.40421.htm?Page=2 | date = 2008-02-04 | title= Game Informer: Thoughts On Sins - An Interview With Blair Fraser | author = Jeff Cork | publisher = Game Informer | accessdate=2008-06-23 ] and reviewers found that the game's interface made empire management more elegant.cite web | url=http://www.gameshark.com/pc/reviews/2919/Sins-of-a-Solar-Empire-Review.htm | author = Dave VanDyk | publisher = GameShark | title = Sins of a Solar Empire Review | date = 2008-02-14 | accessdate =2008-06-23] On the other hand, "Master of Orion III" reduced micromanagement by limiting complete player control over their empire, and reviewers reacted with a mixed reception. cite web | url=http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/masteroforion3 | title=Master of Orion 3 reviews | publisher=Metacritic | accessdate=2008-06-20 ]

History

Origin

Early 4X games were influenced by board games and text-based computer games from the 1970s.cite web | publisher= GameSpy | author= Dave "Fargo" Kosak | title= Rich "Zdim" Carlson of Looking Glass Studios: The History of Computer Games - Part I | | url=http://archive.gamespy.com/legacy/articles/devweek_l.shtm | accessdate = 2008-06-18 ] "Andromeda Conquest" and " Reach for the Stars" were published in 1983, and are now seen as 4X games in retrospect. Although "Andromeda Conquest" was only a simple game of empire expansion, "Reach for the Stars" introduced the relationship between economic growth, technological progress, and conquest.cite web | author = Bruce Geryk | title =History of Space Empire Games - The Early Years 1980-1992 | publisher = GameSpot | url =http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/pc/history_spaceempire/p2_01.html | date = 2001-08-08 | accessdate =2008-07-26]

In 1990, Sid Meier released "Civilization" and popularized the level of detail that has become a staple of the genre.cite web | title = IGN Videogame Hall of Fame: Civilization | publisher = IGN | url=http://games.ign.com/halloffame/civilization.html | accessdate = 2008-05-21] Sid Meier's "Civilization" was influenced by board games such as "Risk" and the Avalon Hill board game also called " Civilization". A notable similarity between the "Civilization" computer game and board game is the importance of diplomacy and technological advancement. Sid Meier's "Civilization" was also influenced by personal computer games such as the city management game "SimCity" and the wargame "Empire".cite web | author=Benj Edwards |title=The History of Civilization | publisher = Gamasutra | url=http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1523/the_history_of_civilization.php?page=2 | accessdate = 2008-05-21] "Civilization" became widely successful and influenced many 4X games to come.

In 1991, two highly influential space games were released. "VGA Planets" was released for the PC, while "Spaceward Ho!" was released on the Macintosh. Although 4X space games were ultimately more influenced by the complexity of "VGA Planets", "Spaceward Ho!" earned praise for its relatively simple yet challenging game design. cite web | author = Bruce Geryk | url=http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/pc/history_spaceempire/p2_03.html | title=GameSpot - A History of Space Empire Games: VGA Planets and Spaceward Ho! | publisher = GameSpot| date = 2001-08-08 |accessdate=2008-07-26 ] "Spaceward Ho!" is notable for its similarity to the 1993 game "Master of Orion",cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/features/6132108/index.html | title = The Greatest Games of All Time: Master of Orion | publisher = GameSpot | author = Jason Ocampo | date = 2005-08-26 | accessdate = 2008-07-29 ] with its simple yet deep gameplay. "Master of Orion" also drew upon earlier 4X games such as "Reach for the Stars", [cite web | url = http://archive.gamespy.com/articles/february02/strat04/ | title = Strategy Gaming: Part IV -- In the Beginning | publisher = GameSpy | author = Mark H. Walker | date = 2002-02 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ] and is considered a classic game that set a new standard for the genre. In a preview of "Master of Orion", Alan Emrich coined the term "XXXX" to describe the emerging genre. Eventually, the "4X" label was adopted by the game industry, and is now applied to several earlier game releases.cite web | author = Bruce Geryk | title =History of Space Empire Games - Introduction | publisher = GameSpot | url =http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/pc/history_spaceempire/index.html | date = 2001-08-08 |accessdate =2008-07-26]

Peak

Following the success of "Civilization" and "Master of Orion", other developers began releasing their own 4X games. In 1994, Stardock launched its first version of the "Galactic Civilizations" series for OS/2, [ cite web | url=http://www.stardock.com/products/gcgold/ | title=Galactic Civilizations Gold | publisher = StarDock | accessdate=2008-06-22 ] and the long-standing "Space Empires" series began as shareware. "Ascendancy" and "Stars!" were released in 1995, and both continued the genre's emphasis on strategic depth and empire management. Meanwhile, the "Civilization" and "Master of Orion" franchises expanded their market with versions for the Macintosh. ["Master of Orion II" was released for the Macintosh: cite web | url=http://uk.gamespot.com/mac/strategy/masteroforion2/index.html | publisher = GameSpot | year = 1996 | title=Master of Orion II for Mac | accessdate=2008-06-20 ; and so was "Civilization": cite web | url = http://www.mobygames.com/game/sid-meiers-civilization | publisher = MobyGames | title = MobyGames - Sid Meier's Civilization | accessdate = 2008-06-24 ] Sid Meier's team also produced "Colonization" in 1994 and "Civilization II" in 1996, [cite web | url = http://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/by_genre/developerId,3/ | publisher = MobyGames | title = MobyGames - Sid Meier Gameography | date = 2008-06-24 ] while Simtex followed up "Master of Orion" with "Master of Magic" in 1993 and "" in 1996. [cite web |author = James Fudge | date = 2000-12-30 | url=http://www.gamespy.com/articles/493/493221p1.html | title = GameSpy Hall of Fame - Master of Magic | publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ]

By the late 1990s, real-time strategy games began outselling turn-based games.cite web | author = Mark H. Walker | url= http://archive.gamespy.com/articles/february02/strategygames05/index2.shtm | publisher = GameSpy | title = Strategy Gaming: Part V -- Real-Time vs. Turn-Based | date = 2002-02 | accessdate = 2008-06-24 ] As they surged in popularity, major 4X developers fell into difficulties. Sid Meier's Firaxis Games released "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" in 1999 to critical acclaim, but the game fell short of commercial expectations. [cite web | url = http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_13/86-Alpha-Centauri.2 | title = Featured Article: Alpha Centauri | publisher = The Escapist | date = 2005-10-04 | author = Greg Tito | accessdate = 2008-07-28 ] "Civilization III" encountered development problems followed by a rushed release in 2001. [cite web |author = Kieron Gillen | url=http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/02/20/making-of-soren-johnson-on-civ-4/ | publisher = Rock Paper Shotgun | date = 2008-02-08 | title = Making Of: Soren Johnson On Civ 4 | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] Despite the excitement over "Master of Orion III", its release in 2003 was met with criticism for its lack of player control, poor interface, and weak AI. Game publishers eventually became risk-averse to financing the development of 4X games.

Recent history

Eventually real-time 4X games were released, such as "Imperium Galactica" in 1997,cite web | author = Steve Butts | url=http://www.cbsgames.com/games/story/10646599 | work=CBS Games | title= News/Reviews - IGN: Sins of a Solar Empire | accessdate = 2008-03-31] and "Starships Unlimited" in 2001. This blend of 4X and real-time strategy gameplay led Ironclad Games to market their 2008 release "Sins of a Solar Empire" as a "RT4X" game.i. cite web | author =Tim Surette | title =Sins of a Solar Empire beta unveiled | publisher =GameSpot | date =2007-03-21 | url =http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/sinsofasolarempire/news.html?sid=6167856 | accessdate =2008-07-26
ii. cite web | title =Sins of a Solar Empire | publisher =Ironclad Games | url =http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/gameplay.aspx?c=1 | accessdate =2008-01-06 | quote =Sins of a Solar Empire is a "RT4X" game, blending the epic strategy and empire management of the 4X genre with the fast-paced and tactical elements of a real-time strategy title. ] This combination of features earned the game several Editor's Choice awards among major game publications. [i. cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/sinsofasolarempire/review.html?tag=tabs;reviews | title = Sins of a Solar Empire for PC Review - GameSpot | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2008-02-13 | author = Jason Ocampo | accessdate = 2008-06-24
ii. cite web | url = http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/sins-of-a-solar-empire/850906p1.html | author = Allen 'Delsyn' Rausch | title = GameSpy: Sins of a Solar Empire Review | date = 2008-02-08 | publisher = GameSpy | accessdate = 2008-06-23
]

Cross-fertilization between board games and computer games continued. For example, some aspects of "Master of Orion III" were drawn from the board game "Twilight Imperium". cite web | url=http://moo3.quicksilver.com/diary/1200.html | title=Master of Orion III - Designer's Diary | date = 2000-12-13 | publisher = QuickSilver Software | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ] Even "Sins of a Solar Empire" was inspired by the idea of adapting the board game "Buck Rogers Battle for the 25th Century" into a real-time video game. [cite web | url = http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3638/postmortem_ironcladstardocks_.php | title = Postmortem: Ironclad/Stardock's Sins of a Solar Empire | author = Blair Fraser and Brad Wardell | publisher = Gamasutra | date = 2008-04-28 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ] Going in the opposite direction, Eagle Games made a board game adaptation of "Sid Meier's Civilization" in 2002. [cite web | url = http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/pirates-2004/540850p1.html | date = 2004-08-20 | author = Andrew S. Bub | publisher = GameSpy | title = Eagle Games' Glen Drover talks about Pirates, The Boardgame! | accessdate = 2008-07-26 ]

In 2003, Stardock released a remake of "Galactic Civilizations", which was praised by reviewers who saw the game as a replacement for the "Master of Orion" series. [i. cite web | url = http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=63130 | title = Review: Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords | author = Kieron Gillen | date = 2006-03-06 | publisher = EuroGamer | accessdate = 2008-07-28 ;
ii. cite web | url = http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3102896&p=1 | title = Reviews: Galactic Civilizations | author = 1up Staff | publisher = 1up | date = 2003-03-26 | accessdate = 2008-07-28
] "Civilization IV" was released at the end of 2005 and was considered the PC game of the year according to several reviewers, including GameSpot and GameSpy. [cite web | url = http://www.2kgames.com/civ4/awards.htm | publisher = 2K Games | title = Civ IV Recognized in "Best of 2005" Awards | date = 2005-12-20 | accessdate = 2008-07-26] It is now considered one of the greatest games in history, having been ranked the second-best PC game of all time by IGN. [cite web | url = http://pc.ign.com/articles/772/772285p3.html | title = Top 25 PC Games of All Time | author = Dan Adams, Steve Butts, Charles Onyett | date = 2007-03-16 | publisher = IGN | accessdate = 2008-07-29 ] By 2008, the "Civilization" series had sold over eight million copies,cite web | author =Matt Martin | title =Grand Theft Auto series has sold 66 million units to date| publisher = gamesindustry.biz | url =http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/grand-theft-auto-series-has-sold-66-million-units-to-date | accessdate =2008-03-23] and "Civilization Revolution" was released for game consoles soon after. [cite web | url=http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=79874 | date = 2007-07-16 | title= Firaxis explains lack of Civ PSP | accessdate = 2008-07-26 | author = Tom Bramwell | publisher= EuroGamer] Meanwhile, Stardock released "", which was considered the sixth-best PC game of 2006 by GameSpy. This success has led Stardock's Brad Wardell to assert that 4X games have excellent growth potential, particularly among less hardcore players. [ cite web | url=http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=14842 | date = 2007-07-26 | title=Stardock's Wardell Talks "GalCiv", Indie Power | publisher = Gamasutra | author = Alistair Wallis | accessdate=2008-07-26 ] This is in addition to the loyal base of 4X gamers who have supported freeware releases such as "Freeciv", [ cite web | url = http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/freeciv | title = Mobygames: Freeciv | publisher = MobyGames | accessdate = 2008-07-28 ] and "C-evo". [cite web | url = http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=72321 | title = Priceless Victories | author = Oliver Clare | publisher = EuroGamer | date = 2007-01-29 | accessdate = 2008-07-28 ]

See also

*List of strategy video games
*Strategy video game
*Video game genres

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.