City management has long been a core pillar of the Civilization franchise. As the building blocks of your empire, cities provide all the resources and tools required for it to flourish, from gold and science to the military and religious units that propagate your culture. Previous iterations have largely automated city management: players would pick a nice area, preferably near the coast or on a river and with a handful of natural resources nearby, and plop down their urban centers without further thought.
In the trailer above for the movie My Urban Playground, there’s a quick discussion of the fact that Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive’s wildly successful Cities: Skylines has been used for real-world urban planning — of a new transportation system in Stockholm, Sweden.
It’s part of a larger discussion of how games can interact with real cities, which is the subject of the documentary.
In the same way open source has spawned millions of careers and thousands of companies, imagine the opportunity with openness applied to products. It could potentially jumpstart a revolution in how we conceptualize, build, and share things and how we experiment and innovate to push the boundaries of science and technology.
Design fictions draw on a long tradition of technological storytelling. Every technology starts with a story. We don’t know how the first hominids who fashioned a hand-axe from a flint shaped their thoughts, but the very action of flint-knapping implies a plan for the future: the result will be better, in some way, than the flints already to hand. So it is with all technologies. ‘A tool always implies at least one small story,’ writes the historian of technology David Nye in Technology Matters (2006). It begins in the imagination, and that imagining extends to what the tools will help us to achieve.
“Sure, lots of players are building memories and geek tributes in the incredibly popular indie sandbox game Minecraft, but here’s something actually functional: a working 16-bit ALU (arithmetic logic unit) designed entirely in the game. The “wires” are made from Redstone, a unit in the game that can carry a fiery charge. So to calculate numbers, creator “theinternetftw” just lights torches representing binary numbers on one end, and then waits to see which torches (representing binary digits) light up on the other; giving him the mathematical answer he’s looking for. Crazy? Yes. Nerdy? Very. Awesome? Indeed.”
Today, Epic Games faces more competition than ever, both as a developer and an engine maker. To retain its dominant spot in the industry, one established over the past two decades, the company is making aggressive moves to attract new designers to the engine.
“Everything we’re doing now is about iteration,” says Sweeney. “We’re developing the engine live. We’re doing both incremental improvement and major new systems and features, all simultaneously. This is it. This is what we’re going to be doing for the next decade. If over the course of this constant stream of new things we’re developing, if at some point we call it Unreal Engine 5, that will be a version number rather than some top secret project that eventually sees the light of day.”