This is an initiative in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast.
The difficult challenge of developing a video game adaptation it’s usually a job that’s complex enough not to want to go back to it – I know what I’m talking about, I worked on a film adaptation. But it is no longer how good or bad that you know how to transform characters, adventures or ideas into a video game with a face and eyes, but everything that comes in the same pack.
You have the problems derived from working with someone else’s license and all the lines that you cannot cross, a horde of fans waiting to eat you alive and, of course, also the challenge of knowing how to successfully transfer what they consider impeccable. Seen like this, it does not surprise me that Magic: The Gathering was the last work of the legendary Sid Meier on Microprose.
From Civilization to Magic
To Caesar what is Caesar’s. TO Wizards of the Coast we must admit that they gave enough freedom to the genius who came from petarlo with Pirates!, Railroad Tycoon and Civilization, but Microprose’s troubles at the time put Sid Meier.
Created by the aviation pilot Bill stealey and his own Sid Meier, Microprose was born after the king of strategy surprised the retired military man by beating his score in the game Red Baron. Meier assured Stealey that he did this by predicting movements after studying the game code, and that if he had the right help he could make a better game in just a week.
Stealey put in the dough, Meier his wit, and two months later they threw Hellcat Ace, the first video game of Microprose. A first work that, among many other aviation titles, would be followed by great successes such as those mentioned a few lines above. The great successes of the study caused an insane cascade of money with which Stealey decided to take a controversial leap: to open up to other genres and businesses.
Between creating an arcade machine division and developing an adventure game engine, Microprose burned assets at a worrying rate and, before getting scalded, Sid Meier He decided to sell his share to Stealey and continue working there as just another employee.
The arcade game went wrong, the adventure game regular, and finally Microprose was acquired by Spectrum HoloByte thanks to Stealey’s good friendship with its president. A handful of employees walked out the door, and a generous collection of licenses came in to take advantage of: Star Trek, Top Gun, and Magic: The Gathering.
Magic: The Gathering, the video game
Planes and ships, ok, but move Magic: The Gathering to the world of videogames? The world’s best-selling trading card franchise? The project was going to take more muscle and ingenuity than usual. If it went well they could secure new deliveries with each new expansion of the physical game and, what the heck, even if they didn’t, this could be the deal of the century.
Aware of the potential and the complicated needs of such a project, the commission went directly to the hands of Sid Meier and, as expected, the magician worked his magic hand in hand with all that pampering that would continue to make him famous shortly after that.
Before leaving the company and creating Firaxis Games, Meier would endow the game with Magic: The Gathering from his particular passion for history, the embrace of an accessible but profound strategy, and an interface city capable of linking both worlds. If they were going to make a Magic game, they were going to do it right.
A character with the goal of defeating five elemental mages who want to rule over Shandalar, the ability to explore the world by buying cards in villages and battling Ante-style monsters to upgrade your deck before the final fight.
In case you don’t know the concept, the idea of In view ofBoth in reality and in that virtual world, it consists of leaving a random card in the Ante area so that the winner can recover his card and also take the opponent’s card as a prize.
A year before Nintendo catapulted the idea of mixing an RPG with his collectible card game on GameBoys around the world, the Magic: The Gathering Sid Meier’s -Shandalar for Friends- paved the way for Wizards of the Coast’s other hit: Pokémon Trading Card Game.
From enough to cult game
Despite widespread complaints about the inability to play against other people at a time when multiplayer games were beginning to show their nose, the truth is that it is easy to recognize Meier’s good hand in the combat interfaces of the game. Magic: The Gathering by Microprose.
Outdated graphics aside, the work when it comes to representing each of the phases of the game, the arrangement of the elements, and how artificial intelligence provides rhythm avoiding phases in which you could not make any movement, it seems like a real past. .
In general terms and despite how much time passes, what you can find in Magic: The Gathering it does not differ much from what are proposed today as MTG Arena. A simply spectacular work that could well have stayed there and already been a great example of good adaptation.
But why put the brakes on so soon, better put a huge world with random points of interest in each game, an axis to the roll that has you from here to there fighting monsters and getting new cards, using food to stay alive, introducing shops and wise men who can help you on your way to the last duel, a devilish difficulty in which you go through a final boss of 300 lives would mark your game score …
They could have gone for the easy way, but they decided to create a superb game that ended up touching half a million copies years later. Far from what one might expect from a phenomenon like Magic, but it is what happens on many occasions when you play with licenses that the public has deified. Even the excellent wakes up flaws.
The brief success of the first edition was followed by two expansions that would further improve the interface, artificial intelligence and the game engine, as well as a compilation of all of the above in a reissue called Duels of the Planeswalkers that would hit the market a year later.
Magic would continue to grow in the world of videogames with almost twenty different games, including the success of MTG Arena which seems to have come to stay for a good season. They all owe a particular reverence to that first trip to Shandalar for Sid Meier.