A Spore-related interview with Jeff Green went up recently on 1UP.com. Here’s a quote about my history in the games industry:
1UP: You started in the game industry around 2000?
SJ:Yeah, I went from Stanford to EA, where I did a couple of internships, and then Firaxis was my first real job in 2000.
1UP: So does it feel like a lot has changed since then in the game-development community?
SJ: Yes. When I came on, it was like right after very, very high times for PCs. StarCraft was a few years old at that point, but you had stuff like Age of Empires selling boatloads of copies. It still was the age of the PC shooter — it hadn’t made the transition to console yet. Halo was still on the horizon.
1UP: Half-Life was ’98.
SJ: It was definitely high times for PC developers. By the time of Civ 4 [in 2005], it was very frustrating. Civ 3  worked out, but we really learned a lot from it and felt we really knew what we were doing and were going to make a great product with Civ 4. But the Civ franchise was owned by Atari, and Atari needed cash, so they sold it to Take 2. But they talked about selling it to a number of publishers, and a lot of them just were not interested — and that kinda blew my mind.
1UP: Didn’t Civ 4 end up selling pretty well?
SJ: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it sold at least a couple million copies. [According to Take 2, Civ 4 sold 3 million copies as of March 2008 — Ed.]. A lot of triple-A games have a $20 million development budget, but that was definitely not the budget for Civ 4. We were always strapped for resources. We had two artists until a year before we shipped, but we were able to pull that off. So it blew my mind that we have this game that’s not going to cost a lot of money, which is a really big upside. It’s very low risk. But it’s like with every version of Civ — we had to prove it to the publishers all over again. It’s weird, because it’s not like you have to twist publishers’ arms to make sequels to million dollar-selling franchises….
1UP: So let’s say you were just getting into the business now, but you had the same education and interests. Do you still see yourself pursuing this path on the PC?
SJ: Yeah, because I’m still very much a strategy guy. If computers weren’t around, I probably would have tried to design board games. That still, for me, feels like the place to be. If I was 21 now [and] in school, I’m sure I would have some sort of wonky strategy game site doing some sort of hex-based war game or something.
Here’s the interesting thing about this interview – reading the Editor’s Note was the first time I found out that Civ4 sold 3 million copies. Which is great, of course. Our target was 2.5 million as each version of the franchise sold about half a million more than the previous version. Nonetheless, it is an odd feeling not to know – or have any official recourse to find out – how many copies of the game I worked on so long actually sold. Certainly, in other industries, the idea that a director or musician not have access to this information would be very strange.