Sid Meier didn’t include multiplayer in the original Civilization game because “if you had friends, you wouldn’t need to play computer games.”
Civilization originally started off as a real-time game, but Meier found it too similar to other real-time strategy games such as SimCity//. Instead he opted for a system where each turn takes a predetermined amount of time, and will automatically execute. This plan was widely disliked and was abandoned. Meier began developing it as a “heavy”, textbook-like game, but did not find it “fun”. He returned to the game after Railroad Tycoon and increased its emphasis on entertainment. Meier chose to, for example, not simulate a fall of civilization despite its historical accuracy because he did not want the game to regularly destroy the player’s country. He reduced the size of the game world to avoid repetitive gameplay, but also reduced automated city management to keep players busy. Meier incorporated warfare because, he said, “The game really isn’t about being civilized. The competition is what makes the game fun and the players play their best. At times, you have to make the player uncomfortable for the good of the player”.
Meier omitted multiplayer alliances because the computer used them too effectively, causing players to think that it was cheating. He said that by contrast, minefields and minesweepers caused the computer to do “stupid things … If you’ve got a feature that makes the AI look stupid, take it out. It’s more important not to have stupid AI than to have good AI”. Meier also omitted jets and helicopters because he thought players would not find obtaining new technologies in the endgame useful, and online multiplayer support because of the small number of online players (“if you had friends, you wouldn’t need to play computer games”); he also did not believe that online play worked well with turn-based play.
When the first version of Civilization was being developed, it was designed to run on a PC, which at the time was transitioning from 16 color EGA to VGA, which could use 256 different colors. The decision to limit the number of different civilizations to 16 was made to make Civilization compatible with both display standards: 16 civilizations for the 16 colors available to EGA.