Ensemble Studios' Bruce Campbell Shelley has been a force in strategy gaming for over 20 years (PC Gamer proclaimed him a "Game God" in 1999). Anyone who's ever played Civilization I and II, the original Railroad Tycoon, or the Age of Empires and Age of Mythology titles should be familiar with his work. What you may be less familiar with is the iterative design process he and former MicroProse colleague Sid Meier used to craft the very first Civilization game.
In a recent interview, Shelley offered a little history lesson on the "design by playing" methodology -- a process he and his design teams still use at Ensemble today. The strategy pioneer fondly recalls being the second person ever to play the first Civilization prototype on a 5 ¼" floppy disc, and also describes how working with Sid Meier is like going to a game design university. In discussing the influence of Civilization on AoE, Shelley had this to say: "There is certainly some Civilization in the Age of Empires series. The vision for the original Age of Empires game was something like the historical and economic aspects of Civilization merged with the gameplay of Warcraft and Command & Conquer."
See also: Metareview - Age of Empires III vs. Civilization IV