The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized

By Alec Meer on March 15th, 2008 at 10:36 am.

OMG were r teh grafs

I had a play with an early version of Civilization Revolution on Xbox 360 the other day, my optimistic thoughts on which can be found here. (Don’t worry, this post is PC-relevant). Inevitably, a few readers quickly expressed dismay that the tech tree had lost several branches, some micromanagement (e.g. city health) had evaporated, and all-told it has a greater sense of rapidity and accessibility than the PC Civ games. I’m sure some of our readers feel the same way. A shame, as the game’s bold intention is to non-patronisingly bring the core 4X values – the values that made us love it in the first place – of Civ to an audience that otherwise would run screaming. So, dismissing what CivRev is trying to achieve outright because you’re saddened it only has one type of religion seems a little short-sighted. This is a companion piece to the PC Civs and not the death of them, but presumably that’s scant consolation if your desire is simply for Civ 4 on a gamepad and HDTV.

Anyway, MTV Multiplayer‘s Patrick Klepek thought to ask the question I didn’t – partly because of my 6am-train-dulled wits, but mostly because the answer was abundantly obvious within seconds of playing the game. Will this cartoony, minimal-buttony new take on Sid Meier’s most-milked cashcow come to PC?

Well, no.

“This is not a PC game. It’s been designed as a console game. It’s very, very different from Civ 4 and we don’t want it to be looked at as Civ 5. We don’t want people to think that this is meant to replace the existing ‘Civ’ games. This is a totally different game, created exclusively for consoles. It is never coming to PC.”
-producer Jason Bergman

Which was exactly my feeling from playing the thing. I’m quite excited about CivRev’s potential to shape an adored formula into on-the-sofa-shouting-at-online-friends ease, but it doesn’t feel even slightly appropriate for keyboard and mouse, and hardened PC Civ players would likely receive it poorly. Fortunately, as Klepek observes, there’s perhaps a certain between-the-lines hint of Civ 5 in Bergman’s words. Though if anyone still honestly thinks “mega-selling series to continue” is any kind of news in this day and age, then there’s more bright-eyed wonder in the world than I dared believe. While elements of Civ Rev, should it prove a success, would doubtless feed into Civ 5, I think we can rest assured the relative complexity of Civs 1 to 4 will remain. Meantime, I’m quite happy with Civ 4, though its teeny-tiny numbers and icons do seem a little backwards now.

(I’m very sorry there wasn’t single joke in that post. I am severely booze-damaged.)

__________________

« | »

, , .

33 Comments »

  1. Seniath says:

    The title, at least, was a good pun.

  2. Sander says:

    [TBS noob piping up:]
    Awww. It’s fine for manly grizzly bearded veterans to scoff at the consoletardation of Civ and rejoice that our venerated boxen will not be soiled by it, but as one who is still intimidated by teeny-tiny numbers and icons and tech trees and micromanagement (even when as loveably packaged as in Civ4), I would really have liked the opportunity to get into 4X through a game like CivRev. Missing out on that is disappointing, but not enough to cause me to buy a 360.

    (The alt txt wasn’t unfunny either. Don’t be sorry Alec. “You yourself will always be a great joke to me…” if that is not too harsh a joke, in your current condition.)

  3. Gene says:

    so basically, its civilization for dumb people

  4. brog says:

    The picture itself was hilarious.

  5. Dot says:

    That reason was kinda obvious from the beginning, and could’ve been just summed up with the non-PR-y word combo “because it was dumbed down”.

  6. Alec Meer says:

    If anyone else intends to spout the usual “dumbed down” dross, can they at least back it up with an actual point rather than just blurt out another knee-jerk supposition.

  7. J says:

    I think you should maintain a glimmer of hope that those are ironic posts Alec.

    If only for your sanity.

  8. Lorc says:

    It’s easy to add depth to a game via complexity. Easier still to add unnecessary busywork to give the illusion of depth.

    Paring away unnecessary complexity and busywork is a laudable goal (and, incidentally, far more difficult than putting it in). It’s only “dumbing down” if you do it badly.

    So best of luck to them and I’ll be interested to see how they manage it.

  9. Cigol says:

    Balls. I was secretly hoping they might have released it as an afterthought because it looks really cute and playable. Still it’s nice to hear that it’s not taking over the Civilization mantle and such a strong differentiation is refreshing to hear :)

    I hope they take some of that art direction with them into Civ5 though.

  10. Feet says:

    I love Civ 4. I play it very often. I love Civ 4 MP. I play it very often. I hardly ever finish a game of Civ 4 MP as it can take a dozen or more hours to do and getting those same people online at the same time and joined to the game can take aminor miracle and commitment that most people can’t afford.

    I’ll buy this just for the sake of a “quick Civ MP game”. And I’ll look forward to the return of depth of choice and strategy and tiny numbers in the next game Firaxis bring out for the PC. Yes.

  11. Bob Arctor says:

    Civ4 is too fiddly anyhow, I always put the cities on automatic placement of citizens anyhow. The whole balance of scientists and workers and what have you is too much when you’re playing a big map.

  12. Dot says:

    My original point wasn’t that it’s a bad thing there, but simply rather if it is a game centered on accessibility to the audience who wouldn’t touch it otherwise-it’s a good thing since it probably increases the potential userbase for the core Civilization titles in the long run, we still shouldn’t be refraining from using the unpleasantly sounding “dumbed down” term just because of the negative connotations to it and utilizing the miles-long PR-speak instead. But I am not really going to keep arguing on this here.

  13. marilena says:

    Alec, it seems to me that you are the one claiming that the game is simplified for console gamers and only viewing it from this perspective. Your argument seems to be, “it’s not on the PC, so I don’t mind that it’s dumbed down”.

    I view it from the perspective of someone who would actually like to play it, which is why I actually care about what’s in it.

    Anyway, you’re grossly exaggerating the amount of people complaining in that thread. In fact, it got an overwhelmingly positive response, with only a few minor comments from some people, including one from me (I said I hope they didn’t simplify the tech tree too much, as it’s something that I love about the game very much).

    The only people going overboard were the ones criticizing the new combat stats. They were strangely hung up on a very minor detail.

  14. Alec Meer says:

    You’re putting words into my mouth. I’m very excited about Civ Rev, and that it has the balls to start over rather than worry about servicing existing expectations is the prime reason for that. Equally, I’m glad Civ-PC continues, so no-one can justifiably claim they’re losing out. Most importantly, I don’t think it’s dumbed down. I find that to be a horribly ignorant phrase heavy with pre-judgements about the game and the people they think it’s aimed at, and there’s really no excuse for saying it instead of “more accessible” or “aimed at a different audience/platform.” At least not until you’ve played the game in question.

    (And regardless of the fact that “a few readers” isn’t a gross exaggeration by any measure, as it happens I’m also referring to some guys making the same dismissal on forums other than EG in response to my preview.)

  15. marilena says:

    Ok, I am :). I get that you don’t actually believe that, but that’s how your argument in this article is formed, which is why I think it’s flawed.

    About the second part, I did the unthinkable and actually counted the posts. There are 38 comments and I can only count 4 that are against the game. Obviously, I need a life, but the point stands – where’s the negativity you talk about?

    (Oh, and just to be clear, I agree that anyone seriously using the expression “dumbed down” isn’t worth bothering to talk to.)

  16. Alec Meer says:

    “A few readers.”

  17. marilena says:

    In case you still miss it, my point is that you’re looking for an argument that doesn’t exist. Most people are very interested in this game and like how it’s shaping up. So why do you feel the need to defend it from non-existent aggressors?

  18. Larington says:

    Sounds interesting. Master of Orion 3 certainly proved that trying too hard to go for depth was, ahem, unwise. Still, a game with the depth of Civ but with more streamlined gameplay. Best of luck to the devs, that could prove to be quite the challenge.

  19. Jae Armstrong says:

    Civ? Real men play Europa Universalis. And do their banking via smoke signals. And scale sheer cliffs using their manly, rugged chins. And shave via willpower alone. I could go on.

    In all seriousness though, I played all of three games of Civ 4 and managed to complete one before boredom struck and I abandoned it to rot at the bottom of a box. EU3, on the other hand, I haven’t left alone in the past year or so since it came out.

    The reason? Civ 4 has compexity in depth. EU3 has complexity in breadth.

    That is to say that Civ has you micromanaging cities; building buildings, assigning jobs, developing the land around them. By the time you have ten cities or so it’s too much. EU3 sees you broker diplomatic deals, wage wars of conquest and wars of espionage, compete for trade, colonise distant lands, set government policy and type, balance cultural and religious issues and, yes, occasionally build the odd province improvement. This scales very well with the size of your empire, fortunately.

    Somebody’s going to point out that some, if not all, of that gets a look in Civ as well, but it’s a poor, malnourished look. The government/society management screen is five areas with five options apiece, for pity’s sake.

  20. Alec Meer says:

    4 out of 38 of people in that thread – that’s over 10% of them – immediately dismissed the game, and that’s before adding the unhappiness I caught on other forums. Given only one in every hundred/thousand/whatever readers actually comments on a web story, we can fairly sensibly presume there’s a large number of people who’ve made the same judgement but just haven’t spoken it aloud. This is further proven by the accusations of dumbness made here. I sympathise that people might feel disappointed, but to claim “I won’t have fun in this game because it lacks feature x” seems wilfully perverse.

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    Alec has a valid point here, I think. Gamers do dismiss games at a glance these days – often a necessary reaction to avoid their time being wasted – and so the slightly offbeat angles like this one need some bolstering if people are going to pay attention again.

    (A problem that might have been avoided if they hadn’t used the Civ name, but perhaps I’m missing the point.)

  22. Alec Meer says:

    Yeah, EU3 is great, though a harder sell to a wide audience. I urge anyone with a serious interest in strategy games to give it a go.

  23. Astargoth says:

    It takes real balls these days to “make games more accesible” right? It’s not like everybody is doing it right? It’s not like there’s a RPG game in the making where instead of choosing your answer you’ll choose an icon, right? Finally it’s not like Civilization is a shaining light in a very dark tunnel for every Turn based lover out there. I mean there’s pleanty of TB games in the making right?

    All sarcasm aside TBS lovers like myself are scared that good sales for CivRev. will mean that Civ 5 will have alot of features in common with it. While the devs words are reasurring, I have little doubt that if Revolutions sell 2x the Civ 4 numbers it will end mainstream western Turn Based gaming.

  24. Martin says:

    I haven’t played a Civ game that I can remember but I’d like to give this a spin.

  25. Damien Neil says:

    Go is clearly just a dumbed-down version of Chess.

  26. Winterborn says:

    EU3 is great and Astargoth is doing quite a good Vince D Weller impersonation.

  27. Janek says:

    I never got along with the EU series. It always seemed a bit glacial, and awfully dry.

    Which is odd, as I really liked both Hearts of Iron and Victoria. I guess it’s a combination of increased depth and a more focused period.

  28. Jae Armstrong says:

    I’m the opposite; I love EU (and I’m having great fun with Crusader Kings), but Hearts of Iron sent me to sleep as soon as the fighting starts and I spent fifteen very confused minutes with Ricky before fleeing in panic.

    As for being “glacial”, well, you have a point there, although I tend to find that the pace of the action varies wildly with the amount of initiative the player takes, and unless you’re very comfortable with the game (read; have completed a full GC, or an equivalent number of decades in shorter games) it can be a struggle to find something to do.

    Thankfully the new expansion seems to be aiming towards alleviating this somewhat.

  29. RichPowers says:

    Dumbed down isn’t an entirely dismissive term: in the case of Sim City Societies, it was pretty damn accurate description.

    But CivRev is not what I would consider dumbed down. Hell, I’ve been playing these games since CivII and still can’t really master them. Accessibility enhancements, if you will, would be more than welcome in CivV, provided it still has the strategic depths I’m used to.

  30. malkav11 says:

    I’m really not especially worried about the change from several religions to one – Civ IV’s religions might as well be all the same religion for all the distinctness they currently possess.

    I also heard glimmerings of things like special unit abilities that make my heart go pitter-pat with anticipation.

    I wouldn’t necessarily want the whole franchise to go this direction, but as long as it remains a spinoff, I can comfortably anticipate it.

  31. yourmomsface says:

    Civ Rev is a further evolution of some of the ideas explored in Civ 4, like a faster game pace and better multiplayer. This being Civ 4, though, on the PC, playing to big Civ fans, it was simply impossible to expand these ideas out all the way. The faster game modes felt too fast, too compressed, not balanced, and although Civ 4 was much better multi than any other game in the series, it was still an awkward fit.

    I am glad to see Firaxis expand on these elements as I feel they definitely have potential. Speaking for myself, I can not spend as many weekends going through an entire game as I used to, so a quick game mode I can sit down and get a full, hearty experience from will be much appreciated. I hope they pull this one off!

  32. Lucky says:

    Eeh, I’m just excited* about the idea of finally playing Civ at least in some form on my DS.

    *scared

  33. pawseries says:

    At all I do not know what to tell in this occasion. Probably, what all will be better than now? And as a whole very much even it is informative!