CivVille: Civ World Revealed

By Alec Meer on May 17th, 2011 at 3:29 pm.

I like having artists next door too. Only they're not - instead there's some bloody miserable hipster types who always scowl at me

When we first heard about the Facebook version of Civilization a couple of years back, the prospect was enormously exciting – a persistent online Civ, played from any PC, any time. Of course, back then we perhaps weren’t fully aware of the route Facebook games were broadly taking – the pay/spam friends/wait model popularised by FarmVille. There’s absolutely nothing to say that model can’t be successful and entertaining, but it does mean that Civ World, as the now fully-revealed Facebook Civ has been retitled, is necessarily a very different prospect to Civ itself. In-game footage and dev commentary below…

I’ve had to watch this several times to get a handle on how I think it works, but telltale stuff like crop harvesting and slowly recharging actions appears to be in there, suggesting it does cleave as closely to FarmVille as to Civ. The key difference, before you start screaming, is that this remains a game with a purpose, rather than the infinite self-rewarding of FarmVille. You’re trying to win, you’re trying to rule the world, and you need the help of friends to do it. Or, more likely, they need your help, as only one can be king.

Also not really on display yet is the tech tree or combat – they’re clearly in there, suggesting this will be a reasonably elaborate title. The key, I guess, is just how you interact with all its systems – whether it’s click to collect or if there’s real strategy underpinning your actions and decisions.

More soon. Not what I expected and I need to see how the pay/wait stuff works given it’s a game about winning and dedicating yourself to a grand plan, but it’s clearly not simply FarmVille with historical stuff in. Interesting/perplexing/worrying/promising.

You can apply for closed alpha testing of the game here. No release date as yet.

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77 Comments »

  1. Lewie Procter says:

    It’s a no from me.

    • Icarus says:

      Pretty much. Nay to Facebook games in all their myriad, friend-spamming, grind-enforcing forms.

    • westyfield says:

      Agreed. Even if I cared about Civilisation – which I don’t – I wouldn’t want to inflict the inevitable “Westyfield has reached the 20th century! Click here to help him develop nuclear weapons!” on my friends.

    • bglamb says:

      Although there is no proof that this isn’t gonna be that, there’s also nothing in that trailer to indicate that it *is* gonna be that.

      The great thing about developing for Facebook is that you can use your social network as part of the game. It seems a shame to me that people regard a game as bad or grindy or intrusive simply by virtue of it being released on Facebook, and using the features that are available.

      Talk about closed-minded.

    • Zarunil says:

      Given the current selection of Facebook games, I can’t blame them.

    • bglamb says:

      It just seems silly, if you hate all Facebook games, to watch the trailer for a Facebook game and then criticize it for things that aren’t in the trailer (or anywhere).

      Just say you won’t ever play anything on Facebook.

      Better yet, you didn’t even need to come and look at the game, if you knew you wouldn’t like it before you even saw it.

    • Icarus says:

      “The great thing about developing for Facebook is that you can use your social network as part of the game.”
      Sure. Farmville does that. As does Mafia Wars, and whatever the hell else. Spams your friends list to help you get an advantage in-game.
      “Icarus’ capital city is under nuclear attack! Click here to help him construct bunkers!”
      1 hour later: “Icarus needs to recruit tank commanders to wage war on Westyfield! Click here to enlist to his army and help him build units faster!”
      1 hour after that: “Your tanks have run out of fuel and can’t move this turn! Click here to buy more CivCoins and refill their Action Points!”

      Yeah. No thanks.

    • nofing says:

      After seeing what Dragon Age Legends (the supposedly next level of facebook games) did, I don’t think I’m ever playing a facebook game again.

    • bglamb says:

      @Icarus: Am I watching a different trailer from you?

    • Icarus says:

      “Telltale stuff like crop harvesting and slowly recharging actions appears to be in there”
      “Not what I expected and I need to see how the pay/wait stuff works”
      It’s a Facebook game. I haven’t logged into Facebook for months because of the endless wall of ‘click here to help your friend win their game of X’.

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    • MasterBoo says:

      I am a Facebook game developer myself and I have to agree with everyone above. Facebook games are no more than an excuse nowadays to money making. I can’t blame companies since Social games are the most profitable games considered the resources it take to develop them, and after all companies are made to make money. Nevertheless, they are not “games”, they tend to rely on grinding, repeating tasks and starvation in order to attract players and not on true “fun”, or appealing mechanics.

      Even though there are attempts to bring innovation to so called “social games” (such as the game I’m developing at the place I work for), the core “omg I’m at Facebook so I’m a social game” mechanics remain. No Social game nowadays is really social, they use the term only because it relies on a social network.

      Pff.. Thank god I retain developing my own games independently.

    • Stochastic says:

      I’ll echo the sentiments of others by saying that this is not a welcome development. What bothers me isn’t that there is a surplus of low-quality, shallow Facebook games, but the fact that some of the PC’s most hallowed franchises (the Civ series along with AoE) are being sullied by “social”, persistent-world versions designed to extract as much cash from an already exploited user base as possible. Perhaps I’m being cynical and unfair by judging a game I haven’t even played yet, and maybe this will turn out to be decent in the end, but I can’t shake the feeling that the Farmville paradigm is the basest form of game design.

    • Howl says:

      Facebook/Gaming integration seems to be based on publishers’ needs/wants rather than gamers’ needs/wants. Free advertising is the fastest way to get someone muted or de-friended. Nobody in their right mind is going to let a game spam them into social exile.

    • spindaden says:

      In my book, if anyone’s earned the benefit of the doubt it’s Sid “Civilised Railroad Pirate” Meier

    • thebluemonkey81 says:

      I’ve always been a horrible civ fan boy but this is just like someone pooped on my cake.
      Yeah, it’s still cake… but I don’t want it

  2. CMaster says:

    I was kinda interested, until various epic fails on Facebook’s part convinced me it was necessary to disable “Facebook Platform” (the system that apps and website integration is based off) and with the problems that caused that only getting worse, then I can’t see myself ever putting it back on for a game. (in theory, one could create a game only FB account with no friends and no real data, but this is inevitably going to be both “social” and wanting your money, making that not a very hot idea.

  3. A-Scale says:

    This was supposed to change everything.

  4. Lewie Procter says:

    I would, however, pay a fiver to get a proper version of Civ integrated into facebook, that let me host games with X number of other non-paying players.

  5. skinlo says:

    Oh well, there goes my interest.

    Although its probably not really designed for anyone who reads RPS.

  6. Lars Westergren says:

    Perhaps we should hold out for a better version from Pixelante…

  7. bglamb says:

    I don’t really get why people are so against the Facebook platform for games. It opens up so many doors for these persistent social games.
    Just because these features have been “abused” somewhat by game companies in the past doesn’t make them inherently bad.

    There are an increasing number of games that try and use these elements in an interesting way, but they seem to get a bad rep just for using them.

    Did you really all want a Civ clone that you can only play by logging into Facebook? Why not just go and play Civ? I don’t really get what people were expecting if their hopes have been dashed by that trailer.

    • RQH says:

      For me, I object to the idea that my giving someone real-world money is a game mechanic.

      As for Facebook Civ, I would have liked a vanilla version of Civ running on the Facebook platform doing a play-by-email sort of thing, except through Facebook. Because I have non-gamer and light-gamer friends who I think would enjoy playing some Civ (and give me a run for my money), but who lack systems to run full Civ, or who would be more likely to fire off a turn on an outdated work machine in their downtime, etc. But at the same time, I don’t want to introduce them to something that’s going to nickel-and-dime them.

      I harbored no illusions that I would get this game I describe, but it’s not completely silly.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      “stop in a for a few minutes and collect your harvests”

      No.

    • Vinraith says:

      Show me a facebook game that doesn’t amount to “he who pesters his friends most and/or spends the most real money wins” and we’ll talk.

    • bglamb says:

      @RQH: I must have missed the bit of the trailer where they detailed the game mechanic involving money. Please enlighten me.

      @Till: And there’s a reason that all persistent games include a mechanic that penalises you if you don’t log in for a week. (Hint: It may involve genuine game design, not necessarily fleecing your customers).

      @Vinraith: This game? Fair enough if you want to say that all Facebook games are shit, but if you’re gonna do that then what’s the point in looking at a Facebook game and then say “Nah, it looks shit” and give the reason as “It’s a Facebook game”.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah, I’m still gonna go with “no” to time-critical busywork.

      That’s one of the big flashing warning signs that your game design, such as it is, is shit.

      You want a good example? OGame. Not harvest-your-fucking-crops every 6 hours, but be alert for attacks and move your fleets around.

    • Kdansky says:

      The issue isn’t that the games are on Facebook.
      The issue is, that current Facebook games are shit.

      Instead of revolving around Skill, and learning to play the game, they revolve around spamming friends with messages, and mindlessly doing tasks that need no human interaction at all (namely clicking on crops so they get collected).

    • Vinraith says:

      @bglamb
      This game?

      Clearly not. This is pretty obviously pesterware, in the same model as Farmville. He who bugs the most friends to “support” his empire wins.

      Fair enough if you want to say that all Facebook games are shit, but if you’re gonna do that then what’s the point in looking at a Facebook game and then say “Nah, it looks shit”

      Because there’s no reason they all need to be shit. If they’d just break away from the “game as an excuse to rope in as many friends to our advertising engine as possible” model and make, you know, a game you could play with your friends, that would actually be worth looking at.

    • mouton says:

      We don’t hate them because they are on facebook, we hate them because they suck and are grind and spam oriented. Also, they almost always are a poor copy of some other better games.

      Hell, a lady friend asked me to do an arcade stage in Settlers: My City for her. I reluctantly agreed and imagine my surprise when i saw a ripoff of the old old North & South game. The funny part is, it was way less playable than the game from 20 years ago.

    • Nogo says:

      “Clearly not. This is pretty obviously pesterware, in the same model as Farmville. He who bugs the most friends to “support” his empire wins.”

      By that logic Diplomacy or Solium Infernum are “pesterware.”

      For the sake of a better future, try to hold judgement until you learn exactly what “support” entails and what kind of messages are sent and to whom.

      Furthermore, it’s a bit odd to declare action timers evil when games like Neptune’s Pride, Blight of the Immortals and Die2nite have been getting favorable reactions.

    • Vinraith says:

      By that logic Diplomacy or Solium Infernum are “pesterware.”

      Only if you play them by going door to door bothering your neighbors to support your armies movements.

      Furthermore, it’s a bit odd to declare action timers evil when games like Neptune’s Pride, Blight of the Immortals and Die2nite have been getting favorable reactions.

      I can only speak for myself here, but action timers are a major reason why I’d never play any of those games.

    • Nogo says:

      That’s a fair statement if they auto-message people who aren’t playing in your nation, which would be a shame, but unless I’m missing something it hasn’t been stated how this integrates with the messaging system. And it is your prerogative to not like games with action timers, but that doesn’t make them inherently bad.

      Instead of calling this game a tragic waste of talent why don’t you just be nice and say “I don’t particularly like persistent games so I’ll most likely be passing. However, I hope this doesn’t spam friend lists at large because I find that obnoxious.”

    • Vinraith says:

      Instead of calling this game a tragic waste of talent why don’t you just be nice and say “I don’t particularly like persistent games so I’ll most likely be passing. However, I hope this doesn’t spam friend lists at large because I find that obnoxious.”

      Because it’s eating the time and talents of one of my favorite game developers. In other words, because it’s a tragic waste of talent IMO.

      And by the way, if it doesn’t spam your friends list I’ll eat my hat.

    • d32 says:

      Go Vinraith, go!

    • DeMyztikX says:

      By the way. It doesn’t spam your friends list. It will only post when you reach an achievement or milestone and only after your ok the post. So no “click to help friend!!!!RAWR!” that I’ve seen. I do believe some eaten hats are in order.

  8. icupnimpn2 says:

    I think that *is* the combat at 1:52-1:54

  9. Mitza says:

    You CAN see the combat at around 1:53

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      I’m going to have nightmares… “the arrows, the arrows!”

  10. Vinraith says:

    What a tragic waste of talented people.

  11. itsallcrap says:

    I’ll probably still try it, but seriously, this has been in development for about a million years and has come out looking like they’ve just tried to remake Civilization for the educationally subnormal.

  12. Njordsk says:

    FARMCITYZATION

  13. Jumwa says:

    I’d think this was cool if it weren’t A) a Facebook game, and B) no-doubt a microtransaction nightmare.

    But then it’d likely just convince me to sign up for Facebook, so I’ll call it a win that I’m not interested.

  14. lunarplasma says:

    Remember that Civ 5 advert which was a civaholics anonymous meeting, and then Sid Meier posing as a janitor comes in and excitedly informs them of the Facebook Civ app?

    Yeah. No.

  15. GenBanks says:

    I’m crushingly disappointed… my imagination had gone wild on the potential for this game. I guess I’ll hold out judgement until more info comes out, but I hadn’t anticipated it being so farmville derived.

    • Jumwa says:

      The video really does give the impression of it being “Farmville! Now with MORE farms for you to manage at once!” rather than any civilization variant.

  16. sasayan says:

    Well, AoE online still looks promising, so I guess that’s one out of two? Still, what a shame.

  17. bookwormat says:

    The game looks very interesting, and I’m looking forward to testing this. I also hope that the gameplay involves taking risks and making decisions with consequences. But until I experience it otherwise, I expect a great game from Sid’s team.

    I hope the gameplay mechanics stay simple, however. Otherwise I’ll never get anyone of my “friends” to play this with me.

    Oh, and I like the graphical art style!

  18. Jake says:

    Playing a game called Civilization on Facebook is a bit ironic. I suppose it could be worse, it could be played entirely in YouTube comment threads.

  19. Consumatopia says:

    I dunno. I mean, yeah, I’ve never heard of a Facebook game that doesn’t suck. But there could always be a first, and I don’t know enough about this, yet. One aspect in its favor is that it looks like the game has endings–it’s not just building your farm, I mean civ, endlessly bigger bigger, you actually win or lose the game and start a new one.

    Multiple players in the same “nation” is kind of odd. Does this nation play against other player nations, or only against computer nations?

    Not that I expect anything that was actually interesting to come from this game, but it has always bothered me how monolithic governance is in Civilization. I want to see a Civ game where bureaucrats and generals can leak secrets, take bribes, falsely accuse others, commit treason and generally sabotage each other in lots of fun ways. I don’t see any technical reason such a game couldn’t be made on Facebook, but I can think of lots of cultural ones.

    Who else wants to see Solium Infernum on Facebook?

  20. Drake Sigar says:

    This is an unholy union. Civilization has always prided itself on being one of the deepest and most detailed strategy games ever, and to jam that premise onto a Facebook app is like making a movie out of the Watchman comic, or getting the Twilight team to remake the Wizard of Oz.

    FUUUUUUU-

    • Urael says:

      “…is like making a movie out of the Watchman comic…”

      Wow, RPs is just inundated with snobs today. Loved the graphical novel, loved the movie; it did a fine job of filming the essentially unfilmable.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Essentially unfilmable means no job is a good enough job. The point was not that the Watchman movie was bad. It wasn’t. A couple of instances where Snyder completely missed the point aside, it was mediocre with good visuals and an awesome Rorschach actor. The point is that the idea of filming it is unacceptable. It is beefsteak-flavored potato chips of filmed comics.

      Turning Civ into a Facebook app is a blasphemy on so many levels. The end result might be a good Facebook app, who knows. It will not change the fact that is bastardizing the legacy of Civ.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      You judge me too quickly, Urael. Or perhaps your definition of snobbery is wide enough to envelop me after all? It matters little. My thoughts echo Dawngreeter. This isn’t about whether or not it can be done so much as whether or not it should be done.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I know. It’s shocking that when this comes out we won’t be able to play any of the other nth variations of Civ because they’ll all shut down and stop working.

    • Gassalasca says:

      In other news, Snyder bought the rights to Ulysses.

  21. rocketman71 says:

    Wow, does that look bad. No, let me rephrase. Wow, does that look like a huge turd.

    Isn’t it enough that Sandy Petersen, Brian Reynolds and Soren Johnson are wasting their talent on Facebook?. Must they take Sid Meier too?.

    Fucking Fuckenberg. And he didn’t even do the real work. The Bill Gates of present times.

    • Nogo says:

      Really?

      Unless you’re objectively the greatest of videogame developer minds I think you should take back that statement about smart, forward thinking people wasting their talent and time. Maybe they see something you don’t and would like your support instead of being declared an idiot because you don’t like the distribution channel’s current portfolio.

      How rude and condescending.

      And for that matter what exactly is wrong with Bill Gates?

    • Thants says:

      And for that matter what exactly is wrong with Bill Gates?

      He’s responsible for us having to use a really mediocre operating system.

  22. MythArcana says:

    This entire project really astounds and baffles my feeble brain. While Civ V sits on my hard drive waiting for much needed diplomacy reports and options, they squeeze out a CivVille and ignore the black hole that continues to swallow up my interest for their flagship product.

    I will have to say that my approach to Civ VI will be extremely skeptical and cautious after seeing how this PC franchise was treated…erm, make that ruined. As far as Facebook goes, I have an account that I never use and pretty much refuse to even log in at that place these days, so a big no from me would be a safe bet for this project.

    P.S. Get the devs back from the Civ IV days and get back to your PC ROOTS AGAIN and stop screwing around with CONSOLE PORTS and watered down SOCIAL NETWORKING versions. Please.

  23. Waltorious says:

    Before everyone goes crazy (oh whoops, too late!) I wanted to point out that IGN had a hands-on with the game and was very impressed:

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/116/1167265p1.html

  24. Deano2099 says:

    Was that trailer posted on Facebook by the way?

    I mean, call me crazy, but if I’m making a game and advertising on the platform where Farmville is the dominant game, I’d try and make my game look as much like Farmville as possible, even if it weren’t really.

    Just saying.

  25. anduin1 says:

    I hope work places start straight up banning access to facebook. Luckily the office I worked at a few months ago did this to prevent time wasting, it’s one thing if your office job is more casual and it’s another when there are deadlines and people are checking FB or playing Farmville. The commercial echoes that …”log on for a few minutes then go back to work” UGH

    • Thants says:

      Couldn’t you just treat people like adults and tell them not to spend all their time on Facebook?

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Thants: Whaaaaa? But th- I don’t eve- THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE! Those so called adults are the ones acting like simpering teenagers in a school library, using office time and equipment to chat with their friends and watch reruns of Captain Planet. Treating them like they’re not children at this point seems pretty redundant.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Yeah, that’s much worse than reading RPS at work. *cough*

    • Thants says:

      Drake Sigar: I dunno, it seems like if someones playing video-games instead of doing their work even after being warned then you should just fire them.

  26. kenoxite says:

    OMG-MY-EYES-THE-COLOR-PALETTE!!!

    Yellows and pure magentas, cyans and greens? Really?

    And about the rest, hmm. As much as I love Civ I still don’t see the appeal of this version. But I wish they do well in all that social networking stuff.

  27. cpy says:

    Meh i have 15 FB accounts, so it’s not really a big deal if games require friend spam :)