SO MANY STRANGE ANNOUNCEMENTS TODAY. What's next? A Farming Simulator FPS? A Call of Duty art game? OK, OK, onto the actual news: Civilization is advancing into the MMO age, but not as, say, a larger-scale turn-based strategy. No, in Civilization Online, you play as a single character - one churning gear in a civilization's massive machine of politics, science, and war. It's not just a traditional MMO with historical trappings, though. Each server can and will end. Once one of the competing civilizations meets a victory condition, almost everything resets. The resulting sandbox of workers, fighters, researchers, and leaders, then, has to pull together or risk getting trampled by the inexorable march of history.
Massively got the full scoop, and I have to admit: Civ Online sounds downright fascinating. The goal is to explore and push your borders ever further on a map that expands week-by-week (via updates) until civilizations bump into each other. At that point, players can go to war or just go on their merry ways and try for, say, a space race victory instead.
All the while, players will be working in various careers of their choice to advance their civilization's cause. As for who'll do what and how, well, that's where the sandbox element comes into play. Cities, houses, clothing, weapons, transportation, and more will all be player-made. But no nation ever made it to the top of the heap without some good old-fashioned internal squabbling, and Civ Online will have that in spades. Massively's preview explained:
"Leaders will also emerge from the citizenry of each civilization, as necessary roles like mayor and military commander must step up to help create order and achieve objectives. There will also be mechanisms in place for players to oust ineffective or bad leaders. A civilization could forego working together to just be every man for himself, but then it wouldn't progress and most likely would be conquered by another more organized civilization. [Executive producer] Jake Song called the game 'a big social experiment.'"
There'll also be familiar genre staples like leveling and crafting, but ArcheAge developer XL Games isn't being particularly specific about how they'll function just yet.
It all certainly sounds ambitious, but I'll definitely need more details before I'm sold on the idea. Among other things, I'm really wondering how the game will incentivize such large-scale teamwork - not to mention what sort of tools it'll provide to aid in necessary communication and coordination. There are, theoretically, innumerable moving parts to take into account here. My mind is all a-boggle just considering the possibilities. Hopefully we'll get a clearer picture of how all the puzzle pieces snap together soon.