Should we be covering more social network-based gaming? Oh, probably - it's something of a gateway drug for folk who are traditionally non-gamers, which makes it fascinating. It's also a big Woo! PC! battlecry, a grand statement of how even the most bottom-end machine is a gaming device with something to offer most anyone. No console will ever be that, because they're always bought as a result of someone wanting a games console. In the PC's case, people are accidentally becoming gamers as a result of something that's already in their homes. It's a big deal. Firaxis/2K have also spotted this.
So we'll cover social network gaming in more depth eventually - I know I personally just need to get past my antipathy as a result of my Facebook feed being full of people's tedious updates about what they've done in Mafia Wars or Farmville. Yes, well done on getting a bigger number - but does everyone have to know about it? Man, I am such a grump. But! I am quite excited about the prospect of Civilization Network, an official, Facebook-based rethink of the deathless strategy titan.
Here's a message reportedly from Civ bossman/figurehead Sid Meier himself. But it might be Siid, Siiid or even Sivd, one of Meier's three twisted and evil clones that he famously sends out to make personal appearances on his behalf. Siiid has a chin made of sharpened obsidian, if you look closely, while Siid is recognisable by the tiny eye on his right earlobe. Sivd is harder to spot, but if you meet him outdoors and look to the skies, you'll see there are no birds visible within an eight mile radius. Whichever Sid it was on Facebook earlier, here are the words:
I wanted to let you know we’ll soon be looking for beta testers to help us develop a unique new way to play Civilization. Ever since we finished Civilization® Revolution™ last year, I’ve been looking at ways of expanding the Civ gameplay experience to include solo, competitive and cooperative play to take advantage of the uniqueness of social networks. We’re calling this project Civilization Network and the full game will be available next year on Facebook. Civilization Network will allow you to join together with your friends to create the world’s most powerful, richest, smartest, or just plain coolest civilization. You can coordinate your strategy to win great battles, share your technology to jump ahead of your rivals, lobby your family and friends to form your own government and win vital elections, manage and grow your cities to maximize production and happiness, spy on your enemies, and work with your friends to create the great Wonders of the World. The game will offer everything you enjoy in Civ in a fully persistent environment - you can play as much as you like, whenever you like, and it’ll be free to play.
We’ll offer a closed beta of the game soon, so stay tuned for details on how you can sign-up to participate. The full game will launch in 2010. For more information about Civilization Network, including development updates and behind-the-scenes posts from me and the Firaxis team, join our Facebook fanpage here.
Thanks and Stay Civilized!
In other words, it's - whisper it- Civilization: The MMO. And it makes a frightening amount of sense. You and your Facebook chums vying for real-time control of the globe? I'm quite excited, so long as there is some way to get reasonably in-depth rather than just be stuck with a bunch of clicky text-boxes and collectable icons. It's play by email, that former strategy uber-mode, elevated to something more modern, something that doesn't require anyone to install anything. Going to be following this one closely...