Thursday, June 12, 2008

Civilization as a MMO?

Sometimes even Dwarves want to conquer the world...

In a recent interview, Sid Meier (who really should needs no introduction) mentioned that there has been talk of a Civilization MMO. Whether or not this is true, it does beg the question: Can a 4x (i.e. Civ, MOO) be turned into a MMO?

I have long been a fan of 4x games and turn-based strategy (TBS) in general. I don't think any have been successfully made into a MMO yet. I can't say I am surprised, as I have a difficult time trying to figure out how they could pull it off.

There are numerous strategy web games available, but they have never been able to grab me like a game of Civilization. There are several reasons for this:

  • Map and the amount of players. How do you make a map for a strategy game when it could have an unknown number of players? In a MMO, everyone needs to have a fair chance of winning, so the map must be equally balanced. One things that makes Civ fun is the map can be quite random.
  • Time frame. Does the game go on for a long time? How do new players join and have the possibility to compete?
  • Loss. What happens when a player is knocked out of the game? Do they have to wait until a new one starts up? Seems like a bad idea for a subscription model.
  • Time spent in game. MMO's are giant time sinks. A game of Civ is too, but it is spread out over turns. Turns would have to be scheduled as to be fair, so what does a player do after they make their moves? Questing would not really work in Civ.
A common solution to the above issues is to separate the playerbase in to smaller games and start new ones as needed. This really is not a MMO to me, just an online game with a greater amount of people. Seems to be they would be better served to make Civ more multiplayer friendly. They have started down this path with the new console game, Civilization: Revolutions. This solution really is the same concept as above.

I just cannot see how to effectively make a 4x MMO. All that being said, I will try whatever Meier and Firaxis release.


A civilzation MMO has alot of potential though, and it definitely has my attention. Each race's starting zone could probably be tied to a certain area on the map (duh) and every guild's goal is to progress in their building of the civilization and fighting off the other side.

This could parallel most mmo's raid progression and have an rvr-like component to boot! Sounds like the IP would support several different game play mechanics pretty easy.

You know, I never thought of it as a RVR kind of game. That does have some potential. I was thinking of a strategy MMO rather than a traditional. Hmmm.

Evolving combat would be an interesting concept. Start out with swords/clubs and eventually move up to a Battlefield kind of experience.

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