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Tag - civilization

Pacing of OSG's

It was always difficult to get a multi-player game of Civilization going, despite the variety of options. There was play-by-email, where player A would take a turn, email the saved file to player B who would take a turn and email to player C, etc., but this could take a couple days for a turn to get back to you and was a very sluggish method of play. Alternatively you could get half a dozen players together and play via LAN. This was always a lot of fun, but very difficult to coordinate, especially back in the day when not as many people had laptops. These made for very intense gaming sessions, but would usually need to be wrapped up come dawn and could only happen a couple times a year.

Thankfully, OSG’s solve all these problems. An OSG’s unique pacing allows players to play a thorough, persistant game without a huge time commitment. OSG’s achieve their pacing by making everything real-time and continuing regardless if players are online. Even if a player has to go out of town for the weekend, the game doesn’t grid to a halt: his workers still harvest resources, work on any building orders he left, and his troops will still defend his city. Further, since most orders in OSGs (raids, constructions, etc) take several hours or more to execute, even if a player misses a day he’s only missed a couple order-opportunities.

Ideally, success in an OSG would stem from a player’s choices and his response to other players, not from grinding.

Nevertheless, some OSGs still emphasize time spent online as a means of victory. When you are required to be watching your account all day long, wouldn’t it be better to play a genre that allows you to do more with your time? Whenever you have constructions that only take half an hour, or give a combat bonus to players who are online, you start taking away from the heart of the OSG.

On the other hand, some games take things too far. eRepublik is a great game, but each player is only allowed a few actions every 24 hours. This means that even if you want to play more, there’s really nothing for you to do. There are many of these games that are more turn-based than real-time, and should definitely appeal to players who want a very casual experience, but I can see how dedicated OSG players might find them limiting.

Finally, some OSG’s fully embrace the genre’s pacing and offer further game mechanics to let the player manage his empire without being tied to it.

Freesky has a system where you can, for free, instantly finish construction on a building that only has 5 minutes left. This is a very convenient feature because it allows players to hurry through the first stages of the tutorial and early stages of a structure, and also means that if you log in and find a building only has 5 minutes left you won’t be stuck waiting for it to finish before queing up your next 4-hour long order.

Travian’s choice of servers is another great method, allowing players to choose how active they want to be. The more laid back player can jump into a standard server, and the more dedicated players can join a speed server. I would very much like to see this feature expanded, perhaps with a .75x server for those of us who can’t even keep up with the standard speed 😛

Lord of Ultima’s expanded building que is also very helpful. Even if there are structures that only require a couple of hours to build, you can que up six of them and not not to check your account for the rest of the day. The paid option of the advisors takes this even further by adding a lot more que slots.

Even within OSG’s it seems there’s a good variety of pacings, so it’s important to find one that works for you. As a genre though, it’s great to find an alternative to the FPS that requires everyone to play at the same time, the MMO that emphasizes mindless clicking your way to the highest levels, and the slew of casual browser games that, while quick, aren’t very engaging.

Cheers,
Oliver

AI Viceroys Article

Troy Goodfellow from Flash of Steel has posted an article at Game Set Watch about giving control over some of the tedious aspects of running your strategy-game-empire to AI governor and viceroys.

In Civilization you often end up with dozens of cities (or more if you went the conquest route) and it could save you a bit of time to let an AI governor automatically start building new structures and troops, instead of micromanaging everything. There are also a number of popular bots for Travian that do this for you, and Lord of Ultima has been smart enough to include this as a Plus Feature, a great idea that I hope more OSG’s will follow.

Cheers,
Oliver

Sid Meier and the 48-Hour Game Contest

Sid Meier, the designer for the Civilization series, recently took part in a 48-hour game-making contest. Motherboard has the video feature. He doesn’t talk much about Civilization or OSG’s, but it’s a really interesting video and sounds like a fun contest.

“The contest, titled ‘7th Annual Wolverine Soft 48 Hour Game Design Contest’, took place at Sid Meier’s alma mater University of Michigan and pits coders and designers against each other in a race to create a game in two days. Sid Meier participated in the contest and made a game called ‘Escape from Zombie Hotel!’. In addition, he judged the games made by the student teams.”

CastleCraft

Well that didn’t take long.

Freeverse brings OSG’s to the ipad with CastleCraft. It doesn’t have great reviews at the app store, but it does have a pretty high rating.

Most of this site deals with browser-based games, but I’m vary curious how the ipad / iphone medium affects the genre. If any of our readers would like to donate an ipad I’d be happy to play the game and let you know 😉

Cheers,
Oliver

— Edit —
Also of note: Civilization Revolution is now available for the ipad as well.

Civilization V

Civilization V! (or Civ 5? Civ V?) It’s been a long time since Civ 4, and even longer since Civ 3, the last one I played much. For those who don’t know, the original Civilization is the game that really got me in to the strategy genre. There’s also Civilzation Network which should be coming out sometime next year and I will definitely be all up ons. Seems things are looking up for civ fans. Hex yeah!

Civilization Like Web Based Games

The Gamer’s Circus is doing as series of articles on what he calls “Civilization Like Web Based Games”. His first review was of Travian and his second was Kingory.

His label of “Civilization Like Web Based Games” is interesting to me. That’s a pretty unwieldy name for a genre. The more technical name would probably be Browser Based Massive Multiplayer Online Real Time Strategy Games, which is also quite cumbersome, and thus I shorten it to OSG!

Cheers,
Oliver

Civ 2 Advisors

Anyone else remember the advisors from Civilization 2? I thought it was really intersting to have live-action in a game, and some of them were pretty funny. The one at 2:37 is hilarious, especially considering that you would have to cheat in order to see it! (the advisors in this video are all from the “Modern Era”, yet the advisor suggests you need to research “Trade”, but to access the Modern Era you have to research several tech’s that only come after Trade.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCFLh372jOM&hl=en_US&fs=1&]