Civilization games teach us to respect culture and science, to honor learning and the sharpness of swords. But roads? This series would make you think that progress equals covering one's kingdom with ugly tangles of roads. Civ V changes that.
During a theater demonstration here in San Francisco of this fall's Civilization V that I witnessed yesterday (and chronicled in depth), I asked where the roads were.
I was being shown a civilization that was advanced enough to amass armies to attack other great civilizations. Yet all I saw was a single, nicely-paved road. It looked nice, but it didn't look like Civ.
It turns out, one of the developers of the game, told me, that the game's creators are re-thinking how roads are implemented and displayed in these games. The idea the creators at Civ studio Firaxis are going for is, they said, that "roads will mean something" this time. As in: Even a single road will have relevance and feel as special as a key highway does in the real world.
Here's an official screenshot of a more primitive Civilization V empire. This is one you'd expect to have a single road, but trust me that this type of clean look appeared even in the more evolved communities I was shown.
The Firaxis developers did not elaborate on their road concept for me. They didn't explain how road-building will differ in this game. But they prepared me for a Civ that will not wind up, in its end game, with a spaghetti tangle of roads networking a major nation and its big cities.
The era of road ugliness appears to be over.