Let's Talk About How CivWorld Isn't Civilization!

So here we are again, folks. Another week, another CivWorld discussion. Hopefully, most of you decided to either play in the new Kotaku game or a public one. Regardless of what game you're playing, I'm sure you all have a lot to say about how the game is treating you.

Playing through the game for a second time, the things about CivWorld that have been popping out at me have been mostly superficial. I find myself increasingly disturbed that the buildings in my city never change. Between the years 4000 BC and 1000 AD, my people have come a long way, and yet it appears that all of my technological and cultural advances have been invisible. My farmers and workers are still lugging the fruits of their labor on their backs, instead of using carriages or even a wheelbarrow! (which I know they have because there's one next to each of my farmers' houses.) Wheelbarrow issues aside, the fact that the passage of time in CivWorld is only represented numerically has been a source of ire for me.

The rate that time passes in the game surprises me because, no matter how much times passes, everything looks exactly the same. If I check my game once a day, for example, centuries will pass between each visit. Yet, on every visit, my villagers are still wearing the same outfits and carrying the same sacks into the same houses. Signing in, I often times see the game before I actually notice what year it is. When I do realize what year it is, there's always a momentary shock as I wonder: Has anything changed? As a result, I always start by surveying my city in a state of mild panic, dismayed by my lack of the growth, wondering how much time I have to turn things around. (Of course, my problem could also be that I'm not checking the game enough...)

Part of my problem, I think, is that I've been conditioned by past Civilization games to expect visual cues to mark the passage of time. In the primary Civilization games (the numbered ones) the appearance of your cities, citizens, advisors and enemies all change as you pass from era to era. CivWorld, stripped down for Facebook's sake (I think), doesn't have that visual flourish. Since I'm used to seeing some kind of change represent the passage of time, when I see that my city is the same, I semi-consciously assume that it hasn't been all that long.

In the larger sense, the visuals are probably more trouble than they're worth. In past Civilizations, the more diverse art was used to separate the different groups—some civs had western-style buildings, others had Mediterranean, etc. Since there's only one city on our map, there's no need to make it stand out, hence no need for any more than the minimum number of buildings. Furthermore, because we're each represented by a unique Facebook picture, there's no need for any other distinctive designs.

Really, the issue is a microcosm of a larger self-evident truth, that CivWorld is not Civilization. That's not a bad thing: CivWorld is a better representation of the nation-building experience in a lot of ways. Going into the home stretch, I simply need to work harder to reign in my personal expectations.

We'll be having our last discussion on CivWorld next week. As usual, it'll be next Thursday, August 25th, at 4pm Eastern. Since it'll be the last discussion, bring some ideas for what game we should talk about next month!