They’re Dogs… And They’re Playing at Being Cultured…


Erm, Civilization World.

But it says “CivWorld” on the splash screen.

It is a Facebook game, it will be in "beta" forever

The Civilization series re-envisioned as a Facebook game.

It is enough to make you think that… just maybe… Facebook isn’t going to be a “serious” game platform ever.

Whatever that means.

Okay, fine.  I knew I was going to have to build houses for my population.  And of course, farms had to go along with it.  Sound familiar so far?

Houses and farms and... oh, stop please...

I suppose that I should be thankful that I did not have to click on farms to harvest.  There is a button in the corner that takes care of that for you.

But when I found that advancing my scientific knowledge involved solving a maze that wouldn’t stump a 3 year old, I was bemused.

And when increasing the culture of my society required me to re-arrange tiles to make the painting of dogs playing poker, I was annoyed.

A friend in need... would put a bullet in this game

And when establishing trade involved yet another little puzzle, I was about done.

Yeah Sid, and the camel you rode in on!

What an awful game.

It has all the drudgery of FarmVille with some mini-games thrown in.  But unlike The Agency: Covert Ops, which had a couple of fun mini-game, these are crap.

I hate to think that somewhere, someone who was involved in creating any of the Civilization games thought this game was a good idea.  Because if feels like somebody just said, “What is the shortest route we can take to crap out some Facebook game with ‘Civilization’ in the title?”

I heard a wise game dev once say that the first two hours of a game of Civilization can be the best gaming experience you are likely to have.

With CivWorld, the first 10 minutes were the most uninspiring gaming experience I have had in a long time.

It is crap.

And it makes me wonder if it the medium and not the artist that is causing it.

Does Zynga make crap games because they are Zynga, or do they make crap games because they insist on running them on Facebook?

14 thoughts on “They’re Dogs… And They’re Playing at Being Cultured…

  1. mbp

    Are you and Tobold shaping up for a good old internet flamewar? Just this morning he made a post praising the quality of Facebook games and he picks Civ World as his shining example.

    Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Well, I’m not sure anything he said is diametrically opposed to what I said about CivWorld. It is more complex than FarmVille. And perhaps he is fond of dogs playing poker.

    When “Sid Meier’s Civilization…” is the opener for your game title, it sets some expectations.

    I left aside quality issues, which were rampant, because all Civ games run like steaming piles of crap at launch.

    Game design and flow though… and making me want to actually come back and play another day… on that they have failed. Yes, you compete against a pack of other people, form alliances… well, join factions anyway, which you have to do, there is no other option… and can see how you rank. Nice things that Zynga avoids. But Empires & Allies feels like a more coherent game.

    I do disagree on the whole Facebook as a platform driving game style. When you end up with CivilizationVille, you start to wonder.

    I wish he had thought to mention these other quality games he likes. That would have gone some ways towards getting them noticed. Saying there are good games and failing to mention of them smacks a bit of the Canadian girlfriend thing.


  3. Snafzg Snafferton

    I haven’t given this a try yet, but your review makes me not even want to waste my time. Why does everything have to be DUMBED DOWN for facebook?

    With XXX hundred million users, why can’t they make a game that requires the skill, ingenuity, and micromanagement of a true Civilization game? Do they want to appeal to the masses that badly? What’s wrong with challenging the masses and broadening their horizons?

    Why can’t a company pick a niche demographic (intelligent gamers who like history and world-building) and make a game for them on facebook? I guess greed can blind even the best game devs.

    That or they want the window-lickers to continue licking windows because people who prefer to waste time and not stretch their brains is an easier demographic to design for…



  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I’m not sure I would call this a review. 30 minutes of play might not even make the EuroGamer threshold for a review. But by that point I was ready to go through the Facebook settings and turn-off all linkage between my account and the game.

    I’ve played Facebook games before that I did not like and never bothered to mention them. But as I said, when the title starts with “Sid Meier’s Civilization…” it sets expectations.

    So I went in thinking, “Okay, let’s see how Facebook games are really meant to be” and came out thinking that it has to be something with the server side interface to Facebook that so limits what you can do that we’ll never see anything that isn’t Zynga-casual.

    I did think the picture they chose was oddly appropriate. Dogs pretending to play poker in a Facebook game pretending to be a Civ game.


  5. Gina Cirelli

    On a related note, have any of you played Dragon Age Legends? I’m thinking about trying it simply because it’s another DA story, but if it’s another dumbed down idiotic thing I don’t even want to touch it.


  6. Potshot

    Well that saved me from ever having to suffer this. I read a bit on Venturebeat that made it sound interesting and I guess technically it is. Just in the way you mention.

    Surprised it’s such crap. Supposedly Sid was at the helm of this sinking ship if what I read on the interwebs is true.

    Darn shame.


  7. bhagpuss

    I’m not on Facebook and don’t plan to be, so I have no first-hand experience. Is there any reason that games using Facebook as a portal can’t be as technically sophisticated as games played through other browser-based portal?

    Because there are some really good browser-based games out there, including some very playable and enjoyable MMOs that certainly don’t insult anyone’s intelligence.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I do not know about back end connectivity and restrictions, but for openers, the amount of screen space you have in which to present you game is pretty small.

    I have actually played some games I like on FB. WarZone Tower Defense comes to mind. But FB games tend towards single player and simple in interface, which I am going to guess is for technical reasons rather than any limitation on dev imagination.


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  10. Jes Teal

    ZYNGA does not make Civworld.

    I have yet to see those dogs in the culture puzzle game after playing for over a week, but seeing as the culture game is made of only the most famous paintings that exist in Museums, I can see how they would be there.

    The technology maze for Pottery is significantly less advanced then the complicated mazes needed to finish something like Communism.

    The merchant minigame does suck.

    You never made it to the last 3 parts of the game.

    Without other people playing with you, Empires and Allies, and almost every other zynga game has almost nothing you can do. It requires constant “request item?” Civ at least you can win without having to recruit neighbors.

    With your setup you should have been around rank 180 of 200 being 8th place means the game had barely even started up when you were playing.


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jes Teal – Nobody said Zynga made CivWorld. My end question was speculation about Facebook as a platform for gaming, using the #1 publisher on that platform as an example. LTR.

    The mini games would be ridiculous if it were the Mona Lisa or Dogs Playing Poker. The dogs merely made it bad and absurd.

    Yes, I did not make it to the last 3 parts of the game because everything up to that point was pretty bad. Failing to engage the player on a game that they can walk away from with no cost is fail. Saying things get better doesn’t matter, people will walk away because the commitment is so light.

    And, as I said, putting the Sid Meier Civilization name on this game sets certain expectations. Fail on that as well.


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