Tag Archives: Sid Meier

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

CivWorld.

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?

Civ V – Some Progress

I thought I was on to something today that would help with my Civilization V problems.

After shutting down all unnecessary processes on the machine, I decided to run try altering the run properties for the game.

My logon account is already in the Administrator group, so I didn’t think that would change anything, but XP has an option to run without protection from unauthorized activity.

I unchecked that box, wondering if it would change anything.

Really, it is hard to say if it did, or if just random chance or some other action got things going, but things did get going better than ever.

I managed to play 89 turns.

I was far enough into the game that I was starting to learn something about playing.

Most Turns Ever

I was invested enough in the game that I will probably go back and try to play from one of the save points.

However, after turn 89 the game hung.  Something in the executable was stuck in a loop as it was again driving the processor full blast, although only one of the core this time, but nothing was happening.  I let it churn for about 10 minutes, then force quit the process.

Of course, I was unable to launch the game again after that.

There seems to be two hurdles to playing.

First, there is launching the game.  This seems to get hung up on something, as the game ab ends four out of five times before I get to the main menu.

Then there is actually keeping the game going.  The process gets hung up on something, probably falling through an unhandled  exception over and over again to infinity.  But what the trigger is for that, I have not yet determined.  I’ve spent so little time actually getting to that error.

Still, there was a bit of progress today.  At least Steam rolled over and is actually measuring my play time in approximate hours (2) rather than minutes.

46 Minutes of Civilization V

Civilization II is probably the single player game I have spent the most time playing since I first purchased a computer.

And that is saying something, given the hours I spent, when I have many excess hour to spend, playing games like Wizardry or Ultima III back in the day.

Apple II+ and Wizardry

I played the original game Civilization and was hooked by its game play, so when Civilization II came out I was right there, day one.

Civ II was great, a huge improvement over its predecessor… so much so that I never considered and going back an playing the original game.

This is in contrast to Civilization III and Civilization IV, both of which eventually sent me back to Civ II.

There is a whole post in why I prefer Civ II.  But for the moment I’ll leave it with the simple fact that I can still play the game on my current PC, more than 14 years after it originally shipped.  It runs great and, in a move that seems genius in hindsight, it plays in a standard, re-sizable window so it even takes advantage of the fact that my monitor has gone from 800×600 to 1600×1200 in the intervening time.  There are a few games I could mention that I wish did the same.

But back at launch the game was a beast.

The Civilization franchise has never bought into the Blizzard philosophy of low system requirements.

I don’t think I was able to play the game at its full potential until I picked up a 400MHz Pentium II years later.  But by the time I had a Pentium IV, it ran smooth and fast.  But it was a long time getting there.

And was Civ II stable at launch?  Well, let’s just say that the auto-save feature was there for a good reason.  Resuming games after a crash was a common occurrence.

So when I was tempted into buying Civilization V based somewhat on SynCaine’s posts about it, I was pretty sure the game was going to live up to the Civilization tradition of being a complete beast on day on.

I bought it via Steam, as much as I dislike Valve’s service.  I’ve been screwed by Valve and their requirement that you must have an internet connection to play a single player game in the past. (Yes, that was a long time ago, but I can hold a grudge like no other when I’m in the mood.)

But since Civ V seems to be tied to the service no matter how you buy it, there didn’t seem much point in going another route.

And while I wasn’t happy about it, I certainly wasn’t expecting Steam to mock my misery.

How long have you managed to play?

Five days with the game and I’ve been able to play for 46 minutes.

And a good portion of those minutes were spent waiting while the game sat hung, driving all four cores of my Intel Core 2 Q6600 processor beyond 50% capacity.  I had to bring up Task Manager just to see if the game still had a pulse.

I was not able to play at all for the first day.

It wasn’t until I turned off the intro movie, got into the options and turned down every possible setting to its absolute minimum, picked the default minimum game (changing any game setting is like hitting the fail button), and shut down every possible process on my system that I was able to hit my peak and get 46 turns into a game before it hung.

And I consider myself lucky to have gotten that far.  Most times I just see this at launch.


And there is no recovery, no launching the game again.  It is straight to the Start menu to reboot the system after any failure.  I’ve tried.  There is no hope without a reboot.

Okay, my system is aging, and not so gracefully.  It isn’t at its most stable of late.  But this is ridiculous.

I should have the horsepower to run the game.  My quad 2.4 GHz CPU should be up to the task, being beyond the recommended system requirements, which specify a quad 1.8GHz or better.  Woe to those who have only a single or dual core system.

And running with everything off, including virus protection, but the OS and Steam the game doesn’t appear to be trying to claim memory beyond the 2GB I have installed.

But it fails every time.  Sooner or later, the carpet is yanked out from under me… and usually it is sooner.

Steam seems to have a patch for the game every night that fixes one crash or another.  I’ll give Steam that, the patching happens fast.  But each such patch only leads to disappointment as the game ab ends in the black rectangle where the intro movie should be running. (Couldn’t they put up a logo or something if you’ve turned the intro movie off?)

And all of this wouldn’t annoy me so much if the game didn’t appear to have promise, if it didn’t seem to have erased some of the sins of its two predecessors, if it didn’t feel like perhaps, maybe, it was getting back to the feel that made Civ II such a great game while keeping the bits of III and IV that actually improved the series.

I’d really like to play it and see if that was true.

But I can’t it seems, not yet.

I run Steam each evening in hopes that a new patch will make the game behave.

I wander through game sites looking for suggestions on how to tame the game.

But so far I’ve only managed 46 minutes.  Barely enough for a EuroGamer review.

I guess I’ll have to go back to Civ II if I want a Civilization fix while I wait for Civ V’s day to come.

It should play really well in about 5 years.  History repeats itself.