Have you ever wanted to play a Civilization MMO? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that such a game is coming. It's being developed by XL Games, and the concept looks rather interesting. Instead of commanding an entire civilization, players will control a single character within it. Their actions—and the actions of all the other individual actors—will steer the direction of the civilization as a whole. Check out the trailer:
Massively has a good article on Civilization Online, which seems to involve quite a lot of player-driven building. "Players will be able to create buildings and other structures, including full cities," the site says. Players will also be responsible for making "weapons, clothing, transportation, and other equipment." You won't necessarily have to toil as a laborer, though. Players will be able to rise up the ranks and assume more management-oriented positions, and there will be mechanisms to oust unpopular leaders.
There will also be plenty of PVP action. In addition to taking on other individual players, gamers will be able to participate in larger-scale wars with other civilizations. It looks like the game will support multiple civilizations per server, setting the stage for strategic battles between them.
Civilization Online is being built for the PC using CryEngine 3. The game may be free to play when it's eventually released, which brings me to the bad news. 2K Games is publishing the title, and according to PR Manager Brian Roundy, "there are no plans for a North American release at this time." Roundy told PC Gamer that Civilization Online will initially launch in South Korea, though no release date was given for that country.
XL Games CEO and Civilization Online Executive Producer Jake Song called the game "a big social experiment," so a wider release may hinge on the success of the initial Korean venture. The game certainly sounds intriguing, and I'm curious to see what sort of civilizations are produced by the largely player-driven experience. There is one other bit of bad news that I should probably mention, as well. Although Civilization creator Sid Meier apparently signed off on the initial Civ Online design, he hasn't participated in development since.