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Fun is the Basic Ingredient

William Murphy Posted:
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MMORPG.com: Civilization Online is such an ambitious title, especially coming off of ArcheAge, another "sandpark" MMO. What made XLGAMES decide to go with Civ Online as their second MMO offering?

Civ Online: XL Games, Take 2 and 2K collaborated to bring the iconic Civilization franchise to the Online market and reach out to a wider audience around the world. Because Civilization is such a famous game with a unique game system, we tried to maintain its classic features while also adding a real-time massively-multiplayer online (MMO) element. We came up with a system where a player is a single person within the civilization rather than playing from a ‘God Perspective’; and this encourages players to cooperate in order to develop their civilization.

Civilization Online will give these players a new gaming experience. Our previous two tests have confirmed both the possibility and the marketability of the experience.

MMORPG.com: A lot of our audience think maybe Civ Online is a sort of re-skinned ArcheAge. In what ways is Civilization different than ArcheAge to make it stand out?

Civ Online: Some resources from ArcheAge have been used for the tests. But the version at launch will be entirely original. That's probably where some of the confusion comes from.

There is no doubt that ArcheAge is the epitome of a MMORPG, but Civilization Online is not exactly an MMORPG. Civilization Online stands out from the MMORPG in the market because there is the Session Mechanic; which allows players to experience victory and defeat as well as the chance to start all over again when the current session ends and a new one starts.  In a lot of ways, this system is similar to the "beginning and ending" of the Tale in the Desert games.  

MMORPG.com: What is the most attractive point of Civ Online?

Civ Online: Many players will find the game enjoyable as it is based on many core elements of Civilization franchise.

Leveling-up a character is the main goal of an MMORPG, but in Civilization Online, the aim is to ensure that your civilization is victorious!

The fact that players can experience a conclusion and ending of each session is particularly significant as well. After reaching the highest available level, you don’t just go back to the same game until another expansion comes out. Instead, you play a new session with different conditions and a different outcome every time.

MMORPG.com: How far does the cooperation between Sid Meier and Firaxis go? Are they mainly an advisory position, or do you all work closely together?

Civ Online: Sid Meier has been very supportive of the project. XL Games, 2K and T2 have been working very closely together. We have had many discussions with regards to the game development, such as what makes a Civilization game and what we can do to incorporate such features into Civilization Online. We are all about advancing the Civilization IP as best we can.

MMORPG.com: In terms of PVE gameplay, what options will be available to players? Is it mainly quest hubs, a la World of Warcraft and traditional themeparks? 

Civ Online: There will definitely be quests, but nothing on the level of say, World of Warcraft. PvE will grant players commodities such as gold, cotton or honor points. However, the system is designed in such a way that it does not force players to partake in PVE.

MMORPG.com: How does combat work in Civ Online? The series is known for having a great deal of units, so can players pilot tanks, airplanes, become Phalanx, Musketeers, and so forth?

Civ Online: Players will have the freedom to play and contribute to their civilization as they like. There are two main occupation categories; combat and non-combat, but switching between careers is relatively easy. As the civilization develops, you will be able to change to newer era-locked careers as well as acquire new items and mounts.

MMORPG.com: Along those lines, how does the technology progress in Civ? In the single-player strategy games, one player makes the choices for an entire nation.  I imagine there's some sort of democratic process for nations in Civ Online to decide what to do?

Civ Online: The civilization and its cities go through developmental stages and evolve as it develops; completing each key milestone awards points to the city and civilization. Each player is a civilian, and the actions of each and every player will affect the points gained and the development of the civilization. In this sense, a player can go rogue and even sabotage the development of its own civilization!

MMORPG.com: What about housing and buildings? With ArcheAge recently having launched in the west, one of the bigger issues facing the game is a lack of land for the amount of players the game has.  How will housing and player-owned property work in Civ Online?

Civ Online: There’s a housing zone in ArcheAge, but Civ Online does not have such a system.

In a sense, ‘Housing’ is just the means to the development of the city and the civilization, and is not a single player’s property.

MMORPG.com: How does the class system work? Can players switch between being a farmer, a builder, or a soldier at any time?

Civ Online: Like I said before, combat and non-combat careers are the two main occupation categories, but there’s also a main and secondary career system. A career can be levelled up to the maximum of ten levels, at which point it can be set as the player’s secondary career. If set to the secondary career, that particular career will be locked at level 5. Choosing which career to pursue is entirely up to the player and changing it is not only easy to do, but free as well.

MMORPG.com: Is there any news you can share about a Western release? Will 2K be looking to bring the game to North America, or perhaps another publisher?

Civ Online: We had tremendous interest from other regions following CBT1 in Korea, but our focus is currently on first delivering the best possible experience to the Korean market.  Our ultimate goal is to delight all Civilization fans with Civilization Online, so you'll just have to stay tuned this year.

MMORPG.com: We really have so many questions, but since we know you're busy with the betas, we'll end with this one. What are some of the lessons XLGAMES has learned from its first MMO, and how are you applying them to the creation of Civ Online?

Civ Online: We released ArcheAge as a new developer and publisher. We went through some difficult times to release that game, but from that difficulty, we have gained a solid fan-base of players who love the game and support us as a company. Fun is a basic ingredient of what makes a good, lasting game. We are happy to develop the iconic Civilization game for old fans and new in the online realm, and we can’t be more satisfied than working with our partners, T2 and 2K.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.