When it was announced some time ago that a Civilization game would come to Facebook I was skeptical, a Civilization game designed for a casual audience didn’t sound very appealing. The fact that Sid Meier was said to have an active role in designing the game piqued my interest, so when I read that it entered public beta I decided to try it out despite my aversion to all things connected to Facebook.
To summarize my first impression of the game, it only shares the name and some superficial similarities with the original Civilization games. If you expect a 4X game you will be disappointed. Currently it is also a completely broken mess, unplayable due to game-breaking bugs. I’m not talking about smaller bugs that are expected to occur in a beta, but serious, very frequent bugs that pretty much randomize which civilization wins the game. I haven’t played long enough to see how deep the strategy can go in the game, but at the moment any strategy is useless if the rewards for your efforts are randomly distributed to an opposing civilization.
Global Agenda is an online team-based third person shooter that recently went to the free-to-play model. The game world is set in a post apocalyptic 22nd century Earth where a severe global disaster has decimated the majority of Earth’s population and a tyrannical government called the Commonwealth rules through an army of artificially intelligent robots. Inhabitable land in this desolate world is scarce, and subject to intense scrabbles between Agencies for domination.
I first heard about OnLive from a co-worker, before it was even in beta. He thought it was going to revolutionize gaming. So I kept an eye on it. I signed up for the mailing list. I was able to get in on the ground floor, and watch the service from the very start.
You’ve probably noticed that OnLive hasn’t completely revolutionized gaming yet. But it still might…
First, let’s talk about the service. OnLive is the name of the company, but it’s also a gaming service and a piece of hardware that plugs into your TV. You can choose to connect through their “micro-console,” but you can also get the exact same content from an internet connected PC or Mac.
What’s interesting and futuristic about OnLive is how you get your games. In short, you don’t. You have no discs. No game data is stored to the micro-console or the PC hard drive. It all lives on a server farm in another city. When you want to play your game, you connect to the server farm. The game starts up on one of those servers, and the OnLive system transmits the video output across the internet, to your TV or PC monitor. When you push a button on your keyboard or controller, that input goes across the internet to the server, where it has some effect on the game that’s running there.
If nothing else, this system is a significant paradigm shift. There are a few advantages and disadvantages to disentangle.
Remember those old “3D picture” book you had in school? You know what I mean, the ones where you have to “cross” your eyes in order for them to work? If not, then just look at these and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. The problem with those type of images is that after time your eyes start to hurt. It’s awkward too, because your focus is entirely on that one section, and if you move your concentration at all you lose the 3D effect and have spend the next 20 minutes getting it back.