4.15.2008

Ikariam - The Joys of Civilization Contained in Your Browser

Although it was more serious than what I usually post about, I really enjoyed writing 2 posts about race and video games. I plan to come back to topics like that in the future. I particularly think it might be fruitful to bring my sociological training to bear on the video game medium. I have a couple ideas for some more posts in that direction.

In the meantime, after that brief foray into race, I have several other things I'd like to post about. First is Ikariam, sort of a simplified browser-based version of Civilization. After reading about Ikariam on Japanmanship and Gamers With Jobs, I was inspired to try the game and write a recommendation for it on ThatVideoGameBlog. Now that I've played it a little longer, I would still recommend it, although I'm starting to see some flaws peek out from between the cracks.

First, while the graphics are nice enough to look at, and very similar in tone to the upcoming Civilization Revolution, there's no animation. Well, there are 2 dolphins that jump around on the World Map screen, but that's it. Even in your town, if you upgrade a building, there's no building-in-progress animation. Your building is just replaced by a bare lot with a couple of planks in it.

But that's all cosmetic, and not really such a big deal. What is a problem is that I've been playing it for about a week, and am starting to get a little bored with it. My town now has most of the available structures, and I can maintain I decent flow of cash and supplies. I even founded a very expensive colony to provide my capitol with better access to resources. But it's starting to get tedious. Essentially, at this point, the game boils down to pick a building to upgrade, wait several hours, repeat ad infinitum. There's a little more to the game than that, but not much.

I'm still enjoying watching my town expand and grow, but I can feel the beginning of the end. That feeling that soon, there will come a day where I just won't log in anymore. The one aspect of the game I haven't really messed around with much is the warfare. You can build armies and attack other towns, and even spy on them beforehand to gather intelligence. I've primarily focused on economic growth, so a small war campaign could be my last hurrah before I retire as commander-in-chief of my humble town.

Still, Ikariam is a nice little diversion. It's best feature is the ability to log in and make a few changes and upgrades to your town in just 5 or 10 minutes. So give it a shot. If you don't like it, you barely wasted any time at all.

4 comments:

Michael Abbott said...

Thanks for recommending Ikariam. I'm a longtime Civilization fan, but sometimes I don't want to dive in quite so deep. This looks like a nice option.

By the way, you mentioned your intention to apply your sociology training to video games, and I really hope you do that. Lots of people write about this medium, but rarely from a sociological perspective, and I think such an approach would be a valuable and distinctive contribution. Just one You Are Lose! fan's opinion. :-)

Korey said...

After playing Ikariam, and having never played Civ, I have the opposite feeling you do, Michael. Ikariam left me craving a deeper, as well as faster experience. So to that end I've been messing around with both Civ2 and Civ 3. I should post some thoughts on them soon. I really enjoy them, although I'm quite terrible at building up my civilization since this type of game is so new to me. Civ 4 will have to wait until I get a better computer.

I really believe thinking about games sociologically is where I need to go next. Most of my posts are somewhat random, "as I think of it" topics. So sociology should provide a sharper focus to my writing. I hope.

y said...

As one new to internet gaming I appreciate the pace of Ikariam. It allows me to play and not feel like I'm being pressured to finish. I think the enjoyment of the game comes in whether one takes a long term or short term view. As to the sociology and psychology there are many. The name one chooses as player and island, will either draw or repel. The decision to be a peace seeking alliance building island nation or a pilliging warrior nation, determines how one acquires and use resource. Do neighbors on you island donate to the common mill or exploit it? When you see that you island is loosing or gain towns is there a need to help towns stay or hasten their demise? Take another look at the game and I'm sure you'll be overflowing with new topics.
I think it will draw a new segment of game players who are searching for commentary on the game. That's how I found you and the sociological comments will make me keep checking back. :)

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