Every now and again my friends and I try to play a PBeM game of civ and after a month or two the turns get lost or someone takes forever to take their turn and people loose interest. We all enjoy the game but it takes so long to do anything that we drift away from playing. I was hoping someone could point me to a multiplayer (a handful of players, rather than full on mmo) empire building game that plays a little differently. I am hoping for something that has the players logging in to a server that is always on and runs the world in real time, rather than turn based. This way there will be extra pressure to play, and one AWOL player can't hold things up for the rest. Something that takes from a few days to a few months to play would be good. Im not looking for just an afternoons worth of play here, although the option to set up a short test game might be nice. Im thinking of something where part of the challenge is fitting it in around our jobs etc, maybe even with some kind of web or smart phone access. While we would be prepared to pay for a quality game like this I think we would prefer something we can test drive before we collectively pay for a couple of hundred pounds worth of copies, so a free game, or something with a demo of sorts would be nice but I am definitely open to all suggestions.
Multiplayer alternatives to civ: Suggestions please
Sword of the Stars is a pretty goodbad/badgood 4x. The portrait art and the voice acting are both really awful but the gameplay is solid. There are demos up of the base game still I think if you just google it. It has a semi-random tech tree, which is interesting because it often forces you to not just take the same path and makes you think about how you'd progress if you don't get certain techs that you usually rely on. There are 6 unique races (in the complete version of the game with all expansions) and the gameplay is a blend of traditional 4x for exploration/expansion/resource management and RTS for combat. Don't get Sword of the Stars 2 though, it looks a lot nicer graphically but you're still basically paying for a beta even though its like 2 years old now.
Another fun one is AI War: Fleet Command. I haven't put as much time into it, but its Vs AI only but with how good the AI in the game is it really works well. You can't just blindly expand/capture out in it unless you want the AI to progress and get better/more aggressive so it's more tactical in that you really have to make decisions about what you need rather than just building up a massive empire of space.
Both of these are available at a lot of digital distribution sites and getting the complete versions of them will probably run you 15-20 per person and there are demos up Some Places of both.
Sword of the stars was an interesting suggestion. I have an old copy I have never actually played. iIve just booted it up and had a look at the multiplayer options. It is server based, but it is turn based still. It does let you put time limits on those turns but its either unlimited or 10 minutes or less. If i could put a 24-36 hour limit on turns it would definitely be worth a go. Otherwise it still something I might try single player one day.
I have tried the AI War demo before and i just booted it up again. There is just something very offputting about that game. I find it very unfriendly to start. I loaded a new game and wa sgiven no idea what to do or how to do it. I noticed the tutorial was seperate, but once i managed to load that it was still too intimidating for me to deal with. I know thats a crap excuse for not playing a game but that games interface and tutorial makes me not want to try to learn how to play it.
I have queued up demos of Europa Universalis 3 and Victoria 2 to download, but those games always looked pretty serious. Ill give it a go and see how it feels though. There is no demo for Endless Space though and i am reluctant to spend £20+ on a game I might delete 2 minutes in.
Thank you for the cracking suggestions. Keep 'em coming, although im not sure what im looking for exists.
It's nothing like Civ or any of the other games you guys are talking about in here, but it sounds like you are describing Minecraft.
Before dismissing it, I would suggest watching some of the Tekkit modpack videos by Yogscast; Tekkit increases the complexity of the base game 100x and makes it into an actually interesting game.
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