Bringing new eyes to Old World

From PC Gamer’s otherwise positive review:

If only the UI did a good job of keeping track of this stuff. It can be jarring to go from the flavourful event text to the abstract, soulless numbers that the UI boils them down to. It’s overwhelming, and it’s just not that informative. Every interaction is made a little worse because it necessitates faffing around in discrete, counterintuitive menus that drag you all over the screen. Even after winning my first campaign, I still found myself getting occasionally lost, and I still don’t know how to find crucial information on things like the spread of religion. The tutorial and encyclopaedia are also little help, choosing brevity and vagueness over clear instructions. There’s so much more context and clarity in the event text, so I wish Old World’s writers were a bit more involved in designing the interface, which could definitely benefit from their skills.

Do we know why?

I’m guessing they are pretty busy right now with the launch. If I was them, I’d want to take the feedback and make improvements and then put the best foot forward when launching on a different platform.

I’m looking forward to future diary entries. These strategy write-ups and the narratives they describe are my favorite things on the site.

“the bit of information lack[s] necessary context”

Apparently the Civ manuals do /s

Great article, as always, Tom. I could say much regarding documentation (I write software documentation in my day job) and agree with your sentiments, but I’m not sure it would add value.

I will point out a specific for Soren, though. To start, I think Old World is great and I’ve been following its development closely throughout the last year. In my current game, I’m in year 37. The whole object of the game and victory condition of winning points has not been described. I have 5 points and I do not know how I got them. I do not know what I need to get more. Did I miss it somehow? All rules booklets start by stating the object of the game.

There’s a tutorial event about Victory that explains that you win with ten ambitions - I’ll double check that it is still firing? In next week’s update, all of the tutorials (including the ones with videos) will be in the Encyclopedia.

Mouse over all the scores in the upper left hand corner you’ll see where they are coming from. VPs come from developing cities, building wonders (and shrines? not sure about that one), and achieving ambitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if some events generate them as well.

I don’t think that’s right, @Sonoftgb. You only get victory points from cities and wonders. There might be some source of victory points later in the game, but you definitely don’t get victory points from shrines (they’re mainly to boost culture and paganism). And you definitely don’t get victory points from ambitions. Ambitions are a separate track to victory. And I’ve never seen events that give you victory points.

But I’m perfectly happy to be corrected if I’m wrong about any of this!


Ambitions and VPs are totally separate. There have been some requests for ambitions to feed into VPs, but I think the game is better not mixing the streams, so to speak. (Players have won ambition victories with one city, which is a very low VP path.)

The only other source of VPs besides culture and wonders is the three repeatable Reform techs at the end of the tree.

Oh, gosh, absolutely. I figured that was a pretty fundamental design concept here. You can play as a traditional Civ game, winning victory points by spreading and developing cities (and if you want to translate that into a military victory, you can take the traditional conquest route).

Or you can lean into the ambitions and win by doing 10 “quests”. This lets you configure your own victory requirements as you go, which makes Old World play more like an RPG, or city-builder, or management sim, at your discretion.

I can’t imagine any reason to tangle up those two tracks.


Also, the VP track is important for giving the AI a chance to win the game. It’s sort of a dynamic end game timer depending on how well the best AI is doing.

I probably did get that tutorial screen.

There are a few issues here, though. I’ve completed 3 ambitions but I have 5 points? That doesn’t make sense. If I look at the Victory Conditions screen, everything gets more confusing. Then, as Sonoftgb says, I can mouse over the scores in the upper left and see that it suggests that cities are to account for my five points. Are the 1-91 points different from the ten ambitions? The Encyclopedia does nothing to help me sort this out.

As I said, I think the game is great. Please accept this as constructive criticism. Yes, it would have been better if instead of just following the game progress I played the game too, and provided this feedback earlier in a less public forum. Sorry I did not.

No worries, all of this is useful feedback! The ambitions are in the upper right and are disconnected entirely from VPs (in the upper left). It should say “Ambitions 3/10” there.

Thanks for covering this Tom! (and Soren - thank you for making it :)
Small correction: The host of Cautionary Tales is named Tim Harford - no T in his last name.

Wait, does that mean the AI can’t win via the ambition track? I’m pretty sure the score progress screen shows how many ambitions each faction has completed.

The AI does not get ambitions.

This confusion, which is understandable, could have been avoided if the game had been more particular with the use of the word “victory”. There are different “victory” conditions, there are “victory” points, and there’s a “victory” you can win by finishing 10 ambitions. Since there are two tracks that measure your overall progress in a game, represented by the two separate columns in the “victory” screen, I wonder if Old World should have been more careful with the use of the word “victory”.


Victory should only be attainable in most games by exiting German mechanized forces off the east map edge.

Hey Soren, thanks for interacting here.

I just bought the game last night and wanted to give my 2 cents to help you accomplish your goal of making this the best game it can be.

First, I’m playing on a 2020 iMac (27", pretty loaded except for the video card which is the standard choice). It runs a little choppy here. I significantly improved the performance by switching from “High” graphics quality to “medium”. (The default was high and I started playing with the defaults just to size it up).

About every 12 turns I am having slow-down issues, inspiring me to quit and restart the game. I’m not technical but maybe a memory leak or something?

(Regardless I am very grateful to you guys for making this available on the Mac).

I’m not having serious problems with the learning curve situation; I read Tom’s article before purchasing and the thing about having to decide what your kid studied made me roll my eyes, but as I’m experiencing it in game it’s just a roundabout way of leveling him up a la Diablo.

There were definitely more than a few occasions my playing ground to a halt while I try to figure out which choice to make on a quest decision. The one that comes to mind is I had a choice that lowered legitimacy and so of course I wanted to know what my current value was on that marker, and it took me forever to find that it was down in the lower left. (I was looking up top with the other resources, and so on, everywhere but the bottom left next to the portrait.) It’s just a bunch of petty stuff like that that is making it challenging for me. Same thing with “culture” or whatever its called, the column icons – spent a bunch of time looking for it and finally came to understand (I hope) that it is a city-level rating and only displayed on the map for each city.

My advice is to get someone who is quite experienced with Civilization, who has never seen this game before, and sit next to them, and listen to them complain and say nothing, just take notes. Seriously – because it’s just a bunch of tiny interface things that create (for me) the sense of not understanding what’s going on, rather than “what does money do?” (Though that might come later, I’ve only got a few hours in so far).

I’m excited about this game; it has a lot of good stuff going on. Not entirely crazy about the way I was forced into a war with Assyria in order to stay friendly with Babylon, but then again they probably weren’t happy about that in real life either.