While game development companies of all shapes and sizes have been trying their hand at the social gaming market for the past year-and-change, it's not often that a developer will take so very long in their cycle for testing, coding, and retesting. As it happens, though, Sid Meier is the veritable master of iterating on his own designs to make sure they're complete. In many interviews and behind-the-scenes features, he's known as one of the few creative developers in the industry who will actually go hands-on with his team at every level, even working late into the night to tweak bits of the game that aren't balanced well.
In the same shared office space that his young padawan, Jon Shafer, was leading the design on Civilization V, Sid Meier has been alternately offering direction and advice for Shafer's groundbreaking ideas while working on his own: a Civ game for Facebook. It was first announced in late 2009, with the hope of being out the next year. Obviously, that didn't go through, but some fans' fears of cancellation are now laid to rest, since a proclamation on Facebook is inviting players to sign up for the Closed Alpha section of the game!
Now renamed to Civ World, this game will eschew the usual endless-building goal of Facebook games in favor of a persistent game with a set beginning and end--similar to older web-based MMOs which had players forming alliances and trying to get to the top of the leaderboards before the end of the "season."
It's not clear how close Civ World will approximate the Civsperience, but since each player must start on a team in the Alpha, and that team becomes a 'Nation' which will compete against others, it's easy to see the opportunity for one player to focus on wonder-building while other produce an army and espionage.
Still, all this is just speculation until we get some more details from Firaxis. In the meantime, signing up for the Alpha requires a team of between 5 and 50 people. So who's up for a little social gaming, friends? Suggest a team name in the comments below and we'll make a neutral page for the team captain! The Alpha section starts on the 12th, so we'll need to be quick to make our fabulous mark on history!