Monday, 18 June 2012

The 1700 year Civ II war

In the first of a new batch of posts on games, today's missive details probably my favourite games story of the last month. It came to my attention on the evergreat, but not usually game-oriented, kottke.org.

Reddit user Lycerius has posted about his game of Civilization II that's spanned ten real-life years and is now in the year 3991 A.D. Remarkably, a hellish equilibrium now reigns, possibly offering a portal into our own resource-scarce future. Or, given the presence of Vikings with nuclear weapons, not.

"Only 3 super massive nations are left. The Celts, The Vikings, and the Americans. Between the three of us, we have conquered all the other nations that have ever existed and assimilated them into our respective empires.

You've heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war. The three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2000 years. Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons. It is this that perpetuates the war ad infinitum."

The idea that a game could still be enjoyable after ten years is pretty amazing. That Civilization II's in-game mechanics are such that 5000 years of history can evolve into a believable stasis, despite the 'ending' of the technology tree, is also remarkable. And, of course, the parallels drawn in the Reddit comments with 1984 are really enjoyable. Three superpowers, perpetual war, pockets of resistance wiped out by totalitarian governments, exhaustion of most agricultural resources...

As a nice postscript, many players suggested a governmental change from Communism to Fundamentalism, which seems to have done the trick for Inigos.
"Vikings beaten after 21 years, Americans and Sioux beaten after 31 years, pollution cleaned up after 70 years. After 200 years, 160 million people in Celtania and everyone happy."

I'm enjoying Reddit more and more. It's a meritocracy that seems to allow genuine stories to rise up out of the placed, sponsored, PR-posted rubbish on most newsboards. I've tried many a time to benevolently linkbait to my own stuff on these places, and – while there's luck involved – the plain truth is that if it's interesting and provokes discussion, it'll fly. Which is what the web is about, right?

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