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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Victory is Mine!

Recently I finally managed to win a couple of games of Civilization IV: a domination victory and a space race victory. Both times, victory came by surprise - in each case, I was just micromanaging my settlers and then boom, the endgame animation starts up. Winning is fun, but with a game like Civilization it's sometimes a little anticlimactic; you're setting up your empire, gathering your cultural or military forces to utterly dominate rivals that have vexed you for thousands of years, then bang, your scientists launch a rocket to Alpha Centauri or your territory expands to a given percentage of Earth's surface and boom, you're done. Of course you can continue playing, but it seems kind of pointless...

I wonder if you could make an entertaining civilization style game without war - a utopian alternate history in which people cooperate much more often than they fight. Challenges could include natural disasters, global famines, social challenges like poverty and human rights. Maybe an asteroid impact or global warming scenario for the endgame, a final challenge to be overcome by all players, human and AI.

Huh. That might be worth playing.


Anonymous said...

Hmm... well, there is a huge mod community for Civ IV, there must be someone out there with the same idea as you.

No modern-day sim comes immediately to my mind that would qualify for what you are suggesting in this topic, but I will think about it for a while.

There are some co-operative games - The Sims comes to mind as a single player game that requires you to combine the efforts of your family of characters to achieve goals. Then there's Second Life, where the object of the game is to convert real money into Linden Dollars for various commercial groups, some more insidious than others. Niether game would rate highly in an "Al-Gore-Saves-The-Planet" sort of way.

Now that I think of it, maybe SimCity comes the closest to your ideal. It's a little goofier now than it was in previous titles, but it's still quite a solid game. There's some other new city building games that are in a similar vein.

Then, there are the Tycoon games, some of which pit you against other players (AI or human) to build an infrastructure like a railway or a hopital - destruction and war is not always a theme, but you still have to develop aggressively to win.

One of the best of that type of game, to my mind, is Trevor Chan's Capitalism. It's all spreadsheets and graphs, but there is an incredible rush in developoing your own industrial empire and real tension as the other metanationals try to take you down by drowning your corporation in red ink.

Really hitting a niche, there's the Flight Simulator community dedicated to air traffic control. There's a couple of ATC games/sims that allow you to act co-operatively to maintain control and prevent disaster. Playing a game like that is too much like work, and it's almost a relief to have a crappy day job as a release from ATC duties.

Anonymous said...

you would lose badly to the MIah.

no doubt about it...

Tha MIah

Anonymous said...

Board games, especially those influenced by or designed by some of the bigger German developers offer a lot of social development with a minimum of warplay.

Games like "The Settlers of Cataan" and "Carcassone" leap to mind, although both games are set in a pseudo-medieval era, so you're not going to worry a lot about global warming or an asteroid crashing into the Earth.

Anonymous said...

I was most recently playing "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," which I recommend for those who've enjoyed games like Baldur's Gate. It's epic in size but it's very well done and the graphics are amazing.

Strangely enough, although it's even in a completely different genre than Civ IV, it's built on the same engine.

Play it Earl. Or put it on your list to play later when you have a killer computer and a god-like graphics card. (I don't and my framerate sucks.)