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Civ IV

Oh, I'm in trouble. Civilization IV will be out this Fall, possibly next month, and aside from the expected graphical and game play upgrades, the game ships with an incredibly sophisticated modification system. From the Gamespy preview:

Meanwhile, Civilization IV promises to be the most moddable game in the franchise yet. It'll ship with an in-game "worldbuilder" that allows you to shift units around and redraw the map, similar to a scenario editor. More hardcore modders can jump into XML files and tweak all of the unit stats and variables in the game. Beyond that, users who know the Python scripting language can actually go in and set up scripts and triggers to make game events happen or alter the way the game plays, while a Game A.I. SDK that'll be available shortly after the game ships will allow players to completely change the way the A.I., combat system, or game rules work.

World-building games (or even city-building games) should always open up the rules to players to examine and modify. The modification possibilities in Civ III were substantial; it sounds like what they're doing with Civ IV will be close to revolutionary.

Comments (9)


There goes weeks of my life that I will surely never get back :)

Hopefully it'll be empowering or educative enough to make those weeks worth it ^_^

Stefan Jones:

All of the Civ games are, at heart, war games.

Even with chrome like culture and trade, they all boil down to an arms build-up and combat.

I'm also increasingly disenchanted by the essential immortality of the Civ civilizations. The same damn leaders, the eternal cities, the farmland that stays productive for 7,000 years, the forests that don't disappear when exploited.

And the fact that there are never, ever any surprises.

Once, many years ago, when still enthralled by the first Civilization, I had a dream about the game. Something unusual happened during setup, when the program creates maps and starting positions. A screen I had never seen before popped up and told me that there wasn't enough dry land surface to support a human civilization. I was given a choice between an arboreal species or a race of swamp-dwellers.

I chose the latter. The game was filling me in on how terrain production values were different for the swampies when I realized that this was far, far too cool to be real.


Jamais Cascio:

That sounds like it would be an interesting game, Stefan, sort of like SimEarth but at the unit level.

To your larger point: that's why I'm so interested in the modifiability of Civ IV. It sounds like it would be possible, once one had the AI mod interface, to completely remake the way interactions between "civilizations" function.

Stefan Jones:

CUT THAT OUT! I'm trying to talk myself out of buying a copy.

I get seriously addicted to these things. The only thing that stops me from playing Tropico for five hours at a time is my eighty pound Belgian shepherd, who boxes me with her paws when she wants to go out.

I can't think of how much writing I could have done if it weren't for these things. They push all the right buttons but return nothing in exchange for all that mental effort.



Actauly if you harvest too much forest in the later civ series and dont replant you tend to get desertification.

Stefan Jones:

That's chopping down forests. They should wither away from normal use.

My Civs end the game looking like garden spots. Even though it is more productive to "mine" plains and grasslands, I prefer to leave up forests, and indeed plant more. If there are empty, unexploited spots between cities, I plant forests there. Keeps the workers busy.

Of course, it is purely esthetic. My civ doesn't get points for ending up with greenbelts. The game doesn't award points for preserving forest, jungles and swamps. Fisheries don't get depleted. "Game" doesn't get overhunted and die.

Screw it all. I want to play Real World.


Well, I'm no Civ guru since I stopped playing at Civ II. I got tired of the persistant belligerance demonstrated by the other factions. Steal or have tech stolen, build up arms or get creamed. Blech.

The real world's population is not represented by their increasingly belligerent, megolomanaical, money obsessed governments/corporations. So games that persist in having me just instruct the various options of a government with all the usual "assumptions" of how the world works, don't interest me. Paranoia also doesn't interest me anymore. That may be how the world works right now, but it doen't *have* to be how the world works.

What about building a cooperative style of gameplay with timelines for development thrown in? How far can a civilization grow in a certain time given a cooperative model where they don't compete for land and resources because they all realize they're in it together? Where would civilization be in real life if we'd followed such a policy? Would we be more "backwards" than we are today, or more "advanced". What if civilizations were logical and realized all along that if a substance was poisonous to bugs and other pests, then it was probably also poisonous to ourselves and thus shouldn't be used? What if people all along had realized that gov'ts use the testosterone excess in young men coupled with lies and exaggerations to pursuede them to go to war and they refused to allow their children to be manipulated during young adulthood? What if businesses/development in a civilizataion had always taken into account the economic cost of having to rebuild an ecosystem if their development compromised it....say having to rebuild a filtration system equal to what was destroyed to compensate to paving over so much land? Where would we be now if these things and other logical things had been done instead of the silly compromises that exist now? (which aren't really compromises since they're totally unreal in their expectation and are just hand waving to justify developing a big cash cow) Where would we be now if people hadn't thrown away their individual morality to kiss up to the corporate and government machines?

Sigh...I rant. But really, I can't understand the appeal of playing a game that's based on real life assumptions and mistaken "goals". It looks like just more of the same that I see everyday in the news: tragic, infuriating and ultimately boring. Round and round we go...hamster wheel to nowhere.

When I'm tired of Half Life 2, World of Warcraft, Battlefield 2 etc, Civ is the one game that I turn to.


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