Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I took the Foreign Service Written Exam this last Saturday. To get myself onto days, since I normally work nights, I borrowed Noumenon's copy of Civ III. Time passes unnoticed when I play Civ III, so I could sit down and start a game, play it all night and all day, go to bed, and wake up on day shift hours.

I had to give it back. Having used it to switch shifts, and then switch back, I uninstalled the program, but that wasn't enough. I was sitting around contemplating a paper that I should be writing, and thinking to myself, "Oooh, that's something I should try in my next game. I could reinstall it and play it for an hour, which would surely be long enough to test that approach..." Of course, an hour of Civ III time is eight to the normal world.

I should just get my own copy of Civ III and play it until I was tired of it. The trouble with that approach is I don't really get tired of a game until I've tried more or less every option to see how it changes the game. It took an entire summer of playing Civil War Generals II, and a year or so of playing Civ II. Civ III is such a complicated game (heck, in all the times I've played it I've won the game in only four ways and there are six different ways to win!) that I would need a few years with no non-work distractions, such as school, family, food, to sate my appetite. And, if I did follow this path, I'm sure Hamlette would arrange an unfortunate accident: ("No, I don't know how I mistakenly used the CD as a coaster and dripped boiling coffee and molten chocolate on it. And to think it happened the day after I accidentally sent the instruction manual through the shredder. That coincidence is just eerie.")

This time, when I played it, I tried being a pacifist. I built my world around trade relations. I was involved in only a single war the entire game, and there were only two other wars. The second time I played it, I discovered that I could bomb improvements as well as cities and armies, so I built my wars around destroying enemy infrastructure. In one case, my enemies were reduced to fighting tanks with spearmen, because I had destroyed their iron supplies. The ability of a single discovery, that of attacking resources with ships, to change my entire strategy means that there's no hope for me.

The next time I play it (bad, bad, me), I want to try putting just two other civilizations on an huge world, high landmass pangaea. This would, most likely, make the date of first contact much later in history, and reduce the competition for resources dramatically. Would we trade? Would we fight? How well would we develop without the ability to trade for technology? What would happen to the civilization that made contact later? Would they be left in the dust? This would be the first in a long line of experiments. I would have to try every tribe, of course, and try to win in all six ways, but that wouldn't be the end of it. When I played Civ II, I used the map editor to create a map that was all grassland and tundra, with no special resources other than fish. Thus, though there was plenty of food and trade, no one had any production until they developed the ability to plant forests. Maybe I'll need more than a few years.


Blogger Hamlette said...

if I did follow this path, I'm sure Hamlette would arrange an unfortunate accident

Hey, the name's Hamlette, not Lemony Snicket! Therefore, if the cd got used as a coaster and the book got shredded, it would be fate, not an accident.

(Altho I suppose a series of unfortunate events could be the result of fate...I should read the books, I suppose...)

11:15 PM  

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