Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Behind Civ

Now that hours and days and months of reading, writing, and, um, "researching" are behind me, let me just air out a few other details from the Civ. piece.

1. You guessed it. The friend who controls foreign cities by starving out the population and repopulating it with his own people is Jonathan V. Last. Let us not forget he once defended the destruction of the planet Alderaan.

2. Joseph Bottum's strategy of winning at Deity was much more complicated than I let on. There are many conditions involved, such as selecting a single continent, choosing an ancient civ. whose unique unit comes early, building roads in one direction, gambling you will hit pay dirt (meaning you connect with another civ.). You must also reduce all funding on science in order to build as many units as possible. Then you send them out and overwhelm. I think Bottum once won by the year 400 B.C. Also, his wife won't let him upgrade to Civ. IV until he finishes writing his book.

3. Sid Meier is a very funny guy. When he was explaining the importance of decisionmaking, he says it is all up to the player to decide "Do I go for a barracks or a marketplace?" I asked him which is it. He said, "Yes."

I am sure there is more but it all seems to blend in now. Unfortunately I can no longer use the piece as an excuse for playing the game. But wait til I tell my wife about the piece I am writing on Vivid Video.


arrScott said...

A question for all Galley Slaves: I've been playing Civ II since '96. When Civ III came out, I tried it, and then went back to Civ II, not feeling that Civ III offered much of a compelling upgrade. Prettier graphics, but I just wasn't seeing a significant enough improvement in gameplay to stop playing Civ II.

So my question is this: Is Civ IV enough of an improved game, as opposed to simply a game with prettier graphics, that it's a mandatory upgrade from Civ II?

My favorite detail from the story: Pirates! is playing on the lobby game console. My all-time favorite joystick game, that. Too bad we use control pads now, instead of joysticks: Pirates! is a great Atari-style joystick game, but it's almost unplayable with a Playstation- or XBox-style control pad. Probably be a great Wii game, though, with all the 2-D swordplay.

Victorino Matus said...

Your question is understandable. I've never played Civ II, only Civ III and then upgraded to Civ III Complete and love it. Others will then ask why I have not made the jump to Civ IV. Unfortunately my current computer doesn't support it so I have no choice. I don't know if I would like it any better. Obviously a whole lot of people do. But I also spoke with players who prefer III to IV because, as with you and Civ II, the earlier game involved more strategy and seemed less like a typical videogame, cool graphics and all. Who knows, you might be on to something.

Jonathan V. Last said...

Loved Civ II in college. Haven't played it in a very long time. Civ III had more, and more interesting civilizations, more world options, more units and--most importantly--the idea of "culture," which I don't think existed in Civ II. (I may be wrong about that . . .)

I'm not allowed to buy Civ IV either. At least not yet. But the changing of the concepts of religion and government seem to me interesting enough to warrant dropping the $40--even if you do wind up going back to Civ III eventually.

Anonymous said...

Civ IV is a significant advance over both II and III.

Warning #1: lessons learned from earlier versions are of limited use here. To give one example, the combat system is very different. To give another, they've fixed it so that rapid early expansion -- spamming out lots of settlers -- is no longer the one best strategy. (You need certain technologies and buildings to make a big empire work; if you don't have them, bad things happen.)

Warning #2: Civ IV is complicated. Fractally complicated. In a good way... it's not boring, at all. But it's full of hot, fast decisions and complicated interactions.

It's a lovely, polished Babbage Engine of a game, with lots of interlocking complications.

Oh, and the AI is much smarter. Simple strategies that led to easy victories in early versions will get your butt kicked here. Also, the AI leaders have different personalities -- Caesar will behave very differently from Gandhi. But (with one or two exceptions) they all play pretty competently.

Buy it, play it. It will kick your ass the first few times. And then you'll love it.

Doug M.