Community Announcements - Aspyr-Blair
As many of you have noted here, Civ IV base game and Colonization are currently not working in 10.10 due to a python library issue.

After a week of review, this bug is legitimate and we are now officially pulling support for Yosemite until we have a fix for the problem.

Please accept our apology for any frustration this bug has caused. We are working on a solution, but because of the hectic holiday release schedule from Aspyr, we cant give an approximate date as to when that solution will be integrated into the game.

There is a workaround (users have posted it in several spots). It works 100%, but we should advise strong caution when messing with your library files. Make sure you backup your rig with time machine before diving in.

Please let me know if anyone has any questions, and again apologies for the interruption in play on a GREAT game.
Community Announcements - Aspyr-Blair
As many of you have noted here, Civ IV base game and Colonization are currently not working in 10.10 due to a python library issue.

After a week of review, this bug is legitimate and we are now officially pulling support for Yosemite until we have a fix for the problem.

Please accept our apology for any frustration this bug has caused. We are working on a solution, but because of the hectic holiday release schedule from Aspyr, we cant give an approximate date as to when that solution will be integrated into the game.

There is a workaround (users have posted it in several spots). It works 100%, but we should advise strong caution when messing with your library files. Make sure you backup your rig with time machine before diving in.

I should also note that some users are having success by making sure that Warlords and/or Beyond the Sword are installed on top of the base Civ IV game.

Please let me know if anyone has any questions, and again apologies for the interruption in play on a GREAT game.
Community Announcements - Drcane
The patch that replaces GameSpy with Steamworks for multiplayer functionality is now available via Steam. The game functions identically to the previous GameSpy version with the exception that the “Direct IP” option has been removed as it is no longer supported. Save game data should not be negatively affected. If you own a physical disc version of Civilization IV and are interested in receiving this multiplayer update, please submit a support request. http://support.2k.com/requests/new
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Secret gamegent man

You might well cheer the demise of GameSpy Technologies, but an awful lot of games will lose official online multiplayer support when the service shuts down on May 31. Publishers scour the battlefield running triage measuring pulses peeling eyelids shining lights flexing smashed bones jabbing fingers in wounds licking blood. “We’ve got a live one here!” they cry occasionally and haul the game up on their shoulder, but all too often stand up, brush themselves down, then step over the grasping bloodied hand as they quietly walk away.

2K Games shall save Borderlands, Civilization III, Civ IV, and Civ IV: Colonization, the publisher has confirmed, along with their expansions. A dozen of its less popular games will be less lucky.

… [visit site to read more]

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
With GameSpy's online services set to shut down on May 31, 2K Games has stepped forward and announced which of its online-enabled multiplayer games will survive the closure. Borderlands, Civilization III, and Civilization IV, and their respective expansions will all begin making the transition from GameSpy servers to Steamworks in the coming days, while several other games will see their multiplayer servers go down with the GameSpy ship.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
2K Games has a lot of love for Sid Meier and they're proving it through a new collaboration with Humble Bundle. The latest Humble Bundle will collect some of Meier's best games, including the recently-released Sid Meier's Ace Patrol. But if you're feeling particularly charitable, you can also come away with Sid Meier's Civilization V and both the Gods and Kings and Brave New World expansions.
Shacknews - John Keefer

Sid Meier's name is well known in gaming circles for the addicting "just one more turn" mentality associated with his strategy games. Of course, there is never any mistaking what his games are because his name is usually in the game's title.

It can't be because of ego, as colleagues say Meier is a very soft-spoken, unassuming man. "In the [13] years and all the people I've worked with at Firaxis," said designer Jake Solomon, "there has never been anyone who's had a personality issue with Sid, 'cause it's not possible. He's such a wonderful person."

So just how did it happen that the brilliant strategy designer's games get that title treatment? It started in Meier's days at MicroProse with partner Bill Stealey, as Meier was pitching the idea for a pirate game.

"Bill said, 'When's my next flight simulator coming out?' And I said, 'I'm not doing a flight simulator; I'm doing a pirates game,'" Meier told Kotaku. "He said, 'Well that's crazy, 'cause people want your next flight simulator ... Wait a minute. Put your name on it. Maybe if they liked your flight simulator games, they'll recognize the name and buy this crazy pirates thing.'"

However, Stealey remembered things a bit differently: "We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and [actor] Robin Williams was there. And he kept us in stitches for two hours. And he turns to me and says 'Bill, you should put Sid's name on a couple of these boxes, and promote him as the star.' And that's how Sid's name got on Pirates, and Civilization."

Sid Meier's Pirates! came out in 1987, and since that time, his name has appeared on two railroad games, five Civilization games (plus expansions and a console version), two Civil War games, one space game, a colonization game, and even a golf game. Ironically, Meier and Stealey originally teamed up to make flight sims, but the first airplane game to bear his name was the recently released iOS title Sid Meier's Ace Patrol.

PC Gamer
The Eternal War 1


James ‘Lycerius’ Moore played a single game of Civilization II off and on for ten years, extending far into a dystopian future that he described as “a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation”. The story caught fire, spreading from reddit to the specialist games press and national media before returning to reddit as /r/theeternalwar, where fans trade fiction, music, and art.

Last week, I spoke to James about his experience of the game, the rationale behind playing the same campaign for a decade, and what it’s like to have your cool gaming anecdote capture the imaginations of so many people. You can check out our previous coverage of The Eternal War here.

You said in your initial reddit post that the campaign is about ten years old?

Yeah.

Do you know exactly...?

It’s about nine and a half, something like that.

Presumably there must have come a point when you decided that you were just going to keep on going. How did that come about?

Well, I’d played the game far into the future, and there were some issues and I was just curious to see how long I could keep going. There’s this misconception that I’ve played the game non-stop for ten years, that’s not the case - I play it often, but over the years it’s every other day or so.

I play lots of games, do lots of other things, but this game - it just kinda kept going and going. I noticed that, over time, nations were swallowing up other nations and there were these environmental factors and it was just really fascinating to muse on where it was all going. I just wanted to see what the eventual endgame would be. It was for my own edification, I never imagined that so many people would take interest in it.

Was there something specific about the way this campaign went that allowed you to get into the kind of situation you got into?

I imagine that you could start up any Civ II game and do this. The thing is, Civ II was a little bit more balanced than the other games, and you’re able to prolong and enjoy the world around you a little bit more, and in a little bit more detail - for example later games don’t really have global warming. Well, they do, but it’s maybe a single tile that’ll turn to desert instead of four.

In Civ II, things like that had enormous consequences. All of the coasts would flood and farming would be useless, and it happened over and over again - it happened two or three times before I started questioning, well, what would it be like if this kept going on? Eventually all the world’s land - the mountains and tundra - became flooded swampland. It was really neat.


Image: m00nnsplit's 'Celtania Archives' newspaper.

You found yourself in a fascinating situation at the end.

It was just morbid curiosity, you know, and I think that’s why it was so popular with all these other organisations. I think people in general have this morbid curiosity about the world and where it’s going, and I think they saw this and just kind of latched on. You know, it’s by no means an accurate simulation of world affairs or anything like that, it’s just a game roughly based on such things, but I think it really captured a lot of people’s imaginations.

You ended up in a situation with the three superstates, and people immediately said “oh, it's 1984” - this Eternal War thing. How much of that basically came from the mechanics of Civ II?

Oh, almost all of it. As time goes on, in most Civ games - well, Civ II and Civ V, now, that I’ve noticed - over time, throughout history, larger countries will envelop smaller countries until there are a few remaining superpowers. That seems to be a pattern in Civ II and Civ V in my experience, so the longer you play the more likely that outcome is going to be. Whether or not that’s part of the game design - whether they had that in mind, I cannot say - but it’d be pretty neat if that was their intention.

You said that it only maps onto real politics to a very limited extent - but it really has captured people’s imaginations because they see, for example, the story you told about having to shut down democracy. That’s interesting in and of itself. Am I right in saying that the AI factions are both theocracies?

Yeah, I believe so - a fundamentalist type of government.

Would that have been a more practical decision for you as well, that you didn’t take for other reasons?

Some people had argued that that might be the best way to go, but the person that was able to complete it in 58 years was able to do so with the communist government. In fact, the communist government worked out very well for them.

What was the key in the end, to beating it?

A mixture of units - for example, the Howitzer unit. I was primarily throwing tanks at the situation, and people who had a bit more tactical depth as far as the game is concerned were able to amass armies that my economy... well, I was concerned about saving but they just spent the entire treasury on one big push and rebuilt from there.

It’s not a particularly optimistic message, is it?

Yeah, precisely. It really wasn’t my intention to conquer the world, necessarily, but it appeared that this was the only way that peace was going to be a realistic option. There was a glitch I believe when playing on newer operating systems that the AI became much more aggressive and I believe that was what was causing my issue with the Vikings. Because of that it seemed like the only possible solution was total conquest. Were I able to vent that then I would.


Image: GildedDuke's Civ V Eternal War scenario.

The reaction to it has clearly been way and beyond what you were expecting.

No kidding!

What was that like?

It blew my mind. It was only on reddit for two or three hours before I was getting all these calls, seeing it online - it was incredible, absolutely incredible.

People have really taken to it, creatively. Solving the puzzle is one thing - thinking “how do we fix this” - but the fiction and the art, what’s that been like?

It’s a very strange sort of vindication. I’ve been playing this game for ten years. This game was very important to me personally - it had this nostalgic, sentimental value because I’d been playing it for so long. I’d been playing this one game of Civ II since I was in high school and it just grew on me. I had this narrative in my mind about how this world went and I was really content for the longest time just seeing where went. Then to have this happen, to have so many people show interest in something I had so much value and so much time invested in - it just felt really good. It was a really good experience.

Have you played any of the Civ V scenarios people are putting together?

I have not yet. I’ve seen two so far, and I do plan to play them. That in its own right is also great, that someone will do something like that.


You said that you had your own sense of what that world was like.

Yeah, after a certain amount of years of playing this it, I was just like, “wow... I had to do away with democracy”. There were so many things that happened, I couldn’t help it.

Did you document it as you were going, or was it just in your head?

It was just in my head. It was like, well, yeah I’ll return to this cool game I’ve been playing for a while. I just kept on playing, I suppose, and I thought it was pretty neat and I’d share it with reddit - and wow, the response was incredible.

Do you feel like it belongs to that subreddit community now, or are you tempted to do something else with it yourself?

I’m really not sure, but I put it on reddit and people have created art out of it - that’s incredible, and it’s the community’s at that point.

When I play Civ, my civilisations are always modelled after how I would like the world to be. But I’ve also got friends who play these games mathematically. They’re not worried about the connotations of turning to fundamentalism, say.

I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum, I would argue.

In what regard - that you play mathematically?

No, I play... romantically, I suppose.

How much do you feel like you had to break down that romantic approach to Civ to keep surviving beyond a certain point?

I think that, in its own right, was somewhat romantic. The democracy that I’d strived for was becoming a liability and the best course of action was to switch to a communist state. My ultimate intention was to restore democracy when the war was won, but that was romantic and adds to the narrative of the whole thing. Tragically so.


Image: 'Neo-Viking Spec Op', by Gauntes

Turn-based grand strategy is having a bit of a resurgence at the moment. Civ V: Gods and Kings is doing very well, Endless Space is doing very well - do you think there’s untapped potential for narrative in that genre, given your experience?

I would certainly argue that there hasn’t been enough attention in grand strategy games, or at least the ones I’ve played - Civ, GalCiv. I haven’t played Endless Space, that’s the new one, isn’t it?

Yeah. They’ve got an interesting approach to narrative, where their factions are really asymmetrical. You can be regular space dudes, but you can also be omniscient amoeba people that can see the entire map the entire time.

Interesting!

Your Civ story reached the point it got to because of the hard balance of the game. Would imbalance ultimately break that, or does it create better stories?

I think it can go both ways, depending on your interpretation of it - for example, in Civ IV I played as the Holy Roman Empire, built the Apostolic Palace in my capital, was the Pope, was able to set policies to have different Christian countries vote on it. That was great, because I was playing the role of the Vatican and that was a wonderful game, I really enjoyed it even though I was probably the weakest militarily. Because of my influence in the dominant religion I was able to be quite successful. I think that’s a great example of imbalance working in my favour. I think Civ IV was really great for that.

When I’m talking about balance I’m talking about the mathematical balance of Civ II, where empires were so enormous at that stage of the game where each country has at least fifty cities and taking three or four cities is nothing. In Civ V, if you take three or four cities you’ve likely destroyed the enemy empire.

Is game design something you’re interested in taking further?

I’d love to take it further, certainly. It’s an art form, and ultimately that’s where my interests lie. My day job is as an insurance agent - dare to dream, right? So yeah I’d love to take it further, see what comes along.

You mentioned the roleplaying element of playing as the Holy Roly Empire in that Civ IV game...

Yeah, it was incredible. I have an enormous love of history - I’m an enormous history buff. Of course the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman - but you could play as the Vatican in Civ IV and that was as close as I came.

That drive to - not recreate history, necessarily, but to re-enact certain parts of it - do you find that makes the experience more satisfying, to have certain elements that you know you’re doing ‘right’?

Yeah, absolutely. You’re following these historical tropes that seem to play out over the course of human history. When you see them repeated in the game, there’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment.


Image: infectedmanz's 'Celtania Propaganda'.

Do you think there’s anything developers could be doing to encourage that kind of creative engagement? It seems to be the thing that creates all the best stories.

Absolutely. In fact, I think there’s a lot they can do. I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done with Civ V in bringing back religion and espionage. If they pursued that further, and implemented internal politics - I remember in GalCiv II, if you were a democracy you had to choose a political party, and there would be an element of internal politics which was incredible. Civ II had something like, if you took over the enemy capital there was a chance their nation could fracture into two opposing factions. There was also an interesting element like that in Civ IV where if you founded cities on another continent you could grant them independence and they’d become a colony - a vassal - of your empire. That was beautiful. If they reintroduced those elements - things like vassalship, colonisation - a little bit more complexity, perhaps, when it comes to running your empire.

I understand that they’re focused on conflict and making warfare as interesting as possible but things like inflation, interest rates once you’ve built a central bank - I can understand why that might put off some more casual players, I understand that completely, but I think it should be an option. You should be able to increase the complexity of the game.

I guess the deeper and more technical mechanical aspects of these games, despite sounding really dry, really enhance the game’s potential narrative depth.

I think it really does. There’s also things on the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps the game could write its own history. The war between Egypt and Arabia in, say, 1770AD - that could be recorded somewhere in the game for you to review, for it to somehow affect relations or policy in the future just as diplomacy between the West and the Middle East today is still marred by the Crusades - a thousand years later! I think that’d be really interesting. Keeping track, every game of Civ having its own timeline, it’s own story tell - just as real history has.

This kind of story is great for Civ and Firaxis. You can expect developers to be thinking, “how do we get this to happen, how do we get a guy to drop a story on to reddit that just blows up interest in the game.” The key to that seems to be including storytelling within the game itself - so it doesn’t need to be something that people only share on blogs and reddit. Making it something that the game keeps track of.

Yeah, exactly that. And if you go to civfanatics.com there are people who have done this before, who have written stories based on individual games. If the game itself did that, and rewarded you for doing so, for creating this real history - I think it’d be incredible. The storytelling potential is just totally untapped in that regard.

Many thanks to James for his time, and a tip of the hat to the /r/theeternalwar community for their excellent work.
Shacknews - John Keefer

GameFly's Unlimited PC Play program has expanded today. Members that missed out on BioShock, Civilization IV or X-Com: Enforcer, can now play them as part of a paid GameFly membership.

As part of a new deal with 2K Games, GameFly has added the three classic games to its Unlimited PC Play library. Members can play as many games from the Unlimited PC Play library as part of their subscription.

2K's rationale for offering the free games was simple: Introduce gamers to a series they may not have tried, especially with BioShock Infinite, Civilization V: Gods & Kings and XCOM: Enemy Unknown expected to hit shelves this year.

[Disclosure: Shacknews.com is part of GameFly Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly, Inc.]

Dec 30, 2011
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

In 2008, I took it upon myself to return to and finally finish a game that had hung over me for 14 years – the original Civilization sequel, Sid Meier’s Colonization (the old one, not the underwhelming Civ 4-based remake from a couple of years back). Here’s what happened.>

This one’s about closure. Despite playing it zealously for weeks on end back in 1994, I didn’t ever complete a game of Sid Meier’s Colonization, a sequel of sorts to the first Civilization. Powered by Brian Reynolds as much as it was Meier, it’s a turn-based strategy tale of establishing colonies in the New World or Americas, and eventually winning independence from their avaricious motherland. My copy silently, immediately and cruelly crashed to a DOS prompt whenever I finally bested my imperial oppressors, denying me the ending sequence and sense of victory I so richly deserved. Disheartened, I duly forgot about the game for a decade and a half, but lately it flitted across my brain by chance, and a curious longing awoke within me. I need to win my colonies their independence at last. I need to know what happens. I don’t care how brief or stupid or hilariously low-tech it is. I need to know. (more…)

...

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