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This is big on the internet today: some dude on Reddit announced that he’d been playing the same game of Civilization II for the past 10 years. If you’re not familiar, Civ II (released in 1996) is, like the rest of the Civilization series (we’re at Civ V now), an empire-building game that takes place through world history and into the future to infinity. You don’t necessarily win through military might, but through a variety of different avenues, like technological might or cultural superiority. They’re some of the best games ever. After 10 years, the aforementioned Civ II player — Reddit handle: Lycerius — has reached the year 3991 A.D. and Earth is basically a hellscape of scant natural resources supporting vast armies, while the people starve and fallout poisons everything.

His conclusions are worth sharing:

I’ve been playing the same game of Civ II for 10 years. Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future. I then thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be. Naturally I play other games and have a life, but I often return to this game when I’m not doing anything and carry on. The results are as follows.
The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.

There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.

- The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.

- As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it’s peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn’t any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.

- Only 3 super massive nations are left. The Celts (me), The Vikings, And the Americans. Between the three of us, we have conquered all the other nations that have ever existed and assimilated them into our respective empires.

- You’ve heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war. The three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2000 years. Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons. Even when the U.N forces a peace treaty. So I can only assume that peace will come only when they’re wiped out. It is this that perpetuates the war ad infinitum. Have any of you old Civ II players out there ever had this problem in the post-late game?

- Because of SDI, ICBMS are usually only used against armies outside of cities. Instead, cities are constantly attacked by spies who plant nuclear devices which then detonate (something I greatly miss from later civ games). Usually the down side to this is that every nation in the world declares war on you. But this is already the case so its no longer a deterrent to anyone. My self included.

- The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

- The military stalemate is air tight. The post-late game in civ II is perfectly balanced because all remaining nations already have all the technologies so there is no advantage. And there are so many units at once on the map that you could lose 20 tank units and not have your lines dented because you have a constant stream moving to the front. This also means that cities are not only tiny towns full of starving people, but that you can never improve the city. “So you want a granary so you can eat? Sorry; I have to build another tank instead. Maybe next time.”

- My goal for the next few years is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I’m not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I’m listening.

I love that he’s not done, nor does he seem particularly tired of the game. Me, I have no advice. I’m sure you could have fun for days with the analogs between our world and his Civ II history, but he’s still playing a game. I can’t say how many times I’ve pushed the red button, so to speak, to launch all-out nuclear war in this or that game. That said, we live in privileged times — still — and a whole lot of brutality is going to have to go down over the next 1,979 years.

Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.tv.

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Did you know that his claws are made from crystallised tears?

Have you a heartstring? Then the sequel to open world anti-hero game Prototype would like a chance to pull at it. It has a sad Johnny Cash song, it has a dead wife and it’s not afraid to use them.
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silentbrad points out an article about the gradual shift of video games from being 'goods' to being 'services.' They spoke with games lawyer Jas Purewal, who says the legal interpretation is murky: "If we're talking about boxed-product games, there's a good argument the physical boxed product is a 'good,' but we don't know definitively if the software on it, or more generally software which is digitally distributed, is a good or a service. In the absence of a definitive legal answer, software and games companies have generally treated software itself as a service – which means treating games like World of Warcraft as well as platforms like Steam or Xbox LIVE as a service." The article continues, "The free-to-play business model is particularly interesting, because the providers of the game willingly relinquish direct profits in exchange for greater control over how players receive the game, play it, and eventually pay for it. This control isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It can help companies to better understand what gamers want from their games, and done properly such services can benefit both gamers and publishers. Of course, the emphasis here is on the phrase 'done properly.' Such control can easily be abused."


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The furore last week over GameStop's decision to remove OnLive redeem codes from US PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution overshadowed what must surely be one of the most gutsy, impressive marketing moves we've seen in the industry for quite some time.

The notion of including another SKU of the game within the PC release not only adds a great deal of value for the end-user but is a superb promotional idea from OnLive. It also challenges sceptics to play the exact same game both locally and via the cloud and invites them to make their own conclusions about the quality of the service on offer.

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Newtonian physics - less fun than Newton-John's Physical

Hey, anyone remember demos? They were this crazy thing game-makers did when they wanted people to play their games but expensive pre-rendered trailers that said absolutely nothing about what a game was actually like hadn’t been invented yet! The crazy fools. What was the point in that?

Star Ruler is like the last half-decade didn’t happen: a thoroughly PC-only space 4x game, and it has a demo. An actual, honest-to-god demo! I haven’t played it yet, but I could hug it to death for that alone.
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