The End of the World?
The world ends this year – according to the Mayans anyway. The so-called long-count calendar which spans roughly 5,125 years comes to an end on December 21st 2012 – a dead end.
Here at Gamedot we are quite concerned by this. What will happen to the games we’ve reported news on? Will they simply never see the light of day? Was E3 a waste of time? Will civilization eventually rebuild itself and take inspiration of the coming tragic events for future games? What will the end time be like? Will it involve Zombies?
Luckily, games – the only unbiased source of true wisdom – have provided a substantial clue. This vision into the future is offered by Sid Meier’s Civilization II, a turn-based strategy game from 1996, where players ‘grow’ small tribes into sprawling super-nations.
The nightmare begins
Civilization II was never intended to reveal the ultimate future of life on Earth. Indeed, we never would have had this timely revelation were it not for the work of the Reddit user known as Lycerius. Lycerius played a game of Civilization II for a whopping ten years, much longer than the game’s developers anticipated or intended. The results were ground-braking. The world had become, to use the words of Lycerius himself, a “hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation”.
Game over, man
In the year 3991 A. D. (2012 may just be the tipping point for our predicted cataclysm) the world is controlled by three remaining super-powers. The Celts, the Vikings and the Americans are locked in a devastating competition for our planets dwindling resources. Earth has been left scarred after a volley of nuclear missiles from each faction, leaving much of the world uninhabitable. A war that has lasted 1700 years and that is showing no signs of stopping, has annihilated 90% of the world’s population. Global warming has run riot, the lack of productive farmland has created a worldwide food shortage and natural disasters are frequent. The Polar Icecaps have melted and reformed twenty times, playing havoc with water levels and resulting in low lying regions being permanently flooded.
Large cities are gone. Smaller settlements remain but whenever one gets too big an enemy faction’s spy sneaks in a nuke, leaving only irradiated death after the resulting catastrophic explosion. Life in these small towns isn’t much fun even before their inevitable doom. The production line is forced to continually pump out tanks and other vehicles of war to survive in this bleak future. Halting the war effort to produce farms or granaries to feed the malnourished citizens is akin to admitting defeat.
Lycerius: “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”.
“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.”
Democracy has come to a complete standstill. No one will listen to the pleas from other nations and, even if they do, those nations cannot trust either side to honour the agreement.
“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,” Lycerius wrote on Reddit. This untrustworthy behaviour continues “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.”
All is not lost
There is still hope for the world, however. Lycerius plans to continue the epic Civilization II game and break the war stalemate, returning the world to peace. He wants to restore farms to whatever land is still farmable – not much productive farmland remains after the nuclear fallout and extreme water level rises. He wants to feed the people, rebuild civilization and see Earth prosper once more after thousands of years of suffering and chaos.
One problem remains, he has no idea how to do this. For inspiration to end the seemingly endless conflict, Lycerius has been taking advice from the thousands of comments to his original Reddit post.
DonutEF offers this token of wisdom:
“Diplomacy’s failed in this world, you’ve got to hit em hard and take over the world for the greater good. Then you can spend turn upon turn under the blanket of enforced religious peace fixing it with hundreds of engineers if you like!”
“It’s for the greater good,” he adds.
snarc has a different strategy:
“Fundamentalism is what you need”. “Fanatics are cheap as anything. Let the enemy nuke them: one nuclear missile costs far more than the Fanatics it might kill. It’s about making him spend his resources killing chaff, while you protect the interior where you’re building the army that will win the war.”
Developers shocked and awed
Sid Meier, the creative mind behind the Civilization series, has heard of Lycerius’ mammoth ten-year long game.
“There’s no way we could have tested for this, so it was a surprise to us. I can’t say that we ever thought anyone would play a game of ‘Civ’ for that long. It’s exciting that a fan of the series would dedicate 10 years to playing one continuous game. We applaud you for playing what’s sure to be the longest-running game of ‘Civ’ ever.”
If nothing else, this proves how brilliant, open-ended and emergent the Civilization games are – even after ten years of on and off play there is still enjoyment to be had. Even though Lycerius intends to continue the game, Sid Meier has thrown up a new challenge for him.
“We should probably send him a copy of ‘Civ V’ and ‘Civ V: Gods & Kings’. Maybe in 10 years, he can create a similar scenario.”
Have you played any really long games? If you have, let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear about them.