The Decade Long War in Civilization II

I saw a post up at Ars Technia about a game of Civilization II that has been going on for 10 years.  This initially came up as a thread on Reddit when the player recounted his experiences with the game so far.

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 Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future.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.

It sounds almost like the world from Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty-Four, where three sides are locked in eternal warfare that does nothing but keep the three governments… two theocracies and a communist state… in power via an endless state of emergency.

We’ve always been at war with Eurasia… I mean the Vikings!

The ice caps have melted due to global warming brought on by constant nuclear war and the world is now covered by unproductive swampland.  There are no more large cities.  90% of the population has died off from its peak 2,000 years earlier.  Military production takes precedence over all other improvements.  Military power is balanced, with all three nations possessing all of the possible technologies.  And war is eternal, with each cease fire broken by the next turn.

This is probably the most extreme example of what the end-game in Civ II can turn into.  But the author is not without hope.

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.

The whole thread has become hugely popular on Reddit and makes for an interesting read and has even spawned its own subreddit with fan fiction, artwork, and theory crafting.

10 thoughts on “The Decade Long War in Civilization II

  1. mbp

    Saw this on Rock Paper Shotgun. It is both incredibly awesome and incredibly depressing (future of humanity and all that).


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Yeah, it seems to be getting reported all over. I cannot tell if people think it is as cool as I do or if E3 has been all reported out and we’re just in the Summer silly season at last.

    Makes me want to play some more Civ II, which remains my favorite version of Civ.


  3. Mighty Viking Hamster

    I do believe that predicting the future based on 14 year old algorithms is a bit far fetched although it definitely makes for an interesting ‘experiment’. Humans have the ability to learn and adapt, something a program cannot intrinsically do.


  4. Soliloquy

    What fascinates me is that it would be ‘impossible’ for anyone else to do it, I do not mean play the game for 10 years, I mean get the same result, because just “one different decision” during the gameplay would change the end for ever…


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    In what I believe to be an interesting side effect of this story is that I am getting a noticeable boost in traffic. It isn’t coming to this post, however. At least most of it is not. Rather, I am getting a lot more search engine referrals to my post on running Civ II on Windows 7 64-bit.

    People want to try create their own scenario I suppose, which is actually pretty far from impossible. I can recall a number of 2-4 way military stalemate games over the last 15 years that could have ended up this way… I just never stuck around to play them out to their extreme conclusion.

    The AI is pretty simple. It often falls into the same traps. One of the downsides of the game, though there are many upsides to counter that.

    Meanwhile, Reddit is still running hot on this and now there is even an Eternal War Wiki.

    When will this be reduced to a meme and become a caption for an LOL Cat?


  6. Metal_Man

    I actually found this blog through Googling for the patch. If anything, the game just sounds very fun to play and this story has me finally trying it out.


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