Tag Archives: Civilization II

April in Review

The Site

This may be the last post to get auto-forwarded to Twitter.  WordPress put up a blog post about how Twitter API access was coming to an end due to Twitter charging a lot of money for that now.  May 1 is the deadline to sign up for the new pricing for the API.  An additional email went out stating that from April 30th forward the API link would be severed, which sounds like yesterday’s post might have been the last one.  We shall see.

WP.com did say they were looking into adding more integrations to sites like Instagram and Mastodon.  They also suggested people could try Tumblr, which they own now, as a Twitter alternative.  Say what?

Meanwhile, the daily post streak goes on.

You know, I had the chance, a good number, to step off the daily posting merry-go-round.  Wouldn’t 1111 have been a good stopping point?

The streak went on !!1111

And then I forgot I had something queued up for the next day and was writing ahead and the opportunity passed.  So here, at the end of April in the year 2023, I am still on the daily post routine.

In other news, I turned off the ads on the site for now.  Hopefully you didn’t notice because you browse the web with an ad blocker turned on, something I believe is a security necessity.  I was just looking at the site on my phone without ad block and decided that the ads really sucked and turned them off.  Earning $250 in 18 months didn’t seem like enough of a payoff.

I was tempted to keep them on until I hit $300, because you only get paid out at $100 intervals, but the other thing is that the quality of ads WordPress has been delivering has been abysmal.  The number of ads served up has remained fairly constant while the payout has consistently eroded over time.

But that is the story of the internet, now isn’t it?

One Year Ago

Of course things kicked off with April Fools at Blizzard, though a strange one in the shadow of the Microsoft buyout offer and all the company’s troubles.  The announcement of the Dragonflight expansion was certainly no joke.

However, the coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic was what really had our eye.

Either way, Blizzard needed something new, their revenues were down hard.

Meanwhile in not an April Fools joke, WP.com decided free blogs would get no storage space.  They changed their mind, but never shouted “April Fools!”

Lord of the Rings Online hit 15 years.

Wordle was the latest thing, and Wordle-like clones were popping up, each with their own angle.

I was wondering what made housing worthwhile in MMORPGs.

The instance group took a break from its struggles in Outland to return to Valheim.  It was time for a new world with fresh epic voyages of discovery.  There were new features, like the cartography table, to learn about.  We also had to battle all the bosses again, starting with Eikthyr and then The Elder. We got ourselves a base on the coast to further our exploration and found something new in the swamps.

Along the way Valheim got controller support, in anticipation of its XBox debut.  I was going to try it out, but never quite got to it.

All that meant we were pretty much done with Lost Ark.  I wrote up some reflections on our run at the game and linked to more Carbot videos.

EVE Online was still doing monthly feature updates.  For April we got the Rorqual conduit jump and some nerfs to citadels.  We also got the plan for the CSM17 election even as Xenuria was spilling tea about the CSM and CCP.  Somewhere in there I hit the 240 million skill point mark.

Meanwhile, after getting lots of players riled up by his flirtations with crypto, Hilmar declared that NFT meant Not For Tranquility.  I mean, we had signs that crypto was doomed… in the form of Lord British jumping on board that train wreck with something that couldn’t be a more transparent attempt to cash in on his name and reputation.  Too bad for him that he had already wrecked the latter.

Oh, and then CCP announced that they were raising the subscription price for EVE Online to $20 a month.  That was a blow that didn’t make anybody happy and started people panic buying PLEX in Jita.

Then, in one of those Friday bullet point posts I noted that EG7 divesting from Russia, CCP gave us a history of the EVE Online database, RimWorld was legal again in Australia, Diablo II Resurrected was getting ladders, and Playable Worlds got $25 million in funding.

I was stuck in a gym in Pokemon Go for quite a while.

I was also on about using Discord as a source of gaming news and updates.

I told the story of how knowing too much history got me out of jury duty.

And, finally, Elon Musk said he wanted to buy Twitter.  I figured he wasn’t a complete idiot, that he wouldn’t burn the place to the ground or anything.  There is a post that hasn’t aged well.

Five Years Ago

April Fools at Blizzard was mostly about World of Warcraft.

Having unlocked the four allied races available with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order, I was set to take a break from Azeroth until the per-expansion events started.  The August 14th launch date had been announced.

Ultima Online‘s Publish 99 introduced a free to play option.

Speaking of things Lord British has touched, I also played some Shroud of the Avatar and then tried to figure out who it was really targeting.  That I uninstalled it later probably meant I wasn’t on that list.  I have not gone back to it since.

Pokemon Go got field research as a new activity.

On Rift Prime I was in Stonefield.  There was also a problem with claiming mounts.

There were two Kickstarter campaigns of note, one for Empires of EVE Vol. II and the other for the CIA agent training card game.  I backed them both.

For EVE Online Fanfest was on in Iceland, where the keynote announced the coming Into the Abyss expansion and the Triglavian menace.  There was a lot of other news and tidbits out of the event, which I tried to sum up on the following Monday.  CCP also got recognized by Guinness for the Million Dollar Battle.

Actually in game, we were busy up in Fade and Pure Blind, such that I am going to just list out all those posts as bullet points:

Good times in space.

But, in the end, the most bizarre moment of the month was probably when Daybreak, asked if Russian sanctions might affect them, went straight to declaring that they have never been owned by Columbus Nova, despite having told us they were for owned by them since the acquisition from Sony.  Then they went on to try and gaslight the internet (always a recipe for success) including editing their own Wikipedia page to remove all mention of Columbus Nova, then issued more statements, and then had a round of layoffs, all of which just succeeded in bringing more attention to their absurd situation, to the point that I had to write a summary post just to keep track what the hell was going on.

All of which could have been avoided if Daybreak had just said, “No, sanctions will not affect us.”  A warning to PR professionals everywhere.

That kind of took the air out of the announcement that the Angarr server on EverQuest had reached the Planes of Power expansion.

Ten Years Ago

I was remembering the SEGA Genesis and NBA Jams

Our Wii seemed to be collecting dust and destined for retirement.  Maybe one more round of Wii Bowling?

On the iPad I was fiddling around with Vinylize Me.

The Camelot Unchained Kickstarter had kicked off with a steep $2 million goal.  With only three days left to go the campaign was $400K short.  Not sure if Mark Jacobs’ dire vision of the future of F2P helped or hurt.

Meanwhile, Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign over the $2 million mark, having doubled its $1 million initial goal.

LOTRO turned 6 years old and I was wondering what lay it its future.

World of Tanks hit 2 years and I was pondering tank crew skills and finally driving the KV-4 along with some other new tanks.

Age of Empires II – HD Edition launched on Steam.

I took another run at Need for Speed: World, which had added achievements.

In Rift, I was wondering why the Storm Legion expansion just wasn’t grabbing me.  I tried to press on.  Meanwhile, the instance group spent evenings one person short trying to find something to do.

The Burn Jita 2 event kicked off.  People didn’t seem to be paying much attention to it before it started, but it got extended and ended up bagging 573 billion ISK worth of ships.

CCP launched its EVE Online timeline as part of its prep for the 10th anniversary of the game.  They’ve since thrown all of that away.  But the Dev Blog about it is still there.

I also had items from the mail bag about Darkfall: Unholy Wars, MegaWars IV, and World of Tanks Blitz.

And it was kind of a quiet April Fools at Blizzard.

Fifteen Years Ago

I made up something for April Fool’s Day, SOE’s Graphite Realms!  I thought it was amusing.

Homstar Runner was getting a game on the Wii.

Lord of the Rings Online celebrated a year of being live.  Book 13 introduced, among other things, fishing.  And my video problems with the game proved to be a bad video card, so I was actually able to get into the game.

Computer Gaming World/Games For Windows magazine ceased publishing as part of the ongoing demise of print media.

In EVE Online I made the big move from Caldari to Amarr space.  I also began producing Badger transports for fun and profit.  CCP introduced the whole Council of Stellar Management thing, which I dubbed The Galactic Student Council.  My opinion on it hasn’t changed much since.

I also managed to get my hauling rigged Mammoth blown up in low sec space, which got me thinking at the recent profusion of those new heavy interdictors.

Meanwhile in World of Warcraft one million people in China logged into the game at the same time.  There is still no report on what would happen if they all pressed the space bar in unison.  While that was going on, the instance group finished up the Slave Pens and the Underbog and began the long struggle with the Mana Tombs.

I was looking around for Tetris on the Nintendo DS.  You would think that would be easy to find, right?

And then it was Tipa’s turn to bang the EverQuest nostalgia drum, so I joined in yet again.

Twenty Years Ago

Enix Corporation and Square Co. Ltd. officially merge, forming Square Enix Co. Ltd. I am not making this up.

PEGI, the European video game content rating system, came into use.

Thirty Five Years Ago

Gemstone launched on GEnie.  I played in the beta for it on GEnie and then was there for the launch.  It was the first command line MUD type game that I played.  I had played Stellar Emperor, Stellar Warrior, and Isle of Kesmai, but those were all terminal emulation focused titles.  Gemstone was more akin to Zork and titles like that which parsed text inputs for actions.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. Five New Eden Maps Better Than Either EVE Online In Game Map
  2. The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates
  3. Twitter Verified User Marks Finally Disappear
  4. Blizzard April Fools No More
  5. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  6. Who Should Have Bought CCP in 2018?
  7. CCP Closing Down EVE Anywhere on May 24th
  8. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  9. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  10. Making the Grey Pit in Valheim
  11. The Cataclysm Classic Question
  12. Fraternity’s Keepstar in X47L-Q Destroyed without a Fight

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Game Time by ManicTime

I said I was going to stop posting this last month, in part because it just points out how few titles I really play and in part because I felt that posting this might be inhibiting my desire to play more titles.  And then, in April, I did in fact play more titles… so now to show I was right maybe?

  • Civilization II – 27.63%
  • Civilization V – 19.26%
  • EVE Online – 15.99%
  • WoW Classic – 15.21%
  • Civilization VI – 10.16%
  • Civilization III – 3.91%
  • Civilization IV – 2.42%
  • Valheim – 2.27%
  • Alpha Centauri – 1.73%
  • Civilization – 1.42%

Civ II and Civ V were the winners in time spent, though I will say that I played Civ II through the whole move op from Pure Blind back to Delve, tabbing into EVE Online only when it was time to do something.  So CCP thinks I player 3 hours or so of EVE… 6 hours really, because I was running two accounts… but ManicTime thinks I mostly played Civ II.  That is a constant problem tracking EVE Online time, as I spend so much of it tabbed out of the game.


I played a lot of the Civilization series, both in the number of titles I played and in the number of hours spent.  It is still a strong series.  That said, I might have sated myself.  In all that play time I never quite got one of those games where you really want to see it through.

EVE Online

I came into April pretty active in New Eden, with the war going on in Pure Blind and all.  We had bagged three Keepstars in Pure Blind in March, and managed to kill the X47 Keepstar after winning the amour timer through downtime.  But that seemed to be the limit.  Those two Keepstars in Venal were let go.  You can only have people alarm clock so many times for a Chinese time zone fight.  So we hauled most of our toys back to Delve, left a couple fleet options up there, and Fraternity dropped a fresh new Keepstar in X47.

Pokemon Go

We continue to send gifts and collect postcards in order to further our Vivillon count.  I now have 10 of the 20 total, with 6 more I will be able to evolve one I have the candies.  And all those postcards mean friendship levels which deliver xp, so I actually made some decent progress towards 44.

  • Level: 43 (68% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 767 (+9) caught, 781 (+10) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 23 of 34
  • Pokemon I want: Three specific Scatterbugs; Sandstorm, Icy Snow, and Meadow
  • Current buddy: Amaura


I did get out Valheim for a bit this month.  I was kind of looking for a game where I could just do some stuff that would pay off later, but the group hit a bit of a plateau after defeating the boss in the plains, and we have to go do that again to get the drops we need for new Mistlands crafting.  Meanwhile, I don’t quite have the energy to go all in on creating a Mistlands base.

WoW Classic

I have been slowing down a bit on Northrend front.  The instance group has only one dungeon left to do to have seen them all, at least before phase two shows up.  I have two characters at the level cap and I am losing momentum on the dailies and the like.


I did get back on the bike more so than I did in March, when I rode a rather uninspiring 27 miles.  My very modest monthly goal is 50 miles and I barely got half way there.  This month, however I managed to exceed my goal.  Not great, but better than my low ebb.  And it probably helped that the power wasn’t out and I wasn’t traveling, as was the case in March.

  • Level – 18
  • Distanced cycled – 1,602 miles (+88 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 61,624 (+2,7353 feet)
  • Calories burned – 49,920 (+2,321)

Coming Up

EVE Online turns 20 years old on May 6th.  I expect we’ll see something big from CCP on that front… though they have been pretty quiet about things up until this point.

I suspect that Twitter drama will continue.

Activision Blizzard drama as well.

And AI stuff.  That is everybody’s favorite thing right now.

Maybe we’ll hear something about Wrath Classic phase 2.  Or maybe Cataclysm Classic?  I don’t know.

Other than that, at least on the blog front, it seems like business as usual.

Playing the Different Generations of Civilization Today

Having written a bit about Sid Meier’s Civilization and its various versions over the last 30 years earlier this week, I was kind of interested to have some sort of brief reminder/comparison of the different generations.

A couple of weeks ago I was all up about the idea that you could play every generation of the Diablo series, would Civilization follow suit?

So I started going down the list… not in order, because chaos is my thing… but I will report them out in order from newest to oldest.

Civilization VI – 2016

This is the current version.  It is on Steam.  You can buy it and play it right now, it gets updates regularly, it has a bunch of DLC (19 that I see) that I have not purchased, it has a game pass of some sort because that is what AAA games get these days, and you can earn Steam achievements playing it.  It is also part of the Steam Workshop ecosystem for mods and such.

Civilization VI

While it probably runs better on my current machine than it did on the one I had when it launched, it is also 16+ GB to download.  That isn’t a huge amount in this day and age, but it is more that I was willing to invest in going back to play it.  If we got the one-time “strategy group” back together for Friday night games or some such I would grab it.  But for just me to play for maybe 2 hours… not so much.

I suppose, as a side question, is any of the DLC worthwhile?  Does it improve the game?  My impressions are all from the base game, which was unexciting enough… I am really not interested in how my cities look as long as they are producing units for war as an example… that I went back to Civ V.

Ability to play today: 100%

Civilization: Beyond Earth – 2014

I didn’t download this one.  I wrote about it previously.  We tried it as a group.  It didn’t really stick with me, feeling like a watered down Alpha Centauri mixed in with the almost maniacal love of unnecessary graphical detail that tends to grip the series.

Civilization Beyond Earth

That said, it is there on Steam, available for purchase and download, it has some DLC to buy as well, and the base install looks to be about 6GB.

Ability to play today: 100%

Civilization V – 2010

The first title in the series to launch on Steam, and it required Steam in order to play.  It was the reason I went back to Steam after Valve screwed up my original account during the Half-Life 2 retail code fiasco.  And, of course, it too had a problematic launch.  Like most Civilization titles it barely ran on my system back in 2010 and crashed a lot.  There is a reason that auto-save has been a feature of the game since Civilization II.

The new game experience, Civ version

It is still there and playable, though it can be a bit problematic.  I had to re-download it because the copy I had on my drive, last played in 2019, simply refused to launch.  A re-install fixed the issue and I was able to play.  It runs at a sprightly pace now, the computer opponents being very quick until you get into deep late-game with tons of units on the field.  I was able to get through a medium size game in an afternoon and evening.

The base game is generally available for cheap during any sale.  There are two expansions about which I am less than thrilled.  They are okay, but like a lot of Civ expansions they completely changed how the game felt.  There is also a ton of Steam Workshop mods and scenarios for the game.

Overall, a solid if somewhat divisive entry in the series.  It is, as noted, a title I have spent a lot of time with, it has Steam achievements, scenarios, and the things that make Civ fun.

Maybe my second favorite version of the game, interesting choices, the end of massive unit stacking, though still prone to some quirks and not as fast as I would expect a title this old to be.

Ability to play today: 95%

Civilization IV – 2005

We are now in the pre-Steam era, though I recall I bought my copy online and downloaded it over what passed for the internet back then, some flavor of ADSL.

I think my main bias against this version is that at launch it ran VERY slowly on my system and was part of the three game generation that insisted on being full screen and would crash when I tried to alt-tab out to look something up.  I wrote to their support about the issue and they told me I shouldn’t tab out of the game.  That was helpful.  They did eventually add a windowed mode, which has been a part of the series ever since.  At least that is my memory of events.  Maybe it was always there and I missed it back in the day.

My memories of it are also of a much more complicated game than previous versions… doesn’t that apply to every title in the sequence… but today it seems oddly light and sparse.  Plays fast and smooth… more so that Civ V I would say.  It also looks fairly good; the UI doesn’t look like it was from Windows 3.1,  Oh, and actually supports the Steam overlay so you can take screen shots, though there are no achievements.

There is also some DLC for it on Steam.  I only have the base game, so my quick replay used that.


Over all, rock solid.  Would recommend.

It is available on Steam in bits and pieces, or as a complete edition with all DLC for a much cheaper price over at GoG.com.

Ability to play today: 100%

Civilization III – 2001

In my brain Civ III is always “the new one” despite it now being more than 20 years old.  At launch, aside from being slow and demanding full screen, it seemed so much more complicated and busy and a lot of the wonders from Civ II which were game breaking in their power at times felt a bit diminished.  It also seemed so shiny and new.

Get it all on Steam

Today a lot of the UI feels really dated… not bad, but much closer to the earlier games in view an concept… and it has to be played full screen at a resolution that means all the open windows in the background will be completely messed up.  It also took a few tries to get it to launch and it crashed out to desktop… a completely resized and reorganized desktop because of screen resolution, something I will never stop complaining about… so once again we’re reminded why auto-save is a default option in the series.

That said, it plays pretty well.  It looks a bit it raw, but my current CPU meant that processing computer players during their turns was no big deal, so things went along quickly.

I had forgotten that this version was the start crazy stacking era.  In Civ II if you stacked units and one died, they all died.  In Civ III your optimum attack mode was a mega stack of units that the enemy could peel back one by one, but not before you took their city.

Still a good game, I like a lot of the mechanics.  The graphical choices feel dated now however, especially UI elements, and it is prone to crashes on my system.  It is available on Steam and at GoG.com.

Ability to play today: 90%

Alpha Centauri – 1999

I had a short (in retrospect), but hard core addition to this title.  It introduced a series of features, like boarders that I really liked.  I wasn’t completely keen on the magenta heavy landscape setting, and it was the first of the full screen versions of the game and is locked in a 1024×768 resolution.

But it is available over at GoG.com in the Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack, which includes the base game and the expansion.  After some big downloads above, this rings in at a little over half a GB, so pretty quick to get at broadband speeds.

The game plays well and has that ethereal other planet feeling.

Down on the planet

The main problem for me is that, as with Civ III, the full screen resolution lock will screw up every other window you have open.  It is also a bit unhappy about tabbing in and out.  Having a second monitor helped me a bit.

But otherwise, seemed pretty solid.  I did not play as much of this as some of the other titles, but it moved fast and was still good.  If you can put up with the fact it only runs full screen at 1024×768, this is still a very viable title.  If you get annoyed by the full screen business like I do, then it is less of a choice.

Ability to play today: 80%

Civilization II – 1996

Now we’re into the MicroProse era, where there is no support and a lot of uncertainty over whether this now qualifies as abandonware or if there somebody out there who will sue your ass if somebody like GoG tries to patch up a copy to work on today’s machines.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of this game more than 25 years down the road was that they bought fully into the Microsoft Foundation Class UI, which means it ALWAYS runs in a window that can be resized to fill your screen.  So it filled my 800×600 screen back then and it fills my 3440×1440 screen today, which is awesome.  Part of my resentment against the next three titles in the series is their strict adherence to the full screen mode at resolutions that seem tiny by today’s standards

A whole lotta Civ II on that screen

Granted, on my current screen the units are so tiny I need to play with my glasses on, but I need to do most things, including write, with my computer glasses on.

Getting it to run however… hrmmm.   First, you need a copy of Civilization II Multiplayer Gold, which has a 32-bit executable.  The previous versions were 16-bit and Windows gave up support for that when it went all in on 64-bit back with Windows 7.  Then you need to find the patcher that somebody did ages ago that fixes an issue that will keep it from launching (which I have squirreled away).  And you need to have the CD mounted because that was its copy protection.  I am sure there is a way to get around that, but I have an optical drive in my current machine still, so I just insert the disk… if I can find it. (And when I can’t find it, I have an image of the disk on my drive and some cheap software to mount it in memory.)

All of that said, if you can get it up and running, this game plays great.  It is still a huge achievement and honestly feels less dated than Civ III does.  I cannot overstate how good this game still feels.  Because of the UI framework choices a lot of things scale and look good even at a screen resolution nobody would have guessed at back in 1996.

This just looks so much better than Civ III pop ups

And, of all the titles I played since last weekend, this is the one that got me stuck in “just one more turn” mode, in part because the game plays so well and is so familiar to me, but also because it runs so damn fast.

Really, I wish somebody like GoG.com could take this on, because it really only needs a couple of modest fixes and it runs like a champ.  I would overpay for this.

Ability to play today: 10%

Civilization – 1991

I thought surely I was done for here.  The original 1991 Civilization, it pre-dates stainless steel, so you can’t get it wet.  I mean, there are not a lot of 30 year old video games that run, certainly not many which come up and ask me which of the then current video standards my system supports as an opening step.

Oh yeah, that era

I actually played the Mac version, which had slightly tuned up graphics, since back then color Macs could do 16-bit color by default.

Anyway, I was going to despair because Microsoft even has a service bulletin specifically about this game declaring it will not run on any 64-bit operating systems. I thought I was going to have to play a bit of FreeCiv, which has modes for Civ, Civ II, and Civ III rule sets.

I was not looking forward to that because, while I hate to dump on fan made passion projects like this, when I have tried to play it in the past I have found it to be an unsatisfying experience, where the UI conventions get in the way of the fun.

But the game itself has fallen into the abandonware side of the house and you can find web sites that host it so you can play in a browser.

I went and played it at Classic Reload, which didn’t trigger any virus or trojan warnings.

Civilization calling from 1991

Playing in a browser is a bit annoying.  It is certainly far from the ideal experience.  But, even with that hindering play, I have to say that the original title is still a very good game.

I mean, I knew that at some level intellectually.  It had to be good to have set off a 30 year series of games.  But sometimes the old versions of a game don’t live up to your memories.  That is not the case here.  The original Civilization would be kind of a strong title if it came out today with some update graphics and such.

I would certainly spend $10 on it if GoG.com could spiff it up and get it running at reasonable resolutions on my current machine.  Otherwise you have to scrounge a CD from somewhere… wait, no, this was on floppy disks.  Even I don’t have a 3.5″ floppy drive anymore.  Good luck there.

Ability to play today: 70%


I think the big, obvious revelation here is that there is a reason that they are making a Civilization VII; this has been a very strong series of games over the last 30 years.  I am still annoyed by some of the design choices the team has made over the years, full screen being the worst transgression on my list, but the core of the series has been pretty much carried forward for three decades.

I also feel very much renewed on my fan boy devotion to Civilization II.  But I have some renewed respect for Civ III and Civ IV and have been reminded how strong the original was.

The whole series isn’t as playable today as the Diablo series is.  However, everything after Civ II is available in some supported form from a service is you feel the need to go back in time.

And I am now a bit into the whole Civ thing, so we’ll have to see which one I end up playing the most this month.  Aside from the web version of Civilization, ManicTime records them all correctly with a recognizable name. (Which puts them ahead of EVE Online, which shows up as “exefile” in ManicTime now.)

But what if you have never played Civ and wanted to start today?

Civ VI is the latest version, so that has the focus and is probably a safe choice.

But if you want something at a bit of a discount or do not have a high end machine by today’s standards, both Civ IV and Civ V are excellent options.  Both feel reasonably up to date.  Civ IV is the end of the stacked unit juggernaut era and feels like the last title in its generation, while Civ V changed up the play style enough to be something of a divisive entry in the series for a while, but represents the path forward that the franchise has taken.  And Civ V also has easy access to mods on Steam, something built in from day one.

Or there is always original Civilization in a browser for old school fun.

Honest Game Trailers takes on Civilization

Honest Game Trailers showed up last week with an episode I could not resist.  I have been playing Civilization as long as the series has been a thing, which is past the 30 year mark now.

The core games in the franchise are, in my opinion:

  • 1991 – Civilization
  • 1996 – Civilization II
  • 1999 – Alpha Centauri
  • 2001 – Civilization III
  • 2005 – Civilization IV
  • 2010 – Civilization V
  • 2014 – Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • 2016 – Civilization VI

I am not interested in the console spin-offs, the mobile titles, and that horrible experiment on Facebook. (That was omitted from the list of games in the franchise.)  And, while it doesn’t carry the name, Alpha Centauri was really Civilization 2.5 in my book, so it counts.

The video itself is… kind of bland.

I mean, it gets into some of the absurdities of the game.  Everybody who has played long enough has a tyrant warlord Gandhi story.  And they at least alluded to the “one more turn” thing and how the first hundred turns are often much more fun than the micro management of the mid-game.

The flat world of original Civilization

But they really left off on a couple of key aspects of the franchise.  The first is that, at launch, every version of the game has been way too much for the current generation of CPUs.  My memories of Civ through to Civ V is my games taking less time with every computer upgrade as the AI opponent would speed up noticeably.

And the second, of course, is which version of the game is the best, a topic that can lead to virtual fist fights between friends.

My ranking, because of course I have one, based solely on time played as an indicator of quality, is:

  1. Civilization II
  2. Civilization V
  3. Alpha Centauri
  4. Civilization
  5. Civilization III
  6. Civilization IV
  7. Civilization VI
  8. Civilization: Beyond Earth

I have some strong feelings about different versions and their features.  Civilization VI, for example, never stuck with me and I still go back to Civ V if I want to play these days.  Meanwhile, the less said about Beyond Earth, a mere shadow of Alpha Centauri, the better.

Finally, there is the argument over which is the best 4X strategy game.  Even back in the 90s I would get into it with the whole Civilization versus Masters of Orion argument, with the Reach for the Stars voices chiming in from the sidelines.  There have been a lot of titles over the years.  The list on Wikipedia brings back some memories with titles like Spaceward Ho!

But has anybody really done 4X better than the Civilization series?

And just to finish this off I am going to go into the horrible block editor just to try and put a poll into this post to let people rage vote on their favorite in the series.

Which version will top the list?

(You must visit the site to vote and various ad blockers may hide the poll, so your mileage may vary considerably.)

Fiddling with FreeCiv

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was digging around for possible things to play for a bit earlier this month, and one path I went down for a few days was FreeCiv.

FreeCiv simple start screen

I was actually thinking about getting out Civilzation II yet again… I have the disk on my bookshelf, so I know I can get it running again… but then I thought about FreeCiv, which is an open source project and no doubt up to date and compatible with 64-bit operating systems and large screen monitors and all of the usual pitfalls that come with trying to play older titles.

FreeCiv has been around for more than 25 years at this point, having started off as a way to make a version of the original Civilization that supported network multiplayer gaming.  Big stuff back in 1996.

The Civilization II came and that got looped into the project and then Civilization III and then other ideas were melded into the project and… well, more than 25 years down the road this is an engine that does a crazy amount of things.

Just starting the game gives you a first glimpse into the options available.

Starting a game…

And that doesn’t even get into the breadth of network play options captured in a single entry on that list.

You have to read the manual that comes in the install package, or go to the wiki, to start getting a handle on what the options mean.

Also, given the time this project has been alive, it is probably no surprise that there are also a myriad of nation options to choose from, each with a long list of city names and possible leaders.

50 in the core choices, 555 in the extended

So you make your choices… you can play traditional Civ style, with top down squares, Civ II style with the 2.5D isometric view with squares so popular in the 80s and 90s, or you can have Civ III hexes and boarders with Civ II rules in an interesting mix, or one of the other options… I favor that Civ II Civ III mix currently… and you end up in a game that looks like the start of any Civilization game really, which is what one should expect.

You’ve probably seen a situation like this before

As I noted, it is up to date in a lot of way and can, for example, expand to use all the real estate that my 34″ monitor has to offer.  It plays like the early Civ titles for the most part.  They key commands are mostly the same.  And it looks decent enough, with its own home grown tile set and units that are different from the original games but similar enough to not take too much guess work to figure out.

How it plays though… well, you have to get used to it.  Any open source project will end up with the “good enough” issue or compromises in UI to be able to support things as widely as possible.  You can play on Linux as well, which means the UI has to stay at a somewhat primitive level of development when it comes to giving feedback to the user.

The first stumble for me is getting used to shift-enter to end a turn, rather than having to mouse around to find the end turn button on the left side info bar.  But you get over that pretty quickly.

The UI though, the flip side of it being happy to use up all my screen real estate is that it outputs the information you need in tiny text in windows and tabs that appear at the lower edge of the window, which is easy glance past on a large screen monitor.

Little tabs showing up at the bottom of the screen

Now, before you point it out, those text tabs look pretty substantial in that screen shot, but only because I made the game window a manageable size (~1500 x 1100) rather than the full native size of my monitor (3440 x 1440) just to keep the screen shot from being enormous and completely illegible when scaled down to 600 pixels wide to fit into the column width of the blog.

Nothing like finding that somebody has started attacking you because you missed the Diplomacy alert in blue (it should be flashing red) or realizing you’re not researching anything because you missed the Research alert showing up (should be double flashing red), but then you see if pop up and it is just telling you that it finished something in your queue with the same quite level of assertion.

My immediate solution has been to play at a much smaller resolution in order to not miss so many notifications.

But most of the annoyance is just figuring out how to read some of the windows.  The research screen is interesting and convenient because it allowed you to queue up your research goals… but then reading what is in the actual queue isn’t exactly clear to me.  And there are several windows where you can do things in the wrong order and the games just lets you and moves on because you didn’t, in effect, say “please” to get what you wanted.

Basically, it is the confluence of a very deep game with a lot of features, a mid level “good enough” UI, and having grown used to the Civ series putting up a modal alert that you can’t ignore or move forward past without at least acknowledging the event in question.

The UI thing is pretty much an object lesson in how much UI design impacts playability and why it is an important aspect of any game.  Here we have a title that is rich and deep in features but which often left me stumbling around trying to figure out things that have been simple in similar commercial titles.

None of which is insurmountable.  But it definitely feels like a game you don’t play casually.  It is more a game you need to invest in, one that becomes a hobby or a regular group activity with friends.

Which, again, isn’t a bad thing.  And it is hard to argue with the price.

Brave New World Brings Back Old Civilization Features

Yesterday saw the launch of the Brave New World expansion to Civilization V.


I had it pre-ordered on Steam and downloaded the update as soon as I got home last night.  MMO gaming was out the window as I tried out the new expansion.

There was the usual spate of items included in the expansion.  New civilizations are included, though I cannot see that as a big thrill unless you are looking for some more “Win a game as…” achievements or want to see what the city names are.  Some new scenarios were added on, though I must admit I rarely play those, preferring the traditional long game.  And, of course, there were some new wonders thrown in.

As always, you must remember I look at this through the lens of Civilization II, which remains one of my favorite games ever.  So I used to create new civilizations by editing the game data, which was stored in a text file.  Notepad is ever the most basic tool in software development.  Achievements were barely a thing, and only if you count the high score list.  Wonders were much less numerous, and many of those that were there had a much bigger impact on the game.  And…well… I still preferred the long game back then as opposed to scenarios.

But it is that bias towards Civ II that made this expansion a must have for me, as the Firaxis team brought back two aspects of early versions of the game and integrated them into Civ V; ideology and trade routes.  Eager to see those in action, I started a standard game on a big map.  I played as Morocco, which I only noted was one of the new civilizations a ways into the game, showing how much I pay attention to those sorts of things.

Ideology used to be an incredibly important aspect of the game in the Civ II days.  Of course, it used to be a bit of an exploit as well.  If you could research democracy early in the game and build the Statue of Liberty wonder, which was a mid-game wonder that gave you access to all of the various government ideologies, and then swapped to communism, you gained a pretty steep advantage.  And it also eliminate the period of anarchy when changing ideologies.

In Civ V, ideology is now an aspect of the game, but it is limited to the modern age or after you build factories in a certain percentage of your cities.  So you can not longer have a pre-industrial dictatorship of the proletariat.   Unfortunately I did not make it to the modern age in my first game out with the expansion.  Instead I got involved with a bloody little three-way war with the Celts and Portugal, who both came at me at once, with the Greeks weighing in now and again, in one corner of the map that left us all poking each other with spears and lances well into the 19th century.  Of course, that was plenty of fun, despite not being a winning game, but I wasn’t building many universities in the middle of the war.  So that aspect is left to be explored.

And then there was trade routes.  I like what they did with this.  In Civ II trade routes were pretty simple.  You built a trade caravan unit that represented one of the items your city had to offer and, ideally, sent it off to a city that wanted that item and which, in turn, offered up something your city desired.  When the caravan arrived, the trade route was established, and that was that pretty much.  And even if neither city had the right items, some sort of trade would be established and would still be better than no trade at all.

In Brave New World, trade routes are also established by building a caravan or, for sea trade, a trading ship.  Once built, you are given a pretty detailed list of the places with which you can trade and the benefits they will give.  You select one and off your caravan goes.  But once it arrives, the unit then returns and then goes back again, and so on, actually representing the trade route in game.  And the unit is vulnerable to attack.  If it is destroyed, the trade route is broken.  So you have to actually protect your trade routes.

In my dirty little war with Portugal and the Celts, I had cavalry in their back field expressly going after their caravans as well as triremes afloat to intercept their trade on the high seas.  And during a period of peace when I was trying to annex a captured city and was facing a lot of unrest due to unhappy citizens, the uprisings managed to destroy almost all of my own trade routes, putting me in the red on both happiness and finances.

Fun stuff.

There are also some enhancements to the cultural victory aspect of the game, including tourism and great works which, in the midst of a war, were largely left unexplored by me.  But it looks interesting.

One of the downsides of the expansion is that Firaxis did not seem to spend much time on performance enhancements this time around.  That was one of the things that the Gods & Kings expansion offered, a boots to performance.  So as the game progressed, I again found myself spending a lot of time waiting for the game.  Of course, it doesn’t help that I like big maps and the marathon pace, but I still contend that my system is beefy enough on the processing front that anything that bogs it down has to be pretty fearsome code-wise.

And the team did not appear to spend any time on some of the minor annoyances.  The game still seems to delight in showing me messages out of order order.  And it always seems to jump straight to the “Next Turn” button before allowing that, just maybe, I might still have some units that need orders.  I suspect that the code has been written to show “Next Turn” right away because it is prone to getting stuck elsewhere and that button at least sends things on their way.

All in all though, I am happy with the expansion so far.  It will no doubt keep me busy for some time and make it less likely that I will buy a bunch of games when the Steam Summer Sale finally shows up this year.  Rumor has it that the sale starts tomorrow.

Waiting for Civilization

Last week my focus was a huge game of Civilization V.

Early in the week I started a few games on the largest map size (going with the Lakes option, so lots of land warfare) with a dozen competing civilizations and the usual complement of city states until I got a situation that looked good.  The first time out I was wedged in a corner between the Huns and the Mongols, which did not bode well.  The next time I was the Huns, but I managed to get into a war of annihilation with three other civs very early in the game, and while I managed to get to peace while still holding on to my capital, I was set back so badly that any rematch was going to go badly for me.

The third time out I drew the Germans which helped me build up my military quickly and avoid getting penned in early.  The Germans have a somewhat imbalanced attribute that allows them to recruit barbarians to their side a certain percentage of the time when they defeat a barbarian camp.

Loading... still loading...

Loading… still loading…

I actively went after barbarian camps, which allowed my city production to stay focused on buildings and wonders.  You don’t get the best units that way, but you get a lot of them.  My barbarian strategy actually ended up yielding too many units and some points, though I was able to gift them to city states in return for influence.  The Germans also pay less for land unit maintenance, so that helped with the budget.

I ended up playing all the way into Sunday evening in sessions of an hour or more.  In the end it was down to five civs, all of whom feared my military might and all but one of which, the Carthaginians, who were my game-long ally, I was chipping away at, declaring war, taking a city, getting another city as part of a peace settlement, and then turning to the next in line.

However, my enthusiasm for conquest was starting to wain, so I decided at around turn 1,100 to just go for the cultural victory and end it about 30 turns later.  I saved before I started, so I could go back and continue the military victory… or the political victory… or the religious victory.  All were still viable.  But I was tired of waiting.

I was tired of waiting because, in the last 500 or so turns, that was what I was doing most of the time; waiting.  I would make my moves, update production, tweak some improvements, then end my turn only to wait and wait while the computer handled each of the other civilizations, the city states, and finally the barbarians.  Then the game would come back to me.

It is a truism of the Civilization series that each version is launched at a time when they really need the next generation of CPUs to run them effectively.  I remember getting a new computer and seeing the time it took to play a game of Civ II drop dramatically.  I recall writing a note to Firaxis about the slow performance of Civ IV back when it launched, at a time when I had a pretty high end machine in terms of processing power.  Their response was quite snotty in my opinion and could be summed up as  “play smaller campaigns if performance matters to you, there is nothing wrong with our game.”

So I am left wondering when we will reach the point where average CPUs will be up to the task of speedy turns in Civ V and where the bottlenecks really lay.  The game appears to at least be multi-core aware.  Looking at Task Manager, at least four of the eight cores in my CPU look like they are in use, though none of them are capped out or even showing usage beyond 50%.  So the game doesn’t seem CPU bound.  RAM appears to be available, so it isn’t like the game is paging out constantly… or it shouldn’t be in any case.  And while there appears to be some issue with I/O… the game takes me four long minutes from launch before I can resume a game already in progress… and four minutes might not seem like much time, but try sitting in front of your screen waiting, clicking to skip through any video possible, and listening to the required speech about your civ and its leader, then it is the “watched pot” scenario… I cannot imagine that they are doing much of that for each turn.

So when will we be set on this front?

I hope that the next Civ V expansion, Brave New World, will include performance improvements like those that came with the Gods & Kings expansion…  yes, performance was even worse at launch… because CPUs not only are not getting faster in the ways they used to back in the day, but the CPU doesn’t seem to be the limiting factor at the moment.  A long campaign like last week’s, where the last third of the game was mostly me waiting on the computer, puts me off the game.

But it does make me want to dig out my Civ II disk, which is still lost somewhere in my office.  The game isn’t as sophisticated as Civ V, though there is some appeal to its sometimes crude simplicity.

A simpler time...

A simpler time…

But the game itself runs like a dream, the AI zips along, and most of any match is spent doing rather than waiting.  There are many reasons I always go back to that game, and speed is certainly one.  Yes, you can get mired into epic stalemates, but at least the turns move quickly.

Five Games I Want to See Revamped

The announcement that Hidden Path is doing a revamp of Age of Empires II, along with such refreshes as Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, naturally made me think about what other games ought to get cleaned up and brought forward into the current age.

Here are the five that I want to see.

1 – Civilization II

Civilization II remains my favorite version of Civilization.  I have continued playing this through all the follow up versions.  There is a simplicity to it that gets lost in the later games that I find quite endearing.  And by reports I am not alone in continuing to play.  One of the most popular posts on the blog is about how to get Civ II to run on Windows 7 64-bit.

Which, of course, brings up the question of why it even needs an update if it runs already.  It doesn’t even look horrible and thanks to the Microsoft programming doctrines of the time, it runs in a window that resizes to whatever screen resolution you need.

A simpler time...

A simpler time…

Well, it runs, but not without difficulty at times.  You have to get the right version of the game and use somebody’s home grown patch to get it to run on 64-bit.  And you still need the CD in the drive to play, and I’ll admit right now that I managed to lose mine… again.  And there are a number of long standing AI issues that could be cleared up along the way.

Basically, I would like to buy a fresh copy that works on my machine.  I don’t care if it comes from Steam or GOG.com, I will make that purchase.

Why It Won’t Happen

The game was published back when Sid Meier was doing games for the now defunct MicroProse, so I am not even sure who owns the rights to the code itself, though Sid did manage to wrest the Civ name from them.  Sort of.  There were issues.  And even if Sid and Firaxis owned the rights free and clear, they would much rather you buy Civilization V and some of their DLC than some code that is going on 20 years old here.

2 – Diablo

Again, back to a simpler time.  My first thought was Diablo II, but that actually runs on my system okay and doesn’t look that bad.  So no work to be done there.  But the first game in the series?

I can almost get the original Diablo running on my machine.  There are a couple of tricks to getting the palettes to load correctly.  The game loads, you can play for a bit, but it is about as happy as a summoned demon about the whole thing.  The palettes are muddy, the lighting clearly has another agenda, and things lock up at inopportune moments.  And the whole thing is presented in a very chunky 640×480 on my big monitor.

A simpler time... in HELL

A simpler time… in HELL

But it is nearly there.  You can just get a taste.  You can hear the sound effects.  You get a sense for a moment how dark and moody the caverns under Tristam were.  I think a rework of this would do well.  And, of course, Blizzard owns it all and could roll a fresh version is the desired.  I would subscribe to another year of WoW to get it.

Why It Won’t Happen

I see a vision of Mike Morhaime explaining how Diablo III is really the superior product while dismissing the idea of a rework of the original.  Blizzard never moves backwards.  Old products get some support, but once a new version is out, the old one is pretty much dead to them.  This is why there will never be an official version of the WoW Emerald Dream server.  Blizzard just doesn’t do that.

Plus, I am not sure I would trust Blizzard with this.  They didn’t even make the original.  That was the long-gone team at Blizzard North.

3 – Bolo

At this point I suspect that most of you are going, “Huh?  What is Bolo?”

Bolo was a fun little networked tank game on the Mac back when adding network capabilities to your typical DOS box took an expensive package from Novell.  Created by brilliant networking programmer Stuart Cheshire, we used to play this for hours on Friday nights at the office.  There was an interface that allowed people to create AIs to drive players, and we would set up a series of AI boxes in the lab and have horrible, bloody, never ending battles.  Great stuff.



Why It Won’t Happen

Nobody could make any money from it.  Mr. Cheshire said he was done with it ages ago, but I don’t think that means he’ll let other people take it over.  And, honestly, as a game, it had some issues with coming to a final resolution.  It was hard to win.  Basically, one team generally grew tired first and gave up.  And if it was AIs versus humans, well, the AIs never got tired.

4 – Auto Duel

Autoduel was the great mid-80s computer game manifestation of Car Wars from Steve Jackson Games.  It took the vehicular combat game and forced it into the computer RPG mold quite successfully.  There was an unfolding story and goals and side tasks and character development and buying new crap to bolt onto your car all wrapped into one game.



I spent hours sitting in front of my Apple II playing this game.  It was great.  What could possibly go wrong.

Why It Won’t Happen

Well, to start with, it was an Apple ][ game. (Along with other such now defunct 80s computer platforms.)  You cannot, would not, should not literally translate it to a version that runs on today’s machines.  Which means that you would need to re-imagine it in the way that the Wasteland 2 group is trying to redo Wasteland.  But I have my doubts on that.  It might be that this (and Wasteland) were only great in the context of the limited computer hardware we had at the time.  And… you know… Auto Assault.

Plus, if that weren’t enough, Steve Jackson Games owns the rights and doesn’t seem to have any interest in such a venture, seeming content to work on their own board game nostalgia instead.

5 – EverQuest

This one is probably the least realistic as well as being the one to which people are most likely to take offense.

Here we are, the day before EverQuest’s 14th birthday.  The game has a huge amount of content added in over 19 different expansions.  It has grown, expanded, and adapted over time, first setting trends and later following them.  It has gone free to play, so money isn’t even a barrier to playing the game.

SOE has worked to remove many barriers to getting people to play one of the great MMORPGs of the 20th century.  But one huge barrier still remains.

The client.

I don’t mind the bad linoleum textures, the primitive animations, the intermittent sounds, the decrepit character models, or some of the crazy, grindy game play.

Never an immersion breaking name in EQ!

Textures gone wild

But every time I go back to play the game, wrestling with the damn client is a royal pain.  They have tried to bring it up to date or to adhere to conventions that came into fashion for MMOs after it shipped.  Things like WASD movement keys as a default.

And they have managed it quite well.  But the client feels like it has too many features stuffed into it, while still showing some of the flaws it had back in 1999.  For example, how frickin’ big does the contact area around my character need to be.  I am constantly trying to click on something off to one side of him and ending up with him as the selection.

So I dream of an all new client, designed and built from scratch that delivers a smooth and modern user experience.  And it pains me to say that, as the cardinal sin of every young, and many old, programmers is the heartfelt need to reject anybody elses code, opting to rewrite things from scratch.  But I cannot get to my desired state by continuing to pile on to the old code base.  A fresh start is needed.

In my mind, I see what is essentially EQ running with WoW’s client.

But I would accept the EverQuest II client frankly.

Why It Won’t Happen

There is no money in it.  Having gone free to play, if it doesn’t come from the cash shop, it doesn’t bring in any money.  The only exceptions are subscriptions and expansions.  The client is free to download.

And, of course, even if there were money in it, it would be a huge operation and many a company has gone under rewriting code rather than pushing forward with new features on top of old spaghetti.  See Netscape.   The costs would be huge, and the benefits likely marginal at best.  And I may want a better EQ client, but I suspect I am in a slim minority.  Plus, how well did such revamps serve other games in the past?

Other Games

Of course, there were other games that came to mind.  I was tempted to list any version of SimCity besides the current one, just becauseGetFudgedPopulation FTW!  But we already have SimCity 4 on Steam.

I was also wondering about Ultima III and the original Wizardry.  But I suspect that neither would make good games today.  Or they might make fine iOS/Android games, but not something that would compare favorably to what we have available now on our desktops.  Basically, almost anything from the pre-Macintosh or pre-Windows era is likely mired in the time before GUI and has to be re-imagined to be brought forward.  Only dedicated hobbyists are likely to show any interest in games from that time.

Still, that does leave a good gap in time, and a whole pile of games that do adhere to at least some of the standards to which we have become accustomed and which could be reworked, polished up, and re-released.

What else should be on the list?  What would you like to see reworked and brought up to date?

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.

What Google Has Been Telling Me Lately – Spaceship Edition

Nobody at Google actually tells me anything… except that they seem hell bent on redesigning their UI across all of their apps so that they all match Google+.  I am, frankly, not a fan.

But indirectly Google tells me things via the search results that get directed here.

Sometimes that can be viewed as just a message about the search terms in which this site ranks highly.  Often those are the very obvious.  Variations of the name of the blog tend to send people here.

And odd mash-ups of past topics also show up from which I am sure I could build my own version of The Road to Popehat. (Which I sort of do in my monthly summary most months.)  I think searches like “Tom of Finland Harry Potter” would certainly get me started, as does “one does not simply cat tank into mordor.”

Some of these searches can be oddly specific, such as “swtor email in use,” which I am sure is somehow related to account creation.

But sometimes my site ends up not only ranking high in a search, but that search is apparently at least mildly popular.  And from those I can derive different, more specific messages from Google.  Currently Google is sending my three such messages.  They are:

When is Hulkageddon V Already?

Easily the most popular search terms bringing people here revolve around Hulkageddon V.

People want to know when!

Hulkageddon is a player event in EVE Online when some players get together and blow up the ships of other players who, for the most part, would rather their ships not be blown up.

I put up a post about this right after the event was announced back in early November.  At the time it contained all the information available and a link to the forum thread where future information would be posted.   Two and a half months later, the post still has all the information available, and people seem to be getting impatient about it.

Of course I cannot tell if the people searching seek to actively participate in Hulkageddon V or if they just want a heads up so they can take an in-station skills break while it goes on, but there is clearly some desire out there for more information.

People Still Want to Play Star Wars Galaxies

Search terms around SWG emulation started showing up regularly the day after SWG went dark.

Connection to SWG Lost... Forever

These terms bring people to a post I did about SWG emulators that are out there.

All I can really say is that there is clearly some interest out there.  The fact that such searches have been going up noticeably as the first month of SWTOR draws to a close might be a message, but the sample size is so small that any conclusions would be unsupported.

Civilization II is Still Popular

I do not appear to be alone in my love of Civilization II.

A simpler time...

Back in October I finished up my tale about getting Civilization II to run on 64-bit Windows 7.  Things were quiet after that, but around mid-December there was a spike in searches on the subject, and Google has been delivering people here based on Civ and Windows 7 based search terms ever since.

Does This Mean Anything?

Probably only that there are a few people out there interested in a couple of topics about which I have written.  Google sends between 600 and 1000 people to the site based on search results.  These three just stand out in that variations on these terms have topped this list for the last month or more, and have kept those three posts on the Top Posts list on the side bar.  That list is usually just the home of what I wrote over the last week, that post about the guild name generator, and various Pokemon related posts.  People love their Pokemon.

Anyway, that is my read on what Google has been telling me of late.

Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit

When last we left my quest to play Civilization II on my Windows 7 64-bit system, I seemed to be pretty much out of luck.

The original version of the game was a 16-bit executable and simply would not run on Windows 7 64-bit.  No way, no how.

So I started to look around for a newer version of the game.  Eventually, over at Amazon.com, I came across a vendor in the Amazon Marketplace that was selling a copy of the later Civilization II Muliplayer Gold Edition for just $15.  It seemed like a deal to me, and when it showed up a couple of days later, it appeared to be the full package.

Box, manual, disc, and chart

That box is actually considerably bigger than what games ship in today.  And I haven’t seen a game manual that comprehensive in a decade at least.

Anway, that was the version I needed, as I had read over at Civilization Fanatics that somebody had created a patch for that version that would allow the game to run on 64-bit.  There is actually a thread in their forum with the patch.

At first I was not even sure I would need the patch.

The game installed, launched, and ran for a bit.  It wasn’t until I started my first city that the game terminated.  So I went and grabbed the patch, applied it, and gave it another go.

And, hey presto, I had a running game!

Exploring the World

Now to play a few games to decide where Civ II really belongs on my top Civilization games list.  The poll taken in the last post on the subject seemed to indicate that Civ II was pretty well regarded.  With 136 votes in, this was the list:

My own first impressions, having been away from the game for a couple of years, is how light and easy and uncluttered it is.  Relative to the later versions of the game, there is a simplicity to it.  That and how much I like that it was designed to run in a window, a popular design choice back in the mid 90s, so that it sized correctly to my monitor, which has about 4x the area that my monitor did back when the game first shipped.

Barbarian Uprising!

I pretty much fell right back into playing the game.  I started at the Warlord level for my warm up, which meant that I pretty much dominated from the start, even with the barbarians set to “raging hordes.”

Who's happy? I'm happy!

So now I have another retro gaming option on my system.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in a little Civilization retrospective about the original game, Tim and Jon at Van Console Time Murdering Hemlocks have a show up about the original Civilization.  Step back 20 years and hear how Civilization grabbed so many of us.