The Eternal War: 10 Year Civ II Game
June 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm #25339
I haven’t delved into the depths of the Reddit subforum just yet, but thought this might be worthy of Overthinking -
this guy has been apparently playing the same game of Civilization II for around ten years now. In game years, he’s reached the year 3991, and there are three nations warring over a hellscape of global warming, nuclear waster and swampland.
My OTI question is this: What does this say about the possibility of using games to tell stories? Is there a better way than a few screen shots to tell the story of a massive world at war like this?June 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm #25340
I came here to post this to the forums and was glad to see that someone else had found it and beaten me to it!
First, have to say that I love, love, love, love Civilization and what this guy has done with the game.
Second, to attempt to answer your question on video games and storytelling:
This guy has used the game to create his own story that has been told over the course of 10 (real-life) years. Replicating that in a time frame that’s acceptable to an audience while still retaining some of the richness of the story would be difficult.
Some sort of annotated time-lapsed video comes to mind, but even if you only allow 5 seconds for each year, the years 2000-3991 would take almost 3 hours of video.
I dunno–I think the most powerful part of the story derives from layers upon layers of experience: each cycle of building armies, watching them get destroyed, nuking cities, watching them get nuked, increases the stakes for the player. If he someday wins or loses, it will make that ultimate victory/loss so much more intense than anything I can possibly imagine relayed to me in story form.
Even the longest of our serialized television shows can’t compete with that sort of feeling.
Those are some initial thoughts…will come back with more as they come to me.June 13, 2012 at 12:09 am #25342
1984 is the obvious parallel to reach to, as reddit demonstrates. On the other hand, my instinct would be to summon some narrative inspired by the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The cyclical and extended nature of the violence seems to fit, even though the role of individual personalities within a faction is diminished and the time frame (a century compared to millenia).
For the time-lapse question, I’d draw on two disparate sourcesJune 13, 2012 at 5:10 am #25343
I think the Video Games Hot Dog podcast (though don’t quote that source, I listen to a ton of podcasts) suggested an MMO of Fallout in a real-scale world with about 1000 survivors, such that even seeing another person would be this amazing event. I imagine if you did something similar with planets for a Civilisation game you might have some amazing elements of contact over long periods of time.June 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm #25363
Lee- I agree, CIV is a great game, and CIV II specifically will always be my favorite. I admire this guy’s determination: I would usually get frustrated if the game got into a late-stage stalemate that was going to take hours and hours to finish, so I’d usually just start a whole new map – once the tech tree is over, it got boring for me relatively quickly if I wasn’t making rapid military progress.
As for the long-form nature of it, I agree with Mark that while people can get some entertainment value out of watching this game unfold, it won’t be anything close to the experience of actually playing it over the course of years and watching it play out.
An interesting wrinkle to the storytelling/game playing aspect of this whole thing popped up when I was browsing the new Reddit subforum:
The original poster of the “Eternal War” (Lycerieus) posted his save as a playable scenario for everyone else to play on Reddit. I’m sure lots of people have beaten it by now, but that thread is the first one that popped up – another Redditor broke the stalemate and won the game within 58 years. Another commenter responded:
Of course, his victory isn’t the canon one, victory or defeat is still yours to decide, commander Lycerius!
What exactly does “canon” mean in the context of a story played out in a sandbox game like CIV II? It’s an interesting concept because it ascribes authorship to the PLAYER of the game as opposed to the maker of the game. If I pick up your paused game on an RPG, my ending isn’t really any more or less “canonical” than it would be if you had played the game.
This particular game of CIV II has become internet-famous, and Lycerius is the one who originally wrote the post about it, so I suppose that his solution will be canonically “real” if and only if he writes about it – he might beat the game three different ways after this point, and only the way he chooses to write about on Reddit would be canonical at that point.
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