Curse you, Sid Meiers!


And speaking of History, I just found out that the latest game in the Civilization series, late-night wanking material of history dorks and strategy game nerds alike, is being released in a week. I didn't even realize it existed until a couple of hours ago, and now I've already pre-ordered it. And with its arrival will go the last vestige of hope that I will study to a satisfactory degree for law school courses. Ah well. These events are greater things than we mere mortals can hope to fight against.

But my God! Civ IV! Now instead of just picking a government style, you craft your government from 5 options along 5 different vectors! You don't just pick a government type (Democracy, Monarchy, Communist, etc.). You also pick your legal system, your economics, the degree of religious involvment, and your relation with labor. And religion! Religions act as independent entities, starting in one city and slowly spreading through the world, making it easier to work with cities of your religion and hard to work with foreign religions. You can also help this along by building missionaries and forcing your religion on others. Gah! The intricacies! When this game arrives, I will cease to exist as a person.


I hope that whatever Civilizations-engrossed fragment of Zach Sharpe remains will still be available to carry on arguments with pompous dipshits on my blog when I've thrown up my hands and turned to sarcasm and barely-relevant asides. You've no idea how relieved I've been since you joined in that argument. And for the record, my verbal comment upon reading your post on the poisoned-sample problem of gender identity studies was, "That's good anthropology."

I approached this post from the above angle only because I've never played Civilizations 1-3 and don't have much to say about them. I have, however, tangentially, become interested in Black & White 2 based on a description of it and find myself tempted to re-think my stance on computer strategy games (which is that because I take them way too personally and stress out way too much over my gameplay, I should not play them anymore).

No problem. I was reluctant to participate because of my lack of knowledge of anthropology, but when gender issues came up I finally found a hook.

I have to confess to being somewhat ambivalent on the issue. My inclination is to say that culture accounts for the majority of gender roles and attitudes, but I'm not quite willing to rule out the possibility of innate differences.

Yet while I might have sympathy for Dr. V's viewpoint, I have no sympathy for assholes. I'm particularly not a fan of the "I'm empirically right and anyone who disagrees with me is either an idiot or lying" variety of rhetoric.

I must also say that you've had the patience of a saint in allowing his comments to stay up. If something like that happened here it wouldn't be long before I put a stop to it. I don't like deleting comments (outside, of course, double-posts) but let's see how persuasive his argument is if I take his vowels away...

Black and White, the first one, was a lot of fun. I'd lend you my copy, but it's in San Diego. I haven't heard much about the sequel, but I didn't know Civ IV was even in the works until a couple of hours ago, so there you go.

Now I have to fight the temptation to urge you to play Civ I-III. I have an annoying tendency to try to force my tastes on others. I will restrain myself to simply pointing out that, were you so inclined, you could download a copy of the first game here. If you were to download and play said copy, I would recommend paying attention to the help pop-ups, which should provide the information you need to play, and reading the civilopedia entries on the technology you research. Not because it contains useful information, but because, damn it, it's fun to read a little executive summary on the history and importance of currency and codes of laws!

I got a wicked gleam in my eye when I read "let's see how persuasive his argument is if I take his vowels away" and it hasn't disappeared yet. In fact, hang the wicked gleam, I'm pretty sure that I did actually cackle.

I'm not very good with that sort of thing, though. I once got so pissed off at a commenting jackass that I deleted and locked the entire comment thread, then regretted it and swore to leave all comments as posted. Then I decided that pompous shit would be accessorized with snarky editorial comments, without removing any of the content of the posts, but regretted that too and removed my snarky editorial comments.

It's not winning, is my problem. Saying, "I am the king and I can have you beheaded for saying I'm wrong," does not equal a glorious rhetorical victory. It's resorting to something totally unrelated to the debate to make the other person shut up, and if the other person is a pompous ass he will most assuredly interpret it as a sign that he's won when, in fact, he's not winning anything including a good citizenship award.

Were you reading my blog at the time of the Great Free Will Argument? Dr V made his first great showing of himself as Cementhorizon's Resident Dipshit there. It was actually a shame because at the start of the debate he had a point to make and was more or less debating it with Jacob. If it hadn't degenerated into "you're a fuzzy-headed hippie idiot with no concept of how cold, hard reality works", it might have been something worth reading. But if you were wondering where that particular approach of his started around here, that's pretty much it.

And as for Civilization, I'll admit that I'm intrigued. I like to geek out over history. I don't play resource-management games (which is the best way I can think of to describe the general character of things like SimCity, Warcraft, Populous, and also it seems Civilization) all that well or gracefully, but the difference between those and board games like Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne is so slight that if I enjoy the latter (which I do) I should be able to enjoy the former as well.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I think I will give Civilization a shot. Is it really abandonware, though? That seems weird if the creator is still putting out games in the series.

This is an excellent incentive to get my laptop hooked up to my desktop monitor and keyboard, because obviously I can't go playing games with a condensed keyboard and trackpad. Thank you.

I should start by referencing this post by Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light. TNH is, I believe, the origin of Disemvowelling. The wonderful thing about disemvowelling is that it serves as a nice middle ground between deleting a comment and letting it stand. Deleting a comment is quite censorious, and gives me icky feelings as a card-carrying member of the ACLU (though I, of course, realize that I am not the government, I own the forum and I am not bound by the Constitution). Moreover, it's something of a disservice to other commenters. If you were, hypothetically, to delete Dr. V's comments above, the remains of the comment thread would be a bunch of us yelling at noone.

At the same time, leaving it just encourages more of this behavior. He's a guy who gets off on making people angry on internet forums. He's a weed in the garden. The best thing to do is to ignore him, but that's practically impossible to get all of your readers to do while his obnoxious posts are sitting there.

Disemvowelling works because it serves as a marker, a sign post that says "HERE THERE BE TROLLS!" so that subsequently when later readers see people's snide comments, they say "Ah, they're responding to that troll above." Further, it preserves the bones of their post so that the motivated reader can reconstruct it. Most people, faced with that much work, will ignore it. The troll in question will bitch for a while, then either go away or get nicer. You can even use the mechanism to train them to behave in a civil manner. Eventually he'll learn that ideas couched in friendly language stay up. Being an asshole gets you disemvowelled.

The devil on my shoulder tells me to say that of course Civilization is abandonware! It hasn't been sold in years, the company that made it has been out of business, along with its brand name, for ten years, and the creator has since moved on to three other companies.

I can't, however, say for certain. The site in question, Abandonia, seems to be pretty good about only allowing downloads of genuinely abandoned games. A lot of games they've listed have had their download links removed, so they seem to be making some effort. As for the owner of Civilization, the company that developed and published Civilization, Microprose, was bought by Atari in the early 90s and has now been completely dismantled. The trademark to Civilization was sold off to Infogrames, who then sold it to Take 2 Interactive. In any case, Atari owns the copyright to all of Microprose's games right now. Sid Meier, the creator of Civilization, has his own company now, Firaxis, which is working on contract with Take 2 to produce Civilization IV. So: Take 2 owns the rights to make future Civilization games. Infogrames owns the rights to Civilization III (It was published by them under a similar agreement with Firaxis). I believe Atari still owns the rights to Civilizations I and II from back when they purchased Microprose. Civ III is 100% illegal to download; they still sell it in various Game of the Year editions. I believe Atari also markets a $5 CD of Civilization II (which is worth purchasing if you should stumble on it). Nobody sells Civilization I anymore.

So my take would be: If your criterion is "nobody sells this game and nobody is likely ever to sell it in the future" Civilization I is kosher and the others verboten. If you're more strict about it, I'd recommend buying either Civilization II or III. Both of them will only be available in Super Game of the Year editions with all the expansion packs, which is nice. Civ II may be harder to find than Civ III, but it is both cheaper and, in my opinion, somewhat more satisfying. As an introduction to the series, I think both Civ I & II work best, though II, being a Windows 95-native program rather than a DOS program, is somewhat easier to run on a modern system.

So, yeah. If you're in EBGames or CompUSA and see Civ II in the bargain CDs rack, I'd buy it. Civ III is also a fine game and more easily available if you're willing to spend $20-30. And Civ I is great in itself, though the only place to get it is likely abandonware sites, and those can be morally dubious.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on October 16, 2005 6:21 PM.

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