This is kind of amazing: one gamer over on Reddit has been playing the same save game of Civilization II off and on for the last decade. That itself is not the amazing part.
The amazing part is how it’s played out. The first 2000 years of his reign went more or less like a Civ game does: evolving technology, newer and greater armies, expansion, exploration, resource-gathering and all the rest.
But the game is now nearly through the 40th century AD, the year 3991. And what has happened to its world is troubling to say the least. Describing it as “a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation”, the player continues:
-The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.
-Only 3 super massive nations are left. The Celts (me), The Vikings, And the Americans. Between the three of us, we have conquered all the other nations that have ever existed and assimilated them into our respective empires.
-You’ve heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war. The three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2000 years. 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. 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.
One way to look at it would be to decide that the game systems have hit their equilibrium point: the three remaining nations are locked in a cycle because of scripted AI behaviour in the face of a world that cannot have any further technological innovations discovered or resources uncovered. The game has hit its breaking point; the walls of the sandbox have been found.
But that’s the boring way to look at it. What the player has discovered is a true dystopia, the post-apocalyptic madness of a world gone wrong. And after 2000 years of destroying the environment, killing the population and living the Orwellian nightmare, he’s ready to see if it can be fixed. It’s time to rebuild the world. And Reddit’s ready to help.
Suggestions so far range from heroic self-sacrifice to shifting to a fundamentalist culture and wiping out the other guys. And the community has formed a new subreddit to collectively tackle the save game and the problems of rebuilding a ruined planet.
It’s gone from one playthrough of one game to a joint effort to work through the permutations of a horrifying post-apocalyptic fiction. The world may be trashed and at an impasse, but that’s one of the best wins that a Civilization game can have.