Sid Meier on player’s decade-long Civilization game


This video game image released by 2K Games/ Firaxis Games shows a scene from "Civilization V: Gods & Kings." Creator Sid Meier's sweeping turn-based strategy games give players the ability to build and control empires spanning several fictional centuries. While the world depicted in "Civ II" stops evolving in 2020, players can keep going into the future, as a user named Lycerius who posted the details of his ongoing 10-year-long game on the social news site Reddit has done. (AP Photo/2K Games/ Firaxis Games) (AP/AP)
June 19, 2012

Those who play Sid Meier’s Civilization know the appeal of opting for just “one more turn” once they’ve actually won the game. It’s hard to tear yourself away from the societies you’ve overseen from their first settlement to their jump into space (or whatever end-goal you play for.)

But even creator Sid Meier had never envisioned what one Reddit user shared last week: what a game’s simulated world would be like if you played it for a real 10-year span.

The gamer, who goes by the Reddit name Lycerius, said that he’d been playing a game of 1996’s Civilization II for a decade and that the world had devolved into a “nightmare of suffering and devastation,” feeling the affects of multiple nuclear wars waged by three super nations in the year 3991 A.D.

Lycerius, playing as the Celts, said he’d been deadlocked in a nuclear war with the Vikings and the Americans for 1700 in-game years.

In an e-mailed interview with The Washington Post, Meier said this is “definitely a first” for his long-running series, which is due to release an expansion for Civilization V on June 19.

“There's no way we could have tested for this, so it was a surprise to us,” he said. He added that “it's exciting that a fan of the Civ series would dedicate 10 years to playing one continuous game! We should probably send him a copy of Civ V and Civ V: Gods & Kings and check back with him 10 years from now. The Celts are part of the expansion, so it's possible someone could play themselves into a similar scenario.”

Meier said that one of the things he’s enjoyed most about Civilization over the years is “to see how players have broadened their gameplay strategies so that they enjoy winning a game through diplomacy, culture or economics as much as by military conquest.”

The game has changed a lot since the version that Lycerius is playing and the current version. Releasing additions like the expansion, Meier said, is one way that the Civ team can add back features that have fallen by the wayside as the game moves forward.

“We’re constantly evolving the design of each new Civ game so changes are inevitable,” he said. “Occasionally, we like to reach back to earlier versions and bring back features we miss. Such is the case with religion, which is why it’s making a grand return in ‘Civ V: Gods and Kings.’”

As for Lycerius, he has seen his posts blossom into its own section on Reddit complete with short stories about his in-game world and tons and tons of advice from his fellow players on how to resolve the conflict.

“[This] has been an incredible experience and I hadn't the briefest hope that this would gain so much traction,” he said in a later post. “As you can imagine, this game means a lot to me. And to see so many so passionately writing their own narrative of what happened in this world, just as I have, is such wonderful vindication in its own right. Thank you.”

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The Verge: Xbox document leak may shed some light on Microsoft’s plan for next-generation console

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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