The Grey Chronicles


Civilization Fever

In the second half of 1996, a PC gamer-friend introduced me to Sid Meier’s Civilization II. This game took most of my free time after checking my students’ Electrical Power Plant Design computations. I bought my own CD-ROM copy of the game when I visited Manila during a national convention for engineers. From then on, Civilization was my only strategy game I played for hours on end; and I also had the fatherly influence to guide my two toddler sons on the rules of the game. They enjoyed their new-found knowledge of the history of technology, however, inaccurate it were as included in the game.

CivilizationThen Civilization III came out, my sons and I were still stuck with II. Although an upgrade was readily available, I was not able to install it in their computer as my not-yet teenager sons’ chose, with my prodding of course, to pursue their primary schooling back to my home city. Soon after they crossed over to Ragnarok, another turn-based strategy game.

With NSC’s closure in 1999, I went home only when my father retired in 2000 from a long stint of being an educator. The first pack of Civilization IV was then offered by Firaxis Games. Yet, my now teenager sons wanted WarCraft, instead of Civilization IV! Even when my wife and I went home for a Christmas vacation in 2007 bringing with us Civilization IV collection which included Warlords, Beyond the Sword and Colonization, my two sons overruled me to rather install WarCraft, particularly DOTA. They claimed that their PC gamer-friends knew nothing of Civilization, short of saying: it is suited for my generation! I even offered them a taste of Microsoft’s Age of Empire, but they would not even try it.

Even before, I have noticed better development in open-source or public-domain/non-commercial strategy games, especially those based on Sid Meier and Brian Reynolds of Microprose’s Civilization. By 2008, after I finished my masters studies, I tried playing FreeCiv, FreeCol, and c-evo. Lately, I find that of these three, Steffen Gerlach’s c-evo is very much to my liking. I liked it a lot that I plead guilty to being so engrossed at c-evo that in the past few days, I completely forgot to post new items on this blog!

FreeCivIn FreeCiv, uses one server and as many client programs. Players can decide what the rules will be using one or more AIs per client. Rules are in three levels: hard-coded rules, the rules from the ruleset, and the rules from server options. The goal is still reminiscent of CivII: eliminate the other players or be the first to send a ship with new colonists to Alpha Centauri. Although, the graphics pack included Filipinos, the first ever, the images are rather grainy, yet colorful, compared to others.

FreeColThe FreeCol, team aims to create an Open Source client-server version of Colonization (released under the GPL), first as an exact clone of Colonization, at present still released as alpha software, and ultimately with FreeCol 2.0 going beyond the original 1994 Microprose-released Colonization. Colonization is heavily based on Civilization which some consider to be the best turn-based strategy game for the PC in the history of mankind. The object of Colonization, thus with FreeCol, is to declare your independence and survive an attack of the King’s forces. FreeCol is written in Java and requires a Java Virtual Machine with Sun’s Java 5 and 6; and also works with OpenJDK.

C-evoC-evo, a short-hand for Civilization Evolution, is a completely deterministic game based on CivII but prioritized strategy with emphasis on open, yet powerful, Artificial Intelligence [AI] and careful design of compact rules. Most graphics are taken from free Civ II modpacks. The game is ruled by six design principles: low risk, fun by challenge or by novelty, AI liberation, focus on strategy, compact rule set; and a balance of strategy and micro management. An almost complete FAQ page explains the frequently asked questions, frequently made statements of and about C-evo; aside from the in-line help. At least, I would not be annoyed of having to run all the freight traders across various cities. The goal here is strategic diplomacy, rather than the annihilation of all your enemies!

TravianTwo months ago, after my sister invited me to join Facebook, several of my Facebook friends wanted me to join Travian, a browser game featuring a world with thousands of other real players. One begins the game acting as a chief of a tiny village. Travian can be considered as a miniature Civilization game where a player can build up villages, wage wars or trade with your neighbors. The object of the game is still to get World Wonders, or make alliances to form a foraging or invading army of unprotected villages. Yet, diplomacy is out of question and the rules are rather vague. For example, how can a village attack another village far situated from one’s own, assuming each square is measured in kilometers, without respective consequences, such as a loss of invading power, strength or resources. Travian becomes an all-out war for every non-aligned unprotected beginner. Even your proximate neighbor is the enemy! The ultimate way-out is to get a Travian Plus account for a sensible cash-out.

Maybe, I should re-install my CivII or just continue playing C-evo. At least, in some way, honing my strategic and diplomatic skills, which I could apply to my business sense?


Images taken from respective sites as cited; some were re-formated or re-sized for space considerations.

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.


1 Comment »

  1. While only being a teenager, I’ve never experienced the true Civ II experience, but after buying Civ 4 on steam (with BTS and Warlords) I was compelled to look at its precursors, and instead found the jems you mention in your article. I’ve never really understood Warcraft and the fast paced micromanagement, instead I’ve found the best RTS (in my opinion) to be Supreme Commander. I believe that it’s the only RTS to really bring the strategic action into the forefront. Oh, and the Total War series games…

    Comment by Jim L — 2009.June.18 @ 20:53 | Reply

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