Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword - 16/20 hours

I did something boneheaded. My idea was that I'd divide my mod posts up based on the mods' themes. First post would be "realistic" mods that aimed to flesh out the world of Civilization and make it more like a sim. Second post would be fantastic mods that attempted to bring Civilization into a world of magic. Third post would be science fiction mods that extended Civilization into the future. And it was a plan that was working well . . . at first. I'd dabbled with Realism Invictus and Quot Capita for a couple of hours each, and I was working out what I was going to say about the granularity of their tech trees and the slow pace of advancement even on "quick mode," when I decided to check out another mod whose main thrust I didn't quite understand, Orion's Grand Inquisition.

The name of the mod didn't really illuminate what it did, but the description seemed to indicate it was another "realism" mod, so I thought I'd take a quick peek at its civopedia and see what made it tick . . . ten hours later, I'm trying to write a post explaining how I did half my gaming time in one marathon session whose details are quickly fading to an undifferentiated blur.

The thing about this mod is that it completely changes the dynamic of the game. It basically takes all the brakes off the standard game, and gives you a super high-powered version of the game. By the end, my cities were in the 80-100 population range, I was making 3000+ gold per turn and cranking out ~20,000 research per turn, all while my culture rate was set at 100%. And I was in second place right up to the point where I pulled off an upset cultural victory. I have a feeling that if I weren't playing on easy difficulty, I'd have been effortlessly crushed by the massive AI civilizations.

So I can't really say for sure that OGI is unbalanced, it's possible that it's meant for multiple human players and/or high difficulty, and that the inflated numbers are actually just indicative of a higher resolution of conflict, where each individual population or unit is worth less, but the overall mass means about the same thing. All I know is that this mod let you plant food resources like wheat and rice (which normally you just have to find by luck), and prospect in the hills and mountains for valuable minerals, and cultivate your sea tiles by farming fish. And the net result is that it triggered my map-painting instincts something fierce, and put me in a trance from which I'm only now starting to awaken.

Which is to say, I liked it a lot. For most of those ten hours, I wasn't even concerned about winning the game. All I wanted to do was maximize my tile yields, squeeze as much out of my territory as possible, and craft a perfect little civilization. It was heaven.

I feel kind of bad for Realism Invictus and Quot Capita, though. They've been completely overshadowed in my memory, but if I'm remembering them correctly, they were both pretty strong in their own right. They too offered lots of fiddly little options to ensure that the build-obsessed never quite run out of things to do, but they were slower, more sedate experiences. The recommended game speed for both of them was extra-slow, and even on quick mode, I'd barely gotten to the common era after three hours of gaming (by contrast, three hours is more than enough time to win a space victory on vanilla Civ4 quick mode). I suspect that the adjusted unit and tech costs are such that they stretched out even the fastest game speeds. By contrast, I really don't think OGIs creators took quick mode seriously at all. At one point, I was spawning a great person every turn (they're normally pretty rare).

Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be, but I doubt it. I suspect that I wound up inadvertently breaking the mod. But you know what, I don't really care. That constant reward treadmill is like a drug to me, and to get such a potent dose is incredibly thrilling. I'll definitely be coming back to this mod again.

No comments:

Post a Comment