Sunday, 3 February 2013

Winterlude (1). The power, the calling and cyber ninjas.

Between hibernation and game-testing responsibilities, I have still managed to involve myself in some other games to provide the change-of scenery and offer a road-stop for the mind's retreat. More than that, these games have given me the itch to share some stories again and let the commentary sprawl. Let's see if I can carve that itch into a somewhat readable series - here goes, in no particular order. 

The last time I had played Call to Power II must have been over 10 years ago (while procrastinating over the unfinished academic papers and fantasizing about such game format being applied to the historical data of my region - I had inevitably noticed that often the game-given information had an easier way of sticking in my brain than the stuff I worked hard to memorize in archaeology classes). I must have played its predecessor as well but the two experiences have melded into one  in my mind. Call to Power is (at least during the slow-smooth-flow phases) incredibly meditative and calming, almost hypnotic to play. With its subtle-yet-clever map animations and its soundtrack, it makes an excellent what-to-play-when-stoned candidate.

Entering that familiar world now, I am noticing how my play-logic has changed a little over the years. Sure, I still have some pet moves and preferred strategies (such as: sending out plenty of scouts to search the ruins early on; prolonging sieges until I can seize the town without casualties; skipping over immediate upgrades to finance the next-next generation properly; etc.). But while in the old days the essence of each game tended to be simply racing against the AI (for map domination, for grabbing all the land, claiming all the science) and oftentimes trying to eradicate those pesky others who obstructed *my* chosen game course, I now seemed more able to grasp the game as a whole. Sure, I still have direct control over just one empire - but suddenly I recognized the other buggers, randomly thrown together onto the same map, as parts of the game that the player still interacts with. 

While still sorting out what other aspects of the game I wanted to bring up and how, I saw io9 post this. My first reaction was: "Whee!" (The second being: "Whee hee!"). I figured the Pulp-o-Mizer was providing the perfect medium for some CtP commentary. And here it is - first the headlines and then the game situations they correspond to.

In the future, my empire is technically not at war with anyone (unlike everyone else). At the same time, I still want to meddle with the ingame balance and power distribution. Enter the Cyber Ninja unit. I send them poking the cities of the less-agreeable rival. (I also keep some Hover Infantry units nearby in case they succeed and the defecting towns require protection from barbarians.)

I have managed to mostly skip the city and terrain improvements that pollute a lot. Instead I improve commerce and then use the extra gold to speed up building stuff. That's not the way for the AI though - I see all the other empires gleefully mining up the mountains. This Phoenician region in particular seems to suffer from Copious Mega Mine Infestation. I also see those two cities revolt often - the extra pollution a likely source for unrest. 

I have entered the final(ish) stage in my game where you get to build all these facilities and satellites to serve the Gaia Controlloer project. CtP does not actually show or mention the folks working on these (it doesn't show the actual people at all, only numbers). But I would like to imagine an army of engineers and techs that gets unleashed in this process.

When my Cyber Ninjas succeed, the target city revolts. A world wonder called Egalitarian Act lures these cities to its host empire. Without it, though, the revolting cities seek glory as barbarians. As far as I've seen, such new-barbarians immediately start generating the Hoplite units who will then roam around and attack stronger units (like the Hover Infantry) with no shame.

And finally. After I had spent quite some quality time at the Pulp-O-Mizer controls, copywriting my game experience highlights, the process deftly ascended to meta-level and spawned this: 

1 comment:

  1. Aaaaand io9 just keeps the Quality Ninja Time coming - Whee!