Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Civ Building Eats Time

What kind of civilization wouldn't have its own specific house of sports worship?
     While I am sure that building a computer game from the ground up – every line of code and all that – is immeasurably more time consuming than my efforts to rebuild/surpass my Civ III  scenario.  I remember laboriously typing in the basic script for character creation programs (TMNT & Other Strangeness) or no image games (those coming straight out of some magazine that had basic code for the Commodore 64) close to twenty five years ago, and the end result was always disappointing.  Just like that kind of not-really-programming, simply getting the already created animations and pictures to work in the Civ game takes all kinds of time.
     It isn't just adding all of the units in the actual scenario.  That takes about thirty hours of work (without taking into account how long it takes to find the animations that go with each unit).  Then there is the the soul-crushing task of seeing how many errors are hidden  in the text command file for each set of animations, which results in simply watching the game crash again and again, with the saving grace of learning one error each time.  I am not even at that stage in the rebuild (though I do have most of the animations selected) because it saps the belief that anything good will ever come from all the work.
     No, I found myself with a small amount of time to be able to dedicate to adding in the improvements (buildings and such) I'm used to having in a game.  Well, actually I went well above and beyond what I used to have in the scenario.  More than 150 have been added now.
     Some of perfectly normal: Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Trafalgar Square, Angkor Wat, Hagia Sofia, the Kremlin, and Tourism Bureaus.  Some of pretty specific to the imported civilizations: the Mithril Forge (liberally borrowed from Middle Earth), the Library at Penacles (from Richard A. Knaak's Dragonrealm books), the Uruk-Hai Birthing Chamber (straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies), and the Gengengian War College (for Gengenbach, which was slowly built in response to how Steve Genge would build his perfect civ). 
The Bomber Research Facility, which manufactures Heavy Bombers.  Why play without it?
     There are rather mundane improvements: Television Network, Adult Book Store, Baseball Stadium (build enough and you can build Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium), Football Stadium (build enough and you can build the Super Bowl), Basketball Stadium (build enough and you can make both the NCAA National Tournament and Madison Square Garden), Strip Club, Slaughter House, Hockey Rink (build enough and you can make the Stanley Cup and the United Center), Soccer Stadium (build enough and you can make the Allianz Arena, Estádio do Maracanã, Wembley Stadium, and the World Cup), Golf Course (build enough and you can make the Open Championship), Tennis Court (build enough and you can make Wimbledon), The Olympics, Plaza de Toros (bullfighting arenas, with two famous ones – the Ronda Bullring and Maestranza Bullring – also included), Sniper School, Amusement Park, Brewery, Winery, Amphitheatre, Fishery, City Park, Opera House, Prison, and so on.
     There is even an extremely offensive Wonder that the AI insists on building. 
     Anyway, each building needs to be entered into the scenario.  It has two images (one 128x128, one 32x32), both saved as pcx files in 256 colors.  If they are not in 256 colors, the game will crash.  All wonders need Splashes – images in 320x320 and still in 256 colors.  A lot of these need to be created, which is only time consuming in looking for pictures that would look good all squashed up. 
     That small amount of time I had turned into about twenty hours of adding the improvements and just as long running through a version of the scenario to make sure it will run when it comes time to actually play.  And it is at this point that any sane person would realize that much more time is being invested in the preparation to play than the actual game play. 
     Anyway, it eats time.  And it kept me from writing a real post for today.


  1. Don't know if you've read about "The Eternal War" a game of Civ II that has been played off and on for a decade, but reading the news about it reminded me of your Civ building efforts.

    1. Saw the story at the CivFanatics website. That is insane. The longest I've played a single Civ III game is around 330 hours (which I believe is about 25 times longer than a full game should take).
      I spent about seven hours yesterday downloading more unit animations and then adding close to 40 units (which is just the Workers for all the civs and Settlers for about half) into the scenario. After 13 errors, those are good to go. So...only 117 more days to go to finish at that rate.