Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Age of Glory

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jan 27, 1999

Posted to NewsTrolls January 28, 1999

Thursday morning, ten o'clock. I've read my email, check yesterday's trolls, and now I want to play. Open bookmarks, log into the Gaming Zone ( ), enter my user id (Diocletan), and check out the scene:

  Polymorphed>  Ustasa come join game 2 so we can get started (Enter)>  interuppto (Enter)>  Diocletan Diocletan>  Game 2, do you have an opening? interuppto>  di wanna play? Diocletan>  Yeah :) interuppto>  what level? Diocletan>  any interuppto>  ok, i'll host Diocletan>  Cool Polymorphed>  hey can i join Diocletan>  Fine w me if it's fine with interuppto interuppto>  ya cool interuppto>  come on in 
Interuppto initiates a game; I click on the 'join' link:
  (Enter)>  Diocletan Diocletan>  Hiya interuppto>  hey (Enter)>  Polymorphed interuppto>  think i'll do one below deity Diocletan>  OK interuppto>  ready? Diocletan>  yup Polymorphed>  go (Enter)>  KAUG Diocletan>  wheeeeee Diocletan>  waiting to connect.... Diocletan>  I'm in 
Some whirrs and clicks, and the game, Civilization II (Multigamer Gold Edition) launches on my desktop. After a short wait, the screen clears and reveals to me my empire:

The game starts and I - now crowned the King of Babylon - begin my conquest of the world. It truely is the Age of Glory.

Civilization II - in case you're not familiar with it - is a strategy game devised by Sid Meier. The objective of the game is not to take over the world - though that helps - but rather, to be the first to land a space ship on Alpha Centauri. Since your civilization starts with only the rudiments of Stone Age culture, a fair amount of research and development is necessary.

It wasn't long before a cult following developed. Fan sites - such as the Ultimate Civilization II Site and the First Greek Civilization 2 Site (later merged to form Apolyton ( )) - sprang into being. These sites quickly became resource centres: they provided players with alternative maps, scenarios, images, sounds, and more.

Playing against the artificial intelligence was fun (and I spent many a day mastering the art) but ultimately unfulfilling. So I could knock an AI empire all over the board. Big deal. I wanted bigger challenges. Enter the multiplayer edition. Just before Christmas I eagerly snapped up the one copy the day it came on sale. I race back home, prepare to install, and...

It doesn't work. Civ II Multigamer requires a Pentium. I have only a 486. And no cash. Weeks pass.

Finally I call my friend John, who has helped my in the past. We open up my computer, gut it, insert a new motherboard and plop in a P-166 chip. And 64 megs RAM, just for good measure. Put it back together. Reboot. Fix an IRQ error in the sound board. Reboot. It works. I thank John, and we cart the machine back to my place.

But now the cable modem internet connection won't work. We poke about, and discover that the TCP client has uninstalled itself. OK, let's get the Win 95 CD and reinstall. I search through my desk drawers. Ack! I have loaned the CD to Conrad, who is upgrading a client's computer. More time passes...

Got the CD. Run through the client reinstall. Reboot. It works!

But where to go? I search my fav Civ II sites, and finally stumble upon a link to the Microsoft site. The Gaming Zone. To access the games, I must first install a Microsoft client. OK, download that, install, reboot. Then I try again. Three Java programs install themselves on my machine, then one of them asks permission to load another client. "Granting such privileges is high risk ", the message says. Undaunted, I press ahead. Reboot.

Now I'm in the gaming zone, I have an identity, and I'm ready to play.

Meanwhile, back in Babylon, things are heating up. My archers have encountered the Carthaginians:

Time for negotiations. I make contact... unfortunate, it's an AI. Oh well, AIs are usually good for trading, if they will cooperate. I open the screen. It doesn't look good.

The AI is not impressed with the fact that I have archers at the gates of his capital. Still, he is willing to trade, I swap pottery for bronze working, and I eventually conclude a peace treaty with him. Things are going well.

The Gaming Zone is a has its own unique interface. It can get complicated. As I ready myself to enter my first game, I listen in on the conversation:

  Snake1132>  rm 15 for 1 on one duel, small world, no computers Snake1132>  want a fair fight, come to room 15 NVUONG>  setting? NVUONG>  snake? DAM36>  sorry something went wrong on 16 no one showed up Walker_Boh__>  time failed dma Walker_Boh__>  looking for a game here GuardianWolf>  How do the color bars work? Snotchboy>  join 4 Snowiz>  its you lag/lat... GuardianWolf>  thanks Snowiz>  black - red very poor....  green good.. GuardianWolf>  cool Snowiz>  you will always have 4 green but it is the other  player you worry about... GuardianWolf>  Oh... I see... Snotchboy>  anyone wanna play a game? Snowiz>  dont want to many reds in a game... game will lag bad... GuardianWolf>  I understand NateDog3378>  Snotchboy, game 5 is just starting. Snowiz>  GWolf...  your orange to me... its ok...  but green would be better.. GuardianWolf>  I have a 56k modem Snowiz>  see the colored dots on the game rooms...   thats the host to you... GuardianWolf>  I see plus and minuses NateDog3378>  Need two more on game 5.  Starting soon Snowiz>  so do i but it is the hops and jumps through the net... _fLuOrInE_> patched game getting ready to  start will wait for 4 to start GuardianWolf>  I also see the letter "Z" as well _fLuOrInE_> patched game getting ready to start  will wait for 4 to start Snowiz>  orange Z is games you can join... grey you cant join   GuardianWolf>  got it Snotchboy>  anyone wanna play a game? GuardianWolf>  thanks 
But now there's a twist I hadn't expected...
  Snowiz>  Gwolf have you got the patch yet?. 
A patch??? But the game has only been out a month !

Yes, a patch. And to make life more miserable, if you do not have the patch, you cannot connect with a person who does. OK. It's off to find the patch. I check Apolyton. Nothing. Wait... there's a link to Microprose ( )...

I search around the site. There's a link to support... but I see only a new scenario for another game. Nothing for Civilization. I poke around some more. Follow another support link. Follow the Civ II link which follows. Ah! There it is! ( ). Download. Install. Reboot. Back to the Gaming Zone...

  Rufad_X>  YES!! Game 4 !!!!! GuardianWolf>  I downloaded it, but how would I know  if it has taken affect? Snowiz>  did you execute it? GuardianWolf>  yes Snowiz>  ok then it should be in...  if you get a contact someone  error on a join it's not right... GuardianWolf>  ok Rufad_X>  Join 4 !!!! Anyone At all!!!!!!!!!!! _fLuOrInE_>  Join Now !! patched game getting ready  to start will wait for 4 to start  GuardianWolf>  snowiz are you going to play? for 4 to start  Snowiz>  waiting on some friend...  just helping from time to time... Rufad_X>  SOMEONE JOIN GAME 4 PLEASE!!!!!! GuardianWolf>  Thanks for the help for 4 to start  Snowiz>  oh there are also ip games....  zone games have only four  players... ip games can go to seven... Rufad_X>  GAME 4!!!!!!! GuardianWolf>  cool GuardianWolf>  ok I will play a tcp/ip game for 4 to start  Snowiz>  ip game you manually start...  GuardianWolf>  ok, see you later, and thanks Snowiz>  ok later.. 
GuardianWolf valiantly tries to play...
  GuardianWolf>  ok I have join your game flourine GuardianWolf>  I think it us just us2 _fLuOrInE_>  some one want to start an ip game? _fLuOrInE_>  im not able to start one right now for some reason _fLuOrInE_>  does anyone want to start an ip game? GuardianWolf>  I don't get it, I enter a room and nothing happens?. GuardianWolf>  Do I need my civ on first? _fLuOrInE_>  will anyone start a ip game? GuardianWolf>  I have a question, when I enter a game does, my  civ have to be on before that ? skeptikles>  no GuardianWolf>  thanks skeptikles>  if you are launching from the zone, you CANT have  the game on beforehand skeptikles>  If you are doing IP, then it doesn't matter. GuardianWolf>  gotcha y ou GuardianWolf>  ok, thanks 
I never did find out what happened with GuardianWolf. I was too interested in my own game.

Not long after the Carthaginian encounter, a German horseman approaches an undefended city at my south frontier. And in the west, my warrior encounters the Russians. Both are humans, and both want a trade right away. I initiate contact and the dialogue begins...

But it is no use. Nobody is willing to give up an advantage. We conclude negotiations and return to our respective cities. My little empire continues to grow - I am now at five cities on the easter coast of a large continent. Nobody is too close to me; I have room to grow. My capital, Babylon, is now producing the Hanging Gardens, which will ensure future happiness among my people. I am at peace with my neighbours. Things are looking good...

Oh no! The game stalls, then the fateful message: "Connection to the Host has failed. Timeout." I click 'OK' and Civilization II disappears from my desktop. Frantic, I return to the Gaming Zone and attempt to reconnect...

Now this is odd...

Frantically, we try to figure it out:

  KAUG>  wtf? Diocletan>  eek, lost connect (Enter)>  Polymorphed Diocletan>  Trying again... Polymorphed>  I got disconnected Polymorphed>  sucks KAUG>  coming back? interuppto>  ???? Diocletan>  Ip, I got a message saying 'The game was cancelled' interuppto>  i saved it KAUG>  it's going now interuppto>  i'm out though 
The Gaming Zone is not cooperating. A recurring problem with the Microsoft site; it's just not stable. The main screen displays a short little message: Suspended. Valiantly, Interuppto tries to restart. It works! I try to log on again...

Uh oh...

I zip back to the Gaming Zone. Now I've lost Interuppto. Now I'm the host. But I don't want to be the host. Perhaps if I hang in there, our players will return. I'm alone in the Zone. Hosting an empty game. I struggle to get it back...

  (Exit)>  KAUG interuppto>  are you guys playing? Diocletan>  It's waiting for the host to launch, got an IP? (Exit)>  Polymorphed (Exit)>  interuppto (Enter)>  gnes gnes>  hey which scenario (Exit)>  gnes (Enter)>  KAUG KAUG>  so, are we resuming that one or not? (Enter)>  gnes Diocletan>  I want to resume, we lost interuppto... (Enter)>  jeffberg2 gnes>  hi jeffberg2>  hi gnes>  which scenario jeffberg2>  what settings? Diocletan>  I'm gonna see if I have it saved, I was set to autosave KAUG>  it's not that important (Exit)>  jeffberg2 (Exit)>  KAUG gnes>  what about playing scenario (Exit)>  gnes 
Great, just great. A bunch of other people have entered our game, and now the original host can't get back in. Then they leave, the original players leave, and we're stranded again.
  (Enter)>  nonglek nonglek>  hi Diocletan>  Hiya nonglek>  ip game? Diocletan>  No - we had one going, then the Zone crashed &  it looks like it terminated. I'm the last one left Diocletan>  I'm gonna leave this one & see if I can't find  another game to join... 
And so the fun starts again...
  KAUG>  new game on 6 

Civilization II Links

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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