I haven’t posted any real game posts in some time. However, I’ve had a Caveman2Cosmos game of Civ4 going on casually for the last few months. It actually started to become a real work of world building. Since it’s a long process, I’ll break it into several posts. It’ll be in character mostly, except for a few humorous bits.
Of Mods & Men
For those unfamiliar with Caveman2Cosmos (C2C), it’s an epic mastery of modliness, produced by a content creator known only as “strategyonly.” The roots of this mod however, extend far deeper into the fabric of the Civ4 community. It builds upon a decade of development of various components which have been slowly improved, hybridized, and aggregated into this single experience. The primary components of the mod come from the aggregation work done by Rise of Mankind: A New Dawn, which itself is a “Mod-Mod,” or a continuing evolution of gameplay.
The golden era of Civ4 modding took place around 2007-2009, after the release of the “Beyond the Sword” expansion back. The main developer behind the Rise of Mankind A New Dawn was the legendary “Afforress,” building on RoM “vanilla” made by Zappara. Some claim that his RoM 2.71 was the most well balanced version of the expansive mod. What Civ4 offered in terms of mod-ability with their Python SDK, is miles beyond what Civ 5 mods are capable of. Civ5 mods are almost exclusively content additions or game-balance tweaks.
Civ4 Mods could completely alter the engine in fundamental ways, and modders would QA bundled layers of compatible pieces. The result was a completely new experience, like getting access to a totally brand new game!
What Civ4 offered was a platform for a multitude of free game experiences. The replay-ability and epic sandbox nature is only rivaled by builder games like Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program. Of course, the combat system of Civ5 might have completely eclipses the death-stacks of Civ4, but the mod experience is nowhere near as close. Civ5 mod pieces being modular is great for controlling content, but terrible for cross-compatibility. Civ4 RoM, and by extension, C2C, are not only game mods, they are works of art. Carefully tended by a watchful team of builders, the balance, reliability and experience of Civ4 mods are very difficult to find anywhere new. Plus, with the rise of the DLC model, the power of mods to tweak the engine itself is virtually absent.
So, before Civ4 fades deeper into the annals of gaming history, I’ll give it one last go in the name of fun! I also haven’t transcribed a game into story before, although I’ve had many adventures with this game in years past. The After Action Report (AAR) format, seems to be a more passive way of storytelling than the video based let’s play, but it’s as good a place as any to get started. By the way, sorry for the low-res screen shots. Running this on a really terrible old monitor. You know, for tradition!
The Dawn of Time
An Island Culture Begins
The early years of Japanese culture are lost to the sands of time. The Japanese Paleolithic period began at around 50,000 BC and lasted until approximately 14,000 BC. This period saw the migrations of settlers on the western portion of Honshu towards the lush fishing grounds of the eastern Kansai, and towards the Kanto peninsula on the northeastern stretch of the island. The largest settlements in Kansai would eventually come to be known as the city of Osaka, and Kansai would host Tokyo. The Kyoto culture of the west would routinely establish trade influence on their eastern descendants, forming what would eventually become the basis of empire. For now, this loose collective of semi-nomadic settlements would remain merely a cultural identity. Distinct language between these groups did not yet exist, but common similarities between speech patterns would later shape the Japanese language.
Early Cultural Exploration
The island culture during these early years was focused on the production of sustainable food sources and a better form of tool making. Hunting tribes roamed the continents between the eastern and western settlements, searching for easy game and trying to protect more threatening wildlife away from their agricultural brethren. Some choice encounters even involved interaction with wandering Neanderthal families. While interbreeding circumstances are not understood, there is some speculation that these hominids would be held captive and made to perform simple labor. Genetic markers have recently revealed that geographically, neanderthal genes originated from the western Kyoto region. In fact, it is estimated that in the early period, most other spare game was traded with the settled tribes of the west.
Also, during the beginning of the Jomon period, early explorers took to the water in search of better fishing grounds. Their explorations took them north, through the tropics and into colder climates, ripe with cod and herring. At first, no significant settlement occured. The distances were extraordinarily far, and any fishermen which traveled that far, seldom brought families to raise new land. Moreover, these fishermen were accustomed to building with the tropical hardwoods of Honshu, and could not work easily with the birch and pine of the greater north.
Cultural Expansion in the Mediterasian Sea
Following the exploration and extensive hunting of Honshu, the Japanese fishing fleets pushed towards the northeastern shallow seas, what we know today as the Mediterasian. This body of water very delicately splits two massive continents. To the west sits Aikita, to the east is Eruda. As the fishing fleets explored every more north, they encountered a variety of cultures and civilizations. First, they met scouts and other fishing fleets, but soon they had sailed past the humble villages of Rome and Constantinople.
From the bounty of their exploits, some of these fishing fleets came upon coastal treasures. In a select few beaches, these fishing fleets found small tribes of natives who were willing to accept the fishermen as residents in these new lands. The intrepid explorers made quick to partition their fleet and allow some members to form permanent settlements along the shores of the Mediterasian. The first settlement was declared Kagoshima, on the Minoan half of the Roman peninsula, but in close proximity to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Years later, a second settlement is founded to the shores just north of Rome.
Ascent of the Naran Culture
The second settlement, Nara, was much richer in abundant forests for shipbuilding, and prairies for eventual farming. It’s extrusion into the sea sat just north of Rome itself, which was at this time becoming a jewel of the Mediterasian. The people in its streets spoke of a savior, returned from death. The ancestor worship traditionally practiced by the Japanese settlers, blended harmoniously with the ethos of the Romans. Soon the Narans came to covet the freedom of the lifestyle of the Romans, and felt less connected to the world their forefathers had left behind on the island of Honshu. Soon the trade with their fatherland came to a standstill, Nara would govern itself and establish itself as the primary reckoning force of the Mediterasian. Nara wanted what Rome had, they would need to model the beginnings of their culture and their state after the strange men of olives and wine.
Meanwhile, the men of Honshu begin to connect their settlements, and agriculture is starting to become a practiced tradition. Soon paths and roads will connect the island east to west. Trade is picking up, neanderthals are permanently integrated into the human species, and a small ancestor memorial, Tara Hill, is built. The beliefs of the Japanese are coming to be known as Shinto, while the Narans to the north start to identify as Christians. After some time passes, the restless Narans finally decide to cut ties entirely and form a new culture. These fishing men of the north have different habits of culture entirely. Whereas facial hair is no longer kept by the native Japanese, the Ainu carry resemblance to the bearded Romans. A novel new civilization has grown from the synthesis of two precursor cultures.
That’s all for now! Join me next time when I play as the Ainu and fight to win the lands of the north!