Tag Archives: Civilization IV

Weekly Gaming Diary

Each year, from October to October I record what my impressions are in my weekly gaming group. Gone are the days of the 8 guys packed into my house playing D&D, but I still manage to have a couple of friends over almost every week. We almost always play computer games, as the diary reads below. Every now and then we have a ready great night — something very special. We have had some good nights with some fantastic adventures. Where appropriate I have highlighted interesting events.

10-03-12 Over the weekend I amended the game a bit changing Slavery and harbors. The big change I made was giving a new Unique Unit to every civilization. We started a new game at a slight accelerated pace with me playing the Greeks, Joe playing Kongo, and Wade playing the Iroquois. Wade played exemplary and won a great amount of credibility. I floundered like always. Joe seemed content on being off by himself. Good game overall.

09-26-12 Another fantastic night playing Civ IV. We all had so much fun. If this can continue for another couple of weeks, it will be great.

09-18-12 Had one of the best nights playing CIVILIZATION IV in memory. We all did well and we all had fun exchanging tactics and barbs. Good battles and great fighting. We are looking forward next week to continue this fun game.

09-12-12 Played the same game and am slowing pulling myself up, though in last place we are having fun.

09-05-12 Joe, Wade, and I played a fantastic but frustrating match of History Rewritten, a Civilization IV mod. I ended up in a swath of jungle and had a tough time throughout the night. We will play next week which for me will be better. Fun but aggravating at times.

08-29-12 Trying out my new Civ4 mod, Age of Discovery2. No doubt it will be an utter failure.

08-14-12 Playing Civilization 4 with the Multivwerse mod. Joe, Wade, and I all did quite well but we were playing on easy level. Next week we will be on our standard of Noble and Marathon.

08-08-12 Still playing World of Warcraft with Joe – running dungeons with our top level guys. Wade expressed interest in coming over again and so we may alter our playing a bit? May eventually settle on Civ4 again?

07-24-12 Continued playing WoW this week. Wade did not get over because he is still feeling poorly but also because he doesn’t play World of Warcraft. Joe and I found several interesting secrets last night – coming and going out of dungeons and velium sheets (so I can use my enchanter on my other toons.

07-17-12 Played WoW.

07-10-12 Great fun again playing World of Warcraft.

07-03-12 Great fun playing City of Heroes. May play WoW next week.

06-26-12 (last game of June) Played City of Heroes, but it was a difficult night with many deaths!!!

06-18-12 Sara’s birthday so we are pushing it to Wednesday, if it happens.

06-11-12 No game this week because I am up at the cottage. Next week we hope to try Civ4 again!

06-04-12 Started out playing Civ IV but it kept going OOS. So we moved back to CoH and I played Cloudstuff for great fun.

05-29-12 Great fun once again – I played two healers. Dr. Cloudstuff and Atomic Soul

05-22-12 Everyone has fun. We played heroes last night. I made a new guy called Atomic Soul.

05-15-12 Fun times.

05-08-12 Both guys came over and we played City of Heroes with “good” aligned characters.

05-01-12 Confronted WADE on being overweight.

04-24-12 City of heroes.

04-16-12 More City of Heroes fun. We all went up a couple of levels. Wade is still silly!

04-09-12 Another week with Joe, Wade, and I playing City of Heroes. Joe and I had a great time – made fun of Wade. He is such a tard.

04-02-12 First time that Joe, Wade, and I got together in so many months. This time to play City of Heroes. We had a good time, if not some awkward moments when Wade tried to show how much he knows about the game. Overall, we had a great night with some interesting battles. Looking forward to next week.

03-20-12 Tried to play Civilization IV but the game kept crashing. So now we are playing City of Heroes again. Probably something we will try and play since it seems Joe is more interactive with that. I got a new power supply.

03-13-12 Still playing Civilization IV – my mod called Conquest – Still crashing on my other machine. Need to get a power supply for it.

03-05-12 Played Civilization IV: Conquest. Had a good time but crashed a few times.

02-28-12 Played CoH but not really enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I think Joe is much more hooked on it then he says – he is making a dozen toons. He is a cheap son of a bitch though, so he wont spend any money on it – nor will he do so for EQ in the future.

02-21-12 Still playing City of Heroes and have settled on two guys (me: The Oak King; Joe: Fusilier). Deleted other guys.

02-14-12 Played City of Heroes. Made 2 sets of guys: H1 and Mithril Mage. Joe made Uuo-118 and Mr. Blackboard. Had a ton of fun

02-06-12 Played another couple of games of Civilization IV but had continuing issues of OOS errors. Worked through some but still had issues.

01-30-12 Playing Civ4 but in the end, we decided to restart again and added some new rules.

01-24-12 Still playing Civ4 and having some fun.

01-16-12 Got Civ4 running again. Had a fun night.

01-10-12 Tried to play Civilization 4 but the game kept crashing. So we played EQ2 instead and had fun.

01-02-12 Played a bit of History Rewritten but my secondary computer has been crashing lately. First game went well, but then half way through the night it crashed constantly. Played EQ2 and went into a new dungeon and had some fun. Computer crashed once during that episode. Thinking it may be the power supply going bad, as it was always a bit under powered to start. Found a PSU for 40 bucks that should work.

12-21-11 Joe finally got his new computer. I set it up for him last night and he is so loving the graphics in EQ2 and in Civ4. Really great!

Changing the game night to MONDAY as classes schedules have changed.

12-14-11 Started playing on Monday nights because school is essentially over. Gives us an extra 30 minutes of game time – although unsure why, but that is what Joe says?!? We are still playing Civilization IV with the new mod and having fun; History Rewritten.

12-05-11 Tried a new mod called History Rewritten and it was fun, but I want to make some changes to it. Joe and I played on a Earth map, me being the Polynesians and him playing England. Fun so far.

11-30-11 Maybe a game tonight. Last night Joe called it off because his truck broke down and he couldn’t get it fixed. Undecided as to what to play, if we do get together – EQ2 or Civ 4?

11-23-11 Played a new mod called Rewritting History and had an absolute ball. Great mod with all new graphics. We are well pleased with it.

11-16-11 Played two games of Civ 4 – both on the Thomas War Extended Mod. Joe stunk at both of them. Both games I was doing well.

11-08-11 Played Civilization IV again and had a ton of fun playing in the original mod, Thomas’ War with a huge earth map and 10 opponents. Joe played Brazil and I played Mexico. We are both doing well.

11-01-11 Had great fun in Everquest II last night. Played some low level guys and took down three dungeons – last minute, we loaded our big guys into the game and took out several epic mobs.

10-26-11 Continued to play Everquest II. We journeyed to two new dungeons and had many hours of fun. Made some decent loot that we will probably just sacrifice to the gods or perhaps mute.

10-19-11 Joe and I continued to play Everquest II, playing our 90th level guys first for 2 hours then going on to play some tertiary characters for about an hour. Had some great BBQ chicken pizza as well. Thoughts of inviting Wade over circulated since we miss our good friend – perhaps soon I will have a new computer allowing him to play on my 2nd computer.

10-11-11 Great night playing Everquest II

10-05-11 No game because of studying for a test. Next week we are going to try and play Multiverse.

My Gaming History

I knew I was hooked on gaming ever since my brother came home from the store with an Avalon Hill board game called Starship Troopers. I am not sure what year that would be, but I would have to think it was the late 70s. It wasn’t until high school that I came across D&D; I remember pointedly each time I bought a brand new copy of the 1st edition set of AD&D — still to this day can I remember the smell of the binding, cracking open the Dungeon Master guide. It was only a few years later that I started constantly DMing and then writing my own adventures. During those formative years we use to play a different RPG every month, trying out dozens of games — Sadly after three moves I own only a small percentage of my original core rules booklets.

In 1980 I home published a little book called Phantasm Adventures. I typed all the pages up on a typewriter and photocopied and bound them. Perhaps 100 copies of this game exists, yet only recently I had people from Canada and England asked me if they could buy a copy for their RPG collections. I own one original copy of the game — the where about of the other 99 are a mystery to me.

It was during this time that Jeff Dee (the creator of many of the original art found in the 1st and 2nd edition D&D rules, and also the writer of Villains & Vigilantes), and later Jack Herman (co-author of V&V), both moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am unsure of the reasons he moved here, but I think it was a comic-drawing gig. The funny thing is I remember asking my mother if I could go down to this guy’s house and do some gaming, and my mom, always the worrisome type said no because it was in a rather unruly side of town (for Grand Rapids). So it wasn’t during the first alignment of the planets that I met Jeff Dee and started my game design career.

But the second time when again he posted a sign at a local hobby store looking for gamers a year later, I did finally get to meet him. It was here that I was introduced to V&V (the first super hero role-playing game). If I had to put a date, It was probably around 1984. Jeff Dee was the best GM I have ever played with — his campaigns were so imaginative, the stories were intricate, and best of all the battles were engaging. I remember always wanting to go to his house and game.

During this time, I also met up with Scott Bizzar (president of Fantasy Games Unlimited) and I pitched him a number of ideas on different full length gaming system including my little brown book called Phantasm Adventures. This was before the time of true word processing or very early on. If my memory serves me in 1984 the Lisa computer came out for Apple and that was the start of what I would call personal computing — although it would be another 15 years before I owned a Mac for a brief period of time. Alas, during this “Stone Age” everything had to be typed on either a typewriter or a bit later on my archaic Commodore-64 word processor.

It was in 1984 the I wrote my first adventure module for V&V called The Devil’s Domain. The adventure centered around a demonic figure trapped in another dimension trying to escape to Earth and a group of stalwart heroes trying to stop him. To this day I still get small royalty checks from the company every year.

In 1985 I released a compendium of super villains for V&V called Most Wanted III, having the prior two Most Wanted written by Jeff Dee and Jack Herman. This was another great production value module with artwork predominately done by Jeff Dee.

In 1986 I released my third and last V&V adventure called Return to the Devil’s Domain. By this time the franchise was seeing great growth but the overall production standards having slipped with shoddy artwork and poor editing.

In 1987 through 1988 I moved to Japan for a year. It was during the early part of my stay that I visited a bookstore and bought a Japanese game magazine called Game Graphix. On the back they put their address in English, I suppose because they thought it looked fantastical — as if a game’s magazine here would put their return address in elven, I guess. I wrote to the company and within a week I was sitting in their offices talking about games. The rest of the year saw the formulations of a dozen game books — I would write them in English, then present them to the editorial staff that would translate them into Japanese. It was during this time that I wrote and published Phantasm Adventures, Bloodbath, Bloodchant, and Multiverse.
in 1990 I was nearly considered for the producers position at Interplay, the maker of games like Fallout and Bard’s Tale. I was to work on a game called Castles. I flew out there and had serious talks with the president, but in the end I did not take the position.

When I returned to the states I continued to work on RPG designs for 10 years, working with every major publisher including TSR, Steve Jackson Games, Iron Crown Enterprises, and Different World Magazines. I still banged out expansions, modules, and map sets for the Japanese.
It was between 1987 and 1997 that I wrote such works as The Castle Guide and the Equipment Guide for 2nd edition AD&D. I also wrote a huge compendium for RoleMaster under the name of Heroes & Rogues. I also took a hand at editing for Hero Games, working on several super hero adventures for Champions. the Japanese continued to buy my creations including Advanced Phantasm Adventures. You can see more about this English version here:

https://emeraldtablet.wordpress.com/phantasm-adventures/

It was during this period that I was on fire on creating home-brewed game systems, just as desktop publishing was taking off. I created a dozen RPG systems all seeing a very limited print but I became a center of gaming fury in Grand Rapids. At one point, I remember, I had 12 guys in my house playing one of the games. I created such systems as TED&D (pronounced Teddy like the bear) which stood for Troy’s Enhanced Doom & Death; Realms of Ardaan; and Star Traders.

I finally got to work at a computer game company when I accepted a position at Bethesda Softworks, the maker of Skyrim among other computer games. I was to work in the offices and also collaborate on Dagger Fall. My stay at the company was short lived as I discovered that working in the industry was not as glorious as it sounded.

After returning from Bethesda, I entered the “Dark Ages” of design, not producing anything of real quality for 10 years. It was a time of placid existence, without thought of worlds beyond ours — even my gaming dried up and I became lost in the world of gaming.

In 2007 I returned with several community mods for Civilization IV, a computer game of conquest from Firaxis. Although not a programmer, I did figure out how to make large modification to the rules. To this day, I still get people from all over the world emailing about how much they enjoyed my mod.

in 2010 I was contacted by Jeff Dee and Jack Herman about writing a new module for V&V; This project is in the works. It was during this year that I was also contacted by some of the original editorial staff of Game Graphix in Japan and they sought to release a new version of Advanced Phantasm Adventures. Sadly, this project keeps lapsing because of many outside factors.

In 2011, I started another design project called Iron Age. It was built off from my game rules system called Bloodbath, but a bit more complicated. It was also backed up by historical research, hoping to put players into a relatively real world environment of history. My hopes is that playing the game will spur the players to learn more about the culture and history during the Iron Age. The development continues, but slowly.

Monday Night Games

This week my friends Joe and Wade came back over for another round of Monday night gaming goodness. As it happens Joe showed up first and we talked about what sort of games we wanted to play last night. The problem is that we have only about 4 and half hours, a bit less if we plan on having some food. In weeks past, we would all get a big pizza and sit around and talk about the next “big” game. For the last several, however, we decided in advance to eat quick and get on to more dedicated playing of a game.

We talked about playing some Civilization IV, with either a mod that I designed such as Multiverse or Extreme II or perhaps one of the many fine other mods out there. Those interested in a bunch of really great stuff, I urge you to go here: http://forums.civfanatics.com/forumdisplay.php?f=171

Extreme II can be located here: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=415468

And my mod that encapsulates magic, steam punk, and a ton of what if technologies can be found here: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=440184

In the end of our conversation, we decided that we would allow Civilization to rest for another week and continue on playing our characters in the MMO (Multi-Massive Online) game City of Heroes. This is a free to play game, that has a very low entry point but delivers up great mounts of fun. So cool and exciting to create a hero or villain of your own design and then play it through scenarios and missions, collecting secret tips and plans. As you play the game, you gain levels with which you can select new powers or increase the strength of old powers.

You can find more reference here: http://na.cityofheroes.com/en/my_account/download_game_client/download_city_of_heroes.php

If you decide to try the game, you will notice that you need to select a server — basically a copy of the game spread over many computers. Your character will be locked to that server until you can transfer him, so make a choice. My friends and I are on Defiant, if you want to join us sometimes.

 

Wade eventually showed up and he told us he had transferred some of his higher level guys to the Defiant server, which makes missions a bit easier.

In the game, any level character can join up with any other level character through a mentoring program. The leader of the group decides the level cap. So if a low level guy adds high level, those more powerful characters become his level until the group breaks up, alternately a high level guy who adds lower level characters the new additions will be 1 level less than the leader.

Joe played his character Master Jailer throughout the night, while Wade and I switched through a couple of toons. I started out with my super villain called The Butternut Kid, a young cowboy with a fancy set of pistols, but later I moved to my other guy called Doctor Cloudstuff. Cloudstuff is a steampunk character with magical and technological powers to heal and also a crazy gun that is rather powerful.

Our adventures took us all over the map and we completed many missions that night.

 

Some did not end well and several times our guys had to be rushed to the hospital. Going to the hospital happens when the team is beat up and knocked out — it is a time penalty for not successfully managing the fights in a mission.

With a bit of luck and with some arguing amongst ourselves, we ultimately won the day and succeeded in our missions.

 

Each of my guys went up a couple of levels and I added some new powers.

It was a great night of camaraderie that I hope will continue next week.

Patch to MULTIVERSE

A new version of Multiverse is available for download at AtomicGamer. It is not what I would call an official upgrade, but more of a patch to the original mod.

Changes:
Civic Screen is now vertical to help out computers with small screens or resolution
Commander and Slave Ships now capture Barbarian units correctly
Stone should be more available
Oil should be more prevalent
Minor typographical changes

Multiverse Download: Patch 101

 

Starting Research for Age of Discovery

 

I am officially starting my development on my next mod, tentatively called “Age of Discovery” although it probably should be given a “II” since I had an earlier buggy version of the mod.

This version will be written completely fresh, from the ground up using a standard base mod template or using the non-animated leaders mod from Thomas War. I simply like the Thomas War mod as a basic template because it is complete but without being overly complicated.

My first step is to determine the years to include in the mod, for which I am thinking at this time to include the years between 1600 to 1800. Second, I need to include the major players which is basically the European countries that sailed to the New World and including major American Indian nations including those South America — most notably the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca.

I am also making the design decision not to change the basic structure of techs in the base game, but only stretching the technological achievements over the covered 200 years to the entire extent of the tech tree in the basic game. Thus, there will be no combustion engines, no flight, and no advance gun powder units. This will be all about the musket, bow, and cannon.

Ships will tap out with perhaps ironclad, or maybe not even that far but rather just advanced galleons. More research needs to be done.

I will update my research as I learn more about the leaders of the era, the technological advancements, and the feel of the game.

Extreme2 Has Been Updated

The quintessential Civilization IV mod has been updated again.  In this version I have added  several new unique units and unique buildings to the latter part of the game.  version 4 is the latest version as of September 17th 2011 of this game.  You can download the new version from:  http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XJGJT2DA

Additional information:  http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=415468

Updated Blog

As I try to better represent myself, as well as my ideas in Gaming, History, and print I have made some recent changes to the Emerald Tablet.  Please take note of some additional and modified tabs at the top, most specifically “Other Writing” to which I added my novel for easy reference. I have also significantly updated my “Troy Christensen” tab with a number of cover images from my games over the years as well as a listing of all my credits.  I also will be making two new additional entries into my Civ 4: Mod tab, as I am releasing a new version of Extreme2 and my reformatted mod Multiverse.

I hope you will return to the site regularly, as I update the blog on a weekly basis trying to add in new original content on my thoughts, aspirations, and ideas on gaming and history.

As always, I am looking for opportunities in Publishing, History, Gaming, and Print Production and would be interested in talking with anyone about such endeavors.

Troy Christensen
September 14th, 2011

The Computer Game That Changed the World

There have been many computer games that I fondly remember, from the days of the Commodore-64 with such classics as Ultima III and Reach For The Stars, to the present day monster computers with quad cores and gigabyte graphics cards with such titles as RIFTS, Diablo II, and Grand Theft Auto.

But through it all, I cannot think of another game that has changed how I game so much more so than Civilization IV. I played the hell out of the game for five years before realizing that I could mod it as well. A little more than a year ago, with a few friends taunting me to try and create my own content, I began to fool around with the maps, the models, and simple XML changes.

I now am the creator of three separate mods for Civilization IV: Multiverse, Extreme2, and the Age of Discovery. Each time I dip my fingers into the modding jar, I find some new delectable capability or nuance of play I never thought of before. I am creating so much new content that often my friends cannot keep track which game we are on or which mod where the new units will appear in.

I have a long way to go with this game, but the horizon is far beyond my reach. I am still enjoying and exploring all the possibilities of simple XML changes. Beyond that, there is the python coding and even further out is the C++ coding I could do with new sets of DLLs. I am happy at the present time of just creating new model variants, such as my recent additions of the Fiat 3000, an Italian light tank from World War I, or the English Hurricane the aircraft that truly won the skies over the UK during that Battle of Britain.

Exciting Week of Play Testing

I continue to test and tweak the new systems for Multiverse and Extreme2. Largest challenge now is to tweak all the values of units and buildings so that they fall into a step chaotic order. I kick myself now for not being more organized and had the foresight to record the statistics of each unit.

Here are some new screenshots of the game while being played in multi-player test:

This screen shot is of turn 438 in Extreme2. I am playing the Cherokee nation while another playtester was an early Indian (that is from India) civilization called the Chandagrupta. This is still very early on in the game and we have just cleared the medieval era — as you can see the dating system needs to be tweaked as it is surely not 235 BCish. There are three other AI opponents: Bismark, Hitler, and Theodore Roosevelt. Only Hitler seems to be very effective in this game, but sometimes we are surprised how things shake out in the end.

The above screenshot is from another game we are testing, starting from a much later point in the game the AI are actually beating us — smaller map but more opponents for them creates more opportunities. We are struggling in the game, with me playing Abraham Lincoln and my other tester as Louis XIV of France.  This game will end in a big slugfest!!

 

The start of the Tech Tree in the Multiverse mod
Tech Tree