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My fascination with the Civ-style 4X genre has waned

My fascination with the Civ-style 4X genre has waned

I have always been a big fan of Civ-style 4X games. I’ve played Civilization III, V, VI and FreeCiv for countless hours in the past, roleplaying historical national leaders trying to build that supreme civilization to dominate all other civilizations and the ultimate empire to conquer and destroy all other empires. If you’ve never played 4X games before and you’re tempted to start now, be warned that they can be extraordinarily addicting and can eat up your life without your realizing it.

For more, search for “why Civilization games are addicting” on the internet. There’s plenty written on that subject.

A screenshot from one of my games in Civilization V

However, over the last few years, my interest in 4X games (and gaming in general) has actually diminished mainly because there is something vaguely repetitive about them. These days, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, I find plodding through “one more turn” more of a chore. Since the set of technologies to be researched, units and buildings to be built and paths to win tend to be more or less fixed, any new element of gameplay doesn’t seem to add enough depth to relieve the tedium — there is nothing really new to discover when playing the same game as a different civilization. Also beyond a point in any particular game (mostly after the exploration stage where discovering the map is a big motivation), it becomes quite impersonal and boring because your “Civilization” is ultimately nothing more than grinding a bunch of stats with pretty graphics. Yes, you can go to war with enemies, there is diplomacy which adds some interest, you can explore multiple paths to victory, but even those aspects becomes boring and repetitive after a while[1]. In short, I rarely find any motivation to play through a full game and increasingly find myself playing less and less.

Having said all that, do bear in mind that even during the peak of my interest I was not really more than a casual gamer; never a deliberate, calculative player in the mould of a hardcore fan; rarely experimented with fine-tuning game settings; never played multi-player against human opponents and rarely played at higher difficulty settings against the AI to challenge myself.

I don’t know, maybe I’m rationalizing my loss of interest in computer games in general though strategy and simulation games have always interested me more than any other genre. Ultimately it’s probably a good thing that I don’t feel like wasting several hours a day on Civilization any more.

  1. Yes, over the years Civilization games have found a bunch of new ways to keep players engaged, but ultimately it boils down to grinding stats[]
Why mobile games are usually so awful

Why mobile games are usually so awful

Try installing any random game on your Android phone or iOS device and chances are that the game sucks. More often than not, the game is severely curtailed in its free avatar and requires you to make micro payments to advance further into the game. And most likely the “game currency”[1] cannot be earned enough in-game and usually require to be bought using real currency. Even paid games suffer from this to some extent, in the sense that you usually pay mainly to remove ads and enable some content, but unlocking more content/levels require further micro payments. Over the years, this mechanic seems to have become the de-facto norm for mobile games. In “free” games, on top of such crippled gameplay you also get annoying in-game ads interrupting every few minutes that simply takes away any sense of immersion. And then, of course, you have the problem of “games” that are not really games but pure-and-distilled crappy spyware.

Search for “why are mobile games so bad” on the internet and you’ll find that this is a popular sentiment.

From my perspective, the answer is this – there is no market for serious gaming on mobiles because budget to mid-range mobiles are usually underpowered, and mobiles are not ergonomic enough for serious gameplay. High end mobiles which make somewhat decent gaming possible are expensive enough to be a niche market. Most casual gamers are not going to shell out big money for mobile games[2] and mobile game developers probably cannot make enough money to justify developing high-end games, which would only work on the expensive devices anyway. The bigger problem, is that, being primarily touch-operated devices, mobile games have to keep the input and interactivity simple and basic while many serious games require complicated inputs, including keyboard interactions to be ergonomic enough for sophisticated gameplay.

What is more surprising in my opinion is that, there is no real popular open source eco-system for mobile software (including games) similar to the desktop open source software eco-system that developed around Linux. You can be productive in a desktop system with entirely open source software on an open source operating system (Linux) not having to deal with any crapware/adware/spyware, but no such popular open source app eco-system exists for Android that I am aware of.

  1. coins or gems or whatever that are required to unlock higher levels of gameplay/mechanics/content[]
  2. serious gamers who almost never play mobile games simply won’t care[]