(Written elsewhere April 19th.)
I downloaded the game Crusader Kings 2 some time ago when there was a special deal where it was free. The outcome: I’m in no danger of addiction. Whether I’ve even really played is . . . far too odd a question. I’m not even sure interest’s grappling hooks can even find a purchase. Really my main thing is that it seems to be an exploration of some extremes of what a game can be.
You’re a noble (as time passes, you’re successive members of that noble family) interacting with the other nobles of the world. Everyone has an opinion of everyone else. There’s all the strange strategy of marrying well and the laws of inheritance, there are matters of intrigue and war, there are all the interdependent details of a realm, there is the necessary information involved in all of that . . .
. . . and it’s all buried in an immensely complicated interface.
Comparable to the instrument panel of a jetliner if there were dropdown menus underneath each button.
With more dropdowns and whole new instrument panels underneath those.
I love the idea of the conceptual and operational depth that’s possible in something like that - and that apparently really exists in this game, because word is that people do play this game successfully, even Napoleonically.
But . . .
Chess you can play immediately, though you play disastrously at first.
This is more like a game where you have to be a master of the game before you can play!
Which . . . is viable?!?
To be clear, to the extent that I haven’t aborted my attempts to play within a few minutes, I have only played by choosing one of a very small number of historical backwaters . . . and just sitting there. Because I cannot figure out a strategy, or size up the potential for one. Because I don’t know where any of the stuff I’d need for that would be.
(To the extent that this means I cannot form intentions, maybe it’s like playing a normal game but with a brain injury.)
Now, a word there brings me to the second fascinating aspect of this game as such.
Usually games set you up so you can play. You face a playable situation. In lots of strategy games, you and your opponent start civilizations at the same time, so you are both striving on the same ground.
But not with this game. I mentioned the word “historical”. You pick a place and person in historical Europe.
Which means no situation is game-shaped.
Which means that things could be impossible.
Suppose you’re playing as a Wallachian baron . . . and the Mongols arrive. Even if you didn’t have the above difficulties . . . what exactly are you supposed to do? Speed Glacier 1, Gnat 0.
The Example Generalized:
EVERY SINGLE situation and position in Europe is like that! Only in a smaller way - or perhaps a lesser extent - but smaller/lesser is not guaranteed.
To the extent you’re ever a larger entity, to that extent everyone else wants what you have. In a pattern that hasn’t been composed for survivability either. Or composed much at all. It’s not fair. It’s simply Europe that year!
So, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll keep starting it up and trying to play. Mostly my involvement with it is about . . . “Is this, in fact, a game?”
Last updated June 25, 2018