Life Goals in 4X

For anyone unfamiliar with the term 4X it refers to a subgenre of games based on four ‘x’ words: explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. These games typically involve you building an empire from its humble beginnings by managing a combination of military, domestic and scientific affairs.

Alpha Centauri Forest

When nature strikes back!…slowly…over millions of years.

I have a habit of setting self-imposed achievements in these games. I’m referring to tasks beyond aiming for the cultural or scientific victories in the Civilization games. For example, in Civilization’s sci-fi spin off Alpha Centauri, I constantly find myself overcome with an urge to cover the entire planet in forest. To the extent that I will continue playing the game long after the other factions have been exterminated and long after all technology has been researched. Why? Because I can.

Civ City

These cities are too close, they should be outside the two tile radius!

Civilization is not exempt, from creating an efficient mass-production empire on which every tile is farmed or mined to its fullest, to spreading every possible religion to every possible city in an attempt to make a pan-religious empire. Such is the extent of my obsession with these little (or indeed large) goals that I get very irked with the computer who doesn’t seem to agree and insists on building cities where I don’t want them.

I’ve mostly referred to Civilization but it happens in other games, such as Warlock: Master of the Arcane and a need to build cities everywhere including the empty planes. You’ll also find my idiosyncrasy in other genres; long have I had a dream of constructing a base in a Command and Conquer game that is neat, ordered, with wall and gates that make it generally aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately the enemy has a curious notion of attacking my base while it’s still in development and avoids the designated turret defence zones.

C&C Turret

“Excellent, now build the next turret over there.”
“But sir, there’s no enemies there.”
“Yes, but this way it’ll be symmetrical.”

You’ve heard mine now tell me yours. What obscure goals do you chase in what games and why do you do it?


2 thoughts on “Life Goals in 4X

  1. Eric Storch says:

    Yep. If only the Zerg would leave me alone long enough for my base to be pretty. *sigh* But no, apparently, they have their own agenda and don’t care how dashing my bases are.

    I could get some nice looking ones in AoE2 if I played on a heavily forested map – took the enemy longer to find me. 🙂

    • L.P. Mergle says:

      Those Zerg and their anti-artistic movement! Don’t get me started on Age of Empires, I don’t have good enough hand/mouse coordination for it, all of my houses and barracks end up higgledy piggledy with peasants trapped between. I also have a bad habit of building walls straight through the buildings.

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