Your local neighborhood Civ-Addict.
Going to rewrite this...
Primarily because I'm bored, also because I want to explain how and why I try to fix games.
As a kid in the 80's I grew up around Pac-Man arcade games and things of that sort. There was a mystical fascination toward video gaming back then, even though my family was dubious of it. My first home game system was an Atari 7800 and one of the first games I owned was ET (yes, that one, and it isn't as bad as people say. I had a lot of fun with it). Eventually I got an NES, and it was like a whole other world (or 8, when you finally find the princess). I flirted with PC gaming in the early 90's, although my computer was not able to run games (except Letter Invaders which came with Typing Tutor, which I wasted too much time on). In the mid 90's, I finally got a decent computer, and plunged carefully into the world of computer games. I went through different gaming phases, always trying out different things, spending a lot of time catching up on old classics I had missed in the 90's. For awhile I was an avid online gamer, involved in gaming clans and groups (you don't hear the term clan much anymore). Today I am pretty much a solo gamer, addicted to Civilization IV...
When it comes to software, I have a tenacity to me that refuses to let the software get away with malfunctioning. I've always been like that, I remember playing NES games and looking for glitches and exploits. With PC gaming, it's a whole other situation...the games rarely work properly due to all the different types of computers out there. There's always something weird going on. So it's become almost a hobby to try to fix all these glitches I run across. Usually when I find a fix for something, it's because I ran into a problem with a game that frustrated me, and in fixing that problem, I discovered a number of other issues either by witnessing them or reading about them. And that lead me here...
You might find me lurking about various parts of the Internet, sometimes as ragan651. Particularly the Steam community.
In some cases I use my own ideas and experience to come up with fixes. Most of the time I scour the Internet and see what I can find out about problems. In many cases I try to replicate the error. At the end of the day, I can't tell you where all the information came from because there's so many sources, but I like to give credit where I can. The nice thing about this site is it's just a database of known fixes.
I have started adding Version and Patch information on some of the pages. This is not going to be a massive effort on my part, but if I see a place where this is necessary, I will add it. The reason is that there are many versions of computer games out there, and when trying to fix a game, it becomes an issue. A fix might work on one version that doesn't on another, or a new version might add bugs to a game. Sometimes just change versions resolves the bugs. And the frustrating thing is that most casual users (the people I end up fixing things for) don't keep track of what version of the game they have. So a simple list of different releases/expansions and patches helps with that. I also like to keep information on the most recent patch, because a lot of the time installing that will fix the problems.
One of the first things I had to figure out with PC gaming is how to do the basic fixing. There is a series of steps everyone should take if they encounter serious game errors, regardless of the game. Sometimes many game errors in multiple games can be fixed or avoided with these steps.
Sometimes I will know about a bug and won't mention it. There's a few reasons. For instance, if the problem is corrected by a game patch, there is no reason to mention it, because it is already fixed. Sometimes people claim a game is bugged but it's actually a simple problem caused by something the user did. Generally, if the "Universal Fixing Method" fixes the problem, I won't bother mentioning it, unless it is a significant bug. If I can verify that the bug exists, I can't guarantee that it isn't a problem with the person's hardware causing the issue, so I try to verify anything I post.
Edit: It's been a little while since I wrote this, and while I still consider the principle true, I have found reason to post things that do not fit this criteria. Some fixes/bugs are hard to verify or replicate. I still try to research as much as I can. I still recommend that "Universal Fixing Method", especially in Civ V...it would save so many headaches, because it by itself fixes most of the problems. There is such a demand for game fixes, though, that it is necessary to list even easily resolved ones. Working on the Civ V page has changed my perspective a bit. I do think I need to come back and see this statement again, to stay grounded though.
I contribute to several pages here on PCGW, but predominantly I maintain the Civilization V page. So a quick overview...
Europa Universalis III (even though I don't remember doing so)
The Sims (I need to redo these with the new formatting)
The Sims 2
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Plants vs. Zombies
Build A PC
I am a fan of simulation games and strategy games. There also is a period of time in the late 90's where a bunch of classic games came out that have become my all time favorites. A few of my favorites:
I am sure I am forgetting some good ones. Those are off the top of my head.
Since writing this part, I've been playing several other games. These are some more recent games I've enjoyed:
I don't know if these will end up as all-time favorites later on (Civ V certainly will).
I have been affiliated with a number of groups in different games over the years. The longest affiliation was with TFF, a Jedi Knight clan, and I am still in touch with those people. Another memorable involvement was in Lord of The Rings Online as a member of Bad Company. I've had others, but they were transient. At one time I was one of the leaders of a multi-gaming group known as Riders of The Night.
This is what's on my stereo right now:
So I'm still fairly young, in a relative sense, when I see a game in the store that I had heard of, but was not familiar with. It was in a jewel case, a big double jewel case. I was told it was on the lines of SimCity. So money is exchanged, merchandise changes hands, and I end up bringing home a new game with an epic enough title. Civilization II. Now I had missed out of Civilization I, and I didn't have too much money to spend on games back then. I still had some good ones, but I tried to be careful. So I hated to be disappointed in a game. I unsealed the game, and opened it, and I was shocked. It was a jewel case that could hold 4 CDs, but it only contained one. I expected a massive, hard drive-killing experience with high-res movies and lots of content. Instead it was one disc, and a complicated chart that looked like it came from a high school classroom. It looked less like a game, and more like a college course. This was the only time I would ever be disappointed with Civilization II.
I installed the game, which was fast and went smoothly. The graphics were ancient, even then, and the controls were crazy. I didn't get the concept off the bat, but I learned quickly enough. I can't recall how the addiction set it. It seems like it was always there. I can't remember a time in my life where "one more turn" didn't mean something. What I can remember is life before Civ, when my imagination was still wild. With Civ, it got taken to new heights. I could finally express my semi-Machiavellian interest in manipulating the politics of the world, this was a game where you could be the most powerful person, you could feel like the most powerful person, and it wasn't boring. Something amazing happened when I finished my first game...I felt like I had lived another life. I had to go find someone and recount the whole of alternate history, because this wasn't just a casual gaming experience. It was like I lived another, more glorious and epic life, for thousands of years. This became common, recounting the epic tales of my society and its survival.
I learned a lot from that game. I also lost a lot of time to it. I have no idea how long the marathon games would go, how I would lose track of things and even found it helped my headaches...I was so into the game, I didn't feel the pain. I have mixed feelings about Civ II for that, because it was so addicting. It was wonderful, it was amazing, and it stole part of my life. Then time went on, and I played other games. I kept Civ around, but I admit after a few years it lost its luster. Never completely, I never abandoned it. No, I just moved on to Alpha Centauri. I often played them together, I would start a game in Civ II, get a space race victory, then play Alpha Centauri as the follow up to that game. So when Civ III was released, I was excited, but I didn't get it right away. I lived with Civ II and Alpha Centauri, and played other games. Also I did this thing called life, which consumed a lot of time. For those unfamiliar with it, life is like an MMO without a subscription fee, and manual participation. There were times in my life when I had to put Civ down, because it was too addicting.
I got Civ III for Christmas one year. I was so excited. I opened the jewel case, there was a single CD inside. I was happy, because that's what I expected. I installed the game, expecting good things. The experience? Kind of meh. All the things I loved in Civ II were gone. The new system was off to me, it felt like the game was designed to screw the player. Well, I didn't like that. So I kept playing, for a few months, trying to get into the game. It seemed so irrational, I didn't know what was going on a lot of the time. So I eventually gave up on it. For the first time, Civ let me down.
Now I talk bad about Civ III for that, and people correct me. I know there's a huge fanbase for it, some people love it. Most people agree the original retail release was poor though. I had only played the original, and believe me, it was poor. Not all poor, but generally poor.
So time goes on, and Civ IV comes out. I still have the same computer that thrived on Civ II, and money is tight. So I decide to watch the game and see if the price comes down like Civ III did. I figure eventually it would be a $10 game. I'm still waiting on that. No, it stayed in the $40 range for a very long time. Eventually I upgraded my computer, and when I had some extra money and I felt depressed, I decided I needed something fun to do. So I went out and bought Civ IV. Incredible. It wasn't Civ II, no. I couldn't do things the same way...but it felt as epic, as wonderful as Civ II. I lost some of the strategies and methods I loved, but I gained an actual interface and the removal of so many annoyances. The game was good, not perfect but good. It erased all of the horror of Civ III from me, and I was a Civ addict again. I played Civ IV for about a week. Then I bought Beyond The Sword. Maybe it was two weeks. I don't know. I know I shouldn't have bought two games in a short span, especially when it was effectively one game. It was money well spent.
Beyond the Sword wasn't perfect though. The install didn't go so smoothly. I found the problem quickly enough (which was a case of me compiling PC fixes before PCGW ever came about), and I took care of it. The game was even better, Civ IV had some limitations, but Beyond The Sword brought it higher than Civ II to me. Civ was never just a strategy game, it isn't another form of computer chess...it's an experience. It's part world-builder, where you see a world thrive and change and improve, and Civ IV got that. So I spent many, many years with that game. Different computers, several reformats, different jobs and homes, and Civ IV stuck with me. I would play long, marathon games just to fight for my eventually culture victory. Sometimes I would be the aggressor, but I preferred the peaceful game. What I have always loved about Civ is that there is a game for every mood, so many different ways to play. And I played them all.
I admit I was never an expert at Civ IV. I messed around a lot, I played mainly for the love of it, not the challenge. I kept the difficulty low, I was more about the thrill of building world wonders than killing the AI on deity level. That was fine with me. The only problem came when after all the installs and reinstalls and moving, the worst thing that could happen, happened.
My Beyond The Sword disc 1 got a crack in it.
I survived by way of the patch which removed the CD check. Still, I had to face it - I could not reinstall Civ IV if I needed to. Well I could, but not Beyond The Sword. Unsure of what to do, I did nothing. Civ V was announced, and my interest was piqued. I downloaded the Civ V wallpaper, and I read all I could. I found out the system requirements, there was no way I could run the game. Not like that ever stopped me. So I waited until the demo came out. I made a Steam account just to download this demo. My computer couldn't handle it, so I removed it. End of story, no Civ V for me. So I kept playing Civ IV.
Then I got a new computer. I had some money to spare. So the first thing I did was logical - I bought Civ V. Then, I played it. I was so excited, I knew it was going to be awesome. It was a great feeling. Then I loaded up the game, saw the opening movie. The visual on the movie were so amazing, I felt excited for the game. I played a few turns to make sure it worked. It worked. I didn't quite get all the changes, but I was enthused. Then I had other things to do, so it was a few days before I really got down to the game.
It was a letdown. It wasn't Civ IV. It wasn't what I expected at all. The immersion that I used to love was gone. Instead the focus was on war and hostility. I didn't understand it. I was frustrated by its simplicity. I didn't give up all together, I just didn't feel it lived up to my hopes. It made me want Civ IV back. The problem was I had a new computer, and a broken Civ IV disc. So I bought Civ IV complete to replace it. Installed it and immediately earned a diplomatic victory. All was well.
Months go on, and I start playing Civ V occasionally. I start to become more familiar with it. I read article about it, look up strategies. It was the first game I played that had achievements, and it was the game that got me using Steam. So I started looking through forums, then I started asking questions on forums. Then I started answering questions on forums. Months later, I had a good understanding of the game, I had a lot of information to share. I was not coming to like the new game...I was starting to love it. I went from exciting, to disappointed, to disparaging, to enthralled in a short span of time. It followed that I had to have the DLC, which I never bought before. I was never a fan of DLC, but I though the idea of buying extra Civs and wonders was pretty cool. I have no regrets about the DLC purchase, it was worth it.
So not only did I have a wealth of Civ V knowledge, I started writing it down on forums. I became more confident the more I knew, and I used to joke that I spend more time fixing the game for people than playing it. Only it wasn't really a joke. I went from obsessive marathon Civ II games where people were locked out of my world, to building on a community of Civ fans, helping people get value out of the game.
I am no longer the peacemonger I once was in Civ. I have become rather skilled at warfare. I have even gone back and applied my new skills to Civ IV and Civ II. I bought Civ III Complete on sale, for the sake of completion. I wanted to give the game a fair chance. I have changed my tune...it's still not perfect, but I see the potential in it. I've had some fun playing it.
Civ is not the same game it used to be. It doesn't need to be. I'm having enough fun with it, knowing well that I have 5 choices of how to approach the game (including Alpha Centauri). I can still be immersed and peaceful...I now have the choice.
Meanwhile, there's a bunch of Civ players who could use some advice somewhere...