Some Impressions: The Fate Of The World

By Quintin Smith on November 3rd, 2010 at 9:02 pm.

Those options, from left to right: Exterminate the Chinese, Clock Off Early, Tell Terrorists They'll Have To Wait, Order Jam Rationing, Plant a Tree.

Indie climate change strategy game Fate of the World has been on RPS’ radar for a while. As of this Monday, the beta’s been made available to all pre-order customers. Can RPS rescue our doomed world? There’s only one way to find out.

I’ll admit to it now. I approached saving planet Earth with the same attitude I have to most games – figuring I’d beat the odds with nothing but some quick learning, lateral thinking and a dash of roguish risk-taking.

Yeah. About that.

The current build of the Fate of the World beta has only one scenario, entitled Oil Crisis.

As always, you’re cast as the head of the GEO, a hypothetical governing body that’s been given the power to institute just about whatever policies it likes in order to combat climate change and generally stop the world from crumbling like a wet biscuit into the murky tea of chaos.

In Oil Crisis, it is the year 2020. Your objective is simply to get to the year 2120. Each turn is 5 years, making that 20 turns. The game ends if the global temperature rises by 3 degrees, if your expenditures are higher than your funding, if the GEO is banned from operating in 8 of the game’s 12 regions, or if the global HDI drops below 0.5 (meaning development of the world comes screeching to a halt).

Basically, just do the job. How you actually play Fate of the World is incredibly simple. Each turn you’re given cash by all of the regions you’re operating in. This cash can firstly be used to buy operatives, and each operative you have in a region gives you a slot to play a card in. The cards look like this:

And represent policies, actions or construction projects. Each turn you drop your cash instituting various cards, and maybe buy a few extra operatives, and then you end your turn and watch 5 years tick by. That’s it.

Is the game, then, just picking sound policies? Swapping to nuclear and renewable energy sources? Researching advanced tech? Building carbon scrubbers?

Well, no. As you’ll see above, each region has a wealth of stats that can be brought up. What you can there is a fraction of the info at your fingertips. Policies don’t just need to be sound, they need to suit the region. An anti-deforestation program in Latin America can reap huge benefits. The same program in Europe will simply sit in one of your card slots like a fat, rectangular lump.

SO: Do you simply click your teeth while examining the numbers, then pick the most suitable policies?

Well, no. Because these are troubled times, and you’re being funded by the whole planet. If you’re not causing a direct improval in a region’s quality of life, the GEO will get kicked out of that region, or your operatives will get murdered, or both. In any case, you won’t be getting any more funding from them.

Here’s how my end of turn summary looked at the beginning of the game:

And here’s what it looked like after 20 years:

The GEO was as popular as a fart in a submarine. My decision to tackle the kids who were killing the planet as opposed to the ones who were actually dying caused India and North Africa to punt the GEO out, meaning less funding for me and no influence in those areas.

And here’s the same chart after 50 years:

I had entered proper Billy No-mates territory. My actions had led me to being abandoned by half the world. On the plus side, I was still receiving enough funding to look after the other half, who just thought I was a bit of a shit.

At this point, my game shifted. I began simply trying to keep the GEO alive by lessening the misery caused by peak oil, so the other regions wouldn’t kick me out. Latin America was a sore point.

If I could just hang on for five more years, they might change their tune. I abandoned my (achingly effective) anti-deforestation program, and focused on dropping unemployment and building Aid centres. If nothing bad happened in the next 5 years, the people of Latin America might start seeing the long-term benefits of these operations and SON OF A BITCH-

And that was how my operatives ended up taking charter flights out of Latin America.

So. Fate of the World is a game where you click your teeth while looking at numbers to determine effective policies, while attempting a political balancing act to do with easing the globe’s suffering?

Well, no. Because sometimes a decent policy in one region will dick over another region catastrophically.

In my game, it was biofuels. I needed an alternative to oil, and biofuels struck me as a good choice. Renewable and clean? Perfect. Sign me up. What I didn’t predict was the crippling effect my encouragement of biofuel adoption in first world countries would have on lesser economically developed countries. With farms growing less actual food, food prices went up, causing anger and starvation and snapping assorted economies like twigs.

This is Fate of the World. You think, you scheme, you rub your chin, you decide on your plan, you cast the die and then the game tells you fucked up, and the walrus is dead.

Fate of the World is almost certainly the most brilliant educational game I’ve ever played, and its brilliance is in its simplicity. The rules of the game are swallowed in seconds, and from there you do nothing but thinking and learning. Thinking, because the game offers nothing else- there are no animations or repetition, and learning because despite the game’s apparent simplicity you keep making mistakes, and you want to fix them, but fixing them causes more mistakes, and then you want to fix them.

Because you’re close to something amazing! You really are! The predicted temperature of the Earth 100 years from now is dropping. You saved the Orangutan. You prevented those flash-floods from causing untold pain in the Middle East. The Earth is opening up to you like a Rubix-cube, its patterns shifting, locking and unlocking in unexpected ways. There is a way to solve this puzzle. You know there is. But it’s always just out of reach.

After I’d built flood barriers and instituted some wildlife protection programs, Europe quickly became my stronghold, from where I’d commission research. But research into what? In this beta build, you can’t click on cards to access real-world information on them, something I was pining for. Did I want to research superconductor tech? What’s a superconductor? I needed to learn.

I suspect that Fate of the World is going to earn itself a great deal of attention in the media, as well it should. For an enjoyable game to be married so effectively with education, and on such an important issue, makes me want to take off my shirt and jump around. But then I’d put the shirt back on, because it’s cold and the central heating’s off because I’m trying to save electricity and I think that’s probably saving the planet and not killing somebody on another part of the planet. Probably. If there’s a bad side to Fate of the World, it’s that it teaches a hopeless skeptic on most policies.

If you’re curious about Fate of the World and want in the beta, remember that a pre-order is all it takes. Good luck, and remember… remember to… …ah, shit, I’ve got no tips.

Who knew saving the world would be so hard?

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176 Comments »

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  1. Tiktaalik says:

    This sounds awesome.

  2. CWalker00 says:

    Looks jolly interesting. consider it marked upon my imaginary radar of upcoming games which tickle my fancy.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’ve got my copy on my computer and just need to find the time to start playing it. V excited.

    KG

  4. Dolphan says:

    Wow, this just leaped on to my Radar in a big way! Sounds a bit like Cliffski’s Democracy games, which were brilliant.

  5. PleasingFungus says:

    Bought! I really shouldn’t, I’ve got other responsibilities… but this just sounds too interesting.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Everything was going so well! Everything was happy. Everyone was fine. Then I banned 1st generation biofuels, which created a small oil shortage, which started a recession, which cascaded into worldwide starvation and chaos.

      AGAIN.

    • TCM says:

      Apperently everything was fine until I talked to him, which basically makes me a harbinger of doom.

  6. CMaster says:

    The idea was interesting, but pleased to hear it makes such an apparently compelling game.

  7. TimA says:

    You’ve definitely sparked my interest, hovering towards the pre-order button now…

  8. RyePunk says:

    I hate you for making me buy games.
    I adore you for showing me games that I want to play.
    Grrrrr.

  9. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    “I needed an alternative to oil, and biofuels struck me as a good choice. Renewable and clean? Perfect. Sign me up. What I didn’t predict was the crippling effect my encouragement of biofuel adoption in first world countries would have on lesser economically developed countries. With farms growing less actual food, food prices went up, causing anger and starvation and snapping assorted economies like twigs.”

    And in the game. :(

    • vanarbulax says:

      Yeah this was what caught my attention. Something which actually demonstrates the damn difficulty of replacing fossil fuels, and doesn’t just say “hey we can make fuel from corn” without acknowledging all the many, many downsides.

    • DAdvocate says:

      My worry with a game like this is that it can provide a false confidence that action A will result in B. Taking the biofuel example above, switching to biofuels could prevent the dumping of surplus food at below cost prices in the developing world, this could allow local farmers to finally make a profit and invest in improving their farm’s production.

      Turning complex interacting issues into distinct independent options with clear outcomes doesn’t necessarily help the situation, however I still applaud the immense effort the developers have clearly put into this game.

  10. Metalfish says:

    Flaming hippos, any game that has “secret sterilisation policy” as a legitimate option really isn’t fucking about.

    • Søren Welling says:

      This comment would have pushed me over the edge, if the article hadn’t already – cynicism in computergames is about my favourite thing :)

      I’m impatiently waiting for the beta to load down.

    • sfury says:

      I tried not to use this in my last playthrough. Everything was going so good and I was nearing 2100 with most of the regions happy (though there were already a plethora of problems I couldn’t solve, the damned biofuels effect for example). I had just learned how to effectively use military actions to keep some of the regions from falling apart and even researched Black Ops for the more problematic ones. And the slowly some of my most productive regions like China got hit by the unemployment and starvation too, I even made a regime change there because obviously someone didn’t like the GEO and agents started missing.

      But even though that kept most regions content and paying and finally reducing emissions, it all crumbled in starvation and chaos soon after that. So, monster or not, I tried the sterilization in China.

      Two turns later the game tells me a whistleblower leaked what was going on in China and I got fired. GAME OVER.

      Damn you, Wikileaks!

    • DrazharLn says:

      It took them 10 years to find out, though.

      You did your duty. If the Hague don’t get you, write that in your biography. Finding out that this game has such cynical options means that it is now pre-ordered.

      I think I may buy another copy for a friend studying geography…

  11. brog says:

    Saw this mentioned on some kind of TV news last night (not sure exactly what, was just playing in a pub in the background). Presenters were fairly uneducated – “but videogames are all violent! how can this work it doesn’t make sense!” – while one of the developers bemusedly tried to explain that no actually there are lots of different games and not all of them are murder all the time. Good job – simultaneously raising awareness of important environmental issues and raising awareness of the virtues of our medium.

  12. DojiStar says:

    How ideologically biased is this game? I work in the energy trading industry, read the peak oil doomsters on theoildrum.com, and am far more familiar with most of these issues than the average person. Is this game just going to infuriate me with loaded assumptions?

    Is this some hippieenvirofreak lovefest? Yay! Magic unicorns and wind and solar will save us all! Just because these projects cost more energy to make than they produce doesn’t mean anything! Technology and subsidies will triumph!

    Is it: there is no way to preserve civilization as we know it, 95% of humans will die in misery, and we’ll go back to the 18th century (in 1000 years when we finally “recover” from the crash and stop eating each other)?

    Or does it foolishly pretend that there is some way Americans can still drive mammoth SUVs to buy $8 lattes in sprawling suburbs? I.e. expensive as hell, rare lithium-wasting electric cars that use electricity — generated by limited natural gas (since everyone hates coal and nukes) — traveling over an inefficient grid, etc.

    • Wilson says:

      @DojiStar – This is a good question actually. I preordered the game and it’s very interesting. I’ll be looking forward to seeing it develop though the beta. Unfortunately I can’t answer your questions. Anyone with more knowledge of the theories behind the game who can comment on this?

      On my first game although I managed to prevent a predicted rise to 3C by 2120, the entire world starved and broke out into fighting (except Europe, for reasons I don’t really understand). I lost by being kicked out of too many countries, and I would have lost from a fall in the HDI anyway, even if I hadn’t been kicked out.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I suspect the game’s screwed either way, basically. By merely reporting what the majority of Scientists say, you’re going to be accused of being idealogical.

      KG

    • noobnob says:

      Really want an answer to that question as well.

    • Wilson says:

      @Kieron – Very true. Still, a few opinions would be interesting even if unlikely to give a definitive answer.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      We did a big interview with the devs, which covered this sort of area, which may be interesting reading.

      Also, do leave any questions you’d like asked in the comment thread. Q and I will me talking to the Devs this week.

      KG

    • Wilson says:

      If you mean this one: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/05/07/set-the-world-on-fire-fate-of-the-world/#more-29574, it was interesting but as it’s the devs talking about it they are going to have faith in their model. I was thinking it would be interesting to hear what various people who are up to date with the current research think of the game.

      I’d be interested to know if they are going to consider allowing any kind of modding of the game. I’d assume not, but it would be pretty cool if they did.

    • Archonsod says:

      It doesn’t drill into the details at that level, it’s more abstract. You can for example convert the US to electric cars, which it simply assumes work, what it then does is model the impact of that on the social and economic level (i.e. more demand for power).
      For example, as the article says, you can opt for biofuels. It’s not specific in the how (essentially you have three generations of biofuel crop, the first replaces food crops, the second reduces that impact as it’s based on agricultural waste, and the third removes that impact altogether by using algae). As far as the game is concerned the biofuel is equal to the equivalent amount of oil. What it models is the impact of that choice; i.e. as demand for oil outstrips production more agricultural land is turned over to biofuels to feed the demand, which reduces the amount of land used for food, which starts causing starvation, which is then exacerbated by soil erosion because the temperature has risen and so forth.

      In so far as feasibility beyond the social and economic impacts, it does make a nod towards technology and infrastructure. To completely replace fossil power generation with nuclear for example you need fast breeder reactors and fusion power to be discovered, and while it’s quite likely for the US to discover these technologies even without your intervention, it’s not likely to happen in North Africa even with your intervention.

    • Anonymousity says:

      Considering the half life of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere it would be ridiculous to assume you could have any serious impact on reducing the temperature rises supposedly due to AGW in 100 years.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      “Supposedly”?

      You’re kidding, right?

      The human race is doomed.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It does kinda piss me off that one of the most important debates of our century is clouded by interests on both sides, rather than a rational discussion of what should be done. From what Quintin says, it seems like they get a good balance between saying “this is definitely an issue” and “wow, solving climate change is tough.” But any game whose core physics engine is programmed by Myles Allen has my interest.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate

      Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and the 1998 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about energy use and the future of the earth’s climate. Drawing on his forthcoming book on energy, Laughlin predicts that we will continue to use cars and planes and electricity long after coal and petroleum are exhausted and speculates as to how that might play out in the future. The conversation concludes with discussions of other concerns of Laughlin’s–the outlawing via legislation and taboo of certain forms of knowledge, and the practice of reductionism rather than emergence in the physical sciences.

      http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/08/laughlin_on_the.html

      Just linking, take what you want from it.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      Mevermind the fact that the earth has undergone much more significant climate change events without the benefit of humans and scientists are discovering that the insanely hysterical theories that have been proposed are wildly inaccurate…

      Sadly with governments seeing $$$ signs in the form of tax credits, Scientists getting billions in grants at the mere mention of carbon, not to mention the filthy hippies we’re never going tp see rational debate on the issue.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      [..] insanely hysterical [..] seeing $$$ signs [..] filthy hippies [..] rational debate [..]

      lol

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Hey, Bubslawnservice, there’s this thing you might not have heard of, but you really need to look up.

      It’s called “irony”.

    • D says:

      Re: Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate

      I’m just finishing listening to it now. It’s not really that interesting regarding climate change, right now they’re talking about reductionism in physics and the Higgs boson, and they’ve also been around outsourcing of production to Taiwan, Japans technological advantage and the digital millenium act. The first half hour was directly about peak oil, but totally manages to avoid climate change. The professor doesn’t make any predictions besides “We will drive cars in the future” (because people want to drive cars), and even refers to “somebody else” for advice on climate change problems, how to live, what to drive and so. He just says, paraphrased, we will make fuel out of carbon first, when oil runs out and the economy shifts so it’s advantageous, then shift to the carbon in plants eventually by using the same process. A period of about 150 years I think he said. Any effect this economic process and/or climate change will have on our lives and the lives of other species, is almost entirely unmentioned (aside from noticing that, yes, some people will survive whatever happens. And those people will want cars.). So I can’t really see why it’s even been recommended here.

    • D says:

      Recommended anti-dote for myself: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00546l7

    • nil says:

      Re: Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate

      Climate change is not discussed because, given the political economics of the situation (people like transport and electricity) and the laws of physics (hydrocarbons are easy to use, have great energy density, and can be synthesized), it’s a foregone conclusion. There’s not a lot to discuss (aside from adaptation strategies, but those depend on the course of future events, and predicting those is hard.)

    • rei says:

      How ideologically biased is this game? […] Is this some hippieenvirofreak lovefest? Yay! Magic unicorns […]

      You’re genuinely worried about ideological bias in other people?

  13. Premium User Badge

    JB says:

    “If nothing bad happened in the next 5 years, the people of Latin America might start seeing the long-term benefits of these operations and SON OF A BITCH-”

    Saw it coming, but I still lol’d *so* hard. And yes, the game is looking very promising indeed, good stuff!

  14. omicron says:

    There’s a thin line between “education” and “propaganda” here. I like the mechanics, not the message; so I doubt I’ll buy it…

    • Simon says:

      Agreed. This smacks of the touch of that set of folk I like to call the Righteous.

    • TCM says:

      I have played games where the message is much more offensive, because the gameplay is fun.

      In this case, the only real message is DON’T DICK UP THE PLANET MORON.

      Whether or not you acknowledge man as being the primary cause for global warming, that’s a pretty sound message.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Have you always enjoyed the taste of sand or is it newly acquired?

    • omicron says:

      It’s more in whether one acknowledges global warming as an actual threat, as opposed to a very long season of the Earth. I am of the personal opinion that humanity will find it quite difficult to actually destroy the planet if they try; although the portions of this game that deal with human issues (famine etc.) seem more even-handed.

    • steggieav says:

      Just because the majority of scientists say global warming is a threat doesn’t mean it’s true! It’s all a conspiracy by Al Gore and the liberal gay agenda to take away our SUVs! I know because Glenn Beck told me!

    • omicron says:

      Propaganda is education given form by those convinced of both their own rightness and their own superiority.

    • malkav11 says:

      There’s a big difference between destroying the planet (fairly unlikely unless we develop Death Stars or similar planet-exploding weapons) and destroying the delicate ecological balance that keeps our particular species alive and thriving. The conditions that fuck us royally may yet give rise to stranger things (like deathclaws! Yay deathclaws!) but that’s not really any consolation for us, now is it?

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      @ omicron – what malkav said.

      I don’t think anybody is suggesting we will ‘destroy the planet’. Earth will abide. We might well not be there to see it – how you respond to the idea of climate change should hinge on how you feel about this.

    • omicron says:

      I feel that
      (a) climate change is not a particularly big deal on its own – not changing fast or far enough to cause problems,
      (b) humans don’t change the climate enough to make a difference either way,
      and (c) we can survive any changes that do occur. I mean, we survived the Little Ice Age with skins and spears. Now we have all kinds of technological knowhow.

      But anyway, I don’t feel like getting into an endless debate, and these things tend to do so. I believe my original intent (to give an opinion on the game, and why) has been met, and farther conversation will amount to people trying to convert me to Climatism. So, I’m out. Feel free to lambast me all you wish; I shan’t be firing back, or really paying much attention.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Humanity can’t “destroy” the planet any more than a bee can “destroy” a forest, but it seems probable that we can figure out ways not to make our own future on the planet really, really miserable.

    • BOOM!!! says:

      Eh, dig a hole big enough and fill it with enough h-bombs or whatnot and I think we can manage a little more destruction to the planet than bees could hope to achieve in a forest.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Guys got a point. Bees need to get organised.

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s a difference between destroying the planet and causing a large-scale humanitarian crisis that cripples the world economy (the latter of which was the opinion of the Stern Review, a UK government report). It’s not ideological to say that anthropogenic climate change is real and a serious problem – this is what science says, no matter what people on the fringe might argue (there are no papers published in respected peer-reviewed journals that dispute anthropogenic climate change, for example).

    • Torqual says:

      @Omicron:

      With our technology we are more than capable of destroying the ecological system on earth for thousands of years. A nuclear war for example. We have enough destruction power in form of atomic weapons to annihilate earth several times. We could build Co2 converter to reshape our atmosphere, billions of caddle in the northern hemisphere are doing a nice job at this just now. Open just one oil reservoir on the ocean floor, the ecological system would not recover from such a catastrophe in 100 years. We have the ability to destroy our own biotope and we are doing it just now at an alarming rate. To say humanity is not capable of destroying itself or earth ecological system is just a lie.

      As much as i like to play Fallout , i would prefer to make my real life sunday walk NOT in a nbc protective suit. So i support pollution control and enviromental protection.

      Have a nice day.

    • noom says:

      “Guys got a point. Bees need to get organised.”

      Just had a most wonderful vision of bee society falling apart over its struggle to control the diminishing pollen reserves.

    • Xercies says:

      @Gap gen

      There are scientists that don’t believe in climate change but everytime they open there mouths they get finance taken away from them, or get fired, or just get lambasted by abuse. So a lot of these scientists don’t say a damn word for fear of there jobs and some such.

    • kromagg says:

      @Xercies: No, there aren’t.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Xercies: I’d maybe buy that if I wasn’t a research scientist myself, in the same department as the guy who wrote the climate model for this. After all, the first rule of crackpots is that they claim to be victimised by the scientific community in some kind of conspiracy.

      While scientists may be only humans, and while funding assignment is of course fraught with issues, the application of scientific method is about as good as it can be given that. Scientists are ruthless critics of other scientists, as you’ll no doubt see if you’ve ever sat in on a research seminar. And yet, there are no papers in respected peer-reviewed journals that even contest the notion of anthropogenic climate change.

      I think we discussed this on PCGF a while back? One thing I learned from that that you’d probably sympathise with is that climate science is horrible at making its findings available online in an easy format. Astronomers, for example, publish anything worth a damn on arXiv.org, meaning anyone can read any recent-ish paper for free*.

      *NASA ADS has papers before around 1997, too.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Gap Gen

      NASA ADS is also conveniently cross-linked with arxiv.org these days, so it’s all conveniently manageable from one place (at least in theory, sometimes ADS still misses things on arxiv).

      Anyway, I’m glad to see some input from a climate scientist on this one. I’m in astrophysics myself, so I’m comfortable with atmospheric absorption bands, reradiation, that sort of thing, but the more macroscopic elements of climate science are decidedly out of my field. I take it from what you’re saying that this game is grounded in a pretty solid climate model? If so, that’s probably reason enough to buy it from my perspective.

    • Josh W says:

      Propaganda is education you don’t agree with.

      Really!

      They ignore flaws in their arguments (Lets start with what we agree on before we get into the controversies)

      They miss out all kinds of relevent factors (We’ll simplify things so people can get the basics)

      The use emotive language and images to try to convince you (We need to communicate the importance of this issue, not just the facts)

      They use bad analogies to make things seem obvious (This is a bit dry, we need a way to make it really relevent)

      They mischaracterise their opponents (To add a bit of balance we should include an alternative view, but we can’t spend much time on it)

      And probably a lot more parallels I can’t think of!

      There are differences too, but whenever I try to think of them, they basically end up as “effective” vs “non effective”, or “telling people stuff I believe in” vs “lying”.

      Anyway, think about Sim City; it has a stupid model of a city, but that doesn’t matter, because a few counter-examples will show you that. I’m actually really looking forward to this game, and I hope it encourages more people to make games like these.

    • triple omega says:

      @Gap Gen:

      I Guess you missed the entire Climate Gate then?
      The leaked emails thing?
      A trick to “hide the decline”?
      The whole faked “hockey stick” thing went right past you?
      As did the fact that the IPCC, where pretty much every country gets it’s climate advise from, is now under investigation after releasing a report filled with serious flaws?

      Personally I’m also deeply troubled by the fact that the arguments against AGW are never countered. Especially when it comes to pointing out flaws such as the CO2 levels naturally rising AFTER a temperature rise, not the other way around. Or the fact that the ocean temperatures have a lag of hundreds of years, so a measured temperature rise now has it’s origin hundreds of years ago.

      These flaws and more are in official reports that are used by the IPCC, Governments and AGW promoters such as Al Gore. If these people can’t get their facts straight, how can we believe them? Why should we believe anything they say?(Not even taking the lies and faked facts into account.)

  15. pakoito says:

    I’m a bit dissapointed it’s not a card game. It looks like one but not, it’s a management game :(

  16. trooperdx3117 says:

    Sounds interesting and vaguely like the most depressing game imaginable

  17. Henk says:

    The game looks great, but the website design is rather strange…

    http://www.fateoftheworld.net/buy.html links to http://www.fateoftheworld.net/about.html#faq for the system requirements.

    http://www.fateoftheworld.net/about.html#faq links to http://www.fateoftheworld.net/buy.html

  18. TCM says:

    Been interested from the start. Unable to buy at the moment given current state of funds.

  19. Lyrandon says:

    I preordered and tried yesterday and today four times to save the world, but even my best game ended 2105, because of failing the 3° goal. It was really fun and i will keep playing until i finally beat it.

    But some points are a bit weak, for me it has too few statistics (i couldn´t find any graphs showing world food production, which led to a sudden starvation 2050 in north america) and although every region has different tech advancements, you can´t see which region has which tech. Really confusing if you didn´t pay attention on north africa using first, second or third generation bio fuel.

    All in all its great and i am really happy that i have bought this game and i hope that most of the problems are solved within beta phase.

    • Archonsod says:

      ” Really confusing if you didn´t pay attention on north africa using first, second or third generation bio fuel.”

      Even more confusing – they don’t automatically switch to 2nd Gen biofuel even if they have it, you need to have an energy HQ (either the global or a regional office) in the territory, then opt for “deploy X generation biofuels” card.
      Already submitted a suggestion they let you check on the tech in each region. Also found a bug with extinctions – I’ve had the Kiwi extinction event and the Kiwi saved event on the same turn.

    • Shadram says:

      “Also found a bug with extinctions – I’ve had the Kiwi extinction event and the Kiwi saved event on the same turn.”

      Please don’t let us go extinct! Oh wait, we were saved too. The hobbits win again!

  20. Vinraith says:

    This looks very, very interesting. I do hope the science behind it is sound, being as it could be a very powerful tool for education on climatological issues if done right. It does sound like it has a firm grasp on the “there are no simple solutions” and “almost anything we do is going to hurt in unexpected ways” aspects of the situation, which is encouraging.

  21. Nogo says:

    Purchased!

    These are the games I want to see more of. Brain-dead simple on the surface, but filled with churning madness that forces you to appreciate how decisions seep out into the world as big goopy messes. It’s the perfect representation of how good ideas really aren’t.

    In fact it should be mandatory to play through this before you’re allowed on any ballots.

  22. Hippo says:

    People who say they “don’t like the message” are people who don’t want to find out that they might be wrong.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Well…I get enough of this hysteria in the mass media…I don’t need to play a game about it

    • Bullwinkle says:

      No, they’re people who want to be entertained, not lectured. A game like this is necessarily going to take a viewpoint–A will cause B, and so on–and that may be something that an individual believes, or doesn’t, or is true, or isn’t. But there’s a difference between being told a story and having it stuffed down your throat.

    • Tim says:

      If you don’t like the idea that global warming is real can’t you approach this as a game then, and not a piece of propaganda?

      For example, I believe quite strongly that violence is almost never the answer to human conflict, and yet I play games that force me to kill everyone in the level to progress and save yourself or whatever. I’m quite capable of playing and enjoying the game without logging onto the internets and whine about how things are being stuffed down my throat.

    • Anonymousity says:

      @Tim
      While AGW may be real, the way it’s been modelled and predicted by the IPCC has been out of line with recent satellite data for temperature movements and growth and emitions of carbon dioxide, climate is a very difficult thing to model and people with doomsday predictions are more often than not wrong.

  23. Moth Bones says:

    I don’t want to sound snarky, but “The impact on this loss on ecosystems around the Arctic are impossible to quantify” contains two errors. If they’re going public, they’ll want to sort that and check for other examples.

    I played that BBC proto-version of this, and was unsure. I’d like to give it a chance because it seems fairly different.

  24. bbot says:

    Bought the game, and it is just downloading excruciatingly slow. Started the download 10 minutes ago, and it’s only done 18 megabytes. Of a hundred and twenty three.

    Suppose it’s a bit much to expect decent download speeds for something that cost $16?

    • TCM says:

      I’ve suddenly realized how ridiculously fast the internet has become since the early days.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      Use the scondary server mentioned in the mail you got Luke!

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      my download was horribly slow, till I realised Steam was updating BFBC2 and nicking all my bandwidth… doh!

  25. suibhne says:

    Sounds splendid, and the pre-order discount beckons – but the lack of USD pricing leads me to wonder whether the pre-order discount might be a lot less relative to the eventual US release price. Are they really targeting a $35-40 price with this?

  26. Flameberge says:

    Sounds very cool. I echo the above points about the accuracy of its science, together with KG’s point that any scientific research into these sorts of issues is going to be inherently loaded and political.

    That being said, this still sounds brilliant: this is exactly why PC gaming is awesome, and exactly what PC games should be doing. Even if it turns out flawed, who can begrudge the developers the goal of ‘let’s do a game about saving the planet and try to educate people with it’.

    More ‘educational games’ like this please.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Actually, what KG said was:

      “By merely reporting what the majority of Scientists say, you’re going to be accused of being idealogical.”

      People who don’t want a thing to be true, whether for moral, religious, or political reasons, will always cast proponents of that thing as idealogues, in spite of the fact that science is no ideology.

      Scientists do not care if global warming is caused by humans. Scientists do not care if evolution happens. Scientists care only about what evidence tells them. If the evidence had shown Earth was 6000 years old, scientists would have been happy with that.

      It just so happens the evidence shows that humans cause global warming, and life evolves.

    • triple omega says:

      @thebigJ_A:

      In a perfect world, yes. Unfortunately in this world science is sometimes funded by people that do not share this neutral standpoint. In those cases the scientists may be swayed by the threat of not getting funded anymore. Since AGW has become politically huge, so have the grants handed out by the “not so neutral” politicians. If, as climate scientist, you don’t want to miss out on the action, you’ll need to deal with those politicians. And dealing with politicians has never been a neutral affair.

      Just google for Climate Gate if you want to read up on all the scientific scandals surrounding AGW.

  27. Robert says:

    Considering I get paid for writing about sustainable energy, I should get this. It even looks enjoyable, but somehow I haven’t got round to it. Then again, not that fond of pre-ordering.

  28. Bullwinkle says:

    Can anyone comment on the replayability of the scenarios? Are there random events that change each game significantly, or is there going to be a particular winning strategy?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      There’s some randomness in smaller events like floods and riots, I think, but a single strategy should get you through the same scenario every time. That said, the full game will have a big ol’ collection of scenarios.

    • Meneth says:

      At the moment, there’s only a single scenario, but so far I’ve played to (near) the end 5 or so times, with several aborted campaigns due to me doing some stupid mistake(s)
      There’s lots of different strategies to pursue. You won’t ever be able to afford everything.
      It’s hard to tell, but it seems the only major random factors are disasters, but the probabilities of those happening depends on the region and the temperature, and how much of an effect they have depends on the protections you’ve made in the regions.

      As they’ll probably implement more research/policy/infrastructure trees, the replayability will increase even more. Hopefully, the different cards will also be made more inter-related, too.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      That’s a bit disappointing. In a game like this, replayability is everything for me. But I see there’s a sandbox mode; is that enabled yet, and if so, have you tried it?

    • Archonsod says:

      There’s only the oil scenario active so far. It’s pretty replayable though. While the same strategy should let you win each time it’s by no means the only viable strategy, and there’s a lot you can try playing about with (i.e. rather than weaning the US of it’s oil dependence, try sparking off a few wars to reduce it’s population and see how that affects oil demand …)

    • Iltarus says:

      /me pictures Archonsod with a white cat on a volcano island.
      Mwahaha.

      btw. you just sold one copy of the game ;-)

  29. Breaker Morant's Ghost says:

    That’s what is so great about video games, you get to fight imaginary threats like vampires, alien invasions and global warming. Also, why did they make the “A”s into Japan into the character for fat? Probably Marxist propaganda against “overconsumption”.

  30. Diziet says:

    I’m very intrigued by this. More so by what happened in your game due to the adoption of bio fuels. Green? Maybe, but definitely not given the way we currently grow them and manage them.

  31. Cronstintein says:

    Anyone try running this with only 1gig of ram? I’m tempted to try it out but my piece of crap laptop doesn’t meet the requirements. Hrm.

    I’m also very curious as to the re-playability once you’ve solved a scenario.

  32. DJ Phantoon says:

    I don’t get it. Who do I punch or shoot to fix things? There’s just these cards…

  33. Kieron Gillen says:

    I *may* have committed a genoice.

    KG

    • Chris D says:

      Is that where you destroy all ice on the planet or just genocide spelt badly?

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      Could be a little from column A, a little from column B…

    • Bret says:

      We can hope he means in the game this time, I suppose.

  34. Tim says:

    Thanks for the writeup, it looks awesome. I am trying to wait for it to be added to steam, which the devs have stated will be this week!

  35. robotco says:

    is this a direct download if i pre-order, or does it have to be shipped?

  36. Andrew says:

    Reminds me a bit of Hidden Agenda, the old cynical Latin America game. The only time I ever made it to the end of my term in that my country was in flames and all I could do was to occasionally pop my had out of my bunker to ask my general if he was *really* sure that murdering rural health workers was the best way to defeat the rebels.

  37. Premium User Badge

    sockeatsock says:

    I too have slaughtered all the Walrus. I couldn’t help it, what with those silly tusks and all.

  38. Jimmy says:

    Great to see the new write-up. It got a review in the Guardian the other day as well. I heard this idea of “why not build a video game?” being voiced in a conference about climate models a few weeks ago. Then I heard about the game. Pre-ordered a few days ago and will give it a run soon.

    This sort of thing is fantastic for exploring fantasy policy-options, even in a fictional highly simplified representation of the world. The discussion about how it is derived from working climate models was great. Learning through doing, even if simulating, is invaluable.

  39. Søren Welling says:

    I just played my second game of the beta – focusing exclusively on the six biggest sinners. Working great, untill I decided to kill of the entire population of china (with gene plague gamma) and was put out of comission by stupid whistleblowers.

    • Søren Welling says:

      Now I tried again, apparantly it is impossible to continue raining over the world while simultainiously murdering every chinese person. :( I thought it was such an elegant solution. They have by far the greatest growth potential and the worst pollution.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Poor Chinese.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      What a shame

  40. jeremypeel says:

    Hmm very exciting! As is the response here – I agree that that the devs had to take a stance on certain issues, and some won’t be happy with their decisions; however, that’s simply not a good enough reason for this game not to exist.

    Kieron and Quinns, please will you ask the devs if they’re influenced by X-Com at all? Or is it just the paucity of games about controlling UN-spinoff organisations that makes me think that?

  41. Premium User Badge

    amishmonster says:

    Has anyone had trouble with the install? I can’t figure out how to register the game on their website, and am getting uncaught exception errors whenever I try to run it (these two could be connected for all I know). Thanks, if anyone has tips.

    • Souldark says:

      Same here. Going to email via the contact link, will see if I get any help.

    • Souldark says:

      Got a response from one of their QA guys (I work QA myself so immediate bond of trust :P); for me, all I had to do was disable my secondary monitor and then the game ran fine.

      As a bonus workaround, you can set it to run windowed in the options, and then re-enable your second monitor and it’ll run fine with multiple monitors.

    • Premium User Badge

      amishmonster says:

      Thanks much, Souldark! That partially worked for me. In windowed mode, it now boots in a window to my secondary monitor and works fine there. If I try to move it over to my main screen, though, it freezes momentarily and then the sound stops working. Odd. Anyway, I’ve been passing all this on to their QA, I just haven’t heard back yet. Thanks for your help!

  42. Jake says:

    Is it possible to butcher all the dolphins to feed to our cats, freeing up tuna for our nations homeless? And then take those cats and skin them, using their fur to keep hundreds warm?

    Or can you call one continent a write off, and divert all their food and supplies to the others? You’d lose support of one continent, but everyone else would be happy, as long as they don’t see what is going on behind the giant iron curtains you’ve had to erect along borders to contain all the suffering.

    Although this game does sound interesting, I would rather destroy the world I think. Saving worlds is not really my sort of thing.

    • Archonsod says:

      There is the Dr Apocalypse scenario which isn’t activated yet. By the sound of it the entire point is to destroy the world …

    • Premium User Badge

      Sunjumper says:

      And you can actually ignore a continent and/or send it to the gallows to save the others.
      Not quite as straigh forward as you suggest but close.

  43. Snargelfargen says:

    There’s an educational game somewhat reminiscent of this called Real Lives. Its focus is on living conditions in the third world. You start the game as a newborn baby born in a statistically probable part of the world. So, India or China most of the time. You then get to age, choose your education, job and hobbies and generally try to construct a good life. Except of course, most of your “lives” involve chronic goiters, malnutrition, car accidents, rape and other depressingly probable things. You can also choose to commit robberies and political insurrection!
    The game makes a good point but is also good for a laugh if you have a dark sense of humour. And I think they still have a free trial!

    • Helm says:

      Yes I remember playing that as well. It made for some startling realizations about just how fucking lucky I am to be fed, have a roof and a basic support system that keeps me healthy and active. And it made me think of how the ones born lucky will always maintain their head start at the expense of the unlucky ones.

  44. Madcap says:

    Not to be argumentative, but honestly, I think it’s such a joke that people actively deny .

    • Morte says:

      not to be argumentative (but sod it, lets just do this), I think it’s a great thing that issues as important as these are tested by those who ‘actively deny’. The alternative would be a very dangerous thing indeed.
      Ironically that’s what this game is all about: the unique challenge of trying to get everyone pulling in one direction to save their very existence. From what I’ve read anyway.
      Let’s face it, it’s not so much the technological hurdles, but the big human one.

      There are extremes on both sides of the climate change fence, which is why the real solution lies in allowing both to exist and meeting somewhere in the middle.

      I don’t like the sound of this game, I play games to escape thinking about this kind of depressing stuff! And being an activel denier, I doubt I could just swallow what is being presented here without spending weeks, months, years, studying the subject to make sure I’m not being brainwashed. And I don’t want to do that. I have other things to do.
      Looks very good though.

    • suibhne says:

      @Morte: It’s a problem, innit, to say that we need to “meet in the middle” if scientific truth is actually closer to one of the edges (maybe not all the way out there at the edge, mind you, but closer…). This false equivalency, unfortunately not confined to journalism, has plagued discussion of the issue.

      I mean, sheesh, it’s obviously not always true that “Some people believe A, and others believe C, so the logical thing to do is meet in the middle at A!” – so why do so many otherwise logical people simply assume this is the case with an issue that could have genuinely apocalyptic implications for many species on Earth?

    • Hroppa says:

      I love the way that a game raising awareness about climate change also models the terrible consequences of extreme action: death, war, famine and pestilence!

    • Breaker Morant's Ghost says:

      I find it a joke that not a single global warming alarmist practices what they preach. How much have you spent on carbon credits this year? You obviously have money to spare if you can afford frivolous spending like video games.

    • Warth0g says:

      @ Breaker Morant’s Ghost

      Where’s your evidence that global warming “alarmists” don’t practice what they preach? I’m a firm believer in logic and in the scientific method, not a hippy or someone suckered in by propaganda. But when the vast majority of peer-reviewed scientists judge that climate change is man-made, that was enough for me to switch my electricity supply to a wind-powered source, amongst other things, and I’m hardly on my own here..

      What I’m unable to grasp is why anyone who’s not an expert in climatology or related sciences would feel qualified to dispute the 95% of those who are qualified…

  45. GasMaskRat says:

    Well, I finally “won”. I abandoned the third world to war and famine, the amazon is gone, in the end even my first world, AI controlled, fusion powered strongholds were dieing off from famine, and the world’s population went from a peak of 8.5 billion to 1.8 billion, but by god, I satisfied the scenario conditions.

    Victory is technically mine!

  46. SnallTrippin says:

    Why couldn’t this game be about running a corporation and making money…sigh.

  47. jack says:

    Awesome. Awesome to see a game with a message can be fun, and great to see someone finally putting Rod Humbles idea’s into practice.

    (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_41/247-Game-Rules-as-Art)

  48. bakaohki says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but imo the user interface is butt ugly.

  49. panther says:

    damn you quinns, makin me spend ma money!

  50. Deuteronomy says:

    Question for the developers:

    How are you modelling the inevitable end of the current interglacial period? The pattern of previous Quaternary glaciations seem to indicate we are overdue for a return to mile high glaciers covering the UK and northern Europe, Asia and North America.

    I would hate to have to burn the population of China to find out I caused several hundred meters of ice to slide over my home here near the Great Lakes.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      The game is played over decades, not millennia.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      Yes, it is a common misconception that glacial onset is a matter of millennia, not decades, but this is not the case.