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Old World Diseases = Nuclear Weapons

Jeffrey
2014-02-10
2014-12-23
  • Jeffrey
    Jeffrey
    2014-02-10

    The impact old world diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and so on had on the new world indigenous population cannot be understated. There are no precise estimates on the number of people living in the new world in 1492, but it is believed that because of European contact as much as 90% of the native population was killed off. Some of this was due to war and slavery, but mostly it was because of disease. If it weren't for these diseases which wiped out almost all of the native population the Europeans would not have been anywhere near as successful in conquering the new world. Better weaponry can only go so far, and eventually the natives could have adopted and adapted these same technologies just like the Japanese did in Asia.

    So the conquest of the new world was almost entirely thanks to diseases, and yet despite what a significant force this was, the concept of disease is not covered in Colonization whatsoever. I think that in FreeCol 2.0 this needs to be addressed in some way. The natives should be beefed up to be much more powerful and with very large populations when the game starts, but as the diseases spread there should be a very severe population reduction which makes it easier for Europeans to sweep aside the remnants.

    But the question is how do you go about representing the effects of disease in a game like colonization and have it be realistic, balanced, but also not excessively complicated? I've been thinking about this, and realized that it could work very similarly to how the nuclear weapons work in the Civilization games, but without the destruction of buildings/infrastructure and without the hazardous material all over the landscape.

    In Colonization you send units into native villages/cities through exploration, or to conduct trade, or to learn a new trade. But what if these units you send to do this are carrying a deadly disease and introduce it to that village? What I am thinking is that any of your units has the POTENTIAL of being like a nuclear weapon when entering a native village. This would either happen randomly (say 25% of the time?) or perhaps it might only happen if your unit happens to be a carrier/infected with a disease. You may or may not be able to know if your unit happens to be infected before you send it to the village, because this might be a hidden value for each unit.

    As with nuclear weapons in Civilization, the effects of an infected unit entering into a native village would be devastating. The population should either drop instantly that same turn, or gradually over a period of a few turns. In addition, the natives who do not die off will be weakened by the disease during that period of time and severely demoralized, so there should be a combat bonus against them during that period of time similar to the combat bonus that the Spanish have against natives (and for the exact same reason actually).

    If the village is very small in population then maybe the disease could destroy it outright, but for larger villages and especially cities there should always be at least some survivors. There should be a level of randomness to how devastating a disease outbreak should be. I'd say between 40% and 80% or so.

    However, the natives should have the possibility of bouncing back if they are left unmolested long enough after an outbreak. Their population should grow (albeit slowly), and those who survived the first outbreak are more resilient to it if it should ever happen again. Once a village has suffered a plague once, there should be a certain period of time (50 years?) before it can suffer another similar outbreak, but each successive outbreak should be less devastating than the last. If the first outbreak kills in the range of 40-80% then the next one should be in the range of 30-70% and so on. This reflects that the native gene pool is becoming more resilent through the process of darwinism.

    Diseases should also be a potent and deadly force for European colonies as well, especially in the tropics where Europeans face diseases such as Malaria which they have no resistance to. So diseases should also ravage Europeans as well, but for them it is less deadly. If the casualty rate for natives is upwards of 80% then for Europeans it should only be let's say 30% maximum per colony in a worst case scenario. That's not a crippling blow, but it would still be something to be taking into consideration and it historically was a significant concern. Syphilus is a deadly disease which is thought to have originated in the New World and it was brought back to Europe where it killed millions. It was not as bad as Smallpox was to the New World, but still a major killer nonetheless.

    Another thing that could be done is to allow for the intentional infecting of native villages just like the British did by purposely giving blankets that had been deliberately infected with smallpox. Cloth is one of the ingame trading goods, and all that needs to be done is create an option to infect it with disease before giving or trading it with the natives. This would work similar to the infected unit entering a native village, except the player would have the ability to do this deliberately instead of being somewhat random.

    I also think that along with adding a disease model into the game we should also include some new Founding Fathers to go along with it:

    Henry Louis Bouquet - British Army officer who came up with the idea of giving infected blankets to the natives. The founding father effect in game would be to introduce an option to deliberately infect cloth with smallpox to create a biological weapon which can then be gifted to native villages. As a founding father he would be similar to the Manhattan Project wonder in Civilization which allows creating atomic bombs.

    Edward Jenner - British Physician who invented the smallpox vaccine. As a founding father he would work like the SDI defense or Bomb Shelter in Civilization games which counter nuclear weapons, except in this case instead of nuclear weapons what is being countered is diseases.

     
  • Hello.
    I worry that I'm close to reading "If you have so many ideas and opinion, why not start your own website", but anyway, my take on the probpsal.

    As with slavery, some aspects of actual history are a little too dark to be easilly included into many games. Others have posted things about slavery indicating that FreeCol was never intended as a realistic colonisation simulator (would be a nightmare to program anyway!) and as such they might feel quite justified in completely overlooking your suggestion.

    Personally, I feel that bio warfare is a difficult thing to incorporate into a game if there is any connection between it and reality, it's just one of those things which makes people uncomfortable. I'm not against diseases and plagues myself (I even made some suggestions along those lines) nor against taking advantage of/indirectly using such natural catastrophes, but I'm not that hot on giving smallpox infected blankets to kids... just my views ;)

     
  • Mike Pope
    Mike Pope
    2014-02-17

    Regarding slavery, according to this interview with Sid Meier:

        Civilization doesnt have slaves, and some have criticized the
        game for that glaring historical omission.  Its a common trend in
        Meiers works: although they cover history, they tend to omit the
        nastier parts.  That's just how Sid Meier makes games.  It's been
        that way from Civilization to SimGolf to any of the games he's
        worked on in the two decades since.
    
        "There's a conflict between an emotionally-charged topic and kinda
        giving the player this freedom of choice that really makes the
        game good," he said.  "One of the things we really try to avoid in
        our games is this kind of `this choice would be the right thing to
        do, but this choice is gonna help me win the game put the players
        in those kind of moral dilemmas.  That's not what our games are
        about.  We want you to feel good about yourself when you finish
        the game."
    

    I suspect a similar argument would be made for biological warfare. As FreeCol is intended to be faithful to the spirit of Col1, I would not support the inclusion of either.

     
  • nicoo
    nicoo
    2014-02-20

    when europeans and natives started to have sex together, europeans brought some venereal diseases in europe... so, when your "scout" or "free colonist" or "ship/wagon" enter in a native settlement, should have some (bad) luck to get, and then, spread venereal disease in your colonies...

    whatever I'm not keen to "mistreat" natives. I always play as french, and loved to make money with natives! (even if sometime I ask myself if I shouldn't feel bad by trading so much rhum...)

    look, this game is far to be a simulation, for example, colonies were used to produce raw materials and used to buy manufactured produced in europe and not produce by themself (personnaly, I don't produce anything except rhum (for my special friends), it make the game more complicated).

    so I won't support such idea.

    about Henry Louis Bouquet, he was swiss, he served in different countries as mercenary, and was a real douchbag with indians...

    @Mike Pope,beleive me, civilization have some slaves! I was one of them... when I was a little boy I played sometime the whole night in my room in the dark...

     
    Last edit: nicoo 2014-02-20
  • Jeffrey
    Jeffrey
    2014-02-20

    The effects of diseases was mostly unintentional and completely unavoidable. Giving blankets infected by smallpox was a deliberate effort by the British to take advantage of this, but this did not happen until the late 1700s. Until then people had a poor understanding of what diseases actually are, let alone something they could harness and exploit for evil purposes.

    If you have a problem with gifting smallpox blankets to natives the answer to this is very simple: just don't do it. Just because it offends you is no reason not to include it as an option for those who choose to play more aggressively and true to history.

    But the blankets isn't something I care too much about anyway. That could be a fun option to have (like nukes in Civilization) but its not a big deal. But the disease themselves and their unintended consequences is a VERY big deal and this is something I can't stress enough. This was more than just a minor factor in the colonization of the New World, it was a very MAJOR factor in that, and that is why this is very important to include this. The game is called Colonization and is about Colonization, so something that is so significant to historical colonization must be included.

    The same goes for Slavery as well. Both of these things Sid Meier couldn't include in his game because of the controversy, but this is not his game and we are not bound by the political correctness that he was. But you know what? Even in his game the conquest and killing of Natives is there. It is possible in his game to conquer and destroy the Natives, and one of the factions in the game (the Spanish) even have bonuses that help them specifically achieve this. There's also the French which have bonuses towards cooperation and coexistence with the Natives, and players are free to go either which way they choose. That is what makes these games fun. If someone wants to be a bad guy and kill and conquer, then let them do that. It's just a video game so let them have the freedom to play how they want. No one is saying you have to play it that way, but let the option be there.

     
  • Ok, firstly, all the various peoples who went into making me were at one stage colonised by a European power, and I suppose I could be described as a "native" although I have no north american blood in me. I'm not being deliberately controvertial when I suggest you consider how someone of North American Indian ancestry would take the suggestion that you include the smallpox blanket bit.

    Having said that, I must say I agree with you on two issues: 1) that you can not over-emphasise the effect comunicable diseases had on colonisation, etc - and 2) that there is no need to always be so politically correct - personally, though, if there was an A-bomb, I'd want to use it on rival European powers.

     
  • Joel Snyder
    Joel Snyder
    2014-02-20

    Some things in the game are very abstracted for purposes of playability. I think the effect of disease is taken into account by the density of the Indian tribes. To simulate a new world without the problem of disease, you could populate all squares with Indian tribes or Indian ownership, and perhaps increase the general level of hostility.

     
  • Jeffrey
    Jeffrey
    2014-02-20

    The one thing that should be kept in mind about the smallpox is it was unintended and unavoidable. Even if the Europeans had the most peaceful intentions (which I admit that they didn't) the diseases would have happened anyway just from the act of contact. So the controversy you guys see in it doesn't even make any sense because it is a force of nature like a hurricane or earthquake. It is neither good nor evil, but it kills people because its a disease and that's what diseases do.

    I can understand the controversy surrounding slavery because that was something unnatural and those responsible had the choice not to do it, so they are to blame for it. But you can't say the same thing about the diseases. Slavery and conquest were planned, but the diseases happened on their own.

    The same thing happened to Europeans themselves a few centuries earlier with the Bubonic plague and more recently with the Spanish Influenza about 100 years ago. These all killed millions of people, but no one was responsible for it. The diseases spread on their own like diseases do. No one created it or spread it intentionally. It just happened. And the same is true with smallpox in the New World. Its just something that happened. If you ignore that then you are ignoring a very significant event in the history of the new world.

    And I also think you guys are looking at this the wrong way. One way or another 90% of the Native populations were wiped out. If you do not use diseases to explain this disappearance then that means all of those deaths were the result of direct murder. How is that more politically correct or less controversial?

    When the game begins there are native settlements all over the map, but by the end of the game when Independence is achieved many of these settlements are gone one way or another. If you don't do it, the AI does. Either way it happens. So why isn't that controversial? The game already has conquest and genocide in it, and it always did. Adding disease doesn't make it more controversial. What that does do, though, is mean that many of those deaths weren't directly your fault. So because of that you don't have to feel so bad about it. Isn't that more in line with the spirit of what Sid Meier said in that interview?

    Just think about that.

     
  • I agree that disease should play a big role in the game, disease was one of the biggest influences in the colonial era, and as others have mentioned already, it wasn't just one-sided, with European diseases wiping out native settlements. Many early European colonies were also wiped out by diseases the Europeans had no defense against, like sifilis and malaria.

    Also, although Sid Meier did avoid slavery for the most part, he did include it in Civilization 3 and 4, and, if I remember correctly, slaves were also a cargo available in the original Pirates, in 1 or 2 of the time periods, so Sid Meier didn't completely avoid controversial topics if they were a known part of the history he's simulating. However, with that said, I'm not in favor of slaves being included in Freecol. There's enough goods as it is, and there are better, more productive goods that could be included if a few new ones were to be added.

     
  • Mike Pope
    Mike Pope
    2014-02-21

    Many early European colonies were also wiped out by diseases the Europeans had no defense against, like sifilis and malaria.

    This is overstated. European colonies did have serious disease problems. However the vast majority of consequent deaths in both European and native peoples were due to diseases endemic to the European population. In particular, syphilis is not that fast a killer, and is not known for wiping out settlements. Syphilis was certainly present in the New World but there are claims that it was also already present at low levels in Europe. Similarly, malaria was long established in Europe (it is well described in Roman records).

     
  • Jeffrey:
    "The one thing that should be kept in mind about the smallpox is it was unintended and unavoidable. Even if the Europeans had the most peaceful intentions (which I admit that they didn't) the diseases would have happened anyway just from the act of contact. So the controversy you guys see in it doesn't even make any sense because it is a force of nature like a hurricane or earthquake. It is neither good nor evil, but it kills people because its a disease and that's what diseases do."

    On diseases doing what diseases do, I agree with you. On diseases being a factor which could contribute to the game, I strongly agree.

    "When the game begins there are native settlements all over the map, but by the end of the game when Independence is achieved many of these settlements are gone one way or another. If you don't do it, the AI does. Either way it happens. So why isn't that controversial? The game already has conquest and genocide in it, and it always did. Adding disease doesn't make it more controversial. What that does do, though, is mean that many of those deaths weren't directly your fault. So because of that you don't have to feel so bad about it. Isn't that more in line with the spirit of what Sid Meier said in that interview?"

    I also agree that the native populations were historically decimated and or genocided - this is a feature of the game. As you have quite rightly pointed out, if people don't want to wipe native populations out, the game play gives them that option, this is good.

    Using disease-infested blankets to intentionally harm civilian targets under the pretence that it is "aid" does not sit well with me though. If a disease occoured and the player had the option to help the natives or withold assistance, that wouldn't bother me.

    The notion of Eupropean and New World diseases is something I omitted in my Plague and Resoruce Craze thread becasue I thought it would needlessly complicate things. In colonial times the medical knowledge to determine the scource of a disease wasn't always availible. You got sick, you got better or you died, that was pretty much it. There were doctors who could help if they were there, and then there was native herb lore which might or might not have the answer if you were on friendly enough terms with them that they would share their traditional medicine with you, otherwise, you got better or you died.

     
  • Greenknight32
    Greenknight32
    2014-02-21

    Disease often had already done its worst damage prior the the colonization of a region, anyway, introduced by explorers and trappers. For instance, here in the Pacific Northwest, visits by British naval vessels started epidemics of malaria that devastated the native population. It's not a climate where malaria can persist, so it was gone by the time settlers arrived. Not to say there weren't other epidemics later, but that was the worst.

     
  • Morgador
    Morgador
    2014-03-11

    I agree with the fact that density of Indian tribes already reflects the different disease.
    For example, you can move freely between Inca Cities, which is quite unrealistic in a "realistic" world.

    Anyway, the goal of Colonize is to be fun, not realistic.

     
  • Marco
    Marco
    2014-12-23

    Sadly, know that you are still connected to the "politically correct" if the boys in games or even children, who in reality are quiet, real angels, does not mean you do not have fun to use atomic bombs against half the world, to enslave, pillage and kill! For example, I as a child I played war games (+12 range) and in fact I was a child in the class was quiet and had good grades ... while at home on the computer destroyed them whole civilizations of Age of Empires, Empire hearth and Rise of natios! You must not make scruples! Games today are played by boys or children, years ago were regarded as +16 or +18! Namely the youth is getting used to these things, that in games like Europe universalis is slavery, and there have been controversies!