Civ4: Colonization has been an on and off favorite of mine since its release in 2008. I also enjoy this game because of it’s simplicity in game play – you win the game winning a War of Independence and that’s it. Behind this simple concept is the Civilization 4 engine which allows for the significant amount of customization for which the franchise is well known. Despite being released over a decade ago, the game continues to enjoy a cult-like following from its mod community that has kept the original concept alive by modding in aspects that keep it in a modern state. At the time of writing this, there are a few mods still in active development which have updated the game. I recommend to anyone who enjoyed the old Civ4 games and own a copy of Colonization to revisit some nostalgia.
Today, I want to specifically talk about a mod for this game called We the People. At the time I write this, the latest update was on April 23rd and includes 54 updates in the last update alone. I have a lot of respect for these modders who have worked to keep this updated, and are willing to take community recommendation (a feat in itself, I can tell you from experience) and implement them. They have truly turned a rather obscure and independently released modification of Civ4 and turned it into a full capable game that competes against other titles being released today.
Civilization 4 was the first truly 3D version of the Civilization franchise. I was a big Civ3 modder back in the day, and I found the leap to Civ4 daunting at first as I adjusted from sprites to nif’s. But after years of practice, I can easily say this engine is one of the easiest and most forgiving of the franchise to mod. If you look at mod count in CivFanatics, I’m apparently not alone in this. As of writing this, Civilization has over three times as many mods for it than Civ 5 and Civ 6 combined. The latter of those two is already an old dog having been released 4 years ago. Moreover, mods are continually released for Civilization 4 and Colonization daily, adding to this count.
That brings me to Colonization, the stepchild of the Civ4 brand. Back during it’s release, it was plagued with two problems. First, players of the first Sid Meier’s Colonization game were expecting a 3D rendition of the same game and were disappointed as everyone is with sequels. Second, fans of Civ4 were expecting a game of similar complexity and experience as the expansion a year before, Beyond the Sword, which Colonization didn’t deliver. However, as time went on a group of modders saw the capabilities and got to work. There were a string of mods that build upon each other, each improving gameplay and complexity. In rough order, Age of Discovery (AoD) led to Dawn of a New Era (DoaNE), which led to The Authentic Colonization (TAC), which led to Religion and Revolution (RaR), and finally to We the People (WTP).
We the People is the most advanced version of Colonization. It builds directly off of the RaR mod and takes community suggestions and improvements and puts them into the main build for everyone to enjoy. I long maintained my own personal (modded) version of RaR but over the weekend decided it was time to merge my changes into WTP as RaR is no longer active.
We the People keeps the main premise of the game. You start a new settlement, find a way to become profitable, and finally declare your independence from your European overlords and become your own nation. WTP makes this more interesting by leveraging the full Civ4 engine to add additional methods to obtaining this end goal. In vanilla, there were really only a handful of decision you could made (expand/centralize, conquer/diplomatic, quick declaration / protracted declaration). With WTP there are advanced pirating options to slow down opponents. There are far more specializations to choose from. Construction requires a wider variety of resources, meaning you will have to to more trading or logistical management. The Triangle Trade is available and European prices are more flexible with a wider variety of options to choose from. Then there are events which you can obtain throughout the game which add some flavor, and in some cases, can outright help you win the game.
Perhaps my favorite addition is the new updated graphic capabilities. The UI and screens are updated and are easier to understand. The new unit animations and icons meant I was doing a lot less digging through old Civ4 files to move my mods into WTP. It also allowed me to create larger, more competitive maps which is something I thoroughly enjoy as I prefer one long play through instead of multiple short stints on the same map.
With my time in lock down easily sucking up 12 to 16 hours of my day, I’ve getting a handful of hours a week to work on coding. The payoff is a lot more immediate with WTP than EDCE, as I can up and play it right away instead of re-loading everything after a mod change. Until things calm down for me, diversifying the game time will be necessary until I am back into a habit of spending 4 – 6 hours a day on modding again.