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xawery

DEFCON: Everybody Dies

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Does anyone remember the eighties film "WarGames", starring Matthew Broderick? I'm specifically referring to one of the last scenes, where the protagonists watch a computer screen in terror as nukes are launched all over the world. As it happens, you now have the chance to bring about world destruction, in the same style.

Introversion Software, the makers of the fantastic indy-game Darwinia, bring mutually-assured destruction to your monitor with "DEFCON: Everybody Dies". Though it may look complicated, Defcon is one of those rare games which combine simple gameplay with impressive strategic depth. The game consists of five phases (Defcons, obviously). In the first phase, you place your installations, such as radars, silos, air defenses, airbases and fleets (consisting of carriers, destroyers and subs). At Defcon 2, the raders are activated and you can survey your surroundings. During Defcon 3 and 4, you may engage your enemies using fleets and aircraft. At Defcon 1... Well, get ready to launch! It sounds deceptively simple, but the strategic depth is amazing. "If I launch from here, I will disclose my position to the enemy. Perhaps I should send in fighter jets to distract their AA defenses and create an opening for my ICBM's." There are many factors to consider, but one thing is certain: everybody loses in the end. The goal of the game is to destroy as many enemy cities as possible, while minimising one's own civilian losses. The game's motto goes: "It's Global Thermonuclear War, and nobody wins. But maybe - just maybe - you can lose the least."

The interface is very crisp and clear, and the worldmap is very deftly abstracted. Aesthetically, the game is very pleasing to the eye. It really gives you the idea that you're hiding in some bunker, pressing buttons, realising fully well that you're heralding the end of the world. The ambient sounds only strenghten this feeling. You hear some vague radiochatter, the humming of computers and other machinery, someone coughing, someone crying... Very immersive.

The best part of this game is that it can (and should) be played online. You can forge alliances, break them, sneak-attack you supposed allies, or gang up on a particular nation. Gee, sounds like the world we're living in, doesn't it?

DEFCON costs only $19.95, and can be obtained via Steam.

So, if anyone fancies a game of armageddon... wink_o.gif

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I thought that ICBMs were pretty much safe from interception... I mean, the airborne laser 747 is thought to be useful somehow but so far all efforts to create an anti-ICBM SAM have failed, no? Please correct me if I'm wrong... huh.gif

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According to Wikipedia, ICBM's can be intercepted. The fun part about this game is that if you orchestrate an organised strike, no amount of AA will save the enemy. Give it a go smile_o.gif

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You following me, Xawery? I just downloaded the demo few days ago... The demo does support 2-player I-net play btw, dunno if you can play with full versions with it, too. wink_o.gif

Yeah, quite fun... still need to get the hang of it, as my success rate ain't even 50% yet... still fun, in it's own way, to slaughter a continent. The simplified tutorial final ended up with USA (that's me) killing 92 million Asians... whistle.gif

And oh, btw, the RF/USSR still has an ICBM defence ring around Moscow. Huge AA missiles basically, can't remember whether they used HE or nuclear warheads. And the hyped über-AA system S-400 is rumored to be somewhat able to intercept ICBMs, if memory serves.

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Ah, well, it's good to know that if someone pushes a tiny little red button (or the classical password + key-turning combination cliché), then there's still hope left for something to be done about it... biggrin_o.gif

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Thanks for the heads up, just gave the demo a whirl and it was fun although i got blasted by china biggrin_o.gif

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Hehe BlackScorpion, I've been keeping track of DEFCON ever since I played Darwinia and Uplink: Hacker Elite. Introversion truly makes some excellent games.

Mr Burns, I know the feeling, haha. I was playing as China and obliterated Africa by carefully targeting their military infrastructure first. I also managed to intercept a massive US fleet in the Pacific. I was quite content with myself, when suddenly a fleet of US submarines emerged from the Sea of Japan and turned Asia into a radioactive wasteland. No amount of AA will stop 25+ incoming ICBM's... I learned that the hard way confused_o.gif

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I pre-ordered mine for ~11e from steam. The damn thing did'nt work when the final version came out, of course.

I have'nt touched DEFCON since, anyone want to buy a working serial? tounge2.gif

Quote[/b] ]

According to Wikipedia, ICBM's can be intercepted. The fun part about this game is that if you orchestrate an organised strike, no amount of AA will save the enemy. Give it a go

The current ABM systems are far from working, they have been able to take out some test targets with variable success and those have been carefully controlled tests with things like radio beacons attached to the target and no countercountermeasures. crazy_o.gif

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You don't have to download it from Steam. The demo on the site is also the full game, you just need to enter in the serial to unlock it.

Anyways, here it goes. 5 cents. tounge2.gif

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You don't have to download it from Steam. The demo on the site is  also the full game, you just need to enter in the serial to unlock it.

Anyways, here it goes. 5 cents. tounge2.gif

The problem is'nt steam, I actually did manage to enter the steam-provided cd key into the demo. Too bad it crashed as well. tounge2.gif

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Been playing Defcon in the games lab at uni since last october, and I have to say its freaking awesome.

"Just" because its "only" a 2d map which you point and click at does NOT mean that this game is in any way limited or "lame", we've had some epic 6 player games which produced some reactions as loud and boisterous as any game of CS or CoD2, BF2.

Buy this game, its AWESOME! biggrin_o.gif

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I played this game, but I found it kind of disgusting when you saw "4 Million died" after one single mouseclick... I uninstalled it afterwards...

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I played this game, but I found it kind of disgusting when you saw "4 Million died" after one single mouseclick... I uninstalled it afterwards...

It´s only a game icon_rolleyes.gif

Just had my second try and successfully defeated the USA with 75.1 - 19.1 Million Kills biggrin_o.gif

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I played this game, but I found it kind of disgusting when you saw "4 Million died" after one single mouseclick... I uninstalled it afterwards...

K@voven, that's exactly the point of the game - to provoke thought on the matter. I find it particularly laudable that the developers managed to achieve this effect without getting preachy. The game is a splendid excercise in cognitive dissonance: when you succesfully nuke a large city, your first thought is "Yes! Points!", while the second goes along the lines of "wait, what? 6 million people died and I'm glad?". This kind of thought-provoking ambiguity was also present in Darwinia. You managed to defend the Darwinians from the virii, but at the cost of innocence.

Besides, why is killing another human being in OFP less immoral than destroying a city? Scale?

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I like it! Just spent a couple of hours as the Soviets vs. Africa.

project1yt9.jpg

think I did pretty well , every African city nuked at least one, only enemy military assets left on land were a radar station and one air base (started ignoring them when they no longer posed a threat), and didn't run into 80% of the African navy until the very end, Oh yeah - no Soviet cities hit...truth be told I have no idea where the hell I lost 300K in casualties... whistle.gif

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Downloading this now, thanks for the heads up. I don't quite understand "Africa" as an enemy though.

For the purposes of this game, Africa is a superpower. So is South America.

Does anyone else feel like the AI Navy does not like to fight? I just wiped out Western Europe in a similar manner, and the whole time I came across (and sunk) only one of their subs. By the end of it there were only two cities left in Europe with a population of over 1 million (Krakow and barcelona), no military assets on land whatsoever, and there were still 45 unused enemy nukes somewhere in the ocean crazy_o.gif

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Besides, why is killing another human being in OFP less immoral than destroying a city? Scale?

That's a really good question. Why am I content after finishing an OFP mission but reacted so shocked after I played this simulation?

I think the main point is that I "killed" people who I would call innocent. They didn't try to kill me, so why should I do? I don't have any agressive feelings concerning them, so I think this would be like shooting lots and lots of civilians in OFP, which I never did and would never do, no matter how often someone tells me, it's "only" a game.

I guess this is quite interesting. How far do people go? You probably know this experiment where they had actors on the one side answering question and people posing them on the other side. Each time the actor answered wrong, the questioner had to punish him with an electro-shock. Many people didn't ask if this would be correct, they just continued, even if the result was death.

However I think that this simulation (I wouldn't call it a game actually) goes too far, if it's considered as a game. And this questions leads back to the original one:

Why should I harm people who didn't harm me? I can't see any sence in this simulation despite the fact that it can make you think about the topic.

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Downloading this now, thanks for the heads up.  I don't quite understand "Africa" as an enemy though.

For the purposes of this game, Africa is a superpower. So is South America.

Does anyone else feel like the AI Navy does not like to fight? I just wiped out Western Europe in a similar manner, and the whole time I came across (and sunk) only one of their subs. By the end of it there were only two cities left in Europe with a population of over 1 million (Krakow and barcelona), no military assets on land whatsoever, and there were still 45 unused enemy nukes somewhere in the ocean  crazy_o.gif

Your probably just very good as a destroyer of worlds Tovarish! Perhaps there is a vacancy somewhere tounge2.gif

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Tovarish, either you're very lucky or a brilliant strategist. Enemy fleets are usually the biggest of my problems (damn subs!wink_o.gif.

Incidentally, you can download the manual here. It's a great read, and a nice display of the developers' thoughts on the subject matter. Especially the "Nuclear Exchange Survival Tips" are great.

"In the event of a nearby nuclear strike of

twenty (20) megatonnes or more, expect

variable hours of operation in your local

stores and businesses."

Give it a read, K@voven smile_o.gif

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Quote[/b] ]I played this game, but I found it kind of disgusting when you saw "4 Million died" after one single mouseclick... I uninstalled it afterwards...

I was going to say something along the lines of what difference there was between this and a 'killing' in flashpoint, but the point has been made perfectly well above.

What I will say though, is that DEFCON is an excellent game and it sounds as though you, k@voven, was perfectly happy to launch a nuke, but were emotionally moved by the consequence of your actions. This is powerfull stuff and is very effective for a graphically simple game with emotions not often seen in other games. Bear in mind too that it is perfectly possible to play this game on the defensive.

The only thing that is a little disconcerting is the occational woman weeping, and this can be relativly simply removed following steps provided on the Introversion website.

Ps, for only a tenner, this game is a steal!

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The only thing that is a little disconcerting is the occational woman weeping, and this can be relativly simply removed following steps provided on the Introversion website.

See, this is the kind of stance I do not understand. I agree that this sound is somewhat upsetting (especially since at first it's difficult to say whether it's someone coughing or sobbing), but that's exactly the point, wouldn't you say? The very point of the game is to evoke cognitive dissonance and thought-provoking emotional discomfort in the player.

All too often players actively oppose the inclusion of certain features in games, just so the subject matter remains non-controversial and well within their comfort zone. One example of this is the inclusion (or rather, lack) of children in OFP. The reason cited is that shooting children is 'immoral'. Even if I disregard the hypocritical nature of this statement (civilian men and women are included and can be killed, apparently this isn't immoral at all), I still have many objections. Personally, I find it very disturbing when people try to rid controversial subject matter (such as war) of its sharp edges. In an effort to avoid mental discomfort we inadvertently sanitise the gruesome nature of the horror that is war. Why do war-themed games rarely feature flamethrowers? Because to see and hear someone burn to death is absolutely terrifying, even virtually. Why do virtual soldiers in such games only know two states, i.e. alive or dead? Because to see another human being writhing on the floor, crying in pain and begging for a quick death is shocking and disturbing, and boy, we wouldn't want that to ruin the fun, now would we?

I don't think we fully understand the ramifications of this trend. By stripping controversial issues of their controversial aspects, we raise a generation oblivious to the horrid reality of things like war. If you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at history. For example, why did it take so long for the nonsensical slaughter we know as World War One to end? Because the general public was purposefully kept in the dark about the reality of war. Governmental info-films showed staged engagements, and depicted dying soldiers as brave men, clutching their chests and gently slumping to the ground when shot. The civilian populace never saw the horrors of the trenches, dismembered bodies being flung into trees by explosions, wounded men drowning in foxholes in no-man's land, etc. etc. When the mentally scarred soldiers returned home, they were regarded as cowards. What could be better than dying for your country?! The leadership wasn't much better: generals consciously avoided the battlefield, "so as not to let emotions affect their judgement". Because of such myopic reasoning the hellish, pointless slaughters such as at Passchendaele could take place.

If you think that this doesn't hold true for the present, think again. How many young men and women join the army because they have an idealised, false view of war? Why was the U.S. gov't trying its best to keep media attention away from flag-covered coffins arriving in the US? Because when confronted with the reality and consequences of war, the public would be much less willing to support a pointless war.

The idea of differentiating between civilians as being innocent and soldiers being 'guilty' is a common one, but ambiguous and problematic in times of war. The civilians may not be pointing a gun at you, but they contribute to the war effort by working. They are not a direct threat, but they are a threat nonetheless. Crippling the enemy's industrial capacity is crucial for winning a war, but if you bombard factories civilian workers will die. Would this be justified then or not? After all, they aren't trying to kill you directly, are they? To use an example from DEFCON: is bombarding a military airfield morally acceptable? After all, those mechanics, cooks etc. who work there are not a direct threat, are they?

Of course, you could say that by working for the military-industrial complex these people are legitimate targets, as they contribute to the war effort. However, even factories manufacturing such seemingly harmless products as warm coats and socks contribute. Without them, enemy soldiers in cold areas would be less combat-effective. This may look like an abstract, contrived example, but it was nevertheless an actual issue during WWII: remember the German soldiers clad in autumn uniforms at Stalingrad? One of the main reasons why the German offensive failed, which marked a turning point in the war.

The point of this very long-winded post is to say that war is intrinsically morally ambiguous, and that simple rules of thumb about "innocent" and "legitimate" targets don't work when subjected to closer scrutiny. By removing certain nasty elements from our depictions of war (be it in games, books or films) we systematically reinforce a false, idolised image of war as a clean, surgical endeavour where soldiers die from a clean bullet through the heart.

Life is about choices, and as long as we close our eyes to the consequences, we will keep making the wrong ones.

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