Thursday, April 26, 2007

Seven Lessons I Learnt Playing Command and Conquer 3

Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

Command and Conquer is a real time strategy (RTS) computer game where you choose to play the good guys (Strategic Defense Initiative) or the bad guys (Brotherhood of Nod). The bad guys want to take over the world while the good guys want to preserve freedom. The year is 2047, seventeen years after the last wars as played in Command and Conquer: Tiberium Sun. Tiberium, a toxic but powerful substance is destroying the earth’s ecosystem, replacing carbon based substance with itself. However, it is also a powerful source of energy. This game is developed by Electronic Arts and powered by SAGE gaming engine.

Each player starts with a basic construction module and a limited amount of money. He or she must build a refinery to mine tiberium to convert that to money. With money, the player can build barracks to train soldiers, war factory to build vehicles, tech centre to conduct research to upgrade weapons and buildings, and watchtowers to defend the base. One can play online against real ‘human’ opponents or with the artificial intelligent (AI) that come with the program. I had to go over to Singapore to get an original program (it is almost impossible to get original game programs where I live). I was playing the good guys (of course) and it took me 5 days and nights (with time out for work, eating, sleeping, reading) to finish the campaign. I was against the AI set at medium difficulty and without using cheat codes (honest!).

What are some of the lessons I have learn from playing this computer game?

(1) Keep your energy source close to your base. Build your refinery near to tiberium rich fields so that the harvesters do not have to go far. I wonder what in your life give you energy? I get my energy from pleasing God, being with my family, and from my passion: teaching and preaching the Word of God. I find that if I stray from my source of energy, my resources get depleted very fast and the enemy can easily defeat me. That is why I have to constantly remind myself to keep close to my source of energy. The refinery is converting tiberium to energy. Praying, studying the Word, centering, silence, practicing the spiritual disciplines, and keep building up the relationship with God and with members of my family are energy giving.

(2) Try to upgrade your assets as fast as possible. In the game, it is possible to upgrade your assets until you have space based weapons like ion cannon and shockwave artillery. I find that I too need to upgrade myself constantly. The world is changing very fast. This game with its movies clips of live actors is an example of the improvement computers games have made in the span of a few years. Anybody remember computer ping-pong? It even has an AI that learns from my moves. After placing my refinery at a certain spot a few times, the next time I did that I find the enemies hiding in the tiberium field in ambush! Upgrade means I have not only have to learn what is going on outside in the world; new technology, globalisation, and religious pluralism, but also what is going on inside of me. Am I becoming more Christ-like? Am I listening to the Holy Spirit? Am I developing the spiritual gifts that God has given me? Am I improving my mind by embarking on an intentional course of study, thinking critically about issues and reflecting on their application in my life? All these are important questions to ask if we are to be continuing upgrading to become who we are meant to be.

(3) Mix your attack force with vehicles and soldiers of different abilities. Soldiers come with machine guns, rocket launchers and special armours. Vehicles include troop carrier armed with machine guns, light tanks, heavy armour tanks, and walking artillery platforms called Juggernaut. An attack force that consists of heavy armour tanks will be easily defeated, even though they are powerful weapons. A mixed force of all types of vehicles and soldiers are harder to defeat. Reminds me of the armour of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. There are many components of the armour. Individually they are weak but used together, it is powerful; defensive and offensive. The problem is that we have always being taught that the armour of God is for individuals. Paul however uses the plural in the Greek. The armour of God is for the whole church. The church put on the armour. However it does assume that the church is united, something which Paul was teaching in the earlier chapters. If the church is not united, the armour of God is useless and we have already lost the war.

(4) Protect your base. An important lesson as the enemies always attack the base. We need to protect our families, ourselves, our leaders, and each other. This calls for showing caring and concern, hospitality, accountability, prayer support, and emotional support. Our church or small groups are our bases. That is where the enemy will concentrate their attacks.

(5) If you are defeated, try again. Failures are common if we are human. Even Jesus has failures in his ministry. Falling down is something we cannot avoid. Lying down and refusing to get up is not an option. In the game, I have had to save often, try different tactics, and persist until victory is achieved. In one mission, I have to set up a base while under constant attack from three different directions! It took me 4 hours of repeating until I finally manage to build my base. We need persistence if any worthwhile project is to be achieved. If we have a dream, we need to continually work for it. Defeat just means we try another way.

(6) Do not use the tiberium bomb. In the final mission, which is the most difficult, the player is offered an easy way to win. A tiberium bomb is given. All he or she has to do is to drop it on the enemy base and the war is won. The only side effect is that it will ignite all the tiberium. This will cause a chain reaction which will end in the destruction of the world. Be careful of the easy way out. Be careful of the easy way to get rich, become famous, or respectable by compromising your principles. It will always backfire and destroy your world, and also others who love you. Winning is not everything.

(7) The game play is unpredictable. There are five different AI programs in the game. Each AI has a different personality; balance, rusher, turtle, guerrilla, and steam roller. You never know which AI you will come up against. And in the middle of the game when victory over the enemy is almost within your grasp, earth was invaded by an alien force! Life is unpredictable. We never know what will happen tomorrow. What we have is the present. Let us live in the present rather than the future. Let us appreciate and love our spouses and children
while it is still now. May we be content with what we have. Let us appreciate what God has given us and embrace them as gifts to be enjoyed, rather than a right to be exploited.

I have enjoyed the game. It was fun, even during the frustration when my computer rebooted itself before I can save. This is something I indulge in once in a while when there is a good game available. And I have learnt some valuable lessons. Nuff said.

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Blogger Passionista said...

I loved this--especially Lesson 6! keep 'em comin'!

1:14 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi passionista,

Yeah, lesson 5 was tough. It was so tempting to take the simple way out. Just drop the bomb and the game is over.

Are you a C&C player?

1:49 AM  

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