Ridiculously Fast Population Growth YKTTW Discussion

Ridiculously Fast Population Growth
Civilizations in games appear to be populated by Explosive Breeders
Needs Examples Tropeworthy?
(permanent link) added: 2012-10-29 14:02:50 sponsor: zarpaulus (last reply: 2012-11-28 12:12:45)

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In 4X games population growth rates of a billion per year are not uncommon. While it's true that in newly settled areas people tend to have more children a new colony doubling in population every year should be physically impossible. Sometimes the game handwaves this by claiming growth is due more to immigration than birthrates, but in some cases one has to wonder where exactly all these people are immigrating from. In addition population growth almost always halts entirely once the capacity is reached.

For comparison, a real human population where each woman has five kids would grow at a rate of about 3.3% per year.

Related to Ridiculously Fast Construction, Writers Cannot Do Math, and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. Usually involves Hide Your Children when the new population are nothing but productive adults.

  • The Civilization series.
  • Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri
  • Sword of the Stars: Depending on planetary environment, racial bonuses, and technologies, it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 years for a planetary population to grow from a couple hundred to about 700 million. Though Imperial population growth is capped at 50 million per turn and civilian at 20 million.
  • Galactic Civilizations hangs a planet-sized Lampshade on this in many of the progress reports and flavor text for planetary improvements. "Of course most of this population growth is actually more people reporting taxes and voting, since X billion people couldn't actually have been born in that time."
  • Actraiser, Terranigma: in both, the hero rescues people to repopulate barren lands, but the population will also increase on its own. Both also halt the growth when it reaches capacity.
  • Master of Orion III. Particularly in mid-to-end game, once the player terraformed a planet (also ridiculously fast), the population would mushroom to full capacity in a matter of a few years.
  • Averted in Dwarf Fortress. The population grows almost completely from migration rather than reproduction, usually a slow trickle of 6-20 dwarves, and you will have near-useless, uncontrollable children running amok. There is also a hard population cap to prevent the game from murdering your CPU.

Real-time Strategy
  • In the Age of Empires series new villagers and warriors simply pop out of their training buildings. The third game could have justified it as new settlers arriving from the homeland but that's a separate mechanic.

  • In the play by mail game The Tribes of Crane, tribes could grow by up to 10% per month. As pointed out in The Space Gamer magazine's "Murphy's Rules" Comic Strip, this would require every female member of the tribe to be constantly pregnant with triplets.

Examples outside of gameplay
  • Early Shadowrun game supplements depicted several of the Native American Nations with populations in the millions or tens of millions, vastly out-stripping the number of genuine Native Americans that could feasibly exist by the dates when they were set. Later writers for the tabletop game frantically justified this with a combination of non-Natives being adopted into various tribes, poseurs only claiming Native ancestry, and/or inflated demographic statistics released by NAN propagandists.
  • In the Macross universe, humanity rebounded from (IIRC) around a million survivors of the first war to an interstellar civilization with dozens of colonies and huge fleets within 30 years (Macross Plus era). Possibly justified by adding captured zentradi cloning technology into the mix, but that'd do some pretty weird things to demographics.
  • StarCraft's backstory has the Koprulu Sector's Terran expatriate population grow from 32,000 survivors of the three UPL colony ships to twelve billion by the time of the first game. This explosive growth takes 240 years. A little math shows that this would require the population to at least double every decade, for 24 decades. And that's before you consider the deaths due to the Terrans' infighting.
  • In the Homeworld series the population of Hiigara went from 650,000 Exiles to 350 million Hiigarans in the century between the first and last game. Though it is possible that many of those people are descendants of Taiidan rebels (who may or may not be the same species)
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