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Video Game / Hamurabi

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This game is the ancestor to Civilization


Hamurabi is a text-based and turn-based video game written by Doug Dyment in 1968 in the FOCAL language under the name The Sumer Game and ported to BASIC by David H. Ahl. It was inspired by the 1964 game The Sumerian Game.

This game then was spread, with other games written in BASIC, by the book BASIC Computer Games, first published in 1973.

In this game, in order to prevent a famine, the player had to manage the production of grain of a city, measured in bushels, by allocating some to planting, some to consumption by citizens and the remainder to stocking in silos, which could be attacked by rats; he was also able to buy and sell acres of farmland.

At the tenth year, the player was ranked relative to historical rulers, a system which was later reused by Sid Meier in his Civilization.

This game was a precursor for other management and simulation games.

You can play here and here, the BASIC code source is available here and a C99 port here.

This videogame provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Blue Blood: Nobility is one of the cosial of Santa Paravia.
  • The Caligula: If the player caused many deaths by starvation/didn't ensure enough land per person, the game will say, at the end, that "[your] heavy handed performance smacks of Nero and Ivan IV" and that the survivors "hate your guts."
  • Commie Land: Setats Detinunote , in the spin-off King, is stated as being a Communist country.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: You might have to buy additional farmland to feed your growing population.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: You allocate the grain production between stocking, eating and planting.
  • The Famine: The gameplay is centered around avoiding this outcome, and starving subjects can cause the player to have issues ranging from simply losing persons to flat-out losing.
  • Land of One City: The original version has Ur as setting.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Plagues can make things much easier by reducing how many people you need to feed and increasing your acreage per citizen, but they're completely random. The fluctuations in land prices and especially the size of the harvest can randomly screw you, though handling these situations well when they do happen is part of the game.
  • Merchant Prince: Santa Paravia. You're a petty knight and try to win the throne through your successful business dealings.
  • Older Than the NES: First version in FOCAL released in 1968 and BASIC version in 1973.
  • Practical Currency: The bushels of grain produced by your fields can be used to buy additional land.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Unpaid mercenaries in "Dukedom'' tend to steal grain, kill some serfs and rape the women, raising the birth rate - the authors even comment "these are not ordinary mercenaries."
  • Timed Mission: For many of the games, the goal is to survive a certain number of years without being overthrown by disaster. Santa Paravia, however, plays this straight; you have only a random number of years before you die of old age, and your job is to climb to the top before time runs out.
  • Tyop on the Cover: The ancient king was named "Hammurabi" but the creator either forgot a 'm' or wanted to keep the name within the eight-character limit. Lampshaded by the presentation of this game in BASIC Computer Games:
    "This error has spread far and wide until a generation of students who have used this program now think that Hammurabi is the incorrect spelling."
  • Updated Re-release: The 1973 BASIC version, which added an end-of-game performance summary, among other things.
  • Ur-Example: This game was a precursor for many of the features of the resource management games.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can starve part of your subjects so as to be able to buy farmland or, simply, to be able to not feed useless eaters. However, Dukedom punishes players who starve their serfs while there is enough food in the granaries.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: If your subjects don't get enough food, they will starve and die.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: If more than 45% of the population starve in a year, the player is deposed and "declared 'National Fink'."
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: If you don't feed your citizens enough, they will revolt and depose you.