Wow, looks like I missed a lot.
I am extremely disappointed to see all the accusations being sent my way. I'm disappointed too to see yet another vote with little information on the situation.
I am glad however to see that most people who have spoken up do, in fact, trust me and believe that I am doing everything I can to make this the best game possible, not to give myself an unfair advantage. Suggestions that I am secretly taking over the game, or rigging things for my own benefit, or leading some cabal with RP to mess up everyone's game is insulting and ludicrous. The loudest voices say "I trust Ozzy, but... I think he's secretly rigging the game." is just double-talk and doesn't change the personal nature of the indictment against me. As many have said in my defense, I have been at this for quite a while and have always been an impartial map maker who looks out for the good of the game and the balance of the game.
For most games in recent years I have created the map and not played in the game. Obviously there is less drama that way, and I'm content to help the game as a universal sub, but I like playing too. I certainly am dedicated to keeping these games running as smoothly as possible and have cut my own playing time just to make that happen. I wish certain people weren't so upset that I finally be given a chance to play in a game too instead of always sitting on the sidelines.
Some may wonder whether a mapmaker is needed at all, or whether I should be fiddling around with my sinister "tweaking". The answer is yes. Sorry.
We decided (democratically) to play a world map (looong over due in my opinion). Ok, how do we do that? There is no such thing as a "random" world map that we can just pick in the game settings. A map has to be selected and set up. At the time, several people suggested we use the map from the 1000 AD scenario. It is a map that is included in every copy of the game so it is something available to everyone (no secret cabal here), and is a pretty darn good map (designed by Rhye). We can't just load it up and play it. Sorry, doesn't work that way. The map included in the game is a scenario with cities already built on it. Those cities need to be deleted. The civs in that game are different than the civs we are using, so that needs to be changed. The map was created for a very specific purpose intended to create a specific result. No offense, but the game would be a disaster if I did nothing to the map.
I'm certainly doing my best to leave most of the map as I found it, but there are some definite balance issues that need to be fixed. I'm sure, thanks to this hearty dose of pre-game paranoia, that there will be many accusations later in the game about something unfair or unbalanced about the map. I promise you that in most cases it'll be a situation where I *didn't* change the existing map. I'm certainly trying to do my best. It is a very hard thing to do. We can't vote on every location of every resource on the map. Should that wine be north of that mountain, or east of it? Should we vote? This game would never start. The map is far too complex.
As it has been said, I don't know who is which civ (though yes, I had hoped to place everyone individually) but I am very much bothered by the suggestion that I would try to **** up someone's start because I didn't like them. That is insulting. For as much as I've done for this game and all the ones before it, for some (a minority, thankfully, but a vocal one) to think that I'd try to rig the game is very upsetting. My goal is balance. You can argue that balance isn't worth going after, that it is ok to scatter everything to the wind and let superior players get superior starts and crush the weaker players in every possible way. But to argue that I am trying to deliberately cheat... that's something else altogether.
As I've said, 90% of the map will be the same as the 1000 AD scenario. Will I possess some all important advantage in the game by knowing that extra 10%? No. Those of you who already don't trust me won't believe this, but I honestly have a poor memory and don't remember every change I make to the map. Plus once the game starts I never open the map up in world builder to go check. So anyone who opened up the 1000 AD scenario in world builder halfway through the game would have far more of an advantage than I would. I urge everyone not to do it though. The joy of discovery is, I think, an important and fun aspect of any game of civ. I like to be surprised and will refuse to open up the map to double check things. I think that is poor sportsmanship. But again, every one of you has that choice. It is your decision.
This is a very long post, but as for the mod, this is, again, a part of making this map playable. Our planet was not created with the rules of a random game of civ. If we want to play on our planet, we need to have rules that better reflect the reality of this map. In the real world, do we have megalopolises in the Amazon and Congo equal to the greatest cities in Europe, America and Asia? Are there cities with tens of millions of people in Siberia or northern Canada? No? Well if we play this game without a mod that is how the world will look. The rules for random civ games are suited for random civ maps. Not an Earth map. To play this type of game on the Earth map, certain small changes need to be made to make it work. People accuse me of being a secret puppet master, but I've disclosed these changes every step of the way, and only at the final moment do people start freaking out.
People wanted the 1000 AD scenario map, well... the reason that worked was because those cities in Europe were placed 1 tile away from each other (or two depending on how you count). To recreate that map and make it playable, this is how we do it.
Putting everything to a vote is going to create a game similar to how initiatives have created the state of California. Voters pass various changes to the Constitution that conflict with each other, or that slash taxes while mandating increases in spending. I'm all for democracy, but sometimes people just don't know what they are voting for and can make a mess of things. In this case I think we need a Republic not a direct democracy. I just people would assume good faith on my part.