The tale of a man who played Civilisation II for ten years only to witness the world to descend into a "hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation" may have a happy ending. Eventually.
Reddit user Lycerius wrote on the discussion site on Tuesday that "I thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be."
Unfortunately, they were... not good. The game world is now approaching the year 4000AD and is dominated by just three remaining super powers "each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands".
The story quickly became a viral hit, reported around the world.
According to reports Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even commented on the story. "This is pretty crazy," the billionaire said - again, a story first reported on Reddit.
Now Reddit's users want to help. But the full scale of the challenge means it won't be easy.
In Lycerius's world, the polar ice caps have melted 20 times due to nuclear wars and all of the big cities have crumbled.
"Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it's peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm," he said.
Still, Reddit is typically unbowed. An entire subsection of the site (a 'subreddit') has been devoted to his story, and his saved game has now been uploaded so that other users can attempt to find a way out of the mire.
Several users have already developed theories about how to help Lycerius find a solution to his global nightmare.
One suggested that his empire - currently a communist state, to which he was forced to switch from democracy about 1000 years ago - become a fundamentalist state to boost gold production.
From there the user, 'DonutEF', said he should rebuild his main cities, boost his frontline to withstand attack and then bomb every enemy city all at once.
"Democracy has failed in this world," the user wrote. "You've got to hit em hard and take over the world for the greater good."
Another simply suggested that Lycerius give up and allow his empire to be conquered.
"You will die, this is expected. Your armies will lose, this is expected. Your enemy will not be defeated, not by you, this is expected," he said.
But now yet another user, who downloaded the save game, has actually reported some initial success - despite saying the pollution in the world was so "insane" that making any real headway at first seemed unlikely.
"It's now 4029, and I've accomplished my previous goal of capturing the capital....but then I lost it. Then I got it again...then I lost it," he said.
Even later he reported further success - having wiped one of the competing civilisations off the map - but added he was still locked in brutal war with America.
Lycerius himself said that releasing the save game file had been a difficult choice, but he had been inspired by Reddit's reaction to the story - since reported around the world.
"As you can imagine, this game means a lot to me," he said. "And to see so many so passionately writing their own narrative of what happened in this world, just as I have, is such wonderful vindication in its own right. Thank you."
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