It's good to be the king.
One of the hallmarks of the real-time strategy game is ordering around all your little troops, be they orcs, knights, elves, aliens, marines, or tanks. But what if your little soldiers and grunts didn't listen to you? What if they simply ignored you and went about having lives of their own? What if they used their own cash to buy their own equipment and went off to fight whoever they wanted to?
[image1]That was the premise behind Majesty, a game that turned the RTS genre on its ear and called itself a “fantasy kingdom sim” way back in 2000. Nearly 10 years later, we're finally getting a sequel, and I, for one, am ecstatic because I fell in love with that smart little game all those years ago.
I've always wished many video game characters were more autonomous. It irritates me further that most strategy games have no option to let you set up A.I. vs A.I. matches to watch. One human player is always required. I wish The Sims had an “hands off” mode where you could just stand back and watch the Sims like a fancy ant farm as they figure out their lives for themselves, and didn't just stand in the corner either pissing themselves or jumping and frolicking in puppy piss.
Which is why Majesty appealed to me. Instead of having to constantly order little people about, you simply set up the world around them and watch how they react to it. Want some fighters? Build a warriors guild near your castle. Now your kingdom seems low on gold, so build a market selling health potions. As your warriors roam the countryside fighting monsters and making gold, they'll need to come back to town, buy potions, and pay their dues to the guild. Now your tax man can make the rounds and bring back the king's cut.
Those fighters could really use a little backup, so why now build a rangers guild to give them some long-range backup? The ranger's armor isn't quite as good, however, so you can build a smithy and sell upgraded armor and weapons, and onward it goes. Wizards, elves, dwarves, thieves, and clerics will all frequent your city's shops and taverns, and a little bit of it all goes back to you, the king, thanks to your trusty little fairy tale IRS.
[image2]So now that you have a nice little city in place, how do you make sure the dwarves don't just hang out at the tavern all day quaffing ale and singing dwarven drinking songs? Bounties. Yes, take that gold surplus and stimulate the economy by putting it back in.
Need a distant area scouted? Place an exploration bounty flag and wait for some ranger down on his luck to find that purse of gold ever-so-tempting. Need a particular monster den or enemy castle destroyed? Put up some money for whatever group can take it down. Nobody wants to confront a nasty dragon? Yep, you guessed it – just put a large enough bounty on its head.
However, the best part about it for me is how attached you get to some of your little subjects, because they all have individual names, levels, RPG stats, and equipment. Just click on one to learn all about them. As they go around adventuring, they level up, getting more and more powerful, and buying better equipment spells and skills. You'll find yourself actually rooting for the little guys.
Feeling your royal roots yet? Get ready to rise to the throne in the summer of 2009.