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Empires of Sorcery is meant to be a spiritual successor to Master of Magic. Other games that have made this attempt have, in our opinion, missed the mark by failing to focus on what truly made the game great. Master of Magic had an elegant simplicity about it that made getting into the game easy and enjoyable. As a player's skill increased, the difficulty of the game could also be increased in order to continue to offer a challenge. In the beginning it was enough to make a huge army of units and crush your AI opponents with sheer brute force. However, at more difficult levels one had to adopt strategies like giving paladins the gift of flight or creating powerful artifacts that made heroes almost impossible to defeat. City management was also an important element in this arguably genre-defining game. Anyone could jump in and build the buildings required to get the units they wanted. True mastery came in the form of building the buildings you really needed for the city in question in just the right order. Everything about Master of Magic had an easy to learn/hard to master feel to it. That's what truly made the game great. Anyone could play it and everyone could find a challenge.
The first thing we hope to do with Empires of Sorcery is capture the feeling that although the game is easy to play it can challenge even great 4X champions. One of the reasons we decided to go with a 2D game engine was to maintain the simplistic feel of the game. Many modern strategy games have begun to use 3D engines to display what is essentially a 2D game (When is height actually an issue in any 4X turn based strategy game?). Sticking with a 2D engine presents the game in its true simplicity and makes things like porting to mobile devices easier (At least from our point of view. This isn't meant to be a discussion of porting techniques). We are doing our very best to design an interface that is straightforward and intuitive. We want players to be able to start their first game and navigate through our fantasy world with as little effort as possible. However, even though we're focusing on keeping the game simple from a learning curve point of view, it will certainly have enough depth to offer veteran players a challenge. Just like Master of Magic, Empires of Sorcery will offer a number of character customizations at the start of every game, a number of unique playable races and a large number of viable victory strategies.
In fact we intend to go much further than Master of Magic did. At first this may seem like a bold statement, but the truth of the mater is that the original game had to work within the confines of the times. The times have changed. Empires of Sorcery will be able to offer players much larger scale games spanning numerous planes of existence. By making use of the D20 OGL rule set EOS can offer players a wider range of races while maintaining both balance and flavor. Magic will also be expanded. We intend to offer numerous schools of magic each boasting a huge selection of spells to choose from. We even intend to allow players to combine circles and cast spells with effects from more than one school.
All in all Empires of Sorcery is meant to be a spiritual successor to a truly classic game. We intend to go far beyond the original vision and offer players something new built on a solid old foundation. This is merely a very basic overview. For those who are interested we will be making more and more information available on the actual game and combat mechanics, schools of magic, how we intend to handle heroes, artifacts, etc. There's a lot of information to get up and we appreciate your patience.
Game play in Empires of Sorcery is built upon three basic pillars. They are, in no particular order, city management, army management and magical management.
City management is the art of making each of your cities as productive as possible. Each city has a population that is divided between farmers, workers and magical researchers. The player can construct buildings that improve some aspect of the city or allow them to build a particular type of military unit. Certain buildings will even be able to make battlefield consumables or enchanted weaponry.
Army management consists of building and using military units effectively. All units have unique powers ranging from simple bow and arrow ranged attacks to summoning extra units to the battlefield. These units also gain experience with every victory and have a number of different levels they can attain. Powerful hero units can even use custom artifacts enhanced with magical power. Winning on the battlefield is a solid step on the road to winning the game.
Magical management consists of balancing magic power consumption between researching spells, casting those spells both in and out of combat and building artifacts ranging from simple weapons and armor to powerful constructs such as iron golem. A wide range of magical schools add further depth to this system allowing players to focus on one school or spread their power between several.
One of our goals is to strike such a balance between those three pillars that players will find an almost infinite number of viable play styles. Whether you love battlefield tactics or making unbelievably powerful artifacts you will be able to conqueror the world with your own particular style.
We've decided to use the d20 OGL rules for almost all our background combat mechanics. The reasons for this are easy to understand. First, it's a system we're very familiar with, having been RPG gamers for many, many years. Second, the system is both solid and balanced with literally millions of play-hours behind it. It will enable us to balance units, spells and even magical artifacts.
The d20 rule set will allow us to put together distinctive and flavorful races that are completely balanced. Those of you who are familiar with the system will understand how simple it will be for us to tie unit creation and maintenance costs to the unit's CR. Our goal is to ensure that although all the races are equal they are not necessarily similar. Too many games either balance their systems by making racial differences nothing more than aesthetic or offer truly unique races that aren't at all balanced. We feel that using the d20 rule set will help us avoid both these pitfalls.
In truth this depends on several factors, the main one being how much artwork we can afford. With the system we're using adding new races from a background mechanics point of view is very simple. The limiting factor is the artwork required to bring each race's units to life.
We plan to start with at least five races and, depending on the level of funding we attain, we may be able to add more. After the game is released we'll be able to use some of the profits to add even more races with patches and updates. In the long run we would like to add rather uncommon races with unique powers to the lineup. Everything from trolls with natural regeneration to intelligent plant people that don't need to farm may eventually make the list. The only real limits are imagination and funding.
Customizable Character - When you create a character in Empires of Sorcery, you'll choose a number of customizations to make your sorcerer truly unique. You'll begin by picking a portrait (this will only affect how you feel about your character's physical appearance). Next you'll choose your circles of magic. These are the spell schools that your character understands how to use at the beginning of the game. You'll be able to spend points deepening your knowledge in a single school or spreading your learning across a wide range of circles. The deeper your knowledge in a single school, the more powerful the spells you can cast in that school. However, access to a wider range of schools grants access to a wider range of spells and unlocks special combo spells that can only be used by combining circles. After you've chosen your circles you'll pick a number of feats that fill out your character's skills. Perhaps you want your sorcerer to be a powerful military warlord, a great alchemist or a master of artifice. Your character's skills and circles will define their power and the play style you'll need to use to succeed with them. Choose them wisely.
Unique Races - One of our goals with Empires of Sorcery is to offer players a number of truly unique races. This is one of the reasons we decided to go with the D20 OGL rule set. By using a well-established, balanced rule set we can add flavorful races without sacrificing balance. A perfect example is our undead race. The undead are going to be more than just humans with zombie sprites. The entire race is dead and will have a truly unique play style. Zombies don't farm and vampires have no need of gold. When you choose to be the master of undead or lord of the elves we want your game play to be very different. We want players to try every race we offer, and we want each one to be fun to play with a number of unique aspects that gives each one a distinct flavor.
Procedurally Created Terrain - Each new game of Empires of Sorcery begins with a new universe being constructed. Random map generation ensures that every game is different. A large number of terrain types and features gives the player something worth looking for. Find the perfect spot to found your next city. Discover ancient temples that hold long-forgotten arcane secrets. Hire heroes or mercenaries from a nearby inn. You can never tell what's just beyond the fog-of-war. Send your men or use magic to explore new areas and find new sources of power.