As the Aztecs thunder into the distance, I wonder aloud what brought about such a wonderful real-time strategy (RTS) game that mashes together 18 nations and 6,000 years of history, anachronisms be damned.
We were certainly inspired by other real-time games that we thought gave a good sense of time pressure, excitement and fast pace, Train replies. These games give you the feeling that the players attention is an additional resource that they must spend as wisely as they spend food, gold or magic crystals.
The Play Mechanics are the Thing
As I absorb that nugget of wisdom, a herd of Indian war elephants lumbers past, only to see one of its members veer off course as a previously-hidden Russian spy clambers aboard and bribes its rider to join her side. The others follow the defector, attempting to destroy it rather than lose it to the enemy, and the spy simply vanishes into the grass. Suddenly, a trio of Russian T-80 tanks shows up and takes on the now-overmatched war elephants.
The setting of a game is less important than the play mechanics, says Train. Instead of having you follow a set build order and then micromanage your units, with victory going to the person who can click their mouse the fastest, we wanted to give players a real sense of strategic choices and decisions that would affect them throughout the game.
The setting of a game is less important than the play mechanics. Instead of having you follow a set build order and then micromanage your units, we wanted to give players a real sense of strategic choices and decisions that would affect them throughout the game.- Tim Train
No amount of rapid mouse clicking could have saved the hapless war elephants that now fall before the booming cannons of the tanks, which roll away with the new member of their military. They dont get far, however, before a bomber with Indian script on its side roars overhead. Train and I watch the bombs cascade onto the pitted field only one tank manages to barely escape the barrage and limp home before the plane turns back to refuel.
Importing Fun Ideas
Most of the fun ideas in Rise of Nations are adapted from Civilization II and Alpha Centauri, two titles from our background as game designers, Train explains. For example, Alpha Centauris national borders solved the age-old problem of enemies building up bases right under your nose, which meant the entire game came down to whether you noticed the enemy building a tower in your backyard. That didnt seem very historically accurate or fun.
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Thrones and Patriots Expansion Included
Rise of Nations: Gold Edition includes both the award-winning Rise of Nations and the critically acclaimed expansion pack, Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots. It introduces six new nations, four unique single-player campaigns, more than 20 original units, new wonders and new government types.
Other features we imported from our past games include the concept of multiple cities that anchor your empire and an integrated tech tree with powerful effects attached to each technology.
Unfortunately, the Russian tank doesnt get far a nuclear missile streaks over our heads and hits the city its headed for, dealing a death blow to the vehicle with the resulting mushroom cloud. Any concern over virtual radiation melts away with the surroundings, which now place us on top of a mountain that allows us to survey a new scenario. Someone must have reduced the Armageddon Clock to zero during the last one.
The players attention is an additional resource that they must spend as wisely as they spend food or gold.- Tim Train
The Game Starts Jumping
As in many RTS games, Rise of Nations offers a wide variety of maps, ways to win and other variables that you can tweak to your hearts content. If youre not familiar with the genre, youll probably soon settle on a favorite strategy for winning, as Train has done.
Im all about the border push, he relates. Using your borders to choke off an enemys resources, or pumping up your attrition so your opponent takes massive amounts of damage in your territory, are two of my favorite ways of winning. And keep in mind that the game really starts jumping when you get to the Gunpowder Age. If you can exploit the new units that come with this advance, you can finally start knocking down your opponents cities.
Judging by the tanks I see massing in the distance, accompanied by helicopter gunships and infantry armed with bazookas, someone has decided to cut to the chase this time. Train and I settle in to watch. This should be a lot of fun.