War of Conquest is the anticipated sequel to the 2002 original, slated for release in 2018. Available for PC, iOS and Android, WoC will place you in a single, wide-open world with thousands of other players, to develop your nation, compete for resources, and seek to capture the mysterious Orbs of Power. Along the way you'll be able to choose from a huge variety of technological and magical advances, forge alliances and rivalries, and become part of a community.
The original War of Conquest was developed in 2002 by two friends: programmer Michael Ferrier (that’s me) and artist Zach Shukan. Having recently left Turbine Games where we were part of the team that developed Asheron’s Call (one of the first massively multiplayer RPGs), we decided to bring many of the design and tech lessons we’d learned to a different genre. Between my love for games such as Risk, Axis & Allies and the Civilization series, and Zach’s passion for RTSs like Warcraft II and Total Annihilation, we felt we had the experience to bring something new to the strategy genre.
What we created was a game where thousands of different nations inhabited a single open world. These nations would develop fantasy and futuristic technologies and compete over territory, resources, and the "Orbs" that would dole out winnings as long as they are held. Players could join up in teams for squad-based tactical play, or take a lone-wolf approach if they'd prefer. What set it apart, players found, is that it felt like a real, living world -- more than just a challenge, it was a community.
War of Conquest was among the first massively multiplayer strategy games. It ran for nine years, and was experienced by hundreds of thousands of players. But it gradually fell behind in a world of advancing graphics technology and increased competition, and we took it offline in 2011. The fanbase never went away, however, and many have been celebrating its past, as well as eagerly awaiting its return, ever since.
New opportunities over the last few years have led me to believe that the time is ripe for War of Conquest to be reborn. The Unity game engine suddenly makes it practical for a small team to create a polished, professional game, and crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter allow groups of passionate fans to raise the resources needed to bring a project they’re excited about to fruition.
The mission of the new War of Conquest is to fulfill the promise of the original by keeping its strengths intact, introducing several new elements to make gameplay even more interesting and engaging, and taking the visuals, sound, and overall experience to a much higher level.
War of Conquest has a lot in common with other nation building and 4X (“explore, expand, exploit, exterminate”) strategy games, along with key elements that put it in a class of its own. The game is about founding a nation, developing its resources and abilities, and clashing with other nations over land and treasure. It is massively multiplayer, allowing thousands of players’ nations to occupy the same game world. But unlike other games fitting this description, that tend to isolate each nation on its own mini-map, all nations in War of Conquest co-exist on a single huge game map. To expand your nation or move it from one place to another means going around—or through—your neighbors.
War of Conquest was designed around this aspect. A nation’s valuable assets are found not so much in the land it holds and the defenses it’s built, which are liable to be conquered, recaptured, rebuilt, destroyed and relocated over and over—but in the technological advances it’s developed, the resources it’s gathered and the alliances it’s engineered.
The goal is to gradually build up your nation’s power, and your own skills, to the point that you are able to capture and defend the Orbs of Power—mysterious artifacts scattered over the landscape, remnants of a former age. As a nation advances it will make its way toward the east, where the most valuable resources can be found, to compete for the ultimate prize: the Orb of Fire.
The basics of gameplay are very simple: just click on a square to attack it. But there are many layers of complexity and nuance that unfold gradually. Some examples:
How one nation fares in combat against another depends on how their three combat stats compare: tech, bio and psi. These three stats have a rock-paper-scissors relationship, so that a decent tech stat would be very strong against a similar bio stat, but weak against a similar psi stat. With these relationships in mind, you’ll want to choose enemies whose specializations are vulnerable to your own.
A large variety of different defensive structures can be developed, built, and upgraded, ranging from simple walls to towers that can launch massive counter-attacks. These can be arranged strategically to defend the Orbs and resources you’ve captured. Mid-level advances allow many of these defenses to be made invisible to your enemies, giving you the opportunity to set up traps and misdirections. Even these invisible defenses can be located, using Minesweeper-like tactics, and some can be disarmed by flanking. As a defender, you’ll want to make this as difficult for your opponents as possible.
To attack and defend you’ll need to keep up healthy supplies of the game’s two main resources, manpower and energy. How quickly you generate these resources depends on the advances you’ve developed, and whether you’ve captured special map locations such as Fresh Water, Geothermal Vents and many more. How rapidly you generate the energy needed to sustain defenses also depends on your nation’s ‘geographic efficiency’, a measure of how well consolidated your nation’s territories are. This means you’ll need to balance expanding your nation against spreading yourself too thin.
War of Conquest is 100% free to play: all features and aspects of the game will be open to all players for no charge. The in-game currency (called ‘credits’) can be used to buy temporary power-ups, hasten the building and upgrading of defenses, customize the appearance of your nation, and more. Credits can be purchased or obtained through gameplay by completing quests or capturing and holding Orbs.
Last but not least, there are many features of the game that are focused on forging connections and building community. These include strategic alliances, a patronage system, and refined chat and messaging systems.
War of Conquest is being developed by a lean team using the lowest cost methods possible that will still produce top-quality results. I’ve completed the majority of the programming myself over the past two years, and artwork is being done by a small group of experienced yet affordable freelancers. But in order to produce a kick-ass gaming experience with mass appeal, some expenses are inevitable. That’s why I’m running this Kickstarter campaign.
The main expenses that I’m looking to fund through this campaign include:
- 3D Artwork: The game includes many different walls, defensive structures, and special resource objects that can be discovered throughout the landscape, and all of these require 3D models. Most of these will be custom created for War of Conquest by talented freelancers. Others will include stock models licensed from services such as TurboSquid or the Unity Asset Store.
- 2D Artwork: This includes user interface elements, icons, splash screens and logos. All of these will need to be custom-created for War of Conquest.
- Sound and Music: Again, a mix of bespoke and licensed assets will be used.
- Language Localization: In order to be accessible to a global audience, the plan is for War of Conquest to work in a variety of different languages, including English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The technology is in place to allow this to happen, but once all the the game’s text is completed I’ll need to hire a translator for each language.
- Licenses: While free and open source software is employed wherever possible, some of the software required to complete War of Conquest, such as Unity Plus, has a license fee. There are also license fees involved in listing a program on the popular app stores.
- Server Costs: There is a monthly cost associated with the cloud-based servers where the War of Conquest game world will be hosted, as well as the servers that will host the download files.
- Launch Marketing: It will be important to make sure enough potential players are aware of the game to create the critical mass of players needed to populate the map and make it a fun experience, so getting the word out there early will be critical.
The contributions of Kickstarter backers are essential to making War of Conquest a success. I set the campaign goal at $7000 because this is what I estimate would be the minimum needed to meet the above costs. The greater the amount beyond that we can raise, the higher the quality of the finished game!
With fourteen different tiers, there’s a wide range of different rewards for backers to choose from. Each tier features some combination of the following individual rewards:
E-mail updates: Every week or two until the game launches, I’ll be sending out e-mail updates to all backers with behind-the-scenes pictures and info, and reports on how development is progressing.
Your name included in the credits: Your name (or whatever you’d like to be called, as long as it’s family-friendly) will be listed in the in-game credits, forever a part of War of Conquest itself!
Opportunity to participate in alpha/beta testing: A few months before release, War of Conquest will be opened up to a select group of initial players to test it out, find bugs, and fix game balance issues. This will start with a small first group of alpha testers, and then expand to a larger group of beta testers. Backers who choose this reward guarantee that they will be on the list of players invited to participate in these early testing phases.
Credits (in-game currency): Upon release of the game to the public, backers with this reward will receive their allotment of credits to the nation of their choice. While credits are not necessary to enjoy War of Conquest and play it competitively, they will let you purchase power-ups that can speed your nation’s advancement, customize your nation’s appearance, and more. Once the game launches, credits will be available for purchase at a rate of 500 for $4.99 USD, 1200 for $9.99, 2500 for $19.99, or 7000 for $49.99. Note that credits are not refundable for cash, or transferable between nations or players.
Reserve the player name of your choice: For both the testing phase and the public release of the game, you will be able to reserve your preferred player name before play begins. Names must be family-friendly. If multiple backers attempt to reserve the same player name, the one with the higher reward tier gets first choice after both backers are given the chance to increase their tier (see FAQ).
Reserve the nation name of your choice: For both the testing phase and the public release of the game, you will be able to reserve your preferred nation name before play begins. As with player names, nation names must be family-friendly. If multiple backers attempt to reserve the same nation name, the one with the higher reward tier gets first choice after both backers are given the chance to increase their tier (see FAQ).
Advances Chart: A poster-sized chart showing the full War of Conquest advances tree -- all of the technological advances that a nation can acquire as it moves forward in the game. The three-branched tree shows all the Tech, Bio and Psi advances, as well as the dependencies between them, so you can look at the big picture and plan how your nation will progress.
Steel and crystal model of the Orb of Destiny: An 80mm (3 inch) tall model of one of the most coveted objects on the landscape, the Orb of Destiny. Upon the golden polished stainless steel base, covered in mysterious ancient hieroglyphs, rests a sparkling quartz crystal Orb. This limited edition model was custom designed and 3D printed for the War of Conquest Kickstarter campaign. The ultimate desktop decor for the War of Conquest fan!
Sandstone and crystal model of the Orb of Destiny: Similar to the steel and crystal model, but the base is composed of golden hued sandstone. An 80mm (3 inch) tall model of one of the most coveted objects on the landscape, the Orb of Destiny. Upon the sandstone base, covered in mysterious ancient hieroglyphs, rests a sparkling quartz crystal Orb. This limited edition model was custom designed and 3D printed for the War of Conquest Kickstarter campaign.
Polymer and crystal model of the Orb of Destiny: At 32mm tall (1.25 inches) this model is smaller than the others, but having one sitting on your desk will be just as effective at reminding you where your War of Conquest nation is headed! Upon the yellow polymer base rests a sparkling quartz crystal orb. Custom designed and 3D printed for this Kickstarter campaign.
Design a custom skin for your nation: Here’s your chance to forever set your nation apart among War of Conquest players. War of Conquest will feature nation skins that show up as a repeating pattern across all territory occupied by a particular nation. While the game will come with a variety of different skins that any player can use, you will have the opportunity to design your own nation skin that only your nation, among the thousands on the map, will be able to flaunt! Nation skin designs are 64x64 grayscale images that work by lightening or darkening your nation’s chosen color. You can design the image yourself or enlist an artistic friend to help you out. You can even use a photograph. Design must be family-friendly, and free of copyright restrictions.
Record an animal call sound effect: The War of Conquest world is vast and wild, and every so often as you traverse the map you may hear a bird in the distance, or some other feral creature. One of those strange beasts could be you! With this reward, you will have the opportunity to record yourself making a wild animal call. You’ll have a lot of creative freedom to do what you’d like, with some guidelines from me to make sure it doesn’t sound entirely out of place in the game. I will then add the sound to the game’s roster of animal noises that are heard every so often during gameplay. Be a part of the War of Conquest world!
Become a backer!
- Tell your family, friends and anyone you know who might want to see a huge open-world realtime strategy game like this become a reality. Post about it on Facebook and Twitter, on game sites and message boards. Skywriting and messages in bottles might help too. Let’s get the word out!
- Be sure to give us your thoughts and feedback in the project’s comments section.
- Follow War of Conquest on Twitter, Facebook and at warofconquest.com!
Risks and challenges
Programming for War of Conquest is almost complete, and a lot of the art has already been finished. Given that we meet the Kickstarter goal and the project is funded, the remaining costs will be able to be covered and only a few months of work and testing will separate War of Conquest from launch.
While there’s every reason to have confidence that War of Conquest will launch, one area of uncertainty is the timeline. Game development projects are notorious for taking longer than expected. In order to avoid compromising on quality, I intend to wait until War of Conquest is fully ready before releasing it.
My current estimated schedule is to begin testing in the Fall of 2017 and release War of Conquest to the public in late 2017 or early 2018. Depending on what changes are necessary as a result of testing, and on the time involved in balancing the game mechanics, that estimate may grow some.
But the good news is that the majority of development is complete, so even if delays do come up I expect that War of Conquest will ship for Windows in early 2018, and for iOS and Android shortly thereafter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)