Stardock’s latest game, Sorcerer King, introduces a brand new angle to 4X – a genre which Stardock helped shape with classics such as Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations. We got in touch with Stardock’s Adam Biessener to get some background info before delving into the game for our review – which will follow very soon!
How did the core concept for Sorcerer King come about?
When we looked at the last Elemental game, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, the overwhelming consensus was that its best element was the first third of the game where your heroes are out exploring the map, killing monsters, and leveling up. We thought, “Hey, what if we made a whole game around this?”
Thus the whole idea of an overwhelmingly powerful bad guy that you had to power up your heroes and armies to defeat was born. We then added things that let the player work toward that goal, like a deep crafting and enchanting system for items and equipment, unique heroes with different skills and abilities, and hundreds of quests that pose interesting choices.
You battle a seemingly all-powerful sorcerer king – how do you feel somewhat in control, and not like you’re just being toyed with?
The player has one goal: Kill the Sorcerer King. To do so, you need to expand your empire, craft new items, research new spells, and fight a whole bunch of monsters (for loot and XP, naturally). The trick is to not draw the Sorcerer King’s attention down onto you until you’re ready for it. Realistically, you are being toyed with in the early parts of the game – you’d easily be wiped out if he so much as sneezed at you. The point is to get strong enough that he can’t just push you around however he likes. The moment when you can finally tell him where to shove his demands for obedience is my favorite part of the game.
What did Stardock learn from the Elemental series – an earlier take on the fantasy genre?
Focus. The first Elemental game stumbled because we tried to do too much. Fallen Enchantress introduced some cool systems and content, but its success is due more to focusing in on the best parts of the game and making them better instead of simply adding more stuff for the sake of having more stuff.
Sorcerer King follows that same path: Come up with an idea (save the world from an evil overlord trying to become a god) and build a game around it, rather than having an open-ended do-anything fantasy strategy game.
You’ve put a ton of fan feedback into the game. What are some good examples of this?
Adding in a bunch of ways for players to drop the Doomsday Counter back down is probably the most obvious one. The Doomsday Counter was originally a hard clock on your game – it really only counted up, toward armageddon and defeat, and players felt like they weren’t in control of the game at all. Adding spells, quest options, buildings, and shrines on the map that could be used to drop it back down made the whole system feel much more interactive and less punishing.
Our thanks for Adam Biessener for his insights – stay tuned for our Sorcerer King review!