Crush Your Enemies, Even When They're Not Online, in War of Legends

Greg Tito | 19 Jan 2010 12:30
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You've played real-time strategy games and you might even have played them against other gamers online. But imagine if you painstakingly built your empire, only for it to be sacked while you were at school or at work. You would forge alliances and broker deals with fellow players to guard your city against future attacks, and perhaps create a huge army in order to invade the oppressor's empire. At the same time, that player might also be building his empire and his alliances to defend against that attack. Sound like a fun game? What if I told you it was set in ancient China and ditches the whole fantasy elf and hobbit thing for gritty human swordsmen and charioteers?

Today, Jagex, the creators of RuneScape, have published the first game on their site that was developed by a third-party developer instead of at their offices in Cambridge, UK. War of Legends is a free MMORTS set in ancient China, where players build empires and can pit them against each other. Rob Smith, the chief operating officer of Jagex, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about how War of Legends follows the publisher's credo of creating accessible games while also aiming at a more mature audience.

Just like RuneScape, War of Legends is a completely free, Flash game that allows a player to log in from any computer at any time. But the similarities end there. In War of Legends, you assume control of an empire by building structures to harvest resources and defend your empire from attack. Early on in the game, you are encouraged to take sides in an ongoing power struggle between a ruthless emperor and an upstart king. But even within those opposing sides, there are factions and alliances between player-controlled city-states as they vie for control. The title was created a developer based in Shanghai, China, but Rob Smith couldn't tell me their name because of ongoing legal negotiations for their next game. Nevertheless, the nationality of the creators directly influenced the story behind War of Legends.

"The storyline is set around 1000 B.C. and it's based on the end of Chinese dynasty," Smith said. "It is a very Chinese story and we've been working with the developers since the middle of last year to culturalize the game, and to make it a little more palatable for a Western market. But also for it to stay true to its roots."

"We wanted to bring something different by bringing in an Eastern game with Eastern influences to get something away from the traditional medieval Tolkienesque fantasy genre," said Smith.

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