The Fortress will be a game inspired by the old DOS classic Castles. You can read more about castles at the following pages:
Campaign is a series of territories to conquer by building castles. Each territory has different sets of resources available (possibly introducing trade elements), different enemies, challenges and goals to achieve. Each realm would be to fend off different threats. For example - say [set in England] the Scottish (from the north), the Welsh (west), or the French (South East) would all represent different threats, plus the threat of civil war if people are discontent or given too much freedom.
The campaign progress is shown as a series of in-game animations showing a map with territories being occupied by different parties with some text (and possibly voice) narrative. The Fortress introduces a strategic elements by allowing player to choose realms to invade and build castles in using a Dune2-style map.
There are four difficulty levels in game: Peasant (tutorial level, some tasks are automated), Duke (easiest real game level), Prince and King (toughest level).
NOTE: it's a draft, or rather a braindump of ideas. Everyone is encouraged to criticize it, provide better ideas etc. Forum thread @ Free Gamer is the place for discussions :)
The Fortress offers a classical RTS-style view with main screen and a bar on the left side. Top of that bar is occupied by province overview, then are stats (calendar, resources, labour, warriors etc). Bottom part of sidebar (that should be about 60% of its size) is a context panel showing task-specific tools and information.
Simple interface mockup can be found here
Castle design takes place on the same map as the regular game. The only difference is that by default design mode activates a top-down camera, however player is free to change it to whatever he/she wishes to.
On Peasant level most part (entire??) of a castle design is already done.
Castle labor force
Player should hire laborers to work on a castle. There's a number of specialists (decide on a concrete list). On Peasant and Duke levels player can use advisors to help in hiring the right mix of specialists.
Laborers need to be assigned to their tasks. Since it's a manual process requiring lots of clicking game offers help from master mason (chief of all castle builders). When asked to he'll assign people to right tasks. This feature is available on all game levels, but such assignments will be of average efficiency -- should player choose to do it manually castle construction should follow much quicker. Higher wages will increase labourers' performance.
Each game level is played in a province. Each province has a different set of natural resources available, different local issues and threats. There also may be different goals in each province. (examples?)
There's a province mini-map at the top of a side bar. Minimap shows province outline with locations of castle, villages, quarry, mill etc. Exact list of items is to be decided
There are a number of natural resources that can be obtained from a province.
Not all resources are available in each province so usually player will need to buy missing resources and sell surplus of those available locally.
How trade is performed? Trader arrives? I'd like there to be a need for transport and delay between ordered resources and time they arrive
Castle labourers and warriors need tools and weapons. For this player needs to have a number of craftsmen to do the job.
On easier levels (which exactly? Peasant for sure.) all craftsmen already have their workshops built.
Everyone eats. Player needs to supply food to castle labourers and warriors. Food can be obtained from the villages. (Do we want to enhance food theme -- mills, butchers, bakers etc? I don't think so or else we'll end up with Castle Settlers :P)
- Peasants are the cheapest and weakest forces. They cost nothing to recruit and very little to maintain but are generally a cannon fodder. Moreover recruiting too many people in short time can severly lower your popularity among your people
- basic unit type. They are armored and fight in close combat.
- archers fight on distance. During close combat battle they're almost as vulnerable as peasants.
- knights are elite warriors recruited from the nobles. They can't be hired. Knights will join player if he/she has good reputation and lots of gold.
Player can train warriors and equip them with better weapons. Warriors will also fight better if their wages are higher than average.
Various design notes
- Game will use 3D graphics. It might be a little more difficult but we don't have to create the next greatest graphical spectacle, just basic working 3D graphics can be made to look nice quite easily. This also allows us to improve the graphics later on -- with 2D graphics we'd be stuck with 'old-fashioned' look (not that The Fortress team has anything against 2D graphics ;) )
- Just castles or more buildings? Stronghold is a modern-day equivalent to Castles but it felt more like a city-builder than anything else. There was too much emphasis on the balance of people/structures when it should be more about castle design. There weren't enough limitations making it a repetitive process of just building up your city and making a giant wall. In The Fortress there's going to be more castle-oriented subtleties - thus reducing the emphasis on non-castle structures (however they should still be part of the game)
- Resources? Resource management is an essential part of any game these days. Gold, wood, stone, metal...
- No RPG elements. The Fortress team is a pro-RPG folk but think that mixing RPGs with strategy games is not a good thing. Also we believe that the secret to any successful game/software is to focus on one thing and do it well. As they say, a jack of all trades is a master of none. Because of all this there won't be RPG elements in The Fortress.
- A series of in-game animations showing a map with territories could of course be replaced by cutscenes but that would require having a good and dedicated animation artist. 2D map + narrative is much easier to do. Remember Myth and its mission briefings? I don't know about you but some of them gave me creeps :)
- player can buy everything
- player can build quarry, sand pit, lumbermill, weaponsmith
- weaponsmith produces better swords, armor, arrows
- food can be collected each year or bought when in need
- describe sieges
- Happiness: more settlers when: peace, quickly won battles, long but still won battles, lost battles
- Happiness: taxes, reputation
- Happiness: beer, festivals
- workers: castle builders: masons, workers, people at quarry, sand pit, lumbermill, transportation
- all castle workers can fight (weakly)
- events signalled by sound and messages: attack, battle won/lost, year has passed
- attacks slowly get stronger with time
- describe advisors (rate situation)
- describe counsels/chauncelors (ai helpers)
messengers sometimes ask for things that are not in your interest. Event types:
- mighty wizard offers greek fires