Welcome To The Imagine Nations Universe!
So What Is Imagine Nations?
Playing as a legendary swordsman in an adventure game, you are told about a war going on, and see some soldiers at a rampart, but never get to understand how the flow of battle rages around you further than your own line of sight. You’re in a supposedly huge town, but find most of the houses painted onto the background, inaccessible. You can punch through tanks, but are stopped from exploring by waist-high fences. You can sell thousands of things to a merchant, but never actually be one, yourself.
Playing as a monarch in a strategy game, you might rule dozens of towns, but each one is nothing but the same granaries or factories in a list of buildings. You can’t distinguish one town from another. You can send hundreds of soldiers to their deaths, but never lift a finger yourself, but to point where the soldiers go.
Step beyond these boundaries and waist-high fences into a game world with no limits. If the computer-controlled characters can do it, you can too. And if you can do it, so can those computer-controlled characters.
Welcome to Imagine Nations, a game that bridges these disparate genres, from saving the world by killing a horde of vicious monsters to making a killing in the market, and lets you slide between the scales of the grand strategies of nations to individuals doing their daily shopping.
Don’t think small, Imagine Nations!
Imagine Nations is a sandbox game which simulates a whole universe around the player, and then lets the player choose to fit into that universe however they wish.
Imagine Nations is a game based on voxel cubes, like Minecraft or Cube World. When you start a new game, a new voxel universe is created. You start on the face of a procedurally generated cubic planet. This planet face is finite (but large enough you would never feel cramped), but the universe itself is infinite, filled with planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies, should you ever get the means to travel the stars.
Like many voxel games, Imagine Nations lets you alter the landscape by excavating or placing blocks freely. You can chop trees, mine for resources, build houses, or whatever structures your heart desires… provided you aren’t doing it on someone else’s private property.
Unlike many voxel games, however, Imagine Nations doesn’t restrict the purposeful rearranging of the landscape down to just the player. Cultures of simulated lives are the focus of Imagine Nations, and they build towns and nations for their communal good or individual ambitions. With or without player input, cultures advance their own interests, raise empires, or fall to ruin. They may be friend, foe, neutral, or long since gone before the player ever discovers them.
Imagine Nations is a world that operates even when the player isn’t looking. Changes are persistent: Creatures live in “lairs” that can be wiped out by player actions, and a player choice to exterminate whole species can result in extinction. Ecosystems are simulated, so deforestation or extinctions can have far-reaching consequences. Meanwhile, a player choice not to do anything about dangerous creatures can lead to towns or player properties being overrun by monsters.
Imagine Nations is fundamentally a game about cultures. Rather than waiting for the player to do all the important actions and push the plot along, cultures are made of sentient creatures that build their towns with or without you. The birth, death, and struggles in between of their towns and nations are the focus of the game, but the player always can find a place to become an important part of the action.
Raise a tiny tribe to a great empire, or smash an empire to dust. Do both at once by leading the armies of a rising empire against an established one.
The towns and nations of cultures have many needs, not all of which involve war with one another, however. They farm, mine, and cut timber. They build and they trade. They explore the world beyond, and look inwards for internal improvement or bickering dissent. They create families and celebrate holidays. They scheme and betray their families and their neighbors.
The player can be a part of any or none of these things.
When you start playing, you create your own custom race, and start the game in a culture of similar creatures. You aren’t stuck to just humans or elves, the races you can create range from humans to sentient birds to crab-people to stranger amalgamations, still.
Players build their culture with body parts, such as different heads, which change the way that cultures think and react to the world around them, as well as affect how capable they are at different tasks. The thundering hooves of nomadic centaur-like cultures may rumble above the heads of a subterranean mole-person culture in their cavern homes.
The player isn’t bound to their starting culture, either. They can choose to go off into the horizon, never to return. You may find your place among a different people, or forever roam alone.
Imagine Nations is a game that bridges the distance between a lone actor and the leader of a whole nation. Warriors may put down their swords to pick up plowshares, and farmers may put down their plowshares to start up a new profitable corporation.
The scale slides with the player - as a leader, you can order new buildings constructed, then go to take place in the construction, manually. See a world map where you can coordinate the movements of your armies one moment, then drop back down to a personal level to fight off assassins come to take your head the next moment. Build castles and then defend them, or worse, have to reclaim them if the enemy has taken them from you.
Players can participate in combat on a personal and a grand scale. Be a loyal soldier defending your culture or nation, or be a freelancing mercenary or “adventurer” loyal only to your own ideals or whoever pays the most. Players can build structures by hand, blueprint them so that workers build their structures for them, be a mayor that zones towns for construction by blueprints, or national leaders that seek to expand and enrich their nations. Players can be merchants, craftspeople, farmers, miners, or any other trade in town they choose. They can play the game of politics on a national level, or the personal one. Players can even be explorers or nomads, and have little structure in their lives beyond what they choose to do when they wake up each morning.
Players can take on any of the following roles:
- An explorer and pioneer that scouts new lands and sets up homesteads
- A classic RPG freelancing adventurer doing quests for whomever they feel
- A soldier in defense of their culture or nation, fighting on the front lines in FPS fashion
- A military officer, orchestrating the defense of a nation in RTS fashion
- A farmer, miner, or craftsperson, working a peaceful trade for the betterment of their town
- A thief stealing for the betterment of their wallet
- A merchant, running factories and trade between towns for wealth and status
- An engineer who crafts new blueprints to solve problems in radical new ways
- An architect that makes a living designing and building fantastic structures
- A mayor that oversees the well-being and expansion of their town
- A national political leader that coordinates town actions for the good of a whole nation, or your unrelenting ambitions
- A political kingmaker that operates as the power behind the throne
- A passive observer of what goes on in town
- A schemer or prankster who just tries to see what happens when you introduce a little chaos into simulated life
- Forge your own role in Imaginary life. Don’t let us tell you how you can play. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.
The player isn’t limited to just one of these, either. Players may well find that having skills in just one role won’t get them through all the situations they face, or just may simply be too humdrum. Order the expansions your town needs as a mayor, but while those construction projects are underway, grab your sword, and clear out that nearby dungeon that’s been bothering you. You might be a general, but feel that the weapons and siege engines you have aren’t adequate, so work as an engineer to design your own.
Scaling is not just a matter of whether you are playing as an freelancing adventurer on your own or a mayor, scaling applies to cities, armies, and businesses, as well.
Being mayor of a tiny hamlet of a few homesteads is a very different one from being mayor of a bustling metropolis. It’s easy to become mayor of a hamlet, you can know and interact with every person to get them to like you and support your mayorship, but cities can be huge, and the citizens become a faceless blur. Factions rise in importance, and you need to work with faction leaders to manage and mobilize their followers. How do you keep those all-important faction leaders on your side, however?
As a business manager or military leader, you’ll probably only handle so many direct subordinates. A CEO of a major corporation won’t want to run the daily operations of every factory, so you can hire managers as you grow. Military officers promote subordinates to oversee the training of the actual recruits. The larger your business or command becomes, the more and more you need to rely upon the skills of managers, who take over the tasks of daily management so you can focus on the broader goals… But can you trust them to be both competent and loyal? Those managers may have agendas of their own. The larger the scale, the more the game may require skills in office politics.
Characters have no classes restricting what skills they can learn. Players have skills and stats that are trained through use. However, training alone isn’t the only factor in how much potential you have in any given skill, your culture and your character’s education and upbringing give major life-long bonuses to different types of skills or stats.
These skills range from standard action RPG skills for combat, but also various crafting and social skills. Since there is no demand you have combat skills or level up by fighting, you can explore skills purely for how much they can help you manage a business or give you social bonuses.
You don’t need to worry that time spent being a mayor or a merchant is somehow time “wasted” when it comes to gaining combat skills, either: There are always ways to turn being socially well-connected into combat power, or, for warrior-types, ways to use combat prowess to gain some social connections with the right people. A moderately experienced warrior with merchant or alchemist training may make up for a lack of combat skill with better equipment or a satchel full of expendable potions.
Imagine Nations is also a game that doesn’t “rubber band” its creatures. Creature lairs have creatures of a given level, whether you’re ready for them or not. You can live a pacifistic life, trusting in the local soldiery to rise to the challenge of keeping hostile creatures at bay, but going into the wilds, you take your chances.
But where the challenge is greater, so is the reward. Dangerous areas and dungeons with monsters “above your level” have treasures above your level, as well. Cleverness and stealth might prevail where brute force does not.
Blueprints let players go beyond just placing blocks on existing terrain. Blueprints let players create recreatable and even mass-producible designs.
Want to build a car? Don’t just get stuck with a few pre-set designs, you can make your own. This doesn’t just mean taking an existing car, and throwing extra blocks on top if you want, however. You can start by building your own engine design.
This works with “Core Blocks”. Core blocks are special types of blocks that perform specific tasks. Some core blocks change the mode of the game you are playing. (For example, the mayor’s desk will change you from normal mode to the mayor’s mode, where you can give orders as the mayor.) Other core blocks are machines that perform specific functions. With blueprints, you can “zoom in” to lay out the insides of different machines, then “zoom out” so that complicated machinery fits inside the space of a single block.
Because core blocks can miniaturize machinery, you can build vehicles, mechanized building parts like elevators, factory machines, and more on small or grand scale… and with blueprints, order them mass-produced.
Become a merchant selling your own designs. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to buy what you have to sell.
The culture you start the game in is at a primitive technological level. Hunt and gather for food effectively, however, and beyond mere survival lies thriving in your world. Cultures advance through technological ages, down branching paths. Lead your culture to a utopic future, or a dystopic cyberpunk future.
Imagine Nations is a game of sword and sorcery… or not. There are multiple fields of “science” in Imagine Nations, and cultures or whole universes can follow strict science as we see it, but also “magical science”, where technology is advanced by refining techniques, gaining esoteric knowledge of the nature of magic, and being able to get reproducible, science-like results from magic. Stranger sciences still may involve creatures capable of adapting the bodies of their culture members to fit the tasks at hand. Alien creatures may simply grow biological weapons and unnaturally select more powerful “technologies” from their bodies.
Not just technological ages will change. Characters age and die. Player characters change with generations down a dynasty, as well. Rather than start anew, however, they pass down a legacy to each successive generation. Plan well how to teach or who should teach your children, and they will gain affinities for different skills and talents for when you transition to your new life.
Towns are made of various factions that represent the “movers and shakers” of the town. These may be political leaders, business interests, cultural or religious figures or movements, or just popular sentiments or notable people. Citizens of the town have loyalties to these various factions that determine which leaders they listen to. Factions represent who inspires them, the groups they identify with, and the ideals they adhere to.
Factions are the quest-givers in Imagine Nations, and frequently are out to hire someone who can solve the problems their town, business, or guild faces.
The quests of Imagine Nations are not just arbitrary “kill x number of those things” quests. Quests are often reactions to the changing state of the world. When a town is low on resources, they’ll give out quests to return to them with what they need. Quests to kill dangerous creatures are more profitable and garner more respect the closer those creatures encroach upon the town, and threaten its citizens. Whether these quests are accomplished in time or not have real consequences: Don’t bring food to a town in famine, and there won’t be much town left pretty soon.
Factions are the core of social life in Imagine Nations. Becoming popular with factions by doing quests is one way to gain status and social standing in town. Being a reliable ally of a faction gets you the respect of the followers of that faction, which can lead to business opportunities, a chance to run for office, or being hired or promoted through the ranks of an organization.
However, it’s not just quests. You can give gifts to people, or perform social activities. Buy the other workers in town a few rounds, and you’ll soon go from stranger in town to toast of the town.
It goes beyond just business transactions, as well. Find someone you like, start a family, and have children. Forge lifelong friendships, and get reliable allies or partners. Even start your own faction if you get followers loyal to you, and try leading them to found new towns or business ventures.
Not everyone in town is of one mind about anything, and factions are far from always working towards mutually beneficial goals. Powerful people may bribe or blackmail for influence, and the player can assist or investigate these efforts. The powerless and oppressed, meanwhile, may cause civil unrest if they are pushed too far.
Will you bring harmony to your culture by bridging the differences between people, or try to profit from sewing strife to divide and conquer those in the way of your rise to power? Do you champion the weak, in spite of the risks of opposing the powerful, or make a quick buck helping the rich fight each other? Does the fate of the culture matter to you, or will you just loot this town for all its worth before skipping town for the next one down the road?
Narrative elements are special events, people, or places that are added to the simulated worlds to help the player feel their place in a story going on around them.
These can be events, even catastrophic events, like a plague or earthquake, or invasions from space aliens. These can give the player the opportunity to rise to the occasion as a hero… or deviously exploit the opportunity?
The kings of two nations once at war decide to cement a new peace with a political marriage. However, the prince of one nation goes missing, and rumors say he is trying to elope with another woman before the marriage can take place. The king of the other nation threatens a return to war if his daughter is insulted in such a way. Will the player intervene? How will the player intervene, at that? You might gain prestige and gratitude from the populace for ensuring peace, but a cunning merchant could make a killing as a war profiteer if you ensured war.
They can also be the story hooks of adventures, and the starting point of many different quests.
The dark tower on the hill was the abode of a deranged once-great alchemist, whose creations still roam the halls, and where the dead find no rest. Did the alchemist succeed in the dark rituals in the quest for immortality, or just destroy himself trying? What would you do with the knowledge the alchemist had? Do you purify the land of this corruption, or seek to gain immortality, yourself?
Narrative elements may borrow from well-known stories or tropes, but the player can always get true freedom in determining how the story actually ends.
A mighty demon unsealed after aeons steals some of the flames of the Sun, and threatens to scour the land in fire. He claims his fires ensure no mortal weapon can harm him. Legends say the demon’s only weakness is a weapon made of the dew from a magic tree, and forged by the greatest smith of the land into a blade of pure magic. The legendary smith, however, won’t accept just any customer, and demands any who want his services to prove their worth.
Unlike other games, however, the player isn’t forced to follow a linear path to a specific conclusion. The player can “resolve” the problem in any number of ways:
- An adventurer may go and find the materials and convince the blacksmith to make the weapon, and fight the demon personally, and be known around town as “the Demonslayer” from then on…
- But another player may be a merchant, a captain of the guard, mayor, or just one adept at social skills who manages the efforts of others to bring the story to its conclusion. Will the people let the player take the credit just for directing the work? They may come away known as “The Silvertongue”.
- The player may be such an accomplished warrior they don’t even need to exploit a weakness. In toe-to-toe battle, the player emerges victorious against the seemingly superior foe, and the stunned masses refer to the heroic warrior as “the Sunpuncher”.
- The player may have become such an accomplished craftsperson that they don’t even need the help of a legendary smith. They happened to have some of that dew from earlier expeditions, and just craft that magic blade on the spot, which they give to the greatest champion in the land to fight the demon. From then on, the player is now “the Legendary Smith”, and the previous smith is forgotten.
- A more devious player decides to sell fake magic dew or wards against the sun-stealing demon to profit from the fear of the common people. After making a quick killing, the player had better get out of town before the ruse is discovered, or the demon invades from not being stopped. Such a player would probably hope nobody actually does remember them, or the names they would be called likely wouldn’t be very flattering.
- The player may simply decide it’s time to pack up and leave. After all, if the sun-stealing demon doesn’t burn down your town, then the problem’s resolved as far as you’re concerned, right?
- Actually, the player is from a culture at a technological age far more advanced than any the demon remembers from before being sealed. When the sun-stealing demon boasted about the uselessness of “mortal weapons”, that didn’t take into account that you can order in orbital bombardments. Turns out wreaths of flame don’t stop particle accelerator beams.
The Imagine Nations team will be working to bring a steady stream of new narrative elements to the players, keeping things fresh, interesting, and possibly surprising.
Share your experiences and alternate solutions you come up with to the challenges in the narratives, and your stories can help shape the next narrative elements that are written.
Imagine Nations will support LAN and private servers. Share your world with friends (or strangers) to see how you impact each other’s simulated lives.
Depending upon the success of the game, we also hope to offer a “Persistent World” public server, where people can upload their worlds, and travel from their world to someone else’s, and see what wonders others have wrought.
Because Imagine Nations is a game that lets players take a path of management or hands-on activity, of violent or passive activity, destructive or constructive activity, players of wildly different interests can work towards common goals.
One player can be a mayor, building and zoning for the needs of a town, and advancing their career through backdoor politics, while another player is an adventurer, working to solve the problems the town faces with might of blade and sorcery. The mayoral player can work to ensure the town always has merchants and smiths providing the best tools at low prices to the adventurer, while the adventurer keeps things running smoothly for the mayor.
One player is a general, watching over the grand sweep of battle, while another is a soldier, fighting on the front lines, personally turning the tide of battle.
One player is a merchant, running the operations of a business, while another is the engineer, designing the widgets the company will sell.
With enough players, you can run whole player-run towns or corporations.
Alternately, compete against one another. Take up jobs as generals of rival nations, and see who can emerge as the last culture standing. Become business rivals, and try to corner the market and shame your competition with your wealth. Or just fight it out the old-fashioned way with your fists.
Blueprints are an opportunity for players to trade more than just resources in-game, as well. If you draft up plans for a grand palace or skyscraper or starship, you can sell those plans to other players.
Put your blueprints on the market, or make factories that sell the objects you blueprinted, and you might find players in multiplayer willing to trade in your personally-designed vehicles or buildings.
Our “Imaginator” toolkit will be available from within the game launcher, itself. The tools we use to build the game will also be the tools you have access to so that you can modify the game to your heart’s content.
Make your own natural resources, missions, skills, spells, narrative elements, creatures, or even design whole new types of planets to explore. You can alter existing or import your own models to make whole new species of creatures you can play as or fight against. Make the whole game a survival horror genre, with hostile creatures swarming from every angle, or eliminate the cultures to make players have to survive only on what they, themselves can build.
All of this in addition to the in-game blueprint system that lets you build new tools, machines, and vehicles.
You don’t have to do all the work yourself, however. You can download the mods other people make over our servers at the time you want to create a new universe. No need for hunting down mods on 3rd party websites, mods are just a few clicks away from the “start new game” button.