Preview: Gain reputation, power and wealth in Rise of Venice
I recently attended a Kalypso event in San Francisco to see two new games coming out later this year. Of the two, I was most impressed with Gaming Minds' Rise of Venice, a trading simulation/strategy game releasing for PC on September 27.
One of the developers walked us through most of the details and features of the games; there is far too much depth to cover them all. At first glance, Rise of Venice looks a lot like Port Royale. They're both created by the same developers, but Rise of Veniceis a new IP that was described to us as the direction Port Royale should have gone.
Rise of Venice drops you into the Renaissance era in the 1500s, set in Venice and other cities around the Mediterranean Sea. Since Venice was the linchpin of civilization and the cultural center of Europe, it's where your adventure begins. You play a young man of a mercenary family striving for power, wealth and success as you try to build a trading empire. Starting with one trading ship, you'll have to build a fleet and find success in trading from port to port. There's more to power than just trading spices and goods, though. You'll have to navigate the rough waters of political corruption, and will have to answer to a council of 10 families that hold power.
First off, the game's visuals are an absurd leap in progress from the Port Royale series. It's lush, pretty and is easy on the eyes. Visual effects from world events, which I'll touch on later, add life to the map. The colors are vibrant and you'll enjoy spending time in the bustling Mediterranean. Also, there's a really cool graphic comic-like art quality to the cutscenes. It's almost as if events are being painted before your very eyes.
Rise of Venice's trading simulation system is based on supply and demand. As you create and transport materials and goods, they get consumed by the system, which reacts accordingly to the trades you conduct. Watching Sebastian, the developer, play it, there was an obvious ebb and flow to the system. It looked very dynamic and responsive to the actions of the player.
You'll swap between a city view and sea map view. With a new custom engine built for this game, players are able to seamlessly zoom in and out of city view to sea map view. In city view, you'll be zoomed in on that city where you'll be able to build warehouses and production facilities, in addition to taking out loans, lending money and building your fleet. From the sea map, you'll be able to see everything going on in the 25 cities featured in the game. You'll see trade fleets traveling between cities, your trade routes, and world events like forest fires and volcanoes.
Like I said, you'll start off with just one trade ship and two city trading licenses. City trading licenses are required for each individual city and are purchased in each city. If you want more ships and better items, you'll have to progress and rank up. As you gain access to more ships and cities, you'll have to make smart trades to gain power and wealth. For beginners, it's simple to set up convoy trade routes. You can see from the sea map what each city has and needs. Simply choose a convoy, choose the actions for each city you want on their route and you're good to go. If you're a core gamer, you can get really in-depth and adjust the amount of each trade item/goods and the price of each. You can also set parameters for when to sell them in each city and for what price.
You'll also have to adjust to world events, which you can see from the sea map. For instance, if an earthquake happens near Athens, glass in their building will be shattered. That creates a need. If you're smart and timely, you can supply them with glass for great profit.
This all leads to how you rank up. There is a council of 10 powerful families which you must appease. Politics come into play and you must hold a certain reputation with each one to advance in rank. Each family, complete with their own backgrounds and goals, have missions you can perform for them to gain favor. In addition to missions, you can bribe them, set up a monthly bribe, get them on your side, gain reputation, and hopefully take the council to vote for you to rank up. When you gain votes, you'll get more convoys, power and a higher rank. When you're powerful enough, it is possible to become Doge of the council and influence political decisions yourself.