What is Imperia?

PREMISE
Imperia is a 4X game where you have just reached your majority as an 18-year old trying to rebuild humanity's old empire after a cataclysmic war forced humanity to move to a new quadrant of the galaxy. It is over 1000 years later and you are thrust into a position where after a string of weak emperors, planetary viceroys, system and sector governors, and scheming Primes (basically cabinet heads) are all looking forward to taking advantage of your inexperienced and timid rule.

But you have no such intentions.

You were born with a strange ability: to read the minds and thoughts of others. It is not always perfect, but when it works, it is always accurate. As a leader, this ability is very valuable to determine who you can trust. Your goal, if not in action, is simple: to restore the Empire, to reclaim your standing as Emperor of the known quadrant, and to revive the previously proscribed Lazarus Project, the rumored path to immortal rule.

That is, if you're not killed by your people first… in Imperia, the 5th X is… eXist.

CONCEPTS
In Imperia, you do not have unlimited power. Unlike virtually every other 4X game out there, you can not do anything at anytime. You have a small pool of Admin (ADM) points that you spend to do basically anything, from issuing edicts to communicating with characters in the game to meeting with your cabinets to undertaking personal actions. As you age, your pool will gradually increase, reflecting your increased familiarity with how to 'make things work' as an Emperor.

Edicts are another major difference from other 4X games. In Imperia, you might simply change a planet's name by clicking the button, typing in the name, and that's that. In reality, changing an entire planet's name would have serious repercussions! So what you might have used to simply 'do' in other games now require Edicts. Edicts are laws that you pass to do things like reorganize sectors, change a system or sector capital, build or upgrade starbases, change what a planet produces, etc. Each planet has a certain amount of ADM to use to actually enact the Edict - this will make large projects on small colonies impossible to do unless there is support from its system and sector capital, and perhaps even the Imperial capital! Admin represents all the planning, infrastructure, transport, ships, manpower, etc. to do planet-shaping things, and abstracts nicely the concept while eliminating micromanagement. Also, ADM is tied up until an Edict actually goes into effect/is completed - thus, an Edict that is dragging along and taking much longer than you thought will tie up your government unless you cancel it or speed it along - and both decisions have consequences!

While your word as Emperor is law, there is no way to force how long an Edict actually takes to plan, execute, and complete. And this is where the other major system of Imperia comes in - the character system.

Characters populate Imperia (much like Crusader Kings games) - they have their own stats, age, wealth, traits, and ambitions, like you or me. They can be manipulated to do what you want - perhaps, and you will often find yourself bribing or sweet talking a system governor who is holding up an important economic stimulus in their system, or perhaps calming down a sector governor who you just took away an entire system from to give to a closer sector, or promoting a loyal viceroy all the way to a sector governor who will be absolutely loyal to you - the character system in Imperia is a powerful and immersive aspect of managing your empire. Character stats are hidden from you until you reach a certain intel level (increased from interacting with them, or placing informers to gather information), and even then the number is a wide range until your intel increases sufficiently. This is a problem when a character's loyalty is reported as 88 (out of 100) but it it actually a 41! The rule of thumb: Watch what characters actually do, not what they say. They also gain traits that affect their decisions and relationships with you as they age. They can die and retire, or be 'retired' by you - either by forcing them out of office or by more 'direct' measures. Don't get caught!

You yourself have a starring role as well through Influence. As you make choices through your rule, you will start to gain different types of Influence. Nationalist Influence is the 'good' Influence, which calls to action for your Empire and the pride of humanity. Tyrannical Influence is the 'evil' Influence, which is used to threaten and intimidate characters into doing your will - but using it will have other repercussions. In addition, craven characters will gravitate to emperors who stray into Tyrannical decisions, and vice versa - you may have to make some tough choices about removing (or trying to!) governors who can't stand your alignment!

The game is about less micro and more about making the large-scale decisions that shape an Empire. You will not be building 10 Science Labs to accelerate research; instead you will designate a planet as a Science Conclave and try to install a viceroy that is aligned to the need for research, allowing that planet to grow organically - with a few nudges along the way. You will not be building transports and endlessly clicking materials to go from planet to planet - instead, you will set up trade hubs that serve as collection centers and build starbases of appropriate sizes to move materials and food along from your Imperial capital to sector capitals to system capitals to normal colonies.

From an 'explore' standpoint, no longer do you have to build and design scout ships, set a destination, and micromanage exploration and colonization fleet. Would a real emperor do that? Edicts cover just about everything you would want to do as an Emperor on a exploration level, from surveying new planets and unexplored systems to creating outposts to creating colonies. You just create an Edict on an unexplored planet or system and your people will do the rest (eventually).

As mentioned earlier, planets are not micromanaged. They are very complex entities whose actions are governed in part by their population, the stats of the planet itself, its viceroy, and most importantly its primary designation. All planets have at least one primary designation - examples would be a farming world, a manufacturing center, a heavy military world, a scientific conclave, a prison planet, etc. Designations basically shape how a planet will evolve. Depending on the size of the planet, up to 2 additional 'secondary' designations can also be assigned to more round out a planet's development.

The population of your Empire will ultimately decide whether you live long and prosper (ha) or die at the business end of a pulser. Populations have their own unrest, age, type, job class, popular support, and needs. Each 5000 people are considered one 'pop' (similar to the Victoria system, but much more granular) and they can change jobs, age, die, have kids, migrate to other planets, or even leave your Empire altogether! They can also starve, grow angry, and revolt. In addition, if they are happy with the Empire (and are paid enough) they can be hired as informers on your planet to watch your viceroy and governors stationed on a planet to get to better know their stats… and potentially provide blackmail material!

All of what I have talked about is already in the game. As of now, I have spent about 5 months on it here and there and the game is functional, generally free of errors or bugs (the nasty kind, not always the logic kind) and I am about to release it as a free hobby project on Sourceforge. Right now the game is at version .320b so you can see there is a long way to go. Soon, science, diplomacy, warships, garrisons, events, and plots will be added, as well as eventually other empires - and a alien threat!

So that's Imperia in a nutshell. The story you tell will be all your own.

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