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A Questionable Reinstall – Business Sims and Me

August 22nd, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

As I browsed my collection last night, I thought it would be fun to reinstall Trade Empires. This historical business sim from Frog City via Eidos never grabbed me, but I hadn’t played a business sim in a while and just wanted to control some camels.

It still doesn’t grab me and will probably be off the hard drive by tonight. I have to install some Falklands War thing, anyway.

For a while I wondered whether it was the lack of real combat in the game. The multi-family scenarios aren’t especially cut-throat. The AI doesn’t seem to have much interest in cornering the ivory market and there are always lots of open towns that will buy my goods. The difficulty level for scenarios seems based on little more than how far apart the resources are.

The Railroad Tycoon games, on the other hand, are business sims with bite. Machiavelli/Merchant Prince, too. In the former you have aggressive rivals who think nothing of buying up any free stock and forcing you into early retirement – without a Golden Parachute, to boot. The latter had mercenaries you could hire to force open recalcitrant towns. You could murder rival politicians.

Most of the lighter Tycoon fair doesn’t thrill me. Your only real opposition is the ornery crowd of consumers who are never happy. In short, I need my business sims to play like wargames. Everything must be to the death.

I suppose this is a flaw in my character, or another gaming blindspot of mine. The accumulation of wealth for the sake of wealth means nothing to me. I need to use that wealth to crush people under my foot.

Except in city-builders, where I prefer the whole sandbox thing with no goals or necessary end state.

I’m complicated.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • steve

    Trade Empires is a seriously easy game, but I found it strangely interesting. It wasn’t a great game, or maybe even a good one, but I was just mesmerized by the sound of coinage, and the satisfaction of a perfect–and highly profitable–trade route.

    I think one of my criticisms was exactly as you mentioned, the lack of competition. Ooh, I found my 3-star review: “It’s hard to explain its overall appeal—it’s a lot of clicking, looking at things, tweaking routes, and clicking a little more. And as with most of these types of games, it’s oddly compelling in an Excel spreadsheet kind of way.”

  • Troy Goodfellow

    I don’t get compelling. You are right about the charm factor – the sound, the music, etc. Really cute.

    But I can’t really bring myself to play a scenario through to the point where the really complex production chains start showing up.

    3 stars sounds about right, but a lot of that is charm and my weakness for the people who made Imperialism.