Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another game done

So, because I'm a lazy bum, I was up till 2AM last night playing Entrepreneur, by Stardock Games, which was published in 1996. This is a game that I started once upon a time, I don't even remember how long ago, then picked back up, then decided to start a new game, then put back down, then picked back up months later, and then forgot about till last night. Continue for my (kinda crappy) review.

Entrepreneur is a game where you try to develop a monopoly for a certain product in a certain region. The product and region are both chosen when you start a new game. You can choose from among 3 products: Cars, Cola, and Computers. The region is also chosen at this time, my version (I don't even remember how long ago I got it) has 12 different regions to choose from, including two maps of the world, and one of the US, among others). Your other choices upon starting a game include picking a specialty: Manufacturing (make things faster), Marketing (make better/more ads), and Engineering (research faster); naturally I choose Engineering. Then you can name your company and CEO, choose what color your company will be represented by, select difficulty, how many and what names your opponents will have, and finally, how much money each company starts with.

After making your decisions and continuing on, you are taken to the main game screen, which has a number of windows explaining the various sections. This is a good intro, and means that in principle you need not find a manual for the game. The only problem you run into if you can;t find a manual is if you come back to the game after months of not having played, but the main play area is fairly self explanatory, and you can start a new game to see these help windows, then quit, if you remember about them. These help windows pop up each time you go to a new screen as well, so that you're not left in the dark when starting a new game.

The gameplay is fairly simple, mainly consisting of moving sales executives from one region to another in order to boost the sales of your product there. Of course, there are other ways to boost sales, as well, such as marketing campaigns, which can either hype your product or put down another company's product. Naturally, you can also change the price that you're selling at, make it lower, and you'll have more demand, in general, just as expected. The game map is broke up into regions (for the world it's generally countries, for the US it's states). In order to be able to sell products in a region, you have to investigate that region in order to determine what people there want. You start off the game with a single site (place where you can build structures in order to manufacture, research, etc) and sales exec., and only that region investigated. In order to investigate a region, you select it from the map, pay a fee (that depends on the map being played and the size of the region), and wait a few weeks. Once the region has been investigated, it will no longer have question marks covering it, but will be colored to reflect the stats you choose.

Now what consumer is happy with the same product month after month, year after year? In order to spice things up a bit, you can build engineering labs in order to research upgrades to your product. These upgrades are specific to your product, and change various aspects of it. for example, if selling computers, you can upgrade space required, reliability, aesthetics, manufacturing cost and time, performance, ease of use, and a few others. Each of the different components can be upgraded in this way, such as the ram, graphics card, cpu, hard drive, among others. The case can also be changed, starting with a full tower, and proceeding to a mini tower, desktop, and finally laptop. The aesthetics and manufacturing cost decrease as you upgrade these, along with the available space.

The other main facet of gameplay is the existence of direct action cards. These cards can turn the tides of the game, from making the government take anti-trust actions against another company, to inciting one region to completely boycott a company's product. You obtain one card at the end of each year, and can only play it if you control the necessary resources, which are scattered around the map and are obtained by winning market share in that region.

There are two ways that you can win, either make all the other companies go bankrupt, or obtain a certain percentage of total market share (which differs, depending on how many companies are currently in play). Usually, in the course of the game a few companies will go bankrupt before you can even get close to the required market share, so it can take a little while.

All in all, Entrepreneur is a fun game that can help to while away the hours, as long as you don't care too much about graphics and sound (the game is from 1996, after all). I think next, I'll try Stardock's follow-up: The Corporate Machine.


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  2. You, an engineer? Betrayer!

    I did the same thing with "Black and White." When I finally picked it up again, I got to a level where they burned my entire village to the ground, constantly rained lightning bolt upon everything, then shrunk my creature. Never finished that game for some reason.