Emperor of the Fading Suns
|Emperor of the Fading Suns|
|Genre(s)||Turn-based strategy, 4X|
Emperor of the Fading Suns is a science fiction "grand-scale" space strategy computer game made by Holistic Design in 1996. This game was based on Holistic's in-house role playing game Fading Suns. The game had a wide array of units and a complex back-story but was rushed to market and released with numerous severe flaws and several features underdeveloped. In patched form, it survives as a popular abandonware title with numerous unofficial mods.
The game is played on a galactic map and specific planet maps. Planet maps utilize a hexa-grid system for movement. Individual units and buildings take up a single grid space. Several menus handle diplomacy, chat, and documentation.
In the game, you play as a feudal lord of a noble house amongst the ruins of a galactic empire. You must battle other noble houses and rally enough support to be crowned Emperor of the galaxy. You can start as one of five houses; each has its own advantages and disadvantages. During game setup, the player can customize their house, taking some negative traits such as insanity in exchange for more positive traits, like having all your units start out better trained. Each house starts on its respective home planet, and houses starting on temperate planets have an early-game advantage over houses that start on frozen or jungle planets. There are several non-player groups in the game, including the Symbiots, Vau, the Guild, and the Church. In total there are forty-three planets that can be explored, colonized, and fought over.
Diplomacy is handled by a simple trade interface. The player is free to ask for (up to) three things and can then either offer three things or threaten the player three different ways. Besides the other four noble houses, you may also negotiate with the church for votes, ask them to excommunicate another player, or sign the "Holy writ" and admit the supreme authority of the Church. The Merchant League will also negotiate if it is to the benefit of their monetary interests.
The ultimate goal of the game is to become Emperor of the galaxy. Achieving the state of Emperor is difficult. First, one must gain enough votes through diplomacy or by outright theft of "sceptors" (sic) which are worth one vote each, to become Regent. Upon becoming Regent, you can assign three branches of the government forces to houses; these branches are the Stigmata Garrison (a huge fortress and warship fleet on and above Planet Stigmata, dedicated solely to halting the Symbiots from spreading throughout the galaxy by blockading the only jumpgate from the Symbiot worlds to human space), the Imperial Fleet (the remnants of the Imperial Navy, in theory the fleet should be used to maintain galactic peace, defend against Symbiots etc., in reality the Minister can use it for his own devious House purposes), and the Imperial Eye (espionage, a fortress on every noble house's home planet with some special detection equipment that allows you to see a large portion of the planet surface. This, however, tends to be a less powerful a position than it might seem, since it is very much possible to overrun the Imperial Eye installations with a decent sized force, even before a House is appointed to this position). At any time when you are Regent you can declare yourself Emperor; however, once you do, you have to survive ten turns while all the other houses try to eliminate you. Holding the position of Emperor for ten turns secures a win.
During the course of the game you can explore planets to find ancient relics (which give you bonuses), wage war on any other group in the game, or research forbidden technology. Research is a major part of the game, earning new units and buildings; however, there are "forbidden" technologies in the game, as declared by the Church. Researching these will result in the Church sending Inquisitors to your planet, who will subsequently burn your research facilities. Losing all of your research facilities erases all of your technological progress. Owning forbidden technology usually results in very powerful units. You can get nearly any technology declared "forbidden" by the Church, for a price, or even threaten to unleash the Plague on your enemies if they don't comply with your demands.
Five noble houses are vying to claim the emperor's throne. These are House Hawkwood, Hazat, Decados, Li-Halan, and al-Malik. House Hawkwood is just and honorable, and of the five houses is most loved by its vassals. The Hazat are hyper-militaristic, but have the smallest holdings of all the houses; vassals are strongly loyal, for they know that faithful service for the Hazat is richly rewarded. House Decados possesses a vast intelligence network and has risen to power through deceit and ignoble means; vassals of this House are kept in line through fear or the promise of power. House Li-Halan was once the most immoral and hedonistic house, but have since converted to the Church and become zealots; vassals are as loyal to the house as they are to the faith. House al-Malik is focused on economic enterprises, but have acquired some territory and have often succeeded at manipulating enemies to their advantage; some claim that House al-Malik desires a return to the republican government of old, but the house turns a blind eye to the slave trade that has helped them thrive.
The alien Symbiots and Vau are the only alien species that can be interacted with in the game. Neither has a deep diplomatic interface (the Symbiots have none and you may only sell maps to the Vau). The Symbiots are a parasitic organism capable of taking over practically any organic matter. Once infested, the subject is added to a Hive Mind. The Vau are an alien race with highly developed technology and large interstellar empire. Lucky for humanity, they are non-expansionist. The Symbiots are at best aggressive rebels and the Vau (who do not even get a turn) are easily conquered planets.
Hacking and mods
The game uses a series of .dat files to store all the data it needs, such as units, technologies, and other game assets. These files are all in plain-text format, meaning they can be easily edited in any text editor. Editing files in this way can allow the player to build units they normally would not be able to (such as the Vau units, sceptors (sic) or even Inquisitors), build units for no resources, or even allow themselves to have no negative traits. This is considered cheating by many players, although it does make an interesting experience. On the same note, these files can be edited to make player-made "patches" of the game, and there are some very well-crafted mods in existence. These try to fix bugs (unofficial patch) and/or enhance the game by adding new units and balancing out old ones (modding). For example the "Hyperion patch" makes it possible for the Symbiots to build additional organic spaceships, so they are not stranded on their home planet if their initial fleet is destroyed. (Hyperion patch:  Nova patch: )
In 2013, a group of fans released the Reality Mod which fixed all of the major problems in the game, which later was expanded into the "Emperor Wars"  Mod based on the Fading Suns books printed by Holistic Design. A EFS Gaming community is currently located on the Steam Gaming network looking for new players to join.
- Final Frontier scenario of Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword