A PC wargame designed by Mark Baldwin and released in 1988 by Interstel. Players vied with one or more human/computer opponents for territorial control. Players captured cities scattered across preset or randomly generated maps, and these cities could be used to produce a variety of military unit types. While simple by today's standards, Empire was a true original and has clearly had a profound impact on the development of today's strategic simulations.

History A cruise around the web reveals some interesting facts about Empire. It seems the earliest version was written for a mainframe by Peter S. Langston in 1972. This was apparently updated by several hands, including Walter Bright in 1978. Baldwin's version for Interstel is an update of this version.

On a personal level, I blew uncounted hours of my time playing Empire in college. I would dearly like to find a copy of the Interstel release, so if anyone has any leads, PLEASE contact me.

An interesting facet of Empire (at least in this day and age) was the multi-player option using a single computer. Empire features a sort of fog of war, where parts on the map you haven't visited are blacked out and enemy units are only visible assuming you have a unit in range.

So discovery of enemy cities and units is an important tactical advantage. To allow for multiplayer gaming on a single PC the game made you take turns on the hotseat. The other players would be expected to turn their backs or leave the room. At the beginning of the game this leads to people swapping in and out fairly quickly as turns last only a few seconds but later on they can last a half an hour or more.

This created an interesting social event. Typically a movie or sports event was being played in another room, while each player cycled in to have their turn. It could make for some good times as you heard cursing in the next room as players discovered what vengenance you had piled on them during their absence.

In todays multiplayer games, this particular flavour no longer quite exists, though conversely you can now play against someone in another country. And admittedly Empire games could be quite the marathon at times. Come to think of it I don't remember ever finishing a game!

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