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King of the Nile
What's Children of the Nile all about? It's both a beautiful, detailed simulation of life in ancient Egypt, and a game about ruling Egypt as pharaoh. In my last Design Insight, I wrote about our simulation. Now it's time to let you know just what sort of important pharaoh things you do in Children of the Nile.
My immortality and afterlife
Even a god-king will die and leave the realm of mortals. To properly enter the afterlife, pharaoh must have a tomb prepared- the bigger the better of course. A brick mastaba will do alright for a tomb. A big limestone pyramid is obviously superior. Building a great pyramid in time for your burial is a tremendous achievement, something certain to make your greatness known to the world for eternity.
Woe to the pharaoh that passes away without a tomb. Without a proper burial, there is no passage to the afterlife. The people believe that a god-king without immortality is clearly not much of a god-king. The prestige that a failed pharaoh attained while alive is mostly lost when this happens. The heir, the new pharaoh, will have a lot of hard work to do to make up for that failure.
My Kingdom of Egypt
By divine right, by military might, and by economic strength- you are pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt. From the beginning, through times of civil war, reconstruction, foreign invasion, and expansion outward, it's up to you to guide the development of Egypt.
What is there to do to improve your kingdom? You can send out expeditions to explore beyond your borders, looking for new opportunities and wealth. You can trade with foreign governments for needed resources- trading Egypt's riches in food, gold or papyrus for non-native hardwood, cedar, is a common exchange. There are quarrying and mining camps to set up and supply with food. There are rival nations, lawless raiders, or rebel cities to subjugate- assuming you can build up a sufficient army. Finally, there's often a special project or two that you have in mind for your nation. Properly dredged and irrigated, the marshy Faiyum could be (another) bread basket for the nation. Or maybe a series of walls and forts along the Asian border are needed to defend the kingdom. It's your nation- it's up to you.
My productive citizens
So, you have these grand goals of an enormous pyramid and bringing Nubia under your rule. Clearly, you're going to need some assistance to do all that. You're the god-king of all Egypt, it shouldn't be too hard to find some people that will worship the ground you walk on, and do all this work for you, should it?
It's not too hard to find the people you need, at least initially. Uncivilized villagers are always looking for a better life, and life as a peasant worker in your kingdom is certainly a step up for them. Nobles to run food-producing estates also aren't too hard to attract- you are offering land and peasants to work the land, and all you ask is that they pay you taxes on what they grow. A few educated persons can be convinced to work for a burgeoning leader and be the scribes, priests, overseers, or commanders that you can delegate the actual work to.
But, there's a catch. These peasant workers expect to have food to eat, and at least basic social services available- otherwise, what's the point of working for a living, when they can not work and not lose anything? Nobles are even more needy. They need more farmers to work for them, more healthcare, more temples to Isis, more yachts, more feasts, more this and more that- or they just might move up the river to a different city where a leader can provide for them better.
The educated, elite workers are perhaps the most spoiled. Not only do they expect food, board, spending expenses, and available social services in exchange for them doing your majestic tasks, but it's also hard to get many of them to work for you unless you have a certain level of notoriety. The more famous and powerful you are, the more deputies you can have.
You are constantly working to make sure the nobles aren't dissatisfied, so that they'll stay in your city and pay their taxes of food. Then, you can use this food to feed and pay the many workers you need to build your tombs and monuments and produce the supplies you need to improve your kingdom. There are also the magnificent tombs, fabulous statues of yourself, and glorious achievements around the kingdom that you are constantly making, so more of the picky educated workers are willing to work for you.
Goals of the game
That's what it means to be pharaoh in Children of the Nile. You need immortality, you want to rule all of Egypt (and beyond sometimes), and, you have to convince these pesky, selfish Egyptians to help you achieve these goals. Who said being pharaoh was easy?
-Tony Leier (10/7/2004)