Do you know how to make a million bucks as a neophyte industrialist?
I do. It’s easy, really: you start with 5 million bucks!
It seemed easy enough, at first. I had arrived in my new country at just the right time - there were small towns, each having at least some manufacturing or retail marketing, but the surrounding countryside was wide open. Just for the cost of a building permit, I could launch any endeavor within my admittedly limited capabilities. Without any competitors, what could go wrong?
So, with self-confidence and a decent bankroll, I decided to find a town that had needs that I could fulfill. It didn’t take long to find a town that had a farm market that was desperate for apples. With plenty of water and open fields surrounding the town, it should have been a simple matter to start an apple orchard. And you know what? It wasn’t hard at all. It took a little longer than it needed to, though. I decided that I didn’t want to be dependent on the town’s wholesaler who would have gladly sold me the water that I needed to keep the trees growing. Instead of paying them for water, I decided to simply collect it from the ponds near my orchard.
That didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Being new at the water harvesting business, I made a few bad decisions in the locations of my water plants. I built one next to a pond that turned out to be too small to be efficient. I also built one too far from the edge of the pond to allow the maximum number of pumps. In cases like that, I had to destroy my first installations and try again. That wasted quite a bit of my capital right up front. Another consequence of having to move the water plants to better locations was the increased costs of building longer roads to get all of my properties and utilities connected.
Still, despite being a bit sloppy in my early efforts, it wasn’t long before I had not only one apple orchard but a total of three. And that’s not even counting the orchards I built to grow oranges and grapes. As the red numbers in my balance sheets turned green, I was relieved to see that I was no longer hemorrhaging money and that I was actually turning a profit! Enthused by my success, I looked for other areas to expand into. That was right around the time I built a lumber yard to feed timber to my carpentry shop, which was turning out furniture bases at a prodigious rate. The only problem with that was my own failure to fully research market demands; while I had a warehouse full of furniture bases, there was no one to buy them.
Having learned my lesson, I did better research before launching my next endeavor. This time around, I stayed more or less in my farming wheelhouse: I built cow and sheep farms. Beef, leather, yarn, and whatever they call sheep meat once you decide to eat it - I had all of that flowing out of my ranches. Naturally all of that stuff needed to go to market, but there was just the one nearby and it was just about flooded with the things I was making. I had to branch out to other markets, despite the fact that they were pretty far away. That increased my delivery costs, of course, but what could I do?
One day while I was sitting in my plush office watching all of the energy and effort going into my businesses with a glow of pride, I happened to take a glance at my balance sheets. I had been so busy building new things that I had neglected to pay attention to things like apple orchards which, one could say, formed the ‘core’ of my empire. While it was nice to see fields colored a uniform red from all of the apple trees, it was not at all pleasant to see the same ubiquitous red in my financial accounting.
I was going broke!
It didn’t take long to see why: the market for fruit was flooded! No one was buying anything, while I was still spending massive amounts of money to grow stuff. Stuff that I couldn’t sell, at least without making major investments in logistics, a realm I know very little about.
With all of those challenges mounting up, I did the only thing I could think of to get myself out of this mess: I quit.
It was easy to quit because, as you know, it was just a game. Rise of Industry, under development by Dapper Penguin Studios, is an Early Access title that puts you in the position to either succeed or fail as a budding industrialist. The mechanics of it are pretty simple so it’s easy to build your way through a fairly deep tech tree. There are four areas of interest in the tech tree: farming, gathering, logistics, and industry. While you may specialize in one or two of them, you will have to be at least passingly conversant in the rest if you want to build your own industrial empire.
While the actual development of your businesses is quick and easy, the management of them is anything but. If my experience is any indication, you will have to spend a lot of time paying attention to your local markets. You will also have to be knowledgeable of areas outside of your own expertise and skill sets. You may even find that once you have had a taste of logistics, for example, you might find that you prefer it over, say, farming.
No matter what you end up focusing on, you also will have to play the role of CEO when working with local governments. Some local politicians will insist that you keep your farms and factories far outside of their town limits. If you choose to ignore their objections, they will punish you with higher taxes and lower prices for your products. You also need to be cognizant of the local environment lest you destroy your own raw materials and natural resources. It’s a lot to pay attention to, and the costs of failure are large. If that’s not enough to give you ulcers, keep in mind that success breeds competition. There’s nothing stopping a town from investing in developing their own industries if they feel that they can succeed in shutting you down.
Rise of Industry seems somewhat unique in that aspect. If it was a mild surprise to learn that I could actually fail through success, which is what happened when I surfeited my market with apples, you can imagine what it was like to find the towns competing against me. You can also fall prey to various events that can damage or destroy your facilities, but I didn’t last long enough for any of that to occur. Or, and this is probably the more likely reason, I may have escaped that fate because I played mostly on ‘Newcomer’ level. I’ve heard rumors about ‘Veteran’ level - they were bad enough to keep me in my place. Maybe someday….
On the plus side, every new game should be different than those before since a new world is generated for you every time you start over. And because this is Early Access, a good portion of the items in the tech tree are still “under construction” so if I were to circle back and play this again when it is complete, there will be more new things for me to fail to unlock before my inevitable bankruptcy. So I have that to look forward to. Although it’s still early access, Rise of Industry is already showing a great deal of maturity. The game mechanics work well enough, although I did have a few problems with getting roads to connect to each other, and it is obvious that the already significant strategic depth is only going to get deeper. In this preview I feel as if I have done nothing more than lightly scratch the surface of where this game is headed.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been fascinated with video games and computers for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat to get dragged to the mall with my parents because I'd get to play for a few minutes on the Atari 2600. I partially blame Asteroids, the crack cocaine of arcade games, for my low GPA in college which eventually led me to temporarily ditch academics and join the USAF to "see the world." The rest of the blame goes to my passion for all things aviation, and the opportunity to work on work on the truly awesome SR-71 Blackbird sealed the deal.
My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977 when they first came out. At that time you had to order them through a Radio Shack store - Tandy didn't think they'd sell enough to justify stocking them in the retail stores. My favorite game then was the SubLogic Flight Simulator, which was the great Grandaddy of the Microsoft flight sims.
While I was in the military, I bought a Commodore 64. From there I moved on up through the PC line, always buying just enough machine to support the latest version of the flight sims. I never really paid much attention to consoles until the Dreamcast came out. I now have an Xbox for my console games, and a 1ghz Celeron with a GeForce4 for graphics. Being married and having a very expensive toy (my airplane) means I don't get to spend a lot of money on the lastest/greatest PC and console hardware.
My interests these days are primarily auto racing and flying sims on the PC. I'm too old and slow to do well at the FPS twitchers or fighting games, but I do enjoy online Rainbow 6 or the like now and then, although I had to give up Americas Army due to my complete inability to discern friend from foe. I have the Xbox mostly to play games with my daughter and for the sports games.