Video Game: The Settlers
The Settlers is a series of RTS/empire-building computer games from Blue Byte Software, which premiered on the Amiga in 1993.Missions in the game start with each player controlling a castle, the immediate area around it, and some basic resources like wood and stone in storage. Players use these resources to build basic structures for gathering more wood and stone to make more buildings. These extra resources are used for construction of guard huts, which expand your territory, in turn opening up more space for construction of more buildings—especially ones that produce other basic materials like raw minerals (iron, gold, coal). Yet more buildings are then erected to grow or forage for food to feed miners, process raw minerals into tools for your workers and weapons for soldiers, brew beer to make everyone happy, and so forth. The eventual goal is to expand your territory enough to establish borders with your opponents, then assault their guard posts to steal away their territory, eventually bringing down their main castle.Space within your territory is limited, and some structures take up a lot of space, so the decision to place a structure in a specific spot can have a great impact. In addition, smart placement of roads to connect these buildings can dramatically cut down on the time it takes for resources to travel from their production sites to their processing sites and storage facilities, and failure to cut down travel times means losing the advantage. This makes the series unique among RTS games: it focuses on logistics and resource management rather than simple military might. In fact, in the first game it was often possible to win a level without any meaningful military engagement, as the AI would tend to eventually run its economy into the ground.A second unique quality is its "high-level management" style of play, which eschewed a traditional Command And Conquer Economy in favour of a system where the player decided what buildings were to be built, what enemy structures attacked and what the transport priorities for various commodities should be, and the peasants carried out those orders to the best of their abilities. You do not have any direct control over any of your settlers.The first two games are slow as molasses. Starting wood production, for instance, means designating a spot for a woodcutter's hut and hooking it up to a road. A leveler will then walk over from the headquarters and prepare the ground. A builder will then walk over and add planks to the hut as a bucket chain of carriers brings them in. Once the builder's done, a woodcutter will walk over to occupy the hut, walk over to a nearby tree, cut it down (then strip off the branches in the first game), carry it back and leave it in front of the hut. Carriers will bring it over to a sawmill, which will turn it into one unit of planks, fresh and usable once the carriers get it where it needs to go. Matches will take hours. The games will frustrate sane people (one review in an Amiga magazine provided a recipe for a tuna melt, so that players would have something to do while they waited for their orders to be carried out) but have a strong cult following, especially in their native Germany.2007's The Settlers: Rise of an Empire has its own page.Not to be confused with the board game Settlers Of Catan.
This series embodies the following tropes:
- Command And Conquer Economy — Partially averted, partially justified. The player must order any construction project, that's pretty much the point of the game. You do not tell your settlers what to do and where to move though, you only set guidelines and they take care of everything else. Justified because of feudalism: everything in your kingdom is your property, so you call the shots.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard — After the first level or two, it always has better troops than you do.
- Although this only applies in the campaign mode. In Free Play (aka Skirmish), the AI starts with the exact same resources as the player. Computer players don't have an infinite resource pool and will in fact run out of resources if they can't gather them.
- Construct Additional Pylons — Not only is this trope in effect, it is actually the whole point of the game (at least early in the series), and its application is what set The Settlers apart from its direct competitors (early Real-Time Strategy games as we know them today). Instead of building an elaborate field base, the player is building a whole kingdom from scratch - and the objective is usually to expand that kingdom (often, but not necessarily, through violence) to the point where it edges out all competition. This requires careful placement of a very wide variety of buildings, each of which is absolutely necessary for victory. You must create a long economic chain where which slowly converts raw resources step by step into military units. These units occupy guard huts, thereby increasing the size of your territory and allowing you to build more and more buildings. Although military force is often required to actually push your enemies back and eventually raze their castles, the primary skill being tested is your ability to build the kingdom and its economy properly; battles themselves are almost unremarkable in comparison.
- Copy Protection — Notoriously in The Settlers 7, as part of a humongous DRM program at Ubisoft. It was already bad on Assassin's Creed II, but here, if your internet connection dropped out, it was an automatic quit. Thankfully, Ubisoft has since rectified this issue, so the internet is only required to boot the program. This is still a pain in the ass, but better than before.
- Also present in The Settlers III: If you tried to smelt iron ore into iron ingots with a cracked version of the game, they would be smelted into pigs.note
- Green Aesop: The Dark Tribe campaign in The Settlers IV has the main villain be a banished dark god who wants nothing more than to destroy all of Earth's greenery. And you have to stop him by letting the three main tribes (Romans, Mayans and Vikings) work together.
- Market-Based Title — The original game The Settlers was renamed Serf City: Life Is Feudal in the United States. All subsequent games went out under the Settlers banner.
- Mook Chivalry — All fights are one-on-one, and the rest of the knights will simply stand around waiting for the opportunity to step in and pick up where the previous one left off. Since standing knights occupy space, bum rushing the castle with low to mid-level units can be enough to clog up the area and stop them from moving goods and people around, crippling their economy.
- Painfully Slow Projectile — In Settlers II, a catapult may fire on an enemy building, only for that building to have been captured by the player by the time the boulder lands, resulting in loss of the building to friendly fire.
- Refining Resources — Virtually every resource in the game either must be refined in order to be useful, or can be refined to make some other resource. Some resources can go through two or more levels of refinement.
- A good example of one of the longest chains of refinement is the process of turning water into weapons. Firstly, water has to be collected from a well, and transported to your farms. With water, farms can grow wheat, which is sent to the windmill. There it is refined into flour, which is sent to the baker's. The baker combines flour with more water to make bread, which is sent to the iron mines and coal mines. The miners eat the bread and dig out iron ore and coal. Both are sent to an iron smelter, where they are combined to make iron ingots. These are sent to the weaponsmith (along with more coal) to be turned into weapons. The weaponsmith makes swords and shields separately, and one of each is needed in order to train one soldier. The process can take a very long time, as you can expect, especially if the roads become congested...
- Shields Are Useless — In The Settlers II, low ranking soldiers carry shields. High ranking soldiers do not.
- Stop Worshipping Me: The plot of the third game revolves around 'Him', the god to whom other gods are subservient, trying to stop mortals developing monotheistic religion.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential — Destroying the last enemy storehouse, harbor, or headquarters in The Settlers II will cause the settlers, workers, and donkeys within to flee. Usually, they'll head toward the closest storehouse they can hide in—but without one, they'll aimlessly wander around with nowhere to go and nobody to save them. Eventually they starve, let out death knells, and collapse, turning to skeletons.
- Video Game Settings
- You Require More Vespene Gas — In fact, this is more the point of the game than fighting is, but at least you can plant more trees.