For those of you who would rather manage heroes than play as them, developer Matt Gambell has created RPG Tycoon [official site]. The game sees you managing a kingdom - from its heroes to its taverns and from its palm trees to its snowmen - and competing against rival AI kingdoms to become the Greatest Kingdom In All The Land.
I've only played a little bit so I don't know if the latter is an actual end goal or more of an implied achievement if you top the leaderboard against those AI.
The trailer's after the jump so you can take a peek (the chiming noise that it starts with is one of those ones which I find goes straight to my spine):
There is also a free demo right here for you to give it a spin. I think at this moment in time it's a slightly older build of the game but it should be being updated now the game is out to represent the finished product.
I've had a super quick play and I will say it didn't really grab me yet. I'll try to play a bit more to see if that changes but at the moment here's why I'm bouncing off:
First is that the UI and the tutorial seem clunky and unintuitive so I kept clicking the wrong thing to try and advance it. Same with the options menu - it took me ages to see the "back" button and get back to the screen where I could actually load the game. They're only little things but they got in the way of just sinking into the thing.
I'm also finding it hard to read the information being presented. Obviously at least part of that comes down to personal preference with fonts and things but the screen felt really cluttered to me. I have the same feeling as when I try to play Endless Legend or another 4X game and it's so keen to deliver so much information. The way it's presented on the screen, I don't find myself looking at the right parts, or I have to really seek out what I want to find.
The other thing which really stuck out to me in the short time I played was that the game forces you to make wrong choices and that never sits well with me. To explain what I mean, when you send a hero on a quest you have to give them supplies to take with them. If you pick the right ones and put them in the right numbered slots it helps with the quest. It's a minigame, essentially, and as you progress you unlock more supplies which you can use.
You have six slots to occupy but when the game begins you don't have six task-appropriate supplies to put in them. You might have one or two and then a bunch that don't make sense. But to make the hero go on the quest you seem to have to just shove all this nonsensical goop in the spaces even though you know it's wrong. My hero just went fishing with useful stuff like bait and then a bunch of gemstones and paintings. I'd be infinitely happier about it if I could just pick the things I knew suited the task and then suffer the disadvantage of empty spots rather than needing to add things I know are wrong.
All of this is because I'm at the very beginning so I assume I haven't started to encounter the meat of the game but it's making me want to stop because I'm just not having fun at the moment. I feel like there might come a point where it starts making more sense but at the moment I'm so not there.
If you play the demo and have a blast please do leave those reasons in the comments, though!
(I'll kick off the comments right here, even though I haven't played very much of the game at all. I tried it this morning and found the interface slightly off-putting but it reminds me enough of Majesty, which is one of my favourites in concept if not execution, that I'm going to stick with it! - Adam)
FYI there's also a bunch of information about how you could mod the game if you fancied. I'll leave it here for you.