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Step into the shoes of Oliver Cromwell, the King In All But Name, as you rule the newly established Protectorate. Make tough decisions and try to keep the realm stable during this turbulent time.
- Experience one of the most tumultuous periods of British history through the eyes of the divisive Oliver Cromwell.
- Discover characters and factions of the time. Use the game’s Info Button to access additional information to help you make more informed decisions!
- Make the same choices Cromwell did… or don’t. Find out if your choices align with real history using the Divergence Indicator.
- Not happy with the content in the game? You’re in luck! Use the editors to create new characters and events or to modify existing ones.
Cromwell was created for the Professional and Entrepreneurial Portfolio module in my final semester at university. It was conceptualised as a clone of Reigns that would utilise the format to represent a real historical setting. The goal was to see if an educational game could be created using this format. The Protectorate period was chosen for this project because I had some books about the period and because I thought it would fit the Reigns mould well.
In order to make Cromwell, I played some pre-existing historical games to explore what kind of shared gameplay/external systems exist between them. A vast majority of the games I played featured some kind of modding capability, which is why Cromwell includes an editor for its characters and events (all characters and events are stored in JSON format). Empowering end-users with the ability to modify the narrative could help educators tailor the game towards specific learning outcomes. It also means that if I get any of the content wrong or players find that the game’s content is lacking, they could potentially expand upon it themselves.
It was also important to me to make the game feel authentic. To that end, I made sure to base the stylised appearances of the characters on their real world counterparts. I also only utilised music that was composed before or during the time period in hopes of better connecting the users with the setting.
Though I think Cromwell fulfilled the outcomes of the module it was developed for, I am unsure if it suceeded as an educational game. Firstly, I made the mistake of picking quite a controversial character to cover in a game. Secondly, I did not get to fully explore all the content I wanted before I was due to hand the game in, so there is some important discourse missing from the initial release version, for example about Cromwell’s actions in Ireland. Thirdly, the Reigns format, although highly accessible and digestible, can be reductive in terms of presenting real world scenarios as all choices in the game are binary. Some players of Cromwell also seemed less than thrilled by the vast similarities to Reigns, so developing a more distinct and unique game might have been a worthwhile pursuit in the future.
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