Ambitious Seven Kingdoms: Origins, Design, and Development of Seven Kingdoms

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“Enter the world of Seven Kingdoms, a world of intrigue and diplomacy, of trade, conquest, and espionage” (Whitehouse et al.). Seven Kingdoms is a series of "fantasy real-time strategy" computer games (Enlight Software Ltd.). There are four games in the series:

  1. Seven Kingdoms which was released in 1997 (Enlight Software Ltd.).
  2. Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries which was released in 1998 (Enlight Software Ltd.).
  3. Seven Kingdoms II: The Fryhtan Wars which was released in 1999 (Enlight Software Ltd.).
  4. Seven Kingdoms: Conquest which was released in 2008 (IGN 2008).

Trevor Chan of Enlight Software designed and developed titles one through three along with Enlight Software staff (Enlight Software Ltd.); however, Infinite Interactive developed the fourth title (IGN 2008). Furthermore, Enlight Software released the source code and data for Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries (jlac1024 2009) and the source code for Seven Kingdoms II: The Fryhtan Wars under the GPLv2 in 2009 (jlac1024 2009). Also, there was a release of Seven Kingdoms II: The Fryhtan Wars HD which incorporates “HD support” among others in 2015 (Steam).

In this paper, I will exposit the origins, core elements, and development of the Seven Kingdoms series, excluding Seven Kingdoms: Conquest. In the core, the empire building elements of Seven Kingdoms is based on the types of scores the game tallies.


Development of Seven Kingdoms began after the releases of Capitalism and Capitalism Plus (Enlight Software Ltd.). "Following the success of Capitalism, Mr. Chan designed Seven Kingdoms, a fantasy real-time strategy game with tremendous depth and previously unseen design features (Enlight Software Ltd. 2014) utilizing the proprietary 'DigitLife Engine™' which was originally developed for 'Capitalism' to meet the game's staggering level of complexity and combined the strength of the engine with the latest real-time graphics technology" (Enlight Software Ltd. 1997). In fact, Seven Kingdoms may be based on Capitalism code. the3dfxdude, a developer for the Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries OSS project, speculated, "I'm pretty sure that things like the town, buildings (firm), economy (nation), world map, reports (info), all were derived from capitalism code. So it's not far removed to say that 7kaa is based on capitalism, plus strategy game concepts of the day. I would say it was more influenced by Warcraft 2 on that aspect (fantasy RTS), but primarily based on capitalism [sic]" (loki & the3dfxdude). He later said, “recently I was able to acquire a mint copy of the original capitalism [sic]. I played through the tutorial. It is a fantastic game. This game alone establishes Trevor's design genius. Now all the in-game concepts transfer pretty well in 7K, and the story backdrop of 7K enriches the experience. So, while not knowing the original code behind Capitalism, I would say 7K was a well executed variant to the design. It's clear why many people of the day praised the games, even if he was not well known” (loki & the3dfxdude).

Lets take a look at the strategy game concepts of the day. Trevor Chan said, “my understanding is that most of the real-time strategy games on the market today have been following a paradigm that has been hugely commercially successful but also hasn't been advanced much since Dune II" (Tharp & Chan 1997). “Most,” but it is not all. Mike Fahey, a writer for Kotaku, showed, “Blizzard took the formula established in Dune II and expanded upon it in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans” (Fahey 2009). Therefore, some RTS did advance since Dune II. Warcraft 1 and 2 were games part of the RTS genre at the time of Seven Kingdoms development. Warcraft 1 was released in 1994 (Marks 2017). Warcraft 2 was released in 1995, two years before Seven Kingdoms was released (Marks 2017). Therefore, this was a strategy game of the times during which Seven Kingdoms was developed, thus influencing it.

In addition to being based on Capitalism code/engine and influenced by Warcraft 2, Seven Kingdoms is influenced by the empire building elements of Civilization. Lets return to the previous quote about real-time strategies and empire building elements. Trevor Chan mentioned, “I am a big fan of Civilization. And like many gamers, I was hooked by real-time strategy games when they first came out in the mid-'90s. Expectedly, my dream game would be a real-time strategy game with the empire-building elements of Civilization" (Gamespot Staff & Chan 2001). Empire-building elements of Civilization was, in fact, ended up in Seven Kingdoms. Trevor Chan later mentions, “the fantasy elements were added to the game after the empire-building part was solid” (Gamespot Staff & Chan 2001).

We can see that reviews in the 90s often compared Seven Kingdoms to Warcraft 2, Civilization, and others. For example, Chris Jensen of said, “Seven Kingdoms is a thinking man's Warcraft, blending elements of Powermonger, Civilization, and Command & Conquer" (Jensen 1997). So we see here a comparison to Warcraft and Civilization, but there is a bit more to this review. Beginning with praise for Trevor Chan’s game design and mentioning his published titles Capitalism and Capitalism Plus, he hints “true to Mr. Chan's design philosophy, there is an intricate economic and diplomatic engine lurking underneath” (Jensen 1997). This shows a commonality with Capitalism design as a theme of Trevor Chan. In another interview, Jaded of said, “Combining features of Warcraft II and Civilization, Seven Kingdoms posits a world where seven of earth's great Kingoms have gathered to struggle for control of a new land (Jaded 1997). Again, we see the similar comparison to Warcraft and Civilization. Therefore, reviewers noticed the result of the origins of Seven kingdoms being based on Capitalism and influenced by Civilization in the context of Warcraft.




There are four models in Seven Kingdoms. In an interview, Trevor Chan mentions, "Seven Kingdoms was designed based on my study and modeling of behaviors of ancient empires. While the world of Seven Kingdoms is fictional, a lot of attention has been paid to developing the details of its economic model, human behavior model, espionage model and diplomatic model" (Tharp & Chan 1997). Let us take a look at these four models.

Economic Model

The economic model consists of a balance between income and expenses.


Sale of Goods

In Seven Kingdoms, the player is not limited to one method of producing an income via sale of goods. There are three methods of making an income and three profit tiers. The first method and tier consists of mining resources and producing goods; the second method and tier consists of importing raw material and producing goods, and the third method and tier consists of only importing finished goods. From tier one to three, profits decline.

With these goods, you can sell to your villagers, sell to foreign kingdoms (if player has a trade treaty or alliance with them). Note that players must consider supply and demand as "the villagers of foreign kingdoms will purchase goods from their own markets before they purchase goods from yours" (Whitehouse et al.), and export which is direct sales of goods to the foreign kingdoms via trade from the kingdom itself, not at your initiative. A player requires a trade treaty to export goods to another kingdoms, and again, one must consider supply and demand. Also note in regards to supply and demand that "people with jobs will spend more money than Peasants." (Whitehouse et al.). Finally, the player can sell to independent villages (if resistance is low enough).


It is possible to support your kingdoms without raw resources and trade via taxes. "There are two types of taxes. The yearly tax will be collected every January 1st from every person living in your villages" (Whitehouse et al.). In addition, "special taxes may also be collected from each person living in a selected Village" (Whitehouse et al.). Take care, however, as "the Loyalty Level of all villagers in the selected village will decrease when a special tax is collected (Whitehouse et al.). Therefore, the player is limited in the amount of special tax income.

Recovered Treasure

Fryhtans "have hoarded vast amounts of wealth (Whitehouse et al.). If you kill the Ordo, the Fryhtan equivalent of a human general, it will leave a sum of money. It is possible that there are many Ordos in the lair, depending on the type of Fryhtan and the amount of time passed in the game. The amount of money an Ordo leaves depends on multiple factors, but mainly stronger fryhtans leave more money. After the lair has been destroyed, a sum of money will also be left.

Aid/Tribute from Other Kingdoms

As a diplomatic overture, a player or the AI can request aid from their allies and demand tribute from their enemies. Amounts are in increments that range from $500 to $4000. Another diplomatic overture is selling food at the request of a kingdom. Incremental amounts range from $5 to $30 for incremental amounts from 500 to 4000.


Everything costs money. This is the balance aspect. To construct a building costs money, but also there is a yearly maintenance fee. Units including humans, technology, and caravans as well have a yearly cost but no initial price; however, mobile human units will incur a small yearly fee. There are also grants to your and other villages and honors to you human units that are one time expenses for each honor or grant. See Chapter 21: Assorted Costs and Amounts in the manual for specific prices.

Human Behavior Model

Personality and Preferences

The Kings have personalities and preferences. Personalities range from war-like behavior to peaceful behavior and can support empire building. The aggressiveness setting changes war-like behavior if it is set higher; otherwise, kings will have more peaceful personalities. War-like behavior contains elements such as "Military Development," "Military Courage," "Unit Chase Distance," "Use Weapon Tendency," and "Attack Monster" (Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, line #). While peaceful behavior contains elements such as "Peacefulness," "Honesty," "Allying Tendency," and "Forgiveness" (Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, line #).

Empire building behavior contains elements such as "Economic Development," "Increase Population by Capture" or "Increase Population by Growth," "Build Inn Tendency" (Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, line #). Preferences are managerial such as "Territorial Cohesiveness," "Trading Tendency," "Town Harmony," "Citizen Loyalty Concern," "Keep Generals Tendency," "Keep Skilled Units Tendency," "Use Spies," "Use Counter Spies," "Food Reserve," "Cash Reserve," and "Use Marine" (Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, line #). These preferences can be randomized with the setting "random kingdoms." In addition, AI personalities and preferences affect diplomacy and relations to other nations.


Whether friend or foe, a king is unique in how he conducts diplomacy based on his personality and preferences. Maybe he prefers trade and wants a treaty or even an alliance. Or perhaps he demands the latest technology over money to build his army of war machines.


Kings hold "subjective relation levels towards the others", and "the opposite nation's relation level is not the same as this (Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, line #). It is affected by the AI's personality and preferences and will also affect the AI’s responses to diplomatic overtures.


town loyalty

ethnic loyalty

independent loyalty - join / defect

Unit Loyalty

Espionage Model

Espionage is conducted via spies, and all kingdoms can use them. Therefore, not only must you conduct espionage, you must defend against it. Defense involves having counter spies occupying the same location that an enemy spy may occupy. Keep in mind you may freely execute enemy spies.

There multiple methods of infiltration such as assigning a spy to an independent village. if a kingdoms captures it, the spy will be assimilated into the kingdom's population. Other methods include sneaking the spy into the location you want or revealing the change of coat to let the kingdom know about the defection and control the spy.

Spies can infiltrate any building as long as it isn't full and assume the role of that firm, excluding an inn. Depending on their role, they can execute spy functions such as sabotaging production or research, sow dissent, steal secrets or technology, but especially bribe other units to become additional spies.

You are able to to gain intelligence on your ally or foe by stealing secrets if the spy possesses a high enough skill. Spies can function as a replacement for researchers and gain technology for your kingdom.

One function is capturing buildings, aiding in the destruction of the other kingdoms and construction of yours. Soldiers in a captured fort my even hold your banner after capturing it. Another function is assuming the role of soldier, then general, and possibly be crowned king, thus leading to defeat of another kingdom and victory.

Diplomatic Model

Diplomacy has different types of overtures and benefits, resulting in friends or foes.


There are kingdom relationships such as a binary of war or peace. Then kingdoms can be in a tense relationship after a declaration of war and conflict, but if no fighting between the kingdoms happens for a while, it will change to neutral which is a nation relation of zero. At the beginning of the game, kingdoms will be neutral to each other. Kingdoms can benefit from trade with each other with trade treaties then promise not to attack each other with friendly treaties. Finally, kingdoms may enter alliance treaties and support each other in war against common foes. Note that diplomacy ties in with reputation and relation levels change according to responses to your enemies and friends.


A trade treaty supports the economy, but kingdoms may augment their economy with a request for aid from a friend or demand tribute from an enemy. It is also possible to support a kingdom by selling food to others, or if a kingdom doesn't have food itself, there is an option to spend money to augment food reserves.


With an alliance treaty, kingdoms have the option of waging economic war by requesting trade embargo against their enemies. There are more violent options from allies such as requesting a declaration of war and even requesting military aid on an offensive or defensive front.


Diplomacy is a route to victory with the option to buy another kingdom. It isn't so simple, but with finesse, the player can annex a whole kingdoms into his or her empire. Another option is surrendering. If a kingdom has a good relation level with the player, he or she may abdicate his or her rule to you. The player also has the option of surrendering to another to support the crusade of a friend, but know that this will result in defeat.

Fantasy and Empire Building

Being influenced by World of Warcraft on fantasy elements and Civilization on the empire building elements, these are incorporated into Seven Kingdoms. In an interview, Trevor Chan mentions, “the fantasy elements were added to the game after the empire-building part was solid (Gamespot Staff & Chan 2001).

Empire Building

Before beginning a game, there are pre-game settings that have associated difficulty levels which are used to tally the in game and final score. In game, you begin with a town, a fort, and the king. For a functioning empire, you need additional units and structures.


The initial town will have a population of 40 unless "random kingdoms' settings is set. If set, the player will be randomly given skilled units at a decrease of population or an increase of population if the player receives no skilled units. Each town has a population limit of 60; therefore, to expand the population of your empire, additional towns must be settled. To increase the kingdom's population, you need growth via natural growth or by repatriating and assimilating other towns such as independent towns or even enemy towns. From towns are recruited units.





war machine



war factory












? read

Fryhtan Batting

The Fryhtans are hated monsters that may even terrorize your kingdoms and its people. Among many benefits for killing them is a reputation increase in addition to a Fryhtan Battling Score.

Fantasy Elements

The world of Seven Kingdoms is magical. You may face monsters including the undead and also invoke the magic of god-like beings.


unreal monsters - list characteristics

Greater Beings

various god like beings with magic powers

Ancient Adversaries

"Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries adds even more depth to the strategy world of Seven Kingdoms. The updated game Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries replaces the original, adding many newer features. Three new nationalities make their appearance: Zulu, Indian, and Egyptian, as well as new Greater Beings whom they worship and summon. A new snow-covered terrain set, several additional scenarios, and a flaming ballista weapon are also included" (CITE).

Comparative Info

such as graphics

higher resolution


summarize to jump to 7kaa and 7k2. because there isnt much change in these aspects.

core is basically the same

design is basically the same. look on forums about 7kaa and 7k2 shared engine.

Many questions remain...

Development of the Seven Kingdoms series continues with Ambitious Seven Kingdoms II: the Fryhtan Wars.

Works Cited

Clarke-Willson, Stephen. “The Origin of Realtime Strategy Games on the PC.” The Rise and Fall of Virgin Interactive, Above the Garage Productions, 18 Aug. 1998,

Enlight Software Ltd. “About: Management.” Trevor Chan CEO of Enlight Software Ltd. , Enlight Software Ltd.,

Enlight Software Ltd. “Company Information.” Enlight Software, Enlight Software Ltd., 1997,

Enlight Software Ltd. “Enlight.” About: Timeline, - no

Enlight Software Ltd. “Management.” Enlight Software | About Us, Enlight Software Ltd., 2014,

Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project. “ONATIONb.cpp.” Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries, commit 5fdfbc851fa4d9140cd11f5f8e9d574db2e1165a, Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, 2018. Github.

Enlight Software Ltd., and Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project. “OR_NAT.cpp.” Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries, commit 61c1ffb8ed872c26768789e1287bd82b3216b08e, Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, 2018. Github.

Fahey, Mike. “World Of Warcraft Turns 5: How Blizzard Built A Nation.” Kotaku Australia, Pedestrian Group, 24 Nov. 2009,

Gamespot Staff, and Trevor Chan. “Trevor Chan Q&A.” GameSpot, CBS Interactive Inc, 18 Dec. 2001,

IGN. “Seven Kingdoms: Conquest.” IGN, IGN, 13 Mar. 2008,

Jaded. “Seven Kingdoms Preview by Jaded.” The Jaded Gamer's Pub,, 5 Oct. 1997,

Jensen, Chris. “Seven Kingdoms.” Online Gaming Review -, AirAge Publishing, 25 Aug. 1997,

jlac1024. “Seven Kingdoms.” News, 7kfans.Com, 31 Aug. 2009,

jlac1024. “Seven Kingdoms II: The Fryhtan Wars.” News, 7kfans.Com, 10 Sep. 2009,

loki, and the3dfxdude. “Question about 7kaa Design / Origins.” Seven Kingdoms Fans Message Board, 7kfans.Com, 12 Aug. 2018,

Marks, Robert B. “How Warcraft II and C&C Shaped an Entire Genre.” Feature, CGMagazine, 12 Apr. 2017,

Steam. “Seven Kingdoms 2 HD on Steam.” Seven Kingdoms 2 HD on Steam, Valve,

Tharp, Jay, and Trevor Chan. “Realms of the Kingdoms Interviews Trevor Chan.” INTERVIEW WITH TREVOR CHAN, Realms of the Kingdoms , 1997,

Whitehouse, Chris, et al. Seven Kingdoms Ancient Adversaries Instruction Manual. Updated by members of the Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, 2.14.7, Interactive Magic, 1998: Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries OSS Project, 2018.