Empire of Sin developer Romero Games is pretty confident that there’s enough source material to keep its Prohibition-era strategy game running for years to come. “That period of time is so turbulent, you could focus on any part of the world and you could come up with some really interesting, crazy stuff,” says game designer Ian O’Neill. “But if you just focus on Chicago, during that time period, there is an insane amount of depth. Scratching the surface is an overused term, but we really have only scratched the surface.”
Now that Romero Games has largely completed what it sees as the post-launch stabilisation period for Empire of Sin, the studio has turned to the task of filling in what’s beneath its surface. Coming updates, like the free Precinct Update it’s teased for later this year along with the Make it Count expansion, are adding not only new information-handling systems, but additional historical colour. In many cases, that is only lightly fictionalised versions of real newspaper stories the team has found from 1920s Chicago.
“There’s a mission in the existing game that we got from an actual newspaper in the early ’20s,” says narrative designer Katie Gardner. “It was the story of a guy who was being sent to be hanged, and he wouldn’t stand up to be hanged. So he was hanged in his chair.”
The overarching idea, Romero Games co-founder and Empire of Sin designer Brenda Romero tells us, is to deepen Empire of Sin’s strategic layer. With the Precinct Update, Empire of Sin will of course see the new precinct system introduced, but also a new gangster role: the Fixer.
Empire of Sin’s XCOM-style combat needed a long-range DPS class, and that’s one role Fixers will play. But they serve other purposes in the larger organisation. Every outfit needs people who can just ‘get stuff done.’ Mob accountant Meyer Lansky, who will arrive in the Make it Count expansion announced today at PDXCon Remixed, was one of these types of characters. But as a more modern-day comparison, Romero points to Mike Ehrmantraut from the TV series Breaking Bad.
“Nobody’s not gonna listen to Mike,” Romero explains. “Mike is this kind of outsider who can get everybody else to come together, or else he can run an empire. But he can also put a bullet in people’s heads. He’s incredibly well respected.”
In addition to new Fixer boss Lansky, Romero Games is also introducing a character named Judge ‘Ma’ Miller. She’s based on former Texas governor Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson, who was rumoured to have accepted cash in exchange for bribes while in the Texas governor’s mansion. She certainly issued a lot of them: Ferguson signed some 4,000 pardons during her nonconsecutive terms as governor, many for prisoners who had been convicted of violating the Prohibition restrictions on the alcohol trade.
Like Ferguson, Miller is a ‘pillar of the community,’ and she’s able to leverage that respected position to help her criminal enterprise.
We’ll find out more about Meyer Lansky, the Fixers, Judge Miller, and how precincts will go to war with each other when the Precinct Update arrives later this year. In the meantime, you may want to check out the new Crusader Kings 3 DLC announced today, as well as the upcoming DLC and USSR rework on the way for Hearts of Iron IV.