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Entrepreneur 1.5- by Dirk Terrell
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Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.

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Entrepreneur 1.0

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Summary: Armchair CEOs now have their chance to prove that it if only guys like Lou G. and Ray Noorda would just listen to them, Microsoft wouldn't stand a chance. Here we look at Entrepreneur 1.5 from Stardock, the corporate warfare strategy game for OS/2.

Most real time strategy (RTS) games have a military theme to them. Build up an army and go thrash your opponents. Personally, I prefer RTS games to first person, shoot 'em up games. RTS games make you think and plan your moves very carefully, but there is the pressure of having to make decisions in real time. The opponent is always plotting what to do to you. So you get the adrenalin rush of fending off a furious attack, but it is more than just picking up the biggest weapon you can find. Entrepreneur 1.5 is a very good RTS game, but the battlefield is the corporate market and your weapons are salesmen and marketing rather than soldiers and machine guns. Entrepreneur is a fabulously (but not overly) complex game that will keep you occupied for quite a while, and new maps and market modules keep the game fresh and interesting. It sports quite simply the best AI (artificial intelligence) engine I have ever seen in a game, the same design used in the very popular Galactic Civilizations.


I tested the online commerce server version that you can purchase and download online. The zip file is about 17.5 megs so you need either a fast connection or some patience. Installation amounts to unzipping the file and then running the ent.exe file. I was a little surprised that there wasn't at least a Rexx script to create a program object.


When you start Entrepreneur, you will see the main menu screen (.GIF, 45K). From there you can start a game against computer opponents or you can start/join a game over the network against human players. Network games can be played by connecting to a machine hosting a game (by entering the machine's IP address) or by connecting to Stardock.Net and meeting up with other players.

Most RTS games have rather lame AI engines and are pretty easy to beat once you play them a few times. The only thing that saves them is having the ability to play games against human opponents across the network. Entrepreneur (like Galactic Civilizations before it) is definitely not one of those games. In most RTS games, there is a point once you amass enough power that you will always win the game, by attrition if nothing else. With Entrepreneur, you constantly have to be on your toes. There is no coasting to victory. Computer opponents will challenge you to the very end. When I first started playing, I had several games locked up, only to watch my opponent come roaring back and chase me right out of town.

The basic goal in Entrepreneur is to develop a product and have it achieve monopoly status in the market. The percentage of the market that you have to control depends on the number of opponents you have. To achieve this, there are five major areas you have to take care of: market research, sales, manufacturing, marketing, and product research. When the game starts, you have one salesman in one region of the map. The first step is to research other areas of the map (.GIF, 104K) so that you can target them with your sales people. The market research tells you what characteristics of the product the consumers hold important, such as performance versus efficiency if you are in the automobile market.

At this point, if you click on the "Produce" button you will see the screen (.GIF, 74K) that shows you how much product you are producing, how much is desired, and what the selling price is. If you hope to win, this is a screen that you have to check very frequently to make sure that the price you have set for you product matches the market desires, otherwise you may end up making too much product or not enough to meet demand.

When you start, you have one corporate site with a Garage for manufacturing. The site page (.GIF, 100K) allows you to control the hiring and firing of workers and to build new buildings to increase your ability to manufacture, market, and research your product. More capable buildings cost more and take longer to build, so you have to carefully consider where you will invest your money. Will you get a better return by investing in a marketing campaign (.GIF, 66K) or should you spend that money on research (.GIF. 63K) to improve your product so that it has the qualities desired by your potential customers? Decisions, decisions. Entrepreneur is full of them.

Time ticks off in weekly intervals and you can change the speed of the game. At the end of the year you see a report of your performance during the previous year and if your sales have grown enough, you will get a new salesperson so that you can expand into new territories. And there is another decision: should you move into territory unoccupied by your opponents and try to strengthen your own standing, or should you go after the heart of your competition's sales? Every single action in this game has a rich set of possibilities that you must consider if you hope to reach monopoly status.

The primary reason why you cannot ever let your guard down is the use of Direct Action Cards (DACs). These bring a stochastic element to the game that make the game more realistic without making it hopelessly complex. At the beginning you have three DACs and each year you get another one (although you can only hold seven at any given time). DACs perform such actions as steal a salesperson from an opponent, give you a temporary boost in research capability, cause a labor strike against an opponent, and so on. Played strategically, DACs can completely reverse the momentum of a game.

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneur is not the most visually striking game around, although the graphics have improved greatly since the first release. But this not a game about flashy graphics. This is definitely a thinking person's game. And the AI engine will challenge you even if you play the game every day for several months.

For some reason, the version I downloaded did not have the documentation with it. Well, it had a couple of little text files to help you get started, but the main documentation (in Adobe Acrobat format) must be downloaded from the Stardock web site (.PDF). The documentation can be freely downloaded and reading through it will give you a good feeling for how the game plays.

Entrepreneur is every bit as challenging and fun as Galactic Civilizations. Even if you think you wouldn't like this game because it's about economic warfare rather than space warfare, take a look at it and I guarantee you that you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your chair trying to counter a Mitrosoft FUD campaign long past your usual bedtime.

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Entrepreneur 1.5

by Stardock Systems, Inc.
MSRP: $29.95
Copyright © 1998 - Falcon Networking ISSN 1203-5696
December 1, 1998