The Empire series of games are simple, turn-based wargames of the 4X Strategy variety, wherein players typically start by controlling one city on a large unexplored map, thereafter capturing more cities, which in turn can be made to produce a variety of military units, including armies, aircraft and various ships. These are then used to explore the map further, capturing even more cities in the process until, eventually, opposing players will discover each other and a fight to the finish will ensue.
Games typically take several hours to play to completion.
Empire was first conceived by Walter Bright in 1971, who released the first computer version in 1977. This early version found it's way around college mainframes and computer user groups in the United States until the mid 1980's.
Around that time, Bright recoded the game and licensed it to Interstel, where Mark Baldwin added a graphical user interface and the game became a huge success in 1987 under the name of Empire: Wargame of the Century.
Mark Baldwin and Bob Rakosky released the next version for DOS, Mac and Windows, in 1993, entitled Empire Deluxe, with New World Computing as the publisher. Essentially two games in one, Empire Deluxe contained the old 1987 version, as well as a newer one with a few more units, larger maps and other enhancements.
An Empire Deluxe Scenario Disk was also released in 1993, featuring scenarios designed by some of the computer game industry's most well-known personalities of the time.
New World Computing released yet another edition of the game as Empire Deluxe: Masters Edition, in 1994 on CD-ROM, a compilation which contained both the previous DOS and Windows versions, as well as all the material from the scenario disk.
In 1995, New World Computing published their final title in the series, Empire II: The Art of War, which at the time was said to be the tactical-level refinement of the earlier strategic-level Empire games. In reality, Empire II was a tactical wargame construction kit - albeit a powerful one - and had little in common with the earlier Empire games, other than the name, which caused disappointment among fans of the series.
In 2001, Mark Kinkead of Killer Bee Software purchased the rights to Empire Deluxe, subsequently releasing Empire Deluxe: Internet Edition (EDIE) for Windows. This release included a few enhancements, most notably the introduction of direct play over the Internet.
In 2004, Killer Bee Software produced Empire Deluxe: Enhanced Edition (EDEE), also for Windows, which included several new unit-types, a more powerful unit and scenario editor and allowed for much larger maps than previous versions, among many other enhancements and new features.
For over three decades, the Empire series of games have pioneered innovations and features which have been influential in the making of many computer games.
Walter Bright's Classic Empire website
Baldwin Consulting website
Killer Bee Software website
Wikipedia Empire page