Empires in BitCraft

Clockwork Labs
6 min readJun 10, 2024


Game Design Blog — June 10, 2024

It’s time to talk about empires in BitCraft and what they represent. Empires are crucial to the success of BitCraft both from a business perspective and as a dynamic world where the history of the world is written by players. They’re a system that I’ve been excited to talk about with the community for a very long time. In some ways this blog post is an extension of our previous blog post on Our Thoughts on Game Monetization, so if you haven’t already I recommend giving that a read first to understand our philosophy.

BitCraft is an inherently social game given that all players share and build in the same physical world. As such we need many different ways for players to team up against the world or to compete with other players. We have several planned for BitCraft including trade guilds, settlements, and empires. Settlements are the only group system implemented in the game at present and they essentially function as a way to share resources and buildings between a trusted group of players. The purpose of a settlement is to allow a group of people with different skills to progress together in a specific location in the world which they call their own.

The empire system which we will be introducing in the Alpha 2 playtest, by contrast, has a less functional and more vanity-driven purpose. The purpose of empires in BitCraft is to motivate players to rally behind a larger idea or person or cause or banner and to leave their mark on the world by spreading allegiance to the empire as far as they are able.

If we do our jobs right, then being an emperor in BitCraft should simulate the feeling of being an emperor in the real world. Fighting for a cause in BitCraft should be just as exciting, mobilizing the logistics of a BitCraft nation just as complex, and reading the history of BitCraft just as enthralling as in the real world.

How do Empires Work?
Fundamentally, the empire system is a competition to capture territory on the world map of BitCraft. Empires and their territories actually have little functional purpose in the game, even if they have enormous impact on the flavor and dynamism of the world of BitCraft. You can think of the world map as a global skin that players and their empires compete to own and control.

As we’ve talked in the past about our game design vision, empires operate at a fundamentally different scale than characters, or settlements. Empires do not impact any character or settlement’s progression, even if every character can participate in the empire system in their own way.

The empire scale gameplay is designed to be a mixture of strategy and diplomacy with logistics and social organization. With the correct prerequisites, a player can use a claim they own to found an empire with the claim as its capital. They can then use this newly created capital to produce a new cargo (large item), which is the primary resource of the empire scale — Hexite Capsules.

The player can then use these hexite capsules to both maintain their empire, expand by building nodes or convincing other claims to align with their empire, and ultimately wage economic warfare against other empires to take their territory for themselves. Since these capsules can only be produced on the capital claim, as the empire gets larger the challenge of managing all of the nodes and the logistics will become impossible for a single player, making recruitment and cooperation essential. Any player can swear allegiance to a single empire and as emperor they can promote some of these players to ranks of authority to aid in the execution of imperial duties. Even citizens of an empire will have some permissions that allow them to participate in the gameplay of the empire scale.

Empires and Monetization
Tying back to our philosophy of the previous monetization blog, we aim to make clear in BitCraft which parts of the game are intended to be “Medals of Honor” and which parts of the game are intended to be “Lambos”. From its conception, we’ve always designed and imagined the empire system of BitCraft as a giant zero sum cosmetic, aka a Lamborghini. The only thing you win, by having a massive successful empire is status: fame within the game world, your empire’s name plastered across the world map, an emperor’s crown, etc. This is why we’ve made it such that empires require someone to spend money for them to operate.

In particular, the creation of hexite capsules requires hexite shards as an input, which can be purchased with real world currency from our store. For the upcoming tests, we won’t be selling hexite shards directly, but we want to make it clear from the get go how this will work.

This money doesn’t need to be spent by the emperor or every player interested in participating in an empire, we’ve intentionally designed this in a way in which different empires could organize themselves in different ways. It may be that many people want to donate to the cause of a single leader they admire or support, or it may be that a small set of people want to ally to mobilize their vast resources and put their name in the history books. For example, Hexite shards can be donated to an empire’s treasury by any player aligned to the empire and from the treasury can only be used by that empire.

Importantly, while the empire system does require someone to spend real money, that money does not in any way help players progress faster at the character or settlement scale. Moreover, the actual cost of the empire is quite small. What will end up costing time, money, and resources will be waging war against another empire that is competing for your lands and titles or showing off your devotion to your cause by flying banners or erecting statues throughout your empire. This way it should be possible for nearly anyone to start an empire in a remote location without much competition, although much harder and more expensive to maintain global hegemony.

We’ve put an enormous amount of thought and energy into how to develop a game that is both fair to all players and which is able to sustain a large long-term game development team so that we can build the world of BitCraft for decades. This system is one way we’re looking to innovate in the realm of game monetization to provide a free, fun, and fair game to as many people as possible, while adding monetization to the game in a way which creates a new type of cosmetic that is dynamic, epic, and fun.

I think this is worth a shot, and something to remember is if we get it wrong, we can always fix it as long as we keep our north star of fairness affixed in front of us.

I hope you will all have fun with the new system.

– 3Blave (Tyler)

Founder, Clockwork Labs