It was time for this. After my Game of the Month, Game of the Year and Game of the Decade awards, here at last comes the ultimate award in all of videogames (which if you've understood my art theory means in all of art...): The Best Game of All Time Award, which I am proud today to present to Vladimir Piskunov's utterly insane Life is Feudal: MMO, the most complex, the deepest, the largest, the greatest game of all time. By far. By so far I wouldn't even know what the second-best game might be. By so far that the only kind of game that could conceivably unseat it would be a game in the exact same genre, a genre that LiF essentially created: the FIRST-PERSON 4X genre. And of course, that game is coming, perhaps even as I type these words, so of course this award will one day be taken away from LiF and Mr. Piskunov and bestowed on that future game and that future director, and at that time I will archive this essay and replace it on Insomnia's frontpage with the new one I will write for that new game.
A fine place to carve a kingdom (actual pic of three CULT players in our domains)
The problem though is that... I don't have an essay to give you today. I am still working on it between feverish sessions of LiF (60 hours in the last week alone...) as I alt-tab out of the game or out of Discord to dump quotes and observations in a massive text file and have produced probably dozens of pages of it by now, by far the most notes I have written for ANY game ever, that will surely lead to the most complex review ever, reflecting the complexity of the most complex game ever, of the most complex artwork ever. But, like I said, I don't have that essay for you yet, and though I considered dropping out of the game for a few days to write it, I ultimately decided against it because fuck that shit, I aint dropping out of my best game experience ever to scribble some damn essay—I am a PLAYER first and above all, and critic second, not the other way around, like everyone else who scribbles about games today, and THAT is why I beat them. So the time for scribbling will come too, but we're not there yet, not in a game where the midgame starts at 500 hours and the endgame could take thousands. Nevertheless, I felt like putting up this page now, first of all in order to BESTOW the award asap, to show all the other retards scribbling about games that their stuff is shit; and more importantly to call out to my readers for allies and reinforcements in the titanic struggle my friends and I are facing: the biggest struggle and challenge that has been posed in a videogame ever: the fight for Godenland.
Assembling before the battle
In that spirit, I have decided to make public the text file for my notes, as they currently stand, on my eventual LiF essay. You can read it on your web browser, but you might want to do so in a small window because otherwise it will stretch across your screen and it'll be hard to read. You can also download it and open it with Notepad. This is it: https://culture.vg/best-game-ever.txt
I wanted to share these thoughts of mine as soon as possible with you, and indeed with the entire world (this page is publicly viewable, like all the Insomnia awards), first of all because of my sheer enthusiasm for them, which is the whole reason I am writing them; but also because I want to convince as many people as possible to join us. The fact of the matter is that though we have been playing since the very first MINUTE of the wipe that began last week, and we've had 15 people put 600+ man-hours into the game in that time (with dozens of hours of streaming produced on our Twitch and YouTube channels including multiple 10- and even a 14-hour stream), our position is perilous, with more than three hostile guilds around us, all of which seem stronger, and with only a handful of friendly guilds, all of which are weak. We are still holding our own pretty well, but we could be wiped out almost any given day, and lose all these days and soon weeks of progress, and be back to square one, possibly to quit the game until the next wipe next year. This is basically a game where the other players in the world can decide to prevent you from even playing the damn thing (all it would take would be a very bad reputation, and then all guilds would attack you on sight wherever you chose to resettle).
Let me be more specific about our current predicament. This is what our province looks like:
The big black square at the top-left that's almost covered with the circular player marker is our starting fief (we actually chose it by roaming the world and picking it, it was not bestowed on us by the game). The scales symbol next to it is the fief where we built our Trading Post where other players can come and trade, and the little black square to its left is the fief with the Herbalist outpost we built (that still needs slaves to operate at maximum efficiency, slaves that we must get by enslaving other players). These are the three fiefs we currently own. Meanwhile, the shield at the bottom of the map is a rival guild that are vassals to a massive Spanish guild in the province below us, and that just settled on our province. If we manage to upgrade our monument to T3 (it's currently at T2) we can capture this entire province, which will give us all the fiefs within it except the one owned by the other guild, plus impose tax on the other guild that they'll have to pay us, but if they upgrade to T3 first it will be the other way around. This is the number one struggle we're currently facing, and we need all the help we can get with it.
Meanwhile, zooming out a little, we see our immediately surrounding provinces and guilds:
We have a tiny Russian guild to the immediate north that we have to decide what to do with. They could become slaves, but if the players are cool people we could make them vassals, or if they are very cool, allies. To the immediate west we have a couple of guys that seem to have been wiped or given up. We talked to them when they first arrived and they were friendly, but we haven't met them since, so this needs to be investigated. To the south west we have some French guys with a pretty strong presence that have been very friendly. We need to forge as deep an alliance with them as possible, and soon. To the south we have the crazy Spaniards who declared war on us before we even met them, and who have pushed their vassals into our province. There will be big trouble there. To the north east is another big Spanish guild that has been casing us since day 1, and attacking us almost daily. We talked to them and unless we become their slaves they say they'll wipe us out. We offered alliance and even vassalage and they are not interested. I think they can see we're noobs and judge that we'll be worth more to them as slaves than vassals, let alone allies. I suspect they might be right, but I vow to work my ass off to prove them wrong and make THEM my slaves. Or rather, the slaves of our august leader, Serkr Oden (recoil, who has the most hours in the game by far and is therefore our glorious leader). And finally in the east we have a guild I don't think we've interacted with yet. Further out, in this picture, are several other guilds we've have little contact with so far, mostly because almost no one has teched up to horses yet, and walking that far takes half an hour or more in real-time.
Now let's zoom out a little more.
Here you can see Schneeglom, the region that we chose to make our stand in and claim our birthright. It has particular regional resources that can't be found elsewhere and must be traded or fought over for other unique resources across the world. We often make trips to Islandlend below us for a particular type of trees that produce amberwood without which we can't make stone walls, for example.
Zooming out again we have the various regions around us. As you can see, no one around us has claimed a whole province yet (a grayed out square) but to our immediate west a kingdom with two provinces (and therefore several dozens fiefs) is rising and further west there is a massive kingdom that threatens to swallow everyone. I am advising his highness our beloved Serkr to travel post haste to that far kingdom with a full retinue of our finest knights (once we have teched up to horses lol) to parlay with that distant king and see if it's worth allying with him or even becoming his vassals, otherwise we must unite the tribes around us to make a stand against him and his dastardly plans for world domination!
And finally, one more zoom-out further, we have the entirety of Godenland, the vast 1,200-square kilometer land promised to us by Lord Eddard Stark aka Sean Bean in the intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3jL5DxDjw
In short, the challenge in this game is unprecedented. Those dots are thousands of people with real personalities and real ambitions, not stupid copy-pasted AIs that you can steamroll with some trial-and-error as in all the other stupid games you play. This is real strategy, and it is overwhelming. There's no question of us conquering the entire world by playing whackamole square by square until the entire map is in our color. Did anyone conquer Westeros? Or the real world for that matter, the real medieval Europe? Why should you then be able to conquer the entire map in every strategy game you play? It's fucking ridiculous, and LiF is the answer. We're not even gonna grab all the squares around us, because that would mean making enemies with everyone around us, and then we're doomed and won't even be allowed by the other players to play the game at all, and we won't even get a refund (most of us bought the game before it went F2P). In short, we need allies, and if you love videogames you need to play the best game ever, at least to give it a try and see if it's for you. Or are you not intrigued at all by a Civilization game that zooms in this much and lets you build an entire empire brick by brick? (that's our main fort in the green area).
So, to repeat it, we need allies, we need people not looking for instant gratification, people tired of instant gratification, people who want to build something real—or at least that behaves so realistically as to feel almost real—something complex, something great. People who want to be part of something incredible. You don't have to be in our clan or even in our Discord to play with us (though of course you are very welcome to, if you want), you can just as well settle in a neighboring fief with your friends and make your own guild, or even play entirely on your own in our lands with a private claim. We'll protect you, we'll help you, we'll give you materials to tech-up much faster than you would on your own (if that's what you want, because some people wouldn't like that, and it's understandable) and in return you can watch our backs when we aren't on and you happen to be on, and we can join together—with different uniforms and emblems, but with a common goal—to fight our common enemies and bring order and justice and honor to the realm. So let us band together and carve out our lands with the plough and the sword, with the sickle and the hammer, in Godenland!
P.S. Don't miss the trailer I linked at the top/header of this article. It is now number 1 in my Ultimate Trailer Ranking.