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Every character, ruler, merchant and soldier is a player character. There is not one implementation of ammunition, armor, or clothing the resources of which were not gathered by players, and which were not crafted by players. No city exists until players constructed them, and no wars are waged unless players instigate them.
The game will begin at launch with thousands of players being assigned to a developer-controlled settler. The players and settler will determine a location to end the hunter-gatherer age--which is when the game begins--and they will settle down to begin a new subsistence lifestyle. All players will be given separate tasks that the demands of this new society requires, a division of labor in other words, partitioned by the initial developer settler. The more loyal and devoted of the players will be noticed, as will the ones who gain power and influence, and slowly they will be given the reigns of government, handed over from the developer. The division of labor will then be monitored and partitioned by the player-run republic, as will the wars be instigated, and the economy presided over.
Some players will make houses, some will gather resources. Some will fight in wars when necessary, and some will choose to be vagabonds.
For most players the game will be an RPG, but a few will have an interface that looks more like an RTS, a city builder, a GSG, or an RTT.