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Master of Orion (videogame)

Last modified: 2014-02-15 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
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Read about this game at Wikipedia. This image here shows the game map («Galaxy map»), where planetary systems («colonies») are marked with squarish plain flags with the color of each player — an iconic use, if we ever saw one: note even the small brown poles erected on top of each star!
António Martins-Tuválkin , 11 August 2008

You can also read about it at Abandonia, Warpcore and Gamersinfo .

Master of Orion is a vintage computer game, released in 1993 by MicroProse on the MS-DOS and Mac OS operating systems. Opening a long line of sequels, imitations, and developments, (Not to miss — it may, once complete, even end up to include some nice flags, too!) it is a turn-based, one-human vs. one-to-nine "AI" opponents, "4X" science fiction computer strategy game, using colors (and flags) for the usual token marking in so many games (incl. board games).

At the start of each game, the human player is asked i.a. to chose a color for itself — this will be used in many aspects of the game layout for player identification, incl.

  • spaceships in the main screen,
  • label panels in the diplomacy screen,
  • as flags in the galaxy map screen while showing colonies (as sent yesterday),
  • bars in the racial status screen charts,
  • in the robes of player's diplomat envoy when meeting opponent leaders,
  • in some of the in-game animations (see later), and
  • in spaceship liveries in the ship building, fleet management, and orbital battle screens.

(See ship livery, ship token and system names in players' colors in the main screen at wikipedia; see more screenshots at Jonsullivan.)

The choice of colors — blue, red, yellow, purple, white, and green — is made by means of selecting one from six flags (real-like, animated, fluttering flags, up on seemingly wooden poles! — title says «Chose Banner»), and not just plain flags of each color (as in the galaxy map screen), but of actual "flaggy", varied designs, each with its color as the main item. (see here, a mosaic of cropped screen shots.)

  • The *blue* flag is medium blue with a large red five-pointed regular upright star overlaping a light blue (or white?) ring;
  • the *red* flag is red with some black device on it (looks a bit like Albania);
  • the *yellow* flag is golden yellow with thin mediumd blue stripes along the top and bottom, and some item on a large red centered disc;
  • the *purple* flag is medium purple with an lighter emblem on a black centered shape;
  • the *white* flag is white with some kind of brown emblem centered on it; and
  • the green flag is medium/dark green with a large light disc with some emblem surrounded by a wide yellow border (looks a bit like Washington, US).

It should be noted that the choice of color is not limited by the choice of the player's species ("race", in English-language SF parlance, strange as it is) — meaning that each player can bear any of the six colors and play any of the ten species (Klackon, Meklar, Sakkra, Psilon, Mrrshans, Alkari, Bulrathi, Humans, Silicoid, and Darlock).

(Although at least the blue flag would be easy to GIF, I'm not doing so for now, as these images surely were based on more detailed originals, which we may once get our hands (or, at least, eyes) on.)

These detailed flags have no further appearence in the game but plain color triangular penants appear (again as fluttering animations) in two of the recurring animated in-game interludes introducing colony-founding planet fall and player's defeat:

White space-suited character taking posession of a new planet walks on and plants a pole with a waving triangular (1:4) pennant, colored plain in the player's color (see white here, red at Jonsullivan, and green at Bacchus).

When a player loses (no colonies nor colonize-capable ships left) the end-game sequence includes an animated scene showing the progression of his/her funeral (see here):

A coffin hover transport passes by, sporting two poles (bowed due to movement) at its front, flying plain triangular pennants (1:4) in the loosing player's color. This is escorted by a cavalcade carrying similar flags of the best positioned AI player's color. From the top of a nearby building, two robed figures (in the colors of the 2nd and 3rd best positioned AI player's colors?) look by under yet another triangular plain pennant colored of the best positioned AI player's color, but this time longer (~1:6) and with a white emblem centered on its hoist half — this is a white florette within a thin white ring. Pehaps a pangalactic mourning flag? (No idea what happens when the white player wins, though.)
António Martins-Tuválkin , 12 August 2008