According to Japanese mythology, the Kuniumi, or birth of the nation, came about when the young gods Izanagi and Izanami were given the task of bringing a solid form to the Earth. They used a magical spear, gifted to them by the elder gods, to churn the waters and form the first island. Coming to Earth, they used that island as the starting point for what would eventually be a string on many islands, which together would become known as Japan.
This creation myth has been passed down for generations. It’s part of the traditional Shinto religion that encompasses much of Japanese society. For centuries, Japan’s proximity to China influenced a great deal of their culture, but the fact that they stood alone on a chain of islands ensured that their civilization developed in its own unique ways.
Stories like this are what inspired Eric M. Lang to design Rising Sun. He’s always been captivated by Japanese culture and the Shinto mythologies, but he wanted his game to have historical influences as well. Lang searched for a period in Japanese history that captured its political unrest. The Feudal period was the obvious choice.
Human inhabitants are believed to have existed in Japan during prehistoric times. However, the first written reference to Japanese people appears in the Book of Han in the first century AD. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the various districts of Japan became unified under the rule of the Emperor, forming the Imperial Dynasty, and leading into the Heian period.
The Heian period lasted until around 1185. It is during this time that many of the classical elements of Japanese culture were established. Literature, paintings, music, sculpture, and religion were all heavily influenced in this time period.
As the Heian period came to an end, the power of the Emperor declined and military clans rose to power. The Genpei War ended with the Minamoto clan in control of Japan. They ruled for over 150 years, defeating two Mongol invasions in the process. But in 1333, they were overcome by another clan, and Japan descended into civil war.
It’s at this moment in history that Rising Sun takes place. With so many clans trying to take control of the nation, it’s inevitable that war will eventually take place. However, this is a culture that heavily relies upon honor.
Eric M. Lang wanted to create a game that was full of wonderful and horrible monsters, but that still captured the essence of that period of history in Japan.
“The war itself is not just about brute strength,” said Lang. “ Even that feels political.”
During this time period, there was an ever-shifting balance between the Emperor, who was more of a figurehead than anything else, and the Shogunate, the military dictatorship made up of the Samurai, that were the true rulers of Japan.
Loyalties changed quickly as people saw military and political opportunities everywhere. Fending on the Mongol invasions of the late 13th century left the Samurai in a weakened state. The stage was set for intense battles for control, with each clan believing they were the rightful rulers to take control of the nation.
This political fight for control is fully evident in Rising Sun. Even though each season is going to end in battle, there is a very procedural, orderly feeling in every step of the game.
“Rising Sun has real nice sun and moon, yin yang, element, where first we do all the political stuff and then it’s time for war,” said Lang.
Rather than drawing influences from other games, Lang was inspired by the culture and history of Japan itself.
“Originally, I had planned for something like Diplomacy,” he remembered. “But as the game grew and became what it is now, I shed all of that influence. I realized very early on that I wanted something really different.”
With Rising Sun, Lang has delved into the past to transport players to feudal Japan. The political and social conditions at that time made conditions just right for war, and the Shinto beliefs informed his use of Dragons, Komainu, and Onis. It is a political game, where players will be forced to strike deals, compromise, and when necessary, go to war.
Rising Sun comes to Kickstarter March 7th, at 3 PM EST.
Read our Game Overview here.
Read about Diplomacy in Rising Sun here.
Read about the Battle System of Rising Sun here.
Read about the Aesthetic Beauty of Rising Sun here.
Take our Quiz to find out which Rising Sun Mini represents you here.