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Firefly unveils Stronghold Kingdoms

"World's first castle-based MMO".

Firefly Studios has unveiled the next Stronghold game as "the world's first castle-based MMO", which will see players rise from peasant to lord of the parish and then maybe even King or Queen.

Firefly founder Simon Bradbury told Eurogamer he's aiming for an "early 2010" launch, and that he hopes to offer a beta before the end of the year.

"We are in a closed alpha today and will be launching a much bigger beta towards the end of this year," he said. "Any MMO - even a different one like ours - takes time to brew up, as I'm sure you know. So that time frame puts us at about 60 per cent complete!"

Stronghold Kingdoms, like other games in the series, will be strategic. Through promotions players will expand their influence, control and available resources, all while pouring research points into a variety of trees.

There will be building to do, as well as besieging, pillaging, farming, exploring, diplomacy, researching, voting, trading, banqueting, fighting and more. You might decide to make money through commerce and seek power through money. Perhaps exploration tickles your fancy for the treasures that lie in wait. Or maybe the clang of steel commands your attention best.

There will be factions and elections to stir a political community, and Stronghold Kingdoms promises a lively web-based portion of the game where statistics are tracked and relationships managed. Varying awards and rankings such as "Besieger of the Month" or "Apple farmer of the Day" will be dished out to keep us feeling wanted.

Stronghold Kingdoms is no Total War to look at, judging by the first batch of shots, but we're to expect a rich medieval world we can become a part of nonetheless.

Firefly Studios will self-fund the project, incidentally, and has around 4 million sales of previous instalments of Stronghold to build upon.

There's a Stronghold Kingdoms website, although we can't see anything there at the moment.