OK, back. Sorry if I seem in a bad mood, but I am. Don't want to take it out on anybody in any way.
the 4 game-years to 1 real day has several purposes, one of which is that within a year, civilizations can rise and fall. The design isn't Sim City or Civilization, though. It looks like a standard mmorpg, only that the time-rate is different. The idea is that the players create the history, by establishing, conquering or destroying cities and nations (for those with this ambition), or by some other means.
I'd say the over-arching purpose to allow the creation (by the players) of a complex history--the sort that we read about in Tolkien, Lewis, and just about any fantasy series I can think of (right now I'm re-reading Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time").
There are 7-9 classes for characters, each with their own contribution to history. Wizards can commission towers/dungeons to be built, create monsters. Clerics can establish religions or sects, and commission the building of temples. Warriors can establish their own military unit (for instance, "The Order of the White Rose" or "the Immortals" or something). Bards can create epic poems and establish theaters. Merchants (think Sindbad) can create trade routes, and establish inns. And so on and so forth.
QUESTS: Here's a good example--at some point, a kingdom winds up with "the Holy Grail." It was either given to them by the Game Angels (the developers), or commissioned from a really excellent NPC-smith by a player with a lot xp (contributes to the quality of the item commissioned). The item would then be blessed by a cleric-player with a lot of xp (contributes to the quality of the blessing), and possibly further enchanted by a mage-player with a lot of xp. So here's this really powerful item (I call it a megatem) in the possession of a kingdom. It's possible for the item to be lost to theft, or hidden away during some invasion. For the sake of the story, let's just say that the kingdom possesses the item for 120 years (about one month, real time). The same player has been ruling the kingdom for all this time, but his character is the great-grandson of the king who commissioned the Grail in the first place. By this time, the player has decided (for some reason) to be a wicked king. For the last month, various other king-players have commissioned other players to find to capture the Grail, and a couple of king-players have fought open wars against the kingdom. All have failed. The current player-character (same player, different character) is doing exceedingly wicked things, so the GAME ANGELS (the developers) find a worthy player-warrior and upgrade the character to a Paladin, with the commission of gathering a party together to find the Grail and bring it to the Shepherd's Land (the only kingdom run by the developers, and it's neutral).
If the Paladin succeeds, then the Grail stays in the Shepherd's Land until some worthy kingdom is in desperate need of it, and the Paladin himself receives xp, as well as a place in history. If he fails... the Grail remains. If he dies, another player-character will be upgraded to Paladan, Prophet or Pilgrim, and asked to seek the Grail.
ON MONSTERS: It would be ridiculous and cumbersome to allow player-wizards to create as many respawnable monsters as they can, especially boss-monsters. There are no respawnable unique monsters in the game. A unique monster stays DEAD, and the player who killed it gets the glory for it. The more "successful" the monster was in whatever mayhem it created, the more glory that player will get for taking it down. But wizards can also create monster species (such as orcs or some species of dangerous animal or plant). The species can respawn, of course, but it can potentially be wiped out.
ON KINGS: Any player-character can become a king (by a variety of means, the most popular being by combat), and once they do so, they may change the laws of the kingdom as they see fit, as often as they want. This includes the tax code, and establishing/disestablishing a national religion, and outlawing or legalizing slavery. They may also commission buildings and items to be built and made. They may also issue open quests (anybody can try) or commission specific players to go on quests. They may also answer petitions from citizen-players. As well, they can also issue bounties for citizen-players. And of course, they can go to war.
ON CITIES AND BUILDINGS: One of the benefits for the 4 game-years to 1 real day is that cities can grow more rapidly, populations can expand (and therefore armies can grow), and ALSO the reverse: cities can decay, populations decline, and buildings age.
JANUARY year 0-a city is established by a player-king.
FEBRUARY year 124-the city flourishes, under the same player-dynasty
MARCH year 236-the city is conquered and left to rot by the new player. The old player-dynasty continues dethroned either as refugees in another land, or citizens of the new kingdom.
APRIL year 360-the ruins are discovered by a player-mage, whose evil sorcery extends his life, allowing him to breed more monsters and gather more gold and items.
MAY year 480-the player mage is finally slain by a group of players commissioned to do so by a neighboring player-king. Other players have tried, and failed, and their items are discovered in the mage's vaults, and distributed to the victors. One of the player-characters is the heir of one of the player-characters slain by the wizard many years ago. This means that the player has recaptured his old equipment, albeit with a new character.
JUNE year 564-a player-king establishes a colony over the ruins of the dungeon.
JULY year 634-the colony is a flourishing city
AUGUST year 728-the city is having problems with monsters in their sewers. The player-lord of the city, with the authority invested in him by the player-king of the kingdom, commissions a group of player-questers to investigate. They discover the dungeon and it's grisly inhabitants, and also make contact with a long-lost dwarf colony. At the bottom-most level of the dungeon they discover, fight, and battle, a Beholder. Along the way, they also recover various items left behind by other player-characters (ones who failed). OKAY, SOMEHOW THIS TURNED INTO THE CLASSIC "EYE OF THE BEHOLDER" GAME, but that's okay--my point is to demonstrate the potentialities of the design.
In a normal RPG, all that would have to be written in by the developers, and the quests would be repeatable. Not in this game. Those who defeat the beholder (and live to tell about it) have their place set in history. As do the names of the player-kings who established the cities, and lost them.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Then Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God." John 6:67-69