Canton: An Atlas Pathfinder Adventure
The game starts in the city of Canton (Guangdong), with only one caravan and a small starting capital. The first objective is to locate another city so that the trade can start. Available trading goods include grain, meat, salt, ore, weapons and tools, and each city has certain levels of demand and supply of goods, with varying offering and buying prices. Thus, it is possible to buy cheap goods in one city and sell them for a profit in another; additionally, food (grain and meat) is required to cover the expenditures of maintaining a caravan, and some of the income also goes as payment to the caravan each turn.
Once some level of profit from trade had been attained, the player can hire more caravans for trade and exploration, and also use some of the caravans to build warehouses. Warehouses are not only used to store goods (since every caravan has maximum carrying capacity that cannot be exceeded), but also allow the player's trading company to produce goods of its own. For this purpose, the player can hire or recruit peasants and artisans in the cities. A warehouse with at least four peasants will produce one unit of food (grain or meat) each turn, and four artisans in a warehouse produce one tool or weapon each turn.
In addition to trade and exploration, there are rather frequent special events in the game that can either be profitable or adverse to the player's assets. For example, an exploring caravan may find hidden treasure that will add money to the company's budget. On the other hand, pirates can attack ships at sea, and fending an attack successfully can only be accomplished if the player had provided protection for caravans and ships in the form of hired soldiers.
The registered version of the game allows to play for decades of in-game time, simulating the long career of Atlas Pathfinder as a manager and entrepreneur. The shareware version, on the other hand, offers only five years of in-game time, or sixty turns (each turn counts as one month). Also, some of the game features and options, like establishing fixed trade routes, are disabled in the shareware version of Canton.