Travian 4 Beta Begins!

We are a go! I’m still working through the tutorial as I write this, but wanted to give you a look at the new Travian beta as soon as possible. What I can say already, is that it looks great. The new art maintains the game’s original minimalistic feel, while at the same time adding a new level of polish that helps the game feel a lot modern.

Also, Travian has finally joined the ranks of most other OSG’s by adding a key feature: the pretty girl who’s standing around but doesn’t actually affect gameplay.

Another thing I noticed, right in the tutorial text, is a bit of Travian’s philosophy that I think really helps it define the genre: “The best thing to do is to occasionally check your village and give your subjects new tasks to do”.

Anyway, check out the main views below (click for full-screen goodness) and I’ll be sure to write more later. For now, I have a game to play.



Oil Fight

Today I discovered a new text-based, turn-based OSG, Oil Fight. It sounded pretty interesting: “Oilfight is an exciting online game you can play from anywhere with your web browser, competing against other players worldwide in the fight to control the world’s oil supplies. You do this by recruiting soldiers, amassing weapons, and attacking other players to steal their oil, all the while upgrading your weapons and technology.” Their registration process was less impressive.

The honor system, eh? What could possibly go wrong? Perhaps for added security they could add another check box for pinky swear. For a company so concerned with playing fair though, they sure do employ some shady practices. In Oil Fight you can choose one of 4 factions: America, Middle East, Russia, or China.

Wait a moment. Aside from the stark contrast in art style, there is something strange about the character from the Middle East. Where have I seen him before?

Oh, yes. That’s Vincent from Final Fantasy VII, after converting to Islam and swearing an oath of desaturation. OSG developers baffle me. Did they think no one would notice? Was the artist, who probably toiled for at least an hour on each of the other characters, unable to draw someone from the Middle East? And is it just me, or does the American sort of remind you of Mega Man? On the otherhand, if you don’t mind stealing art from other games, why bother drawing characters for the other factions? Why not just use Guile and Zangief? Mysteries abound.


Halloween Style

Ikariam is all dressed up for Halloween. Has anyone noticed any other OSG’s doing something special for the holiday?


OSG Advertising Fail

Perhaps I pay too much attention to ads. You would think though, after the whole ordeal with Evony, that other OSG’s would be more careful with their advertising campaigs.

Something struck me about these sets of ads, on top for Caesary, below for War of Legends. Regardless of whether they sound a might like Theodor Geisel, do they come off as a bit similar? Now, if this were Travian and Imperion or any other set of OSG’s run by the same company, it certainly wouldn’t be an issue. But as far I know Jagex (War of Legends) is one of the few OSG companies not to purchase a copy of Caesary, so they’re definitely competition.

So what happened here? Did one game copy the other? Did they both hire an outside advertising firm who figured they’d kill two clients with one Ad?

Then there’s this one:

Clearly that’s Sagat. Moreover, it’s a cropped painting of Sagat by Enrico Galli made over a year ago. This is perplexing. Putting aside any ethical issues about ripping off an artist or the possible legal battle with Capcom, War of Lgends has a number of their own characters they could have easily used in these ads. Look, I created two ads for them just now by stealing art off the War of Legends home page. It only took me 5 minutes and I’ve potentially saved Jagex a law suit.

You’re welcome,

Art of Age of Ocean

Graphics in an OSG are certainly secondary to gameplay, but can still greatly impact the player’s experience. Poor graphics, especially in terms of the UI, can prevent players from discovery and enjoying the gameplay experience, and captivating graphics can help pull a player into the game. A lot of recent OSG’s such as Ikariam, Imperion, Evony, etc., employ 3d renders of buildings and characters. One game that breaks the trend, however, is Age of Ocean, which has almost a painterly feel to its background images.

One of the cool things about the game is getting to explore the world and eventually reach a new continent and a new culture. But, for those who haven’t gotten that far yet, or who are just curious about the game, here’s all the art I could find. Click on the dock and port views to see the full size. If anyone has made it to any other continents beyond Arabia, Europe, and East Asia, let me know!


Art Theft Strikes Again

I was checking out the latest game from Hithere, King and Conqueror.

At the very beginning of the game I was asked to choose a profile picture for my Hero, and noticed one of the options looked suspiciously like the Hulk. There was another that seemed familiar as well. After I built up some Mines I went to build some troops and staring back at me was an image from Pascal Blanche (second row).

I did some research and it turns out the Hulk image was done by Jonas Thornqvist. Now, I suppose it’s possible that Hithere got permission from the artists to use their work, but I sort of doubt it. Further, the Hulk is owned by Marvel, and it’s quite unlikely that Hithere would be able to get the rights to use him here. This is very similar to what Castle Age was caught doing a while back… We’ll see what happens.