Lord of Ages on Facebook

At long last, the premier online strategy game, Lord of Ages, has graced Facebook with its presence! Recently I was purusing Facebook when I saw this ad: “15 Build at Same Time; Click here to enjoy fastest growth!” Finally, a game that addresses the ranks of Travian players who are sitting around with enough resources to upgrade 15 of their structures, but are unable to do so. Surely the best online strategy game is obviously the one that lets you build the most at same time, so I quickly clicked to find out what this epic game was.

The next screen that greeted me brought a smile to my face. While some players might scoff at the idea of recommending a game to all of their friends before actually playing it, since I recognized this as Lord of Ages I knew it was something all my facebook friends would appreciate. Especially the game’s unique take on English.

My excitement was growing and now it was time to choose my image. What face shall I show to my enemies? How about Eomer? I bet New Line Cinema and Tolkein himself were thrilled at the chance to donate their work to such a great game.

Finally I had to chose which Nation I would join. I was really looking forward to lording over my new kingdom, but unfortunately each Nation I chose returned “Error: 1025005”. Alas, I guess I am not worthy enough to behold the majesty of Lord of Ages on Facebook.



Verdonia Review

Game Site: Verdonia on Facebook
Game Developer: Playdom
Rating: Don’t Waste Your Time

When I saw that Playdom had made an OSG for Facebook, I was quite excited. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Social City for the last couple months, and they have a few other well-polished games, so I was expecting good things. Alas, I was rather disappointed when an old nemisis reared its head.

Verdonia is Evony for Facebook. Understand that this is not a metaphor. Granted, the graphics are original and relatively well done, but it’s clearly taken from the same base code, has the same buildings, the same units, etc. Playdom has made a few changes aside from the graphics, which I’ll go over, but overall these have just made a mediocre game worse.

Perhaps the best change Playdom has made to the game is the adoption of Lord of Ultima’s Castle system, in the form of the Chancery. Basically, you do not have access to the world map until you build a Chancery. This means you cannot attack other players, nor can they attack you. This lets each player decide when he’s ready to enter the usually aggressive PVP side of the game, if ever. Until then, you can still use your military and sharpen your teeth by attacking the NPC controlled areas in your Kingdom (which each player has a unique instance of), which may be enough for some players.

Aside from this, I consider most of the other changes a step in the wrong direction. Verdonia embraces what usually passes for social interaction in a Facebook game (the sending of gifts back and forth), which is just rediculous in an OSG. That’s what the Marketplace (trade) and the March Site (troops) should be for. So instead of having players interact in meaningful ways that you would expect in an online strategy game, you are hit with a pop up window every five minutes or so detailing this out-of-game experience where you can conjure up resources for you and your allies out of thin air by posting on your Facebook wall.

Further, the price you pay for these interruptions? Verdonia uses 33% of my CPU when idle. Granted, I get a couple cool animations like smoke billowing from my academy, or a flock of birds that flies by every few minutes, but is that really worth it? This is a browser-based game afterall. When idle, Facebook, Ikariam, and Travian combined use less than 1% of my processor.

Probably more than disliking the game I’m simply disappointed in Playdom. Bringing OSG’s to Facebook is a great idea (since there are only a few so far), but if you’re just going to copy another game, why not copy a good one? Of course I understand it’s a business decision. The Evony code is clearly for sale, and all Playdom had to do was integrate it with their proven Facebook framework, draw a few pictures, and call it a day. On the plus side, hopefully the game will introduce some of Facebook’s “casual gamers” and leave them craving some deeper gameplay.



Yet another OSG, Rock Age, has landed on Facebook. It’s currently still in Alpha, but I’ll be getting a review out sometime this week (right after I finish Verdonia). Also, tomorrow is the last day to submit something to the battle contest! Who doesn’t want to win free in-game currency?


Site News

Just a reminder, 6 more days for the Battle Narrative Contest!

Also, I’ve once more updated the list of games, adding Antzzz, Caesary, Lord of Ages, WW2Assembly, and Verdonia. Verdonia is another OSG for Facebook by Playdom, the same developer that did Social City, which I was totally addicted to for a month or so. I’ll have a review in the near future.

I also found three more sites where you can play Caesary, brining the total up to five. I wonder if each of the game portals knows Caesary is seeing other sites on the side?



— Edit —
Whoops, I forgot CaesaryOnline.com. This game gets around.

Evony’s New Advertising Direction

It looks like Evony is indeed attempting to clean up its advertising campaign as reported. The latest batch of ads below (that I crossed while playing Social City on Facebook) are much more reputable than Evony’s previous campgain. Looks like Lord of Ultima is getting on board as well. Now I just need to find a Travian and Ikariam ad on Facebook and my collection will be complete!


Infamous Advertising

Many OSG’s are employing advertising techniques that seem counter productive. Of course Evony’s risque campgain comes to mind. Flooding the internet with their “play now” adds, easily mistaken for pornography sites, certainly helped Evony get noticed. However, this has also painted the game as rather shady and dishonest, and I know several people who stay away from a decent game because of the company’s reputation.

As I mentioned, some OSG’s are adopting the facebook method of game promotion as well, where players are rewarded for incessently asking their friends to the game. Is this effective, or os it merely annoying? One Facebook game I’ve been caught up in recently is Social City. In the game you have a certain plot of land to build roads, factories, restaurants, etc. You can also expand how much space you have, but only if you have enough neighbors. For example, in order to expand to a 12×12 grid you need 3 neighbors, in order to expand to a 15×15 grid you need 10 neighbors, etc. (I don’t remember the actual numbers) The developers are clearly hoping that players will encourage their Facebook friends to join the game, but the players have circumvented those intentions. There’s actually a Facebook group to find people who are already playing the game and need more neighbors. So, instead of players having their friends join the game, they are finding other players to add as friends.

In the end it seems to come down to a game of numbers. When throwing these advertising nets (whether offensive or merely annoying), even if it drives away 95% of the potential players, if the net is big enough and noticeable enough then perhaps 5% of potential players is all a game needs to be successful. Sadly, this puts the developers in a position not of creating a great game that fosters a strong player community, but spending enough money on advertising to drive game traffic. Hopefully this site can help a bit, by pointing out OSG’s that are truly worth playing, not just those with the biggest marketing budget.