Quick Update

So, probably the biggest news in the last few days is that Travian has started a new Championship Server. This is a x2 server, and the top 1,000 players of each Tribe will be given the opportunity to compete in “the final server” sometime next year. This is a brilliant move on behalf of Travian Games. One of the unique elements of Travian is how competitive it is, even amongst other OSG’s, and simply calling the server “Championship Server” should really enhance that.

It’s come at a great time too, as I’ve been getting bored with the other OSG’s, so I’m glad to have something to sink my teeth into. As the previous post suggests, I’ve started playing and will be resuming my Travian Chronicles! I’m going to try to perform better than last time, but of course the competition will be even more fierce! Everyone feel free to leave me some suggestions, tips, strategies, etc! I’ll need all the help I can get.

Also, Bio Break has put up an interesting article on “Why Star Trek Online NEEDS to go free-to-play “. It’s an interesting time when a lot of major MMORPGs seem to be switching over to the F2P model that OSG’s have been using for years. Very interesting indeed…

Anyway, this week we can look forward to another “I am the Lord of Ultima”, my first official post for Travian Chronicles II, and that elusive Nano Siege review 😛

Cheers,
Oliver

More Links

Some quick news in the world of OSG’s today.

Travian is having a World Cup contest. Anyone who has a plus account gets to make a guess as to who they think will win the championship, and the winners will all split 1 million gold. Of course, someone points out on the forum that if 1,000 people guess right that’s only 1,000 gold each, but that’s still a lot of gold!

Ikariam is opening a new server. The new Omicron server starts on June 15th. Most of the community seems to be in agreement that this is a bad idea, since most of the servers are considered to be underpopulated. There’s even been some suggestions about combining a few servers into one. The Prof on the Ikariam forums provided some helpful numbers for the Ikariam.org servers:

Alpha – 8,922
Beta – 2,951
Gamma – 2,964
Delta – 3,050
Epsilon – 2,996
Zeta – 2,924
Eta – 2,878
Theta – 3,042
Iota – 2,899
Kappa – 2,876
Lambda – 2,972
My – 3,010
Ny – 3,031
Xi – 5,272

And adds, “And yes, I do currently have accounts on every server… Long story!”

Finally, Syp over at Bio Break discusses the plus side of LOTRO going free-to-play in a nice story about finally getting his wife to join the game. It’s certainly true that more players are willing to at least try a game when it’s F2P.

Cheers,
Oliver

Late Night Links

Perhaps the biggest (somewhat OSG related) news today is that Lord of the Rings Online has gone Free-to-play. Syp over at Bio Break has done a nice job of compiling the community’s reaction. I think the main concerns are “what does this mean for players who have already paid for a lifetime subscription to the game”, and “will this cheapen the gaming experience”? A lot of Free-to-Play games, including OSG’s, can fall into the trap of being overly aggressive in trying to sell to the player. No one likes hanging out at used car lots for the fun of it.

In other news, some former EA developers are working on Skulls of the Shogun, a turn-based strategy game for Xbox Live Arcade and PC. It’s always nice to see strategy games make it onto the consoles, as hopefully it will bring more players to the genre.

Finally, I found my Ikariam inbox rather humorous this evening and thought I’d share. It really just re-re-re-iterates that the developers need to do something to make the end-game more interesting. My latest thought is to just unleash a horde of barbarians that would attack anyone above a certain General’s score until their camp is destroyed, and maybe give 100,000 points to the alliance that finishes them off or something to that affect.

Cheers,
Oliver

Pay to Play vs. Free to Play in Lord of Ultima

Pay to Play vs. Free to Play in Lord of Ultima
– by Goemon

One of the great things about OSGs is that they are free to play. Of course, the companies that make these games are just that- companies, and because of that they need a way to make money. Each of them has their own way of getting you to do this, but generally you get some kind of advantage in game in exchange for real world money. Pretty much, you can spend real cash to get in game gold or resources, or speed up construction.

Lord of Ultima gives players a chance to try out the premium content by handing out “samples” in the form of quest rewards or dungeon/boss loot. So pretty much, the marketing geniuses give you a taste of the good life for free, in hopes that you’ll like it so much you’ll continue to pay for it.

Free Lord of Ultima gives you a six slot building queue, which is actually pretty nice in comparison to other games (*cough*Desert Operations’ 1*cough*). So you can line up six orders and let the buildings construct themselves. BUT, if you pay for the building minister, your queue shoots up to 16. You can seriously set up several days worth of building orders and not have to worry about wasting any time. Building Minister for 48 hours is one such quest reward, and let me tell you, it is quite a luxury. I felt the loss of the Building Minister more than any other premium content- a convenient set it and forget concept if I’ve ever used one.

There is also a Defense Minister, which is essentially the same thing as the Building Minister except it bumps up the troop recruitment queue to 16. Also very handy to have around.
Lord of Ultima also peppers you with so-called “economic artifacts,” which is really just a fancy way of saying resources or gold. This is a very common quest reward that gives you X amount of wood, stone, iron, gold, or all of the above. I didn’t find this quite as cool as the Building Minister, but I can still see its purpose- founding a new city, for example, would be made much easier with a huge cache of resources to work with. A couple of the other artifacts advance recruitment or building queues up a certain amount of time. This pretty much serves to keep the player playing the game continually; i.e., rather than queuing up buildings and leaving for several hours. the player can just speed it up and keep playing the game right then and there.

There’s also Orbs of Peace, which prevent you from getting attacked. I haven’t had much use for that since I really only get plundered and have been able to defend myself just fine so far.

Did I enjoy using this premium content stuff? Yes. Do I wish I had access to it all the time? Also yes. Am I actually going to pay for any of them? Nope, but I’m sure many people will.

Link: If Mario Were Designed in 2010

I just stumbled upon this short article by Zack Hiwiller, “If Mario Was Designed in 2010” and had to share. Coincidentally, it touches on both the free-to-play mechanic and the so-called ‘social’ aspect of Facebook games. Enjoy!