Checking In On Stone Age Kings

Time to time I check back with Stone Age Kings to see if they’ve expanded beyond German yet. Still no luck. It looks like a great game (I’m especially intrigued by their weather system), so hopefully they will eventually release an English version. Until then, I’ve taken the liberty to (poorly) translate some of the ads they have on their site. Compared to some of the Lord of Ultima ads on Facebook, these are quite creative.

“Out on Vacation. Now testing the new vacation mode.” Vacation mode is a feature I first noticed in Ikariam. If players are going to be away from the game for a while they can freeze their account: they won’t harvest any resources, but won’t be attacked either. Vacation mode also has a cool-down perioid of a couple days, so it’s not abused. It’s a free feature in Ikariam, but it looks like in Stone Age Kings it costs 10 Obsidian / day.

“Feature Preview: Conquest. All information about the coming patch.” Stone Age Kings is release a “Conquest” patch that allows players to conquer villages of inactive players. Conquering a player’s village is a huge game element, and many games approach it differently. In Travian you can conquer anyone’s village, active or otherwsise. In Ikariam you can’t conquer any village at all. Lord of Ultima introduced their own Castle System. Being able to conquer inactive villages certainly makes sense, as it allows for the mechanic without active players having to worry about it. However, I can only imagine that conquering an inactive village is much less satisfying to the conqueror.

This one I had the most difficult time translating (as I’m relying on Yahoo and Google; German speakers are a lot harder to come by in the States…) It says something along the lines of “Sign up here and lead your own village. Seize the power and lead your people to glory and honor!”. Nothing terribly interesting about that, but I found Babelfish’s original output rather humorous: “Seize power and cart-load your Bolk outer fame and honour!”

And finally, one more to the ranks of OSG ads using sex-appeal. Or as best you can with a neanderthal character. “Only ‘fur’ you. Obsidian. Load now”

Should anyone catch word of Stone Age Kings coming to the rest of the world, definitely let me know!



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.