Zones of Control

A reader pointed me to this forum thread which has a lot of information about Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms. I was especially interested in the concept of “Control Zones”.

It always seemed odd to me that OSG Alliances are formed with littel regard to geography. Parts of your alliance could be scattered across the world, completely surrounded by other alliances. It prompted me to make this:

Heroes Kingdoms addresses this though with the concept of a Control Zone:

“Each city projects a control zone. If you play alone, it represents your influence area; if you join alliance, it’s merged with the other members’ zones…

– It is impossible for a non-alliance member to build in this control area.
– You can travel over your alliance territory without stops.

– When you siege an opponent’s city, each side of your (or your alliance) control zone in contact with his city reduces the siege duration by 20%.”

This seems a lot like Cultural Influence from civilization and makes it far more advantageous for alliances to be contiguous, and provides a lot of opportunity for strategic decisions. For example, it could actually matter what side you attack from! In most OSG’s any of your cities could be attacked at any time, but it looks like in this game if you have cities in the center of your alliance’s territory they could be relatively safe (or at least you’d have a lot more time to notice an attack) and so you can focus on building up a strong defensive line around your alliances’ border, just like real warfare. It also makes it easier to see how each alliance is doing overall.

TsuChi on the forum put together this cool map that shows how the beta has been progressing. It lookslike purple was cut in half and then destroyed!

Cheers,
Oliver

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Mid-Week Links

Just a couple of quick links here.

To follow the previous post about EVE Online, Gamasutra has an interview with CCP discussing EVE Online’s steep learning curve (described as “vertical”). This is definitely an issue with OSG’s, as a new player can easily be discouraged if he either doesn’t know what he’s doing or has to sit through a long tutorial before actually getting to play the game.

Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms now has an iPad client, even though they’ve still yet to release in the States…

Cheers,
Oliver

Heroes of Might and Magic: Online vs. Kingdoms

Ubisoft is currently offering two different Heroes of Might and Magic online strategy games. I did a little research to find out what was going on and why, and here’s what I found.

Heroes of Might and Magic Online is a client-based strategy game intended for a Chinese audience, developed by the popular Chinese developer TQ Digital Entertainment. With 8 races and 3d graphics, it’s a pretty flushed out game. Ubisoft licensed the game to TQ to develop, and despite some set backs in release dates (read: years), it came out in 2008. Previously the game has only available in China but Ubisoft has recently set up a closed beta to test the game out in the U.S.

Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms on the other hand, is an actual OSG intended for a Western market. There are 4 races with pre-rendered graphics, and has more of a foucs on resource management than its counterpart. It also has some unique game mechanics, such as cities exerting zones of control on the world map. The game is in beta mode and, as far as I know, is currently only available in France.

If anyone is in the beta for either of these games, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It will be interesting to see which one of these is more popular, the client-based or the browser-based.

Cheers,
Oliver

New OSG’s on the Horizon

Some of the biggest names in gaming are looming on the horizon of Online Strategy Games. Both EA and Ubisoft have games currently in closed beta that turn established IP’s into OSG’s.

EA has Lord of Ultima

and Ubisoft is working on Heroes Kingdoms, which brings the popular Might and Magic series into the genre.

A lot of newer OSG’s (specifically Lord’s Online and Heroes of Gaia) seem to draw heavily from the Might and Magic series, so it will be interesting to see how the introduction of the game affects the OSG landscape. Compared to Travian Games (Travian) and Gameforge (Ikariam), EA and Ubisoft are huge companies, so it will be very interesting to see if these games will steal some of the core OSG players, or if the use of established intellectual properties will bring a whole new set of players to the genre.

Cheers,
Oliver