OSG News

Just wanted to catch you up on a few important OSG news items I missed earlier this week.

First, did you think this was the only blog with extensive coverage of online strategy games Aloriah and Lord of Ultima? Well, think again! Reader Guzzer has his own blog, “Guzzer vs Browser Based Games” and he recently posted a great article about the end of Aloriah’s Midgard server.

Also, Khan Wars has gone to version 3.0, the Dark Embrace. As far as I can tell it’s pretty much the same game, but with a few changes to the graphics. To be fair, I haven’t actuall logged in to version 3.0, because I can’t seem to remember my username / password. But, XS software was kind enough to send me a poem about their new version, so enjoy.

Walking in fog and darkness, through forests, plains and hills,
destiny made me witness the fall of great warriors.
The forces of Darkness rise again, commanded by the Ghost Khan,
proclaiming his evil fame!
Their blades are sharper than ever before
Their masters fearless – as only the bravest must be
They took our dreams, our faith and our trust
And left behind only shadows, tears and mistake

Cheers,
Oliver

10 Games That Could Have Spin-off OSGs

Lord of Ultima started the ball rolling, but is less of an homage and more of an attempt at publicity by somehow including the name “Ultima” in the title. The OSG really has nothing to do with the Ultima MMO, but what if we took some classic (and maybe some not so classic) video games and truly adapted them to the OSG genre? Let’s find out.

1. Lord of Mushroom Kingdom: The Super Mario OSG
Naturally, the standard hot girl would be Princess Peach. Units would include Koopas (both flying and normal), bob-ombs for seige, and goombas for grunts. Your Toads would be hard at work mining for Mushrooms, Flowers, and Stars, and upgrading your Doom Ships.

2. Final FantOSG
I know Square Enix already has one in the works, but not a strictly Final Fantasy based game. The units would include the job classes from the classic games- I’m talking black mage, white mage (priest), knight, lancer, etc. The game would also have the most 3d Animated Cutscenes of any OSG to date.

3. Castlevania
Have we ever seen a horror OSG in general? I don’t think so. This game would need to employ a hero system in which players could have a Belmont lead the way. Standard units would be Castleveania staples like zombies, skeletons, those weird merman fish things, you get the point. Awesome soundtrack included.

4. Doom
A first person shooter adapted to an MMORTS? I must be crazy. But think of the potential units! All of the cool demons would be build-able: Imps, zombies, cyberdemons, pinkies. The tough part would be incorporating all the weapons.

5. Team Fortress 2
Walls built by engineers and defended by sentries. Every single class is able to be recruited. Build a 1000 scouts to rush your opponent. Build thousands of heavies and medics for a solid defense. Soldiers and Demomen destroy the walls, paving the way for a pyro rush. I don’t see how this can be bad. They could even make a shortcut to jump into a round of 2Fort while waiting to upgrade the Intelligence.

6. Half Life (2)
It might be a little difficult to capture the post apocalyptic-resistance feel of the game, but the different unit classes could work if the player was allowed to choose one of two factions, human or alien. And if Valve is going to make an OSG, why not two?

7. Grand Theft Auto Vice City
I only chose Vice City because I love the 80s theme. But really the key to making this a good game would be to have it based on different gangs in different parts of the city. It would probably end up being a mix between Mafia Wars and an OSG, which would actually be pretty interesting.

8. Halo
The franchise has already been converted to an RTS, in the form of Halo Wars. Why not one step further. The different alien types and vehicles would translate easily to the genre, and might help induct some frat boys into the genre, which will make prime raiding targets.

9. Any Star Wars game
Currently building: Death Star. Time left: 02y 04m 23d 17h 12m 14s. Hurry production?
Use the jedis as heroes, and rest is pretty self explanatory. Xwings, TIE fighters, and it makes perfect sense to have an army of 1,000 identical Storm Troopers.

10. Tetris
You figure it out.

Cheers,
Oliver

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 18

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 18
– by Goemon

EA and Phenomic released a huge update a couple of days ago entitled “Ascension.” This is the second of a planned three (free!) updates to the game. The first was entitled “Serpent Isle” and essentially added streamlined menus with more customizable options. Nothing major. But while Ascension doesn’t add more content like new unit types and NPC areas per say, it does change the general structure of the game, and adds some new features. It makes sense that this is not a paid-for, “DLC” update, because the changes affect everyone. Let me brief you.

The biggest change is the structure of moonstones, barons, and city founding. Prior to this update, essentially what you would do to found new cities is build a moonglow tower to level 10, spend 50,000 of every resource to get moonstones, then you could buy a baron and found/take over a new city. They now introduced the Research system. Basically, you now have the option of “purifying” your normal resources: wood, stone, iron, and food, into Darkwood, Runestone, Veritium, and Trueseed, respectively. Are you lost yet? Surely an OSG veteran such as yourself can keep up with some simple name changes. 1000 wood equals 1 Darkwood, 1000 stone equals one Runestone, etc.

“So what’s the difference?” I hear you asking. This might just seem like an extraneous step- and maybe it is- but after you purify the resources is where it gets interesting. Sure, you have the option to recruit barons, found new cities, etc. BUT, you can now Research(there’s that word again) as well. You can spend your purified resources on MMORPG-esque enhancements for your units and cities.

There are simple yet highly useful things like Construction Speed Bonus which does what you might expect. You can increase travel speed of units and carts. And you can increase combat strength in general.

This is kind of cool, in that you can further customize your playstyle. Opting for brute force, strictly berzerkers? Upgrade Berzerker strength to the max. Want to get in and get out with as much loot as possible? Focus on unit speed.

The problem is, as far as I can tell there’s no limit to how many upgrades you can get, whereas a traditional MMO or any other RPG will limit your character to only have a certain type of skills. So basically, if you got the funds, you got the upgrade. And with enough cash you get all the upgrades. Which means, on a long enough timeline, all the best players will have all of the upgrades, throwing customization out the window, and then you’re just back to essentially the vanilla game. Then again, it will probably be really hard to get ALL of the upgrades. Anyways it’s brand new, I guess we’ll see what happens.

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 17

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 17
– by Goemon

I took a little bit of a break from Lord of Ultima, which apparently was a little too much because my empire was essentially in ruins at my return. But that’s alright, because it gave me an excuse to start up a new game on one of the new US West (read: best) Coast server. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I joined the server- clearly it’s still the same game, and the player base is identical. There could be slightly less lag, but maybe that’s just my California optimism speaking.

It does feel good to get a fresh start though. I’m laying out my city more efficiently and just massing Berzerkers in the beginning to see if that will give me any kind of advantage. As far as I can tell, the dominant players seem to mass one or two different types of units rather than spreading themselves too thin- am I right about this?

In the “Top Ten Things OSGs Steal From Each Other” article, I complained about the lack of chat activity in the genre. I may have been wrong. I decided to start paying more attention to that little chat box, and I think it can actually be a pretty solid source of enjoyment. So I will give you a couple gems (in my opinion) for the week.

If you happen to be French, avert your eyes from this next screenshot. If not, then enjoy.

It was too easy! Unfortunately for me, nobody else in the server found it funny. But it was the first time I’ve used the chat, so good for me.

I also snapped this great moment discussing playing too much LoU. I thought, as an OSG, the game was designed to be played sparingly, perhaps for only minutes a day. But apparently not for this guy.

Does this ever happen to anyone else? I can honestly say I have never had that problem.

And on a last, non-chat related note, I thought I would bring up the whole deserted server issue. It seems to be a talked about issue on the LoU forums, but I’ve never encountered it in game. Until now. I think this snapshot speaks for itself.

Top 10 Features OSGs Steal From Each Other

Here’s an old list from Goemon that I’m a little late posting 🙂
Sorry Goemon. Enjoy.

Since the dawn of the first OSG, innovation has taken kind of a backseat in the genre. That’s not to say that there’s never anything new. But, I’m going to go ahead and generalize and say that whenever developers get together to make a new OSG they look at the most popular games and what has made them successful first. Then, MAYBE they’ll try and come up with something a little different. Maybe.

1. Lord of Ultima’s Castle system, borrowed by Verdonia. Except Verdonia calls it a Chancery. Long story short, you can’t be attacked by other players until you build a specific building. In LoU, it’s a castle. In Verdonia, it’s a chancery. Hey, at least they didn’t just type Castle in a thesaurus. Also, Chancery could totally be the name of a cookie cutter OSG.

2. The tech up system. Alright this is another one of those that could be used to define the genre. And you’re probably right, it is. But that still doesn’t mean EVERYONE has to copy it. Or maybe it does. I don’t know.

3. The naming system. You know exactly what I’m talking about: Evony, Caesary, Kingory… notice a trend here? I don’t think this needs any further explanation.

4. The text box at the bottom of the screen. In every OSG ever. Ok, maybe a text box is nice, but does anybody ever use this thing? I swear every game I play is virtually silent aside from Alliance chat.

5. The free-to-play but pay-for-perks system. This is another genre-wide one. I understand the companies have to make money, and this is a great way to do it. Start playing the game, like it, but want to get better fast? Just give us some money and we’ll take care of you. It’s interesting that no OSG’s seem to have tried any other monetization model.

6. Ridiculously long build times (at least when compared to RTS games). You could contest and say that this is part of what makes up the OSG genre. And you’d probably be right. But still, you’d think somebody would try a different…strategy. Pun highly intended.

7. Usage of the word Lord in the title. Lord of Ages, Lord of Ultima, Lords of Evil (Really?), and of course, the most original of the bunch, Lords Online.

8. The 2d isometric town layout. Alright, I’ll cut them some slack on this one because of the limitations of a game being played in a browser. Actually, you know what? You can do really interesting things with a 2d engine. Just look at the bright, sunny graphics of Ikariam or Age of Ocean, or the steampunkness of Freesky. That’s how to do it right. Then look at Grepolis, Lord of Ages, and Verdonia. That’s what I call derivative.

9. The medieval theme. Why must half of these games have a medieval theme?! There are so many other time periods to cover if you want to go the historical route. Or, use your imagination and come up with a new one! It would be highly appreciated.

10. The standard hot girl. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 16

I Am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 16
– by Goemon

Last time I mentioned my plans for the construction of a beach side resort/ naval base, obviously on the coast of this continent called Caledonia (that’s some alliteration for you guys. I run a highly intellectual column here). Well, I have a decent enough start, at least I think I do. I haven’t looked at any tutorials for towns focusing on ship building, but I think I get the concept of as many barracks and specific unit buildings as possible.

Here’s what I have so far; let me know what you think:

I’m solely building Sloops for now, because they seem like the most well rounded (solid defense, decent enough offense). My other option is Frigates, which are the siege unit of the naval world, but until I can buffer the rest of my offensive cities I think I’ll hold out on that for now. I’ve tried a few naval raids but they’ve been pretty anticlimactic since I haven’t built up enough of a fleet just yet.

Enough about my pathetic attempt at a naval base, though. Let’s talk about YOU. Well, me as well, but only because this concerns all Lord of Ultima players in general. I’ve talked a bit about the endgame before, but I really do enjoy reading through all the raging forum goers continuously complaining about it. It’s got to be the number one complaint.

Right now, the gates just look like this.

But eventually, and allegedly “soon,” they will look like this.

And once this subtle blue hue is added, the world of Ultima will pretty much go to hell. Riots in the towns. Armies turning against their kings. Players betraying their alliances (Note- none of this will actually happen, except for possibly backstabbing players).

Seriously though, the world will literally end soon after these gates open- I, as well as most of the rest of the community, can’t wait to see what happens.

I Am the Lord of Ultima (Well, not yet) Part 15

I am the Lord of Ultima (well, not yet) Part 15
– by Goemon

Yes, I killed a dragon. More on this momentous event later.

Lord of Ultima has its first USA West Coast server up for all you Californians out there. Now you can bask in the glory of sunshine AND lower ping times. Personally, I would have picked this server in the beginning, but I think my empire is too vast (or I’m too lazy) for me to start anew.

Not only is this more convenient for potentially quite a few people out there, the decision to open a new server on the US West Coast also has some implications for the OSG genre in general. Or at least it does in my book, because I love to read into decisions like this. Before now, Lord of Ultima was strictly a few US East Coast servers and a host of European ones. They don’t say which country exactly, just European. Unsurprisingly, as I’m sure you know if you are reading this blog, OSGs have so far been much more popular in Europe and Asia than in the United States. Does the opening of West Coast servers mean the genre is becoming more popular in newer areas? Why yes, I believe it does. More popularity in these games can only be good for the players (that’s us).

It means more new games, and ideally, better ones too. Plus, more noobs (newbs?) for you to crush.

In Goemon Empire news, I’ve closed one door and opened another. I finally abandoned my first town at the advice of some forum goers as well as readers of this blog. It was simply beyond saving, what with the instasiege that seemed to take place every time I tried to build something. But I’ve begun building a Navy at the ocean. I’ve got two beach side towns currently under construction, and an army of ships will go well with my land army of dwarv- err, Berzerkers and Templars.

Speaking of armies, I had two legitimate victories this week. I slayed two dragons. TWO! Last time I even attempted, every single one of my attacking units was destroyed. This time, I sent two separate armies against two separate dragons and I took them both down.

You might be thinking, “Hey, those dragons were only level 5 and level 4, respectively. You’re pathetic.” I counter your hypothetical question with this thought. Just add the two dragons together and you’ve got a Level 9 BEAST. A beast that I took down single handedly, no less!

Admittedly, it’s probably a bit late in the game for me to be hunting lowly dragons. Why do you think I’m building a navy? I want to get into some ocean warfare. I’ll let you know how it goes.