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.

Choosing the Right Alliance for You

Choosing the Right Alliance for You: An OSG Guide to Surviving (Barely)
– by Ken Griffey

The world of OSGs is a dangerous one. Sure, when you sign up for that hot new Evony clone, you may feel invulnerable. You may feel like no one can touch you. You may even start to get a little cocky, and think that you have everything all figured out. But what you don’t realize is that the cozy little protection offered by the “break in” period is about to end, meaning, you’re going to be out there…with THEM! Which means, like the first day of prison, it’s open season on your soft, pasty noob ass. And while it seems like it may be a good idea to pucker up and make friends with that possibly racist neighbor named Bubba333, he’s only using you for your looks, and people get hurt that way.

So what is left for you to do? Join an alliance. Follow this guide, and you’ll be slinking and mooching your way to OSG glory (or at least mediocrity).

1. First, watch this tutorial.

2. What? Still need more info?!? After you have been playing for a few days, you will most likely begin to receive messages from random players that you’ve never spoken or even seen, before. This is because each alliance has recruiters who look around their ocean, island, or what have you, and try to find players who seem to be leveling up with vigor, or who have at least shown that they have played on a consistent basis.

3. It is very important that you do not immediately join the first group that contacts you. I mean, you wouldn’t marry the first girl you saw walking down the street would you?!? For all you know, she could be some kind of drug addict, or gypsy. And what would your mother think? In game, you want to do research on who you’re allying yourself with. How many members do they have? Are those members concentrated in a realm near you? If you were being attacked, how quickly could they send aid? These are all VERY important questions you need to ask yourself, since joining an alliance is pointless if a)they are too weak to help you (or rarely play) and b)it would take them days to help you when you needed it most.

4. An alliance, like any of the relationships you’ve failed in, is built on communication! If you don’t know what your leader, or the other members are doing, it can get you into some serious trouble. Just recently, the head honcho of my clan decided to basically try and get several other groups to ally against one of Grepolis’s strongest alliances. Needless to say, the latter found out, and now have declared war on EVERYONE associated with the former. None of us knew he was attempting to do this, or even suggested it. It was his own plan, but now we’re facing the consequences. What’s worse is, those players who have paid for upgrades and poured money into the game, stand to lose much more than myself or many others. That is one of the main reasons why it’s important to do your research!

5. Finally, see what groups the players nearest to you have joined. Ask them what they think of their respective alliances. Chances are, they will be friendly and be more than happy to share that information with you. Who knows, they might even send you an invite. This also serves the purpose of allying yourself with someone in close proximity, which like I stated before, means you can get help in a jiffy. Or, they will recognize you as the indecisive weakling you are, and crush you like an ant.

Hopefully this guide has provided you with an idea of how to scrape out a life for yourself in whatever game it is that you’re playing. So go ahead! Feel free to talk as much smack to that player who is 70 levels above you, and could wipe you off the face of the earth in a second if he so wanted! What do you have to worry about? You’re in an alliance.

Mixing OSGs With RPGs: Hey, Why Not?

Goemon muses about combining the two genres. Global Agenda has done something similar, fusing OSG and FPS gameplay. Perhaps the same could be done with MMO’s, creating more player-driven content and less random quests to kill 15 boars or what have you. Anyway, enjoy!

Mixing OSGs With RPGs: Hey, Why Not?
– by Goemon

OSGs and RPGs, and more specifically MMORPGs, already have a lot in common with each other, and adding more of these aspects could make for some interesting new gameplay. Lord of Ultima doesn’t really count even though Ultima is one of the longest standing RPG series out there- it really doesn’t have anything to do with the series or even the genre at all.

Sorry in advance for all the acronyms.

So what do they already have in common? For one, every OSG is already an MMO. When you log on to Ikariam or Travian, you’re playing with all other real people. Same goes for World ​of Warcraft or Everquest. The world is also persistent. In an offline RPG, the game world stops if you turn it off and stays that way until you turn it back on. In MMOs and OSGs, the game world keeps on going without you.

Plus, Lord of the Rings Online just went free to play- probably due to the success of free OSGs like Lord of Ultima. I don’t think anyone will say no to more free MMOs.

A few OSGs, Evony, Aloriah, Age of Ocean, etc, have started incorporating a hero into the mix. In every RPG I can think of, the hero is the focus of the game. As you progress, you level up your character, get new skills and abilities, and you usually outfit him or her with new weapons and armor. In Age of Ocean, you can hire heroes which are used to lead your fleets. As you explore new territories and finish quests, naturally your hero levels up. You can then lead even bigger fleets and explore further out. The weapons and armor you equip provide bonuses to your fleet when you’re attacking other players. And for the most part it works great; having a hero brings the player a little closer into the game and provides another customizable element that can make each person’s experience a little different.

Let’s try it the other way around- what about putting some OSG elements into an RPG? Many MMOs have a guild war system, and these guilds can often own fortresses or something similar. This could be expanded upon for some cool new gameplay elements. What if every player was given the option to build a city? The game could “zoom out” to the standard OSG isometric view, and a player could arrange and build buildings from there. Afterwards, he could walk around in his town in 3d. Of course, the resources for these buildings could come from loot from monsters, treasure chests, etc. The player could recruit NPC troops to guard his town while he was away, or be able to send them to attack other players.

The typical resource buildings could be used to provide materials to craft armor and weapons for your character. The buildings would also provide a source of resources to use for trade between players, which is a huge aspect of MMOs.

I think I covered the main points, but do you guys have anything you want to add? Disagree with me perhaps? Let me know!

New Poll: What’s Your Play Style?

Time for another (now weekly) poll. What’s your OSG play-style or strategy? Do you start the game as aggressive as possible, raiding anyone unfortunate enough to start nearby? Do you start upping your production and city walls, knowing that the defender has the advantage and wait for the aggressors to waste their resources on your armies? Do you try to lay low and find some powerful allies to protect you? I think I have a hunch which way this one’s gonna go, but it’ll be interesting to see.

I figure I should speak to the previous polls as well.

Currently, about 50% of people prefer the current free-to-play monetization strategy that OSG’s currently used. That makes a lot of since, as the current system probably inconveniences the greatest amount of players the least. That said, I wonder if other genres (either traditional RTS or more MMORPG’s) will start leaning on the free-to-play model? I know Gameforge’s MMORPG “4-Story” and a dozen others have already gone this route. Still, these games aren’t nearly as profitable as the MMORPG’s that get a constant flow of income from monthly subscribers.

As for people’s favorite aspect of OSG’s, warfare (unsurprisingly) takes the lead with 33%, followed by City-management (27%), then Social (18%), and Browser-Based (15%). People also submitted “able to play on a linux laptop” (which probably ought to be added to Browser-Based) and “economics”. It seems to work out pretty well that the focus of a lot of OSG’s parallel that break down (i.e. a strong Travian player probably spends the bulk of his time raiding and planning his army, followed by upgrading cities, followed by diplomacy). Seems like the designers already knew all this, but I’m happy to reinforce it 🙂

Cheers,
Oliver