Best Browser Games of the Year 2010

Merry Christmas! I’m sure it’s still Friday in some parts of the world (which means my Tales of Aloriah isn’t technically late 😛 ), but for the rest of us it’s Christmas. Though interestingly enough, in Ukraine Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. But anyway, as the year comes to a close, it’s nice to look back on what has happened in the world of Online Strategy Games. But, until I have a chance to put down my own thoughts, let’s have a look at what other sites are doing.

Last year, I really appreciated BrowserGameoftheYear.com. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that they will be doing this for 2010. However, BBGsite seems to have picked up the mantle with their “Best Browser Games of the Year 2010”. Alot of Online Strategy Games are represented here in the strategy category, and it would be great if everyone would vote. The list is a little shady, with some games represented several times (for example, Imperial Warfare, Ministry of War, and Terra Militaris are all the same game), some games aren’t on the list at all, and while Stronghold Kingdoms is a great game, it’s not actually a browser game. Nevertheless, you should definitely check out the contest once it starts.

Also, if anyone knows of any other similar contests going on for the end of the year, definitely let me know!

Cheers,
Oliver

Plagiarism 101

So, what is the latest in world of online strategy games? I’m glad you asked. Here I’ve collected some recent news that I stole from other people.

Guzzer posted about the start of Aloriah’s new server. What was great about the post is he included a really good summary of what he learned from the first round. Anyone wanting to succeed in this browser game should definitely check it out. Hopefully he won’t mind if I post it here:

1. Focus should be on civilization build only with scenario points farming on the side. Once built up, you can catch up on scenario points quite easily.

2. Expand as fast as you can, take the risk! You do not need to send an overwhelming force with your settlers as you can just dodge mobs on the way. Once you establish a new village, the hero protective skill, wall, moat and towers will aid your village defense greatly.

3. It is a pve race to the Mother Dragon. Anything else slows you down.

Next, Inside Social Games adds their own Clash of Kingdoms. Christopher Mack echoed that “…a strong cooperative play element makes this particular strategy game feel a bit different” but seemed to be overwhelemed by the breadth of the game. I wonder what he would say about Ministry of War, which was a little much even for me.

Speaking of online strategy games set in ancient China, Gamasutra posted a case study about Kingory which is a pretty interesting read. I think this is an important quote that more game developers should strive for: “The simple idea that drives Kingory? We just wanted to make it fun.”

Finally, I started to check out yet another Facebook game, Urban Warfare. I don’t think I’ll find the time to go more in-depth though, because honestly, it’s not that good. Christopher Mack strikes again with a review on Inside Social Games, this time adding something I’d never considered before that is true for pretty much every online strategy game: “For some unexplained reason, everyone in the universe of Urban Warfare is at war with everyone else.”

Cheers,
Oliver

Tales of Aloriah, the fifth

This week has been all over the board in Aloriah. Last week I founded my village in the Dry Steppes. Boom-Shaka spent the first part of the week exploring the nearby area. I quickly grabbed all the obelisks that I could see and had to venture into the fog of war, so decided to check back in a few hours. WARNING: The fog of war is dangerous!

What would be very helpful is if each Army had some sort of behaviour setting, such as “If you see three armies of black dragons, run the heck away!” I really didn’t want the obelisk that badly. This behaviour setting could work both ways as well. With Boom-Shaka dead, and my only Hero Sanctuary (to raise him) back in Athenry, the exploration fell to Gorogorosama. This time I was exploring a Ruins when I accidentally crossed paths with player Pdimi and killed him. I have a lot of respect for that player, roaming around Dry Steppes with half the recommended troops. But, in the land of Aloriah, there is but one law: try to kill anything you bump into. Pdimi and I are at peace now though.

Boom-Shaka’s demise actually worked out quite well. I found out that in order to plant a village in the Misty Marshes, it’s recommended that you have a Blue Dragon Head, which you gain by cutting it off the Sapphire Dragon’s body. The same Sapphire Dragon I saw swimming off the coast of Moyle two weeks back! This time I had enough Berserkers to slay the beast, so Boom-Shaka took to the sea. After a day of relaxing near Moyle I spotted the dragon. It took a couple tense hours to chase him down, but last night I finally got what I came for.

Now there are two issues I have to deal with. First, I need enough CP to found my next village. The manual says I need 35, but my City Hall panel says I need 15. Which is it? Also, when hunting for the Sapphire Dragon I grabbed a lighthouse occupied by Aernoud. He was quick to dispatch my 5-berseker scouting party, but also sent me a nice message: “Please leave my towers alone.” Having attacked me twice in the first week, Aernoud seems like a bully and I’m tempted to tell him to bugger off. But apparently he’s a moderator on the forum and is still a touch stronger than I. Thoughts?

Tales of Aloriah, part 2

Well, I listened:

Gorogorosama set sail across the sea to the Tropical Islands. I saw a site for a city just next to a lighthouse, a lighthouse currently controlled by Aernoud, and thought that seemed good a place as any, but wanted to control the lighthouse (to get a wider view of the area) before calling it home.

I checked in before heading to bed, and luckily so. I was almost to the lighthouse, but coming fast behind me was Aernoud’s fleet, with 3 times as many Berserkers! After our last encounter, I don’t know where he found all those troops so fast, but I sure wasn’t going to leave my hero just relaxing on the beach with a nice item in his pocket while Aernoud came for revenge. So, I cued up 8 hours of commands, just sailing around the ocean, hoping the enemy wouldn’t be able to catch me 🙂

Luckily in the morning everything was fine and Aernoud had gone further south. I’ve now founded my city, have a decent amount of Gold income, and am ready for the next step… though I’m not entirely sure what that will be. I guess amass 1,000 troops to head into the Dry Steppes.

A few notes about the game. One thing I don’t like is that it seems you can see how many troops everybody has, even in their cities, without any problems. I feel this takes a bit away from the strategy, if you always know who you’ll be fighting against. I haven’t raided anybody yet (I have a hard time playing the “bad guy”), but maybe I should start soon and see how that plays out.

Also, the wandering animals is a nice feature. There are bears or sharks or crabs that wander around the different climate zones. I had really hoped that the Animal Circle would allow you to train these. For example, in the Green Fields there are bears roaming around, and you can train Bear Riders. But in the Tropical Islands where you fight crabs and sharks, you still train Bear Riders. I don’t know why, but I really want to command an army of giant crabs.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who offered advise on my last post. I think I’ll be keeping Tales of Aloriah every Friday, so that Lord of Ultima can stay on Tuesday. I definitely appreciate any suggestions you have on how to kill that Mother Dragon!

Cheers,
Oliver

Lord of Ages Review

Regan Mercantile LLC recently released a game, Lord of Ages, that could easily be considered the best OSG ever. Of all time.

Now, there might be some unenlightened that would ask “Oliver, isn’t Lord of Ages the exact same game as Evony, Kingory, Caesary, and Three Kingdoms Online? Granted, it seems that Lord of Ages might have taken a few ideas and concepts from these games, but LoA has also added a lot of its own creative ideas. For example, most of the other games show your hero’s picture on the bottom part of the screen, but LoA has brilliantly moved this to the top.

LoA also one-ups the competition by actually using the word “Lord” right in the title. Evony was only clever enough to use the word in its infamous advertising campaign and nearly make the term synonymous with the genre, but Lord of Ages took it in a whole different direction and literally used the word in the name of their game. The only other OSG’s that have managed to do so are Lord of Ultima, Lords of Evil, Lords Online, and of course, “Lords“.

Where LoA really shines is the graphics. Of course, it doesn’t actually shine… While Evony and Caesary sold out and used bright, colorful graphics like Travian and Ikariam to attract players, Lord of Ages remains committed to providing an authentic Medieval gaming experience, complete with a dark, dreary town that seems to be always on the verge of a storm or the plague.

Further, Lord of Ages has encorporated huge technological advances in the realm of flashing green arrows. While other games might have at most one arrow (and usually they’re not even green), Lord of Ages pulls out all the stops. And let’s not forget the epic quests. For example “Click the Finish button”. This is the stuff of legends.

Finally, the best for last, Lord of Ages is probably the only gave that prominantly features a “Save on desktop” button. I know this is something that fans of browser-based games have been wanting for a long time: the ability to let some brand new game from a Chinese company whose top Google search results include the terms “Rip-off”, “libel lawsuits”, and “malware” save something to their hardrive so they don’t have to waste those 30 seconds loading the graphics from the internet.

Game Site: www.LordofAges.com
Game Developer: Regan Mercantile LLC
Rating: Don’t Waste Your Time