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.

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Verdonia Review

Game Site: Verdonia on Facebook
Game Developer: Playdom
Rating: Don’t Waste Your Time

When I saw that Playdom had made an OSG for Facebook, I was quite excited. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Social City for the last couple months, and they have a few other well-polished games, so I was expecting good things. Alas, I was rather disappointed when an old nemisis reared its head.

Verdonia is Evony for Facebook. Understand that this is not a metaphor. Granted, the graphics are original and relatively well done, but it’s clearly taken from the same base code, has the same buildings, the same units, etc. Playdom has made a few changes aside from the graphics, which I’ll go over, but overall these have just made a mediocre game worse.

Perhaps the best change Playdom has made to the game is the adoption of Lord of Ultima’s Castle system, in the form of the Chancery. Basically, you do not have access to the world map until you build a Chancery. This means you cannot attack other players, nor can they attack you. This lets each player decide when he’s ready to enter the usually aggressive PVP side of the game, if ever. Until then, you can still use your military and sharpen your teeth by attacking the NPC controlled areas in your Kingdom (which each player has a unique instance of), which may be enough for some players.

Aside from this, I consider most of the other changes a step in the wrong direction. Verdonia embraces what usually passes for social interaction in a Facebook game (the sending of gifts back and forth), which is just rediculous in an OSG. That’s what the Marketplace (trade) and the March Site (troops) should be for. So instead of having players interact in meaningful ways that you would expect in an online strategy game, you are hit with a pop up window every five minutes or so detailing this out-of-game experience where you can conjure up resources for you and your allies out of thin air by posting on your Facebook wall.

Further, the price you pay for these interruptions? Verdonia uses 33% of my CPU when idle. Granted, I get a couple cool animations like smoke billowing from my academy, or a flock of birds that flies by every few minutes, but is that really worth it? This is a browser-based game afterall. When idle, Facebook, Ikariam, and Travian combined use less than 1% of my processor.

Probably more than disliking the game I’m simply disappointed in Playdom. Bringing OSG’s to Facebook is a great idea (since there are only a few so far), but if you’re just going to copy another game, why not copy a good one? Of course I understand it’s a business decision. The Evony code is clearly for sale, and all Playdom had to do was integrate it with their proven Facebook framework, draw a few pictures, and call it a day. On the plus side, hopefully the game will introduce some of Facebook’s “casual gamers” and leave them craving some deeper gameplay.

Cheers,
Oliver

Site News

Just a reminder, 6 more days for the Battle Narrative Contest!

Also, I’ve once more updated the list of games, adding Antzzz, Caesary, Lord of Ages, WW2Assembly, and Verdonia. Verdonia is another OSG for Facebook by Playdom, the same developer that did Social City, which I was totally addicted to for a month or so. I’ll have a review in the near future.

I also found three more sites where you can play Caesary, brining the total up to five. I wonder if each of the game portals knows Caesary is seeing other sites on the side?

Caesary.net
g.free-casual-game.info/regpv.do
Caesary.Lekool.com

Cheers,
Oliver

— Edit —
Whoops, I forgot CaesaryOnline.com. This game gets around.