Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Castle Age: Battle of the Dark Legion

Every now and then there will be new collaborative events for Castle Age players. After the Sea Serpent, there is this Battle of the Dark Legion where orcs threatened to overrun the castles.

Players will be invited to participate in this event, where a maximum of 130 players could engage the orcs at the same time. There is a limit place at different groups of players' levels, e.g. maximum of 30 players for levels 1-30, 30-60, 60-90, and maximum of 40 players for levels 90+. That is fair since it encourages more players to come on board. When more players come on board, new allies, e.g. paladins, archers ... will join in the battle.

The storyline is also interesting, and I think that is a big plus point for Castle Age, i.e. there is at least some effort to write out a story plot. So at the end of the battle there is this long narration of the event.

The rewards for this event is not bad, and it seems more worthwhile to spend the stamina for such events rather than the PvP battles. I wonder what next after this invasion of the orcs. From the way the storyline ended, the main character was wondering where did the Horde of Orcs come from. So I guess there will be more of such interesting events in the coming months.

Friday, December 25, 2009

FB Castle Age - Simple Review & Guide Part 2

Castle Age – Stats & Achievements

The stats determine the playing style of Castle Age. As with any other RPG game, the stats will influence how well a player fight / defend etc. 5 points of stats will be given whenever the player levels up. Stats points will also be given when 100% Influence is achieved for quests, or when certain achievements are completed, or when the player reaches some of new rank in the Battle arena.

For a better sense of what these stats means, here’s some brief descriptions of the 5 stats attributes. Energy is described first since that is the more important (in my opinion) stat.

Energy – For each of the quest there will be an Energy requirement stated, and the player will consume that amount of energy to do the quest. The amount of energy needed, together with the rewards is stated next to each quest. Under some circumstances, Energy is also needed to fight monsters. Try to have a higher maximum Energy available, or the higher level quests may take much longer to complete. The Energy points regenerate once every five minutes.

There were forum discussions about the optimal amount of energy. The figure seems to range from 130 to 170 points. I guess it is up to individual player, but the main issue to consider is the rate of energy regeneration versus the amount of time you play Castle Age each day, which in turns affect how fast you can level.

Attack - This affects how good the player is in the battles against other players and monsters. In the initial levels there is less need to focus on this stat unless you intend to create a PvP character.

Defense – A good defence will be useful against other attacking players. When the player successfully defends against other attacks, there is even possibility for gold to be gained.

Health - This measures how long the player can last in a fight against monsters and / or other players. Once the health reaches 0, it means the player is ‘Eliminated’. Each PvP fight will only consume a few health points unless the player is whacked real hard for some reason. Once Health drops below a certain level, other players cannot attack you. It is quite easy to heal the player back to full health, and thus this stat is not as important actually. It regenerates 1 point every three minutes.

Stamina - It costs 2 stat points to increase the stamina by one point. Stamina points are used when the player fights against other players or monsters. PvP battles consume 1 stamina point, but for monster fights, the player has the option of a 5 stamina point attack. The stamina points regenerate at a rate of 1 every five minutes.

To help increase these stats (other than leveling), the player can also call for ‘Elite Guards’ to join his rank. Basically it is a call for help from friends who are also playing the game to join the player. Each Elite Guard that joins will help to boost attack / defence of the player, with increase of gold as well.

Castle Age – Demi - Powers, Alchemy & Items

Oracle - This is the ‘shop’ for Castle Age, where more powerful heroes and items are available for sale through Favour Points. The player starts with 20 Favour Points, which would be sufficient for simple services like a change of name, Energy refills etc. In order to buy the items or heroes, you will need typically 25 points and above. The player can get more points by praying to the demi-powers, completing quests, getting achievements etc. The more straight forward way of getting more Favour Points is to do surveys listed at the Oracle tab, or simply buy them at a rate of 60 Favour Points for $10. Well, the developers need real cash for their hard work and server maintenance too.

Demi-Powers – There are 5 Demi-Powers (Ambrosia, Malekus, Corvintheus, Aurora, and Azeron) with unique aspects in the game that can help the player in the game with their individual benefits. For example, Corvintheus is the demi-power of defence, and players who seek blessing from him will gain a defence point.

Via the Blessing function, the players can also get demi points linked to each demi-power. With sufficient demi-points, the player can gain access to demi-power quests that often offer items and magic. Many of these demi-power quests will require other heroes to gain influence in these quests. The players are limited to one demi-power Blessing each day, except for Azeron who gives more demi-points but the Blessing frequency is limited to once every 2 days.

Units, Items and Magic

Units - Army units / troops are essential because they form the pre-requisite for the quests. Moreover, they to defend / invade other players under the Battle tab. The troops can be purchased under the Town tab, and each troop will come with their own defence / attack.

Other than the initial troops, other higher level ones will have an upkeep cost, and players need to be mindful about their overall upkeep costs. There are also certain heroes, e.g. Penelope and Garlan, who will help to decrease the troops purchase costs by a few percent when you buy the troops in town. It is important to note that the discount applies only when the purchase is done in towns; if the player purchases the troops via the Quests tab, there is no discount.

Land – The upkeep costs of army units and heroes will need to come from somewhere, and that is mainly from income earned through Land. There are different types of Land, from simple Temple to Castles and Lake Fortresses. Each of these land will give gold per hour, ranging from 200 to 150,000. Attacking players or earning gold via quests will not be sufficient to maintain the troops upkeep, and land will be essential. Land can also be given when the player completed the fights against monsters.

The cost to purchase each type of land will increase based on the number of such land the player has in each category.

Items – I feel that many of the more worthwhile items are obtained via fighting monsters or getting them via Demi-quests, and thus it is not much point to buy them via the Blacksmith shop. One such example is the Holy Avenger sword that players may get after the completing the Land of Earth quest (12 attk / def).

Also see:
- FB Castle Age - Simple Review & Guide Part 1
- Castle Age: Battle of the Dark Legion

Merry X'mas! X'mas Globes by Playfish!

A Merry X'mas to everyone! Thanks for visiting this blog.

Yupz, there are also presents by game developers for those playing online games. For example Playfish's Pet Society game is givign player a X'mas Globe!

The gift is available only during this X'mas, and thus those who want it, better get it fast!

Afternote: Restaurant City is giving the same globe to players too, except that the Globe is rendered in a slightly different angle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FB Castle Age - Simple Review & Guide Part 1

Simple Introduction & First Steps

Castle Age on Facebook is like a cross between Mafia Wars and Tiny Adventures D&D; it has a medieval setting and uses the same game mechanics as Mafia Wars, i.e. stats, energy, stamina etc. Similar to Tiny Adventure, the player needs to hire heroes who lead armies assembled by the players to complete quests and fight other players / monsters.

In my opinion Castle Age is more interesting than either Mafia Wars or Tiny Adventures because it offers better graphics and better named items compared to Mafia Wars, and more depth of play compared to Tiny Adventures.

As per any MMO RPG based games, the first few steps will be pretty standard.

After you start the game, try to complete as many quests as you can. At low levels, completing quests can get you up to level 5-6 easily within 10-15 minutes. Devout more stat points for Energy since that allows the player to do more quests, i.e. level faster.

One small tip is that at the early stage of the game, go to the Demi-Powers tab, and click Ambrosia to get the Sword of Lights. This should be amongst the 1st items to get in the game because it gives the player a good headstart and it is free.

Since it is likely you join Castle Age because of an invitation by friends, do try to partner them in their fights against the monsters. Just a couple of clicks that consumed your stamina, but eventually when the monster is killed, the rewards can be huge for a beginning player. I fought a Sea Serpent the first night I joined Castle Age.

Before you logged off, get some land to generate gold, and keep the rest of gold safely away from other Players, in the Treasury under ‘Keep’ tab (yes, just pay the 10% ‘service charge’).

Castle Age – Heroes, Quests, & Battles

Heroes play a critical role in the game, since they commend armies to complete quests, battles against other players, and form perquisite to increase the ‘influence’ for many quests. Each hero has their own attributes, i.e. more attack power / defence power, or a balance of both. The list of heroes can be accessed via the Heroes tab, but the more powerful ones can only be obtained via use of favour points.

When the player reaches level 10, there will be opportunity to also level up the Heroes for better Hero stats. One point to note is that the rewards from the Land of Fire Boss quest (1st starting area) include a powerful hero – Celeste. Celeste has 12 attack and 12 defence, and will be the main power Hero for many levels.

Quests - Quests are the main bulk of the activity other than battling other players or monsters. Completion of the quests is needed before new areas are unlocked. For example, the player needs to complete pre-requisite quests with 100% influence in the Land of Fire, before new lands are available. When x number of quests are completed in each Land, the boss quest option becomes available, e.g. Orc King.

Quests consume energy to complete. Higher level quests will consume more energy, and thus it is important to add stat points to Energy attribute. The plus side is that quests are give more gold and experience at a higher level in those unlocked Lands.

Quests also require certain number of troops before the player can engage in these specific quests, i.e. 5 units of paladin / Tree Ents before the player can complete the quest. It is also important to check your current Hero, in order to match the quest requirement. Using the wrong Hero for the quest means there is no increase in Influence (the standard coins and experience will still be given).

Battles - Castle Age's Battle tab has two options for player to fight against other players – Invade or Duel.

Invade means there will be a battle among the two armies. Choose this option only if you have a lot of friends playing Castle Age. The maximum number of army players you can involve is 501. It is simply a test between numbers. Of course, each army member can also use the player’s items to boost the attacking / defending power. Nonetheless, superior number will still win. Big army size also means that more of the player’s Heroes can be involved, thus boosting the chance of winning. I think the ratio is 5 army members to 1 Hero.

The other option, Duel, is a fight between the best of each other’s Heroes. Use this option once you have Celeste unlocked from the Land of Fire since she has better stats. The fighting Heroes will be equipped with the best equipment available.

Each time you battle another player, a stamina point will be deducted. Thus for players who enjoyed PvP, raise the Stamina stats. A bonus of battling is that battle points are earned when the player wins a battle. More points are awarded if the player fights against someone of higher rank. When certain ranks are achieved, rewards (e.g. stat points) are given. Each battle also gives points linked to the Demi-powers.

Monsters - Monsters are the fun part of the game when the players can co-operate with each other to fight monsters. A player can start a summoning of monster once certain requirements are met, e.g. the Orc King and Sorceress Queen become available once the majority of quests are completed in the respective Lands. The other monsters (e.g. the sea serpent and dragon) can be summoned once the player performs alchemy with all the necessary alchemy items.

The monsters don’t last forever, and have to be killed within a set timeframe. Beyond the time frame, the monster fight stops. Participate in all the monster fights started by your friends, since each monster kill can give pretty decent rewards. I got good rewards in one such monster fight when I first started the game, and the items were useful for the many subsequent levels.

See also:

- FB Castle Age - Simple Review & Guide Part 2

- Castle Age: Battle of the Dark Legion

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finder is Not Keeper - Playfish games

It is somewhat irritating when I realised that as the finder of rare 'visitors', e.g. Hideeni, or the Gourmet King, I can not keep the items they professed to give. Instead, I have to make some announcements, and my friends will get the items. Hopefully in turn some kind soul will also find these avatars and I can get the items.

Here's the two pics from Restaurant City. Oh well, so that means I shouldn't spend time spotting these special avatars.

I will actually appreciate if upon the announcements, the players can also keep the items. Here's the pic about Pet Society, and that means I will not have the plushie.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Can Now Cook in Pet Society

Seems like cooking is a big draw for Facebook gamers. We have Restaurant City, Cafe World, and now even the Pet Society has a cooking function. Pet Society now provides each pet with a toaster / microwave oven device that allows the pet to cook!

Cooking seems pretty simple, much like other functions (planting, stickers...etc), and the instructions are provided when you click on the microwave device.

Initially the number of recipes is limited, and the pet will have to cook more in order to level up and get new options. There is not much profit to be made from cooking though, since each dish will only provide a few coins more. The dish that takes one day to cook, i.e. King Burger, will give about 40 coins profit.

There is no need to 'buy' ingredients, because the ingredients will be provided automatically when you purchase the dish. The dishes take about 10 minutes to 1 day to cook. Once there is something cooking, there will be an alert to inform you about the time remaining.

Just click when the dish is done, and the dish will go straight into the storage. There are quite a number of dishes to learn but the pet has to level up the cooking skill before the recipes are available. Recipes include Snowman Sundae, Gingerbread house, Choc Fudge cake...etc.

You will get the congratulations note about the cooked dish, and yes you will also get the congratulations note when you level up the cooking skill for the pet. Well, give it a try and see if there is any other cooking functions for higher levels.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It is snowing in Restaurant City!

It is snowing in Restaurant City! Now that it is December, everyone is in X'mas mood, and Playfish has introduced four festive related dishes (one for each category) into the game.

New dishes is an old concept, but I was pleasantly surprise at the snow covered trees. Yes they also added an outdoor option for more diners. Based on the letter from Playfish, there is supposedly a Food King, but I am not sure how to identify him. There were forum posting that the Food King is a purple character who is likely to be dining at the outdoor space.

You will need the Food King in order to get some of the materials needed for the festive seasons, e.g. raisins. Guess I will need to build an outdoor dining area (5,000 coins) in order to get these special ingredients then.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snake in Restaurant City!

Yes there is a snake in Restaurant City! Well, not exactly those snakes that bite, but the game 'Snake'.

It is somewhat surprising actually to see an 'arcade game' within the game itself. We've always seen games within games, but I didn't expect to see it within a Facebook game like Restaurant City.

The Snake game can be activated if you have an arcade game machine within Restaurant City. The control is pretty simple, i.e. movement of the snake with the 4 arrow keys. to eat up ingredients that looked like actual ingredients in RC. There is a score function at the end of the game. I couldn't see if other 'functional items' giving this additional feature. Now that Playfish has introduced Snake, wonder what else would they add? Tetris? Bejewelled?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Electronic Arts bought Playfish!

Yupz Electronic Arts has bought Playfish, and from this CNA article it is at a hefty price tag (in my opinion).
for 275 million dollars in cash and 25 million dollars in equity retention arrangements for employees.

In addition, EA said it will pay up to 100 million dollars if the privately held Playfish reaches certain performance milestones through December 31, 2011.
Yeah that is a max of US$400 millions!

I must admit that Playfish has been a very innovative games developer, who has been able to track what consumers want and provides new features to the games. For example it has added features to prompt players to visit others in Restaurant City (in addition to other features).

Oh well, after Playfish, who next to be considered for buyout? Zynga? Zynga has also been rolling out new games that parallel many of other similar successful models (e.g. Cafe World). So yes I think it is time some of the bigger games company start to look at the new developers for some measures of consolidation in the industry.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Planting Seeds in Restaurant City - and get new ingredients!

Restaurant City has offered the 'Plant a seed' option for quite some time. The 9 plots of land located at the upper right corner of the restaurant are available for seeds planting when the player reaches various level. For example, the last 3 plot of land at the bottom right of the farm, where the plots look filled with stones and weed, are unlocked when I reach level 28, 30, and 32.

Why would any player want to plant a seed for 2,000 coins? Well, when ever seeds are planted, 48 hours later the player would get a new ingredient! This saves a lot of time and effort to hunt and exchange ingredients with friends. More importantly it allows for players to get more ingredients. So that simply means that if a player has all 9 plots available, he would get 9 more ingredients every 2 days, or 4.5 ingredients more per day. Attractive isn't it?

There is a trick though, and that is the players need to constantly water the plots of land. Each time a player click on the plot of land, 3 hours worth of water is added. A total of 9 hours of stored water is the upper limit. If the plot of land runs dry, the plant will not grow. :) Mouse over the land to get the info about the time left to harvest the plants.

When time is up, the plant will appear shiny, and a player can click on it to harvest the plant. As the plant grows, the icon changes a little. Below is a picture of the saffron ingredient. The icon in the little black box (to the right) shows the growing plant.

There are many ingredients that a player can obtained from plants. Well I guess it is only natural that meat products can't be obtained this way, but I've found the following list of plant ingredients: coffee, tea, saffron, sugar, garlic, oregano, basil, vanila, bay leaf, coriander, and wasabi so far. I've heard of people with the ginger plant, but I've not managed to grow one so far since the plant grew is random.

picture of garlic plant above

picture of sugar cane (i.e. sugar ingredient) above

picture of vanila plant above

I wonder if Restaurant City will offer a animal farming option soon? Now the meat ingredients are much harder to obtain...

Afternote: Restaurant City had just added an instruction (pic below) to teach players how to plant seeds.