Monday, July 26, 2010

Playfish: My Empire - Volcano Island, Barracks & Soldiers!

Playfish has added a new dimension to the My Empire game. I guess by now many players have a shortage of land to build new buildings, and the game mechanics of 'Build & Build' is no longer as exciting.

So it is very timely that My Empire has a brand new island - Volcano Island, where players can explore and build their colonies. Of course, the game puts in a teaser in the form of a lost map to be discovered via multiple map fragments. So the players will have to click on the hidden map portions to reveal the entire map.

Everyday there is only 10 fragments to be found, but friends can send more fragments to each other. It takes a few days to reveal the whole map. From the revealed map, a total of three islands can be seen. The centre island is the home island. So far, players can only explore the Volcano Island, and the other island is 'locked'.

An important point to note is that players have more room to expand their empires when more lands are available via Volcano Island.

At the same time, Playfish introduced the Barracks building for players level 6 and above. This is an important building that unlocks the soldiers function. The soldiers are necessary to 'explore' the new islands and fight the barbarians.

The soldiers can be 'recruited' quite easily only time. 4 routes of recruitment are possible with 3 routes using coins over time, while the last option is an instant recruitment using Playfish cash. There is a limit to the number of soldiers that each player can have. This limit can be increased via the recruitment of 'generals'. Generals are basically friends who responded to the player's call for generals. More generals are needed or else the limited number of soldiers will definitely lose the battles with the barbarians.

At the beginning when the map is revealed, the storyline shows that the cousin of the player (i.e. the Greek looking girl) is abducted by the barbarians, and the player is supposed to save her. Thus the player will have to reveal more parts of the islands shrouded by clouds and obstacles.

Every time an obstacle is clicked, the player explores more of the Volcano Island. There are possibility of gold coins and resources to be found, including those needed to build the special wonder found only on Volcano Island. More often than not, barbarians will attack the player, and this is when the number of soldiers become important. As with any battle, absolute numbers is a critical factor. My Empire will also indicate the probability of winning which is based on the comparison of numbers from both the polayer and the barbarians.

When the player wins and also secures barbarian outposts, more generals slots can be unlocked. This means more generals can be recruited. Of course, not every battle will go smoothly, even when the probability of winning is high. Thus after the battle, more barbarians will 'run away', which helps the player's chance to win the battle the next round.

I've yet to rescue the 'cousin' or 'found' the temple of Zeus. So, come back for more updates in future for info about them!

See related post:
- Playfish: My Empire - Simple Guide

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Playfish: My Empire - Simple Guide

Playfish has been rolling out lotsa of new games recently, for example My Empire and Pirates Ahoy!

My Empire is as the name suggested, an empire building game. Unlike the PC genre of empire building game, this Playfish version is a relatively peaceful affair, without the war / soldiers / barracks element. The player is given a small island to build up a thriving little town. With higher levels, the buildable area expands and the little township can grown bigger.

Note: Playfish introduced the barracks and soldiers shortly after this post, and thus My Empire is not such a peaceful game afterall.

Game Mechanics - Coins
The game started with a pool of coins for the player to build essentials like housing, storage etc. Thus coins formed the basic currency of the game, and it is vital to plan to earn coins. Coins could be obtained via the following methods:

- Daily log-in. The game reward players with a bag of coins every day. There is also a bonus to the bag of coins when the player log in consecutively over a period of 5 days.

- Daily visits to friends' cities. My Empire rewards daily visits by giving coins as 'rewards for trading'.

- Tax Collection. My Empire has a tax colelction function with 4 options (too little in my opinion) of 5 minutes, 4 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. Other than the 5 minutes option, it costs coins to hire the tax collector. Of course, the tax collected is related to the population size of the empire.
Note: Do remember to 'collect' the tax after the stated hours. The game will allow for a grace period of equal hours (e.g. 4 hours grace for the 4 hours tax collection), failing which the tax will be stolen, i.e. player loses both the tax collection as well as initial coin payment for tax collector.

- Traveling merchants. Occasionally when the player visits other friends, there will be a 'Traveling Merchant' who can reward the player with resources or coins when the player click on the icon. More about this 'Traveling Merchant' at the end of this post.

Game Mechanics - Building
Since the game is about building of an empire, it is only natural to have many building options. My Empire offers 4 types of buildings, 'Functional', 'Happiness', 'Decorations' and 'Wonders'.

Functional includes the basic housing and mines, and they provide essentials for the game, including population gains and the resources (e.g. wood, ores etc). With higher levels, more elaborated buildings can be built, that provides more housing space and happiness for example.

'Happiness' tab has the more interesting buildings like storage, farms etc. The buildings from this tab provide more happiness, which are essential for the empire. The 'Decorations' has smaller items like animals, flags, flowers etc to beautify the empire. Last but least of all are the Wonders. This allows the players to construct the pyramid, Stonehenge and such, i.e. the old Wonders of the ancient world.

All buildings are constructed using coins or Playfish cash, and some will require additional resources, e.g. gold ores, red bricks etc from the different mines.

The building of the Wonders require a lot of help from friends. Each of the wonder has an additional material that cannot be obtained from the mines, e.g. sulphur, diamonds, tar etc. Thus the player will need to receive such materials as 'gifts' from friends. Thus My Empire basically encourage players to add more friends so as to short cut the building of the wonders. The effort is worth it, since the wonders conferred a lot of happiness for the empire's population.

At the gifting option, it is not difficult to see which of the materials are needed for which wonder. However, the tricky part is that the player needs to know which wonders are being built by his friends or he could be sending the wrong materials. This also requires more effort to activate the gift sending options multiple times (for different wonders built by different friends). Quite troublesome I must say. The gifts could be sent only once a day to the other friends.

Game Mechanics - Research
My Empire also allow for alchemy research when the player reaches higher level. This simply means the mines can provide for more variety of materials to be obtained each day. Nope, each mine type still provides only 1 material per 24 hours. Research option will indicate what type of research is possible, and yes, unlocking of research will require a lot of coins.

Research also allow for enhancement of the market and townhall. This means more coins can be earned by trading between friends and the daily log in.

Game Mechanics - Other Notes
A small note for players of My Empire is that during each daily visit to friends, the player might come across an emoticon of traders with camels (e.g. in the picture below) and a small exclamation mark. Do remember to click on it!

Clicking on the icon means the player will get a chance to earn something more, quite likely additional resources, or sometimes merely coins. Unfortunately this 'trader / camel' icon of the 'Traveling Merchant' seems to appear only once a day and thus there is only a limit to the additional freebies.

Overall My Empire is a nice game, but somehow it is not as attractive as Restaurant City or the Hotel City developed by Playfish. Perhaps the amount of animation for the empire is not sufficient enough to make it interesting as yet. Gamers might already be spoilt by the wide variety of animations found in the PC based empire building games.

Of course, Playfish has announced that there will be new developments for My Empire, including teasers about visits to other islands not owned by the friends of the player. We will see how it develops.

See related post:
- Playfish: My Empire - Volcano Island, Barracks & Soldiers!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Playfish's Hotel City - New York & Night View Background

The Background feature for Hotel City is finally out! Well it is not that easy to get these new beautiful background (of course) and some efforts from friends will be necessary to complete the items needed for each of the background.

The New York background has more requirements compared to the Night View background. For both, the items (also known as luxuries) could be obtained (once a day) from visiting a friend where a shopping bag icon is placed against the friend's avatar. A second way is for friends to send you the required items. Of course, there is always a way to meet these new requirements by using (and paying) for Playfish cash. It cost about 50-60+ Playfish cash to get the background.

Is it worth it to get the new background given all these efforts? Yes I certainly think so. Take a look at the New York background (seen from the Bell boy hotel) and I will say this is a much welcomed alternative to the original one.

So yes to those who are working hard to get the required items, all the best for your efforts! After the New York and Night View backgrounds (33 & 25 luxuries required respectively), Playfish will likely release the San Francisco background.

There is some level of satisfaction to see the required items being completeted, and I guess that adds a needed level of re freshness to a somewhat routine gameplay.

So do help out other players to get their luxuries and in return those who help out will also have luxuries from Hotel City.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Restaurant City - Sushi Bar

The Sushi Bar of Restaurant City is old news, but heh I just managed to get my Sushi Bar! The Sushi Bar is free, but the player will need to level up the salmon sashimi to level 10 before it is made available. I'm not sure why is it called Sushi Bar when it is more commonly known as Sushi Belt?

With the Sushi Bar, two diners can eat (standing) at the bar and earn coins for the player, i.e. no need for waiter or cook. However, the dishes displayed are those Japanese dishes with level 10, and thus it will be a long way to go before my Sushi Bar is filled with the dishes.

So here's how the Sushi Bar looks like. I'm placing it in the garden for an outdoor sushi experience. The Sushi Bar has the additional function for the player to check on the level of the various dishes that can be placed on the Sushi Bar.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Restaurant City is now 24 Hours!

Restaurant City is now 'open' for 24 hours! Well that simply means the 'workers' in the Restaurant City can operate in 24 hours shift rather than the original 4 hours slot. That is a very useful change, since there is now less need to keep tab on the shift every few hours.

There are actually a number of 'options' to choose from, i.e. in similar fashion with Hotel City where the longer shifts cost more. This is qutie different from the original version where workers 'work' for free. The 30 mins shift is still free, and the actual 24 hours shift can only be unlocked with the player submitting the email address.

For players who gave their email addresses, the Restaurant City will reward them with a new stove design! - Pocketwatch Stove.

Another innovation is the use of a '1 click' step to operate the restaurant, i.e. no more employee by employee switching of roles and rest. For a start, the plyer will need to assign roles to each of the employee.

Well, if you feel that the Restaurant City now requires more coins, the good news is that the game rewards players with more coins too! The slot machines and the trees (when shaken) give more coins.

I am actually glad that Playfish introduces more changes and new look & feel to the game (other than new dishes), since Restaurant City has become somewhat stale of late. Good work Playfish!
For those who select shifts, there will also be this reward!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Playfish: Hotel City - New City Scape & Exterior Deco

A hotel needs to be set against a nice backdrop of city scape, and the hotel will look especially nice at night with all the city lights. So that is what Playfish's Hotel City is going to do - introduce the 'New Locations - New Background'. So Hotel City players can now select their favourite city backdrop. I wonder what backdrops will be available - sea side resort, neon night life, mountainous scenery ... or?

For a start Hotel City already introduced exterior decorations, i.e. decorations now just for the rooms but for the exterior of the building as well. I guess that will merge closely with what the player select as the background for the city - for example, nice pine trees for the mountainous settings, or fountains / park chairs for a neon lightlife backdrop.

Oh well, I guess we will now in the coming week or so.
Note: The background feature is out! See the related post (link below)!

See related:
Playfish: Hotel City - New York & night View Background

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Playfish: Hotel City - Ghost in the Room! New feature

Over the past week, Hotel City has introduced more interactive features into the game to encourage players to stay longer per play.

Hotel City has allowed for a 'concierge' phone where the residents of the hotel can call up the players when they experience discomfort in the room, and such discomfort includes ghost!

Well the more mundane discomfort will be that the room is too hot, too cold, a fire breakout, and finally the ghost. I've not come across other concierge calls yet. It will be nice to introduce the request for food, cleaning ...etc.

By clicking on the room (the player got to first find the affected room amidst the many many rooms), there will be coins provided as rewards. This can happen to both the player's own hotels as well as the other friends' hotels.

I wonder what else will Hotel City introduce next to induce a longer stay in the game.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cafe World - Finally, The Super Stove & Spice Rack!

Finally I have the super stove in Cafe World, where the dish can be prepared via a single click! It was a rather tedious exercise, where everyday I need to keep an eye lookout for those Cafe World alerts in the Facebook that free parts are available.

All in all there were 40 parts to the super stove and yes I resorted to buying some parts. Actually it wasn't that big a deal to cook a dish via a single click. It saves some time which is true, but given that I have many other normal stoves, I'll still be spending a lot of time clicking on the normal stoves for cooking. Oh well, just for the novelty of having a super stove I guess.

For those who want to have more than 1 super stove, Cafe World has the option where the player needs to buy a new stove frame, and repeat the entire process of accumulating the different stove parts again. Nope, 1 is enough for me.

Once the super stove is completed, the player need to retrieve it from the storage, and the super stove does count towards the existing stove limit, i.e. it is nto a loophole to get more stoves.

Actually, I think the spice rack (introduced earlier) is much more useful since it allows the player to use spice and accelerate the cooking time, or to 'cure' spoiled dishes. The parts to the spice racks are easier to get, but yupz I spent 1 Cafe World dollar on the racks as well.

I'm not sure what other new gimmicks will be introduced in Cafe World, but hopefully the new gimmicks will nto require as much tedious accumulation of parts again.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rubble Trouble by Nitrome

After getting bored with yet more social games, I decided to try out the good ol' single player flash games. There are pretty good ones like Samorost, Machinarium, Bomba etc. One can easily find good games on Miniclip and one of the latest top games is Rubble Trouble by Nitrome.

Nitrome has many good games, including Bomba (which I covered earlier) and another game involving dismantling of ice pieces. Well the current Rubble Trouble game is also about dismantling of items, in this case it's buildings and the job centres around demolition using various tools.

The Rubble Trouble game play is very simple. It's just a mouse and click game where the player select given tools to destroy the required building(s) in a fixed period of time. There is ample time for most of the levels. The tools are pretty self explanatory and there will be a simple description tied to each tool. For example, using a canon ball tool means the player can position a canon ball firer and click to fire the ball at various angle. Clicking longer means there will be more power stored in the fired ball. Of course, the power bar for the canon ball is reactivated under prolong holding of mouse button.

There are many other tools and here's the description for some of them:

Nitro - area effect bombs with small radius. The 1st tool for demolition.

Grabber - A 'grab' machine to hold on to a piece of the building. Very useful to move pieces in order to avoid damaging surrounding important buildings.

Missiles - tough to control but useful.

Airstrike - carpet destruction with limited range but easy to use.

Chain gun - well, chain gun! A rotational military grade weapon and now it is used for demolition.

At the end of each level, the player can submit the high score and be compared against other players' scores for some competitive play. The fun part is not in the competitive play (I feel) but in completing each level of the puzzle.

There are other elements introduced into the game, for example some levels will include surrounding important buildings (e.g. glasshouse) and the player must not cause the destruction of these buildings. Another element is the trapped characters in the buildings and that means players must be careful when demolishing the buildings.

Another aspect of the Rubble Trouble that is interesting is the simple and fun dialogue at the beginning of the levels. These dialogues introduce the levels and make the game more personable. The Ivan's and the Larry's of Rubble Trouble do bring a smile to the face while the player tries hard to complete the levels.

I've only managed to finish up to level 23 out of the 30 levels and yes do give the Rubble Trouble game a try!