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!