This is Andras, and you’re reading yet another rendition of the Free Play blog. If you could not tell by the aptly named title, this is where I tell you about a free to play MMO. In today’s instance we have Ogame. I don’t know why it is called ogame, except perhaps they wanted it pronounced oga-me and the whole o-game thing is a weird coincidence. I don’t really care, though.
What I do care about is the story in ogame, though. Or, at least, I would if a story were provided. The most I can possibly deduce is that the game is set either in the future or a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, or some Franken-mix of the two. I can understand the lack of a story though, since each player is in charge of an entire planet, and later multiple planets, so it is hard to think of any sort of story that could possibly encompass EVERYONE. In the absence of a story, however, the developers thought to put in an extensive amount of detail to, well, everything. For example, instead of just saying that a cruiser is a more powerful ship than the heavy fighter, the description reads as follows:
With the development of the heavy laser and the ion cannon, light and heavy fighters encountered an alarmingly high number of defeats that increased with each raid. Despite many modifications, weapons strength and armour changes, it could not be increased fast enough to effectively counter these new defensive measures. Therefore, it was decided to build a new class of ship that combined more armor and more firepower. As a result of years of research and development, the Cruiser was born.
Cruisers are armored almost three times of that of the heavy fighters, and possess more than twice the firepower of any combat ship in existence. They also possess speeds that far surpassed any spacecraft ever made. For almost a century, cruisers dominated the universe. However, with the development of Gauss cannons and plasma turrets, their predominance ended. They are still used today against fighter groups, but not as predominantly as before.
The descriptions are also provided for varying research technologies, although I can’t declare whether or not they are accurate, since I lack a formal degree in astro-physics. Over-all the descriptions provide a fairly interesting read in the absence of any real backing to the universe.
Become the Ruler
Actually joining the world of ogame.org was a bit more painful than it should have been. The process seems easy enough, the usual providing an email, a desired account name, and a desired password. From there it lets you start playing the game. However, it asks you send a verification email through the options menu, which it does not do automatically as most sites do. Worse still for both me and Riknas the first verification email only opens a eternally loading page. After staring at it for 5 minutes it dawned on me that nothing was actually happening. I then sent 2 more verification emails, one of which actually worked. It wasn’t the most difficult bug in the world, but it was a bit of an inconvenience.
After your ordeal is over, you may notice that you have received a mail from the game which provides some basic advice (build a mine and solar plant, idiot) and a link to the tutorial. Clicking this tutorial will provide you with the utmost basics of the game. At the end it gives yet another link to the “advanced tutorial”. Figuring that the advanced tutorial would provide more information than the first, I naively clicked it. To my surprise the link sent me right back to the regular tutorial I was on. I continued to follow this cycle of repeatedly going through the same pages, partly to make sure I wasn’t going crazy, and partly out of desperation for deeper gameplay instructions. Yes, I’m the kind of person who does read the manual before playing a game. As it turns out, the tutorials are fairly useless, as the game is very easy to pick up and play.
Build You Empire
As the recently adopted totalitarian ruler of an entire planet, you might be wondering what choices you can make. As far as initial customizations, none. All players start in the exact same manner, at a random planet. Being created at a random planet may stop clustering, but it can be a bit annoying when joining the game with a friend, as you may very well end up multiple galaxies away. This seems to be a bit of an over-sight on the part of the developers, but at least it encourages you to make new friends. That’s always good, right?
But I’m sure you’re wondering how the game actually plays. And if you aren’t wondering that, you’ve already played the game and are just humoring me right now. Thank you. As for the rest of you, the game plays almost like an Turn Based Strategy game. You gather resources through mines. The resources are metal, crystal, and deuterium(fuel). These mines require energy, which can be gather from a Solar Plant. The resources you gather can in turn be spent to upgrade your resource harvesters to get you more resources, lather, rinse, repeat. But wait, there’s more. These resources can also be spent on researching new technologies. Here is where the game starts to branch off. These technologies allow you to build new structures or ships. Which technologies you wish to invest your precious resources in is actually a more difficult decision than one might originally think, especially when maximum efficiency is no longer “upgrade to max”. To provide an example, eventually you might be able to build a Fusion Reactor. The Fusion Reactor could provide more energy than the Solar Plant, but it consumes precious deuterium. However, its efficiency can be further upgraded by researching more energy technologies. Whether you think it is worth it to spend your time and resources on that plant, or instead to just have more solar plants is up to the player.
Begin Your Conquest
Okay, so you’ve built up your empire, possibly expanded into other planets through colonies, and you are officially leet in your own eyes. Now what? Here’s where the game leaves it almost disappointingly blank. Since there are no missions in the game, the only real combat you could have it through fighting other planets, often pointlessly. That’s not to say that the entire game is for nothing, since it’s the journey to greatness that is often more fun, and it is very hard to get absolutely everything. If you think you have a good armada, try saving up for the Death Star (yes, it can actually blow up moons). The over-all feel of the game is largely reminiscent of Eve Online, to anyone who is familiar with the game. Since resources are automatically gathered, you only need to check on it every now and again unless you are in the middle of a war with someone. Alliances are still possible in the game, but the interface for it seems a bit intimidating and the benefits are hard to find.
They accept Paypal in Space?
Everyone’s after money, unless you believe in the barter system or are a transcendentalist. The gimmick, if you will, in ogame is darkmatter. Spend real money, you get in-game money. This is hardly surprising, but what did surprise me was how frivolous they made the dark matter. Dark matter is not required to get the best ships, or to avoid grinding, or to access the best features. All dark matter does is allow you to buy and Officer upgrade, which grants you a small boost to a specific part of the game, like mine construction. But what REALLY surprised me was how cheap everything was. If you only wanted 1 upgrade, $15 would give it to you for the next 31 years and 3 months. And that’s the least efficient spending. This game really has me impressed with their apparent selflessness in regards to spending.
Any Last Words?
Ogame is a fun little game, but it doesn’t provide the same time-grind some people might enjoy. Considering it is all resource management, I have a hard time imagining anyone spending more than 10 minutes per day on this game unless they are in a war. That said, those 10 minutes can be really fun. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you can just stop playing the game and know that you are still making tons of resources. If this game sounds remotely interesting to you, I would recommend you give it a whirl, since it’s free and takes next to no time out of your usual day. I’m actually going to keep playing this one.
((This game was made in the year 2009, and is not completely accurate to the current state of the game, however new images were used. Review was by Andras.))