Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ikariam

I've been monitoring the progress of a pending MMORTS (massively multiplayer online real-time strategy) game called Beyond Protocol. It seems very interesting, at least in theory, and I've been doing a little pestering of the folks there, re-applying to the beta at least one extra time, I think twice, and reading up on the discussions people are having about the game. The diplomacy portion is what I'm really interested in, as it looks like they're planning on having a galaxy-governing body through which players can actually generate changes to the game. How this actually shakes out remains to be seen, but needless to say, I'm intrigued.

But in the meantime, I've been looking for other MMORTS-style games to quench my thirst. I play the occasional game of WarCraft III online, but it's not really what I'm looking for. I want more of a broad scope interactive game that includes diplomacy, economics, city management, and a civilian aspect of the game. Beyond Protocol may not even be that game, as I haven't seen much as far as the civilian side of things. So I've been looking around.

I did some browsing on Wikipedia and stumbled upon Ikariam. I've created an account (on Lambda world, if anyone else wants to join up), and I'm sort of testing the waters. It's a free system, though there is some kind of enhanced experience that you can get by buying "ambrosia" (using real money) and spending that. I haven't investigated that aspect too much, since for the time being I'm really just looking for a time-killer.

In that vein, one of the most appealing aspects of Ikariam is that it's a browser-based game. This means that, if I like, I can check in on it while I'm at work without having to install a big program or anything. I like the idea of checking in, giving new orders, and then getting back to the business of the day....which for me would probably be looking for more of those kinds of games.

Anyways, I've gotten to play it a little bit, and it seems very Civilization-esque. It's got a few different levels of management, from inside your city to the island that you share with a number of other cities, to the whole world (again, Lambda for me). You allocate resources to different tasks (military, research, resource management, etc.), and try to build your city so that it's strong enough to defend itself from eventual attackers while having the capacity to expand to new territories. Again, I'm very early in the game, and don't know exactly how combat or expansion works, but I know they're in the game somehow, and I'm looking forward to finding out.

All in all, it seems encouraging. I'm not going to declare right now that it's my kind of game, but it's certainly got the tools to be something I'm happy to throw some time into. If you decide to join up, let me know so I can track your town's progress and direct you towards my own.

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