I've played my share of browser based games. I've played plenty of these click-wait-click type games. They are all pretty neat, but at some point I usually get attacked by some guy named "420JuggerNUT420" and lose all my progress. Then again, it's been quite a while since I played one. At least a year?
So, trying out Ikariam, a browser based click-and-wait game (think EVE skill training meets an RTS) I thought it was going to be just another trip down "ouch I just lost everything" lane.
But, I didn't factor in the involvement of the www.mmovoices.ning.com players. Soon, we would all be in game and chatting about it in the chat room. The nice thing about this type of game: everyone can be on the same page, and can play together without having to be logged in on an avatar.
Essentially, you start off on a random island somewhere in the sea. You are surrounded by strangers, and have nothing but a town hall to start making your town with. I don't care to get into every single detail of the game, being that I would rather you discover them for yourselves and being that I am a little against posting every single detail instead of posting about how a game makes you feel, so here it is.
a) You click on a plot on your land and start to build something.
b) You form alliances, trade with your friends.
c) You wake up at 4am, scared that you are being attacked.
That's most of it, minus the details. The best way to experience it is to log in and start building. Don't worry about making money or massing an army, just stumble your way through it. That's not really the important thing, here. The important thing is how you feel when you play. I would rather give you a couple examples of my game-play to indicate how the game makes me feel:
1) I look at my interface, and my military advisor is all lit up. I check him to see what's happening, and he says "Fatmanfred is attacking you.." or something along those lines. It essentially warned me that a player was sending 4 vessels and 4 units to get me. I had no idea what that meant, but saw the word "occupy."
I stayed calm. I thought I should message the guy, see what he wanted. Then I thought I should just look up what to do on the forums. I decided both of those are lazy and weak, so I just took out all my goods and loaded them on a ship and sent them away to a friends island. (Weak still, but not lazy.) The loading process would be done in 19 minutes or so, and he was supposed to arrive in 14! If I had to, I would tell my friend to just sell the stuff...I would possibly recover..goodbye, cruel world.
So, he arrives...I prepare to watch the carnage.
But, nothing happened. Here's how it broke down: "occupation" simply means that he is using my town as a jumping off point for an attack on someone else. The only damage I recieved was to lose the few soldiers I had. He didn't take anything, and left soon after. My mind quickly ran over the situation and how he landed, told the townspeople to continue on with what they were doing, had his way with some of the women, and I swore revenge as he left. (I still plan on it.) Luckily, warehouses keep a certain amount of goods "safe" (meaning that they can't be looted) and I had attempted to load the remainder on my ships. Well, he caught my ships before they became fully loaded and they had to leave port quickly, leaving behind what they couldn't carry. Luckily, those leftovers fit within the warehouse. If not, the goods that were not protected would have been his. Needless to say, it was a riveting hour or so.
2) Trade route? YES. The cool thing is that once you establish who your friends are, you can send ships to each other containing goods. You send messages (or we do it in chat) asking what each other needs and send the goods if we have them. My friend sent me 300 wine, I took 100 and sent on the other 200 to friends down the list. We are clumsily trading with each other, stumbling through the world while trying to grow our towns. A few of us have been attacked, but this game allows you to survive to see another day, unlike other browser based games.
All in all, the game is so very simple, but as complex as you want to make it. I would rather avoid most combat and trade with people, and I can do that.
I can also mass an army and go around conquering, if I'd like.
That's what I love about games like this, they give you choices. When the game-play is interesting enough but doesn't require countless hours sitting at your chair, you will explore all sorts of ideas you wouldn't normally think of until you have a boring day at work or a long walk with the dogs. Your mind keeps racing back to your lil town, wondering how they are getting along. As you progress, the town changes slightly, adding workers and vineyards. A game like this proves that graphics never make the game, it's the game-play and interactions with other people that do.
Go try it out. I know, I know, I didn't give you all the details. I didn't tell you how to make a million gold within a month, or how exactly to grow the perfect town quickly. Figure it out. Only understand that you just need a browser to play, and that we are having discussions about the game on www.mmovoices.ning.com, so join the group.
As you play, notice how your mind is filling in so many blanks. That's not a knock against the game, but quite the opposite. It takes a real game to get stuck in your brain while you are at work or sitting in a boring class, and it takes a very clever game to do it without much for graphics!