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Empire Online on your iPhone

July 9th, 2011
RPG Dice

Some time last week, or more likely the week before, I couldn’t sleep.  So while lying in bed I used my iPhone and somehow it recommended I download a game called Empire Online.  I did and I’ve since spent at least 20 hours playing it.  Empire Online is a MMORPG.  This means lots of people play the same game all over the world and each player is represented by a character in the game.  Characters can interact, fight, even die.  Of course this is just a game, so you immediately come back to life, hardly any worse for wear. Empire Online image from fan Wiki

I’ve written previously on role playing games on the iPhone.  I’ve conversed with the guy who runs the top website on this niche.  I’ve completed some games.  My blog does well for a few keywords, but I just don’t have as much time as some to devote to gaming.  Some members of my empire in Empire Online play upwards of 19 hours a day.  Let me put that in bold, NINETEEN HOURS PER DAY.

I prefer turn based strategy games for the most part, regularly making a half dozen moves in Samurai with little to show for my effort but one of the lowest win percentages in the world.  Empire Online is a carrot on a stick game.  It is basically Diablo II on your iPhone merged with old school Final Fantasy.  It looks like Final Fantasy, combat is very similar to the original Final Fantasy.  Your characters don’t move except to run forward and hit the enemy.  What tactics and strategy there is, revolves around target prioritization and using the right spell or weapon.  Just like Diablo you wander around completing quests and collecting loot.  Eventually your character will level up and you can improve your statistics by three points and spend some skill points on skills. 

Skills also cost money.  This is where things differ from the Diablo II model.  There are at least two levels of currency.  You find copper when you fight and are rewarded with copper and gear when you complete a quest.  Not everything can be bought with copper. You need silver to buy the best stuff and to get any of your skills above level 10.  Silver is a form of in-game currency.  I’ve stayed away from games with in-game currencies or monthly fees, the other MMORPG model.  However now that I’ve gained 20 something levels and joined an Empire, I realized I could have made my life easier by buying a few silver coins and I still may need to, in order to defeat some of more difficult foes and quests.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been missing the adventuring and exploring of online worlds.  Diablo III when it comes out will be a must buy for me.  I spent way too much time playing Diablo II, it isn’t really my style of game as it has real time combat, but it is fun and looked and sounded great for a game over ten years old now.

The other games I’ve been playing are Dragon Age Legends.  This is MMORPG run through Facebook.  It is like Empire Online in a lot of ways, but it is a Western style RPG.  What I don’t like about it is you can only make 18 energy worth of actions per day.  You earn more energy over time.  18 is too few, I prefer being able to wander around as much as I like in these games.  Dragon Age Legends is free to play but has an in-game currency which you can use to buy better stuff.

CivWorld is in public beta.  I got to play about two turns before it crashed.  Then a day later someone invited me to play Empire & Allies which seems similar to CivWorld.  I never got to use up all my energy before it too crashed.  Like I said I’m not a fan of browser based gaming.  I use a Mac and I use Opera.  No one tests for that… CivWorld and Empire & Allies also have in-game currencies.  These last three games are wed to the Facebook platform a decision that Zynga has acknowledged in their IPO provides a large level of risk.

I prefer casual games be on my iPhone.  I prefer to pay for an app and then be able to play as much as I want.  I’ve never really played any ad supported games.  I guess I’m willing to try.  What matters is game play, quality control, and fun.  If the Diablo series ever comes to the iPhone it would be huge.

With all the time I’ve logged in Empire Online over the last three weeks, I wonder if I know any real people who play the game?  It is supposedly the most popular RPG in China. All four games in this posting would have benefited from more documentation. Empires & Allies actually did the best informing new players on what they needed to do and how to go about it.  Of course it crashed… Empire Online crashes too, but their world is so large you can usually find someplace new to go or some mission you haven’t tried, once you join an empire you can improve your character a lot more and you have a use for all the material you’ve been collecting, they are used to build buildings for the Empire.

I don’t have enough time and energy to play lots of different games. Today I haven’t played Empire Online but I did use up my 18 energy in Dragon Age Legends.  I don’t think the perfect app/model/world is out there yet, but I’m not sure Facebook is the platform to produce it.  I think iPhone (iOS) is the gaming platform of the future. I know it is the one I use the most now.

Empire Online is getting a fan based English Language Wiki, might have to go learn the answers to the few things I haven’t figured out by the school of hard knocks.


  • So I ended up playing a far amount of Empire Online after finishing with my domestic chores.  I eventually leveled up both me and my pet.  However it seems like my character is getting worse instead of better.  I’m using my points to increase sub-optimal skills as I can’t increase the skills I want and use past level 10 without the in-game premium currency (silver).  So late tonight or early this morning while lying awake, I took the plunge and bought some silver.  I then spent all my skill points improving what I thought were the best skills.  I still don’t understand why I can’t start new skills.  I’d also love to have back some of the skill points I put into skills I don’t really need or use.

    I also used my silver to buy gold keys to open chests.  This yielded a wide variety of esoteric gear.  Most of it I didn’t need so I ended up selling it for copper.  However I did increase a bunch of my characters statistics, the end result was a bit of wash.  I’m superficially better, but not where it counts, fighting the toughest monsters.  I’m going to have to spend more hours grinding away… That’s the online RPG term for killing monsters to get experience before you can get better to go kill tougher monsters to get more experience and of course loot.  I definitely think having silver to spend on skills when you level up is the way to go.  Buying gold keys to open level 30 chests is worth it, to open level 15 chests not so much.  

    I also took a bunch of my unwanted gear and chests and put them on consignment.  This is another way to buy and sell gear, I believe the house takes a cut.  I have no idea if I chose good prices or not.  I had to pay 50,000 copper pieces just to try it.  It is pretty hot in Vancouver so I got out of bed at 3 in the morning to have a cool drink and I guess write this blog comment.

  • Here is an almost surreal story about a MMO game that introduced a new in-game currency specifically to buy vanity items for players avatars.  In-game riots broke out!  The game is EVE Online which I’ve been invited to play, I think because I spent so much time back in the day playing Escape Velocity: NOVA.  EVE is kinda like a MMO version of Escape Velocity NOVA.  It has a whole universe to explore.  It has an in-game economy that is complex enough to require two full time real world economists to manage it. The story appeared on Ars…

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/07/monocles.ars

  • Although I definitely don’t play every day.  I have continued to play Empire Online which is more than I can say for Empires & Allies.  They’ve continued to upgrade the game with even more characterful and over the top character sprites.  I learned recently you can sell back skills you don’t want.  This is huge.  You don’t get your money back, but you do get to re-spend your skill points.  I finally made level 31 and spent a lot of time optimizing my guy.

    I also switched to using a Saber instead of a Sword.  As I found a really good Saber that just seemed to work better.  I also slowly upgraded my intelligence and magic ability, but alas I seem to have accidentally sold my favourite Saber.  It wasn’t Epic or even Rare it just worked well.  I bought a replacement this morning, but I paid a premium used the Trading Post.

    Although it is possible to get in the high 20’s without spending any silver IE real money.  It becomes increasingly difficult to level up as without silver you can not allocate your skill points optimally.  Joining a good empire is also huge as you can buy better gear and more importantly learn better skills.  You’d have to travel far and wide to learn some of the skills that you can just try out by visiting your empire and paying some copper.  Copper doesn’t grow on trees, but if you wander around and kill stuff you can eventually find a good location for grinding.  To get the best gear you have to complete the harder missions and go where the tougher monsters are.  Either that are just spend, spend, spend.  Most equipment has level and stat requirements.  My guy has pretty high stats in most categories as I like to try different equipment out and mix and match.  I actually put together a matching suite last night which I think is designed for magic users.  My Kung Fu fighter has a lot of magical ability now, which is partly why Sabers seem to work better to swords.

    Two-handed swords do more damage but the biggest, baddest, one I’ve found misses too much.  I only have three pieces of Epic equipment.  I’ve found others but it wasn’t useful for my character.  I keep alternating between single sword and shield as I found an Epic Shield once, biggest damage two handed sword, and now my replacement two handed saber.  I’ve never used dual weapons much.  My thinking is the extra bonuses from having a shield should be worth it, but in practice the two handed weapons greater damage is necessary.

    I also sold back some of my pet skills and spent some silver on optimizing him.  I still may buy or earn a better pet, but it is less of a priority.  There is lots of places to go and silly missions to complete.  I have plenty of teleport crystals though I tend not to use them much.

    One thing you can do with silver and lots of copper is complete a whole series of missions which require you to go some place buy something bring it back then get repaid.  This is easy XP but you need silver and more and more silver to do these missions.  They are way easier and less time consuming than some of the other missions.  Even if you’re Mr. Money Bags you have to put time in leveling up and the best gear maybe can be bought at the trading post, but I seem to find my best gear randomly killing stuff.

    I’m still not sold on Gold Chests, the Gold Keys cost Silver and most of the stuff inside doesn’t seem to be that useful.  In future I may only open the Kung Fu Fighter chests and sell off the rest at the Trading Post for whatever I can get.  I worry that my consigned items after my trading certificate expires might just disappear.  They don’t return to my inventory.  

    I also think a 1000 Silver to double my storage is looking like a good deal.  It was full of left over mission items I was repeatedly warned not to sell and resources I collect for my empire.

    I tend to give my resources to my empire rather than sell them.  I don’t make any money but access to better gear and skills is really useful.  Our empire is called Gaule with the final ‘E’.  We’re pretty powerful I’ve been lead to believe but not overly competitive we just have a pretty open immigration party and a few people that will help out newbies.

  • Lakoo seems to have a lot more information about this game since I started playing it.

    http://lakoo.com/empire/

  • They updated the game the other day on the iStore.  Now some more menus have changed and it is easier to ‘like’ them on Facebook, but they made every single fight take longer.  The game is mostly fighting.  All the animations are slower and laggier.  This shouldn’t be the case as when fights occur only one device needs to render the graphics unlike in common areas…  Regardless making your game slower and less fun to play isn’t the way to gain Facebook fans.

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