At some point, an old buddy of mine joined Facebook or found me on Facebook and then after that asked me to play Empires & Allies. Pierre and I played games online and offline back in the day or somewhat back in the day so I figured what the hell. I think this is the first Zynga game I’ve tried. I really tried. I tried playing it for several days but it just doesn’t work.
I mean on my computer, on my internet connection, using my browser, it doesn’t work. Most of the time I can’t get it to do anything. I click, it beeps. I click some more it beeps some more. Sometimes it does stuff, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it goes all crazy with pop ups and beeping. This isn’t carrot on a stick design, this is slot machine game design, the more beeping and flashing the better. Strategy, tactics, thinking, out the window, just click as much as you can to generate as many beeps and flashes and possible and obviously you’re winning.
That is not how I want to spend my time. I don’t play slot machines. I don’t click around to generate beeps and I don’t enjoy Empires & Allies. It isn’t fun. In fact the more you play it, the more annoying it seems to be with demanding I do this, demanding I do that. What about what I want to do?
Remember SimCity, the original SimCity, it came out on Amiga first I think. I saw it playing in a mall in Victoria after a soccer game and it was just amazing. You could just do whatever you want. Want to build a train, go ahead, a park, a train going through a park, knock yourself out. Sure it kinda kept score and your Sims could complain, but you could always just get more money by typing SHIFT+Fund. Some people remember up up, down down, left, right, A, B, start, select or whatever, but me I remember SHIFT+Fund.
You know what makes me the most sad about Empires & Allies is it is probably similar to CivWorld. I was looking forward to CivWorld. I tried to get in on the beta testing. When I finally got to try the public beta it crashed on my very first building build. I haven’t tried it since. I was waiting for them to improve the codebase/servers to give it another go, now after playing Empires and Allies I’m not so enthused.
Maybe I’m just not a browser gaming guy. I prefer to play games on my iPhone casually or devote my full attention to something like Civilization V. I’ve taken an enforced break from Civ V as I try unsuccessfully to get a full time job. I haven’t touched my Wii in longer, I haven’t played any Warhammer 40,000. I’ve been volunteering, applying for jobs, and building my personal brand.
I have watched a lot of DVDs and played a lot of guitar, but that was late at night after another unsuccessful day of job searching, or at least sitting in front of my laptop trying to learn something that might help me in my job search.
Empires & Allies is sufficiently frustrating that I decided to write a blog post about it. When I take a break from working in Excel, I want to relax. I don’t want to click and hear beeps while the UI or the AI or the ads change. I don’t need to be told what to do every single second. I’m capable of making decisions. I want to explore the game world at my own pace and in my own manner. After 5 days or so of trying to play Empires & Allies I have no idea if I’m doing well or not. I’ve built what it told me. Though why I want to share info with my neighbours when I build up my navy I don’t know. I don’t need to share every time I earn 10 cents.
Empires & Allies is basically the Facebook equivalent of a slot machine, instead of taking quarters it takes time, not sure what it gives back besides beeps.