OSG1

Ministry of War Review

Game Site: MinistryofWar.com
Game Developer: Snail Games USA
Rating: Worth Checking Out

Ministry of War is a new Online Strategy Game from Snail Games. It is definitely an “advanced” game, offering many features and a very high level of polish. However, there are many design decisions that push the game between genres and make it a very time-intensive game.

At its core, Ministry of War is a classic OSG. Players are given a city where they will need to build mines, lumbermills, and farms to harvest resources which are spent to construct houses, barracks, a research academy, and so forth. One very nice feature is that Ministry of War has adopted a grid-based city view (like Farmville, Social City, etc) instead of the traditional slot-based city view that most OSG’s use. This means that the player has a lot more control over the look of his city and can place structures anywhere.

One of the features I was really excited to see in Ministry of War was the ability to construct your own castle. Integrated with the customized city view are walls, towers, and gates that players can use to design a fortress. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell this has no affect on actual gameplay.

As with most modern OSG’s there’s a huge emphasis on the Hero. You will need to hire a hero, equip him with items, earn experience and level him up. One interesting twist Ministry of War adds is the “Arena”. Here you can select a hero to do combat, and the game will automatically match you up with another player your level who is currently online, regardless of where your cities are on the world map. Now that you are both online, you are transported to a traditional RTS style map. Here you can select troops, assign targets, etc., just like Starcraft, Command and Conquer, etc.

This is a great feature, but it is very dissapointing and puzzling as to why they didn’t integrate this with the fortress-building aspect of the game? When I attack another player’s city on the map, all I get is a standard report about troops lost and loot.

Another draw-back of the game is that OSG mechanisms don’t really stand on their own. Primarily, there doesn’t seem to be any point to resources. The most expensive thing I can build right now is a Lvl 4 City. This would cost me 2400 Stone and some Wood. My quarries are producing over 3600 Stone per hour. It’s the same with all my resources. Indeed, it seems the only way I could properly spend my resources would be to have two tasks building 24/7. Which brings up a second problem. The majority of structures are complete in under 5 minutes. That is a terrible wait time for an OSG!

By design, any time a player is not playing Ministry of War, he is falling behind. This means that it is not really a casual game. Further, since the most interesting aspect, the RTS battles and Arena, require players to be online at the same time, why not just play Starcraft?

Now, I exaggerate. I think a persistent browser-based RTS would be an excellent game! However, what we have with Ministry of War is a decent browser-based RTS thrown on top of a shoddy OSG (don’t get me started on their tutorial system or the web of rediculous building pre-requisites). There is definitely a place, a huge place, for this type of game in the market. However, Ministry of War needs to think hard about what it’s trying to be, and then shed off all the rest. Otherwise it’s just confusing to players.

On the plus side, the game does have some fantastic tutorial text.

Cheers,
Oliver

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I enjoyed your post! Here are the over sites I see with the game.

    There are several issues in this game that are major oversights…like not having a sent folder in your e-mail. Not being intuitive enough to inform the player when an incoming attack on their city will occur…eta on an attack and where the attack is coming from or what is being attacked (city or campsite). It is a game that based on attacking others and defending. Hard to defend if all you have is a blinking map.

    Chat filter..omg they need a chat filter. During a Contested Zone war (CZ which is a Nation vs Nation battle) when you HAVE to communicate with your guild they spam the *** out of you with individual players marching to attack/defend. This might be fine in a closed beta, but with thousands of players playing every day this can quickly become annoying. In guild chat you will often receive announcements like “Player X has recruited a Mercenary.” Who cares? Keep that stuff in general chat not guild.

    The lag during CZ can literally kill your army. You lose control and then watch someone exploit your lag. I applaud their attempts to allow you to control the battles, however I think trying to make a java applet handle it and not download part of the client on your computer and utilize your memory and CPU was a huge over site. They could do much more. You could make these battles epic, by seeing massive armies fighting it out, putting them in formations that were utilized by the real Romans, Egyptians etc. Instead you are limited a maximum of 8 “units” or groups of units. Oh and having a hero..one guy who can take out 600 people is also just wrong.

    The Market needs to be a user driven economy and not the ***ed up one they have in place (half a million for 20 or 30 k iron..give me a break). Not hard..how many MMORPG’s have this?

    Upgrading your city: After level 10 you can upgrade your cottages but your population does not increase. Why upgrade something if there isn’t any real benefit from it? Also, after level 10 you use more resources then you ever hope to produce upgrading your resource fields. Again, then why upgrade them? You get glory, but that is about it. When you get to castle age your resource fields essentially become worthless and you have to plunder others A LOT to continue to make headway in the game.

    Territory: This part of the game seems to do nothing but breed guild infighting and civil war.

    Campsites/building other cities: You basically can’t. You can build a campsite but it doesn’t really do much. You don’t receive any glory for building it up. You don’t have all the buildings that are available to you in your main city and you can only build up the campsite to a certain point. You are only allowed an archery range and a barracks and can make low level troops. You can’t even funnel resources from your campsite to you main city. It has no strategic advantage what so ever. Furthermore, you can’t abandon the campsite or move it. Once you’ve built one you’re stuck with it.

    Game play is so much more then graphics, its psychology…and that is where they failed the most.
    Item Set Completion: people love to have complete sets, it’s natural in all of us. They have limited quests and no other “sets” to collect. There are some achievements but you need an astronomical amount of carnage to do so. Most people will give up when faced with that. They need more rewards that increase in difficulty through time, and aren’t impossible from the get go. Take a hint from Mafia Wars, you win so many arena fights you get a badge.

    Social Reciprocity: It is when someone gives you something and you feel compelled to give back. A simple way to do this in this game is by guild members giving resources to others in the guild. People will feel a stronger tie to the guild and therefore more bound to the game. At this time there is no player to player resource trading. The guild is almost worthless except for some tips and tricks. There is no way for me to see if someone attacked a fellow guild member so I can exact justice unless we are informed after the fact. I can’t help a guild member with resources to recover from being plundered. You can’t even ask the guild to help you if you are being attacked. It is a game that IS based on attacking others and defending. Hard to defend FROM AN ASSAULT if all you have is a blinking map and no other information, not even an eta. Even Farmville utilizes social reciprocity to keep people playing.

    Variable Interval Reinforcement: Are horrible in this game. You take on a lvl 30 lair and get a lvl 10 necklace. WTF. In the tavern they try to utilize this by who you can recruit. A hero/merchant/missionary with a white name is worthless, green name is two steps from worthless, blue name is good and purple is god like. I received my purple merchant after playing for almost a month. I know several people that have none and several that have a lot. This makes for a huge inequality.

    Obviously you can link all of these together. Make a random drop item part of a set, which you can only complete if there is some social reciprocity involved.

    All of these boil down to this:

    Emotional Investment. The more emotionally invested you are, the more face time you will put in, the more you will want to be successful and the more likely you will drop some coin on the game. There was nothing really, besides the CZ’s, to bind us as a guild together. So you had to invest yourself into your city and your personal game play. When you hit a certain point, that you are getting up there in rank, and there are fewer and fewer rewards given you start to lose interest. That is when your attachment to the guild should kick in and keep you playing…but you don’t have it. You may have helped save a CZ, but this is a very arbitrary thing. Not as strong of a bonding experience as everyone chipping in to help fend off invaders from your city. And if you are lucky you aren’t secretly pissed off about someone taking your territory.

    You will always have those people who spend their lives on the game and can blow everyone out of the water. They will inevitably pick on the lower players and try to run them off. You have to design the game and create a strong emotional investment to mitigate this. Otherwise, your number of players will peak at the launch and decline as time goes on until you have nothing but socially inept inverts that need to go outside or get laid.

  • May I suggest a real good game.
    I find Torpia an extremely addictive game and has all the stuff that Ministry of war has and the stuff it doesn’t.
    (except the graphics but at least its not terrible graphics) 😉

  • I really think GP’s comment is worthy. Such as a lot of good and true comments are there. Maybe it looks like being a bit prejudiced but i agree with remarks concerning command game. At the begining of the game when the main goal is building and accumulation of resources it’s ok. But even then you need the feeling of existance of another players. When you are already on the level you need an alliance that’s become to be a problem. Such kind of games are meaningless if you play alone. Seems the meaning of alliances are completely odd here. On the one hand you allegedly are part of alliance but on the other hand it doesn’t give you anything. You have no obligation to alliance and it has no to you as well.
    The feeling that you’re part of something important gives you the feeling of responsibility and willing to play.
    Besides it the game has a pleasant feature that you can build your castle on your own (it’s a trifle but it’s nice).
    It’s a good chance to show your creativity – such opportunity gives not so often in OSG.
    All in all it’s a decent game which has a right to exist. Tastes differ – how many players are so many opinions.

  • really think GP’s comment is worthy. Such as a lot of good and true comments are there. Maybe it looks like being a bit prejudiced but i agree with remarks concerning command game. At the begining of the game when the main goal is building and accumulation of resources it’s ok. But even then you need the feeling of existance of another players. When you are already on the level you need an alliance that’s become to be a problem. Such kind of games are meaningless if you play alone. Seems the meaning of alliances are completely odd here. On the one hand you allegedly are part of alliance but on the other hand it doesn’t give you anything. You have no obligation to alliance and it has no to you as well.
    The feeling that you’re part of something important gives you the feeling of responsibility and willing to play.
    Besides it the game has a pleasant feature that you can build your castle on your own (it’s a trifle but it’s nice).
    It’s a good chance to show your creativity – such opportunity gives not so often in OSG.
    All in all it’s a decent game which has a right to exist. Tastes differ – how many playes are so many opinions.

  • The game is pretty much broken now. Before you could spend little or nothing if you worked hard and still be competitive. Now you have to pay for everything and players are leaving in droves. I doubt more than 10-15% of the people on the server I play on are active, the rest are just logging on for 5 minutes a day to keep their accounts from disappearing.

    • Any game in which “service”, “gm”, and “snail” (the publisher) are censored in chat is in deep trouble

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *