Game Site: Verdonia on Facebook
Game Developer: Playdom
Rating: Don’t Waste Your Time
When I saw that Playdom had made an OSG for Facebook, I was quite excited. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Social City for the last couple months, and they have a few other well-polished games, so I was expecting good things. Alas, I was rather disappointed when an old nemisis reared its head.
Verdonia is Evony for Facebook. Understand that this is not a metaphor. Granted, the graphics are original and relatively well done, but it’s clearly taken from the same base code, has the same buildings, the same units, etc. Playdom has made a few changes aside from the graphics, which I’ll go over, but overall these have just made a mediocre game worse.
Perhaps the best change Playdom has made to the game is the adoption of Lord of Ultima’s Castle system, in the form of the Chancery. Basically, you do not have access to the world map until you build a Chancery. This means you cannot attack other players, nor can they attack you. This lets each player decide when he’s ready to enter the usually aggressive PVP side of the game, if ever. Until then, you can still use your military and sharpen your teeth by attacking the NPC controlled areas in your Kingdom (which each player has a unique instance of), which may be enough for some players.
Aside from this, I consider most of the other changes a step in the wrong direction. Verdonia embraces what usually passes for social interaction in a Facebook game (the sending of gifts back and forth), which is just rediculous in an OSG. That’s what the Marketplace (trade) and the March Site (troops) should be for. So instead of having players interact in meaningful ways that you would expect in an online strategy game, you are hit with a pop up window every five minutes or so detailing this out-of-game experience where you can conjure up resources for you and your allies out of thin air by posting on your Facebook wall.
Further, the price you pay for these interruptions? Verdonia uses 33% of my CPU when idle. Granted, I get a couple cool animations like smoke billowing from my academy, or a flock of birds that flies by every few minutes, but is that really worth it? This is a browser-based game afterall. When idle, Facebook, Ikariam, and Travian combined use less than 1% of my processor.
Probably more than disliking the game I’m simply disappointed in Playdom. Bringing OSG’s to Facebook is a great idea (since there are only a few so far), but if you’re just going to copy another game, why not copy a good one? Of course I understand it’s a business decision. The Evony code is clearly for sale, and all Playdom had to do was integrate it with their proven Facebook framework, draw a few pictures, and call it a day. On the plus side, hopefully the game will introduce some of Facebook’s “casual gamers” and leave them craving some deeper gameplay.