EDIT: I have been playing Neptune’s Pride 2, also called Triton, for the last few months. It is a very improved version of the first Neptunes Pride, built in HTML5 and workes well with nearly any mobile device. the game mechanics have been tweaked to make it more balanced and tight, removing the game breaking Speed technology of the origianl. there ar eloads of new features, forums, game modes and optionals. I cant stress how much I have been enjoying the game.
You can find it here, please come and join the fun!
Because I am a gamer I will periodically use this blog to express my thoughts about a specific game I have been involved with lately.
This might be interesting to some while boring to other readers. Yet I feel that a subjective opinionated account of my experiences with a certain game may be more enjoyable to read then a more technical review a lot of gamers are accustomed to reading on the main gaming press sites.
Now that I have got that introductory part out of the way I’ll jump right in: I have lately been playing an online multiplayer game (usually called MMO which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online). It’s called Neptune’s Pride and is set in a science fiction ambience. You play the game as a ruler of an interstellar empire and the object of the game is to win by capturing stars and reaching a predetermined number of them before any of the other players do. The other players of course have their own empires and try to do the same.
This is a game of war and diplomacy where you need to build a strong alliance with some players while waging war against others in order to get their stars.
In the free mode of the game you may participate in small 8 player games which usually last two or three weeks until someone gets to the target 90 or so stars and the game ends.
If you are a premium user you can create custom games and invite other players to join. This means that matches can have more players with larger star maps and tweaked values. The values in the game refer to speed, weapons power, scan range and science capacity. Building economy gets you more cash every day and industry will boost the production of ships. Basically you send ships to other stars and you can watch them move across the map as they slowly go towards their destination. Travel time is slow and can take many hours. If a fleet reaches a star with opposing ships a battle will take place and the results are based on the number of ships on each side and the weapons level of each player (this is obtained by researching weapons tech using your science points).
Now I’m sure that if you have not played the game before this will all sound very complicated and maybe you have only managed to create a very vague idea of what the game might be like. Though the creators of the game have made a very good job of streamlining all the information into a clear and easy design; tooltips pop up when you move the mouse over different buttons and options, and there is a good short tutorial to get you started.
To begin building industry and sending out ships is really easy, but you will not start to see the results until a couple of days later. About a week into the game you might start to clash with the enemy and thats when it really start’s getting cool and tactical. Now, I say a week, but although it takes a while for things to happen in the game, you can really only spend a very limited amount of time playing the game every day. You can spend five minutes quickly giving orders every day or you can take longer thinking about your moves while checking the map several times a day to see if the enemy has made his move.
Neptune’s Pride is a Flash game, so you need to have the latest flash plug-in installed in order to play it on your browser. While it worked well on my PC laptop, it was jerky and a bit unresponsive on my old Mac. This is because of Adobe dropping support for PPC Macs which is a shame because I am sure there are many players still using their old Macs for surfing the net. I would have liked to see NP use different technology that remains fully accessible to all minorities.
A feature that the game lacks is a dedicated forum. This would help the community thrive because at the moment, other than inside a premium game, I saw no traces of a living breathing online community, and even then, only because some players knew each others nicknames from previous matches. Other than the in-game chat and messaging system, there is nowhere to interact, look for advice, create guides or make announcements. This is a shame because it is an important part of many MMO’s, and NP could benefit greatly from this simple feature.
Another feature I would add is a player account with stats that other players can access and see. Right now NP has a very limited profile system viewable only by the player himself, and only shows how many total games have been completed, and how many podium spots have been attained. The game needs a more extensive global points system so that players have a sense of progress and competition with other users. Medals, awards and other achievements can be granted, and putting together an active forum with user profiles that can be viewed by all members, will create an all around more lively and absorbing experience around a game that although well designed and fun, is still very much bare bones.
I could go on with more suggestions but it almost seems as if Iron Helmet Games have dropped development for the game. There is a notice on the main menu saying that you will soon be able to choose your avatar picture, which I think is nice, but ultimately adds nothing to game play or to the sense of community Neptune’s Pride needs so dearly.
As a closing comment I would like to recommend the game to anyone interested in strategy games, especially of the risk variety and to those who have little time to play games. It would be nice to see more games like this one coming from other developers, in an industry that’s being taken over by games that are either too hardcore and long, demanding constant attention, and games that are too social and infantile for mature gamers, and require you to spend money all the time if you are hoping to make any real progression.
Two thumbs up for Neptune’s Pride.