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Last year, my brother-in-law introduced me to a free online strategy game called Ogame. Ogame is a massively multiplayer game by anyone’s standards. It consists of 43 “Universes,” with each universe holding many thousands of planets – each home to a particular player who wants to become the master of that particular universe. Ogame is completely free to join and play, and there’s a staff of avid gamers who moderate and maintain the entire game system. Not only do they manage technical issues such as server maintenance and software glitches, but they also serve as the judge and jury whenever player conflicts arise (and they arise fairly often).
Ogame – A Space War Like No Other
When I first started playing the free online strategy game known as Ogame, I figured I’d play for about a couple of weeks and call it good. I was on vacation from work and looking for something to pass the time with a few of my online friends. We each signed up for a free account in Universe 36, claimed our first planet, and started our slow climb up the ranks.
The opening login screen itself really captured my interest unlike any other online game I’ve ever played. While the fact that I’ve always been a sci-fi fan might explain my fascination with the graphics, the animated front page filled with fascinating and subtly moving images of space sparked my imagination. It reminded me of a game I was once hooked on as a young kid in high school called Sentinel Worlds by Electronic Arts. That sense of adventure and excitement from those long ago late-nights of game playing came rushing back to me, and I knew that Ogame already had me hooked.
Navigating Through Ogame
While there’s a lot of detail, complex game play and a lot of strategy involved in this game, overall navigating through the various control screens is a piece of cake once you get used to it. From the main screen, you have an overview of all of the planets that you’ve colonized.
Yes, there’s also an interplayer messaging system that can get pretty busy at times, especially when you’re trying to coordinate an attack of several battleship fleets between you and your buddies against another team (or “alliance”). Clicking on any one of your planets takes you to a “planetary control” menu, where you can build additional structures to further colonize your planet (and add functionality). You can access these building options by clicking on the “buildings” link on the left menu.
Or you can assign fleet production tasks to a particular planet – like building a fleet of fighters, cargo ships, or whatever else you feel you need added to your existing “fleet.” You can access your ship building area by clicking “Shipyard” in the left menu.
Just keep in mind that in many corners of this space world – the size of your fleet defines you. In Ogame, size matters. Of course, the clever players understand that all brawn and no brains just makes for an easy target, so ultimately you’ll turn to your “Research” area in order to build up your capabilities and your strength in battle.
As you build up your various technologies (all “building” activities are time-based), you’ll achieve more powerful “hits” against your opponents in battle, when spying on their planets, or the various other activities where you’re trying to gain additional resources.
The Game Play and Action
The “coolness” factor of Ogame comes down to the action. You could literally spend weeks just building technologies, fleet ships and buildings – but what good is it if there’s no action? The action in this game comes from “raiding” other player’s planets for their resources. And the addictive part of the game comes from the need for revenge when someone “crashes” your planet, wipes out your fleet, and takes all of your resources. That happens only once or twice, and you’ll discover that you’ve taken a sworn oathe of revenge, and you are officially an Ogame addict.
When you click on “Galaxy” in the left menu, you’ll see a screen like that above, where you’ll be spending most of your time, sifting through from one “system” to the next. What are you searching for? Ultimately you’re hunting for vulnerable planets – those with a code letter “i” or “I” signifying that the player has been idle for a long time. You send over your “probes” to check out whether there’s a fleet, defenses or resources on the planet – and when you see an undefended planet with lots of resources, you send in your fleet to sweep up the goods and add them to your stash. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? That is, until one of their buddies “ninja’s” you, landing a fleet twice as large as yours on the planet just before your fleet gets there, wiping out your attack. Or someone much higher than you sends over a “deathstar” to wipe out anything you’ve got on your planet.
If you’ve a savvy and clever player, you’ll quickly team up with a good alliance of gamers and after many, many months of building up your planets, your fleet, and waging war against other alliances and other worlds, you just might become the king of Ogame… at least in your particular Universe. Once you’re done there, you’ve got dozens of other Universes that are also available for conquering.
Have you ever played Ogame, or any similar free online strategy games? Share your experiences in the comments section below.