Evony


This is why I haven’t gotten anything done lately.

Evony (which was named Civony until a few days ago) is a massive multiplayer online game you play in a browser. It’s a Flash program, and it’s impressive.

It’s a game where you build a city, manage resources, build an army, and conquer people trying to do the same things. (I’m told it’s similar to Age of Empires, even down to the style of the graphics, I never played AoE so I don’t know for sure.) At first look it seems like a game that would have had to come in a box a few years ago. Then you realize that for all the nice graphics, workers in fields, clouds coasting by over your glimmering city, the game doesn’t have any moving parts, it’s a game of menus with a very attractive user interface. Still, how it loads almost instantly with so much going on is surprising, it’s the most capable bit of Flash I’ve seen.

You play on three map scales and a lot of menus. The largest scale is a world map, a disguised grid made of cities and terrains which you can conquer and garrison to gain modifiers to your resource production. For example, if you conquer a grassland, you might gain +11% to your food production as long and it’s yours. The cities can be conquered too, some are NPC cities there for you to quest against, the rest are other players like you. The game has multiple servers, so it’s likely each has some player limit. The world map is 800×800, or 640000 plots, and there’s no mini map or non-random terrain features to give you any idea what’s going on. But when you start playing this isn’t a concern.

The middle scale shows the land just outside your city, where you collect resources. You set up farms, mills, quarries, and mines, collecting the game’s four units, food, wood, rock, and iron. The number of these collectors you can have is limited by the level of the town hall in your city, and the workforce available in your population. Improvement of the collectors to higher levels is capped with the town hall level, and each new collector level is exponentially expensive in resource cost and rewarding in resource production, so that one level 2 mill is better than two level 1 mills. You have the choice of what to build on your limited space, and the game includes a trading system, where every player buying and selling makes for an economy with a going rate for each resource. It seems that lumber is the most demanded resource in the game, so it commands a higher price, meaning leaning toward lumber production is a strong way to go. The game economy works well enough that as more players join the game, the prices fall with more suppliers, as it should. It meant getting into the game early and trading for gold worked out nicely.

The smallest scale is the city view, which occupies most of the player’s time. It’s like a very uninvolved SimCity. From your resources you make buildings to improve your city, placing each on a set grid inside a wall. Building housing increases your population, an academy allows you to research a vast tech tree of improvements that are interwoven with building requirements, barracks produce troops, and so on. Most of us have played similar to this before, but I like the thought and balance put into the design here, the execution. First, The limited space makes for choices. A player could build more housing to have a more populous and productive city, could build more barracks to produce troops more quickly. If a city is raided and not successfully defended, resources from the fields outside are stolen, but a storehouse building allows resources to be protected within the walls, meaning building more storehouses can result in a treasure city. As the game goes on it’s possible to have multiple cities, and to trade between them to put specialized cities into good use. Second, the city management tools create choices, you have a tax rate, levies and other tools to affect a city loyalty stat and other concerns. It’s possible to make decisions with short term gains and long term problems, or the positive opposite, and situations can arise to force the player into hard calls. Importantly, it’s just really fun to build little houses, and to see your nurtured city thrive.

New players get seven days of protection from attack, and are not able to attack or make more cities until after that time. As I played, my plan was to play the seven days, then get killed by someone huge and give it up. I’ll tell you how the game gets you hooked: they give you quests for trying out each building and game mechanic, and the quest rewards are nearly enough resources or items to complete the next level of that quest, so you continue. Each time you complete quest requirements, your quest menu gains a green checkmark, and you click to request the reward and feel like a winner.

Here’s the really gruesome flaw in the game: all buildings and research take real time to finish, meaning you have to wait. Like, all the time, all the time you have you can spend waiting. So a level 1 house takes maybe 1 minute to build, and you can sit there watching a timer go down. The game lets you skip any time under 5 minutes, so if you have the resources you can build lots of early game buildings in a hurry, but soon enough you have 6 minute waits. You can try doing something else during these waits, browse the internet, write a review, but it’s never enough time for you to take your mind off what you want to build next, you won’t get anything else done. Buildings are one at a time per city, and there isn’t a queue, so you can’t script the rest of your city plan and come back every few days. No queue means if your building is done in 50 minutes, you really ought to be by your computer in 50 minutes, unless you want people crazier than you to gain an edge. During the new player period the game gives you items to skip the build times, obfuscating the game’s painful secret.

Here are some other rough truths about the game. It’s made in China, and while the complete game title you always see is “Evony – Free Forever”, it’s pretty blatantly asking you for money. The game items that make building tolerable and give a host of other advantages can be purchased for game “cents”, which they provide for you to buy like Chuck E. Cheese tokens, turning real money into what looks like money but is always theirs. The Chinese origin makes for some funny bad English too, with lines like “Status of this hero is not spare” (Your hero is busy) written everywhere. Probably the worst game flaw, making it even more unplayable than the waiting, is that once you get a lot going on the game can slow down, take your CPU up to 90%+ and make you worry about your computer. This game is certainly not worth blowing out my laptop.

Opposite to what I expected, the expiration of the seven day protection made the game much more fun. I did get attacked and somewhat wiped out, but I was then able to build extra cities, and shuttling resources to start up a new colony renewed all the fun of playing on the first day. I joined an alliance, and we began defending each other, and targeting our enemies.

But finally, I realized there was no point. The game doesn’t want its players eliminated, so it’s impossible to conquer a player’s last city. The game battles have no graphic interface, you just read a report of what happened, and the battle mechanics are screwed up so that enough archers can win any fight without a scratch. With the building wait times getting up to 27 hours (!), four cities, and a dominant army of bowmen, there’s no reason to go on.

UPDATE:

It’s been revealed that this game ripped off its graphics and descriptions from other games, includes new software that raises privacy issues, is crushing the internet with spam and dirty ads, and is basically run by thieves who play by no code. Also there’s a WoW sweatshop involved, which sounds like the best kind of sweatshop to me, better than sewing shoes all day, but I’m sure it’s somehow still evil. The point is, this is hilarious:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001286.html

 

54 thoughts on “Evony”

  1. Good review! I recognise that part of “Free forever!”, when it’s sounds to good to be true, it most of the times is ;-)

  2. i and many other players have mysteriously ‘lost’ game cents. none of us have recieved return emails about this problem!!!!!!

    SCAM!!!!!

  3. Matt, that sounds pretty shady. I think I’ll avoid this one. I had another game recommended to me called Farmersi that is supposed to be in a similar vein, but better. Haven’t gotten a chance to put in any time yet though. Anybody played it?

  4. The game does simply beg you for money. I personally found it a touch odd when i found that you have to pay real money in order to use the chat box. It really does seem like a scam at times. I’m only on my second day of the game, so I won’t comment on the gameplay itself, but the game so far is all waiting for something to happen. There really isn’t any reason for them not to include building queues other than that they want you constantly playing… and in turn paying.

    I noticed that you said it was a Chinese created game. The timezone the game uses is a touch odd. American Central Time. There really isn’t a lot of industry in that area, mostly agriculture. Just something I might add.

    Well, Cheers!

  5. I just started this game and was very intrigued by it, sending the link to my other gaming pals as perhaps a new one for us to play in. I appreciate the look into the future and the shortcomings you encountered. It does make me hesitant,, I would hate to waste all that time and then realize it was for nothing. Will continue to play on and see what happens a bit more carefully.

    As for the obvious links for money, i find that this one is in the middle of the pack out there. Some games even want donations just to have an avatar. The chat stuff is a huge drag. Dont they know that getting their players hooked on free chat and forums will bring in more donations in the end?

  6. I’ve been playing for a couple of weeks now, and the review is close to spot on.
    If you aren’t into PVP (such as it is in a non-graphical game), then eventually you will end up just walking away from this one.

    Right now, all new research is taking me 150-188 hrs. Yep. Press the button and come back in a week. Once all my research is done, and my cities are built, the only thing left is the PVP side of things. Build huge armies, send them off, check back in 10 hours.

  7. Our filter seems to catch dozens of Evony spam submissions a day as well, it seems that if you mention the game anywhere on your site, you’re going to get pounded by their web crawler/spam bot until you’re blue in the face. In fact i’m going to assume its the main reason Evony is the top viewed page on this site. What garbage!

  8. sounds a little fishy to me, more like they are passing the blame towards a few users for the massive amounts of spam flying out, on one day we had 16 submissions all from the exact same untraceable ip address, that doesn’t strike me as one user trying to get credits, its a bot, and i highly doubt a single user would go through THAT much trouble creating the bot and setting up a proxy for shitty game credits. If it users spamming was that mainstream, people would likely be posting guides on the internet on how to do it, but a quick search for me has listed nothing. how much do you wanna bet that reportspam@evony.com is a blackhole? haha!

    This has been an interesting phenomenon to follow to say the least

  9. i play too and overall i think its a pretty cool game….it can get very boring tho so make sure you have stuff to do while ur stuff is upgrading lol..but yeah i think its a cool game٩(̾●̮̮̃̾•̃̾)۶

  10. I have been playing Evony: Age I for roughly four months and have to say that it has changed my mind about online gaming. This is quite possibly the best game that I’ve come across. Aside from the flexibility and fun in playing, the game’s AI is nothing short of genius. Perhaps the AI comes out best during battles. The game actually takes into account the different speed of units, ranges of different weapons, etc. The result is that this is not the mindless shoot-em-up drivel that many game designers are flooding the market with, but Evony forces players to conceptualize strategies, refine tactics, and consult with other players about successes and failures.

    In addition to game play, the fact that the game designers have committed to keeping Evony a free game has brought players from all over the world. As a result of playing, I now have friends that I regularly chat with in Singapore, Australia, Italy, and around the United States.

    As a 35 year old father of a teenager, I am not only thoroughly enjoying the game, but I have also had the opportunity to introduce my son to the game. Contrasted with so many of the arcade style games that he has become accustomed to, I am impressed at the skills that this game helps develop and refine. For example, there are obviously planning and cognitive skills that come into play. Cities need certain resources and defenses, but before those items can be developed, other items and resources must be developed. Again, skills and strategy comes into play. Will a player develop a well-rounded supply of resources, or merely the ones that can be sold at a higher price to then purchase lower-cost items, while maintaining a profit? Another skill that I have seen well utilized is diplomacy. Within your own alliance, most members are supportive and encouraging. However, not all of your neighbors will belong to the same alliance; therefore, there will be a need for very diplomatic conversation with them. I believe that these skills are much more applicable in the real world as compared to most video games found on the market today.

    I take my hat off to the creators of Evony. Not only have they developed a truly phenomenal game, but they have also lived up to their commitment in keeping the game a free opportunity for players around the globe. As evidenced by an ever-increasing number of servers for people to play on, Evony is truly setting a new standard within the gaming industry. It is a positive source of enjoyment that is appropriate for players of all ages and one that I believe will be around for quite some time. If anyone’s interested, e-mail Gregory on Server 3 – we’re always looking for new players!

  11. In response to the (albeit very well written) novel that Gregory posted: We’re not here saying Evony is a bad game (just that it’s exceedingly mediocre according to this reviewer), or even that it rips its players off (as has been suggested by more than a few people out there). We’re only balking at Evony’s spurious advertising tactics, and not even the blatant “sex sells” attitude they’ve taken with their ads. We’re talking about the ludicrous amounts of spam they send out and bombard sites and forums with.

    *ahem*

    Come to think of it… your post is beginning to look more and more like one of their so-called “advertisements.” I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I’m just sayin’.

  12. HAHA. I thought the same thing as you Joe. Sorry Gregory, but your post does look like an ad. Then again when I really love a game my posts look like ads as well.

    *Cough*Buy Red Faction:Guerrilla & Fallout 3*Cough**Cough*

    Couldn’t resist. If Evony was put on Xbox Live or Wii-Ware, I would probably spend a few hours trying it out. I’m one of those sorry sacks that prefer to game on my TV from the comfort of my couch while my girlfriend harvests crops in Farmtown.

  13. The ironic thing about the ads is that the ads and any discussion about the ads is banned in the evony forums lol. you can post the ads there or even talk about the ads.
    as far as the game goes, it`s really really boring. I suppose if you are seriously mentally handicapped or have never played any video before in your life, you might enjoy this game for a few weeks anyway.
    calling it a game is kind of a misnomer I mean my idea of a game is something that you actually play. If clicking the mouse button and then coming back days or even a week later to click the button again is your idea of playing a game then you might like this game,but to me that isnt “playing a game”
    as far as the pay to play aspect of the game all i can say is, pay to play? lololololololololololololol

  14. This game is a big waste of time. Really. As someone stated before it took 1 bully to wipe you out. 2 weeks into the game, I get hit by a 127k bully with 42k archers. And I’ve kept at a fast pace in building defenses. 2weeks – 5k warries, 1k archer, 2k archer towers. Please don’t waste any more effort in this game. Free until you get attacked and u’ll end up paying all those white flag. Not to mention it doesn’t even allow you to start over. DON’T EVEN BOTHER PLAYING THIS GAME.

  15. I am a student studying computer games design at uni and decided to investigate Evony.com.
    Just to see what some of these games are like etc. etc.
    The game is actually kind of cool (found myself addicted and even spent a little money on it).
    But I started to notice HUGE bandwidth use by the site as I played.
    I am not the only one either, there are comments on the evony forums about this.
    This is odd because all of the client info, the animations etc. are all downloaded in one big download at the start.
    There is no streaming media so I began to wonder what was going on.

    To cut a long story short I decided to break the law and reverse engineer Evony’s client.
    Not to cheat. Not to rip them off or even to use even a scrap of the code.
    But just to poke about a bit and find out what was going on, maybe even offer them some ways to improve things.

    Aside from the fact that the whole thing is very poorly constructed (it is really very beginner coder level stuff. Reminds me of a lot of
    what the first year students produce for assignments) it contained some very interesting information.

    Included with the client are 2 peices of tracking software that monitor your web use and which applications you have open while the client is running.
    These do not install independently on the machine though due to the limitations of flash and do not actually damage anything.
    But they harvest massive volumes of information. My firewall was blocking a lot of outgoing transmissions and it turns out that these
    were the data trying to be sent out. So they know nothing about me. lol.
    However there is a LOT of data coming IN over the ports the client uses. In otherwords it is downloading something into my cache for use later.
    I have bandiwdth restriction which slows these types of tricks down and I completely clear my cache every couple of hours if I am heavily using the net.

    I also noticed that all the varanbles etc. are named Civony still and that there are multiple references to UMGE.
    Even a couple of folders are simply called UMGE, one of these folders contains one of the spyware programs.
    So I can only guess at where the data would end up if I didnt have a good firewall.

    There are also commented out sections in the code which contain references to UMGE and Lam himself, though low on details.

    Thank you for reading this.

    Lee

  16. That is actually very interesting, Lee. Just more evidence to pile onto the already roaring Chinese “Civony/Evony was just created as a way to harvest more American money” fire.

  17. Very interesting game, I thought, until most of the people I knew spent money on it… and the everyone encountered such severe server lag, and problems logging in, that it became unbearable to play. How strange. The developers do not appear to be interested in fixing it either, from the looks of the forum.
    This is just my experience with it, anyway.

  18. don’t ever play that Evony game. The one with all the adds that says free forever. I played it for months and i logged on today and every thing was gone. Don’t waste your time.

  19. Have you guys heard of Nodiatis? It looks like they have the same advertising agency as Evony.

    The original ad is java script instead of a animatedgif, so I couldn’t post it up.

  20. The pic’s small enough that I can’t tell if she’s CG or not. Either way it kinda looks like that “tube top” was shopped on there.

  21. Scam??? Here’s one for you all. I was playing for about 3 months. Had about 500 US. invested in the game which was a dumb move as I sit here now talking about it. Had 2 cities with 1 almost completed. Had close to 400k prestige. Was well equipped to handle almost anything… well until about a week ago. The game froze up on me as many times before. A glitch? Who knows. Tried many times unsuccessfully to get back in with no prevail so gave up until the next day. Well the next day rolled along and here I am trying to login. Well that wasn’t working either. Wrong password. Went to my mail to check my evony update pages and behold my password was changed. Changed by who? Nobody knew my login info whatsoever. NOBODY. Well I logged on to my account with that changed password and behold… everything was gone. Had one basic city, no upgrades, no items in my arsenal, no nothing. Zip. Zero. Nadda. After numerous attempts to contact evony in every which way possible, I never got one response. I don’t even get my autocents. Go figure. Scam? Think what you may. But I’m out 500 bucks, I don’t have anything to show for it, and evony is giving me any kind of response or explanation. Proof? Got all my receipts and an alliance full of people on my side for this one. Wanna talk about being ticked off? You’re looking at the words of one of those immensely ticked off individuals.

  22. Dallas. I feel terrible for you, and I really don’t want to be mean, but I’ll say it, what kind of turbo moron finds this online game and puts in 500 dollars?? I mean, how hard is life going to be for you?! I really don’t want to be a jerk, I’m hoping you’re somehow laughing about it now, it’s just that the fact of what you say you did makes my brain crazy. “Invested”???? What is going on with your mind?

    $500!

    I mean, you could go buy ten off-the-shelf games for that. You could play something completely engrossing like World of Warcraft for what, two years?

    I really want to dissect you and figure out what happened here. Please write back, tell how you made that decision. I’m curious what effect their crazy nudity ads had on you. Do you represent the horny Americans with poor decision-making who are the reason we’re ceding this century to China? YOU COULD HAVE HAD A REAL GIRL FOR $500! Do you vote?

    I’m sorry to pick on you, I’ll stop. please keep telling your story, find the others like you and figure out how to stop them from doing things like this.

    How did you even have 500 dollars?

  23. Evony Has a gambling feature, some people find it difficult to control themselves when it comes to gambling.

    or some just have lots of disposable income :P

  24. @500 Dollars?!?!?!?!?! -
    This is not unusual for micro-transaction games. On Facebook both Farmville and Mafia Wars rack in a lot of dough from people spending a little here and there. A $1.25 purchase seems like nothing, but for my co-workers wife it added up to $300 on Restaurant City in one month. Boy was my co-worker pissed.

    There is a reason a lot of gaming companies are investing in the “free to play” model of gaming. Heck EA is even thinking of taking Madden in that direction. All over San Francisco “Free to Play” upstarts are working on their first titles trying to get a share of the pie.

    People now call these people that play these games “Casual Gamers” but with how much time and energy that they invest playing these games, I don’t think they can be considered casual.

  25. Do not play this game. Hackers/exploiters and coin buyers have ruined any balance this game could have had. Its not about skill in this game, its “Whoever buys the most coins and uses bots that the game says is unfair” wins. Youll spend 3 months just building your towns and learning at the academy, just to have someone that spent that entire 3 months automated with Evo Bot scripts and using speed ups to demolish you. Dont bother writing to their “Contact Us” department, You never get a response. Ever. Have it in mind to save your towns? Wont happen unless you plan on never sleeping to bring your towns loyalty back up every 15 minutes against someone that is using a bot to automatically attack you 5 times a minute. You may as well pay for a legitimate game instead of one that is run by illegal wow gold sales.

  26. Evony…it is true, you can play without spending a dime, but it’s not easy. I’ve been playing this game for several months now. In that time, I’ve posted on forums and been unbelievably insulted by moderators (they removed my critical posts). I’ve been wiped out by players with more troops than is numerically possible (450k ballistas cost 22.5mil per hr. to feed…these people have two cities and up to 1 million ballistas. You do the math). Players have taken advantage of glitches and bots to gain endless resources, but Evony will do nothing about it. Sooooooo, you’re average honest player is screwed. (Yeah, still some of us old timers that like the challenge). You can hit the “contact us” button…it works, as long as you expect canned spam instead of a real response. They could care less about the gaming experience at Evony…they’ve proven that over and over.

Speak up!