Hello there, my all-weather friend.
For the past one month, I’ve been spending my office spare time playing this new MMORPG called “Three Kingdoms Online”. I
Link: Three Kingdoms Online
Important: Do not confuse this with other similar sounding PC strategy games or MMORPG all bearing the name “Three Kingdoms”, because all these games are based on the epic Chinese historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. One of my all-time favorite movies “Red Cliff” is based on this novel too.
What is it with MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that gets us all worked up and highly addicted?
Remember the good ol days when Yahoo chat was popular? And then BOTs came in the scene and we had such good fun chatting until we realized… she wasn’t real! And then suddenly it was such a turnoff chatting with… something that wasn’t human. It’s like chatting with God. For a while it was funny, but after sometime, it became just plain boring. Interacting with a computer isn’t half as fun as doing so with a real human being.
I’m a hardcore gamer. I love strategy games and I have spent many days without any sleep during my unemployment years, trying to finish a particular campaign (AOE, WC, C&C, ROME etc). But all in all, there wasn’t that much of a kick because I knew I was always playing against a computer.
Then came multi-player games like DotA, CS etc where you compete with your pals using a cranked up router at a shady dimly lit “cyber café” run by a friend at his garage filled with cigarette smoke and “Guns n Roses” blaring from the cranky old 2.1 speakers, till 4 in the morning every day.
Finally came the MMORPGs. They kicked ass. I blogged about TribalWars, talked about Travian, Neopets, Ikariam, Khan Wars, etc. which are all browser based MMORPGs. Which means that you don’t have to install anything to play this game online. Even popular Facebook games like MafiaWars and Farmville belong in this genre.
A month ago, I came across TKO – Three Kingdoms Online.
It was the best thing that happened to me then. I loveddddd the game. It was a combination of Tribal Wars, Travian, Ikariam, Diablo, AOE and many others.
Basic structure of TKO:
- Like all strategy war games, you must collect resource to build your city and army. The higher you research your resource field, the faster is your productivity.
- Like Travian, you need to have a positive food consumption to increase your population (unlike TribalWars etc where you only have to increase your population limit to have more people).
- Like TribalWars, the game progresses very fast, where you can easily raid, plunder, destroy etc enemy forts.
- Unlike TribalWars, you cannot be “rimmed”. Nobody can take over your main town and you can even shift your location later.
- Like War Craft III or AOM, you can have special Heroes. If your Hero takes part in battles, it boosts your army’s morale. You can research and improve your Hero’s abilities.
- Like Diablo, you can arm your Hero with various weapons and amours. You will find special items with higher attack bonus, agility bonus etc on special quests.
- Like ROME, you can change the formation of your attack or defense.
- Like Emperor and other strategy city building games, you must manage your city properly.
- There are also special quests to help you earn extra points or resources.
- Most of the characters and faction quests are based on “Red Cliff”, one of my favorite Chinese movies with legendary characters like Lui Bei, Cao Cao etc.
There are many other reasons why I find this game highly interesting, and at the same time, there are a few disappointments with this game too…
- Unlike all the other popular MMORPGs, there is no place to interact with members of your league, like a thread based discussion forum etc. Hence it is difficult to coordinate with your teammates.
- When there is no proper communication channel, role playing takes a back seat. You cannot talk like a Baron or a Queen or a Warrior with anybody. This kills the very essential of MMORPGs. (read: ROLE playing)
- Most of the FAQ were answered by moderators, who too learnt the game from playing. There was no official contact person to clear our doubts.
- The grammatical mistakes and spelling errors can truly make you cringe sometimes.
But hey, nothing’s perfect. Beggars cannot be choosers when a game is offered to you for free. So you just take whatever is offered and adjust accordingly. I played along and dominated my entire area, “farming” all the other neighbors, wiping out their entire army and plundering their resources. Until I discovered one VERY BIG FLAW with this game.
IT’S NOT FREE!
I mean yeah, it’s free. You can play for free or become a paid customer. But the difference between paid customers and free customers is HUMONGOUS.
I have played a lot of online games, and there is always that option of playing for free or becoming a paid customer. But none of the popular games I have played so far compromise on game play.
In other games, if you spend money, then you get better interface, chat option with other players, easier and friendlier UIs and so on. But the game play is not affected in any way.
In TKO, if you purchase gold coins, you have a HUGE advantage over somebody who has no gold coins. With your gold coins, you can immediately train new soldiers without waiting, immediately construct new buildings, buy better armour and weapon for your Heroes, buy resources, redistribute status points of your Heroes, and so on. To win great gifts (like weapons or resource pack), you need to challenge a General to a duel, and to do that, you need gold coins! You can even raise your nobility rank status with gold coins. Sheeeesh.
In short, this game has nothing to do with strategy. There is no level playing field.
No matter how much you bombard an enemy, planning night and day, building up your troops for yet another onslaught etc etc, as long as that person keeps buying gold coins, you can never do him any real harm as he can keep rebuilding immediately.
In short, yeah, the people who designed this game would be making a lot of money initially from all the poor suckers who bought “gold coins” using PayPal or their father’s credit card. But in the long run, this game is definitely going to hit the gutter (if it hasn’t already). There are so many great games out there for free, this one will not survive, unless the designers of this game do something about it. Don’t give a player the upper hand just because he got the moolah.
To conclude, if you don’t mind spending money, this is the perfect game for you. It is highly interesting and engaging. But if you are the type of player who is all about strategy (and don’t like to pay for this kind of services), then better not sign up.
As for me, well, good riddance to TKO. Now I will start spending my spare time on blogs and other more constructive online activities.