And now for something completely different…
Tilted Mill, the folks who made the rather enjoyable Hinterland that I’ve previously posted about, have a broswer-based city-building game now in beta, Nile Online.
I’ve been playing it for a week or so now. At first I thought it was really interesting. Then I got kind of bored with it since it seemed to lack depth. And then I realized there was more depth than I at first saw, so now I’m finding it really interesting again.
The basic idea of the game will be pretty familiar to strategy gamers. You start with a small settlement and need to feed your people and grow your empire via resource management. Every starting plot, as best I can figure, has wheat, clay and reed resources. Also each plot has a 4th resource that varies from area to area. I started with Kohl, used in cosmetics. Huh?
Each city has a finite number of building plots. You’ll erect bakeries, brickworks, basket shops, pottery shops, etc. Then you assign your labor pool to either gathering a resource or working in a shop. There are more products than there are building plots, so you’re not going to be able to make everything you need. Building a Market gives you access to goods that other players are selling. Curiously, the currency of the world is bread, which is also the way you feed your people. Buildings and resource plots can be continually upgraded to become more productive.
Nile Online runs in real time and is kind of low-impact gaming. As an example (I’m writing this on my lunch hour) I started upgrading my Market at the start of the hour, but its going to take about 2 hours for that upgrade to happen. So I’ll check in when I get home tonight, perhaps. Early on, level 1 buildings go up pretty quick… 10 minutes or so. Also low level buildings require pretty basic resources, so they’re easy to get going.
Soon enough things become more complicated. My next palace upgrade (which will give me a larger labor pool) is going to require Bricks, Baskets, Perfume, Pottery, and Jewelry (and 3 hours, 40 minutes of time). I can make the Bricks & Baskets, but I’ll need to buy the other items from the Market. I can grow a lot of wheat and bake a lot of bread to buy them, and I’m doing that, but I’ve also been trying to sell some extra pottery. I have a Cosmetics shop to turn my Kohl into Cosmetics, but I also need Henna, which I can’t produce, so I have to buy that. Hopefully I’ll be able to sell Cosmetics for enough to cover the costs of the Henna and still make a profit. Cosmetics are required to found additional cities, and if someone is rich enough to do that, I figure they can pay me well for my goods.
As far as I can tell, there is no player vs player combat in the game, but you can produce troops. Outside my city are “Monument plots occupied by raiders” and I assume these are what troops are for? Documentation for the game is sparse, to put it nicely (but again, this is beta) so I’m learning by doing, and I don’t have the resources (Bronze and Leather) to produce anything from my Spearmen building.
So, still a lot of questions, and ultimately it might not hold my interest. After the initial building process there’s kind of a dead spot where you’re just waiting to have enough bricks and bread to build a new building. But things get more interesting when you start playing the market and needing resources that you can’t product on your own.
It seems like anyone can join the beta. You do have to apply but getting in is really quick. If, like me, you have a lunch hour to fill every day, this is an interesting way to use up a bit of it. And I do find myself checking in before and after work. I’m looking forward to seeing what else the game holds as I grow my city.