RoboWars – The “Enhanced” Browser Game
so, i played this game called robowars last night. it’s another one of these web-based passive games i’m enjoying so much. i was telling one of the sas guys about it and decided i’d just write up a quick review.
first impressions are fantastic. the ui is great. all of the hard-wired graphics are fantastic. although nice, i’d still like a low-bandwidth version — maybe it’s just me. even all of the weapon and armor icons are good. all the atmosphere images are good. the only ones that are actually quite poor are the pictures of your robot.
it’s totally weird. here we have this great looking site with killer images for some 30 or 40 weapons, but, the main thing you look at — your robot — looks … um … bad. you can customize it tho! you can pick from any of dozens of photoshop “colorized” versions of the same image. have your robot be pink! yay!
anyway, overall, the imagery in the game it great and i’m assuming it will just get better.
also, looking around, most everything made sense. buy weapons here. buy armor there. bank is over there. scrapyard is over here. very easy and intuitive to get around and, all of the game narative style naming works. so, getting ready for battle seemed pretty easy. you even start off with plenty of money — cash for buying everything and repairs, scraps for a few repairs but mostly to trade in for cash and diamonds which give life back to your disabled robot.
you have health of course. but, you also have battery power. it fills up daily and you can perform actions until it’s drained. then, at 9am the next day, you can spend your upgrade point and have it filled again.
(dude. robot/sci-fi games could be so cool for the passive environment if done right. not a metagame thing like daily turns, but fuel cells that need to be recharged!)
so, i buy 2 chainsaws (the best weapon you can get starting off) and some really terrible wooden armor (again, the best i can get at a low level. wood, tho?) and wade out into the pvp arena.
it looks okay, but playable. you see a list of other players (by default) near your level that you can bang on. they’ve got their levels and win/loss percentages all laid out. should be easy pickin’s to find myself a patsy.
i select someone at random with a terrible, terrible win percentage. click. how many attacks do i want to use? huh?
what does that mean? how many do i get? how much battery power do they use? what on earth?
um. so, i click 25 — the max. go!
the readout comes back with a large blinking graphic “major defeat!” uh for who? me or him? i read the cryptic text. “0 of your 25 attacks are victories.” later down the feedback “294 damage dealt. 384 damage blocked. you take 10 points of damage.”
again. say what?
a couple things:
- i was as well armed as anybody could have been at my level. i attacked a guy of a similar level. should have been a 50-50 sort of thing. maybe even better my direction since his loss percentage was so low. (more on that later.)
- if i blocked almost a 100 additional points of damage over and above what he dealt, why did i take any damage at all?
- major defeat, assumably for me, evidently means doing 10 points of damage to me when i have 110 health.
whatever. i just pressed on thinking i would figure it out and get a feel for it.
turns out, nah. it never made any more sense. every attack i did seemed like some big roulette wheel in the sky determined the results. i was getting things from 0-9 of my 25 attacks would be victories, yet, my win percentage was in the 70% range. huh?
it was strange, unintelligible voodoo combat. the bummer about that is that if you can’t be marginally accurate as to who and what your chances are of defeating and opponent, no one will try. then, the next time they come back to their account, it’s been crushed by someone 10 levels higher (yes. that is correct, there’s no mechanism i saw that prevented that kind of griefing.) it’s kinda depressing. you don’t know who you can beat and all the crazy powerful players are farming the really weak ones.
next site, please.
anyway, aside from a few spammy knick-knacks primarily used to generate clicks or “votes” on various external game listing and whatnot, the only thing to actually “do” on the site is get some pvp love. and, unfortunately, that part’s not very fun despite my 70% winning percentage.
a few fundamental game design issues:
- no incremental increases in power. meaning, you fight and fight and fight with no increase in character power/strength. you gain xp like mad — i jumped 6 levels in my little 45 minute foray, including time to figure out what was going on.
- cash xp balance. and, unfortunately, i have hocked everything i can at the pawn shop and still will be at least another 6 levels higher before i can afford a weapon with a level requirement of 3. the armor is even worse. if the only way to earn cash wasn’t fighting, i could totally see the item prices justified. as it is, i’ll be level 40 before i have enough dough to buy a level 10 item.
- the level disparity and griefing. there needs to be some mechanism in place to prevent high-level characters from just smashing lower level ones. that’s where all the lower player’s piss-poor, misleading loss percentages were coming from i bet.
the game looks good. sets up nice. but the actual play is meh. it’s not critically flawed because it’s certainly a cool concept, even if relatively one-dimensional.
lump it in as a prettier dark throne with robots.