Official launch date not set yet

Alex /

We’re a bit unsure on the date when we’ll launch the game officially for anyone to play. The alpha test will take place in April or the beginning of May, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to launch it officially in June, as I had hoped. We want to make the game as bug free as possible, and to include all the features that we have planned. One other thing that we have to do before the launch is the game master system, that will give us the possibility to catch any player that is trying to cheat the system by making multiple accounts. That might sound easy, but trust me .. it’s not :). The game master area will probably be one of the most difficult of the game. A lot of automated supervision of players and reporting of suspicious activity, behavior analysis and reporting for manual review if something doesn’t feel right. It’s a total nightmare but extremely needed.

As I said before, we’re a team of four, only two of us are programmers, and they have 8 hour jobs. Same goes for the designer. Hurrying the launch of the game before we’re satisfied with it doesn’t make much sense, so we’ll work on it as long as we have to.

Some of the things that worry me right now:

  • the offensive/defensive balance in the game: there are some things in the game that make possible a lot of offensive tactics. And this helps especially hardcore players that will spend a lot of time in the game anyway. If this will be true then we’ll have to come up with some defensive tactics to help those more inclined to build and trade, instead of fighting. A balance has to be reached so all can enjoy the game.
  • the bandwith consumed by this game and the size of the pages. Now, Imperial Ages is based on images, not just text, and those images are not exactly few in number. Seven to ten images in the general design of the page, plus up to 20 different images on the building page (small, but still…), can bring the size of some pages in the 100kb area or more. Take into account that each player might load around twenty pages/day (medium number, as the hardcore users might load hundreds per day), and calculate for 10.000 players, and you get something around 600Gb/month traffic. What helps is the cache that are kept by the browsers and the graphic packs that we’ll be releasing. Every player will be able to download the entire graphic part of the game and load it from its own computer whenever he loads a page in Imperial Ages. That should speed up the game considerably. Another thing that I like about it, is that players will be able to change the look of the game with the help of these graphic packs.
  • the initial costs for the server: the game is made in ASP, so that means Windows server and MSSQL. Its considerably more expensive then a simple Linux+PHP+MySql server.
  • because of the costs of the server, and the time we invested in this game in the last 8 months, we will put ads in the game, but hopefully they will not bother anyone. Who wants to get rid of ads will be able to pay for a VIP account, that will cost around $7 for a 3 month subscription (probably). A lot of extra features will be available to those with VIP accounts, that will not give them any unfair advantages over those that play the game without paying. It will just make the game more enjoyable, with features like displaying a logo/banner/flag in the users profile, or the ability to put an extra building in queue before he goes to sleep.
  • another concern of mine is the communication system inside alliances. While we have many features that will allow the leaders to manage an alliance with more ease, I’m also inclined towards a chat system to help with coordination. I’m thinking something on the lines of a chat room opened only to the members of an alliance, that can be joined only by the members of that alliance. Basically we would need a browser based instant messenger that can be limited only to the members of the alliance, that can’t be joined by others. No idea if something like this exists and can be implemented in our game, or we’ll have to create it ourselves in time.
  • again, concerning the communications inside an alliance, we will need an alliance in-game forum, at least a basic one. It needs to be secure and each alliance must have one automatically created and accessible only the users from that alliance. Hopefully we’ll find one open source to use or we’ll create a basic one ourselves.
Posted by: on Mar 27th, 2007
In: Announcements
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