Game of War: Fire Age (Credit: Machine Zone)
The CEO of Machine Zone, an iOS game developer based out of Palo Alto, CA, is already trying something bold by creating a real-time, persistent online multiplayer game brimming with politics, warfare, and uneasy alliances. It’s Game of Thrones meets Civilization on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
But cool as Game of War: Fire Age might sound, Leydon’s most excited about the game’s solution to a common problem in cross-continent gaming: the language barrier.
“The game is extraordinarily social and I could even go as far to say that it’s a political game — our translation technology allows players to join with and compete against people from every corner of the Earth,” he said.
He isn’t kidding. Whereas most games use emoticons or gestures to help players communicate with one another, Game of War does the unthinkable by instantly translating 32 different languages on the fly. That includes everything from basic sentences to slang and even regional chatroom jargon like “BBL” and “OMG.”
Game of War's translation (Credit: Machine Zone)
“We can monitor words in real-time…when we see one we’re unable to translate, we’ll give that a score,” Leydon told Yahoo! Games. “We then give it to the players, and they get rewarded with in-game currency for translating it. The participation in the system has been mind-blowing.”
You’ll need that currency as you navigate the dangerous waters of Game of War’s political strategy gameplay. Game of War marks a first for iOS gaming by featuring one giant, concurrent world housing all players, regardless of location. It’s a concept pioneered by EVE Online -- a favorite of Leydon’s -- and while the two games don’t look much alike, there’s a similarity in their scope. You won’t need to ask a friend what server they’re playing on, because there’s only one world here.
Your goal is to rule that world, and to do so, you’ll need to build your city, mine for resources, assemble armies, craft defenses, and eventually join powerful alliances with other players. A built-in political system puts the power in the hands of those who have convinced others they deserve it. Alliance leaders aspire to ruling their regional kingdom; rulers ultimately vie for control of the entire world by becoming king, complete with powers over the game itself. If the conniving Lannisters invested the fortunes of Casterly Rock into an iOS game, it would probably look like this.
“I think of [Game of War] as a very intense, structured chat room,” Leydon said. “There’s a hierarchy, with certain people being “higher” than other people...you’re in a fragile world. If you piss off the wrong people, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
A cutthroat Farmville, then? Vaguely, but that's selling it short. Game of War certainly shares some design decisions with other free-to-play building games, but its heavy emphasis on politics, alliances and warfare nudges players to strategize together rather than bug each other for bundles of hay (and no, it won’t post annoying requests on your Facebook page). It's a big, daring game -- here’s hoping its lofty ambitions translate to a terrific one, too.
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