With the ending of RPS’s first community epic game of Neptunes Pride by Iron Helmet Games I feel I am in a perfect position to give a comprehensive review on what you can expect if you wish to delve into the depths of space to conquer your enemies… and allies. The guys I was playing with have also written logs of the game as they were playing and I will get these posted in the near future. What of the game itself? Well our space adventure lasted in the area of 25 days. 25 days of blood, sweat and tears.
Neptunes Pride is a strategy game. A grand strategy game at that which involves you taking over planets, researching upgrades and generating fleets. The game mechanics are actually very simple. Every 24 hours you receive an income based on the number of economy upgrades you own across all your planets. Each planet has its own natural resource worth and planets that have more natural resources are cheaper to upgrade. You also produce fleets constantly through a stat you upgrade called Industry. Each point of industry nets you 2 ships per 24 hours. This is a gradual process though, meaning if you have 2 Industry you gain 2 ships every 12 hours. Science is just a choice between 4 different research routes; weapons, range, speed and scanning. The speed which these can be researched is increased by building science facilities on planets.
To move your ships you must build fleets, which are purchased with a one off cost and can be added to and exchanged between. The movement of fleets is based on the distance travelled and your current speed research level. A ship moving a small distance at the start of the game took around 24 hours to complete its journey, and by the end of the game with I had reduced that time to around 7 hours. From the scale and time taken for movement you can understand why our game took almost a month to complete.
Battles are simply calculated by weapon skill and fleet numbers, with a bonus to the defending fleet. So what I have just described to you is a simple game of taking territory. That is it I’m afraid, there is nothing complex, no lore to speak of or any kind of interesting features held within the game.
Except, when you add in other people. People. Life. A community. That is what turns this simple land grabbing game into something unique. Something with personality. Without any in built mechanics for alliances or hostilities (only the ability to trade) you must rely on trust to complete any manoeuvres that threatens another player. Even with only some members role playing in the group, it gave life to our universe and made it something I wanted to be a part of. With a good group of people there is trust, friendship and honour. But these things don’t win games, and the game was a constant wheel of backstabbing and betrayal which became even heated to the point of possible personal hatred and dislike for other players. I doubt it will last beyond the game but during it the dislike was very real. Yet this seemed to add to the experience even more! That dislike for one person may fuel a friendship with an ally or even make new allies. The only way to win with these simple mechanics is to team up on someone. Gang mentality and perhaps some bribery. Even so far as to send out of game mail with incriminating evidence.
Unfortunately this community interaction did not last forever and by day 20, after a good number of players were defeated my interested in the game rapidly dipped. Fewer players results in less drama and less communication. The end of the game just petered out with a slow rubbling victory that nobody could be really bothered to stop. Once the people had left there was no spirit. It seemed as each player was killed off a little bit of the fun was taken away until the last few players lost interest.
So should you invest the time in Neptunes Pride? If you have a good, committed community or group of friends than I say without a doubt. Even for just those tense first 10 or so days, Neptunes Pride is a marvel to play and indicates how much playing with other people can make or break a game. If you are just playing by yourself I would be wary about joining a free game, with unpredictable people who could lose interest or not play at all it might ruin your experience.
For the ability to create a private game you need to purchase a pass from Iron Helmet Games and then invite your friends/community (only one person needs to purchase the pass) The passes are paying for a length of time and the cheapest is around $10 for 1 month. A big thank you to the RPS community member who created the game for us to use.