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Video Game / Game of War: Fire Age

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The ever-changing load screen.

Game of War: Fire Age is a 2013 freemium mobile MMO strategy video game developed and published by Machine Zone, a privately held game company based in Palo Alto, California. The game has a high-profile advertising campaign and was one of the top-grossing apps in 2014.

The game consists of both city building through mechanics likened to Age of Empires and the earliest games from the Warcraft series. Gathering resources is required to create buildings, produce troops, and research advancements. Similar to other mobile games, much of the gameplay consists of selecting an action and then either waiting a preset amount of time for completion or expediting the task by making a payment. The title places an emphasis on players joining alliances. The game's chat system uses a Microsoft-based translator, as well as several others, including Google Translate. The translations allow players from all over the world to play together.

Game of War: Fire Age has sold well and was the third-grossing game app through Apple in 2014, and it was reported that Machine Zone projected $600 million in revenues that year. In March 2015, it was in the top 10 most downloaded free apps on both the iOS Appstore and Google Play. The game has been compared to Clash of Clans. While both games use microtransactions, Game of War: Fire Age was criticized for the user interface's aggressive style in seeking payments.

Game of War: Fire Age contains examples of:

  • All Myths Are True: the flavor of the game. Though monsters originally started off confined to Greek Mythology, they have since branched out to almost every culture you could think of.
  • Ancient Grome: the art direction for the game.
  • Age of Titles: Averted. This is the Fire Age, not the Age of Fire.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only train so many troops at a time until you either upgrade your Barracks, build more Barracks or do the time consuming research to train more in one fell swoop.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The currency of the game is gold, which can be used to buy multitudes of items from the game store but is ultimately used for speed-ups which decrease the time spent waiting for research, buildings or training of troops. You can sometimes get free gold from the daily chests or alliance monster chests, but it's quicker to just buy the gold with real money.
  • Breakable Weapons: "Core" Equipment can be equipped on the player's Hero, but immediately begins decaying; most of them won't last longer than an hour. In compensation, their bonuses are often cranked up to eleven.
  • Cap: Just about every step of the way in building up your veritable fortress, you are blocked by prerequisite buildings or research walls that you MUST complete before progressing in your build for power. Want that level 21 stronghold? Nope! Gotta upgrade these 15 building types and do this batch of research to do that!
    • Like many MMOs, the game also places a cap on the highest level your Stronghold (main building) can achieve; like many MMOs, this Cap is periodically raised. Originally Lv.21, it has now exceeeded Lv.1100.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: As you upgrade each building type in your stronghold, it'll get either bigger, more elaborate or complex signifying its upgraded status. A good example is windmills appearing on your farms around level 8 or your mine suddenly changing to a big gaping red hole of a quarry at level 21.
  • Elite Mooks: Any tier 4 troops that you can train. It requires massive amounts of prerequisite research to even begin to tackle the research just to train these high end troops. Odds are that you won't even get the chance to train them until at least 1-2 real life years after starting the game (and that's provided you sign on at least once a day) unless you speed it up by buying packs from the store.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: Zigzagged.
    • Kate Upton is the face of Game of War and is prominently featured in all the commercials for the game; however she only shows up as the Goddess Athena to guide you through the Tutorial, deliver chest rewards, or sell you 'awesome' packs that you buy with your hard-earned gold. She serves little purpose otherwise in the game itself.
    • Played straight when Mariah Carey replaced Upton as the game's celebrity spokeswoman. The in-game art was not altered to reflect Carey's introduction — though, to be fair, said art could easily be mistaken for Carey if you didn't know it was originally Upton.
  • Level Grinding: This game is ridiculous at higher levels of research and building time. The traps and defenses for your walls can take upwards of 10-20 days for just a few to be built. Some of the top elite research projects for level 21 stronghold users can be 3,000 days or more... would the game even be around then?
  • The Medic: Hospitals are your greatest ally when your stronghold is attacked. Based on research done and hospital building levels, you can often times recover 95-100% of defeated troops after an attack.
  • The Mole: Whenever someone joins an alliance, there is often a chance for that person to be a hopper or spy. As a hopper, they will simply ask for resources or help with research or buildings and then leave after receiving such help. As a spy, they tend to integrate themselves into the fabric of the alliance only to report plans and troop movement to their true alliance via private messages. Both of these are frowned upon by alliance loyalists.
  • Power Levels: Played straight. Every player has a Power rating that goes up whenever they upgrade buildings, build troops, complete research, redeem Quest rewards and more. Obviously, it can go down (since Troops can be lost), but mostly it goes up.
    • Readings Are Off the Scale: once again, played straight. Reaching a million Power requires you to get to Lv.10 or so. The maximum level has now passed 1,000.
  • Socialization Bonus: Joining an alliance has many benefits and gets you free gifts every so often from the alliance city (should they have built one), access to special quests, monster chests whenever any alliance member kills one and access to helpers to speed up your building/research projects. It also helps to know if alliance leadership has your back if you get attacked.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Infantry units are strong against armored vehicles, armored vehicles are strong against tactical units, and tactical units are strong against infantry.
  • Translator Microbes: The game does not advertise this aggressively, but it was the first mobile game to feature real-time translation of all chat and e-mail functions. This facilitates international guild-building, since, even if I live in Germany, I can call for help in my native language, and have you (living in Brazil or Sweden or America or Japan) get the message in your native language without any meaningful delay. Translation corrections are also crowd-sourced in case something goes wrong.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Two iterations. The first is resources; you need a good smattering of stone, wood, ore, food and silver to construct buildings, train troops or do research. The second is specific to the buildings: once they reach level 20, to upgrade them you will need special Master Hammers that can only be purchased for 2000 gold each; and you will need one for EACH building project you want at 21.
    • The game also introduced secondary resources, which are produced by converting one of your existing resource buildings (say, a Farm) from producing its old resource to producing a new one.
  • Zerg Rush: A known tactic is to unleash a bunch of cheap tier 1 troops on an enemy stronghold. Sometimes it's effective and other times it is not. At best, it'll serve to weaken the opponent enough to send in the real cash cow tier 3 or 4 troops to wipe the floor clean and potentially capture their hero.