Currently in Open Beta, Galaxy Online is a free-to-play MMORTS. This means you don’t pay for the game directly, but through optional purchases of “points” to be spent in the game. A business model that never seems to work long term, but always attracts interest from the community.
The game itself is truly quite massive. With hundreds of star systems to conquer and build up, there is no end of things to do. Except for the first month or so – where there is almost nothing to do.
Yes, you read that correctly – for the first month of playing Galaxy Online you can expect to do nothing but build up resources and research sciences. It takes a solid week just to get comfortable in the game, and after about three or four days you begin to realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. Resources are painfully slow to collect, and you require such a vast amount of them to research science advancements that getting your fledgling empire off the ground will literally take weeks. In fact, the beginner quests will only take about 30 minutes to complete, and after that there is almost nothing to do but acquire planets and resources until you’re advanced enough to build a useful fleet.
It’s because of this massive delay and steep learning curve that Galaxy Online is doomed to failure. Without a large infusion of quests for beginners, much better documentation and serious science and resource balancing Galaxy will have a hard time retaining most players for more than a week.
For example, just today I was researching Mesology, which is required for an important building upgrade. The first three upgrades only cost a few hundred science points – no big deal. Level 4 required 1,000 science points. The next level requires 30,000. That’s right – thirty times as many science points are required for no particular reason – you don’t even get anything from the Level 5 upgrade. I’m told that it just keeps going up from there, eventually costing upwards of 100,000 SPs. Insane. I have worked hard to pump out science points and I’m only at 850 per hour. At this rate I’ll have enough SPs to get the next level of Mesology in about two days. Since everything revolves around science points, that means it will literally be weeks before I can upgrade enough to have a fighting force worth anything, which is unacceptable and illogical.
Why would the developers of Galaxy, IGG, decide that this is the way they want the game to function? It’s clear that the vast majority of new players will leave due to the high learning curve and lack of documentation and tutorials, and those who make it through that will have to face down the fact that they are in for a month of monotonous button mashing before they can get to the fun part – space battles. IGG has created a game where the elitist gaming community of the unemployed can thrive at the expense of everyone else.
Still, the game is strangely addicting. Possibly because you really do have to check in every few hours to be sure you’re making the best use of your resources. Buildings take anywhere from five seconds to five hours to upgrade, and you can only queue up three building upgrades per planet, so that means you’ll have to login often to click things. If you can remember Furbies or those rubber electronic babies that you had to take care of in Home-Ec, then you can relate to the feeling you will get nursing your planets in Galaxy Online.
For now I’m still excited in the morning because I will have the night’s resources stocked to spend, but I don’t know how long that will last. I have a feeling I won’t make it a month.