Two years ago I was close to ruining my life. During 2000 and 2001 most of my friends were knee-deep in Planetarion, an online strategy game where you would most likely be addicted in a matter of days. Some of my friends were getting up in the middle of the night, just so they could check the status in their game of space dominion. At that time I was fully aware of my gaming addiction, and how leaving a game like that would be extremely hard. I was also on a modem connection at that time, so I would most likely also have problems paying the bills.
In many ways Time of Defiance can be compared with Planetarion, as it is a space strategy game where you begin with a small base and expand in an attempt to rule your region of space. There are of course several differences, and the most notable is how Time of Defiance is in 3D, whereas Planetarion is text-based.
The story of Time of Defiance goes a like this...
Far into the future a civilization called Nespanona discovered quite a few neat things about science. You see, it turns out that matter, gravity, space, time and all of that magical stuff is just a side-effect of everything that happens at the layer underneath; at the quantum level. After researching this area of science for a while they managed to learn how to manipulate things at a quantum level. This feat made them able to create anything out of anything, and for the people of Nespanona that meant a lot of wealth was added to their lives. Amongst other things, they had replicators, teleporters, instantaneous communications and infinite power sources.
For quite some time life was good, people were rich, and everything seemed nice and dandy. They had however not explored every aspect of physics, and one of the fields they were most interested in was matter compression. They knew how it worked on a small scale, but not so large that they could have any real use for it. A few scientists started researching underground, and finally sort of figured how they could do it. However, a wrong number here, a wrong number there, and before you could say opps, you’ve started the process of compressing the core of your planet. The was no way of stopping this process, but after placing anti-gravity mechanics under the crust of the planet they managed to hold it in position for as long as possible. Most of the inhabitants of Nespanona were evacuated, but after the planet collapsed in its own pressure people started clinging to small chunks of crust, some only a few hundred meters across, some as big as small countries. So that’s how the prosperous planet of Nespanona ended; tens of thousands of floating lumps of land, each at a slightly different altitude, each with slightly different environment conditions, and some large enough to continue supporting life.
Unlike MMORPGs where you have one game that goes on forever, the games in Time of Defiance last between 21 and 28 days. The various servers have different speed-settings and difficulty, but in general you can do a whole lot of in just a couple of days, and like in Planetarion it’s smart to check in at regular intervals, because if your neighbor times his attack so that your forces clash when you’re sleeping then you just might be screwed.
The basic premise of Time of Defiance is about expanding your powers, which is done by colonizing more and more islands, thwarting opponents, and ruling supreme. The way you expand is by claiming islands with a scout, colonizing it with a larger ship, and then you can start building things like turrets and such. Some islands may not have room for a lot of buildings, so it’s important to figure out what you need before going on a spending-spree. You’ll need to send out scouts to find even more islands, perform mineral and building surveys to figure out how much you can harvest and how many buildings you can build, but a powerful army wouldn’t be much without arms. Time of Defiance has ships that are basically like your average warships; light, medium, large, and destroyers). The ultimate goal is to be on top of the ladder, but getting there requires you to control a lot of islands, possess a whole lot of resources, and have a military comparable to none.
Beside your main island you’ll also find a quantum gate, which lets special ships drive though and be teleported to the eight house, where you can check up on the latest news, buy special ships, gate-coordinates, or chat with people. This is actually a really useful place to visit from time to time, even though the prices there are far from cheap.
Time of Defiance is quite a small game in size when installed, so I didn’t expect a huge assortment of high-resolution textures, but since the game doesn’t have outrageous numbers of different units, islands and objects in general it really doesn’t matter so much. The islands, buildings and ships do look nice, although not as great as Freespace 2, Homeworld, etc. What actually makes the islands stay where they are is some gravitational machine that exudes a pinkish gass / beam of some sort. Even though the game takes place in some sort of space it looks more like the islands are up in the skies, with clouds and everything. The overall atmosphere is colorful and friendly, but I do wish the game featured more graphical affects. Since the game progresses somewhat slowly the developers made the engine able to handle alt+tab’ing to windows, and back again. Because of this you can log in and start construction of for instance five large warships, alt+tab back to windows, read the latest news on gamershell.com, and head back to the game.
Also, another really useful feature is how the game can notify you through e-mail about for instance if a ship of yours has been destroyed, or if an island of yours has been taken over. Extreme players could then use a mobile phone and check for updates when they’re busy at school or work. It’s evident that Nicely Crafted Entertainment want to create an addiction to this game.
The audio department is however fairly limited. You do get a somewhat cheesy theme-song at the main menu, but once in the game you’re left with only the sound-effects. When you’re building ships, or mining minerals you do get appropriate sounds, but at the end of the day a lot more could’ve been included to make the game more vibrant and alive.
Well, I didn’t ruin my life this time either. Time of Defiance can be compared to Planetarion in many ways, and I’m convinced that anyone who liked Planetarion will love Time of Defiance. Since its release more and more content has been added to the game, and more will undoubtedly be added. I do hope more buildings and ships will be available, and hopefully also a way of forming alliances easily. Fans of the Master of Orion games might be a bit turned off by the game not having a myriad of structures and ships to build, but the rest should hopefully notice the challenge in Time of Defiance, and set out to rule the universe. Subscribing to Time of Defiance costs $7.5 / month, $37.50 / half-year and $60 / year. If you want to try the game for about a week, then you can find the time-limited demo at www.nicelycrafted.com