What are Java games?
These games come in the form of little programs that are capable of being run and executed within your favourite browser. These games are usually written in a programming language such as Java.
The advantage of these games is that they are usually free, and small enough to be downloadable. This means that you no longer have to pay hard money to get your hands on new games. Needless to say, you can easily try out the multitude of java games available freely on the Internet without worrying that you're not getting your money's worth. What's more, the downloadable nature of Java games allows you to play the game almost instantly. No more hassle of going down to your local game shop and buying the game on CD-ROM. Java games have the added advantage of requiring little system resources. Basically, if you have a suitable VM (virtual machine) and an Internet browser, you are all set to play Java games. Lastly, the OS-independent nature of Java applets make such games playable across all platforms for which a Java Virtual Machine for that platform exists. Never mind if you're running Linux or FreeBSD, you can enjoy playing Java games all the same.
However, it must be said that such games are not all that fancy compared to those you can get off the retail shelves. Java games are usually sorely lacking in good graphics and quality music and sound effects. Most of these games, apart from a few, also do not support networked-multiplayer games. Which means that you're stuck with playing by yourself or with a friend locally. Another thing to note is that Java games are extremely limited in scope. You won't get the number of levels that you're used to when playing commercial CD-ROM games. For instance, a typical Java game has at most about ten levels, compared to the hundreds in commercial episodes such as Lode Runner 2 or Warcraft 2. All in all, these games are nice if you're bored or just feel like playing something new and different for a change. But if you're seriously into gaming, Java games will not provide the kind of gaming experience and virtual reality that you're seeking.
Server-side games are a new generation of online, highly interactive games which are specifically been designed to be played directly on the web using your Internet browser. The difference between such server-side games and Java-based games will be discussed shortly under Technical Differences between Server-side games and Java-based games. Server-side games such as Earth 2025, Utopia as well as Archmage are fast gaining popularity in the Internet gaming community. Why is this so? Let us now look at the advantages offered by such games over the traditional games.
Well, usually. Most of the time you don't have to pay a single cent to play server-side games. All you have to do is to register and you're all set to start playing. Well, you must then be wondering, how does the company behind the development of the game make money? After all, they can't possibly be providing free entertainment right? There's no free lunch in this world! Certainly. These companies make money by generating advertisement revenue. As more and more people try out their game and like it, their hit-rate (the number of times their pages are accessed per period of time) will follow suit and increase tremendously. When this happens, they start to sell banner space to online advertisers. These advertisers pay good money to have their advertisements in the form of a small graphic banner displayed on certain pages of the gaming company's website. Each time the banner is clicked, the advertiser will have to pay the gaming company as predetermined amount of money to the gaming site. Thus, these gaming companies have the incentive to continually improve the quality of the game and site in order to attract more gamers, as they are completely reliant on their gaming community in order to generate revenue! Of course, there are certain gaming companies which charge a membership fee to all members who want to use its gaming facilities. The fee may be one-time or recurring after a certain period of time. However, such pay-to-play games are less popular among gamers.
Traditional stand-alone PC games have always had the disadvantage of not allowing a player to pit his skills against another human opponent. Thus, after a while, the game loses its appeal as the skills of the player develop far above that of the computer opponent. However, server-side games have no such drawback. These games are built upon a large gaming community, which means that you get to play against human opponents every time! If you a game by yourself, it's probably going to end up boring you out after a while. But, if you can get to play against thousands of opponents, each a human being behind a monitor, it's truly different! Moreover, you can get your friends to play with or against you, thus adding to the fun.
Low Hardware Requirements
Server-side games require almost no computing power on the local (player) side at all. All you need is an Internet connection and a suitable browser and you can start playing. No need for expensive hardware such as state-of-the-art graphics cards and powerful soundcards and speakers. No need for ultra-fast processors to get the most out of your game. For more details, see the following section: Technical Differences between Server-side games and Java-based games
Technical Differences between Server-side games and Java-based games
So what's the difference between server-side games and Java-based games? Simple. While Java-based games are actually programs downloaded to your computer and executed locally, server-side games are run on the server. In other words, all the processing and number crunching routines are handled by the powerful server at the other end of the connection, which simply sends the results back to your PC to be displayed by your browser. For instance, let's say you're playing a server-side game and you give the command to send your troops to attack your enemy's headquarters. The attack request will be sent directly to the server, and the server will do the calculations necessary such as the probability of your troops winning the attack, the casualties you and your opponent suffer based on your unit's strength and training, how much weapons you expend, the morale of your army etc. After all these results have been calculated, the data is then sent back to your computer. All your browser needs to do then would be to display the results of the battle. It's really easy on your PC. Thus, there is no need for any powerful hardware on your part. The server handles it all. On the contrary, Java-based games are nothing no different from local games in terms of execution. The only difference is that they are platform-independent and small. All the processing and number crunching is done on your PC. The server only supplies the game to you, a one-time process. After that, everything is local. In this section, we will be looking at three major server-side games available on the Internet. These games are extremely popular at this point of time and have thousands if not tens of thousands of players already playing them. Much of the descriptions below pertain to the individual game itself and it not meant to describe server-side games in general.
Earth: 2025 http://games.swirve.com/earth
Earth: 2025 is the first of a new generation of unique interactive games designed to be played directly on the web. Centrally located on the Swirve.com website, Earth: 2025 brings together tens thousands of players in an interactive gaming environment that's more addictive, entertaining, and engaging than anything you'll play against a computer or just a few opponents. You'll get the opportunity to take command of a fledging country and manage its economy, military, diplomacy and more as you try to make yourself the most powerful in the world. Interactive Unlike most supposed webgames out there, Earth: 2025 is truly and completely interactive. If you play this game by yourself, it's probably the most boring thing in the the world. However, play against 20,000 or more opponents, and it's an experience like nothing else you'll find. When you join in, tell your friends and meet new players -- it's all part of the fun! Easy to Learn Like any strategy game, the more you play, the better you'll become. In Earth, though, you don't need to be a master to get started. Other players will always be willing to help you out or take you under their wings -- all you have to do is ask (nicely!). With a multitude of gaming options, you can pick a game just for learning or get right in with the toughest of opponents. Competitive Along with the social interaction, the thrill of competition makes Earth: 2025 truly addictive and engrossing. Compete against the world, but remember there can only be one top-ranked player. Standard games and a ladder tournament give you multiple opportunities to compete to be the best! Free Best of all, Earth: 2025 is absolutely free to play. Funded by advertising, Swirve.com strives to offer you the best possible gaming environments absolutely free. Join in and try it out... Don't like it? Just leave -- no harm done!
The above material on Earth: 2025 has been taken from the game's official website. We take no credit for the material. A link to the game's website can be found above.
The World of Utopia
The World of Utopia is our larger game. With over 40,000 active players, the World of Utopia offers something for everyone and is possibly the single largest interactive environment in the world. This game consists primarily of players who have played before and prefer to remain with the friends they have made in previous Ages of Utopia.
The Utopian Battlefields
The Utopian Battlefields is a game primarily for players who want a highly competitive and active environment. Limited to a bit over 20,000 players, this game was created to help alleviate server strain on our primary server and accommodate more players. Battlefields players have never played within their current kingdom before -- some are experienced players, others are new, but all enjoy the experience of meeting new friends and making new enemies. Neither game is a better choice than the other and both offer a wonderful interactive experience unlike anything else you'll find on the Internet. However, for most users, we highly recommend the Battlefields game if it is not full. Because the Worlds of Utopia server contains players who have been together for an extended time, the Battlefields might be a better alternative for those looking for the full Utopian experience. To help keep servers free for as many players as possible, users are allowed to maintain one and only one account in Utopia -- you cannot play on both servers.
The above material on Utopia has been taken from the game's official website. We take no credit for the material. A link to the game's website can be found above.
The World of Archmage
Archmage is set in a Magical and Fantastic World, and is very similar to the medieval Era. In this world, Terra, magic has been used for more than a million years, making the ones with the power the most successful magicians.
Legend says that about a thousand years ago, ancient powerful magic was rediscovered by mighty magicians, and hence came the break out of what we call The Magicians' War. The powerful and deadly magic employed by the magicians in the war brought total chaos and destruction to Terra. Almost everything was destroyed, and the continued usage of such dangerous powers eventually drained all mana, the source of Terra's magic.
The war not only brought disaster to the magicians, but also to all life forms on Terra (since nobody was able to win a decisive victory) Almost all magicians perished in the war, and with all mana gone, the few magicians who managed to survive were no longer able to cast any of their spells. Surviving civilians blamed the magicians for causing such annihilation and killed them mercilessly. Those magicians who survived both the war and the civilians' revenge hide themselves in desolated places. Magic was lost and eventually became forbidden.
A millennium passed since The Magicians' War and the horrible memories of war slowly faded away. The once depleted mana was restored during those years. As magic returned to Terra, the world was once again divided into many small nations fighting each other over the control of the continent and seeking methods to destroy their enemy. No one knows who was the first to bring back the lost magic. Whoever it was, however, must have had one goal in his mind: to revive the glorious days of prestige the ancient magician once possessed.
Even with the restored mana, these new magicians could not completely revive the magicians' society to its previous state. However, they were able to start researching the once lost magic, even though it was forbidden by the law. More and more lost arts were discovered, and armed with their new weapons, the magicians began to crawl their way into the center of political power. They started off as aids to kings and generals and eventually took over the countries by themselves....
As the nations began to fall apart into even smaller countries, the magicians gained more and more power. Gradually, almost every country in the continent of Terra was ruled by magicians, and those that remained, if any, were at the verge of breaking down. At last, the magicians became the dominating forces of Terra again.
As one of the magicians in this world, you must build up your own country and be ready to ward off any invasions from other magicians by recruiting armies and researching ancient magic especially the Apocalypse, the ultimate magic known to have the power to reshape the entire world.
Although nothing is known about this ultimate magic, it is believed that whoever possesses such powers has the ability to destroy all enemies and reshape the whole world into whatever the bearer of the Apocalypse wishes.
The Magic in Archmage
The fuel for magic in Terra is called Mana. It comes from the earth (ground, soil) and is collected by Nodes, which then transform the energy waves from the ground into usable magical energy - Mana. (For a better understanding of this principle, consider the Nodes as something like the Stone Henge) In a similar fashion, magicians are able to set up Energy Barriers from natural elements to defend themselves from other potentially dangerous magicians. Although barriers have the potential to ward off most attacks, they still have weaknesses in a way that attacks can go over the barriers and land a direct hit on the defending magician himself.
In the world of Terra, magic is divided into 5 kinds, each represented by a certain color. A magician can only specialize in one particular type of magic. Though magicians are able to employ magic from other colors, they are unable to perform them as well as the one they are specializing in.
White: Magic of Healing and Defense. It is defined by holiness and purity. Attacking spells from this magic type are rare unless they are directed towards the undead. White magic becomes one of the most destructive magic when mastered to a high level of proficiency, and may call upon divine intervention. The opposing forces are the Red and Black magic.
Red: Magic of Destruction and Chaos. Magicians who employ this magic consider chaos to be the foundation of all life, and optimize their power from this basic energy. It possesses the most powerful and destructive spells, by enabling magicians to either atomize the opponents or burn them into ashes. The opposing forces are the White and Blue magic.
Green: Magic of Nature and Life. It has the power to call upon the power of nature to aid the magician in various ways. The opposing forces are the Blue and Black magic.
Blue: Magic of the Mind and Illusion. It does not have any direct damaging spells but its ability to destroy the mind can be just as devastating as the destruction of the body. Its key features are hypnotic magic and the ability to control over living things feared by most other magicians. The opposing forces are the Green and Red magic.
Black: Magic of Darkness and Death. It has the power to slowly decay everything into nothingness. The dark magic employed by Black magicians can take lives as well as summon devils from the lower hells to the magician's aid but requires a lot of sacrifice in order to do so. The opposing forces are the White and Green magic.
Starting the Game
No additional software installation is required to play
Archmage. All you need is a web browser, such as Netscape or Internet
Explorer. First,you must register your ID, password, e-mail address, and
your call sign for the game at the main menu. Then log in with your ID
and password to enter the domain of Archmage.
The above material on Archmage have been taken from the game's official website. We take no credit for the material. A link to the game's website can be found above.
Local Area Network (LAN) Gaming
Ever wanted to give your mates a good thrashing in your favourite game but can only play two at a time over a null modem or modem? Well, that's where LAN gaming comes in.
LAN gaming breaks down the barriers of single-player games. In the past when games were mostly single player or at most, multi-playered locally (you can only play on one PC), you often had to either put up with computer AI that was below par, or gather your friends and cramp around a keyboard and tried to play together.
Now, with the advent of LAN gaming, all that has become a chapter in history. LAN gaming introduces the concept of multi-player, multi-computer. Each player can use his own PC to play a common game, together with his friends. What happens is that all the players connect to a common computer, called the server, which synchronizes all the players information (statistics, location etc) and allows the different computers to communicate with each other. All this is possible via the network. With all the computers interlinked, you now can have as many players as your game supports. LAN gaming can be sub-divided into two categories: -
1) LAN gaming over a closed network
2) LAN gaming over the Internet LAN
Gaming over a Closed Network
In this kind of LAN gaming, a group of computers are linked together via an internal (closed) network. This means that this network is not accessible from the outside world, or rather, the Internet. Only the machines physically wired in this network can play together, unless, of course, the network operator decides to link the network to the Internet. But that is a whole different issue altogether. In this kind of setup, one computer will be designated as the server, in charge of controlling the communication lines between all the other computers. Also, the group of networked computers must have their own software (if not already provided by the game itself) to communicate with each other. This is most commonly done through a network protocol such as IPX or TCP/IP. However, note that for closed networks, IPX is more common while TCP/IP is usually used as an Internet protocol.
LAN Gaming over the Internet
For LAN gaming over the Internet, not much physical hardware is needed as the PCs now make use of the already present infrastructure of the Internet to communicate with each other. This is usually done by using the TCP/IP protocol. To play over the Internet, all you need is really an Internet connection and your favourite game. Most of the time, the game itself already has the software needed to run the game over the Internet.
So how does this work? Basically, what all the gamers need to do to start playing with each other over the Internet is to buy the game, which will allow you to connect to one of the Internet servers hosting the game in your area. One of the more popular servers would be the Battlenet server. It is the server that handles all the connection and synchronization tasks, thus freeing your PC for playing the game. The advantage of such a setup is that there is no need to setup a physical network in your home as the Internet itself is already a huge network. Hence, you don't need to be network savvy to use this method of game play. Moreover, since the server is a dedicated machine handling all the game's connections, and has the support of multiple high speed connections to the Internet backbone, it is able to support many more concurrent connections compared to a home network. However, the drawback is that all too often, the server on the Internet is too heavily utilized for it to respond satisfactorily to the player. Slow updates are often due to this problem. Another point in question is that of slow or poor connections to the Internet. By this we are referring to the Internet connection of the player's PC to the Internet. Unless you're on broadband, you will often experience hiccups during game play such as dropped connections, or slow response from the server. This is especially annoying when you are in the middle of battle or you have yet to save your current status and the server fails on you.