Evony – A patchwork of stolen parts.

Like me, you’re probably sick of the omnipresence of Evony advertising, on Google’s ad network the last few months. Chances are there’s one staring at you on this page right now, as no matter how many of their advertising URLS I block from showing here, they always seem to have more. Until recently it was called Civony, and they used pictures of real girls stolen from a lingerie catalogue, until someone noticed, and the complaints started pouring in. So they decided it was best to rebrand, and they’re now using drawings of women in lingerie instead.

None of that advertising has the slightest thing to do with the game, where there are no Queens, no love interests, and no willing hand-maidens wanting you to “play me now, oh Lord”. Oh well, I guess it gets the clickthroughs (or it did before everyone became completely inured to them).

Update: I’ve revisited this topic while looking at Kingory.
Update: And Maltheas is pretty upset about Evony stealing the picture of his Queen for advertising.
Update: Evony has decided to take on Blizzard, by stealing the World of Warcraft Intellectual Property with their new game, World of Lordcraft.

At its heart, Evony is much like other browser games in the nation-building genre, where you construct buildings, research technologies, and train troops to go bother other players. Unlike most though, rather than existing on a theoretical world, where you’re an equal distance away from everybody, Evony places you on an actual map. A massive one, with multiple separate regions. That is the one interesting new (to me at least) advancement Evony makes.

One distinct flaw in comparison to other browser based games, in my opinion, is the inability to queue actions, such as building and research. This means that you cannot just leave Evony and go do something else. Not if you want to survive, at least. This may be due to the desire for people to spend money on in game currency to buy items to reduce build time, but it also means that Evony is far from a casual game that you can pop into once per day. As Evony does not appear to use advertising, its only visible means of support is for folks to spend money on buying in game currency, so it is not surprising that the gameplay pushes you to do so.

As I mentioned, Evony was originally called Civony, and it is not hard to see who their inspiration was. If by “inspiration”, you mean the place where they blatantly stole stuff from. Like Civilization 4, each technology description begins with a quote. In fact, like Civ 4, each technology description begins with the quote from Civ 4. I’m almost surprised Leonard Nimoy isn’t doing a voice-over, though I hear him in my head when I read them anyway. Lifting all the quotes straight from Civ is exceptionally lazy. Oh, and most of the descriptions are lifted straight from Civ 3 or 4 as well.

Evony steals tech descriptions from Sid Meier's Civilization.

Other descriptions elsewhere are lifted straight from wikipedia, or civ mods. They have written some of the descriptions themselves though. These can usually be easily recognised by the head pain that occurs when you try to read them :

The laughably illiterate saw description from Evony.

The building and terrain graphics until recently were lifted straight from the Age of Empires series. They have recently changed, but whether they’ve just stolen them from something less well known, or actually made them themselves, I know not. My guess would be on the former.

Evony is a mildly entertaining nationbuilding game, of the sort you’ve probably played a dozen of. It is fun to play (I’m still pottering about with it myself), but it is not worth spending money on. That everything that is of decent quality seems to have been stolen from somewhere is my main concern with Evony, and that makes me feel that I probably do not ever want to give them my credit card details. I suggest you do the same. We should not reward companies that hide behind China’s lack of respect for copyright law, or indeed their tolerance for credit card fraud.

A fuller review of Evony’s game mechanics can be found here.


Wait, I forgot one of the most worrying things about Evony, that just occured yesterday. As part of a slightly odd marketing scheme involving invitation codes and in-game rewards, they have released a piece of software called iEvony that you are supposed to download and install. I’ll let them explain:

What is iEvony Client and how does it work?

iEvony Client is software that easily, quickly and safely delivers a private game invitation to your friends. With just a simple click, iEvony Client will automatically import your entire buddy list from MSN, Yahoo or Skype IM. iEvony Client allows users to choose their selected friends and send them a short invitation. The software will record all the invitations and translate them to credits for you!

Is iEvony Client Safe to use?

iEvony Client is absolutely secure! iEvony Client WILL NOT collect any private information or addresses from users. iEvony Client WILL NOT install any other programs your computer. iEvony Client is completely safe!

So don’t worry, kids! iEvony just wants all your instant messenger login details so it can send messages to people on your behalf. Because, you know, you couldn’t possibly have sent your friends a message about Evony without installing a mysterious application on your PC.

My pro tip would be, if you must play Evony, do not allow iEvony anywhere near your computer. If you have already used iEvony then you should change your instant messenger passwords right away.

Update: I’ve revisited this topic while looking at Kingory.

Update: Now Maltheas has gotten in on the act here.

Update: Evony has decided to take on Blizzard, by stealing the World of Warcraft Intellectual Property with their new game, World of Lordcraft.

Coke Zero – A call for a worldwide ban.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has banned Coke Zero, calling it “harmful to people’s well-being”, which I am assuming is a polite way of saying that it tastes like crap. I am a big consumer of colas, mostly of the sugared varieties, and especially Cherry Coke. I do, however, find Pepsi Max and Diet Coke to be drinkable, so I am not entirely biased against low sugar colas. The brown cloying liquid known as Coke Zero is a step too far for me. Nay, a thousand leagues too far! I begin to wish that I, too, were master of a nation, that I could rid its pestilence from the land.

I’d rather drink Tizer than Coke Zero. Ugh, I’d rather drink DIET Tizer.

Coke Zero is an insult to the senses, but actually it is not quite the worst big name cola I have ever drunk. That would be this:

The abomination that is Coke Zero Vanilla.

The abomination that is Coke Zero Vanilla.

Venezuela’s ban is a step in the right direction, but this needs escalating to the UN Security Council, for the sake of taste-buds everywhere.

Waterboarding. It’s not torture! Are you sure?

Christopher Hitchens is a man who I find profoundly irritating most of the time. He has perfected the art of arrogance to the level that even when he is saying something I agree with (It’s about 50:50), I still mostly want him to shut up. He has frequently been an apologist for Bush’s interventionist policies, and the ensuing misery that perpetuates from them. However he is nothing if not a complicated man, and he was recently willing to put himself through something pretty unpleasant for a piece in Vanity Fair. I hope his experience, and his conclusions, will inform his future pronouncements.

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and—as you might expect—inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.

The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

If waterboarding is neither torture nor bad nor dangerous, then any public official that supports it should be willing to go through a similar experience to Mr Hitchens. As he pointed out himself, with a safe word and knowing he’d be tucked up in his own bed at the end of the day, it only hints at the awfulness that the real thing must offer after days of sleep deprivation, casual brutality, and not knowing when or if you’d ever see your family again, let alone a lawyer. If an official refuses to try it out (as they would if they have any sense), surely that is an admission that it is dangerous and cruel, and thus illegal.

That was depressing. Let’s end with a song!

And now a word from TASER®.

Hey there TASER® fans! Your standard TASER® may be excellent for delivering 50,000 volts to the sentient being of your choice, but while you might feel good, do you look good?

Introducing the C2 TASER® fashion range, featuring a choice of hip-looking instruments of agony. Is your target spasming because of the volts, or just because he had hoped leopard-print went out with the 80’s? Who cares, as long as he spasms!

C2 Leopard21

Also available in Red Hot, Fashion Pink, Black Pearl, Electric Blue, Metallic Pink, and Titanium. You’ll be happy to hear that the included lithium battery is good for over 50 tases. For heavy users, additional batteries are available.

But wait, you feel there’s still something missing? Wouldn’t it be totally rad and awesome if, while you’re tasing hippies and old men, you could also be rocking out with some of your favourite tracks. How about “Another one bites the dust” by Queen (though something from their album “Sheer Heart Attack” might be more appropriate). Presenting the TASER® C2 Holster Hard Case with 1GB MP3 Player.

C2 Holster Mph12

Now, when your victim goes down, you can be getting on down too. Burn baby burn. Disco Inferno!!

Ha! If only I was joking. I’m not. TASERS® are going mainstream, cool, and funky. As TASER® point out, “TASER® devices are not considered firearms by the US Government. They can be legally carried (concealed or open) without permit required in 43 states.”. Yay for concealed deadly weapons for everyone!!!

And remember: If a subject is exhibiting signs or behaviors that are
associated with Sudden In-Custody Death Syndrome, consider need for medical assistance.

Sudden In-Custody Death Syndrome is a mysterious ailment that sometimes affects people who have coincidently just had the crap beaten out of them by police, or been electrocuted. It is possible that we will never know what causes it, it’s that bloody mysterious.

A list of TASER® deaths from October to November 2007.

Above is security camera footage of an incident in November where an unarmed pregnant mother in Trotwood, Ohio, was tasered by a police officer. It is clear from the footage that her level of resistance was nowhere near that which would make use of such force appropriate. She had already been pushed on her face onto the ground, and was being held down. Why the need to tase her in the neck?

No information is available on whether the cop preferred Leopard-print, or Electric Blue. Perhaps he should go to a TASER® party and find out.