E3 2012 InnoGames
At this year's E3, we had a nice long chat with German studio InnoGames about its MMO repertoire. The company actually started out quite small with three college buddies, who released their first game only to their close friends. That game, Tribal Wars, and its original servers are still around, albeit with some updated graphics to keep things looking fresh, but we wanted to focus on the team's more recent offerings.

While InnoGames has several titles under its belt, including Bounty Hounds, we focused primarily on Kartuga, a pirate-themed strategy MMO; Lagoonia, a social building game created by and aimed at women; and Forge of Empires, which is similar to the Age of Empires series. All three games are free-to-play browser games, and we even got a pinch of hands-on time.

Kartuga

The idea behind Kartuga is simple: Choose a ship style and start PvPing with friends! As you play the game, you gain levels that allow you to buy talents for your ship, such as new moves or passive abilities. Despite the fact that you're playing a ship, there are still roles (DPS, tank, and heals). While the game does have quests and open-world PvP outside of the safe (demilitarized) zones, our presenter, Fabio, was quick to point out that the game's main emphasis is on instanced PvP matches. The two types of games are currently death matches (in which you obviously fight to the death) and domination matches (in which you try to hold towers for points).

InnoGames allowed us to try out a quick domination-mode battle. We were quickly leveled to 10 and whisked away to our match right before the other presenter could shoot me. The map was a bit daunting. While Fabio mentioned that there would be maps for 2v2s, the current map was meant for four to eight players, so we had barely the minimum required to start a match.

My partner and I focused on the towers and took turns essentially sacrificing ourselves to the level 20 player who'd managed to join the fray. Despite our level difference, the game's controls and aiming requirements made the level 20 player not nearly as dangerous as he might normally be. It's hard to compare it to anything, though, since we had but one match. Still, Fabio was my level and impressively deadly. The game's simplicity belies its strategic elements.

The game is currently in alpha but will hopefully be released at the end of Q4 2012. There will a be a cash shop, but everything you can buy in the shop can be found in the game. The main focus is on saving time.

Lagoonia

Although it's another three-quarters-POV game, Lagoonia is focused purely on building and socialization. It's essentially a PvE sandbox game. Players can control up to 15 islanders and their relationships, in addition to building everything from fire to rafts to lighthouses. The game has no combat (at least, no PvP content at all, from what I understand), but that doesn't mean fighting doesn't occur.

Despite the fact that both presenters mentioned that Lagoonia was meant to appeal more to women, I found myself more curious about this game than about any other, even though it's already been released. I was repeatedly told it was aimed at women and that the other reporter and I wouldn't be very interested in the game, but the game's playerbase is pretty equally split between the genders, about 50/50. It was obvious that Lagoonia is a game with values and players very dear to the InnoGames representatives.

Players start the game alone on a desert island after a plane crash. They are tasked with collecting natural resources for things like food and shelter. After building some basics, players get a message in a bottle alerting them to the presence of other players nearby. Players can build bridges together, make joint buildings, help each other build their islands, and even have children together. It's the relationship aspect (and the drama) that seems to be the driving force for the game. Unfortunately, technical difficulties with the demo cut our time short, so we only got to hear about the game and watch a trailer. Still, the game sounded sort of like Animal Crossing or The Sims.

Forge of Empires

Forge of Empires is a mid-core game, similar to Age of Empires, in which players build up their territories from the stone age to more advanced technologies. Players research technologies to defeat enemies and expand their empires, which of course means there's some city development and management to do. The game has a single-player option, but players can take things online, where they'll have neighbors who can potentially take over their towns. The game isn't really aimed at a PvP crowd, but Fabio assured me that no players would be kicked out for these actions. The game is a simpler version of another game by InnoGames called Grepolis, which uses a similar system but is geared more toward hardcore, competitive players and lacks FoE's single-player campaign. Forge of Empires is currently in open beta, while big brother Grepolis has already been released.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best news from E3 2012. We're covering everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions, so stay tuned!

This article was originally published on Massively.