Another Look at a Smaller Facebook App, Galaxy Legion

Galaxy LegionIt’s been a while since we’ve taken a closer look at one of the smaller titles on Facebook. This time around, it’s an older strategy and role-playing application called Galaxy Legion. Similar to Starfleet Commander and the more recent Space Empires, this Facebook game, from Eris Media, has a small but loyal following of players.

Currently Galaxy Legion has around 39,000 monthly active users and about 10,000 daily active users.  The game has grown slowly, perhaps because many potential users don’t realize the depth behind the generic title.  There is actually a decent amount of strategy in the game, and a surprising amount of breadth in the features themselves. All the same, it feels clunky and likely loses new players by overwhelming them with complexity too early on.

Galaxy Legion is about galactic domination. Unlike some other space-themed titles, however, players are not granted an army, but instead are given a powerful, upgradeable starship. Essentially, this is the user’s avatar — a space-faring version of a player’s mobster in Mafia Wars.

SpaceshipAs players progress through the game, the ship is upgraded. Stats like attack, defense, and so on are increased by “hiring” crew members. But other important stats such as deck size and scanning are increased through different means.

Deck size is the simplest stat.  Any ship can be customized with extra equipment to boost varying capabilities (e.g. attack). Players are able to purchase and equip shields, gun turrets, armor, and so on to enhance their ship. Each item, however, takes up varying amounts of deck space, so the more powerful ships typically need a high number of decks.

Periodically, players earn Research Points that can be used to research new tech for their spacecraft. The more a player has invested in research or “Recruiting Scientists”, the faster research points generate. This is important, because many technologies require a large pool of research points to complete. For example, the first “Advanced Weapons” research takes 600 points.

PlanetsCovering a few more features: energy is the typical resource expended to complete an action in the game (aside from virtual currency). Cargo determines how many unused modules of equipment, minerals and artifacts can be carried. Cloaking is a nifty player versus player element. It reduces the chances of random encounters during missions, adds significant defense bonuses to a ship, enables cloaking of any planet a player is guarding, and prevents enemy players from seeing what equipment a ship or planet might have.

Through “Scanning” players scan the galaxy in search of new planets to explore. Some planets will be uninhabited, others will be controlled by another player. The type of scanning equipment a player owns will determine how often they find items of value on planets.

Like decks on a ship, each planet will have a set number of slots in which to build surface structures including defensive surface bunkers, orbital mines, research stations, mining facilities, and scanners. Defenses are crucial, because once a player reaches level 20, their planets become open to attack from other players. Each planet can also produce unique variations of minerals, research, or artifacts. The higher a given production value,  the more space a player should allot to its harvest station.

ArtifactsMinerals found can be periodically collected and traded for Credits. Research stations will provide research points, while scanners will increase the chance of finding artifacts around that world. All these are items purchasable through the virtual currency, “Galaxy Points,” that provide added bonuses to scanning, cloaking, and so on.

The game comes with the standard RPG elements of missions and battles. Missions must be repeated again and again — about 20 times for 100% completion. Battles are played out in a similar fashion, attacking the enemy multiple times until it is defeated.

Perhaps Galaxy Legion’s greatest flaw is its dull presentation. Everything is bland and text-based, with very few visuals to really entice a new user. There is also a lot of breadth to this game, lots of variety in tasks and activities, but the new user experience is poor. The tutorial for the game is merely a series of tedious, passive text boxes. Most users will not read all this, and even fewer are going to remember much.

BattlesThe social features work much the same as older Facebook RPGs. Since there is only one ship, players must find a legion of friends to join them. Friends help protect each others’ planets or attack enemy colonies. This is all  in tandem with the player versus player aspect of Galaxy Legion, but is still very basic.

All in all, Galaxy Legion turned out to be a surprisingly full-featured game with a wide variety of activities. Even what we have described feels like just the tip of a large iceberg. It will certainly be an interesting game for those who enjoy strategy RPGs, which probably contributes to the game’s strong DAU count. Still, the poor presentation takes away from the game, and is perhaps accounts for the low MAU numbers. Galaxy Legion has plenty of room for improvement, but for a small game, it has a number of surprises, making it worth a closer look.