Antisocial Network: Evil Genius On Facebook

By Alec Meer on December 7th, 2010 at 5:50 pm.

Somehow, 2000AD owners/ AvP developers Rebellion ended up owning the Evil Genius IP in the wake of Elixir’s sad demise, and they’ve finally revealed their nefarious plans for the spiritual Dungeon Keeper sequel – a social network adaptation that should perhaps be known as MinionVille.

Here you go.

I don’t have a professional problem with FarmVille and the many games that clone it/it cloned, though I’m personally no fan of Zynga’s unsmiling Metrics > Creativity mentality. If people want to play these games, fine: they’re not getting in the way of our games.

Making known trad. gaming IPs into FarmVille clones is where matters get a little more complicated. The rampant mentality in Facebook game-land right now is that you need an established brand if your game is going to stand out amongst the frighteningly similar crowd. This certainly makes sense for something like FIFA, or even Civ – something the public at large are aware of, on some level. When it’s a semi-obscure game like Evil Genius, though, it just seems like pointlessly dicing with veteran players’ fondness for the sake of leveraging an IP that has absolutely no resonance for the vast majority of the intended audience.

Evil Genius, the Facebook game, is an exceptionally strange affair. On paper, it retains the key elements of the charming but flawed original: build a base, send out minions on global missions of malfeasance and, above all, generate infamy and wealth. Expand, essentially.

That’s all there still, in boiled-down, one click fashion. The trouble here is that those concepts are almost horrifyingly well-suited to the collectormania that drives the bulk of Facebook games. Click, click, click, click to unlock to click to unlock to click to unlock: every click gains you some key resource but simultaneously depletes another (primarily, minions). If you run out of a resource, you can chuck some real-life money to the evil geniuses at a microtransaction company to get your grubby little hands on more. Otherwise, just wait until tomorrow and your stocks will have replenished enough to burn another half hour on this for free.

Of course, none of this has happened by accident: it’s Rebellion jumping onto the same bandwagon as everyone else, which they’re 100% entitled to do. I just wish they weren’t doing it by reducing a game a bunch of people are fond of a mindless, money-making clickfest that they could have stuck any old name onto instead. Foolish to wish otherwise, of course: leveraging the brand is, again, the done thing, and the shareholders will be pleased. Did Dr Evil have shareholders? I suspect not.

In Evil Genius’ favour, it’s definitely one of the more attractive and characterful takes on ‘Ville games I’ve seen, and whether or not it’s a satisfying game for Evil Genius fans (it’s not), it genuinely attempts to make the formula thematically suited to the license. Oh, and the use of the original game’s music offers a vaguely pleasing nostalgia-tickle. I hope, however, to never hear anything of it ever again.

Here’s me retro-fetishising the original game, incidentally.

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70 Comments »

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  1. Ice-Fyre says:

    I loved Evil Genius, today I weep ;-(

    There was meant to be an add-on to EG, but it didnt sell that well so it never came out :(

    • DrazharLn says:

      Well, if it didn’t come out, it wouldn’t sell well, would it?

    • el Chi says:

      I loved Evil Genius; today I don’t care.
      Let the proles have a watered-down Psycho-starring-Vince-Vaughn take on this gem; a crass Facebook adaptation doesn’t affect how good the original game is and the vast majority of people playing it on Facebook (all six of them) likely wouldn’t have played the original anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      TeraTelnet says:

      I do recall downloading something that claimed to be the unreleased expansion pack, but never quite got it working.

  2. Eclipse says:

    The original one is on offer on Steam right now: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3720/

  3. Martin says:

    Someone should point out that the original is £1.75 on Steam right now.

    • Tusque d'Ivoire says:

      is the steam original (?) evil genius any fun? RPS? haven’t read anything about it on here…

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Someone should also point out, that the pseudo-term “IP” (in an non-Internet-addresses context) is a FUD battle word of the delusional twisted world of the media reproduction and artist extortion Mafia, and by using it, you support them hurting every creative person on the planet, including yourselves, and including me.

      Luckily, thanks to my current business model and decentralized networks of the Internet, I’m invulnerable to their ways. But it still will destroy you. And the saddest thing is, that if it would try to destroy it, to save you… you’d try to destroy me, to save it!
      You have to admit the beauty of that kind of brainwashing tactics though…

    • noom says:

      OK, I’ll bite.

      How is using the term “Intellectual Property” damaging creative people and such? Clearly, Intellectual Property and Copyright laws are immensely perverted in our overtly corporated (is that a word? It damn well should be…) society, but I don’t see the harm in allowing the phrase to be used in popular parlance.

    • JohnS says:

      Have you seen the other posts made by Barefoot? There is a reason noone takes him seriously.

    • Wulf says:

      Barefoot can be an interesting fellow, if very intense. But intense doesn’t necessarily mean any ill, it just challenges the common obsession with normality, and apparently this Noone person is well aware of that. Good for him/her!

      In all seriousness though, let’s not invoke mob mentality, or imply that any one person can speak for all others. Barefoot is eccentric, yes, but at least he’s interesting. And you know? That’s more than you can say about the vast, vast majority of people. Personally, I’d take a crazy, enigmatic eccentric over a normal, sane, boring, person who’s as dull as dishwater any day of the week. It tends to make for interesting times.

      I’ve a few friends like that, presently and in the past. To a degree, they’re bullshit manufacturers, but what incredibly creative, wild-eyed, magnificent bullshit it is. They’re like the crazy old man telling stories to children around the fireplace, eyes equally as ablaze as the flickering embers they reflect.

      Yep. Me? I’d take a No-Bark over a Benny, any day.

  4. Omroth says:

    Oh dear.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Lacero says:

    Base design in this game was so much fun, except that you couldn’t guard a door without making it impossible for your minions to use it. Why aren’t there more base design games? ..and could you mod one into the sims? I can’t think of another modable game that would work as a foundation for it.

    • MkHarris says:

      [i]”you couldn’t guard a door without making it impossible for your minions to use it”[/i]

      stick an alcove with a door next to your “real” door and set it to guarded – voila!

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      oh believe me, I know all the tricks :) And that approach is even better as enemy agents don’t know what they’re doing, so when they see a door they try and go through it even if it leads nowhere and no one is using it. Mazes of false doors were the entrance to any self respecting dwarf fortress. I mean evil lair.

      Looking into the sims and I’m feeling optimistic..

    • bob123 says:

      There was this one base building sim,where u managed a Donut shaped Space station with waddling security robots,greys, hippie aliens. Damn,what was its name again?

    • bob123 says:

      Startopia! That was the Name! Try that one if you crave Base building and stuff,its really sweet.

    • bob123 says:

      Startopia! That was the Name! Try that one if you crave Basebuilding and stuff,its really funny.

    • Torgen says:

      StarTopia.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Quinns did a cool retrospective of startopia.

      It’s a good game.

      “We are controlling transmissions…”

  6. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    It got too hard by the end. Constant drops and super agents. No time to evily cackle.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      H.A.R.M.VILLE?

    • LionsPhil says:

      That’d be No One Lives Forever.

      Which I’m currently replaying the sequel to. Fuck yeah huge outdoor winter levels and a skidoo. And LEAN KEYS.

  7. Navagon says:

    Well I suppose it does now truly live up to its name…

  8. Inigo says:

    I was just going to complain about Alec embedding an .mp3 of a bloodcurdling scream in the article.
    Then I noticed it was coming from me.

  9. Torgen says:

    Well, I have more of a wistful “wish they’d gotten it right” memory of Evil Genius, so I really have no problem with the publisher trying to recoup some money from a failed game. And, as mentioned above, it’s not like it’s a “known” brand, so it’s more like someone said “what can we do to bring in some extra cash?”

    And there’s not anything wrong with that.

    • 7rigger says:

      I agree. Rebellion haven’t had that many hits lately and I feel no ill will towards them making some money from their back catalogue. It’s not like they would have been planning a pc sequel anyway.

  10. Dozer says:

    Farmevilgenius?

  11. Dozer says:

    Farmeville Genius.

  12. zmokw says:

    They have to try making money from their old titles, since lately all they’ve produced is shit like Alien Vs Predator 2010 and Rogue Warrior.

    • Jackalope says:

      Rogue Trooper? i thought that was one of their better games. I don’t want to be snobby, I’ve played Farmville and Frontier Town too, but it’s s hame to see Evil Genius reduced to this. Love that game, still have it on my HDD and bott it up every now and then. Still on the same campaign though, so arguements about it being too hard may be fair!

    • wrath says:

      TBH if the best they can do is AvP 2010, a game that does nothing new and is IMO worse than the 2001 game AvP 2, I wouldn’t mind seeing them sink. I don’t have much experience with that studio’s games though. Maybe they can make a good game. Hope playing the click the cowville game goes well for them I guess.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Rogue Trooper and Rogue Warrior are not the same game, or the same quality.

  13. neolith says:

    Aw crap… there goes my hope for a proper sequel to an amazing game… :(

  14. Pamplemousse says:

    Bah! I loved evil genius, but I got caught by so many bugs.

    Did anyone get the bug where you couldn’t fill out the table with your evil guests? I could only collect four rather than the required 6.

    RESTART

    Oh yeah, well that happened again.

    RESTART

    Yeah I got further than that stupid table filling exercise. And… it soon became really hard/dull soon afterwards.

    Still, lovely concept.

  15. jrr says:

    This makes me kind of sad but I’ll reserve judgement until after I’ve tried the facebook game. The business model of “spend A to collect meaningless B; replenish A by waiting or paying” isn’t awful in itself, so long as meaningful (and fun!) gameplay is layered on top.

  16. kraz says:

    I’m not playing these brain-dead spam-games. Where’s the proper second installment, dammit!

  17. Premium User Badge

    Oozo says:

    By the way: Did someone play “Ravenwood Fair”? It certainly looks like it fits in neatly into ville-land, but the credentials behind the game made me curious nevertheless: Brenda Brathwaite was, as far as I know, lead designer, and John Romero worked as an advisor for it…

    Can’t really get myself to try it out, but I have to admit that the idea of well-respected designers moving to facebook sounds interesting and long over-due…

  18. geldonyetich says:

    It takes all the thunder out of playing an Evil Genius game to play it on Facebook, as Facebook games are run by real evil geniuses, and in participating I’m just a pawn in their bid for world domination.

    • Torgen says:

      Only if you play a Zynga game. Your statement is akin to saying that if you play any computer games at all, you’re participating in Ubisoft’s bid for world DRM domination.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Zygna is just one of the most blatant offenders. Just about all Facebook games engage in the same kind of underhanded tactics to secure a profit. That they get away with it is why they’re better at being Evil Geniuses than the players.

  19. Araxiel says:

    My thoughts:

    “Mmmhhh…well just trying it can’t hurt. I mean I just loved the main game.”

    “Oh awesome! It’s the epic and great themesong from the mainmenu! Oh how I loved that song. Memories. Ah, Ivan. You did really good job blowing my base up because some pantomime from K.A.F.K.A. sneaked into my hideout and you had to send a rocket in his direction while standing right in front of him. Or those damn super agents that escaped my cells all the time and then blow them up. And those stupid doors never worked and the hotel was nearly pointless because…”

    *5 minutes later*

    “THIS IS CRAP! Ok, it has the teamsong and whatnot…but it could also be called “pop, pop popidypop” or “Mafia click” or whatever name you could come up with. Ok, some things are named like in the original game and some sprites look like props from the original…BUT COME ON!”

    I only pray to the heavens above or hell beneath, that they’re putting the money they make with this abomination of good taste into a Evil Genius II!

  20. jonfitt says:

    I liked EG but money came in too slowly and the annoying agents kept coming to the point where I’d give up before completing the first island.
    I bought it again on GoG and stopped playing at almost the same point.

    It’s fun but deeply flawed.

    • Oak says:

      I’d say it’s flawed but deeply fun.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’d say you’re both right, but it’s easier to exploit your way to wealth before heat really takes effect and learn to ignore hotels and make good use of an outer “cold zone” of the base than it would be to fix a deficit of fun and love for the setting.

      I mean, goddamn, that game just bubbles over with ’60s spy thriller style. That [i]title menu[/i]. The interface. All the minion animations.

      John Steele and his damn “reset all your door levels” ability can enjoy his goddamn unprotected trip into space, though. Especially when he could trigger it from being stood inside a decoy topside shack. If I ever find the minion who wired those into the real-base security desk, I’m going to feed him to the plants in the research greenhouse.

  21. MrEvilGuy says:

    when I compare Evil Genius to Dwarf Fortress, I laugh, because I wonder how a free indie game made by two people can completely outdo a game made by many people backed by a publishing studio and…

    oh, I guess that makes blatant sense after all.

    • BobDicks says:

      Because unlike the people who made Evil Genius Toady One has no real life outside of programming games so he can spend every waking hour working on DF. That’s the nicest way I could put it.

    • Torgen says:

      Not to mention no deadlines *at all* but the milestones he makes for himself.

      I still want DF with a 1st person Minecraft front end, so you can walk around and check on your fortress as mayor/king, and watch the battles from the ramparts.

    • Archonsod says:

      Dwarf Fortress can come back when it has a decent interface and some of these newfangled computer graphics the boffins have been on about since 1980.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Having played both extensively. You’re so very wrong.

      Nevermind the bells & whistles like usable UI, 3D graphics, sound effects etc. when Dwarf Fortress gets down to even just twice as many utterly gameplay breaking bugs as Evil Genius had you might come close to having a point.

  22. HeavyStorm says:

    Evil Genius was one of the best. Which brings me the question, why was it flawed? I remember it being loooong and difficult, but otherwise, perfect.

    • Oak says:

      Keeping agents out and your henchmen alive gets frustrating fast and significantly worse as time goes on. I love the game, but this aspect can very nearly cripple it.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s not that hard once you work out the heat mechanic. The main mistake is the casino, no idea why it was put in there because quite frankly the island runs a lot better if you don’t build one. A suitably trapped entrance (always build to brainwash, confuse or otherwise remove agents and tourists without killing them. Not only does it avoid and even reduce heat, but when your idiotic minions inevitably stumble into the traps they only need escorting to the relevant area by a valet rather than replacing) and the only time you’ll hit any serious problems is when you annoy one of the agencies enough to send a decent commando force against you.
      You can also exploit notoriety. It’s your notoriety level that influences the strength of the agents sent against you, so the easiest path through the game is simply to put off all the non-essential missions until they’re absolutely necessary.

  23. SquareWheel says:

    Eughhhh

  24. Davey Jones says:

    I’m actually having quite a bit of fun with the Facebook game. I never became interested in any of the other BoredVille clones… but this one has enough personality, a sense of progression, and is paced surprisingly well. I did enjoy the original Evil Genius… but this is good, simple fun! Custom avatars, perks, weapons/accessories… not bad. I’ll probably keep playing for a while.

  25. Robin says:

    With the original game, I ended up cheating to basically have infinite money (I believe I prolonged the early, ‘safe’ parts where you can earn money but there are no negative consequences for anything to the point of going off and doing something else and coming back a few hours later to find a huge stack of money) and that made it an awful lot more fun without really making it that much easily….just a lot less fiddly. I don’t know if some proper cheats exist but that’s how I’d recommend playing it anyway.

    Seeing this facebook game, I’m reminded that there was a sort of spiritual successor on Newgrounds (or Armor Games maybe?) a little while ago – which shows it can be done in-browser without sacrificing the magic like this looks to have done.

    • Flash says:

      Robin – what browser game was that, could you find it, id love to play!???

    • Insurance Salesman says:

      I believe that game goes under the title of “Mastermind”. Try it, it’s got some annoying quirks but overall is one of the best flash games I’ve played.

      And if you like its sense of humor, check out the video series.

    • Robin says:

      http://armorgames.com/play/2409/mastermind-world-conqueror

      In a lot of ways it’s not at all like Evil Genius, but it’s certainly heavily inspired (the similarities go far beyond just ‘you play the bad guy’)

  26. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Weird. There must have been something going round in the memesphere. I suddenly got a bout of nostalgia (I think after playing that text based you are a dragon game in the news here the other day) and looked up Steam to see if it was on there (as people pointed out, it is).

    IMHO why not. Game developers should totally make stupid little games like this facebook things to make some cash to help maintain solvency and fund their actual work. Just as long as everyone (especially them) understands that what it is.

    Y’now, what I really want right now is some kind of Evil Genius / Dwarf Fortress hybrid.

  27. Flash says:

    Sad day. I was so excited when i saw the name evil genius. After reading your post. I guess i will steer clear. Will probably be more painful to see what it could be, rather than the evil it has become.

    Rest in peace evil genius.

    (hehe)

  28. Jakkar says:

    I feel compelled to make a small note in Rebellion’s favour; they’re advertising their older games at the bottom of the game page, but doing so via Good Old Games.

    Rebellion may make somewhat mediocre games at times, but I do dearly love them. Rogue Trooper was fantastic (NOT ROGUE WARRIOR, VERY DIFFERENT BUSINESS >.>), Judge Dredd was simple but stylish and I enjoyed my playthrough..

    Sniper Elite is unquestionably the best FPS for detailed and satisfying long range marksmanship, and makes me lust for a collaboration between Io Interactive and Rebellion for a more rounded Hitman games x]

    Rebellion just have.. Well, lineage, and a soul. Everything they make feels like it was done with a bit of love, not just a lust for money. And they publish some fantastic books, and run 2000AD.

    Wonderful grasp of multimedia awesome..

  29. ALJA says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Quasar says:

    Hmm… Here’s something I found on the EvilPlanet.net forums:

    ————————–

    Hi guys, I’m one of the developers on the Evil Genius social game. We’re sorry that we haven’t yet been able to give you the full sequel you want; the small team who made this are massive fans of the original game as well! Evil Genius 2 is on our roadmap, but as usual it always comes down to business considerations, such as when we’ll actually have the resources available to make a full sequel. At the moment we’re tied up on multiple projects for external publishers, so plans for our own IP have had to take more of a back seat.

    In the short term, we’ll be continually adding new features to Evil Genius: WMD, such as the ability to fight other players, and more in depth lair building, so hopefully these will take the game in a direction you’re more happy with!

    Evil regards,
    Penny Foxworth

    ————————–

    Real? A hoax? Who can say. There’s a glimmer of hope for Evil Genius 2 yet. That forum thread: http://www.n1nj4.com/viewtopic.php?t=9618

  31. LionsPhil says:




    Right. Well then. That does it—I’m firing the goddamn gravity laser.

    Say hello to your new moon hat, Earth.