Christmas Tidings

It’s Christmas morning and parents round the world—the ones who celebrate Christmas or are culturally obliged to celebrate Christmas—will be dragged out of their beds by whiny children who have no idea how late their parents stayed up to make their Christmas as happy as possible.

Some We Rule players will have taken time off and others will cease the opportunity to move past them on the leader boards. I moved back into the top 150 in experience points and most visited, no doubt thanks to the better players who sought a more spiritual experience this week.

Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the countless readers who dropped by to order over the last few months.

I looked at quite a few kingdoms to see what folks were doing with the seasonal items, but only managed to see a fraction of what’s out there. I was saddened to drop in on old friends only to find their crops withered and their shops empty. But it is just a game, not even as popular as the far-less deserving Farmville (although that might change once DeNA releases a Flash compatible version for Mac and PC browsers and other smart phones—if they release a Flash compatible version).

People do have lives and who really wants to spend their holidays harvesting all those groves we stacked?

I’m tempted to say that if I wasn’t writing this blog, I would be tempted to move on by now. Except that We Rule really is far better developed than many of ngmoco:)’s similar games. Of the vast lot I have downloaded and tried for free mojo, I would have to say only Adventure Bay looks like it has the potential to be as good.

And it is good, and ngmoco:) does keep it fun even though it can get a tad expensive if you aren’t careful.

Not as many players actually bought and displayed seasonal items as I had anticipated. It’s hard to blame them since none of them really performed that well. It’s also hard to rearrange realms just to accommodate Christmas. I tried, but I was never happy, mostly because I wasn’t willing to chuck the basic layout of one of my realms and seize the spirit of Christmas.

But a few players did, and I want to point out the ones I felt did the most eye-catching designs. Remember, I taught design for several years so I will be looking for things many players wouldn’t. The main thing I looked for was for players who did more than map out a rectangular area and fill it with Christmas stuff.

I looked for how well they integrated the seasonal items into the overall design of the kingdom, I looked for players who integrated regular elements of the game into a seasonal design as well. I also looked for original and ingenious ideas. They didn’t have to be gorgeous, and a couple of my final selections rubbed against the grain.

And some just caught my eye. In the end that’s what kingdom design should do: catch players’ eyes so they remember one particular kingdom over the others and want to return to see more.

I’m not going to rank them, with one exception. The one that stood out for me above the others was Dinhkim,who used diamond and ruby roads to create a candy cane stripe motif.

Not only did Dinhkim work the seasonal elements into the overall design of his main realm, he accented everything with candy stripe borders.

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Don’t take this to mean the others weren’t as good. This one just spoke to me a little more loudly.

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ravenpuff, whose name sounds reminiscent of the houses of Hogwartz, cordoned off the winter section with diamond grove, creating a clear boundary between the seasons. Although many players also set aside a small rectangular area for their seasonal display, this one used a number of decorative and design elements to make sure it stood out.
Leaderboard leader acehound was one of the players who tied his seasonal section into the overall design of his realm. He is also a master stacker.

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Click image to see full size
I don’t know what he was thinking when he chose his player name, but chieftwit brought the Christmas feel to the realm. A few more snow capped trees would have been nice.
atonaltensor started out just like many players with a small rectangular section just for Christmas shops, but he set the whole thing off with a river and diamond bridge to spill the effect into the rest of his realm.

Click image to see full size

Click image to see full size
Yausung used the spooky trees left over from Halloween to suggest the barren trees of winter. It was a risky choice, because the bare trees lack the warmth of the snow covered trees. This could put off some viewers, but for others it will provide a stark contrast. Also, notice the ice sculpture rising from the lake, anchoring the two sides o the realm.
Drewtopia add a little touch of hellfire to his winter kingdom, perhaps in anticipation of my Christmas short story.

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Stocking stuffer for readers

I also included a heart-warming, if not conventional, Christmas tale within a Christmas tale that includes characters from the game: A Merry We Rule Christmas in Hell.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, A Salam Alychem and peace be with you always—not just once a year.

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One quick post before Christmas

Special Post: I am looking for examples of kingdoms who really decorated with the holidays. If you have seen a kingdom you like, please send me their username so I can take a screenshot for the Christmas post.

Winter hardy plants

For those of you who need to bail from the game for Christmas but don’t want your plants to spoil, both the sunflowers and bird of paradise take at least eight days from planting to the time they spoil. The birds of paradise could possibly be pushed to nine if you time them right.

If you plan to be gone longer than that you may want to plan your trip around at least one Starbucks or a Barnes and Noble with a wi-fi connection to check in before everything spoils.

More delivery specials

They’re doing another expediated delivery schedule tonight. This, of course, was the same night Carol decided to do the Santa quest and asked me to clear out a couple of shops so she could park at mine. I had to clear out seven or eight, twice, before she could finally get in because people are looking for those quick return bargains.

So before you go all out to return items, be aware of a couple of things:

  1. Leaderboard position for deliveries made is temporary unless you’re willing to go all out. I participated last time, blew a lot of mojo, made it to 13 on the leaderboard and then went to sleep. I’ve been falling behind since. That’s fine with me. I figured that would happen. But if you want to play be prepared to spend a lot of mojo to return those deliveres, and be aware that some players will continue to do so after the reduced prices end tomorrow.

    Still, it’s fun to be there even for a while.

  2. The last time ngmoco:) did this, they accelerated the times for completing orders as well. Carol had several orders spoil overnight because she didn’t realize they were going to complete so quickly. Check your busy shops’ completion times to make sure you won’t miss an accelerated deadline.
I was in the top 15 for deliveries for a night, and the top 20 for a day or two after. But I would have had to spend several hundred mojo to keep up since then. Even so, it was nice while it lasted.

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Send those kingdoms in

One of my surprises for Christmas was going to be some screen shots of the best Christmas/Solstice/Hanukka season kingdom themes I could find. Unfortunately, I have discovered that I just can’t get to all the three million plus possible kingdoms (or even several dozen at random).

I never really thought about a seasonal design, I just arranged items as they arrived. But some people really have thought the design through.

So please send an email
with the player names of kingdoms you thought were nicely decorated for the holidays. I will visit them and screen shot the ones I like best for the Christmas post.

The player doesn’t have to use all the seasonal items, just incorporate some of them into a nice seasonal theme.

This was my seasonal kingdom, and it doesn’t compare to some that I’ve seen. Nor do they have to be as cluttered. Please share the player names of seasonal kingdoms that impressed you.

Click image to see full size

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Not quite ready for Christmas

Alas, there was a joke I made in the comments section Wednesday about harvesting groves when your index finger had been bitten by a sick cat we were fostering.

It wasn’t a joke, and I’ve been bitten a number of times by cats (it’s a hazard of the rescue profession) with no problems at all. My doctor explained to me late Thursday when my finger was swollen thicker than my wrist that fingertips are an exception because of the poor blood flow that can’t carry the infection away.

By Friday I was on antibiotics but totally unable to type, and the swelling is only starting to go down long enough for me to post this piss poor update.

I had intended to make this the special Christmas blog, but my finger still needs another couple of days and we’re heading to Dallas and family Wednesday morning.

So the Christmas blog will have to wait until Christmas day, so I hope you’ll forgive the wait.

I haven’t run the numbers on the sleigh and peppermint cottage yet, but if I can people cleared out for a half an hour I should have them up for you tonight. Last time it took me several hours to process an order through my proxy kingdom because every time I would accelerate orders to open up a space more people would jump in.

Carol’s comment was, “and you’re unhappy with that?”

Well no, but it’s hard to run the numbers.

Let me leave you with one screen shot from ricknabby of their grove pyramids. Pretty cool, eh?

How’s this for a decoration?

Click image to see full size

See you when I can type without pain.

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The joys of stacking

We finally have fairies. Sugar plum fairies.

Their picture on the promotional splash page depicts them in a wide range of colors, from deep purple clothes to pink hair. But we saw fairies on the fairy tree splash page, so I had to look closely to be sure. We do have fairies, but they’re pink.

After the mishap with the university I would have thought the developers would avoid another cultural stereotype like pink fairies. But no, they just dropped them into the game to flit around. At least the fairies don’t play show tunes when you click on them.

Stacking rumors still abound

If you’ve been following the comments you know the rumors about stacking prohibitions and players being banned for life continue. I wrote Joe Wagner at ngmoco:) again, asking for any official statement and this was his reply:

Essentially, stacking is unintended and a glitch. We attempted a fix in We Rule Quests, but as with many things there was another way around it.

That being said we’ve placed build limits in the game to avoid players cheating and stacking thousands of Ruby Groves as they had in the past.

Again, stacking is not intentional, and we’ve tried many things to stop it. Players should recognize this as a glitch and not as a free ride.

We haven’t removed any assets from any players’ Kingdoms since We Rule Quests was released and players were given a full (Coin) reimbursement for any Groves removed due to the standing stacking bug.

He also posted a comment earlier that ngmoco:) had tried to contact players if they were going to take action but that many players use false email addresses to set up their identity.

It sounds like policy has changed since acehound, ~King and friends lost ninety percent of their rubies. According to the correspondence this seems to be ngmoco:)’s official position:

  • No one will be banned for life.
  • No one will have their groves removed.
  • The developers placed some internal limits on stacking groves.

That being said, I would advise players not to push ngmoco:)’s buttons by pushing every limit. The developers still consider excessive stacking cheating, and, to be honest, so do most players, including those who stack. So here would be a few suggestions to consider:

  • Don’t stack everything in your realm. Mix unstacked buildings and stacked groves.
  • Only stack buildings for special visual effects or to nudge one or two together.
  • Instead of spending coins and mojo for lots of little buildings to stack, invest in the highest producing shops at your level to draw customers to your kingdom.
  • Stack elements that don’t pay anything to create visual effects and illusions. It suggests you aren’t stacking only to squeeze every last dime out of your available real estate.
  • Make sure your account accompanies a legitimate email address so that ngmoco:) can contact you if they do feel you’re overdoing it.

Most of all, don’t be pissed if they figure out a way to stop stacking.

Write me of your experience differs from the reports here

I have tried to contact players who ran afoul, or claim to have run afoul of ngmoco:)’s antistacking policy. No one who claims to have been banned for life has returned my emails.

Acehound has written the blog about his experiences, but he is still stacking (although on a far more limited scale) and hasn’t been banned for life.

If you have experienced anything that runs contrary to the official accounts, send an email with the details so I can get back to you and share with the readers.

How to stack

There are videos that demonstrate how to stack, but I found they didn’t really do more than point me in the right direction. So after my emails with ngmoco:) convinced me they aren’t happy with the practice but they aren’t officially punishing players either, I decided to give players a little tutorial.

Stacking involves two or more objects. The semi-transparent stacking base(s) and the stacking object which must slide into position on top.

Click image to see full size

You can’t stack unless you’re in redesign mode. Click on the redesign button at the bottom of the iPad touch screen or inside the build dialogue on the iPhone screen.

The most basic step in stacking is to select the base object. To do this you must select (or position) an element nearby and touch that. The white rotate or sale dialogue must hover above the object you want to use as the stacking base. You will then need to touch the object underneath the floating dialogue and hold your finger in place until the object becomes selected.

The edit object dialogue must hover above the object you want to select to be the stacking base.

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You will know an element is selected to be stacked upon when it turns darker. The dialogue will still be visible.

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You will know the object is selected when it turns darker. The dialogue should be visible during the entire process. You may have to try this several times before you become good at selecting objects.

Once the object is selected you can touch and drag the stacking object into place. The selected base will hide any elements of the stacking object that overlap.

Touch the stacking object to pick it up and slide it into place just as you would do when moving objects in the redesign stage. The selected base will hide the stacking object where the two overlap.

Click image to see full size

Important tip: Don’t touch the stacking base again or you will deselect it and make it unavailable for stacking.

If you want to continue to stack, select the stacking object to add it to the stacking base. You can have multiple objects selected, but if you want to stack onto the object you just stacked it must also be selected. This allows you to create a string of stacked objects.

You cannot, however, stack more than one object at a time.

You can select multiple objects and stack over them. In this screen shot one grove is stacked over two different groves to form a row.

However, you can only stack one object at a time.

Click image to see full size

Positioning can be very important in the aesthetics of stacking, and this can take a practiced eye. Creating an even line of groves, for instance, requires different parts and amounts of the stacking object to be visible after positioning. To stack downward or to the left, only a slim edge of the object needs to be visible after stacking. To stack upward or to the right requires more of the stacking object to be visible.

Some people are so good at this they never miss a step. I do, and I will admit to creating some lumpy rows. But it can be so difficult to dismantle a section of a row and start again, I rarely do. It can be done, but it involves making multiple selections in two areas of the row and guiding the missing groves in precisely.

Positioning can be everything, especially when creating rows and columns of groves. These screenshots should help you get a sense of what groves should look like when positioned correctly to extend a row or column.

Click image to see full size

Making selections can really be difficult when the object you want to use as the stacking base is adjacent to a large object or one wall of a realm. When this happens, I use an ash tree or a road to create the edit dialogue. Both fit into extremely narrow spaces and the road can be rotated and partially positioned underneath difficult to reach objects.

When I find myself in tight corners I use ash trees and sections of road to select the stacking base. They fit into those tight spaces most of the time. Notice how I move the position of the road as I add new groves to the row.

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Stacking over multiple objects in different locations

You may discover that the building you want to stack has to squeeze between several objects in different locations. Don’t worry. This is the best time to use the ash tree to help you make a selection. Position it next to the first stacking base and make a selection. Then move it into position next to each object you want to add to the stacking area.

Be careful not to touch on of the objects already selected because this will deselect it. If that happens, however, you can always reposition the ash tree and select again.

You can select objects in several different locations to stack an object in between them. In this example I selected two corner like tiles, the lighthouse, the Medusa’s den and the chimera’s temple. I used the ash tree to make difficult selections. Once they were all selected the ice sculptor’s abode slipped into place.

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Some players may think they need to clear out groves they’ve already placed to stack new groves. This is totally unnecessary. If you have a row of unstacked groves, simply select the first grove in the row and slide the second grove into place. Then select that grove and keep sliding the remaining groves into place.

Important tip! Use stacking to make room for new objects in a stack. There’s no need to delete anything.

You don’t need to delete objects to add new objects to a stack. Stack the objects that are already there first. In this example I selected the top grove as the base and then moved the next grove into place. I add each new grove to the selection in order to stack the next grove.

Click image to see full size

Adding new buildings or groves.

I like to have the stacking object nearby so that I can move it into position as soon as the stacking bases are all selected. But this isn’t always possible.

Some of you may think you can’t leave the editing process to add new buildings, but you can. I select the objects I want to use as the stacking base and then I move yet another object over the selected objects. For some reason this keeps them all selected even after you leave the editor. You can now add a new object over any previously selected object even though you are no longer in the editor.

Important tip: While you’re still in the editor, you can move any object across the stacking objects. This locks them into a selected state even if you leave the editor.

However, once you place the new object in your kingdom, you will have to return to the editing state to select it as a stacking base.

Stacking Order

Usually, the object you select before you move another object onto it will interact with the stacked object the way you expect. If you plant a river on a tree or a tree on a river, the tree will appear to be rising from the river.

Stacking order didn’t matter in this case. The trees will appear to rise from the river no matter which object is selected for the base and which is the stacking object.

Click image to see full size

Occasionally, however, the results don’t turn out the way you want. The water hides the stacking object or the building you intended to be in front is hidden by the building you thought would be stacked in the background.

In order to get the demon’s cave to appear as though it were in front of the dark castle, I had to select the demon cave first and then move the dark castle behind it. Even then I had to try this several times to get the position and the look the way I wanted it.

Click image to see full size

Most of the time you can avoid this by selecting the object you want to be stacked onto the top and then positing the stacking object behind it. Sometimes, however, you never get the effect you want. You may have to settle for something that resembles your vision, or scrap your idea until you figure out a better way to do it.

I never could figure out a way to keep the top right corners of the lake tiles from covering the bloom decorations I wanted to rise from the water. So I settled because I didn’t think the flaw was noticeable unless looked at carefully. With the Medusa’s lair in the earlier tree on river example, however, I had to give up on a second lake tile and build a faux island because I couldn’t make the lair rise out of the water. The second lake tile simply covered it up no matter which order I used for stacking.

Click image to see full size

Stack happy

This about all you really need to know about stacking. Most of the art takes experience and practice. I know many of you have already figured most of this out, but I hope you may have picked up a couple of useful tips along the way.

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Best revenue streams: groves or founts?

Winter arrived, but Christmas is taking second place to Chanukah right now, as it should since Chanukah precedes Christmas on the Calendar (although Ramadan precedes both and our Islamic players got nothing but a Hindu spice market, which runs counter to the fasting requirements of the celebration). But we finally got snow, which I’ve been requesting since last summer. Thanks, ngmoco:). This is the season for snow so it’s an appropriate release time.

I haven’t crunched the numbers on the chalet and dreidel yet, but they look to be quick return items (10 and 16 hours) like the spice market and theater. The L8 dreidel shop has a higher total payout even though the chalet is L29. Check the analysis page later today for the numbers.

So perhaps we will get a yule log and a quest with St. Nick (who would be more appropriate to We Rule than Santa Claus).

I would invest in the dreidel shop now because I suspect it won’t be around after the New Year.

Still no stacking update

I’ve written Joe Wagner again asking for an official statement about stacking or a link to a site with ngmoco:)’s official statement. Hopefully, we’ll hear back soon.

Gone Fishing Protocol

I have to admit that in spite of my usual dour appraisal of ngmoco:) response to player requests, they have been listening. In addition to the snow they added a jester, which was discussed in this blog a month or so ago, and they did it through a quest rather than a building. I’m sure glad to see him, he adds a lot to the different realms.

One of the things they haven’t figured out is a “gone fishing,” or, as I would have it, a “gone questing” option for players who need to vacate the game because they can’t access wireless on their vacations.

The concern is that other players won’t know not to place orders with shops while the vendor is away. After all, it will be hard to tell if a player is taking a leave of absence or has given up the game.

So I am suggesting the following: Rather than simply abandoning your fields, leave a message for other players.

Harvest all your crops and don’t plant new ones. Instead, stack a knight statue on top of one of your fallow fields. This should indicate to other players (especially those who read the blog and know the convention) that you haven’t just walked away for good, you put some thought into it.

Since the knight is synonymous with a quest, the knight statue should symbolize the message “gone questing.”

If you’re going on vacation, leave your fields fallow and stack a knight in one of the fields to symbolize your absence on a quest.

Click image to see full size

Don’t know how to stack yet? Tune in next week, because I have decided to devote the blog to stacking tips and tricks. The videos are helpful, but there are a number of wrinkles they don’t cover.

So if you want to stack, check back. In one week.

Find Friends

Looking for friends? Find friends and add your plus+ id to a list of available friends at We Rule Friend Finder. I can’t guarantee results, but it should attract some business to your kingdom and help you find shops for quests.

Higher value rental properties

Recently ngmoco:) added three items that pay better idle than they pay vendors to lease them out to customers. The mermaid isle, Poseidon’s fount and the new ancient lighthouse pay very well, and the lighthouse has an excellent total return.

The question raised by some players is whether or not Poseidon’s font is worth more than ruby or diamond trees. I’m not sure it is. The fount pays 120c and 240xp over six hours. As far as experience points go, it pays far better than either. As far as coin value, it’s only slightly better than the ruby and worse than a diamond grove.

The real question centers on cost. Poseidon’s font costs 90,000c. Rubies cost 10,000c. The ruby grove pays out better as a percentage of cost. The real question is the mojo cost. Poseidon’s fount costs twice the mojo as a diamond grove. For the same 20m you would earn 300c and 240xp buying two diamond groves, the same experience and more than twice the coins.

The lighthouse pays 1300c and 1900xp over 60 hours, but the hourly payout in coins is slightly better. It’s also more than twice as expensive as the fount.

Should you buy them just for investment value? I can’t answer that for you. But here’s my thinking. As long as you can stack rubies and diamonds you’re better off making the investment in the groves. When, however, you reach that magic number where you exceed the permissible limit of groves in any realm (you will automatically be locked out of rubies for coins), this would be the perfect time to start investing in founts and lighthouses.

What makes Poseidon’s fount unique is the way they tuck together to fit in a smaller space. This allows you to add more founts to your kingdom without stacking. Since you can legally stack groves up to a certain limit (or so we have been led to presume), but not buildings you will be able to add more founts than lighthouses.

Given the slight margin in cash earned per hour, and the fact that founts earn more experience points, the founts’ smaller footprint makes them a better buy than the lighthouse.

Abbreviation key:

  • c = coins
  • m = mojo
  • xp = experience points

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