Welcome to Mojo Anonymous

The twelve cobblestone steps

These are the twelve cobblestone steps of Mojo Addiction Recovery as outlined by Mojo Anonymous (MA):

  • Admit that we are powerless to resist mojo.
  • Acknowledge that a power greater than ourselves1 may need to intervene (unless our spouses get sucked into the game too and then we’re probably screwed).
  • Turn our lives over to that higher power before we lose everything to an even higher power (in this case bankruptcy court).
  • Make a fearless moral inventory of the items in our kingdoms.
  • Admit to our higher power, to ourselves, and to players with more wisdom than ourselves that we don’t need half the crap we buy since it all ends up in inventory in a few weeks any way.
  • Be ready to allow our higher power, or even more significant higher power (aka spouse, life partner or ball and chain) to restrict and or remove our access to our bank accounts and Apple ID.
  • Humbly ask our higher power to help us pare down our inventory and to seek accept only goals that can’t be achieved without spending mojo (i.e., none of them).
  • Made a list of all the friends we invited to play the game and beg their forgiveness for sending gifts which, in turn, tempt them to boost with mojo.
  • Made direct amends to to our friends short of paying them back for the mojo they bought to build stupid items to get us to shop in their kingdoms.
  • Continue to examine our inventory to remind us of the stupid shit we spent mojo so they we’re less tempted to do it again (e.g. 17 gold gondolas or shipwrecks that we can’t even fit in our kingdoms) and remember how few coins and experience points we receive in exchange for the mojo boost.
  • Find a different game that doesn’t have mojo, magic beans, gro or any other virtual cash that costs real cash (e.g., Max and the Magic Marker or Mondo Solitaire).
  • Help others resist their own addiction to mojo even if it means steering them to other games.

Denial is the surest route to failure. This little window is the first step in the domino of addiction, heartache and bankruptcy.

The MA model

MA is completely anonymous and our membership is acknowledged only to ourselves. We can reveal our participation but not the names of others in the group lest ngmoco:) target their kingdom with intensified marketing campaigns to break down their resistance.

Each new MA member will be assigned a sponsor who will make himself available for counsel whenever a new mojo sale is announced, or yet another item becomes available that can only be bought with mojo or as a gift that can be opened with mojo.

MA sponsors virtual meetings around the clock. Your sponsor will provide you with the meeting schedules. We don’t make them public to reduce the chances of mojo marketing reps showing up to undermine the players’ resolve.

MA is free, but not yet recognized by any known medical authority, mainly because the game development lobby is currently too powerful to compete with.

1We call this higher power the “weruler of our understanding.”back

Get your goals on

It took me awhile to catch on to the pirates. At first I didn’t think much of them because I was so pissed. I had waited most of Friday night to see if they would release new shops on the off chance they would, and then released the shops I had been holding.

You see, I used to spend a lot more mojo running these numbers for you guys, because I had to use it to release shops so I could make room to order from my faux kingdom. A few weeks ago I realized that if I hold off on releasing shops for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, I can time it to coincide with new building announcements and save twenty or thirty mojo.

Usually a later Friday release is no big deal, it’s only one shop. And since I do the charts and analysis on Thursday I only have to slip one new column into the new shops chart. But this week, as you know, ngmoco:) launched a major mandatory upgrade so there wasn’t much to analyze.

Quests are out. Goals are in. The announcement looks more like a sampler than a display, but that may have been the intention. Will we be happy with the changes? That remains to be seen.

Then, as I am about to wind down for the evening, I check in to fill any last minute orders and suddenly there’s all this stuff: Skull Island, pirate harbor and pirate port. Now I have to discharge more shops (with mojo), plant three new buildings, spend the mojo to construct them and process three orders from my faux kingdom, and stay up until two in the morning typing the charts.

Which meant I had to stay up until five to get the writing done that I was already behind on. On a Friday night, when I should have been asleep (or, when I was much younger, partying).

So it wasn’t until Saturday that I realized the harbor pirate character was a woman, which meant she was a woman because Penelope Cruz joined the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, which means this whole damn weekend release was just another blockbuster movie tie-in.

An entire Friday tied up for a movie promotion. What’s next? X-Men? Transformers? If that’s too much of a stretch, I’m sure they can work in Planet of the Apes. They already have the monkey king from the old quest era.

Bye bye quests

Yes, we can already speak fondly of the old quest era because it’s been replaced by the new “goals” era. Goals are a checklist of tasks that earn coins and experience.

We Rule presents you with a list of goals. As soon as you complete one, a new goal is added to your list. You can actually complete the task, or just spend mojo.

Your tasks can include planting several different crops to make a pizza, or building a navy and adding cannons. Quite often you have to collect orders from other players for the new items you install.

At first I didn’t mind the goals. I could always install buildings from my inventory. But ngmoco:) caught on to that trick almost immediately and upgraded the upgrade within hours. Now you actually have to spend coins to buy items to earn more coins.

Each time you complete a goal, you get a little notice saying you finished. That’s it. Then you’re on to the next one. You don”t even get to relive your accomplishments by finding them listed in the achievements list.

That was when I quit playing the goals. I realized the coins I earned might not even pay back the coins I spent to install the items. I could spend less on one wisdom grove and keep earning experience points in the future. Who would have thought my enjoyment of the upgrade would end so quickly?

Personally, I enjoyed the quests more. I enjoyed them more because of the cool swag you could earn. The cute little thrones and leprechauns and the oases. Sure, the ones we earned are still available, but I was looking forward to more. And I don’t want to have to spend mojo to get them as gifts. I want to earn them.

So why did ngmoco:) dump the quests and replace them with goals? The answer is simple: to sell mojo. Most of you have already figured out that the whole point of goals is to sell more mojo. You probably got the hint when you noticed that you could spend mojo to finish the goals without doing any work at all.

If you didn’t get the hint, ngmoco:) launched another mojo sale to make sure you made the connection. So you can spend mojo to complete goals, or spend mojo to install buildings to complete the goals without spending mojo on the goal itself.

I looked in the achievements list to see if ngmoco:) at least allows you to keep track of goals completed to relive our days of glory. No such luck. Nor do they keep a list in the Game Center.

I hate to say this, but why doesn’t ngmoco:) quit shuffling around the issue, and simply put the leader board slots up for a cash bid? They could even bid out the top 25 every week or every other week. They could raise enough cash to pay quarterly bonuses to everyone on staff, and the rest of us can earn coins and buy everything with coins.

As it is, Carol is already on Facebook trying to organize Mojo Anonymous, a twelve-step group for mojo addicts. We’ve joked about it in the past, but now I think she’s serious.

Get your design mojo on

and throw stacking out the window

We’ve gone from the peaks of Asgard to the molten depths in the last couple of weeks, and ngmoco:) really escalated the cash stakes since just about every high level building is 800k or higher.

They’re still 40-55 mojo though, about the same as shops that used to cost 100k. So clearly the push remains on spending real money to advance.

Even the wisdom trees are expensive at 160k and they generate almost no coins to help replenish the coffers. Fortunately ngmoco:) rethought the Poseidon founts and brought them back as a cheaper alternative.

In the meantime, as many readers know, ngmoco:) added a new design showcase to the leader boards. I’ve looked through their public blogs for any information on how they select the leaders (or assign design points), especially since they don’t seem to list my design points or those of my friends.

I found blogs explaining other leader boards but I couldn’t even find the design showcase image that showed up in the news tab. So I can’t really tell you how they decide or how burblegort moved from third to first on the board.

Personally, I think he belongs there, right along with jewingy, but many of the other designs were similar to kingdoms I’ve seen that didn’t make it. From what I saw, however, I sensed a few trends:

  • They love terracing. Many of the kingdoms experimented with creating a 3D terraced, or cliff-face approach, which may have been inspired by burblegort’s water falls (or he may have been inspired by someone else. I definitely remember stealing ideas from players (including Jolpet and ricknabby).

    Burblegort and jewingy are in first and second place on the design showcase leader board. They specialize in terracing, or creating dimensional layers. This is burblegort’s main realm and the bottom sample is from mockamore

  • If players don’t terrace, whoever is judging seems to like grids and patterns, with the grid boundaries created by decorative objects like flowers and trees.
  • They don’t like stacking, particularly grove stacking. I found a couple of exceptions, mostly with buildings. Jewingy created a heart with stacked rubies, which could be argued is a forgivable exception.

    Jewingy is one of the couple of design leaders accepted with stacking in his kingdom, but this example required stacking groves to make the heart. I think they let him off the hook. There may be another example with stacked groves (I didn’t look through every realm in every kingdom), but they seemed to be absent in the realms I checked.

If you want your crack at the leader board for design, these should provide you with a couple of starting points. For players who stacked everything, I certainly wouldn’t suggest tearing those groves and rows out, at least until ngmoco:) publishes the design guidelines on their blog. But if you think you have the design chops, start planning.

Update: Thanks to confuzed1 we have an answer to this from Joe Wagner the Mojo Farm site: ““We’re going to rotate a list of 10 players on that board at random intervals, so if you don’t see your name on there, or see it and it disappears you know what’s going on now. I’m also working on figuring out a way to best accept your nominations for this new leaderboard.” Evidently the numbers are meaningless and currently the nominations are internal. You can find more info in comments,

Is ngmoco:) getting kickbacks for a movie tie-in?

I usually wait to see Marvel Comic movies until the adults have had a chance to review them, the success of Spider and Iron Man notwithstanding. But this is what I have been told is the basic story line.

Donald Blake, medical doctor and unsuspecting comic book character, is exploring in the Nevada desert. He comes across a military encampment that looks strangely like the one at the end of Iron Man II. Because in fictional realities (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) everyday people can singlehandedly outwit dozens of trained military and intelligence professionals at once—with a minimum of personal training, a few personal skills they have picked up in the back story, and a lot of pluck—Blake is able to unintentionally elude every guard.

Unintentionally, mind you, because there is no way Donald Blake can know what’s waiting for him when he stumbles across the super secret hammer uncovered by the excavation. Once he stumbles across it, however, he cannot help but pick it up to see what he has found and suddenly….

A bolt of lightning strikes him. He feels his muscles rippling with power and his chest expanding by at least twelve inches. His abs, already rock hard because he is in good health and perfectly fit, ripple from a six pack to a twelve-pack of rock hard steel. His denim shirt and jeans shimmer and transform into a costume of steel and elastic, mostly black but with an ultra-titanium breastplate decorated with six additional embedded plates that feel as light as a feather. A red robe spreads from his shoulders like an angels wings.

He is no longer in Nevada, he’s in…

Where the hell is he? He realizes he is wandering in the shadow of a black mountain forge with a golden anvil, surrounded on each side by two orange Valhallas floating in the clouds. They seem like they must fall from the sky, as would the Greek temples floating in the skies nearby.

“Great,” says the bearded man in the toga standing next to him. “First Cleopatra, now you guys. We were promised a monopoly on the God thing.”

“Who the hell are you,” Blake says, “Socrates? Plato?”

The bearded man stamps the ground with his foot, startling the black dragon above him so much he nearly collides with a wyvern.

“I told the game designers I don’t look Godly enough. I’m Zeus, the head honcho. The God of all Gods.”

“I thought that was Odin,” says Blake, suddenly wondering how he knew that since he previously had had no knowledge of Norse mythology.

A jester bumps into him and cackles. “If you’re the God of all Gods, how come he’s taller?”

The jester dances off toward the off-angled castle at the center of the kingdom. Protestors surround it shouting, “We want the dark one back.”

He can hear the jester’s voice laughing over the crowd. “Doesn’t stop the dragons from shitting on you, or the demons from pissing. And no Greek nymphs to scrub it off.”

Zeus blushes. “You won’t get used to it.”

A door bursts open in the left Valhalla and Freya emerges, spreading her arms and floating slowly to the ground. “Welcome to We Rule, Thor,” she says. “The social network game for puerile teens and failed writers hoping to boost their careers with a crappy blog.”

“My name’s Blake,” he tells her, “Donald Blake.”

“You can forget that from here on out,” she says. “It’s Thor.” She sweeps her hand across the horizon. “Take a good look. It will all be gone in four to six weeks and replaced with something new. I’m surprised this geezer is still hanging on.” She points to Zeus. “He used to have the best payout of any building and cost a whopping 35 mojo. Now he can’t even make it into the top ten.”

Zeus flashes his middle finger, which emerges from his hand like a bolt of lightning. It is a bolt of lighting. But it fizzles out and sizzles in the large snow patch at Freya’s feet.

“See what I mean?” she says. “Enjoy it while you can. We’ll probably have been replaced with King Kong’s mountain sometime in August.”

“I’m in a game?” Blake shouts. “A game? I was supposed to be in a blockbuster summer movie.”

She raises her nostril in contmept. “That was Chris Hemsworth, and, trust me, you’re no Chris Hemsworth. I have his posters plastered all over the walls of my apartment in Valhalla.”

“But it’s a game. A role playing game,” he protests.

“A social network game,” she reminds him. “There’s a difference. And it could have been worse. You could have been in the movie Almighty Thor with Richard Greco. It played on the SyFy channel the weekend of the film opening.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“It was so bad, they used Patricia Velasquez as the Norse warrior goddess. Imagine that, an actress who can barely speak English playing a Norse goddess with a Spanish accent. She was hot, though. If I leaned that way, I would have her poster all over my apartment at Valhalla. But really? The bit where they teleport into New York? I had to stop the TIVO right there.”

“I’m in hell,” Blake/Thor says. “I’m in hell.”

“No,” Freya says, “That’s another novel. With  sample chapters starting this week in the Pages section. It’s been six months since it was first promised, but six months in the real world is like a week in hell.”

The jester returns, dancing around her and laughing. “That’s his excuse? And I thought I was the jester.”

The movie Thor versus the new Thor in We Rule. Notice the difference anybody?

Thor photo by Mark Fellman.

The wedding lottery arrives

The royal wedding received far more attention than I would have expected this week. A bridal boutique, Buckingham Palace, two carriages, two tower bridges, a floral arrangement, black jewelry shops and a dowry quest.

ngmoco:) is being more generous with the royal items than the gold and ruby items. So if you really want to blow mojo for a bridge or carriage, you stand a good shot of getting them on your first or second try. At least while they’re available, which may not be much longer.

Note that I said “chance.” We’ll discuss this more later.

Jesus only got bunnies last week, and they aren’t really Easter symbols but spring equinox symbols (you know, weird pagan ritual territory commercially transformed into cute children’s fluffy toys) . I’m sure Christians will be offended. I sure am. But even people who think he’s mythical should be perturbed that the bride of the son of a mythical ruler (I mean she’s Queen, but she doesn’t rule anything) gets more attention than the son of God (even if he’s mythical).

And what’s this Duke and Duchess of Cambridge nonsense? Surely this isn’t the Duke of the fine academic institution Cambridge? I mean William and Kate make a pretty couple, but scholars? No way. Surely they don’t mean the American Cambridge which also houses two fine institutions of learning. How about the Duke and Duchess of Fashion Icons, or Duke and Duchess of Paparazzi? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate?

I’m not sold on the royal black items either. Since when is black the color of royalty? Let’s be honest, these items are black because Britain is still covered with coal dust from the Industrial age. What do people think the London Fog really is? Coal soot and sulphur and other noxious particles from smokestacks. So the black buildings may not say royalty but they do say England.

Buckingham Palace was supposed to come with a guard, at least that’s what this weekend’s splash screen seemed to imply, but I have yet to see him. The only explanation I can think of is that the guard was originally modeled after a certain eighteen-year-old guard who ended up being fired this week for posting on Facebook that Kate was a whore and a cow because she didn’t wave at him personally.

Out of deference to the royal couple, ngmoco:) or DeNA may have decided to fire his character as well. All of which leads me to believe that the royal couple (we don’t capitalize royalty in America) received such deference either because British players buy more mojo than the rest of us, or that someone in the royal family plays and personally buys more mojo than the rest of us.

So, ngmoco:), on the next Christian holiday, say Veteran’s Day or the Fourth of July, let’s give credit where credit is due. Let’s have some American flags with crosses instead of stars like the founding fathers intended. And maybe a fireworks stand because nothing celebrates Jesus like fireworks, even if we shoot them off a week too late. And on Christmas, I want a We Rule nativity with a quest for each of the three kings.

Lottery Luck

My friend Ziessel wrote me in Trade Nations that he only spent eight mojo to boost gifts and he got a Black Dragon even though he’s only L34. He wanted to know if he did something wrong.

Readers—especially readers who spent hundreds of mojo and only got a handful of golden stuff—don’t be mad at Zeissel. The gift wagon is a lottery, aka a crap shoot. Some people do well, others don’t. Now it’s possible that ngmoco:) secretly tracks the amount of mojo spent and boosts the number of cool gifts with the amount of mojo you spend.

The question is, which would you prefer? Spending 50m on the chance of a gold tavern or a guaranteed black dragon?

Bug fixes(?)

ngmoco:) also released a new upgrade aimed at making We Rule more stable. And, in my experience, it is. It now only crashes once or twice when I harvest and not four or fives times like it used to. It does however, crash more often when I launch.

On balance, I’m happy with the improvements and I hope this bodes well for more to come. I suspect most long-term players will be too. New players, on the other hand, might wonder why a game this long in release is still so buggy. But that’s because they have nothing to compare it too.

So a genuine thanks to ngmoco:) for improved stability along with a request that it doesn’t stop.