Is We Rule winding down?

Players have been worried that ngmoco:) may be dropping the ball on We Rule since they’ve slowed down the pace of new item development. In the comments section this week I mentioned to Susan Moon and others that their focus on Dreamtopia has probably been the culprit.

The night I posted ngmoco:) proved me right again by making the only item released this week a clone of the Dreamtopia birdhouse. It’s free, but the hourly return rate makes it a poor draw to Dreamtopia.

Does Dreamtopia stack up well to We Rule? Will it grab Farmville’s market share while We Rule drifts away leaving players with millions invested in mojo for a game that no longer plays?

As you may guess by looking at it, Dreamtopia steals from Dragonville, Godfinger, Cityville and, most of all, We Rule. Maybe a little Trade Nations, now that I think of it. The question is, will players spend even more on a mojo product?

Players who have tried Dreamtopia will feel that they’ve played the game before. They have. It’s We Rule with a different motif. Instead of building a medieval kingdom, you build people’s dreams. And the game takes place on a floating island. Other than that you grow crops (emotions) from clouds, invest in buildings, trade with other players and level up.

The graphics seem to be inspired by Godfinger (if not by the same design team). The goals are more like Cityville’s than We Rule’s. Each new character has a dream and you have to plant, build and buy to fulfill that dream. But the goals function almost identically to We Rule’s.

Just in case you didn’t get the connection to We Rule, ngmoco:) introduced a rock festival event this weekend. You have to order from the tour bus and sign six singers for your band to win a prize. When a musician shows up you audition them, but the only way to make sure they end up staying with the band is to spend stardust.

Look familiar? Dreamtopia launched an event on their opening weekend. You don’t catch dragons, but you do sign members to your band.

I can’t predict the success of this game, but I have a feeling the charm will wear off more quickly than it did with Adventure Bay, which I enjoyed a hell of a lot more. Many players may remember that one. You were a pirate, adventurer who could go on treasure hunting missions. Not only did you order from other player’s shops, you boosted their voyages so you could share in the swag.

Adventure Bay folded after a few months. I suspect the main reason was that players were inundated with We Rule, We Farm and too many other games. They could only spend so much on stupid game cash, so something had to give.

This doesn’t mean Dreamtopia won’t catch on. But I’ve only seen two genuinely innovative social network games since We Rule, Snoopy’s Fair and Battle Nations. The odds are stacked against Dreamtopia except as a game to attract new users and social network gamers who have already abandoned games like We Rule and want something novel. The fact that it’s really a Droid app makes me feel the real target market may be players relatively new to tablets and smart phones.

The best way to make sure We Rule remains a priority with ngmoco:) is to make it your priority. I will probably play a few more days to see if it gets any better, but I will not spend money for stardust. If you genuinely think Dreamtopia is a better game than We Rule, by all means you should play it. But if you are heavily invested in We Rule, show your support for the game by spending your money there.

I have seen a lot of social network games since I first reviewed We Rule and none of them have charmed me long enough to stick with them this long. Some games, like Trade Nations, I open once a day to collect my daily reward in case I get interested again. And then I close them. Most I play for a week.

The best way to keep them competing with We Rule is to divert my money to them.

Has the character well run dry?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but fewer and fewer buildings are coming with characters. We had five martial guilds introduced this week and not a single warlike character.

In the past we would have had women with bows for the sisterhood of archers, turbaned characters with daggers for the assassins’ cartel and a new wizard for the wizards’ college. Maybe another knight or Viking berserker for the warrior’s clan. This time, nothing.

I could see it for the plant buildings last week. What could they have come up with? Fly traps on four legs? Or flies swarming the fly trap? Dancing sunflowers?

There may be some good reasons for the scarcity. It’s possible that with the new retina display, the number of pixels in play make animation eat into the processor. Or bad reasons, like, perhaps, ngmoco:) let the animators go during the cash crunch.

In the past, players would request new buildings. Maybe we should request new characters instead. How about a phantom marauder swinging a ghostly battle axe? A sabertooth tiger? A crone with a cane that points and zaps? A wise man with a camel might be cool, wearing robes and a cone hat like in Bartholomew Cubbins and the Oobleck. How about an Anglican priest and Pontificating Pope? Or maybe we could get the entire Borgia family in honor of the Showtime series.

Hopefully we won’t reach a time when we’ll stop installing new buildings because we don’t want to lose the few characters we have left.

Have they given us a gryphon yet? An adult, not the baby? How about leviathan? Maybe a replica nautilus, the submarine, floating on top of a lake tile.

Springtime in We Rule

But the book still isn’t ready to blossom

I promised readers a book version of the Grimoire last fall. Then all the commas were stripped in an unintended search and replace. Well I intended to do the search and replace, but not on the entire book.

Use the backup, you say? Sadly, by the time we realized the problem we had saved it to the backup copy as well. I usually keep three backups, but I made a number of additional corrections in the process.

No problem, I said to myself, I will just use the document compare feature. That’s when I discovered that Pages doesn’t have a document compare feature, and remember why I used Word before iPads existed.

We got that fixed and sent the book to BookBaby after running the book through three programs to make sure it would load and was eBook compliant. After a week they sent a proof. But it wouldn’t load into iTunes to check in iBooks and the cover didn’t show up in any of the eBook readers I have on my Mac.

The sat on the rejected proof for three weeks and finally got the cover in, but suddenly the paragraph spacing was haywire. We’re talking more space between paragraphs than the length of the paragraph. And when I previewed in iBooks, only the bottom quarter of the cover showed because it wouldn’t scale the graphic correctly.

I loaded the new proof into Sigil, an HTML based epub editor, and discovered that dozens of line breaks had been inserted manually between the chapters.

When I reported this to BookBaby, who evidently never actually looked at the contents of the book, they said the problem was mine but they would gladly fix it for $150 and hour. As if. I told them I would fix the file myself, and they haven’t replied since. Hopefully this bad review will get them off their asses.

When I looked at the proof I discovered Pages used

tags to create chapters and inserted dozens of spurious CSS classes. (I checked with my original and it was definitely Pages doing). Why the ebooks previewed fine before I sent the file to BookBaby and looked like shit by the time they sent it back is difficult to answer. But the

tags and CSS classes were definitely the culprits.

So don’t use Pages to create eBooks even though Apple swears you can. They may be iBooks ebook compliant, but somewhere down the pipeline there’s a risk you’ll be unhappy with the results. In the meantime, I’m reworking the entire book with an HTML editor. Hopefully it will be out by spring.

Spring comes to We Rule

The new floral decorations, such as the fly trap, lilies castle and throne of thorns add some springtime flair to your layouts. They also return decent coins and experience.

The new flower garden items deliver decent values for players at the levels with which they become available (except for the green residences, which don’t perform as well as the Persian and bunny residences). They also add some nice greenery to your buildings if you’re looking for a something to brighten up your layout.