Not so extreme makeover

We Rule edition

ngmoco:) has seriously slowed down their new product launches, which could further fuel player speculation that they (or ubermeister DeNA) lost faith in the game. And it does seem long in the tooth after two years. Developers don’t seem to like holding onto old games, players get tired and want new stuff. The lukewarm reception to Dreamtopia and the recent announcement that We City was closing down didn’t salve anyone’s concerns.

When the player dropout rate exceeds the rate of new players buying in, the beancounting starts to weigh in favor of abandoning a game. Losing We Rule would be a shame for me because because I finally pulled the Grimoire from Book Baby (I sent it in February) and now have to deal with iBooks and Kindle directly. (And buy yet another ISBN number, and retool the book for each device.)

It would suck even more for players who sunk lots of money into mojo investments.

That being said, there are some ways ngmoco:) could make the game more attractive to new and familiar players without the grandiose mojo schemes that put them into the financial straits they find themselves in. I have a couple of ideas to throw out there:

Pocket God is one of many games that sells expansion packs and skins to enhance the gaming experience. Rather than requiring players to buy essential items for leveling up, the games provide optional custom kits and themes.
  • Undercut the cost of mojo. Every game and it’s mother is lined up at the well for player’s money. The game economy will go south if it isn’t already. In app game dollars are like Amway pyramids. The more games there are sucking money the less money players have to spend. So cut the cost of mojo by 75% and the cost of mojo purchases by 75%. With your game cash being cheaper than other games, players may be more willing to use it and keep We Rule afloat.
  • Expansion packs. Much of the fun of We Rule is decorating, especially with buildings featuring animated characters. But lately We Rule has skimped on the animation and decoration department. Why not release expansion kits for a dollar each? Over the months they could add a Steam Punk kit with two characters and decorations and street styles, a Persian or Egyptian kit, a Xena kit or even a warrior monk kit. Decorations could include weapons, special street tiles, or even costume changes for the main characters. Pocket God has done this with their iPhone app for years and it helps them maintain a quality product. ngmoco:) could even toss in a $2 kit where the characters fight or interact.
  • In app $1 purchases to unlock old events so that players can catch up on buildings they missed. With no time limit, players could play the long game with no mojo or spend mojo to get what they want now. They could even share creatures with other players using the expansion event.
  • Online game challenge mode. Battle Nations does this, although their version is so frustrating and expensive I finally quit playing altogether. Players could match fleets, or play Wizard’s checkers. Players who want to participate could buy enhancements and spells (but for 5m not 75 like the supertanks in Battle Nations). They could be limited to three spells per game to equalize the match.
  • Player to player communication. This is another feature available in Trade and Battle Nations. Players can send messages to any of their friends, allowing them to chat, coordinate realm designs and even announce new installations of high value buildings.
  • Collectables. I noticed that Snoopy’s Street Fair offers collectables such as trading cards that players can view in albums as they add new cards. They also have a decorative tree with collectable ornaments. ngmoco:) could drop eggs or gift boxes as players hit in-level milestones (e.g., delivering a dozen orders). They could then collect dragons and open them in a dragon aviary, or weapons that they could view in their weapons cache. Or players could be allowed to collect decorations for a solstice/Christmas/generic holiday tree. Players could email snapshots of their trees to friends.
  • Greeting Cards. ngmoco:) could offer players a holiday booth that changes items with the seasons. For instance, the spring booth could have flowers and the summer booth fireworks. The booth might also allow them to decorate with their dragon collection. Players could open the booth and create a decorative arrangement and send it as a greeting card to friends and family. Not only would this provide a fun game enhancement, the eCards could invite new players to join.
  • We Bay. I suggested this before as a joke but why not let players trade buildings and decorative items?

Just a couple of these enhancements might be enough to renew life to We Rule and even draw players back. Especially the drastic cut in mojo prices.

But don’t settle for my thinking. Email ngmoco:) and suggest game enhancements that might make players willing to stick with the game. Sooner or later someone will come up with an idea that sells. Just stress that you don’t want them to use this as an excuse to twist even more mojo out of our game wallets.

The Return of the King who was never here

Many readers wrote to say that they do have the chess king at a cost of 2m coins, and it does indeed look like a king. It seems that after I posted last night, someone at ngmoco:) noticed and fixed the mistake. Which means you, my readers, got a rare opportunity to see a building that, technically, doesn’t exist.

The king actually dishes out 625hcp, which isn’t quite as good as the solstice castle (812), but it’s decent. The total points are a little higher (15000cp).

The chess bishop may show up again, so I’m keeping it on the list.

Hidden in the upgrades tab is the unannounced L80 Marvelous Castle. As best I can tell, it can’t even be seen from the friends map. It costs 2m coins, which is as much as a solstice castle and chess king.

In the meantime, on a hunch, I wondered if ngmoco:) has dropped the ball on other publicity moves. We never saw a splash screen announcing a new castle for the upgraded levels, so I checked and, there it is, the Marvelous Castle. This is a complete revision of the castle design, which I assume should help make future castles more space efficient.

Hi levels, low return

Not much has happened since my last special post. My fortieth reunion came and went, but Carol and I couldn’t make it. Fortunately, three of my closest friends from high school wanted to meet for lunch in San Marcos, where we went to high school at a time when hair a half inch below your ear and a half inch above the knee could get you sent home. So we zipped down for lunch, went through pictures of classmates most of whom I couldn’t remember, and greeted two other friends who showed up.

This was far more exciting than last week’s event. Conceptually, it was fun and I liked the design of the creatures. The rewards were decent, especially for the mastery level (well, not for higher level players). But there didn’t seem to be many players based on the number of creatures showing up in my kingdom.

I actually like the events, but ngmoco:) may need to do something to spice things up. Maybe players should have to ward off dragons to collect their creatures.

Oops

ngmoco:) finally released an item for the very top level. They haven’t done that since the Black Dragon at L50. The item is the Chess King, which sells for 1200000c. It doesn’t produce as much as the Solstice Castle, however, not even close. The King delivers 330hcp and 6000cp. That’s comparable to buildings available from L50.

The new chess pieces look good but they really don’t deliver much players. There are better shops at the those levels, for fewer coins. But they do make great decorative elements if you have coins to burn.

Once I planted mine, however, I realized it wasn’t a king at all, but a bishop. This is odd, since We Rule doesn’t even have a bishop as a character. It certainly doesn’t look like the king promised on the splash screen.

You have to be L80 to figure this out, but the Chess King doesn’t look anything like it’s splash screen design. In fact, it looks a lot like a Chess Bishop.

The game also has a chess rook and chess knight now. Neither of these is as good as other shops available at the same levels, but they are pretty. If you have coins to spare they could make nice decorative elements.

Perhaps this means there will be more chess pieces coming. A bishop that looks like the king, perhaps, and possible a queen and pawns. Chess set decorations were popular early in the game, built from bridges and statues. Maybe players can build a full scale chess game some day soon.

Dear ngmoco:): Please extend event

Special post

This week’s event finally paid off for those with the patience to hang with it. The fantasy zoo delivers 14000cp to players, which is the best event total ever. Hourly is about the same as the previous best event reward at 583hcp. The payoff for vendors is 21200cp, which is actually better than the solstice fortress, and a whopping 883 hourly. So if you’re close, play as long as it takes until they remove the event tomorrow morning.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to connect for much of the weekend, and this could be hurting other players’ chances if it is a problem for everybody. As irritating as events can be for players who don’t care or already completed them, I would hope ngmoco:) would extend the event by a couple of days to give players a chance to make up for lost time.

And for any players whose orders expired in my kingdom, all I can say is theya culpa (which is, I admit, a terrible, however irresistible, pun and even worse Latin).