The Game is On

To all those worried fans out there, the official word from ngmoco:) is that We Rule is not going away any time soon, if ever. But a few elements of the game are being reviewed sometime after Thanksgiving. This may include events (which are meeting with mixed feelings by players), their facebook presence and even future contests.

I didn't ask why, I didn't need to ask. The market is flooded with social network games demanding that players pony up real cash to buy game items. I've watched a number crash and burn, but they keep coming out. In fact, I've had so many social network games that use game center wipe out all of my progress permanently, I don't bother to even experiment with them unless they run from their own network (such a plus+, or OpenFeint). Game developers have to focus their resources to attract the dwindling dollars out there.

Actually, the only social network game I play now is We Rule. If I'm going to spend money, this is the game I spend for. But even I have a limited budget.

Enjoy the events? Then you might want to blow some mojo on the next one to let ngmoco:) know you want to make it worth their while to keep it around. Don't care? Don't play. The company is evaluating community components of the game, and the best way to tell them is to spend (or withhold) money.

So how can you help ngmoco:) decide what to keep and what to ignore? Participate (or not). Participation, or lack of it, is the best feedback a company can receive. If enough players spend even a little money on events, management will most likely decide to keep it. If you like the facebook updates, like them and comment every time they post a new entry. If you like the contests, follow the facebook posts and enter the contest.

Okay, this isn't completely true. Sometimes someone high enough in management gets obsessed over something and all of the wisdom and marketing share in the world won't stop them. But if the door is open, you should let them know. In the meantime, keep playing and inviting new friends to play. The game should survive barring a total meltdown in Congress next years and complete collapse of the economy because a certain party can't compromise at the fiscal cliff.1 And if that happens, we'll all have to hock our devices and stop playing anyway.


1I'm not going to name the party because most readers will have already decided it's the party they won't be voting for in November.back

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.

Will black Friday move to We Rule?

Based on the sheer amount of shops dumped onto the We Rule Market in the last ten days, I fear for the prospect of a We Rule Black Friday.

With luck we’ll have a Thanksgiving event poaching the king’s royal woods. We could capture turkeys, ducks and rabbits, who are easy to catch. The rare creature challenge would be to hunt wild boar and deer and the delicious but useful goose that lays golden eggs.

Maybe we could even keep one of each to wander around our realms between now and Christmas.

The last ten days have made me feel we are more likely to get a feast of conspicuous We Rule consumption. More shops with higher returns, making us desperate to spend mojo for those grand farms and dragonslayer’s dens we could otherwise not afford.

In the past it’s taken about three months to replace the top earning shop with a new one. It was a matter of weeks before the necromancer’s lair replaced the thunderbird, and the dragonslayer’s den arrived to top the necromancer four days later.

The dragonslayers are eating the thunderbirds. For the first time since I can remember, ngmoco:) has replaced the top earning shop, not just in a matter of weeks, but over a single weekend. I hope you didn’t install more than a couple of the necromancer’s lairs over the weekend because they cost $3 and fell into second place with the next new release.

Here’s a quick run down of shops in the last ten days:

  • Adventurer’s tavern, L22
  • Axesmith, L44
  • Paladin Citadel (gift)
  • Magic wand shop, L32
  • Necromancer’s lair, L55 (top earner)
  • Dark Knight haven, L50 (outperforming the previous L50 leader, the Black Dragon)
  • Dragonslayer’s den, L68 (new top earner)
  • Fall trees, L11 (decoration)
  • Corn Maze, L18 (super high idle income producer)
  • Pie Shop, L42
  • Turkey Pen, L24
  • Cider Mill, L34
  • Grand Farm House, L62 (third highest performing shop)

That’s 13 different items in a ten day period (15 if you count the three different fall tree varieties).

If you add the seven Spanish items in the two prior releases, we’re talking 20 new items in two weeks. Can you say, “conspicuous consumption?” The only other competing developer I know who can come close to that pace is Zynga, who is ahead of ngmoco:) in gross profits.

Trade Nation usually introduces about six items a month, although many of those items require extraordinary gem expenditures. Would you pay 750m for a poodle?

I just want to remind readers that you don’t have to buy something just because ngmoco:) releases it. Buy shops only when they improve the return of the shops at your level. You may think you need that turkey pen for Thanksgiving, but by the beginning of December you will have forgotten all about it.

I save my coins to invest in the highest producing shops available at my level (which will usually be the highest producing shop for the next several levels, at least for a few weeks). If you’re below L20, look to invest in two or three. From L20 to L30, invest in four to six. Above L30 try to install as many as ten (or until you find no one’s ordering).

You don’t have to do this at once. Add them as you have money. Then invest in decorative items like rivers, trees and roads to spruce things up until you can afford to add shops just to decorate.

Here’s my Black Friday request to ngmoco:): Fifty percent off mojo and fifty percent off every shop available. You’ll still make a bundle and your fans will feel a little more appreciated.

Merry Men under attack

One week later and yet another event is underway. Or perhaps it could be called a mini-event since it’s several days shorter and you have nine fewer creatures to catch (although these are people, not creatures). The sheriff of Nottingham is plotting against Robin Hood and his merry men (and, apparently, their new ally King John). In order to foil his plot you have to capture each of them at least twice.

As usual, the event requires two levels of mastery. In the first level you simply have to capture one each of the merry men and their new friend King John. In the mastery level you must capture:

  • Will Scarlett and Little John 3x
  • Friar Tuck and Maid Marian 2x
  • King John and the highly elusive Robin Hood

I was a little pissed because I found Robin and Maid Marion wandering in my kingdom as soon as I launched. I spent 20m to capture them both because of their rarity only to discover the captures didn’t count until after I placed the carriage in my kingdom. I’ll know better next event.

The lure this time is the carriage carrying the King’s taxes. This lure is a little cooler than past lures. When it’s finished collecting you can see the carriage filled with gold.

The carriage is much more elaborate than past lures. When it’s trip is complete gold spills out of every opening.

The rewards aren’t quite as lucrative. The vineyard pays off less than half the total coins of the last events grand prize, but still returns 270hcp (four fourth best overall). Of course, the event is slightly less challenging as well.

Robin Hood is the toughest to catch. I only saw him twice in 150 uses of the carriage (that’s right, I spent 300m) to get the numbers.

Robin Hood is by far the most difficult to catch. After I placed the carriage I only saw him twice in more than 150 characters who appeared. I realized the best strategy this round would be to try to capture every character with the weak bow until Robin Hood showed up. This time it paid off. In the first round I captured every one with the weak bow, except, of course, for Robin. In the second round I captured all but one Friar and Maid Marion before he appeared.

I even got far enough down my list to actually send a merry person (Marion) to Carol.

Had I not been trying to run the numbers for readers, I suspect I could have avoided paying more than thirty or forty mojo for the entire event.

I even ended up in the top four players for catches. It won’t last of course. I would rather one of you guys win the grand prize so from here on out I’ll only be looking for the merry men (and John) that readers send me.

Good luck. I think both the camp and vineyard are within your grasp.

Can elementals be contained in an iPad?

The elemental event ended this week and the winner was mellowy7 with 3518 elementals captured.

Wow. Did he/she sleep?

Zimidar was in second place, but he’s the perpetual leader board guy. Look on any leader board and he should be there somewhere. If ngmoco:) were to create an endurance leader board he would have to be the all time leader ever and ever amen.

Mellowy7 won the elemental event by collecting 3500 elementals. That is a lot of elementals for a supposedly mellowy player. How can he contain them? His iPad must be shaking like New York City in Ghostbusters with all the elementals trying to break free. Fortunately, there is no elemental Zool to release them.
We hope.

I kept playing to send elementals to other players who might need them, but I didn’t work that hard. But I only came up with 91. Then again, I really played to get the numbers so players could know what the rewards might be.

Without question, ngmoco:) did a good job with this event. Even the toughest elementals could be caught without mojo on the last day which should have made it easier for anyone to finish if they wanted. I caught four fire elementals, three lightning and wind elementals and two composite elementals on Wednesday, and I didn’t spend any mojo. And I stopped planting lures to attract them.

For poorer players this should send the message that if they hang on long enough they should be able to win without spending a lot on mojo. Hopefully this will continue into the next events as well.

The gift cart returned with no real changes that I can see. I noticed that gifts from ngmoco:) no longer boost themselves for you; you at least have to click the boost button again.

It was a first that ngmoco:) released more gifts than ordinary buildings this week. They released three boosted and one regular gift, one cash purchase item (the Eiffel Tower) and one building (Versailles). The theme would seem to have been the French Revolution except for the fact that the Tower was built a hundred years later.

I guess now is as good a time to depose the king and queen as any. I just wonder if we’ll see a guillotine to execute the We Rule monkey king and his consort. Now that would be entertainment.

Special Update: Mystery Event

Players have probably noticed that ngmoco:) is promising another special event tomorrow and that the details would be available on their Facebook site. I’ve checked back all afternoon and evening for the update but all I can find is this picture of Mothra.

I’m not sure what this means, and I’m loathe to predict the emergence of Godzilla, Gamera and other famous monsters from the Japanese side of the lake. But ngmoco:)’s parent DeNA is a Japanese company so we shouldn’t be surprised if the game crosses over into Japanese nostalgia.

But this is not a prediction. Simply wild speculation with no basis in fact which I will nonetheless take full credit for should it come to pass.

Last Update: Crimson Dragon Unlocked

I managed to unlock the crimson dragon this evening. It will be the most valuable item in your kingdom on an hourly return basis (240cp per hour for customers, 317 for vendors). This is gratifying if only because ngmoco:) now accepts hourly return as the standard for value (a point disputed by many).

I say this because it is only the second most valuable shop for total points behind the minotaur’s labyrinth (7250 and 9525).

The crimson dragon’s lair has the highest hourly return of any shop to date. Whether or not it’s worth the effort (and expense) is entirely up to you.

I also confirmed that you can catch the minor dragons with a free net without using mojo (for those of you who still need to catch one).

The real question is whether or not you want to pursue the quest. I would say “yes” if you don’t mind spending 120 mojo for:

  • Something no one else will be able to have after Thursday—at least until ngmoco:) changes their minds and introduces it as a boosted gift (which they may well do).
  • One shop which will produce a return slightly higher than the minotaur.

If you’re at a lower level and you don’t mind blowing twenty dollars for a crimson dragon, I might say to do it. If you can attract customers. But if you can (or soon will be able to) score the minotaur’s labyrinth you might prefer to buy them with coins.

See you in a couple of weeks. Unless they launch a wizard hunt Thursday.

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