No magic grapes in Camelot

It’s been a slow week in We Rule, at least for me. At least as far as the game went. I spent a hell of a long time cataloguing the numbers for all the new Camelot items, including the twilight meadows with the tiny purple unicorn. By the time Friday rolled around I hoped they were done with Camelot because I do have other blogs to write.

Let’s see, we got:

  • Knight’s round table with King Arthur, who’s not going to be happy he has to take down the monkey king to rule your realms (or you could inventory the throne to make room for Arthur).
  • The training gourds with Lancelot, who speaks French and won’t find Guinevere because ngmoco:) left her out (much to Arthur’s relief).
  • The green knight’s chair, which may or may not have a green knight. You can earn one as a goal or just spend cash or mojo. If you’re way down the levels, it’s worth finishing the goal, but there are better shops for players at higher levels who can afford the coins.
  • Merlin’s keep is pretty cool, although it doesn’t return much for anybody. It hovers in midair with water spilling (inspired by the floating beer tap sculptures you could buy at the Cracker Barrel restaurants a few years back).
  • This is one version the magic floating beer tap gag. You can find this on the web for $20. I remember Carol having to pull me away from it forcibly every time we went to the Cracker BarrelIt’s clearly the inspiration for Merlin’s Keep.
  • Moganna’s keep, which is a butt-ugly tree with glowing limbs. It looks like one of those Disney World exhibits that sends little kids home with nightmares.
  • The white and dark knight tents, which come as boosted gifts. If you don’t see your knights at first, move the tents. The white knight likes to hide inside.

Click image to see full size

These are the new cabañas, I mean, knight’s tents. I had to move them for both knights to show up. They take up almost no space at all, but I’m not sure they’re worth the mojo boost. Consider them an extreme luxury option.

We Rule purists should be thrilled. Camelot items fit in far more with the original game motif than steam punk buildings, taxidermy shops and romantic bistros. Not to mention Greek gods. (Norse gods, okay. The vikings did invade Britain and displace the tribes who are attributed to starting the legends of King Arthur).

Behind on goals

I finally collected my 20 twilight flowers to finish the twilight meadow goal, only to discover I couldn’t finish a goal twice. (I spent the mojo so I could run the numbers, about 5000 cp over 50 hours. You can check the idle income charts for the exact return.) Carol is just got her 20 flowers and still hasn’t received her twilight meadow. The goal is done, but we both looked through her inventory and no meadows.

Which means no unicorn (the only reason Carol wanted the damn thing to start with).

Still crashing

I noticed We Rule is beginning to crash on launch again. I couldn’t even get it open tonight. Maybe they should beta test these new goals and items more.

Magic grapes

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a magic crop that matches the groves’ six hour harvest schedule? I can think of one. Grapes. I would really really like to see some magic grapes in the magic crops list, and I bet other players might too.

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More dragons please

Please don’t fish

I’ve noticed that a lot of players have begun placing orders in buildings where I posted gone fishing signs. The point of those signs is that I am trying to get numbers for you guys on rent return. Every time you place an order is time that I can’t get numbers to other players.

This week it took me a week to finally complete the numbers of the labyrinth, even though I had eight available in the main kingdom. I’ve even started putting “gone fishing” signs on every side of the test items, and when that didn’t work I started covering them in trees.

Four different times this week I was within two or three hours of getting those numbers on the labyrinth only to have someone place an order, which means that even after I rejected them, the counter reset.

Please, please don’t get greedy and order at buildings I’ve placed off limits. I will still reject your order and other players will wait even longer. As soon as I’ve collected the numbers, I will put the building into play (if it’s really of value to customers).

Missed opportunities

I loved the new Chinese dragon ngmoco:) released last week, so when I saw the new Sun Temple Tuesday I thought to myself, “All right, this week we’re going to get Quetzalcoatl.” But, no, we got a Jaguar woman and priest instead. Cute, but boring in comparison.

It may show up with the ball court that’s supposed to come as a reward for the King’s Court goal, but I’m not keeping my fingers crossed.

Dragons don’t get much cooler than Quetzalcoatl, the winged serpent. He actually is depicted in many forms, from snakelike to almost human to a version of Ouroboros. Any one of them would have looked great in We Rule (although this one is the coolest), but now we have to wait for another round of Mayan crap.

Image courtesy of techpin.com

You can also get Machu Picchu from the boosted gifts, but it’s huge. Really huge. Just about the biggest We Rule building I can remember. I also noticed a new kind of tree in about three different shades on the splash screen. The question is, when will it show up?

Should vendors buy the jaguar temple?

In Thursday’s analysis update I mentioned that vendors might not be so willing to invest in the jaguar temple since the vendor return is so low (about half that of the minotaur’s labyrinth), even though the customer payoff is high. I discovered that the rent return is exceptionally high, but, once again, vendors will lose money as soon as the order is placed. So you might not see too many until even more lucrative shops open.

Inspiration, perspiration or plagiarism?

I couldn’t help but wonder if the game designers haven’t been playing other games on ngmoco:)’s dime. I noticed that the Sun Temple bears a striking resemblance to the Sun Temple in Bloons. The more I compare the two, the more I can’t help but think ngmoco:) may have been trolling for ideas while playing games on company time. If so, ngmoco:) may have to pony up some royalties.

What do you think? To the right we have the We Rule Sun Temple released last Tuesday.

Click image to see full size

To the left we have the sun temple in Bloons, which is a fun game. Kind of like Plants vs. Zombies on speed. Take away the monkey face, and they look like the same item.

You may not be concerned that game designers are slacking on the job. It is DeNA’s dime, right?

But think about this. We’ve undergone a lot of building inflation, which means ngmoco:) is pushing harder than ever to get us to cough up mojo. Why? Probably to pay for more designers and developers. But if these guys would work on the company dime instead of playing games, then maybe the company could hire fewer designers and hold down the cost to us.

Let’s face it. Free enterprise isn’t really free when the customers pay for it.

The Shogun syndrome

One and a half billion experience points. How is that possible? Shepul18 has more than one and a half billion experience points and barblaw isn’t far behind. I’m not even close to that and I already feel like this game is sucking the life out of me sometimes.

Carol blithely announced that she was getting tired of We Rule. But she still plays all the other games that I abandoned because I was spending so much time with We Rule.

Congratulations leaders, seriously. But don’t let your family know because mine has already threatened me with interventions three times and I lied and promised to never play again three times. Carol supported me because my family still thinks jennymanytoes is actually a fan of my iPad blog. If they knew it was Carol….Never mind, they would never believe Carol would play We Rule. She’s the responsible one who should have married someone better than their own son (and/or brother).

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. I intended to be back last week but evidently a certain cat (who already makes too many guest appearances in my iPad Envy column) erased the post I slaved over all weekend and replaced it with a plea for cats in We Rule.

Now I love Jenny, I love all of our foster cats and especially the ones we adopted (sometimes because we realized no one else would), so I don’t need any more damn cats in We Rule.

Then, one of my readers posted a comment that cats came with the witch’s cauldron, so Jenny scratched at my shoulder and then the iPad screen until I went ahead and added several. No go, no cats. Then she was pissed at me because she thinks it’s my fault the cats didn’t show up.

She sits on the bedroom dresser, in the middle of our TV screen and stares at me, meowing at the top of her voice during the middle of our favorite shows, making sure I know she’s not happy about the cats. Or absence of them. Or total lack of concern whether We Rule has cats or not. My feeling? We’ll end up taking them in when irresponsible players abandon them.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that three cats showed up later, slinking around behind Valhalla. I’m not sure I will tell her. Siamese don’t have a high opinion of black cats because they’re always stealing her food. And I don’t want to have to put three cauldrons in every realm so I will have the maximum number of cats.

The China connection

As many players guessed when the Chinese monastery appeared on our splash screens Thursday, this was the weekend ngmoco:) went crazy with Chinese stuff. Players who looked for gifts may have even found foo dogs without spending mojo.

But don’t expect it to end. I’m sure they will announce Chinese gifts early next week, and then gold Chinese gifts, both of which will probably need mojo. Maybe we’ll even get jade groves (almost as good as emerald) and jade Chinese gifts in celebration of the orient.

Don’t forget oriental goals. Between gold and jade Chinese gifts and two or three oriental goals, they can rake in another half million in mojo sales. We Rule is one of the highest grossing all time apps for a reason.

Does this mean the orient will take control of We Rule? After all DeNA, who now owns ngmoco:), is a Japanese company.

I doubt it. I’m sure we’ll be off to Uncle Remus items with fox lairs and tar baby pits and briar patches, or maybe Winnie the Poo. After all, the game designers seem to have the attention spans of middle school boys. And it’s too early to return to Alice in Wonderland (or Disney may have already filed suit).

The new Chinese dragons both fly and slither through your kingdom, making a great addition to your dragon collection. The temple they come with takes up a lot of room, however. Maybe because it takes more space to rid yourself of bad dragon karma.

Maybe it’s time for Jules Verne with undersea realms and the Nautilus/Mysterious Island objects. Or Around the World in 80 Days with balloons and elephants. Or even, now that I’m riffing off the Nautilus, maybe Atlantis and a sinking island? If they can make Chinese dragons slither and fly, they can make an island sink.

Cheap Chinese goods

In some respects it was like shopping at Walmart this weekend. The oriental residences are 18k coins and deliver 160cp every hour. This is almost as much in one hour as the rubies deliver in six hours. The catch is that they ripen every hour. Still, they’re cheaper than 90k for founts, or 190k for wisdom groves so that’s a pretty good deal.

You can install fifty of each residence in each realm, and provide a great way to run up points in a weekend marathon.

The new oriental residences crank out coins and xp every hour, which means they can really bring revenue into your kingdom if you want to take the time to keep up with them.

And for a few more days you can get the dragon temples for $2, and that’s a cool dragon. Yes, it’s a lot for virtual crap but considering how much I spent for the Betty Page figurine posing in her leopard bikini (the one Carol makes me keep in the closet), it’s a decent price. And that dragon is awesome.

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.

Get Satisfaction

I suppose mojo sales must have been down this week because ngmoco:) announced new improved gifting. So I checked it out and the only improvement I found was a button that allows us to directly return a gift to the sender. Do you get a lot more gold gifts for your fifty mojo? Not that I could tell.

Some readers have questioned the value of the gifts in the comments section and others love them because of the cool gold and ruby items. Here’s how I see it: The gifts are a lottery. Sometimes somebody will win a half million experience points and jump a level. More often than not, you’ll get a thousand xp or something you already have like a barn.

Even the gold items are a toss up. I’ve blown a lot of mojo testing this for readers and in my experience your chances of getting a gold item are close to one per 75 mojo spent. They’re pretty, but the return is far lower than some of the big ticket items you can get for 40 to 50 mojo.

On top of that, the chances are greater that you’ll get a gold item you already have the more mojo you spend. You could end up with three gold taverns and watchtowers and still not get the gold item you really want. Think of 50 mojo as the price of a scratch off ticket. Or the price of a box of cereal if they still do box tops and trinkets.

Can I take my castle back?

If you have the dark castle, check out the new castle in my kingdom or others before you upgrade at L55. The design is cool, but the color is the same as the original castles—blah blue. Maybe they’re planning on upgrading this one to ruby, orange and dark (or hopefully sapphire or emerald) but for now I want my dark castle back.

It would be even nicer if they remembered that I already bought this so I don’t have to upgrade twice should I like the next one. Or maybe they can just introduce the dark version of this one for L60 and two million coins.

To see the castle in this weekend’s splash screen (which is by far the best illustration the artists have produced for the game, and I wish they would make it available without all the game crap), you could really want it for your kingdom. Everything’s at wrong angles and the entire effect of the image is Lovecraftian. But once you see the castle in the kingdom, the odd angles ruin the harmony of the art behind the game pieces.

This weekend’s splash screen was their best illustration ever, and the castle looks wonderfully bizarre and Lovecraftian in the frame. If only it looked that good with the game pieces.

Escalating stakes

There seems to be no question that ngmoco:) is escalating the building stakes. The time between big ticket items seems to be weekly or bi-weekly. Just about everything in the top six or seven hourly and total return slots has been introduced since Valentine’s Day.

The Hercules temple, alchemy lab and druid library all came in the last three weeks. The dragon hatchery, which came last week, has the best hourly pay out but only over ten hours. Then after unveiling the alchemy lab on Monday and the library on Thursday (and after I wrapped up my weekly update) they unveiled L60 and the Kraken which delivers 200cp per hour.

ngmoco:) is also driving up the cost of new items for players who want to keep competitive. The kraken costs 975oooc or 55m (the same mojo price as the black dragon) and requires L55 to install.

That being said, the slim differences between the items at the top means that vendors don’t need to rush into purchases. There was a time when I would swap out five big items at a time, but now it makes more sense to me to invest in one or two and wait to see if something better comes along next week. This was my strategy with the alchemist and druid and I was right, one day later they delivered the kraken.

I really, really hope we don’t get a black kraken tomorrow.

What do you want from the game

I decided last week that I got everything I wanted from competition in We Rule. I was able to spend more than a month in the top hundred, and reached 90, and that has been my goal since last July. But with the new realms, other eager players, and constant crashes I was spending more than three hours a day on We Rule alone.

So I decided, let other people have their shot at it. When a game stops being fun it stops being a game. I put all my buildings in We Farm and We City back into inventory, closed out my grills in Restaurant Story and relaxed. I had to sell all my shops in Adventure Bay because they have no inventory.

But I’ve had a lot more time to do other things I forgot I liked.

I’ve always said players can find a number of reasons to play besides trying to get to the top and I stand by that. I finally had time to redo my main kingdom and now I have time to think about what to do with my others. I still check in two or three times a day to process orders and once a day to harvest.

I figured I can start harvesting three times a day again when they introduce level 70 and the dark version of this castle. Or hopefully emerald, sapphire or even gold castles that better match the artistic style of the game.

Can you still compete with the leaders? Absolutely. Billr317, Barblaw and others have catapulted past previous leaders Acehound and Zimidar. They swapped places for the lead at least once over the weekend. Billr317 had almost four hundred million points on Thursday. Three months ago I would have said that’s impossible.

By Saturday Barblaw had four hundred fifty million with Billr317 close behind.

Both are rapidly filling all eight realms, mostly with Poseidon founts and battlements. But they is also stacking some amazing buildings; each has a realm with an entire row of stacked houses of worship (to a big payoff). Nor did they have to do it all with mojo. The more buildings they install, the more coins they generate. And if you ask them, or Acehound or Zimidar if they ever regret reaching number one, I’m sure they’ll all say they don’t regret it in the least.

Fifty million in two days. It took me almost nine months to get there. And if that intimidates you, don’t let it. Because there’s more to the game than moving up the leader boards.

So however you want to get satisfaction, feel free to play. You can play to make art, make friends, or teach yourself high-school level (maybe middle school) economics. But play to have fun. ngmoco:) is escalating the stakes, encouraging players to spend more real money to buy more mojo to build more and more expensive buildings. You can get your money’s worth without spending it all on We Rule.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

New realms, new bugs

This was supposed to be posted monday, but i’ve been having problems with my iPad and this new weird wordpress ipad interface. I apologize.

It almost always happens. Whenever I talk about the need for updates or player requests, ngmoco:) answers that week. Last week I asked readers to comment about the bugs they were experiencing and they commented in spades. Of course, the same day I posted, ngmoco:) announced a major upgrade. You could play without downloading this one (unlike the last) but the upgrade added some cool features. Much requested features, I might add.

We finally have a “Gone fishing” sign. I don’t know why we needed an upgrade for that; We Farm adds signs without upgrades. We finally received my biggest request—more realms. And to solve the problem of getting to them without arrows in the corners as well as the sides of the main kingdoms, ngmoco:) created a new navigation tab (which has been another popular request).

The new navigation tab comes with a menu that allows players to jump to any realm without going back to the main realm first. The new realms can be used to express your creative self, or spend more mojo to stack yet for more realms.

The really good news is, now that navigation isn’t a problem, ngmoco:) can continue to add new realms every six to nine months (provided they continue to add servers and upgrade bandwidth and scalability).

They also added player gifts, a popular feature in Farmville and Team Lava games like Restaurant Story. Of course, if you want to open all your gifts you need to spend mojo (which is something the other games never did but will probably start doing now). And the gifts will go away at the end of the week.

The gifts feature is nice, even if it is short term. But not even Farmville required players to spend game cash to open their gifts.

Unless, of course, players actually spend mojo to open gifts. Then it will most likely become permanent.

The biggest addition? More bugs than ever before. The additional crashes have added half an hour to every one of my harvest sessions. Carol and I have both noticed that the Mardi Gras floats no longer give coins, or, if reinstalled, count down to more coins.

The good news is: You can actually place the royal dragon in every realm. You aren’t limited to one.

So the bug hunt continues for another week. Please let us know if you notice any new bugs (I’m sure you will).

If you haven’t upgraded yet, however, check and see if you can still get the new gone fishing sign (if you want it). If you can, and you don’t plan on adding new realms, I’d hold out until you hear the bugs get fixed. The new navigation won’t be that convenient.


Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

Design contest winners

Thanks to all the players who took time from making their mojo videos for We Rule to actually design a realm.

The entries were close and the decision was tough but Acehound and I agreed unanimously on the theme and stacking categories. In the repetition category both judges reversed on one-two but one of the judges thought they practically tied. The virtual tie by one judge decided first place.

Your stacking secrets should be on their way.

I created a special category to recognize that fourth entry—the Qbert Extravaganza award. Readers will know why when they see it.

I also selected several other entries for display that I felt showed exceptional merit. I wish I could have showed them all.

I want to thank everyone who entered. If you missed the cut please feel free to invite players to judge for themselves by posting a comment with your player id and a link to a screen shot. Just because we ranked other players doesn’t mean people wouldn’t have picked you.

Theme

Jorge Rojas (joegodfinger) Egypt

Jorge’s theme exploited a water motif with rivers and bath houses. Notice the greater and lesser pyramids. Clean and elegant.

Click image to see full size

Repetition

Amanda Perry (amadnaveronica)

Click image to see full size
Amanda’s realm is highly symmetrical, almost a triptych, but plays off flipping sand and water. Notice how she shifts from warmer colors on the left (yellow, green and orange) to cooler colors on the right.

Stacking

Joost Visser (eendje001)

The stacking is very subtle in this highly patterned entry. Joost creates his entire design from groves, walls and battlements to evoke a highly festive feeling.

Click image to see full size

Qbert Extravaganza award

Susan Moon Escujuri (moontown)

Click image to see full size
Susan’s effort shows in this highly patterned entry, that reminded the judges of a video game from our distant pasts. If she could have emulated Pac Man she might have won.

Special attention

LP (mannanan) contributed a winter village. This may have been left over from the Christmas designs, but I don’t see that as a criticism.

Click image to see full size

Click image to see full size
Robby Cochran (Confuzed1)’s realm could have been entered in any of the three categories. It is both symmetrical and asymmetrical depending on your point of focus.
Deni T. ( JDTagish) may have dropped some acid and listened to the Dead through sound tight headphones when stacking this realm. It finished second in the stacking category.

Click image to see full size
Chuck Henderlite (chenderlite) took second and third in realm design with both Egypt and Rome. This was his Roman entry. Did the Vikings actually invade Rome? I think it was the Visigoths, but my history isn’t that strong.

Click image to see full size

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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