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.

Declaration of independence from bugs (if only)

Readers who follow this blog on their iPads may have been surprised to discover (as was I) that the familiar appearance of this blog was replaced with an iPad based swipe interface featuring multiple threads and a Volvo like box-based appearance.

This decision was made by host WordPress and not by me, and implemented without warning. Oh, I’m sure there was an article on the WordPress site, but that assumes I actually have time to blog and read all their posts as well.

To make matters worse, the automatic posting feature stopped working so that blogs I save as a draft weren’t posted when instructed (this happened on my other blog as well).

I fixed the first problem so that the blog looks the same on your laptop and iPad, but I may switch back in a few weeks as I have more time to play with the design options (there aren’t many). I realized the post wasn’t up and manually posted it Thursday.

I have already posted a request on the WordPress forums asking that WordPress give readers the option to choose the iPad or standard browser interface rather than making me force all readers into the same box. Hopefully they will find a way to do this.

More gifts

Was anyone really surprised when ngmoco:) extended the gifts “by popular demand”? This would be like the decision to extend mojo by popular demand. Hey, ngmoco:), we would like you to offer free mojo every week by popular demand.

Or how about 50 free mojo as one of the gifts?

Nor were all players happy with the new friends realms feature that lists the players in order of who logged in last over their listing in the plus + friends section. This is understandable. I spend a lot of time deleting and adding friends again to keep the list in the order I want. To have this automatically replaced based on log-in sequence is kind of irritating and I’m not sure it makes ordering easier.

The bug hunt is over

Should ngmoco:) read the comments for this blog, they should no longer be under the illusion that the problems with We Rule can be attributed solely to the iPads themselves.

In fact, I reset my iPad to factory settings and tested We Rule as the first app opened, and it crashed immediately and several more times during the harvesting session. I’m sorry, but when a game crashes on an iPad rest to factory settings as the first app opened and only one running, the problem is ngmoco:)’s.

The crashes are so severe for some players that several are ready to abandon the game (and I might if it weren’t for the blog) and one, coffeebuzzard went so far as to complain:

My next step is to submit a formal complaint to Apple, and ask them to research the many other obvious user complaints, for accepting and allowing a broken app that takes users money in their store. Since Apple is accepting the money on ngcomo’s behalf and taking a percentage for themselves, they are culpable. The normal course for Apple is to pull the game until the developer can prove the issues have been fixed.
If this game were completely free, I would simply delete it and abandon its use. But due to ngcomo’s continued negligence, I have lost patience and money and clearly others have as well. They are no longer causing frustration for their users, they are committing a crime.

I’m not sure I would go that far, but I certainly understand his or her frustration. Players reported a lot of bugs, but three seem to occur to multiple players:

  • Constant crashes
  • Items in inventory can’t be returned to play
  • Missing mojo (sometimes because players used it without meaning to, others because it simply disappears).

iPhone players noticed some bugs too:

  • Crashes when switching from kingdom to realms and back
  • Crashes when notifying that payment was received
  • Ads float into friends realms hindering ordering

By and large the crashes are the biggest complaints.

People with older iPhones are also experiencing problems, and I think this has a lot to do with the combination of iOS 4 and We Rule Quests. It would be nice if ngmoco:) could work out something with Apple to let an older version (Red or Gold) run on 3GS and 3G iPhones.

There have been a number of causes suggested. Some blame stacking, and crashes due to stacking won’t be fixed. But kingdoms that don’t stack crash too, so we can’t blame the stackers. One reader suggested that crashes may be caused by players who don’t shut down completely but leave the game running in the background under iOS 4 and tying up the server. This very well could be, but ngmoco:) needs to fix that because players can’t be counted on to understand how background apps work.

I do think demands on the server, but, as I’ve said before, I suspect
memory leaks. Even after I restored to factory settings, I noticed that We Rule would launch other apps, shutting the game down. At this point I realized those apps were always apps in the same folder as We Rule, so I moved the game back to the main screen and it started launching those apps instead. Basically something in the code accesses the iPad’s memory stack or general system code.

Readers have suggested and I agree that ngmoco:) should devote their resources to fixing bugs before they add new items to the game. If you agree please copy and paste the following message to both ngmoco:)’s support address.

As a frequent player of We Rule I appreciate your tireless efforts to listen to player requests and add new features such as inventory, additional realms and site navigation. But I am also tired of the bugs that have plagued the game since it launched last year, specifically: 1) frequent crashes on both my iPad and iPhone, 2) the inability to return items to inventory, 3) the loss of mojo, often from an inability to make a final confirmation before I spend it, and 4) the app closing down to download new content while I am in the process of harvesting (often costing me the crops).

I read the blogs and forums and know these bugs aren’t specific to me but are frequently reported by other users. Please stop introducing new items and new features until these bugs are resolved.

Feel free to add any notes of your own.

I also posted this on ngmoco:)’s feedback page, “fix bugs before features.” If you feel strongly, please log in and vote this as your number 1 request.

Susan Moon found the most puzzling bug, a movable white square. This actually means the graphics aren’t refreshing after an operation, but if I had thought to have a weirdest bug contest, she would have won this one too. Readers also reported a spade or shovel over new buildings keeping them from accepting orders.

How’s this for weird. If anyone can explain the floating white box please comment.

Hopefully, with enough votes and comments ngmoco:) will get the message and at least cut the crashes back to one or two per session.

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

Bug Hunt

No one is more grateful for some of the new items in We Rule than I. I advocated for winter items, diamond groves and sapphire groves and ngmoco:) delivered. As players level up they can build their kingdoms around the Mediterranean, Mardis Gras and even Mechanical wonders.

Admittedly, the new mechanical wonders may be perplexing players. We could see the mythological, Egyptian and even far eastern elements with a little bit of rationalization. After all, commerce and mythology were important elements of medieval civilization and no university student could be considered educated without a through grounding in the classics.

We could even embrace Santa Claus and Mardi Gras. After all St. Nick has roots in customs dating back to the third century and Carnival was the church’s attempt to accommodate the Roman practice of Lupercalia while letting Christians blow off steam before getting down to the serious business of lent.

But machines? I felt as though I had stepped from the pages of Le Morte d’Arthur and into one of Michael Moorcock’s multiverse novels. (It doesn’t matter which one, he’s written hundreds.)

Surely we could have stayed closer to home. How about a Da Vinci helicopter? Or an alchemist’s studio with beakers and green smoke? If developers insisted on mechanical devices, why not take their clues from the Inquisition? They came up with racks, iron maidens and any number of devices which later inspired the Bush administration to reinterpret the Constitution.

The cog quest

The cog quest may be the most bizarre launched so far. To finished the quest, players have to successfully place orders at the brand new steam ship, flying machine and inventor’s studio. Since the studio requires L45 and 7o0000c and the flying machine requires L37, there aren’t going to be many out there. In fact I looked in more than a L37+ dozen kingdoms and only found quest shops in mine and Carol’s.

ngmoco:) seems to have figured this out because you don’t need to finish the quest to get the steam-clock reward.

Which leaves the question, why bother with the quest? By the time players have their shops installed, ngmoco:) will probably discontinue the steam-clock anyway.

Number 1 player request: More bugs fixed, fewer new shops

I find myself agreeing more and more with players like glitchcity: Less stuff, more bug fixes.

Partially I say this because I would like to get a little of my life back. It took me forever to process Thursday’s three new shops to crunch the numbers. Usually I install a shop, use mojo to vacate two or three orders and then place a sample order with a dummy kingdom.

Thursday people were placing orders faster than I could clear them out. After spending about a hundred mojo to clear out shops in a futile attempt to place an order, I finally had to reject several just to get in to order from the new shops. Then I had to use mojo to build two of them and mojo to process the orders.

When I say more bug fixes, I don’t want ngmoco:) to get too hasty. They’ve spent a lot of effort (and, by some accounts, still are) trying to prevent stacking which many players still see as a cool feature. I think players are doing fun and creative (as well as admittedly unsightly) things with stacking and no longer even consider it a bug.

So maybe I should say, less stuff, less attention to stopping stacking and more attention to the bugs that make it difficult to play the game.

I would say the number one player complaint remains a bug that has plagued players from the beginning. We Rule likes to crash. Some evenings it crashes six or seven times (not counting the “can’t connect to server” messages) in the course of ten or fifteen minutes.

With iOS 4, dealing with excessive crashes is more complex. You have to shut down all of your running apps (double click on the home button, hold your finger on the app until the “x” appears) and do a hard reboot (hold power and home button at same time until the apple appears). If that doesn’t work, you may need to delete and reinstall the game.

Since the game crashes for players with different frequencies I suspect there are a couple of places to look. The first is the server. Crashes tend to happen more often in the evening (at least for me), which is when I suspect more players are logging on.

But I also think the game has some serious memory leaks. I suspect this because two or three times a week I will touch an item to harvest and suddenly another game app opens (usually another ngmoco:) game app).1 In addition, if I put my iPad down with We Rule running in order to run to the bathroom or flip through the channels, it shuts down.

Carol reports entirely different problems, so I have to suspect the game bugs react differently with different apps running in the background. This also tends to indicate there may be some problems addressing memory.

Let’s start a bug hunt

I know there have been a number of comments about bugs, but I honestly don’t have the time to review the hundreds posted (and keep up with the charts and my life). So please submit the most irritating bugs and crashes in the comments over the next week and I will compile them for ngmoco:).

1Notice how their company name (ngmoco:)) screws up the whole open and close parentheses thing? suddenly the smiley face turns into a double chin. Maybe they should have done more focus testing. back

Comparing idle income

What’s up with Egypt? I know their president is in deep caca right now, but is that any excuse to get rid of the Egypt content that’s only been out a week? That’s pretty quick, even for ngmoco:).

It’s not like any of the content was politically sensitive. No references to Moslems or Coptic Christians. It seems pretty tame to me.

Nor were they clear about which content they’re removing today. Is it just the Cleopatra’s palace and Pharaoh’s temple or is it all of the new content? Even though I’m not doing anything with it now, I bought lots of palm trees, oases and sand. Then I decided to keep the oases for now because they do make money.

I had planned to convert my east kingdom to something Mediterranean but I wanted the weather to warm up a little. So I bought stuff just for storage until then. Which is probably what they’re counting on.

These are the new oases. They deliver a high number of coins and xp per hour. Or do they? We’ll consider that below.

Click image to see full size

In the past I’ve said they need sand tiles. Cool that we got them. Maybe in the fall we’ll get fallen leaf tiles and autumn colored trees like the maples in We City.

New levels to come?

I am so pleased that ngmoco:) has added 20 additional levels with buildings to We Rule since I started playing. The black dragon at L50 will allow them to add more high level buildings in the void between L40 and L50.

In the meantime, I find myself thinking ahead to L60. We have a purple, red and black dragon. Now we need a fire breathing dragon. It can’t be that hard. The comic characters in We City control their flights with bursts of fire.

What would be really cool would be a building that bursts into flames when the fire breathing dragon flies over.

We’ve discussed churches or cathedrals in the past, and I also think a gothic cathedral would be a great addition to the game, as tall if not taller then the three castles. It could have a vat of boiling lead on top that tips over and spills every once in a while. Quasimodo could be the character.

And while we’re at it, why does We City get Stonehenge when We Rule doesn’t? I think we should get Stonehenge and maybe even Avebury and The Ring of Brodgar, complete with a sacrificial altar, druids and forest gods. Hell, let’s bring in Asgard and the ring cycle and add Gladsheim, Vingólf and the Well of Urd. Toss in some Valkyries and we’re good to go.

In fact, as long as we’re doing Egypt, let’s add Lake Victoria and the Nile. Let’s do the Mayan and Aztec monuments as well. Then we can change the game’s name to We World Geography. We could then add Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom. And the Parthenon and Coliseum, not to mention a Labyrinth with a minotaur. How about grape groves with a dancing Dionysus?

Please, however, please please, no aliens or space ships. Or cartoon superheroes. We could use a sea monster for the lakes, as that would be far more appropriate to We Rule than We City, but no aliens, space ships or superheroes.

There are still so many real medieval items left that ngmoco:) really doesn’t need to stray off theme. In addition to the cathedral, how about:

  • A round table with a knight?
  • A goblin’s cave?
  • Now that I think of it, Asgard items are a lot closer to a medieval motif than some of the other stuff (especially since we have Vikings). Let’s have those. (So are the henges. We really could add two or three of those.)
  • A gallows?
  • A wood-block press shop to print broadsheets?
  • A monastery with monks?
  • A convent with nuns?
  • The tower of the Holy Grail?
  • An ogre’s lair? Disney can sue you for using Shrek but not generic ogres.
  • A brothel?
  • Shrines with relics?
  • A dungeon?
  • A torture chamber?
  • A haunted forest?
  • Sherwood forest tree with Robin Hood?
  • Pixie Hollows with real fairies this time?

Oh, yes, and finally: Wouldn’t it be great if ngmoco:) added inventory capabilities to all of their games? And more islands to Adventure Bay?

Idle income

The oases are the newest addition to the idle income producing products, joining the groves, founts and troll bridges. The founts and bridges are buildings technically, but they really don’t return enough to customers to make them worth ordering.

(I’m stressing the last bit because people still keep ordering my trolls when I have black dragons, Olympus mounts, chimeras and chateaus in other realms. This puzzles me. Players are free to order anything in my kingdom, and I am loath to be like the salesmen who steer customers to higher end products, but in this case the higher end products are worth more. Not only that, they cost players nothing—unlike Trade Nations where players have to pay for their purchases.)

So I thought I’d crunch the numbers to see which of the idle-income properties are most valuable. I’m including space taken into account because if a property returns four times as much income but takes up five times as much space, you might want to go with the smaller items.

Compare the grove and oases areas. Both are stacked, but a lot more groves can be stacked into the same area.

Click image to see full size
Item Cost Lvl Hrs c c/Hr Xp Xp/Hr Space
Orange 3000 15 6 5 0.8 50 8.3 1
Ruby 10000 23 6 100 16.7 85 14.2 1
Diamond 100000 27 6 150 25.0 105 17.5 1
Oasis* 100000 0 12 320 26.7 515 42.9 4
Sleigh† 7000 4 1 0.3 100 25.0
Fount 90000 18 6 125 20.8 240 40.0 1
Troll Bridge 70000 14 8 15 1.8 175 21.8 .5

It’s hard to say which of the income generating properties make the most sense. On an hourly basis the oasis outperforms the ruby grove three to one in experience and slightly more than 50 percent better in coins. It outperforms the diamond by 2.5 times in xp and only has a slight advantage in coins. The oasis ouperforms thefount by 25 percent in coins and only a fraction in experience.

Here’s where other considerations come into play.

You can fit approximatley four founts or groves into the space of one oasis The numbers will even out the more you plant.. When I try to stack them, I can fit even more groves into the same space and slighly fewer founts. The founts are slightly cheaper and the ruby groves cost ten percent as much (10000 v 100000c).

For high level players, with coins to burn, I would say it’s pretty much a wash. Make use of them all. But if you’re building your kingdom and pushing to reach L30 (and even 40), go with the rubies. The combined cost reduction and return for space make them a far better bargain. Drop an oasis in if you want the decoration (the first one’s free for finishing the quest), You will actually get a higher return in approximately the same space for about 40 percent of the cost.

This assumes, of course, that ngmoco:) doesn’t discontinue the Egypt quest as well.

Big announcement tomorrow

Actually, I have a couple of announcements tomorrow, including a project I’m doing with the help of Acehound. I’m calling it the February project (that’s the code name) for reasons you’ll see then.

*First oasis free with quest.

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

Turn the Heat On

Monday evening update: As is this wasn’t long enough, I have to eat crow and admit the ghost girl did finally show up along with a new cemetery and tiny flying bats.

The truth is, I’m glad she waited so long. It allowed me to carp one day longer. Here is the ghost girl in my north kingdom.

Click image to see full size

Spoiler alert! I will post next week’s blog on Sunday as a Halloween special, We Rule in Hell. A reader asked me for stories about We Rule characters and I promised him I would, but I decided to write an entry about people who play the game instead.

I originally intended to post a short blog today and post the special on Saturday. Then I wrote a long blog anyway because I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Halloween Bonanza

Let me start with a happy note. After ngmoco:) shamelessly promoted Tampa Bay’s baseball team in We Farm, the Rangers beat them and now they’re in the World Series against another team who’s gone just as long without a World Series championship, the Giants (at least they won a series since the move to the West Coast).

This is what ngmoco:) gets for shamelessly promoting a cause that has nothing to do with their games. I would never do that in this blog. At least not something like baseball.

Go Rangers.

Now, back to important stuff.

Aren’t the Jack O’Lanterns cool? And they actually give off reasonable experience points.

The Jack O’Lanterns are pretty cool and they actually provide a decent hourly return in experience points, which very few crops do. What I really want to know, however, is how do those pumpkins carve themselves before they’re ripe?

Click image to see full size

After requests for seasonal items, ngmoco:) is really going overboard with Halloween trinkets. We have Halloween in spades. In addition to the Jack O’Lanterns, We Rule has already given us a Haunted House, a Broomstick Boutique and two kinds of spooky trees. With another week before Halloween we could still get a cemetery with dancing skeletons, a witches cauldron and even a fairy princess, because little girls love to be fairy princesses on Halloween.

Maybe we’ll even get turkey groves and pumpkin pie shops for Thanksgiving. And Indian canoes for our lakes to go right beside the naval ships. Perhaps a funny little Puritan hat factory. Wait until Christmas. We could get a yule log, and elf toy factory, reindeer stables. Maybe even a chimney for Santa Claus to drop down. I’m spinning with anticipation.

But you know me. I can never be happy. According to the splash pages, the house and broomstick were supposed to come with a dancing scarecrow and a ghost girl. The scarecrow didn’t show up in my kingdom until yesterday, and then only in my west realm. I have yet to see the ghost girl. Carol says she finally saw her jumping around late last night, but I never saw a screen shot of the fairies and I’m waiting to see a screen shot of the ghost girl before I’ll believe.

What’s going on here? I know ghosts and fairies are supposed to be invisible, but they have to pop up sometime.

The scarecrow didn’t show up until yesterday and I still can’t find him (or her) in my main kingdom. Somehow, he doesn’t look as comical as he does on the splash screen now that he’s reduced down to that tiny size.

Click image to see full size

The bonanza didn’t stop with We Rule. On Friday, Both We City and We Farm gave us a Haunted House, and a Pumpkin Patch. We Farm also gave us Candy Corn for a crop. Godfinger added coffins, pumpkins and gargoyles. How cool is that?

Here’s the candy corn in We Farm. I bet you thought they made it in factories didn’t you? I did. This just goes to show how little you can know these days even with a post-graduate degree. Even my cousin Lee, who is a farmer, didn’t know you could grow candy corn.

Click image to see full size

And we still have a week to go. Who knows what other holiday treats are in store? I hope you have room in your kingdoms.

By the way, you can see We Farm’s ghost girl. She started haunting the farm the moment her house was erected.

Here is We Farm’s haunted house. You can see the ghost girl floating nearby. So why can’t we see We Rule’s ghost girl? Or the fairies?

Click image to see full size
See? Here’s We Rule’s haunted house, but no ghost girl. I want a ghost girl, don’t you? As a side note, isn’t it cool how I got birds in the spooky trees?

Click image to see full size

They fixed the Vintage Chateau by giving us grape girl after the fact, so I want to see ghost girl and the scarecrow. You can add them late. We know you can do it now. And maybe you can make the fairies show up too.

Some people don’t have any more room, and that’s caused a flurry of new posts about storage for older buildings. And perhaps a little anger. Perhaps it’s time to segue into a new subhead.

Hey, ngmoco:), are you listening?

What should have been a happy weekend for ngmoco:) may have become a nightmare instead. After an initially positive response to the diamond groves, players are turning on the developers like Americans turned on Obama.

In Obama’s defense, we were in deep doody when he took office; the economy arguably would have been much worse for everybody without him. But he didn’t go far enough. The only people who seem to have benefited from his initiatives are the bankers who got us into this mess, took our money when they needed it and paid it back when they didn’t, and still never gave out loans to stimulate small businesses and the economy.

And Republicans. They benefited because Obama didn’t go far enough and now people forgot that they helped the bankers get us into this mess. (And Clinton, we can’t let his administration’s willingness to loosen banking standards off the hook).

Wait a minute, readers may be thinking. This is a game blog, not a political blog.

Fear not, I am not making a political point here, or encouraging readers to keep the Republicans from returning to power and mucking things up again. The Democrats have proved themselves just as capable of mucking things up so I say, let them stay in office and clean up everybody’s mess.

Nor am I making a political endorsement, I am drawing an analogy to the Obama-like decisions of ngmoco:). They to promised change in the form of a major upgrade. They listened to suggestions and gave us diamond trees and Halloween stuff. And just like American loved Obama for a week before they ran out of patience, gamers loved ngmoco:) for a week before they ran out of patience.

Why? Because they compromised and gave us half of what we wanted.

After many happy comments about diamond trees on this blog, I pointed out that they weren’t quite the diamond trees we asked for and now readers are comparing the diamond trees to a windfall for rich players who can spend freely on mojo while poor players fall further behind.

Okay, I agree on that one.

Come on ngmoco:), how hard is it to add diamond trees for 15,000 coins? That would price them at a comparative value to rubies (10,000c for 100c and 85xp six-hour return compared to 15,000c for 150c and 105xp six-hour return). Hell, chuck the price to 20000c if you have to be tight-fisted. I would still rather spend coins than mojo, and then I will have paid for them the American way, by earning them.

But I think what really set players off was all this Halloween stuff, especially the part where lower level players have to pony up real cash to buy mojo to enjoy Halloween in their kingdoms and they have no more room to place them.

Yes, President Obama, we all wanted health care reform (well those of us who weren’t making a profit on health care) (oh, and Republicans). But we wanted the economy fixed first. I know you were afraid that if you fixed the economy first the Republicans would kill health care just like they did during the Clinton administration. And, yes, the economy is better but who can remember that far back to make a comparison? You should know Americans well enough to know that better is never good enough, we want the economy fixed. You should have gotten your priorities straight.

And guess what, ngmoco:)? You should have learned the same lessons. Sure we wanted diamond groves and seasonal stuff, but we really wanted storage space so we could move items from one realm to another, or to store stuff like the new seasonal items when Halloween is over and the Thanksgiving items show up.

You should know players well enough to know that diamond trees and haunted houses will never be enough.

Listen to some of the posts on the Get Satisfaction site last week:

“Dan replied to We Rule realms: moving buildings and objects, a question about ngmoco.

IT’s BEEN 4 months since this was asked and they have still not done it. If your not doing it then please tell us.”

So what if he misspelled “your” (sic)? He’s angry.

How about this one?


I agree with Dan. If you’re not going to do it, then just tell us so we don’t keep waiting for it.”

Or this one?


I agree, I posted something months ago! It seems as if they figure if they just ignore it long enough, it will just go away. Keep offering more things to buy, but running out of places to put them. To bad that Ngmoco doesn’t have enough repspect for its followers, to at least like you say, tell us ‘we can’t or WON’T do it’ then we can move on and let this go……”

This may seem a little extreme, but ngmoco:) did reply to the original post, more than four months ago, that they were definitely taking this under consideration. And they did announce a major upgrade a few weeks back. Not just more shit. A “major upgrade.”

All I can say is, ngmoco:) had better deliver or the voters may kick them out of office in a couple of weeks.

Oh, wait.

All I can say is, Obama and the Democrats better act fast because unlike ngmoco:) the voters can kick them out of office in a couple of weeks. We Rule fans just have to enjoy the game we’ve got.

And keep complaining. Trust me, if we have to pony up for mojo, we have the right to complain.

Speaking of space

I’ve noticed comments on this blog and ngmoco:)’s Get Satisfaction site that some players don’t see the point in paying good coins for realm upgrades when they don’t get anything out of it.

This leads me to this week’s strategic analysis. If you don’t upgrade your realms you lose coins and experience. This may seem counterintuitive, especially since customers can only place thirty orders and you can fit thirty shops in a single realm.

This is true, but if you fill all of your space with shops and crops you won’t have any room left to plant groves. Investing in more space does provide a return on your investment. You can invest in more groves and properties to generate more coins to buy more realms and invest in more groves and properties. It was painful, but I invested in land as soon as the land became available. And I would invest in more land if ngmoco:) would make it available.

My revenues grew faster the more land I bought because I could stack the land with groves. You don’t have to spend mojo on diamond groves either. Ruby groves are extremely profitable too.

The maximum upgrade provides room for almost 200 groves (I think Carol and I figured 192 but I forgot to write it down so I would be exact). It costs about 350,000 coins to buy the maximum upgrade (unless they’ve dropped the prices since I last upgraded). Those rubies will pay for themselves in six days if you harvest three times a day (of course you also have to pay for the groves). Once the land is paid off your realm will generate almost 57,000 coins a day.

It’s not a question of whether or not you can afford the realm upgrade, its a question of whether you can afford not to.

Besides, if players finally upgrade all their realms, maybe ngmoco:) will get off their behinds and release that major upgrade with storage space to allow us to move and redesign our kingdoms.

I certainly hope so because I’m tired of buying stuff I need to sell off a month later to make room for new stuff. Some things I just want to keep because I like them.

Like fairy trees and unicorns’ meadows. And they’ll probably make the Halloween stuff unavailable while our kids are recovering from their sugar rushes.

And the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day stuff like champagne factories and little heart-shaped red hot plants.

Funky Foto

Oh, and one last special entry. My funky foto (sic) of the week (not that I will do one every week). I caught our college professor, whom I’ve already ridiculed mercilessly, practicing self-decapitation for Halloween. Does ngmoco:) think we’re still living in the days of Amos and Andy? Come on, give the character some dignity and upgrade him already.

Where’s the professor’s head? Why is this guy so clueless? When are they going to replace him with a medieval Moslem scholar, a brother with dignity? Someone to acknowledge that both people of color and Moslems were actually better educated than many Europeans once upon a time.

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How major will the major upgrade be?

Friday ngmoco:) announced a major game upgrade. I jumped the gun with a preview of this blog on Saturday in case they intended to launch the upgrade over the weekend. They didn’t, so here is the blog as I originally planned.

I’ve seen a lot of suggestions for We Rule enhancements on ngmoco:)’s Get Satisfaction site. A lot of cool suggestions; a number of dumb suggestions. I even remember suggesting lakes in the middle of a list of feature requests. Who would have thought that would be the one thing they would pick up on?

I thought lakes would be a good idea because the rivers couldn’t be arranged to form a continuous water surface. I also requested rounded road curves, which, while also down on my list of things, would have been even nicer I think. I was considering building my magical creatures kingdom and at that time I envisioned winding paths though the rubies and dragons.

I can’t claim complete credit. I found one other person on the site who suggested a sea faring theme and I’m sure there have been other. Now that I think of it, the sea faring probably was a better suggestion.

So now we have pirate ships, naval ships and lakes. And a fish market no one wants to buy from even though it has an excellent overall return for cash and experience points. In fact, the fish market knocked the sea serpent’s lair off the top five for overall cash and experience returned per hour. Sadly, I installed three and have only had one in use. In fact I have only had one order for the two naval ships I placed, so the return on my investment hasn’t been that great.

I really, really like the whole lake, sea faring thing. But they use an inordinate amount of real estate. You can plant the ships by themselves, but they kind of look stupid all alone on a single water tile surrounded by red dragons and cartographers shops.

P TextOnly the pirate ships are really worth the investment if you’re looking for a decent return for ship objects. The naval ships and ship yard are below average performers, unless you’re L20 or below. The naval ships will be your top returner until you reach the higher levels.1

This is where it gets complicated. You need nine tiles to build even a small lake (six if you simply want to surround a ship with water). That’s a whole lot of real estate. You may not think that’s a problem until all five realms are full and you have to sell something profitable to build your lake.

I’ll sell in a heartbeat because—while I wouldn’t trust the free market to save my job in the real world—I’m an ardent virtual capitalist. You have to sell stuff to install more stuff and earn those experience points. Capitalism works like it’s supposed to work in a game because it’s just a simulation. I’d clear out an entire kingdom if I thought it would jump me a hundred places on the leader board.2

You need nine separate pieces to build a lake. Not nine pieces, nine completely different pieces. That will eat a hole in your kingdom’s available real estate.

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If you want to float your pirate ship, you need at least six different pieces.

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There would be a nice way to compensate players for all the extra space they’ll need. The developers could open up the four remaining adjacent realms. This, in fact, has been requested by several players on the Get Satisfaction site (including me).

Other players have written that they can barely fill the five kingdoms available so why would they want four more? That’s the beauty of additional realms; only players that want them have to buy them. I know of several L40 players who haven’t spent the money for their Citrus Citadels (and at least one who hasn’t even upgraded to ruby). They spent that movie on ruby groves. More power to you all.

I want more realms so I can build my lake realm.

Will ngmoco:) listen to players and add more realms? We’ll find out soon. As many of you noticed, they shut down the server for a half hour Friday to prepare for a “major” upgrade.

What will that entail? We’ll find out soon, but I’ve seen a number of popular requests and it will be interesting to see which requests ngmoco:) actually took seriously. Some of the requests have to do with the game interface, others with game play and a few merely affect kingdom appearance. I think they all have merit, and I wanted to mention a few here.

If ngmoco:) ignores them this time around, hopefully they will listen eventually. When I was reviewing the posts on the get satisfaction site I discovered that the orange and ruby groves had originally been suggested by a player early in the game. So either ngmoco:) listened, or that player wasn’t paying attention to the game and had requested a feature that had already been installed.

I didn’t start playing until June, I honestly don’t know what the first releases had oranges and rubies or not. Hopefully, however, the next release will include the following:

Interface requests

Log me in, Scotty

One of the most useful interface upgrades would be a login feature. I mentioned this in Saturday’s post and, while this isn’t the most requested feature, I think it will be one of the most appreciated. The inability to logout out and login with a new interface is one of the most frustrating features of the ngmoco:) games.

The games were originally meant to be played on iPhones. I get this. But iPads aren’t cheap and I can’t imagine too many families that can afford even one, much less more than one.3 Right now, a family of five can kind of sponsor their own iPad kingdoms if they download We Rule iPad and iPad Gold and also We Rule, We Rule Red and We Rule Gold. Of course, only the iPad versions let you build and expand your kingdoms from your iPad, and iPad Gold crashes at least once during every ruby harvest, so no family member gets a completely satisfying gaming experience.

Allowing players to log in and log out would make it possible for every family, even the ones with four or more kids, to play with just one version on their iPad. The Mojo Farm recently reported that a shift in the Apple guidelines would force ngmoco:) to remove all those versions of We Rule and implement login, but Apple hasn’t seemed to follow though on that.

I also know that the lack of a login makes it difficult for players to operate multiple kingdoms. This may be ngmoco:)’s rationale for withholding a login option. But it hasn’t stopped players from developing multiple kingdoms, so it seems pointless to handicap families to stop the players who play lose with the rules.

Better information

It would be helpful if we could actually see the name of players who order from the shops instead of having the player name squeezed off the screen by the catchy order name. This would allow us to keep better track of who is ordering from our kingdoms so we can return the favor.

Which do I need to know more? That I’m rescuing a princess or who placed the order?

Orders summary page

An order summary would be even better than simply making names more visible, and I have to say it’s one of the best ideas I’ve seen on the Get Satisfaction site. Being able to see what orders you have out and who ordered from you could help players cultivate long term friendships. The servers already have this information in their databases, or they couldn’t keep track of how many coins and experience points to award shop owners when an order completes.

It shouldn’t be that hard to create a simple summary form with a list of orders out and orders in. I can do it in Filemaker Pro in a couple of minutes and databases are at the bottom of the list of my computer skills. ngmoco:) could simply add a report option along with the list of friends and followers.

In game messaging

I personally love the fact that I can have friends with absolutely no obligation to be friendly with them. But some players would like to be able to keep in touch. The ability to send a simple text message would be nice. I have written to ngmoco:) about this, especially since other games they developed do allow players to communicate and send challenges.

I can recall one experience in We Farm when both Carol and I had orders with one player and they seemed to be tied up forever. I asked ngmoco:) if we would be able to contact that player to see if the problem was a game glitch or if (we assumed it was a) she was simply pissed at us and not returning the order.

The developers replied that we couldn’t contact the player but that orders automatically expire after 72 hours. More than a week after the reply, the order simply expired. Perhaps if we could have contacted this player, and all three of us complained, the problem could have been resolved without tying up two windmills for eight or nine days.

Game features

Whenever I log into Get Satisfaction, I find two requests remain at the top of the most popular posts. Only the second-most popular made it to ngmoco:)’s “under consideration” list. So let’s start with the one I stumble onto over and over and over.

Players want to move and store buildings and decorations

I used to be skeptical of this, mainly because it’s actually more profitable to sell old buildings and build new ones. Every shop you build and tree you install actually earns more experience points. I even posted several comments on the Get Satisfaction site to this effect, and got into a heated discussion with someone who told me that if I was at L30 like she was, I would understand her concern.

I was at L35 at the time, and a few days later I discovered I was at L40 and didn’t even know it. (Actually, I didn’t even know I was at L35 until they added an L35.) In fact, I wouldn’t have made it to L35 and L40 so quickly if I didn’t sell off buildings to replace them with better ones. But I didn’t see the need to bring that into the debate. The fact is, you advance more quickly by selling off buildings and installing new ones.

I changed my mind about the ability to move (or better yet store) buildings when ngmoco:) began to discontinue shops. Now if I want to move a Fairy Tree or Unicorn’s lair from one kingdom to another, I can’t replace it. This is an even bigger problem in We Farm where they discontinue stuff every other week, and it looks like We City is discontinuing buildings as soon as they release them (like that stupid colosseum with its gladiator who wanders around with a sword to whack on all those business people).

I would love to be able to offload a meadow or fairy tree to a storage locker while I rearrange kingdoms. Or even put it into storage until I come up with a new kingdom theme a couple of months down the road. I would store my fish markets because I suspect that building is going to go fairly soon. That’s because it’s butt ugly. I mean, really, it looks like something that belongs in the slums and the old lady looks like she hasn’t bathed in weeks even though she works next to a lake. I know I made fun of the token professor and the buxom soft porn babe that runs the bookstore, but this may be too extreme a reaction on the developer’s part.

Will we receive this ability with the next major upgrade? I hope so. And it will make lots and lots of players happy. Best of all, more players will hang onto the stuff they bought and they won’t be earning more experience points to bump me off my spot on the leader board.

Gone Fishing

This request actually made it to ngmoco:)’s under consideration category. The idea behind it is that players who want to take time off from their kingdoms would be able to post a “gone fishing” notice so players won’t order from their kingdoms until they return.

This request has a lot of merit. Currently the only way to let players know you’re out of the game is to stop planting crops, or to let your crops wither. But players who want to shop from you won’t know if this is a temporary absence or if you’ve abandoned the game entirely (and a lot of players to simply walk away, especially when they look at their bank statements—or their spouse looks at the bank statements—and realize how much they spent on mojo).

My spin on this is that the game needs a “gone questing” notice. Fishing belongs in “We Farm.” The developers don’t even need to put a lot of effort into this one. They simply need to add a decoration of a knight waving a flag that says “gone questing.” Players can buy this decoration and place it next to their citadel when they leave, and sell it back when they return.

How hard is that?

Additional realms

I know that sooner or later we would fill even the new realms and run out of space again. But additional kingdoms might take the pressure off players to sacrifice between developing pretty realms and stacking them with rubies.

I recognize that some players will stack all eight realms with rubies so they can have 72 million experience points. Still, it would be nice to explore more themes with my kingdoms. I had to give up my rural kingdom with mines, farms and barns to build my mall kingdom. I had to sacrifice my martial kingdom with jousting arenas, watchtowers and guild halls to have one realm to stack rubies and move past the top thousand. I had to give up my mansion to redesign my main kingdom. And now I am going to have to sacrifice my suburb kingdom to build my sea faring kingdom.

I have screen shots of the old kingdoms to remember them by, but it would really be nice to keep my designs around a little longer.

My original rural kingdom, now paved over to build a mall.

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My original martial kingdom, sacrificed to rubies.

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Kingdom appearance

The only consensus I have found as far as kingdom appearance is a request for seasonal items. Christmas and Halloween shops top the list, although other players think Christmas is totally wrong for We Rule and want Solstice shops and decorations. I certainly think seasonal items, such as pumpkins or pumpkin patches and fallen autumn leaves (similar to the rocks) would add some variety to the game.

I originally requested snow tiles in the same post I requested lake tiles.

The snow tiles need be nothing more than white squares the same size as bridges. The developers certainly don’t need to add top, center, side center, bottom center titles the way they did with the lake.

In fact, now that we have lakes, sand tiles in the same color as the roads would be nice. This would allow us to build islands in the lake. If they added palm trees, we could make tropical islands.

In addition, the developers could throw in a few snow covered trees, and some autumn trees like the maple trees in We City.

We have debated the inclusion of churches in the comments on this site. I don’t see any harm to adding, say, a gothic cathedral with a little animation of Quasimodo at the top. It could sell dispensations for 500 xp and 400 coins. Wouldn’t it be neat if it came with a priest who tried to exorcise the witch whenever they occupied the same square?

Don’t laugh. I’ve seen the prison guards try to lob off the heads of wenches. Why can’t the priests and witches duke it out?

Check out this guard trying to axe murder one of the village women.

If the cathedral seems too religious for some, how about a monastery that sells kegs of ale for 300 xp and 300 coins? Or a relics shop that sells saints’ bones?

I will close with a request I make at almost every opportunity.

I would like to see diamond groves. They could sell for 100K and give out 1K in coins and 850 experience points every six hours. Or sell them for a million apiece and give out 10K coins and 8500 experience points every six hours. They could have white gems instead of red gems and they would look great with the snow tiles and snow covered trees in the winter kingdom.

The wish list I presented isn’t mine (except for the snow and diamonds). I compiled it from the many requests on ngmoco:)’s Get Satisfaction site. What remains to be seen is whether or not the next major upgrade includes player requests.

1Unless, of course, ngmoco:) decides to screw those of us who worked hard to earn L35 and the red dragons only to have them handed out like candy to any one at L16 for a weekend. Players at lower levels will, of course, love this. But for those of us who earned our red dragons the hard way, it feels like paying a thousand dollars for an HD TV only to have the same store give them away for free to people who buy a case of Cokes the very next day.back
2Oh, wait, I did. After hanging around the 550 on the leader board for more than a month, I replaced my entire main kingdom and finally hit my long term goal of landing in the top 500 players. Was it worth trashing all those buildings, trees, bridges and gold roads only to replace them with different buildings trees, bridges, gold roads and a few more river tiles? Absolutely.
Unless, all of you do the same thing and knock me out of the top 500. That’s the problem with the free market and competition. There’s always someone more ruthless than you who wants to take your place at the top of the financial food chain.back
3And, let’s be honest, if a certain party wins the election on fiscal reform campaign promises, they will slash corporate taxes even more, run up the deficit just like they did for the eight years they were in power, blame Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats just like they did for the eight years they ran up deficits, and ship the few jobs that remain that aren’t with Walmart, McDonalds and KFC out of the country. Then Walmart, McDonalds and KFC will have to close up their stores and move overseas because Americans will be too broke to even buy their cheap crap. After that, the only iPads in circulation will be the ones that sold before even Apple was forced to sell the Chinese and Indian customers who have the jobs we used to have. And the only tea party we will be having is one with empty cups.
Before you complain about the politics here, at least I put them in the foot note instead of throwing them in your face and whining about the liberal media. Oh, and the bailout money and stimulus bill they say is ruining the economy? Don’t forget, that was an extension of Republican initiatives begun before Obama took office. To bad the Republicans are blaming the Democrats for their initiatives because it turned out the treasury may have made a profit on the bailout. And, no, I don’t worship at the church of Bill Mahr, I just happen to agree with him on this. And if I wasn’t typing this in bed while fighting off an allergy infection caused by Ragweed (although in Austin it could be anything because the pollen around here is big enough you can see it floating in the sky on windy days), I probably would refrain myself as well, but sometimes you just have to vent. You know?back

Visit my kingdom at totalthinker, and Carol’s at JennyManytoes. Write me at