Winter’s coming

As winter content keeps pouring in, speculation has begun about a winter design contest to follow halloween’s design spectacular. I’ve checked ngmoco:)’s blog and Facebook site for information and found none, but that doesn’t mean their won’t be one.

Based on the Halloween winners, I should warn players that the ngmoco:) judges like gimmicky design tricks. I have nothing against mazes and halloween jack-o-lantern faces made with glowing jack-o-lanterns, but I do feel there is more to design than patterns. So, regardless of ngmoco:)’s plans, the Grimoire will be featuring it’s own winter design showcase.

Since there are plenty of realms available and plenty of winter decorations coming, this year I will ask for players to fill an entire realm with their winter design. The items don’t have to be exclusively winter related, but you stand a better chance of being featured if you add items we might associate with winter (e.g., St. Basil’s Cathedral would work, but not Mt. Vesuvius). Nor does the theme have to be Christmas. You could do Valhalla, which is definitely associated with winter.

I will be looking for some sense that you thought about the general appearance of the elements. I will be looking for balance and color selection, as well as design techniques (including patterns and repetition). Don’t rush it. Take your time and tinker. Sketch out some ideas on paper. To enter simply send an email with your player id and which realm you used for the contest. Yes, you can do more than one realm.

I have already set up my kingdom for the showcase. Santa and the elves are waiting for me to add make it look as festive as possible. I suggest you start with a focal point (I used the winter walls and frozen lake) and build from there.

Submit your contest information by December 26 (yes, 2011). I will review the entries and publish screenshots of the top three-to-five entries. No, you don’t win anything. That’s why I’m calling this a showcase and not a contest.

Hoping for more return appearances

We’ve already seen the return of some popular winter items from last season. I hope there will be more to come. I loved the peppermint cottage, candy cane forests and ginger bread shop.

Fortunately, I kept mine in inventory but I would really like to see newer players get a chance to install them.Two special items I hope to see are the toy bag with animated Santa and Santa’s sleigh. Santa’s sleigh took up very little room and delivered 100xp every few hours. They were inexpensive by this year’s standards and could be used to create some interesting designs.

The mysterious moving castle

I noticed some buzz in the comments about Guy0084. Somehow he figured out how to move his castle and players want to know how he did it. I don’t have the slightest idea, but it’s certainly cool. Hopefully he’ll post a note to players on the Grimoire to share his secrets. I don’t see any competitive advantage, but I certainly see it’s design possibilities.

How did this happen? Guy0084 managed to relocate his castle to the back corner of his main realm.Hopefully he’ll share with other fans, since the trick offers no competitive advantage that I can see (unlike stacking).

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a demonstration on YouTube some day.

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Get your design mojo on

and throw stacking out the window

We’ve gone from the peaks of Asgard to the molten depths in the last couple of weeks, and ngmoco:) really escalated the cash stakes since just about every high level building is 800k or higher.

They’re still 40-55 mojo though, about the same as shops that used to cost 100k. So clearly the push remains on spending real money to advance.

Even the wisdom trees are expensive at 160k and they generate almost no coins to help replenish the coffers. Fortunately ngmoco:) rethought the Poseidon founts and brought them back as a cheaper alternative.

In the meantime, as many readers know, ngmoco:) added a new design showcase to the leader boards. I’ve looked through their public blogs for any information on how they select the leaders (or assign design points), especially since they don’t seem to list my design points or those of my friends.

I found blogs explaining other leader boards but I couldn’t even find the design showcase image that showed up in the news tab. So I can’t really tell you how they decide or how burblegort moved from third to first on the board.

Personally, I think he belongs there, right along with jewingy, but many of the other designs were similar to kingdoms I’ve seen that didn’t make it. From what I saw, however, I sensed a few trends:

  • They love terracing. Many of the kingdoms experimented with creating a 3D terraced, or cliff-face approach, which may have been inspired by burblegort’s water falls (or he may have been inspired by someone else. I definitely remember stealing ideas from players (including Jolpet and ricknabby).

    Burblegort and jewingy are in first and second place on the design showcase leader board. They specialize in terracing, or creating dimensional layers. This is burblegort’s main realm and the bottom sample is from mockamore

  • If players don’t terrace, whoever is judging seems to like grids and patterns, with the grid boundaries created by decorative objects like flowers and trees.
  • They don’t like stacking, particularly grove stacking. I found a couple of exceptions, mostly with buildings. Jewingy created a heart with stacked rubies, which could be argued is a forgivable exception.

    Jewingy is one of the couple of design leaders accepted with stacking in his kingdom, but this example required stacking groves to make the heart. I think they let him off the hook. There may be another example with stacked groves (I didn’t look through every realm in every kingdom), but they seemed to be absent in the realms I checked.

If you want your crack at the leader board for design, these should provide you with a couple of starting points. For players who stacked everything, I certainly wouldn’t suggest tearing those groves and rows out, at least until ngmoco:) publishes the design guidelines on their blog. But if you think you have the design chops, start planning.

Update: Thanks to confuzed1 we have an answer to this from Joe Wagner the Mojo Farm site: ““We’re going to rotate a list of 10 players on that board at random intervals, so if you don’t see your name on there, or see it and it disappears you know what’s going on now. I’m also working on figuring out a way to best accept your nominations for this new leaderboard.” Evidently the numbers are meaningless and currently the nominations are internal. You can find more info in comments,