Christmas Tidings

It’s Christmas morning and parents round the world—the ones who celebrate Christmas or are culturally obliged to celebrate Christmas—will be dragged out of their beds by whiny children who have no idea how late their parents stayed up to make their Christmas as happy as possible.

Some We Rule players will have taken time off and others will cease the opportunity to move past them on the leader boards. I moved back into the top 150 in experience points and most visited, no doubt thanks to the better players who sought a more spiritual experience this week.

Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the countless readers who dropped by to order over the last few months.

I looked at quite a few kingdoms to see what folks were doing with the seasonal items, but only managed to see a fraction of what’s out there. I was saddened to drop in on old friends only to find their crops withered and their shops empty. But it is just a game, not even as popular as the far-less deserving Farmville (although that might change once DeNA releases a Flash compatible version for Mac and PC browsers and other smart phones—if they release a Flash compatible version).

People do have lives and who really wants to spend their holidays harvesting all those groves we stacked?

I’m tempted to say that if I wasn’t writing this blog, I would be tempted to move on by now. Except that We Rule really is far better developed than many of ngmoco:)’s similar games. Of the vast lot I have downloaded and tried for free mojo, I would have to say only Adventure Bay looks like it has the potential to be as good.

And it is good, and ngmoco:) does keep it fun even though it can get a tad expensive if you aren’t careful.

Not as many players actually bought and displayed seasonal items as I had anticipated. It’s hard to blame them since none of them really performed that well. It’s also hard to rearrange realms just to accommodate Christmas. I tried, but I was never happy, mostly because I wasn’t willing to chuck the basic layout of one of my realms and seize the spirit of Christmas.

But a few players did, and I want to point out the ones I felt did the most eye-catching designs. Remember, I taught design for several years so I will be looking for things many players wouldn’t. The main thing I looked for was for players who did more than map out a rectangular area and fill it with Christmas stuff.

I looked for how well they integrated the seasonal items into the overall design of the kingdom, I looked for players who integrated regular elements of the game into a seasonal design as well. I also looked for original and ingenious ideas. They didn’t have to be gorgeous, and a couple of my final selections rubbed against the grain.

And some just caught my eye. In the end that’s what kingdom design should do: catch players’ eyes so they remember one particular kingdom over the others and want to return to see more.

I’m not going to rank them, with one exception. The one that stood out for me above the others was Dinhkim,who used diamond and ruby roads to create a candy cane stripe motif.

Not only did Dinhkim work the seasonal elements into the overall design of his main realm, he accented everything with candy stripe borders.

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Don’t take this to mean the others weren’t as good. This one just spoke to me a little more loudly.

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ravenpuff, whose name sounds reminiscent of the houses of Hogwartz, cordoned off the winter section with diamond grove, creating a clear boundary between the seasons. Although many players also set aside a small rectangular area for their seasonal display, this one used a number of decorative and design elements to make sure it stood out.
Leaderboard leader acehound was one of the players who tied his seasonal section into the overall design of his realm. He is also a master stacker.

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Click image to see full size
I don’t know what he was thinking when he chose his player name, but chieftwit brought the Christmas feel to the realm. A few more snow capped trees would have been nice.
atonaltensor started out just like many players with a small rectangular section just for Christmas shops, but he set the whole thing off with a river and diamond bridge to spill the effect into the rest of his realm.

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Click image to see full size
Yausung used the spooky trees left over from Halloween to suggest the barren trees of winter. It was a risky choice, because the bare trees lack the warmth of the snow covered trees. This could put off some viewers, but for others it will provide a stark contrast. Also, notice the ice sculpture rising from the lake, anchoring the two sides o the realm.
Drewtopia add a little touch of hellfire to his winter kingdom, perhaps in anticipation of my Christmas short story.

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Stocking stuffer for readers

I also included a heart-warming, if not conventional, Christmas tale within a Christmas tale that includes characters from the game: A Merry We Rule Christmas in Hell.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, A Salam Alychem and peace be with you always—not just once a year.

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