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