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falcotron

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Sunday, December 20th 2009, 12:19pm

Is English W1 too small to work?

To give credit where it's due, this comes out of a discussion with Kerrigan, and most of the good points are hers; I mainly just added some math. :)

German W1 has 402 high-level people (meaning 2/3rds of the way to the top) in about 40-50 real clans (out of 101), in 4 or 5 serious alliances (out of 10) that are each approaching 100 high-level members and can contend with each other for mines. They have a heavily-contested mine battle (or set of them) every day.

We have 182 high-level players in about 10-15 real clans (out of 30) in 2 serious alliances (out of 5). Even the strongest is nowhere near as strong (proportionate to the world's levels) as the #4 German alliance, and that's despite having a very lopsided advantage over everyone else. We have no mine battles for a week, then a desperate hail-mary attack on CORP every weekend.

We've had at least one shoutbox kill of nearly 2 hours, in the first 6 weeks of the game, and kills over 15 minutes are common.

I think the game is just too small to work, and it's not showing enough signs of growth to save it.

While there's still a decent flow of newbies, most of them seem to be looking for a different kind of game, or aren't comfortable speaking English. (That's probably why at least 6 of the 30 clans are nationality-based, and only 2 of those 6 are making any attempt to engage with the world.)

I don't know if the problem is advertising, or something else, but something is wrong, and if it's not fixed, the game will die before it even gets off the ground.

And that would be a shame, because I think AIW is a great game--in many ways head and shoulders above HW and TG, much less the competition.
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Sunday, December 20th 2009, 3:51pm

Thanks for the credit falco.



And yeah, this world definitely needs to grow! I really like AIW and don't want to see it die. I think GAS needs to appoint a few more mods so we have coverage practically all 24 hours, and then do a big advertising blitz on other games that are similar. I found Tag through a game called Tribal Wars. There is also Evony, Travian, and other similar strategy games.



As far as the people coming in expecting a different game.... someone mentioned it in the shoutbox the other day and I just haven't had time to bring it to GAS attention yet... there is another game that was release last month that is an RTS called AI War Fleet Command. I think that's where a lot of the confusion is happening.
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falcotron

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Sunday, December 20th 2009, 5:52pm

Actually, AIW:FC has been out for a long time now. Last month was the big 2.0 upgrade, and the beta for the first expansion pack.

It's an interesting game in a lot of ways, and Chris Park is a real inspiration--he took time off from his boring enterprise work to build the game he always wanted to play, turned down major-company distribution deals to try to do it his own way, turned down investors who insisted he hire an experienced entrepreneur to run his company for him--and succeeded.

Anyway, the naming collision is a bit unfortunate, but I don't know if that's the main problem. People are constantly showing up saying "I thought this was an FPS from the ads," but it's very rare that someone says "I thought this was that cooperative RTS that I read an article about."
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4

Monday, December 21st 2009, 9:56am

Yeah, I don't know if it's market saturation, marketing, or what, but AIW simply isn't getting enough traffic and/or enough people sticking around in the English world. Granted, I started HW in the first week of W4, which meant that players from previous worlds and new players alike were joining in the game, but the number of players in those first few months was impressive. Battles had a thousand or more players in them. Orders were still working to grow in size three or four months into the game. There were simply a lot of people bouncing around, and I saw off-site order chats for single orders that were as busy 24 hours a day as the AIW SB is.

Mostly, this game is being played by HW and Tag veterans looking for a new challenge and an improved game, but without some fresh faces, the world is not working very well so far. We need 500 or more new, active, premium players who will stick with the game six months or longer to make alliances and clans work. Otherwise, the current clan and alliance structure that the game allows simply isn't workable. With the numbers of players right now, we need clans of 10-20 people in alliances of 3-4 clans each, which is a shame because the game could be a lot more than this with more players.

The way that the English world is developing with so few players almost makes me wish that I'd paid for premium in the German world and stuck with that account. I am limited by language in interacting there, but at least the battles are fun, and at least the large number of players make the world more dynamic.


Shoot, even a look at the forum here shows how depressed English AIW is. Hardly any players post here. There are a very small handful of veterans from HW and Tag who engage in discussions, but most threads wrap up with their half a dozen predictable replies, and that's that. There just aren't very many people here.

5

Monday, December 21st 2009, 12:31pm

personally dont like the forums so never be really active in them. i really hope you al are wrong because then dutch world is really doomed. still struggling there to get ai battles started so no mines no nothing.

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Monday, December 21st 2009, 5:29pm

The way that the English world is developing with so few players almost makes me wish that I'd paid for premium in the German world and stuck with that account.
Wow, I just said exactly the same thing to someone in the HW W1 SB.

Maybe in German W2 we can start up Ugly Americans again and just hang out in the English world to try to recruit people to come over there. :)

Also, I just took a quick look at the SB--three new players, all three expected this game to be an FPS, daviemarks described what it's really like (and he did a great job describing it concisely and making it sound interesting, which is better than the answers most people get), and two of the three quit immediately.
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7

Saturday, January 30th 2010, 2:54am

Well in complete honesty I have not been faithful to GAS ;(

disclaimer: This is purely opinion

Over the past year or so, I have done a lot of random gaming in between RL, where I would play a game like Gates of Andarion (sorry if I messed up the name, it has been a long while) then quit a week later. The problem here is not simply advertising, it is the forum in which they advertise. When I first started out playing HW it was because I saw it on a game called Travian. HW was better and more sociably active, so I started playing it and ran out of interest with Travian and played HW exclusively. Travian got boring with 20+ villages. Now today we see a game like HW, TG, or AI and we like it yes, but since then facebook/myspace gaming bubble has taken off. You go play a game like Evony, well you go to facebook and play a game called Kingdoms of Camelot, which is the same thing with only a cost mall instead of a virtually subscription cost of Evony. HW, TG, and AI are all wonderful in their own way, but look what they are up against now. The people who want a text based game to play that is well constructed go play games like Mafia Wars or any of the other half a million copies of it with different themes, and all they have to do is hit the bookmark button and it takes them to another game that is virtually similar in game engine but some subtle differences. But, facebook/myspace cannot duplicate an RTS or MMORPG so those games are still phenomenally popular.

I think in better terms with less dropping games names and jargon it is like this. If given the choice between a system that basically set up a game console on its own, meaning the library of games was there already at your finger tips and having to hunt and peck each and every one text based game across the internet which would you choose if both offered the same benefits. I think this is mostly the case now days. Proving people are lazy.... But it also means there is a lot of competition in the market that did not really exist a while back. I read this article a while back about Zynga games gauging people for every dollar they had on offers, which would have been cheaper for people if they had just bought the currency of the game straight out. It basically said the internet gaming market had increased about 200% in the past 2 years.

When HW first came out 3 years ago, what choices did we have? We play Tribal Wars, pay for World of Warcraft, or play HW....

Now we have 50 million choices with each and every Falco, blert, and Noble creating a new one every day. Some are really bad and some are really good. In the end the bubble has expanded to a gigantic size, that the market has not really weeded out the best and killed the rest. I mean I was just on Dungeons and Dragons Online the other day (for the record they are smart at rending money from your pocket) In AI terms, they wait till you get to the level of creating a clan then say you cannot level up very fast without getting bored on old quests, now that you are in the major leagues of the true game and are addicted.

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Saturday, January 30th 2010, 11:07am

Another point about Mark of the Mafia and the endless clones and search-and-replace-to-change-the-theme games based on each clone:

The market is flooded with truly bad text RPGs. There's no attempt at game balance beyond the first few days of play--the quests make no sense (and in many cases don't even exist) at higher levels, the in-game economics are ludicrous, the fight script is trivial to learn and requires you to do ridiculous things to take advantage of it. Ultimately, the game always comes down to either how many codes you can collect and enter off swapping sites (for the ones that have "social networking codes"), or absolutely nothing at all (for those that don't).

So, people spend a bunch of money in the first week to get a little edge, and then just stop playing.

You'd think this would be a good thing for a company whose games had a bit of depth and long-term playability. But the problem is, there's no way for anyone to find out that your games are better. It doesn't seem any better on the first day. Anything you can say in your ads, they can say as well. You can ask your players to spread the word, but they're bribing their players to do the same, and you can't outdo that. No reviewer is going to play the game for more than a few hours before deciding what the best RPG is this week. There's just nothing you can do.

If there were a bunch of garbage games and a handful of good games already established, and everybody knew that, it would be a different story. You'd just have to convince people that you're one of the good ones, and the community would sort out who's telling the truth. The market had no trouble sorting out the Infocom text adventures from the Scott Adams competitors. But when there are no good ones at all, that's not an option.

I learned all of this when I decided to create my own iPhone game. I talked to money people and explained how I could get people to keep playing--and paying--for months instead of days. They were intrigued. Then they went off and did some research and pointed out that there's no way I could get such a game to critical mass, because I wouldn't have any more people sticking around for a week than anyone else, so nobody would find out that the game was still fun 6 months later.

Most of these companies--Zynga, Aftershock, etc.--are a mile or two from my house, in a 3-block strip of the SoMa area in San Francisco. I've gone by to look at them. They're like sweatshops, where devs, graphic designers, and writers crank out new games as fast as humanly possible on laptops at folding tables in undecorated warehouses, all of them lured by the hope that their company would magically turn into 3Rings (who have that nifty aquarium-looking office down the street and devs who head out to lunch every day with big smiles on their faces), all of them regretting their decision and hoping for a bullet to the head so they can escape.

The browser/Facebook/iPhone text RPG market has been completely destroyed. It's amazing how quickly this happened, and how irreversible it seems. It's like one of those Doctor Who episodes where everyone is stuck making fake news for the Mighty Jagrafess and nobody knows how they got there or how to change it.

But I'm hoping that someone out there is cleverer at business and marketing than me. Either that, or The Doctor will have to come by and blow up 3 blocks of SoMa.
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9

Saturday, January 30th 2010, 3:05pm

With the market so inundated like this and an inability to sort out the good from the bad, there is really no way to make games that are good have a devoted membership that is huge. The best you can really hope for is someone does an article on a game, then people stumble on it trying to find the flavor of the month and stay.

It is sad, but the truth is the market for these games could only get smaller and smaller until they find a way to rate quality over quantity.... and while we are at that, you might have found a way to take down supersized conglomerate Walmart...

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Sunday, January 31st 2010, 1:47am

It is sad, but the truth is the market for these games could only get smaller and smaller until they find a way to rate quality over quantity.... and while we are at that, you might have found a way to take down supersized conglomerate Walmart...
I think it's is even harder than taking down Walmart. If it were just one company flooding the market with garbage games, people would quickly learn to just buy games from anyone else. But when there are a dozen companies cranking out these games and filling up the entire RPG section of the App Store (or all the Facebook game-to-game links, or whatever), there's just no way to find anything different, even if you thought there might be something different to find.

Anyway, it's really sad that there's more variety among tower-defense games than among text RPGs.
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11

Sunday, January 31st 2010, 9:36am

Anyway, it's really sad that there's more variety among tower-defense games than among text RPGs.


But... there are some really good tower games :P

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Sunday, January 31st 2010, 11:57pm

I love tower defense games. And they still haven't made one for the iPhone that's quite perfect, so I keep trying new ones.

But I would still love for someone (or me) to build the text RPG that I want. Something with as much depth and long-term playability as HW/TG/AIW (or, ideally, even more), but with a simple iPhone interface, and that took advantage of location and other features that you can't get from a browser game. Too bad it'll probably never happen, and we'll just get Clone of the Mafia #218 and Clone of the Vampire #218 with the mafia text search-and-replaced to be about covens instead of families.
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13

Tuesday, February 2nd 2010, 6:17am

The Vampire IS a clone of the Mafia :P

Same basic game engine, with a few little small things thrown in.... like a dress up doll.

Tons of dragon ones, tons of fantasy elf/dwarf ones, tons of mafia, saw a Yakuza one, seen a few pirates one, seen a pirate fantasy one, Oddly enough I have not seen any Triad, Mafiya, or Vory ones. Seen mythical beast ones.... the list continues forever...

Then there are all the time management ones with restaurants, hospitals, farms, fish, pets, etc.

Then there are the ones based almost exactly like tribal wars..

Jeeze... are there any new ideas these days?

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Tuesday, February 2nd 2010, 7:06am

No, I mean each company has a clone of the mafia game. And then each one makes a vampire game, a near-future war game, a racing game and/or a carwars game, and a dragon game and/or an elves/dwarves game, and sometimes a second mafia game. A few of them try other themes, because they have to put out a new one every 90 days.

In each case, all of their games are identical, except for new graphics, searching and replacing the text (generally without even reading over the results, so you get great sentences like "This Da Boss is already in your Crew crew"), and one minor feature change that's added with no thought at all (e.g., Aftershock's Undead Live made only 40% as much money as they'd projected, purely because they didn't consider the fact that the new feature of restricting code trading within each class would mean only 1/3rd as much code trading and therefore 1/3rd as much player recruiting).

Most of those same companies also take time off from their usual schedule of one new search-and-replace RPG every 90 days (or break out more folding tables to hire more developers) to make generic clones of any popular new game that comes out--the farm game, the restaurant game, the high-school sim, etc. And they're all chock full of horrible bugs that will never get fixed, and no thought at all has been given to game balance beyond the first day (e.g., in TapFarm, the level-24 veggie takes twice as long to grow and gives half the profit of the level-21)--but who cares; everyone who was going to pay the $1 for the special tool that lets you plant the whole farm at once or $2 to expand their farm already did so on their first day.

Here are some examples:
  • Aftershock: mafia (Mark of the Mafia), vampires (Undead Live: Vampires vs. Werewolves), war (Engines of War), racing/carwars (Gunshock Racing), dragons (Dragon Masters). They also make a farm game, a fish game, a parking game, and one of those location-services-Monopoly games.
  • Zynga: mafia (Mafia Wars), vampires (Vampires Bloodlust), war (Warriors), racing (Street Racing), dragons (Dragon Wars), a second mafia game (Mafia Wars Bangkok), and something new (Fashion Wars). They also make a farm game, a pet-raisin game, and a restaurant game.
  • Storm8: mafia (iMobsters), vampires (Vampires Live), war (World War), racing (Racing Live), carwars (Racing Wars Live), elves (Kingdom Live), a second vampire game (Zombies Live--which is vampires vs. zombies instead of vampires vs. werewolves), and two new ones (Ninjas Live and Rockstars Live). They also make a pet-raising game.
Gotta love the creativity.
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15

Tuesday, February 2nd 2010, 7:20pm

Yay! Now we have a w2 (insert obvious quote about GAS ruining the game itself, and some random rant about why it is not plausible, but they end up going on anyways and nothing ever changes.) Wonder what that is going to do for the w1 population size :thumbsup:

At least it IS w1, if it is anything like H-W then w1 will continue to get newbs far into w10

16

Wednesday, February 3rd 2010, 2:48pm

Just ridicolous!

Italian W1 is completely FLAT, there is no game at all..

-Missing players (more or less we can count players in two hands ahaha)
-Missing actions (poor mine battles, poor AI Battles)

just POOR!

W2 kill AI but GAS don't mind of it.

:thumbdown: X( :evil:

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Wednesday, February 3rd 2010, 11:56pm

I notice that all those players who announced (all using identical words) that because CORP is unfair they were going to delete from W1 as soon as W2 opened didn't actually delete. What a surprise.

It's almost worth going to W2 to watch them get frustrated that they can't control that entire world either. Even if nobody else organizes better and builds something too strong for them, there will still be plenty of people who just ignore them, which will be even more intolerable. But good luck to them anyway.
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18

Wednesday, February 10th 2010, 7:04pm

I've made the same comment about the number of active players in w1 last week when they start w2... I think it may die fast... and It's a shame because it's so much better than HW and TAG...

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Thursday, February 11th 2010, 12:16am

Well, I've been told that (at least) Italian, French, Dutch, and English W1 are all dead.*

Maybe they should just license SysTran's automatic translator software and make us all play together. We'd have enough players to make the game interesting, and think of the fun in the SB:
  • German Player: Can one sell a level 17 helmet?
  • English Player: If it's the mystique one, no, you can't sell it.
  • Italian Player: You sell the helmet? I wish to buy you, German Player!
  • Dutch Player: I need 4 mission teams of height 10!
  • Spanish Player: Which of the robots will you fight?
  • Dutch Player: Yes we need the player with robot drone to fight.


* Don't worry, I'm sure somehow that's all my fault.
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20

Wednesday, February 17th 2010, 6:36pm

I love tower defense games. And they still haven't made one for the iPhone that's quite perfect, so I keep trying new ones.

But I would still love for someone (or me) to build the text RPG that I want. Something with as much depth and long-term playability as HW/TG/AIW (or, ideally, even more), but with a simple iPhone interface, and that took advantage of location and other features that you can't get from a browser game. Too bad it'll probably never happen, and we'll just get Clone of the Mafia #218 and Clone of the Vampire #218 with the mafia text search-and-replaced to be about covens instead of families.
Defender Chronicles is one of the best games for the iPhone and is creatively based on tower defense.

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Sunday, February 28th 2010, 12:21am

Same thing happening in the W1 and W2 of the Portuguese A.I War,
the game's kinda dying right now, an huge amount of players are leaving the game and offering their accounts, nearly every top is offering their accounts.
there are only 5 or 6 clans... and only 2 Ally's, one of them has all the mines and noone dares to even make a battle against them.
I would say that we had like 2000/3000 + players and right now we have less than 200 for sure.
The Shoutbox is like a coffin, noone speaks there, right now i see no solution for the problem ,
the players are unhappy and that's making me unhappy has well.


Regards,
Demigod.

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Sunday, February 28th 2010, 2:06am

I think I mentioned this somewhere else, but I think opening all 10 languages so quickly might be part of the problem.

For the first 2 years of HW, dozens, maybe hundreds, of Portuguese players played in English or Spanish (or maybe German, but probably not many of those), because there were no Portuguese worlds. For TG, it was probably less than a year, but still a long time.

This was obviously great for the English and Spanish worlds, because we got all those extra players.

But it was also great for the Portuguese worlds when they opened, because all those existing Portuguese players flocked there immediately, and they were able to drag in friends who had been reluctant to play in English or Spanish, and the word of mouth spread from there.

In AIW, the Portuguese world opened something like 2 weeks after Spanish and 4 weeks after English, and everyone knew it was coming. So there were very few Portuguese players in the English and Spanish worlds, and we didn't get any of the same benefits as HW and TG.

And now multiply that effect by 7 languages after the original 3.

Maybe holding off for a year on the other languages wouldn't have helped, because the Portuguese HW and TG players wouldn't have come to English or Spanish AIW; they'd just sit and wait for Portuguese AIW, which they'd know is coming. (Or maybe a handful would come here and only play half-seriously just to learn the game to get an edge in Portuguese W1, but that wouldn't provide the same kind of benefits.) So, maybe GAS didn't really have a good choice here.
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