Monday, January 18, 2010

Ideas For Pumping Life Into TE3K

Compared to Tiny Empires "Classic." Tiny Empires 3000 does not seem to have the same attraction to new and old players. The theme is not as romantic, Prince versus Director for example. The hierarchy of Tiny Empires 3000 is more business than warrior or romantic.

Aside from a weaker theme, the initial price point for TE3K makes new players decide on the original version to play over TE3K. Surprising as it seems to some, playing more than one HUD really isn't the norm.

TE3K also doesn't have as much player interaction as the original Tiny Empires. Is nothing similar to a Festival event and the Black Diamond Mystery Vessel does not give "Generosity" as a item, which if you don't know, in Classic TE, forces players to meet each other in person.

So the ideas in point form:
  • match initial price point of both Tiny Empires.
  • strengthen the theme(s) of TE3K, making level titles more romantic or powerful sounding.
  • add more play or occasional events that makes players interact more one and one.
I'm not suggesting Tiny Empires 3000 be more of a clone. But it should have something more to make it attractive in comparison. I think the only mystery left is what happens when the 10 thousand Reserve Ship mark is reached. That process seems to be taking forever.

Please feel free to add your own comments or suggestions.


  1. When I play (which comes and goes in cycles), I play both. Fortunately, I have a wide-screen monitor that isn't eaten entirely by a TE HUD parked in each upper corner (and no, Ultralite, I'm not going to cough up more L$ for the compact versions, so stop spamming me).

    Not to rain on anyone's Festival, but...

    I've achieved the roughly equivalent rank in both games: Prince and Mogul, 1000+ acres/ships. I have no intention of following the "Path to Royalty" in Classic -- to what end? Dissolving my allegiance to my Queen and countrymen/women in exchange for the time-consuming tasks of running a kingdom? No thanks... But on the 3K side, Mogul is a lot more rungs down the ladder from the top than is Prince. All you get is a Medal of Hera and a title, if you want one. Whoopie. I maxed my upgrades months ago (real months, not in-game ones), attained my "disaster" expertise... so now, I'm just grinding ships and acres -- when I feel like it, which is less often now.

    On the points listed:

    -- Price points: I'm guessing that in plain English that means "what you get for what you pay." Maybe 3K would benefit from the two-tiered HUD system Classic always had, where leveling up unlocks more options if you want them. In other words, make the initial cost of joining 3K no more expensive than joining Classic.

    -- Romance: I've been reading science fiction for decades. Translating feudalism from the Middle Ages (TE Classic) to the stars (3K) is standard stuff; possibly best done in the original Dune novel. There's only so many ways you can give names to a pyramidal hierarchy, and a trading fleet (guild) with naval-sounding titles makes as much sense as any other. But, seriously: how much "romance" do players really assign to their titles in Classic? That's a question I'd like to hear some answers about.

    -- Interaction: The "generosity" option from the Trader is a telling example (no pun on my name intended). Who, more often than not, becomes the recipient? One of our own alts! Or, the alt of a friend in the same line. As to Festival: the only thing it's good for, besides draining imaginary gold back into the imaginary Treasury, is getting the key from the Fortune Teller for the book from the Trader so the Abbot will eventually tell you how to get 1 more gold per care of land. The only "interaction" that might take place is if you want to attend the Ball with a dance partner on the ridiculously slim and random chance of winning the gold bars -- for which chance you need only to be standing next to another player for one turn.

    I'll continue with counter-proposals in Part 2 -- this got longer than 4096 characters.

  2. Now, some counter-proposals:

    -- Interaction: This is relatively easy. The most benefit I've received from playing both TE's is friendships I've made through the games. King/Queendoms and Guilds need to party together more -- and not just among themselves. Why not a real Festival, one that brings avatars together in-world, and not just through the HUD? And something equivalent for 3K, in a space-themed sim?

    -- Excitement: Want to really shake up the worlds of Tiny Empires? Cull the dead players! Use the database to determine who hasn't worn their HUD in... oh, say six months. Immediately remove the ones who have canceled their SL accounts (betcha there's a few of those!), and send an IM to the rest, giving them a week to reply to this simple question: "Do you wish to resume playing?" If the answer is "No", or if there's no answer, wipe them from the rolls.

    Right now, once in-game, a player's name and acres/ships remain in perpetua. "Oh well, such-and-such seems to have quit... but I've still got my Total, and I'm damned if I'm going to pay millions to reduce my own rank!" Imagine the excitement when, the next time anyone logs in, they've dropped a couple ranks! That might make us collectively less complacent about encouraging our down-lines to keep playing, don't you think?

    -- Bribes and Sabotage: Get rid of them! Why encourage meanness and dishonesty? Or, at the very least, give us the option of not receiving offers for them, in the same way that it's possible to opt out of the Path to Royalty. At the same time, come up with some other reason besides "law enforcement" to make Alliances beneficial.

    -- Recruitment and Retention: I've never been much of a recruiter. Why? To avoid the stigma of the Bloodlines "spampires". Meanwhile, I think Ultralight should be analyzing those databases and publishing "metrics" -- how many players, average time in-game, how many have been active in the last X amount of time, etc. Maybe things aren't as bad as we think -- maybe they're worse -- who knows? Why not?

    -- Research: Why are we allowed to research only one line of expertise? If the games are supposed to represent real citizens/colonists, would our scholars and scientists stop working after they've achieved one goal? Why not allow each to be pursued in series: success in one allows you to go for another? And add more lines of research -- make science its own benefit, not merely to ward off "disaster" but to increase productivity and prestige (i.e., more upgrades). TE 3000 is a science fiction world -- let's make it more scientific. TE Classic is medieval, but eventually the Renaissance happened.

    In short (I realize as I'm typing this), what both worlds of Tiny Empires need to keep our interest is to resemble the classic games of "Civilization" and "Alpha Centauri".

  3. So many things to comment on that I feel as if I need to prepare a thesis! But just a couple of high points...

    Romance is, I'm sure, according to each player's individual preferences. I make no pretensions as to knowing "how many" or "more" prefer one over the other, but this isn't the first time I've heard a similar line, of people prefering a particular setting. Now, here's another question: what sort of person prefers to play a game like TE? And does that sort of person have a tendency to like one setting over the other? In other words, if you have the type of personality that likes to play Tiny Empires, for whatever reason, are you also biased for or against a 'space' theme versus a 'medieval' theme?

    Eliminating inactive players This would eliminate more than a couple of ranks. If inactive players were removed, you'd see whole kingdoms wiped off the map- lots of them. I suspect that if Ultralite were to publish those metrics, we'd find that most players are inactive at this point. Tiny Empires, the traditional game, is two and a half years old. How long does the average SL account live, let alone stay active in TE? (On a similar side note, I heard about and was active in TE Classic long before the Bloodlines craze became (in)famous. While I understand how it dampens enthusiasm for other, similar games, it's ironic that it does so for games that were around before it was.)

    Second Life Parties Now this is an idea I like. Set up requirements, say at least two dozen people from at least three different kingdoms within a certain area, and the Monarch of one of the kingdoms, if she or he is there, has the option of declaring a local festival, or something similar. In other words, have the in world proximity trigger a larger event in the HUDs than just a one to one person offering of switching allegiences.

    In the end, I think the final point that Lalo is working towards is that relying on "in game" (aka HUD) features and actions to supply "the romance" or "the reason" to play... via more in-depth gameplay options, etc... is not going to happen any time soon. The options are relatively limited, gameplay within the HUD is fairly simple, and I doubt that will change drastically in the foreseeable future. It's been noted and pointed out by Ultralite himself as more of an advantage than a problem.

    In the end, the real attraction will have to remain the people and SL activities associated with it... not what goes on within the HUD itself.