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Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973
(08-23-2017, 08:59 PM)Angerak Wrote: Also, I'm curious, if the game is free - how do you make any money with it?  Do players pay for upgrades or fast-path solutions?

Or, are you building games for the love of game-making?


Hi Paul,

No, we don't make any money out of it. It's more the other way around! 
In the past eleven years, we never charged for upgrades or fast-path or pay-to-win or anything else. We do accept donations and some games, beta and alpha in particular, are only available for supporters and a thank you.

Right now, it's all automated, barring an occasional bug or something that has to be resolved by an human. So the operational effort is very small. We need to replace computers from time to time, pay for hosting and some licenses. 
Bottom line, I know people with more expensive hobbies!

It all started when a group of friends wanted to create the game they loved to play. In my case, I like creating scenarios and evolving the game AI for NPCs and nations. Much fun for me.

We like to think it's a community driven game development. We had players translating into Spanish and English. We had people writing the player reference and beginner guide, the way they though would help themselves when they started. Some folks volunteer their time as GMs to answer questions, or to create images, etc.

The Counselor is an open source java app that can be evolved by anyone.

I agree with everything you say. But there are no videos. I agree that videos and a more intuitive interface would help a lot with the first steps in particular, but the core group has no skills to create them. And no one in the community created those yet.

In our defense, the rule book PDF is ONLY 58 ages long, but a player only needs to read the first few pages to get to the game. Less so if the player is used to similar systems. The rest are the details on each possible action, that a player can easily check in the Counselor as the orders are entered.

I can tell you we took no pleasure writing the rulebook, but it was a fair request by the players and it was done for them. And then translated into different languages by the players that volunteered their time.

Another topic is that I believe the game grew and spread mouth by mouth. The game is invitation only as well, but we never declined anyone. But over 95% of the players were brought in by an existing player. And I believe a friend helped with newbie's first steps, getting most of the pains that Grim felt are not found, or not applicable, in the community.

True we had more exposure since we were advertised in S&C and got some new faces. And those new faces would have to go through some harsh learning curve. 
But it also depends on which other games you played in the past. Grim mentioned the GSI system from the long past. We know that people that played those games (or still do) had an easy transition into Clash. They did not ask for the tutorial hand holding experience. They could just dive right in. 

I remember when we got a rush of people coming from a particular game system that had very different concept than Clash. It was crazy stuff for them at the beginning and I know they would have benefited from having a better UX experience. But a small group persevered, asked for private games, joined in team games, learned the system, provided feedback and then they explained Clash to other friends. In the end, still a considerable growth in Clash's player base.

I don't want to reduce the merit of the systems that can afford to have those tutorials. I think they are great and probably a necessity if you want to make money out of the game.
I also acknowledge that not investing in these limits the player base size and reduces its growth.

At the end of the day, it's not the money or investment of time. We all do something we like. We play it because we like it, some love it. We only have so many free hours to give to Clash. And if the decision is between "let's make the game even better!", "let's do something very cool!" or "let's create a tutorial!" ... well... I never voted for the last one in behalf of the other options.

What's the memory that stays?  The memory of how hard was to learn how to play chess or how much satisfaction one had in all the games played after it was mastered?
Where the pleasure and fun come from?

In our case, we prefer to have Clash judged by the game it is rather than how easy is it to learn how to use the Counselor. 

And one day, someone in our community will find the time to invest into a better interface, tutorials, and hand holding. But until that day, Grim's feedback is fair: New players should know that without a friend as a guide it's going to be a rough start unless the player spend some reading time. But you may have fun and learn if you persevere.
I think it's awesome that you've accomplished what you have on an all-free game.  Creating something for the love it, and not for the profit, is the best thing there is.

I am hopeful that Cohorts will reap a profit of some sort, mostly because the cost to develop it has become way more than I had originally intended.  However, the game is also much better than I had originally expected.  Hiring the extra developers and artists and testers has allowed me to fulfil the majority of my vision.  If I make enough to cover the hard costs to develop and run the game, I'll be a happy camper.  I work on the project 7 days a week.  Not because I'm a workaholic, but because it's a labour of love.  Every day, i can't wait to get another feature installed, or refactor a large pile of code into something more sophisticated/maintainable.

I don't really play any games any more.  I would rather spend the time building my game.  What free time I have, I spend with my family (otherwise they'd never see me).

Again, cudos for sharing a product you've built, because you enjoy it and for no other reason.


I now return to this game of Clash of Legends, as I issue turn orders for Turn #2.

1. Having deliberately waited until the last day of the current turn cycle, before attempting to issue turn orders (although I did peek at my turn results almost a week ago, as soon as I downloaded them, my experience was a fairly smooth one. Having now grasped how to actually issue turn orders for my kingdom, it then boiled down to that eternal question of: What to do, what to do, what to do?

BUT...and here's the catch, at least I now knew how to issue orders, at all, so when then face only with the issue of which specific orders to go with for the next turn, no great wall now lay between me and my kingdom. I could now function, as a player in this game of Clash of Legends. I despair not! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell, I am not out of this one, yet!

2. Nor should I be, seeing as how the game has only really just begun. A gaming experience is not just about wining or losing, nor even just about comprehending the rules and grasping the finer points of a game. Rather, the gaming experience also includes - and can hinge upon - being able to utilize the game interface, itself. Reading a rulebook is no substitute for interacting with an interface that is intuitive. The light bulbs in the player's head must go off. They must grasp what it is that they have to do. Conquering or being conquered in a game are rather inconsequential matters, when one can't seem to make it through the door and into the game, itself. The doorway of a game is its interface.

3. Having spent no real time of significance with the rulebook, last turn, a degree of surprise of the not-so-very-pleasant-kind happened upon me, when I read the turn results for Turn #1. Apparently, creating a camp requires population from an existing city, if one orders a city to create a camp. Well, duh! No real surprise there, after the fact, but it has all of the makings of bad news, if you were expecting a relatively uneventful turn - which I was.

4. More ominous, however, was the fact that I burned through so much gold, last turn. ACK!! Economics in games ever seem to be my eternal bane, it seems. So, in my orders for Turn #2, it's time to raise taxes, and a trip to the Clash of Legends Google Groups discussion area was deemed necessary. A quick glance or two later, and here I am, making the raising of taxes the first order of my next turn.

5. And did someone say, "Extra taxes?" Apparently, that's what I heard, from that little voice in my head urging me on. So, alas alack, the tax man cometh!

I don't think that not having gold will eliminate me from this particular scenario, but I have no real doubt that being bankrupt in this game will negatively impact my kingdom in other ways. The increased tax rate, as well as the nudging for extra taxes in some of my cities, will cause loyalty to the throne to diminish. Disloyal bastards!

6. So, once again I expend effort utilizing characters to Influence Own City Loyalty. what the Hell? No harm in trying to offset some of that negative impact that is about to hit my cities head on, is there? Yet, if I don't come up with more gold fast, my characters will be stuck issuing some rather lame orders, I suspect. At a bare minimum, the continued hiring of new characters will abate, and that is bad news for the Northmen kingdom.

7. I do have more characters to issue turn orders to, this turn, compared to last turn, so that gives me a little more leeway on what to do, and who to do it with. My visions of grandeur, however, get downsized, this turn, as I tried to greatly restrain my unbridled penchant for spending the kingdom's gold from its coffers.

8. Remaining ignorant of the game's rules punishes me, as a player. Even still, I carried on in that manner, to a large degree, heading into Turn #2, making only the barest of progress in this area, this time around. I have no doubt that soon - probably sooner than later, knowing how my luck in games goes - the enemy will be at the gates of my cities, and murdering my characters in cold blood.

9. The gold traps, as I call them, those negative consequences that attach to your kingdom's economic situation getting stood on its head, conjures up distant memories of playing both Middle-earth PBM and more recent memories of trying my hand at Fall of Rome. Back when I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, my heart did not lie with the counting of coins. Granted, for some, the consequences of economic incompetence in-game add another dimension of play to a game. For myself, though, it is akin to being hung upon the Tree of Woe!

Oh, woe is me!

Alms for the poor! Alms for the poor, I say!

10. Grasping the concept of slots, for both characters and armies, in Clash of Legends was a seminal moment, for me. It cannot be overstated just how crucial this fundamental bit of understanding is to making the difference between staying in the game and just shaking my head at the game's interface and walking away. Game designers take note - You possess a degree of familiarity with your own game product that is unrivaled, and a unlearned newbie to your game(s) (or for someone who has not played it in a long time or for only a very short period of time, previously) does not enjoy the benefit of that very same familiarity. Assuming that a player will simply "get it" is a mistake of the first magnitude! The primary reasons that I walk away from new games that I try are:

ONE - A game interface that is not intuitive.

. . .and. . .

TWO - Not really grasping what to do, even after I read the rules (Far Horizons, anyone?).

11. The reading of a game's rulebook - and even several re-readings of it, at times - should not be mistaken for familiarity. The one does not necessarily guarantee the other. The key is not the right amount of hand-holding, nor forcing players to sit through several hours of "learning." The player, upon encountering your game's interface, should find a smooth transition, one wherein they can find their own way without the time-consuming drudgery of dreadfully boring rule readings sessions or having to listen to another player explain things from a vantage point of existing familiarity on their end. Can the player find their own way? Is what they encounter encouraging or discouraging to them?

12. Last turn, I uploaded my turn orders via the page on the Clash of Legends website. For Turn #2, however, I took note of the Submit Actions button/link inside of the Counselor client software program, itself, the interface through which players issue orders to their respective kingdoms. A small thing, to be sure, but another step along the Path of Progress, from this player's perspective.

13. A variety of orders having been issued, now comes the wait. One of the benefits of waiting until the last day of the turn cycle to submit turn orders for the next turn is that the wait until you see your plans come to fruition or failure tends to be a short one.

As always, happy gaming!

The Northmen march on!


14. When I did a review of my kingdom's finances after issuing my turn orders, I determined that major revisions were necessary. So, I am choosing to inflict upon my kingdom multiple whammies, by jacking up the tax rate dramatically, while simultaneously sticking it to my kingdom's subjects with calls for even more extra taxes.

As they say, the love of money is the root of all evil!

To me, though, I am trading one form of decimation for another. It's all still a gamble, at this point. Roll the dice on the next turn, baby!
ACK! I got busy doing something else, and almost forgot to send my turn orders in for Turn #3.

But...I made it!
As the game heads into Turn #4, things begin to look up for the Northmen. There will actually be an article by yours truly in Issue #17 of Suspense & Decision magazine that I intend to be the start of a series of articles about Clash of Legends. This initial article will not cover Turn #4, but be mish-mash of what leads up to it, with issue #18 hopefully containing a follow on article that picks up with the turn orders for Turn #4.
[Image: aYKwA8q_700b.jpg]
Nice post! Great pics!
(08-22-2017, 09:05 PM)John M Wrote: Well, you should have selected your preferences in order when signing up for the game. 
There are over a dozen Orc nations that you could pick. If you don't choose them, then the system will pick one at random.

We are still working on the module to read minds, but it's imperfect as of now.  Rolleyes


Actually, I had tried to select a preference, but it didn't seem to do anything, so I just clicked the page off.

A couple of days ago, I decided to revisit that page. At the bottom of the page, it says:

Select your favorite faction for this game by draging the names above.

You might consider changing the location of that message, or duplicating it so that it appears beneath the Submit My Preferences box on the right hand side. When I tried dragging it, honestly, I wasn't sure where to drag it to. Eventually, I figured it out - albeit it too late for Game #421. Mistakes by one player are subject to also being made by other players. Something as simple a change as 

Select your favorite faction for this game by dragging the name of your kingdom race preference to the top of the corresponding list. You can also drag your hex base preference location to the top of that list, also.

It may seem a small thing to those who already possess familiarity with the system in place for choosing kingdom preference, but honestly, it took me several attempts at dragging it to figure it out. When is says "by dragging the names above," the first thing that I asked myself was, "Above what?"

Just a suggestion.

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