Another plea - My dreams and ideas for making E&P better

Funny opening

We, players of E&P, are accustomed to spending our resources for almost zero chance of reward. Following this tradition I write my own version of “hoping for change” rant.

(The almost zero chance reward being in this case, that the mighty SGG staff on their thrones becomes aware of this post and something will change.)

What is E&P?

The most important – maybe the only important – question is: What is E&P? If the sole purpose of SGG has been to create a money making machine, which exploits people with various addictions (most importantly gambling problems, but also obsessive collectors, etc.) then they must be congratulated. Job well done! Utilizing all casino tricks E&P promises stars from the sky, and frustrates (“frustration” is a very important word in the context of E&P) players to either donating unhealthy amounts of money to SGG, quitting, or not caring. Some are lucky and happy, and keep the foolish hope alive for others.

If there is – or should be, could be – higher ambitions, like making a good, enjoyable, and morally sound game, then read on.

I have a dream

There is (still…) promise for E&P. It could have become a good game. It could still slowly steer in that direction. Maybe remain even mostly a money making (gambling) machine, but not with such greedy and stingy stubbornness as demonstrated lately.

In the recent developer AMA developers referred to “long term plan” which they insist on following despite for all feedback they get. I am worried that this means just perfecting the frustration machine, and not bringing E&P back to it’s potential. Hopefully I am wrong.

Change would require a couple of things from SGG. Firstly, skill and quality control. Secondly, appreciating the player base. Thirdly, and most importantly, some moderation for income expectations. Sadly the third part might be where hopes fail… but let us continue with the expectation that miracles are possible. (I am not a game economics specialist, but I still also suspect that having a wider and happier player population, which does not hate everything developers do, might also have positive economical sides. And let us not forget that E&P has been incredibly profitable game. Some moderation would not change that.)

Not so hard things to do

Firstly, there are multitude of “free” enhancements, which would require “only” work. In the above referred AMA developers confessed focusing on things where money is. But that cannot continue forever. There must be some continuous quality of life improvements. There are some things that I personally consider important below. NOTE: These are just some examples. No reader should focus on this stupid list. These might not even by my own top list, just examples.

  • Ability to choose vanilla or costumed version of the heroes separately for each team. (E.g., stop messing up my war defense when I play class quests. Utter and unnecessary manual labor for players. Teams should be complete presets for use.)
  • Enhanced hero roster with better sort options. For example: Sort by vanilla hero class (i.e., which emblems are used to emblem the hero). Sort and ignore teams. Etc.
  • Official calendar for the following month. It does not need to contain all (random) things, but there is no harm in announcing the events etc. beforehand. Recent “let’s change everything and not tell anyone” things are just not respectful for the player base.
  • Etc, etc, etc…

Hard things to do?

Then there is the most important category of changes. These are mostly about being less greedy, less stingy, causing less frustration. Making the game a better GAME. I trust that there is also long term financial promise in such moves.

  • SLOW DOWN! In the AMA session I already mentioned the developers said that there must be some power creep, but that it should be minimal. Listen to your own words! Last year has been nonsensical. Players should be able to have at least some trust in their investments retaining their value. That trust is lost. Also, having dozens of new heroes is not manageable even for skilled players: Learning heroes and their combinations deeply is the art of E&P, and this flood destroys that. Family bonus system deteriorates when certain quests (and their summons) are pushed back indefinitely. Etc.
  • There should be some value for real world money in the game. And I am (mostly) not speaking about “how much an ascension mat should be worth”. The real question is: Are summon oriented in app purchases most often just pure donations to SGG, or does the paying player always get something in return? Countless players are all the time doing ten-pulls or 30-pulls with no keepers, no use for the heroes, except as training feeders. No value. No sense? I understand that rare heroes should remain rare. But there are ways to steer away from pure gambling. For example, (maybe multiple) 3* and 4* heroes could be transferred for ascension mats of the same rarity. Or something. Feeder heroes must not cost 1.5€ each. (The ascension mats conversion would also solve other problems, e.g., not so good 5* heroes waiting at 3-70, forever.)
  • Even with slower power creep, older heroes get outdated. Or at least old. And there are nonsensical number of new heroes available. There should be continuing, and increasing possibility to get those older heroes also. For family bonuses, or just for new players to get something actually usable. Who has stated that the actual non-zero-percent sources for 5* heroes (TC20, HA10) must remain (mostly) limited for Season 1 heroes? Would it hurt that bad to add S2 heroes to TC20, and increase HA10 chances for “other heroes” a lot? Everything else goes forward, why must TC20 remain as it always was?
    • This would also eventually give help and hope for players, who are – regardless of time and money spent – seemingly doomed to eternal mediocrity due to bad luck. How nice is it that it is totally possible to spend two years and a thousand euros and still not have a single really good A+ hero?
  • There should be (small and slow, but still real) change to the direction where rewards are more based on effort, and less on pure luck. For example: Completing story seasons are one time events for the players, requiring a huge amount of playing and effort. Giving “Dawa tokens” as reward is not encouraging. Giving a single Dawa token for a new player finally being able to beat S1 is purely insulting. It would not break the bank to, e.g., give a guaranteed a new (non-duplicate) five star hero from the related season, would it? There are countless other examples, where loot should be more guaranteed. Maybe even selectable. The main point: Accomplishments should never be rewarded with insults. (If changes like this would be made, then of course the total amount of rewarding should increase. Just guaranteeing current average loot would be exactly that, insulting.)
  • More respect for the player base instead of arrogance. For example: Respect beta players and their feedback. Communicate much more with everyone. Deliver on your promises: Make roster space cheaper, solve the duplicate problem, etc. (About the duplicate problem: It is not all that tricky thing to solve, IF one accepts solutions where players actually get something valuable without having to pay multiple times for it.)

End note

I could maybe live with everything just not getting worse and worse all the time. I still hope for the trend to not just stop, but actually change for the positive.

If nothing changes (for the good) then it is just time to cry for the insane amount of time and money spent on this wasted opportunity of a game, destroyed by it’s parents.

P.S. I also wrote a longish reply below (“When I think about why I am so uncontent with the game…”) which extends the analysis of this opening post.

18 Likes

I’m glad you started with this. These are good QOL improvements. But those seem to be the hardest for us to get.

I don’t fully agree with everything in the hard section.

If it makes SG more money, why wouldn’t they do it? And I don’t mean short term, I’m talking long term. SG knows how active players are and where things are trending. They can make the calculation to know what is profitable. We can hypothesize all we want.

This is one of those things where I agree, but the implementation won’t be any good. Right now we don’t like that you finish season 1 and get Dawa. Ok, so maybe SG guarantees a 5 star hero. What happens to the people that get Horghall or Quintus? What if it just was a guaranteed Quintus to begin with? I guess that can be considered an upgrade, but for many, that’s insulting.
So then you start pushing the boundaries to something like: what if you can pick any season 1 hero. Great for f2p, but for paying players who wants that? What happens when every player takes Alfrike after beating season 3? Is that the outcome we want. And how much revenue did SG lose by giving away an Alfrike to every player?
Duplicate problem is very similar.

If there is anything I can get behind it’s this. It does seem like every time they make an announcement there are 5 unanswered questions. Does that lead to a negative feedback loop? Or why can’t they communicate better?

I love the game. I am more into it now than I was last year at the same time. My alliance is generally ranked around ~1000. I’ll never be the top player. But I have gotten top 500 a few times. That’s achievement to me.

1 Like

I think this is a place where SG could use their own prior art – alkashard combination. I don’t recall the rewards offhand for finishing S2, but let’s say it’s 300 Atlantis tokens. Restructure it so that it’s say 200 tokens and a selection from 3 random 5*. Could make all 3 slots S2, could just guarantee 1 slot is S2 and the other 2 are two random legends available from the portal (so, all S1 and S2 5*), though I would exclude the HOTM.

Do the same for all the storyline portals for both normal and hard mode.

Boom. Reward for work, f2p benefits and everyone has a shot at at least one Legendary hero from every season.

Bonus if they did the same for Legend-20 in each of the 4 seasonals.

5 Likes

While playing for 4 years nothing changed for the better of the player base or community.

Tldr nothing will change from SGs side.

If Zynga hadn’t bought them I think the game would be at a much better point. Zynga doesn’t give a $#!7 about their customers. They’ll run this game into the ground and then find another successful game to buy and do the same over and over. It is possible to make tons of money and keep a player base happy. Many games do it, but Zynga just doesn’t care.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing these - good ideas. 1000% agree with slowing down too. Just too many heroes too quickly.

Indeed, this shouldn’t be difficult (after all, SG employees have to program quests and events and whatever no?) and it’s shameful that our very hardworking player-volunteers have to create calendars - and last month was especially bad as they had to edit several times!

4 Likes

This relates mostly to the section “What is E&P?” If there is no ambition other than “as much money as possible”, then :man_shrugging: I also agree that gambling is so deep in the identity of E&P, that it will naturally continue to be (large) part of the game. However, I hope that there would be some change, so that there would be a little less infuriating “I paid 30 euros and got ■■■■ smeared to my face” moments. A little more generous, little less frustrating. Note that this would also make it more encouraging to spend money. (At least in summons… other “offers” are most often ridiculous in any case, the emblems and ascension mats.)

1 Like

Mmm, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The economy of this game is not the way it is by “mistake” or “coincidence”… It is carefully calibrated to bring just enough frustration to make you wanna spend. At least a little in the beginning. Whatever amount you decide to spend (unless you are ok to spend hundreds or thousands a month), very soon you’ll find yourself in front od the new bottleneck - which will require to spend a bit more to find your way through. One after another. Like a trap. Heros, ascension mats, emblems, limit breakers, costumes… See the pattern? And it was like this from the very beginning, it just became more hostile over time. It’s in the core of this business model and it has never supposed to be a player friendly game. :slight_smile:

P.S. Some players say that they spend to enchance their enjoyment with this game. It means that without spending, the joy is limited. For impatient people the joy will probably be zero without spending. For few among us who actually like to move forward slowly, very slowly, the joy could still be granted. If you forget about all the premium content. Again, this design is not a coincidence, but is here to exploit some of the well known human weaknesses. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

As if SG knew what they were doing in advance or had the competence to actually program things right (as can be seen from the missing dark aether quest).

When I think about why I am so uncontent with the game (and believe me, I do that a lot) I have come to the conclusion, that there are two quite separate games: The real one that SGG has made, and an imaginary one that I think I am playing.

The real Empires & Puzzles is a lightly themed game of gambling and collecting. In that game:

  • It is essential to have highly desirable things with extremely low availability.

  • Balance matters quite little. There must be some rudimentary balance so that there is some sense in the battles, but it is much more important that there is envy.

  • There must be considerable power creep, and other features (emblems, limit breaking) which ensure that no one can reach the state of contentment and stay there.

  • Fairness is strictly a matter of “everyone has the same chances”. The actual end results must differ hugely so that there is frustration and envy. There must be some lucky ones to serve as examples, and for the majority no effort or investment should fulfill fancies.

  • Quality and features of the game are of secondary importance, as the point of the game is not in actually playing it. The focus is on the addictions of players, which keep them spending.

The game I thought that I started playing was a light and fun RPG game. In this imaginary game:

  • There must be targets to reach for, and with great effort (and small in app payments, if one is impatient) one can reach them and feel accomplishment.

  • Balance is crucial.

  • There should be minimal power creep, just enough so that the game moves on and does not become stale.

  • Fairness means that with effort, skill, and maybe a little monetary investment everyone has an actual chance to compete for the top.

  • Quality and features of the game are crucial to compete with other games and keep the players interested. New interesting content, and keeping everything polished is a must.

I don’t really know why I fancied this imaginary game and why it took me so long to understand that I was actually playing something else. Maybe SGG has managed to disguise the game perfectly. Or maybe, “just maybe”, I am just incredibly stupid. (No offense to the other folks dreaming about playing the latter game.)

As Slobix stated the game has not become what it really is by accident. Some people have never thought it to be anything else, and are happily playing it. Some, including but seemingly not limited to me, are annoyed and all the time wishing for something else, “turn of tide”.

Is there any hope for “us”? Well… probably not much, in the sense of the game actually changing identity. Maybe there is still some hope:

  • SGG could wake up to see the importance of quality of life updates etc., i.e., making the game better.

  • SGG could also apply some moderation to it’s actions, so that they would not be so disgustingly greedy and stingy in everything they do. There is probably some middle ground available between the extreme ends.

Slowly turning things for a little better would be much better than the current death spiral.

2 Likes

i think if this ever actually existed at SmallGiant, it probably set sail when they released hotms, first challenge event, and mana troops and they probly never looked back when money came pouring in

:joy::point_up_2:this was GREAT!


The costume chamber had a built-in fuse

Now that S1 have proven to no longer require balance, because we will spend money instead.

Balance was expanded to…
Everything…
in yet another premium portal :money_mouth_face:

The fuse was lit.
No explosion tho
This will be an implosion!

Good luck with your pleas,
They are already in File-13, from beta

Cookie Settings