Q&A with Game Designers - Spring 2021 Edition (Discussion Part II)

The official answers are as expected. Legal/PR had a very very thorough review of these official answers to ensure that they are safe enough to be released to the public.

Game Economy = such an obvious reference to their never ending drive for money and money.

Earning $920m (almost $1 billion) (to date) from selling EP to Zynga is not enough for SGG. It appears that they want the last earn-payout due in May 2022 to (hopefully) match the second payout of $240m, pushing the total purchase price to > $1billion. Yeah we get the picture, very clearly.

Too bad that no one bothered to remind them that happy customers spend more, and don’t mind doing so. Conversely unhappy customers will begrudge every single cent spent.

Let’s hope that they never wake up from their idealised view of player attrition rates, until it’s too late.

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While I appreciate the time and length of the Q&A responses, I most certainly am disappointed in the general theme and casual nature in many of the responses ie ‘we’ve discussed but haven’t implemented yet…’ Consider this:

How do you decide which QoL improvement to implement?

  • TIM: The ease of implementation and amount of requests are the two things that matter here - it’d be great to do QoL that actually is needed by many players and that is not prohibitively complex to develop. We’ve now tested a few of the QoL requests for EP actually first in Puzzle Combat since we had a bit more development bandwidth available there, let’s see when we have time to bring them over to EP.

As a billion dollar company, why not hire more developers or even re-deploy ‘development bandwidth’ from Puzzle Combat over to Empires and Puzzles? As your absolute money making machine, the reason for the half billion dollar Zynga deal, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus more heavily on E&P and finish and deploy things on that side versus the ugly step sister? Am I missing something? Maybe their hands are tied on hiring new devs or doing this reallocation, but I expect more from a company this size….simply put ‘hire more devs to do things that the community has asked for and waited for for years’…and not just quick wins…I’m talking spectacular mode to view war hits or raids and to address the duplicate 5* issue. I mean really, still discussing this issue? I can’t even laugh…that is inconceivable…

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At the risk of defending SG a bit here, no matter how much money you have, hiring technical talent isn’t as simple as wandering down to Dev*Mart and picking up a pallet of people.
Unless they have really low standards for devs, you have to interview a lot of people and suffer a bunch of rejection. And those interviews take time away from your existing developers, especially senior ones. Once hired, it takes time to bring them up to speed, and, again, development time is lost from the people helping them.

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All of that is absolutely true, good devs are sometimes hard to come by. But when you have had a billion dollars in revenue from a game, and you have known that your user base has been clamoring for QoL improvements for YEARS, this doesn’t really let them off the hook

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@Petri

I have not seen the addition of Roc, Rana and Yunan to Hero Academy mentioned in the Version 39 release notes.
(They were in Beta when the new costumes arrived to Beta, but later I could not see them there either)

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So as I expected a lot of waffle and BS mixed in with buzzwords such as ‘game economy’. Sad to see that the game is dying and despite the Zynga deal of upwards of $1bn they still refuse to work on QoL features and just focus on quick, low effort cash grabs as seems to be becoming the modus operandi. OP non S1 costumes, limit breakers, it’s just a joke. They’ve now confirmed that they don’t give a flying f about the player base. Exceptionally disappointed is an understatement. Rant over but I’m fuming.

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Their reason for not including Pity Timers are just complete BS. Just come out and say “we want to keep leaching cash off of suckers with bad RNG luck”

No questions on costumes for already OP heroes answered despite the anger that one has caused.

They think power creep is only “very mellow”… That’s why ninja’s, Odin, Frigg, Bera completely changed the game meta in a space of weeks!

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Seeing Season 5 as a bit more familiar? Interesting.

Also, I agree that Vivica’s pet dragon needs a name

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Disagree, at least partially. Several times they (especially Joel) talked about the game economy with respect to the relative scarcity of in-game currencies/materials/etc: Atlantis Rising being too long, availability of ascension mats being adequate/inadequate in context of considering adding more ascension tiers, and how different in-game exchange options interact with one another.

They also used the term a couple of times with respect to scarcity of paywall heroes, which obviously is more directly tied to revenue, but it’s undeniably also a game balance issue.

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  • TIM: We’d love to do a ton of this (as mentioned already several times before) but new events and new content are the things that matter most for a lot of players and that pretty much always dictates our priorities. Yeah, really hoping we’d get to do a bit of this and Quality of Life every now and then, but since it’s so clear that new stuff is the thing that works for so many of the players, we simply cannot ever do less of new stuff (which can very easily be the case if we’d start focusing on updating older aspects)!

Ugh. Just push pause on new events and fix the stuff that obviously needs fixing. The hero roster page has needed to properly sort from day 1. It’s mind boggling that it still groups by Team when there is an entire Team view dedicated to that.

Eat the cost and fix the damn roster page.

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Eh, I think I’m kind of with them, despite your correct point. Those heroes certainly changed what’s considered the best defense. But they’re still beatable without paywall heroes.

If new heroes weren’t better than old ones, then the game would never progress.

If new heroes were so good that old heroes really couldn’t be used to beat them, then of course that would be way too fast of a “creep.”

I think they’ve managed to strike a pretty good balance between those two extremes, by introducing new heroes that are slightly better, while also boosting some of the older ones via balance changes and costumes.

I mean, I see Khagan in top raid defenses and occasionally even in good war defenses. Khagan! He was a punchline for like the first two years I played!

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I was happy with the response. We expect to get a 5 star hero with about 2% of summons. So I’d set a pity timer for the 1% of people that don’t get a hero when 99% of others would. That’s 352 summons.

The community hates the posted odds as is. A pity timer of 352 summons would be met with much hatred. Even if they gave pity on the bottom 5% we’d still need over 200 summons.

Look at hero academy. It is a solution for duplicates, but it’s not really satisfying. Pity timer would be similar.

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It all goes back to the same basic commodity : revenue. No matter how it’s packaged or marketed, the basic focus is always revenue.

No revenue = no life line

Anything that adversely affects revenue is therefore to be avoided or delayed or downplayed

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Not really have time at the moment to focus on specific parts of the Q&A (maybe will do that in few days) but my general feeling from reading it is - there are really great guys working at SG who want to and have plans to make this game successful. I just wish they communicated like that with us more so we can perceive them to be friendly as they are, and not as monsters under the bed that just want our money and nothing else.

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But the issue is many people don’t.

I have recorded over 2,500 pulls and within that I had one streak of 253 without a 5*, which was pretty bad… However it was topped by a staggering 346 pull streak without one!

If there was a pity timer that awarded you a ‘pity coin’ valid for a single pull from a ‘pity portal’ that contained only 5* heroes after 50 pulls without a 5* that would go a big way to addressing the issue.

At 1 in 50 that would be ‘on track’ for a 2% pull rate so not breaking any odds, even if it was 75 or 100 it would be an improvement.

As a separate portal, SG could then control which heroes are in there, maybe rotating on a monthly basis and even add an odd event or HOTM in there as a featured hero

There is nothing there to ‘break the economy’, they just don’t want to do it for greed reasons… I’d imagine going ages without a 5* means the weaker willed and more vulnerable players spend more in desperation

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I’m overall happy with this Q&A! While I do wish there’d be some more prioritization on QoL features, I do understand that there’s limited developer resources and as a business it makes more sense to apply most of your resources towards things that will generate money. I also appreciate the clarity, but I wish this point wouldn’t have been driven home as much as it was (game economy > QoL was repeated quite a lot)

I did like some of the harder questions that were mentioned, like being clear that some game decisions are going to happen regardless of immediate player feedback or that power creep is intended to happen (just in a slow, controlled manner). I am also in game design, so I figured these principles were already in place; it is always nice to hear for certain though.

I’m very exciting about the things you guys mentioned as “need to explore in the future” or “hey that sounds like a cool idea”! I’m a little worried that I’m too excited about these “QoL” things that likely won’t be prioritized for years and years, however I hope to be proven wrong. QoL is important! Many of the (feasible) things that you guys mentioned as being “highly requested” are highly requested for a reason.

Hope we get another one of these soon, cheers SGG.

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I like the idea of a pity portal. My argument is that it won’t happen at 50 pulls. If I stick to 2% odds, then 36% of players will get a 50 pull streak without getting a five star. I would expect pity to be for no more than worst 10% of cases and more likely 1%.

We also can get into it about whether a season one five star resets the pity timer. Most would say they should not.

I agree it’s driven by greed but also because they won’t make it impact a large enough population without enough of a reward that won’t be met with hate.

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I’d like to thank the staff for answering my question (half of it at least);

I’ll give you a lot of credit for that answer as it’s not an easy admission you are afraid of providing to much value on the HA due to game economics (impact on summoning portals and paid summons, I’m assuming)

(I would have given you even more credit if you gave your opinion on whether the HA provided enough value for the effort it takes to build)

By the recent buff to HA10 (adding costumes as a bonus roll) you can piece together that they also realized that the building’s value was too low. Their answer suggests that while further improvements are possible they likely won’t come anytime soon (increase to odds HA10 or retraining to non S1 epics or rares)

Overall I have mixed feelings about the progression of the game in general after this Q&A (need time to develop opinions)The answers felt honest albeit vague (they side stepped a few questions too). Disappointing that more QOL improvements are not implemented but at least they are considering them.

I’ll give credit to SG for answering tough questions to prickly topics (beta feedback, limit breakers) it would be far easier to avoid engaging in the first place (what the vast majority of business do now a days). Communication with your consumers can go a long way to building faith within your customers base, especially when decisions are widely viewed with skepticism

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Appreciate the time to get round to doing this guys. I found it interesting and for the most part pretty transparent and open.

What does gripe me though, where, when, who is anybody pushing for new events and new heroes that you speak of?? we have an abundance. Stop, take a breath and focus on the things that really matter to us the players!!

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This is all bizarre for me to read.

I´ll allow myself a Gloves Off - moment.

You - the ‘developers’ speak as if you are running a low populated game, not played by many players at all- and with that, that you are incapable of raising enough money to support the game further until next year.

You mention you have ideas for improvement, yet these ideas and desires for such has been requested for over an entire year by your player base, and we hear nothing.

How this level of customer service can continue to sink to such a low level is beyond me.

I´m usually a very cheerful and positive person.

But this is nothing short of despicable.

Distasteful.

Disgraceful.

And it is plain simply disrespectful towards all your loyal players.

I had high hopes this Q & A would actually make me feel better about the game, and give me reason to stand up for you. But you give me nothing to work with.

Nothing.

Edit: I feel so bad for leaving such a harsh response to this. But I hope you understand, it´s not personal. All we request is transparency, first and foremost. Less beating around the bush. Communication. Player spirit in focus, care for the community held high. Please, please, reconsider your approach to your customers.

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