Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Your disaster and you

Those of us who have the Federation HUD soon become aware of disasters... lower ranking players starting out with it may see citizens coming in as a benefit from other people's "bad handling" of disasters, but for most of us, disasters mean paying out money to avoid losing citizens... and also to gain them.

Not too long ago, a new option appeared.... the 'Research' option. It was very expensive, and as usual, no one had any idea what it did... if anything. But it had to be tried, so people began spending gold on it. Lots of gold. Lots of times... with seemingly little or nothing in the way of results.

Eventually, results began to show. The effects have become known, quantified, and have been published for all to see on the TE wiki.

There are three disasters, and each one will give you a certain benefit after paying for research no less than twenty times! The benefits are:

+3 gold per acre

The abbot charges you less and promises to forward your benefits to your subjects

You and your direct subjects are immune from sabotage while you are online

You have to choose only one of these to research, however! You can not research more than one without losing any work previously done on another disaster... even if your previous disaster was completely researched. (The good news is that if you do lose a completely researched disaster this way, it only takes once of researching it again to regain your rewards.)

Now, that said, you have a choice to make... which type of disaster is right for you? To help you make your decision, here is a brief, unscientific personality analysis based on your choice:

No one messes with you! You're very prominent, and often the target of barbs, but what do you care? It's the price of fame. A no-nonsense person, likely a monarch, who does not intend to let anyone get away with anything... particularly something like sabotage. Your personality is often described as firm, and people tend to either respect you or hate the position you've earned through your hard work. Reward the first, punish the latter, and things will go well!

You toil away in obscurity, with few or no subjects. You work extra long and extra hard to get that next acre. With lots of acres, you have to pay more for the land, which means you put in more time... but so what? You're patient, and above all, you're persistent. Friends are somewhat in awe of your iron will, and your lieges appreciate your rock-ribbed loyalty.

You have lots of subjects, very likely all ten of your slots are full and you've begun helping those beneath you. You're generous almost to a fault, giving to those underneath you. Not self-seeking, you seek the benefit of others and don't mind what your personal statistics are. It's for the group, and the love you give to the group is returned to you. Friends describe you as kind and giving, and enemies are few and far between.

So, ladies and gentlemen, pick whichever one best describes you, and I'll see you on the far side of the disaster!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Huskey Garzo Interview

Last weekend, I had the chance to interview Huskey Garzo, the newest King in the Empire, shortly after he had ascended. Here is what happened...

Vulpine Eldrich: So, now that the Ascension party is over, and you get a chance to relax and enjoy feeling like the latest King of the Empire... how does it feel?

Huskey Garzo: Well, I'm a little tired out. Me and a few of my line have been working very hard to get the sim ready for the party as we have not had it long, but my main thing was getting the asension offer on time. I'm just happy it all went well.

Vulpine Eldrich: So you scheduled the ascension offer at a specific time? How do you do that?

Huskey Garzo: Well, I got the Throne room on Thursday morning. So, getting about one path offer per day, I thought Saturday would be a good time. Gives us some time to plan everything as we had a live music event, not just a DJ. And well, I'm in the UK, so my time is well off from SLT. So for most, I thought 12 noon would be a good time and well, at 12:09PM I actually had ascended.

Vulpine Eldrich: So it was part planning, and part luck, that you got the ascension offer nine minutes after the party started?

Huskey Garzo: Well everyone told me you get the offer every few turns. But as Ultra does, he changes a lot of things. Like the rate they come-- I was online for 12 odd hours a day doing the path, and still only doing 1 step per day, if that. And it wasn't until about 3 hours before the event I got the first offer. I just hoped he hadn't changed it again-- that it won't show up every 6 turns, but few hours. So a bit of Luck, yes, you could say.

Vulpine Eldrich: Things change a lot, don't they. One of the more recent things has been researching disasters. Have you done any of that?

Huskey Garzo: Yes. Well me personally, I did crime. That was for my direct subjects more than anything. As I was very close to my personal acres cap, I thought it best to do crime. Later I found out it is only when I’m online, but I still think it was the best one for me. The Abbot, I can still do, and I wouldn’t need the gold.

Vulpine Eldrich: If you spend a lot of time online, that's less of a problem. So you have a lot of direct subjects?

Huskey Garzo: No at the moment I only have 5, two of which are inactive. But I think it helps to maybe sway a new subject a little more to be very active along with the immune to sabo thing. Now as King, I hope to gain a few more directs some time soon.

Vulpine Eldrich: I can see how sabotage immunity might be an inducement to join someone, as well as being a monarch. So how does this fit into your overall plans for the kingdom?

Huskey Garzo: Well really I'm not overly bothered if I don't get to #1 or in the top ten because, me personally, I have done the game. I'm a king, thanks to an amazing line and kingdom I was in, I have the acre cap, working towards the gold cap. So now for me, it will be to get my line to where they want to be. I know of a few who wish to ascend some time. Although growing and getting into the top 10 and maybe some day to #1 would be a great thing to do. But really, just enjoy Te and have fun.

Vulpine Eldrich: So what made you decide to ascend?

Huskey Garzo: Well, for a long, long time I was with one person-- a very good friend of mine. As everyone knows, I never looked to ascend. I had 70K acres and was very happy. But things happen, and due to things that did happen, I lost a lot of subjects and ended up moving lines. I was still unsure if I wanted to ascend. My gold built up, my personal land build up, and then a lot of my line started IM'ing me, asking if I ever would ascend. They thought I would be a good king. So I had the path put back on, and slowly worked my way to it, with the blessing of my then Liege/King Angel Cordoso.

Vulpine Eldrich: That would be the Kingdom of Amber, then. So do you know of any others who were in a similar situation, and who may ascend in the near future?

Huskey Garzo: Well for me, I lost a lot of good friends and a lot of acres-- more than 3/4 of my line-- so really, I had to start new. But one good thing-- because I grew so fast, people knew what I was like. I know of a few who want to ascend, but none in the same fashion-- coming back from losing a lot.

Vulpine Eldrich: Sometimes there's a price to be paid on the path to success. So now that you're here, you have a new kingdom to name and define. What's the name and definition of King Huskey Garzo's kingdom?

Huskey Garzo: The name of my-- well our-- new kingdom is Elysium. It means a few things, depending on how you look at it, but the one that caught my eye was: "Elysium was a pagan expression that passed into the usage of the Christian patristic writers as a synonym for paradise." This is because I would like to have a peaceful, no drama, fun, happy kingdom

Vulpine Eldrich: And so far, the main kingdom event has been one huge party! Do you have any more plans, ideas, or places to go for your kingdom members yet?

Huskey Garzo: Well this whole sim-- a 15K prim sim-- is for the use of our kingdom and friends to come to chill, relax, build, do whatever. We have a few things at the moment to do, like zyngo, fishing-- the general things people enjoy doing in their spare time. We also have a live music venue, as some of our line play live in SL, and my main subject/Wife Deana is a live music promoter in SL. I'm also going to do a schedule for events, live music, etc, on my web site for the kingdom to help all members of the kingdom in their field, whether it be live music, DJ hosting, club owner, etc. A lot more things are to come on the sim. It is still under construction (only had it a little while.)

Vulpine Eldrich looks at her map

Vulpine Eldrich: "Autos"... any particular significance to the name?

Huskey Garzo: Not really. We have this sim from a friend. She kept asking us if we needed a sim, and we had a 3750 prim one to chill and relax in before we ascended. So when we came to ascension, I figured we needed a bigger sim for everything. So Deana Im'ed Queen Angella from Tintagel and she helped us out. “Autos” is just the name on the sim, although it might be changed at a later date.

Vulpine Eldrich: So you've gotten 2,000 personal acres of land, you'll soon have over 2 billion in gold, you've got loyal subjects and a new kingdom. Is there anything more you wish from Tiny Empires?

Huskey Garzo: Well, I first started off in Tiny Empires with the intent of being the best, which is a good attitude to have, and I did do very well. But even if I had not done so well and still met the same people, I would have been just as happy. I have met my now SL Wife from Te, and so, so, so many very good friends-- like 3/4 of my friends list lol. So, like it was before I ascended… just have fun, keep myself out of trouble in RL, and meet a lot of good fun people.

Vulpine Eldrich: And what would your advice to anyone else who wanted to be a monarch?

Huskey Garzo: Mainly, check with your line about what they feel about you ascending, because you don’t want to ascend, then lose most of your line/kingdom and have nothing. So check with them while you’re thinking about it. I was well over the milestones needed to ascend, and found it very easy. Some found it harder work, since they were growing. So I would say: get over 1000 personal acres, and 20K total acres, and save a lot of gold before going into it. I'm glad I did. My path was an enjoyable one. I got hit with Tax amnesty of 66.6 million, Land tract of 33.8 million, a title for 20.6 million, and famine at 8.1 million-- all in 90 minutes of ascending. So it is good to be ready for it.

Vulpine Eldrich: And is there anything new you'd like to see added to the game- new features, options, rules?

Huskey Garzo: Well, Deana and I always worked together very well, and still do. This is why she is my biggest subject, because we are together all the time. So, maybe joint asencion would have been nice, or somehow she could help me out with things. I do have some other ideas in mind, but not right off of the top of my head right now. Lol, been a busy day!

Vulpine Eldrich: So some sort of official role and special privileges for a royal consort.

Huskey Garzo: Yes, someone each Monarch can assign roles to-- one person as a helper. Because things like holidays, being ill, etc. can be a bit of trouble for kings/queens.

Vulpine Eldrich: A very good idea! And, back to your kingdom, if I might quote something I have found in my research... "Poppy sap is known for it's narcotic qualities, and used to create opium, giving them an association with sleep, death and Elysium."... which begs the question... will you make the Official Flower of the Kingdom the Poppy?

Huskey Garzo: We have a crest. At the moment, we are working to get a new one custom made from someone in our line (they have been very busy in RL and are doing a few different ones for us to pick the best from). They have looked into everything about Elysium, so there might (and probably will) be one with the poppy in it.

Vulpine Eldrich: Well I'm sure it's something we can all look forward to! And, one last thing... what question or questions did I miss? Is there anything I should have asked you and didn't?

Huskey Garzo: How i got into Tiny Empires?

Vulpine Eldrich: How did you?

Huskey Garzo: Well, my real life brother had been on SL a while before I tried it out. I thought it was the most silly and stupid thing ever. Then one time, my best friend asked me to play and to join him and help him out as he has just started and had no subjects as of yet. Against my will, I put on the Hud. I didn’t really pay attention or anything, but just bought land as it came. I then got the full Hud, and still plodded along until I thought, “you know what, I’m going to play this. I have spent L's on it, might as well make the most of it.” And from that point on, it came to me that Te is a very good, fun game and you do meet a lot of very good people from it. And then I wanted to take over the Te world lol.

Vulpine Eldrich: So Tiny Empires actually got you into Second Life, it's not something you found and started after you'd been in Second Life for a while?

Huskey Garzo: Well my brother got me into SL because he never had a comp before and (horribly), I used to kick him off it a lot to play my games, and always used to hear the ding for the turn. It drove me mad. He got me to try SL, and then a little while later the friend got me into TE.

Huskey Garzo: Then he stopped playing TE, and it is me that is making him play lol.

Vulpine Eldrich: Well, welcome to both Second Life AND Tiny Empires, and thank you for your time at the end of a long, busy, and eventful day!

Huskey Garzo: Thank you for your time and thanks so much to my great line and kingdom for making this possible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gold Bricking

The other day, we had someone ask about The Gold Brick. She had found a gold brick on an acre of her land and wanted to know what it was. Further questioning has produced more questions than answers. So far, here is what is apparently known about The Brick:

  • You buy an acre of land and find a gold brick on it

  • There are apparently no further messages about the brick

  • This can happen multiple times to the same person

  • No obvious ties to allies or embassies

  • No apparent connection to the Festival

  • Little, if any, rank restriction- ours was a Marquise, and Monarchs have found one, too.

  • This shows only for people with the Federation Hud

And that seems to be the sum total of what is known. If anyone has any further details, personal experiences, or even wild theories, share it with the rest of us! Please!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yes, Pat, I'd like to buy a Count

Recently, one of our new members uttered the phrase, "is that the only way you can give gold?". Once again, the paucity of ways to 'give gold' was highlighted.

The inability to give gold from one player to another very easily- and almost always at a huge loss- is not an accident. But the reason for it is something that I've rarely bothered to fully explain. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that here.

At its core, Tiny Empires is a game of land. You spend time playing the game, and in turn you get land. Land = rank, and the fact that those under you give you more rank is the social networking part of it. But laying that aside for a moment, consider the fact that I did not use the word "gold". To be more accurate, you spend time and you get gold. You then use the gold to buy land. Why did I leave that out?

The reason is because gold is there only as an intermediate step between you... and land. While there are certainly other things to spend it on (the Emperor seems to take a perverse delight in finding new ways to do so), the main reason it exists is to buy land. Thus, when considering your financial position, thinking "how much gold I got" is not a truly accurate way of looking at it. It would be more accurate to say "how much land did I earn?"

The reason I stress this is because the game is weighted to reduce your ability to earn land as you buy more... how fast depending on a number of factors. It does this by rapidly increasing the price of land... but some things- notably gold windfalls, riddle prices, poll rewards, and census bonuses- do increase just as quickly.

Now, consider for a moment. Let's say that I spend three hours online and, having a lot of land and income, I earn five million in gold. That sounds like a lot of gold, but when I spend two and a half million gold for one acre, I've only earned two acres of land. But if I could give that five million to a new player with very little land, they could take the same amount and buy two hundred acres. This is the natural result of the rapidly increasing scale of income/cost that is built into the game and is also the reason why transferring gold to lower ranking subjects is next to impossible. It would be easy to multiply your land a hundredfold by having a player with a lot of land and thus income transferring the income to a player with very little land. It's also why it is such a slow process to give land away... a player could simply save their high income land, transfer all of the land to another player, and then buy low priced land with their accumulated hoard of gold from earlier times.

So, when considering income, don't waste time thinking of it in terms of gold pieces earned.. think of it in terms of land earned... and never forget sight of the fact that even giving a smaller amount of gold to someone else (say with loyalty rewards) can still not be as huge of a loss as it seems... that ten percent that your subject got could buy them more land than the full amount could have bought you.

So, why can't we transfer gold? Because, as a Princess with a lot of it, I could easily "buy" lower ranking subjects.... but somehow, I don't think I'll ever get the chance to say, "Yes, Pat, I'd like to buy a Count."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A new bribe?

Did anyone notice recently when the answers to the cryptic riddles weren't working anymore? You would do all of the adding and totaling of your land amount, and the answer would be wrong... the rules were changed! A slight change in wording was your only clue that something was different.

Unlike most games, Tiny Empires is a game in which the rules are subject to change without notice at any time. It certainly keeps things interesting! But since we're changing the rules as we go, here's a new one that might be fun...

Currently, when someone wants to switch allegiance, they have to pay their current liege to leave and join a new one. How many times have two Tiny Empires players sat together while one of them accumulates the gold necessary to switch? I wouldn't want to even guess at that number, but I'm sure it's fairly large.

So, a possible solution would be to make the liege change offers happen on both sides. For example, if a Countess is standing next to a Duchess, the Countess gets the offer to pay to switch allegiance (as happens now)... but the Duchess also gets an offer which reads "You are standing next to Countess Mulligan. Offer her xxx gold to join your kingdom?"

Several things would happen if this option were available. The first one is that a lot of changes would occur much faster-- the higher ranking player is usually in a much better position to afford the payment than the lower-ranking one. (This would probably hold true even after the usual calculations which would have the higher ranking player paying much more than the lower ranking one... and the lower ranking one receiving only a fraction of what had been paid.)

The second change that would happen is that it wouldn't take long for some bright soul to see this as a way to transfer gold from one player to another. Bribes occur at random, and usually with people you never met. Voluntary payments to switch occur from lower to higher- usually not the way you want your gold to flow. But this goes from higher to lower, and even with the losses that occur in such a transaction, it could be seen as a gain from a purely monetary point of view. This means that the offer would have to be limited... say that a player would only be eligible to receive one of these bribe offers once or twice a week. This takes care of most genuine changes in loyalty, while limiting the incidents to a rare enough level to make "switch me back and forth to give me gold" a largely futile strategy.

The third change would be between Princes and Princesses. Since a Prince can go under another Prince, the current offers that both receive are to pay their current liege to join the other. (These mutual offers to switch can even mask- hide- offers to become allies.) Now, with this new option, one of two things would have to be done... either have a system of alternating offers (pay them gold to join you.... next year, pay gold to join them) or just not offer this between Princes and Princesses (which likely wouldn't be a bad idea, since at that level, the amount of gold usually isn't an issue when wanting to switch allegiance.)

The fourth change would be a bit more subtle, but perhaps longer reaching. When the only way to join someone is to pay gold from your own purse- and to do so without any possibility of direct recompense from your new liege- you have to be serious about switching. You certainly aren't doing it for the money! But this option opens up the possibility of more 'rolling stones'... people who switch allegiances at any time when gold is offered to them. The fact that it is done in person would make it less anonymous than the current habits of accepting automated bribes, but the principal could be much the same. And voila, a new source for drama is born in Tiny Empires!

So does this sound like a desirable new feature or not? And what else have I overlooked here? What other possibilities can you foresee from this idea if it were implemented?