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."

No comments: