Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gone Fishing!

A couple of days ago, I finally got around to doing something that I'd been putting off for some time. I contacted a friend of mine (and a subject in TE) and asked her if she could get me started in 7 Seas fishing. She could, and gladly did. Before long, I had my rod, and dipped it into her chocolate waters to catch my first fish (a blue five-eyed mutant fish...)

Since then, I've been practicing it almost constantly. Tonight, I caught Moby Dick. And unless you think that's just a fish story, I've got the picture to prove it:

That's Moby in the middle. He got an interesting looking Captain's hat from somewhere....

You can wear your fish, and they circle you. Touching them gives you options of what they can do. There's even a game within the game, in which you can catch salvage items and blueprints to make gadgets to help you fish. The picture above shows my Oceanography Database, as it sits and records all of my catches. Then, too, there's the clothing. The gold fishing hat was a gift from a friend, though I've caught plenty of other clothing...including worm and hook earrings. (You might be a redneck if...)

So, at this point, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with Tiny Empires. The answer lies in another question: what sort of person makes a good Tiny Empires player? One quick response is that it's the type of person who can get a lot of people to follow them, and keep them. Another response might be that it's the type of person who can run a hundred alts at once.

While both of those answers have their own points, I think another large part of the answer lies in the pastimes people enjoy. Perceptive readers will note that, on several occasions, I have asked monarchs if they offer fishing at their Kingdom's gathering centers. Quite often, they do.

One of the things that is said about Tiny Empires is that "you can just put the HUD on and play the game while you do other things." But WHAT other things? Granted, it's not likely to take your full attention- with action once every three minutes, that can usually be decided upon in a matter of seconds, it's not something that will demand every mental and physical resource you can bring to bear. But at the same time, you need to be in a scripts-enabled area, and- particularly if you have the Fed hud- you have to be able to devote some attention to it once every three minutes.

Shopping can be seriously impeded by this. As long as the shopping area allows scripts and it's not too laggy, you're fine. Otherwise, you either have to give up the shop, or give up TE. (Well, at least for a little bit.)

Building runs into two problems. One, a good builder is often going to be so absorbed in what they're doing that they forget the TE Hud... which can lead to disasters (literally). Two, if you are in edit mode, clicking the hud to make your turn decisions just puts the hud in edit mode- not what you want.

But there are some other activities that one can engage in, and I can think of three notable ones:

  1. Dancing

  2. Fishing

  3. Camping

All three of these activities demand that a person be present at one place for an extended period of time, and that they won't be doing anything else that requires a lot of attention. If one usually engages in couples dancing, this can be even better- you can pass land. If you're fishing, your fishing partner sitting beside you can get (or give) the land. If you're camping, this usually tends to be more of a solo project- but I've had a subject tell me, quite bluntly, that Tiny Empires helps keep her from going insane with boredom while she camps.

Which leads to the conclusion that a person who is patient, persistent, considerate, and who is able and willing to spend lots of time for rewards that come later is likely to succeed in Tiny Empires. Being a King or Queen often requires that social personality that gathers a huge crowd, but if you just want to be a Prince or Princess, and you're willing to work at it, then you may likely be the type to enjoy doing just a little something else while the TE Hud ticks away.

Oh, I heard the bird call, that means I need to start casting again. Here fishy, fishy, fishy...

(p.s. Look for the barrel above by our barn in the southeast corner of Caledon Cay... it has free fish in it for anyone who wants some.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



If someone yells that and you think they are accusing you of betraying them, you probably haven't been playing enough Tiny Empires. The mysterious trader is the stuff of legends... everyone looks forward to his coming (usually, at least), and everyone talks about him- both good and bad.

But for someone who is the tall, dark, mysterious stranger of so many dreams, exact information about what he does isn't always as well known. The trader is here, what do you do? Well, there are various things that you have to do, depending on what he gives you (assuming you managed to pay his rather high price.) How well you like doing it depends on how much time and attention you can devote to it. Call it your "activity level". (I know of some people who have several alts on to catch the trader... ouch. That activity level is definitely above mine!)

So, assuming that you have a certain activity level, which alternatives will stress that level more than others? Ranked in order, here are the possibilities. We'll start with the most stressful and work down to the least:

For one year, your land is worth more than usual.

This one will keep you hopping! You can sell land for more than it costs you to buy. This means that for twelve months, you have to page through and click yes on TWO offers- one to buy, and one to sell! The gold you earn by doing those two clicks every month is definitely a profit over what you pay, but you earn it. Some people propose just selliing land, and not buying back at the time. I've yet to analyze the situation closely, but I suspect it comes out about the same either way. What is known is that most people both sell and buy every month- two clicks! Total: 24 clicks (plus paging through)

For one year,your generosity will be richly rewarded.

You get a chance to give away acres! For eleven months, when you give away land, you are rewarded with gold the next month. (That's why you can only do it for eleven months- if you give the land away in the last month, which it lets you do, you won't be rewarded because the next month is after the 'trader year'.) This may be only one click, but it also involves finding someone to give the acre to! Indeed, this fact alone can arguably make this the hardest and most active and stressful option... but once you find someone, it is only one click (give land to that person) every month- and for only eleven months at that. (Some people recommend finding a different person each time, saying that it gives better rewards. If you do that, I'd say this is inarguably the busiest option!!) Total: 11 clicks

For one year, you may buy land at a very low price.

For twelve months, you have to click yes to buying land. While it's more clicks than the generosity option (one per month- buy land!) you don't have to find anyone else to give land to. You can sit there and click ONCE each month. (If you don't have enough gold, the clicks can be more, since you both buy AND sell in some months to get gold.) Total: 12 clicks (minimum)

For one year, purchased land is likely to contain surprises.

Buy land for eleven months! In the next month, when it is purchased, you find a prize on the new acre. This is one click per month- but only eleven months, not twelve. It has the same caveat as the gift of generosity- the reward shows up in the next month, so you get a chance to buy acre number twelve, but you don't get any prize on it (or are only as likely to as you ever are- no guarantees). So,just buy, buy, buy.... Total: 11 clicks

A book appears as if from thin air. It is locked. He gives it to you. (Fed Hud Only)

This one has no clicks in the "trader year". So, it's low stress, and low activity, in this year... but it's a lot more clicking and work later on, as you complete the quest of how to open and interpret it. It's also a fair amount of money. So, not much activity up front, but more later. Total: 0 clicks up front, plenty later

He gives you a bag of Golden Seeds, and your land production skyrockets. (Fed Hud Only)

No clicks necessary! You just stay online, and watch your gold pour in. (Check your accounting tab). This one is fun. Nothing to do except one thing: just stay online and active. This one is low stress and fun to watch! Total: 0 clicks over 12 months

One gold increase in land production for evermore

No clicks necessary! And not only that, there is no further quest to worry about, and you don't even have to stay online after you see it! If you want to, you can read it, say "great", and just log off! All it means is that your land now produces one more gold per acre. This one pays for itself over the long run, and is the lowest of the low in activity level. Nothing to do, no commitment to make, just read it, and enjoy at your leisure. Total: 0 clicks over 0 months.

So, from high stress to low stress, these are your options. If you'd like some more information on them, and the Trader in general, I highly recommend reading the Tiny Empires wiki.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The new standings

So, for those of you who haven't looked lately, the Standings Page has been redone! I recommend you look at it, on http://tinyempires.com/standings and then read further....

Here are the major differences, roughly in the order you will encounter them:

  • The standings pages come up in a pop-up window when you click the map, rather than as a new page. That can be remedied by right clicking it and choosing to open the link in a new tab or window.

  • There are no separate pages for each 'section' of a tree... a whole kingdom is in one page, no matter if it's got three people, or two thousand. (Try it- go to Avalon's page, open it up...)

  • It's not laid out as a "tree" anymore, it's in an outline format. Each section on the outline can be collapsed or expanded.

  • Each line has more information. Rank is a jewel, the title is given in gray, and icons after names indicate other things about that player.

  • Doing a search from the main page gives you a trail that consists of hyperlinks for every person. Clicking on any of those names will pull up the standings page for that kingdom, go directly to that person, and show you where they are by flashing it in blue.

  • As you move your mouse over names, the upline for each person is shown with a darker brown or tan background.

For reference, the icons that I have seen so far after names, and their meanings:

Mounted Knight:
has won 10 jousting matches

has completed the Trader's locked book quest

Sherrif's badge:
has finished researching crime

Stalk of wheat:
has finished researching famine

Red Cross:
has finished researching disease

Oval with 'GV':
Grand Viceroy/Vicereine

Oval with 'V':

The ranks are indicated by jewels, as follows:

Light blue diamond

Round purple amethyst

Round blue sapphire

Red heart Ruby

Oval Green Emerald

Square Orange (??)

Square Yellow (Topaz?)

Pink Heart (?)



Reaction has been, to say the least, mixed. Many have been very vocal in their dislike for it. I pointed out in chat that there was more information, and one reply was that it was just more lag (as if SL didn't have enough of that already, etc...) This made me go back and examine the pages more carefully, and consider what the true size of before and after might be. It's hard to do an accurate comparison, since the old pages are gone, but I can get close. I believe the pages are larger. The old large files (pictures) are gone, but each and every name is a picture! There is no text within the page. (So there's no use in using your browser's 'find' feature to jump to a specific person, etc...)

I suspect this was a deliberate design decision. It does result in significantly larger downloads, but it also means that automated scanning of the pages for information is basically useless, since there is no text to scan. (It's like those twisted pictures of letters that you have to squint at to prove that you're human... you have a chance of figuring it out, but the computer doesn't.)

And speaking of people deciphering information from pictures, this is the main complaint, I believe. "It's harder to see where everyone is at." In other words, it's easier to see who is under, over, or beside someone else when it is laid out in a two-dimensional chart. The outline is more compact, but the old straight vertical lines are now horizontal stairsteps. (and at first, not even the stairsteps were showing!)

To my mind, it is a better tool, and while I regret losing the old layout when it comes to quickly seeing who is where by shape- not by name- I'm sure I'll get used to it in time. I do love the new information. Oh, and since each name is a graphic, this means that you can save a kingdom's webpage to your computer, and check the number of pictures it has in it to get a count of how many people are in it. That won't be exact, of course, but it will be close. Just make sure you have a bit of room. Avalon's picture folder is 6.35 megabytes of pictures-- all two thousand, six hundred and seventy nine of them!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tiny Empires' Tree Ring

I remember learning how trees form their rings, and how come they have one ring per year. As the seasons go by, the spring and summer see fast growth. The tree grows quickly, and it forms lighter, softer wood. As fall and cold comes, the tree's growth slows, the wood is thicker, harder, and darker. That dark ring is formed by the winter. And people can often gauge the overall climate by the variation in those dark and light patterns.

As in trees, so perhaps in Tiny Empires. I was talking with a friend and subject, and he was discussing about the "what to do" problem that many Tiny Empires players face. Here is the tree ring for Tiny Empires:

Wanderer to Prince-- lots to learn and do. Land improvements, housing upgrades, and rank to achieve. Hopefully subjects to get, as well.

Monarch- the final rank before Emperor. A number of options in caring for your kingdom, with special titles, tracts of land, even punishment options if you deem those necessary.

And recently, Viceroys and Vicereines.

Now, what is between those? For the Prince or Princess, with a thousand acres in total holdings, to the Prince or Princess who may have a hundred thousand (certainly less than twenty thousand), they are one among a growing number. They've achieved high rank. There won't be any higher rank unless they ascend... and they may not be able to, or as much or more often, not be interested, for whatever reason. What is there for them to do?

As a Princess myself in that area, I find fulfillment here, on the blog, or in discussing the game. More often, I engage in passing land, advice and encouragement to those under me. Even in having land parties to help someone. But for myself, personally, I'd be facing near terminal boredom.

Why this huge lack of "anything new" between becoming a Prince and becoming a Viceroy?

The history of Tiny Empires may offer a clue. The game started with all of the options from Wanderer to Prince. All of the housing upgrades, land improvements, rank increases, were all there basically from the day things started. The distance from a prince to a King (and the original King was Ultralite, there were no other kingdoms) was not that great. The top ten landholders automatically got a chance to become a direct subject of the King. And as late as November of 2007, that distance wasn't all that great- Ellie Bearcat (later to become Queen of Caledon) was getting offers to be a direct subject of the (then) Emperor when she only had total holdings of five to seven thousand acres. That seemed like a huge amount then, and it was at that time. The first kingdom was formed when Celty Westwick had the huge total of twenty thousand acres.

So, we start with the options of Wanderer to Prince. Then we have Monarchs, and the King becomes Emperor. Much later (in game terms) we have Viceroys. But the huge expanse in the middle has opened since then- a lot of Princes and Princesses at a thousand acres to twenty thousand (or more), and there's not a lot for them to do, it seems. The Federation HUD helps the situation, with its festivals, and possible other chances of gaining gold, with allies, citizens... even disasters can stave off boredom. But a lot of players are facing the problem of "what now?" when they become a Princess (or Prince.)

It would be interesting to ask what meaningful changes could open up to a Prince or Princess... the possibility of engaging in trade, to temporarily boost land production, or improve sagging land production? There are a number of options, but the ring in the tree, I think, can be accounted for by that single growth pattern. Things were put into place at the bottom on day one. Things were put into place at the top as things developed. But the huge growth in the middle hasn't had a lot put into place for it.

Ideas? Anyone?