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?


Luciana Sciarri said...

I don´t know if it is possible, but here goes an idea. After one gets about 5,000 acres, there could be an option to especialize.

Let´s imagine that, after you have a large Principality, a Prince can afford to: (A) be a warlord; (B) turn your cities into market centers; (C) hire the best avvisors to run your principality.

After you choose one of the options, you could have steps, similar to the Path to Royalty.

In the (A) warlord option, each step would be military campains and you would get a generous batch of personal acres (or maybe acres for you and your direct subjects).

In the (B), you could get significant and permanent increases on your gold per acre as you make trade routs with the Orient, for example.

In the (C) option, as you become a just promoter of Justice, improve the use of land, and make sanitary reforms on your cities, your max population cap and/or your extra gold for people on census could be raised (since you can sustain more population and they would produce more).

Vulpine Eldrich said...

Luciana, great ideas! I suppose, as usual, the 'devil is in the details', but something like that is exactly what I was hoping to spark. Thanks :)

Of course, we're just a Princess and a Queen, it's up to the Emperor to actually do anything.... so from your keyboard to the Emperor's eyes!

Luciana Sciarri said...

I confess I have no idea of how the game engine works, but I think it is doable. Let´s hope it is and the Emperor likes it ;)

(and it could be available after you get a certain ammount of total acres, like in the Path to Royalty - maybe when you get 5,000)

Anonymous said...

IMHO, other avenues beyond the path to royalty should be opened. There could be the path to knighthood, the path to cleric, the path to guardian of the kingdom, lots of them could be made that would provide other lines, so to speak, to spin individual players into. Right now, the alt thing is killing the game for me, i think its ridiculous that everyone cheats. But alternate lines besides the path to royalty would at least makeit more interesting.

Anonymous said...

OH, one last idea, long come kingdoms can't war to overthrow other kingdoms? Come on, the middle ages were not peaceful nor pleasant except in Hollywood versions. Someone get me a poleaxe and let me loose would you?

Vulpine Eldrich said...

Another thought I had, which is, at this moment, so vague I hesitate to even mention it...

Have some sort of way in which you could decide how much of your land produced what, and then some sort of way to trade, in person, with other people who have what you need- trade or sell- with the prize being, more land production, more gold if you produce something valuable, etc... make it even more fun, have the various productivity factors be different for each kingdom. (Some kingdoms are good at producing metal ores, some at producing grains, some at ship making etc)

Vulpine Eldrich said...

Bullpup Udal: which if someone chose say path to knighthood, you could challenge others to tourneys and what not
Bullpup Udal: wouldn't be warfare, but would give some sort of competition
Vulpine Eldrich: maybe it would give you better odds of winning jousts in the festival!

Varian said...

I'm not too keen on any idea involving 'warfare' - that goes against the original ethos of the game, and we already get enough people committed to 'winning' by 'beating' everyone else (see the Buckaroo Mu interview and its attached comments, for a recent example).

But I do like the idea of trade. Perhaps as a new hud, something that goes beyond Federation, and requires you to, say, trade with players in other kingdoms, in order to get the gold from your land. For instance, instead of receiving gold automatically each month, perhaps you warehouse your land's production until you have enough to send to a 'trading partner' player, receiving gold as his citizens buy what you're selling (and maybe the partner gets 'sales tax income'?).

I like your suggestion of kingdom specialisation - but Gianfar Peaks currently specialises in dragons, which are notoriously difficult to trade...

Anonymous said...

wonder what the requirements for a principality are...

Anonymous said...

I think the easiest way to keep interest in people having achieved the ranks of Prince/Princess would be to motivate them to return to the game or a regular basis... If they don't they would then lose an amount of golds over a period of time, and over another period of time, they could lose another amount of acres. It should be a fair system though where people could have a way to "lock" their position, if they will be away for a while, and can't return to sl right away.

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