Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Trader and an Emperor at Play

It would seem that the fun did not end with the Huds coming back to life... it was only beginning.

Shortly after I posted that the huds were dead, they did come back to life. And before long they went down again for another hour or so (more work).

When they came back, things were a bit... interesting for a while.

For starters, my first month or two back, I was not
"La Reina Zorra Vulpine Eldrich
of Caledon"

anymore. Instead I was

"The Eternally Patient Vulpine Eldrich
of Caledon"

But as if that weren't enough, several months later, I became

"MoLove's Minion Vulpine Eldrich
of Egypt"

This is where you hit the panic button. I checked my companion, and it said I was in my usual line, within Caledon. But the hud said... wait, there must be some sort of database malfunction here. Maybe I've been confused with someone else. So I send Mo an IM, asking him who 'MoLove's Minion' is. His reply? Apparently, everyone! Hmmm....

The next month, I was back in Caledon with my proper title, though the smile on Mo's face lasted for hours. Oh, but things weren't finished yet. A couple of months later..

"La Reina Zorra Vulpine Eldrich
OMG! Where is your land?"

Well, the land line read "0 acres (0 personal)" which would have been worrying earlier... but I'd decided by this time that I really couldn't believe what I was reading. So I waited. Sure enough, the next month it was

"La Reina Zorra Vulpine Eldrich
Ok, back to normal now..."

Well, the line about my land was normal, but the date wasn't. It didn't say Feb. 1110, it said Feb. 2009. Who ever heard of a crazy date like that?

But the day continued. Queen Ellie got a chance to give away a tract of land- for free. I'm sure all of the other monarchs did as well. Then the trader came-- to the whole Empire! He hadn't done that in ages.

The Emperor was testing his new server, and had decided that the best way to load test it was to send a Trader to every kingdom at the same time. He was right. Unfortunately, his server didn't do so well. The Trader came, true, but afterwards a lot of us started missing months. "Your Tiny Empires Hud seems to have missed a turn..." well it wasn't my fault, it was the server not getting back to it in time!

The Emperor admitted his server had a few bugs it needed to get worked out. And life resumed its normal pace for a while.

But the next evening, more special messages appeared. Apparently, if the Emperor got an IM from at least one person whose name started with every letter of the alphabet- within that month- then the trader would come. He was flooded with IM's, and must have been kept very busy tracking them (between laughs). But at the end of the month, he was still missing three letters. (O, X, and Y, I believe) So no trader. But then he proposed a riddle, in which two kingdoms were referenced. If the riddle was solved, a trader would come.

The riddle was solved. (The kingdoms in question were Mysterious Woods and Devonshire.)

This was in the evening, so a lot of people were on. And with the games beforehand about "maybe a trader will come", interest was even more piqued than usual. Not surprisingly, a new load test happened! The emperor declared that the server was getting and handling more than thirty five requests per second. Apparently that's good- it's certainly good enough to keep an empire-wide trader going at prime time week night.

This time, the Trader year did not have a problem- no reported missed months, and lots of people enjoying his benefits. The Emperor announced himself satisfied with the server's performance. Well, in a way. His exact quote was

"This server appears to be kicking several different kinds of ass, in many interesting ways, using several martial arts techniques"

So, what new changes are around the corner? Obviously new hardware is in place, with an upgraded performance enabling lots of fun things. And, also obviously, we have an Emperor who is not at all hesitant about playing with his powers to shake things out of their usual routines. One obvious possibility is an empire-wide trader, again, for good. It's happened twice now, and server limitations may not be a problem anymore.

Time will tell. And, I suspect, not too much of it will be needed!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The day the Huds died

Yesterday morning, the Emperor stated the following:

[8:41] Ultralite Soleil: Good morning/afternoon/evening all. I want to let you know the Tiny Empires game server will be going down for some scheduled maintenance today. If all goes well, it should be back up after a few hours. If it goes poorly, it might be down for a day. For part of the work, I will be at the mercy of the techs at the server hosting company, so there's a bit of an unknown factor with how long it will take.

Now, nearly twenty four hours later, things are still down. This morning, there are rumors of some sims that have working huds, so maybe there is hope. But in the meantime, all our huds are getting is "Connecting...."

The Tiny Empires site states "It's working!" but we're informed that simply means there is a default Apache webserver running there.

I have to say, in my more than a year of playing Tiny Empires, this is the longest down time that I can remember. It's odd, being able to go places without worrying about scripts, or checking on the Hud every few minutes....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Miss Doe's Interview

On a day not too long in the past, I donned a black dress, black wig, hooded black cloak, and black deer mask. Thus suitably disguised as 'Miss Doe', I proceeded to an undisclosed location to talk with Prince Q of Kingdom A and Princess R of Kingdom B. These two nobles have engaged in an intriguing but possibly risky practice known as 'trader jumping'.... Here is what happened...

Princess R, Miss Doe, Prince Q

Miss Doe steps into the darkened area, and peers around uncertainly through the smoked glass eyes of her mask. "Q? R? Hello?"

Prince Q: Hello Miss Doe.

Miss Doe: Oh, Q... where's R, did she make it?

Prince Q looks back at R

Princess R: R is around, ;)

Miss Doe looks around the corner

Miss Doe: Oh there you are... good! Are we safe, here then?

Prince Q: As safe as one can be on non-restricted land.

Miss Doe: Oh, good point. Well maybe we can make it quick. What's this 'trader jumping' thing about, anyway? It sounds wild...

Prince Q: It's a method to experience the trader more frequently than every other day.

Princess R: sometimes twice in the same day

Miss Doe: Wow.... how do you manage it?

Prince Q: When the trader is first sighted, you have six months before you have to pay. You can change lieges in four months.

Princess R: Three months if you get the timing right, like if he shows while we are together.

Prince Q: And after you pay the trader, you can jump right back to your old liege, and the trader year continues.

Miss Doe: So let me get this straight. Since you're in two kingdoms, the trader is visiting each on his own schedule. So with some fine timing- and 6 months warning with 3-4 months to switch is fine timing- you can get him no matter which kingdom he's in?

Prince Q: If you have a friend of the right rank in the other kingdom waiting to TP you, yes.

Princess R: yes, and we have. ;)

Miss Doe: So, Q, you go under R when he visits her kingdom, and R, you go under Q when he visits Q's kingdom.

Princess R: yes, although Q has things set up a little simpler than myself.

Prince Q: There are a host of issues to resolve.

Miss Doe: How so?

Prince Q: Well, you're up-line has to be accepting ...

Miss Doe: Starting with one's immediate liege, I'm sure.

Princess R: and your current liege needs to be online.

Prince Q: When I jump, I take 20k acres with me, and that can freak a prince out.

Miss Doe gulps and imagines a full kingdom disappearing in a heartbeat.

Princess R: It can freak a monarch out, too.

Miss Doe: I can... see why. R, is your jump as dramatic?

Princess R: We both have over 20K total acres.

Miss Doe gives a muffled whistle.

Prince Q: But we try to not jump if it means we'll be gone for census.

Princess R: Yes, that would be bad. The whole up-line would suffer.

Prince Q: Don't want your up-line to lose all their citizens. It's a bit easier for me, because my liege is an alt of mine. So I can always bring him on to take me back at the right time.

Miss Doe: and he's very understanding about it...

Prince Q: Yes, it took a while to get him 1000 personal acres ... but now he's (chuckle) quite understanding.

Princess R: My direct liege isn't always available. However, I do have an understanding and sympathetic higher up, who can take me back.

Miss Doe: But you have to pay to leave your old liege (granted, Q, your alt benefits) and pay again to return. Is it really worth paying twice to get the trader once?

Prince Q: Personally, I don't gain a whole lot. Changing lieges twice takes a lot of gold. But my down-line loves me.

Miss Doe: I can imagine. How many people usually get the extra trader?

Prince Q: As many as 20 have been on once. And as few as 5.

Miss Doe: So personally, you don't gain much land or gold (net), but if you get about 10 people with cheap land or something similar, you could get a hundred more acres in holdings that you wouldn't have gotten any other way.

Prince Q: That's correct. But even more, I get a down-line that is reluctant to leave for other kingdoms.

Miss Doe: Except when they find themselves in the other kingdom... I suppose that's as good a way of yelling 'trader' as any.

Prince Q: Yes, they only get a month or two notice. I use the general Kingdom chat.

Princess R: lol, yes, that does work, the down-line doesn't get much warning.

Prince Q: But the first time it happens, someone in the down-line is always worried in the 4 months we are away because their title starts to fade.

Miss Doe: Oh, good point. How long does it take a title to fade away?

Princess R: Most of a day, sometimes longer.

Prince Q: And we're only gone 4-5 months.

Miss Doe: Not even close to a day. But if they haven't experienced it before, I can see how it would be alarming. What other problems are there with this?

Prince Q: By the time the trader year is over, everybody is happy.

Princess R: It can cause a major change in the kingdoms’ rank.

Prince Q: If your liege doesn't have at least one other subject, his citizens will drop to zero -- no waiting for census.

Miss Doe: Ouch. Has that happened to your alt?

Prince Q: It did the first time.

Miss Doe nods in understanding

Miss Doe: So are you afraid the Emperor will find out? I mean, it seems hard to believe that the fame of this hasn't spread at least among your two kingdoms. He's certain to hear of it eventually.

Prince Q: I believe he already knows. He knows everything doesn't he?

Miss Doe maintains a discreet silence.

Princess R: hehehe

Miss Doe: So how did this all start?

Princess R: It started as a theory, 'What would happen if ...'

Prince Q: We started thinking about this almost as soon as the trader started to come to different kingdoms at different times. I used to be R's subject before an ascension pulled us apart. We've remained close. And this needs a bit of trust to go the first time or two.

Princess R: I used to be a direct of Q's Monarch before they ascended.

Miss Doe: A bit of trust on the part of everyone, it seems... up-line, down-line, and personally.

Prince Q: Yes, but the rewards are good for everyone too, up-line, down-line and personally.

Miss Doe: Well, the down-line gets more traders. And I guess the up-line gets more acreage, just as you do, as long as their hearts hold out.

Prince Q: I've tried to recruit others in other kingdoms to jump to. But without a personal connection, it doesn't seem to work.

Miss Doe: So it's just the two of you doing this?

Princess R: There are a couple of others who have helped.

Prince Q: Another in R's kingdom when R isn't online. And I've jumped once to a different kingdom.

Miss Doe: Did your down-line question why it wasn't the usual 'alternate' kingdom when you did?

Prince Q: No. By that time, they'd learned to enjoy the ride.

Princess R giggles

Miss Doe: and the trader lol...

Prince Q: yes ... so my down-line tries to always keep trader money available.

Miss Doe: So how often does this usually happen?

Prince Q: Well, not so much over the holidays, but we're going to start up again.

Miss Doe: A good point. The two of you must be online together a lot, then.

Prince Q: R is online more than me. My RL is starting to squeeze me. But, we are online together quite a bit.

Princess R: Not so much recently, but, with the right offline message, Q can be on quite quickly.

Miss Doe decides not to ask about the other secret methods of communication

Prince Q: Oh, this is too good to not share. I have my group notices sent to my gmail account, and if the notice has the word TRADER in it, it gets sent to my cell phone as a txt message. So, I almost never miss a trader -- though it's a bit tougher to get online in time to jump.

Miss Doe: You must be near a computer at all times, then.

Prince Q: Most of the time, I'm within 30 seconds of my keyboard.

Miss Doe: R, do you have that sort of ability, or do you leave it to Q to be available anywhere almost instantaneously?

Princess R: I'm lucky in that I still live with my sisters, and one of us is almost always at home, so, 'I' can be online a lot of the time

Miss Doe: Ah, a good point, and a goodly amount of trust.

Prince Q: Yes, trust is important.

Miss Doe: So since both of you have enough to be your own kingdom, and since I hear that the Trader comes more frequently to smaller kingdoms... have either of you thought of ascending? Q, if your alt was a King, you could catch the trader in his kingdom, in Kingdom A (assuming someone there would take you) and in Kingdom B. Trader surfeit!

Prince Q: I'm not online enough to be a good monarch.

Princess R: And I don't want the responsibilities, and drama, that goes with being a monarch.

Prince Q: So this is what we do instead of giving out titles, and assigning vice-reigns.

Miss Doe: I gather that the drama from the trader jumping has more or less died down to an acceptance and even enjoyment, then.

Prince Q: I haven't heard from anyone who objects, once they know that it's okay with our monarch.

Miss Doe: And your monarch approves in both kingdoms, I take it?

Prince Q: Mine certainly does.

Princess R giggles

Miss Doe giggles as well

Miss Doe: So it's full speed ahead with more traders. Do you have any active plans for recruiting more people from other kingdoms, or do you just do it between the two of you and mention it now and then to see what happens?

Prince Q: When I get in a good conversation with a prince/ss or monarch, I'll ask, but I'm not looking around for the purpose of finding a new jumping partner.

Princess R laughs

Miss Doe: R? Are you content just to do trader jumps with Q?

Princess R: I tend to just go with the flow. If it's convenient, I'll go for it, if not, I don't.

Miss Doe: So if someone else decided they wanted to do this, do you have any advice at all?

Prince Q: Make sure that your liege is online before you jump away.

Princess R: check with both your up and down line, and especially with your monarch first.

Prince Q: The down-line can get restive if they're not back where they belong quickly. Oh, and what R said.

Princess R: Make sure that you have enough gold ;)

Miss Doe: You must spend all your time saving gold, between multiple switches and traders.

Prince Q: I keep 20x an acre price to make sure I have enough for both jumps and the trader.

Miss Doe: I can believe it.

Miss Doe looks around at the darkened sky

Miss Doe: Maybe we'd better leave before anyone else notices us. Was there anything else I needed to know about this?

Prince Q: There's always something, but I think you have the most important details.

Miss Doe: Great. Good luck jumping and if you get a call from another kingdom, well... you know :)

Prince Q: It was a pleasure to speak with you.

Princess R: What Q said, ;)

Miss Doe: Take care, Prince Q, Princess R :)

Prince Q: Take care.

Miss Doe slips away back into the shadows, giving a last goodbye wave to her new friends

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cordova Decosta Interview

Holly Honi, Cordova Decosta, Vulpine Eldrich

Vulpine Eldrich: Hello everyone! I'm here this evening with King Cordova Decosta of the Kingdom of Misfits, and his 'Queen by Association,' Holly Honi. Thank you, both of you, for taking the time to host me here in your home!

Cordova Decosta: you're welcome and welcome :)

Holly Honi: welcome

Vulpine Eldrich: So, I have to ask, what on earth inspired you to be the King of Misfits? Or is this something that comes naturally?

Cordova Decosta: Well, I think we are all in sl because we are in a sense misfits. So the name fit, and everyone loves it. Everyone else is just in denial. lol

Vulpine Eldrich: lol, and how would you define the term 'misfit'?

Cordova Decosta: Well, honestly, it would be someone who "isn't normal," so everyone is a misfit in their own way. To be honest, normal is boring.

Vulpine Eldrich: So with a name and attitude like that, have you had an interesting Tiny Empires career in reaching this elevated rank?

Cordova Decosta: I never thought of it as a career. It's a game, a fun one, and a great way to meet people, get invited to formal parties, and have fun.

Vulpine Eldrich: How many kingdoms have you been in before reaching this one?

Cordova Decosta: Due to up-line ascensions, this will be my 8th and last kingdom.

Vulpine Eldrich: After that, do you run out of lives? Don't answer that if you don't want to! Seriously, it sounds like you've had quite a lot of experience within different kingdoms. What, in your opinion, is the most essential ingredient(s) in making and keeping a kingdom together and happy?

Cordova Decosta: To me, the most important part isn’t the upper tiers of a down-line. It’s the mid level and below. They are the ones who keep lines and kingdoms growing, so they are the ones you should pay most attention to. Make everyone feel like a part of the kingdom, and let people know that even if you are a prince, and they are just starting, you are there to help them understand the basics.

Vulpine Eldrich: So you're still there for your people to help learn the basics, monarch and all. How and where do they meet, communicate, and get a chance to beseech you for your wisdom?

Cordova Decosta: Well, my IM is always available to anyone who needs anything. I’ve made and/or collected and edited a lot of notecards. I give them the links to the wiki and your blog, for example. There is group chat, and we plan to have parties and events to give everyone a sense of community :)

Vulpine Eldrich: So where will these group parties be held?

Cordova Decosta: Some will be here, and we have a princess who has very graciously allowed us to use her sim, The Point, for larger events.

Vulpine Eldrich: So will you have a chance to help organize these events, Holly, or is he going to be a solo act?

Holly Honi: We plan most stuff together. I like giving 'social' input

Vulpine Eldrich: Such as....?

Cordova Decosta: She's the wonder woman behind the scenes ;)

Holly Honi: We talk about whether to have live entertainers and who. If there should be a theme, and if we should open it to people outside of the kingdom.

Holly Honi: Of course, it's not always just MY input. He gets opinions on some stuff from other members of the kingdom too, because it's really THEIR (OUR) events.

Vulpine Eldrich: Right, and speaking of members, how did you manage to put the kingdom together in the first place? Something that size doesn't happen by accident.

Cordova Decosta: lol Well, ummmm… my old title was the royal schmoozer, and as Holly said, I am pretty good at that ;) But a lot of my down-line are people whom I knew from other kingdoms. They ended up joining me because we remained friends. And then they get their friends, and it just starts to grow.

Holly Honi: Which is how WE met.

Vulpine Eldrich: So how did you two meet?

Cordova Decosta: I bribed her.

Holly Honi: and schmoozed

Cordova Decosta: And then tried to talk her into moving under me the next day. From there we became friends, and the friendship grew.

Holly Honi: But we were friends for a long time.

Vulpine Eldrich: And how long did it take you to play Tiny Empires before you decided you want to be a King?

Cordova Decosta: I swore I’d never, ever, EVER in a million years ascend. But as I started taking the steps to be grand viceroy and consulting with members of my down-line , they intimated that I should consider ascension. So I thought about it.

Vulpine Eldrich: And after you thought about it, what happened?

Cordova Decosta: It was a very hard decision to make. My former queen was very good to us, but then I IMed her, and spoke with her. She was, and still is, very supportive.

Vulpine Eldrich: Which Queen was this?

Cordova Decosta: Queen Calypso of Treasure Island.

Vulpine Eldrich: So you're saying she deserves some of the credit for helping create the Kingdom of Misfits?

Cordova Decosta: Well, in truth everyone who was ever a part of my up-line and/or down-line deserves some credit.

Vulpine Eldrich: And if any of them- or anyone else- wanted to come meet you in world, hang out together, and do things together, where would they go and what would they find themselves doing?

Cordova Decosta: We like to hop all over all sl and see a lot of live singers, and I dj, so they could come hear great music, whether I’m playing it or someone is singing. Or they are always welcome to come to our house.

Vulpine Eldrich looks at her map.

Vulpine Eldrich: “Nueva vida.” What does that mean?

Cordova Decosta: “New life” – A new beginning.

Vulpine Eldrich: So in this new life, both here in Second Life and in Tiny Empires, what have you kept from the old life that's helped you get to where you are at?

Cordova Decosta: Well, obviously memories and loyalty to my friends and subjects, because they helped me get here. The most important thing is that I always remember that behind the avatar— no matter whether its human, robot, tiny, furry etc—there's still another human being who has feelings, and the words I say to them impact them, whether good or bad.

Vulpine Eldrich: Very good! So you've become a King, you've got a group of loyal people, and a Queen to help you go from here. What other plans do you have for your Tiny Empires future, beyond Kingdom events?

Cordova Decosta: Well, my ranking on TE doesn’t really matter, so I don’t really plan to become one of the top ten. It is, after all, still just a game, and it should be fun. So I guess I plan to help others understand that as well. And to have fun—this is sl, it’s supposed to be fun.

Vulpine Eldrich: And what do you do when you find people in TE, underneath you or (before now, I suppose) above you, who are determined to spoil your and other people's fun here in SL and TE?

Holly Honi: Cord has always been awesome at talking things out.

Cordova Decosta: I talk to them and try to work things out. But if that doesn’t work, you can't let them get to you. If you do, then they win.

Vulpine Eldrich: And, would I be right in saying that a parting of the ways often follows in those cases?

Cordova Decosta: Maybe a brief parting, but I’m always open to giving people a second chance.

Vulpine Eldrich: Very good. So as you look at the game of Tiny Empires, what would you most like to see added to it, or changed about it?

Holly Honi: How long do you have?

Cordova Decosta: Ohhh, well what I want to see won’t be too popular. I want it to be more a game of chance. For example, an evil trader who gives tainted seeds instead of gold seeds, so that you only get half your land value. Instead of sabotage, I think you should get the acres if successful and not investigated.

Vulpine Eldrich: So, it would be more accurate to call it theft instead of sabotage in that case.

Cordova Decosta: And then there’s commandeering land like they did in feudal times. But the most important change is for some to lighten up about it. It’s a hud, a great way to meet new people, and make friends. It should be just that—a fun thing, not a competition. There's really no "win" here.

Vulpine Eldrich: So when you send a bribe, you apparently follow up with more than just a bribe offer on the hud, to judge by the story of you and Holly. What sort of things do you tell a prospective bribe target to get them to join you?

Cordova Decosta: Well that varies on the person. Usually, I tell them I’m sending a bribe, that we have a no drama kingdom, everyone gets along with each other, we have fun joking in group chat, and that to me they wouldn’t be just a number of acres.

Vulpine Eldrich: But sometimes they aren't quite 'real people', are they? Or how do you consider alts in the game?

Cordova Decosta: I have said this many times. I do have an alt (only one alt to get new players into the game), but I think that if you have a lot of alts to help your line advance, you take this silly little hud entirely too seriously.

Vulpine Eldrich: So how many alts are in the Kingdom of Misfits, or would you have any sort of reasonable guess on that?

Cordova Decosta: Not that many, but I wouldn’t have any real way of knowing for sure, except in a few cases.

Vulpine Eldrich: Probably not. And if your Kingdom were a movie, what would its rating be?

Cordova Decosta: PG-13. We are adults and adult chat is allowed, but for the most part we just like to have fun and pick on each other.

Vulpine Eldrich: And how often, now, does the term 'misfit' get used to help pick on each other? Have you got any good examples for us?

Cordova Decosta: Hmmm we've never called each other that, unless someone wants the name misfit in their title.

Holly Honi: I use it to bribe sometimes. When someone has an unusual name, I say they sound like they would fit in with us well.

Vulpine Eldrich: "Come join us, we're misfits, we have fun, and you will too?"

Holly Honi: Exactly.

Cordova Decosta: That works. You just gave me my next bribe speech ;)

Vulpine Eldrich laughs

Holly Honi: Cord always has had a gift for fun and banter, and he can get the chat going well.

Vulpine Eldrich: So besides telling people to lighten up, and remember that we're all human (more or less), what would you tell someone as advice when they're just getting started in Tiny Empires? What to do or not do?

Holly Honi: I just have to say if it wasn't for Cord, I would hardly know the first thing about TE. He always takes the time to explain what things mean and NOT just to people in his kingdom.

Cordova Decosta: Save gold as often as possible, and if they aren’t happy in the spot they are in, talk to their liege and go up the ranks. If someone isn’t happy in my kingdom and wants to move, I’ll help them find a kingdom they are more suited to, because I want everyone who plays this game to enjoy it and not get lost in the shuffle.

Vulpine Eldrich: Very good! And can either of you think of something I missed in our little discussion here?

Cordova Decosta: You forgot to ask if we were a tree what kind would we be and why. Lolol, just kidding. You did well at poking into our heads.

Vulpine Eldrich: All right, what tree are you? A tall sturdy oak, or a tough cherry, or just a nasty prickly thorn tree? lol, seriously, thank you for your time and hospitality, both of you.

Cordova Decosta: A weeping willow, because it bends down to protect ;)

Holly Honi: I will say from the time I met Cord, it was easy to see that he was suited to be in this game of te to help people, which would be a natural leader and King. He has been the 'go to' person for me and many others.

Cordova Decosta: Thank you for coming to our humble abode.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Census Time

So you're happily playing Tiny Empires, and someone mentions the term 'Census'... but you don't know what they mean. Or perhaps you're playing and suddenly a message pops up in the Offers tab, saying that a census was taken and that you got gold from it. Nice! Now, what happened?

First off, Censuses occur in January of even-numbered years... so you get gold once every two years of play (assuming you aren't coming on and leaving at just the right or wrong times). But before you can participate in a Census, you need one thing:


That's right, subjects. You get so many gold for each DIRECT subject you have. So, if you have zero subjects... no census for you. On the other hand, if you have ten direct subjects (you can't have more), then you get a nice lot of gold! The amount of gold you get per direct subject is based on how much you pay per acre. I get 1/60th of an acre price. (So with ten direct subjects, that would mean I get 1/6th of what an acre costs me in each Census.)

Now the fun part begins... the Federation Hud.

Do you have the Federation Hud? If not, then you won't see this next part.

As a Federation HUD user (who has subjects!) you not only get the normal census gold, you get one piece of gold per 9 citizens in your Federation HUD population. (Remember, these are NOT real people- real subjects- just the Population number on your hud.) As you handle disasters (or not), your citizen population goes up or down acccordingly. Handle them well (costs lots of gold) and you get more citizens. Handle them poorly (or not at all) and you lose citizens. But getting citizens means you also get more census gold.

So if you get one gold for every nine citizens, just keep handling disasters well. You can pile in as many citizens as you want and keep going, the sky is the limit, right? Well, not quite. You can never have a citizen population amount that is higher than 5,000 percent of your "capacity". Capacity is determined by all of the subjects below you- what rank they are, and how much land each have. More land and more high ranking subjects means more capacity for you... giving you the ability to get more citizens in the census! And since you can have 5,000 percent (or fifty times) your "capacity" amount in citizens, small changes in capacity mean a lot more or less citizens, and more or less census gold.

As an example, I can count on gaining 6,000 citizens in capacity when a Duke or Duchess under me becomes a Prince or Princess (yes, it goes the other way, too!) That 6,000 increase in capacity, multiplied by 50, means I can squeeze in 300,000 more citizens into my population number before overcrowded conditions wipe me back down to my 5,000 percent maximum. Now, in the census, I get one gold for every nine citizens, so 300,000 divided by 9 means 33,333 gold in census money every two years.... just because I have the Fed Hud and someone under me became a Princess!

Note that the exact formulas for how capacity is determined are probably unknown to anyone but the emperor... I suppose if someone systematically worked at it, they could determine it, but if they have, I don't know of it. (Anyone???) It really doesn't matter, since the basic point remains the same: get as many high ranking subjects in your downline as possible, with acreage, and you get more gold in the census because you can get more citizens in your population.

....and that's about it for the census... from your first direct subject to a line filled with Princes and Princesses and a Fed Hud... it's all yours for the working!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 Review, 2009 Predictions

As we start a brand new year, it's only natural to wonder where it is going, and to look back to see where we've been. So, in the spirit of inquiry, I have set out to be a good enquirer and make some predictions about this next year, based on past history, plus a large dose of crystal ball gazing (wait, is that a crack? oh well, too late now...)

How many kingdoms will there be?

Dracheheim was kingdom number 24, and was created right at New Year's, 2008. Currently there are 128 kingdoms, for an increase of approximately one hundred. Therefore, I predict that 2009 will see one hundred new kingdoms, or approximately two per week.

How many empires will there be?

In 2007, there was one empire created. In 2008, it was named, but no new empires were created. This averages out to one empire every two years. Therefore, for this trend to continue, there will be one half of an empire created in 2009, and it will receive a name in 2010.

How big will the biggest kingdom be?

At the beginning of 2008, the largest kingdom was roughly 200,000 acres. At the end of 2008, the largest kingdom was roughly 500,000 acres. This is an increase of two and a half times. Therefore, I predict another two and a half times increase, thus making the largest kingdom two and a half million acres at the end of 2009. (Please note, these figures are very very approximate and are not based on direct inside information.)

How many 'alt' accounts will there be?

When things first began, new people flooded in by droves, and some started playing alts. As things have 'matured' through 2008, the use of alts has become more extensive. Anecdotal evidence from giving and receiving bribes suggests that there are about as many alts as there are actual players at the current time. Therefore, I predict that by the end of 2009, there will be an average of four to five alts per real player, and that a number of the hundred new kingdoms will have monarchs that are alts of other monarchs.

How many huds will there be?

In 2007, there were two huds released, and in 2008 there were no new huds released. This averages to one per year, so I predict one new hud in 2009. This new hud, like its predecessor, will change how one gains high rank, and will be used by the half emperor of the new half-empire that will be created.

How many new products will there be?

At the beginning of 2008, the only thing you could buy was the Tiny Empires HUD, in its two flavors. Now, we have two more products- a titler, for 149L, and a Tiny Empires Companion, which is subscription based. Therefore, I predict two new products in 2009. One will be relatively cheap, once up front payment, and more for fun than anything serious. The other will be a subscription based add-on that lets you find out almost anything about your target TE player, and it will be available for only 500L per month.

How easy will it be to transfer citizens?

At the beginning of 2008, Federation allies could transfer citizens, and lose approximately one third of them in the process. During 2008, a new option- embassies- was created, which allowed more citizens to be transferred at once and decreased the amount lost to one fourth. It costs roughly as much as five acres of land. Therefore, I predict another option in 2009 which will reduce loss to one-fifth, and which will cost as much as ten acres of land.

What is the future of riddles?

During the year of 2008, the riddles were changed roughly three times. At the end of that time, they consisted less of mathematical formulae, and more questions based on one's personal statistics. Also, some provided no immediate clue as to what they were asking. Another change is that the amount gotten for answering a riddle correctly was cut by about a factor of five. Therefore, I predict that in 2009, the riddles will change three times. In the last set of riddles, one of them will be 'what is your gender?' and answering correctly will yield you the grand total of one gold piece.

What is the future of disasters?

Disasters came with the federation HUD in 2007. There were three types of disasters. During 2008, a new research option opened up the possibility of handling one type of disaster automatically. Therefore, in 2009, I predict that another disaster will be taken care of automatically. For those pessimists who say that I've not taken all of the facts into account, I'll also add that there will be three new types of disasters.

What about limits?

In 2008, limits were put into place on how many personal acres someone can have, and how much gold someone can have. As this habit of setting limits will continue, the end of 2009 should see a limit on how many hours per day a person can play TE, thus helping to ensure the sanity and health of the players...

What about special titles?

During 2008, the use of special titles rose dramatically, and a rule that let special titles 'fade away' when someone left a kingdom was enacted. Therefore, I predict that by the end of 2009, every player older than a month will either be inactive, have a custom title, or be clinging to their generic rank description because it marks them as different and special.

What about monarch responsibilities?

At the beginning of 2008, a monarch was forced, by peer pressure, to stay online as much as possible and keep tax rates low. This burden was eased by new rules which let a monarch ONLY provide a tax amnesty once every twenty four hours. At the end of 2008, a new position, that of Viceroy, was created. This let Princes and Princesses under the monarch assume royal duties such as giving out titles and purchasing tracts of land. The emperor has dropped hints that this is not his final word about viceregal powers. I predict that as this freeing of monarch duties continue, monarchs will begin to consider abdication out of boredom, since there will be nothing left to do but go fishing in the royal moat.

What is the surest prediction?

In 2007, there were people playing and enjoying Tiny Empires. During 2008, people played and enjoyed Tiny Empires. Therefore, during 2009, I predict that people will play and enjoy Tiny Empires.