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  #41  
Old 08-15-2014, 01:34 PM
Ayjona Ayjona is offline
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This is really, really smart hybrid, and a truly polished game. I'm impressed, and at least equally surprised. And wondering, like so many after-thinkers before me, why no one has come up with this before.

I don't know for how many of you this analogy will make sense, but the game is essentially a tower defense version of Age of Empires Online (different tower defense modes instead of RTS, but with a capital that is persistently and progressively upgraded, plus semi-MMO-aspects. Albeit far, far fewer options for player interactions and MMO aspects). And as far as I can see, the tower defense portion is on a par with Kingdom Rush (but with more player-activated abilities in combat, actually).

For those of you who have actually wanted to get into a freemium city builder, but been chasd off by the min-numbing dullness of it all (much like me, who only ever made time for Battle Nations, thanks to the slightly interactive combat, and the actually very amusing and skilled writing), Empires of Sand might be just the thing. Freemium-cityplanning-mucking about, but with actual skill- and strategy-based battles.

I've yet to see what impact freemium mechanics has on the game and the competitive aspects, but this could really be all the TD I (who is not a passionate tower defense fan) will need for a long, long time. Thanks for both a great idea, and a really slick implementation, Digital Things!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
decide which parts we should improve.
Am I correct in thinking that Plunder is an asynchronous form of PvP?

If so, the feature I'd like to see the most right now is AI-controlled opponents for the Arena (in the manner of the Arena tutorial). I rarely have the time for extended gameplay sessions, but Arena mode is just so durned fun I'd love to play it with the option to pause (and preferably save, see suggestion below). To still make regular PvP desireable, perhaps the gains from this mode could be drastically reduced.

Second on that list is mid-mission saving (for both the single player campaign, and possible AI Arena). This is something I badgered the Kingdom Rush developers for for years, and the exclusion of this feature meant I could rarely, if EVER, play the more challenging levels. I simply did not have time to finish them most of the time.

I understand this might be hard to implement (though many TDs do so without a hitch), but I hope you will consider it. The times when I have 15-25 minutes to sit down and play contigously are rare, and with the advent of the mobile gaming paradigm I am far from alone in this. The option to continue a tower map from where we left off might increase the appeal of the game to a significant portion of the user base, and draw in the kind of gamers that would otherwise have looked elsewhere, thanks to time constraints.

Thirdly, I'd like to see this game grow into a true (and possibly the first) tower defense MMO, with:

* More options for playing interactions. Raids and quests and other forms of co-op play, special multiplayer challenges for great rewards, even PvP for territorial control of a map where holding provinces yield special bonuses, factional wars, etc.

* More systems that encourage grinding and long-term play, such as lootable and exhangeable equipment and improvements for units and towers (a la the Defender Chronicles series, but also like units are geared up in Age of Empires Online), crafting, long-term experience awards, etc.

Last edited by Ayjona; 08-15-2014 at 02:19 PM..
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  #42  
Old 08-19-2014, 04:33 PM
J.O.B J.O.B is offline
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One more issue: can you program a way where you can choose your competitors, or that links you to similarly leveled competitors?

Currently lower level players will bail on higher levels ones before the game starts, so I'm often stuck going through 5-10 cycles before getting a game because players keep bailing out.

On the flip side, I've spent $4.99. When I'm up against people who've dropped $10-40 on this game to get to level 200+, there's absolutely no chance of winning unless they're terrible players, so I'm starting to bail on those games myself. Why go through the motions of losing to a level 283? There's zero fun there.

This can mean it takes 15+ minutes to find a good game sometimes. Booooring. If the game is essentially about buying wins, then there's no point in playing.

Please, come up with a way link up similarly leveled players or the whole competitive part of this game, its main attraction, is simply about who spends the most $$$. Which is about as lame as competition ever gets. . who in the world wants to put time into a competitive game who's strategy is based on who steroids up the most??? Its a flawed competitive model. I'd much rather have a set price of $10 for the game and everyone is on an equal playing field, in the spirit of true competition.

Last edited by J.O.B; 08-19-2014 at 04:37 PM..
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  #43  
Old 08-19-2014, 08:08 PM
ste86uk ste86uk is offline
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I come back to this and give it another shot, definitely seems much improved since it's inital softlaunch. Although all I'm mostly doing at the minute is upgrading, but it is a good mix of game types.

For some reason I seem to remember a map being split in two halves where you attack and defend at the same time by building towers and sending troops all at once. So far it seems this was removed for a case of setting up a defence system and seperately using attacks.

I like the mix of building your city with pvp and the normal campaign and I always thought before that the game looked very good.
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  #44  
Old 09-03-2014, 08:52 AM
vtamarit vtamarit is offline
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I am sorry for not replying sooner but Iíve been out of office these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayjona View Post

Am I correct in thinking that Plunder is an asynchronous form of PvP?

[...]

Thirdly, I'd like to see this game grow into a true (and possibly the first) tower defense MMO, with:

* More options for playing interactions. Raids and quests and other forms of co-op play, special multiplayer challenges for great rewards, even PvP for territorial control of a map where holding provinces yield special bonuses, factional wars, etc.

* More systems that encourage grinding and long-term play, such as lootable and exhangeable equipment and improvements for units and towers (a la the Defender Chronicles series, but also like units are geared up in Age of Empires Online), crafting, long-term experience awards, etc.
Yes, Plunders are asynchronous. In fact, the system only links you to an opponent who is offline at that time.

Currently, there are AI-controlled opponents, but they are only available for skirmish, because we think it is better not to introduce bots in the rank games. The AI is quite simple at the moment, because we designed the skirmishes to be played at first levels, as training. However, we have noticed that a lot of players continue playing skirmishes so we are testing new AI algorithms that adapt to your level.

The mid-mission saving is an idea we didnít think about, but it is a good one, actually. But, as you said, introducing it requires some programming work and a lot of testing. We take it into consideration for next updates

We are now working on a new update that will be available soon. It comes with a new level, and a new game mode. And weíve been working for a while in a clan system where your ideas like territorial control can fit perfectly. Also, we plan to add challenges for those who completed the campaign and want to challenge themselfes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.O.B View Post
One more issue: can you program a way where you can choose your competitors, or that links you to similarly leveled competitors?

[...]

Please, come up with a way link up similarly leveled players or the whole competitive part of this game, its main attraction, is simply about who spends the most $$$. Which is about as lame as competition ever gets. . who in the world wants to put time into a competitive game who's strategy is based on who steroids up the most??? Its a flawed competitive model. I'd much rather have a set price of $10 for the game and everyone is on an equal playing field, in the spirit of true competition.
We designed the matchmaking to work based only on ELO, that works quite well for games like LoL or Clash of Clans. However, we are now working on a new matchmaking system, because we have seen it is not working as we planned and a lot of players are feeling the system is unfair, just like you said.

I cannot assure you that it will be available for the update that will arrive in a few days, but we hope it will be ready for the next one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ste86uk View Post
I come back to this and give it another shot, definitely seems much improved since it's inital softlaunch. Although all I'm mostly doing at the minute is upgrading, but it is a good mix of game types.

[...]

I like the mix of building your city with pvp and the normal campaign and I always thought before that the game looked very good.
I think your are talking about two different game modes. In Plunders you have to set your defences, and you can attack other pharaohís cities.

In PvP you have to build towers in order to protect your base from enemy attacks and at the same time you have to send troops to your enemy.
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  #45  
Old 09-05-2014, 07:45 AM
Ayjona Ayjona is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
I am sorry for not replying sooner but Iíve been out of office these days.

...

Yes, Plunders are asynchronous. In fact, the system only links you to an opponent who is offline at that time.
The Touch Arcade forums are a remarkable place. Where devs not only communicate with players regularly, but even apologize for completely justifiable absences Thanks for your presence in the forums!

Plunders are a brilliant mechanism. Faaaaar too hard at the moment, though (see my last paragraphs on rewards and the interplay between the city building and tower defense elements).

Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
Currently, there are AI-controlled opponents, but they are only available for skirmish, because we think it is better not to introduce bots in the rank games. The AI is quite simple at the moment, because we designed the skirmishes to be played at first levels, as training. However, we have noticed that a lot of players continue playing skirmishes so we are testing new AI algorithms that adapt to your level.
Hmmm, this might be exactly what I requested. (And yer absolutely right, no bots in ranked, evah! That was never my intention )

If I read you correctly, we can run unranked Arena games/skirmish games, where both sides defend their base plus send units against the opponent, against the AI? If so, how do we go about this? When I enter the Arena and press Skirmish, it only matches me against human opponents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
The mid-mission saving is an idea we didnít think about, but it is a good one, actually. But, as you said, introducing it requires some programming work and a lot of testing. We take it into consideration for next updates
Strangely, this is sometimes overlooked by iOS developers, even in games where one level/map/mission/[name of yer choice for a gameplay element that cannot be paused or saves during] can require more than only a few minutes to complete. For example, Kingdom Rush Frontier levels can require anything in between 10-30 minutes to finish, with no possibility to save during. This is, of course, entirely unviable for those who play on the go, which is one of the primary applications of mobile games. And since even a single phone call can oust the game from my deviceís memory, even on my iPhone 5S, and cost me all progress on that level, I simply cannot even play the game on those rare occasions when Iíve the time to sit down for extended sessions. Itís for this very reason I game on my phone

Empire of the Sands maps doesnít seem to require quite as long contiguous sessions, and it is possible it has the smaller memory footprint to survive a phone call (provided it allows us to resume after disconnects from single player levels). But anything beyond 5 minutes without an opportunity to save progress means I and gamers like me will rarely finish a single level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
We are now working on a new update that will be available soon. It comes with a new level, and a new game mode. And weíve been working for a while in a clan system where your ideas like territorial control can fit perfectly. Also, we plan to add challenges for those who completed the campaign and want to challenge themselfes.
Nice! The clan system in particular sounds ripe with potential. Should you ever throw in territorial control, name a region after me in tribute

Is there any hope for changes to the plunder system in the future? Achieving 50% is not just hard, Iíve only seen it done once against my own meager defenses, by a player 50+ my level, and neither me nor pals have ever succeeded.

Also, while both async, direct PvP and single player is great fun, the rewards really do not stand in proportion to activities in the city. A few thousand stone really has no practical bearing for someone who needs 600,000 to upgrade a single building.

In general, it seems to me that the city building aspects are designed to influence the tower defense elements, but not the other way around (in particular single player, which only seems to yield any rewards when we gain achievements). And while this is good enough, having the tower defense portion yield rewards which have a practical effect on the city building element would offer much in the ways of additional incentive to play!
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  #46  
Old 09-10-2014, 09:05 AM
vtamarit vtamarit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayjona View Post
The Touch Arcade forums are a remarkable place. Where devs not only communicate with players regularly, but even apologize for completely justifiable absences Thanks for your presence in the forums!

Hmmm, this might be exactly what I requested. (And yer absolutely right, no bots in ranked, evah! That was never my intention )

If I read you correctly, we can run unranked Arena games/skirmish games, where both sides defend their base plus send units against the opponent, against the AI? If so, how do we go about this? When I enter the Arena and press Skirmish, it only matches me against human opponents.
Well, thank you for sharing all this feedback with us!

I know it may sound like a clichť, but it really really help us a lot.

The skirmishes are configured to match you with another human player. But if the system donít find an opponent in 30 seconds, it automatically chooses a bot as your opponent.

We think is always better to fight against a human rather than a bot, so we do not give player the option to choose the type of his opponent. Maybe we should, but first the AI needs to be improved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayjona View Post

Strangely, this is sometimes overlooked by iOS developers, even in games where one level/map/mission/[name of yer choice for a gameplay element that cannot be paused or saves during] can require more than only a few minutes to complete. For example, Kingdom Rush Frontier levels can require anything in between 10-30 minutes to finish, with no possibility to save during. This is, of course, entirely unviable for those who play on the go, which is one of the primary applications of mobile games. And since even a single phone call can oust the game from my deviceís memory, even on my iPhone 5S, and cost me all progress on that level, I simply cannot even play the game on those rare occasions when Iíve the time to sit down for extended sessions. Itís for this very reason I game on my phone

Empire of the Sands maps doesnít seem to require quite as long contiguous sessions, and it is possible it has the smaller memory footprint to survive a phone call (provided it allows us to resume after disconnects from single player levels). But anything beyond 5 minutes without an opportunity to save progress means I and gamers like me will rarely finish a single level.
We designed each level to be finished in less than 15 minutes. However, some levels like Alexandria last a little bit longer.

We thought a lot about this proposal and we like the idea, but it needs a lot of work, and we are now focused on creating new content, game modes, and improving the matchmaking system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayjona View Post
Nice! The clan system in particular sounds ripe with potential. Should you ever throw in territorial control, name a region after me in tribute

Is there any hope for changes to the plunder system in the future? Achieving 50% is not just hard, Iíve only seen it done once against my own meager defenses, by a player 50+ my level, and neither me nor pals have ever succeeded.

Also, while both async, direct PvP and single player is great fun, the rewards really do not stand in proportion to activities in the city. A few thousand stone really has no practical bearing for someone who needs 600,000 to upgrade a single building.

In general, it seems to me that the city building aspects are designed to influence the tower defense elements, but not the other way around (in particular single player, which only seems to yield any rewards when we gain achievements). And while this is good enough, having the tower defense portion yield rewards which have a practical effect on the city building element would offer much in the ways of additional incentive to play!
Well, we are still designing the clan system, so I canít tell you if there will be territories to conquer

We have tested some different versions of the plunder system, giving you more divine power at the begining or doing the towers less strong. But any of this tests went well. Advance players are really good at plunders (faaaar better than any of the team is, actually), and they could take advance of every minor change we do. So we are still working on balancing plunders.

About the rewards of the single player, I agree that campaign mode could have more influence in the game. In fact, one of the game modes we are working on will change this, but it is till under development...
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  #47  
Old 09-10-2014, 02:47 PM
J.O.B J.O.B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtamarit View Post
We designed the matchmaking to work based only on ELO, that works quite well for games like LoL or Clash of Clans. However, we are now working on a new matchmaking system, because we have seen it is not working as we planned and a lot of players are feeling the system is unfair, just like you said.

I cannot assure you that it will be available for the update that will arrive in a few days, but we hope it will be ready for the next one.
Since I got to level 150ish I've been able to compete and often win against much higher leveled players. That's the point where things seem to start leveling out, as speed trumps power if you play right. I still can't beat someone 170+ who has a great aggressive strategy, but I can out-strategize most higher level players at this point.

Great game, I'm hooked!
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