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The Ardent Monthly Ledger - Issue 22
October 14, 2016

Spooky Town Has Arrived!

The reds and golds and brisk winds of autumn have descended upon us, and so, too, have all the creepy-crawly joys of Halloween arrived in the Seven Realms! Spooky Town, where the deliciously evil she-beast known as Spooky Druda resides with her horde of ghoulish minions, is back and as frightful as ever! This special event zone is not for the faint of heart and revels in all things that go bump in the night. Are you ready to battle nefarious Incarnations and reap great rewards beneath an eerie night sky? Want to don some fantastically macabre attire and glide through a purplish mist upon a flying broomstick? Or perhaps ride a scurrying, mammoth black spider across the oh-so sinister terrain?

That’s right, get ready for all new special Halloween mounts, outfits, and knickknacks this year, not to mention a slew of other treats to be found in the zone! All players of any level have the opportunity to earn, in-game, the spectacular ‘Web Witch’ outfit, the ‘Hallowed Spider’ mount, and the ever so creepy new toys, ‘The Scroll of the Bat’ and the ‘Hallowed Dragon Companion.’



But that’s not all! Our spooky designer has a few more tricks up his sleeve this year which everyone is sure to enjoy: five very unique new ‘treats’ dropped by Druda, Incarnations, and also to be found in crafted bags, which will imbue players with some truly one of a kind powers. Ghastly though these items might look and sound (Severed Rat Paw, or Ghost Goop anyone?) these potent delicacies temporarily provide players with unique abilities that will only work in Spooky Town, and have no expiration date until the event zone leaves.

Last but not least, what would Halloween be without a large assortment of exotic costumes to choose from? So for all of our players for whom Spooky Town is new to, we’ve brought back all of the popular outfits from previous years, which can all be found in the item shop, along with the brand new flying broomsticks, the ‘Witch’s Sinister Broom’ and the ‘Witch’s Riding Broom, as well as the spider mounts, ‘Tarantula Reins’ and ‘Crypt Webling Reins.’

Happy Halloween, everyone! Come play in Spooky Town!



It’s safe to say that we learned a few lessons from this year’s Equinox zone, namely that our players do not like random luck to play so large a part in event zones! So to quote Yul Brynner’s classic line from the film, The Ten Commandments: “So let it be written, so let it be done.” What does that mean? It means that we listened to the feedback of our players and did it — we structured Spooky Town so that random luck is not a decisive component in this event zone.

We thought, too, that we should back up that statement by providing you all with an exact breakdown of the numbers. So for those of you who might be interested, or want to know exactly what the odds and percentages are of gaining the items labeled as being achievable in-game within Spooky Town via drops, here are the numbers:

Crafting Bags:

  • 50% chance for 1.

In addition to that roll, you also have:

  • 10% chance for 2 extra
  • 3% chance for 5 extra
  • 1% chance for 9 extra
  • 0.2% chance for 17 extra

Incarnations:

  • 100% chance for 1.

In addition to that:

  • 20% chance for 2 extra
  • 2% chance for 7 extra
  • 1% chance for 14 extra
  • 0.5% chance for 23 extra

Druda:

  • 100% chance for 1.

In addition to that:

  • 40% chance for 2 extra
  • 7% chance for 8 extra
  • 2% chance for 14 extra
  • 1% chance for 24 extra

What does all of that mean? It means that statistically speaking, the average player should be able to complete Druda on their 87th kill (which remember, is not 87 hours of gameplay, especially with the new server message about her appearance). So over the course of four to six weeks, averaging 14-20 kills per week, it should be quite feasible for players to acquire all of the needed drops to gain the special items from Druda. (And a really lucky player could get it done in 11 kills!)

As for Incarnations, which are not time dependent like Druda’s hourly spawn, large groups of players could easily kill ten to twenty in an hour to get them to respawn, meaning that potentially these players could complete all of their Incarnations in an eight hour session. But the average player, statistically, should get their Incarnations done on their 140th kill, which, over a four to six week period is also quite feasible.

Now some players may look at these numbers and grow angry. “87 kills! 140 kills! Too much!” However, we would like to remind players that the rewards for these event quests are 100% free, and pretty awesome!

Many years ago, Spooky Town was our very first event zone. When it first went live, the only thing it offered was a few goodies that players could use on their adventures (full heals, xp potions, etc.) Since then, each year we have added more and more interesting and free items, including outfits, consumables, and toys. And now, with the addition of mounts, these event zones have more free items than ever before. To help compensate for these better quality rewards, the difficulty of obtaining some of these higher tiered items has gone up. It requires commitment and dedication on the player’s part to really earn what they are striving for.

Event zones are not required, nor do they affect your everyday gameplay, they are simply free extra opportunities that players can use to attempt and earn cool stuff. If you think it is too much, then maybe just jump in the event zone occasionally and try to get a few free consumable goodies, maybe a toy, or something else.

No player should feel obligated or required to complete every event to full completion. The event zones are designed to allow players of all types a range of enjoyment: spend a few minutes, get a few goodies, spend every second you have, and get more and better items. What you do is up to you!


Let’s hear it for Sighfrid! How amazing is this rendition of Mossbum? :) Thank you, Sighfrid!

mossbum-card-vh


brazil_flag

We were deeply saddened for our Brazilian community of V&H players two weeks ago, by the announcement from Looki, that the company would be closing down the BR server for good. However, we are thrilled that these passionate players of the game have now made a new home on US 1! Welcome, all Brazilian players!

We are also very excited and lucky to have the three dedicated game moderators from the BR server continue to act as moderators on US 1. And now you all can have a chance to get to know them a little more right here in the Ledger!

Please meet: ElanDark, Nuno o Bravo, and Ellizabeth Eller!

 

Losing your home on the BR server has been traumatic for you all. Elan, what are some aspects you will particularly miss the most? Conversely, what aspects do you find appealing about your new home on US 1? Once the game is the same across the servers, what me and most of people also miss is what we got all those time playing: memories. And I have tons of screenshots of that time and know we all have good memories playing with friends, some who left us, and about how game changed (like Johnny Serrano and Spider Queen when they were Elder Bosses, or Arcane Rift changes).

Changes will always take something from you but can bring something new too. And many people came from BR to US1, and while we can continue playing together and remember the past, we have lots of new US1 friends and upcoming new content ahead. Our journey will carry on!

elan
Elan Dark

Nuno, you have been playing Villagers & Heroes for many years now, and are certainly a veteran player. Please tell us a little about the build for your ‘hybrid warrior.’ What feats do you favor, etc, and why? I’m playing about 4 years now and played as swift and defender, but I noted the swift warrior’s lack of defense and the defender’s low damage. As hybrid, I can feel a great balance, having a high resistance and a decent damage allows me to play in any zone at my level, or even higher level zones.

So all garments I use from defender equip (boots, gloves, belt and armor) with a two handed custom sword with feats I think are essential, Charge and Slash, and I gnog the helmet and the coif (Defensive, Barbaric Augmentation and Vigor). I also keep a one handed sword and a shield with Elemental Protection and Buckling, to assist friends when they need tank an Elder. Proficiencies, all maxed but Spirit (2 talent points on Spirit only).

Feats, Whirlwind, Defiant Stand and Sword Storm with 2 points, Phoenix Strike, and use the remaining points on other things, except Rally and Huzzah (keep these two with no talent points). I gnog my gear with Elder equip, so I can fight Elders and earn 2 more feats: Dragon Strike and Titanic Power.

nuno
Nuno o Bravo

Ellizabeth, you have been a V&H moderator for some time. In your opinion, what are some of the most frequently asked questions by players? Well, people used to make this specifically question at BR server: “mim upa?” (Brazilian players will love it hahaha). In English this means “could you levl me up?” Another expression I used to see there was: “pq o jogo ta em inglês?”, and this means “why is the game in English?”. This is kinda funny because these two questions were made daily, many times by the same person.

ellizabeth
Ellizabeth Eller

Okay, it’s Halloween, so this question is a must for all three of you! What Halloween costume would each of you most like to see in V&H as an outfit?

Elan: Haven’t any ideas of now, but must say Nijjara outfit caused a rush at BR server last year. Maybe we get a dragon mount someday?

Nuno: I’m very pleased with Halloween outfits, haven’t any ideas at all, of which visuals I would like. Mad Otter have been doing great visuals and have a great taste for that!

Ellizabeth: I love The Ice Angel. I can imagine myself playing a harp while eating some grapes. hahaha

Elan, if you were to do a live stream for V&H, what would it be of? What aspect of the game would you personally most like to show players and talk about? A bounty run on a high level area, playing in a party. Like Pyrron Underbelly, Undercroft, I think it would be interesting have something more about combat mechanics.

Nuno, for the benefit of our US 1 players, so they might be able to use these in the future, please give us some examples of some popular Portuguese slang phrases! For example: What’s up? How’s it going? (That sort of thing.) We use the regular expressions, US1 people are already learning: “Bom dia, Boa Tarde, Boa Noite” (Good morning/afternoon/evening). Some informal approach, like “Oi” or “Olá” (Hi, Hello), “Como você está” (How are you). We have some other words we use also, as “Mano” (Bro), “Azideia” (something like “what are you saying” or “this is funny”, depending on the situation, that makes you impressed, or you don’t believe it happened, and so).

I used to call people “Jovem” (young boy, young girl, or just young). We have different ways to laugh, the most effective and quick to type is “kkkkkkk”, so when you see it someone did or said something too funny (I ask to not be offended if some type kkk, we’re just used to!). A more discrete form of laughing is “rs”, a short for “risos” (laugh). Other common laughing is “aehoehoheo”, “huehuehue” (I think this you already know). And when you want to say OMG? We have MDS!

Ellizabeth, what first drew you to Villagers & Heroes? Do you consider yourself to be a ‘gamer?’ Any specifically Brazilian games that you would recommend? Ohhh, this is a great history…Take the popcorn and enjoy it! haha! I was a girl with a few friends, a recluse in my own world. I used to play only fps games for long years, but then, in a beautiful day at school, one of my friends talked to me about a mmorpg he was playing, and called me to play with him. I didn’t want to at first, I confess…

But I tried this new journey and then I play V&H since 2013 <3 And about the "gamer"... Well, I see gamers like people who love to play, so yes I'm a gamer! haha! Unfortunately I don't know any specifically Brazilian game I would like to recommend. Elan, what sorts of activities do you enjoy when you are not playing V&H?I like TV shows like Supernatural (is the fandom here too?). I have a friend who’s a drummer of a metal band, when I can I attend to his concerts. Like to visit friends also. And love music, Metal mostly \m/

Nuno, what is your most favorite zone within Villagers & Heroes, and why? My fav zone is Fungal Caves, such a wonderful area. Plenty of bounties and a amazing terrain design, but it comes with a cost to many players (so far as I noticed): low performance, it has increased lag, making it hard even to walk in there. If there’s a way to reduce lag there, would be amazing!

This question is for all three of you. Keeping in the spirit of Halloween, what movie scared you the most when you were children? What movie still scares you today as adults?

Elan: When I was 8, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ scared me a lot! Nowadays, I’m not into this movie thing, and when I watch, I rather the old ones (‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘The Shining’ were the last ones I watched).

Nuno: What scared me in my childhood was ‘Child’s Play’ (that doll, Chucky ), it was so horrifying to me, but I kept watching it anyway. I’m not afraid of that kind of movies now (I find it funny to watch), and some good ones are: ‘The Conjuring,’ ‘Friday the 13th,’ and ‘Paranormal Activity.’

Ellizabeth:
When I was a child, I was scared of, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’ (I don’t know why, this animation is so amazing!) And today I don’t like all the horror movies with so many “jump scares” and things like that, I’m cardiac… giggle :)


leo3

Congratulations, and a sincere thank you to the following five individuals for their outstanding contributions to Villagers & Heroes, and for always going above and beyond in their efforts for the game and the community.

The Royal Guardians of the Realm for this quarter are:

felonius
Felonius (US 1)

alph
Alph (US 2)

zyani
Zyani (EU 1)

workaaaa
workaaaa (EU 2)

lilika
Lililka (BR)


As most of you all know by now, the worldwide launch of Villagers & Heroes on Android is quickly approaching. (October 25th!) We thought then, that you might be interested in getting a peek at what some of the members of Mad Otter will be up to the week prior to the launch – or, more specifically, what Chief Otter Damon will be up to.

Damon will be traveling to Seattle, Washington to participate in a global game conference called MGF, ‘The World’s Premium Mobile Games Event,’ for which he will be a speaker for. What will he talk about? What kind of a speech will he deliver? Well, we thought our Village & Heroes community might enjoy getting an advance preview of Damon’s upcoming speech at the game conference. So, here it is, straight out of Damon’s brain and computer, some of the key points he plans on addressing.

damon

Excerpts From Damon’s Upcoming Speech:

1. The Deafening Silence – you must advertise. Save some money for this! a) When we launched on Steam, we had 1500 users PER HOUR entering the game. The CDN crashed. So preparing for the soft launch in the UK on google playstore we wanted to be ready for this. However, we had the opposite problem. When we launched on the playstore, we got only a few players a day. The Google Playstore is completely different than Steam. When a game launches on Steam, Steam will flood your game with tons of new users. Google, on the other hand, will only give you a small trickle. If the game does well, over time, they will send you more new users (via weighted search, etc.). It’s way to slow to rely on Google’s trickle!

b) So, we realized we HAD to advertise to get new users into the game. The idea is that if you prime the playstore with inorganic users, after a while, you will start to get organics. Google has said that on average, most aps get about 2/3rds of users organically, and only 1/3rd are paid. This will vary from game to game, but I think it is true that you must advertise, at least at the beginning. We tried different ad providers, but so far our best results have been FB ads.

4. Content Treadmill for the loss! Repeatable Content FTW! with an MMO, the users will chew up your content much faster than you expect. Even huge companies can’t keep up – many otherwise great games failed because the content runway was too short. The only solution – is to have repeatable content. Sometimes people call this “End Game” or “Elder Game”, but really the main point is that it is repeatable – and not just repeatable, but FUN even when playing it the 100th time. We’re now focused primarily on repeatable content. So, make sure the repeatable content is in your game on launch day. Once you get behind, you can never catch up.

5. Metrics – which and how. There are a million TLAs (three letter acronyms!) floating around, but who really cares about all that. The main thing is you need to know what you should measure and what to do with what you find. In other words, why measure something if there’s nothing you can do to change it?

a)The Dominant Formula in Free-To-Play is:
i. IF LTV > CPA equals Money! Oops, there I go with TLAs. That just means if the lifetime value (LTV) of a player is greater than the cost per acquisition of that player, then you can just spend money to make money.

b) CPA is easy to measure and optimize. We tried Google Adwords, but found that Facebook Ads got better results. At first we tried a bunch of static images with different text. The text did not seem to matter too much, but some images did 3x better than others. Many of the images that we thought would be great did poorly. Then we tried a video ad – it was a very nice 60 second trailer, that we spent a lot of time polishing. Our intuition was that video would be really expensive and would way underperform static images for the cost. We were wrong.

Again, testing is more reliable than intuition alone. Then we tried a bunch of short videos – these were only 20 to 30 seconds, and they were very raw – much less polished than the nice trailer. To our great surprise, two of these beat the polished trailer by a wide margin! Again, Testing > Intuition. In the end, we saw our CPA drop by 5x. It was relatively very little work. You should also do AB tests on the Google Playstore tests – you can vary the game icon, the description, and the art assets. I found that the icon had the biggest impact on CPA.

a) RETENTION: Here’s something I have found – Retention is really hard to optimize with AB tests. I like to distinguish between the length of the first play session and retention. The first play session you CAN test and measure. Basically, just instrument all the steps the player goes through and make sure there’s not an obvious drop point. For us, we had a quest where the user had to collect some wood to repair the wagon before the cave entrance was opened. Players weren’t getting the wood – I don’t know if it was too hard to find or it was just boring. I didn’t care. We just removed the step entirely. Problem solved. Why lose players over something this trivial? Cutting the Gordian Knot.

i. You can and you should instrument your early player on-boarding experience to make sure no one is getting stuck at a key point in the funnel – for example, an early player quest that 20% of players can’t complete, and then just silently quit. But that’s pretty easy, and I don’t consider this “retention”.

ii. Retention – day 1, day 3, day 7, and so on – it is EASY TO MEASURE but VERY HARD TO TEST AND OPTIMIZE. It is a measure of how fun the game is. Fun is at the core of the game. It’s hard to swap out the core of your game for an AB Test. Changes at the core are expensive and take a lot of time. They are not given to quick iterative experiments. So my advice is, yes, you should measure retention. If possible, yes, do tests – but they are hard. So what can you do? What do we do? That brings me to the final thought:

Find the Fun! This is where the craft of game development defies a pure-metrics driven approach. Retention is a measure of the very core of your game. Follow the Fun. PLAY YOUR GAME. Try to find moments when you think “Wow, that was really fun!”. Augment those moments. Find the moments when you are bored. Remove those moments.


They’re baaaaack! These two hardly need a lengthy introduction, so let’s just give a big thank you to the Sneaky Scribbler and Avenian for taking the time to make us all smile!

From The Sneaky Scribbler:

You Said It:

Sorry wrong number:
“I have no phone. They anger me.”–Unpeaceful Soul (US2)

This could be a real US2 channel!
“Could you maybe take this to fart chat channel?”–Oober (US2)

Chat doubletake:
“His sword touched the ground though, while he’s standing erect.” –Omnigma (US2)

Otter, bite your tongue!
“If it makes you feel any better, I draw like a 3-year old too and I’m the lead artist at Mad Otter. :D” –Ivar Otter

In honor of Ivar’s admission, US2 brings you these quotes on kids and growing up:

golog45: I SOUND LIKE A MAN! 😛
Megalomaniac: lol Golog, glad your voice changed. Can’t help you about other changes 😛

“I’m growing up, soon will get big pants.” –Jelani Strongbow

“I’m probably gonna pee my bed tonight.” –Amberwind

“You see these kids today with their pants half way down…what the heck? pull your pants up, you look stupid.” –Barbarella

The Interview by Avenian

Guess who’s back, back again, Avenian’s back, tell a friend. Yes, I have returned from my journey into the desert to find myself and some Orchid wings, and I all have to show for it is sand in places where sand shouldn’t be. So, during one of my moments of self-contemplation upon the pyramids in the oases, I decided wouldn’t it be great to do an interview. The Ledger routinely has interviews ranging from developers, players, and I think even cats have been interviewed. So sit back, and enjoy.

Player: Avenian
Server: US1
Class: Yes, I am classy

So Avenian, you are arguably the greatest hunter this game has seen, what lead to your development in this area? Well, thanks Avenian, I will take that as a compliment. I must admit that a lot of my development is based on the skills on a certain individual, who decided that “bubbles” were more a fashion statement than a result of dying. She is the 2nd greatest hunter that I have ever met, and I am glad that we have crossed paths.

Wow, very interesting, but has gaming always been a part of your life or is this something new? I believe my interest in gaming stems back to my old pencil and paper D&D days. I also remember one of the first video games I played was GORF on my Commodore VIC-20. I entered into the MMO world quite some time ago and just loved it. One thing that I will say about Villagers and Heroes is that of all the games I have played, online or not, I believe that I have played V&H the longest.

So, Avenian, you are a G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), so why a hunter?I believe that the hunter class is the best. For example, I currently have a mass heal that heals 126 hit points every 45 seconds. I don’t play a priest, but I believe that is better than most priests out there. Also, I believe in deliberate long drawn out kills. I recently saw a warrior swiftly kill a desert malog and hit for 4999 damage in one swing. Is that really necessary? And as for wizzies, well, I would rather poison mobs than to inhumanely burn and freeze them. That just sounds barbaric to me.

Avenian, thank you for your time, and do you have any final words?For all you older gamers out there, remember, you don’t age, you just level up.

Note: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mad Otters, Neonga, or any other parties. Priests, please continue to heal Avenian. Warriors, please continue to take aggro for Avenian. And wizards, continue to do whatever it is that you do.


The Spooky Scribbler Caption Contest!

The Sneaky Scribbler was feeling spooky and has devised another caption contest for you all! The rules are simple: write an amusing caption for the image pictured below. There is no limit to the number of entries. The Sneaky Scribbler is the judge. Big prizes! The contest will end on October 28th.

Please visit our forums here for more details.

caption_oct_contest


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