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The Ardent Monthly Ledger - Issue 23
December 2, 2016

Grinchta’s Lair Has Arrived!

Ghastly Grinchta and his leering troupe of mischievous elves are back to wreak some merry holiday mayhem upon the Seven Realms! So adorn yourselves carefully in warm winter attire and heavy weaponry, then head for Grinchta’s Lair, the always delightful and ever dangerous event zone, where snowy wonders, deadly foes, festive quests, and great rewards await!



The holiday season is always a special time in Villagers & Heroes, and this year we are thrilled to welcome so many new mobile players to the game! There’s nothing quite like an epic battle with Missile Toe or Krampus Kringle beneath a twinkling sky of falling snowflakes, or embarking upon an array of Yuletide quests to gain valuable riches, or even just strolling around the beautifully lit up Ardent City, to put a smile on one’s face.

And veteran players, never fear, for we’ve added new holiday items this year, which, for all those who are so inclined, can be earned in-game for free! Collect the necessary pieces and earn, for example, the special ‘Christmas Reindeer’ mount, or the very festive, ‘Holly Fairy’ outfit! And in our item shop, in addition to bringing back some popular favorites from the past, we’ve also added the all new, ‘Winter Wonder Knight Outfit,’ a new pet companion, and a Snowball toy!

Happy Holidays, Everyone! Tis the season in V&H!



In our last issue of the Ledger, we provided you all with some numbers regarding the statistics and odds, and time involved it took to achieve certain in-game items within Spooky Town. So we thought we’d also do the same here for our current event zone, Grinchta’s Lair, as well as add a few other tid bits that you might not have known.

Check your achievements!

There are two special Christmas 2016 achievements:

    1. Merry Christmas 2016

  • Goal: Collect the full set of 2016 Christmas Carols.
  • Reward: 4x Fairy of Cheer Companions

2. The Holly and The Ivy 2016

  • Goal: Collect the full Holly Fairy outfit during the Christmas 2016 event.
  • Reward: Holly Fairy’s Red Wings Gnogpack
    • Biggest changes from last year

      • Two new Mounts, one available in the event, and another in the store.
      • New Holly Fairy outfit, available in the event.
      • New Winter Wonder Knight outfit, available in the store.
      • Two new companions, one available in the event, one in the store.
      • All of the sub components of the Christmas crafting toys are now fully tradeable. Help a friend create some Christmas Toys!
      • All of the enemies in Grinchta’s Lair are using holiday themed weapons this year!
      • Daily yuletide reward quantities were substantially increased from last year (some more than double).
      • Snowball toy!

      Yuletide Spirits

      Yuletide spirits can be found in two ways, from doing dailies and killing bosses within Grinchta’s Lair.

      • By doing the daily “The Devils of Christmas” you can earn 9x Yuletide Spirits a day.
      • By doing the daily “Holiday Punch” you can earn 10x Yuletide Spirits a day.
      • By defeating Krampus Kringle, Sugar Plum King, Jingle Ding, and Missile Toe, you can earn Grinchta’s Decoy Santa Sacks. Each decoy bag has a 100% chance to drop a Yuletide Spirit, and a 20% chance to drop a bonus one. All of these bosses spawn every 45-57 minutes and can be completed any number of times per day.
      • By defeating Grinchta you can earn Grinchta’s Santa Sack. Grinchta’s santa sack has a 100% chance to drop 3x Yuletide Spirits, with a 25% chance for a bonus one, and a 10% chance for a bonus two. Grinchta spawns every 60-72 minutes, and can be completed any number of times per day.

      By doing the dailies, and killing each boss a single time, a player can earn between 26 and 32 Yuletide Spirits a day (statistically averaging 27.25).

      Yuletide Spirits can also be purchased in the store for oneself, or gifted to a friend. They cost 10 crowns for a pack containing between 10 and 15 (statistically averaging 12.5). There is also a quantity discount available.

      Yuletide Joys

      Yuletide Joys can only be earned from doing the daily quests in the event.

      • By doing the daily “The Art of Toymaking” you can earn 12x Yuletide Joys plus a Christmas Gift.
      • By doing the daily “Taking Back Christmas” you can earn 9x Yuletide Joys plus a Christmas Gift.
      • Christmas Gifts (which you get two of from the dailies) will award:
        1. 60% chance for 5x Yuletide Joys
        2. 25% chance for 10x Yuletide Joys
        3. 10% chance for 15x Yuletide Joys
        4. 5% chance for a lump of coal (try again next time!)

      By doing the dailies, players can earn between 21 and 51 Yuletide Joys a day (statistically averaging 35).

      Yuletide Joys can also be purchased in the store for oneself, or gifted to a friend. They cost 10 crowns for a pack containing between 10 and 15 (statistically averaging 12.5). There is also a quantity discount available.

      Tons of Free Items! Tis’ the Season!

      Some players may think the Reindeer mount is either too difficult to obtain, or possibly they are just not interested in it. But never fear! There are PLENTY of other rewards this year!

      Mounts:

      • Brown Reindeer Mount

      Full Outfits:

      • Fairy of Holly outfit (with bonus wings!)
      • Sapphire Nutcracker Outfit
      • Royal Nutcracker Outfit

      Cosmetics:

      • Toy Maker’s Top Hat Gnogpack
      • Santa’s Top Hat Gnogpack
      • Green Whimsy Hat Gnogpack
      • Red Whimsy Hat Gnogpack
      • Green White Striped Winter Hat Gnogpack
      • Green Red Striped Winter Hat Gnogpack
      • Red White Striped Winter Hat Gnogpack
      • Santa’s Winter Hat Gnogpack
      • Peppermint Holly Shield Gnogpack
      • Santa’s Boot Collection (contains 5 pairs of unique Christmas boots)
      • Santa’s Glove Set (contains 2 pairs of unique Christmas boots)

      Companions:

      • Fairy of Cheer Companion
      • Peppermint Bee Companion

      Consumables:

      • Various Elixirs
      • Full Repairs
      • Health and Spirit Potions
      • Clockwork Harvesters
      • Holiday experience boosters
      • And more!

Let’s hear it for our fantastic player community! Have a look at the Fan Friday creations of the past few months!


Player: Eisprinzessin
Server: EU 2
Class: Wizard

eisprinzessin

How long have you been playing Villagers & Heroes for? What was it that initially drew you to the game, and what is it that keeps you playing today? Roughly 1 year. I was fascinated by the game when I watched my husband playing the tutorial zones in September 2015. After testing the game with a new character myself, I created my own account, so we can play together at the same time – and that is what we still do today. What keeps me playing and loving this game is the GREAT COMMUNITY!

What is your favorite class to play, and why? Additionally, if you could add/invent a fifth class what would it be? I think PRIESTS are quite cool, because they‘re all-rounders. But there is one thing I miss about them. Even exclusively, holy priests like mine (2nd character) can neither revive others nor themselves. Fifth class, you said? How about PARAMEDICS with the ability to reanimate?! 😀

Everyone has a favorite quote, be it from a historical figure, a novel, a film, a song, etc. What is one of your favorite quotes and who said it? Would like to answer that question when I‘m older and wiser.

Have you been playing V&H on Android at all? If so, are there any specific aspects about the game that you feel work especially well on the mobile platform? Conversely, are there any aspects you would like to see improved for mobile? YES, I also play on Android. (I‘m addicted enough so that I just had to buy myself a new tablet with better GPU lately, and I couldn‘t wait until Christmas. ^^“) Well, Farming and Gardening – and this is what I do mostly – works even better than in the PC version.

But since I am the ‘Villager’ type, it‘s important for me to always have a clear view of my item bags and locker and to have all village and community functions working such as projects, roster, restocking station, community vault log and friends list. I also miss the auction house. And the last two feats for combat. Will come in time, I guess. All in all… The Android version is well done. Graphics are beautiful! But to me the App is just an addition.

If you could combine two elder bosses in V&H together (a la Dr. Frankenstein) to create the Ultimate Beastly Foe, who would they be? Which zone would this creature live in, and what would its name be? Can‘t answer that just yet, because I‘m only Level 43 and haven‘t seen the whole V+H world so far. Maybe this creature would have the shape of something unexpected like a fluffy pink sheep, the big brother of Shrook and Shrak.

If money was no object, what would you do all day if you could? Eat cake, sleep until noon, play V&H, and SAVE THE WORLD!

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had in-game while playing Villagers & Heroes?It‘s always the small things like a very nice conversation, helping others and getting help, sending and receiving gifts, crazy spontaneous activities with neighbours and so on. Can‘t name one in particular.

What is your favorite Beatles song?Hard to tell, there are too many! But I think, ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is one of my favorites.

Is there a particular mount that you would personally love to see added to Villagers & Heroes? If so, what is it? A DOG SLED! (see sketch ^^)

When you’re not battling Grinchta, or strolling around snowy, festive, Ardent City, what activities do you most enjoy about the holiday season outside of the game?Walking through snow-covered forest and drinking hot chocolate afterwards.

dog_sled


did_you_also_know_new

It’s no secret that one of our long time V&H players is a tremendously gifted artist, one who has been contributing his fabulous creations to the Ledger for quite some time. But did you also know that Sighfrid’s art is now, quite literally, featured within the game?

That’s right! The Otter team, having long been impressed with the works of Sighfrid of EU 1, when porting the game to mobile, realized that his art perfectly captured the flavor and spirit of Villagers & Heroes! And so, with his blessing, in addition to game icons and log-in rewards, a number of Sighfrid’s wonderful pictures now comprise an array of different loading screens in V&H on mobile. Have a look! And hat’s off to Sighfrid! This is truly a community game. :)


leo3

As most of you already know, some months ago we changed the time frame of when we appoint our Royal Guardians from monthly to quarterly. Unfortunately, during that transition period, one of the months in which new Royal Guardians were appointed did not get featured here in the Ledger. So we’d like to remedy that now!

Congratulations, and our sincere thanks to the following individuals for their outstanding contributions to the game and the community.

The Royal Guardians for the month of June were, and are:

ariele
Ariele (US 1)

glorysong
Glory Song (US 2)

docseuss
Doc Seuss (EU 1)

xmerlindax
Xmerlindax (EU 2)

ladymisty
LadyMisty (BR)


While a good portion of making games is always creative and energizing, there are other aspects to it which fall into more of a ‘nuts and bolts’ category. These aspects, while perhaps not quite as glamorous as creating a mind-blowing new spell, or designing a mysterious new zone, are nonetheless quite fascinating in their own right. We thought then, that you might enjoy getting a behind the scenes peek at one of the primary activities we’ve been engaged in for the past month.

Now that we’ve launched on mobile, one of our key priorities has been to study and learn how to best promote our game image in the Google Playstore –specifically, what V&H icon will most intrigue quickly browsing players to pause for a moment and read about our game?

Welcome to the world of ‘A-B’ testing! What is it? How does it relate to Villagers & Heroes? Chief Otter Damon is here today to answer those questions and more.

From Damon:
One of my personal heroes is Richard Feynman, a physicist, who understood well the scientific method. Watch the first one minute of this video to see what he’s talking about:

“If a theory disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement, is the key to science. It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your theory is. It doesn’t make a difference how smart you are, or who made the guess, or what your name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong.” Personally, I love this.

A-B Testing is about doing experiments to find out what does best. A-B Testing takes its name from the idea that you have two options, A and B. We want to determine which one is better. “Metrics” is a buzzword in the game industry now. It became the main focus of Facebook game companies like Zynga and Playdom. With mobile, the trend has continued. All kinds of metrics are tracked with a plethora of acronyms. If you went to a game conference, it would sound like a bunch of martians talking shop. You would hear goobledy-gook like “Ar-Poo”, “Ar-Pee-Poo” (I’m not joking, this is for real!), “Kay-Pee-Eye”, “El-Tee-Vee”, “See-Pee-Eye”, and so on.

But this just comes down to one simple idea: do you make more money for each new player that installs the game than it costs to acquire that user. This is expressed as “life time value” vs. “Cost per Install”. So, is LTV > CPI ? If yes, you have a game that can afford to exist. Let me say, this is about more than just making a profit – if the game makes money, it means we can make the game better by hiring more people to work on it so that we can add new content, add new features, fix bugs, and polish it. So this is a win-win (or least it should be – some companies don’t approach it this way).

To get specific, here’s how we used testing to reduce Cost per Install (CPI).
We ran some ads on Facebook since that is the dominant ad platform for mobile. To do an ad, we come up with a theory on what would attract new players, and then we test it to see if we were correct. Here are a series of theories, ads, and the results.

Our first Thesis: “Women like Villagers & Heroes.”
Now, I know guys also like the game, but our game is unique in that our player base is about 50-50. Most MMOs are heavily male. World of Warcraft for example is 80% male. So we thought, let’s try an ad aimed at women. Here’s the Ad, and the results:

$5.01 per install is pretty high. If it costs us $5 to get someone to install the game, I don’t think we could afford many ads. 95% of people who install the game aren’t playing after a month. 60% don’t even return the next day. That’s just how it works with free-to-play games. So $5 is a lot to spend for someone who probably won’t actually become a real player. So we tested more ideas.

Thesis 2: “Lots of games advertise using an Angry Guy!”
Look at Clash of Clans for example. Hey, maybe we are missing something – after all, everyone is doing this, so maybe this is the best way to advertise. Let’s test “Angry Guy!”

Oops. That was terrible. $12.61 is crazy high.

Next:
Thesis 3: People like cool monsters!

Blah. Terrible results.

Thesis 4: Let’s try some characters.

Hey! Much better. Now we’re talking!

Thesis 5: Video?
We thought this would be too expensive, but we may as well test it. So we tried a polished trailer.

Not bad. Still not as good as the characters, but close. Let’s try more videos.

Thesis 6: Video 6 – the image had a bunch of players on it, maybe social is a thing?

Wow! Very nice. The game features a female character running through a world filled with lots of interesting stuff and many other players! And what is cool, is we learned something about the game: it is SOCIAL. Wow, who knew MMOs are about the community and being with other people? Ha! Joking here – but you can see that the numbers confirmed what should have been obvious.

By the way, we have managed to optimize further, and we now have a CPI for the FB ads down to $0.70. Now that is pretty good. So that’s an example of testing various options against each other.

Here’s another one. The Google Playstore is a place that people check out games and decide if they want to play. Here’s a staggering statistic. Most people only spend 4 seconds on a page before deciding they are not interested. So what we show is really important. If we can get a high percentage of people who see the game on the Playstore to actually install it, that lowers our cost per install.

Google has some nice tools so that we can test different variations (AB Tests) – actually all the way up to 4 total variations at once, so technically ABCD Tests. So we tried different icons, different banner art, and so on to see what did best.

One example are the following icons:

The Shield was one of the worst. The girl’s face did much better. But best was the icon of Marat. It had a much higher conversion rate. I could talk a little about “Bayesian calculators” and “confidence intervals” and math stuff, but I think the basic idea is that you want to listen and not just forge ahead on nothing but your own intuition.

By the way, in case this seem dry, realize that metrics and testing are just another way to listen. Something that we try to always remember with the game is that it’s all about the community. We need to listen to the players. Metrics are a way to listen. It’s not the only way. We also read the forums, the bug reports, listen to in-game chat, read the reviews on the playstore and Steam, and so on. :)


Nothing makes us happier than fan submissions from our very own V&H players! A very special thank you to Omnigma of US 2 for putting pen to paper and concocting a special Christmas story for you all to enjoy, one which will certainly put you all in a heroic seasonal mood, and have you itching to storm Grinchta’s Lair!

And of course what would we do without the Sneaky Scribbler? The Scribbler has been busy scribbling away, eavesdropping and giggling around the servers, and has offered us up another delightful array of goodies to sample! Thank you, Sneaky Scribbler!

Bring It! – By Omnigma

It seemed to me to be the coldest of winters at the time, like one we hadn’t seen in years, and the creeps were out in full force, unaffected by this for they had cold hearts themselves, and had climatized themselves rather easily to the harsh, unforgiving conditions that the season brought about.

Everything was going swimmingly at first, with children playing in the streets, building snowmen and having snow ball fights. Even the adults were enjoying the joyful atmosphere, until one day in early December.

Grinchta and company decided they no longer wanted to be held captive, and so they devised a plan to escape their would-be prison. Together, Grinchta, Krampus, Missile and even Jingle Ding mounted a full on assault against us, and their intentions were plain to see: They wanted freedom, as they saw it, and would do anything to attain it. Evil Incarnate, they were the Fearsome Four, diabolical, treacherous, and bent on total destruction of all that the Christmas season represented.

At first, they posed no real threat and were easily contained, but the tide nearly changed when they attempted to take Santa hostage, but to no avail as he was a crafty sort and easily out foxed them all. We pulled together and suppressed their attempts at escaping, and in the end we were victorious. Yes, Ardent was safe once again, after our forces managed to defeat them in a tremendous battle that waged on for days, even weeks, where fortunately they were driven back into their make shift prison.

However, with a light heart I must inform you all that they are at it once again this year, for I have had reports from the front lines indicating suspicious movements in their lair of ill repute. It seems they have been plotting, and, having an entire year to do so, I grudgingly have to admit that I am afraid that somehow they might just succeed this time, as our forces have dwindled, and many of the old school warriors of Ardent are no longer with us. For whatever reasons, they have departed, and now we are confronted with a new threat: one that could lead to our total annihilation should they escape their bonds and launch a successful attack on Ardent itself.

I wouldn’t allow it to trouble me so, but they have many different skills at their disposal, and their numbers, while less than our own, are composed of many elite forces, which are considered to be quite deadly, as those of us who were there saw with our own eyes, and we lost many dear friends as events unfolded.

We, the defenders, must rise to the occasion! Whatever their plan may be, we must stop them dead in their tracks. Our very future depends upon our perseverance and our determination to thwart their advances and gain complete control over them and their minions once again.

If we cannot achieve this, there is no hope for victory, and Ardent could be lost to us and future generations, forever. Now is the time to rise up and with undaunted faith confront this menace head on. So, I call upon all able bodied warriors, blessed healers, stealthy hunters and imposing magicians to aid your beloved realm, for the threat is real, and the time grows nigh. Soon, we will all be forced to make that fateful decision, on whether to stand and fight, or cower in fear.

And let me tell you this: Christmas very well could end for us all, should we fall short of glory and fail. Our very lives could depend on us coming together as a single unit and dealing with them directly and forcefully, with extreme prejudice. I can only pray that we all have what it takes to get the job done. I know full well that I myself do, and shall lay down my very life to do all that I can to aid the realm and my fellow patriots. Will you do the same? Have you got what it takes to make a difference? If you believe so, don’t sit idly by while others fear for their livelihood, and for the future of our children and our children’s children.. NOW is the time to prove your worth and your mettle! Grinchta, be warned: We are coming for you!

We will not go quietly into that dark, snowy night!
We are steeled in our resolve and born to fight.
No visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads,
Our intentions are honorable, and soon.. you’ll be dead!

No matter what evil you bestow upon us,
We shall not flounder, in this I trust.
Prepared for the worse that you might dish out,
In the end you are finished, of this, I have NO doubt!

Long live Ardent!


From The Sneaky Scribbler:

You said it:

US1 ponders Spookytown tasks:
Red Wizard: and 44 bat wongs 😀
Scarletness: I dont know what wongs are, but they sound dirty. Just don’t put them in your mouth.

US1 ponders pants:
Rishi: What cologne you wearing Heart?
puzzler: It’s those tight pants, cinder.
Heartsfang: Even if I dont, I grab it at least once.
Cinder Ella: Ah
Heartsfang: I think condemn plays a role.
puzzler: Oh I condemn those pants, that’s true.
Cinder Ella: Yup it’s the pants.
Heartsfang: She doesn’t wear pants.

US1 just plain ponders:
Vinalso: No, I have no memory of the creation of dirt.
BriarRose: You were senile already?

On personal grooming:
“Do you want to be scratched Alph?” –Stella StormSong (US2)

When you’d rather not know:
“I’ve heard stories of them eating people’s eyebrows off.” –Jewelcloud (US2)

What every pumpkin owner should know:
“What happens in pumpkin, stays in pumpkin.” –Jelani Strongbow (US2)

Stay out of the pumpkin!
“I’ll try not to fart.” –Barbarella (US2)

Shoulda gone with the holy build:
“My kids were demon spawn…” –Priest Daimheach (US2)

When to ready your weapon:
“Oh man… you know things just got serious in the story when the ground turns purple.” –Peche (US2)

On perfecting your craft:
“I work hard for every blow to the head.” –Laudia (US2)

On speaking Christmas truths:
PrincessAng: what do I need to make a toy train?
greenpuppy: a stick to poke your eyes out
greenpuppy: it will be less painless than making the train, believe me



Issue #28
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New Year’s – 2017
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Issue 17
Issue 16
New Year’s – 2016
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