Nothing on the docket right now. *sad face*
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How to destroy an online game's user base 101
Posted at 05:42 PM on Monday, September 21, 2009
So, as you may have noticed last week, I really kinda got into the idea of Monopoly City Streets. The concept is sound: Take real-world streets, offer them up for sale in a boardgame-esque fashion, and struggle to become the top property magnate in the world. I logged in on the first few days and, despite MASSIVE server issues and bugs causing the game to be almost useless in the first couple days, I managed to buy up all the various different streets I'd lived on throughout the years. It was a neat idea, but with some huge problems. Because of the shoddy launch, the company running the game (Not Hasbro, as I had imagined, but a company called Tribal DBB) decided to do a relaunch and reset everything. (as was detailed in the comic) You'd think that was that, and everything would be A-Ok. This, however, is where the lesson in how to destroy a player base begins.
POINT THE FIRST: Taxes. The first major change introduced with the new relaunch was the addition of a tax rate, which increased over time as you purchased more streets. Like just about EVERY ONE of the new ideas, it's nice in theory... except that there's no tax CAP of any kind. Every street you purchase over 5 adds a 3% cumulative tax rate increase to the rent you collect each turn, meaning that once you manage to aquire 39 streets, you are effectively taxed at 100%. You earn no money. The idea of a board game like Monopoly is that you're supposed to try and bring real-world concepts in and simplify them to make them fun. Sorry, but where in the world can you find an example of a 100% tax rate? I support the IDEA of taxes, but the implementation sucks.
POINT THE SECOND: With the relaunch, the upper limit on what a street could cost was changed from $1,000,000 to a number presumably based on its length. This is all well and good, frankly... except that SOMEONE made a little boo-boo when they implemented the formulas. See, in the first incarnation, $1,000,000 streets paid out 100% of your investment on some of the smaller buildings, with the ROI gradually decreasing as buildings got more expensive. Furthermore, streets under a million paid out a percentage of the investment in relation to their million-dollar counterparts... a $500,000 street might pay out only $25K for a $50K house, for example. Again, so far so good. Here's the problem: When they removed the cap, now streets worth more than a million pay out proportionally to the amount ABOVE a million they cost: A $3,000,000 street, for example, might pay out $150K for a $50k house. Because of this, a number of players were able to purchase extraordinarily long streets (I just saw a street worth a couple BILLION because of its length) and collect ENOURMOUS amounts of cash for very little investment, just because they managed to buy this street first. And this system was in place for DAYS before anything happened... until today, when they suddenly maxed out the ROI at 100%. AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. So what now? Are they going to take away the money gained through their own blunder? Not likely - so those players who lucked out are now basically set for the duration of the game, while everyone else is now stuck out in the cold. That's just ridiculous.
POINT THE THIRD: For whatever reason, even though it was WIDELY called for, they decided that there was no compelling reason to require a valid e-mail address when signing up. This allows players to register AS MANY ACCOUNTS AS THEY LIKE willy-nilly, and it wasn't even technically against the rules. They have been warning for a week now that "Cheaters, we have our eye on you, and we're gonna DO somethin' about it." Yes the global leaderboard is full of players who ACTUALLY HAVE THE WORD "CHEATER" IN THEIR NAME. it's been like that for a few days now. It's like someone had this neat idea for a game, programmed it, and put it online just to walk away and let it be. Just ridiculous.
There's actually a lot more going on that's just ridonk, but I've got better things to do with my time than enumerate them any further. It's ludicrous to think that I, a NOBODY, could probably sit down and in a few hours, hash out a balanced game system for this stupid game than a bunch of developers hired by Hasbro were able to do. The amount of incompetence involved here is just STAGGERING... and this is coming from someone who trudged through the debacle of Darkfall Online and WWII Online. I've been on the front lines of stupid, people, and never before has it been THIS stupid. I'm just sayin'.