Game design is tough!
It’s especially hard when you have a game that’s been going for eight years, outlasting many competitors and being supported by a strong community. Any change you make affects game balance for thousands of high-level and new player accounts alike, and there’s always a lot of feedback and debate to follow.
The difficulty of making changes, on top of the cost of maintaining a high quality game, are some major reasons why a company would shut down a game like Mafia Wars. As you may know, we’ve had an amazing influx of new players from that shutdown over the past couple months, and the feedback we’ve had has been great. Players are saying they’re thrilled at the stability and responsiveness of the game. We’re extremely proud to still be delivering Mob Wars: LCN with high uptime and low latency, and our development team is constantly working on optimizations. But the reason we’re bringing this up is that we are not the type of company to pack up shop in the face of these issues. We want to work with players like yourselves to continually improve the game, and we have no intention of shutting it down anytime soon.
We’ve had quite a bit of feedback recently about some recent changes, namely the Referrals & Rewards system, 60-day New Player Protection, and offering another 25 FP at startup. There’s some concern that we only care about new players, and that we’re ignoring the requests of the people who have supported the game for years.
We were definitely saddened to hear this because we’ve been working on new content, as well as making improvements to processes specifically for our older players. In the past year for example, we’ve released both the Victoria and Exham Penitentiary locations, both of which are only accessible to players over level 8670; these came with a full set of items and crafting recipes and represent a lot of development work. We released mobile apps for 3 of our 4 games, primarily to give our high-level players the ability to play on the go. And we’ve also been looking at revamping the item strength ramp up after the last few Locations and re-doing the curve to better match our highest players.
Our long-time players are extremely important to us, and indeed the majority of our releases are designed to support them. It’s important to us to appeal to new players as well, because new blood helps keep games like ours interesting, exciting and sustainable in the long run. At the end of the day, all of us have the same goal in mind: a fun and long-lasting game. We love getting feedback from players, because you guys have a unique perspective that we don’t get from playing on our test servers, and we combine that with what we know from our analytics to come up with mechanics that are both great for you guys and balanced as best we can.
In order to explain our design process and how it relates to players of all levels, I’d like to talk a little about stamina and explain what we have planned going forward.
We often get requests for more stamina from new and old players alike. Over the years we’ve brought out a number of ways to help players collect more stamina, and there’s now significantly more available than in the past:
-Stamina boosts from friends, 100% once per day
-Daily Rewards, up to 30% stamina on the 7th consecutive day
-Characters with reduced timers for stamina regeneration
-More achievements that offer Skill Points attributable to Stamina
Throughout that time, players have been asking us to raise the limit of 50 stamina on levelling up. This is something we have certainly considered, given that new players are often confused when they first hit the limit, or because longer-time players need a lot more stamina to level.
One reason this hasn’t changed is that the stamina limit is there partially to make scripting and bot use less effective. However, the major issue is that we wouldn’t be able to apply this retroactively to higher level players. If we started offering say, 100 stamina at level 1000, a player at level 1999 would be missing out on 99900 stamina in total, whereas a player at level 999 would be able to gain the full amount of stamina as they leveled through that range. We don’t think this is fair, so we’ve been looking at ways to offer more stamina that will affect all players simultaneously.
The main thing we’re working on is a stamina boost offered as a reward for collecting daily GP. This would be a new source of stamina that is not retroactive, and the amount would be based on your current amount — either a percentage or a fixed amount based on level range.
Along with that, we’re looking at changes to the Daily Rewards system so that you can continue to accrue more stamina (if you choose) after 7 days, instead of the counter resetting back to the first reward in the week. Though we do have GP achievements already in place to reward players for total days played, we feel there should be a reward for continually logging in each day.
Though these ideas are underway, it’s important to note that developing features like this takes time. It’s not necessarily the actual programming (though that is tough), but the work involved with researching balance, testing, analyzing game data, and debating the right solutions. Our goal is always to make the game as fair and fun as we can, so these steps are just as important.
At Kano our singular focus is to create fun and long-lasting games. We believe it’s important to make changes to keep things fun and interesting for everyone, and feedback from our veteran players is one of the most valuable sources of input because of their long-time presence and deep experience in the game. We rarely implement suggestions directly however, because it’s critical for us that any changes we make will not affect the longevity or stability of the game’s balance. We know these aren’t the exact suggestions that you guys have made, but we hope they help address your concerns, and that you understand why we are making the call to approach problems the way we do.
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