Hey guys, Lyr here. It's been a while. Now I'm back to writing and ranking temporarily; I'm still busy with a LOT of work. Thanks to all my senders and traders for helping me out and stuffs.
So first I'd like to come out and say that yes, I do happen to be back to rank for this event. Thanks for everyone still keeping me around, and new comrades accepting my comrade request or happening to add me at just the perfect time.
Although me ranking doesn't mean Spica ranking. No. Spica was the name of a crazy ranking legend that I am now the shadow of. Spica was someone that wrote extensively on ranking for FAWs, ranked heavily for every event to the point of having a questionable patience threshold, and bothered jumping into the community here very often to see what people thought about this game over the period of many events.
Frankly, the fact that I was once Spica isn't important. Or, not as much as I'd like to think. You can ask me about my status regarding ranking on my message wall if you like.
Why am I instead writing a blog instead of dumping all my precious time into ranking? I happen to love writing about what I like and dumping the thoughts out of my mind because it's great practice, and it certainly beats trying to get two virtual cards because of what I'm thinking: "Here's my chance to actually get something done with the community." And hopefully a fair number of you will take this seriously, share it with your VC friends, get the word out about how we can further understand something that doesn't seem so clear to newer or less knowledgeable players.
Writing this actually came to me as an idea that I started drafting when I saw the reception within the community about the dwindling interest of this game. It took me by surprise a little bit that more people were being vocal about what was wrong with the game e.g. lack of card art variety, boring gameplay, terrible alliance battle system, player-to-player interaction... you get the whole deal. I'll stick more links regarding this later.
Today's post is going to be something I'm going to try to write about as extensively and as in depth as I can because it feels like something I want to write about and I show a huge interest in.
It's not just the game I'm writing about. It's also the meta, the trend.
And you know why that's important? Because there are many contributing factors to a game's lasting value and fun factor, and we (that is, you the reader and I) are going to extrapolate the shit out of this game, and why there are all these posts popping up about long time players quitting among other things.
Keep in mind, I am not a statistical analyst and neither am I an experienced game designer. I'm just a young college student who shares a great interest in the field of games because I've spent the majority of my life around playing them, and sharing a great and keen interest in making or developing things like them.
In addition, a friend I know in person who happens to be interested in creating a startup for game ideas that he has consulted me in hopes of developing something with him. Well, as a result, in addition to my usual programming and Comp Sci classes I also picked up a book on game design. It's called The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. You could probably find it online somewhere. It's a very well written book, and reading through it I'm thinking more that I don't know as much as I did about the thought process that goes into a game.
And I don't, duh. I'm not Chris Sawyer or Will Wright. But I like learning, and learning is a constant process that I go through everyday. Might as well get used to liking the things I do, right?
Anyways, I'll be mentioning a bunch of things regarding the parametrics for game design as a result of compiling all this information. I'll try to make things sound simple because I know that for ESL readers, or those who have taken English as a second or foreign language, had trouble reading a few of my last blogs because I used a lot of them "big" words.
Alright, so let's get started.
Well, maybe it's in your interests to check out this post if you haven't already. Kelerik laughed at it, but hey, it might have a point. There's a fair amount of people that think the game is dying, then there's also a fair amount that don't.
But let's try to see if we can really extract any information given what we know about the game to really say if it's 'dying' or not. For this data, I picked the Android App Store as an arbitrary data sample; the iOS App Store is very similar.
If you take a look at the chart on the right, it's showing the last 90 days of Valkyrie Crusade's download rankings. This can tell us a little bit about who's showing interest in the game. Clearly it isn't accurate, and neither can we have an accurate measure of all the users who are using the app on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis, but it does tell us something important:
It tells us about the influx of new players within the game.
More downloads, more new players. That's how it usually goes. Out of some of those downloads, VC is probably holding the interest of some select number of players who stick around and become our new active players when others decide to quit. Now it's been fairly stable lurking around 150 for Singapore and having a high jump in Japan around August 21 to September 9 yet falling back down.
Yes, blame App Annie for only offering ranking data from Japan, Canada, and Singapore. Maybe because that's where the game is most popular ratio-wise in respect to other regions. Maybe the US are busy playing Candy Crush Saga, Tiny Tower or whatever, but that's beside the point. Whatever the case, there's at least been some attempt by nubee to rekindle the interest of players with their new "Big update" announcement, bringing back up interest a slight notch before dropping down.
For the most part though, it looks acceptable. Let's take a look at the larger perspective using androidrank.org. By the way, yes this is a HIGH MATURITY game as the site says if you haven't noticed. That's right, teenagers, THIS WAS NOT AIMED AT YOUR AGE DEMOGRAPHIC. Valkyrie Crusade was clearly meant for the manliest grown up adults that love cute girls.
In androidrank.org, we get some more statistics over a large time spectrum, starting from when the game was launched up until now. You can see that the total downloads for this game has surged a little bit in slope since the large UR update in December 2013, the same month that I joined the game. Downloads gradually increased at a higher rate than before, but then it's starting to slow down by maybe just a tad bit that may or may not be relevant.
If you wanted to know the importance of the total downloads in respect to the ranking trend of Valkyrie Crusade in the app store, then just measure the instantaneous slope or gradient at the point which you're observing. You can eyeball it if you like, or do some real quick calculations to rough it out. I'll leave that up to you guys.
But either way, even at that rate it's still somewhat healthy. Sure the rankings have waned for a bit and then are surging a little bit more now because of the "big update", but I don't think it's obvious enough that the game is dying or still doing well. In fact, I'm on the fence.
Let's just say this.
VC is dying for old veteran players who have played for a long time.
VC is not dying for new players who show a fair interest in the game.
∴ In the large picture of things, VC is neither dying or doing well. It's doing okay.
Still though, it's important to note both those facts because even though that's been true throughout the entireity of this game, it's been more prominent now because people have been vocal about it. At this point in time, it's up in the air. We don't really know if VC's popularity is really taking a downward decline or if it's actually doing even better than it was before.
But what you see in game is important too. If you're an active player, it's sort of easy to eyeball how much players are actually really "actively playing" the game, whatever your definition of that is. But surely enough, there is that fair group of players every event who'll try ranking (maybe the top 2000 players), and then there's the rest of the people who just spend the rest of the event at their own pace collecting what they can get (the other 20000 to 30000 players every event). Then there's just people that try it for a half an hour, do the tutorial, kill an AW, then forever disappear. Bob's seen that one before, and it isn't the prettiest.
Nubee has this way of making things sound prettier than they are about having more than 5 million users or whatever they advertise. It's important to remember that those are just registered users, not all active and playing users. Active and playing users are like you and me. Maybe we'll try out an event and decide we only want to get the event cards, use our free premium tickets, and call it a day. And on some special occasions, either of us could be ranking.
That brings me to my next point.
The Fun Factor and Investment
I think I've brushed over this before, but reading over the book concerning game design that I'm reading, I think I'll be better able to explicate the more general reasons for why a game is worth or not worth putting your time into.
Schell puts it a great way, and thank him for this. He says that a game designer can look through the lens of "endogenous value", or to put it in a more understandable way, internally generated value.
It means that a certain game designer or developer is considering what is valuable in his or her game to the players. It further begs the question, "What's the relation between this internally generated value and what the player wants?"
In Valkyrie Crusade, our value is pretty simple to understand. Heck, nubee even includes a little section for all you guys in the Table of Contents to know what that is.
- Develop your kingdom! Yeah, ok nubee. My kingdom still looks a little too messy. At least everything's upgraded.
- Collect cards and create units!
- Win various battle! [sic]
Developing your kingdom is all fine and good, nubee, but you need to make them priorities straight. Why isn't point 2 point 1? We know it's all about them cute girl cards, right. Right?
So then the biggest thing about this game is its lasting appeal because the majority of it, what's keeping you the player around the game, is just you sticking around for each event and deciding what to do for each event and what powerful or cute girls you want to collect.
Jeez, like no one ever says "VC is so fun because the battle system is super amazing and complex!" And no, someone please don't dare say that in the comments. Otherwise I'll hurt you. Or someone else will. SOMEONE'S GOING TO SAY IT YAARGH
That's not to say that that's the ONLY reason that the game is 'fun'. Some of us go crazy trying to do personal achievements such as ranking first at least once, or trying to slay a FAW by yourself, or even beautifying your kingdom. But still, it strongly holds that the main premise of fun in this game is to collect cute girls.
Whatever the case, it's pretty obvious that the event they had William, whatever it was called, the event that I quit in, had kinda bleh art. And the cards there were not even that powerful for people like me who already have kickass teams to begin with. The art for William wasn't THAT nice, and that could be said for the other event cards included. Antigone was kinda boring, then came along Sky Traveler which was decent.
Then AkkeyJin recovered, and all the good artists with their good art came back. Now I'm back to collect me some cute girls, including a Wolfwoman. Again, thank you sharers.
The point is, the majority of us stay and play for the cute girl cards. When I say that I play for fun, that's my idea of fun. It is because that we're collect powerful and good looking cards that we're having fun. That is the internally generated, and intrinsic value of Valkyrie Crusade. Cute girls are the main premise, they're even the main premise on the game's ads. You never seen a Valkyrie Crusade advertisement looking like supercell's Clash of Clans advertisements, right? Ok, hopefully not. And supercell the developer, not ryo's collective.
But honestly, there are a bunch of other complaints too that also should be acknowledged in this post. Most of it involves the mechanics of Valkyrie Crusade since FAWs were introduced back in Febuary and since then developed into something more devoid of fun. That, and the alliance battle changes to become alliance duels, and what not. Larger alliances, too.
We'll acknowledge this in a second post, but I'll end it here for now because there are frankly a lot of aspects that go into this, and I'm tired. Also why this is part one, so there will be a part two coming up.
I'm actually playing Terra Battle on top of VC and it's an amazing game. Considering helping the official wiki over there because it is such a fine, fine game. Try it. It's by the creator of the Final Fantasy series who has since then left Square Enix after the release of FFXII, which was frankly a pretty awesome game.
But I miss that stuff. I miss you, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and you are an amazing man. Also, you too are amazing, mister Kimihiko Fujisaka. I loved the designs of The Last Story, and I'm glad to see him back in the works because the Terra Battle lore and aesthetics in addition to the gameplay are amazing. Go help them and try out the game if you like your turn-based strategies fused with action and precision to pull off the awesomest moves. And even then if you don't, it's still pretty kickass.
That's a side advertisement though. On another note, I'd love to congratulate my friend and comrade F✩Serinweis for joining the rank 1 club and achieving first on the leaderboards. I'm very happy you visited me, and yes I did notice you because I always notice my bestest comrades.
And super ultra final note, I am only tentatively back into the game. I don't know whether I'll rank for the next event. It's in my interest to if the ranking reward is super cute or something, but it also depends on the amount of schoolwork I get.
Be prepared to take on part 2, sometime in the future! Hopefully in a week, maybe a little bit more than that. Seeya guys, and best of wishes to all you peeps out there who are getting all the cute girls for your cute little kingdom harem.