Kingdom Conquest 2


Org Co-Founder & Project Lead
Genre: Strategy, virtual collectible card game (CCG), city building, limited dungeon crawling
Platform: Android, iOS
Pricing model: Freemium, in-game currency, somewhat restricted pay-to-win elements
Summary: A bit buggy and laggy, yet surprisingly deep for a free smartphone game. Can get outright addictive in the right (probably rare) alliance combat conditions.
Lessons learned:
  • Distance and restrictions on travel can make a huge difference on gameplay, opening up a lot of potential that easier movement ruins. Definitely want to keep emphasizing this in Terasology (at least for some game modes)
  • Having to manage logistics to expand and set up extensive siege preparations if attacking players provide a useful and natural lengthening of the process that can yield good gameplay content rather than plain "timers" used in other games (*cough*EVE Online*cough*) to prevent "blitzing" other players. This part has been really interesting.
  • Pay-to-win can be balanced by restricting it in critical areas, although it still can serve as a major source of friction between players. Not really relevant to Terasology, but this was my first experience with it and it hasn't been too bad :)
Picked this up looking for some sort of interesting "big" game for my phone to play around with and learn from. Was somewhat hesitant at first over the pay-to-win elements and persistent multiplayer. It also needed a pretty solid connection to even launch - had to finally fix my wifi just to get it working :p

At first glance it seems like the sort of game you'd get if you lock a few random newbie coders into a room over a weekend with a near-infinite supply of caffeine, a large series of Oriental CCGs, and very little direction. It is kinda buggy, kinda laggy, and a bit of a genre mess.

If you can get past that (sort of like getting past the EVE Online learning curve, just made of bugs instead of difficulty) there's a surprising depth to the game and the gameplay you can end up with in the right situation with the right players - and you really need that as the game itself doesn't have a lot of direction other than "grow and follow the quests" - can become surprisingly powerful. In short, you can end up with this:


Which is the result of a war between the alliance I'm in and a slightly smaller more focused alliance that attacked us for no real reason other than maybe boredom. It also led to installing yet another instant messenger so we could coordinate outside the game as there is a certain element of spying / politics (again like EVE Online), and effort translates to results pretty heavily. I didn't start playing to make friends or have fun, I did it to research Android gaming and maybe pass some time. Then something unexpected happened: It got really engaging, especially with this war, and now I have another pile of friends from all over the world.

The game starts you out with a single castle square in a relatively huge world, with a background setting of vanilla fantasy. Your castle square zooms in to a fairly large city map with most of it darkened out and unusable until you slowly unlock more space via quests, most of which are natural progression (build x of y, captire z territories, etc). This natural progression works really well, IMHO, with the one limitation that it requires you to touch all facets of the wide gameplay, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not, lest you cannot advance past a certain point.

You put together armies led by commanders you can hire with one of many in-game currency systems. Each unit is made up of "monster" groups that vary from dwarves and birds to undead dragons, each type being a "card" you can get from the in-game market usually from earning types of currency from buildings, dungeon crawling, and RL money purchases. Each group has a limited amount of stamina so you can only use them a set amount of times a day.

Pacing is pretty good and the world is huge and mostly full of inactive players (the curse of persistent freemium, I figure). You attack other territory to grow but the longer it takes to travel to an unimproved land the more NPC monsters there'll be to fight when you get there. This ends up meaning you have to set up infrastructure away from home to start exploitation of a new area.

Same goes for player combat - although monster growth doesn't explode with range there the time it takes to travel (hours or even a day or two for very distant places) means your target has time to prepare, including an "entrenchment" phase they can enable with a three-hour warmup that protects you for five hours (mainly intended for surviving the night). On top of that improved lands have "field HP" you need to siege down, even after defeating any defending units. To defend territory away from the "home base" of an army unit you need to station it on a different tile including travel time there (and back when you want to use the unit for something else!)

Being that we're always hunting for novel angles I think there are good lessons to learn here on expansion and world exploitation. In Minecraft distance quickly becomes pointless, even without mods, as you can find everything you ever need within an easy range, and otherwise don't really need to move anything.

If we have natural villages and unique spots on the map that are separated by hours of travel time (not saying we shouldn't also have closer stuff) this could add a lot of depth and increase the feel of the world being huge, while also opening up interesting content potential (like the need for caravans to maintain suppy lines), especially if we do bigger servers one day and player PvP (I suspect Brokenshakles would approve!)

Actually how to pull that off would be an interesting discussion and certainly involve large worlds with pre-generated world maps including cities and points of interest. Not in the cards in the short-term, but long-term one can dream!

On a side-note they seem to have done decently with the P2W setup, time-limited campaigns, invite codes, and so on to both encourage growth and spending. As an example I'm going to shamelessly plug my invite code a7caf712 for anybody interested in trying it out - we both get free stuff :D