原作者：Guest Author 译者：Willow Wu
虽然按理说Kabam旗下的Kingdom of Camelot才是第一款在app store获得成功的4X手游，但是在此文的大部分篇幅中我们还是聚焦在Game of War上，毕竟它是最成功的4X手游并且让Machine Zone公司声名远扬。
很多很多人在Game of War教程时就放弃了。从界面上来看真的是非常过时，游戏玩法也是很简单的点来点去。它教你一些游戏基本的东西，但是并没有直接告诉玩家为什么要这么做。实际上，大部分4X手游在呈现游戏内容方面做的都不大好，这是个奇怪的现象。
Game of War的一切都和权力有关。毫不夸张地说，游戏显示玩家的实力差异已经到了逼残玩家的地步了，特别是你们在一个N多人的游戏环境里，任何细微的数值差异变化都会让玩家细致入微地感受到的实力博弈的残酷。
上面的图解体现了封建社会下的权力金字塔。Game of War的游戏结构和社会框架和这个图解十分一致，终极目标就是成为国王。
为了符合中世纪的风格设定，Game of War创造了很多“游戏中的游戏”来支持封建背景下的权力金字塔。事实上，如果你看过Game of Thrones，就能感觉到剧中不同家族之间的关系就和Game of War中不同玩家之间的关系很相似。
Frey家族的领主Walder Frey是个卑鄙小人，只为自己考虑！这也是个表现Game of War和4X游戏中社会局势可能发生变革的典型例子
Game of War中的王国地图。每个据点都可以看出玩家们在游戏中投入了很多时间。
Game of War称它自己是一个大型多人在线策略游戏，这并不是谎言。这游戏是个大型多人在线的永恒世界，所有东西都处于进行时。游戏中的每个行动都会通过广播系统让所有玩家知道，就等于每次攻击、每次行军还有每次交易都是公开的。
一支军队正朝着敌方城市行进，准备发动攻击。等到军队到达目的地时，只剩下2:51。花费一定时间到达目的地是Game of War和4X手游玩法中很重要的一部分，也对游戏起着平衡作用。
用一张简单的图来解释Game of War中的绝对核心行动（absolute core actions）。这游戏非常深奥，要把所有东西都放在一张图里解释实在是太难了。
本质上来说，Game of War和它的后续产品玩法是很相似的。在这个巨大的游戏世界中，玩家们可以建立自己的据点容纳他们的市民。世界被不同玩家的王国瓜分，玩家们不断升级他们的城市，军队和英雄，渴望变得更加强大，最终在这个世界中手握大权，君临天下。
对于免费游戏来说，利用限时和缺乏耐心是最传统也是最有效的盈利手段。在Game of War中，执行一项行动需要花费些时间才能完成。
在Game of War中也有加速功能，有短时间的也有长至几天的。在流程设计上，这样就可以帮助平衡不同时间长度的单次流程，也有益于奖励循环和盈利机会。
想要在Game of War中缩短流程并不难，只要把基本行动都安排好，等待它们完成就好了，“每天都需要安排许多小任务”这种模式已经被证明在F2P游戏中屡试不爽。
而且会有哪个F2P游戏不让你花钱跳过等待时间啊？Game of War也提供了这种机会，以防玩家们想要赶进度，快点结束当前的任务。
基本行动和核心游戏紧密联系。游戏鼓励玩家们完成远征任务，这能够促使他们去完成更多基本行动，累积进度，变得更加强大。如此他们就能在PvP中更加熟练，后期在the Kingdom View的elder game中更加得心应手。
简单了解一下Game of War中的PvP是怎么运作的。看，实际上你都看不到战斗发生。整场战斗是在一个电子表格中进行的，对玩家隐藏了算法。
简单看一下Game of War的英雄和制造系统，还有他们是怎么紧密关联的。
想想《权力的游戏》中Jaime Lannister被Starks抓了，然后Catelyn Stark协商放他走。
来自玩家Snow_1021的截图，展现了去年为Kingdom of Fire 超级奇迹圣地战斗的场面。看看有多少玩家为它加入角逐。
可以说Game of War的elder game就是关于领土主权还有其中的权力通道。整个地图上，能够提供额外资源或者权利的特殊地域就是奇迹圣地，超级奇迹圣地的优势更为明显，能够直接确定谁会成为Game of War中的帝王或者是女王。
这一系列为了争夺超级奇迹圣地的攻击就像是真实生活中一场大规模、史诗级别的战争，需要大量团队协作和周密计划。感觉像是《权力的游戏》中有一集Stannis Baratheon试图夺取 Kings Landing，不得不面对Lannisters家族和Tyrells家族的联合抵御。
在此期间会新形成很多联盟，也会有很多联盟产生分裂。这也体现了Game of War和其他4X游戏核心中的社交玩法的深奥之处。看看这位玩家写的详细记录，他参与了超级奇迹圣地争夺战，对其中涉及的部分有非常棒的见解。
就像是真实的封建战争一样，Game of War中有很多残酷的现象，要花很多时间很多精力才能达到核心部分。游戏中的损失是不可挽回的，所以损失军队或者英雄可能会使你一蹶不振，除非你愿意花钱恢复你损失的所有东西。我记得我有好几次因此放弃了游戏。
我认为这种方法比起像是Clash of Clans这样的游戏，还是很有趣的。这样做非常具有hardcore游戏的风格，让你感受到强者的力量。你可以把某个人摧毁的如此彻底，让三个多月的游戏时间在几分钟内就都付诸东流，这种成就感与游戏的核心，也就是力量，密切联系着。
Game of War在技术、研究、英雄技能等等方面经历了无数次优化提升，就是要向人们展现这游戏的复杂程度。
虽然我还停留在游戏的表层，但是我觉得游戏最显而易见的就是它的深不可测。事实上，我想说像StarCraft这样的PC游戏甚至比Game of War这类的游戏更容易搞懂。
收益最高的10款手游有像Game of War和Mobile Strike这样超级复杂的游戏，也有像Pokemon GO和Candy Crush Saga这样的大众游戏。在我看来，这就体现了玩家群体已经扩大了，游戏商有多种途径可以获得成功。
在Game of War中，永久性的损耗可以在一定程度上解决上述问题，因为玩家可以把其他人的游戏进度几乎完全抹灭。然而，聪明的玩家就不会经常那样做，而是和其他玩家保持和平局面。
例如，我有一段时间在 the top player world 里玩，大概有20亿实力值。放到现在那都不算什么，那时我应该下更多的功夫提高竞争力。
Game of War确实靠扩大经济规模和提高升级难度解决了这些问题，但是做的非常聪明。
Game of War中有一项独特的功能就是聊天中可以把对方的语言转化成自己正在使用的语言。
Game of War也非常依赖联盟特性，让玩家尽快加入联盟。游戏利用你的位置来寻找和你同一地理位置/时间区的联盟，这样的话你向伙伴求助的时候会比较方便。
同盟成员之间互相赠送是Game of War中非常重要的部分。
还有其他很多说不完的功能都够体现此游戏社交功能的强大，还有同盟中的玩家彼此之间的紧密关系。如果还有哪个游戏的特色比Game of War还多，那我就马上去找出来。
Gabe Leydon已经公开表示Game of War的玩家制定了他们自己的游戏规则，甚至是游戏玩法，他们作为开发者只是提供了基础设施，我十分肯定实际就是这样的。
对于任何一个开发者，应变式游戏玩法都是一个想要实现的梦想。它意味这游戏可以屹立不倒，因为玩家会一直玩下去。结合可以无限升级的经济和权力体系，你就很容易明白为什么Game of War经历了这么长的时间还是热度不退，而且在之后的好多年它也可以继续保持下去。
Machine Zone旗下的游戏是multiple deep体系的巅峰代表，这些体系相互配合，努力达成一个大目标：成为游戏中最强的玩家。玩家在游戏中能够完完全全感受到权力的力量，恃强凌弱是被允许的，这就给相对不那么强的玩家增添了很多压力，逼他们保持竞争力。
This multi-part series will deconstruct Machine Zone’s super successful games and look into the particular midcore genre dominated by the company. You can read part one here.
In part one of this article, we defined the style of Machine Zone’s games as “mobile 4X,” but how do mobile 4X games work?
While Kabam’s Kingdom of Camelot was arguably the first Mobile 4X game to achieve success on the app store, we’re going to concentrate on Game of War for the bulk of this article as it’s the most successful 4X game and has largely defined Machine Zone as a company.
Not just a game of war – a game of power
The most successful 4X games tap into the desire to want to rule and become the king
Many, many people churn out of Game of War during its tutorial, which is very archaic in terms of its appearance and very simple tap-tap-tap gameplay. It gets you to go through the basics but without really intuitively teaching the player why they are doing what they are doing. In fact, 4X games in general strangely don’t do a good job at telling you what the game is really about.
Game of War is all about power. And not just literally, as there is a number representing power shoved in your face at all times, but also the nuances of power and how that is both expressed and felt in a massively multiplayer game with thousands of players playing together all at once.
The above diagram shows the Feudal Power Pyramid. Game of War creates a game structure and social framework that is very much in line with this diagram, where the ultimate aim is to become the king.
Fittingly for a game set in a medieval setting, Game of War creates many “games within a game” which support a Feudal style power pyramid. In fact, if you’ve ever seen the TV show Game of Thrones, then there is a lot in common in terms of the relationships between Houses being akin to relationships between players in Game of War.
The game takes place on a huge map made up of various kingdoms. Each Kingdom has a Wonder which can be battled over, and then the entire world itself has a “Super Wonder” which can be battled for.
The Alliance which controls the Super Wonder effectively rules the game, with the player who is the leader of that Alliance acting as the King or Queen of the game. The game structure supports this throughout as the rulers of the game can impose taxes on everyone in the game, or bestow titles on other players and Alliances.
Walder Frey the leader of House Frey is despicable man who is in it for himself! And a great example of some of the social dynamics possible in Game of War and 4X games
No matter which tier players are in their life-cycle, they have an importance to the game. When starting out you might be small feed in the overall scheme of things, but you still contribute to your Kingdom with the resources you provide.
As you climb the ladder you have more and more of an impact on both your Kingdom and the overall game kingdom. You may be part of an Alliance that has no chance of controlling a Wonder or Super Wonder, but you may be able to influence who does get it. This means that your support is important for those duking it out and means that negotiation between alliances is extremely important.
I will touch on the true strength of social systems in the game in a later section, but the point I want to get across about 4X games is that the dream of being powerful and ruling the roost is incredibly strong as an emotional motivation to play. It’s the central emotional driver on which the game is built around and supports.
As you ascend the game, the feeling of seeing other people literally do your bidding to court your favour is extremely addictive and powerful, just as it is in real life.
They say that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and if you create a game that facilitates that megalomaniacal power struggle and allows you to pay to get ahead… well perhaps it helps explain from the very outset how this game is so successful.
A persistent world
The Kingdom Map in Game of War. Each one of the Strongholds shown here is a real player that has invested many hours into the game.
Game of War calls itself an MMO strategy game and it’s not lying. The game is a huge massively multiplayer online persistent world where things are constantly going on. Every action in the game is broadcast to everyone, meaning that every attack, every march and every trade can be seen.
The world map itself is also huge which means that the 4X mechanics of exploration is there for everyone to experience. From a technical perspective to support this level of concurrency is really impressive and it gives the game a real feeling of being alive at all times.
An army is marching towards an enemy city to attack it. 2:51 remain until the army reaches it’s destination. The amount of time it takes to reach a target is a huge part of gameplay and balance in Game of War and mobile 4X games
This also means that many important game mechanics are tied to the game world. Players control a stronghold which represents their city and people. This is positioned on the game map and the location of it is very important.
Making an attack or traveling somewhere means that your troops or a hero can be seen going on a march in the world map and it takes time to reach the destination. This means that being in a location that is close to people who can help to defend you or close to natural resources is very important.
Players can also control resource tiles that provide additional resources for the city economy and enforce the exploit mechanic of 4X games. Whilst on a march or traveling, your own city can be attacked, or you can be attacked mid-march. It leads to all manner of interesting situations and mechanics.
You can even “fake” a march against an opponent and then march back to march to someone else. And seeing all of this interplay in real-time makes for fascinating emergent gameplay which is all viewable as it occurs in the game.
Game loop and core systems
A simplified diagram of the absolute core actions in Game of War. The game is extremely deep, so it’s hard to encapsulate everything on one diagram.
At its heart Game of War and its follow-up titles use familiar gameplay. Players own a Stronghold which represents their city of people within a vast world. Worlds are divided into Kingdoms of players and it’s the player’s aspiration to get more powerful by upgrading their city, army, and hero to eventually accumulate real tangible power in the world view.
This player is carrying out most of the core actions in the game: building, researching, training an army and crafting. They have the option to speed up some of their actions and can request help for building their Level 4 Academy.
Once players have completed the tutorial, they can undertake up to four core actions at one time. They can build, research, train troops and craft in parallel, but can only do one of each at a time.
Some games, such as Mobile Strike, allow the player to hire an additional builder to multi-build, but let’s assume one for now. Thus a player’s most basic session would involve coming into the game, setting up each of these four actions spending some of their resources, requesting help and then leaving.
Once one of the actions have been completed they can come into the game to set up another action to progress through the game optimally.
Pay to progress
Timers and impatience are the oldest and strongest of monetisation mechanics in freemium gaming. In Game of War, once carrying out an action, it takes time to complete it.
Initially, timers can be skipped for free or are very short to ease the player into the game. But as a player progresses, the timers will slowly increase taking days, months or even years to complete.
Sometimes when playing the game, Alliance members will request help, making the highlighted icon appear. Tapping on it takes the player to the Alliance Help screen where they can help their Alliance members.
The player has a few options available to them to avoid waiting for too long. They can request help from their alliance members. The loop of requesting and giving help to alliance members is a core social interaction with huge value making alliances necessary to progress while also harnessing the power of social reciprocation and altruism to make players co-operate and build bonds between them.
This encourages players to be online and playing the game as much as possible throughout the day. This is a great mechanic for building up engagement and meaningful interactions between alliance members.
Speed-Ups are available in GoW ranging from a very short period of time all the way up to days. This helps balance the session design between short and long sessions as well as benefiting the reward loop and monetisation opportunities
Players can also use speed-up items to speed up the timers in the game. Speed-ups are thrown about liberally in the game through rewards and from in-app purchase bundles and various kickbacks. These speed-ups are a clever piece of game design because they give the player an enormous power into how they want to play during their session.
It’s very easy in Game of War to have short sessions by just queuing up basic actions and waiting for them to complete to adhere to the “many small sessions per day” model that is proven to work well in F2P.
However, it also offers players the opportunity to play for very long sessions as boosts that have been saved up can be used in succession. Perfect for playing on the weekend when players have more time on their hands.
And of course what F2P game would not allow you to pay to skip the timer altogether? Game of War offers that opportunity too, in case players are in a rush to move through the game quickly.
Game loops and gameplay
Basic actions tie into the test of the core game. Players are encouraged to complete quests which push them to make actions that will help them progress and get more powerful. This makes them more proficient in PvP and in the Kingdom View where the elder game lies
At the beginning of the game, players are given a multitude of quests to complete to help them level up their stronghold and hero to get more powerful and set them up with the basics they need to play the game.
Resources are generated every hour and players can choose many strategies as to how they want to progress and expand. They can choose to boost their economy to generate more resources to help fund their Alliance or themselves, or could choose to invest in the military side of the game to get stronger, potentially working with Alliance members who will help fund their efforts to min-max an alliance economy.
A brief look at how PvP works in Game of War. Notice how there is no actual battle. It takes place entirely within a spreadsheet and algorithm hidden to the player
Like many mid-core games, there is also player-versus-player (pvp) element, which contains the real elder game and interactions with the Kingdom Map, other players, and alliances. Something which I find truly fascinating is that most of these games have no actual battle that they can see, they are just sent a battle report.
This probably harks back to web world where budgets and technical know-how meant that making a battle game was a tricky endeavor but on mobile, it perhaps saves teaching the player about another level of game complexity.
Lack of visual makes the game incredibly “meta” as players have to imagine how the battle played out, and although battle reports are sent to players it is hard to understand what they can do to optimise their battle performance.
This adds a lot of hidden depth and mastery in terms of optimising combat performance but makes the game even more complicated to learn initially, so there is a trade off made here.
A look at Game of War’s hero and crafting systems and how they tie together.
Another core mechanic in the game is that of developing the player’s hero. Players are given a hero randomly, to begin with, who represents the player’s general in the game world. The hero can earn skills over time and can be equipped with gear to make them stronger.
Crafting itself is a super deep system into which players can literally spend millions of pounds and hours to get the best items to make them more powerful in the game. Players can also capture and even execute enemy heroes to gain buffs in their war efforts making for some awesome social dynamics.
Think Jaime Lannister being captured by the Starks in Game of Thrones and the negotiation by Catelyn Stark to set him free.
Wonders and territory control
A screenshot from Snow_1021 showing the battle for the Kingdom of Fire Super Wonder last year. Look how many players are battling it out for this one
It could be said that the true elder game of Game of War is about territory control and the passage of power that comes from it. On the map owning certain tiles offers additional resources or powers and none is more obvious than Wonders and particularly the Super Wonder, which decides who will be Emperor or Empress of Game of War.
Opening once a month, the top players and alliances battle over a four day period to see who will rule the real, with the winner being determined based on total time held during the four day period. Given such prestige, many players teleport to the Super Wonder in hopes of holding it for just one second and get a screenshot of their name as Emperor, making it a mad free-for-all.
Becoming the ruler of the game had huge implications. They can bestow titles and buffs / debuffs on other players and alliances. They can even set a tax rate that every single player in the game must contribute to. Thus being a popular King for the “lesser” players can mean a longer time on the throne… but remember, there is always someone out there who wants the top spot!
The whole sequence of attacking to own a Super Wonder feels like a huge and epic real life war with a lot of teamwork and planning required. It feels a bit like the Game of Thrones episode where Stannis Baratheon tries to take Kings Landing and has to fight against a joint force of Lannisters and Tyrells.
Many alliances are made or broken during this period and it really showcases the deep social gameplay that lies at the heart of Game of War and 4X games in general. Take a look at this detailed account from a player who participated to get a good idea of what’s involved.
Just like a real feudal war, Game of War also has a massive harsh and steep learning curve to its core game. Losses in this game are permanent so losing troops or a hero can usually cripple you completely, unless you are willing to pay to recover your losses. It’s definitely resulted in me churning from the game a few times over.
I find this mechanic very interesting when compared to a game such as Clash of Clans. It’s super hardcore but it really does give you the feeling of power as knowing you could destroy someone so totally that over three months of their playtime is rendered moot in just minutes is a very rewarding feeling and ties into what this game is all about – power.
This player lost over 40 BILLION power in an attack against them. It literally makes me cry just thinking about it…
It’s also a big reason why the game monetises so well. After being zeroed you will be offered packs and hero revives to get you back into the game and if you’ve seen months worth of progress it’s really easy to succumb to expensive packs to get you back into the mix or even to give you more power than the person who attacked you to get your revenge.
It makes the game completely pay-to-win, but one could argue that this is reflective of life itself. After all, those with the most money often do find themselves in positions of power…
Depth + complexity
Game of War has a myriad of tech and research improvements, hero abilities, etc. It just goes to show the bewildering depth the game offers
Whilst just scratching the surface of what these games have to offer, I hope the thing that becomes immediately apparent is just how deep these games are. In fact, I would go as far as saying that a game like StarCraft on the PC is probably easier to understand than a game such as Game of War.
The success of these titles shows that there is a real tangible market for complex games on mobile and that the mobile audience is becoming more game savvy.
The current top 10 grossing games list ranges from super-deep and complex games such as Game of War and Mobile Strike to mass-market with Pokemon GO and Candy Crush Saga. In my mind, this is a proof that the audience has expanded to such a point that there are multiple ways to succeed.
I would also argue that one compelling reason to play a 4X game is that the level of mastery is such that players get a lot of enjoyment about sharing their knowledge with each other, tutoring newer players and trying to think of ways to min/max game systems to achieve an edge or advantage.
An infinitely scalable economy
It may sound like a first-world problem, but a genuine worry for developers for a live service game is how to prevent players from completing and having access to everything. Once you’ve got everything you can lose motivation to play and pay which is bad for business and kills the motivation of others to play on.
In Game of War, persistent losses solve some of these problems as players can literally wipe out the progress of other players almost completely. However smart players will often not attack other players who can do that to them, leading to players become pacifists with one another.
The game does often run big events such as Kill-Events and Wonder battling to try and force players into losses, but it’s just one technique used.
A common way developers look to solve this is to introduce power creep by increasing numbers in the game. E.g. you can make more Stronghold levels, stronger gear, more levels, etc. What usually stops this from being a catch-all solution to all problems is that it requires more assets to be developed and broadens the gap between players at the start of the game and players at the end of the game.
For example, during one spell I played the game the top player world had around two Billion Power. These days that is small fry and I would have to do a lot of work to be competitive.
Game of War does solve these issues by scaling up their economy and power level but do so in a very clever way.
The whole game and its infrastructure have been made such that the live service is easy to operate and balance. The game is a thin-client meaning that it’s run entirely on the server so almost any device can connect to the game and meaning that new content and features can be rolled out very quickly without having to get players to upgrade their version.
The game also appears to be made entirely in HTML5 which means that although the graphical fidelity may be lacking compared to some of its rivals, it’s super easy to make new content. The lack of graphics actually help the game in some ways as to make new items such as gear and tech upgrades does not take a lot of production time to do.
The lack of a battle game also helps here. As the game is purely a spreadsheet crunching numbers, new units and battle balance are easy to do. The monetisation model of the game (which I’ll go through in details in the next post) also means that players can be offered tailored packages to boost them up in asymmetrical power levels, which is supported by the game economy and structure.
Overall it’s very cleverly thought out offering both super deep sinks but also allowing for a lot of head room to keep pace with a ravenous and big spending audience.
A unique feature of Game of War is that chat is translated from other languages into the language the player is playing in.
Given that Machine Zone pivoted from a company making social networks to freemium games, their chat and social layer built into their game is second to none. During the game’s beta, they introduced a real-time chat translation tool that players were rewarded with virtual currency for to help complete.
The end result is that when you play the game every single message from anywhere else in the world is translated into the language you are playing in. MZ realised that for a game that was built around being truly social if you came into the game and saw a lot of talk in another language, it would act as a barrier to your enjoyment and understanding.
Although the system is not perfect, being able to communicate to a decent degree of sophistication with anyone else in the world at any time makes the game feel alive.
Game of War also heavily leans in on Alliance Features and getting players into one as soon as possible. The game uses your location to try to find alliances that are within your geo/time zone so you will have an easier time finding friends to help you play the game.
The game also pushes you into an Alliance very quickly – usually during the first session to build up the real support network of other players who can help you.
Gifting to and from Alliance Members is a huge part of Game of War
The game also has a “kick-back” system. If anyone in your Alliance buys an IAP bundle, everyone else in the Alliance gets something. Although this can lead to some players “riding the wave” for freebies, most Alliances are self-regulating so if you aren’t paying, you better be fulfilling another important role and be online a lot as Alliances can’t afford to carry dead weight.
It also means that you are put under a certain pressure to spend to be seen to be contributing to an alliance. There is even the ability to purchase gifts for other players which ties-in very nicely to the rest of the social framework the game creates.
The game also has an absolute tonne of Alliance specific features that help build out the gameplay. With Alliance Cities, players have goals that the entire Alliance can work towards. Alliances can trade items and resources between each other. Alliances can directly message or private message one another to keep each other in the loop.
The list just goes on and on and it makes the game super social and connects every player within the alliance to each other. If there is a game that has more features than Game of War, I am yet to find it.
When you add up all of the features and frameworks that Game of War has you end up with a recipe for one of the killer reasons for its success. The game is incredibly social and as a result introduces a tonne of emergent gameplay that the players themselves determine.
As an example, Alliances often have differing roles between players. One may act as a banker to move currencies around the alliance to keep them safe. Some players may act as “farmers” who deliberately tune their economy to produce a tonne of resources at the expense of military power to help fund the rest of the alliance.
But doing so means that the rest of the alliance has to protect those players to keep their resources intact! Some players will act as scouts who find information out about the game world and report information back to the Alliance so that the alliance as a whole can organise their military maneuvers.
Oftentimes an Alliance will send out a decoy army so that they can issue a real attack against a completely different target.
As a result of all of this, gameplay can vary from kingdom-to-kingdom with a lot of the game actually becoming a meta-game of subterfuge, politics, and planning. Some Kingdoms have NAP’s (non-aggression pacts) where players can’t attack each other or capture heroes. Break these rules and the top dogs in each Kingdom will send in their forces and wipe you out.
Other Kingdoms are free-for-alls where anything goes and players can attack each other at will. Alliances leaders and lieutenants are thus in close contact with one another as often the enemy of your enemy can become your friend!
There is also often drama when big personalities from big Alliances have a falling out and start their own Alliance and take some of the original alliance with them to create the equivalent of a civil war. It’s the closest you can get to living in a real life version of Game of Thrones.
Gabe Leydon has gone on record to say that the players in their game are the ones that really make the rules and even the gameplay, they just provide the infrastructure to do it, and I can totally believe this to be the case.
Emergent gameplay comes from the decisions players themselves make, and if they decide in one kingdom that no one is allowed to capture heroes, then that’s how it will be, regardless of any incentive on offer to break the Kingdom rules!
Emergent gameplay is a dream for any developer to achieve. It means that a game can become evergreen as players can literally play forever. Combined with an economic and power system that is literally infinitely scalable and it’s easy to see why Game of War has been a success for so long and why it can continue to be a success for many years to come.
It’s real goal now is to keep the long-term invested players they have and to try and address the issue of new players being so far away from becoming competitive that they churn out and see a declining DAU. If there is one thing you take away from this look at 4X games as a reason for their ongoing success, emergent social gameplay is it.
Machine Zone’s games are the culmination of multiple deep systems that are in synergy with one another and that support the overall goal of trying to become the most powerful player in the game. The feeling of power is absolute in the game, allowing the top players to bully other people and put huge pressure on them to keep up to stay competitive.
The structure of the game has resulted in an infrastructure where players themselves determine the dynamics and rules of the in-game world, resulting in a very sticky experience for those that commit to it.
In our next article, we take a closer look at the monetisation systems in Machine Zone games, which are notorious for having players spend insane amounts of money, including a player that is rumored to have spent over $1 million in the game.(source: pocketgamer.biz )