Army Camps: what went wrong?

October 18, 2010 in Random Thoughts, World News

Investigation TW

Investigating Controversies with Facts and Reason

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Ladies and Gentlemen, whether you knew about Army Camps or not, I am sure every last one of you understands that in a game like Tribal Wars, there is nothing more key than the army (as pointed out by dozens of players, the term ‘War’ appears in the title of the game itself). It seems like the one thing players have ALWAYS wanted was a way to combine armies and bring new strategies into the game.

Note to reader: Opinions expressed in this article by interviewees are personal opinions. InnoGames GmbH did not endorse the words said by the interviewees.

In researching the history of the radical concept, I managed to talk to TribalWars.net community manager Morthy to give me his personal thoughts on the matter of Army Camps. When asked about the idea, Morthy stated “[The concept of Army Camps] was a suggestion on the .de forums, if I remember correctly. I was dubious from the start, there were a lot of people confused about it. However [the confusion] didn’t cause any problems as we had a thread in questions (its still sticked there I think) explaining everything.

“The problem wasn’t that they weren’t realistic,” he explained, citing the low usage and problematic implementation of the feature, “[It] left us with two options: strip [army camps] altogether and focus on better features or spend a significant portion of 7.0′s development time rewriting a feature that isn’t used much. Number one was the obvious choice.”

The numbers of players joining the worlds that had army camps when they started was neither significantly higher or lower than average although the first world that had them was also given an extensive advertising campaign. One could conclude from this that perhaps army camps were not as radical as proposed.

To call something radical or revolutionary, we have to find the prospective we are looking at that concept from. For people in the 1500s, it was viewed as a preposterous idea that the earth was round. Then of course, after the first successful circumnavigation (journey around a spherical object) around Earth, that began to change. Now what was then viewed as radical and extreme is now viewed as ordinary. So, what do European explorers have to do with a removed feature of an online game? A surprisingly large amount.

Like almost all concepts of Tribal Wars added since its original creation, this particular idea began in a forum. When it got into the hands of the lead developer of Tribal Wars, the idea of course was carefully weighed (as many others). After a careful analysis, the developer found enough reasons to create the feature and, with approval, started work.

According to Morthy, the developers rushed the construction of the feature. This, along with a number of uncaught issues (perhaps as a result) proved to be quite unsatisfactory for many staff members, prompting some servers to stop creating worlds using them. Several months later, after many long hours of conferencing with staff members and developers, the product manager of TW decided to scrap the feature in order to move on.

Feedback from a Reader:

The concept behind army camps would have been considered a major change to a game like this, for it drastically changed the strategy involved. Because of how influential an element this could have been, it would need thorough testing and balancing, much more so than a feature such as sorting the quickbar but more along the line of adding in archers. No doubt the developers did testing, but perhaps it wasn’t enough. In addition, it can be easily seen in the community that big changes like that aren’t always welcomed as shown in the opinions of archers coins and even the paladin (which influences early farming drastically). When implementing this type of change in a battlefield there can arise many little questions that cannot be easily anticipated nor covered by developers and thus confusion could arise, and what the people don’t understand, the people don’t bother to use.

So, is this a classic case of a good idea that just didn’t get public attention or is there more behind the reason why Army Camps went wrong?

On talking with the community, one player said “I think [ the concept of Army Camps] might have been an interesting idea, but doesn’t quite fit with the dynamics of tw.” Another stated simply, “Not enough was said, I think, when they were put in.” The feedback I got also pointed towards players feeling issues with the balance and supposed lack of testing. One hypothesis stated that if the developers had gone through multiple stages of testing and worked on the feature just as the would work on a game, then the feature would successfully add onto the game.

A number of people said it was a feature that upset how the game worked.

So, it’s time for you to dive deeper into the controversy around this key issue, which, if I may say so myself, is the first time a major feature has been revoked in tw.net history. If there are any people out there who wish to share their opinions or experiences with me on the matter of Army Camps, feel free to post a comment below, contact me on the forums, or send an e-mail to Samulis@live.com.

Samulis is the world 9 blogger. He has been a member of the blog team for over 1 1/2 years and has recently been publishing articles about Tribal Wars in general. In game and on the forums he can be found as ‘Samulis’.