2010
06.13

Mainffa and ingame alliance changes

We recently expanded the functionality of the mainffa page (the “portal” that FFA players use to manage and login to their countries). We’ve added a few new pages to facilitate tagging up and automatic upload of spy ops. An “economic” tab was added as well to help players keep track of what each country has on the market or when goods are sold. FFA players can look forward to more improvements of the portal page in the future. For example, we plan on adding war stats and a tool to ally up many countries at once soon.

The RELATIONS page has also been completely redesigned. It is now possible to send multiple pacts at once, cancel multiple pacts at once, view all available information for an alliance, and to easily discern and drop dead allies. In addition, for the team and alliance servers, we added dropdown menus that suggest potential allies. For defensive and offensive pacts, the ten closest countries to you in NW also in your tag that are shown. For research and intelligence pacts, the ten closest countries to you in land in your tag are shown. For trade pacts, the ten smallest countries in your tag are shown. Countries only with an open pact slot are shown.

We are aggressively moving forward with design changes. If something looks wrong, try doing a force refresh of the page (control+F5 for most browsers). If you have any suggestions about how a page should look, please let us know. We are currently aware that very long country names break some pages. That was part of the reason for redesigning the relations page.

2010
06.02

New ingame tool: market history searching

We’ve added a few ingame tools. On the market page, players can now do ingame searches to view information about market trends. The search page is located under “History”. In addition, we’ve made it possible to view clan information on the “topclans” page, even from previous sets. The search window for ingame news searching was also expanded to a proper three day interval in all cases.

We’re going to be adding more ingame tools soon. One of the main benefits will be assisting new players in learning the game. For me personally, it requires a little bit of motivation to think up ways to accomplish this. After all, the community is used to being provided with the bare minimum of information from the servers. The developers often look at tools from the perspective of clan site coders. One of our priorities was to implement proper market feeds so players wouldn’t have to run market bots ingame. I feel that we did a good job with that, but ingame tools kind of fell to the wayside. It’s important to remember that the average new player is fairly removed from tools in hosting sites.

As an example, a new player would probably have to pick a clan server, then create a new forum account and ask to be recruited, and then create another account at the clan site. The clan site itself may be outdated or in disrepair. We probably won’t be implementing anything too extreme or game-changing: just a few informational pages which provide players information to make better choices.

Speaking of providing information, the project we implemented a few weeks ago to reduce query times has been a large success, barring a few mishaps. The main benefit to the players should be less pages that hang because of a slow or delayed db query. There was a slight market bug that was active between the 24th and the 26th of May. Sellers did not pay market tax on goods sold on the public market during this time. We deeply regret the bug and apologize for any inconvenience, but events like that are one of the consequences of active development. We hope to provide the community with more of the benefits of active development very soon.

-Slagpit

2010
05.24

FFA changes, news search, and 25000 countries!

–New game rules–

We’ve added significant changes to the ffa server: each player can now play up to 16 countries and the 2 billion dollar limit has been replaced by the corruption mechanic. If a turn is played with over 2 billion cash on hand, 0.1% of the cash above 2 billion will be removed from the country. For your reference, the same decay rate is applied to bushels.

The other changes will apply to all servers as they restart. These changes are designed mainly to discourage certain forms of abuse. They will not affect 95%+ of players. The changes are:

-We added a readiness loss multiplier for Standard and Planned Strikes, based on relative gains to the attacker’s land, so hitting a far larger opponent for a significant portion of your own land will increase readiness loss.
-You may not drop below the amount of land you grabbed in the last 72 hours.
-You will be able to self-delete in preferences. This allows self-deletion rather than dropping of land.
-You must stay out of vacation for 24 hours after leaving it.

Further information can be found in this thread: http://forums.earthempires.com/Forum.php?forumset=Earth&forumid=&threadid=1559

Please note that it is not correct to say that these changes “favor netting over warring”. The second and fourth changes make it easier to kill countries. For the first change, countries which have been nuked down to a low acreage will not be able to recover as quickly as in the past.

–News search–

We’ve drastically improved ingame news searching. Changes:
-can search up to three days in the past instead of two days
-has correct ingame tags instead of current ones
-correctly handles situations where one part of the search returns no results
-allows searching by clan tag
-maximum results increased to 1000; also allows user to specify max
-faster load time

Let us know if you have any problems or find any bugs.

–Design competition–

The deadline is June 30th. For more information, read here: http://forums.earthempires.com/Forum.php?threadid=1637&p=1274723104&z=open-design-competition-for-new-ingame-gfx

That’s all for this week. For those of you interested in statistics, we recently passed the 25000 country mark.

-Slagpit

2010
05.15

Hi everyone,

We just added a few features to the game to facilitate communication between players and ingame moderators. We regret that it took so long to get a system like this in place. However, first up is a note about an update to the game rules and privacy policy.

The game rules have been updated and can be found at http://www.earthempires.com/rules. There shouldn’t be any surprises in the rules to anyone, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to start a discussion topic about them. In addition, we added a privacy policy: http://www.earthempires.com/privacy.

One particular rule which may be important in the short term is the one about bugs and exploits. We are aggressively developing the game. We try our best to find bugs before updating the code, but to progress at a reasonable pace we can’t always test everything we write fully. If you find a bug, please report it right away. Recently, a few countries abused a glitch and went on an attacking rampage. The countries which purposefully abused the bug for their own gain were deleted. We thank the players who were deleted who took their deletions with grace.

About appealing deletions: as all of you know, the game staff works extremely hard to ensure a fair gaming experience for everyone. To accomplish this goal, we have to delete countries which violate the rules. Deleted countries can be restored if the owner has a good explanation for the infraction. The most common reason for reinstatement is that the owner wasn’t aware that he needed to be on the safelist. Remember: our system cannot tell two legitimate players on the same computer apart from one player running two accounts. If you play on the same network or computer as another player, please send us an email at earthempires2025@gmail.com explaining your situation. There should be additional information on the game boards about the safelist as well.

If your country is deleted, the “create country” link on the main page will be replaced with “create or appeal”. On that page, players will be able to appeal deletions and see the status of their appeals. Moderators will email the player personally and discuss the deletion with them. This is the preferred method of appealing deletions. Please do not send emails about deletions unless it is an exceptional case.

One of the best ways of catching cheaters is through community enforcement. If you see suspicious activity ingame and believe that someone is breaking the rules, please click on the “report cheaters” link to the right of “preferences” on the main country page.

-Slagpit

2010
05.02

A few primary and tourney updates

Hi all,

Not a lot to report this week. We coded in everything that we needed to get tourney working. If you find any bugs, please let us know asap. For now, the game rules work like this:

1 upper level game (A)
2 lower level games (B and C)
all games share a market
top 50% of game A stays in A, top 25% of B and C go to A
all new players start in either B or C

When each round ends, players will be given an option to recreate a country with the same country name and to keep their game rank, but only if they restart within the first seven days of the new reset. They can also create a new country and start at the bottom if they wish. This seems like the best overall system to have, although it’s a little bit limited in value considering the number of players currently interested in tourney.

We removed all ingame alliances in tourney to make grabbing easier and we shut off news feeds for the tourney server. We’re also looking for ways to make the experience more competitive and fun, especially with a smaller number of players. If you have any ideas, please go to the tourney forum and have your voice heard!

For the primary server only, we’ve raised the humanitarian limit from 1/12 to 1/4.

I know that we promised an update for facebook, but Pangaea has been really busy with work. Hopefully we’ll get to hear from him soon!

2010
04.24

Moderators, game rules, and facebook

Last week we asked the community for help. I’m happy to report that we received quite a few mod applications. We’ll be interviewing some candidates and keeping everything on file, so if you aren’t interviewed or accepted this time, be patient. As the game grows and our needs change you may get a chance to help out.

Many players have been curious about facebook progress. Pangaea has been spending nearly all of his ee development time working towards this goal. He might have more to say about this soon, as well as something to say about other aspects of game redesign. I don’t know any of the details so you’ll have to wait to hear from him.

We’ve also been working on putting up a comprehensive page of game policies. There shouldn’t be anything too surprising, except perhaps a clause about maintaining the spirit of each server. Individual servers are designed for individual play. To make the game fair for all players and accessable to new players, players in the primary, express, and tourney server should not engage in any outside of game organizing which gives them an advantage over what can be accomplished through normal, ingame diplomacy.

As an example, finding out which countries your friends are running and allying them is fine. Sending ingame messages to your allies and fighting in wars is fine. However, taking part of your alliance from another server and organizing kill runs on irc is not fine. It should be obvious why behavior like this is bad for the health of the server. We are going to start issuing warnings against behavior like this, and in extreme cases, deleting the countries involved. These rules will be clarified in the upcoming page on game policies and will begain to be enforced as the individual servers restart.

Speaking of individual servers, all of those servers are restarting soon. Express offers a fast-paced game with no two billion dollar limit. If you’ve ever wanted to play without the limit, check it out. We’ll be splitting tourney up into several games next reset. We’re also considering experimenting with the rules in tourney to make the gameplay experience more enjoyable. The rules that may have worked for thousands of players probably aren’t ideal for smaller games.

I’m also going to sort through all of the spam comments submitted to the blog so we can start accepting player comments again. See you guys next week!

-Slagpit

2010
04.15

EE needs your help!

I know it’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us. Part of the reason for that is that we all have so much to do! There are three main ways you guys can speed the development process up:

1) Write and edit wiki articles. In order to maximize return from any advertising, we need to have comprehensive articles written on all subjects. We eventually plan on replacing most of the ingame help with wiki links and translating a few of the most important articles to increase the potential player pool.

2) Browse with your ad-blocker turned off.

3) If you’d rather not see ads, donate your time instead! There are a few positions open on the staff. At this time, we are looking for qualified individuals to spearhead wiki development and people to become ingame moderators. To be an ingame moderator, you must not have any political connections to any of the servers you wish to moderate. If you wish to apply for either position, please send an email to earthempires2025@gmail.com.

We also plan on using this space more effectively. Pangaea is going to force me to write an update here every week. In addition, we’re also opening up this space to the players. If you feel like you have an interesting ee-related event to write about, submit your idea to the above email address. Please try to remain impartial.

To whoever managed to make it all the way to do the end, thanks! See you next week!

-Slagpit

2010
01.13

Blog Posts are Overrated?

Our current plan is to add a few features to the games, hunt down any remaining bugs, and get all servers functioning as normal. Once everything is fixed up, we will begin to use the money that we’ve raised (thanks once again) to advertise the game and upgrade server equipment as necessary. However, before we begin advertising some gameplay changes need to be made. It is pointless to recruit new players to the game just to have them quit after a week. The current climate of the game is not friendly at all towards new players.

We are asking for the community’s help in solving this problem. A thread will be made soon on the Bugs & Suggestions forum seeking feedback. At this time, we are seeking ideas to make the game less harsh for new players, to make gameplay concepts more intuitive and logical, and small balance fixes.

We will actively seek ideas for around a week. Then the game developers will select the most promising ideas out of the batch and post these in another thread on Bugs & Suggestions forum. We will again seek community comment on these ideas for about a week. After we’ve made our initial decisions, the gameplay tweaks will be implemented starting on the next earth council server or on a beta server.

Please keep in mind that this will not be the only opportunity to offer ideas and that you are free to offer suggestions or complaints about anything at any time you see fit. However, it will be easier for everyone if we all work together gradually.

2009
12.05

We’ve been putting a LOT of work in this week to get the game into a finished state, and having our own private alpha testers playing with the code to help us work out any existing bugs. We are happy to say we are now at the point where we can put up some dates for PUBLIC servers!

Public Beta Test
Earth Express style (1 turn every 5 minutes, 3 day set)
Signup will begin Tuesday, December 8th
Game Runs: Wendesday December 9th – Friday December 11th

This will be our initial public look. It will be an attempt to test server loads, test our formulae, and most importantly, introduce the game to the community.

Council Beta (name is tentative)
Earth Council style (1 turn every 20 minutes, ~1.5 month set to sync with 1st of month)
Signup will be open from Tuesday, December 8th onward
Game Runs: Sunday, December 13th until January 30th, 2010

This will be an official beta set, so things will be subject to change as we tweak the game, but we want to continue the Earth servers as they finish.  We also would ideally like to sync with the 1st of the month, while providing enough of a set to actually have properly played the game.

The Primary and FFA servers will be up once we are happy with the status of our Beta Earth Council server, probably by the time Primary is finished on the 17th, but we will make a further announcement regarding that; also, we are still discussing what to do about the Alliance server. (It will generally depend on if there is a demand for it! We realize many people play it, but must also weigh the splitting of the user base)

Tournament is slated to be up in early 2010 as well, once the rest of the servers have been ironed out.

We thank you all for your support, and hope you enjoy the coming betas, despite the inevitable bugs that will need ironing out; We ask that you understand that there will probably be bugs, and we will endeavor to crush them speedily.  We hope that we can at least be better than OMAC in that regards! :)

- qzjul, Pangaea, and the rest of the Earth Empires Team

2009
11.25

As we move closer and closer to our beta testing and launch dates, it’s important to keep the whole of this project in perspective. The core goal is still to develop a replacement for a game that is dying, to maintain continuity of the community and spirit which Earth:2025 inspired. Earth maintained this strong community and spirit throughout a very rocky couple of years, and no one is more aware of this than we are. This is why we plan to continue updating, expanding and improving Earth Empires to move into areas where Earth:2025 never ventured.

For our December launch, we will be working with a clean, simple and generally familiar interface. This will include many updates to the display, including modernization and improving some of the information architecture, but the real interface work will come in the future. To appeal to a new generation of gamers, Earth Empires needs to modernize its look and feel. To this end, we’ll be embarking on a mission to redesign and redevelop the interface for Earth Empires as we move into the new year. This is something that I’m really excited about, and it’ll heavily involve members of the community. Like any good software usability project, user input is key through every stage of development, and we’ll be looking to both the core community while still emphasising increasing the user base with a new generation of users. We also need to move away from the idea that the game will be a “web based MMO country sim”, and move our focus towards creating a gaming experience that can span multiple platforms and offer players quick and simple access to the game through a variety of methods. This includes moving the game away from a web-only interface, looking more at mobile application development and integration into social networking sites like Facebook.

Another important aspect of our plans to improve player experience is to create new ways Earth Empires can integrate and interact with existing (and potentially future) clan hosting sites. We’ve been lucky enough to have knowledge of two hosting sites (Boxcar and qzgt) from staff members, and having Dragon (of GHQnet fame) idling in our dev chat daily. Now will we have hosting sites able to play turns for you? No, of course not… but there’s a wealth of information that can be fed to these sites to improve the out-of-game experience without giving those who use a clan hosting site an unfair advantage. Many of these things are little changes, such as including flags for hosting sites to tell if a country is in vacation or in protection, timestamping news, and providing a market feed. Some of these changes will open a new door of development for clan hosting sites. Through the use of an two-way API system, clan sites will be able to more closely interact with the game, and the game will be able to interact with the site. This API could perhaps enable things like pulling your in-game news into your clan’s site, automatically uploading spyops to your alliance’s database, or administering your clan.

There’s been a lot of questions and debate regarding which servers will be kept for Earth Empires. First of all, I will clear up any misconceptions regarding FFA: we will have a Free For All server in Earth Empires. The decision to create this server was made relatively early in the dev process, and qz created a very robust system which will allow for easier playing of multiple countries, better information to help admins detect cheating, and a decreased incentive to cheat. The account system we have created works by creating one master account (those of you who use Boxcar for multiple alliances may know about a similar feature ;) ) which you can then create countries from. This account will keep track of your previous countries and keep track of multiple countries for your FFA-style servers. I think we have a great system in place, and I’m really excited to start getting more users up and running on it. Another issue of debate was regarding tournament and whether we will keep a similar format. The answer is yes, we will be creating a tournament server, but will not be launching with it. Because of the very specific nature of the tournament style game, we will need to do a little more work after launch to make sure everything is ready to start the tourney up. I think Mehul’s tournament was never-ending. I personally don’t like this… You should be competing for something, not just competing until the end of time… because when you’re playing against time, time always wins… and that is why we hate time!!! Alliance and EC… that is a spot for much debate. This debate continues, and I can honestly tell you that we have not decided whether we will do both servers or one unified server. The notion of “Earth Council” will be gone, however, so the only difference would be the turn structure (3 vs 2 per hr, etc). We’ll keep you posted on the status of all these servers, their launch dates and the beta…. oh ya, I should talk about the beta…

While we have no specific dates yet for a limited or public beta test, we are well into our Alpha testing with a core set of testers coupled with our in-house testing. As qz posted today, we’ve made great strides in replicating some of Earth’s nuances (the positive ones) and have refined our formulae down quite well. We are moving into our final stages of development before we hit full QA mode in preparation for our early December launch. While I won’t throw out dates yet for anything limited or public, I will say that you should expect to see some “Earth Express” style servers popping up before we launch in early December… and given that we’re getting up on the end of November… well, you can do the math ;)

I want to also take a second to thank everyone whose been spreading the good word for Earth Empires… it looks like we’ll have the vast majority of the EC and 1A communities moving to Earth Empires, and we hope to rekindle the strength of the former FFA community as well. In the end, we are putting this work in for you guys so that we can help bring this style of game back to it’s former glory. We are all highly optimistic about the success of Earth Empires, and we appreciate everyone’s support along the way.

So that’s a quick little update from me,
Feel free to contact me or any of our team if you have any questions or comments :)
Thanks again guys
-Dave/Pang