If you are not familiar with Raids of Glory title by Nitro games, I highly recommend checking the game and its features before reading this funky study. You can also check TheGameHuntah’s YouTube video series to learn the core feaures of Raids of Glory: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr2-VVwC-noY-s4VqAXD-1dcHW_3hN0bv
If you are already familiar with the game, then let’s ready our ship and sail west for the treasures!
This study is about my analysis of Raids of Glory and how I would improve the game to reach success criterias in current mobile game market. Also I will add ‘Lesson’ section so you as a reader can take the knowledge to utilize it on your own projects. But before we go into the details of how I would increase game’s retention rates, user engagement and monetization, I want to clarify a couple of things:
1st Clarification: I gave myself endless resources.
So below are listed some improvements that may require enormous effort to execute and some might take a very short amount of time to get it done. In real life and not in my imaginary world everything requires resources. We should always consider if the change is worth of the spent resources, and yes there are a million ways to make something better but how many there are left after you reduce time, money and other resources from the result? So, off to imaginary world we go!
2nd Clarification: Target audience of this game is ex- PC RTS gamers and new generation mobile RTS gamers.
Raids of Glory looks and feels a lot like another Clash of Clans, but its powerful RTS features differentiate itself from other village building games greatly and as so, I would change the game style and marketing more toward themes that attract RTS gamers and hardcore Clashers.
3th Clarification: Fairness of the Game Design.
I admit, I am not too picky about how fair the game is when it comes to game design. I see myself also as a businessman and I measure my products always by two metrics: sustainability and profit. So for me there is nothing wrong if random elements are engineered to be random and are still under the control of developer (Candy Crush Saga) or game element cheats to make players lose their game so close to winning (Best Fiends / Puzzle & Dragons). My personal opinion about this topic is that we as game developers should think that we are selling an experience and an service to the players. If we are using manipulative ways to bring wanted experiences and emotions onto player, are we evil or successful at our service? I would go for successful as we are delivering valuable experiences for the player. Player’s do not care if you were fair when doing the game design, Players only care that they get an experience worth of their time. To optimize experience for players we must have the cards in our hands before we share them to players to play.
Based on my assumptions I believe that Raids of Glory’s main player audience is currently ex- Clash of Clans players as Raids of Glory offers a lot of similar elements, so let’s put our player’s thinking cap on.
Phap, Wum, Wum, Wuuum! (Inserting thinking cap and activating it)
“It’s cool to build buildings in a game, upgrade them and strategize my village defense by placing defenses around the village. When I go raid the enemies I just tap ground at specific location and my troops are spawned. Game takes control of them and they go raid the enemy village. Resources are abundant if I raid other players and when using those resources to upgrade buildings, build times are really long what makes my village defense weak momentarily. Better save the premium currency and use it only on builders or permanent benefits such as unlocks. Visit village after 3 hours or so to collect resources from mines and dwells and raid other players, set some building on upgrade and wait another 3 hours.
Wuuum, Wum, Wum…Phap! (Cool technology isn’t it?)
Now let’s take our binoculars and follow how he behaves when he enters the Raids of Glory.
After he launches the game, he learns in tutorial that he can control his units when raiding enemy village. Units have an aggressive AI (Which is good because it gives users “something to master” to get better during his stay in Raids of Glory). He goes through the basic tutorial where he learns the same basic elements that Clash of Clans has as well.
When the player goes to complete other tutorial missions and is used to the fact that all of his spawned units will be lost after a level is completed or failed. (As it is popular feature among village building games) so he tries to ‘optimize’ his gameplay by sending minimal size of army to defeat the level. Most unsuccessful players will find out that he lost all his troops and now won’t have enough rum (currency) to intoxicate another army (recruit army) to finish the level. This makes first play duration very short and limited and makes him leave game as unsatisfied and annoyed. Users who are not used to RTS elements may be surprised and confused also.
Most players will put more units to have a guaranteed victory (this should be tracked by analytics to optimize early game experience into perfection) but still not all units, mostly because of the reason stated earlier and so loses a huge portion of the army at that fight. (It needs to be teached to the players that he should use all his units in fights to get better survival chance for his army units, and I mean literally teach, not write a text field to tell this information, who reads them anyways?) After the fight he returns to his village and sees that his army count is not that low. That teaches the thing, but teaches it too late as when they reach to barracks to hire more units he also learns that units are very expensive compared to other village building games, what forces player to wait 3+ hours to have another try on this game. This makes first-launch play-time duration short and unsatisfied.
In every game, developers should perfect first-launch session experience as this is the point from where everything else in-game is perceived. Example: You call female character ‘bitch’ in first game session of your game and your game is sexist forever.
Lesson: Think first launch experience and tutorials with fresh set of eyes and think how different segments of players behave and progress in the game.
After first-launch struggle, game gets very, very good. Game is well balanced, engaging and offers lots of challenge and new features for players to delve into and enjoy for a longer period of time.
One very cool feature is the game’s strategic defensive buildings limit as currency and is not as fixed amount of specific buildings. This gives freedom for players to experience different defensive strategies and enables users to change amount of different buildings used as defense, their positions and quantities of each, providing great depth for strategic planning. This is a very good example of user generated content. (Think all those forum posts, YouTube videos and chats about “best defense in Clash of Clans” x 20.)
You give them tools and they create solutions. If Raids of Glory gets into gamers popularity spotlight, it gives lot of viral possibilities to developers as everyone is offering their supreme defensive strategies and tips to save your gold from other raiding pirates!
Lesson: Give players tools and purpose and soon you can find sphinx at your backyard.
If player logs in multiple days in a row after he has built the tavern, he is rewarded with cards that contain gold, rum and resource boost as a login reward, the more often user logs in the more cards he can select.
This is good way to engage users to return day after day but it can be changed to monetize the game as well. Let me present to you “Way of the Casinos”.
I would change system that each day the player is presented with 6 cards and he can pick 1 of the cards. Whichever he picks he will get 3rd or 4th best reward from the pool of rewards (declared below) and the other cards are shown to him so the player will realize as well that he did okay/little lucky. After that he is offered to buy a next card pick with premium currency. If he pays 1 card is added for a total of 6 cards (1 was already revealed so it was discarded) and shuffled and so it goes again and again.
Lesson: Goal of this is to create gambling feel of luck for player, to create the feeling that he MAY get desired 1st reward. This can engage the player to replay and replay it. I would use the following strategy on the rewards that he can receive from the cards
 20x of price to play (big rewards are more attractive than smaller rewards and so attracts users to try.)
 Same amount of premium currency what user pays to play (can be received once a month by daily free pick)
 5% Daily boost of gold or rum
 Gold or Rum (25% fill of storage)
 Gold or Rum (5% fill of storage)
 Gold or Rum (1% fill of storage)
Daily free pick = 3rd or 4th Reward (Make user feel lucky to get good reward and make it feel good about this lottery)
2nd try: 2nd Reward (He gets his invested premium currency back, “Cool I really am lucky”)
3rd try: 2nd or 5th (Track time wasted before hitting that reshuffle button, did he hesitate? If yes, make him feel that he is super lucky by getting again 2nd prize! , else make 5th so he feels he lost his precious premium currency but he still feels bit of lucky and may try again.)
4th try: 3rd Reward (“Yes! I am still lucky! Maybe I can still get that 1st reward.”)
5th try: 6th Reward (“Dammit! I have already invested on this so much!”)
You can continue doing this, but what I would recommend is that you use one of these two options:
1st Option: People want what they do not have
Game to player “Whoa! That is enough! Come again tomorrow and you can have 2 free picks (both will be 3rd or 4th reward)
This gets them hooked, they don’t get burned out by spending all their premium currency and they are still hungry for that 1st reward.
2nd Option: Special offer
Game to player: “Hey mate, you have some bad luck! We don’t want you to lose all your premium currency, here we give 75% (or something ridiculous amount) discount to buy tickets for rerolling the cards.
This burns out users for sure, but if you are in need for quick buck, you can use this. You will also unlock Jero’s special titles: “greedy” as well, congratz! Welcome to the brotherhood.
Special Mention: Let the user win 20x price when he has paid price of 35x of price value or so, depends what tier “greedy” title you want to earn.
Current Daily missions function as follows: You unlock one card per (16hr? Yell “Nay” In comments if I am completely wrong) and this gives good purpose for player to have something else than progression to do every day. Player earns more premium currency based on the rarity of a mission.
I would change it that each day 4 missions are randomized for the player, the player has only one full day to complete them before the missions reset. This gives player more importance and urgency to complete the missions. One way to enhance this urgency is to increase rewards and difficulty amount on completion of single mission. This gives good reason for player to visit game 10+ times per day and try to complete all daily missions to gain great rewards from them.
Goal for developers is to optimize that completing all missions is impossible without using some premium currency. Used premium currency should be smaller than the premium currency earned from rewards as goal of this is not monetize so greatly but to teach users the habit of spending premium currency to recruit army faster or instant upgrade building. Maybe it is better to say: to get users to spend premium currency on things that players would not spend.
I would use this kind of values for Raids of Glory:
1st Completed Reward: 2 skulls (can be completed in 1 visit, first win for the day, yay!)
2nd Completed Reward: 5 skulls (can be completed under 10 visits)
3rd Completed Reward: 15 skulls (requires VERY optimized gameplay during the day or spending some skulls)
4th Completed Reward: 50 skulls (requires +55 skulls to be spent, -55 spent, +72 earned, still profitable to player).
You know what makes Raids of Glory to have more swag than the rest of village building games? Disabled PVP. I am not kidding, I think optional PvP is awesome! I know many people who love city building games or resource management games and even if your game does not focus on that, it could not make any harm to serve that audience on the side while focusing to serve your primary user segment.
If users do not want to participate in PvP because they do not want their village to be raided, they can choose to do so and not to build PvP tower and those who crave for legendary adventures and to forge their name into heavens can build it and fight for da booty! YARR!
Lesson: Think if you can attract other audiences with your features while serving your main audience? It cannot make any harm, but it will make a couple of extra bucks.
One under-utilized feature in Raids of Glory is definitely the Captain Feature. Similar to Clash of Clans, Raids of Glory offers leveling heroes who kick ass in battles. In this the hero also has skill what can be used on cooldown.
This could be extended greatly to have a massive effect on the game by simple making players hero social and creating a bond between player and hero, to say: getting players feel like a captain.
If we can bond these two together, our possibilities are endless! Just check Maslow’ hierarchy of needs, close your eyes, pick one and throw a spin on narrative and get player feel better of his esteem or other need. Use strong narrative and you have player attracted to follow Captain’s adventure.
Also as the game allows use of only 1 hero at times, game could offer items that captains can wear and those items could be upgraded by special currency (earned from daily missions or other features outside of game-loop).
This would give HUGE amounts of endgame content for players without much effort required from the developers part.
Raids of Glory has lots of cool features. On the social side they have the gifting mechanic: hiding stash of goodies into another player’s beach and tribe mechanics that is very similar to the typical clan system. I find these features very under-utilized as the game doesn’t enforce any kind of need for social interaction between players, which is big problem. (Also social features are used for viral purposes, but I knew you are smart reader that has already acknowledged this)
Basically social features are endless content generator for players. When the game content nears 0, the web of friends are there to judge players lack of interest to play, especially if players lack of interest harms tribe member’s game (lack of boost, lack of extra features etc.).
Good example is the game “Heroes of Honor” which rewards players with builders if he joins a clan and grows clan bigger ( bigger clan, more workers).This is brilliant because more builders are essential for players to progress faster, so players are likely to join clans and through this socialize with other players.
It really depends how well and how much social features are implemented into game and what is the goals for its purpose. I personally use social features to monetize games, but it can be a highly powerful engagement tool as well.
I would use similar techniques like Heroes of Honor to get people to socialize. I would utilize real-world events and some in-game daily missions as well to get interaction between multiple players to happen. After befriending happens as planned we can start applying pressure to players.
Let’s say tribe members earn those precious captain item upgrade coupons each week based on the mission completed by the tribe’s members. Amount of missions completed by tribe member is publicly shown to all tribe member as well as their activity. This gives reason for serious gamers to mock and pressure other players to complete more dailies. When user is pressured enough in tribe, he starts to sacrifice his free time to get approval from other tribe members (People who don’t get praised much usually have need for praise in this area.)
This can be utilized in many ways, but remember to remind the players why they should stay at tribes (even if he is pressured) and how it benefits him on short and long term.
Raids of Glory has lot of cool additions to complete the package. It has funny sounds, bouncy buildings and the most awesome game element ever created: EXPLODING ANIMALS! I would recommend everyone to take a moment to play the game and only focus what kind of feel it is sending to its players. I find this kind of effect in very few games and this game has executed this very well!
When thinking of these cool bouncy funny crazy BOOM hey YO-HO features, I started to think about the optimization. I tested this game on iPad2 and game crashed a couple of times.
What I recommend for feature rich games is to set 3-level quality settings. Based on power of the device, game sets (or player sets manually) correct settings active, because while graphics and features can be supercool it’s more important for the game to be stable.
I think this is long enough even for the hungriest of game designers out there, but yell “Yo-Ho” in the comments and I might publish a second installment of this study here.
If you are interested to hear more about engagement designing and how to make players feel good of themselves and enjoy the game, subscribe to my email list and we will stay in touch :)