Dungeon Keeper and Gamification

Last told, I installed Dungeon Keeper on my tablet to give it to the man.  The man being EA.  DK is in the same vein as all the other Clash of Clans clones – though I’m not sure anymore which came first.

Anyhow, the premise is simple.  You have a base, you can build things on the base to increase your offense and your defense.   You can summon a squad of monsters to attack other players (offline PvP).  Everything is managed through 2 main resources.  Gold and some alternate.  In DK, this is stone.  All items can be upgraded, which takes time and a minion of sorts.  You buy more minions with real cash.  Most games start with 2, then give you a 3rd one after a few weeks of play through alternate means.

Upgrades are the meat and potatoes of this game and where the real world cash impact occurs.  An upgrade can take 5 minutes or 2 days, and you can speed it up.  You should be spending money for time not for anything else.  At least, that’s the defacto model for these types of games.

The other resources work on a balance approach.  You can harvest them on the base, typically at a decent enough rate to pay for a low level upgrade in an hour or so.  The start of the game is usually pretty quick, to get you into the meat of it all.  You can attack other players, but that’s usually not forced for the first 2 days.  Raiding others typically returns enough materials to equate to 10 or so harvesting hours.  You just have to be strategic of your targets and your minions.

EA being EA, they went a different route.  There’s a tutorial (in all of these games) that lays out the basics and sends you on your way.  Typically after the tutorial, you can play for a solid hour tinkering around and then come back every 30 minutes to tweak some upgrades.  It keeps you interested.  EA decided to end the tutorial against a money wall.  You harvest ~100 resources per hour and the first upgrade is 5,000.  The second is 15,000 and the third is 50,000.  My harvesting spots are at their current maximum level without upgrading the “heart” of the base.  They take 10 hours to make 1,500 resource each and the upgrade in the middle is 50,000.  That works out to 60 hours of waiting.

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Raiding other bases doesn’t work much either, since they are in the same boat.  A solid 90% of the bases are under 1,500 resources each.  It costs me about 1,000 resource to get those.  At best I make 500.  Out of 50,000.

And I won’t get into base redesign, where the largest and most important part of your base cannot be moved.

I think it’s pretty funny that they could have taken a direct copy of any of the dozens of Clash of Clans clones, used the exact same mechanics and provided a better game.  I mean literally, cut and paste the system but change the art.  Zynga would not have messed this up.

Way to keep up the good work EA.

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