We Rule

Logo for We Rule at GamersWithJobs.com

Tap.

Ruth sits down at her desk, her newly acquired mug of coffee clinking as she places it beside her keyboard. I hear the click of her mouse, the rustle as she adjusts her keyboard. It's 9:05am.

Tap.

"How was your evening?" she asks. I don't think she's looking at me. I certainly don't look up.

My evening was fine. Tap.

"Everything okay? You're staring at your phone."

I'm planting beans.

Ruth doesn't press further. She knows better.

It's not like I'm enjoying this. We Rule, the iPhone game I'm compulsively tapping, isn't about enjoyment in the typical sense. It’s difficult for me to define the draw of the game. The closest I can figure is that the game is built on a foundation of rewarding frivolous responsibility. I could be doing something else, but I'm delivering gowns for Julian's tea party. For the good of my kingdom.

Typing that last sentence filled me with much self-loathing.

We Rule is essentially a Farmville clone. Like that titan of social network gaming, the object of the game is to tend to your land: building farms, constructing cottages, setting up trade areas, sprinkling in a few decorative trees or ponds. The reward for this virtual landscaping is gold and experience points, naturally.

These actions also take time—a plot of corn may grow in a few minutes, but beans take twenty four real time hours before they're ready to harvest. That can slow the process down quite a bit.

Unless I use Mojo. Essentially a magical Miracle-Gro, Mojo makes your plants practically leap out of the soil and demand to be eaten. It also hastens construction of new buildings, fulfillment of trade goods and anything else that can take up precious time on your road to high-level heaven. Mojo is the miracle drug of We Rule—in modern gaming parlance, it's We Rule's wall hack, except it's fully endorsed.

So of course it comes with a price.

In the 12 levels I've obtained in We Rule, I've accomplished the following bullet points:
• Upgraded my town hall to a citadel
• Developed a small but thriving agricultural trade
• Established a diverse marketplace, including a tailoring shop, mine and wizard's tower
• Taxed the ever-living snot out of my people

I've mostly built this charming kingdom without performance-enhancing drugs, but can already see the writing on the wall. I'm routinely checking my phone throughout the day to harvest pumpkins and build pine trees. My friends in We Rule, culled from my iPhone's address book or my Twitter feed, are easily outpacing me. My gut tells me they've been taking shortcuts.

And if they can, why can't I?

Welcome to We Rule's revenue model.

This is just what developer Ngmoco wants me to think. With prices that range from $0.99 for 5 Mojo to $50 for 800 vials of the good stuff, there's plenty of room for players to spend a little to get a lot. It's incredibly tempting to tap in my credit card number and keep progressing through the game's 20 levels. On principle, the microtransaction model doesn't bother me since I'll get what I'm paying for. So why not? Everyone else is doing it, right?

No, I must remain strong. I'm not there yet. I'm simply not ready to take the easy way out. There are crops to plant, fences to erect and I should probably answer that work email if there's time. We'll see.

Is We Rule a fun game? Honestly, there's very little game to be found here. There's no overall goal—certainly no story—to keep me progressing through levels, except for the self-imposed rat-race of trying to keep pace with my friends' kingdoms. Virtual landscaping for ego.

Instead, We Rule provides more of a community experience, wrapped up in the superficial trappings of a strategy game. That constant interaction—seeing their kingdoms' layouts evolve, commissioning trade goods from them—has consumed more of my attention than I would have guessed. For the price of a free download from the App Store, that's impressive.

Having caved, though—having finally jumped into the pool of these social games, where what matters is the vanity of having a pretty kingdom or having spent the most on items that essentially let you cheat your way though the game—that's the ultimate price. In that regard, I've paid in full.

Screenshot for We Rule at GamersWithJobs.com
Screenshot for We Rule at GamersWithJobs.com
Screenshot for We Rule at GamersWithJobs.com
Screenshot for We Rule at GamersWithJobs.com

Comments

Portable browser-based social payment-optional management sims: subject of the next war on drugs.

This used to be me on games like KOL and HoboWars for quite some time, until I realized I was having much less fun than if I was playing any other game that didn't require me to click stuff a few hundred times daily (never mind real-world tasks). Fortunately, I didn't have a buy-in of any real-world money spent, because then I might never have quit. In a way, I'm glad for those days, because they provided an innoculation of sorts against games like Farmville, Cafe Town, etc.

I can honestly say I think the iPhone is the only platform I'd consider playing a game like this on. Something about the transient, shallow nature of it fits better on a small screen than my 24 inch monitor.

For some reason the experience described in this article (aside from the micro transaction bit) paralell the experience I've had idling and crafting in TF2.

Odd.

Part of me really wants to check this out. Another part of me, which at the moment appears to be stronger than the former, is holding that other part back with all its might. However, I fear he may soon lose his grasp.

I've never played Farmville (or any of its clones) but now that I have an iPhone, I feel almost NEED to check those types of games out.

Help?

It's funny -- a game that is nothing but grinding, and that asks you to pay to avoid grinding.

How much do I have to drop to not play at all?

Instead, We Rule provides more of a community experience, wrapped up in the superficial trappings of a strategy game. That constant interaction—seeing their kingdoms' layouts evolve, commissioning trade goods from them—has consumed more of my attention than I would have guessed.

Is this really fullfilling community interaction, though? Seeing other people's kingdom layouts evolve sounds about as interactive as watching a powerpoint presentation.

I deleted my copy off my iphone. I just didn't see much of a point and I have better games to waste my time with.

It looks beautiful (and is a bit better designed) on the iPad! I will agree that you REALLY don't need to buy Mojo though - there have been other games, even ForumWarz, where I have felt the need to spend money on the microtransactions, but not with this one.

What I want to know, Mr. Cory, is how did you get started with this? You mention the community angle, so your friends are obviously playing too.

Did someone get you hooked? Did you see them playing and say, "Hey, that looks aight, I like me some electronica bean sprouts"? Or were you the pusher?

grobstein wrote:

It's funny -- a game that is nothing but grinding, and that asks you to pay to avoid grinding.

How much do I have to drop to not play at all?

My thoughts exactly. I'm really struggling to find reasons to keep calling these games.

pignoli wrote:
grobstein wrote:

It's funny -- a game that is nothing but grinding, and that asks you to pay to avoid grinding.

How much do I have to drop to not play at all?

My thoughts exactly. I'm really struggling to find reasons to keep calling these games.

grobstein's description sounds like a half-dozen MMOs that no one here would question as games.

I wanted to play it, but the server is frustrating the hell out of me. So had to delete it as I get nothing accomplished. Kinda defeating the whole purpose of the game
But if I could, I'd play it. It's just fun, 10 minutes spent every time. Why not

We Rule is a really neat peak into the future of "social gaming". The Plus+ integration is just fantastic. As social gaming evolves the complexity of these types of games will ramp up, and less of us will look down our noses at them. I keep playing because my girlfriend is still interested in it, and hell, it takes maybe 6 minutes of my time per day.

I'm playing it, mostly because other Goodjers got me started, and it's a decent little time waster. It literally commands minutes of my attention per day.

Basically, it's fun setting up a kingdom, and seeing how your friends set up theirs. Maybe it's not a "game," but I'm beyond the point of trying to keep up with the cool kids.

For those who don't think of We Rule as a game, what do you think distinguishes this from something like SimCity 2000?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

For those who don't think of We Rule as a game, what do you think distinguishes this from something like SimCity 2000?

I'm not saying We Rule isn't a game. But key differences:

-Time as commodity. You can only do so much per day in We Rule: the player is restricted to the game's allotted actions. Sim City 2000 can be picked up, played, and advanced as the player's schedule allows.

-Social comparison as a core component for We Rule: 'Keeping up with the Joneses' as a motivator.

-Additional (real world cash) purchases as a primary means of mastery. If everyone can only do so much per day in We Rule, advancement is predicated upon either a) Keeping a regular schedule to the point where you never miss out on an allotted opportunity, or b) Purchasing items that allow the player to supersede these standard allotments, thereby advancing beyond the players who don't make similar purchases.

Clemenstation wrote:

What I want to know, Mr. Cory, is how did you get started with this? You mention the community angle, so your friends are obviously playing too.

Did someone get you hooked? Did you see them playing and say, "Hey, that looks aight, I like me some electronica bean sprouts"? Or were you the pusher?

Actually, it's my WoW group's fault. We were lost in a dungeon, someone was looking up directions and someone else suggested we all download We Rule.

Those bastards.

Clemenstation wrote:

-Additional (real world cash) purchases as a primary means of mastery.

Of all the Goodjers on my friends list, my g/f has the highest score. She has not purchased anything. Real world money is not needed to experience anything in the game.

Add my name to the list of "don't get it and don't want to" folks.

It sounds like Progress Quest, except they want you to pay to make the bar move faster. The parody has become reality.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
pignoli wrote:
grobstein wrote:

It's funny -- a game that is nothing but grinding, and that asks you to pay to avoid grinding.

How much do I have to drop to not play at all?

My thoughts exactly. I'm really struggling to find reasons to keep calling these games.

grobstein's description sounds like a half-dozen MMOs that no one here would question as games.

I'm training myself to read "not a game" arguments as "not a game that interests me."

ELewis17 wrote:
Clemenstation wrote:

-Additional (real world cash) purchases as a primary means of mastery.

Of all the Goodjers on my friends list, my g/f has the highest score. She has not purchased anything. Real world money is not needed to experience anything in the game.

Okay, so she's invested the most time. But if someone had invested an equal amount of time as her, plus made real-world purchases, then your girlfriend would not have the highest score.

Edit: This setup isn't limited to so-called casual games. Consider the meta-games of Gamerscore and trophy count. The guy who owns 10 games and gets 1000/1000 on all of them will still have a lower score/count than the guy who acquires 60 games and has 250/1000 in each.

Demiurge wrote:

WoW ---> We Rule

JUST AS I SUSPECTED!

wordsmythe wrote:

I'm training myself to read "not a game" arguments as "not a game that interests me."

Right, I've yet to read a good objective case that I could say, "Yes, time management simulation is not a game."

These games really don't interest me. I've had no positive experiences with the ones I've tried, and if I happened to become addicted I'm not sure the non-semi-OCD part of me would take kindly to more time being wasted in games.

Clemenstation wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

For those who don't think of We Rule as a game, what do you think distinguishes this from something like SimCity 2000?

I'm not saying We Rule isn't a game. But

Then I guess I wasn't asking you!

Ravenlock wrote:

It sounds like Progress Quest, except they want you to pay to make the bar move faster. The parody has become reality.

And here's another satirical look at "progress" style games: Progress Wars

I'm level 7, by the way. Working toward completing the "Sell Protection Money" quest.

EdemaKNN wrote:

I deleted my copy off my iphone. I just didn't see much of a point and I have better games to waste my time with.

+1. Two reasons: a) it's not really a game and b) huge server issues.

grobstein wrote:

It's funny -- a game that is nothing but grinding, and that asks you to pay to avoid grinding.

How much do I have to drop to not play at all?

We Rule is a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

It somehow brings to mind this article. Luckily for me, each additional year of my life seems to bring with it a diminished capacity to withstand such things.

The whole "not a game" argument makes me sad. We Rule has a system that needs to be figured out. Why isn't that a game?

"... and that's how Cory completely derailed the comment thread."

Clemenstation wrote:

What I want to know, Mr. Cory, is how did you get started with this? You mention the community angle, so your friends are obviously playing too.

Did someone get you hooked? Did you see them playing and say, "Hey, that looks aight, I like me some electronica bean sprouts"? Or were you the pusher?

I'm hoping that's a typo Clem, because if it's not, I need to quit my job, buy an iPhone and get to kingdom crafting.

Electronica and bean sprouts are two of my favourite things. Seriously. The sheer idea of combining the two gets my futurist panties all knotted. I would probably not leave the house if I had something that tasted of sprouts and sounded like Autechre.

Demiurge, give me a week and $100 I will make you a game where you can grow a whole field of beans in 3 seconds or less, guaranteed.

wordsmythe wrote:

I'm training myself to read "not a game" arguments as "not a game that interests me."

Completely with you on that one. I hate the idea that things have to be categorized into "game" or "not game" based on ridiculous criteria.

On the other hand, I do view Farmville and its clones as borderline unethical skinner-box type setups that use operant conditioning techniques and variable-ratio reinforcement to trigger dopamine responses in people to trick them into sticking around in much the same way as a slot machine does. So they're games, but they're scary games that say bad things about the future of the medium.

But that's just, like, my opinion.

Switchbreak wrote:

On the other hand, I do view Farmville and its clones as borderline unethical skinner-box type setups that use operant conditioning techniques and variable-ratio reinforcement to trigger dopamine responses in people to trick them into sticking around in much the same way as a slot machine does. So they're games, but they're scary games that say bad things about the future of the medium.

But that's just, like, my opinion.

Aren't all games trying to do that, though? Peggle is trying to get you addicted. Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2 are trying to do the same thing, as is Final Fantasy XIII. The developers of every game wants people to stick around and keep playing. (OK, maybe not every game. I'm pretty sure the guys who crap out some of those licensed titles are just there to get a paycheck, but still, the point stands.)

Does it matter that the "task" is planting virtual seeds or slaying a virtual dragon? I don't see the difference.