Going against human nature… limiting clan membership, limiting alliances

What is this about?
Many of our players have suggested limiting clan membership or risk having a handful of large clans dominate the realm. Likewise for alliances. We’ve been thinking about it as well, but have resisted it, and have kept on postponing it for reasons I will describe here.

However, the situation on Realm 2 has pushed us to deal with this now. I wanted to discuss our decision with you, ask for your comments, and describe a few problem with both limited and unlimited clan membership.

Most people want security, hence they are happiest in large clans. Limiting clan membership is going against human nature and as history teaches us, it is often futile.

When there is a will there are the means right? Or something to this effect…

Sister Clans
Limiting clan membership will most certainly lead to sister clans – a family of clans really acting as one. It is inevitable… If we try to prevent it with a policy of some kind, then those clans will simply go underground – they will not advertise that they act as one, but will anyway.

This is the same issue with limiting alliances. Many of you suggest we limited the number of allies but this is simply impossible to accomplish when the actors are human beings not computer controlled characters.

External Forums for sister and allied clans
What happens with limited clan membership of limited alliances is that the sister/allied clans will just choose to communicate outside of the game, outside of our control – they will setup external forums and force members to register there.

This creates a nightmare scenario for all. Now clans setup their own outside forums, which they must administer & maintain, members are asked to sign up at those external forums leading to even more logins and password, more places to check, etc. If the one person who setup this forum leaves, or the admins are pressed for time, the whole clan will collapse. Members waste more time having to login at multiple locations, administrators have to be very careful and vigilant to ensure members in the external forum are still members of the clan and the list goes on...

Some will argue that making this difficult will discourage this. There is truth is this however many players will go to this extreme since at the beginning this does not appear to be a big deal anyway. At the end, the game gets more and more tedious due to this overhead.

Problems with large, unlimited membership clans
At the same time, allowing unlimited membership leads to many other problems. One person can lead a very large clan and dominate the realm, while at the same time the clan risks collapse if this person leaves or burns out. Information overload as hundreds or people chat on the forum, people waste time reading post from other member so far away from them that they might as well be playing on another realm. The clan flag lights so often that it will be ignored. Not to mention that the clan members page was not designed to handle such numbers! :)

With all this said, we’ve decide it is better to limit clan membership while allowing for more efficient inter-clan communication.

Limiting clan membership & solving the problem of sister clans

We will limit the clan membership to some number (probably 100). Existing clans will be given time to divide up as necessary. Please start to think about this already.

We will NOT prevent creation of sister clans. It is unwise to completely go against human nature in this respect. We will allow sister clans and will provide an efficient means of inter-clan communication.

However, this will prevent is having ONE person to be able to solely lead a very large clan. This change will require at least one admin to exist per sister clan hence naturally limiting the family.

This will also encourage geographically centered clans – since you would rather have members close to you.

In addition to addressing the problem of sister clans communication, this will also address the difficulties of alliance communication.

Any clan Owner or Admin (perhaps forum admins as well, still undecided) will be able to create a forum with limited access. You will be able to limit access as such:

  1. clan members in certain roles (only owners. Only owners, admins and diplomats. etc)
  2. specific players in the clan, not necessarily part of any roles
  3. other clan members in certain roles (only owners, only owners, admins and diplomats etc)
  4. any specific player - does not have to be part of this or any other clan
    a combination of all will be allowed.

Examples of the types of forum you will be able to create:

  1. Forum for all Admins in the clan
  2. Forum for council members of the clan – not all have to be Admins.
  3. Forum for Admins of all the sister clans in one family
  4. Forum for certain members of other allied clans
  5. Forum for a specific campaign / war – include whatever players you want
  6. Forums you will not be able to create

We will discourage creating forums for ALL player of ALL sister clans, and will disallow it as a matter of policy. It will be cumbersome to do and we may decide to police this when we feel necessary.

We are also considering an ‘open forum’ – a forum that ANYONE from outside of the clan can use to communicate with the clan.

We hope this is a good compromise... Comments?

P.S. - please note that we will NOT be limiting alliances. There is no way to do this and we feel that nothing good would come out of trying.

How to plan a war? What is Realm of Empires really about!

So you wanna go to war eh!? Of course you do! It’s a game of conquest and war, not sim-village. So what do you do? Gather your forces and attack a nearest neighbor? If it is inactive, or clan-less, then sure but it is not much fun when there is no challenge, is there?

What you really want to do, is bungee jump off that bridge, skydive, ride the scariest rollercoaster, jump over the highest ski hill– you want the adrenaline rush!

What is the fun attempting something you know you cannot loose?

When playing poker with play money, don’t you usually choose some prize anyway– ‘we’re playing for honor, bragging rights, or a plaque on the wall’.

The real rush is when you gamble something you don’t want to lose. You have to fear the loss or there really is no fun, no excitement.

If realm of empires allowed you to create a village in 1 day, losing it wouldn’t matter much would it? You just start over again. But, if it takes you a MONTH to build one up, and perhaps 3-6 months to create a little empire of 10 villages, then it will hurt to lose them!! This is partly why Realm Of Empires is designed as it is – so that you can be proud of your accomplishments.

OK, so we agree we want the rush, yes? (if not then just pretend for a moment and we'll address that and the end :)

So, don’t pick on a clan a tenth of your size! Pick on someone you can actually loose against. Pick someone that will give you a challenge!

“Ok, ok, I found such a clan, so I launch my attacks now right?” Nooooo…! In a game of strategy, just attacking will surely get you eliminated. Now you need to plan!

And I mean plan! Plan 2-4 weeks ahead! Maybe more.

Contact your friends … *quietly*!
Can you trust all your clan mates? Maybe you should not let everyone in on your plans just yet! Talk to your friends and those in the clan you trust, perhaps the leadership – suggest your plan to them, sell them your idea. Convince your friends to join you, convince your clan leadership. This is not easy but remember, you are talking to REAL people. Learn to convince them in the game, and then perhaps you can convince your friends or boss real life of something that matters! Not a bad lesson to learn I think! :)

Ok, so you convinced your friends & clan to join you. Now it’s time to study the maps ( roe power tools will come in handy). Who are your targets? Should you target the leaders of the clan or everyone? List your targets; assign them to you battle group. Make sure all targets are covered.

What are your attack capabilities?
Do a clan roundup, find out what your clan members have – how many maxed out attack armies do they have? Do all such armies have rams & treb? Add up your armies to see how many targets you can take.

What about your target’s allies?
Who are they allied with? What do you know about the strength of these alliances? Will their allies come to their aid? Will they counter attack? How will you justify your aggression in front of others? Will other clans take advantage and attack you when you are week? THINK this through or you will perish, I guarantee it!

What about your allies?
How to take advantage of those relationships? Will all your allies attack with you? Probably not! And also, probably better not to let everyone in on your plans. But even if they will not fight with you, why not contact them a week ahead and ask for support? ‘Guys, we think something is brewing, cannot say yet in detail but please send us support, just in case. Thanks!’. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Do not go to war with only your troops at your disposal. Get your allies to support you BEFORE d-day.

Also, will everyone in your clan attack? Most likely no. Most likely a good portion of your clan is too weak or new to participate – but why not use them? Get your smaller members to support you with ALL their Infantry and Spies. It is very unlikely they will be targeting in a counter attack but their troops will help you!

OK, so you are now ready to attack!
Do you have a plan for wave 2? Ie, what will happen after your first attack, after you guys spend all your attack armies? Why not involve allies to take a second attack wave? Make a plan for them, have a list of target, offer them your spy reports so that they can move in a day or two rather than in a week.

How will you hold villages you just took over?
Can you take 5 new villages and defend them all? If you cannot count on allies to support them and don’t have enough forces, perhaps better not bit more than you can chew. Perhaps just take what you can defend and destroy other villages to the ground with Trebuchet.

And many, many more questions should be asked. THIS IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS in Realm Of Empires. Plan well and you will be victorious and I guarantee an adrenalin rush on d-day! J
This is why Realm of Empires appears to be ‘slow’. It is precisely because it takes weeks to plan a successful war!

But I don’t wanna do all that! I don’t have the time or desire. Can’t I just grow my village and then slowly expand my empire?” Of course you can! But you still have to be aware of this. Realize that others in your clan may want to plan such wars so make sure you help them accomplish their goal by being active on the forums, being aware of what is going on, responding to their requests for information, sharing your spy information etc. Help them when asked for support, pick targets when asked etc. Your success is tied to theirs. I personally was part of both - the leading and planning of wars, as well as following a lead and found both very interesting and exciting.

PS. Some will disagree, some may laugh about I really believe Realm of Empires is educational, and can be a positive part of your life. Rather than taking risks like bungi jumping, we can partly satisfy this silly desire in a safe environment of a virtual medieval world. I think our real world will be a better place where we can expand some of our aggression and need to dominate in a safe environment such as this. We can be better, more successful in life if we can learn consequences of our poor communication, poor planning and apply those lessons to the real life. In realm of empires you are not dealing with a computer controlled AI, an algorithm you can sooner or later figure out. At Realm of Empires you go against your biggest adversary – the homo sapiens! (extraterrestrial and poltergeist excluded ;) )

Realm of Empires - you choose the game you want to play

This is my second installment in my attempt to answer the question of why Realm 2 is not as fast as Realm 1 (see first part http://realmofempires.blogspot.com/2008/11/is-game-too-slow-at-start.html )

Please note that Realm Of Empires is designed such that you can choose from a variety of game styles.

Realm 1 is a fast realm, Realm 2 is slower. If you find that you have a lot of time to dedicate to this game, Realm 1 should be your choice. If you only have a few minutes per day, Realm 2 is your option.

We plan to release many more realms. There will be:
  • super-speed realms (perhaps 100x normal speed)
  • tournament realms (fix-duration realms, probably also very fast)
  • slow realms (perhaps slower than Realm 2)
  • and a variety of in-betweens.
  • Later on, well introduce custom & private realms as well!

Note we are still in BETA. Yes, we do not have yet a completed game. Many features we feel are really needed are still missing. We are now experimenting with different parameters and we listen to your comments very, very closely.

Once we have a game we and you are satisfied with, then we'll work on growing its membership more and more numerous realm will make sense.

Is the game too slow at start?

With the release of the new realm, which is slower than the first beta realm, we've receive some comments that the game is too slow. That new players quickly run out of things to do and will get bored.


First of all, like always, thank you for those comments, they guide our development in a very significant way. You help shape Realm of Empires!

I would like to respond to these concerns. First of all, your comments suggest, we do a poor job in explaining what this game is about, why it is slow, and what you can do in the mean time. We intend to improve on this! This blog is the beginning.

As as I have said before in Realm of Empires 15 minutes per day and in What is Realm of Empires, this game was specifically designed such so that it does not rule your real-life.

Unlike games like Mob Wars and its 100 clones, that require you to sit at the computer and click a 'DO JOB' button 10 times, Realm of Empires was specifically designed not to reward constant mindless activity but rather reward strategy, communication, planning.

Some will argue it is actually a poor business model. Most games want to encourage you to spend as much time clicking (and hence seeing as many ads as possible)! We don't think so and hope you will see the value of what we are trying to do.

Hence we resist adding any features that reward 'clicking' even though it appears as an 'easy' way out. We hope players will see the depth of the game when it is not constant clicking and staring at the screen that benefits your but rather your ability to forge real, strong alliances, plan battles etc. And at the same time, does not force you set your real-life aside. It was designed this way, to allow busy people to be able to compete equally.

What we do want encourage, is what I call 'smart' activity. When you run out of silver and feel you have nothing to do, consider this:

(A) Find a strong clan to join

If you have to sit there and click-click-click all the time, how will you find the time for duediligence in choosing your clan? Joining a good clan is the most important decision you will make and the first few days, while you are protected from attacks, is the time to do it.

Examine the map closely, study your neighbours. What clans are they part of? don't choose a clan that has 1 member next to you and the rest, including the leader are on the other side of the know world. You will be the first to be eliminated in wartime. So choose a clan with many members near you.

This takes time, and I personally find it more fun then clicking 'do job' 10 times, and I hope you guys will feel the same.

Also, don't just join a largest clan. Join a good clan - study their clan profile. Do they seem organized? how many people are involved in leadership? What reputation do they have?Remember, you do not want to be labeled a clan-hopper. Choose early and wisely. The game is designed so that you have the time to do so when it matters.

You will find RoE Power Tools helpful in these tasks

(B) Meet your neighbours

This is extremely critical! Do not just be content with knowing your clan mates. Get to know your other-clan neighbours. You may find them very helpful one day but people help their friends, so take the time to get to know them.

Who knows, you may be able to enlist a spy in some clan this way - now that is fun! ever wanted to play 007 before? well here is your chance and not in some computer controlled artificial intelligence environment but with real people, with real consequences (like loosing your empire, a product of months of play! :)

(C) Get involved in your clan

You will find it very rewarding when you get involved in some leaderships position in your clan and believe me, clan leaders welcome such help!

Do you have a friend in another clan? Perhaps you may want to be a liaison to this clan? Want to be able to invite valuable players to the clan? - then as your leader for this permission. Perhaps you want to help moderating the forums? etc, etc, etc.

Soon you may find your way on the council, with the power to shape the future of thousands of players while you learn value lessons easily transferable to real-life politics!

Participate on the forums - get to know the political landscape of the realm. Who is trust worthy, who is a liar and cheat? What clans are your true allies, what clans are at war, is there a war brewing?

(D) Prepare to raid neighbours! The medieval style :)

Another critical strategy, is to attack inactive villages for silver.

A village which is inactive, ie, the player is no longer playing can be easily spotted as its points will not change. Although the player is inactive, the silver mine in this village continues to produce silver.

If you attack this village, you can plunder its silver. Think about it, while your silver min at level 10 in realm 2 produces just over 300 silver per hour, the village you attack may have in it 3000 silver!! That is like 10 hours of your silver mine production. and I bet there will be more than 1 inactive village near you.

Light cavalry is particularly efficient at this task as it is cheap to recruit, can carry a lot of loot, and has a good offensive capability.

Remember, each village start with some Citizen Militia so spy on a village first and then use the battle simulator to find out if you attack is worth while!


All this takes time, in fact, if you want to be REALLY involved, it can take a LOT of time! :) But, it is clear we have not explained this well enough in-game and will try to remedy this.

Also, we do have a few features on the drawing board that will give new players more things to do while and helping achieve the goals explained above.

Remember, this is a game intended to be played over many months. It is nor an arcade. If you are used to the many games like Mob Wars on facebook, you will find it very different and perhaps confusing. I encourage you to gave it a try, you will not be disappointed!!

I hope you found this little 'discourse' interesting and I welcome your comments!

Changing the IP of a facebook application without downtime

This is definitely not rocket science, but perhaps it could help someone...

If you have a facebook application, and want to move from one server to another, requiring an IP change, as we did recently, you can follow this method to achieve a virtually no downtime move.

Your domain is MyApp.com (IP
Your Facebook (FB) application MyApp.com/WelcomePage

You want to move to a different IP (
  1. create a new sub-domain old.MyApp.com pointing to
  2. change your FB app to point to old.MyApp.com/WelcomePage
  3. create a new sub-domain new.MyApp.com pointing to
  4. setup new server, do what you need to do, when ready, change FB app to point to new.MyApp.com/WelcomePage
  5. leave the old server online in case it is accessible outside of facebook, via http://www.myapp.com/ and forward all requests to new server
  6. change *.MyApp.com and http://www.myapp.com/ to point to
  7. 48hours later, take down your old sever

Overkill ??? yes, for many it could be but this allows you to run parallel servers while you test everything, and allows you to quickly and easily rollback in case the moves goes sour.

Realm Of Empires 15 minutes per day... really?

OK, ok, I should clarify - at the end Realm of Empires is a sort of virtual community so you can, if you want to, spend the whole day messaging friends. The intention is that you do not need to spend a lot of time to enjoy playing the game.

Also, the 15 minutes per day is our goal. We conciously decided not to reward players constant online presence and instead we'll offer tools to simplify repetative tasks. We've got a long way to go as anyone with 100 villages can attest to, however, we will get there! There are many ideas on the drawing board that will make it possible - btw, many thanks to all those players who offer their suggestions!

You see, may of such games reward activity - the more often you are online the better you will do. And they shy away from offering features that would allow you to login once or twice daily. I suppose those ads got to be displayed, banners clicked ;)

We decided to create a game for busy people, people like us. Everything in the game is designed with this goal in mind. I know many features are missing, but they are coming!