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Friday, April 13th 2012, 10:59pm

Questions & Answers on IRC - Community Meeting

Questions & Answers on IRC - Community Meeting

Version 4.0 & Outlook

What were GF’s thoughts in the introduction of the new features in version 4.0?

On the one hand the new version will offer many new features for our players, in part can be used free of charge, and on the other hand will allow the further development and updating of OGame. An end to the development of OGame was not up for discussion.

We are still examining how much this affects the current gameplay, distinguishing between old and new universes. This is currently being investigated in Spain. There, the new version is online in two old and one new universe and thus gives us the opportunity to observe their effects.

In regards to the effects of the version, we need to check every possibility. We however don’t think that there are too many cases of negative 'intervention' into the game.

Of course it’s possible to intercept the plunder waves (that follow a main attack fleet) using the instant build feature or even the main attack fleet itself. But mostly it's easier to just fleet save.

Research has also been the subject of discussion, however we consider the duration, especially in the later game, to not be ideal. Of course there are ways already to speed this up using a Research Network, or an Officer; however we wanted to offer another way so players don’t have to wait a year or more. First a player must collect the raw materials before starting the research, and so I think there will still be a competition between the players. At this point we don't think that miners lose a special feature, because fleeter also have high research levels.

The price of the resource boosters vary a little, and are influenced by the age of the universe and the nature of the item. At the beginning, they will mostly still be a little expensive, but they are worthwhile fairly quickly. At auctions you should always expect how much earnings than can be done with an item instead of blindly to provide. At an auction you should always consider how much profit you can get with an item first, instead of blindly bidding.

How does version 4.0 help OGame’s future?

The new version offers old and new players many new opportunities in the game. In a very old browser game, it’s important to provide players with something new, or to supplement the already existing facilities to keep things interesting. Version 4.0 is a further step and shows that we’ve put as much energy as possible into the OGame project.

Our other developments such as those already mentioned, will be presented and as usual we’ll seek feedback from the community and make adjustments accordingly.

Are you convinced in the necessity of the new version?

Yes. Certainly the new version may bring a lot of premiums into the game, but we have tried ways of offering these free of charge to a certain extent. It also allows us to develop OGame for a long time, and this can’t be a bad thing.
However, I certainly won’t be using everything. Resource boosters won’t be everywhere, my fleet requires no Scrap Dealer (I rarely fly expeditions) and building construction isn’t disturbing me. And for research, the need to acquire the resources limits it enough.

Why does version 4.0 come so fast without fixing all the bugs in 3.0? And is it possible to fix bugs with the current turnaround times for new versions?

In itself the new version 4.0 was not very fast, but the newbie protection came online significantly slower than originally planned by us. There was also some work done in parallel between the two versions, so it didn’t require too much development time before it was ready for our test server after the introduction of the Newbie Protection update. In general, such large developments require more time.

There are of course also always bug fixes. Even with this new version we have fixed a pretty long list of errors. And we’ll work, as we’ve already said, to eliminate more of these errors on smaller follow-up versions.

Were the changes made to version 4.0 between the announcement and the final version made from the outset? What do you think of this approach with the community?

No. The original version was how it was presented and discussed in the forums. Then adjustments were decided on and installed on our test server.

Of course it’s difficult on such a large update to make significant changes, especially in the understanding within the community, but our development process is quite open to changes. So if an interesting-looking change comes to mind during development then it’s always possible it’ll be added.

This wasn’t an attempt to annoy the community. We try to publish our news for a possible final version; however, this is no reason to exclude any future adjustments.

Will there be more changes to version 4.0, and this concern also the balancing of this update?

We are currently already working on a smaller version to fix various errors and then a slightly larger 4.1 with additional changes. The basic functionality of version 4.0 however will not be affected; they remain on the current plan to date.

A reduction or adaption in the new features, e.g. a greater advantage for weak players (that decreases depending on the growth of the player) is not currently planned.

Does v4.0 not oppose the newbie protection v3.0? How is it possible to catch a player who spends a lot of money?

In my opinion these versions don’t contradict each other. Version 3.0 is designed to protect new or weaker players up to a certain point. Version 4.0 helps you to accelerate the development of your account as you want.

Can more new premium updates be avoided, at least for a little while?

It’s possible we’ll add more premium features, eg. more items or other premium benefits. We are however committed to also expand the “non-premium” features in OGame.

What does GF think of surveys, and would it be possible to vote within the community on new premium items?

Polls about an item will surely not be done. But it is possible to collect the feedback for new items in the future when there are details to talk about.

In General polls are always a double-edged sword. Of course they can convey a certain direction or a mood, but we can “read” this without a poll. In addition, surveys are easy to influence and it’s difficult to not reach only a certain target group. In the Forum there’s the problem of multiple registrations; in the game itself, players have often more than one account, or are either absent or currently lacking an account.

We therefore generally prefer to use surveys for a certain direction as we already did some time ago to examine the priority of the community. Remember at that time the Merger and the new Newbie protection were priority topics.

And of course there are the bad reviews and comments from the communities in the wake of polls where an undesired result was achieved, such as the introduction of the full redesign features. Except that in 2 small communities they clearly all decided for their introduction, however, there were many accusations of 'manipulation' by the players who didn’t want to have the features.

How is the live test of the new version?

It’s currently online in Spain on three servers, two old universes and one new, so we can properly observe it. In addition we will put it online in yet another country other than Germany to get more results. And then we’ll decide on further distribution of the update according to our results.

Will there be free changes in OGame again? And if yes, what?

New free features are definitely in our planning for 2012 and beyond. This can relate to adjustments to already existing possibilities, e.g. to expeditions, but also basic changes such as e.g. a bigger Alliance system (which is to be usable without DM).

Included in this is also a revision of the tutorial, which can certainly go more towards a series of quests, and even more changes for more the 'purpose' of the later game, e.g. there are currently many pointless research and buildings that are no longer worthwhile to get.

Will future changes significantly change the balancing of OGame?

Changes can always intervene decisively in the concept of OGame. Even a new Alliance system isn’t a minor change in the game.

Are there any plans to change Bombers and Ion Cannons?
No. Currently a review of these two units is not part of our plan.

OGame Version 3.0

What do you think of version 3.0 and its consequences? Will there be further changes to the balancing of the Newb Protection?

The new newbie protection meets our expectations and offers the possibility for weak players to be protected from attack by stronger opponents. Certainly there are other possibilities for that, but we’ve chosen this way to implement it.

The preference for, or discrimination against, certain groups of players is an ambiguous point. Defensive players thought they would be penalised against, and others thought the opinions of defensive players would be preferred. A perfect medium is not easy to find.

Should meaningful and achievable ideas for adapting the Newb Protection arise, we are quite willing to listen.

The statistics for the comparison of the players we consider it quite useful, even after the update of 4.0. As already mentioned the comparison factor in future research will certainly not be able to be the necessary time, but the necessary raw materials, and this is designed into the statistics.

In terms of economics - we thought about what statistics might generally be more interesting for our players, and it just came out this. Certainly, there are also different opinions, or suggestions for other / additional statistics.

There will be some little changes in the highscore, but details will come later.

Why is the honour point system in the ACS coupled to the total point value of the attacker and not to the individual military points? Do you want to promote single attacks?

Both ways to attack compare the military points of each player, but in ACS it’s summarised because the fleets are fighting together. We know that transparency is missing in how OGame calculates the honour points for each player respectively and how a (dis)honourable fight is recognized. At this point, we still have some improvements planned.

Why it is possible to get negative HP attacking a strong miner, but attacking a weaker fleeter gives positive HP? Is a miner a newb when compared to a fleeter?

Because honour points are governed by the military points involved it’s not very easy to explain. Miners generally have less military points, therefore it’s possible to get this “imbalance”. The different play styles aren’t considered when it comes to calculating honour points.

OGame General

What about the topic “play2win” against the wanted “free2play”? Does GF supply premium features in other games without losing players?

Our games are and will continue to be Free2Play.

The greatest benefit one can obtain through premiums is still the time factor. In our test universes for the new version we looked at how many players were using DM to succeed, and the results were quite surprising.

In the Origin test server there were 6 players in the top 10 without premiums, including the rank 1. Of course, you can gain now more advantages with dark matter, and certainly, they can have a certain influence on the game, however, this advantage isn’t everything you need to get to the top.

What is the target group for OGame?

We think that the advantage of OGame is in the possibility to play in several ways and therefore it's interesting for different groups of players. But the time when most players spent a whole night on OGame is gone in my opinion.

Of course OGame also continues to offer the possibility to play really hard, but new players tend to not spend as much time as in the earlier days. The requirement to get ahead in OGame is to spend time, so this is now commercially possible with the changes in version 4.0. This offers the chance for the casual gamers to get in the game faster.
We don’t strive to target a certain group; we’re pleased about every player that discovers OGame.

How about 'special' versions of OGame?

Time-limited servers or servers with a subscription model are not planned.

It is of course still possible that we offer time-limited event or test server, however there are in this respect no general plans for OGame.

A subscription model has already been tried, in form of PrOGame at, but this didn’t last due to disinterest from the player base.

Another retro version of OGame for continuous operation is not planned as well. Though it would be conceivable to run at least one event server with an appropriately old version.

Will it someday be possible to purchase raw materials or ships directly using dark matter?

There are currently no plans for either, and I’m not expecting them to ever be.

Is it still planned to be able to pause, instead of cancel or speed up, construction for vacation mode?

This is still part of our planning. We may be able to introduce this with version 4.1. The introduction of methods to accelerate construction is no reason to remove this from our list of changes.

When will statistics be available for the merged universes?

The statistics will be made available soon. There were some inconsistencies with where and how we wanted to represent them. Unfortunately, the original plan for the automated display of them didn’t work out, hence the delay.

Why are the outer planet positions designed to be so small and therefore unusable? Is it possible to change this?

The outer positions are deliberately defined as "special positions" within the redesign to force special play styles e.g. to research graviton or as a deuterium colony. Especially the last point is now easier with Version 4.0 because it’s possible to relocate from the higher to the lower positions.

Changes to this system are quite possible. For example the formula of the Terraformer was adjusted not very long ago to open up more fields.

What do you intend to do against farms and bots? Is this behaviour not made worse by changes to inactives?

The teams do a lot against starting farms at the beginning of a universe. But more than active checking isn’t possible without negatively influencing the game too much.

We have made several attempts against bot-use in the past. The last check on our part, in addition to the normal checks by the teams, was a while ago so we will do this again. In doing so, we look at precisely what the existing bots cam do and then take action against them according to their respective capabilities. We won't give details beforehand, because the players shouldn't be able to avoid being detected.

How does Gameforge see the future of OGame?

This issue is quite a few individual points. OGame is now almost 10 years old and so is undergoing constant change, which we will continue in the future.

How long OGame will exist is written in the stars, currently there are no intentions to stop OGame and our plans for development are enough to keep our developers busy well into next year, and with the help of the players we’ll never run out of ideas.

We don't see a disadvantage of not paying players in this development even if the current version of course mainly deals with premiums. We are developing various improvements to the game involving free features as well to maintain the balance. Especially given that the premiums are designed as time-saver, and there are no thoughts towards offering raw materials or units for DM. OGame won’t see a purely commercial approach.

New players are an ever-present subject which we want to tackle with the changes made to the game. For example with our new protection system for weaker players, or simply with new possibilities and the chance to keep up without necessarily investing too much time. Advertisement is also a subject mentioned time and time again, we primarily advertise within our own games and on various internet sites. And from time to time we try out game magazines and other media forms (such as the online section of RTL2).

We are examining what extent the new version affects a new game round with our test universe and our current test-run in Spain, so far the effects aren’t as dramatic as some feared. If we observe a strong influence we have the possibility to counteract it.

It’s very difficult to make old universes more attractive to new players, especially since there’s almost no chance to catch the top players. New players are usually more interested in joining when a new universe is launched. The activity in old universes can thus only be increased by merging universes.

Mergers will always remain an issue for the old universes. Currently we’re running several mergers in different countries and soon we hope to have covered the “basic needs”. However, it’s possible that we’ll run more mergers later down the line to replenish the player-base again. Special universes can be both exodus servers and targets, we try to include most of the special universes, but unfortunately it’s not always possible. As for spaces in the target universes, we are always willing to increase the available slots as we have already done in some cases where the player distributions didn’t match our assumptions.

OGame for mobile platforms may also be a subject this year. We first need to decide what platforms and what adjustments are necessary in order to enable an attractive gameplay. We are also now open for development of apps by the community, there are already some projects started for Android.

In future will players be involved in the planning phase of new features, or always in the testing phase? And do the opinions of the players make any difference?

Basically, we will continue to initially follow our thoughts and try to bring them to a basic development test stage. A large-scale discussion could slow down this process beyond measure and would therefore not be helpful to OGame.

However within the test phase we are very open to feedback and changes proposed by the players on our test servers and forums. It’s very rare for a whole system to be thrown out and completely rebuilt, but often very significant changes come from the feedback we receive. Version 3.0 was a very good example of starting with the basic idea then building upon this via feedback from the community to arrive at the final version.

Although not every suggestion is implemented, we are very grateful for all the ideas and opinions we receive, and often these are stockpiled for future versions. The feedback systems on the test server and in the OGame Origin Project are important cornerstones in the collection and analysis of feedback from our international player base, and in future we’ll work to improve this system.

Will mistakes in the way you handle the communities be recognized, and are you interested to avoid this in the future?

When we recognize errors and it's possible to remove them, we will do so. In terms of 4.0, during the development changes some of the original version was “rejected”, and such a thing unfortunately can’t be foreseen and avoided.

However we’re trying to work on our communication methods and experiment with different options. For example we noticed at the launch of version 3.0 that we gave out too much information at once, and thus the players were 'overloaded'. So many details were missed by the players.

This is why we tried the step by step release of information for version 4.0. But certainly this approach can also be improved.

How was the planet resettlement accepted by the players?

The planet relocation feature was received quite positively in our opinion and even exploited. There are examples of it being used for “raid colonies”, but this seems to occur rarely. Generally it’s used to improve the layout of an account, or to move to a quieter area.

What changes are planned in terms of expeditions?

We want to work on the expedition system a little more and thus offer new opportunities. Examples of this would be the possibility to find items or even free relocations. Currently we can already easily customise the amount of dark matter that can be found on expeditions, this could be adapted for other possible expedition events.

Will there be more graphical changes in OGame?

Currently no major changes like the Redesign are planned. But in the future we might make changes to the overview to save space and bandwidth.

What about a merger for universe

It is possible that universe 50 will eventually play a role in a merger, however it still has a relatively large population (there are universes with significantly less active players) and it is unfortunately not very easy to include this universe because of its special features.

Is version 4.0 compatible with the USK 0 rating for OGame? Should we not adapt this since young people find their way into the game?

We have nothing to do with the assessment of the USK level and we have no influence on it. OGame has been appropriately reviewed and classified as USK 0.

Certainly we have younger players in OGame, however they don’t automatically have access to the corresponding payment abilities. We are always ready to educate interested parents about OGame and its possibilities, and this is occasionally used.

There won’t be a fixed age limit for OGame. It would be unusual and unacceptable from an administrative point of view for each new registration to require a passport/ID.

Are there any thoughts about the space problem in or methods for dealing with the inactive DM accounts?

Yes. We’re well aware that we can’t continue to add new galaxies to solve the space problem. There have been considerations for some time to remove the inactive DM accounts, but this step must be well planned and thought out. Currently we don't delete accounts with paid dark matter, and many players use this behaviour to avoid their accounts deleting.

Why was the support system changed?

We think that our new support system is easier for the players. It now has a relatively simply overview of all previous tickets and can track these accordingly. In addition, the administration is now easier for us and allows for further future adjustments in the support system. The email address used for registration isn’t used to deliver ads.

Will there be a way to escalate a ticket with a GO further up the administration ladder?

Currently it’s already possible to push a ticket to the next level when you’re not satisfied with your reply until you reach the very top level.

Will there be a preference for paying players in the future?

No. Each player will continue to receive the same support. This begins with the fact that our team has no way to distinguish in such a way. So already this issue is addressed.

Will the volunteer team be replaced by a paid support system?

We will continue to fully rely on the commitment of our volunteers. We have had excellent experience with this system, and think that this kind of support can be superior to a pure support system with employees.

Why do skins have such a low priority?

The ability to use skins unfortunately still isn’t a high priority, there were and still are simply more important projects in our view. The support for skins is however still part of our long term planning.

What does GF think about implementing flash games?

Our games are designed fundamentally towards a lengthy game experience, but this could be achieved with flash games. Whether we’ll develop a game in that direction I can’t predict. Currently, new developments go more in the direction of mobile players.

But of course our developers could make any necessary actions accordingly if they wish. I can’t say anything at this point about any collaboration with other companies.

Is it possible to vote for certain adjustments to be made to

If there’s increased interested it’s quite possible that we could make some adjustments. However we would first need to see what changes it’s possible to make without “damaging” the current version. If any major problems arise then it's maybe not possible to keep online.

OGame Team

How many employees are currently working on OGame?

OGame currently has a Product Director, a Game Designer, a QA, a Product Community Manager, and 2.5 Developers.

Are the decision makers for OGame players, and are they aware of the implications of their changes on game balancing?

All employees for this project play OGame or have played it for some time. In addition, the whole team in the decision-making process relies also on the experience of the 'long term players', who have been included for many years. We are well aware of the balance changes.

How are decisions about game developments made?

First there’s a series of meetings to determine the fundamental direction for the coming year. Then for each version there’s a draft from our Game Designers and many suggestions from our communities, we then give our opinions and decide what to incorporate.

We then repeatedly review it at during the various stages of development and make any adjustments to it where necessary.

Unanswered Questions

We won’t announce official figures on the sales numbers and use of Dark Matter. Therefore I can’t answer any questions relating to that.
OGame Origin Admin

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