Issue#9: Screeming Saltire Feeder trial

Glimpses from the Future, #3

While our team of peculiar orks was working on the backer rewards for the crowdfunding, they noticed something wasn’t quite right. One of the most basic rewards will be, of course, the possibility to partake in the Brawl – this means receiving season tickets to sign your Team in. Ok, fine.

However, working on the exact details on how this was to happen, some problems were discovered: this post is the story of these problems and their solutions 🧐

Current situation

We have a pro Conference, the “Screaming Saltire”, and a trial Conference, the “Grass of Water”.

You have to “pay per Team per Season” for participating in the Screaming Saltire, while it’s free to participate in the Grass of Water 🌱💧

You cannot profit from the Grass of Water:

  • the SG earnings are extremely low
  • the Brawlers gain almost no XP
  • the Team gains almost no supporter

So, you sign‑in for free, and you get nothing (except from the possibility of playing the Game, testing the tactics, etc.). This is correct: if you could sign‑in for free and get anything at all in return, you could summon hordes of fake Users and accumulate infinite wealth.

Current problems

There’s one major problem with this setup: nobody cares about the Grass of Water.

And why should they?

It gives no rewards. It has absolutely zero appeal, almost by design 🤦‍♀️ It doesn’t fulfil its purpose of “being a trial” because nobody will use it to try anything.

Hence it’s useless and has to be scrapped.

What we need

We still need a system that:

  • allows Users to play for free
  • yields nothing (so it’s fake resistant)
  • is still somewhat appealing
  • it’s not so appealing that you could consider keep playing there instead of going pro

It’s always tricky to finely balance what you can give for free, with things you ask money for… this is true both for games and for other kinds of sites.

There is no “correct” approach. The best thing you can do is to carefully design it so that it makes sense ⚗️

The Trial Feeder

What we finally came up with is… the Feeder of the Screaming Saltire itself! 🤯

Initial Proposal

After an intense and dignified brawl of ideas, this is the first thing we came up with:

  • Open the Screaming Saltire’s Feeder for free
  • Teams might choose to pay anyway
  • Free Teams were subjected to the same exact limitations that existed in the Grass of Water
  • You could only do that for a single season, once per account

Later, an attentive Clockwork Cthuling ⚙️🐙 (they are a rare thing) analysed every single aspect of this and came up with a revised proposal. What follows is his report.

Only once per season

As soon as I reread it for the first time, the “you can do it only once” immediately struck me as odd.

Why should you be limited to do it only once? The analysis came up with too many cons and no real pros. This path revealed itself pointless.

Inbound loans

So, a free User might receive free loans. Not paid loans because he would have nothing to pay with.

Not really a problem: if someone wants to freely arm another User, why shouldn’t he? I mean, that would be wasteful: the loaned Brawlers would get no exp but would get injuries, so that would bring no benefit.

And if you want to do that anyway, you’re welcome, who cares.

Outbound loans

These might initially look like a problem.

You are a Free User, you loan to a Pro User your useless Brawlers, for free obviously (why should they pay), and they’ll use them and then you would get them back, with exp.

Ok but, again, who cares?

Why should anyone agree to such a thing? Even if they did, it’s irrelevant. If that Pro User wanted to help the Free User, he might just have sent him his own Brawlers, not the other way around. And we already decided we don’t really care if that happens.

This is way too convoluted to matter.

Pro Users

If you can sign Teams into the Feeder for free… most Users who have their Teams in the Feeder might not want to pay for those any more.

Even if they already have other paid Teams. They might think “ok, but I’ll sign them for free in the Feeder, then I’ll start paying when they get promoted”.

Ok but, do we care?

I mean, ok, it’s slightly less profit… initially.

If a User can sign a Team for free in the Feeder, then once it gets promoted, he might want to pay the pro cost. If there wasn’t this free start option, he might just haven’t done it at all in the first place.

If he wants his Team to start gaining supporters and SG and XP, then he might just pay.

Once a Team is paying, it will keep paying. Of course: between two seasons, it might just sign‑out and sign‑in again for free (restarting from the Feeder). Not a problem.

So yes, anyone will be allowed to have 1 Free Team.

One per Feeder

You will be allowed to sign 1 Free Team only if you don’t already have any Team in the Feeder. This will be strictly enforced at every season start: if you would end up with more than one Team in the Feeder, the Free one will be left out 🛑

No rank

Free Teams will get no rank at all, unless they go pro. Otherwise this mechanic might be abused to create Teams, have them obtain a rank, sign them out, and then let them rest until you decide to sign them in properly, and they start with a rank.

Feeder size

Currently the Feeder size is “at least 4 Teams”. But I’m afraid it should now become “at least 4 pro Teams”.

The problem is that you can no longer guarantee that Free Teams will be in, because they might be left out when the season starts. And we do need the Feeder to have at least 4 Teams.

However, that won’t be easy to force.

We risk the Feeder becoming too “meh”, and Users not wanting to pay for Teams being there… but we have a solution 😏

Fee rebates

If a pro Team starts the season in the Feeder, part of the fee it paid will be granted back to the User 🤑

We should decide if it’s the whole fee or half, and if it’s just added to its treasury or added “as a credit” (which then you unlock if you buy DG normally).

Maybe he can choose: half now, or full as credit.

This would solve brilliantly the problem of not having pro Teams in the Feeder 💡

Rebate abuse

We didn’t think this carefully enough, though.

If Feeder Teams played basically for free, you could stay in the Feeder for free indefinitely, earning normally (because you are a Pro Team), without paying 🤦‍♂️

The problem here isn’t that they don’t pay, it’s that they don’t pay and get rewards (because they are “Pro Teams”, unlike “Free Teams” which instead are barred from earning anything).

Sure, a Team might get promoted, but you can sign it out and sign in a new one, who will start in the Feeder for sure.

So, rebating 100% of the fee is definitely not an option 👎

100% credit

Sure, if the rebate is a credit, it means you actually get it only after you buy as many DG (paying normally). So ok, you had to make a purchase anyway.

But this would still mean two things:

  • You can pay once and have 2 Teams (which might or might not be acceptable)
  • You can just keep playing with 1 Team only, for free, and sell OTC the DG you buy

Credit is nice

Credit is nice because it’s only awarded after a real purchase, and we want that of course 😍

Sure, it’s not immediate, so it might not be a big enough incentive… but to be honest, the same could apply to the immediate rebate.

If you get a credit with extra DG and you forget about it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised once you get them.

If you get them immediately, instead, it’s no big deal: maybe you are just annoyed that you had to get double the amount of DG you actually needed.

So, it’s definitely going to be credit 👍

How much

At first, we were thinking about “50% now” or “100% credit”, but we have decided to go with credit, and to definitely rule out 100%.

75% seems like the obvious compromise, but no, I’m unconvinced, it’s still too much.

I think I’ll go with 50% credit and that’s it. It’s less than the original planned amount, but I think it’s still enough to be considered nice if you think about it, without being so much that you can abuse it horribly.

Season Tickets

Once we implement this Free Feeder system, we won’t need to give packs containing a free Season Ticket any more. But the same would have happened if the Grass of Water really started.

Still, not giving away codes is a bit annoying, because giving codes might make someone feel gifted and more interested in registering. Or not? No, maybe they were useless or harmful…


Feeder only, obviously

In case it wasn’t obvious, the Free Teams won’t be able to be added to a real League: they’ll stay in the Feeder.

If they don’t pay, they stay in the Feeder, and that’s it.

League sorting still is rank‑based, and Free Teams do not get a rank.

Only one per User, as long as he wants

So, basically, every User will be able to create a Free Team in the Feeder, as long as:

  • He doesn’t have any Free Team
  • He doesn’t have any Team in the Feeder

Doesn’t matter if he already has other paid Teams, it’s fine.

If the User later decides to sign new Teams in later, first of all he'll need to turn the Free Team to Pro.

Improved proposal

According to the analysis above, here’s the improved proposal.

  • Any User (old or new, doesn’t matter) may sign a Team in the Screaming Saltire’s Feeder, if:
    • Doesn’t already have a Free Team
    • Doesn’t already have a Team in the Feeder
  • Free Teams are subjected to the same limitations that existed in the Grass of Water:
    • Negligible amount of SG
    • Negligible amount of XP
    • Negligible amount of supporters
  • Free Teams are bound to the Feeder until they decide to pay.
    • Free Teams do not earn a rank.
  • Free Teams may turn pro at any moment, paying the same amount they would pay to sign‑in a completely new Team.
  • one per Feeder” is enforced: when a season starts, if a Free Team would end up in the Feeder together with any other Team of the same owner, the Free Team is left out.
  • Paid Teams that start the season in the Feeder, will receive a fee rebate equal to 50% of the DG amount, as “DG credit”.
    • No rebate is awarded to Teams signing in mid‑season. The reason for this rebate is to make it more appealing to sign in the Feeder, allowing the Feeder to have at least 4 pro Teams.
  • Once we have this system in place, we’ll no longer provide free season tickets.
  • Free Teams will receive no reward at the end of the season (obviously).
    • Free Teams turned Pro mid‑season should have a reduced reward proportional to the number of matches they played as a Pro.

And that’s pretty much it on a design standpoint.

What’s next

We still have to think about the UX, i.e. how to present these choices to the User in a way that they are usable and understandable; we’ll also have to see exactly how to implement them in the Game itself. Both of these things might require some design chances.

Furthermore, now that this design is complete, we may proceed in working on the backer rewards… but since, as I said, they are closely related, it’s still possible that this one will have to be modified again.

Please share any thoughts with us, feel free to comment here, register if you aren’t playing yet, and leave us a (hopefully very positive) rating if you are! 😁

May your Teams bring all the orks to your yard! 💚

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