As those few of you who have been around all along over the past years will know, the number of active accounts in Orkfia - Alliances at War dropped down to an all time low of 53 last year and the gameplay was very stale with competition non-existent. At that point I was “just” a player myself (on and off since early in the century) and I decided the time had come for me to quit Orkfia for good too, or try and do something myself to improve things.
Several others joined me else I wouldn't have got anywhere but with this massive group volunteer effort from players and staff, we were able to increase numbers in the game and reverse the downward trend for the first time in around 10 years, thanks to free work done by Max, Mazja, Hardar, Bolle, Darkwing, Kovenant, Scarlet, Cecil, Jolten, Robokop and others and of course the support of players. This enabled us to further build on the great work done over the years by the many other volunteer staff in Orkfia's history in the various versions (Original, Infinity, Classic) with a result that so far, against the odds, the game still remains. We celebrate 15 years of the game as a whole and 10 years of Infinity this year so it is quite an achievement that you have all done this for our community already. We're still here.
However after almost doubling the small playerbase we started with last year, we lost most of those recruited once more. It became obvious we needed some big changes to try to recapture the spirit of original Orkfia and keep the people we recruit. Recruitment alone was never going to be enough.
Between July last year and July this year we have steadily worked through some large aspects of the game: Law and Order procedures and new tools to identify cheats, reorganised Staff,reignited Development routines including upgraded suggestion forum to allow greater input from players, reinstated Marketing Department and set up routines there. We have also tried to lessen the gap that had grown between players and staff by increasing communication in both directions.
In addition we used trial and error to try out a number of things over the past year to try and find what is fun. We brought back resets, overhauled races several times, updated war several times, made significant improvements to the mobile version, made an app to link to the mobile version, adjusted alliance size, 4 wk ages, remade the guide/wiki, started facebook+email marketing, developed a tutorial (this failed after many manhours of work), added new special events (Easter/Monster - more to come), many changes to interfaces and improving actions and so many other player suggestions implemented.
Upcoming and Future projects include updated visual layout, even more “handy hints” when hovering over words in the game to improve usability, achievement related forum badges, new forums, overhaul of science, buildings, spells/ops/attacks and of course suggestions forum items.
We are also taking steps to improve the resilience of Orkfia and change the reliance from individual (voluntary) staff members to players/groups to increase the chances of the game surviving. As many of you who have volunteered your time in staff know, staff positions are not that great as it is not like we all agree on the direction of the game so you do not get to implement everything how you think should be. Sometimes in fact you have to work on things you do not wholly agree with because staff is also a group dynamic, like the players. In addition you have to spend your free time sometimes doing quite boring and annoying tasks and that is before you take into account the whiners/timewasters staff endure.
Understandably it is not that easy to find
The game celebrated the 10year anniversary of the Infinity concept (never-ending ages) this year and 15 years of the game running as a whole. Whilst Infinity was unpopular amongst some of the 2000 players of original Orkfia it cannot be disputed that this low-maintenance idea and implementation saved the game for us all. Also some people really enjoyed the Infinity concept (indeed a few left in disgust when we began our “resets” trial earlier this year) .
The resets reintroduction trial is now over and we will proceed as a resets game for the foreseeable future. This decision is taken because we have more players than this time last year and those players (mostly) seem to be having a lot more fun.
Also you may have noticed there has been a subtle change in the name of this game, for years (during Infinity) it was referred to as Alliances at War. We are now phasing this out and just returning to the name “Orkfia”. The domain will continue to be www.alliancesatwar.com (though you can also come here via www.orkfia.org). This is partly for practical reasons (quicker to say/see, “Orkfia” fares better on search engines) but also is a nod to the fact that the goal of this latest incarnation of Orkfia is to achieve a feeling closest to that of original Orkfia.
We still retain a lot of components of the excellent changes implemented during Infinity/Classic as original Orkfia had a lot of faults too (as does this version - if we were perfect it wouldn't be Orkfia I guess but some Nintendo/Sony etc. game ran by professionals for profit and then people would be bitching about that ;) ) but we see this current version in 2016 as original Orkfia, evolved for now.
We hope you continue to play and support the game. Change takes time and is a balance between what is desired and what is possible. If you do have suggestions though we would love to hear them. In the past, ideas for changes to the game mostly came from within staff, now we are pleased to see that many of you are Dev Staff as we are reading your suggestions and implementing them to a higher degree than ever and the further evolution of the game will depend upon your suggestions.
For me, the game is at a stage where I will no longer be embarrassed to introduce it to RL friends. Hopefully it is getting there for you too and if so - please do that :)
* Orkfia has been running for 15 years, Infinity ran for 10 of those.
* Resets trial is over, now it is a part of this game and we will work on automating things like the age switch-over to reduce reliance on staff.
* We tried to bring in more players and were successful at first but then lost them again.
*Big changes in the past year after a period of stagnation.
*Now we are trying to bring players back again since we made a lot of changes which we hope will improve retention levels.
* This version of Orkfia is just called “Orkfia” but you can consider it “old Orkfia - evolved”
* Invite your friends.