Navigating the Pay-to-Win Debate: Insights from IdleMMO

Since the public release of IdleMMO two weeks ago, I’ve frequently addressed questions about its monetisation strategy. Recognising that not everyone is aware of our previous discussions, I believe it’s important to clearly articulate the rationale, process, and broader context of IdleMMO’s monetisation approach. This will also help in assessing whether the game can be considered pay-to-win.

Before delving into the details, I want to clarify that this post is not an attempt to defend or justify any imbalances in the game, nor is it aimed at swaying opinions in our favour. Instead, my goal is to provide a fair, balanced, and unbiased analysis of what I refer to as ‘the pay-to-win conundrum’.

Defining Pay-to-Win

Before proceeding, it’s important to define ‘pay-to-win,’ a concept we have given considerable thought. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as:

in computer games, involving or relating to the practice of paying to get weapons, abilities, etc. that give you an advantage over players who do not spend money

Cambridge.org

While accurate, this definition is broad and overlooks the nuances of gaming contexts. For example, a two-tiered subscription model like ‘Old School RuneScape,’ with both free and paid tiers, could be labelled ‘pay-to-win’ under this definition. Yet, this overlooks its balanced monetisation, especially when contrasted with the more aggressive pay-to-win models prevalent in mobile gaming. It’s important to note that I’m not categorising ‘Old School RuneScape’ as definitively pay-to-win or not, as I haven’t played it extensively enough to make that call. However, this example illustrates that the term ‘pay-to-win,’ while technically applicable to RuneScape due to its membership advantages, doesn’t quite capture the full picture of its monetisation approach, particularly in the broader context of the gaming industry.

The core challenge with the ‘pay-to-win’ concept is its inherent subjectivity; it defies a one-size-fits-all definition. In a recent survey we conducted to gauge perceptions of the ‘pay-to-win’ model, participants’ definitions of the term varied widely. Some argued that if a game has little or no definitive ‘winning’ outcome, it cannot be considered pay-to-win. In contrast, others adhered more closely to the strict definition, suggesting that any game offering microtransactions for non-cosmetic items qualifies as pay-to-win. This diversity in viewpoints underscores the difficulty in pinning down a universal definition for pay-to-win. The term’s breadth implies that, in theory, most games could fall under the pay-to-win umbrella, rendering the phrase nearly meaningless.

Taking ‘Old School RuneScape’ as our case study, the debate around its use of bonds illustrates the complexity of the ‘pay-to-win’ concept. A simple Google search reveals divided opinions: some argue that purchasing gold with real money creates an inherent imbalance. Yet, if we consider the bigger picture, buying gold doesn’t guarantee rapid character progression—significant time investment is still a prerequisite for any substantial advancement. This survey highlighted a significant distinction: the concept of ‘pay-to-progress-faster.’ While it’s related to ‘pay-to-win,’ it represents a separate idea within the same general framework. It’s evident that players who invest both time and money will progress faster than those who spend the same amount of time but no money. Whether this is fair or detrimental is subjective and depends on the context—does the progress of others truly impact your own? I remain undecided on this matter, as I understand the validity of both perspectives.

My intent is not to sway you towards a particular viewpoint on the ‘pay-to-win’ debate. Instead, I aim to highlight the complexities associated with the casual use of the term. A deeper examination might lead to the recognition that labelling a game as ‘pay-to-win’ is a subjective judgment that can obscure the merits of a game’s monetization strategy, which may in fact be quite fair and thoughtfully designed. This is compounded by the vast spectrum of individual opinions on a matter as subjective as this.

Considering the broader context

I’ve previously mentioned the importance of considering the broader context when evaluating monetization strategies. This is a pivotal reason why many do not regard ‘Runescape’ as a ‘pay-to-win’ game, despite the option to purchase gold directly. It’s within this context that ‘IdleMMO’ enters the discussion.

Monetisation Models

While developing IdleMMO, we evaluated various monetisation models, from energy systems to a cosmetics-only approach. Initially, we adopted a membership model similar to ‘Old-School Runescape’, restricting certain game areas to members. Yet, we soon recognised that this approach inadvertently marginalised our free players, who are essential to the game’s success. In fact, for an independent studio like ours, free players are just as crucial as paying ones.

Recognising that ‘Runescape’ may not face this challenge due to its established popularity, we shifted our strategy. We introduced a subscription model that offers slight in-game boosts and cosmetic enhancements while granting full access to free players. This change was meticulously considered and aligns with our commitment—outlined in our development blog posts—to develop a fair and sustainable monetisation system that respects both free and paying players. Adjusting our membership benefits was a key step in honouring that commitment.

We’re still deliberating over the membership benefits in IdleMMO, specifically the modest boosts to experience and skill efficiency. We’ve deliberately tuned these perks to be subtle to avoid a significant divide between paying and non-paying players. Our goal is to strike a delicate balance: we don’t want to devalue the subscription to the point where it’s not worth the investment, nor do we want to enhance it so much that it creates the disparity we sought to avoid by moving away from a ‘Runescape’-like model. Feedback from our survey indicates that most players are indifferent to these minor boosts, viewing them as ‘the lesser of all evils’ in game monetisation.

Pay-to-Win Claims

Despite our meticulous efforts to ensure balance in IdleMMO, we’ve encountered claims that the game is ‘pay-to-win.’ This could stem from an oversight of the broader context or a lack of consideration for any alternative models (which I’ll address shortly). To be clear, as stated at the outset, this blog post is not intended to covertly influence your stance in our favour. Its primary purpose is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the context in which monetisation occurs, enabling you to make an informed judgment about whether IdleMMO—or any game—qualifies as ‘pay-to-win’.

In the case of IdleMMO, the ‘pay-to-win’ concerns don’t stem from the subscription model itself, which has seen minimal criticism. Rather, they centre on the feature that allows players to sell membership subscriptions to other players for in-game gold. I acknowledge the logic behind these concerns: the capability to effectively ‘purchase’ gold with real money naturally raises balance considerations. Yet, it’s equally vital to consider the role and value of gold within the game’s economy to fully grasp the implications of this feature.

In designing IdleMMO, we’ve emphasised active participation by rewarding players who consistently engage with the game over those who log in sporadically. That’s why we’ve capped idle time at 2 hours, rejecting the 24-hour ‘set and forget’ model used by some competitors. It’s essential to recognise that gold alone doesn’t equate to rapid progression; dedicated time and effort are paramount. In essence, irrespective of the gold accumulated, it pales in comparison to the benefits gained from actively resetting skills every 2 hours. Time is king in IdleMMO. This principle mirrors the general sentiment regarding ‘Runescape’ bonds—they’re not seen as pay-to-win because, despite the gold they provide, time investment is crucial for real advancement.

In gaming, when players invest both time and money, it inevitably introduces some level of imbalance. The critical question is whether this imbalance matters. The term ‘pay-to-win’ often surfaces in this context, suggesting that monetary investment leads to an unfair advantage. While some argue that without a defined ‘winning’ state there’s no issue, I personally remain sceptical. A game might still foster a ‘pay-to-win’ environment even if winning isn’t clearly defined.

A key consideration is whether another player’s accelerated progress due to financial investment impacts your gaming experience. This can be subtle, as advantages gained through paid mechanisms might indirectly influence your gameplay, something you may not notice until it’s too late. It’s essential to ask yourself, ‘Does a system that allows others to advance more quickly affect or diminish my own personal progress in the game?’

The subjective nature of gaming means the answer varies. For competitive players focused on leaderboards, the answer may be a definitive ‘yes,’ whereas, for others less concerned with rankings, the impact may be negligible. If the former is true, then pondering over alternatives becomes necessary. What viable options exist that respect different players’ circumstances and priorities without compromising the game’s integrity?

Alternative Monetisation Models

Reflecting on current monetisation models from every perspective to identify a superior option might lead you to realise that there may not be any other appropriate methods to apply. Alternatively, if you can conceive a more effective approach, that’s even more welcome! We have unequivocally stated our objective: to create a game that is both sustainable and balanced. Should you suggest a feasible substitute, we are eager to consider it.

Before proposing your idea, it’s important to review the most commonly suggested alternatives and understand why they fall short of meeting our needs.

One-time purchase

Adopting a one-time purchase model for IdleMMO isn’t feasible from a financial standpoint. The extensive costs associated with maintaining an online-only game make this approach impractical, as it would shift our business focus from maintaining a loyal player base to constantly seeking new players to sustain the game.

It’s important to acknowledge that while this model works for some games, it doesn’t align with our operational realities. IdleMMO relies on a server-based technology stack, meaning the game’s processes, with the exception of the user interface, are not handled on the user’s device. This server reliance increases our operational costs substantially. When our mobile apps launch, their small size (potentially under 5MB) won’t mitigate these costs, unlike games that run locally and hence, demand less from their servers.

In summary, the server-dependent design of IdleMMO and the associated ongoing costs, such as administration, salaries, and maintenance, render a one-time purchase model unsustainable for us.

Relying entirely on cosmetics

An exclusive reliance on cosmetic sales for revenue is fraught with challenges. Firstly, not all players are inclined to spend real money on in-game cosmetics; this is a sentiment I share and notice widely among players. While some major games thrive on cosmetic sales due to their massive player bases, the math doesn’t work as well for smaller games. For instance, a blockbuster game with 20 million MAU (monthly active users) could generate $400,000 from a single $20 skin if just 0.1% of its players purchase it. In contrast, a smaller yet popular game with 10,000 MAU players would make a mere $200 from the same percentage of purchases, which is insufficient to sustain the game’s financial needs even short-term.

Additionally, there’s the cost of employing artists dedicated to creating these cosmetics, which further eats into potential profits. Plus, the administrative efforts to manage these processes are significant. The viability of cosmetic-based monetisation scales with the size of the game’s active user base and requires careful balancing to ensure sustainability.

The nuances of allowing subscriptions to be traded

The issue at hand can be distilled to a single core problem: selling membership items for in-game currency allows players to effectively purchase gold with real money. While the fix might seem straightforward – simply prohibit the trade of membership items for in-game gold – this approach is flawed and could exacerbate the issue.

Our aim is to establish a system that is financially sound for us and fair for all players. Removing the option to buy memberships on the market could disenfranchise a significant portion of the player base who rely on in-game gold to purchase their subscriptions, ensuring the game remains accessible regardless of real-world financial status. Currently, over one-third of our members have obtained their subscription this way, without spending real money.

The dilemma presents us with two paths:

  • Ban the market sale of memberships, which could widen the gap between free and paying players, as only those with the financial means could afford membership.
  • Maintain the market sale of memberships, allowing players to use in-game gold for purchase. This runs the risk of a minority accumulating substantial gold wealth.

To me, the choice is clear. Restricting membership to those who can pay with real money, just to prevent a few from amassing in-game wealth, seems unjust and inconsiderate.

Placing a Cap on Subscription Sales per Individual

While I’m not an expert in economics, placing a limit on the number of subscriptions each person can sell might not be effective, and could potentially do more harm than good. Market prices are driven by demand—basic supply and demand principles. Making memberships scarcer could significantly boost their demand, allowing sellers to command even higher prices and earn more in-game gold, thereby exacerbating the issue at hand.

Setting a Maximum Listing Price for Memberships

Implementing a cap on the listing price of memberships is not a practical solution. Given the market’s volatility, especially in the early stages of the game’s life and before it stabilises, setting a fair price that balances profit for the seller and minimises inherent disparities is nearly impossible. Additionally, imposing such a restriction could significantly deter players from selling memberships.

Conclusion

Is IdleMMO “pay-to-win”? Ultimately, that’s for you to decide. The aim of this blog post is to equip you with a deeper understanding to inform your judgement on whether IdleMMO, or any game, fits the “pay-to-win” category, by examining the nuances of the term within the game’s specific context. Additionally, this post serves a practical purpose: to provide a reference we can share in response to recurring “pay-to-win” claims about IdleMMO, to avoid repeating the same explanations.

I want to emphasise and reiterate that this post isn’t an attempt to covertly influence your opinion in our benefit. Whether you still believe IdleMMO is “pay-to-win” is entirely your prerogative, and I respect that perspective. My intention is to clarify that the “pay-to-win” label is highly subjective and can differ greatly among individuals; simply using the term doesn’t capture the complexity of the issue.

IdleMMO is now available to everyone!

We are extremely pleased to announce the opening of the IdleMMO public beta!

We will be slowly phasing out the announcement to help stagger the number of active players and reduce the strain on the servers. This may take between 1 and 3 days (with pre-registration emails being the last due to the substantially higher amount of users who have pre-registered compared).

You can play now at https://web.idle-mmo.com on your desktop or mobile device.

As of right now, the game is only playable on the Web App only. The mobile applications are expected to launch in January or February. This approach ensures that we don’t hasten the development of each game version, but instead allow them to evolve steadily, in line with our core belief of releasing well-polished products instead of unfinished ones. Despite this, the game can be fully accessed and played on mobile devices through the Web App.

You can find out more about our future plans by reading our roadmap here: https://trello.com/b/CxIn7i5B/idlemmo-public-roadmap

You can also read more about the game via our official wiki here:
https://web.idle-mmo.com/wiki

We hope you enjoy IdleMMO! You can let us know your thoughts by joining our Discord server: https://discord.gg/nDGbr7AKkk

Another update on SimpleMMO

A few months back, we gave an update on SimpleMMO, outlining the game’s current state and our commitment to resolving existing issues before introducing new mechanics. Our plan remains unchanged, but we’ve slightly revised the timeline. It is taking longer than we expected to get back on track.

When we initially published the post (available here), our timeline was based on the expectation that our new game IdleMMO would launch in summer. This release would enable us to redirect more resources to SimpleMMO at the start of autumn (or fall, for our American audience).

However, the situation evolved unexpectedly. Due to a significant surge in interest for IdleMMO, we decided to postpone its release to the end of the year. This delay allows us additional time to further polish the game. This decision was carefully considered and you can read about our rationale here. As a result, we haven’t yet been able to fully move over development resources back to SimpleMMO. However, this doesn’t mean we haven’t been developing both games concurrently – we definitely have. Our recent updates have mostly been behind-the-scenes, resulting in no notable changes in the update log. However, as IdleMMO’s release nears, with a target of mid-December, we are increasingly focusing on ensuring a smooth launch.

So, let’s just clarify one thing by being extremely clear: SimpleMMO’s development will slowly return back to normal once all IdleMMO‘s apps have been published. In fact, recently, I’ve been itching to move back over to SimpleMMO for an extremely welcome change of pace. However, right now, this isn’t possible due to IdleMMO’s imminent release.

Why is there no update log of everything that happens behind-the-scenes?

I’ve noticed this question raised multiple times before, and simply put, there’s no need for such detailed technical updates. They would likely create more confusion than clarity. For instance, if we mentioned migrating our caching driver from file-based storage to a Redis key-value database, or applying middleware to update the client’s connecting IP to the one that connects to Cloudflare’s edge, it would prompt questions like “What does this mean? What is Redis?” Providing such intricate technical details serves no practical purpose and would only consume valuable time.

Future Expectations for SimpleMMO

I touched on this in my last post, but to recap, many upcoming updates will significantly enhance existing systems. Additionally, the mobile UI will undergo a substantial overhaul to incorporate a more modern design pattern—we already have a working prototype of this.

Until then, you have the winter holidays event to look forward to which will start on Friday December 15th.

If you haven’t already pre-registered for our upcoming game IdleMMO, you can pre-register here. You can also join our Discord for a chance to participate in our closed beta testing.

Feel free to let us know any questions you have in the comment box below.

IdleMMO – UX, Combat, Market, Mobile Web App, and more.

The third phase of the beta proved highly successful. We addressed numerous bugs and collected valuable feedback on several mechanics. This will allow us to refine and entirely revamp certain aspects.

After each phase, we distribute a feedback form to our players. This enables us to collect their insights on the beta and compare responses across phases, ensuring we’re on the right track.

I’ve touched on the feedback questionnaire before, so I won’t dive back into it. What stood out was that players felt the game ran smoother and noticed improvements in several mechanics. But there’s still that nagging issue with the battle system. We’ll get to that soon.

So, without further ado, let’s just dive right in and see what has changed.

Combat Level

The combat levelling system turned out to be a bigger headache than we’d anticipated. The character’s combat level was calculated from the average of four attributes: strength, defence, speed, and dexterity. On paper, it sounds uncomplicated, but in actual gameplay? It felt tedious. Players essentially had to boost those four attributes just to nudge your combat level up a bit. It’s no surprise that many felt this made progression extremely tedious.

We’ve revamped the combat level system to align more with traditional MMO/RPG mechanics. Now, it has its own dedicated experience bar which you level up by engaging in battles, taking on world bosses, and embarking on dungeon expeditions.

However, we didn’t do away with levelling individual attributes. Now, these stats are enhanced through skills. For instance, Woodcutting rewards the character with a bit of strength EXP for each log, while Smithing boosts speed EXP, and so on.

This also addresses a related problem: being restricted to levelling up specific attributes based on the class. Prior to the upcoming phase 4 update, classes were distinguished by how EXP was allocated across attributes post-battle. For instance, a warrior would gain more strength EXP than a shadowblade. This posed a real challenge in terms of balance, especially since attributes influencing damage output naturally had an edge over those emphasising speed.

Beyond phase 4, we will be rolling out specialised skills solely for attribute levelling. This will offer players greater EXP rewards compared to the general skills. As an example, we’re considering an ‘Agility Course’ skill where characters can idle for up to 2 hours, exclusively earning speed experience.

We’ve implemented this change to make the levelling system more gratifying and rewarding. Moreover, it empowers players with greater flexibility in their gameplay, rather than confining them to the constraints of their chosen class.

As for the class system, we are still working on it it to ensure that each class offers unique utility and remains distinct yet balanced. We aim to prevent any single class from becoming disproportionately dominant. Therefore, during phase 4, the classes will have minimal differences as we continue to work on this mechanic.

UX

One of our top priorities is delivering a seamless and satisfying user experience. Lately, we’ve devoted countless development hours to fine-tuning in-game mechanics, ensuring that everything feels intuitive and rewarding, rather than like you’re wrestling with a bear.

One of the most significant updates is the game’s interaction with the UI. We’ve introduced a dynamic module that adjusts elements on the user’s page based on their actions. For instance, when a player lists an item on the market, their inventory updates automatically, eliminating the need for a page to refresh. This enhancement reduces friction between the game and the player, as it minimises full-page loads for most actions.

Market

The market had the most significant changes in terms of UX. We dedicated countless days solely to refining it.

The market page now displays a filter on the right-hand side of the page. This filter allows the user to search through all the various market listings so they don’t need to perform any full page loads. The process of filtering through the market happens synchronously as the player types.

We’ve got rid of the usual paginated navigation (with next page/previous page buttons) and replaced it with an infinite scroll system. Now, the user can now simply just keep scrolling down the list until they find a listing that they are looking for.

Once the user has found the item they are looking for, they can go ahead and purchase it. The UI will automatically register this purchase and subsequently update any elements related to the purchase. Again, this removes the need of another full-page reload and thus further reduces friction between the user and the game.

Mobile Web App

The 4th phase of the beta will be accessible through mobile browsers, allowing you to play on the move. However, I’ll be upfront: this feature wasn’t high on our priority list. As a result, the mobile browser experience might leave something to be desired. For the optimal experience, our native iOS and Android apps will be the way to go.

Battle

A recurring feedback from our beta testers centres on the battling system. We’ve heard your concerns: the system often feels unrewarding, monotonous, and demands excessive interaction. We completely understand with these sentiment, that’s why we have made necessary adjustments.

We received various feedback on how to improve the battling system and a lot of them simply revolved around either making the mechanic completely idle or by splitting off the system so that there are two types of battles: idle battles and active battles.

We recognized that many of these challenges could be tackled using existing mechanics, aligning with our core vision for the battling system.

Current issues with the battling system

We have two types of battles: enemies (which you need to manually hunt and defeat), and dungeons.

Enemies were overwhelmingly powerful and lacked balance in every respect. Most were virtually unbeatable unless players monitored their screens non-stop, healing after every hit. It essentially deviated from the very essence what we are trying to achieve.

Furthermore, the time it took to hunt down an enemy, especially entry-level ones, was excessively lengthy. For instance, hunting the first available enemy (a rabbit) took a whopping 40 seconds before the battle even commenced.

Dungeons were virtually out of reach for nearly all beta testers, save for a very select few. We recognized that dungeons encapsulated exactly what players wanted – an idle battle experience. Yet, the steep level requirements meant hardly anyone had the chance to engage with them.

How we have addressed those issues

Firstly, we’ve notably toned down the strength of these enemies. Now, a reasonably equipped character can tackle multiple enemy rounds without being glued to their screen for potential healing. Moreover, with the reduced enemy stats, battles should conclude more swiftly.

We’ve also greatly shortened the hunting duration for enemies. For instance, a rabbit, which once took 40 seconds to hunt, now only requires 8 seconds. This substantial time cut aims to alleviate the tedium and friction players felt during the hunting process.

As for dungeons, we’re rolling out four new ones designed for characters ranging from levels 3 to 60, with the entry-level dungeon opening up at combat level 3. By making them more accessible, players now have the choice to engage in combat through the traditional idling system or to actively hunt. Our goal is to offer both options, each with its unique advantages and considerations.

Public Release

We’re undeniably nearing our launch date, but there’s still much to accomplish. Our goal is to ensure everything is polished and perfect before we go live. After all, making major alterations to mechanics post-launch would not only be undesirable but also time-consuming.

With that in mind, here’s the revised likelihood of the game’s imminent release:

Before November 1st: 20%
Before 2024: 95%

As we draw closer to November 1st, the goal seems increasingly elusive. While I haven’t entirely dismissed the possibility – especially given our significant development progress in recent weeks – our priority remains to be on the game’s stability and polish. We’re committed to delivering a quality experience rather than hastily pushing it out just to meet an essentially arbitrary deadline.

That said, we are still completely on track on developing it before 2024. In fact, my personal goal is to release it by the winter holidays because:

  • In my opinion, winter holiday events are the pinnacle of seasonal in-game events and I don’t want to wait until December 2025 for us to have our first one. The thought of that depresses me.
  • I have an extended break over the winter holidays and the very last thing I want is for this game to be mulling over my mind during this period. If it’s not released by then, I will constantly be thinking about it.

Guilds

In our previous blog post, we hinted at having guilds ready for launch. However, we’ve decided to let it simmer a tad longer in the oven. As a result, guilds won’t be available on launch day.

Phase 4 Availability

The 4th phase of the closed beta will be available within the next week or two and we will be inviting more players to join us. We plan to run our first seasonal campaign (event) during the 4th phase for Halloween. If you are interested, you can join us in our Discord channel for a chance to participate in our closed beta!

Closing remarks

As we inch closer to the game’s release, our focus is shifting from introducing new features to enhancing the overall gameplay experience. The updates in phase 4 stand as proof of this direction. While, on the surface, there might not seem like a ton of new flashiness to rave about, this update is, by far, our most extensive. That’s thanks to the countless tweaks and improvements we’ve implemented both behind the scenes and in the user experience.

As with all of these pre-launch blog posts, everything is subject to change. Nothing is final.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below!

If you haven’t already, remember to pre-register over at https://www.idle-mmo.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Threads!

An update on IdleMMO – Beta testing, feedback review, and a deep dive on what has changed

Summer has came to an end and the release of IdleMMO is still out of sight despite our claims that it would be released this summer.

In an ideal world, that would’ve been true. However, our plans slightly changed after we announced the game. We have received an incredible amount of interest in the game – way higher than we originally anticipated. We’ve garnered over 2,100 pre-registrations and attracted over 1,200 members to our Discord channel. Remarkably, this growth is entirely organic, stemming from word-of-mouth referrals. We’ve invested no marketing efforts into the game, aside from a few occasional blog posts.

Originally, our plan was to launch a polished, albeit minimalistic game and expand on it over time. However, given the unexpected surge in anticipation, we’ve chosen to delay the release to further refine key mechanics. We now aim to have pet battling and the guild framework in place at launch. More importantly, we are committed to ensuring balance and stability, learning from past oversights in our previous games.

We cannot provide a definitive release date at this time, and it’s possible we may never announce one in advance. As previously shared in our blog, we’re inclined to ‘shadow drop’ the game once we believe it’s ready. This could happen without prior notice. Setting a fixed release date would place unnecessary stress on us and could inadvertently shift our focus from the primary goal: creating the best game possible.

That said, in an effort to still ensure we remain on a timeline (despite us being incredibly flexible), here are the chances that the game will be released publicly within the next few months:

Before October 1st: 0%
Before November 1st: 60%
Before 2024: 95%

We’re aiming to launch the game ahead of the Halloween season, aligning perfectly with our desire to introduce its first seasonal campaign (i.e event). This timing would be ideal.

However, that said, I want to make it clear that we will not hesitate to delay the game even further if we feel like it is not ready.

From now until the official release, we’ll be conducting several closed beta tests, available to our Discord members. While our initial plan was for three phases, we’ve decided not to set a limit on the number of beta tests. Instead, we’ll conduct as many as needed to ensure a smooth release.

To participate in our beta test, join our Discord server and select the “Beta Entry” role. When the closed beta is live, individuals from this role will be randomly selected for an invitation.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 beta tests

Over the past few months, select members from our Discord community were invited to join the first two phases of our beta test. While the first phase closely resembled an alpha test, we simplified terminology and called it the initial phase of the beta. Consequently, we reset all progress as we transitioned to phase two.

Overall, the feedback was very positive. Although it’s still early days, we’re pleased with the game’s performance.

After each beta phase, we asked participants to share their insights through a brief form. We’ll delve deeper into the changes prompted by this feedback later in the post, but first, here’s some data:

Feedback Data

The total amount of responses we got from the form was 42. Not every participant completed every question hence some discrepancies.

Question 1: On a scale of 1 to 5, how much did you enjoy playing IdleMMO?

27.3% said 5
57.6% said 4
12.1% said 3
3% said 2

Thoughts: We are cautiously optimistic with these results. Having the majority of the votes rate it a 4 is a huge boost to us. That said, we recognise that some players might still be in their initial “honeymoon” phase, so we’re approaching these responses with caution.


Question 2: On a scale of 1 to 5, how smooth was your experience?

39.4% said 5
24.2% said 4
36.4% said 3

Thoughts: We are extremely happy with this. This is the very first iteration of the game at its earliest phase and we are already at a point of feeling like the game is stable.

Question 3: Do you see yourself playing IdleMMO after it has been publicly released?

93.9% said yes.
6.1% said maybe.

Thoughts: What a relief! I had genuine concerns that players might engage with the beta but then decide not to come back.

Question 4: What are your thoughts on our approach to an idle game with a short expiry limit for an action?

The general consensus was that the participants were happy with the approach due to it feeling “different” than other idle games as it feels more like a game rather than a daily task.

Here are some highlighted responses:

I like it because it’s unique [compared to] other idle games, which makes it more fun to play. I feel like this feature is unique [compared to] other idle games.

I enjoy the different approach in having to check in more frequently.

I like it a lot, the hunts a little too active/too many clicks. I wonder how this will effect the longevity/endgame since the progression is a bit quicker.

I’d personally like to see a longer idle time. It would accommodate folks with busier schedules (work, school, and whatever else comes up). It would allow them to not miss much on gains, etc. I’m all for a longer idle time, [perhaps] 5-8 hours.

I like it. [What’s the] point of an idle game that you login [to] every 24 hours or so? I like the activity aspect, even if it’s an idle game.

I would prefer if it was longer. I mean, there is not much difference between clicking once every 2 hours [and] every 12/24 hours. Most people play idle games because they can relax [with] it, but also play actively when they have the time.

This was one of the reasons I stopped playing the beta. The limit needs to be raised substantially.

Thoughts: We recognize that our approach may not resonate with everyone, especially those with tight schedules. Yet, we aimed to bring a fresh perspective to the “idle” game genre. We saw little value in creating another title mirroring the countless ones already available. As highlighted in our previous blog post:

During our initial research, we discovered that many idle games allowed players to remain idle for extended periods of time, sometimes up to 24 hours or even longer, without requiring any interaction. However, we found ourselves disenchanted with the “set it and forget it for 24 hours” gameplay as it diminished the sense of active engagement and turned the experience into a mundane daily task rather than an enjoyable game. In developing IdleMMO, our aim was to incorporate idle mechanics that enable significant character progression in less time compared to typical idle games, but with the requirement of at least some level of player interaction.

Question 5 to 8: We polled players on various aspects of the game, including their favourite and least favourite features. The responses concerning favourites were diverse, a fact we found both surprising and heartening. On the other hand, the hunting and battling system was almost universally singled out as the least favourite features. We fully grasped the reasons behind this sentiment and implemented changes to enhance it. We’ll delve deeper into those adjustments soon.

Changes

As a result of both the feedback and the slight change in our plans, the game has shifted slightly towards providing a more rounded gameplay with deeper features and mechanics. Let’s just dive right in!

Battling System

Originally, players had to first hunt an enemy, then manually initiate and actively watch the battle to finally collect rewards. This process was cumbersome, unengaging, and contradicted the core idea of an idle game. Both we and the players found it unsatisfactory, signalling a clear need for change.

We’ve divided battles into two categories: hunting and dungeons. While we intended hunting to be a more “active” aspect, requiring player engagement for progression, dungeons were designed to be the true “idle” feature, letting players progress through a dungeon over extended periods. However, we realize we made the hunting aspect overly “active”, turning what should have been a fluid experience into a cumbersome one.

We’ve revamped the system to make the transition between hunting and battling much smoother. We implemented two key changes to this system:
– You don’t need to wait for the enemy to be hunted before initiating a battle anymore. Battles will now start automatically, even when you’re offline.
– You don’t need to watch battles unfold anymore. The hunting and battle mechanism operates like typical idle mechanics, where you don’t need to actively play for events to transpire. However, there’s a twist: your health decreases gradually as the battle continues.

Let me demonstrate how this works.

First you select which enemy you want to battle. This can be any enemy within your level.

Before you battle an enemy, you must hunt it. Once the hunt is initiated, a countdown will appear until the enemy can be fought. The hunting time is dependent on your movement speed and your movement speed can be increased with mountable pets.

Immediately after the hunt has finished, the battle has begun. Over the next 40 seconds, your character will continue to battle the enemy until it has been defeated.

During this time, you will slowly lose health as the battle progresses. It’s important to keep an eye on your health and refill it with food when necessary. You are able to refill your health mid-fight.

Once the battle has finished, you will automatically get the rewards. From the point of hunting the enemy to defeating it requires absolutely no action on your behalf. It is all done for you. However, you must manually hunt another enemy if you wish to do it again (thus fulfilling our wishes of making the battle mechanic more” active” than dungeons).

Membership

During the first phases of the beta, the benefits were strong. We were fully aware of it as it was our intention. It was also immediately noticed by the community. I’ve always attached myself to the idea that its better to release something initially that is slightly too powerful/beneficial and dial it down than vice versa.

Given that the membership subscription is our primary revenue source (enabling us to eliminate gacha systems, energy systems, and the like), launching a lacklustre membership would be extremely detrimental. This is why we initially offered it with strong benefits and, after collecting sufficient data, made calibrated adjustments that balanced it.

Initially, in our original scope, our intention was to provide a subscription system akin to Runescape with locked out skills, locations, etc. Essentially, our goal was to make all paying players on the same playing level.

Since our initial plan, we’ve delved deeper into monetisation strategies and sought feedback from our community on game monetisation. This exploration prompted a significant rethink of our membership system. While Runescape’s model has proven to be successful, it’s a dated approach that tends to sideline free members. After all, those who play for free but engage daily are equally valuable as their paying counterparts.

As a result, we’ve redefined our membership system. We aim for it to offer significant benefits, ensuring value for subscribers, while not alienating or disadvantaging free players.

Our preliminary changes are as follows:

Alternative (Alt) Characters

– Alt characters were a member-only benefit but now all players can create 1 extra alt character for free regardless of membership status.
– You can unlock another alt character level slot once one of your characters has reached a combat level of 60.
– You can purchase 2 additional slots for tokens.

This allows for 5 alt characters overall. We’ve transitioned this from a purely membership-based system to one where it can be unlocked solely through gameplay. Tokens can be readily acquired in-game, either by completing campaigns or through daily rewards.

We’d also like to clarify that trading between alternate accounts is not permitted. Hence, users with multiple alt accounts won’t have any inherent advantage over those with fewer.

Idle Times

Originally, idle durations were set at 30 minutes for free players and 60 minutes for members. This allowed free players to set an action and be away from the game for half an hour. While we had emphasised our goal to create an idle game that demands slightly more engagement than others, we identified two problems with this approach:

– We felt like 30 minutes was too short (even by our standards).
– By allowing members to have double the idle time, it created a larger gap between free and paying players.

During the second phase of the beta, we made the following changes:

– We increased the idle time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes for free players and from 60 minutes to 120 minutes for paying players.

However, that only tackles one issue. That is why we will be introducing even further changes so the idle time for free players will increase from 60 minutes to 80 minutes 

We are still open to adjusting the idle times for both members and free players, but we want to wait for more data before making any further changes.

Members get a marginal 15% EXP bonus

We’re still on the fence about this feature, and it’s undecided whether we’ll retain, reduce, or remove it entirely. Our goal is to offer a membership benefit that justifies its value, without creating significant disparities or disadvantages.

After our research and reaching out to some members of the IdleMMO community, it was agreed upon that this was the “lesser of the evils” so-to-speak in regards to monetising an MMORPG.

We believe a 15% boost strikes the right balance – significant enough to be noticed but subtle enough not to skew the game dynamics. In IdleMMO, progression is primarily driven by time spent playing, and this modest boost won’t change that.

Free players can access every area

As noted above, we originally expected to create the game that had a similar model to Runescape with locked out skills and locations. However, we realised not only did it fail to fit our vision, but it also severely handicapped the free players. Therefore, all players will be able to access every area of the game regardless of membership status.

More Inventory/Pet/Bank slots for free players

During phase 1 and the early stages of phase 2, the membership subscription literally doubled the inventory space, pet space, and bank space. Not just that but it was the only way players could increase their space.

We quickly realised this was a bad idea. That is why we made the following changes:

– We increased the free inventory slot count from 28 to 35.
– We increased the free bank slot count from 28 to 35.
– We increased the free pet slot count from 7 to 14.
– We decreased the membership inventory slot count from 49 to 42.
– We decreased the membership bank slot count from 49 to 42.

Not just that, we now allow characters to upgrade their inventory/bank/pet slots using gold.

Simply put, members now only get 7 additional slots (instead of double) and the remaining slots can be purchased with gold.

Further comments on the membership

Creating an MMORPG game is an incredibly expensive process and monetising it is a very difficult and sensitive issue to tackle. I want to make it abundantly clear that we are still open to adjusting every part of the membership subscription. We want to make sure that we get the membership absolutely right for both us and the community. The very last thing we want is for either:

  • A membership so undervalued that it’s not worth purchasing, jeopardising our ability to continue game development.
  • A subscription so dominant it’s perceived as “pay-to-win” or unfairly disadvantages free players.

As far as membership benefits go, the “big” hitters are what I have discussed above. The others are just small bonuses, such as having a cool gradient name and badge.

In essence, our system is in an experimental phase, and we kindly ask for your patience as we refine it. We’ve already committed to avoiding gacha systems, energy mechanics, character boosts, and loot boxes. This is why we’re treading carefully with our subscription model. While we will offer skins for purchase with tokens, we don’t intend to rely on them as our primary revenue stream by pricing them exorbitantly (*cough* Overwatch *cough*).

Pets

Pets were a big hit with the beta testers despite doing or providing absolutely nothing of value (yet). We have made a few changes to the pet system that we think everyone will enjoy.

We’ve added health, happiness, and hunger stats to the pet.

Health – Health will be used for battles. You will be able to send your pets on hunts to level them up.
Hunger – Your pet’s slowly get hungry over time so remember to feed them every once in a while!
Happiness – We don’t want you to forget about your pet so you must pat it to make it happy!

Also, when you tap the pet to give it a pat, it will leap with delight!

To feed you pet, you can use any food items. Food will increase both the pets health and hunger.

Search

During our time play-testing the game, we noticed that it was difficult to find a very particular item, enemy or location. That is why we have added an easy-to-access global search bar that allows you to search pretty much anything in the game.

Profile Status

You will be able to view, in real-time, what other players are doing by visiting their profile. You can hide this if you want to remain incognito.

Appear Offline

Helpful for those of you who wish to remain fully incognito so you can continue your progress even while working 😉

Updated Character Page

The initial character page, as showcased in our introductory blog post, was rather basic and didn’t fully highlight the character’s skin. We’ve revamped it, allowing the player to display their character in all of its glory!

Campaigns

Campaigns are our completely free battle pass system. We aim to make this as friendly as possible and for it to serve only as a system to encourage active gameplay. We haven’t fully fleshed out the system yet so we cannot demonstrate how it functions right now. However, this is our plan:

– Each global campaign will last for 2 to 3 months. (Subject to change).
– Once a global campaign “ends” and a new one starts, you will still be able to access any older campaign.
– You will be able to switch between campaigns at any time. Therefore, if you join the game in a few years, you will have access to every global campaign since its conception and can switch between them. We wanted to eliminate any fear of missing out. If you have played Halo Infinite, it will work similar to that.
– Seasonal events (Halloween, Winter Holidays, Easter, Valentines etc) will be incorporated as seasonal campaigns and will only be possible to play during the respective season. During this time, you will be able to seamlessly switch between global campaigns and seasonal campaigns.
– To obtain EXP for your selected campaign, you must complete daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
– The campaigns will be a completely free way for you to obtain tokens and skins.

And much more…

This is just a little teaser on the changes we have been working on over the past few weeks. We are heavy in development right now and we have much more exciting stuff planned that we can’t wait to showcase to you.

Please note that everything listed within this blog post is subject to change. Nothing is final.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below!

If you haven’t already, remember to pre-register over at https://www.idle-mmo.com.

You can also join us on discord for a chance to participate in our closed beta!

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Threads!



We are rebranding SimpleMMO!

We are thrilled to announce the exciting rebrand of SimpleMMO!

It wasn’t that long ago since we recently moved away from the sword logo to the dragon logo. In fact, we went into detail on the reasoning behind the rebrand and ultimately it boiled down to it being the most effective in pulling in new players.

SimpleMMO’s past logos

As time went by, we slowly started to lose our love for the dragon logo due to two big reasons:

  • The colour scheme presented significant challenges in our work process. The combination of blue, purple, orange, and red, along with small black elements, proved to be quite problematic when attempting to establish a cohesive and unified brand for the game. Despite the promotional images using a darker background, it was originally designed with the intention of placement on a white background. We’ve recently made a company-wide decision to shift our focus towards creating products solely using a dark colour scheme and, in our opinion, the logo doesn’t blend as effectively against darker backgrounds.
  • The dragon and the text lack unity, existing as two completely separate elements, with the dragon positioned on top and the text beneath. While this design approach might suit other businesses or software, we realised it wasn’t quite fitting for a game. Our aim was to create a logo that exudes a more unified and game-like appeal.

During our pursuit of designing a new logo, our initial step involved creating a fresh app icon, which would serve as the foundation for the subsequent logo design.

The process for deciding on our new icon lasted approximately 6 months utilising the same tools provided by Google as we done during our previous rebranding. The tools allowed us to see if a logo was effective at bringing in new downloads to the game. As the app icon has a huge prominence in a store listing, being the first element users encounter on the Google Play page, it stands as one of the most critical factors in driving new downloads.

We went through various different types of icons testing the effectiveness of them against our dragon icon. During this period, we leveraged both traditional icons and icons created by artificial intelligence (AI) to explore its potential in creating an icon that could be even more effective than our dragon design.

Here are just some of the icons we tested throughout the time period:

Shield Icon

Knight Icon

Sword Icon

Despite these icons, a critical problem remained unresolved: they failed to address the issues we had with the dragon icon, leaving us apprehensive about the possibility of yet another rebrand in the future, repeating the same cycle of uncertainty.

Throughout this period, we also dedicated our efforts to developing our second game, IdleMMO, and we are delighted that its logo addressed all the concerns we had with SimpleMMO’s dragon logo. The newly purchased logo boasts a cohesive design and an established colour scheme, perfectly aligning with our vision for the game.

So, naturally, we decided to use the same artist for SimpleMMO.

SimpleMMO Logo

SimpleMMO App Icon

The results were overwhelmingly positive, as it was determined with 90% confidence that the new logo could potentially yield a remarkable 25% to 40% increase in engagement.

And it was definitely evident…

New logo (Orange) performance against the old logo (Blue)

It is perfect and, as a result, we decided to completely change our brand to this new design.

The rebrand will be gradually introduced over the next few weeks, and we are absolutely thrilled with the response we’ve received so far. We firmly believe that this new logo perfectly aligns with the direction SimpleMMO is heading towards.

An update on SimpleMMO

The summer has finally arrived (If you’re not from down under!). The second quarter of the year has ended. The Memory Lane event is no more. So… what now?

To the observant players among us, you have probably realised that SimpleMMO has seemingly lacked updates of actual substance. In fact, the last update that wasn’t a measly bug fix or balancing change was the introduction of new items more than two months ago.

“So… what gives?”

A very good question. I’m aware of the fact that some people just simply don’t like to read huge blog posts so let me write two answers; a short TLDR and a longer version.

Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR)

TLDR; we are shifting our focus on settling a lot of technical debt that has accrued over the last five years. A lot of this tech debt is behind-the-scenes so while it may not look like we are making changes, we are actually making a lot of them. The update logs don’t list them because they don’t affect you (the player). This is an incredibly lengthy process but will it result in a far more sustainable game in the future to extend upon. We have a long-term vision with SimpleMMO and that hasn’t changed.

Tech debt refers to the negative consequences that arise from prioritising short-term solutions or compromises in software development, resulting in additional work and challenges in the future.

Long Answer

Recently we have been developing our other game which is due to come out this summer – IdleMMO. As we approach release, this is obviously taking up a lot of time to prepare the game ready for production. I am aware that, in a previous blog post, that I mentioned IdleMMO won’t affect SimpleMMO, and that still remains true. We always move resources to other projects when they are close to the finish line, but we return them to normal levels once we’ve manage to pass the release. In fact, this is the case with literally any project we do so there is no difference in the way we are working.

However, I’d be lying if I said that IdleMMO didn’t indirectly affect SimpleMMO in a somewhat significant manner. We have been building IdleMMO from the ground up using the same framework as SimpleMMO, except we have one major difference – we are placing a huge amount of focus and attention to detail on the quality of engineering that enters the code base. We are trying to minimise any possible technical debt and, as a result, making changes to existing mechanics and adding new features to IdleMMO is a breeze (albeit a long one). It’s night and day in comparison to SimpleMMO. It’s much easier to see this comparison when they are both fundamentally an online role-playing game.

When I make changes to SimpleMMO, it often feels like I’m engaged in a furious wrestling match with a bear on a wild cocktail of steroids, riding atop another even more roided-up bear. It’s no simple feat, thanks to the technical debt we’ve accumulated over the years.

As you may have heard me mention countless times before, the very first iteration of SimpleMMO was never intended for the public. Have you ever studied a programming course and your very first project is a “Hello World!” project? If you’re not familiar with a “Hello World” project, it’s essentially the simplest way to grasp how to output a message using a language or framework of your choice. It’s like taking that very first baby step into the world of development.

SimpleMMO was essentially my “Hello World” project as I dipped my toes into Laravel, a PHP framework. By that point, I had already been developing web apps for a few years, but I had never ventured into using frameworks, so there was a lot of room for experimentation. Initially, my plan was to create a test project to learn the framework and then start fresh once I gained some footing. However, that plan never came to fruition, and as a result, its mere conception turned into a heavy burden of technical debt.

The very first iteration of the Travel page in SimpleMMO (August 2017)

I built the core concept of SimpleMMO overnight. Specifically, from 12am to 5am. Within that time, I built the travel system, the inventory, and an extremely basic attack page. Perhaps not so coincidentally, they are the three “heaviest” mechanics in the game with the most amount of technical debt. They’ve haunted me for years.

The first iteration of the battle mechanic (August 2017)

The first iteration of the inventory system (August 2017)

Simply put, the reason why I was able to build three entirely separate systems in a mere five hours was because I just thought “Eh, I’ll fix it later.” Obviously, I never did which is why you are reading this blog post. I did make some pretty major changes to the travel mechanic in the past when we moved away from the step limitations, which significantly improved performance but the very foundation of it is still rotten.

“Why did you not fix it later?”

A valid question I presume you would ask. The answer is simply because… I didn’t want to.
Fresh out of university and in search of a job, I started on this project with the simple desire to create a game, without expecting anyone to actually play it. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that over 1 million players would register for the game. I wouldn’t have even anticipated 10 players. Nevertheless, even in such circumstances, a smart and organised individual would strive to enhance their code, regardless of whether the game attracted 10 people or a million. However, my smooth fickle brain thought it would be fine to just leave it… and here we are today… still talking about simple mistakes that were made more than 5 years ago.

The issue with settling technical debt

The concept of initially creating a foundation using “messy” code but subsequently improving it once the system has been built is a sound approach. In fact, that is still what I do today (with a heavy emphasis on improving the code). My preferred approach is to start by creating a “skeleton” of the mechanic I’m building and then go back to it later for a significant restructuring. I find that this method helps me mentally distinguish the user-facing functionality from the underlying structure. Initially, I can concentrate on making it functional, and then I can shift my focus to fine-tuning it to work precisely the way I envision. However, this process should happen before the code hits the production server. With SimpleMMO, I don’t have such a luxury. Ensuring full backwards compatibility with prior iterations of the game when making changes to existing mechanics and frameworks is a major challenge. The primary issue lies in the fact that rebuilding something with backwards compatibility can take me nearly 3 to 4 times longer than starting from scratch. It’s an enormous headache that I’d prefer to avoid.

As a result, our primary focus on SimpleMMO is to lift it out of the stone age and bring it to the 21st century. Luckily for me, I’ve already been going through a lot of systems and bringing them up to speed. You may have noticed a lot of overhauls recently. Tasks, collections, daily rewards, etc. They are, for the most part, considered “up-to-speed” to what I now consider production-ready battle-tested code. However, the very foundation of the game is rotten, and I don’t want to keep kicking the can down the road any longer.

As mentioned previously, we’ve already made plenty of changes, but there is still a lot of work pending. This could honestly take us more than a year.

What to expect

I don’t anticipate SimpleMMO will have any brand-new mechanics in the near future (with the potential exception of the auction house). What you can expect is overhauls and significant improvements of existing systems and UI changes.

Mechanics

A lot of mechanics will significantly change so that they are ultimately easier to play and understand. For example, the World Boss mechanic is older than dirt and was built with string and gaffer tape. That will receive significant changes so that it feels generally nicer to interact with. “Jobs” is another big one.

Mobile UI

The mobile UI is incredibly outdated and based off the old material design language that Google brought to market in 2014. We have plans on giving it a much-needed face lift.

Rebrand

In 2021, we introduced the new SimpleMMO logo. Whilst effective in the Google experiments (thus was the primary reason why we went with it), it still doesn’t feel right. I’m not a big fan of it. In fact, I just don’t like it. There is no established colour scheme to it makes it extremely difficult to work with. Over the next few months, we will be experimenting with new logos and branding designs to ensure that we can find the one that I like and is also effective.

Removal of Features

As we will be taking a look at literally every part of SimpleMMO, no stone will be unturned. Consequently, we will review the least utilised features or those that provide no utility, and we will simply remove them from the game. While we won’t be removing popular or beloved features, we will thoroughly review those that appear to be pointless and prove to be more burdensome than beneficial. “Wishlist” and “Ads” are at the top of the list to review.

Discussion Boards

The discussion boards are reminiscent of the old bulletin boards that consumed the internet in the early 00’s. We have plans on completely changing the way the discussion boards work so that it incorporates new, modern ways of interacting with other players. We are actively exploring alternatives to the suggestion section due to its current issue of being inundated with duplicate suggestions, making it increasingly challenging to identify unique suggestions that hold actual value.

Conclusion

In summary, our ultimate goal is to establish the long-term sustainability of SimpleMMO. Currently, the game’s structure restricts development solely to me, as the spaghetti mess it has become cannot be easily handed over to other developers. Ideally, the workload wouldn’t be solely mine to bear. Moreover, it’s challenging to introduce new features to a game when I am aware of how much of the foundation has decayed over time. Merely piling on additional features would exacerbate the situation further.

All in all, rest assured that SimpleMMO is still under heavy active development despite it having fewer updates that affect the players. As a result of this, we have adjusted our public roadmap by removing the quarterly changes and creating a new category titled “Upcoming”. The reason is that we cannot provide an exact timeline for these changes, as they depend entirely on how the development process unfolds while addressing the accumulated technical debt.

P.S If you haven’t seen it already, you can read about our game “IdleMMO” by pressing here.

Introducing IdleMMO – A brand new idle MMORPG game coming this summer

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming release of IdleMMO – a new idle MMORPG game that will launch later this summer.

It brings a familiar system to fans of our other game, “SimpleMMO,” while introducing exciting new elements. We can’t wait to share this incredible experience with all of you. Over the past 8 months, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into preparing, planning, and developing this thrilling new game that will soon reach your desktop and mobile phones.

So… let’s just dive in!

Skills

IdleMMO will contain a variety of skills that you can level up in order to obtain materials or certain items. This is a common mechanic that have no doubt experienced in other games.

This idle action has two timers: the total time remaining (located at the top right of the element) and the item time.

The total time is a countdown and determines how long you can perform that action Your character will continue performing that action until the total time reaches 0. After that, you must initiate the skill again.

The item time is a countdown until you receive a new item. This could be anywhere from a couple of seconds to a minute.

During our initial research, we discovered that many idle games allowed players to remain idle for extended periods of time, sometimes up to 24 hours or even longer, without requiring any interaction. However, we found ourselves disenchanted with the “set it and forget it for 24 hours” gameplay as it diminished the sense of active engagement and turned the experience into a mundane daily task rather than an enjoyable game. In developing IdleMMO, our aim was to incorporate idle mechanics that enable significant character progression in less time compared to typical idle games, but with the requirement of at least some level of player interaction.

For the initial release of IdleMMO, we aimed to keep things simple by including six skills: Woodcutting, Mining, Fishing, Alchemy, Smithing, and Cooking.

Our system is designed to ensure that every skill has a practical purpose. For instance, mining grants you valuable ore while smithing enables the transformation of ore into metal bars. These metal bars, in turn, can be utilised for forging various items. With the cooking skill, you can prepare and cook the fish you’ve caught, enhancing their usefulness. Additionally, alchemy empowers you to create your own potent potions, expanding your range of abilities.

We have plans on extending the skill system significantly to include other popular mechanics such as Farming.

Forging

The Forge allows you to craft your own items using the materials you have acquired from skills and enemy drops. It follows a fairly standard convention. For example, to craft a Tin Sword, you need Tin Bars.

Crafting an item takes time depending on what you are trying to forge. Typically, the better the item is, the longer it will take to forge. You can decrease this time by enhancing your “forging efficiency” through the use of special items.

World Map

IdleMMO will feature its own custom-made map with different locations that you can travel to. The locations unlock as you level up and each location will contain different materials that you can gather, world bosses to encounter, and enemies to meet.

Travelling to a location will take time depending on your current position. If you are travelling a long distance, expect to wait!

You can increase your movement speed by equipping special items and even mounts. Movement speed is an important factor in speeding up your gameplay. It will allow you to travel throughout the map at a faster pace and it will also let you to hunt enemies quicker.

Character

Classes

IdleMMO will be released with three to four classes with plans to introduce more as time goes on. Each class has special “talents”, EXP bonuses, and different item requirements.

Talents are unique bonus abilities for each class. For example, Warriors have the “Warriors Blood” talent which increases their basic damage by 2. More talents can be unlocked as you level up.

At the moment, we have 3 classes: Warrior, Rogue, and Ranger.

Warrior focuses on strength, then defence. They can equip swords but not daggers or bows.

Rogue focuses on speed, then dexterity. They can also equip 2 daggers but cannot equip swords and bows.

Ranger focuses on speed and dexterity equally. They can equip only bows.

This is not an exhaustive list of their abilities and restrictions. Adjustments may be made before release.

Stats

You’re probably reading the above stats and wondering “Ok… but what exactly does strength and dexterity do?” Well… let me describe them:

Strength – This increases your damage against opponents.
Defence – This decreases the damage you receive against opponents.
Speed – This determines how quick you attack your enemy. Basically, a higher speed value means that your battles with enemies end much quicker.
Dexterity – This determines your chance of landing successive hits against your opponent.
Critical Chance – This determines the chance that you will land a critical strike.
Critical Damage – This determines the bonus that is applied on landing a critical strike.
Attack Power – This increases your damage against opponents, and is obtained from equipment. Attack power is weaker than strength. One point of Strength is more beneficial than one point of Attack power.
Protection – This decreases how much damage you mitigate and is obtained from equipment. Protection is weaker than Defence. One point of Defence is more beneficial than one point of Protection.
Movement Speed – This dictates how fast you can travel and hunt.

Alternative (Alt) Accounts

You will be pleased to know that you will have the ability to create multiple characters under one account and effortlessly switch between them without the need to log out.

Market

We have invested significant effort into developing the market, aiming to make it as user-friendly and seamless as possible. Based on our experiences and lessons learned from SimpleMMO, we are determined not to repeat past mistakes.

The market will be a very important mechanic for most players. It will allow you to sell the items in your inventory to other players as well as buying items from them.

The market is split into two areas: Listings and Buy Orders.

Listings

Listings are items that either you (or other players) want to sell.

When navigating to the market page, all items available on the market will be listed. Pressing on an item will then display all listings for that specific item.

From there, you can press on any individual listing you wish to purchase from.

Buy Orders

Buy Orders enable you to specify the items you wish to purchase, along with the desired quantity and the amount of gold you are willing to pay. Other players can browse the available buy orders and opt to fulfil them, facilitating a seamless transaction.

We wanted to take things to the next level too. If an item is listed on the market and all requirements of an existing buy order are met, the buy order will be automatically fulfilled. Allow me to write an example:

Let’s say @Hunter398 wishes to purchase 30 Oak Logs for 40 gold pieces each. All they would need to do is create a purchase order like so:

Once @Hunter398 has created the order, it is easily viewable on the order page.

Now, let’s say @Mordred logs on and they wish to sell 5 oak logs for 20 gold each. They forget to look at the Buy Order list and simply create a listing.

Immediately after @Mordred lists their item, the game will automatically scan the open orders list and fulfil any orders immediately.

As @Hunter398 has an open order for 30 gold per item, then that means that this listing will fulfil the order automatically. Not just that, but because the listing was 20 gold, the game will automatically refund the difference to the player who created the order (in this case its 10 gold per item).

So, in conclusion, @Mordred will receive 200 gold immediately after creating the listing because it automatically fulfilled an existing order. @Hunter398 will receive all 10 items that @Mordred listed plus a refund of 100 gold because the listing was lower than the purchase order.

To put it even simpler: @Mordred sold their items immediately without their listing even touching the market because it fulfilled an existing order. @Hunter398 received 10 items at a discount because @Mordred listed the items for lower than the purchase order price. It’s a win-win (unless, of course, you consider that @Hunter398 missed out on an extra 10 gold per item because they failed to check the purchase order list)!

Battling and Hunting

Before battling an enemy, one must hunt it. The time it takes to hunt an enemy depends on your characters movement speed. As mentioned earlier, you can increase your characters movement speed by equipping special items and using mounts.

Once you have caught the enemy, you will have a small window to attack the enemy before it runs away.

Battling an enemy requires no interaction. The battle will continue until either you defeat the enemy, or your health runs out.

World Bosses

World Bosses allow multiple players to attack a single enemy simultaneously. Most the players from SimpleMMO are well-aware that its implementation of the World Boss mechanic is … particularly poor. We wanted to improve upon that significantly and streamline the entire process.

Simply put, attacking a world boss requires no interaction other than joining the lobby. Once the lobby has expired and all players are ready, the battle will start.

During this time, you will have the option to either watch the battle animation unfold or navigate away. Additionally, you can engage in market trading without the need to remain on the battle page. The only restriction is that you cannot engage in any other idle action (such as performing a skill or forging an item). You can only perform one idle action at a time.

After defeating the world boss, you have a brief opportunity to return to the battle page and claim your rewards. If you don’t return to the page, then you risk losing them!

Battle Pass

This screenshot contains placeholder data and is not representative of the final product

Oh no! A battle pass! But don’t fret… we promise it’s good. Why? Because it’s completely free. The entire reason why we wanted to put in a battle pass is to give greater incentives to actually play the game. That’s it. To level up the battle pass, you just need to complete daily, weekly, or monthly tasks.

The battle pass will refresh every few months to bring you fresh new content.

… and more

This is just a small teaser on what is to come. Before its release, we still have a significant amount of work to complete, but we hold strong confidence that this game will reach your mobile phones and desktops this summer. Our priority right now is to release a refined and polished product, then continuously add on new features as time goes on rather than trying to cram in a bunch of features before release.

Question and Answers

We are sure this has raised many questions so we will do our best to anticipate what we think may be the most common ones.

What devices will this be playable on?

We plan to release IdleMMO on the Google Play Store, and Apple App Store. It will also be accessible on desktop via the Web App.

How will this affect SimpleMMO?

This won’t affect SimpleMMO at all. The development road map is still in place. We have recently expanded our core development team to allow us to work on new projects. The development of SimpleMMO will continue as it always has. In fact, in the second quarter of the year, the development of SimpleMMO was ahead of its schedule by approximately three weeks.

Will this game compete with SimpleMMO?

No – we have specifically made this game with the sole intention that it doesn’t tread on SimpleMMO’s toes. IdleMMO walks its own path. SimpleMMO is a game that requires a lot of active gameplay and has a large amount of depth and features. Ironically, IdleMMO will be “simpler” (heh) and more streamlined than SimpleMMO. It will require fewer manual actions and character maintenance. It’s totally possible to play them both at the same time!

Will this game have an energy system?

Unlike SimpleMMO, it will not have an energy system. The only limit on the game will be the time you need to wait between each action. You can play until your hearts content without having to wait for an energy system to refill. We don’t have current plans to implement an energy system at this time.

Will you have a beta test?

The game will have multiple closed beta tests over the next few weeks with selected individuals invited to participate in them. Please actively monitor our Discord channel if you are interested in participating in a beta test.

When will this game be released?

We anticipate stealth dropping the public beta version of IdleMMO this summer, with the game going live without any prior notice or release day announcement.

Where are the “MMO” mechanics?

Admittedly, there are not a lot of MMO mechanics right now. As mentioned, we are focusing on creating a very compact and refined product and then building upon it as times goes on. Rest assured that while the game won’t contain many “MMO-esque” features initially during the public beta (such as PvP, trading, parties, guilds, etc), they will arrive eventually.

How can I keep up to date on the progress of IdleMMO?

You can join our Discord channel (https://discord.gg/nDGbr7AKkk) to stay up to date on the development of the game. You can also register your email at https://www.idle-mmo.com/pre-register to be notified when the game goes live.

Will IdleMMO contain any mechanics that allow interaction with other players (such as a world chat)?

While we are receptive to introducing additional mechanics that facilitate inter-player interactions, we currently do not have any immediate plans to implement a world chat feature. Instead, we require all players to communicate solely through our official Discord server.

I have more questions. Where can I ask them?

You can ask any questions in our Discord server.

Disclaimer

Everything listed in this blog post is subject to change upon release (especially the attached screenshots). Our development plan constantly changes so nothing listed in this blog is final.

Introducing Smashr – a no-frills, no-fuss issue tracking tool

We are pleased to announce the release of our newest product: Smashr. An elegant, no-frills, no-fuss issue tracking tool for your software or application.

We have put a lot of effort in making Smashr as easy and seamless as possible so that you can spend more time developing and less time tracking.

Check it out at https://www.smashr.app.

Use the code WELCOME50 for 50% off your first subscription purchase.

SimpleMMO v12.0 – The return of crafting

Crafting was initially built in the summer of 2020. It was a commonly requested and highly anticipated. In fact, it was one of the first suggestions that was ever passed on to me. After all, it makes sense. Most MMOs have a crafting system so why didn’t SimpleMMO?

Everyone was excited when the crafting system was released. Tears were falling from people’s eyes. Players were swooning. Children were screaming. Hearts were throbbing. Fists were shaking. History was made.

Until … a few weeks later when players (myself included) started to see a massive glaring issue: it provided absolutely no utility. There was no reason to craft. The items were bad and everyone who could craft the items already had them or didn’t need them. The progression was difficult and pointless. Why would anyone grind the crafting level when it provided absolutely no use? The only utility that the crafting mechanism served was the ability to craft diamonds with Diamond Shards. That was it. The only other reason to craft was obviously to satisfy an underlying tendency of performing masochistic behaviours.

A few weeks later, it got me pondering: how can it be improved?

I was dwelling on this question for literally years. Emptiness was consuming my smooth brain the entire time. It was like as soon as I thought of the word “crafting”, my brain would immediately shut down and I would be staring into an abyss. Not a single moment during that entire time could I think of a genuine way to improve the crafting system.

I then started asking myself another question: “Why?” and it became glaringly obvious. I had never crafted in any game ever (besides the bare minimum that I might’ve been required to partake in). I had no underlying knowledge of the system. I had no inspiration for it. How could I think of a crafting system when I simply had never used one myself? This then lead on to another question: “What is the soul that the crafting mechanic has that makes it so damn enticing?”

By this point, I’d spent so much time pondering on the damn thing and being frustrated at the lack of ideas that my eagerness to improve the system slowly dwindled with time. In fact, I even scrapped the crafting system momentarily in an update for the Android App. I was about to bury the hatchet and declare its official time of death.

That is until a moderator, Oubi, made an offhand comment about replacing the crafting system with a new system that he envisioned called “Archaeology”. The idea was to give players the opportunity to exchange item shards (such as armour shards) for items of that specific type (e.g armour shards can be exchanged for armour, etc). I loved the general idea of it, but it required a lot of refinement.

However, this got the cogs turning once more. The forges were lit up and ideas were flying in and out of my brain. I took a lot of notes on different ways of implementing a brand new crafting system until I came up with a final idea that I was happy with.

So, without further ado, I would like to present the new crafting system.

Design still pending

The new crafting system allows you to craft any item within the loot pool using any material. The item rarity matches up with the material rarity, so if you craft an item with epic materials, then you are guaranteed to receive an epic item. This applies to every rarity tier (celestial included!).

To get started, when you press the “Start crafting” button, a pop-up will appear.

From this point, you can select what you want to craft. You can craft many things, such as a specific item rarity type, keys, or diamonds.

For this occasion, I will choose an “Epic Item” because I have a bunch of epic materials left over from testing.

After selecting the item you wish to craft, the following screen will appear:

This gives you an overview of your crafting session. From here you can choose how many items you wish to craft in one go (at a maximum of 10/20, depending on your pleb status), how much energy it will cost to craft, how long it will take to craft, and the materials you need to craft the items.

I haven’t added any epic materials yet (and I need 30), so if I press the “Add Materials” button, the following page will appear:

This lists all of the materials that I have in my storage and inventory that is relevant to the requirements. From here, I can choose any material as long as the material quantity matches with the requirements. I can mix-and-match them too. For example, I could decide to use 5x Large Crystals, 5x Small Crystals, and 20x Tiger Sharks. It’s entirely up to me.

To make things easier, I’m going to press “Auto Add” which will automatically select the materials so I don’t have to.

Doing so has automatically selected 30 “Chromium Ore” materials. All I need to do now is to press “Update Materials” to commit them to the crafting session.


Once I have done that, the overview page will be updated to show the materials you have committed to the session.

After reviewing the page, I am happy with what I am about to craft. It will cost me 3 energy, 30 Chromium Ores and take almost 4 minutes, but in return I will receive a guaranteed epic item.

Once I have started the crafting session, it will then display the crafting status on the main page.

After waiting the full time it takes to craft, I can then claim the items by pressing on the “Claim Items” button and voila…

I have been given EXP for my character, crafting EXP, and the epic item. It’s as easy as that.

Here is another (albeit extreme) example. If I craft 15 celestial and exotic items in one go, it will look something like this:

One of the issues we encountered when developing the system was trying to make it enticing for high-level players to actually use the system. We completely understood that being able to craft “Epic” items was simply not enough. Why would a level 10,000+ player be interested in solely creating epic items other than the player EXP? That is why we have introduced reward tiers. Every time your crafting level increases by 5, you are eligible for a reward. The rewards differ between keys, materials, and diamonds.

As you can see, once you reach level 100 in crafting, you will receive 50 diamonds, 5 gold keys, and enough celestial materials to produce a celestial item. Basically, this means that if you reach level 100 in crafting, you are guaranteed a random celestial/exotic item.

New Materials

This crafting system will arrive with new materials and material encounter rates. As we are now introducing celestial materials, we are also throwing something new into the mix too: untradable materials. Now, at first you might gasp in horror at the mere thought of having an untradable material in the game. However, there is a beneficial trade-off. This allows us to significantly improve the encounter rates for the materials at no risk of disrupting the market. This also gives another incentive for players to utilise the game’s mechanics more rather than mindlessly collect materials and then sell them on the market. Potentially, this also gives us the ability to provide players with rewards for in-game feats too (world bosses maybe?).

Not all materials you encounter will be untradable. Just some of them. Sometimes you will come across a celestial material that is tradable and other times it might be untradable.

Here are the new rates that we currently have in place for the update:

  • Celestial material encounter rates are double the rates of the legendary materials pre-update.
  • Legendary material encounter rates increased by 316%
  • Epic material encounter rate increased by 47%
  • Elite material encounter rate increased by 41%
  • Rare material encounter rate increased by 25%
  • Uncommon material encounter rate increased by 25%
  • Common material encounter rate decreased by 29%

These rates might change before release. The final rates will be included in the update log.

Old Materials

One of the big questions when developing and testing this system was: “What to do with the old materials?” and it’s a big one. After all, because the crafting system was useless, players had been accumulating materials for literally years. If we allowed people to use their old materials then the game would instantly be flooded by a massive wave of newly acquired items which could be catastrophic for the game’s economy.

We throughly discussed two potential solutions:
1. Allow players to convert old materials to new materials. However, the conversion ratio would have to be incredibly high to account for the huge quantity of items that have been gathered in the past few years. Setting the conversion rate to such a high level could have dissuade players to not use this mechanic at all thus making this solution potentially futile. It also felt to me a bit insulting to be given the option of a conversion but have the ratio so high that it made almost no sense to convert. It’s like when you enter a competition to win the EuroMillions lottery and you get an email saying, “YOU WON!”, but you click on it and its only 20 pence. I’d rather not win at all than have that initial sense of hope.

2. Bump up the quick sell value of the materials and convert them to collectables. This would give the materials a new utility (i.e adding them to the collection). This would still pretty much serves the same purpose that they had for most people (i.e collecting and selling) as they certainly weren’t used for crafting bar the odd exception. The new crafting system would be completely fresh untainted by the old mechanics.

We hummed and harred over each solution discussing the positives and negatives of both. Ultimately, I wanted to make the decision based on utility-perspective rather than what is going to be easier (i.e less backlash). No matter which decision we make, people are going to be annoyed regardless. So I felt it was important that we made sure that we were not just mindlessly ripping out a part of the game that could still serve a valid and helpful purpose to the players.

Throughout the discussion, I was leaning further and further towards converting them to collectables because, to me, it felt like it made more sense utility-wise and for us to start on a clean slate. After all, it is an entirely new system. This solution would give the materials a “new” utility (i.e collecting), but that utility is essentially what materials are used for by most players anyway hence the quotation marks. However, it felt difficult to just completely nullify peoples material collection over the years.

To help with this, I wanted to see how many materials were actually in the game, and how many players actually crafted. This ratio would help me gain clarity between the number of people who actually use the materials for crafting and those that hoarded them in their storage/inventory.

The result was staggering. There were more than 45,000,000 materials tucked away in people’s storage and inventory. That was way higher than I thought it was. Not just that, but the average level of crafting of players who actually crafted enough to level up the crafting skill (i.e level 2 and higher) was just a mere 4.1. When I looked at the average crafting level of all players who had simply crafted once and then stopped, the average dropped significantly to 2.09. In comparison, the average mining level was 9.

This gave me some much needed clarity. Crafting was extremely underutilised by the players and if I were to add a mechanism that allowed players to convert materials, it would have to account for 45,000,000 materials. I felt more and more like the ship had sailed with this.

At the end, we came to a reasonable solution. We decided to open up the old crafting page (to those that still want to use their old materials on crafting) and after a month or so, we will convert all old materials into “Collectables” and switch off the old crafting page. This solved a few issues:

  • It will continue to give the materials a crafting utility in the same way as it always has.
  • It will give the materials a “new” utility after a month.
  • The new crafting system will remain entirely fresh. A completely fresh start. New mechanics. New crafting level. New material encounter rates. New materials. New crafting mechanisms. Everyone starts from the same point.

A personal apology to those that have spent time hoarding as many materials as they could in the past few weeks in anticipation for the new crafting ability. It was originally my intention to be able to use the old materials as part of the system, but after a much-needed discussion and a review of the in-game statistics, we decided it would be far too difficult to balance old materials on the new system given the astronomical number of materials there are in circulation. It was a hard decision but I believe it is the correct one to make.

Edit: I want to make it clear that players who has invested significant resources into the crafting mechanic will be acknowledged and rewarded. This has applied to every feature “reset” in the past and this will be no different.

Overview

  • New crafting level. Everyone starts at level 1.
  • The maximum crafting level is 100.
  • You can select the rarity of the item you wish to craft. The requirements are based on that rarity.
  • Any material within its rarity group can be used. Crafting no longer requires specific items.
  • The higher the rarity of the item you wish to craft, the longer it takes to craft.
  • The higher your crafting level, the faster it takes to craft an item.
  • You can craft up to 20 items in one go if you are a member or 10 if you a free player.
  • It costs energy to craft an item.
  • The energy requirement adjusts according to the rarity of the item you wish to craft as well as the quantity.
  • You can play any other areas of the game while you craft (unlike jobs).
  • You must manually claim your crafted items upon completion.
  • You can access the old crafting system by a link on the main page. This will be removed in one month.
  • Old “legacy” materials will no longer be available from gathering nodes.
  • You can craft silver and bronze keys.
  • Diamond shards and its requirements remain unchanged.
  • You can get a reward (diamonds/materials/keys) for every 5 levels of your crafting level.
  • Reaching crafting level 100 gives you enough items to craft a celestial/exotic item.
  • Celestial materials will be introduced.
  • New materials (well, they’re the same name, but they have new sprites).
  • Some materials you encounter will be untradable.
  • Material encounter rates have been significantly increased.
  • Minimum encounter level for all material rarities have been significantly reduced. (For example, Legendary nodes required a minimum skill level of 100 and now it has been reduced to 15)

And that’s all!

We are still testing it at the moment so some things may change before release. The update log should contain it all when it has finally been released.

We anticipate that this update will be available later this week or early next week.

I hope you’re all looking forward to it.