Supercell has been one of the best mobile game developers for mobile. Their most popular game, Clash of Clans, has been getting new updates and changes frequently, with a span of a month at minimum. There are lot of news that have been a subject of talks about how the game developers looked forward to adding a new project, a bigger one, in terms of a development process to improve the game. Eino Joas, the Game Designer/Game Lead at Supercell, particularly for the game Clash of Clans recently had a Game Design Talk involving a Bigger, Better Battle Pass in a one-hour long video via the official Supercell YouTube channel. This given in a point of designer’s view, helps a lot for new and learning game designers can take away to their projects.
Team GamingonPhone has given a detailed insight into his Clash of Clans Design Talk via this article. Covering about how Clash of Clans needed a change because of its slow decline, talk on new items from the last two years to create the Gold Pass and key points regarding the share of ideas and improvements that are under the thought process of the team for the future. If interested, don’t forget to check our website for more Clash of Clans guides and news.
Excerpts from Eino Joas’ Clash of Clans Design Talk
The decline of Clash of Clans and the thought process
Eino Joas shared a point where there was a time where Clash of Clans wasn’t the popular game among the audience anymore, the slight decline of the game was clearly noticeable during the early 2017. He quotes the reason as “Players reached the endgame, there wasn’t anything special offered to the players who were maxed out. The lack of high-level content was hindering the growth”. There were a lot of loyal fans of the game who still used to push trophies and play wars, but there wasn’t that continuity that followed throughout the years.
Finding the reasons: Baby steps to the top
Joas talked about how his team and him could find out reasons for the decline. They made a simple four pointer problem list, where each had its own improvements to be taken care of.
Exponential economy is about how the game at higher upgrades climbs up with the resources and the time taken to complete a particular upgrade. Explained with the example of an upgrading cost and time of a cannon at two different levels.
As soon as a player maxed his Town Hall 11, he didn’t have anything much do other than push trophies, play wars and of course wait for an update.
At Town Hall levels at 9 or 10, players used to often stop upgrading. This resulted in uneven matchmaking and thus a ‘Social Barrier’ via Clan Wars.
Conversion rates of people buying resources from shops weren’t great news either. Source of revenue via monetization was way less than expectations, which wasn’t met.
Tackling problems and Rising back to the Top
Introduction of Magic Items
In the late 2017, the introduction of Magic Items was the first step for solving the Exponential Economy issue. They were items introduced to help to balance the high costs and time for the upgrades. In other words, they give you guaranteed results, with an upgrade time skip to any Troop, Building or Hero. Even, resources could be filled up instantly with the help of Runes and potions to carry boosts.
The introduction of Town Hall 12
Eino Joas talked on how lack of new content was clear and new developments was to be done. He said “It was almost two years since the Th11 upgrade and nothing new was brought. There was a risk that the loyal players would start churning out of the game, because it was boring if you don’t have anything to do”.
Then the Town Hall 12 was introduced in the Summer Update of Clash of Clans in 2018. Joas said there were confusions before this addition.
“For us it wasn’t so simple to add a townhall level. We thought maybe we should come up with new content for key players, into a new loop. But it was not compelling. We wanted the game to win hearts, so we finally decided to introduce a new Town Hall level to keep them engaged”.
They added a Town Hall that fights back, a weaponized Town Hall was first in the game. Also along came a new troop, the Electro Dragon. To add spice to the boring Clan Castle deployment sideways a base, they introduced Siege Machines. Improved levels from resource to development of troops was another bonus.
The Clan War Leagues
Clan Wars introduced back in 2014, was the same since then. There wasn’t a particular algorithm system that was followed in Clash of Clans. Joas mentioned on how matchmaking sometimes favored a particular clan, which they would win these biased wars. He added: “There wasn’t reasons to upgrade a town hall level, you would stay maxed at a particular level because they could have chances to face weaker opponents”.
Clan Wars were monotonous and also couldn’t decide which was the best clan in the Clash of Clans. Joas in his clash of clans design talk shared how to keep the players to be more competitive: “We needed real competition, ultra-competitive. We thought of adding a competitive mode, so that players would find Clashing more interesting”.
There was a need for competitive wars and matchmaking. The idea of CWL was introduced in the middle of 2018, which the beginning of a competitive Clan Wars. Best Clans ranked at top of the Leader-board would be called for the Clash of Clans: World Championship. With new rewards and benefits, this was a massive success.
By this time over a year, they had fixed particular problems, but there was work to do.
Introduction of Gold Pass
Games like Fortnite, PUBG had a successful revenue growth with the introduction of Battle Pass. New items were available by purchasing this option. With the same idea to make people engage in playing, the idea of having a Battle Pass in Clash of Clans came into existence.
Eino Joas says “We need things to cover, like low pricing for countries with low income. We wanted players to get a nice experience by buying this item”. In the early 2019, the idea was implemented and this was introduced as Gold Pass. A reset every season with great benefits for F2P as well as Clanmates was the thought behind.
Design Goals of the Gold Pass
A brief description of design goals in the benefits of who, what and how.
The impact of the Gold Pass
Stats suggesting how the introduction of Gold Pass has boosted revenue. This shows gaining of many unique users in the run and having a lot of active players.
Completion of Objectives
Well, the reference of completing the objectives that they put on paper was similar to the Infinity Gauntlet, from the Avengers movie series, where Joas adds “all things are put into place” followed by a snap.
Clash of Clans Design Talk – Plans for the Future
Joas didn’t forget to share the team’s plans for the coming updates. Even though they weren’t very descriptive, they did have a lot of weight and can make you expect better. Joas said “There are some things under progress which we wanted to get it done, but we didn’t. They might show up in some point. We wanted you to get benefits for being a loyal customer by giving benefits for purchasing Gold Pass and giving more benefits for your Clans”.
Takeaway for Designers and their Projects
The conclusion of presentation was with delivering three key points to remember for designers, who are keen to work on their project.
1. Understanding your game
Joas suggests: “Understanding your fundamental problems is essential, just like we did during the Gold Pass and just having it land in a ground is simply infertile.” He gives examples of how each item that was introduced in the game fixed the basic needs that was void till then. He again adds “Our process for understanding a game starts with feedback. We should take all the feedback but the trick is you need to listen to everything but you don’t need to believe or react. Figure out your foundations and work”.
2. Be generous with your game
He suggests to be generous to the players, allow them to have a fun experience. Make them progress, level up and the game enjoyable. Being more generous will get a stronger support from the players. This will also make the game enjoyable and players will spend on stuff to boost revenues. Having great deals time to time is also beneficial for both the consumer and the party.
3. Focus on the Long Term
In his last point of the talk, he mentioned the importance of having a long-term planning to have growth. “When we were working on the Gold Pass, our goal wasn’t really to make the papers but was to fix problems and provide a fun experience to our players. That sort of way you should think about things”. He pressed the importance of always having eyes on the horizon and think of ideas to fix the game and making players stick on to your work for the longest by ensuring them that your team is working well. Know your fundamentals and challenge yourself. Longevity is the key to create.
Our take on this Clash of Clans Design Talk
It was quite insightful; the thought processes the team had was easy to put on paper, but not easy to implement. For the last two years, Supercell have regained the lost charm of Clash of Clans by such great improvements, which was necessary.
Eino Joas surprisingly didn’t mention about the Builder Base introduction. It made players go out of their base and try out a different mode altogether, even though the idea of base building and upgrading remained the same. The Builder Base had its own benefits, a unique versus battle idea and defenses in your home village getting their Geared-up versions and Gem mining. But like he mentioned, there isn’t content that makes this as an out of the box type.
With recent updates like the addition of Town Hall 13, new troops and levels, from Clash of Clans considering the last two years has improved. The points like monthly return, content improvement and a whole new competitive environment within the game was the key highlights.
The content covered what we knew, but if focus was on some more insights about the future plans or the Designer ideas, it would have been better. The ideas which they had been implementing to better the game was commendable.
As a final say, it is really satisfying to see Supercell giving privileges even to the F2P players of Clash of Clans. The connecting with their users and updating them with news and insights like this will be beneficial. Hopefully, we see more of these content in the future.
Virtual Q&A session after the Clash of Clans Design Talk
Eino Joas also participated in a Visual Question and Answer session on YouTube. Players were allowed to ask questions about the game design questions on Clash of Clans via their website. Some of the handpicked questions are here below:
1. Some season challenges are set for higher town hall levels, as a lower town hall player trying to progress, why would you limit the battle pass rewards in terms of exclusive points?
Eino Joas: “The tasks involve different troops and challenges that unlock after a specific upgrade for players. This was a conscious decision from us to include these kinds of tasks to have variety. We knew lower level players would face difficulties completing certain tasks. We realized this while implementing the system, don’t feel bad if you are a low-level player. Tow can have tasks that can be completed every season”.
2. With the release of more new content, don’t you think it will be an uphill task for those who start playing Clash of Clans tomorrow? They might not get to compete with the older players.
Eino Joas: “I think this is great question, touching the core of the game. Answering this, we have been speeding things up along in the early game to help people progress. This has been a conscious decision because we also realized that as we add more stuff, the journey becomes longer and that creates two classes of player, which we didn’t want to happen. We keep an eye on the total length of the journey whenever we add new content. We don’t want players to stop playing, we want them to experience the content”.
3. Isn’t finding out the foundation for a game the first to focus on when you design the game? If not, what clues or strategies could you tell us to follow?
Eino Joas: “When you work on something different and long enough, there is a natural tendency to search for new exciting angles. Game developers are always into creating new experiences and introduce new ideas, to push you from the original foundation to the game, for improvements. For a game like Clash of Clans, which has been in the long run, if new comers in the teams are not on-boarded with the game, they might not agree fully on what the game is and take the game in a different direction. The conclusion is not to stop innovating, resolve around the core and it’s a cool challenge to work on”.
4. How do you prioritize and choose the next piece of the puzzle when thinking about these new additions to the game?
Eino Joas: “Like I mentioned in the talk, we tend to collect all the information we can get. Take feedback, collect evidence, listen to many sources of input and try to build a cohesive picture of how things are right now. That helps us, as a team, to figure out where the problems and opportunities are, what would it take to start tackling those. This is a continuous process; we have a rough road map of what we want to do the future. Changes are done if we have a better target on what to work on”.
5. Besides the problems listed, don’t you consider that the Builder Base is among those problems? Most don’t know its purpose in the game.
Eino Joas: “I hear you, as it stands, we also feel that the Builder Base doesn’t have as clear as an identity as it should. We are experimenting on it, by adding new content like instant training times. We’ll try to come with a better place to make it more integrated into the game”.