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Thread: Universal star chart (for transparency and retention of customers)

  1. #1

    Universal star chart (for transparency and retention of customers)

    I have a modest proposal for an improvement that would help Playrix retain customers. It does not require giving "freebies" or making the game "easier," but it does require transparency.

    Could the Gardenscapes team provide a chart that documents every single task one must complete in the game, alongside the official star cost for that given task?

    As anyone who has read my posts over the past month is aware, several users have reported a "bug" in which certain players have been (arbitrarily it seems) forced to pay more stars than other players for the same tasks. The Gardenscapes team has reported more than once on the forum that the bug has been fixed, yet players such as myself still have documented cases are star payment discrepancies.

    I think creating this "Universal Star Payment Chart" would not only allow players to more easily report (and hopefully fix) these bugs, it would also give customers more confidence in Playrix's transparency in solving these bugs. In other words, it is simply good business--both Playrix and the customers would benefit from such a measure.

    If Playrix is not able to divulge to its customers how many stars is the "official" and "fair" amount per task because it does not have a set, "fair" payment per task to begin with...then they need to explain all the more why they individually calibrate some players' games one way, and others' games another...

    I am trying to remain positive that these star payment problems players detected in games are just an unintentional "bug," and not a discrepancy by design...but I am starting to have my doubts.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingForStars View Post
    I have a modest proposal for an improvement that would help Playrix retain customers. It does not require giving "freebies" or making the game "easier," but it does require transparency.

    Could the Gardenscapes team provide a chart that documents every single task one must complete in the game, alongside the official star cost for that given task?

    As anyone who has read my posts over the past month is aware, several users have reported a "bug" in which certain players have been (arbitrarily it seems) forced to pay more stars than other players for the same tasks. The Gardenscapes team has reported more than once on the forum that the bug has been fixed, yet players such as myself still have documented cases are star payment discrepancies.

    I think creating this "Universal Star Payment Chart" would not only allow players to more easily report (and hopefully fix) these bugs, it would also give customers more confidence in Playrix's transparency in solving these bugs. In other words, it is simply good business--both Playrix and the customers would benefit from such a measure.

    If Playrix is not able to divulge to its customers how many stars is the "official" and "fair" amount per task because it does not have a set, "fair" payment per task to begin with...then they need to explain all the more why they individually calibrate some players' games one way, and others' games another...

    I am trying to remain positive that these star payment problems players detected in games are just an unintentional "bug," and not a discrepancy by design...but I am starting to have my doubts.
    Some good ideas suggested here. !et us think about this and get back to you
    Last edited by hyacinth; 10-22-2016 at 09:27 AM. Reason: Typos!

  3. #3
    Thank you--this should be an easy document to produce--game designers should have material like this on file from when they initially storyboard a game, and it would give customers a significant confidence boost by allowing them to self-inspect their games and ensure they are all receiving the same product.

    I understand that game companies are businesses, not charities, and not every game suggestion that ends up on this forum would be good for business if implemented. That being said, I think suggestions that ensure every customer receives the same product for the same price should receive consideration.

    I am 100% okay with the difficulty of Gardenscapes--if the game were too easy its developers would no longer be in business--what I would like to see is for the game to be equally difficult for all players, not easier for some and harder for others.

    That is why (and I know the mods and administrators must be tired of hearing this) I would really like to see a chart that would allow everyone once and for all to know where they stand in terms of star costs. I am also still hoping we can at least reimburse individual reporters for any stars that were stolen from them--unless and until that happens, I am still dealing with the consequences of that "bug." I guess I am just confused why it is technologically possible to re-calibrate the star costs on all players games (which the admins claimed has happened), but not possible to return a few stars that players earned in the first place...?

    Thank you for your consideration.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tassie's Avatar
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    Hi. Just jumping in here to set expectations around what hyacinth said.

    I think she would be talking about a player maintained list, not one produced by Playrix. As mods, we cannot influence the documentation that they produce. Of course they could produce one but they do not do this for any of their mobile games.

    And to have a player maintained list requires dedication and ongoing maintenance. I know with my player hat on, it is not something I would have the patience to spend time on
    Last edited by Tassie; 10-22-2016 at 02:14 AM.
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  5. #5
    Of course...and I would be willing to contribute to something like that. Granted, my chart would be of the bugged game, because in spite of what has been announced on the forums, I have reason to believe I am still paying extra stars per task.

    It is by no means the mods' job to influence and fix this. It should be the Gardenscapes team's job, and it should be an easy document to provide. To design a game you must chart out every task a player must complete, along with the assigned "cost" of completing each task. I do not see why Playrix would need to withhold this information, as this is information multiple players could document themselves as a team (although as you mentioned, it would take more time than it would if Playrix simply posted the stats for all to see). In other words, there does not appear to be anything "proprietary" about this kind of info; if Playrix for whatever reason is not able to post the star costs for every task, it could share the star costs at least for all of the tasks from a select "day" or "days" in the game.

    The only way I could see this information being proprietary is if there are no "set in stone," "fair," "official," "universal" star costs in the first place. Meaning: the game was designed internally to calibrate certain star costs for certain players. How would that work? An early level of the game could be used to calculate a player's "skill level," either by using the amount of time or amount of moves to complete that initial level. Once the game has that piece of data, the game could be programmed to respond to the outcome of that level by assigning all future tasks higher or lower star costs depending on the perceived "skill" of that player at that level. Why bother designing game play that way? Simple answer: when you create a "free" game, you want to ensure that even "skilled" players run into roadblocks, which in turn increases the likelihood they will make in game purchases to help themselves along.

    Assuming that theory (or something like it) is correct, it is a shrewd business tactic, and once again, game companies are businesses. They cannot afford to be charities, so that is perfectly understandable. Here is the problem I have with this "skill" calibrated approach to star costs, if that ends up being how Gardenscapes works:

    As devout Gardenscapes players will tell you, one's completion of a level depends a great deal on luck and the initial layout of the match 3 board. What if I am ordinarily a horrible match-3 player, but when I happen to play the initial level or levels where the game is measuring my "skill," it could be that I end up with "lucky" board lay out, with plenty of pieces ready to be made into explosives? We have all had those levels before, and it has nothing to do with our skill If I happen to play one of those absurdly lucky match-3 layouts when the game is measuring my "skill," it will overestimate how easily I complete match-3s to the point that it will force me to play more match 3s than other players to complete the same tasks.

    Anyways, this all must look like a crazy conspiracy theory to whoever reads it...that said, I have been waiting over a month since I reported this "bug" after being asked to resubmit my support request multiple times, and I have yet to see a solution--not even a straightforward reason as to why there cannot be a solution to this game play issue. I think at this point I am entitled to the occasional question or odd conspiracy theory.

    What I really hope is that the scenario I have outlined is completely false, and that the "bug" really is just a "bug" and not part of Gardenscapes' design. If it is part of Gardenscapes' design, that's fine...it generates income, and I cannot change that. I just need an honest answer so that I can make an informed decision about whether to keep my game or delete it...and to write my review afterwards.

    Anyways, I am not expecting my request to be considered, even though I think it would benefit Playrix if they acted upon it. If I could just get a straight answer as to whether I can expect to play the exact same game as other players (I am not asking for an "easy" game, just a fair one)...even if that answer is "No, you cannot have a fair game because it is bad business" (even though I would be more willing to buy coins in Gardenscapes if it was fair), then I will go my merry way.
    Last edited by WaitingForStars; 10-22-2016 at 04:17 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tassie View Post
    Hi. Just jumping in here to set expectations around what hyacinth said.

    I think she would be talking about a player maintained list, not one produced by Playrix. As mods, we cannot influence the documentation that they produce. Of course they could produce one but they do not do this for any of their mobile games.

    And to have a player maintained list requires dedication and ongoing maintenance. I know with my player hat on, it is not something I would have the patience to spend time on
    Thank you Tassie I was indeed thinking of more of a player orientated set up

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by hyacinth View Post
    Thank you Tassie I was indeed thinking of more of a player orientated set up
    And I am sure many players would appreciate the resource...and possibly even contribute to it. As Tassie observed, however, you guys should not have to remedy this problem.

    This problem was created by Gardenscapes, and the Gardenscapes team needs to address it if they want to maintain transparency with their customers. Transparency does not equal "bad business." Transparency in this instance would be more profitable for Playrix, as players will be willing to make in app purchases if they know the game they are playing is fair, with the same rules and star costs applying to all players. There is no way I am going to spend money on Gardenscapes if I know have to play more advanced match-3s than other players to complete the same tasks.

    Up until this point, Playrix does not appear to have been entirely transparent in their dealings with this "bug." They have reported they "fixed" it on the forums and Facebook, yet players are still reporting unfair star payments. On top of that, we have not seen any updates available in the app store to suggest a fix. Why? Was it an honest oversight? Or did they hope that players would take the claim at face value and move on---even though we discovered this star payment discrepancy in the first place by checking our games alongside those of our friends and family---did they think we would not check them again, just like before?

    I would like to see an official list of star costs from Playrix because I want to know once and for all whether this "bug" is actually meant to be solved---and whether Gardenscapes is meant to be the same game for all players. If Playrix cannot provide such a list because the game is not designed to be fair to all players in the first place, I get it---that's how business works. What I do not get is I have dealt with other game companies support departments (both small ones and big name ones), and I have never had the experience until now of waiting over a month for a straightforward answer to my questions...

    Thank you for your consideration...I won't hold my breath

  8. #8
    Well said, WaitingForStars.

  9. #9
    The easiest way to find out if U have to get more stars for tasks done. Is to ask a friend who is at the same lvl as U. And see if U have the same tasks done. That way U should have used equal amount of stars.

  10. #10
    I agree--it is the easiest way--that is how I am able to know my game is still "bugged" even when it is announced on the forum that the problem is fixed. Unfortunately, not every customer/player of Gardenscapes has someone to check their game alongside. Having one official chart would expedite the process of reporting and fixing this said "bug."

    Furthermore, while my spot checks reveal that there are at least two "versions" of Gardenscapes out there, it would be helpful to know if there are even more star-payment scales beyond the two I have taken screenshots of. For example, if Gardenscapes were programmed to the match the perceived "skill levels" of individual customers, then you could have several payment scales at work.

    Once again, this is just a hypothetical, and I really hope I am proven wrong --I just want to know what kind of game I am playing, why the evidence does not suggest this "bug" has been fixed, and why it is (apparently) technologically possible to re-calibrate and equalize the star costs for every player's game (per announcements on the forum and Facebook) but not possible to reimburse customers the stars that they already earned in the first place.

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