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As a scrum master currently working from my home, I got bored late one night last April. So I started to play hero wars — an online browser game which I got forwarded to by clicking on a youtube ad.

The ad for the game suggested it would be about solving riddles, but when playing the game for some time I noticed it had only about 10 riddles in there. All of those combined could be solved in about 10 minutes.

Inputs and Outputs

You don’t get any money out of the game, so buying a hero (actually only fragments of a hero — the game mechanics are too advanced to make the real dollar price of a hero visible to the users) and those emeralds are only input. Since I have been bored more nights, I continued to play.

Arena

At higher levels, the Grand arena mode opened. This now was three squads of mine against three squads of the players I’m collaborating with. I found a simple strategy for the grand arena: The players don’t have enough resources to level up all their 15 needed heroes properly. Many had one weaker team among their three squads. So setting my weakest team against their best, the other two fights would mostly be easy wins for me. I moved up in the grand arena hierarchy.

Guilds

Being German, I joined a German guild. My guild lead Spalter (who I some months later learned was Dieter from Düsseldorf) managed to gather the guild's maximum capacity of 30 german members. I learned he has been paying about the same amount of money as I have been. When I started with this, I didn’t intend to pay anything of course. Two months later I set the limit for the total amount of money I’m going to spend on this game to “one PS4 game” which equals about €60. I’m now at about €270 — all transferred with micropayments to the developers which copied this system from other similar browser games.

Guilds are allowed to fight in guild wars. The guild lead staffs one castle with only the teams of the 15 best of the 30 members of the guild. Guild Generals are allowed to give commands — and the members attack. We won against Brazilian Guilds, some French and other German ones — those seemingly had worse strategies or were not paying enough money, maybe both.

Guild Chat

My guild lead Spalter did a mistake in the general guild settings. He activated an inactivity ban of one week. After six weeks our guild was down to 4 members because of that, and no one was joining our small group anymore. One of the remaining four members started to complain, that we’re not moving up in the guild hierarchy to Bronze, Silver, and Gold League where he wanted to go. He left our guild shortly after. With three members you are not allowed to collaborate in the guild wars anymore.

Hostile takeover and staffing

In Arena and Grand Arena mode you could see for each player which guild he is in, or whether he is lacking one. When clicking on the player you also can write text messages in a small browser window. I scrolled through the endless list of players spread over 13 servers each hosting some thousands of users. I sent a filled template of a recruiting advertisement for our guild changing the addressee to the name of the player to have it personalized somehow. To my frustration — those arena players rarely answered, seemingly having dropped their squads in this without caring anymore.

Server Chat recruiting

Guild Settings

Squad Setup

Guild resources

Strategy

Two guild members on the other hand started posting whereby links in addition to my daily resource links. They were requesting me and others to join. Whereby is an in-browser video chat client which can be set up rather easy. Being suspicious because of a school firewall being mentioned earlier, I asked about how old they are. They told me they were 8 and in US grade school. I politely declined the video chat, telling them they could easily be my children.

Distributed Team and Guild building

Having a job I had to work long on two days. I forgot to check our castle defenses back then. One member left our guild in this period leaving a spot open. I decided to enable every guild member to set up defenses by making all of them Archangels. For new members, the Archangels decided on when they got promoted.

News

At someday I got a PM from someone outside of the guild. It included a hero wars emoji, but directly below the player said sorry for this. This was atypical, my usual private messages were from leads of other guilds trying to poach me, those of guild members in need of support on how to structure their squads, having questions on whether the hero they just got is any good, sometimes complaining about other guild members being inactive, describing school challenges they have, or asking when I’m putting out the links to presents. Infrequently I got invites to video chats, which I all declined.

I didn’t react to the emoji PM from outside, but the next day the “sorry” was followed by a “how r u?” and I started to text. The player only had a one-hour timezone difference (average in my guild was certainly above 4h) and is placed in Manchester/England. “Manny,” he told me. He asked about my spoken languages, and after, whether learning German is hard. I told him it isn’t hard for Germans, but it might be very hard for people not to have been born here or understanding the culture. After some chit chat, I asked, why he did send me the emoji PM in the first place. “Another game,” the player told me, “Truth or dare”. He and his cousin had been playing truth or dare in his room with him being logged in. The cousin dared [BlAdE]Shadow to send a PM to someone, not in his guild.

Server Chat evolved

I observed this for some time to find out what my potential guild recruits are doing: To my surprise, they were playing a new game in there, sometimes adding whereby video chat links. Theirs has been similar to the pen and paper role-playing games which we used to play as kids. Yet without dice, without a dungeon master, character sheet, rulebook, or a guild lead, and still without an administrator in there with players spread all over the world. One player simply states what he intends to do, the content being completely up to his imagination, the other players write consequences, or their own actions, thereby telling a collective story with only the stars as a limit.

Reading this text didn’t cost you €270.-, but some of your time. I’m sorry for having advertised my article as “Hero Wars, Scrum and *”. To compensate, I’ll include at least one riddle for you — and I didn’t even promise riddles upfront:

Now where tf was scrum in this?

Guild lead FYI/Authors note: Only read this hint, when you’re at a complete loss on the question.

In above text you might find resemblencies to many models of organizations: enterprises, wolf packs, the single fighter, military, maybe family… and it’s ending with another model where players decide all rules in collaboration (they didn’t need many), there is free energy flow, the currency “fun” constantly growing, everyone can choose freely between all nuances of observing, participating or leaving at any time without penalty. Good distribution of wealth between all players is provided by the system itself and the agility in movement is only restricted by your mind.

The last system came from somewhere else — basically the rude ur soup server chat. It didn’t evolve from all others — those have been refined, getting the best combinations of family and worklife. Some of the players came from the previous models (they were not allowed to transfer their squads, titels, emeralds, dollars, levels or even heroes). They have been playing the other games previously gaining levels and rank, but obviously didn’t like dealing with their limitations or distribution of wealth. I’d like to think, that the values needed and taught in guilds and their chats enabled the players to see value in not insulting each other in server chat constantly, and we made this somehow possible.

My next steps will be playing some of this new game. I can still understand most of it, having played similar games as a child. But the server chat players are transforming their rules and behaviours more quickly than we are. I think the new model evolved in less than two weeks and it certainly will again. Maybe I’m not so lucky to discover the next non-linear iteration, maybe it is still linear, but also in that case: whereby links are already floating in there, and probably they’ll include them in the next version of their game. This will be the end for me, since I’m not a child anymore.

*clicks publish*

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