Q&A with Rawson Stovall (2)

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What would your advice be to players regarding the fastest and most efficient way to go from one level to the next?  Would you recommend focusing on maxing common or rare clubs first to get the silver bonus to pay for future upgrades? Or would you focus on leveling your epic, legendary and mythical clubs first to get the bigger XP bump instead?

I asked one of the engineers this question and got like 14 paragraphs of math talk.

Here are highlights: 

  • Level up low level clubs! In addition to being cheap, the low levels provide more XP-per-coin than other levels.

  • Epics and Legendaries in particular provide a lot of experience and are very efficient up through Level 9.

  • Clubs always get a little less XP-efficient as you level them up. 

  • Legendaries maintain a better XP-per-coin ratio than any other rarity. If you’re choosing what to invest in purely based on XP payout, level up those, especially if you have a lot of other highly-upgraded clubs.

  • The silver bonus for opening an already-maxed club in a pack is a nice little perk, especially for long-term players, but it adds up slowly.

The biggest content addition we’ve seen to PGA TOUR was the release of the full, 18 hole Boston course. How long did that take to develop from the time you settled on which course to add until it went live in the game and what does that whole process look like?

It took about 9 months. We first released a handful of “signature” TPC Boston holes suggested by the PGA TOUR. But then we waited to see the impact – game size, game performance, download implications, whether players really liked them, etc. before we decided to move on to making the rest of the course.

How do you come up with ideas for new clubs? Like, in the case of Blacksmith, are you thinking, “We should add a Mythical iron. Now, what special abilities can we give it?”

We think about the abilities – or possible abilities – and how they fit within their respective brands. We don’t want just copies of other clubs. We want them to pair well with other clubs but not be too powerful. Mythical clubs have a unique shape so part of designing a Mythical club is coming up with a shape. In the case of Blacksmith, we wanted a Mythical and we wanted an iron and so ultimately we landed on the anvil shape. We went through a lot of different club powers before settling on the current iteration of the Blacksmith.

I’m sure you guys are flooded with messages every day from players about bug fixes and suggestions for how to make the game better. How do you strike a balance between what needs immediate attention in the game and what players want in the future versus your own vision for the game when planning and working on updates?

We’ve moved towards more frequent but generally smaller updates to focus on game stability. I think we have a cadence of 2-3 smaller releases followed by a content release, but that’s not set in stone.

There seems to be some game integration issues with Facebook and the video ads. When Facebook friends were added to the Duels tab, players had a lot of issues getting it to work. Now, the Facebook version of the game frequently disappears altogether for days from the game apps section. And the ads that allow for pack upgrades have been super wonky, sometimes leading to dead end, in-game errors or players not seeing the upgrades they’re supposed to get. I don’t mean to focus on the negative, but can you tell us what sort of challenges you’ve run into with all of this and if there’s a permanent fix in sight?

Relying on someone else’s evolving tech is very risky. But, Facebook is huge and their global reach is game-changing. We were very lucky to have an opportunity to partner with them, but they were still developing their tech — and they continue to be. Still, it’s a risky road to go down and we definitely had some integration issues. In fact, I was one of those who was impacted. Eventually I gave a team of Facebook engineers my own personal Facebook login info and they used my account over several weeks to track down issues. Facebook is the publisher on their platform. We basically give them the released Android version, but, as I mentioned, it is still evolving tech for them.

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