This card game has become popular in China, but many players do not know that they are playing pirated versions

When the original author was still worried that he “smashed a brilliant idea with a bad game”, the imitator has already shot.

“Stacklands” (Stacklands) is a lightweight card game that logged on the Steam platform on April 9 this year. It has a cute style and interesting mechanics. It is a bit like “Spider Solitaire” and “Secret Teaching Simulator” to play. shadow.

Although the game’s production team, Sokpop, has only four people, it has always been known for its fast, high-quality, and ingenious small game output. “Stacked Continent” is one of the obvious examples:

Everything in the game is presented in the form of cards. Players need to grasp the output of food and materials to grow their village step by step. The so-called “stacking” means placing the villager card as a productive force on the bush card to produce berries, rocks to produce stones, and trees to produce wood.

人类文明的开始只是一个卡包 The beginning of human civilization is just a card pack

Although the volume is small, the quality of the game’s completion can be said to be quite superb, which is very suitable for relaxing in a leisure afternoon. Players on Steam have also given rave reviews.

It’s just that Sokpop’s “slight problems” are also reflected in “Stacked Continent”. The developers are quite keen to continuously develop new mini-games, and the games that have been put on the shelves will basically not update more content and DLC. Under the urging of players, “Stacked Continent” only updated an expansion map of an island in early July.

In these short three months, the pirated version of “Stacked Continent” has been updated at least five chapters, continent, ocean, outer space, Xianxia, ​​magic, more diligent than the original.

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And this has led to an embarrassing situation. Most players who have played “Stacked Continent” have no idea that they are playing a pirated version.

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The development process of “Stacked Continent” is very simple. Aran, the main designer, mentioned in a video that the game was born out of his idea of ​​making a card version of the country simulator one day, and he wanted to reduce everything to cards. , and then simulate the development route of the world.

设计简图 Design sketch

So he immediately made a simple game prototype. This small demo was unanimously recognized by his colleagues, and he also got a little valuable advice: add a money system for players to sell excess cards and buy village upgrades. resource pack.

Players need to use the resources in the initial card pack to develop, constantly sell excess materials, and use the money to buy advanced card packs to “unpack” to unlock new buildings and materials. The sense of achievement when unlocking the new card pack is quite enough, and the hidden beasts and hostile creatures in the card pack also add a lot of fun to the game.

For example, in the 20 gold coin pack, there is a wolf card with the description “It looks very ferocious”. After being opened by the player, it will start attacking nearby villagers; however, just stack another bone card that is useless. On the wolf, it becomes a dog that can participate in mass production.

只是看上去很凶残 just looks brutal

There are quite a lot of these interesting little details in the game, enough to satisfy players’ expectations for the “stacking” effect. Therefore, Aran took a while to perfect the card system, found an artist friend to make art and put the game on the shelves.

The entire development process of “Stacked Continent” only took a few months, and the development is easy and fun. For Sokpop, this is a very successful work – but these advantages are also convenient for pirate manufacturers. .

Two months after the game’s release, piles of “Stacked Continent” mini-games appeared on domestic short video platforms.

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In terms of Sokpop’s manpower, this is definitely not the official account and program, and the in-game interface and cards just look similar. The more likely reason is that other manufacturers have unpacked the original files, and then re-written the game with the same materials and put it on the shelves.

But even with such a poorly made small program, videos based on it have won millions of plays and likes on the platform. With the update of more content in the later stage, there are not a few tens of millions of play collections.

The game itself is fun for one thing, and the other is that I don’t know if it was intentional or because the programmers are incompetent. This pirated version of “Stacked Continent” has a bunch of strange bugs that the original version does not have.

In the normal game flow, raising villagers is a very troublesome thing. To increase the population, you must first build a house, drag two villager cards into the house, and wait for a period of time before the baby will be generated, and the baby will be born again. Have to wait at least one round to officially become a productive adult.

正常情况 normal circumstances

During this period, babies will also consume food. Once the food supply is insufficient, the villagers will die of starvation. After the death, the villagers will become corpse cards that cannot be sold, labored, or given birth, and will also occupy a card inventory. There is no other use than the cemetery.

一般来说都是玩家们竭力避免的负面卡片 Generally, it’s the negative cards that players try to avoid.

But in the pirated version of “Stacked Continent”, the corpses seem to inherit the will of the living. Although they can no longer participate in production, they can still fight, which makes them the only invincible existence in the game – an undead without a blood bar warrior.

赶尸人看了都直呼内行 When the corpse hunter sees it, they call it an expert

This feature greatly increases the value of corpses, and coupled with another more outrageous bug, the pirated version of “Stacked Continent” has derived a set of “corpse streams” dedicated to raising corpses.

The whole set of operations is like this: build a house as soon as possible in the early game, and then keep buying card packs to open a second villager.

After getting the second villager, let two people enter the house to give birth to babies, and then deliberately reduce the food supply, or use the refreshed monsters to send them to death, to achieve a situation where two villagers are dead and the baby is still alive – in the genuine game, all adults become The game is over when the corpse is found, but the game continues on the pirated version.

This is the focus of the entire genre. Graveyard cards synthesized from corpses can be sold at the price of hardware coins. In theory, as long as there are a large number of corpses, it is enough to complete a “corpse-gold coin” production line that is more efficient than conventional production lines.

“分裂生殖” “Split reproduction”

The operators of the pirated “Stacked Continent” account obviously thought so too. In the first video they released, they used this as a selling point to introduce the unique gameplay of the game to everyone. It’s just that the game in the video seems to be still in the early stages of development. They used the bug that villagers would give birth to 11 children in one go (now fixed), and then starve all the babies to death to accumulate the original capital, that is to say— – All corpses are produced by babies.

这不人道,我不认可 It’s inhumane, I don’t approve

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Absurd and bizarre, coupled with the novel gameplay of the original version, the pirated version of “Stacked Continent” quickly spawned a large number of anchors who made game videos, and the popularity of videos brought a large number of players. Although some people pointed out the problem of piracy in the comment area, there are still some players who are not aware of the fact that they will be confused when they encounter genuine games.

Luo Heicheng, the UP master of Station B, was one of the first people to make a video guide for the genuine “Stacked Continent”. He made a related guide video on April 19, but something that puzzled him happened – many The audience asked in the comments “Why can’t my corpse be beaten?”

“我和UP玩的不是同一个游戏” “I’m not playing the same game as UP”

The hot phenomenon made pirate manufacturers smell the opportunity, so they introduced new products one after another. In the pirated version of “Stacked Continent”, the second chapter is called “Flying to the Universe”, and they decided to let the player fight against the highly infectious zombie virus and create a rocket to fly to space in a pressing time.

In the third chapter, “Dream of Immortality”, they added leaderboards and cloner settings. Villagers will be cloned every day. Among more and more villagers who need to be fed, players should keep as much food as possible. Create more population in a short number of days.

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The fourth chapter “Star Ocean” cancels the original “working table” design of the game, and replaces it with a vast ocean map. Players have to play a sea survivor and rely on drifting materials to survive.

The fifth chapter “Endless Darkness” continues the setting of the fourth chapter. Players play as survivors, build as soon as possible during the day, and defend against enemies with higher desire to attack at night.

After making so many gameplays, it is difficult for people to call it “piracy”, perhaps it is more appropriate to call it “imitation”. Although the content is rough, most of the themes are indeed not produced in the original version, especially when some developers took the initiative to localize the game, and produced another game “Stacking Immortals” derived from this.

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The framework of the game is generally similar to “Stacked Continent”, but the content has been completely changed.

Players need to concoct alchemy to overcome calamity, and upgrade to Daluo Jinxian level by level, and all resources have been replaced with natural treasures that are common in Xianxia novels. In the second chapter of “Stacking Immortals”, the plot elements are even added in turn. At the beginning, the player will be pushed off the cliff by a mysterious person, and the next step is the common leveling routine.

The game also has a rather alternative cloud travel mode, although it is actually just a “Xianjia farm” that steals vegetables.

怎么你们仙人也偷菜啊? Why do you immortals steal vegetables too?

It is difficult to evaluate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing from the content alone. After all, the numerous imitations themselves prove the plasticity of “Stacked Continents”. From a legal point of view, there is no copyright claim for pure gameplay, just like when “Flappy Bird” and “Don’t Step on White Blocks” were popular, it is not impossible to promote the popularity of a type of game.

It has really been popular for a while, not only small games on short video platforms, but also imitators in iOS, Google, and major app stores. You can still see many “stacked” games on TapTap and 4399. , and even some imitators have good reviews and downloads.

But the bad part is that these “copycats” of “Stacked Continents” are usually difficult to provide a normal gaming experience, and the ubiquitous advertisements are enough to prove everything.

If players open unwanted materials in the card pack, they can refresh by watching advertisements. Unlocking buildings in advance and resurrecting villagers can be solved through the omnipotent advertising method. When I was trying out “The Legend of Immortals in Stacks” on Tap Tap, the ad page popped up as soon as I opened the game, and sometimes it even increased the number of ads.

我全都要=看两次广告 I want it all = see the ad twice

In order to force players to watch advertisements as much as possible, the mini-program version of “Stacked Continent” also deliberately increased the difficulty of the game. In the original game, the refresh mechanism of monsters is “12+6” – the first time to spawn monsters is 12 rounds, and then every 6 rounds, but the mini-program version of “Stacked Continent” greatly increases the refresh time and frequency of monsters , and all this is just to gain a little more advertising time.

一位民兵对阵两熊三巨鼠的地狱绘图 Infernal drawing of a militiaman against two bears and three rats

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The appearance of many imitators was naturally noticed by the original developer Aran, and players also asked in the Discord channel if there was any way to remove the “fakes” from the shelves.

Aran just replied in a rather helpless tone: “We also know these problems, but it is really difficult to do, haha.” He also explained that the App Store does not have a way to feedback information, the only way is to give Apple customer service sent an email to complain, but after receiving the email, Apple customer service forwarded the email to… the developer of the counterfeit product.

伤敌一千自损八百 Injuring the enemy one thousand and self-injuring eight hundred

Compared with these imitators, Sokpop itself seems to be very conscientious. After the game was launched on Steam, Aran began to worry that the game he had rushed to the shelves would not be recognized, because there was still a lot of balance work to be done in the game, so they rarely stepped up to a series of patch updates to the game.

After adding peaceful mode and difficulty options, they found that “Stacked Continent” was selling too well, and many players left comments for more new content.

So in the island chapter updated on July 11, there are more interesting designs similar to “Wild Wolf-Dog”, and some convenient operations that are highly requested by players have also been added to the game. Time pauses when dragging cards, automatic alignment of card grids, and automatic planting of crops in the new building “greenhouse”, all of which are aimed at improving the player’s gaming experience.

强迫症患者狂喜 obsessive-compulsive disorder

Although the studio needed money, and Aran wanted to make as much as possible, they still made the island a free update (rather than DLC being sold again). They used the original money to hire a translation company to translate the game into twelve languages, hoping to get more sales in more regions.

Among them, the emphasis is on Chinese, because “Chinese is really important”.

看来Aran是研究了很久的B站 It seems that Aran is station B that has been studied for a long time

Aran also mentioned in the video that he was worried about the feeling of fear when he developed the game.

After showing my colleagues the prototype of the game, the development of “Stacked Continent” was put on hold for a long time. Aran became afraid of work and did not want to continue to complete the task at hand, just because “fear that he would end up ruining such a wonderful idea with a bad game”.

场景重现 scene reproduction

This is probably the frustration of indie game developers: they come up with a brilliant idea, but can only watch the fruits of their labor take root in others.

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