How gamers are using realtime annotated maps to win online battles


This week, we interviewed one of our users who’s been using SketchTogether to give her team a leg up in the mobile-based game Clash of Clans.

By day, she’s a mother and a business owner, but, come “Battle Day” (which happens every weekend), the gloves come off and she leads her “clan” to victory. As leader, she takes on the task of helping new members of her clan get started, and also makes sure everyone is ready and knows what to do for Battle Day.

For those who haven’t played the game, Clash of Clans is a game available for Android and iOS in which players can form groups and attack enemy towns. Players need to create their own “base”, and can lead their troops to attack enemy bases.

As a remote worker, what I found interesting was that a significant number of Clash of Clans players never meet each other, and need to coordinate online. The player I interviewed explained how she was using SketchTogether to do just that.

She shared three ways that they’re using SketchTogether:

1. They tutor new players on how to play the game

When the clan gets new members, the experienced members hop on SketchTogether and explain the advanced tactics of how to play the game. They give tips on what to build first, what traps to avoid, and how to be a great player.

An annotated screenshot of Clash of Clans
A player shows where to place game units and how to use them.

In the above image, the clan leader uses an image of their base with call-outs (using the red arrow) to explain the order in which buildings should be built (which may not be obvious to new users).

2. They critique each other’s bases

New clan members take screenshots of their bases, and paste them into a shared folder hoping to get help. Experienced members of the clan then critique their base layout and give feedback on how to make it better.

An annotated screenshot of Clash of Clans

In the above picture, another player gives advice on how to build a base that is optimized for “farming”, which is dedicated to gathering more resources for their team.

3. They plan their attack

Once a week, the entire clan will engage in Battle Day. To plan for that, the team leader will scout the enemy bases, and create a plan of attack for their team members.

A screenshot of Clash of Clans on Preparation Day
Map of the enemy clan’s base that they’re going to attack.

Since each enemy base is different, the team lead will create a plan of attack for each opponent. The team lead will draw out battle plans of how to attack and what troops to use so that other clan members have a higher chance of success.

You can see an example of a team leader explaining how to attack an enemy base in the following video:


While this example focused on one use case, the approach the gamers used with their team to train, critique, and plan may be useful in any activity that involves coordinating a group of people. This not only includes other popular games like League of Legends, but also sports like basketball, football, and any other that involves planning a team's strategies and tactics on an open field.

This approach is also particularly helpful if the team members can't physically meet in person: the uploaded maps give remote members a context to point at and anchor discussions, making it easier to ask questions and understand explanations.

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