Monday, May 26, 2008

Badges, challenges, quests?

I had plans for a badge system but didn't want to add it to the game right now. However, I guess Golemizer was laking "Dings", which drive players and keep them playing until the next "Ding", content.

Until then, Golemizer was only (if you forget about the casual housing, chatting that some might enjoy as a graphic chatroom) a competitive game, actions coming from the players to battle for the best ranks. I guess that was a bad bet. It wasn't obvious what could be done, where the fun was unless players figured on their own "Hey, I want to be the top ranked player".

Basically, there was nothing obvious to do. So the badge system combined with the new commands I added to the AI are now allowing me to build what you can call quests (I prefer challenges).

The first challenge that I just finished is the crafting tutorial. The first version of the tutorial was only an NPC telling you the basics of crafting. The new NPC is more an interactive guide that teach the player each steps of crafting while keeping track of progress.

Step 1:
The NPC tells the player to train the skills needed to craft a forge. When the skills are learned, the NPC will switch to step 2.

Step 2:
The NPC teach the player how to gather resources and tell him which resources to gather to craft a forge. Once all resources are gathered, the NPC switch to step 3.

Step 3:
The NPC teach the player how to craft a forge, drop his free house he was given on account creation and how to drop the forge in the house. Once the forge is crafted, the NPC switch to step 4

Step 4:
The NPC tells the player which steps to follow to finally craft his first golem (a clockwork gnome) using the forge to craft the parts needed. Once the clockwork gnome is crafted, the NPC switch to step 5.

Step 5:
The tutorial is completed and the player crafted his first golem while learning about the basic systems of the game. The player receives a badge (Crafting tutorial completed), prestige points and some gold (I might throw in a special item too like something to decorate the house or something).

At any time, the NPC can tell which steps have been completed so a player could complete steps 1 to 3 then logout and continue another time. Once the challenge is completed, it cannot be done again (at least this one).

Here are some examples of challenges I can/will add to the game with the new commands. More challenges type will come as I get time but this should be a good start to help spring some interest in the game and possibly lead the players to their own challenges instead of leaving them alone with no clue of what to do:

- Gather X type of resources
- Defeat specific type of NPC
- Defeat specific type of NPC using a specific type of golem
- Gain X prestige points (milestone possibly opening titles)
- Create your own guild with X members and bring this guild to X prestige points
- Craft specific type of item requiring rare ingredients

Like I said, it's just a start but it now gives players some goals to achieve instead of just having players rankings.

Oh, one cool new item too. The frequency analyzer which connect to You Tube and allow players to set videos in it. While this can be used to put some random content in your house, it's also a first way to allow players to possibly create their own content (might be nice for RP!).

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Javascript awesomeness

I can probably learn a thing or two from this Super Mario Kart in javascript:

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Stages of MMO development with no experience

Psychochild has an interesting post on stages of MMO development. While reading this, I realize that MMO development is not really different from any other web or desktop application.

Without any experience of MMO development, I basically followed the same path based on my experience at my day job. I have rarely seen posts linking traditional software development with games so I'm wondering why there's seems to have a line between the two.

Is it because game designers never did other software development? Is it because traditional software developers have never crossed the line over to games?

Between the two, I see little differences. I don't mean that someone that worked 10 years doing accounting softwares would automatically be able build a successful game, just that the steps of production are really the same.

The game designer is able to come up with something "fun" while the software developer is able to come up with something useful. This ability isn't related to stages of development so that's what telling me that someone with the right project management background would be able to go on either side of the line, with the right knowledge and interest (one that can manage the development of an acounting sofware doesn't mean he would make a game that people would enjoy even if development is done the right way).

So what's the point of all this? Well, I guess I'm just playing with it trying to see if I'm someone that comes from traditional software development that will be able to cross the line and finish my current project in a successful way (not talking about financial or numbers matters here, just about what is wrong and right with the project compared to another).

Of course, being the only developer in this project is blurring a bit each stages but over the years, I learned to work step by step just like an analyst and not "all-in" like a programmer. So far I think I did a pretty good job following each stages but what will be really interesting to see here is what could have I done better to improve the result. What can I learn here that will help me with the next project. Does my lack of "game development" knowledge have been filled back by my experience working with business web and desktop applications.

Oh, by the way, step 6 is right around the corner. Next week, hopefully, we'll see some more people in Golemizer!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Looking for ideas - Multiple accounts creation problem

I recently added a nice little system that really get a guild to work together. A golem that each hour gives 1 prestige points to each guildmates. Prestige points are used to calculate rankings and to buy special items.

The problem is that since Golemizer is a free game, some people could just create multiple zombie accounts to artificially inflate their guild ranking with such golem (guild ranking is the sum of all guildmates prestige points).

The easy way to fix this would make the golem so it gives prestige points only to it's owner. The guild ranking would still benefit from it. Of course, the teamwork aspect is lessen since other guildmates doesn't get any "real" benefit from it besides higher guild ranking (which has no effect on the game, that might be enough for some players though). Iit feels that there's less reasons to deploy energy to defend the golem that way.

Anyone have an idea how to fix this?

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Two new golems

I'm expanding the zombie theme here but more will come. Have some nice ideas for mechanical ones and also a special type of golem that won't really be a golem.

Think of monuments, statues, ... Building them will provide prestige points to the whole guild on a regular basis (for example: 1 prestige points every hour). While they will be in the golem category, they will be helpless and motionless. So the guild will have to provide some defense for it.

That should open a more competitive gameplay style between guilds

Brainlocked Zombie

The Brainlocked Zombie is a regular zombie that will always follow your orders (zombies often forgots what you told them and will go on their own business). This makes it the first real golem that can be used while the player is online.

To craft this type of golem, the correct skill must be trained but the player must also purchase a "Rage Inhibitor" that is sold by some crazy fool located at -4,-6 on the map. You'll need to spend both gold and some prestige points to get it.

Plated Zombie

Another version of the regular zombie. This one has twice the HP but is also almost half as slow.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New art for characters

Here's two samples. Should be added to beta tonight.

Work was done by Mick Hanrahan ( I recommend him if you're in need of some graphic work. He's very professional and nailed exactly what I was looking for.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

The critical beta phase

So it's started! For the first time since several months, fresh eyes have seen the game. Quite some bugs have already been found too but nothing really hard to fix.

The more you work on something, the more you get buried by it, having a hard time to get back a little to see the big picture and revisit systems you implemented at the beginning. That's why beta is so critical. You need some help to point you the obvious that you're not able to see anymore.

Tonight, I'd like to be able to fix the current list of bugs that have been found which include players being able to pick props in zone where they shouldn't be able, putting buildings in mines and the chest that doesn't show all items in it. More are on my to-do list and considering there's nothing really big, it should be possible to get all of this into tonight's update.

On another note, I filled a request to upgrade a bit the memory of the server. I guess it should be filled around the beginning of the week. More memory should mean better speed. It's only this week-end that I learned that VPS can't access virtual memory so I was stuck with 416 MB which was borderline with SQL running.

In the best of world I'd have 1 server for the web site and forums, another for SQL and another for the game server but well, maybe one day.

And some good news... I should receive the new art for the characters this evening or tomorrow! Can't wait to put this in place as the artist did a really good job.

So to all testers, keep up the good work and thanks for your help!

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Looking for more beta testers

Things are going well and the game is in a playable state with enough "content" to test all systems in a more official way.

So I'm looking for people that would like to join the closed beta to help test everything and give me feedback on what might be essential to add to get an enjoyable play experience.

There's still stuff in development like players' rankings, the art for characters still has to be changed and documentation to be written but it's ready to get more people.

So if you're interested, send me an email at publicationsdumensonge [at] gmail [dot] com

I'll let few people in at first and more as time goes depending on the requests I receive. I'll write back to selected people probably on sunday this week with instructions.

Closed beta will go on as long as necessary. Testers need to be patient as I won't give any ETA for now.

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