Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

GTB and uploading content

Gratuitous Space Battles had a fairly straightforward challenge system. You uploaded your challenge, which was a combination of unit designs + deployment + orders, with maybe a few map variable, and others downloaded and played them.

As I start proper work on uploaded stuff for GTB, I realise it’s a bit more complex and tricky. My two aims are for you to be able to:

  • Upload or play against someone else’s unit designs + attacking ‘recording’ of their units, when you are playing in normal tower defense mode.
  • Upload or play with someone else’s custom designed map, including whatever graphic resources they have included within it

Of course, there is immediate scope for overlap, where someone designs a new map, plays as the attacker against adaptive AI, and then wants to upload both the map, and their recording of their attacks, and units, so you get to play against new units on new maps. I want to support this (obviously) whilst not letting the UI design of it get too clunky. I’m only starting to consider the real implications now.

Another major consideration is encouragement and ease of use. I need uploading your forces to be absolutely trivial to do, and encourage everyone to do it. I also want to minimize the traffic going to and from my server…

Currently, I have an edit button for every map. You can edit the map from there, and save it out as a ‘custom’ scenario. Once you play that scenario, like any scenario, you have the option to upload it as a challenge. This feels horribly clunky.

I guess ideally, that at the end of a battle, you should be prompted to upload a challenge, and if you select yes, you can choose (where applicable) if this is a ‘map-only’ upload, or whether it also contains your unit designs and deployment timings (assuming you were the attacker).

And given the way my system currently works, with zipped uop folders, it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, People would download a map, and if it had player recordings included, they could be used, or not, entirely up to them. If no ai designs are present then the adaptive AI automatically chooses from any design (by default they are restricted to that scenarios AI designs).

I think that sounds ok.

4 thoughts on GTB and uploading content

  1. The map and graphics upload would work fine, but depending on the level design I wonder about the “attack recording”, for example: if there are three main “lanes” of attack and the recording player is playing against something that’s got a lot of defenses on one or two of those lanes, they’re probably going to either focus on those defended lanes (if the goal includes taking out the defenses) or focus on the less-defended lane (if the goal is just getting through). Either way, someone playing against that recording could simply swap which lanes they’re “heavy” on and probably do a pretty good smashing on the recording, right?

  2. Regarding scenario uploads:

    High barrier to entry = Few scenarios are created. They are created by the more dedicated players and they are more likely to be unfinished or of a higher quality.

    Low barrier to entry = Many many scenarios are created. Everyone has a go at it. The other players of these scenarios are overwhelmed by a huge garbage heap of low quality scenarios.

  3. One way which might help avoid the problem Watsong has raised is to somehow build in a method by which you MUST rate a downloaded scenario the first time you play it. It would only need to be mandatory once, after that you could just have a way to modify a rating if a player’s opinion changes over repeated playings. I would suggest rating on at least two scales: Difficulty and Interest (I’m not sure that is the right word. I am trying to get at scenarios that pose interesting tactical situations or are otherwise interesting.) The goal would be to help sort good scenarios from bad, yet still allow them to be easy to design and upload without overwhelming the true gems.

    I am still not quite clear on what I am uploading in terms of units and placement. With the ability to dynamically change attack routes and place new structures (unlike GSB) it seems like only the initial plan could be pre-loaded before it becomes hopelessly obsolete. I’m not sure what you can do about this, short of allowing the AI to take over using a player’s designs. Of course, the AI will need some way to recognize what designs are good against what enemies, either by analyzing the weapons and chassis used or by some mechanism where the player just rates his/her designs against specific enemy types.

    Finally, with regard to the demo video, it looks great. I do agree with other posters that I’d like to hear more impact from heavy shells and that night is a bit too dark. I’d be tempted to actually play in route or selection mode just so I could see what was going on, as presently I could make very little sense of it when using just the searchlights.

  4. P.S. one question…

    When you download a scenario with a player recording, will it be possible to play against the AI using the opposing player’s vehicle designs but not their deployment?

Comments are currently closed.