As with all games, actually making it tears the design in all kinds of directions. This is one reason why people who try to get a lead designer job based on lots of paperwork and no actual game often come up against a brick wall… No game design survives contact with the code.

So… I’ve been working on the online challenges for GTB. It all now basically works, in it’s basic form. When a battle ends, you can post that battle as a challenge to the server, for everyone, or a specific user. This is only valid if the map is a new one you designed (or edited) or if you played as attacker.

The other players can now browse a challenge list, select and download your challenge map. They can they play on it as attacker or defender. This is where it gets fidgety..

If you played as attacker, and uploaded your battle as a challenge on a default (pre-built) map, and someone downloads it, it’s pointless them playing as attacker, because effectively, nothing has changed. They are just playing the normal map.

If, however, they play as defender, things happen as expected. they see YOUR units, deployed at YOUR choices of location and times, and it’s like an asynch multiplayer game. Yay!

If they edited the map, changed loads of variables and moved some props etc, and uploaded it, then it makes sense for you to play attacker OR defender, because hey, you just got a free community-based extra map to play with. Yay!

The problem is, making it clear to the player that sometimes they download a challenge and it’s only playable as defense, sometimes as either. I can use tooltips etc, and flags in the challenge database, but I still phear confusion. Plus, in an ideal world, I’d allow a player to bundle in ALL his units with a challenge too (this should be easy), so they can say “here is a normal default map, but here are my unit designs to fight against”.

I want it to all be intuitive, and although it will be awesome, so far it is NOT intuitive :(

In other news, GSB ipad is coming along. Still ironing out performance issues. Or rather, mark is. I’m just blogging about it :D

9 Responses to “More thoughts on GTB challenge games”

  1. JW says:

    But playing as the attacker does have a purpose, to try to best the other person’s high score!

  2. cliffski says:

    Hopefully all that sort of thing will be handled by a separate stats and achievements thingy :D

  3. Weedy says:

    This may not be related but maybe you could do a checksum to every map and unit a player has on his computer in his GTB folder and when an user clicks open a certain map on the list, a checklist popsup which tells “map: edited” “attacking units: edited” “defending units: not edited” and based on this checksum the game fetches the unedited units and files from GTB core files or checks an index list (or whatever it is called) which has all the downloaded maps, units and other things players could have in their game folder already and then just makes connection to them by pointing to them.

    This way you could save HD space by not implementing everything all the time in every single challenge packet but rather only make the game download the missing files on each player’s HD and point to already existing ones and fetch the already existing and downloaded files from other players’ folders.

    Or something like that.

    But yeah. Flags are a good choice. Such as “Show/don’t show custom units” “Show/don’t show customized maps” and so on.

  4. cliffski says:

    Yes, the game already does a bit of that with ‘proxy’ files that aren’t downloaded or uploaded, but just a note that says “this is the 3rd default scenario”. I’m sure I’ll do some more of that.

  5. In regards to the presentation to the player, perhaps coming up with distinct names for those different concepts could alleviate some of the fidgety elements… granted I don’t see any particularly stellar way for that to be super intuitive, as players will still need to know the implications of the different types of uploads, but it may be a slight better than having to wrangle a pile of options.

  6. Wouter Lievens says:

    “its basic form” not “it’s basic form” :-)

  7. DrugCrazed says:

    Surely just sorting things into defence only, attack only or both would work?

  8. Scott says:

    This sounds pretty straightforward (says the guy not responsible for coding it), I’d break out the challenges from the map.

    Give the player the ability to post chalenges at the end of a battle and also post the map transparently if it’s a local version that’s used in a challenge that is being posted.

    Let the player browse for maps and challenges separately but get the map if a player chooses a challenge with a map they don’t have.

  9. Ano N. Ymous says:

    How about if you offer the user to browse for “Challenges for Defender” and “Challenges for Attacker” but do not offer an “All Challenges” list in the first place? Any challenge that is playable as either is of course presented on both lists, and if you don’t have any attacker-only possibilities then the “Challenges for Defender” is effectively the all challenges list anyway..