Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Gameplay - Part 2: No More Farming

Another big factor that was turning away people from playing, and especially new-comers, was blatant "farming". The "farming" in this context is constant attacking of a smaller player by a big player to loot resources of this player and possibly gain some experience by killing whatever defenders the smaller player can gather between attacks of the bigger player.

If this situation happens, the game for a smaller player is pretty much over. You can of course try negotiating a truce with the attacking player or try joining a clan, tribe, or alliance, but usually when you marked as a "Farm", nobody wants to help you or even deal with you and all you can do is to start all over again or just quit playing.

To solve this problem, I decided to separate novice players from experienced ones. The first step was to place players in locations on the Map according to their score, meaning that if it's a new player and his or her score is 0, there won't be any strong players with high scores around, or at least in immediate neighbourhood. The same technique is used when players are transferred to a new level. The next step was to introduce multiple levels. If your neighbour developing much faster than you and keep harassing you, sooner or later he or she will collect necessary number of Soul Gems and will have to move to another level, leaving you along. Moreover, if you are a weaker, but still an active player, it's possible to create a considerable resistance using Mercenaries and advanced military tactics (i.e. Counter-Attacking and Intercepting) to show your stronger neighbour that farming you is not a good or at least a profitable idea. 

All these means did not eliminate the risk of being farmed completely, but reduced chances of it happening quite significantly, giving every player a chance to play and enjoy the game.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Gameplay - Part 1: One Player - One Town

At the same time as I started programming and testing some theories on how the game will work, I was all the time figuring out its gameplay. The gameplay is the most contributing factor for the game's success and it was the only area where I could compete with big guys who had whole teams for designing, graphics, and programming. The main concept of any gameplay of course is that the game should be interesting. And this interest should last for a period long enough for people to get attached to the game, so they will keep playing even after it becomes a bit boring and tedious as anything does what we do on the daily basis.
One of the ways to do it was to eliminate as many annoying or unfair factors as possible. Something like an extensive macro-management of your empire, where you build your town; you develop it, colonize or conquer another place and then do it all over again, and again, and again. And after you do it twenty times, it's not fun anymore, but you have to keep growing as otherwise you would be destroyed by the guys who have more towns, villages, and castles than you and the game starts taking more and more time, giving you less and less entertainment. So, after a bit of a pondering about how to fix it, it was decided – one player can have only one town.
This decision presented a few new challenges to solve, but at the end I decided to split the whole area into cells with the size of 5 x 5 fields and each cell to be a domain for one player. All cells would contain the same set of map objects, but located randomly (as well as player's towns) to create a general picture of a random map, which would give at the same time the same opportunities for all players.