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Post news Report RSS The ranking list and achievements in Olvand

Olvand is a sandbox game, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because you can set your own goals, and bad because you HAVE to set your own goals. Here's how I try to fix that.

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Olvand is a sandbox game, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because you can set your own goals, and bad because you HAVE to set your own goals. That's bad because it means that there won't be anything to do in the game if the players are out of ideas. The many playtest sessions usually lasted around 2-3 hours, and I always assumed this was because playtesters had had enough of finding bugs, thinking about balancing issues and trying things out for me. A few weeks ago, however, one of my friends suddenly had this brilliant insight: there should always be something to do in a game. It's obvious in retrospect, but I hadn't really thought about it, and it was a real problem for my game. People always stopped playing after two hours or so because at that point it was no longer clear what to do!

A possible way to solve this, of course, is a leveling system. Leveling systems give you a clear goal and a good reason to play the game longer... but I really really really don't like them. I don't know whether it's the concept of the leveling system itself or whether most games implement it poorly, but I associate leveling with doing the same thing over and over. Sometimes it's hidden a little better, but it almost always comes down to collecting stuff, finding locations and most of all killing things, and a lot of it. Those with the most patience and perseverance win the game. How can that be fun? So instead, I do two things: achievements / accolades and a ranking list.

1. Achievements

If you do it wrong, achievements are hardly better than a leveling system; a lot of games have achievements like 'kill 5 rats' or 'go bring x to y', which in practice makes it a leveling system without numbers. But achievements give designers a lot more creative freedom: you can ask your players to do something really special (visit five towns in less than ten minutes, win a duel in less than ten seconds) or weird (trade a wizardhat against a shovel, walk on the main street naked), or... you name it. On top of that, achievements have more benefits: they can function as a little tutorial in the beginning of the game. As you can see, that's mostly how I plan to use them in the beginning (screenshot from the website):


2. Ranking list
The second thing is a ranking system. Olvand only has one minigame ready at the moment: dueling - I'm currently working on a second one. The duel in itself isn't really interesting, but its consequences probably are: on olvand.com a list is kept for each server about how many duels everyone won, and this list is also visible ingame. Being at the top of such list could be a symbol of status many desire. This idea is inspired by a text-based internet game I once created; it was kind of similar to Hattrick, but set in the future. None of the players really cared about winning or losing, UNTIL I added a 'Best players' list. Suddenly, winning or losing was the only thing the players talked about. There's something about being only 3 wins below your friend that'll make you to play just a little longer, so you'll be above him. And not only that, it also makes you wonder what you could do to win more, which will hopefully encourage people to [think about how to improve the gun]. Another screenshot from the website:


Will these two solutions work? I really don't know. Let's hope for the best.

If you want more development, see [twitter] or [facebook].

Comments
Jothmein
Jothmein

I do like the idea of achievements to guide direction, although I feel you should be careful in how to use them.

Personally the way I would do it is by hiding the conditions for the achievement, but make the achievement title a hint to how to get it almost. The best example in the list you gave there would be "There is no place like..." but hide the condition for which you get the achievement, in that case building your first home. For the Large House one you could do something like "Moving on up" or "Beverly Hillbillies" etc.

My reasoning for this is that while they can be used to drive what your players do, you do not want it to destroy the discovery/exploration aspect of your open world game. It should be used to drive the players but not get rid of your element of surprise.

Anyways, I am eagerly awaiting playing this. In fact it is the first time I have ever set up an RSS feed :) Let me know what you think of my idea as well.

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Woseseltops Author
Woseseltops

Thanks for this great suggestion! I'll have to think about this a little more, but at the moment I'm leaning toward doing it like you said; you're probably right in that it leaves the exploration aspect intact. A counter-argument would be that not giving the conditions would frustrate completionists, but those people would probably use wikis anyway.

And your first RSS feed? I feel really honored :).

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johnlier
johnlier

Looks like it has potential, I've signed up for play testing so hopefully i get a good smack at the game before a hit you with wads of money ;) Ps: You should put a donate button on your website <3 -John

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Woseseltops Author
Woseseltops

Thanks a lot! And about the donate button (and I can't believe I'm going to say this), I feel a little uncomfortable receiving money while I'm not even sure if I've got a playable game. Once the bugs are fixed, the game turns out to be fun and enough people want to play, I might switch to the Minecraft model. Could you save your wads of money until then? :P

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