Nice article in the latest (Fall 2011) issue of Game Career Guide:
Some gadget fetishism got the better of me recently, and I decided to pick up a Sony LiveView. It’s like a watch (“microdisplay”) that syncs with your Android phone via Bluetooth and can provide notifications, remotely control the music player etc. Although it has it’s frustrating moments, it’s fun little device, and I like the simple clean design.
It comes with a bunch of handy default notification plugins: text messages, missed calls, calendar notifications, Facebook status update notifications, RSS feeds etc. There is also a Twitter plugin provided by Sony, but I felt it was a little substandard and didn’t really meet my needs. So, I decided to write Wrist Tweets – my own personal version of what the stock LiveView Twitter plugin should have been.
Wrist Tweet supports:
- Timeline notifications
- Mention/@reply notifications
- Direct message notifications
- Opening the first URL in a tweet on your phone
- Authentication via OAuth – no locally stored password
- A choice of sensible update frequencies, from 1 minute up to 6 hours
- Notifications of tweets on a Twitter “list”
Many of you have probably noticed (and quite a few players have commented) that the judging rate in GrandMasterPixel has become very slow in the last few months. This is frustrating since I know everyone likes to see how their pics do in the Arena quickly .. it’s pretty disheartening to submit you masterpiece, only to check two days later and find it hasn’t even been judged once !
As I’ve mentioned, this is to do with the having a larger ‘live’ pic population than when the game first started. My simple simulations suggest that with the current live pic population of about ~2000 pics, and about ~1000 battles daily (which was the case a few weeks ago), only about 15 % of pics should be missing out on getting at least one battle per day. The numbers will be a little different now, but you get the idea. Nonetheless … judging just seems too slow, so changes are afoot.
For the latest GrandMasterPixel update, I increased the judging token recharge to one token every 15 mins (4X faster) .. but since many people will then also submit 4X faster, this won’t really solve the slow judging issue. The big change I have planned next is to increase the number of hitpoints for new pics (from 10 to 100) and the submission cost (from 10 to 40 submission credits per pic). I’ll probably also make it so pics lose 2 HP per lost battle, to prevent the pic population growing too much. I haven’t settled on these numbers 100% yet, but if my spreadsheet shenanigans are correct, the result of all this should be a faster judging rate, with a similar submission rate (about a maximum of two pics per day).
For the math/game design nerds: The other advantage will be that since all the numbers in the game are larger, it should be easier to tweak things more subtly in the future without moving away from whole numbers (eg, the smallest possible tweak to submission cost currently is 10 %, a change of +/- 1 to the total value of 10. A higher overall submission cost will make smaller percentage changes possible). Going to larger numbers kind of goes against my initial philosophy of keeping the numbers small to make the game more approachable to casual players … but now I’m thinking that this was a false premise, and it won’t be an issue for the majority of existing (or prospective) players.
My biggest issue with making these changes is how to best deal with existing pics. Some people would very rightly complain if brand new pics suddenly got 10x more HP, allowing them to easily acquire more wins than an ‘old-world pic’ – so I will probably scale up the hitpoints for all existing pics by 10x (and current wins/loses by 5x), to match what would be equivalent if they had been submitted under the new system. This is probably not quite perfect, but it will have to do. At the same time, achievement thresholds related to numbers of wins will have to be multiplies by 5. In the process I just need to be very very careful to not completely mess up the database somehow :P
Bonus braindump !
While I’m at it – here’s another idea of something the might help speed up the perceived judging rate. I could prioritize judging for active players, so that if someone hasn’t judged for one week, their pics get flagged as “inactive” and don’t get included in battles as frequently as pics of active players. This would reward you guys that play every day, without requiring any major ‘economic’ changes immediately.
10,000th pic FTW !
Sometime in the last ~24 hours the 10,000th pic was submitted to GrandMasterPixel … nice looking candle, NextTarget ! Thanks to everyone who has stuck with GrandMasterPixel during this (extended) beta period, it’s been a fun and exciting time, watching all these cool little pics appear magically from ‘teh handheld Internets’. I’m aware that there is a problem with pics not getting battles very frequently at the moment … this is a result of the live pic population growing much larger over the past few months. My quick simulations suggest that with the current ‘live’ pic population of about ~2000 pics, and the current number of battles daily (~ 1000), only about 15 % of pics should be missing out on getting at least one battle per day … so if you submit a pic and it doesn’t get any wins/loses within about ~48 hours, you are just very unlucky (0.15*0.15 = about a 1 in 50 chance). Probability doesn’t discriminate, and the pseudorandom number generator on the server (Google App Engine) is quite fair :)
In the coming weeks I plan to make some changes to recharge rates, costs and scoring that should hopefully speed things up.
I don’t get nearly enough time to play with interactive fiction (aka “text adventures”), but the genre and it’s history really appeals to me .. hence the reason I bought Jason Scott’s new doco – GET LAMP.
Jason (of http://textfiles.com fame) has put some real effort into getting some classic cover art on the DVD, and included a little “feelie” – a fairly weighty numbered coin (as was a common marketing tactic back in the days when Infocom sold boxed versions of it’s games). Here’s a few pics:
I haven’t watched all the content on the DVD yet, but many of the interviews contain little gems of experience on game design issues that early interactive fiction authors encountered, most of which also applies to graphical games as much as text-only games.