Friday, November 30, 2007

En Garde uses a game mechanic I call "obscured information." It's information that theoretically you could know, if you had a perfect memory, but in practice everyone just keeps only vague track of things, and ends up using guesses and hunches to base their moves on. It's the same mechanic used in Danger Zone (for gems) and Frootcake (for the coins). It allows a little bit of randomness into the game, and is a big part of what gives the game its playability.

Adapting these games to a computer medium leaves open the possibility of automated tracking devices. It's simple enough to write a script that tracks this information for you. It changes the tenor of the game, making it less fun. And of course, it gives an unfair advantage to one player if his opponent is not similarly equipped. So it's always been the policy at Procyon Games to make such devices illegal. Anyone caught using one will be banned from all Procyon Games, and their name will not appear on any high score board.

Also -- and this should go without saying, really, but I include it for completeness -- the use of alts to play against yourself, or to manipulate the score rankings in any way, is also considered cheating, and carries a similar penalty.

Status Report

Here's what I'm working on at the moment...

En Garde
There's a couple little bugs in the new Team Scoring. The menu doesn't save the name of the team properly, so it glitches if the owner's not online. It's just a display bug, the signup still works. But there's no easy way to tell who is on a team. I'm not sure how I want to fix that. Eventually I'll want to put up my own Procyon web site with info like that.

Deck of Cards
I want to add Crazy Eights to the Deck of Cards. It'll be good to have a game that doesn't need four people to play.

Yes, I'm still working on getting Frootcake ready for sale. The Team Scoring took longer than I thought. I had hoped to have Frootcake ready by now, but that's not going to happen. I've fixed the cake-stacking bugs, I'm working on a new HUD for the game, and I still need to get the licensing and high-score mechanism working. So it's probably not going to be ready until next year.

En Garde Fashion

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Want to show the world you're serious about your fencing? Bryndal Ellison has created a fencing outfit, complete with mask, gloves, and just about everything else you need to look the part of a real fencer. You can buy one for just L$100 at the En Garde Arena.

Do you want to show off your talent for design with your own fencing outfit? Or perhaps you've created a special weapon that shoots firebolts whenever you do a triple-strength attack. I'm giving away free vendor space to anyone who creates En Garde-themed merchandise. Show me what you've got!

Team Scoring is here

Friday, November 23, 2007

Team scoring is finally here!

The new release of En Garde, version 1.08, has everything you need to play with team scoring. Since so much has changed, I recommend that current owners replace everything by getting a whole new box:

  • Visit the En Garde Areana and click the vendor there. It will give you a whole new setup.

  • Derez your old game "/8 derez" and put the new one in its place

  • Delete your old remote, and take the new one

  • Delete your old scoreboards, and replace them with new ones

The game also requires new HUDs, which are included in the game itself. Delete your old HUDs and get new ones from the game.

How Team Scoring Works

Everyone who owns an En Garde game can make a team. To name your team, touch your own game and then click "Name Team." You can call your team whatever you want, but names that are offensive, deceptive, or antagonistic will be deleted. (Repeated violations are a license offense). By default your team name is "Team" and your first name.

If someone wants to join your team, they can touch your game, then click "Join Team." You can only be a member of one team; if you're already on a team you will leave that team to join the new one. I've also included in the box a signup prim you can use. You can also copy the script out of that prim. People can then click whatever object you drop it in to sign up on your team.

Team owners don't have to be on their own team, and by default they're on no team at all, just like everyone else (so you have to sign up for your own team).

The team score is just the sum of the scores of all its members. The new scoreboard has a "Team" mode which shows team rankings, and the "Cycle" mode will show it as well.

It's my hope that the new scoring will promote the game. It's been a big change, and I want to let things settle for a week or two. Then we'll see how it's working, and maybe make adjustments. If you have comments about the new scoring system, the best place as always is to comment here on my blog.

Bug Fixes in this version

  • Players can no longer play 4x attacks.

  • Selecting cards when it's not your turn is no longer possible (it could get confused and move you random amounts)

  • The 'touch' code has been reworked to try and prevent situations where the HUD would lock up

  • The center square was oddly colored purple. It's now just slightly darker than the rest of the board

  • Retexturing your board changed the center square to plywood. Fixed.

  • Sometimes games would not be recorded properly, and you wouldn't get Champion points for them. Fixed.

  • At the end of each game, it tells you your points and ranking, even if you're not on the leader board

  • The "Local Champions" header is now the same color as "World Champions"

  • The scoreboard is mod- and copy-ok, so you can retexture the background and then make copies of it.

  • Players have been moved up a bit, so taller avatars won't have their feet in the floor

New scoring, Phase 2

Monday, November 19, 2007

I now have Phase 2 of the scoring in place.

Under the old system, if you beat someone who had more points than you, you got all their points. This was nice in that if you beat the #1 ranked person, you became the new #1, which made a certain amount of sense. But it made the board too fluid, and a lucky win by a noob could catapult him to the top unfairly.

In the new system, when you beat someone who's ranked above you, you get one quarter of the point difference (so if they have 100 and you have 50, you would gain 50/4 = 12 points). Also, the person you beat loses those points. So there's a net-zero gain (both players still receive their touch points, though).

This should make the board more stable, and hopefully a better reflection of true skill. Also it will make team scoring easier (team scores will just be the sum of all member scores).

The rankings have been updated to retroactively reflect the new score system.

New En Garde Scoring, Part 1

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'd like to thank everyone for the comments posted to the "change the high scores" entry. Especially Richard, who pointed me to the Case's Ladder system. There's a lot that's good in there, and I'd like to emulate it, but not everything is applicable. They seem to do a lot of manual jiggering of their ladders, and I need everything to be as automated as possible.

I will be rolling out the new score system in phases. The first phase, just installed, is this: if you play someone more than 3 times in one day, you don't get any points for games after that. This is meant to encourage people to switch partners and meet other players of the game.

Also, I implemented the final optimization pass on my poor server, which was melting under the strain of all the games you people have been playing. If this doesn't relieve the strain, then I'll have to upgrade my server plan!