Olvand is a little multiplayer sandbox RPG, where the players live in self-built towns and can go on all kinds of adventures together. Imagine living with your friends in a small town in the mountains, or creating a new group of friends in a pub in the metropole you all live in. There will be several minigames the inhabitants of a server can play together, among which will be combat based games like King of the Hill or Capture the Flag. You will be able to play against other people in your city, or as a city against another city, or as a whole server against another server. The combat works with self-built guns, in which all kinds of powers can be combined to create unique effects. You can sign up to be a tester on olvand.com.

Some pictures of what I want to add in the future:

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Building a little town together A fishing contest Mining for materials
Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Olvand's new cave director, pt. I

0 comments by Woseseltops on Dec 14th, 2014

As you may remember, I spoke about Olvand's [new monster generator] a few weeks ago. This generator randomizes monster's appearances, varying colors and shapes. The main purpose of this (besides a cool gimmick) is to communicate the sophistication of the AI: I think players will grasp a lot quicker that monster X behaves different from monster Y if monster X also looks different from monster Y. However, I've never told you how exactly the AI of monsters in caves will work. That's what this and the next blogpost will be about.

The inspiration: L4D
I have always been fascinated by the AI director in Valve's Left 4 Dead. For those who don't know: Left 4 Dead is a game about getting from one point to another in a team of 4 players. Between those two points, there are zombies that will try to kill you if you do not kill them. The brilliance of this rather simple game idea is that its levels aren't static. Instead, L4D uses what Valve calls 'the AI director', a piece of software that tracks where the players are and how they are doing, and uses that to place zombies, but also things like weapons and healthpacks in the area.

When I originally read about the AI Director, I was fascinated by the idea, but I didn't really believe it would work well. Something generated by a computer could never be as interesting as something a human designer thought about long and hard, I thought - at least not the first time. After having played L4D, I'd say that it is at least as good as a level created by human, and probably even better.

Why? Because the AI director keeps the game exciting. Let me explain. It will surprise nobody that if you have to cross an area with very few and/or very weak enemies, excitement levels drop quickly. However, what game designers often don't realize is that it works the other way as well: if you have to battle a never-ending stream of tough enemies, at some point you get used to this, and it doesn't scare you anymore:


The AI director takes this into account and makes sure that periods with a lot of action are alternated with calm moments. This way, climaxes always feel like climaxes.

Making sure that climaxes are followed by calm moments which are again followed by climaxes is something you can of course also achieve with some clever level design, but only to a certain extent. When a climax or calm moment is needed exactly differs from player to player and even from playsession to playsession. I believe this is why the dynamic nature of the AI director works so much better than static level: no matter how good or bad your doing, climaxes always feel like real climaxes.


Guessing how the player feels
When I first experienced L4D I immediately knew this is what I wanted for Olvand's caves as well: an AI director, in Olvand case called a 'Cave director', that keeps track of how the players feel and customize the experience on the basis of that. To achieve that, however, the Cave director needs to be able to estimate the player's stress level. How? I'm not fully sure, to be honest, but I'm going to start with the following events as stress indicators:

* Losing a large percentage of your health. I imagine that going from 20 to 10 HP is much more stressful than going from 100HP to 90HP, although it's the same amount of HP. What matters is that the former case brings you a lot closer to death than the latter. In other words, the larger the percentage of health you lose, the more your (estimated) stress level increases.

* Killing an enemy that is really close to you. This one might not be that straightforward, but it summarizes four possible events that are all stressful: (1) a monster came running to you, but you didn't see him until he was really close (for example, because of the darkness), (2) a monster came running to you, but it was so powerful that you couldn't kill it before it was really close, (3) there were so many monsters coming to you that you couldn't kill all of them before at least one of them came really close or (4) you sneaked up to a monster and got really close. In other words, the closer your kill is to you, the more your (estimated) stress level increases.

* Getting hit multiple times in a short amount of time. I imagine losing 5 times 10HP spread over 15 minutes is a lot less stressful than losing them in 10 seconds. While in the first case, they will feel like little mistakes, in the second case you'll probably feel like 'OMG what's happening?!'... and that's a lot more stressful. In the words, if you get hit, the shorter the time between this hit and the previous one, the more you (estimated) stress level increases.

* A sound effect generated by an enemy that is relatively close. This one is inspired by Minecraft: how many times I've jumped up hearing that 'mbbuuuuh' sound effect from zombies... It's a sound effect that tells the player: you are going to be in danger pretty soon, and you didn't even notice it coming, which for some reason is extremely scary (at least, for me). I'm not sure whether monster sound effects are going to make into Olvand rose, but if so, I think this event is very likely to increase the stress level. In other words, the louder a sound effect generated by a monster is played back, the more your (estimated) stress level increases.

Will all of these things work? Probably not; time (and a lot of testing) will tell. And let's assume we know can estimate the player's stress level perfectly... what's next? That will be the topic of next blogpost.


If you want more development, see [twitter] or [facebook]. If you want to be a tester, you can subscribe on[olvand.com].

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 399)
Rarkid1
Rarkid1 Nov 23 2014, 7:41pm says:

Please anyone inv me kiko_sk8ter@hotmail.com ty ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Imsociallyawkward
Imsociallyawkward Nov 22 2014, 10:05pm says:

ah would anyone invite me to play this? It looks super awesome and id love to try it!

mrmadwulf@hotmail.com

+2 votes     reply to comment
ZeroInFo56
ZeroInFo56 Aug 2 2014, 1:04pm says:

If anybody would like an invite to Olvand, inbox me. They're completely free ^.^

+3 votes     reply to comment
megaodin
megaodin Dec 17 2014, 10:57am replied:

If you really do it (nadie252525@hotmail.com)

+1 vote     reply to comment
ezzalla
ezzalla Nov 22 2014, 11:37am replied:

I want to please, as it is impossible to play it without an invite
ezzalla1@gmail.com

+1 vote     reply to comment
TheAskeK
TheAskeK Nov 10 2014, 2:03pm replied:

I would really want one, my email is: theaskek@gmail.com
And thank you so much ;D

- Aske

+1 vote     reply to comment
Guest
Guest Oct 18 2014, 1:08pm replied:

This comment is currently awaiting admin approval, join now to view.

Deadlieuwe
Deadlieuwe Aug 12 2014, 4:19pm replied:

i want :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
ZeroInFo56
ZeroInFo56 Aug 27 2014, 11:13am replied:

Inbox me with your Email for an invite! :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Guest
Guest Jul 1 2014, 8:58pm says:

Question.. Can we ever expect Single-Player?
Sorry if there already is and I just missed it, I'm in a hurry.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Woseseltops Creator
Woseseltops Jul 5 2014, 2:27am replied:

Yes, you can play the game singleplayer (you can start the server software from your local machine).

+1 vote   reply to comment
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Olvand
Platform
Windows
Developed By
Woseseltops
Engine
Custom Built
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Official Page
Olvand.com
Release Date
Released Aug 18, 2012
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9.4

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Highest Rated (5 agree) 10/10

Looks really interesting and really needs a good playerbase!

Oct 8 2012, 8:30am by fastfire10

Style
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Role Playing
Theme
Fantasy
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Multiplayer
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Indie
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Latest tweets from @olvandgame

T.co Some insight in the cave director I'm currently building.

Dec 14 2014, 1:13pm

@HighKingMagnus Just restart the game and it will be fine. Thanks for your bug report, you shouldn't be able to make scooters inside indeed!

Dec 2 2014, 1:27am

@SalamehKarl pm me your email address if you need another invite :)

Nov 30 2014, 2:09pm

@SalamehKarl Sorry about your Christmas, man :P. The mail list == all people with accounts, so somebody with your email addr has access...

Nov 30 2014, 2:08pm

Pfff the Olvand violet release was a complete disaster. I've written it all up here: T.co

Nov 30 2014, 6:44am

Finally, Desura distributes a version where you can build houses AND that actually launches. This is the good life.

Nov 26 2014, 1:24am

A fixed build is uploaded but theres still something wrong with the files Desura distributes. Use the T.co version for now

Nov 25 2014, 2:53am

Oh no :(. I invited 200 new players, but now I get reports that because of a stupid graphical bug nobody can build houses. #panic

Nov 23 2014, 4:26pm

The monster generator in action: T.co T.co

Nov 23 2014, 4:50am

About colors in Olvand's upcoming monster generator

Nov 15 2014, 5:48pm

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