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
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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  (50 - 60 of 399)
Brian253 Aug 30 2013, 7:23pm says:

Hi there! I'm playing Olvand in my netbook (I just downloaded it :D), and the window, o well, I'll just show it you:



Is there some way I can fix it, or put it on fullscreen? Or maybe it doesn't affect the gameplay?

P.D.: I really like what you did here! I was looking for a game like this!

P.P.D.: I'm sorry if my english is messed up, It's not my native languaje...

+3 votes     reply to comment
Brian253 Aug 30 2013, 8:59pm replied:

...and yes, I've tried pushing Alt+Enter (several chances, just to ensure xD) and I still can't put it on fullscreen, it just opens the chat tab.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Woseseltops Creator
Woseseltops Aug 31 2013, 2:37am replied:

Mmm, yeah, you want something like full screen for now, which is indeed alt+enter. If alt+enter opened the chat tab, my guess didn't push them at the same time. Could that be it? If not, please open a topic at the forums Indiedb.com I'll help you there. I want to reserve this place for more general questions and comments :).

Thanks! And your English is perfectly fine.

+3 votes   reply to comment
Brian253 Aug 31 2013, 2:55am replied:

@Woseseltops Sorry for the OT xD
I'll just do what I say to kaytavo for now, since the problem may be my computer, and not the game itself. There isn't nothing much I can do, so I'll just leave it, since (again) it doesn't seem to affect the gameplay.

Thanks for replying and please keep up your great work!

+2 votes     reply to comment
kaytavo Aug 30 2013, 11:46pm replied:

restart the client then try alt tab again
some times alt tab doesn't work
best time to try is when you first open it
you can also try increasing the screens display resolution

+3 votes     reply to comment
Brian253 Aug 31 2013, 2:47am replied:

Nope. It just refuses to get in fullscreen. I can't increase the actual resolution, since it's already at it's max (1024*600). I know there's ways to force it to highter resolutions, but I hear that doing so could break my monitor...
Maybe I should just leave it as is, since the actual resolution doesn't seem to affect the gameplay. Thanks for replying anyways!

+2 votes     reply to comment
kaytavo Aug 26 2013, 4:22am says:

here is a gun layout i call the "Medic's Double Barrel"


+3 votes     reply to comment
Woseseltops Creator
Woseseltops Aug 26 2013, 4:47am replied:

I wish I could hit the + button more. I know (from experience :P) this gun is incredibly powerful. If somebody ever creates a wiki this build deserves its own page.

+3 votes   reply to comment
kaytavo Aug 25 2013, 7:26am says:

Notice to those who play on the wessel1 server if you want to start a town head north. i left a unclaimed town hall and some stuff to start you out.

+3 votes     reply to comment
kaytavo Aug 25 2013, 4:38am says:

about bigger bags and or carts:
i assume they are not yet implemented
but do you plan on adding them with in the next update or so?

+3 votes     reply to comment
Woseseltops Creator
Woseseltops Aug 25 2013, 1:17pm replied:

Indeed not yet implemented, but they're high on my list now you can build things which need a lot of material. Not sure if they'll make the next update, though (but thanks for the reminder :) ).

+3 votes   reply to comment
kaytavo Aug 25 2013, 1:24pm replied:

no problem thanks for the awesome game ;)

+3 votes     reply to comment
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Released Aug 18, 2012
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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

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