Hi all! As you might have noticed, I skipped a week - this is because my girlfriend's granddad passed away last week, so things were a bit hectic. I have an extra long blogpost this week to make up for it.
Building your own gun is cool
In this weblog, I talk a lot about various shortcomings of the game (and how I try to fix them). This week, I would like to reverse this approach: what part of the game do people really like? From the times that I have seen people play, in particular for extended periods of time, there is one thing that for me immediately stands out: the gun customization. The fact that you easily can make a gun that exactly works the way you want, and this way you can make something extremely powerful using only your mind, really seems to grab people, which is something I am really happy about. The fact that you can use this system to combine all kinds of powers into new ones only adds to this.
Unfortunately, this gun customization functionality also looks quite complicated in the beginning, and I've learned the hard way that people do not like complicated stuff in their games. From what I can tell, there is therefore a sharp divide in Olvand's playerbase: there is a group of players that took the effort to learn the communication system and really love it, and there is group of players that will never touch it because they think they will never get it.
Building your own gun is easy (right?)
Moving the people from the last group into the first one thus is something that could really improve the player experience. I already tried to make the gun in general more attractive and usable in various updates, but I never did anything for the customization part. In Olvand rose, this will change.
But how exactly can I show people that gun customization is fun and not hard at all? To answer this question, I'm trying to use my own experience from learning to program (which, by the way, is still going on). Code, similar to a good custom gun setup, looks very complicated if you don't know what it is. How do I get a new programming language under control? How do I make it go from something that looks complicated and daunting to something I fully understand and enjoy? By playing around with it! By simply changing some numbers, running it again and seeing what it does, moving around some lines, running it again and seeing what it does, removing some stuff or adding some ideas of my own, and -you guessed it- running it again and seeing what it does, I can learn new programming-related things and enjoy it as I go.
In other words, I want to try to convince people to play around with the gun customization. One thing that is clear is that most people will not do this themselves; there have to be some simple gun builds ready for them to play with. I originally wanted to make some kind of interactive tutorial, but I never really liked this idea, because (1) nobody likes tutorials in games and (2) when something has a separate tutorial, this does not really communicate that it is easy. It would be much better if there was some in-game way to give people simple gun setups to play with. That's why I came up with presets.
In Olvand rose, when you put a gun in your hand, there will be an extra little piece of GUI below it:
It shows the preset you are currently using. If you click it, you get an overview of all presets you can pick:
All of these are really basic simple gun-setups. Let's go through them one by one:
This one lets you combine the two upper two olbs by simply firing them at the same time.
Very similar to the previous one, but this time it works for all olbs.
The upper Olb always combines with the one above it, without any extra clicks needed.
Fires an extra Olb without any extra clicks needed.
When you use the first and second Olb at the same time, the one in between them comes out instead.
Firing the middle Olb toggles whether the upper one activates itself or the Olb above it.
The idea is that players when players click a preset in the menu, it will immediately appear in their guns, so they will immediately be able to use it. This way, I hope, players will get used to how the gun works. After some time, players then hopefully will realize that they want some part of the gun to work a little differently, and so try to change that, and then realize that it is very easy to change other parts of the gun as well.
And interestingly, this idea comes with another big advantage: you can now combine olbs with just three clicks! So this not only makes the gun customization more accessible to the player, but also olb combination. Or to put it in other words: even if this idea doesn't succeed in convincing players the gun customization system is fun, it will at least greatly increase the chances players will play around with combining olbs, and that's awesome too. In particular with the two new olbs coming up - more about that next time!