ID:265087
 
This is not so much a design philosophy question as it is a game distribution philiosophy question. It boils down to 2 questions: what types of game features would you, as a player, be willing to pay a small amount for? And what types of features would you, as a game designer, be inclined to charge for?

Why do I ask? Well, the new version of ShapeShifter is coming along quite nicely, with tons of nifty new features. Included in those will be a mechanism allowing the player to make a donation to the cause, completely voluntarily. I'd like to reward people who do donate, but at the same time I don't want to restrict any of the basic game elements to only those who've donated. Then it becomes more like payment than donation.

Many types of games have it pretty easy - if a game has the concept of different "levels," then the designers can easily offer some levels for free and some for pay. I believe this is working quite well for DragonSnot. ShapeShifter doesn't have this concept, so I'm forced to come up with something else. Here a few specific things I've considered:
  • Create an "expansion pack" with a whole bunch of new shape icons. Players who've donated will be allowed to download this and use the new icons in their games. It won't change gameplay at all - for any given game, seven of the available shape icons will be randomly chosen and used, just as it is now. I'm pretty sure I'll do this regardless of anything else.
  • I could charge for the new gameplay features. But I won't do this because they're just too cool to restrict to those few who are willing to donate. You have to see them to believe them!
  • On the other hand, I'm considering making a "classic" mode that will behave just like the current version and charging for that. Anyone who doesn't like the added complexity of the new features could revert to classic mode, but I don't see why since the new features are so darn cool. ;-)
  • There will be pause functionality in the new version so that you can pause your game without losing accumulated bonus credit. I'm about half and half on whether I should make this a pay-only feature. It has little effect on gameplay, but it can be nice to have.
  • In the high scores list, players who've donated will be recognized as the great philanthopists that they are. ;-) I suppose I could add an option to suppress this for those who wish to remain anonymous to the world.

These are my current ideas and thoughts. Anyone else have anything to add, either specifically regarding this, or more generally for all games?
Well, in the general sense, here's a thought that a lot of games could use, although I don't know how much good it would do for Shapeshifter: the ability to edit game data. Suppose you had, say, a battlefield-level strategy game--you could make it so that anyone can download and play the game as it stands, but add in as a pay feature the ability to design new units or other, similar features.

I'm not sure how well this would actually work for Shapeshifter (customizable shape icons for paying players only?--purely visual, but still fun and doesn't really deprive nonsubscribers too badly), but it's a thought I've been toying with for a while.
In response to Leftley (#1)
Leftley wrote:
I'm not sure how well this would actually work for Shapeshifter (customizable shape icons for paying players only?--purely visual, but still fun and doesn't really deprive nonsubscribers too badly), but it's a thought I've been toying with for a while.

I had thought of this before - allowing paid players to upload their own icons and sounds - but decided against it. The primary reason was that some of the new visual effects depend on having specific animations created for each shape icon. But now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that I can substitute a generic animation for player-created icons and it'll still look pretty good. Heck, if players want to donate enough, I'll take their icons and create good looking animations for them. ;-)

Along these lines, I just had a potentially monumental idea in the shower. Player-created expansion packs. An expansion pack would be a zipfile containing replacement icons, sounds, and possibly other resources for a game (like text snippets, etc). Paid players of a game could create their own expansion packs, use them, swap them with other paid players, etc. Potentially the entire look and presentation of a game could be customized depending on how much control the designer wants to give up to players.

I already have good ideas on how I would implement this for ShapeShifter. Dantom has added a few critical features to the latest betas that will make it happen. But the real challenge would be to make it an extensible system that anyone could add as a library to their own games. This could potentially attract hordes of gamers to BYOND if many of the available completed games are customizable in this way. Perhaps the biggest thing that made Doom so popular in its day was that it was designed to be player-modifiable. The more I think about it, the more I think this would be a great thing to have for BYOND games.

Darnit, too many ideas, not enough time! I continue thinking about it and see if anything great ever comes from this.
In response to Air Mapster (#2)
Air Mapster wrote:
I believe this is working quite well for DragonSnot.

Well...right now half the game is available for free and half is locked. People play up to the last free point regularly, but we're not getting subscriptions right now.

This could mean:

- The first 5 maps are so fulfilling they don't need more.
- The first 5 maps are not compelling enough.
- The description of what you get for the rest of the game is not compelling enough.
- The game doesn't play smoothly enough or something for people to feel they want to play it.

So I wouldn't describe the policy as "working" at this point. Soon we will revisit DragonSnot and see what we can do to make it more compelling. We'll be asking for input too.


Player-created expansion packs.

I think this is important to keep in mind...when we get to strategy games, we may take a clue from Civ and such and allow people to create their own sides/units/etc.
Air Mapster wrote:
  • I could charge for the new gameplay features. But I won't do this because they're just too cool to restrict to those few who are willing to donate. You have to see them to believe them!

    This works well for Tanks, but it is a multiplayer game that allows non-subscribers to witness the awe-inspiring abilities of the subscribers.

    The tests every Saturday give people access to subscription abilities for a short time. Everyone who tries it get a brief teaser of what the full version is like, and I usually get a subscription or two after the test.

    Perhaps you could let people play the full feature version a few times, then strip it away until they subscribe. I'm not sure how to prevent people from creating new keys for the free trial period though.
  • In response to Air Mapster (#2)
    A lot of the Blizzard games, namely Warcraft and Starcraft (haven't played any others) were popular because the players could create their own maps, and destribute them to other people. After a while, it got even more popular when "advanced editing" came along and players were able to modify the game in any way they liked.

    I think the general rule is, the more the player can change a game to what they like, the more they'll like it.

    Imagine if Tanks had an option change any graphic in the game to something else, then host it that way. Can you imagine how many different versions of Tanks would be around to play?
    In response to Deadron (#3)
    This could mean:

    - The first 5 maps are so fulfilling they don't need more.
    - The first 5 maps are not compelling enough.
    - The description of what you get for the rest of the game is not compelling enough.
    - The game doesn't play smoothly enough or something for people to feel they want to play it.

    My reason is I don't have the cash to pay for it. I really should start playing DragonSnot again... I'm sure it's changed since the last time I've played...
    In response to Evilkevkev (#6)
    Evilkevkev wrote:
    My reason is I don't have the cash to pay for it. I really should start playing DragonSnot again... I'm sure it's changed since the last time I've played...

    The most recent change was the addition of trench cursors, which does make the game more fun to play. And sound mixing.

    Content hasn't changed...but much of the best content is in the last half of the game, so it's worth the small price!

    We'll keep working on how to convince people of that! The DDT is dedicated to keeping any game we create alive and kicking.
    In response to Leftley (#1)
    Yep. Every game that I will make in other languages will have the complete suite of editor tools available to those who register.

    And Battle for Solaris is the first BYOND game of mine to implement said strategy -- if people register, they can design their own ships based on the in-game rules, and anyone, them or otherwise, can purchase that vessel in the in-game commerce system.

    BfS also allows pay-for-cash in the game, so if your squadron is starting to falter, they just pay the money changers at Raptor Enterprises and away they go.

    Money changers will only allow so much money to be changed per person per hour, so people can't register, pay a fortune, and come out on top immediately thereafter.

    I'm thinking a max of 5 dimes per hour, which works out to 250 materials (which is equivalent to 45 Republican credits, but it would cost 50 for shipping and handling), enough to buy a decent ship or to repair about three or four.

    [edit] Hmm... maybe people could contract repairmen from Raptor Enterprises, who would then repair 1 ship completely per BYONDime. It'd be cheaper than getting materials.