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My other side project continues

My other side project continues

Smartphone
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This is the social mobile multiplayer game I have mentioned before. The initial game creation program is mostly working. I say mostly because I will still be adding to it. It does however create all of the game data in about 30 seconds for a game that can hold up to 10,000 players. It then creates the output files which are read by the mobile apps. These apps have yet to be created but I’ve decided to do some early testing using non-mobile apps that I’m working on.

What I want to do is prototype the mobile app, not particularly visually but functionally. To this end I’m creating a C# client desktop app that does everything that the mobile app will do. It can read the data (directly rather than via a webserver) and let me create new orders and upload them back to the server (or in this case my development PC).

This client will be crude and not great looking but lets me test that data is coming and going correctly. I use JSON for everything, as a data transfer format as well as storing all game data at rest as opposed to a database. It lets me hold all game data in dictionaries (with a bit of tweaking it is possible to save/load lists of objects to JSON. After loading I convert them to Dictionaries using an Id field.

                var bytes = File.ReadAllText(Lib.PeopleFilename);
                var list = new List();                
                list = JsonSerializer.Deserialize<List>(bytes);
                persons = list.ToDictionary(x => x.Id);

It works and is quick. The downside of using a Dictionary is that it occupies more bytes per element than a List. How many? Well it’s never easy to figure. .NET does not really encourage discovering how things are implemented. This GitHub project by developer Ludovit Scholtz shows the memory used by various .NET Generic Collection Types (HashTable,  Dictionary, ConcurrentDictionary, HashSet, ConcurrentBag, Queue and ConcurrentQueue) with various string lengths in a TestObject which as string, an int and a DateTimeOffset.

Storing a million objects in a Dictionary <int,TestObject> with a null string occupies 48,222,240 bytes so roughly 48 bytes per entry. I believe a List is closer to 20 bytes overhead per element. So for slightly more than double the memory use, using a Dictionary gives a tangible performance yield.

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Monetising a game

Monetising a game

bright city lightsThe celebrity game I’m building and I’ve been describing is free to play but servers cost money, so how does it make money?

First you have to understand there are two types of game currency. (Glitz dollars and Glitz Stars). Dollars are used in-game. It’s what your character needs to earn to survive, make rent etc.

Stars are worth about 10p or equivalent and can be bought and are spent on things like Chance Bags and character auctions. (See below)

So here are a few ways I’ve thought of.

  1. The mobile apps are free but will carry Ad-mob type adverts.
  2. Chance Bags. You can buy a set of cards that can be played to have Lady Luck affect you or mainly other players such as friends. These will be cost something like 10 Stars an provide 3-5 cards. The idea is to prevent players playing to win.
  3. Character Auctions. If a player has got a high-celebrity character then they can get something back by auctioning it in the in-game auction and they get 90% of the auction price. Celebrities drop a rank when they are sold by auction (they are advertised at the lower rank) and lose all accumulated properties (but the buyer does get some benefits).
  4. Sponsorship. Anyone can sponsor and this provides in-game gifts related to the sponsor and carrying their messages, logo and a link to a website. Plugging a new album? Gift it (in game ) to musicians by sponsoring. Also sponsors can sponsors major events, festivals etc in-game, Gifts can be given at film pre-launch parties to attendees etc.
  5. Watch a video and earn in-game Glitz dollars.
  6. Pay for advertising in-game. Players can do this. A phase two development is to allow celebs to buy in-game businesses such as Bands, film production, Bars, Hotels etc. That needs carefully thought though.
  7. Buy in-game gifts for other players.
  8. GlitzVille. This is the in-game magazine. This is produced by an editor who receives a tap  of news generated in-game and can pick and choose what to write about. It’s a modest cost per issue, only a few Glitz stars and the editor receives 75%.

As with all battle plans, this will change as the game grows and I may scrap some or come up with new ideas.

 

The fun of game design

The fun of game design

Audience
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

My new side project is a free to play multi-player mobile game about living the life of a celebrity. It’s brutally competitive and will accommodate up to 10,000 players in one game. It scales horizontally so multiple games can be run at the same time. It’s an idea I’ve had for years and now I’m on it.

The idea is that you start moving to the big city. A city where your dreams can come true by becoming famous in some field. Whether breaking into film,  or sport, on TV, a famous writer and so on.  But first as a wannabe, you have to get a job, whether its pumping gas, waiting on or one of a dozen jobs.  And try to make your way up the greasy pole to the top of the A-List.

I have devised mechanisms for this. But there’s way more depth to the game than what I’ve said. The game is basically about decision making. Every action has consequences. If you go to this party, you might make friends with someone who can open doors that will give you more public exposure and earn celebrity points.

The game server generates events that you can attend. It’s a busy life attending openings, first nights, filming of videos, commercials, going to auditions, making guest appearances, signing books, partying, going to concerts, balls, awards ceremonies, opening fayres, launching ships, or more mundane things like product launches, endorsements, appearing in TV adverts and more.

All this has to take place in a game city. So the game server has to create a city populated with buildings, with jobs. Celebrities actually do jobs. Those books don’t write themself, or films make themself. Musicians have to record songs, go on tours. But you are also interacting with other players, helping them and helping yourself.

As a game designer and programmer I have to translate all this into code. In the past I programmed postal games. These were games where orders were sent by post, processed, results printed out and then mailed back. In this case, they’re entered on mobile and uploaded to a game server. Here a program will run at regular intervals and process a day’s activities. All those parties etc. have to be processed and the consequences determined. Did you make friends, did you get any new job offers? Have you accumulated some more celebrity points and moved up in the league table? Did you escape from being a wannabe to C-lister yet?

Then after that’s all done, the results and new decisions can be fetched onto mobiles and players decide what their next decisions will be…  That’s what I’m designing and programming. Both the game server engine and the mobile clients.