Hey there, long time no see!
Things have been rather busy and I didn’t find a break to put out another dev log entry. Since the challenge mode went live in it’s second iteration earlier this week, I wanted to delve into some of the learnings I got out of the iterative approach.
Built to be torn down
The challenge mode was rather interesting to plan and develop. Generally, it kinda works very similar to the usual game play loop. The difference is, that all results have to be saved and regurgitated again to create leader boards and other useful metadata. Every player can only play each challenge once, which adds a lot of pressure on each challenge play though. The thing is, that there was A LOT of features on my mind. Friend lists, challenge sharing or maps with all picks of all players that played the challenge. All of that and more. That would’ve taken quite some time to implement, test and roll out. Since I always try to get every feature out to the public as soon as possible, I scrapped most of that and implemented the core functionality first. There was a lot of usability features missing and even the result maps when reviewing a challenge was out of scope in the first draft. I can’t remember how long it took to get the first version out, but it wasn’t too bad.
Since the discord community was already thriving at this point, there were a lot of enthusiastic people ready to try out the first few challenges I created on my own before the mode was available for the public. That already helped to get the most nasty bugs and oversights out of the way before the “big” release.
After that was done, I just released the feature, though creating challenges was and is only available for supportes for now. The first real premium feature, so to say!
I let the mode run it’s course, collected all of the feedback, feature requests and bug reports regarding the mode. There was a lot, boy oh boy. A lot of stuff was already on my to do list, other ideas were new and some of them even pretty exciting. I collected everything on a separate trello list so I don’t forget anything.
I also had a worrying eye on the database. The way I saved the challenge results was very wasteful and the table containing the data blew up pretty quickly. From that point on, it was clear to me, that I had to throw a lot out and start from scratch to make ends meet a little better. Especially in regards to data storage efficiency.
Challenge mode is dead, long live challenge mode!
I announced that all data will be wiped soon and went back to the drawing board. Having already implemented the mode once was very helpful to plan the second iteration. That’s some luxury I wish I could have in every part of my life ;) The mode went offline after I wiped all data and it took two weeks until the second iteration went live. It was faster, improved upon usability and looked and worked better than before in general. I also optimized the data structure to keep the strain on the database at a minimum. The initial release was still full of issues which I didn’t catch in my dev environment. I even had a infinite loop bug in there for good measure. Shame on me!
Third time is a charm?
I hope not… The current implementation works great and is easy to built upon, so I plan to keep it this way. Even if I had to refactor or re-implement some parts of it again, I don’t plan on wiping the data (especially because I did very well on some of the challenges 😛)
There’s still some features left, but those can be added anytime in the future. The other modes and planned features waited patiently to be tended again as well while I was busy with the challenge mode. So time to shift gears again!
If you haven’t played the mode yet, why the heck are you reading this? Try it out :) It’s great fun and rather exhilarating. It should hit the competitive nerve without fail.
How about March in general?
March looks great! Donations are coming in regularly and this month should be covered without much headaches. March will also (again) break all previous records in terms of cost and daily players. If things go on like this, google will relieve me from about 4.000€… Holy hell. Donations are currently at 3.500€, but I’m sure things will play out fine.
March also had two days with over 10.000 player connections, (and a lot of days almost touching this number) which is awesome!
As per request, I also dealt with twitch. Since some people already streamed Geotastic live, I wanted to at least have the game on there with a nice box art. Give it a follow if you like!
Claiming the game took longer than anticipated because the workflow on how to prove that you’re owner or dev of a game is kinda strange. But I got access in the end, which is nice. Now I can view some graphs!
That’s it for now folks! Before I go, I wanted to give a little shout out to PunToffel, who was the first (and still is, sadly!) Content Creator who regularly plays Geotastic and uploads new episodes every Monday and Tuesday to his Youtube channel. Go check out his country streak shenanigans :)