We are two months into the development of Digital Nomads: The Game. It’s still far from being a finished game, but it’s already fun to play around with it. In this post we’re having a bit of a look where we’re at and what challenges we’re facing. Don’t expect a carefully structured piece, this is mostly a brain dump. There is also some nerdy tech stuff included. Just managing expectations 😉
The first version of the game will be rather minimalistic in terms of graphics. We would love to immediately start out with an amazing 3D world full of bustling coworking spaces, but we love even more to build something that we’ll be actually be able to finish within a year. That being said, almost all the logic is happening on the server, so it will be relatively easy to add more advanced clients in later versions. Today you just click on the word “Sleep” to go to sleep. Later, you may be walking to your bed.
We started out with using the Webix library to build the game. While it’s a great library, it can’t hide the fact that it’s intended for office applications. The bar chart we used to show the current state of your character looks…well…just like a bar chart. Making CSS adjustments to Webix is kind of cumbersome, so is making functional adjustments. In the end, we scrapped Webix and rebuilt the User Interface with the oldschool jQuery UI. While this is also nothing fancy out of the box, it tends to be easier to customize.
We’ve listend to a few podcasts about game design. A particular nice one is Game Design Zen. In one of the episodes, host Gigi talks about adding juice to your game. Giving a lot of satisfaction and instant gratification to players. Making things blink and play rewarding sounds. The sound of coins seems to be extremely popular. Once you look out for it, you’ll see it in all games. Especially casual mobile games are full of it. You managed to swipe your finger over the game screen? Great work! Here are 500 experience points and 800 coins. Bling-Bling. Oh and you reached level 2. Extra-Bling-Bling!
So we’ve started to add a bit of juice as well. Your money doesn’t just update when you earn something, it turns green and counts up. Your skills don’t just change, the symbols in the action fly towards your skill screen where they glow and the bar slowly moves up. The next step will be adding rewarding sounds.
How Time Works
One thing we’re still not sure about is how time is supposed to work in the game. Currently, time is always on pause. Then you select an action, let’s say go for a run to improve your health. Poof, it’s one hour later and your health has improved. The nice thing about this approach is that you can play the game in your own time, it’s never stressful. The flip side is, that the line between “not stressful” and “boring” can be thin. Also, when applying realistic times to the actions, there tends to be so much time on your hands. Go for two runs, watch some video course, eat a snack and it’s just three hours later. Applying longer times to the actions would look weird when they are written out. So maybe we’ll just leave out the information how long something takes.
Another approach would be, that when you start the game, time is always running. If you don’t select an action, too bad for you. You’ll just waste your valuable free time sitting around. You can select an action and you’ll do this action until you click stop or select something different. You can also speed up time or pause it. If you have played The Sims or many other games, this is a familiar system.
We are really not sure, where we’ll be going with that. The “time is always running” system seems more fun but is also more complicated to build. If you have any thoughts on that, we would highly appreciate your comment.
We did a few more things like implementing a tutorial for first time players, which will also add some juice and positive feedback for doing your first steps.
Our next plans are sounds, more character animations and a better system to watch video courses and perform freelance work. Also coming up is a login system for players. We still think that we might have something playable at the end of the year.
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Any thoughts about how we should handle time or anything else? Let us know in the comments 🙂