Quintillions of followers - a roundup

April 5, 2005

This an old status update on my web-based game Engineering Faith.

Now that April Fool’s has passed, I figured I should make a thorough post about how things are really going. Just to be clear, yes Faith will be released before 2009, and no, it will not be in 3D - and absolutely no, it will not support Internet Explorer 2.

The features continue to pile up, though of course they’re still in rough, ultra-buggy forms that make rude sounds when you touch them. As with any game, there’ll be a significant amount of time between when most of the features are ready, and when it’s balanced enough that it’s not totally unplayable.

I saw a great example of this yesterday. Übersoldat (one of the two people who have Faith access) did a bit of innocent testing on the new Places of Worship features, and how they tie in with your Beings (gods, heroes, etc). However, he created more Places than I had before, and combined with the fertility god he’d set up, it caused his faith to explode in size. No, like, explode. He gained literally quintillions of followers in the span of a couple days. Of course we laughed at this and just reset his faith to scratch, but I imagine it’d bug a lot of people if they actually spent some time creating Beings and Places and setting up a faith, only to find it being blown away to scratch on a regular basis due to dumb bugs. Actually, being able to get quintillions of followers isn’t a very high priority bug at the moment, if that tells you anything.

Speaking of quintillions of followers, a couple people have asked why Faith is generating a lot more buzz from people than Asylum did. I think that’s an easy question - before Asylum, we had a lot less visitors, and certainly a lot less visitors who played online games. Also, I think keeping people informed with this blog has been keeping both them and me more excited about the game.

Another question I’ve gotten is about screenshots. The problem with screenshots is that for the moment they’d be pretty lame. That is, it takes a lot of time to make a page really work, look, and feel the right way. Since each page is probably going to change a lot from talking to people and testing, I’m leaving most of the interface until later. In Asylum, the Advisors interface changed about 9 times during testing. That said, I’ll continue posting little tidbits that I think are sweet.

What is sweet is the Holy Artifacts feature. Artifacts give you various game bonuses, and can be collected, stolen, found randomly, and (I hope) even auctioned off. The cool thing is, Faith was designed so something like an artifact can affect any game variable, meaning I could have like 50 different artifacts running around, some making your people more obedient, some helping you build fancier temples… should be fun, if not needing a fair bit of testing.

Speaking of testing, my best guess for when I’ll run the first test game (probably starting with maybe the top-5 Karma users) is still just by the end of the year. I’ll know a lot more about close we are in another month or two, since I’m in the middle of exams now. This summer I’m planning to finish the basic features that I’ve designed so far, as well as the meta-game features.

(Skip this paragraph if you find geekiness unpleasant.) Meta game features include administration tools that allow me to do things I can’t do in Asylum like easily start new games, track versions, have multiple copies of the source running at the same time, automatic tracking of code changes, and all sorts of other fun stuff. What that means is that you guys will be able to see stuff like “Version 45 - Posted 2 hours ago. 24 lines of code changed. Changes include: …” Speaking of which, my little tracker page tells me that 359 lines of code have changed since my last (serious) post about development a week or so ago. Not too shabby. Wouldn’t that be so sweet to see how many lines of code are changing in real time? Even better, I could tell you what source files they’ve changed in! And maybe some database statistics too. I think I hear some arrowroot cookies calling.

Anyway, I have three final exams, two assignments, and a major essay due in the next week, so you won’t hear much from me for a little while. Have fun!

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.