PDA

View Full Version : SocioTown Open Beta



Chris Evans
03-27-2008, 11:28 AM
We've finally entered the open beta for SocioTown ( http://www.sociotown.com ).

SocioTown is a web-based MMOG. You can read about some of the features here:
http://www.sociotown.com/sociotown_features.html

http://www.sociotown.com/images/sociotown_ss_002.jpg

You can view screen shots here:
http://www.sociotown.com/sociotown_screenshots.html

But more importantly, you can play the Beta here. :)
http://www.sociotown.com/server_selection.html

I'd love to get your guys feedback! This is the biggest game I've ever done. And it's still not done obviously. But hopefully I can take a deep breath momentarily. :)

The game is pretty stable for about 80-85 percent of users. But there does seem to be about 15-20 percent that have constant troubles. I'm working on getting that percentage down, so feel free to report any bugs you find. However I'm mainly interested what you think of the general feel of the game.

I hope you guys like it! :)

AlexWeldon
03-27-2008, 05:00 PM
I haven't tried it yet, but I wish I had a HUD in real life to tell me how I know someone, how well I know them, and whatever notes I've made about them. My social memory is atrocious.

chanon
03-27-2008, 11:45 PM
Bug report:
I couldn't see any text in the NPC's big text balloons (the small balloons had text) .. so I didn't know what to do.

Running on Firefox 2, Windows XP, Thai locale and Thai is set as default non-unicode language.

jimflip
03-28-2008, 01:04 AM
Looks interesting, but shockwave is taking sooo long to install, I'm tempted to not bother....

(vista sp1, default security options)

...actually seems like it died, left it for ages and nothing happening

Nexic
03-28-2008, 07:01 AM
I didn't have any problems with installing shockwave, loading the game etc.

I played for about 15 minutes. It seems like you've got a really nice game going here and I think once you have more players it would be pretty cool. However, when I logged on I was the only player and so I didn't really know what to do. I was told by my town sponsor that I couldn't do any missions until 9am and I couldn't go in any shops either. I found that a little annoying. I know I was playing on US West, but as that's the only server right now there wasn't much I could do about it. An idea might be to keep the opening times, but make an earlier start (7am maybe) and a later finish to try and keep in touch with everyone's scheduels, plus that means kids can play before school (when I was 14 I was addicted to a MUD and used to wake up at 6AM to play before school).

I wanted to explore but from the map the world seems pretty small and the only path out was under construction. I'm guessing this is deliberate so that players are more likely to see each other to begin with? Whilst that's a good idea it did leave me with literally nothing to do. I would put at least one more area to explore.

The interface and movement was alright, but not brilliant. I found moving rather cumbersome, but I don't really know how you can improve that.

Without lighting I think the areas looked a little boring. I would try to put in some static shadows.

I guess the hard part now will be getting a decent number of players, to the point where it will reach critical mass. I personally don't know how I would go about marketing something like this, since it has some strong competition (gaia, habbo, IMVU to name just a few). But either way, I'm sure this game will be a success. Social gaming is definitely the way forwards.

EDIT: Noticed your "users online" bit says ???? I'm guessing you put ???? if the number online is low. Would be better to totally remove the field so that no attention is drawn to it.

Chris Evans
03-28-2008, 01:37 PM
@chanon: I think the Thai set might be the problem.

@Nexic: Thanks for the feedback!

You're probably right I should adjust the store hours while we only have one server. Especially since people really start enjoying the game after they complete their first mission. When I hear/read lackluster impressions of the game it's usually because they didn't have anything to do online. You're right this is primarily because there isn't a lot of simultaneous users online. This means if you can't do missions, there's literally nothing to do.

Yep, getting critical mass will be a challenge. Fortunately, player impressions have been overwhelmingly positive so far, which is very encouraging. So it's just a matter of getting the word out.

Also yeah, I guess I should comment out the online user count. :)

Thanks again Nexic for the great feedback!

lakibuk
03-28-2008, 02:51 PM
1. Click on Enter Sociotown - new window opens up. In my IE these new windows are pretty small and i can't resize it.
2. After Installation - i can see Login but not New Player. It's outside of my small window so i can't play.
3. I am having problems with the shockwave installation. I get "shockwave files missing... Go to adobde site?". Clicking YES does not bring me there.
I downloaded the player by going to the site. Played the game. Stopped. Started again - again "files missing...".

It's probably my 64bit piece of s#!* Vista causing trouble again.

So only feedback about the game i have so far:
The hair/skin/cloth selection takes too long. Loading after clicking makes the character creation process tedious.

EDIT: Installed player once more and now it works. Will continue playing later.
EDIT EDIT: Now "files missing" again. Grrr. My player is seriously messed up.

Chris Evans
03-28-2008, 03:08 PM
1. Click on Enter Sociotown - new window opens up. In my IE these new windows are pretty small and i can't resize it.
2. After Installation - i can see Login but not New Player. It's outside of my small window so i can't play.
3. I am having problems with the shockwave installation. I get "shockwave files missing... Go to adobde site?". Clicking YES does not bring me there.
I downloaded the player by going to the site. Played the game. Stopped. Started again - again "files missing...".

It's probably my 64bit piece of s#!* Vista causing trouble again.

So only feedback about the game i have so far:
The hair/skin/cloth selection takes too long. Loading after clicking makes the character creation process tedious.

EDIT: Installed player once more and now it works. Will continue playing later.
EDIT EDIT: Now "files missing" again. Grrr. My player is seriously messed up.

Haha, sounds like everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. :) :(

Thanks for the tip about the windows, I'll make sure they're resizable.

Yeah Shockwave and Vista are a bit funky. Depending on the flavor of Vista, the installations act really quirky. For example, on one of my machines I have to close IE after playing if I want play again. Otherwise it will keep trying to re-install the plugin. I've contacted Adobe about it, but I didn't know if it was just my machine or if other users were experiencing this as well.

lakibuk
03-28-2008, 03:41 PM
For example, on one of my machines I have to close IE after playing if I want play again. Otherwise it will keep trying to re-install the plugin.
Oh yea, that's the trick. But i get the "files missing..." when i start again without closing IE.

Sirrus
03-28-2008, 05:40 PM
Been interested in trying this out for awhile, Chris. Great job on it!

One bug was when the window loses focus and comes back, there is a Object Deleted error. Once I click through, the game continues to work fine.

Chris Evans
04-09-2008, 09:46 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys!

I've uploaded a new video trailer, which shows some snippets of the gameplay:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5z1sAlHoL4

cliffski
04-12-2008, 01:09 AM
you seem to have put a phenomenal amount of work into this. Is it just you? or a team. I think this is definitely a great direction to take indie games.

tentons
04-12-2008, 10:29 AM
Looking good!

I noticed in the video it says, "Your Exhausted!" but it should be "You're Exhausted!" Sorry, it jumped out at me. :P

Drake
04-12-2008, 12:31 PM
Well, I finally got a chance to try this out, and I am very impressed. The future looks bright for OTBS! Some thoughts:

When I clicked on the Terms and Conditions link, it replaced my client with the (non-existent) terms page. Maybe you need to add "_new" as the second param to goToNetPage? :)

Love the in-game account creation process. Very clever and well thought out approach to increasing signup rate.

I really enjoyed the humor in the dialog. Good stuff.

When moving around, I wanted to be able to hold down the mouse button to continually move to the same relative point. Diablo trained me to play this way in cursor-oriented games, and I have come to expect it ever since.

Keeping the map open while moving around town was impractical since it receives mouse clicks for setting the "pin" location. If you implemented the continuous movement approach, you could give users this ability without losing the current map functionality.

I got as far as my first mission when I clicked out of the browser to read an email. When I clicked back, my client was replaced by the game guide. I'm pretty sure I clicked in the game window, but... maybe just a browser glitch (Mac OS 10.5, Shockwave 10.1.6, Safari 3 (Rosetta)).

Keep up the great work!

Chris Evans
04-14-2008, 04:48 AM
@Cliffski

Thanks! :) I'm the only full-time dev, but I've contracted out portions of the art and music. Yep, it has been a ton of work over the last couple years. Just last year I learned Java, Actionscript, and a whole new server technology. I've self-financed the whole thing so I could control completely the direction of the game. Unfortunately my pocket book has been pushed to the limit. :( Fortunately though I've been contacted by quite a few prominent 3rd parties who are proposing a range of business opportunities. Also the game is already showing a solid conversion rate even in its beta state.

@tentons:

The gameplay trailer has a few spelling/grammatical errors. Doh! I need to make a rule not to write game text, NPC dialog, or cut game trailers past 1am.

@Drake:

Thanks for the feedback!

- The terms and conditions page brings a 404 page because I haven't written it yet...

- About the Diablo controls, so if you press and hold the mouse button the character will keep moving in the same direction until they bump into an object, correct?

- Ooooh yeah, I've been meaning to disable the ability to "pin" locations on the map while you're moving. I'll add that in the next update.

- I think that was a browser glitch. :) But I still need to get the game Mac Intel compatible with Shockwave Player 11. I don't have an Intel Mac so the process has been very slow unfortunately.

Thanks again!

Drake
04-15-2008, 07:01 PM
- About the Diablo controls, so if you press and hold the mouse button the character will keep moving in the same direction until they bump into an object, correct?
Ideally, I guess you would implement pathfinding between the character and cursor positions. But hey, one step at a time, right? If your environments are mostly simple and open, maybe that's not needed.

andrew
04-15-2008, 08:58 PM
pretty cool.... a lot of work has obviously gone into it!

a few suggestions:

- the arrow movement scheme can be pretty clunky/confusing at times, because your arrow gets hidden by the world environment

- why the change in perspective when you enter buildings? (i.e. from a 3rd person behind-the-back view to a static camera)

- having to click on the NPC's feet to talk to them is rather unintuitive, most games let you just click on the NPC's head/body and then your character will pathfind to them. for example the first quest to talk to Davey was difficult, because his feet were hidden behind the table, it took a few tries to be able to actually converse with him. same problem with phil at burget depot, his feet are totally hidden, your arrow disappears, and it's hard to find the right spot to click.

- camera rotation via arrow keys is rather unpleasant, it has a strange bumpy sort of acceleration at times (collision related?) and it shouldn't retain so much momentum when you let go of the arrow keys

- exiting rooms was confusing at first, if you click on the door (or at the base of the door), you should automatically exit. and "go to door" should probably be renamed "exit room".

- slight bug in first mission, NPC asks "what's your name" and you reply "my name is [playerName]

BIGZIPZ
04-16-2008, 07:59 AM
Congratulations, you should be proud of what you have created, it's wonderful.

I love how you made the account sign up process part of the actual game too.

mot
04-16-2008, 01:20 PM
Looks nice!!

A quick list of observations:

The Shockwave installation was a bit of a hassle for me because Firefox 3 beta 5 apparently won't install the plugin automatically (clicking "Accept license" and "Finish", then it disappears and does nothing; had to go to adobe.com and install manually, more additional downloads in the browser window after that..) But it worked. Perhaps a link to the plugin download website at the bottom of the page could help a few people.

Dialogs, graphics, all great! Didn't know where to click when the chars ask me to - point mouse at their body or the spot where they stand? Not 100% clear.

The "click me" indicator from people not directly visible - not 100% clear where they are (the bubble arrow is too thin?).

First mission - clear instructions, all fine. Would appreciate more instant & clear visual feedback on switching jogging/running mode (holding ctrl alone could show some hints perhaps?)

^^ These are all minor points, nothing big! Overall impression was great.

One really important thing though I think would deserve to be finetuned - the click-walking. I click to go somewhere, right? To get somewhere. But when I accidentaly click behind me and then forward to "correct" that, my character goes to the accidentally clicked place, even if it's completely out of the way, then goes back to the next point. Didn't like that at all.. again, there may be a way to "clear" the pre-clicked path but nothing obvious..

Hmm, that's about it, didn't get very far in the game, had to go to the pub :) Good luck!!!!


Edit: didn't read the other reactions, so there may be duplicate issues but what the hell, that's telling you something as well, right?


Tom

electronicStar
04-17-2008, 09:42 AM
That is really great, unfortunately I couldn't test/comment more because I'm allergic to this sort of games, but from what I can see it looks ace. I hope you'll get a well deserved success with that:)

The main problems I remember where : camera problems (with camera taking too many placement initiatives) and I was annoyed by the general walking around with robotic sounds, but I suppose that's part of the genre.

Nexic
04-18-2008, 04:27 AM
I'd like to second the idea of having Diablo style controls. I logged in again briefly today and couldn't stop thinking "there must be an easier way to walk".
If I click on one place, then change my mind and click on another it just gets added to his path, so he walks to point 1, then to point 2. If not Diablo style then I would change it to a single node walk system by default, and only create a complex path if you hold down shift or something.

Also would it be possible to zoom the camera out a little further?

Chris Evans
04-18-2008, 07:36 AM
Thanks for the additional feedback! I'll go over all of it later, but I wanted to briefly address the movement.

As it is right now you can cancel any movement click. So for example if you click one spot, then click another spot on accident, you just right click to erase the movements. You should receive a little prompt that says, "Right Click to Stop" after you've walked for more than 2 seconds. The prompt is on the lower right of the screen.

Maybe the prompt isn't obvious enough since quite a few here aren't aware that you can stop your movement. Though I don't want it too big because it will clutter up the screen. Hmm...

Nexic
04-30-2008, 06:24 AM
I see what you mean, but I'm pretty sure with the camera angle you've got your average new player is only going to want single node paths. I really think it would be better to do single node by default and only do multiple nodes by using right-click for example.

It doesn't make it how obvious you make the message, most people won't read it. :(