Exactly a year has passed since the moment the children and I decided to make our own game. In 2022, well-known events have made the future very vague and unpredictable.
Then I thought about the fact that life is short and who knows how much longer I will be able to enjoy its opportunities and carefreeness.
As a result, having reevaluated everything, I decided that I needed to do what I had long dreamed of, namely, develop my own game https://hexonomica.com.
The direction was generally clear in advance – the ashes smolder in my heart from the emotions I experienced with the game Ingress back in 2013, when it was most popular in Russia. It always upset me that such a cool idea was wrapped in such a specific package, clearly aimed at a narrow audience of geeks. Therefore, it was decided to make our own geolocation game. Then other open gestalts came, and this game in addition became an economic strategy with fair integration of cryptocurrency, modernized casino mechanics and cows with big beautiful eyes that you can sometimes stroke.
There were difficulties with the plot, rules, some mechanics and game graphics.
Once I told my children about the game, they were 7 and 9 years old at the time. They understood everything, got excited about the idea and gladly took on some of the tasks of generating ideas. All I could do was filter the information, record and break up their sudden fights over trifles.
For about a month we discussed everything, drew and designed.
Then it was time to choose a technology stack. Here, despite my 20 years of experience in full stack development, I made a lot of mistakes until I found the optimal tools and architecture. The entire back game had to be rewritten 2 times, which took an additional couple of months. As a result, the backend runs on node. js (fastify, awilix, sequelize), front on OpenLayers+Vue, some routine on Laravel.
Now I would like to have a back on nest. js, and the front is on something like Vue-native, but apparently this is already about the next game, it will take too long to rewrite everything that is there.
Development began quite easily – since August 2023, I have been cutting the engine a little in my free time, and the children have been testing it. The process brought incredible satisfaction, which made me even miss my annual trips to the sea.
In the first version, you could walk around the map, open cells by spending coins on it, and look for treasures. Accordingly, coins can be bought and sold for crypto + some of the coins were given as a gift for registration. Such simple functionality with the excitement of loot boxes.
I gave the first advertisement in telegram groups, received the first 400 players and the first profit. It was not possible to recoup investments in advertising, and the players quickly fled – it was boring and the winnings were small.
Then I became very aware of the donation problem. I wanted to make a lot of mechanics, but selling them all for coins meant making a game for a very small audience that was willing to pay. But I wanted something else, I wanted to make everyone happy.
This is how another resource appeared – matter, the basis for complex game mechanics. It was spent on seizing territory and building defensive structures. The coins remained for exploring the territory (opening hexes).
Then the game began to acquire casino mechanics – for example, open a gold tile for 200 coins and receive a reward from 50 to 2000 coins.
I continued to advertise and received a wave of Turkish cheaters who, using geolocation substitution, began to massively explore the world in search of treasures. A ban system was developed especially for them by analyzing movement and average speed. The system worked tolerably, but not always successfully, and I smoothly approached the next important step:
It turned out that with the gift coins that I give during registration, you can accidentally get rich by hitting the jackpot and ruining the author of the project (me). If I reduced gift coins, then ordinary players would have nothing to explore the world with. Another dead end, and so a third resource appeared – energy. From now on, exploration of the territory took place in exchange for energy, and the coins remained in the casino mechanics. However, I left a small chance of finding coins and even treasures for those who did not donate. This became possible thanks to the formation of prize funds and the “unfastening” of a small percentage into the fund of underperforming players.
About the prize fund
I didn’t want to deceive anyone, and I also didn’t want to give away my money. I wanted there to be an automatic distribution of user coins spent in the game from less fortunate to more successful. Some lost, some won. To do this, I came up with prize pools for each type of game. Coins came into it from every loss, and with a certain probability it was possible to win even the entire fund. At the start, I put a certain amount of my money into the prize pool so that the players would be interested in playing it. Well, as I wrote above, with each entry into the prize fund, a penny is thrown into the fund for those who don’t win and can then be found on the map. This is how I got my own currency – a coin that lives inside the project for now (without blockchain and smart contracts). The coin exchange rate is equal to the total balance of money deposited into the project, translated into USDT, divided by the total number of coins on user balances. In order for the rate to grow, with each movement of funds a small percentage of coins are burned. So investing in this coin should be a good idea)
Having finished the financial topic, let’s jump to the other hemisphere of the brain and talk about the creative part of the issue. Here events developed no less interestingly.
At some point I had a problem generating game icons. I needed to add a “cursed tree” to the game and, studying freelance offers, I learned that on average they would be able to draw a tree in two versions for me in 2 weeks and 5,000 rubles. This didn’t suit me, since I needed to draw about 20 icons at that time, and I didn’t want to throw away 100 thousand of my hard-earned money on this.
And at this moment Midjourney enters the scene. It was a shock for me; within 1 minute I received 4 high-quality versions of the picture I needed for free.
Things immediately went faster, over the next month I added plants, animals, mountains and lakes to the game.
At this point, I spent quite a lot of time creating a new version, filling it with what I thought were very funny mechanics – like growing trees and grass, animals walking around the map, factories for energy production. Finally I launched an advertisement to a large Russian-speaking audience and received… a lot of negative feedback.
Some found the game incomprehensible, while others found it finite and boring. I was so inside the project that I couldn’t look at it from the outside and see what was wrong. The only option left was to move blindly and correct everything based on incoming feedback. It looked routine and not cool, so I dropped everything, gathered my family and we went to enjoy the sunny coast of Thailand for a month.
There I caught the resort vibe, turned off my brain and didn’t think about anything until I returned.
Having returned and assessed with a fresh look everything that had been done, I discovered that the game consists of a bunch of complex and not very clear mechanics and yes, it turned out to be boring and finite.
Taking a sheet of paper, I sat down to re-write the concept of the game, mercilessly and without regret, cutting off and throwing away everything that came to hand and did not fit into this concept.
The first thing I decided was that I needed to stop programming this game. I need to create basic mechanics that, with the help of configs, descriptions and pictures from Midjourney, will fill the game with interesting content without the serious participation of my overheated brain.
Secondly, there must be a complex production chain, including the extraction of everything and the conversion of one resource into another.
Third, the game needs a story, a story about a post-apocalyptic world where the remnants of humanity are hiding in dilapidated houses.
Fourth, the main character must find these people and use them as slaves in the mines.
Fifth, there must be a global goal – the construction of something big and great, where all resources will go. Such a place for the sublimation of all the player’s time, a kind of “Taj Mahal”, although I haven’t yet come up with exactly what it will be.
Now four out of five points are ready and there is no certainty about what the fifth point should be and whether it is needed at all.
What you can do in the game now:
- walk and explore the territory finding different goodies
- seize territory and quarrel with the opposing faction
- build a line of defense
- extract various resources from the bowels of the earth
- produce more complex resources
- increase points, fight for the position of mayor
- spend and earn coins in game mechanics
-exchange coins for crypto
In general, I believe that many people will like the game if I can explain how to play it) It is simpler than Ingress, there is still the same motivation to get your ass off the couch and go do tasks with your legs, there is an opportunity to earn money.
It will be cool if you write down your ideas on how this can be brought into an understandable form and further promoted.