Wishful Thinking: Glitch Street Projects

This will be the second of a planned recurring series of posts where I imagine what could be done with a particular game mechanic in some game or another — also known as Glitch, lately.  Each time, I try to think of ways to improve the mechanic for the good of the entire game, not just my particular play style.  I might like to think that I do this from a developer’s perspective more than a player’s perspective — just a developer with infinite time, resources, and with absolutely no concern for the practical complications of coding and the limitations of platforms and such babble, mostly because I don’t know what any of that means.

Street projects, for the unfamiliar, are when new streets are “built” by players, working from a street that will border the new one, donating items or performing actions until a certain amount of each is reached, unlocking the next phase unless three have been completed, which would instead open the new street.  As players, we have been told the street project mechanics are in development or being revised, but we do not know much beyond that.

I don’t want to spend much time complaining or talking about the old system, but in order to talk about ideas for improvements I need to identify the problems.  The largest was lag—by which I mean the game responding sluggishly to input for whatever reason—there were large crowds present at most phases of most projects the last time any were available.  Second, success–defined as participating enough to earn a trophy piece—was mostly due to foreknowledge from previous failures, followed by noting the items required for each phase, and preparing large stacks of them to donate.  Third, the minimum threshold needed to succeed was ill defined and possibly varied — I’m still not sure if it was based on each individual’s total number of items donated/actions performed, or if it was based on reaching a minimum percentage of the total work — though either way is in competition with other participants based partly on how much crafting is stored up.

I’m just going to assume that it’s best to work with the lag.  Even wishes need to be somewhat rational.  Otherwise the next of these articles will be, “I think they should replace the servers with cutting edge supercomputers,” and I’ll wait a few decades before I write again.  So assuming either the hardware or the flash platform puts a hard limit on how many people can be in the same place before there are performance issues, the easiest solution is to spread the population out through more than just multiple active projects.

This could be done hundreds of different ways, but I can think of a few.  Sticking with street projects as we know them: the center for donations could be more spread out, appearing in many different places in multiple regions; it could be instanced, such as already done for areas like Bureaucratic Halls and Axis Denyde; or it could be not necessarily instanced but individualized, occurring through an item in a player’s home.

But this is Wishful Thinking, where staying with the known would be thinking too small.  In my circle of friends, we like to talk about ponies (see my blog here for the origin) — my Street Project pony would be to do away with donations and repeated actions completely.  Recently talking about the craftbot, I noted that crafting, as something players do in large amounts and with high frequency, was easier to make out of sight than to make fun.  Trying to make it fun would likely make it more irritating, more dragged out.  Street Projects, on the other hand, tend not to be everyday occurrences.

My pony would be to do away with donations altogether and replace them with minigames.  From a social engineering standpoint, I don’t think it would be the best plan to make players compete, to make trophy pieces or whatever that replaces them depend on doing better than other players in these minigames.  If the games were competitive in any way, the ultimate reward for winning should just be time: they could achieve a trophy piece faster or perhaps the reward could add up, and winning would provide slightly more than not winning.  Games could also be cooperative, where the players in each game work together to complete a puzzle or challenge, and the total number of successful games by everyone participating in the project moves the phase or completes the street.

These are not predictions, of course, these are ideas.  Just this short analysis made realize that prediction is impossible: once the frame that was present before is thrown out, anything goes in Ur.


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