Mobile Achievements, Leaderboards, and Demo

Hey Folks! Continuing this week's focus on mobile dev, I've started looking into some interesting new developments in the world of NEO Scavenger: achievements and leaderboards!

Both Google Play (Android) and Game Center (iOS) have achievement and leaderboard support, and one of the questions Tiago asked me in the port was whether I wanted to try adding them. We decided to leave it as an optional feature towards the end of the project, depending on time. And as we're reaching the bug-fixing and polish phase, I think this may be worth the extra cost to, ahem, achieve.

So what does this mean? Well, I spent several hours looking over old forum posts and online discussions of NEO Scavenger achievements/leaderboards, and did some brainstorming of my own, and I think I've arrived at a set that makes sense for the game.

In particular, I heard the comments about keeping the achievements challenging, meaningful, and spoiler-free, and I'm going to do my best to, ahem, achieve that.

So for example, there won't be "Craft 10x spears," or "Defeat 100x dogmen" style achievements. But there will be a few in the vein of "Build first fire" and "Survive first night."

I'll also try to cover several of the significant plot points, such as "Discover meaning of NEO" and "Expose the Bishop at Saginaw." There will also be a few serious challenges, both of skill and rarity, such as "Survive a week with all frailties" or "Nurse self back to health from near-death."

And I'll try to make the spoiler-type ones hidden, so people don't accidentally ruin surprises.

Leaderboards will probably be more run-of-the-mill stuff, but I'll still be trying to make them meaningful categories. E.g. longest survival time, most km traveled, shortest time to reach ending, etc.

Now, I know more than a few of you are asking, "what does this mean for the PC version? Will it have achievements/leaderboards?" And for that, time will tell. The mobile edition is a good starting point for a new PC version using HaxeFlixel. And if Tiago and I can get everything working again (e.g. mods), we'll definitely take a look. SteamWorks should be compatible with HaxeFlixel, so there's hope.

But hope is not a promise ;)

And for that matter, no promise on the mobile achievements, either. I think they'll be straightforward to code, but there's the question of balancing, cheating, and other considerations. We'll just have to see.

In other news, we're also trying to shore-up the demo so it can be used on mobile as a sales tool. And if all goes well, the demo will be the same app as the full version.

You know that part in the demo where you reach the invisible boundary and it says "You've reached the edge of the demo"? Normally, that would link to the website to buy the game on PC. On mobile, we're going to try an in-app purchase (IAP) to unlock the full version.

Having the demo at all is good because users can see if it works on their hardware, and if they enjoy it. And having it be the same app means avoiding two sets of app approvals on each store, avoiding split codebases, and having shared ratings/user stats.

Unfortunately, the demo hasn't been updated in a while. In particular, the XML content. For several hours today, this was my screen:


Line 4271 of 127983...

There's roughly 6MB of text data to review for any changes, so this is going to take a while. But it had to be done at some point, and although an engine change isn't as exciting as a new game or new content, it's a solid stepping-stone. And as we saw earlier in the post, it allows us to, ahem, achieve some interesting new things!