And then he was gone..

I’m going to be crazy busy for the next few months and won’t have any time at all for my side hobby – developing Musket Smoke. So I thought I would leave with a bang.

Update 1.8 – The Community Booster Update!

A Grand Duke player who goes by :*:Bounder:*: suggested that we improve our match quitting rules. (He also Architected the Battlefield Reference and the Truce feature.)

  • Players can freely quit (PASS) anytime in the first 4 rounds of any match.
  • Anyone who quits a match after 4 rounds gets zero points, and the player who was quit-on gets full ELO points and granted a win.
  • Matches that are expired (4 days) also payout in a full ELO points (2-4) and grant a win.

I wholeheartedly embraced these new rules in Musket Smoke and even pushed the ideas further with a couple new concepts.

The ‘Mingle Phase’ – get only the match-ups that you want.

When you start a new online match, you now have 4 rounds to decide if you want to commit. Take a gander at your opponents stats, or chat with them if you like.

  • ‘A Grand Duke?? Perfect! I was hoping to enhance my skills before really diving in.’
  • ‘We already played a few matches recently. Looking for some new player handicap matches to try out. Cheers.’,
  • ‘It’s been a while old friend. Lets brawl!’
  • ‘I just wanted to take a look at the online turn sequence, thanks. I need to practice more in the solo area first!’
  • ‘This is my first match, just looking for some pointers mostly.’
  • ‘What kind of match are you looking to play?’
  • ‘Sorry. I’m looking for an experienced player to teach me something new. A Grand Duke hopefully!’

Keep in mind some players don’t like to chat or may not speak your language. Don’t take any offence at silence or quick passing. Likely they are just shy.

Our community is small. So don’t burn any bridges. When you Pass someone try to leave the door open for future matches. Also if you chat, it’s polite to give them a round to respond back before you Pass. Once you Pass, the chat function doesn’t work anymore.

The ‘Friendly Pass’ – How to do it.

  • Just press the (X) on the game list item to do a ‘Friendly Pass’.
  • The popup will tell you if it’s still within the first 4 rounds or not. If it says ‘Friendly Pass’ – then you are good.
  • But before passing if you want to chat first then just enter the match, chat, make some moves (incase you change your mind) and then hit ‘end turn’.
  • Give your opponent time to respond, and also you need time between doing passes or you and the other person will keep matching up again and again. If you don’t want a game of basketball (constant passing) then chat a bit. You have 4 rounds to do so and the round numbers are clearly shown in game.

When your community is small, you can’t keep splitting into sub groups for elite, new players, etc. This ‘Friendly Pass’ idea is a mechanism to allow for players to self regulate their own match-ups.

This feature should help encourage more socializing, communication and also better play through appropriate match-ups. Nobody wants to suffer through something less than ideal. Now you don’t have to. It’s the perfect matchup feature.

Although likely many will ignore it and battle as usual. It’s still a good option to have.

I’ll probably re-word the text ‘Find an opponent you like.’  I don’t want any negative connotations around passing, it’s really just finding the type of match you want to play at the moment. The simple words are mainly for our non-english players. Something like ‘Find an appropriate matchup.’ is what I meant.

The next Community booster item is – ReplayKit.

ReplayKit is a tech added to iOS 9 for games to make in-game video with. There is even an option to do voice over on the fly! All on your device. It’s pretty awesome. Except that it doesn’t work on some of the older iOS hardware. In that case I just hide the button.

You can share your videos, or save them to the camera roll, or even edit them.

So what does this mean?  What are some utilities of this?

  • Was that a spectacular round?  Why not save the replay while you zoom in.
  • Want to make an intro video to Musket Smoke?  Go ahead!  Make a commentary walkthrough of the tutorial, or the Solo matches. Or how to quickly get up and running with online battles.
  • Beginner tips for new players. That would be great!
  • Advanced tips for more experienced players.
  • See a bug in battle? Send me a video of it.
  • Got some fancy moves?  Make a showpiece video.

There is no end to the possibilities!  (Especially for voice actors)

The Musket Smoke community now has the ability to take care of itself. To self govern and grow in new ways. Mingle phase, Friendly Pass, Video, New Player handicaps and a feedback mechanism.

A few more things..

I’m pretty happy with this recent series of updates and experiments. It brought together lots of ideas and things to try. This update however, is the balancer – the final adjustments. The concluder. The solidifier. Something solid for the next stretch.

  • Removed wind. I didn’t like the motivation for hacker opportunities, but not only that it was something that was hard to grasp (pun) for new players and too powerful for experienced players. Not a nice matchup contrast. Will it ever come back?  Maybe.. lets see what life without it is like for a while.
  • Removed invisible units in trees. Too many minor side issues, and required special UI support that I didn’t have time for.
  • Removed the device lock. Never inconvenience your most active players! Plus I also hated not being able to continue campaign rounds on the go when I stepped outside away from the iPad.
  • Cavalry handicap adjustments. For mini matches – reduced to just 1 extra cavalry unit, instead of 1-3. Don’t panic young Commanders!  I’ve counterbalanced this with a minor roster reduction to Duke level players. Dukes lose 1 cavalry and one musket in the Mini Match roster (but still 10 units). I think this is finally the long term balance I was looking for between our new players and our more experience players. With these changes there is now less need to ‘Friendly Pass’ – but still, it’s your choice.
  • Can now view quit matches. A minor thing, but significant to some. Your opponent no longer has the power to erase your replays. If they quit or delete the match, you can still can go through and look at your full replays and see what happened in the battle.

Points in the bank.

I throughly tested ‘ELO point payouts for Expired Matches’, so those should be points in the bank. I like that those who are most active and maybe get the most abandoned matches, are also compensated with these points.

Being a one man dev team, I didn’t have time or manpower for a massive comprehensive testing phase. So if you find a bug – send me a video!

Important feedback..

When doing a ‘Friendly Pass’ please select ‘Not a suitable opponent’ so that I can get some feedback on the ‘community vibe’ and make better decisions down the road with player matching or new player help. It’s private info that just goes to me (not your opponent). And it’s all subjective. Not suitable opponent could be a honourable Grand Duke to a new player. Or visa versa. But keep in mind that we are one big family and the Grand Dukes players are your fastest path to success and they are often the most friendly players as well. No matter your skill level, if you play enough you will become a Grand Duke. It’s just a title of experience and not necessarily indicative of skill.

Side note: I was just going for Duke as the top rank. But Armin1962 wanted another rank level, so a while back I added the Grand part. Actually 2 of the mini maps and the entire ranking system was Armin1962’s idea. A lot of this game was conceived by you guys. I’m just the grunt worker!

So that’s it. I won’t be far away. I’m often in battle myself or at least keeping an eye on the activity logs.

Keep your muskets dry!

Woodie Dovich

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