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Old 05-12-2014, 09:00 AM
lif lif is offline
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Default A Few Billion Square Tiles, a Minsweeper MMO - Now soft-launched in Europe and Canada

UPDATE 2: Now available in most of Europe and in Canada! The server is working great, so I'm slowly adding more countries everyday. The final worldwide release is planned for July 3rd.

Meanwhile, if you live in Europe or Canada, you can try the game now!


UPDATE: A Few Billion Square Tiles was just soft-launched in France, Belgium and Switzerland! If you live in either of those countries, you can try the game right now!


--

Hi everyone!

Some of you might remember me posting about my company’s game Aureus a little over a year ago. After Aureus the company’s focus was on a suite of traveling apps, but a couple month ago I started working during my spare time on a new little game project.

It has now reached a point where it’s playable, and I’m looking for testers as I would love to have feedback from actual players.

At the most basic level, it’s a minesweeper. But what differentiates it from the hundreds of other minesweeper clones on the App Store is that everybody is going to play at the same time on the same infinite board. You could call it a MineSweeper MMO. The working title for now is “A Few Billion Square Tiles”.

Since the board is infinite and shared, there are many different levels of play:

• first you can play it like a traditional minesweeper: every time you die a score is computed from the number of mines you found and the duration of your game.

• or you can focus on developing the biggest territory: all of your discovered tiles and mines are added to your empire (whenever you die you continue where you left off).

• you can create and join clans with other players in order to create the largest clan territory.

• you can steal territories from other players: special tiles can be randomly found which let you reset uncovered tiles to a clean hidden state. If you apply it to another player’s territory, they lose their tiles and you can win them back.

• finally, you can compete in the hourly leaderboards, to see how you compare to the other persons playing at the same time.

• I also have a few ideas in mind not yet implemented, like adding a way to protect your territory with special tiles that would prevent other players from reseting them. This would add a building component on top of the discovery aspect.
Here's a screenshot of the game right now:


You can see the play area in the center, and the world map on the bottom. Your territory is represented in dark blue, your clan's is in medium blue, and other player's is in light blue. White is undiscovered territory.

Everybody plays on the same board, and if somebody is mining next to you, you will see him work on your screen in real time.

A very fun thing is that empires can be visualised in the app and on the web. This make for a very nice way to share your game with others: instead of just sharing a score, you can share the actual map of your empire.

You can check the web viewer here: http://afewbillion.com/. Click on one of the top ranked players to see his/her territory. Fair warning, it needs more work and is for now a bit buggy: this whole project is a one-man effort, and I had never written anything in HTML 5 or javascript before .


So what do you think of this whole idea? MineSweeper, while very common and overcloned, has always been an addictive game. The infiniteness of the board makes it even more so: since there is no visible borders, you always want to play a little bit more to increase the size of your territory.


To summarize:

I’m about to release an online infinite multiplayer minesweeper, and I’m looking for feedback and potential testers! Is anybody interested ?

Last edited by lif; 06-19-2014 at 07:55 AM.. Reason: Updated to reflect the canadian soft launch
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  #2  
Old 05-12-2014, 10:51 AM
djstout djstout is online now
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I am strongly interested!
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:53 AM
MrMojoRisin MrMojoRisin is offline
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Count me in as well!
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:12 AM
lif lif is offline
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Great, thank you!

Can you send me your UDIDs by private message? I'll add them to the app's profile in my next build so that you can install and run it on your device.

If you don't know how to get your UDID, here's a very simple tutorial: http://whatsmyudid.com

MrMojoRisin: I forgot to mention that I'm using SpriteKit which requires iOS 7. Do you have a device running the last OS?
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:32 PM
MrMojoRisin MrMojoRisin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lif View Post
Great, thank you!

Can you send me your UDIDs by private message? I'll add them to the app's profile in my next build so that you can install and run it on your device.

If you don't know how to get your UDID, here's a very simple tutorial: http://whatsmyudid.com

MrMojoRisin: I forgot to mention that I'm using SpriteKit which requires iOS 7. Do you have a device running the last OS?
Yep, I have 7.0.3 on my iPhone 5c.
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  #6  
Old 05-17-2014, 10:16 AM
sweetdiss sweetdiss is offline
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Alrighty, here are my impressions after about 4 or 5 days of playing A Few Billion Square Tiles.

First of all, the concept is brilliant. Like "why didn't anyone else think of that" brilliant. The very first time I played I saw another person named Mini playing next to me, and that small moment of shared minesweeping was one of the coolest gaming experiences I've had in weeks. Unfortunately it has yet to happen since -- I think there needs to be a way to find other players on the mini map.

The minesweeping itself is pretty solid. One bummer is that the way I play traditional minesweepers is by ignoring flagging and just clearing tiles until the board is clear (this is how the "pros" do it -- much faster). You can't really do that in this game since one of the main mechanics is the "flagging" (capturing yellow tiles). I'm not sure if there is a way around this, but luckily most other people probably won't care!

One thing that would help is by speeding up the flagging animation. Even though you don't HAVE to hold a tile until the animation is done, I feel compelled to anyway, and it slows me down. I've been training myself not to, but I think it'd be better if it (and the normal mine clearing animation for that matter) was sped up a bit. Maybe put something in the settings?

And finally, while the overall concept is awesome, I can see it being so much more. Currently it feels like a neat time waster that I enjoy popping into every now and then. Clear some mines, make my little splotch on the map bigger, and get on with my day. One thing that would help motivate me to play more seriously is by indicating where territories begin and end on the mini map, maybe with each clan having a different color or something (and each user within that clan having his or her own color as well -- switching back and forth between seeing the global mini map and your clan's mini map would be cool). Right now the mini map just shows empty space, cleared tiles, and my own cleared tiles. My little "countries" don't feel particularly special when I know that to everyone else it just blends into the generic light blue cleared tiles on the mini map.

All of that being said, I am overall quite enjoying it. It's a fantastic idea with huge potential, and I can't wait to see how it evolves and changes, especially when it launches and there are (hopefully) hundreds of people sweeping for mines at once. : )

Also, I started a clan called toucharcade that you guys should join. It's kinda lonely right now.
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Old 05-17-2014, 12:20 PM
lif lif is offline
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Thanks for the great feedback sweetdiss!

Quote:
First of all, the concept is brilliant. Like "why didn't anyone else think of that" brilliant.
To be 100% honest, there are a few others online. Which was a bit of a bummer when I found out, as I thought too that I had a brilliant idea initially . But I don't think there are any on the App Store, and I think mine will still bring some new things to the game (see below).


Quote:
The very first time I played I saw another person named Mini playing next to me, and that small moment of shared minesweeping was one of the coolest gaming experiences I've had in weeks. Unfortunately it has yet to happen since -- I think there needs to be a way to find other players on the mini map.
Yes for now there are only 4 or 5 regular testers, so the world is a bit empty. I have a bit of logic to make new players pop up next to existing ones though, so it shouldn't remain empty very long (hopefully!).


Quote:
The minesweeping itself is pretty solid. One bummer is that the way I play traditional minesweepers is by ignoring flagging and just clearing tiles until the board is clear (this is how the "pros" do it -- much faster). You can't really do that in this game since one of the main mechanics is the "flagging" (capturing yellow tiles). I'm not sure if there is a way around this, but luckily most other people probably won't care!
Indeed I had to make some compromises with the traditional game. In a traditional game the board is finite and can tell when you've found all the non-mine tiles. Here the world is infinite so I can't really rely on that, hence why I put the accent on flagging mines.

If you get any ideas to make it more "pro", I'd be happy to hear them!


Quote:
One thing that would help is by speeding up the flagging animation.
The reason I added this animation is to average the server validation delay. In most case it's much faster than the curent animation, but once in a while it can take a bit longer, which breaks the rhythm of the game. The animation makes sure that the duration is constant, which makes the game look much more responsive overall. Think of it as the launch animations or transitions in iOS . Since you can queue several actions it doesn't really matter in the end.

That being said, you're right that I could try to adjust a little bit: somebody playing at home on wifi will have a much more stable connection that somebody on 3G, so I could try to speed things up a bit when the network is good.


Quote:
And finally, while the overall concept is awesome, I can see it being so much more. Currently it feels like a neat time waster that I enjoy popping into every now and then. Clear some mines, make my little splotch on the map bigger, and get on with my day. One thing that would help motivate me to play more seriously is by indicating where territories begin and end on the mini map, maybe with each clan having a different color or something (and each user within that clan having his or her own color as well -- switching back and forth between seeing the global mini map and your clan's mini map would be cool). Right now the mini map just shows empty space, cleared tiles, and my own cleared tiles. My little "countries" don't feel particularly special when I know that to everyone else it just blends into the generic light blue cleared tiles on the mini map.
Well you can actually do most of this already! And this is the reason why, in my opinion, this new version is much more interesting than the existing ones.

But MrMojoRisin had the exact same request, which means that there's clearly something wrong with my UI

First, when you tap a tile from another player, or when you tap a player name in the rankings, you can get to this player's profile. In it you will see a "Show Empire" button, which adds a dark overlay over the whole territory of this player, both in the mini-map and in the play area:


Then, when you join a clan, you will see the area of your clan in a different color too. For example I just joined the tourcharcade clan that you created, and here's what I see:



In dark blue is my territory, in medium blue is the clan's (i.e., it's yours since you are the only other player in the clan) and in light blue is the territory of all other players.

So it's not possible to see all territories at the same times, but it's easy to see yours, somebody else's, and your clan. But I'll try to make it more obvious, thanks!

On a side note, it's also possible to see player territories in the web map:

http://afewbillion.com

Just tap on a player's name, or enter his username in the text field, and you will see his whole territory. It's pretty fun way to brag to your friends .


Quote:
All of that being said, I am overall quite enjoying it. It's a fantastic idea with huge potential, and I can't wait to see how it evolves and changes, especially when it launches and there are (hopefully) hundreds of people sweeping for mines at once. : )

Also, I started a clan called toucharcade that you guys should join. It's kinda lonely right now.
Thanks again! I'm really looking forward to the launch too, and to see how people are going to play it as all my friends are playing differently. Some are only interested in the hourly ranking, some in expending their territories, … and my wife started writing her name (that's the big J in the middle of the map ).

It's certainly going to be interesting to see how it goes!
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  #8  
Old 05-17-2014, 12:46 PM
HLW HLW is offline
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Are you still looking for testers, and are you using testflight?
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:18 PM
popjam5 popjam5 is offline
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I would love to test this, looks like curiosity but minesweeper.
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  #10  
Old 05-18-2014, 09:27 AM
lif lif is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HLW View Post
Are you still looking for testers, and are you using testflight?
Yes to the first point, and no to the second

I'm always looking for more feedback, but I already have the UDID of most of my testers so it's not really worth setting up test flight.

Also, the beta phase will not last very long: my plan is to have about 2 more weeks of beta testing, then to soft launch in one country (I'm trying to contact some french website right now), and finally to release worldwide mid june.

I'm just hosting the builds on my server. If you want to test, send me your UDID by private message and I'll add it to the next build, thank you!
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