DevBlog #1: Welcome to Oceania!

Hi everyone! I'm bringing you our first DevBlog. The purpose is to share as transparently as possible the reason why we made some changes and why we think they are good. We also think it's an excellent way to communicate with players and keep them updated about important patches.

  • This update focuses on reworking the core gameplay. From our own experience and all the feedback we got from you, it was clear that the current gameplay wasn't satisfying. Players always felt lost not knowing what to do. And having to defend your External Heart often made players stay in the safety of their islands leading to infinite games. Going into the water was also quite painful and slow, while creating problems of game pacing if players met too soon.
  • Taking all those points into consideration, we decided it was a good time to rework the core gameplay of Ostrofa. But before doing that, we had to ask ourselves a question: "What is Ostrofa?". Defining what is core to the game was very important in order to not destroy its identity and make it into a completely different game. We wanted players to play differently, but still get the same feelings while doing so. The answer we landed on was: "Ostrofa is a PvEvP game on islands separated by water with some elements of survival". This meant to us that as long as we don't change those parts, we were free to change the rest.
  • After considering multiple variations and discussing the pros and cons of each one, the answer we landed on was to make it about collecting points. Players would have to compete over them giving them a clear objective to pursue and reasons to go to certain zones and fight.

The map:

After deciding what the objective of the game will be, the next step was to ask "How will that translate in the current state of the game?"

  • The map we had was randomly generated which means that randomness played a lot of importance in terms of islands' placement. This would, of course, benefit some players over others depending on how many islands with resources spawn near them, and more importantly, how far will they be from the points they will have to collect. The decision was clear here: We needed to make a new static map to ensure a balanced state of the game.
  • Reworking the map and making it static gave us the opportunity to make it much prettier as everything would be handmade. Most islands now have their own theme with different architectures and monsters. A lot of nice touches have also been added like mountains on the background of the map. And that's how Oceania was made. Feast your eyes over these screenshots:

Enough screenshots! We'll let you discover the rest in-game! Oceania is much smaller than the old map enabling faster movements and more PvP. Here is a top-down look of the whole map:

In case you were paying attention, you probably noticed that islands are now connected with bridges. That brings us to the new added mechanics based around progression and player choices: At the start of the game, all bridges are completely disabled. This means that it's impossible to get out of your island or get attacked by other players (you die if you fall in the water now). Players will be receiving Crank Tokens over fixed periods of time. Those tokens can be used to activate bridges and move from one island to another.

  • This implies that each game will be different as how the islands connect will entirely depend on YOUR choices. With this new system, the islands players can access to will increase over time giving a good sense of progression as the whole map connects little by little. Keep in mind that activating a bridge is permanent during that game (bridges cannot be disabled) which means that you get access to new islands while also giving your enemies access to them (and to your island).
  • Having a static map doesn't mean that we got rid of randomness. How resources spawn on each island is still random (following some rules), which means that you will be fighting over different things in different places each game. It's up to you to be flexible in order to gain an edge over your enemies and be the king of Ostrofa.
  • We also made some adjustments to what players drop when they die. Previously, you would drop everything you had on yourself on the ground. We noticed that it was very punishing and most of the time, would mean GG for you. As on top of losing all your gear, you would also lose the tools to pick up resources to craft it again. Some players would also have already consumed everything on their islands making it impossible to come back. So starting from this update, if you ever die, you will only drop the resources in your inventory (so make sure to hide them in a storage before you go exploring). You will still keep your armors, weapons, Crank Tokens, torches, and tools like the pickaxe each time you respawn.

The gameplay:

To explain how an Ostrofa game will unfold, we will be using this map with different icons:

  • At the start of the game, players will start on one of the Player Islands (who would have guessed). You will have to kill any monster to collect a Heart String (a unique item that drops from the first monster you kill) that you will use to activate your External Heart. The External Heart is now an indestructible structure that heals you and hits enemies nearby. It's also where you'll respawn in case you die. Up until this point, the game is pretty much similar to what you are used to. You will try to collect resources in order to make food and craft some gear.
  • At the start of day 2, you will receive 3 Crank Tokens and then, a new one each half day. You can use them to activate any bridge you want in order to access nearby islands and gather more resources or get some medical kits (healing items) in one of the Medical Islands that respawns each day.
  • The Boss Islands are islands where some boss monsters spawn. Killing those monsters will drop Life Shards which are the tokens necessary to win the game. You can only score a Life Shard if you bring it to your External Heart. Which means that other players can wait for you to kill a boss and then kill you to steal it before you save it in your External Heart.
The Boss Islands are islands where some boss monsters spawn. Killing those monsters will drop Life Shards which are the tokens necessary to win the game. You can only score a Life Shard if you bring it to your External Heart. Which means that other players can wait for you to kill a boss and then kill you to steal it before you save it in your External Heart.

It might seem complicated at first, but it's actually pretty simple:

1/ Gather resources on your island to make some food and gear
2/ Use Crank Tokens to activate bridges and get even more resources and access to Boss Islands
3/ Get Life Shards from bosses and Supply Drops and bring them back to the External Heart on your island to score them before the other players.
4/ The first player who gathers 15 Life Shards or the one who has the most on day 20 wins the game.

With this in mind, what to do next should feel pretty clear for most players without limiting strategies and player choices: Some players can choose to access small resource islands around them asap to become as strong as possible before going for the bosses while others could choose to keep them and rush the bosses at day 3 (when Boss Islands become accessible) to score some fast points.

Other changes & improvements:

We made various changes with this update, including a new HUD:

A Farmer Bot in the lobby to help you spawn bots to play with if you're alone, but still want to test the game:

Tons of bugfixes including hits not working, various improvements including:

- Holding the "H" key will show you all the controls of the game
- Pressing the "Tab" key will show you all the map and how much Life Shards each player have secured
- A tutorial that can be disabled in the settings
- Better character control & movements
- Hits will now always properly work
- And much more you'll discover once in-game.

Conclusion:

The purpose of this beta is to test the core gameplay (Life Shards and Crank Tokens) and the new map. We really hope you'll like it! This update will give us some very important live data in order to correctly balance the game. Once we get your feedback on them, the next step will be to do some adjustments/balance changes to the game and rework items to support the new gameplay (they are untouched in this beta to limit the number of variables we need to watch out for). We are planning to add much more content in the future including different islands from game to game, new maps, end game screen and rewards, etc... Further development will be driven by player feedback going into directions you desire to see the game evolve in.

This brings us to the end of this DevBlog. We really hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it and that you will enjoy playing Ostrofa even more. Thanks again for those who had the patience to read the whole DevBlog and who kept supporting the game for so long. We are pretty excited about releasing this update and are more than eager to receive your feedback about it. See you in Oceania!