Builder's Challenge

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Builder's Challenge is a competitive game designed by Hyper Anthony, specifically to engage Active Worlds' building system and to encourage a new way to use it. The game was originally created in January, 2010 in Alphaworld for use in SW City Interactive.

Description

This objective board is featured on each plot, describing the specific tasks that the builder must complete.
Builder's Challenge, in all of its iterations, works to create a competitive environment where builders work to develop a larger area. The larger area could be any sort of project, from large towns to small parks. Builder's Challenge requires the dedicated work of a master planner to develop the circulation of the larger context for builders before they can play the game.

This larger context is divided by the game designer into a number of smaller building plots, and each plot has a specific task or objective assigned to it for the builder to complete. Bonus objectives are also common, which encourage builders to engage in detailing to improve the overall quality of their build. These objectives are communicated to builders through the use of Objective Boards, which exist in the front of each plot in every iteration of Builder's Challenge. As the smaller plots are gradually completed by individuals, the desired feel of the area replaces the empty plots and achieves the goal of collaboration through goal-oriented building.

Continued development by builders is usually encouraged through means of a currency or points system. When tasks or objectives are completed, the builder is rewarded points for completion of their plot. In game types where builders can complete multiple plots, these totals from each plot are tallied and an overall scoreboard is kept.

History

Genesis - SW City

Builder's Challenge began as a new, experimental solution to combine a gaming environment with a town-building one. Originally conceived as goal-oriented building, the game seemed an ideal solution to integrating building into SW City Interactive. The idea was embraced by SW City Productions, who developed an elaborate scoring system and tutorial quest that engaged a new building area called Elkins Beach in the Southern Highlands.

The game was opened for public testing on January 10 in Elkins Beach, and the original announcement from the Scarabian Republic Forums is recorded below:

Welcome to SW City Interactive: Builders Challenge! This is a new mini-game designed around goal-oriented building, which rewards players for completing a building task on a plot of land around Scarabia. This game is set in the small coastal community of Elkins Beach. Set on the southern shores of the Irenic Ocean, this community is looking for new builders to stimulate its budding economy. The city is rewarding prospective builders with tokens and prestige -- allowing builders to obtain local goodies and earn the ability to work on more challenging plots of land.

For example, I might task a builder with completing a shop in a towny area. Based on how well the building looks, their competency with building commands and sense, and how well they followed the task given, they'll receive rewards.

A more thorough tutorial can be found in-world at ^jump downtown elkins beach. Everything isn't quite in order yet, but it's enough to get the general idea. NPCs and even rules will be added or modified during this period of public testing, so please don't be alarmed if something is different.

The intended starting zone for all builders is at ^jump Coastal Estates. Yes, it's a housing community. If you've already read the in-world tutorial (read the in-world tutorial before reading ahead!) you'll know that there are signs in front of each plot that instruct the player on the task they must complete. Every plot in Coastal Estates has the same task and bonuses, so players get a grasp on the concept of this game before they move to more challenging areas.

As a minigame, its worth mention that points are kept on the SWI Scoreboard for the competitive among us ;)

From this initial public beta, several observations about maintenance of the game were made. Most notably, the model created in Elkins Beach was extremely labor-intensive on the part of the developer, and was shelved in late January due to time constraints.

Virtual Game Festival 2010
Cy2009.jpg
Builder's Challenge is part of a series.



Virtual Game Festival 2010

Main Article: BuildCity.

Builder's Challenge was revived in the summer of 2010 after Hyper Anthony learned that the Virtual Game Festival 2010 would be extended through mid-July. After obtaining the world GameFest39 (now BuildCity) and engaging in a two-week period of intense development, the world opened for public testing on June 24. The major difference from the iteration in SW City was that the scale was cranked up significantly, and the builders were restricted to building in tiered zones -- completion of plots in easier zones would allow progression to more difficult building zones.

An interior view of the vessel Opportunity.
The world provided a unique opportunity to develop a new context, so the game was packaged as a new, experimental colony. Upon entering the world, players were greeted by a scientist that engaged in a long conversation about how the player was a member of a building group known as the Reclaimers, and this faction existed to colonize and develop new worlds. The entry zone was designed as a starship -- known as the Opportunity -- orbiting the world, and players were able to teleport from there to a floating midway, where scores were kept. From there, players were directed to the surface zone of Verdant Valley, a charming farming community where players create their first build. NPCs that assisted the player through use of the say command were commonly placed through the world.

Five zones exist in this world for players to build in. When a player completes a lot, they can progress to the next zone:

  • Verdant Valley
    • A rural themed building area. New players begin here.
  • Lakeshore Harbor
    • A city themed building area, situated on a lakeshore.
  • Riverside Park
    • A housing themed building area.
  • Rust Path
    • An industrial themed row.
  • Newtown
    • A skyscraper themed building area.

In the time that the Game Festival world was open for testing and competition, players built in Verdant Valley and Lakeshore Harbor. Riverside Park was unlocked, but not built in before the contest ended. Rust Path and Newtown were never engaged. By the competition's end, Dashie567 was the winning player, with 170 credits. Players in this iteration of Builder's Challenge were of varying skill levels, but all managed to find creative solutions to go beyond the original parameters issued to them by the objective boards.

By the end of July, the winners of the Game Festival had been announced -- Builder's Challenge was one of 5 runner ups out of the 16 gaming projects recognized for completion. The world is preserved as BuildCity world and is currently in an off-season (world still accepts players for practice building sessions but is not engaged in daily competition).

Speedbuild

During the course of the Game Festival, discussion with the AWGames team led to interest in the game being automated some time in the future in conjunction with some of their efforts currently in development. This has since led to Builder's Challenge becoming affiliated with AWGames, and a new monthly initiative beginning in October, 2010, to engage the Public Building Worlds as a venue for a new, short-term version of Builder's Challenge.

Noted as Speedbuild, this new version of Builder's Challenge dramatically condenses the scale since the past iteration from that of a large world, to that of a very small, city lot scale project. The overall goal of the effort is to create new attractions in public building worlds by using the Builder's Challenge model as a driver for creative collaboration and competition in a very controlled setting. Alphaworld was nominated by community vote as the first world to be targeted by this effort.

Alpha Park

Alpha Park is slated to be the first community project created by using the Builder's Challenge model. It will be near the new Alphaworld Ground Zero and will be constructed on October 9th, 2010. The park will feature an overall design based on the aggregation of builds in Alphaworld along major coordinate lines (0n 0e, 100n 100e, etc.) and can be seen in the diagram below. This aggregration will also determine the division of plots on the site.

Diagram3.jpg

Game Types

This section specifically details major differences between the various iterations of Builder's Challenge. Note that the basic model of plots assigning players tasks to complete remains the same through all versions.

Citybuilding - SW City Interactive

  • Follows a town building model, attempting to build a city in a public building world by encouraging users to play a building game.
  • Awards tokens as a currency used in SW City Interactive
  • Major NPC interaction -- players must complete a quest in SW City Interactive before being allowed to participate.
Players could not move on to new areas without completing collaborative objectives.

Worldbuilding - GameFest39

  • Follows a world building model, attempting to build various areas of a world by immersing users in a contextual, storied world environment.
  • Requires players to complete collaborative objectives before new building zones are unlocked.
  • Allowed players multiple environments to build in.

Speedbuild

  • Follows a sketch project model, attempting to build cohesive projects that will benefit the host world and community by engaging users in quick, direct competition.
  • Diagrams and intent of the master plan presented to players well in advance of construction.
  • Players more involved in the decision of what actually exists on the plot through pre-event planning.
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