Work continues on Blue Max campaigns. Right now I have pilots being shot down and replaced as necessary. At the end of a campaign game it knows to create a new game… but it is not creating the game. So close.

Campaign games have a minimum of four players, so testing them becomes a bit of a drama. Until now I have been testing on my local machine, but it protests at serving up four copies of the game at the same time. To help facilitate testing I have created a beta version of the site where I can unleash unproven code. Primarily it is for my own use, but if you are feeling really masochistic you can join me. I have already invited a few users. If you want to become a beta tester  just drop me a line and I will hook you up.

One of the first things my beta testers did was try and set up campaigns with open invites. The result was unplayable campaigns. Open invites have not been coded yet as I have yet to settle on a system for players to join an open campaign. Similarly I do not have firm answer for handling pickups in campaign games. I have been thinking about both these issues and here are my thoughts.

I see campaigns as a premium version of the game and as such I want to maintain some exclusivity about them without necessarily preventing anyone from joining a campaign. I also feel that making campaigns ‘special’ will reduce player drop out in the first place.

Another consideration is that I would like to profit financially in some small way from the work I am putting into the site. I have always maintained that the games will be free and I am sticking to that line.

My proposal is pilot berths.

Pilot Berths

(I think there must be a better name for this)

To join a campaign, either through a direct invite, open invite or pickup, a user will need an open pilot berth for the pilot they will need to join in. The number of pilot berths a user has limits the number of pilots they can have at any one time and therefore how many campaigns they can play in. When a campaign ends the pilot is retired and the pilot berth may become free again so the user can start a new campaign.

All users will get one pilot berth, so all users will be able to play in campaigns. Users can then purchase second and subsequent pilot berths.

One feature I like of this plan is that paying users are only getting more simultaneous campaigns. Within the campaign there will be absolutely no difference between pilots in free berths and those that have been paid for.

I can also use pilot berths as a reward for users who help promote the site.

I am still thinking through how purchased pilot berths might expire. The simplest model are that they never expire. Another simple model is that they are good for one campaign. In between  those two is a model where a pilot berth is valid for six months from the purchase date, if you can start and finish a campaign in that time you can use the same berth to join a new campaign. Six months is just a guess as to how long they should stay valid. I could offer more than one type of pilot berth at different price points.

Speaking of pricing points I have not given much thought to what they should be. My gut feeling is that joining a campaign should be about the same cost as buying a cup of coffee (or can of Red Bull).

Got an opinion on pilot berths, or want to join the beta site? Leave a comment.