Bloodsport Colosseum Finished…

No, I don’t mean the programming is complete. I mean that I’m pretty much done working on it and it’ll live in its current state indefinitely. It’s fully playable of course, but it’s missing two or three features I would consider core, and has a bunch of stuff I wish weren’t there…. Unfortunately, however, I am finding that I just don’t have the drive to keep working on the game, as it is no longer anything like what I had planned to build.

I have other things I want to build, and this game has been in development for over two years now. If you count the PHP and Perl versions I had to scrap early on, a total of probably 750 hours have gone into it, and I just don’t have the free time to dump that much into a single game when I have so many other ideas I want to play with. Had it been a better game, I certainly would have kept working on it, but I just didn’t keep it focused on the main aspect of the game properly. For more info, read below as I dissect what I think are the biggest problems with BC. This is actually more for myself than anybody else, as I am hoping not to make the same mistakes in my next games.

What went wrong?

Poor Focus

Are you playing to build up an army of gladiators, or to build up the wealth and power of yourself, the manager? The answer is unfortunately both, and very strongly both.

My goal was a fantasy-sports-style game with gladiators. The gladiators themselves were expendable units. You could train them, equip them, whatever. But at the end of the day, you were merely supposed to be building a team to further yourself as a manager.

I don’t know how all fantasy sports games work, but the one I did play had very basic players that you controlled in a football (American) league. There were a few stats on each player, as far as passing, punting, blocking, etc. But for the most part it was about building a team that worked well together, and reading the game commentary each week to see how well you did.

Well, I got so wrapped up in the coolness of my RPG stats for gladiators that I made it cumbersome to manage them. Each gladiator needed several tabs to view all their details. The overview, which showed all the gladiators “at a glance” was unfortunately lacking enough information to really make meaningful choices. Add in all the ways weapons could modify a gladiator, and how different stats worked with equipment, and of course the ranks thrown in as a typical RPG leveling system, and you’ve got a lot of information to deal with.

In a game where you are the gladiator, this works out just fine, and in fact you’d probably want even more focus on stats and things. But when you’re just the manager, you find that managing your small team of 5 gladiators is a big pain.

Additionally, the focus being so split between gladiators and managers meant that building up your manager was never really emphasized. You had one stat, fame. It meant very little after about a month or two of play. You had money and equipment, but again, those meant nothing after a short amount of play.

No Team Spirit

This is sort of an extension of my lack of focus. In a fantasy sports football game, your team is a single unit. An injury in your quarterback means your whole team suffers, so you need to have a backup. Too much focus on speed and not enough on blocking, and your team is crap even though they have the best runners in the league.

In Bloodsport Colosseum, however, your “team” was a group that had no interaction except that they sometimes fought each other. That is totally not how a team in a fantasy sports game should act. It was essentially like managing a bunch of boxers, except that you couldn’t even properly choose matches because I didn’t want the players to be able to abuse the game (the computer chose matches each night).

If I’d done this as I meant to, your team would consist of at least 10 gladiators, and you’d need different specializations for your team to win. Or maybe not 10 gladiators, maybe fewer would be fine, but they would need to work together somehow.


Tournaments should have been the first kind of match to exist. They were always on the list of things to do, but never made it to the top. Yet I think they make more sense than the green/blue arenas. Apocalypse matches were okay, but just too chaotic since I had no teaming mechanic.

Achievements should have been very high priority. You are managing a team of gladiators, and yet I never built in medals, trophies, or anything like that. While the effects on the game may have been minimal or none at all, the desire to be the best manager would have meant something! Comparing trophy cases, bragging about the elite “1000th kill” award, etc. Yes, eventually long-time players would grow bored of having every trophy available, but this would have at least made the manager a more tangible piece to the game.

Spending most of my time on gladiator stats and weapons was just a mistake. Complex gladiators aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but they shouldn’t be a burden. In a fantasy sports game, you might do basic training on your players, and you will likely choose some high-level organizational things (positions on the field and such), but you shouldn’t have to make several choices every single day on every gladiator in order to keep them working well. Having simpler stats, training, and equipment would have left a lot more time to do other things that should have been higher priority. Such as tournaments and achievements….

Manager stats should have been a priority, too. I had a plan to have managers gain specializations that helped out gladiators, with their own stats for attack, defense, money management, healing, whatever. After a certain amount of XP, you spend it to gain a new skill or something. This may not have worked well – it may have ended up being really confusing, in fact. But at least it was the right direction – focusing on the manager.

Fight logs sucked. They were just a bunch of “A hits B for X damage” kinds of messages. Making a robust combat engine should have been done before even going into closed beta testing. The fight engine was too simple, and it was one thing that could be complex as hell without confusing the player, since it was totally hands-off. Players should have been excited to see the fight log, to read a mini-story that was detailed and interesting, describing feints, parries, dismemberment (another dead idea), etc. Instead, it was always something I felt could wait until later.

Ideas For Next Time

I don’t know that there will be a new BC ever. But if there is, I have some ideas for it.

  1. Gladiators will be much simpler. No levels (ranks), or if there are levels, they’ll represent experience without giving additional bonuses to stats and hit points. Gladiators will have different stats that represent more tangible abilities, like the derived stats do today. And your choice will be simpler – each stat will be set and never change. The choices will likely be word-based, such as “very weak”, “weak”, “average”, “strong”, and “very strong”. So you may have a gladiator who is “very strong” at Offense, “weak” at Defense, “average” at Speed, and “weak” at Toughness (hit points).
  2. Recruiting stations will still exist in some form, but they won’t have such an effect on the gladiators. In all likelihood they’d have options that gave, at most, -1 or +1 boosts to specific stats, so that instead of all your stats averaging out to 3 (“average”), you may have them averaging 2.5 – 3.5.
  3. Your gladiators will work as a team by default. Maybe I’ll still allow one-on-one challenges, but I’m not sure I like how challenges ended up working in BC. I definitely didn’t like the arena choices, as I couldn’t explain them well to people, they required you to choose an arena for every gladiator, and they made the system have to be out of sync in order to have pre-scheduled battles. It was just confusing – a simpler approach of setting your team in a league or something would be more interesting as well as more user-friendly, I think.
  4. Training will be simple or nonexistent. Skills will be simple or nonexistent. If they’re included, skills will surely be complex behind the scenes, such as the combat training value is today, but the player won’t see it or have to deal with it. He’ll just see that a gladiator has a certain amount of experience with bladed weapons. When training happens, it’ll be a long-term thing. You set John Doe to train blades, and he’ll train every day until you change this preference. He’ll move up through 3 or 4 ranks of training, Basic, Advanced, and Expert or something. These will modify him in some way that will make fight logs more interesting, such as being able to parry or riposte where he previously couldn’t. Battle experience will affect attack chance and perhaps damage, while training will affect “moves” available. And it’ll all be something the player notices only passively, so it’s interesting but not cumbersome.
  5. Gladiators will not have scarring. They’ll have critical injuries which require time out in order to heal (which of course should affect the team as a whole). They may lose limbs. They may die. The player won’t have much say in this at all, other than perhaps choosing an overall team strategy that’s risky. Gladiators missing limbs will almost certainly need to be retired, but mid-season it may be better to leave a one-armed gladiator in, if his experience and training are really good.
  6. Equipment will be simple again. Simpler even than what I had when I first showed BC to the public. There will be a few choices for each group of weapons, and they’ll be very simple choices. Maybe 3 weapons per group, with maybe 3 levels of quality. And weapon damage would be the main stat, with a small modifier to speed. Some weapons would be better for parrying, perhaps, and blunt weapons would deal different damage than bladed (crushing limbs versus open wounds), but the player wouldn’t care about much other than damage and “oh, the sword will allow a parry more often, great.”
  7. As I just alluded, there would be a little more in-depth combat damage. This would be added complexity to the backend, but not something that the players would ever have to pay attention to if they didn’t want to. The most important thing about adding complexity to this kind of game is to make sure the user doesn’t have extra micromanagement just for the sake of adding more to the game. Anyhow, the combat engine would be more sophisticated as I’ve stated, with things like parries, ripostes, sudden berserker-like rages, etc. But also, damage will be totally different. Hit points are great for a traditional RPG, especially one where the character is expected to survive many brutal battles. But in a game where the warriors are expendable, a much more interesting combat system should be looked into. I wouldn’t build a truly realistic system, otherwise most gladiators would die most of the time, but I would make it semi-realistic. Damage would be to specific body parts, death would usually be from blood loss or brain damage, etc. Hit points would exist perhaps on individual body parts to measure how useful they are, but they wouldn’t determine life left. For instance, if you destroy my arm, I can’t use it in battle anymore, but further hits to that arm don’t really do much to me – it’s probably already bleeding as much as it can.
  8. As I stated above, the manager would be the focus. Players would be in the role of a manager, and would have more choices about their management than about the gladiators. Perhaps they’ll be able to gain experience, but no matter what mechanism I choose to deal with manager persistence, there would be ways to carry over something no matter how many seasons a manager played. A long-term player should be able to show trophies, medals, and other awards. There should be all kinds of random “top player” lists, showing obvious achievements like kills, wins, KOs, etc. Special awards would have to exist that players wouldn’t even know about until they won one, such as an award for crippling a large number of opponents. Maybe allow managers a long-term inventory of manager-specific “artifacts”, which would give minor boosts to his gladiators in addition to his own experience. Overall a long-time player shouldn’t be able to easily crush every n00b he encounters (although separate leagues for the newest players could alleviate this some), but he should have a small advantage for sure.

Bloodsport Colosseum Update!

So it is finally here, my preciouses. v0.12. The biggest change to the core mechanics since day 1. I urge you all to read the “Change Log”:, as a large amount of stuff is totally different.

For you lazy folk who don’t like to read, here’s a really basic rundown: * Stats are totally revamped – the “balanced” strategy, though still not the best long-term strategy, is much better early on, and still works out okay even on the highest-leveled gladiators. * All weapons have attributes instead of materials. I can’t explain this in a news blurb. Read the change log or else figure it out on your own. * Item purchasing is now semi-manager-specific. No more days of everybody buying the same equipment. * Skills now modify things with less effort. Every 1% gain to a skill gives you some boost, even if it’s pretty small. * I’ve banned certain users who kept telling me I was lazy for going so long without an update. Seriously. I don’t appreciate my hard work being demeaned like that. I died for your sins, you ungrateful, no-good #@%&s.

BC goes into public beta!

“Bloodsport Colosseum”: was just announced to be in public beta! The official description of the game:

Bloodsport Colosseum is a gladiator sim like no other! Set in the future, fights take place in a retro-style colosseum where the only weapons allowed are those used by ancient gladiators. So how can you be sure it’s set in the future? You CAN’T!

Hire a team of gladiators, train them, equip them, and set up their daily fights. Challenge other gladiators directly while waiting for the daily fights to happen! Choose their riskiness, which has a direct impact on their longevity, short-term survival, experience and skill gains, and money gained from the arenas. Put them into the one-on-one arenas or the enormous free-for-all arenas. Laugh when they slowly wear themselves down, as battle scarring from fight after fight turns once-unstoppable champions into blubbering babies. Fire those who are no longer useful, and bring in fresh blood.

As you gain fame and fortune, new opportunities will show themselves, allowing better equipment purchases and more powerful gladiators to hire.

Bloodsport Colosseum Updates

Notice the new spelling of “colosseum”. Some nerd-bullies at my work made me change the spelling because “coliseum” is a rather obscure way to spell it. In the next update, the whole game will be spelled that way.

On a lighter note, last week was huge – over 12 hours of work on BC, the most I’ve ever done in a single week. I’ve registered several new domains to get prepped for the open beta, I’m looking into several different hosts for the game (I loved Dreamhost for a long time, but lately service has been just crap), and I’ve gotten a ton of documentation out of the way.

However, I still have at least two weeks of work left, and in all reality that’ll probably turn into four. Lately I’ve been putting my bug-finding goggles on while I do work, and have noticed tons of new bugs. I would have allowed these in the closed beta, but in an open beta I consider them to be unacceptable. Last week’s twelve hours of work moved me from 15 hours left down to 10 hours left, so … yeah. Lots of little bugs I keep finding.

Oh yeah, and feature creep. Evil thing, that.

New Bloodsport Coliseum update!

This has been a long time coming, but finally a really big change to the game is up. A huge amount of stuff was added, changed, and fixed.

I expect this to be the last major update before I go beta! Woohoo!! The “changelog”: is always the best place to find details about major updates, but here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting new features. * Instant challenges are in! Players can run an instant challenge against one another and gain small amounts of xp and skills, plus loot each other’s credits (very small amount – I’m not a fan of major losses from random PvP)! * Danger level and multifight points for extra fun! ** The concept of multifight points is pretty simple – arenas that have multiple gladiators will give points to the highest finishers. Better placement, more points. These points are mostly a status symbol, though you will need a few to get to the heavyweight division. ** The “Danger Level” concept is a bit tougher to explain, but I’ll try anyway… when your gladiator’s risk is chosen, it affects how fast he deteriorates (battle scarring) as well as how likely he is to die if he loses a match. Danger Level is something of a tracking system to see how dangerous a gladiator has been recently. Fight dangerously, and it goes up. Be safe and it goes down. Higher levels grant extra money at the end of fights in which death is a possibility. In addition, getting to the heavyweight division will require a certain danger level, so all players will have to eventually live dangerously. Just my way of giving you, my loyal player, the finger. :P (Actually I think it makes the game more interesting, but some people will probably not see it that way, so oh well.) * General UI improvements – more feedback for potentially confusing things, email reports for battles, and other little things.

Bloodsport Coliseum: No more challenges :(

h3. My apologies, but challenges were a waste of time.

I’m sorry to say that the idea of challenges is going to have to be removed. Well, more like changed beyond any recognition. I still like my idea, but it turned into more of a system where either it was easily abused (two friends constantly challenge each other, gaining tons of XP), or it was limited and boring (limited number of challenges per day, no XP gains, or a combination of the two). In the end, I realized I’d spent almost two weeks on this system which I’d built solely to make it a real challenge to get to the heavyweight division!

Then it struck me – instead of inventing gameplay mechanics that were cumbersome and potentially game-breaking, why not just use the mechanics I already have? Here’s what I mean: you currently have a system for choosing how risky your gladiator is going to be. High risk means a real chance of death if you lose. Low risk means less chance, or no chance at all. High risk means more scarring. Low risk means less XP and skill gains. So we have risk, and I want heavyweight gladiators to have “proven” themselves by fighting a dangerous battle (the original plan was that they needed to be involved in at least one deathmatch battle). So why not just require a certain level of “danger” before they can move up to heavyweight?

h3. Danger Level Overview

Here’s the general idea: a gladiator’s DL (Danger Level) will start at 0 and move depending on his risk. A higher risk will move up relatively fast, while a lower risk will move up slower, or maybe even move down. Obviously it can’t go below 0, and there will be some upper limit as well. A gladiator with a high DL will actually gain money faster, because the public likes him — he’s proven to be both dangerous and a winner (high danger + losing means death, remember), so there will be incentive to put your life on the line.

Additionally, a heavyweight will require a certain DL. Probably not terribly high, as I don’t want people to feel like they have to risk death all the time in order to get to heavyweight, but high enough that at least one very risky battle has to take place, or else a few low-risk (but not safe) battles.

The real catch here is that you can’t just be risky with a new gladiator and then go ultra-safe, having set him up for heavyweight! Since DL changes each time fights are run, a safe gladiator will go back down to 0 fairly fast. The boost is very temporary, so to get to heavyweight, you’ll have to be unsafe with a strong gladiator! That was exactly what I wanted originally, so this system is great. Plus the system works with all players, not just those willing to try and set up some wacky challenge.

h3. So what about challenges?

Challenges will exist, but in a totally different form. Like many webgames I’ve seen, it will be an instant challenge in which the challenger has the most to lose (since the challengee isn’t actually able to say ‘no’). The winner will take some amount of money from the loser (more if the winner is the challengee), and both gladiators can gain a small amount of XP. I’m not sure if I’ll do skill gains or not, but it’s not out of the question.

The main point of challenges will be something to pass the time, not a way to gain massive amounts of credits or XP. They’ll allow a fight with a gladiator of your choice, and give you minor rewards.

Much like other games, challenges will also have some kind of limit, probably one per day per gladiator or something.

h3. Still a ways out…

So yeah, after wasting two weeks of time, and running into new bugs before wasting all that time, the game is still about 10 weeks out. Just like it was four weeks ago :(

Quick update…

Now that I have a blog and am striving toward better information delivery, I figured maybe I should post an update on Bloodsport Coliseum.

It’s actually coming along nicely, but will be a while longer. I’m estimated around 100 hours left until a release candidate, with an average of 6 hours a week going into it, so in theory just about 4 more months. I must stress the “in theory” bit, because let’s face it, my estimates are rarely on target. I promised an open beta at the end of last year and still don’t have one, so… take this announcement with a grain of salt.