I started work on the first challenge in my game, The Rapids, on March 8.

That day of work included the creation of two files and the modification of two other files.

At least 100 hours of work later, I have a challenge. And it, you know, works. And people can’t cheat! (Well, I’ll say that they probably can’t easily cheat because I probably haven’t fixed every possible way to cheat, but I did a lot to try to prevent it!)

If I didn’t care about people cheating, I would have had it much easier. The issue here is that people are playing in a web browser. They’re not playing in an environment that I can tightly control, like an app on the phone or an actual application you run on the computer. The text-based games on Bulletin Board Systems, like Legend of the Red Dragon and Trade Wars 2002 and Sky Mountain never had to contend with back buttons and reloading. It’s making me wonder how easily I could port this to an iOS game. I’m pretty sure the answer to that is “not easily”, but it certainly bears more investigation. Any kind of app is probably something to look at for another game in the future, rather than for this one.

As such, I have to bear in mind that the back button and reloading are things that can happen and so I have to account for them.

So the first challenge is implemented and works. Failure has the right results and so do the varying levels of success. And I even partially rewrote my maintenance script so that everything that has to be reset at maintenance does get reset. (And it should be easier to implement more maintenance events going forward.)

More than two months after starting it, I’m basically done. There are a couple of tweaks to make, such as a nicer transition from the normal paddling to the challenge stuff, but that’s… it’s not even secondary at this point, it’s tertiary.

And so now, what do I turn my attention to?

There’s the obvious: the second challenge. But I also have more than 50 open issues in my GitHub repo and should, you know, start looking at those things. I also want to bring the currency (Fire Opals) into the game with more regularity than just doing well in the first challenge. And… and… and… The list never stops.

So rather than think about the literal dozens of things I could do, I spent a few hours on Monday thinking about the second challenge.

Part of my problem here is that I like the idea of a river. And so any obstacles necessarily have to be water-based. And, for best results in terms of believability, should be things you’d encounter on a river.

So the first is The Rapids, mostly based on the rapids up near my parents’ cottage in the Laurentians. Like, that particular set of rapids is what I think of when I’m thinking of the rapids in my game. It was pretty easy for me to say that the key to the challenge about rapids would be answering questions quickly. It just makes sense.

In thinking of these challenges, I also decided that the third and final challenge should be a waterfall. Let’s ignore the fact that I have no idea (yet) how that translates into gameplay.

But I was stuck on the second challenge and only sort of came up with a half-assed idea of a whirlpool. Why? Well, it’s a water hazard that people can easily visualize. How would it play, though? So I spent some time brainstorming and researching and I think I’ve figured it out.

A whirlpool can easily mix things up. It can also pull in nearby items, objects, debris, that sort of thing. So I’m thinking that it’ll be some challenge-specific categories (unlike the first challenge, which draws on the regular categories and questions) that will be all mixed up together, and then, in terms of debris, it’ll be multiple choice, with one right answer and multiple wrong answers. In this way, it’ll be a bit easier, which should mitigate the fact that you’re not choosing your category, like you can with the first challenge.

And, like the prior challenge, very similar (if not identical) rewards. Oh, and it won’t be timed.

So, what’s next? Probably a small release dealing with a couple of small fixes/enhancements, followed by the second challenge. The good part about the second challenge is that most of the database is set up for it already, and I already have a good idea of how to prevent cheating based on the first challenge, so I shouldn’t need two months to get it done. Maybe the end of June is feasible? We’ll see.

In the meantime, all existing users who have completed the intro (and then all subsequent users who complete the intro) will begin at 475km in order to better be able to hit the first challenge at (around) 500km.

Have you tried it out? If not, what are you waiting for?


Hope to see you out there on the river!

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