Grundo's Cafe
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World challenges? ๐ŸŒ

World challenges? ๐ŸŒ

Sep 30, 2022

Hi all! First - I want to thank all of you so, so much. Working on this project has been a dream come true, and the support we've been receiving has just been monumental. We deeply appreciate y'all!

The last two months have been a whirlwind, but now feels like a good time to take some mental inventory. So... where are we? We're barreling into October 2022. Fall just started, which means it's the season to listen to the Over the Garden Wall soundtrack on repeat while eating Costco pumpkin pies. It's been 11 weeks since the Grundo's Cafe alpha opening and 7 weeks since our beta opening. And it's been just shy of four months since the first commit to the Git repository that holds all the site code! Since then, we've collectively made 1,931 code commits, introducing roughly 230,000 lines of code (okay, a solid portion of that might be janky HTML, but it still boggles the mind!).

The team has grown by 11 incredibly talented artists, and hopefully we'll be adding some new moderators soon as well!

If I attempt to list all the feature additions we've made, I will surely forget some. But that won't stop me from trying!

  • More games: mobile-compatible versions of Korbat's Lab, Destruct-o-Match II, and Meepit Juice Break. Food Club, Sakhmet Solitaire, and Dice-a-Roo as well!

  • Core features: Galleries, the Auction House, Guilds, pet transfers, blocking users

  • Economy things: Stamp collecting, collectible card albuming, gourmet & book high scores. We've also greatly expanded the relic system, both in terms of where they come from and what you can do with them (extra galleries, emoji pet names, shielding from negative random events, etc!)

  • Lots of miscellany: Kads, Nerkmids, the Neggery, the NeoHospital, Donny's Toy Repair, Treasure Maps, Wishing Well, the Dubloon-o-Matic, Guild Gardens, a bucketload of quests (Taelia, Edna, Esophagor, Kitchen Quests, the Brain Tree), Faerieland Employment Agency, so many avatars... oh my

  • All-in-one sidebar: No more relying on userscripts to have easy access to dailies & helpers - Mandi kindly made a highly customizable sidebar you can use across devices!

  • NeoSchools: Enroll in a week long class, stock up on school supplies, and you're in for an exciting reward by the end of it!


Needless to say, we've had our pedal on the floor of the race-car that is Grundo's Cafe. And going at this speed has been a blast! But in the interest of sustaining our momentum for the long-term, we're looking at taking some time to work on a backlog of bugs, QOL suggestions, and feature tuning. Keeping our eyes toward a future where the Habitarium and the Battledome both exist...

I'm happy to say that the list of things I'd like to see on the site before returning to either of those larger goals is quickly dwindling. While other devs have their own things that they're working on (some of which are a secret ๐Ÿ™ˆ), my personal priority list of features-to-come is really just two things: mobile-functionality for the remaining HTML5 games, and World Challenges!

Neopets flash games were not made with smartphones in mind. Conventional & accessible smartphones wouldn't exist for another five years after a lot of these games were made! But the fact of the matter is that a lot of people play Grundo's Cafe from their phones, and it feels bad to lock them out of fun & nostalgic flash game recreations that we release. Some games have been much easier than others when it comes to adding mobile support. Meepit Juice Break and Destruct-o-Match II for example play very well on a phone. Korbat's Lab on the other hand is very clunky on mobile at the moment. I'm hoping to spend some time revisiting these games in the coming weeks and figuring out a way to make the mobile experience better.

This is a daunting task for games like Extreme Herder and Ice Cream Machine where it may be untenable to play without a mouse and keyboard. But the goal here is justifying the release of a feature that will up the ante on how rewarding an HTML5 game can be - World Challenges!

The premise of World Challenges is that players compete against each other to send a series of high scores in a particular HTML5 game. For example, they may have an hour to do as well as they can at Dubloon Disaster. At the end of that hour, all the of the scores they submitted will be paired with other user's scores at random. Your performance in the challenge depends on how you fare in these random match-ups.

So what's the strategy? Spend the full hour working hard to get an unbeatable score? Try to send three above-average scores? That's up to you to decide!

There are a few big considerations that we need to make with a feature like this:

  • Logistics - How can we make this compelling and fun for a site of only a few hundred people?

  • Fairness - How can we prevent a small subsection of users from dominating the field? How can we prevent cheaters from ruining the experience for everyone?

  • Rewards - How can we make this worthwhile and fun, while not sending the economy out of control?


Logistically, I'll be thinking about balancing the frequency of the World Challenges & the time of day at which they occur so that folks in all timezones get a fair shake. Most, if not all, of the cheating prevention I'd like to implement is already in the game thankfully - so fairness will mostly be a matter of figuring out a proper cooldown on re-entering after winning a World Challenge. And rewards comes down to surveying the list of high desirable items in the game right now and thinking about what we could use more of in terms of supply.

My mind is subject to change, but I'm tentatively thinking of high value paint brushes (plushie, Maraquan, grey) and r101+ collectibles thematic with each map. There are also a boatload of TCGs in the game (1,232 to be exact!) and I absolutely love the sound of getting those in the economy somehow... Maybe the r101-103s could be consolation prizes, and r105-110s could be for the winners? We'll see!

So yeah! I'm very proud of what's in the rearview mirror, and I remain optimistic about what's on the horizon. Thanks for reading if you've made it this far, and once again - I appreciate all of you! If you have suggestions about mobile HTML5 game support & World Challenges, don't hesitate to reach out.

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