cliffski wrote:I'd also like to put a bit more work into the online / social side, regarding the way people issue challenges, see who played them, and so on.
tl;dr of my request: Integrate challenges with the steam workshop with an image of the ships in the challenge fleet.
Long thoughtful version:
Cliffski you have a nice problem to have, and that problem is that you are too good at what you do. For instance, You add a feature where players can create challenge maps. You then support that feature with an easy and convenient way to share those challenges with players everywhere at once. They are then saved in a giant list of challenges that saves all challenges going all the way back to the release of the game. I can therefore play endlessly against every other player that has ever played the game whenever I wish and issue a challenge to all current and future players, all without ever needing to close the program. It is a wonderful and well designed feature.
Other Generic Developers might come up with the idea of player created challenge maps, but other developers are lazy. They will at best dump the challenge into a file. Then it is up to the player to host that map somewhere. Then it is up to the player to post a link to that challenge map in a place where players of the game will congregate. That's not enough though, since players are wary of randomly downloading files, it is up to the players to provide pictures and advertise their challenge map. Then it is the job of other players to download that file and place it in the correct location. Most of this probably must be done with the game turned off.
Obviously, you did a vastly better job than Generic Developer did and I love the feature and want it to stick around. However, your feature has one small weakness compared to the Generic Developer method. It is only ever visible to people who are already playing. The people who already play the game know what a great feature challenge maps are and how much value they add to the game. People who are not playing the game see none of that.
Generic Developer gets an advantage not through cunning strategy or brilliant design but because they wanted to sit on the recliner for a few hours more each day. Players unfamiliar with their game will come across these user made maps and might think "that's interesting" and one out that fraction will seek the game. Free advertising in communities where players are having active discussions about games. Generic developers might envision a system like GSB1&2 but they wouldn't implement it, they would wait for another company to make a system like that and just use theirs. Hence the Steam Workshop.
Integrating challenges the steam workshop will give players something to link to when discussing a challenge. Having generated images of involved ships will showcase the wide variety of possible designs from the ship editor better than linking each individual ship. Best of all, it provides something that non players can stumble across and become interested.