Um den angehenden SpieleentwicklerInnen und MediendesignerInnen des FAL Berufskolleg eine neue Ansicht auf den Entwicklungsalltag von Spieleentwicklern zu geben, taten sich die Lehrenden Anja Schönfeld und Oliver Schönfeld vom FAL Berufskolleg mit der 4Players GmbH zusammen, um einen “hands-on” Workshop zu entwickeln, der den SchülerInnen die Implementierung von zeit- und ressourcensparenden wie auch nutzenmaximierenden SDKs in der Unity Umgebung näherbringen sollte. Hier bot sich das Innovationsprodukt 4Players ODIN an, ein hoch immersiver in-game Voice Chat, der nach seiner einfachen Implementierung unter anderem die Anwendung von Spatial Audio und Umgebungseffekten auf die Stimme der Spielenden ermöglicht.
4Players ODIN wurde direkt für die Bedürfnisse in der aktuellen Spieleentwicklung entwickelt. Themen wie VR, das Metaverse und immer aufwändigere Koop-Games fordern ein Höchstmaß an Immersion, um Spielenden ein Spieleerlebnis zu bieten, in dem sie völlig versinken können. 4Players ODIN bietet nicht nur die Features, die für ein tiefes Eintauchen in das Game nötig sind, sondern ist ebenfalls einfach einzubinden und bedarf nur geringem Aufwand in der Implementierung, da das SDK direkt in die Engine integriert wird und das bereits mit der Engine entwickelte Sounderlebnis für das Game auf die Stimme spiegelt.
Nachdem die SchülerInnen des FAL Berufskolleg bereits 2021 mit den Lehrkräften Anja Schönfeld und Oliver Schönfeld am IndieCampus von 4Players und dem IndieHub teilgenommen hatten, wollten sie mehr über das Tool 4Players ODIN wissen und wie man dieses, wie auch andere Tools in der Unity-Umgebung implementieren kann. Schnell war die Idee des gemeinsamen Workshops gefasst und Reinhard Jagdhold, Customer Success Manager bei 4Players, war startklar, den FAL-Klassen der Ober- und Unterstufe im Bildungsgang “staatlich geprüfte/r Informatiker/in Schwerpunkt Multimedia” an 3 Montagen die Themen Multiplayer-Game-Development, Unity, Photon und natürlich 3D-Voice-Chat anhand des 4Players ODIN SDKs näher zu bringen.
Dabei wurden in einem ersten Termin die theoretischen Grundlagen erläutert, eine gemeinsame Austauschplattform geschaffen, um Fragen zu klären und die Aufgabe für die teilnehmenden SchülerInnen erläutert. Mit Hilfe der 4Players ODIN Unity Demo sowie dem zugrundeliegenden Code sollten die SchülerInnen ein eigenes Mehrspieler-Spiel in dem beliebten Genre “Soziales Deduktionsspiel” entwickeln, ganz nach dem Vorbild des bekannten Spiels “Werwolf”. Dabei standen den SchülerInnen sowohl ihre Lehrkräfte der FAL, wie auch Mitarbeiter von 4Players zur Seite, neben Reinhard Jagdhold ebenfalls der IT Experte und kooperierende Freelancer David Liebemann von CrystalMesh. Gemeinsam kamen so 4 einzigartige Projekte zu Stande, in denen die SchülerInnen ihr bereits erworbenes Know- How zu Unity ausbessern wie auch neu gelernte Kenntnisse üben konnten. Ganz besondere ‘Wow!’-Momente erlebten die SchülerInnen, als sie sich das erste Mal gemeinsam in die ODIN Unity Demo einloggten und alle miteinander sprechen konnten. Wie einfach es war, zu diesem Schritt zu kommen und welche Möglichkeiten sich ihnen in der Unity-Entwicklung und auch mit SDKs wie ODIN bieten, wurde ihnen da insbesondere bewusst und sorgte für große Begeisterung am Projekt, aber auch daran, neues auszuprobieren und Entwicklungsversuche zu testen, so Oberstufenschülerin Jess über den Workshop.
Für die FAL-Lehrkräfte Anja Schönfeld und Oliver Schönfeld war der Workshop ein voller Erfolg: “Der Workshop war eine super gute Sache, weil unsere Schüler so auf jeden Fall erfahren haben, wie es ist ein Multiplayer Game zu bauen und auch welche Hürden da auf sie zukommen können. Insbesondere Reinhards Kapitel seiner Präsentation >>Deshalb solltest Du kein Multiplayer Spiel bauen<< gab dort lustige aber auch interessante Punkte zu bedenken.” Auch die Zusammenarbeit zwischen der 4Players GmbH und FAL war ein tolles Beispiel dafür, wie Business und Bildung zusammenfinden können, um gemeinsam Mehrwert für die nachfolgenden Generationen zu schaffen. So sagte Oliver Schönfeld: “Ich finde insbesondere die Idee, ein Spiel nach dem Vorbild von Werwolf zu entwickeln, sehr gut, da es für die Schüler sehr nahbar war. Darüber hinaus bin ich begeistert von der Schnelligkeit von 4Players und wie auf unsere Bedürfnisse eingegangen wurde, als wir Support brauchten. Es wurde sich direkt drangesetzt und geliefert. Ein großes Dankeschön an das tolle Team.”
Für die Zukunft haben beide Seiten ihre Erkenntnisse gewonnen. Die SchülerInnen gaben tolles Feedback, sowohl für 4Players ODIN als Produkt als auch für den Workshop an sich. Für kommende Workshops wird vermutlich mehr Zeit veranschlagt, um die Themen noch umfassender beleuchten zu können. SchülerInnen, Lehrkräften wie auch 4Players hat die Zusammenarbeit viel Spaß gemacht und es wird sicherlich nicht das letzte Aufeinandertreffen beider Mitglieder der Games-Branche sein, in denen Nachwuchsentwickler und Innovationsprodukte aufeinandertreffen, um spannende Projekte zu entwickeln.
Hamburg, Germany, October 13, 2021 – German middleware and service provider 4Players announces the Early Access release of its communication software 4Players ODIN. Developed by veterans responsible for the renowned globally successful TeamSpeak software, ODIN represents the next generation of in-game voice tools.
native support for Unity Engine (support for Unreal will follow at the end of October)
integrated ‘Spatial Audio’ support and 3D sound
deep engine integration instead of superficial voice layers
no restrictions on creativity: ODIN offers maximum flexibility for developers
fully customizable user interface
easy integration into existing projects
uniform code base for all engines, platforms and systems
encrypted and fully GDPR-compliant service
performance guarantee, optionally on your own or 4Players servers
fully scalable: ODIN knows no limit, no matter if 10 or more than 10,000 users
4Players ODIN is a comprehensive software solution with ultra-low latency and crystal-clear voice transmission. It is easy to deploy or modify thanks to native engine integration, so game designers can focus on the essentials rather than complicated tools: The creative realization of their game ideas, no matter what system they are developing for.
ODIN goes further than other SDKs, redefining in-game voice: With spatial audio, 3D sound as well as a chat integration of the gamers‘ characters into the game environment, which has not been seen before in this form, new paths are broken in the area of in-game communication. In contrast to many of its competitors, ODIN does not superimpose a superficial voice channel on the game. Instead, you are directly connected to your fellow players, opponents as well as other parts of the game world via native engine integration. Voice communication becomes an integral part of the gaming experience. The SDK is fully GDPR-compliant with its encrypted communication transmission, whether you run it on your own servers or on 4Players servers.
For the Early Access launch, ODIN is fully compatible with Unity. Further engine integrations such as Unreal as well as console support are an integral part of the development roadmap and will be rolled out with coming updates.
Phillip Schuster, CEO 4Players GmbH: “ODIN was developed from scratch by passionate gamers specifically for the different needs of gamers, developers and publishers. We are very proud of the result, which not only connects our passion for games with our almost 20 years of experience with voice software and servers. ODIN is also one of the few communication solutions that transcends system or engine boundaries and enables a more immersive gaming experience with new features. Nevertheless, it is very easy to integrate into projects and, thanks to its open structure, can be easily adapted or modified to meet specific requirements. We are convinced that ODIN is the best solution for communication in gaming.”
“Once you hear the difference, you don’t want to go back to standard communication,” adds Sven Paulsen, Project Lead of 4Players ODIN and former TeamSpeak-CTO. “Our SDK, with its focus on the essentials, is not only one of the most powerful but also one of the most scalable solutions for in-game speech. For us it was enormously important that our tool does not distract from the development process, but helps the developer to realize his creative ideas. And we have achieved this goal with ODIN.”
As a special launch offer, a selected number of development teams can apply for an “Early Bird” program that allows them to use the SDK for free for up to 1,000 users/month until the end of 2022. Alternatively, a trial version is also available, with which up to 25 users can put ODIN’s qualities through their paces.
4Players and Indie Hub are very satisfied with the premiere of the indie event and are already planning the next edition
The first Indie Campus, organized by Indie Hub and 4Players in close cooperation with KölnBusiness and Atypic Labs from Québec, was a complete success. On September 14 and 15, 2021, more than 30 speakers joined the online event, making themselves available for talks and roundtable discussions to a very inquisitive audience.
The speakers, including best-selling author, Emmy® winner, and developer Don Daglow (a.o. Neverwinter Nights, Stronghold, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), Dominik Lauf (CPO, Magenta Gaming), Seren Besorak (Co-Founder & CEO, TriTrie Games), Tomas Sala (The Falconeer) or Kai Schober (Community Manager, Bethesda) gave the audience not only open insights into their wealth of experience, but also many suggestions on the areas of retention and monetization in games. From blockchain usage in games to the necessity of a publisher, hints on how to go from 0 to almost 1,000,000 followers, the importance of community management as well as valuable design advice up to a wrap-up of TriTrie Games’ thematically challenging ‘Jessika’, a wide range of topics were covered and enjoyed throughout.
Next Indie Campus in 2022
Given the positive feedback during and after the event, Indie Hub and 4Players have agreed to extend their collaboration in the future. The next Indie Campus is already being planned and is expected to take place in spring 2022. In addition, other events tailored specifically to the needs of indie developers will take place at irregular intervals, the details of which will be announced at a later date.
Marc Berekoven, Head of Business Development 4Players: “On behalf of 4Players, we would like to thank everyone who helped making the first Indie Campus a success. Together with Indie Hub, dedicated volunteers, KölnBusiness and the international support of Atypic Labs, we were able to present great speakers with interesting topics over two jam-packed days. The indie developer scene has grown a little closer through the Indie Campus, not only on a national, but also on an international level. We hope that the more than 1,000 spectators were able to take away numerous suggestions and ideas from the talks as well as roundtable discussions. We are already looking forward to the next edition.“
Stefan Schmidt, Co-Founder of Indie Hub, adds: “We couldn’t be happier that Indie Campus – Cologne was such a great success! Our special thanks go especially to my team and KölnBusiness, who have supported and encouraged us since the very first minute. And even though the theme of the next Indie Campus is yet to be announced, we can already say that we will shed light on other important topics for indie teams around the world. But until then, we will of course continue to offer a monthly roundtable and the Indie Game Fest in November.“
4Players will be focusing on its core-businesses like software-solutions and worldwide server hosting, thus completing the multi-year transformation process “EMPOWERING GAME EXPERIENCES” from a digital media company to a provider of high-tech solutions for the gaming industry
Hamburg, Germany, August 23, 2021 – 4Players GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss 4Players AG and part of the Marquard Media Group AG, consolidates more than 20 years of innovation in the German-speaking gaming industry.
The origin was shaped by the market leadership of the portal 4Players.de in the GSA region and has been complemented by the leading game server business 4Netplayers in 2001. Starting in 2017, the strategic focus was set on internationalization of the game server business as well as the development of innovative software solutions for game developers.
Since 2021, this strategy has been consistently expanded with the advancing internationalization and the completed shift away from the media business. Today, 4Players GmbH positions itself as a reliable B2B2C partner with a worldwide CDN as well as high-tech software solutions.
As of October 31, 2021, the editorial support of the online magazine 4Players.de will be discontinued. It is ensured that high-quality content will continue to be published until the aforementioned deadline.
The new era of 4Players GmbH is fully focused on the globally operating game server business 4Netplayers as well as advanced software solutions for game developers such as the communication software ODIN or the multiplayer toolset SCILL.
4Players offers an attractive range of high-tech development modules that can be seamlessly and easily integrated into existing applications and new projects. This allows game developers to save development resources and engage players in ever more social and interactive games.
Bijan Khezri, Group CEO and co-owner of Marquard Media Group AG, comments: “The business combination of game server infrastructure and software solutions for game developers allows us to take a leading position in the fast growing service market for game development in the future. This marks the completion of an important milestone of the transformation we started in 2017. Our focus now is growth.“
Mathias Oertel Head of Communications & PR
4Players GmbH | Marquard Group Deelbögenkamp 4c D-22297 Hamburg Germany
2 days, 26+ speakers, 100% fun and infinite ideas on the topics ‘player retention’ and ‘monetization’
4Players is pleased to announce that together with Indie Hub (organizer of Indie Game Fest) and KölnBusiness we will host the premiere of “Indie Campus – Cologne” on September 14 and 15, 2021!
Taking place online due to the Covid pandemic, the conference will focus primarily on monetization and player retention and how this can be aligned with game design, but will also offer numerous other topics and, of course, excellent networking opportunities for indie development teams of all sizes.
Among the 26+ speakers who will be joining the virtual fray in the packed schedule over two days of individual presentations as well as roundtable discussions are Michael Schade, CEO of Rockfish Games (Everspace 2), Fabian Bouelgue, Producer at Aerosoft GmbH, Tomas Sala (The Falconeer) as well as bestselling author, Emmy® winner and developer Don Daglow (Neverwinter Nights, Stronghold, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). With this collection of experience in the games industry as well as tons of successfully published projects, it is ensured that young developer teams have more than enough opportunity to draw important information for themselves and their games.
Registrations for participation can be placed on the following website: www.indiecampus.de. There are no restrictions on the number of participants. To accommodate the usually notoriously tight budgets of indie teams, visitors to the Indie Campus are free to choose the entry price (starting at 1,- Euro, with limited free Early Bird tickets available).
Marc Berekoven, Head of Business Development 4Players, adds: “We are very happy to host this conference together with INDIE Hub and KölnBusiness. From the feedback on our retention and monetization tools 4Players SCILL, we see that many young developer teams already have more than enough to do to accomodate their creative ideas with game mechanics and possibly the engine. It is almost inevitable that other important points such as community building or player loyalty often fall by the wayside or are only incorporated into the development process at a very late stage – if at all. We hope that with the excellent speakers and topics, we can provide suggestions as to the importance of these elements and how they can be integrated with as little effort as possible.”
Stefan Schmidt, Managing Director INDIE Hub UG: “For a new company, it is always something special when a fresh concept is executed. We are very grateful that with KölnBusiness and 4Players we have succeeded in getting two strong partners excited about the Indie Campus – Cologne. With this format, we want to offer a transfer of knowledge and have deliberately chosen the topics of retention & monetization for the first edition, as we have analyzed these as the main problems that indie developers face in particular when it comes to implementation. We want to start here and provide food for thought, ideas and inspiration to our attendees with a selection of top-notch speakers. We try to keep the entry-barrier as low as possible at our events. Accordingly, the Indie Campus is not only aimed at business representatives, but also at students, for example. We are glad that we could realize a very attractive pricing thanks to our partners. The entire INDIE Hub team is looking forward to the event and we wish all participants many interesting and stimulating moments at the Indie Campus – Cologne!”
Complete list of speakers:
Don Daglow – Author, Developer (u.a. Stormfront Studios), Emmy®-Gewinner
What is 4Players SCILL? And how can we help you to save development resources and thus money?
In a nutshell: 4Players SCILL is a high-tech cloud-based toolset focusing mainly on tracking game-events in realtime and utilizing the gathered data, developed by 4Players, a German company with more than 20 years of experience in the gaming service industry.
With its open structure, native Unreal as well as Unity support and easy implementation, SCILL can be added to existing/published projects as well as to titles currently in development. One of the many practical utilizations is cross-game achievements, e.g. if you want to reward gamers for playing multiple of your titles you could setup a limited „one-time-only“ event when they start your game for the very first time and thus can see whenever your user plays more of your games. Then you could reward them for their loyalty with special items, in-game-currency or whatever you fancy.
But what if you work on your first game or have no inclination to entice players to buy more of your games (why not, by the way)? In that case, SCILL can help you with retention and churn rates, support you in monetizing your existing content, set up and maintain leaderboards, daily and weekly challenges or even help you build full-flegded Battle Passes. The only thing you have to worry about is the content and the mechanics – the stuff you already have on your plate and which is undoubtedly the backbone of your creative vision. And while you are probably (certainly?) aware, that eventually there will come a point when your players start losing interest in the game, SCILL can help you keep them entertained for longer.
4Players SCILL is not a magic potion
For example, by defining events and tracking them in real-time you can easily set up Tutorial challenges and reward the players according to their progress. SCILL processes data, manages state and provides webhooks for server-side processing and in-game notifications to update UI when required. Or in multiplayer games, let’s say shooters, you could leverage this for example, to give players a feel for each weapon before you let them hunt each other. And speaking of which, if you want to reward players not only for a certain amount of frags but also for criticals, headshots, kills with [insert weapon name here] and don’t want to spend time to develop the tools for this yourself, but rather to finetune the shooter dynamics, SCILL will come in very handy. Especially when you have a set of (ideally changing) rewards, like skins, experience points, more exclusive weaponry etc. in mind already – of course depending on your game. Because SCILL doesn’t take your creative freedom away, but enhances it by giving you more options to deliver great content to your gamers.
Be advised: SCILL will definitely not be able to make your game prettier, help you rake in awards or give your fighting systems, driving physics or collision queries the extra edge. But our serverside and of course GDPR-compliant tracking of events can help you in a lot of other ways.
In racing games you could be tracking and rewarding your players for collisions (or the lack thereof!), certain laptimes etc. For Jump&Runs you could also track and reward speedruns, number of jumps and much more. And if you have a partygame in mind, even there we can help you help the gamers get more out of your title by enticing them to perform certain actions by teasing them and offering rewards for reaching the tracked goals. A simple „smash them out of the arena“ can be enhanced to become a task in itself, like „smash them out of the arena with a powered up attack countering their standard attack“. Think of it as an achievement system that can go straight into the microcosm of your gamedesign – the limit is only set by the mechanics of your game and events that can be attached to that.
Get more out of your creative vision
No matter what kind of game you are developing: SCILL’s event tracking system will help you leverage your already existing content so your players get more out of your game. In the next blogs we will showcase some of the possibilities catered to specific genres, tell you how you can manage and operate leaderboards. And if you are developing a roleplaying game: Utilize our structured challenges system (aka Battle Passes) to power a quest system in your game. You just focus on your content – we will take care of the rest.
As a cloud-based offering and with our Admin Panel in place, you are free to add or change challenges, leaderboards and battle pass (quests) in real-time anytime without the need to update your code or to deploy a new version of your game.
And did we mention already that 4Players can offer you worldwide hosting, communication and CDN solutions as well that go hand in hand with the SCILL tools? No? That’s probably because we don’t want to keep you too long from your heart’s work, since we could talk about SCILL for hours.
We will tell you more in the coming weeks with the next parts of our blog series including some deeper insights in the dev integration – until then feel free to sign up to SCILL free-of-charge, browse through our extensive SCILL documentation, contact us and other dev-teams on Discord and start enhancing your game with our tools.
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