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.
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.
Gamification sounds like a new-ish thing, but when you look at it closer, it has always been part of our lifes. It has just been called differently, or we have been using it, without actually being aware of it. As an example, parents always try to sell chores as a fun thing to do and promise small rewards if their offspring gets the jobs done (in time). By doing so, they are selling a task as a game and link a potential reward – they are gamifying!
Nowadays gamification has become far more obvious and the best example outside video games is the gamification of monotonous sports exercises. Companies like Fitbit wouldn’t sell as many of their sport watches, if gamification wouldn’t be a main part of their product DNA. Walking 10.000 steps each day becomes a fun exercise, as you want to stay at the top of the leader board and if you continue doing it, you might even grab the last missing achievement badge in a few days. Sounds familiar? Or looking at video games, achievement hunting became a real thing when Steam, PlayStation and Microsoft added their achievements to all games. It’s not only about enjoying the experience itself, it’s also about beating the extra challenges and unlock all available badges. Why? Because It’s cool to show off rewards and trophies, of course!
Get ready for the next challenge
Now that we understand the general concept of gamification, why are we all obsessed with it? The answer is pretty simple: Humans love to play games! And gamification is exactly this – games, challenges, friendly competition in bitesize portions, usually attached to something else, sometimes completely different.
And since we at 4Players also love challenges and rewards, we developed and launched SCILL, our unique Gamification as a Service platform. With SCILL, challenges can be added to pretty much any application, including but not limited to video games, mobile apps, websites and intranets. The intuitive admin panel allows challenge creation with just a few clicks, also offering the combination of challenges into full-fledged Battle Passes. The latter are a well-known and proven retention and monetization tool in various video games, the most prominent being Epic’s Fortnite for example. In a nutshell, Battle Passes offer a combination of challenges, combined with exclusive rewards spread across levels.
SCILL enables developers and publishers to leverage the power of gamification without the need for time-consuming and expensive software development. All it needs is the implementation of the SCILL SDK, definition of game events and the creation of challenges via the SCILL admin panel. Once set up, challenges can be added, tweaked and combined with just a few clicks, helping to increase user retention and offering new ways to monetize them. And all this without sharing any personal data and being 100% GDPR conform!
Our experience shows that gamification with challenges and rewards serves a wide range of different trigger points users show across all services:
A path to follow / Reminder
By offering the right challenge at the right time, we can use them perfectly as a tutorial / guide to understand the core app mechanisms, or offer them throughout the full product, guiding users on every step of their way. In both cases – which are not mutually exclusive – challenges will always act as a clear path to follow, preventing them to get lost, getting frustrated and eventually churn out.
Fun at your own pace
Nothing can be more frustrating than being pushed through a product at a pre-set speed. We all have different skills, more or less time to spend or just a different approach. Utilizing challenges lets users actively decide on their next goal and their own pace. Real-time tracking always keeps challenges updated and a clear picture on their progress.
And for those who want a friendly competition, timed challenges add the little extra to reach the goal ideally ahead of time.
Accomplishments and Rewards
Getting out of your comfort zone can be rewarding and frustrating at the same time. Especially the latter is something to avoid, preventing low retention rates and high churn.
Have you ever played a shooter or racing game, which was fun, but your skill wasn’t good enough to make a frag or finish the lap, leaving you at the bottom of the score board? It can be fun for a couple of matches, but if you don’t see any progress, it soon will be your last match and time to move on to the next game.
By offering accomplishments and rewards at the right time, users will have a much better experience. So in the example above, why not offer a challenge for surviving a certain amount of time, finishing a lap without damage or other achievable goals, giving the user a sense of accomplishments, which they wouldn’t have otherwise? These rewards will usually be enough to retain the user and offer enough time to improve their skills – which will be the base to enjoy the game as initially indented. Plus, it will not mess with any game mechanics or general progress.
Gamification is an extremely powerful – and fun – tool for pretty much any application and any situation. It will add the extra layer of engagement, developers and publishers are looking for, and it can be used as a short-, mid- and long-term motivator to keep retention high and churn rates low. And by combining challenges and rewards in a clever way, they can also be an optional and non-intrusive way to monetize the users.
To sum it up in one sentence: “Gamification is a winner, which can turn the most monotonous task into a fun and rewarding experience.”
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