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Is it time to consolidate?

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Is it time to consolidate spheres?

Yes. Let Utterby and Vadok Mal go to war to decide which sphere closes via meaningful conflict. Add new roles to the "winning" sphere to help support the type of play that the diaspora of new players will enjoy.
1
2%
Yes. Consolidate to Utterby via admin plot, turn the orcs into an NPC faction, and create criminal support in Utterby.
9
22%
Yes. Consolidate to Vadok Mal via admin plot. Turn Utterby into an NPC faction, and create a human/Easterling camp that allies with the orcs.
7
17%
No. SOI should always be two spheres in conflict with one another.
15
37%
No. Wait until Laketown to consolidate.
5
12%
No. I don't want those players in my sphere.
2
5%
I don't care. I just ignore what's going on in the rest of the gameworld and focus on my safe zone that I roleplay in.
2
5%
 
Total votes : 41

Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:30 am

It's a contentious subject, I know. But with the playerbase being so very small, as it is, it's something that we should discuss. My thoughts:

- Personally, I think both spheres have promise. Unfortunately, we just don't have a large enough community to support them. Because our community's so small already, having two spheres means less roleplay for everyone, which in turn means people are less likely to stick around (new players in particular).

- PvP has created some interesting stories, but overall, it's been very detrimental to SOI's stability. In part, it's because the two spheres are so close to each other. In part, it's because SOI's often lacked meaningful third party threats, plots, and interactive content to engage combat-oriented players with. Overall, PvP has whittled down proactivity to the point where it is nearly non-existent.

- Consolidating the spheres will allow the staff to tell a singular, more cohesive story, and will cut down on the admin work load.

- PvP has been the defining feature of the gameworld up to this point, so I do feel like one side or the other should be able to decide how consolidation happens. That's player agency, and proves that SOI is dedicated to allowing players to meaningfully shape the game world through their actions (with consequences).
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Patty » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:57 am

If I believed there could be a fair, unbiased way for PvP to settle it, that would be amazing. Sadly, I don't think that can be done.

Forcing people who don't want to play humans to play humans won't bolster the pbase and vice versa in my opinion.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Gobbo » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:10 am

I really want to consolidate. But what side do you piss off, close the orcs and lose a lot of players. Close the human sphere and lose just as many.

I know the staff are going to come into this thread and say 'hold tight Laketown is coming soon' and that will be the story for the next half year.

But even WITH laketown the mud wont be revitalized. From what I've gleaned about Laketown. It's a larger Utterby with rebranded clans. Almost all of them are NPC lead like Utterbys are.

I expect a rush of players back into the game for the first week or two of Laketown but if things are not fundamentally different we will bleed them away again.

Anyways I voted to close Utterby and move the sphere into a easterling camp at the mountain. This will NEVER happen, but its something to hope for.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nimrod » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:37 am

We're not going to consolidate as long as I'm here.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Patty » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:41 am

Nimrod wrote:We're not going to consolidate as long as I'm here.

Good
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:41 am

Nimrod wrote:We're not going to consolidate as long as I'm here.



I'd love to respect your position, Nimrod.

Why?
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nedinu » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:47 am

I've never played an orc, always been to afraid I'd roleplay it wrong. That being said, if we were to merge the spheres, I'd vote for keeping the orcs and adding a human camp allied with them. Keeps options open and doesn't force people to play another race... On the other hand, I know bupkis about how the lore of the humans that sided with Sauron. It sounds waaay more interesting to play them than it does to play a normal human in Utterby, but I don't know if you could reasonably play a "good" guy in that environment. There's at least the opportunity to play either good or bad in Utterby. It also kind of craps all over the hard work staff put into making Laketown, unless we're talking about this consolidation being a temporary thing?
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:58 am

I'd definitely say it'd be a temporary solution, to help rebuild the playerbase before the move to Laketown.

Creating some criminal support in Utterby, or creating a tight-knit Easterling camp outside of Vadok Mal, wouldn't take long. Hell, I'd bet folks would even help write any necessary documentation. Perhaps even volunteer to build the little additional areas.

Moving to Laketown with an active playerbase will help BETA be a lot more successful.

Right now, orc players only log on for staff-run RPTs for the most part. New players have no one to interact with regularly, and so they don't stick around.

Right now, Utterby doesn't have a large enough playerbase to support even its two entrance-level clans. It can't make goods to equip new players, which means new players don't stick around.

Both of these spheres are sort of dead at the moment. That's not me trying to be offensive. It's just the truth. I'd love it to not be the case.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Olthadir » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:09 am

The only way to make and keep everyone happy is to have the two opposing spheres.

There are people who play for the RP, the PvP, for being an orc and for being a human. Both sides offer PvP and RP or just RP. Consolidating will cause you to cut out a chunk of your playerbase.

Personally, I have little desire to play an orc/goblin, nor do I have any desire to participate in PvP. I enjoy the crafting and especially the RP. If I had a choice, I'd say dump the orcs and just focus on a human settlement with little PvP. But imagine the people it would upset. A lot of people come in wanting the PvP, others to play the orcs.

Yes our numbers are down, and yes maybe consolidation would allow us to play with more people, but at what cost.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nedinu » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:20 am

If I understand right, the PvP aspect that we now know will go away anyways once Laketown's open. I assume we aren't going to keep the orc sphere open at that point. Besides, with humans allied to orcs, you'll still be able to roleplay and craft within a human settlement in the mean time. It would be quite different though, I'll admit.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:33 am

My understanding is that the Orc sphere will remain open with the move to Laketown, under the current plan.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nedinu » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:39 am

Songweaver wrote:My understanding is that the Orc sphere will remain open with the move to Laketown, under the current plan.


Ah... Think I might've made myself look like an ass. I've never heard anything about what'd happen to the orc sphere. All I ever hear about is Laketown.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Rishte » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:45 am

It really isn't just about PvP to have two Spheres. It really isn't just about opposing one another, in ideals, in good or evil, or in any other facet actually. Not in the grand scheme of game design. It gives you, the players, the ability to change your present environment. To get a taste of something else. It is very easy to survive in this game and to see the same faces, the same recycled characters from the same players over and over again in your Sphere. That gets boring fast. It gets mind numbing talking to the same people over and over again and if you lose your character, where is the fun in rolling right back into that current? None. You have the opportunity to get out of your doldrums and experience new faces, new character concepts, etc.

I can tell you from personal experience as a player and staffmember of other games that consolidated to force players into one plane of existence that it greatly diminished not only the enjoyment of the games for some players, but diminished the game itself in the capacity of taking bricks out of it's foundation. No longer could there be that organic conflict, that between-cities ideal. It became 'we're all bros now' and quickly that stuff grows stagnant. You have no escape. You're constantly battered by the same day after day monotony of being forced into one place with no chance or freedom to be 'other'.

I experienced that in Minas Tirith before the game closed. I can tell you, had it not closed, had it continued and I was longer yet forced to face MT and nothing else for all my playing of that game I would have quietly fled and never looked back. Ever.

As Nimrod said, and he's King of this Mountain; there will always be atleast two Spheres. Mull that over.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Canawa » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:05 pm

Songweaver wrote:
Right now, Utterby doesn't have a large enough playerbase to support even its two entrance-level clans. It can't make goods to equip new players, which means new players don't stick around.


I have more to say about the whole conversation but due to work it may be a day before I can. So I will just say, for now, give me a month.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:04 pm

I loved what you had to say, Rishte. I don't fully agree with you, based on my own experiences playing and staffing.

Do I think two spheres can work? Absolutely. I thought it worked rather well in the past for SOI, if not always. Tur Edendor/Battalions, Angost/Moria, Osgiliath/Mordor. There are times that it worked less well, particularly towards the end of SOI2's lifespan when its playerbase was shrinking.

Do I think two spheres will work for SOI3 in the future? Possibly! I'd like to see it try again. I agree that SOI3 is uniquely positioned to allow for players to play a wide variety of races and roles, even though it's been rather limited thus far.

Do I think that one sphere should close? Yes. The playerbase is just too small to support it. The benefits of the staff being able to focus on providing content for a single sphere, and increasing the amount of interaction and versatility within a single sphere, outweighs the benefits of having both spheres open right now.

This is the smallest that SOI's ever been. Really. Ever. Consider that.

We wanna battle that somehow, right? Since this setting is temporary, any stopgag taken will also be temporary. We don't need a permanent solution, but rather, a 'now' solution.

Or, does the size of the playerbase not matter? The ability to hold onto new players, or help ensure that people will have other people to roleplay and interact with? That smaller groups of players can enjoy PvE content without having to worry about PvP, because the playerbase isn't large enough to support an ongoing, meaningful PvP conflict?

I'm all about versatility. I'd like to see more versatility built into the available roles for one sphere, and see the game consolidate itself into one sphere so that it can more easily re-build its population. And, when SOI's capping out at 30-40+ players again, like it was just a year ago, I'd love to see a second sphere introduced again.

As Nimrod said, and he's King of this Mountain; there will always be atleast two Spheres. Mull that over.


I suppose I'm stubborn. It's really only because I care, though. I'd love to know why this is an absolute decision. I don't think strong-arming a meaningful discussion (that is showing that even the current players want consolidation) is gonna help anyone here.

We all want SOI to bounce back and succeed. We're all on the same team.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Melkor » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:20 pm

Definitely close a sphere. This is a survival issue now. Give the players of the sphere that is closed completely free of charge unretirement of their characters later on when the playerbase is large enough to support two spheres again. In fact, maybe arrange for a unique item or something else they might like when they go back in. Something to set them apart as one of the OGs when the sphere opens back up. A little thank you wouldn't be out of the question.

I also love SOI with two spheres, it just isn't going to work right now.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nimrod » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:38 pm

Songweaver wrote:Why?


I will answer with a very simplified version of what I have spent considerable time considering and debating with other staffers.

It all comes down to choice for the player. Bear with me as I ramble. I am not a fan of the staff-run clans, though I realize they must exist, and exist they will under my stint as Game Lead. They are good for the new players coming in to be able to get their feet wet.

It has long been my intent (see the Newsletter from back in March I believe it was) to push for more player-run clans. I firmly believe that it is the player-run clans that will give our players more of a reason to play and push our numbers higher than they've ever been before.

But what good are numbers when the playerbase is fractured and playing in a bunch of different mini-spheres, you ask?

Who cares? I mean really... We can try to keep our thumb on things and force you all to play in our version of what we think clans should be and end up with a dozen folks that log in regularly. That's fine, if we want that, but I don't. I want players to have the ability to found their own clan and grow it and do some fantastic things.

If we have 20 player-run clans, some may complain that we're spread too thin, that everyone will try to be the CEO of their own little sphere. I encourage folks to give it a try, to learn just how hard it is to actually lead a successful clan and have fun doing it. What will happen when they finally get that holy grail, that wonder of wonders, is that they'll find out it's a hell of a lot of work and most will soon tire and either wander away from the game, or see a player-run clan they like and throw their play that way.

I'm betting on the latter.

In the end it's all about having fun, and spreading your wings. If we get a few folks who establish their own clan and are hermits, never to interact with other players, so be it. It will be impossible for them to gain a lot without interaction with other clans, but if they just want a little hidey-hole to hide out in with their in-game spouse and play cards :roll: all night, who are we to stop them? It's two folks having fun, doing what they want to do. Who are we to say what is in-character for them when they're not breaking any rules?

I've actually been rather amazed that no one has pushed forward to try to establish some new clans, but it seems there's been some basic issues with communication and getting the word out.

Here's the deal.

Want to establish an in-game clan like the Hillmen? Sure, great, we'll get you sorted, but you'll have to have the required rpp to request these things and if you want an in-game clan hall, you'll have to get permission in-game from the proper authorities. (Namely The Artisan's Union). You'll also have to come up with the proper coin, or materials to build your clan hall.

You'll also have to agree (on an ooc level) that you're not going to use this privilege to establish some off-shoot system of mores that do not appear in our setting. Nor will you blatantly ignore the laws of the land, else you will be subject to in-game consequences.

It is not a sandbox game, we do have laws of the land and customs which our lore admins work on extremely hard to establish and document. Don't snub the setting with your twisted ideals of what you think it should be. We're very open to new material, just so long as it's not over-reaching or game breaking.

What you did with the hillmen was beyond reason, do not try it again, else I will roll over you again. You were offered a reasonable compromise which would have seen your clan flourish, yet you refused it out for unknown reasons. In the end, you told me you felt it was a fitting end, though I was totally aghast by the decisions you made. It was akin to a cult-like following in to the jaws of death when the jaws of death didn't want to bite down, so you threw yourselves upon them until you bled.

So... why not close one of the spheres? Because even with a single sphere, you end up with multiple spheres, or islands of play, so what's the point? If people really want to interact, they'll interact, if they want PVP, they'll get the angst of PVP.

I encourage you, personally, Songweaver, to apply for a clan of your own and push towards your own personal sphere, so long as it's within the spirit of the game and you realize if you break the law, you'll have to answer for it. One way, or another.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby MrT2G » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:48 pm

Nimrod wrote:We're not going to consolidate as long as I'm here.


Good.

My suggestion would be to make the Orkish sphere RPP only until the playerbase grows more. So that anyone going there knows what to expect at some level.

In general though, I think if people sought out new players and tried to include them in their fun, this would all be a moot point and an unneeded discussion.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Melkor » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:53 pm

I would agree that if staff absolutely will not budge on two spheres even temporarily then what MrT2G says would be better.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:56 pm

I really appreciate the detailed response, Nimrod. It didn't really match up with what I'm talking about, though.

What you did with the hillmen was beyond reason, do not try it again, else I will roll over you again. You were offered a reasonable compromise which would have seen your clan flourish, yet you refused it out for unknown reasons. In the end, you told me you felt it was a fitting end, though I was totally aghast by the decisions you made. It was akin to a cult-like following in to the jaws of death when the jaws of death didn't want to bite down, so you threw yourselves upon them until you bled.


Separate issue. Everyone in the Free People felt like we stayed true to our characters, and still feel this way now. I would rather, and not offensively, suggest that perhaps you just didn't understand our characters and their motivations. Water under the bridge, though, and not really relevant here. Compared to now, the playerbase was quintuple the size back then.

So... why not close one of the spheres? Because even with a single sphere, you end up with multiple spheres, or islands of play, so what's the point? If people really want to interact, they'll interact, if they want PVP, they'll get the angst of PVP.


Islands of Play will always be a factor. The degree of their separation is really all up to how everything's designed, though. You can encourage players to lock themselves inside their house, or you can reward them for interacting with other groups.

The advantage of consolidation is that you can retain meaningful conflict (by introducing new elements to the surviving sphere that encourage interaction with the rest of the sphere), but put all of the players into a smaller area so that it's easier to find folks to play with.

This is super important for new players just finding the game, in particular. Two Sphere PvP on SOI has rarely provided the same meaningful roleplay and conflict that same-sphere clans do. I'm all about it, but again: the numbers are just too low right now.

We don't want 5 of the 9 people logged into the game to be trying to kill each other at any given point, right?

I encourage you, personally, Songweaver, to apply for a clan of your own and push towards your own personal sphere, so long as it's within the spirit of the game and you realize if you break the law, you'll have to answer for it. One way, or another.


This would sort of be the exact opposite of what I'm suggesting. For instance, I wouldn't have created the Hillmen/Free People if the game had been averaging 4-8 players.

I do think that promoting player-run clans, and making it less complicated to succeed at creating player-run clans, is a good idea.

But, I just don't think now's a good time to have two spheres at war with each other, with the size of the playerbase as small as it is, and with the staff stretched as thin as it is.

I don't suspect that I'll sway your opinion, no matter the results of the poll. I do think that the game's population and ability to hold new players is suffering from the current set-up, though, for whatever that means to you.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Nimrod » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:26 pm

Songweaver wrote:But, I just don't think now's a good time to have two spheres at war with each other, with the size of the playerbase as small as it is, and with the staff stretched as thin as it is.


We cannot, and will not, do away with a sphere because of player numbers. That is a reactionary solution, and I am not willing to make such a significant change because we've lost some players over the last three or four months.

We have a plan for moving forward to Laketown, and we will follow that plan.

Consolidation resulted in some pretty horrible things back in the day. I will not repeat that. Hardline? Yep. It sure is.

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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:43 pm

If only the drowning children could just re-roll another character that was better at swimming. :p
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Brian » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:57 pm

I'm not aware of the current state of things, but when last I played it seemed like things were actually on a really healthy upswing; there were consistently twenty or more on and that had been through a slow and steady climb that I noticed from when I started playing my character. I was feeling really optimistic for the growth of the game at that point. This must have been...well, two months ago maybe? I stopped playing after the large PvP event, did the climb stop after that? Was I alone in noticing that up to that point things seemed to be growing steadily to a place where it felt like things were starting to stabilize?

What is the current state of things now? The times where I saw 20 or more players on was usually around 7pm eastern to 11pm eastern. What's the state of things in that time slot now?
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby radioactivejesus » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:59 pm

both the most effective and the easiest to implement solution, would be for all the veteran players to simply start logging back into their PCs and proactively playing. Be around to help coach the newbies and get things happening in your sphere. Discussing consolidation because the playerbase is low seems silly when you're not really playing the game, thereby contributing to the playerbase.

edited to mention : consolidating to having the game be orcs + easterling/hillman camp vs. staff controlled soldiers from the citadel and neighboring orc tribes would actually be fun as hell, if all the human players wanted it. Though it wouldn't be worth it unless at least 3/4 of Utterby players were in favour.

PVP would definitely become far more meaningful, because it would be due to personal grudges and rivalries and interaction rather than just grabbing your blade the instant you see eachother
Last edited by radioactivejesus on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it time to consolidate?

Postby Songweaver » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:01 pm

I haven't seen more than 10 on when I've poked around, recently, no matter the time of day. I've seen as few as 1 on (myself), with an average of between 4-8.
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