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Staff, what can you do?

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Staff, what can you do?

Postby Songweaver » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:42 am

In a recent pair of threads, I've made a few suggestions. The first three were unanimously supported by players, and the last was only supported by a majority of players.

1) Schedule (four?) RPTs a week, keeping to the same times each week, to help push along plot and make it easier for folks to know how and when they can get involved with plot. Spread the responsibilities here across several RPAs, so no one RPA is getting burnt out.

2) Advertise aggressively. Hit up old players on AIM with links to the upcoming RPTs. Advertise here. Advertise on the in-game gossip boards. Advertise on Optional Realities, on TMC, and on TMS. In your promotional posts, make sure that your upcoming events sound exciting!

3) Create plots that increase player agency. Let players make meaningful choices that shape the world. Don't make it be as simple as choices having a "right" and "wrong" answer. Think about nuance, because that's the type of game that people want to play.

4) Consolidate all players to one sphere, temporarily, to increase the likelihood of finding players to play. The staff has made it clear that this isn't gonna happen.


There hasn't really been a staff response to the third three (less contentious) points. So, here are my questions for staff (and players, too, I'm sure) ...

1) Why not shoot for the first three points?

2) What else can you do to help increase the population of players playing SOI, before we eventually open Laketown?

3) We've lost about 80% or more of our playerbase over the past 9 months. Why do you think that is? How can we hold onto them better, moving forward?

4) Kory's point elsewhere of "sticking to the plan" is valid, but I don't think that he means that it should be "stuck to" indefinitely, and I don't think that inflexibility serves us here. Are you prepared with back-up direction, should "the plan" continue to not succeed in the way that you'd like it to? If so, what are some thoughts on what that might look like? At what point do you consider shifting to back-up direction (what would the last-straw/trigger be)?
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:01 pm

Songweaver wrote:1) Schedule (four?) RPTs a week, keeping to the same times each week, to help push along plot and make it easier for folks to know how and when they can get involved with plot. Spread the responsibilities here across several RPAs, so no one RPA is getting burnt out.

Although I think four is shooting for the moon, I am willing to coordinate with our staffers and see if we can get them to commit to some set rpts each week.

Songweaver wrote:2) Advertise aggressively. Hit up old players on AIM with links to the upcoming RPTs. Advertise here. Advertise on the in-game gossip boards. Advertise on Optional Realities, on TMC, and on TMS. In your promotional posts, make sure that your upcoming events sound exciting!

You know my personal stance on this. I don't think we should be advertising until we're out of Alpha. That said, we are already back on the lists at TMC and a few others. I have investigated the costs for displaying banners and such. (Don't expect to see a lot of changes there until we're out of Alpha.) What I will do though, is continue to push for staff members to post to Facebook and Twitter, as well as investigate the possibility of identifying how we can best advertise rpts and up coming events. (What this issue needs is a champion that is willing to put in the leg-work to get these things done. Volunteers?)

Songweaver wrote:3) Create plots that increase player agency. Let players make meaningful choices that shape the world. Don't make it be as simple as choices having a "right" and "wrong" answer. Think about nuance, because that's the type of game that people want to play.

Yes. This has long been our goal, but with the dual responsibility of building the infrastructure of Laketown, the RPA duties have suffered. Look for some great opportunities for would-be player-clan leaders to continue to surface through offerings via the AU (and other nefarious organizations).

Also expect to see a more accepting attitude from staff when it comes to play 'style'. I'm not talking about accepting everything you throw at us such as the hillmen clan, but as long as you stay within the lore of the setting you'll be free to push the boundaries of what has typically been known to be a 'clan' within Shadows of Isildur.

Songweaver wrote:4) Consolidate all players to one sphere, temporarily, to increase the likelihood of finding players to play. The staff has made it clear that this isn't gonna happen.

No. I apologize for the bluntness here, but I flat disagree with this, so it's not going to happen.


Songweaver wrote:1) Why not shoot for the first three points?

I believe I just did. TYVM. :)

Songweaver wrote:2) What else can you do to help increase the population of players playing SOI, before we eventually open Laketown?

3) We've lost about 80% or more of our playerbase over the past 9 months. Why do you think that is? How can we hold onto them better, moving forward?


These two points are basically the same, so I'll answer as though they were.

I think I've said this to the general player base before, but if I haven't, I do not care what our player numbers are. I refuse to look at player numbers to determine if we're succeeding as a game. It's more complex than that. Player numbers will take care of themselves if we take care of the other things. Player numbers are a lag measure that is a measure of the game as a whole and concentrating on just numbers won't yield us anything in the long run. Concentrating on developing a good system that a few die-hard players loves will draw more players, and in turn solve the numbers issue.

Songweaver wrote:4) Kory's point elsewhere of "sticking to the plan" is valid, but I don't think that he means that it should be "stuck to" indefinitely, and I don't think that inflexibility serves us here. Are you prepared with back-up direction, should "the plan" continue to not succeed in the way that you'd like it to? If so, what are some thoughts on what that might look like? At what point do you consider shifting to back-up direction (what would the last-straw/trigger be)?


The "Plan" is always subject to modification. But we cannot determine that the 'Plan' is flawed if we do not execute it first. I liken the process as sailing around the world. You can't do it in a straight line. Sometimes you have to tack back and forth in to the wind, and sometimes you have to navigate around a continent that is in your way. Quite often you're further away from your final destination (when measured in a straight line) than you were the day before. The sailor knows that he has to swing around Africa and Cape Horn, sailing thousands of miles out of the way to gain only a few hundred miles when measured along a straight line across land.

It's my job to sail this ship in to the whirlwind as best I can and aim for the final destination. If I steer the ship straight at the goal, I'll be sailing straight in to the wind and my sails will luff and we'll languish at sea, eventually being pushed backwards.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:14 pm

4) Kory's point elsewhere of "sticking to the plan" is valid, but I don't think that he means that it should be "stuck to" indefinitely, and I don't think that inflexibility serves us here. Are you prepared with back-up direction, should "the plan" continue to not succeed in the way that you'd like it to? If so, what are some thoughts on what that might look like? At what point do you consider shifting to back-up direction (what would the last-straw/trigger be)?


It was a lovely analogy that I used to answer this point in the post above, but after re-reading, I really didn't have anything of substance to offer.

Do I have a back-up plan? We have several back up plans for different areas of the game. Am I going to share them? No. The back up plans are not on the table now and going over them is moot.

As another comment on that, we ARE going to have some areas of the plan that fail. That is a given. We know this and expect it. We fully realize that we may have to re-visit some aspect of the game and make an adjustment here or there. No one can design, build and execute a perfect game. To think you can is folly.

What is the last straw? Once again, that's uber-difficult to answer. There are so many sub-plans to the overall 'plan' that I have not identified what specific trigger will push me over the edge and claim that that particular plan is bad, we need to start over.

Even if one of the points of the overall plan does turn out to be horrible, we can easily shift things and re-work to make it fit in with the overall game.

Shadows of Isildur is a living, breathing thing. Kite used to refer to 'the goddess of soi' taking an active role in things, and that's literally true. (Of course I don't believe that we have a goddess watching over us, but the sentiment applies.)

Planning for a mud like this is incredibly stressful and demanding. We have done our best to design and build a world that we feel will provide players, in the end, with a place where they can bring it to life.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:20 pm

I'd also like to take a moment to personally thank every single member of our staff. There is so much more that happens behind the scenes that the average player is not aware of. Some of you may know, but the days, weeks and months of drudgery behind the scenes building rooms, writing and testing progs and crafts is overwhelming when you count the hours.

So THANK YOU! to every staff member, past and present, who has given a piece of their soul to this game.

Also... a huge THANK YOU goes out to those players who continue to log in and play their characters. There's nothing that stirs my soul more than logging in to see only a handful of players logged in, go and check on a few and catch them actually roleplaying all by themselves.

You guys ROCK. Seriously.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby cfelch » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:43 pm

As much as everyone wants to see improvements and new stuff.
What we have now should always take priority over what could be.
As such, perhaps Laketown should take a backseat to RPA duties?
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:31 pm

cfelch wrote:As such, perhaps Laketown should take a backseat to RPA duties?

That's an extremely valid argument, CFelch. One staff has debated many times. The solution, for now anyway, is to split our attentions between the two things. It's not ideal, but allows some of both to happen rather than bringing one to a full stop while we concentrate on the other.

If you're not aware, Utterby was the brainchild of Elder Staff when we began building the game to act as an Alpha. It as intended to flesh out code issues, crafts, skills, etc... It turned out that players took the play much more seriously than we ever thought they would and instead of being a true Alpha, we basically had a full-open game in an area that was never intended to be a full-open area.

We've been playing catch up ever since, basically trying to build a new game while administering a full game open to players. Each decision we made in Utterby was fully examined to make sure it would fit in with what we wanted in Laketown, which just added to the slowness of response.

The players have become much more educated on a meta-level and many great ideas are being thrown about by a lot of wonderful players. Unfortunately we can't take advantage of all the ideas, no matter how wonderful they are.

Another important point is demographics, specifically when considering our staff. The original Shadows of Isildur saw the average age of admins hover at the 20 - 23 year mark. Now, the average is pushing 35. Instead of energetic college age admins who spend huge amounts of time online, we have admins that are married with children and juggling a career, family and the game. Things have slowed down on the staff side and we take great care to deliberate carefully for the final product we are seeking.

Player demographics are much harder to pin down, but it appears the average age there has risen greatly as well.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Songweaver » Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:22 am

Some interesting information in your replies, Nimrod.

I would gently suggest that even if you don't consider SOI to be "open" (and thus in need of advertisement), that the rest of the world considers it to be "open". There's a story. People aren't just play-testing, but they're playing in the exact way they would if the game were "finished".

Everything that happens in ALPHA here will become part of SOI's reputation. And what you don't want is for it to have a reputation of not having any players. For an RPI, that's deadly: players tend to gravitate towards the more popular RPIs where they can more easily find players, and that tendency is obviously cyclical. When you're on a roll and things are great, the numbers will continue to tick upward. When you begin to become "empty", the numbers drop very rapidly.

So, yeah, I definitely think that it's worth it to hire a community manager to help promote SOI not just here, but in other communities as well. Every RPT, every big change, anything exciting.

It will make a difference. And not just now, but when you do open Laketown. As I said above, Laketown has the best chance at being successful if it has a large enough playerbase to bring it alive from the moment it launches. Now's the time to build the playerbase back up.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby tehkory » Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:23 am

4) Kory's point elsewhere of "sticking to the plan" is valid, but I don't think that he means that it should be "stuck to" indefinitely, and I don't think that inflexibility serves us here. Are you prepared with back-up direction, should "the plan" continue to not succeed in the way that you'd like it to? If so, what are some thoughts on what that might look like? At what point do you consider shifting to back-up direction (what would the last-straw/trigger be)?

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/07 ... r-success/
This article over on Rock Paper Shotgun is pretty much what I was trying to express here. You all should read it, but a few relevant quotes:

Rami:...It’s a thing that pisses me off infinitely is when game developers go like ‘yeah, I want to make the game that I want to play.’ It’s such a weird thing, because you’r the only one who won’t be able to play it. If you’re making the game you want to play you’re doing something terribly wrong or you have a severe misunderstanding of how game development works.

RPS: Yeah, I’m not sure how you reconcile that with wincing at everything that didn’t work out how you wanted.

Rami:Yeah, you’re like ‘this is broken’ or you know everything that’s going to happen. So when people make a big narrative game and are like “this is the game I want to play” I’m “that’s so saaad. I feel so sorry for you.”


RPS: ‘The only story that works for you is your own story’

Rami: Exactly. So we don’t do that. We make the games we want to make. Part of that is also not listening to consumers or customers. ...Someone needs to say this, say ‘listen, it’s fine for us to appreciate our customers, it’s good for us to celebrate our customers, it’s good for us to listen, to be open, to be talk, but there’s also a line.’ There’s a point where we need to be ‘no, that is wrong. You’re just wrong. Your understanding of this is false, and it’s false for these reasons.’ We’re scared of that because we’ve traditionally been very pandering to those audiences, but I think it’s time for us to treat them like results.


In short: Jaunt's right here. He's absolutely right. But in the end you all listening to Jaunt and ending up making a game you don't want will be measurably worse than you all making bad decisions for the game you want.

He's right. The game's got health issues and dealing with it requires certain things, but you need to make the game you want. I still say Laketown won't solve problems; weekly RPTs solves problems, etc., etc. But if the game you want is Laketown, make Laketown. If the game you want has orcs and not evil humans, make that. Make the game you dream of making.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:16 am

Still watching this thread. One thing I'd like to point out is: We can't say yes to all the good ideas; we can't even say yes to all the GREAT ideas, we concentrate on a specific path and try to move forward with purpose.

Saying yes to everything leads to chaos and half-finished projects.

I chuckle at all the folks saying goodbye to SoI and offering their snide RIP comments and complaining about this and that. If it's as horrible as you say it is, why do you even bother complaining? Most players who really don't like the game vote with their feet, never to be heard from again.

Those that are complaining will be back, they always come back.

As for SoI's death. It's dead when Frigga and I say it's dead, and that, my dear friends will not be anytime soon. We've had some good numbers over the last week, I saw 17 on just the other day when I popped in for a bit. You all know I don't give a fig about numbers. It's a lag measure that is taken care of by itself when a good game is created.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Matt » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:31 am

You will never have a good game when you don't have rules or play fair as admins. Or when your plots are 'spooky unstoppable magic spirit #7' that's not even middle earth.You won't have a good game when you bend rules for friends. Pass out codedly broken items. Give people 10 stat points over the usual amount.

You literally stopped combat for your ooc friend before to save him. Same person used his mithril set of leathers to PK people so they quit.

Most projects go unfinished anyway and you just got rid of your best admin over want seems like a temper tantrum. Where's warfare? What's the citadel?

Could really go on for days about what current staff has done that is unfair. When it comes to a game there's usually rules. I'll be voting with my feet just like so many others have.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Hawkwind » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:07 am

Voted with mine months ago, still check in from time to time. No self-pitying farewell post, no sad little message for you all. Just walked out.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Tepes » Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:21 pm

Going to seriously agree with Matt, on everything he said.

Especially unbeatable bigbad #4, and the OOC situation that happened.

Now, I am not saying SoI can't come back to high numbers. It just has to change, and in a good way. I know what I want out of SoI, and the current game is nowhere close, if even bordering it. I come back in hopes it has changed, or is changing, but it really isn't.

That's why I keep coming around. Hoping everything is better.

People always come back? Not always. A large portion have had their bridges burnt by specific instances. Especially ones that just aren't fair in any way possible.

Magic super Elf with clear OOC ties? I can't imagine why some of those people aren't playing any more. But, I wasn't there, because I had already quit for the most part. So I only have people's opinions that I trust, to go on.

Unbeatable Orc God #1 or #2, take your pick. That's why I quit. I was so damn sick of coming across that NPC that myself and others just decided to leave if we even smelled it. Because it was so tiring to get our asses kicked. Every. Single. Time.

Doesn't help new orcs also hate orc sphere because they can't roam around and not get uber ganked by wargs/boars/bears like they could in the human sphere. The outside of Utterby is safe to a point. Orc sphere? Welp, just gotta dick around in the base until enough people show up to go kick a pig for the 90th time, or escape super NPC #10. All the new orcs go out and just insta die because they don't know it's not safe, or are bored out of their minds.

I didn't see a single plot point in Utterby while I was playing my human, before retiring him to play an Orc. I'm sure there were plenty after that, but the point remains. I didn't see crap, so I wonder how many others thought the same thing. And sure, you can scream PLAYER PLOTS all you want, but that gets real old real fast, because some of us aren't plot makers, or even have the tools to do it.

If none of what I said even strikes you as true, then I guess it's time to move on for good. That's not saying I wouldn't come back if an old friend managed to persuade me and prove the game is moving in a good direction again.

But, what are the chances of that?
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby cfelch » Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:34 am

Nimrod wrote:If it's as horrible as you say it is, why do you even bother complaining? Most players who really don't like the game vote with their feet, never to be heard from again.


Complainers don't hate the game.
More often then not, they love it, and are just critiquing it.

Also, nobody 'votes with their feet', that's more often a thinly veiled way of saying 'shut-up and go away' usually in response to said criticism.
(The ones who just walk away never to be seen again were never vested in the game in the first place, and arguably have no bearing on the discussion.)
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby tehkory » Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:49 pm

cfelch wrote:
Nimrod wrote:If it's as horrible as you say it is, why do you even bother complaining? Most players who really don't like the game vote with their feet, never to be heard from again.


Complainers don't hate the game.
More often then not, they love it, and are just critiquing it.

Also, nobody 'votes with their feet', that's more often a thinly veiled way of saying 'shut-up and go away' usually in response to said criticism.
(The ones who just walk away never to be seen again were never vested in the game in the first place, and arguably have no bearing on the discussion.)

I think you just don't like the term, but honestly a fair amount of us have voted with our feet. I know I did. It's called 'people quit playing,' and it happens.

I'll try again in a while. Probably. Maybe.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby ThinkTwice » Sun Jul 26, 2015 3:07 pm

Current player numbers say many people have voted with their feet.
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Re: Staff, what can you do?

Postby Nimrod » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:18 pm

cfelch wrote:
Nimrod wrote:If it's as horrible as you say it is, why do you even bother complaining? Most players who really don't like the game vote with their feet, never to be heard from again.


Complainers don't hate the game.
More often then not, they love it, and are just critiquing it.

Also, nobody 'votes with their feet', that's more often a thinly veiled way of saying 'shut-up and go away' usually in response to said criticism.
(The ones who just walk away never to be seen again were never vested in the game in the first place, and arguably have no bearing on the discussion.)


You must work for the media, cfelch. Let's look at the entire quote rather than just cherry-picking something and making it more controversial than it is.

Nimrod wrote:I chuckle at all the folks saying goodbye to SoI and offering their snide RIP comments and complaining about this and that. If it's as horrible as you say it is, why do you even bother complaining? Most players who really don't like the game vote with their feet, never to be heard from again.


As can be noted from reading the quote in context, it was directed towards players saying goodbye to the game and offering snide remarks.

You're once again, putting words in my mouth and choosing to interpret something I say in a manner that is offensive to you. I never said that those who complain hate the game, and most certainly did not say 'shut up and go away'.

Your observation about those that do walk away were never invested in the game is totally inaccurate as well. The game has always suffered from great players just disappearing without a word, and we'll continue to suffer that, though we are working to try to stabilize the game so everyone knows exactly what is possible and what they can count on. It's my opinion that if we can provide a solid game world that is not ever-changing when it comes to staff and staff support, that we'll be a more comfortable place to play and thus keep players. Kind of like knowing no matter where you go in the world, that Quarter Pounder at McDonalds will taste the same both at home and abroad, as well as last year and next year.

Numbers were solid when I took my leave of absence three months ago and though they're slightly lower now, they are still solid. We have great people on staff and I couldn't be more satisfied with their work.
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