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How Do We Do This Thing?

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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eugene » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:53 am

I think the elephant in the room is that MUDs in general are the last of an ancient breed. We can talk about administrative reconstruction and gameplay changes all we want, but unless something is done to draw interest it's pointless. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, MUDs were popular and they were something the average surfer could stumble upon. The situation is very different now and there is a very real effect on the success of a game based on the interest towards it generated by the playerbase.

I think Songweaver is completely wrong. What we need is PR. What I see right now in the community is a bunch of old farts and a few new faces that are struggling to push something forward. If we try to generate interest in the game, it will have rippling effects. We will receive new players that are not subject to jadedness. Old timers will be drawn towards the game with a new and vibrant playerbase. The effects of administrative attrition will be diminished as a greater sense of interest in the game will provide more impetus. Finally, SoI would benefit from the exponential nature of social networking.

In short, I think our group is far too small to bring any sort of success. Players will feel less inclined to get on any old time because we all know each other and how things are. Staff will feel less inclined to contribute because they know how the playerbase is and, if I were on the staff right now, I'd feel pretty damn hopeless. We do this thing by getting more people interested in it. The rest will follow through social factors.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eru » Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:28 am

Agree wholeheartedly with Eugene. Well said, sir.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:29 pm

A good post, Eugene. Once question that jumps out at me after having read it is, What is Success?

This exact question was discussed by Frigga and I prior to my taking the position of Lead. To me, success is not based on the number of players in-game. To me, success is providing a place for people to chase their in-game dreams and making it an even playing field. Success is seeing that single player pour their heart into their character and then stand up bravely against an enemy, making the ultimate sacrifice, even though they are losing so much. To me, success is seeing a single player struggle and struggle to reach their goals only to get knocked down and they bravely get back up to continue to struggle. To me, success is the player that never gives up. To me, success is seeing a character show true emotion, weakness or strength that is not contrived. To me, success is seeing real soul in a character.

We have these characters in-game right now, but many are overlooked because they are quiet and unassuming. But they continue on, without the glory, without the fanfare; they play for the pure joy of it. I silently watch these characters, staying out of their lives as much as I can, and it moves me.

So... to me, right now, Shadows of Isildur is a success.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:46 pm

I would add something to my previous post...

New players. Yes, it is lovely to see new players and we continue to do our best to support them. It's a huge part of our work as admins. But we have to ask ourselves if we are truly receptive to newbies? Staff love to see newbies, we love the idea of the community growing. But is the community itself, the whole, really receptive to newbies? Are we presenting a welcoming place via in-game actions as well as out-of-game actions? Are our forums something that would make someone read a bit and say 'I want to be a part of that community'.

Each and every one of us, player, builder, staffer... we're all part of this community. It's not just staff that keeps a new player, it's everyone.

I agree with you, that a good number of our members are old farts; I think I'm probably one of the oldest farts here in terms of age and time playing this game. We continue to argue the same arguments of old and more and more focus is being given to ooc issues. I would urge all of our beloved members to focus on the positive and be as supportive as you can of each other.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Patty » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:47 pm

I trust Nimrod.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eugene » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:53 pm

Nimrod wrote:To me, success is providing a place for people to chase their in-game dreams and making it an even playing field. Success is seeing that single player pour their heart into their character and then stand up bravely against an enemy, making the ultimate sacrifice, even though they are losing so much. To me, success is seeing a single player struggle and struggle to reach their goals only to get knocked down and they bravely get back up to continue to struggle. To me, success is the player that never gives up. To me, success is seeing a character show true emotion, weakness or strength that is not contrived. To me, success is seeing real soul in a character.


I'm all for intrinsic value, Nimrod, and I think you know that about me. However, a low playerbase has a serious practical and social effect in any multiplayer game - not just on its existing playerbase, but on its future playerbase as well. Furthermore, most people these days are not that mature about roleplay. I think you're being way too idealistic about this.

In terms of newbies, I think the community is a hell of a lot more receptive to them now than back in 2005. In my opinion, the game was pretty newbie unfriendly prior to the Fall of Osgiliath. Yet, when some new person joins the forums or jumps into the server, they'll see enough evidence to suggest that the community is rather small, and go join another one.

Although, the rules, administrative team, the game world, and the code itself really ought to be consistent before we do any PR campaign lest we invite people to chaos.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Erucolindo » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:53 pm

As a new player (It has been almost one RL month since I joined) who has played a substantial amount, I agree with Eugene that more players is a good thing. Yes, there's a quantity vs. quality argument to be made, but I can't imagine that there aren't hundreds of talented RP'ers out there who would be interested in a Tolkien RPI with an active playerbase.

I think we have a decent number of folks, but there are noticeable skill gaps and time gaps that are apparent. There are items, highly useful ones, that one or perhaps no PC's make, and the occasional odd hour I've logged on and seen just a few folks online. This new notion of player clans is very exciting, but I worry that it might fracture the existing NPC clans like the Lodge and Guard into small 2-3 person groups who largely stick together. A larger playerbase alleviates these concerns.

I've tried to get the word out a bit on reddit, and will continue to do so from time to time. However, as a new player, there are probably many MUD forums and resources I've simply never heard of that an experienced member could explore for recruits.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:43 am

Some wonderful points from Eugene and Erucolindo. Thank you. I appreciate your words more than you can know. My thanks to Patty as well. Your trust means the world to me.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Misclicked » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:37 pm

I remember the old site used to have links on the side to vote for SoI on

http://www.topmudsites.com/
and
http://www.mudconnect.com/

to bolster the game's ranking on those lists. I honestly don't know how effective such advertising actually was, but it's an idea, maybe. Expand SoI's profile first within the mudding communities, and then reach out to larger gaming ones in general?

Personally I like this version of the game a lot - whenever I read any posts about how the game seems to be in trouble, I generally just scratch my head and have no idea what they're talking about.

Maybe my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I really don't notice that much of a player/activity difference between when I played SoI then and now. Granted its probably mostly because I played the orkish sphere at the time, which always was a lot smaller, but in terms of game-play and code I actually think some of the new mechanics are better, or promise to be better. The economy in this game seems to be much more flexible, and the crafting system more forgiving in terms of progressing on your own without being completely beholden to that one mastercraft PC who would log in once every month.

The game's code/skills (I think) are stream-lined and less archaic, and a bit more accessible if you don't have an insider's knowledge of the actual code mechanics.

If there is a problem, then I would probably have to grant that the total number of players would probably be it - but I think that's an advertising problem, not a problem with the game itself.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Patty » Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:14 pm

Doing some vote bombing on those sites couldn't hurt...
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eru » Sat Nov 01, 2014 8:10 pm

From what I remember from previous posts is that we're holding off on voting just yet because we're still in Alpha and the game is completed just yet. I'm not sure if this is still something included in Nimrod's plan for things.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby MrT2G » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:15 pm

While I think advertising is a good idea, now might not be the best time for it. More players is better, but as Nimrod makes clear, not necessary.

Maybe wait for Beta, at least? ;)
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:42 am

True. I've taken the stance that advertising prematurely leads to new players finding an incomplete game. I don't see how that helps us in the long run.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby BoogtehWoog » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:12 am

I agree with Nimrod. Wait until SOI is out of alpha and then march out the banners and the criers.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Songweaver » Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:41 pm

I think Songweaver is completely wrong. What we need is PR.


Not to goad, because I'm not, but I just don't understand how needing good PR negates the validity of my suggestions. I agree with Nimrod that now is not the time to advertise. However, now is the time to do whatever SOI can to appeal to its already existing playerbase so that it can draw back and retain good, experienced players who will act as positive examples for potential newbies in the future - when SOI does advertise. A lot of these awesome roleplayers have vanished, for a variety of reasons, and we do want them back.

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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:29 pm

Songweaver wrote:However, now is the time to do whatever SOI can to appeal to its already existing playerbase so that it can draw back and retain good, experienced players who will act as positive examples for potential newbies in the future

The wheels are turning on this already. There's a lot of things happening to open things up to folks who wish to establish their own clan areas and tons of work going on to flesh out the economy and crafting. The big thing we're working on right now is establishing a baseline from which to start that allows all players equal footing.

The next week or so will be filled with all kinds of in-game goings on that put our plans into action.

I'm extremely excited to see how players take advantage of the tools that are going to be given to them.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eugene » Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:36 pm

Songweaver wrote:Not to goad, because I'm not, but I just don't understand how needing good PR negates the validity of my suggestions.


I am actually offended by this. Not because you're disagreeing with me, but because you - of all people - don't think that you're going to goad me anyway. After all this time and all those conversations, you still don't know me like the back of your hand. For shame.

The reason why the validity of your statements are undone by the need for PR is because you're ignoring it entirely. I don't think your ideas are bad, but they're utterly useless in the face of the bigger issue. We do need to have a clear sense of how the game is going to be handled in terms of code, administration, crafting, lore, and the playerbase itself, but it's utterly pointless if we do this only to have everything collapse because it's just small clique doing it. Bringing in people gives a broader pool of ideas. Furthermore, it prevents us from the pitfall of many roleplay communities where we solidify things and then become insensitive to change when some new folks show up with good or legitimate ideas that go against our master plan.

As the Stalker so aptly said:

Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy as The Stalker, from Andrei Tarkovsky's movie, Stalker wrote:When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.


As for "vision" keepers, putting any single person in charge of a "vision" is stupid - and I mean sticking a fork into an electric outlet kind of stupid. The "vision" should be the collective wishes of the entire community which is properly considered, analyzed, argued, and decided upon by the administrators that have to fulfill it and the players that have to live with it.

As for "cleaning house," which is entirely separate from my initial point, this should be done with a big sack of salt. I've been in charge roleplay communities (and studied enough foreign policy) and I can tell you that it's better to keep someone on that is consistent and cooperative - even if they're not incredibly active - than open up a power vacuum for an unknown to move in that might be divisive and hostile in the belief that they are seeking positive change. If we're dealing with a particularly egregious case of inactivity, that's another story, and I really haven't paid much attention to the administration, but I feel it necessary to share that bit of wisdom.

Songweaver wrote:I agree with Nimrod that now is not the time to advertise. However, now is the time to do whatever SOI can to appeal to its already existing playerbase so that it can draw back and retain good, experienced players who will act as positive examples for potential newbies in the future - when SOI does advertise.


There aren't many of us left, Songweaver. Bringing in newbies will give the existing veterans experience with welcoming said newbies into a serious roleplay setting, temper their patience when dealing with said demographic, and instill a sense of hope for this. Pandering to our withering playerbase is, again, like sticking a fork into an electrical outlet.

Songweaver wrote:A lot of these awesome roleplayers have vanished, for a variety of reasons, and we do want them back.


They left because the outlook is bleak, Songweaver. A very tangible way of showing that we're not circling the drain is bringing in more interest.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Thorongil » Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:28 am

As for "vision" keepers, putting any single person in charge of a "vision" is stupid - and I mean sticking a fork into an electric outlet kind of stupid. The "vision" should be the collective wishes of the entire community which is properly considered, analyzed, argued, and decided upon by the administrators that have to fulfill it and the players that have to live with it.


This is something I wholeheartedly disagree with.

The main reason that I disagree with this is because if everything is a collective decision, and you take everything to big discussions, then nothing gets done, and everything stagnates. What a successful RPI needs is a leader who has an overarching vision for what kind of game they want, and who recruits administrators who are like-minded and willing to work toward that goal. I'm not saying that you don't occasionally tweak details in favor of the community, but the overarching "vision" and game direction needs to be in the hands of one person who can make things happen. I maintain that SOI's glory days were in the days of Traithe. Traithe had a team of like-minded administrators who each had the autonomy to do what they needed to do. Things got done. Decisions got made.

Granted, the great thing about that was that Traithe's vision was a good one. If you get stuck with one person being in charge of a vision, and that person's vision sucks, then you're kind of screwed.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Hawkwind » Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:11 pm

I for one personally welcome the iron-fisted rule of our Tower-building Overlord.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby crayon » Sat Dec 20, 2014 11:50 am

Eugene wrote:The reason why the validity of your statements are undone by the need for PR is because you're ignoring it entirely.


You would have to explain that one better, because I'm pretty sure that one falls flat in the context of an incomplete alpha game environment. He's most likely ignoring PR and advertising completely because they're intended to be ignored completely in the game's current form. It's better to hook newbies with a finished and polished game than to put them through the hell of bugtesting and experimentation that happens during an alpha, which is why I think closed alphas are probably a better way to go about it, honestly. The point of an alpha isn't to build a great game with a huge playerbase but to make sure that the foundations of the game are stable while working to polish the finished product.

Eugene wrote:I don't think your ideas are bad, but they're utterly useless in the face of the bigger issue.


You're begging the question in your assumption that PR is, in fact, a bigger issue. As opposed to a non-issue. PR is extremely important, but the vast majority of players that are going to step foot on an RPI, fresh, after seeing advertising somewhere, are going to stumble, fail, or, honestly, be kind of bad and unhelpful. Most of the players you really want are already occupied with another of the finished and polished RP-centric MUDs out there, and the only way you're likely to attract them is with the type of thing Songweaver's talking about. Alpha's about building foundations, and you can't start mass-recruiting players via PR and advertising until you've built a solid foundation of core and trusted players to support the new ones, and that seems to be an issue.

Eugene wrote:As for "vision" keepers, putting any single person in charge of a "vision" is stupid - and I mean sticking a fork into an electric outlet kind of stupid. The "vision" should be the collective wishes of the entire community which is properly considered, analyzed, argued, and decided upon by the administrators that have to fulfill it and the players that have to live with it.


I couldn't disagree more. The 'vision' of a game is something that has to be safekept by either one exceptionally dedicated individual or a small oligarchy, because the simple fact is that some (more likely many) of the players on a game will have different visions of its lore, setting, themes. This is obviously a different kind of beast with SoI where the lore is pretty pre-established, but it's a pretty common trend to observe elsewhere. The unfortunate fact here, and I think it's what you're overlooking, is that the vast majority of players might know what they want but they don't really know what they need to become immersed in a game and its lore, and you shouldn't overvalue the overall opinions because usually giving people what they want accomplishes no lasting positive change, sometimes at the cost of negative change, and will usually just lead to a new want to take its place.

Eugene wrote:I've been in charge roleplay communities (and studied enough foreign policy) and I can tell you that it's better to keep someone on that is consistent and cooperative - even if they're not incredibly active - than open up a power vacuum for an unknown to move in that might be divisive and hostile in the belief that they are seeking positive change.


Consistent and not incredibly active are mutually exclusive terms, so I'm not really inclined to touch too heavily on that, but in my opinion and experience I would rather have somebody that can be 'divisive and hostile' in pursuit of positive change than somebody who's cooperative and utterly lacking in positive initiative. I've seen lackey administrating kill multiple games, so I'm just not really with you on this, not that it matters.

Eugene wrote:There aren't many of us left, Songweaver. Bringing in newbies will give the existing veterans experience with welcoming said newbies into a serious roleplay setting, temper their patience when dealing with said demographic, and instill a sense of hope for this. Pandering to our withering playerbase is, again, like sticking a fork into an electrical outlet.


The issue here is that the existing veterans probably aren't welcoming newbies in such a way, when there are newbies. They probably aren't even welcoming non-newbies very effectively. At least, this wasn't the case from the hour or two of play experience I had, and it's something I've seen become a problem elsewhere. I think the best mentality for administration to operate from is 'if you build it, they will come'. If you produce positive and interesting content and design an inherently interesting game, then advertise, people will come, and people will stay. The people that have come, haven't stayed, and that's just symptomatic of ebb and flow, new thing faddism, and SoI being in alpha. Advertising before the game is finished puts the cart before the horse, and we can actually see a microcosm of what kind of an effect premature advertising has in comparing initial activity levels with current.

Eugene wrote:They left because the outlook is bleak, Songweaver. A very tangible way of showing that we're not circling the drain is bringing in more interest.


A more tangible way of bringing in more interest than waving your arms in the air and jumping for attention is being more interesting (or in this case, continuing to push forward and polish the game up, as I believe staff is doing?).

Thorongil wrote:The main reason that I disagree with this is because if everything is a collective decision, and you take everything to big discussions, then nothing gets done, and everything stagnates. What a successful RPI needs is a leader who has an overarching vision for what kind of game they want, and who recruits administrators who are like-minded and willing to work toward that goal.


Yes. This is absolutely, one thousand percent the case, and I've seen several projects die in their infancy because of over-discussion and stagnation and differing visions. Differing visions can also be a pretty sizable problem area for staff and administration in that just about every admin that's worth their salt is going to have their own vision, which I suppose is where Eugene's previous point regarding 'divisive' versus 'consistent and cooperative' staff members starts to bear out. I think there are a ton of interesting facets to the leader vs. follower, visionary vs. team player dynamics in the staffs of RPI games, especially when factors like motivation and inspiration come into play. You always want to have somebody who has a 'vision' for the game, but one person can only sustain themselves as the 'vision keeper' for so long before inspiration and motivation begin to flag. When that happens, they either pass the torch off to somebody else, or if they don't have access to other staffmembers who have vision, or don't trust them, they eventually drop the torch and it burns out.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Eru » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:17 pm

The issue here is that the existing veterans probably aren't welcoming newbies in such a way, when there are newbies. They probably aren't even welcoming non-newbies very effectively. At least, this wasn't the case from the hour or two of play experience I had, and it's something I've seen become a problem elsewhere.


I'd say give the game more then a couple hours of your time and you'll find the true veterans are indeed welcoming to new players. The 'helpline' channel is also available to players to contact those Guides for help or advice, so it's also done effectively and promptly.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby cfelch » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:03 pm

The issue is one of trust, both OOC and IC.

OOC: We dont know you're not a twinky, cheaty type of player off the rip.

IC: We don't know you from jack, give us a reason to not think your a slacker or thief.

To overcome either... put in a bit of effort to show you are here for the RP. Convince us. No one is liable to be handed anything on a platter, but folks will work with you.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Hawkwind » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:04 pm

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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Hawkwind » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:54 pm

Eru wrote:
The issue here is that the existing veterans probably aren't welcoming newbies in such a way, when there are newbies. They probably aren't even welcoming non-newbies very effectively. At least, this wasn't the case from the hour or two of play experience I had, and it's something I've seen become a problem elsewhere.


I'd say give the game more then a couple hours of your time and you'll find the true veterans are indeed welcoming to new players. The 'helpline' channel is also available to players to contact those Guides for help or advice, so it's also done effectively and promptly.


I can say this game has one of the most inclusive atmospheres i have seen in a good while. Even the unpleasant roleplay or greed, envy and bitterness (All very Tolkien) is done in an inclusive way.v im sure there are exceptions, but on the whole Good stuff.
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Re: How Do We Do This Thing?

Postby Nimrod » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:37 pm

On the whole, our player base is very willing to embrace new players and work with them. I'm extremely happy with our in-game Guides. My personal philosophy when it comes to players is to not try to make them conform, but let them find a place of their own that makes them happy, as long as they're not breaking any ooc rules.

The word 'place' above does not necessarily mean their own personal clan hall or room, it's more a state of being. The less you rely on staff to reach your happy place, the better off we all are. Self sufficiency on your part means more time for us to build and work towards Laketown itself. We've got a good number of players that have taken what we have given and turned it into something that's simply amazing. Kudos to them for sticking with it. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.
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