Summertime Summary-time

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Summertime Summary-time

Post by gorboth » 09 Aug 2012 11:01

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Esteemed fellow Genesis enthusiasts,

It has been too long since I last took the time to offer some some thoughts 
and personal perspective on our beloved game and its state of affairs. 
Typically, I try to do this sometime around the New Year, but I find myself 
pondering these things lately, so I'll strike while the iron is something 
other than hard and cold. ;-)

I love data, and so lets start with that, though I doubt much of it will cause
anyone to uncork their bottles of champagne at this particular time (heh):

|                                               |
|       Average Per Hour by week for 2012       |
|                                               |
|    14.0 |     |    |    |     |    |    |     |
| A  13.5 |     |    |    |     |    |    |     |
| P  13.0 |     |    |    |     |X   |    |     |
| H  12.5 |     |    |X   |   X |X   |    |     |
|    12.0 |     |    |X   |   X |X   |    |     |
|    11.5 |     |    |XX  |   X |X   |    |     |
| E  11.0 |     |   X|XX  |  XXX|X   |    |     |
| A  10.5 |     |  XX|XXX |  XXX|X   |    |X    |
| C  10.0 |    X|  XX|XXXX| XXXX|X   |    |X  X |
| H   9.5 |  X X|X XX|XXXX|XXXXX|X   |    |X  X |
|     9.0 |X X X|XXXX|XXXX|XXXXX|XX  |    |XX XX|
|  Month  |Jan  |Feb |Mar |Apr  |May |Jun |     |
|                                               |
|  Mean yearly average players per hour = 9.78  |
|                                               |

Above we see the login data for the Year to Date 2012. March through early May 
enjoyed the healthiest period of player activity, by this metric. So how does 
this fit into the overall picture? I've condensed it and tacked it on to the 
full data since we began running the Census, and it shows the following:

|    21.5 |    |            |            |            |            |
|    21.0 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
|    20.5 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
|    20.0 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
|    19.5 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
| A  19.0 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
| V  18.5 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
| G  18.0 |    |      XX    |            |            |            |
|    17.5 |    |      XX    | X  X       |            |        X   |
| P  17.0 |    |     XXX    | X  X X     |            |        XX  |
| E  16.5 |    |     XXX    | XX XXXX    |            |        XX  |
| R  16.0 |    |   X XXX    | XXXXXXXXX  |            |        XX  |
|    15.5 |  XX|XX X XXX    |XXXXXXXXXX  |  X         |        XX  |
| H  15.0 |  XX|XX X XXX    |XXXXXXXXXX  | XX    X    |     XXXXX  |
| O  14.5 | XXX|XX XXXXXX   |XXXXXXXXXX  | XX    X    |     XXXXX  |
| U  14.0 | XXX|XX XXXXXX   |XXXXXXXXXX  | XX    X    |    XXXXXX  |
| R  13.5 | XXX|XXXXXXXXX   |XXXXXXXXXX  |XXX  X X    |    XXXXXX  |
|   Year  |2007|   2008     |    2009    |   2010     |   2011     |   2012
|Yr. Ave. |15.5|   15.8     |    16.1    |   13.0     |    14.0    |    9.8

Yes, that is just disgusting! You can see that we've really taken a hit this
year in terms of player activity. Not surprisingly, the same has become true
for the wizard population as well. I spoke to Mercade about this the other
day, and his comment was that "Genesis has become pretty static" - an
assessment to which I could only add my agreement. 

In the wake of such data, I would like to take this opportunity to give you
my thoughts on what would be a good way forward from this point. To begin,
I believe an honest assessment of where things sit at this present time is
due. I'll then move into my reasons for not believing this should lead to
despair. And then I'll finish with actions that I intend to take, and
recommendations for the players.

My assessment will begin with my own personal testimony. Last October, being
a Keeper stopped being fun for me in a big way. I tried to convince myself
that I needed to take a break because of big things that were happening in
my RL, but this was a facade. In reality, I had bitten off more than I could
chew without choking, and for numerous reasons became completely overwhelmed,
crashlanding in a pile of smoking Genesis ruin. (dramatic, eh?) This, just
as we were peaking in our promotion efforts, and all sorts of things were in
motion - classic spectacular burnout. It sucks, but there it is. The resulting
effect on player activity can be seen if you look at the difference between
October 2011 and January 2012 in the graph above - a drop from 17 to 8.5
players per hour on average. The playerbase was litterally cut in half.

So, how did I follow this up? Foolishly.

Returning to the game without really giving myself a chance to recover or
find a new sense of energy, I tried to get back into business as usual,
writing my Yearly Address, recruiting a bunch of new wizards in an effort
to revitalize the development community, and (surprise surprise) setting
myself up in the position to do much of the work to mentor all the new
folks. So ... again, burnout and lots of failed new wizards due to no fault
of their own. I flirted with fun projects like the Necro guild and such to try
to get myself back in the spirit, but in the end I just took another break
and drown my sorrows in Diablo 3 (not very fun, by the way.)

So what is the point of telling you all this? Am I trying to depress you all
or earn some measly sympathy vote or fish for encouragement? No. Rather, I
am painting a picture of what happened to me, your Keeper, when I failed to
adjust my own behavior and expectations to the actual state of affairs. That
state of affairs, currently, looks something like this:

  - Genesis has a staff of Admin (Archwizards) who have time to:
      * Log in and be present on most days at least a little.
      * Check their mail.
      * Respond to critical bug or player issues.
      * Do almost nothing beyond this.
  - Genesis has no other non-retired wizards other than:
      * Two basically inactive Lieges (Ckrik [Earthsea] and Navarre [Krynn])
        who perform basic maintenance when it is needed.
      * Two or three miscellaneous wizards who are not known to be involved
        in any development at this time, yet do log in and seem slightly
      * Ten or so junior wizards who have not yet learned to function in
        the world of development and have not yet completed their training,
        most of whom should probably be deleted and considered a false-start.
  - Genesis, as a game, exhibits:
      * Numerous design issues that are difficult to address without a
        large staff of wizards to tackle the problem(s).
      * A core gameplay that becomes repetetive if grinding and gear are
        your only interests.
      * All the needed ingredients for rich roleplay and interplay between
        guilds with one glaring exception: the needed playerbase.
  - Genesis has a stable, modestly-numerous core of players who seem to:
      * Play pretty much no matter what happens.
      * Keep mostly to themselves, mainly grinding and collecting gear
        that helps them be more efficient.
      * Create new characters every so often to try something new out.
      * Switch guilds with semi-regularity.
      * Roleplay at a bare minimum, if at all.
      * Use a variety of scripts to accomplish their typical gameplay.
  - Genesis has a seemingly large cloud of non-players who:
      * Log in very occasionally but do not really engage in anything.
      * Seem to be waiting for something to happen that would make them
        want to play actively again.
      * Voice their opinions on the forum, often negatively.
  - Genesis has a small subset of players who:
      * Maintain a very high standard of roleplay.
      * Continue to believe in the value of guild identity.
      * Make me very happy whenever I see them doing the above things.

There are a few bullet points above that might verge on editorial in nature,
but most are mere fact. From this assessment, I'll build a list of what I feel
are important realities to face:

    1. Genesis does not have the staff right now to change much, if at
       all, from its current state. We do not have the ability to create
       new content, fix guilds that need updating, or change core gameplay
       in meaningful ways in the immediately forseeable future of 2012.

    2. Genesis does not have the staff right now to train new wizards who
       do not know how to code, and who are not remarkably good at figuring
       things out by themselves, being responsible for their own motivation,
       and engineering their own success despite numerous odds.

    3. Though Genesis boasts a lot of detailed content, most of it does not
       cater to myth-sized players who come to the game only to grind for
       higher stats and effective gear. Thus, such players find
       themselves competing for very limited resources in an ever dwindling
       downward spiral of diminishing returns.

    4. Genesis remains very playable, but much like a deck of cards, is
       fairly dull if your game is one of solitaire. Those who engage in
       roleplay and guild dynamics have the best chance of finding magic
       in these old halls. Like with most any game, it isn't so much about
       the board, or the pieces upon it, but the people sitting across the
       table that create the memories and the fun.

    5. A lot of people still care. I am one of them.

I'll talk about the implications of the above, moving progressively from
what seems bleak to what (to me) seems hopeful. Firstly, I've decided I must
be realistic about what is possible given the situation. I'm not going to
make promises about new features or fixes to the issues the game is facing.
On the contrary, it is going to be a good idea for us all to learn to love
the simple concept of stability. Improvements, redesign, new content and
features, these are wonderful but will have to be unexpected rather than
expected benefits for the rest of 2012. For now, lets just be glad that the
lights stay on and the lawnmower starts.

Likewise, I'm going to give up (for now) the idea of creating a bunch of
new wizards until such time as there is staff to support them. Should the
rare self-starter no-help-needed (Lavellan) type appear, I'll happily wiz
them, but we're just not able to train new wizards right now.

And, lastly of the downer points, people who have subscribed to the dubious
newspaper publication titled "Making a Mythbot and Feeling the Love" need
to realize that they've actually been reading the most disgusting rag of a
periodical ever written by an illiterate orc. Oh, and that illiterate orc
might just be named Gorboth, because I know I've fathered my share of policy
and design choices that have lead to it becoming such a popular read. In
other words: If botting and scripting yourself through the game has given
you a big character, and yet it all seems empty and mindlessly repetetive,
soulless, and without merit, that is because it probably is. I suggest
you try something else with your time. ;-)

Now, on to the good stuff. Games don't have to constantly change and throw
new content at you to remain fun. Genesis still IS the game you once loved
with the very important difference that few people remain in it and play it
in the way that used to make it fun. It can be argued that the design of the
game is the reason things have developed to the point they are at. Whether
some or even a lot of that is true does not change the fact that there still
remain those wonderful players and opportunities throughout the realm that
will always greet you with the ever-transcendent gaming experience called

And that final point is the crux. A lot of people really do care. Many people
want this game to thrive very badly, but feel that they don't really have
the power to do anything. Many of these people are the sorts that really do
enjoy roleplay, and despair that their game has been co-opted by the casual
style of play that leads to people running past one another only ever talking
to complain when their scripts clash with one another's activities. An
alarming number seem to have thrown in the towel for the time being and just
sought out different diversions. I speak from experience on this, having
sunk a great deal of the last 8 months into computer games of the graphical
variety myself. Like so many of you have said at various times, I always come
back to Genesis, knowing that it actually offers what I find the most fun.
We know that this game actually IS great, not merely that it might become
great again someday ... it IS a great game and it has a lot to offer us
right now, every day. We just have to decide to play it and fill it with our
own heart and energy.

So, to finish up, I'm going to give you some specific actions that I myself
plan to take and then offer you, the players, some specific recommendations.

I have a good year ahead of me. I've got a lot of time to spend on Genesis
if I do it correctly and don't overestimate my tolerances and build impossible
goals into my approach. My primary goal is, in fact, moderation. I plan to
work on things as I have time and energy, without making big promises that I
will not be able to keep. I'm not going to bring on a bunch of new wizards
that I cannot hope to mentor properly, but instead will do what I can to work
with the wizards we already have to re-energize them and see if we can get
a few (by my estimation) important projects back in development. If I have
time, I'll also continue with a number of my own pet projects that I would
love to see in the game. In short, I will again start playing the game by
being an active and visible Keeper who pours energy, goodwill, and roleplay
into Genesis.

For all the players, I remind you that YOU are our most valuable resource.
The time and energy you spend here builds everything that makes Genesis a
fun place to be, and so I will reitorate a post I made on the forum. A slight
alteration of a famous quote goes:

    "Showing up is half the battle."

With this in mind, I offer the following recipe for what you can do to make
Genesis come to life for the second half of 2012:

    * Choose Genesis as your game of choice.
    * Log in and spend time playing.
    * Turn off your scripts, and actually live your character.
    * When you see people, interact with them.
    * When opportunity strikes - Roleplay!
    * Share your Genesis interest with your RL friends.

And with that simple formula, I conclude this dangerously bloated and
meandering manifesto. I hope you are all having a wonderful Summer, and I
am looking forward to being with you for the next school year and beyond!

Yours truly,

Mmmmmm ... pie ...

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