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Progress in the last 3 years 
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Joined: 03 Mar 2010 20:51
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Esteemed colleagues,

When I first came on as Keeper, there were a number of things I wanted to do right away. These included:

  • Creating a census to track the playerbase
  • Asking for input from all players as to what was needed from the game
  • Sifting this feedback and determining a list of next actions

This was three years ago. I want to share with you, for those of you who may not remember the specifics of that period of time, the list that was generated. What has become all too clear to me is that not enough information has been shared since this time of collaboration. We wizards have been hard at work on the list, but we (read, I) have done a poor job of late of sharing with you the process.

So, here is the list, printed in it's entirety, from 2007 with the following colour coating:

Completed changes appear in BLUE text.
Changes that are in process appear in RED text.
Changes that have not been undertaken appear in normal text.

The goal here is to consider the progress that has been made. And so ... here is the list!

II. Game Design Renovation.
    A. Make the game more newbie-friendly.
      1. Newbie-helper wizards.
      2. Link to Forum on login screen.
      3. Preconfigured client.
      4. Newbie area created on Forum.
      5. Allow players to login as guests to:
        a. Skip the login process.
        b. Get right to some sort of action.
        c. Use a newbie chatline
      6. Give players the option for a randomly-generated name
      based on race and gender.
      7. Make Sparkle a natural "first step" into the real game for
      newbies.
      (see item C2).
      8. Give newbies a book with:
        a. Suggestions on what to do next.
        b. A list of guilds, their themes and their locations.
        c. Suggestions on how to make money.
        d. Locations for good newbie questmasters.
        e. Common player hangouts.
        f. A list of names of people they can mail for personalized
        help and advice.
      9. Automatically send an email to the registered email account of
      each newly created player:
        a. Welcoming them
        b. Giving them information/access to pre-defined clients with
        useful scripts/maps/etcetera for the game.
        c. Giving them useful advice on how to get started.
      10. Increase the stat-ave size of newbies.
      11. Give maps to newbies.
      12. Provide newbies with some sort of gamecontent "hook" that
      grabs them immediately in the first minutes of gameplay.
      13. Poll players on the following:
        a. What made them stay and play the game?
        b. What were their first thoughts on the game when they
        created their characters?
        c. What did they find appealing?
        d. What was the cause of reaction and emotion?
    B. Improve PVP combat.
      1. Level the playing field between guilds.
      2. Implement global versions of stun, block, and poisons.
      3. Increase player death.
        a. Make combat more dangerous.
        b. Make it easier to trap a player.
      4. Implement entire areas (domains?) where PVP is not allowed,
      thus giving certain players the option to enjoy the game in
      peace.
    C. Make Sparkle the Hub for player activity:
      1. Restructure shipping lanes to route through Sparkle.
        a. Have all domains connect via shipline to Sparkle.
        b. Remove all shiplines between domains. An alternative would
        be to have inter-domain travel not through Sparkle require
        far more money in price and take far longer in terms of
        the duration of the boatride.
        c. Domains can still have shiplines to other areas within the
        same domain. (e.g. Grey Havens to Pelargir)
        d. Reduce the time that boatrides require. Travel is not
        fun or even interesting.
      2. Excellent newbie content in Sparkle:
        a. Quest master to educate on quest solutions.
        b. Killing grounds with neutral aligned stuff to kill.

        c. Npc to follow player around, offering help.
      3. Make Sparkle a true destination for all players besides just
      because of the shipping lanes:
        a. Interesting surrounding content for players of all sizes.
        b. Move unique content from other cities and have it be
        only offered in Sparkle:
          1) Weddings
          2) Tattoos
          3) Parties, etcetera
        c. Put an extremely desirable and popular grinding dungeon or
        somesuch (see point J) under or near to Sparkle.
      4. Make Sparkle a special place with excellent descriptions, design,
      and content that represent the finest the game has to offer.
    D. Centralize quest code into a master object.
      1. Allow players to view which quests they have solved in a given
      domain.

      2. Recode all quests to have the master object deal with bits,
      rewards, etcetera.

      3. Allow quest hints for those who want to use them.
    E. Implement and Improve factionalized war systems.
      1. Add a central faction controller that Lieges can incorporate
      their npcs and factions into.
      2. Slowly phase out the good/evil alignment system.
    F. Reduce the size difference between small and big players. Various
    solutions:
      1. Cap stats
        a. Perhaps around IMM stats
        b. Make sure that benefits continue for grinders so there is
        still something to work for for hardcore players.
          1) Increased skills
          2) Increased titles
          3) Elite area only for those players
      2. Rework the formula for the soft cap.
    G. Stop adding new area content.
      1. Only do so again when playerbase warrants it.
      2. Instead, rework and improve existing areas.
    H. Stop adding new guilds, possibly close some existing guilds.
      1. Forces players into more populated communities.
      2. Increases conflict between certain themes.
    I. Introduce land/housing ownership into the game:
      1. Fantastic money-sink for seemingly useless coins.
      2. Gives players something other than grinding to focus on.
    J. Implement randomly generated dungeons in the Roguelike or Diablo II
    model:
      1. Random layout, changing after each reboot.
      2. Monsters drop nifty equipment and treasure randomly based on
      droptables that scale with monster level.
      3. Progressive-combination model:
        1) Different levels for different player-sizes.
        2) Small localized goals accomplished through grinding.
        3) Alignment neutral npcs
    K. Renovate combat:
      1. Make NPCS smarter at fighting players, adapting to their
      abilities.
      2. Change the way stats are used to calculate combat damage.
        a) Take strength into account for damage.
        b) Dex is no longer king.

      3. Update the combat system to be more straightforward.
      4. Normalize the difference between normal attacks and special
      attacks in terms of damage potential.
      5. Add more randomness to combat so that victory is not pre-
      determined by stat size.
      6. Rework the death penalty either by:
        a) Reducing the amount of exp loss
        b) Having consequences be something other than exp loss
        c) Creating a resurrection quest whereby players can very
        soon be back to where they were. (death recovery)
      7. Reduce the massive effect of stackable armour class on
      normal combat damage.
      8. Improve the benefits of a two-handed weapon. Currently,
      no one uses them because they are a horrible tradeoff vs.
      a one-hander and shield.
    L. Fix the meaningless economy of coins.
      1. Give players more things to spend money on.
      2. Possibly include an expanded system of banking via player-
      to-player loans, etc.
    M. Rethink guilds (two potential models here):
      1. To promote true roleplay:
        a) All attacks/spells/specials moved away from guilds to a
        centralized location where players can define their own
        abilities to define their character.
        b) Implement a "point-based" system by which players can buy
        the abilities they want.
        c) Joining a guild no longer a requirement for successful
        competetive play. Rather, it is now an optional feature
        intended to promote roleplay of a specific background.
        d) Guilds can still offer unique abilities, but these are not
        more powerful (i.e. required for competetive play) than
        those offered by the centralized system. The same "point
        system" is used to buy guild-based abilities.
      2. Move from individual viewpoint to global viewpoint.
        a) Establish the existing array of unique guild abilities.
        b) Remove redundancy among guilds so that each guild is in
        some way uniquely valuable to the game.
        c) Establish which guilds should have each unique ability
        (i.e. block, stun, disarm, poison, cleanse, move-behind,
        rescue, etc) and make sure that only one guild from each
        alignment faction offers it.
        d) Close certain guilds:
          1.) Consolidates the diminished playerbase into larger
          communities.
          2.) Increases player interaction.
          3.) Removes redundancy of guild themes.
          4.) We can always increase the number of guilds once the
          playerbase grows
    N. Update the Spell System.
    O. Relocate all magical item files to a centralized location for
    update and maintenance.

    P. Change Darkness to 3 levels: twilight, darkness, magical darkness
    Q. Allow items to be saved on players until they break.
    R. Remove the difference between quest and normal experience points,
    and do away with brutality as a concept.
    S. Implement protocolization:
      1. In the options menu, players can select whether or not they
      want protocolization turned on. It is off by default.
      2. Protocolization sends messages to a pre-programmed client
      that can then present the game in a more up-to-date fashion
      that might cater to today's young playerbase in a more
      immediately friendly and familiar fashion.
      3. This can include both graphics and sound.
      4. This will require very little actual change of code, for the
      main changes would be very deep in the base routines.

    T. Occasionally, have wizards control npcs to interact with mortals
    for the purposes of story/roleplay promotion.

    U. Find a way to deal with guilds with inactive councils which bar
    new and eager players from joining.

    V. Find ways to make the game cater to casual players.
    W. Standardize dps (penetration) calculations for weapons.
    X. Implement a system of diety worship and divine rewards.
      1. Potential money sink.
      2. Combat implications if a god intervenes in time of need.
    Y. Implement quests unique to each reboot:
      1. Questmaster in Sparkle with randomized quest: (Market Quest)
      2. e.g. Bring me 30 Ogre teeth, 12 buffalo hides, and
      40 gnome purses!
      3. Random cash, exp, and unique item rewards.

III. Promotion.
      A. Update the homepage.
      1. Give it a more professional look.
        a. Better graphics
        b. Better content
    B. Draw up a profile for Genesis.
      1. Determine what type of players we want to target/cater to.
      2. Determine our selling point.
      a. What can we offer that MMORPGS can't?
        1) Earnest roleplay
        2) Combination of popular fantasy settings (Krynn vs. ME)
        3) Nominal system requirements
    C. Create a campaign for advertising.
      1. Graphical banners.
        a. Allow players to register their URLS where banners are placed.
        b. Track the hits from each URL.
        c. Calculate monthly winners, and give them some in-game
        reward.
      2. Text banners.
      3. Trailer for YouTube.
      4. Create a name for the campaign to increase excitement, interest.
      5. Utilize facebook.com
      6. Build a connection through Second Life.
    D. Improve relations within the Genesis community.
      1. Wizards and players treat one another with the mutual respect
      both populations deserve. Neither could exist without the
      support and enthusiasm of the other.
      2. Keep lines of communication open and friendly.
      3. Favoritism must be eliminated in terms of:
        a. Alignment
        b. Playstyle
        c. Roleplay ability


Help!! Information Overload! :shock:

Quite so! Aren't design choices crazy? So, the purpose of this monstrous list is to review what we came to 3 years ago, and to see where we've come. Remember, the BLUE text shows us things that didn't used to exist, but now do thanks to lots of hard work. The RED things show us things that are in process and may be quite far along, but might be still quite a long way from completion.

Quite a few things that have happened are not in this list at all, but were things we found needed doing, and they got done. One specific area that appears only in a few lines in the list, but that has taken a bulk of wizard development effort has been the balance recode of all guilds - a massive undertaking, and over half complete!

I do feel we have a lot to be grateful for. A huge amount of progress has been made, and I am so appreciative of the many hands that have been involved. A big thank you, also to the players who have stuck with us through this process.

Many things remain to be done (and some of the ideas on the above list just don't make the cut - and in hindsight probably aren't worth doing at all) but I feel energized by how much has been accomplished.

I will be following up soon with more posts and threads in this section to detail the future of the game as we are envisioning it.

Onward, upward, and to a greater game!
G.

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19 Oct 2010 11:54
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I'll be the first one to bite the bullet and comment.

I noticed in there that the idea for the stat cap is on the queue? Or is it just a possibility. If its a possibility or on the queue I'd love a little more information on that.

I also wanted to bring up the shiplines. In your note it is highlighted in Blue. I am fine with the current amount of ships in Sparkle, and we dn't need more, but most of the inter-domain ships in krynn and Middle-earth were never updated to be on the new timetables.


19 Oct 2010 17:08
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Joined: 03 Mar 2010 20:51
Posts: 2148
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Nice bullet-biting, Ilrahil! Thanks for taking the plunge along with me. :-)

Let me clarify what this list represents. When I became Keeper, I asked everyone to mail me their ideas for what the top priorities for game development would be. Here is the quote from way back then that details what this list was and how it came to be:

Code:
The amount of feedback I have received has been voluminous to say the
least! People have provided feedback through various means:

    - My mailbox in Genesis
    - My message box on Eden
    - Posts on the 'Discuss' board
    - Posts on the 'Msugg' board
    - Conversations

I've condensed everything I've read or been told into one very large
pile of brainstorm information. My goals with this are to:

    1. Present the ideas to everyone.
    2. Ask that everyone prioritize from this list.
    3. Get feedback on what our highest priorities should be as
       we move toward a plan of action.

The list is not perfect in its organization - AT ALL! Rather, I have
tried to group things by like-category, and keep things concise. The
three main categories are:

    I.   Workforce Renovation - ways in which we might restructure
           management and empowerment of the volunteers who want
           to help build the game. Essentially, procedural and
           structural realities we might put in place for wizards.

    II.  Game Design Renovation - ways in which we might improve the
           layout of the game content and game play to meet our
           goals and the goals of the players.

    III. Promotion - ways of bringing new players into our
           community and making them want to stay.

Please note. These are the ideas I have received presented without
editorial comment or any type of ranking according to my own
priorities. These are simply the results of the global brainstorming
we have received. In many cases, the ideas contradict or work at
cross-purposes with one another.

Again, these do not reflect my own feelings for the game. The purpose
is to see what people have said, and form your own impressions of how
we should best move forward.


Thus, not all of these ideas are things that actually merited action. Rather, this was simply the list of things that players and wizards who gave me feedback listed as important to them. From this point, I asked every player to rank the ideas most important to them, and send me detailed feedback on what was the *most* important. This was the result:

Code:
Donut Dwellers!

A week has come and gone since I posted the brainstorming results, and asked
for feedback on your top ten picks. Thank you so much for the voluminous
amounts of feedback that so many of you have produced! I've carefully read
through every mail twice. The first time just to take it in and respond to
the person who sent it. The second time, to tally the results into a list
that will be essential in helping us make informed policy decisions.

So ... on to the results!

A total of 18 people sent me feedback. This is roughly our average hourly
number of active players, so I feel it represents a useful percentage of
our total playerbase. Of the respondants, 14 were players, and 4 were
wizards. I have tallied how many votes were given to each major category,
as displayed below.

Votes | Description
------+-------------------------------------------------------------------
   11 | Make the game more newbie-friendly.
   11 | Renovate combat.
    8 | Improve PVP Combat.
    8 | Make Sparkle the Hub for player activity.
    7 | Centralize quest code into a master object.
    6 | Rethink guilds.
    6 | Remove the difference between quest and normal experience.
    4 | Implement and Improve factionalized war systems.
    4 | Implement Protocolization.
    4 | Occasionally, have wizards control npcs to interact with mortals
      |   for the purposes of story/roleplay promotion.
    4 | Find a way to deal with guilds with inactive councils which bar
      |   new and eager players from joining.
    3 | Stop adding new guilds, possibly close some existing guilds.
    3 | Reduce the size difference between small and big players.
    2 | Implement randomly generated dungeons.
    2 | Fix the meaningless economy of coins.
    2 | Allow items to be saved on players until they break.
    2 | Find ways to make the came cater to casual players.
    2 | Implement a system of diety worship and divine rewards.
    2 | Implement quests unique to each reboot.
    1 | Stop adding new area content.
    1 | Introduce land/housing ownership into the game.
    1 | Update the Spell System.
    1 | Relocate all magical item files to a centralized location for
      |   update and maintenance.
    0 | Change Darkness to 3 levels: twilight, darkness, magical darkness
    0 | Standardize dps (penetration) calculation for weapons.

Analysis: I feel very good about these results. The general trend seems
to be that core issues have floated to the top of the list. Effectively,
we have the following top ten priorities in the minds of players:

  1.  Attracting and retaining new players
  2.  Combat mechanics
  3.  Pvp issues
  4.  Centralized player interaction
  5.  Updating the role and design of quests.
  6.  Guild implementation
  7.  The effect of different experience types and growth.
  8.  Implementation of War/Faction systems.
  9.  Improving the interface for future generations.
  10. Promotion of roleplay through direct wizard influence.

The ranking is not appropriate, in that these 10 items only represent
5 different tiers of voting (11, 8, 7, 6, and 4 votes each). Nonetheless,
they all represent a significant part of respondant interest.
o
So, what is next?

My next move will be to, with the help of my fellow wizards, analyze the
list from the wizard point of view (the people who would be responsible for
making such changes a reality.) I will need to consider numerous factors
including, but not limited to impact on the playerbase, feasibility,
cost in terms of workforce, impact on the core design of the game,
palpability, etc.

Once I've been able to successfully float a design plan to our esteemed
team of wizards, I'll publish it for all to read, so that we all can
understand the approach we'll try.

Thank you all very much! And, if you still have input, do mail me.

Onward and upward!
G.


So if we go with the same color codes (BLUE = done, RED = in process, BLACK = no developments), we can analyze the priorities that were landed upon:

    1. Attracting and retaining new players
      Massive work on new website.
      Ongoing development of "PLAY NOW" web-client
      Development of the Magic Map to assist new players
      Development of Newbie Grinder Dungeon Near Sparkle (in process)
    2. Combat mechanics
      2-handed weapons now do more damage in combat.
      Strength taken into account for melee damage, rather than dex alone.
    3. Pvp issues
      Implementation of global block
      Standardization of stun effects
      Standardization of scry effects
    4. Centralized player interaction
      Ongoing development and establishment of Sparkle as Hub.
    5. Updating the role and design of quests.
      Quest Orbs created to display all quests in all domains
      Quest hints implemented for quest in all domains.
    6. Guild implementation
      Recodes complete for:
        Occupational:
          Army of Angmar
          Army of Darkness (Ogres)
          Calian Warriors
          Clan of Niedar Warriors
          Dragonarmies
          Gladiators
          Kender (Secret Society)
          Knights of Solamnia
          Mages of Morgul
          Mercenaries
          Monks (Dragon Order)
          Priests of Takhisis
          Rangers
          Spirit Circle (Scop)
          Union of Shadow
        Layman:
          Academics (new guild!)
          Army of Angmar
          Blademasters of Khalakhor
          Heralds of the Valar
          Mariners
          Militia of Thornlin
          Minotaurs
          Minstrels
          Monks (Dragon Order)
          Necromancers
          Pirates of the Bloodsea
          Shield Bearers
          Templar Knights
          Thief Cabal
          Tricksters
          Worshippers (Elemental)
    7. The effect of different experience types and growth.
      Discussions about ways to renovate brutality - uncertain what will be decided
    8. Implementation of War/Faction systems.
      (the one area in which there has been no development)
    9. Improving the interface for future generations.
      Protocolization has been experimented with by two different wizards to see if it will be feasible to produce a web-based client that displays graphical readout of various statistics, locations, etc.
    10. Promotion of roleplay through direct wizard influence.
      Two different wizard-guided attacks by npcs have been launched against Sparkle.
      Numerous guild openings or major redisigns have been launched with event-like npc encounters, or thematic scenarios.

I hope reading this list gets you feeling what I am feeling - that despite the fact that energy seems low at times, a TON of progress has been made. The progress has been systematic, ongoing, and fairly steady. As with any volunteer workforce, we wizards are beset with RL interference that at times must take precedence over the efforts we put forth in Genesis. But! I am quite happy to announce that I myself am finally feeling some of these shackles fall away after many months of hampered efforts!

If you have read every word I have typed, you get a sticker. :mrgreen:

Much more to come!
G.

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19 Oct 2010 19:08
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Gizmo Watcher
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Joined: 03 Mar 2010 08:50
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Re: Ships

AFAIK all Middle Earth ships except the Anduin-crossing boat now appear on timetables.

As of Krynn, yes, we've been delayed there. There's at least one ship that would require a massive recoding, and I've been procrastinating all the rest, for what I beg pardon.
One ship (Sparkle berth 4) is ported though.

T.

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19 Oct 2010 21:56
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Joined: 04 Mar 2010 03:48
Posts: 493
Location: Departed from here. Meet at Genesis!
I may reply to the original post later, but I am curious about Tapakah's riddle. Would that be the thief's ship?


20 Oct 2010 07:27
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It isn't a riddle.
It is the Flotsam-Sparkle route - the ship has a lot of rooms.

T.

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20 Oct 2010 10:04
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Titan

Joined: 04 Mar 2010 03:48
Posts: 493
Location: Departed from here. Meet at Genesis!
Knew it wasn't a riddle, but since you didn't mention it, it became one per se. Didn't think it would be that hard to code just because of the amount of rooms. I thought it was the thief's one because it sails to every domain...


20 Oct 2010 20:08
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no, not hard. Time consuming.

As for the thief ship we may leave it unchanged, like the boat in Avenir and the boat across Anduin.

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20 Oct 2010 20:49
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Can we get an update here?

Its been 6 months since the Keeper last visited his Korner...


21 Apr 2011 21:02
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Joined: 04 Mar 2010 04:46
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Location: United Kingdom
Since Cherek linked to this post .. maybe we could get an update here?

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03 Jul 2016 03:14
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