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Pre-Promotion News 
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[NOTE: These were originally auto-generated in the Common Board section from having been posted in-game. I have merged them into this new thread for Keeper's Korner for sustained and consolidated discussion. - G.]

(Promotion Gear Up - Post 1 of 6)

Post Too Long! Executive Summary automatically invoked:
============================================================================
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: (by post number)
#1. Developments in the last decade to improve newbie friendliness.
#2. Things yet to do in-game prior to promotion.
#3. Things yet to do externally prior to promotion.
#4. Discussion of web artist and appeal for web-construction help.
#5. Discussion of custom Genesis client and promotional materials.
#6. Discussion of opportunities for players to contribute.
============================================================================

Genesis Community,

For quite a long time, work has been developing behind the scenes in the
way of preparing the game for promotion. Unfortunately, I have not found the
time to write a lot about the process on the Common Board or the Forums,
but have instead dedicated myself to just keeping my head down and trying
to get things done. While this has resulted in some very good progress, it
has also left people wondering why the wizard community isn't talking about
promoting the game. Understandable! Allow me to finally return to discussion
of this all-important topic. There is a lot to discuss, so I will be
splitting this up into six separate posts.

First off, I would like to put foward a brief history of the progress that
has been made toward making the game more friendly and appealing for new
players. These achievements have come from the hard work of many wizards,
and their importance cannot be overstated.

1997 - Creation of the Cadet's guild in Gelan
2004 - Redesign of character creation
2005 - Creation of the newbie pin and line.
2005 - Creation of Faerie near Sparkle
2005 - Creation of the Tutorial for new players
2008 - Redesign of ships for faster travel.
2008 - Routing all ships through Sparkle - Hub concept
2008 - Creation of the Genesis Library
2008 - Creation of Quest Orbs (listings only)
2008 - Creation of the Magic Map
2009 - Content update of Sparkle City
2009 - Implementation of orb quest hints for most domains
2009 - Opened free-to-join recode of the Mercenary Occ Guild.
2009 - Change of who list to display all names.
2010 - Creation of the Academics guild in Gelan
2010 - Creation of the Official Genesis Forum
2011 - Creation of the Newbie Dungeon and Imbuements
2011 - Creation of Sparkle Tours

This is what has been achieved thus far, and all of these things are
excellent and essential ingredients. So, why has promotion not yet taken
place? Quite simply, because there are still a few critical flaws in the
design that prevent Genesis from being a viable offering for new players.
Specifically, there remain a number of "choke point" issues that stand in
the way of allowing a many-players-created-all-at-once scenareo to succeed.

The next post will deal with these flaws, and our in-game preparation needs.
G.

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05 May 2011 22:00
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(Promotion Gear Up - Post 2 of 6)

We now discuss the issue of in-game preparation, and overcoming our "choke
point" issues.

In this, we must consider the effects of a successful full-scale promotion.
If such a promotion were even moderately productive, and were to be followed
by a situation in which even as many as 10 or so characters were created
simultaneously and all began trying to run the opening bits of the game
together at the same time, how would that work? Could the tutorial handle it?
No, not really. Could Sparkle handle it? Hopefully, but we need to find out.
Can the existing playerbase and the guilds handle it? We need to make sure
they are ready to! From these questions, we can develop the following short
list of things that must be implemented in-game prior to promotion.

I. IN-GAME PREPARATION:

A. Instancing for the Tutorial (in-process, nearly completed)
B. Robust set of newbie tours added to Sparkle (halfway completed)
C. Have all players ready to welcome new faces:
1. Friendly and helpful newbie line mentoring (yes - great job!)
2. All guilds that require council approval for new membership
staffed with active and responsible council members.
(not even close - a huge choke point)

A brief discussion of each ...

Instancing the tutorial is something Cotillion has developed code for and
Lavellan is currently testing. It is nearly complete and will make it
possible for many dozens of players to run through the tutorial all at
once without depleting the area of the needed npcs to complete the quests.

The Sparkle Tours I have been working on for the past few weeks. I do not
think it will take too much longer to have all of the things a new player
needs to know represented by these small quests.

Guilds councils represent a dilemma, as this is a concept that is inherently
broken due to the fact that most guilds were created at a time when it was
taken for granted that there would be enough players to staff guild
councils. With our current playerbase, the system breaks badly and we see
interested players locked out of guilds due to inactive councils, or guilds
that essentially are comprised of nothing BUT their councils, making the
councils themselves a rather meaningless concept.

The answer to the guild question is not an easy one to face. To delay
promotion until each guild's council code could be revised is not a pleasant
option, because it would almost certainly mean at LEAST another year of work.
My April Fool's notion was an extreme version of what might, indeed, be a
necessary short-term solution. That being, we simply close down certain guilds
that cannot be adequately staffed by their players and whose code locks the
situation down. This is a very painful option, and one that would cause
a great deal of hardship. It also is a concept that we need to put out
there for the community to digest so that they can, themselves, begin to
make some changes based on this potential. If certain councils can hear this
as a call to action, and resurface to once again make their guild a viable
option, that would obviously make the difference. What I am unwilling to
perpetuate, however, is any guild that is held hostage by a council that
does nothing but exist to hold their own positions. Such a guild *should*
close until we have enough players to make it come to life again. And to
close down such guilds will lessen frustration and allow players caught in
the swamp of that guild's problems to re-assess and relocate to a more
functional situation. The idea, here, would be that when the playerbase does
rise, any guild closed in this way could be re-activated on a case-by-case
basis.

So we can see that in terms of wizard work the in-game needs prior to
promotion are nearly complete. This is GREAT news! The above guild issues,
while requiring discussion and some soul-searching, do not constitute a
major hold-up either, should we elect to deal with the problem decisively.

We turn, then, in our next post, to those things which are external to
the game which must be accomplished prior to promotion.

G.

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05 May 2011 22:00
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(Promotion Gear Up - Post 3 of 6)

We have another very important facet of pre-promotion that must be in
place for prospective players. They must be able to locate us and actually
log in! How will they find us? Will our website hold their attention
for more than a few seconds? If they decide to give it a try, how do
they log in, and with what client? Is the client so clunky they immediately
are turned off and think the game seems terrible? Perhaps most importantly,
what will even help them locate us? Where will they hear/read/learn about
Genesis to begin with? Thus, we are left with yet another list:

II. EXTERNAL PREPARATION:

A. Refurbished and attractive Genesis website complete and ready for
use (in process, but further development needed)
B. Custom-built, pre-configured Genesis Client downloadable from
website (in process, but further deveopment needed)
C. Creation of promotional materials (funding required)

These categories are where very little has been shared outside of the Admin
thus far. These matters are the most difficult to tackle, because they do
not occur within the game environment, and cannot be accomplished
by anything related to the way players play or the way wizards code. What
they require, typically, are time, talent and (often enough) money in the
real world.

The next post will deal with the development of the website itself, a
lengthy topic in its own right.

G.

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05 May 2011 22:01
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(Promotion Gear Up - Post 4 of 6)

Now, to discuss the website. Tapakah has been our pioneer for the
modern web needs, having taken on the task and doing a great job setting up
the structure of the current site and implementing clever things like the
rankings for mortals. However, the web is a fickle place, and what passed for
a nice design 7 or 8 years ago simply cannot be expected to hold up under
modern scrutiny. Tapakah himself recognized this and began collaborating
with me to find the talent needed to make a redesign possible.

For this, I felt strongly that we needed to find a way to distinguish
ourselves from the (literally) thousands of other free-to-play RPG games
that the internet offers, many of which use the same fantasy-stock visual
branding for their websites. I knew that a unique and distinct "first
glance" appeal was critical to making our website something people would
be drawn to for more than a quick no-thank-you peek. I wanted our
"visual branding" to steer clear of the cliche "me-too" artistic tactics
that so many of the other games use: anime, 3-D artwork, Frazetta or
Boris look-alikes, cartoony World of Warcraftesque figures, etc. I wanted
to find something that represented who we are, what we are, and what
we want to be. I believe we are:

- Decidedly old school (words only, man!)
- Inspired by classic D&D, stats, dice-rolls, maps, etc.
- From a different era, but timelessly cool
- A true hardcore roleplaying opportunity
- Huge, established, and content-rich

Thus, I wanted to have us represented by the sort of artwork I myself fell
in love with early on - stuff from the old Dungeons and Dragons manuals. For
this, I turned to an artist who was reknown in the field of manual
illustration, and has a legendary pedigree among computer game developers
from the Golden Era - someone who I, as a kid 20 years ago, had actually
written letters to as a fan, and received friendly responses. I turned to
Denis Loubet. I called him, and I hired him. Here is a brief description of
his credentials.

Denis Loubet is one of the most talented illustrators ever to work in the
computer gaming field. He got his first big break in the early 1980's when
Richard Garriot (a.k.a. Lord British) hired him to provide cover art for
his first published game, Akalabeth. Loubet went on to be the lead artist
and illustrator for nearly all of the games in the Ultima series, providing
black and white manual illustrations as well as the box cover-art for these
games. A fairly complete list of games which feature his art can be viewed
at:

http://www.giantbomb.com/denis-r-loubet/72-2967/games/

For the Genesis website, specifically, I asked him to create for us a design
and visual branding that harkened back to that old-school fine-line black-
and-white manual art that so many of us grew up obsessing over in our
D&D and Computer RPG manuals. The beautiful irony, of course, being that
my requests for the "look" was based on the sorts of images that he himself
helped make famous back in the day.

And so, after a year of development and back-and-forth between Tapakah,
myself, and Denis Loubet, we finally have a finished set of illustrations
and set-pieces with which to construct our website's main environment.

That is the good (no, GREAT) news.

The bad news is that we have been very unlucky in finding someone who is
able to dedicate the time who and has the html skill to put this page
together for us. Denis Loubet was very reasonable in his pricing with us,
and I believe that paying him has been money very well spent. However, to
hire a web-designer gets very expensive very quickly, and so we have continued
to search for someone who can do this for us in-house at no cost - someone
from our own community who has html skills and who has the time and
passion to make this a reality as a donation to the future of Genesis.

I believe the time has finally come for me to extend an invitation to anyone
who is reading this, and who believes that they have this skill, but more
importantly who has the time and drive to put serious work into it so that
we can turn it around into a functional website in fairly short order.

We have the artwork and the design in place - we just need someone who can
put it all together and get it working for us. Please mail me or PM me on
the forum if you think you might be able to help!

The next post will deal with the other external needs.
G.

_________________
Mmmmmm ... pie ...


05 May 2011 22:01
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Joined: 03 Mar 2010 20:51
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Location: Some old coffin
(Promotion Gear Up - Post 5 of 6)

To continue the discussion of our out-of-game needs prior to promotion, the
most obvious one is the way in which a new user will play the game for the
first time. Without this, we really have nothing to offer.

Our existing "PLAY NOW" client is functional. It, however, is very unlovely
and does not say "this is cool" in any way shape or form. The default text
size is too large for the small screen, and (for example) most of the magic
map images are large enough to scroll halfway beyond the screen size when
you call up your first map image in the tutorial. The client itself does
very little to help people understand how to play the game or what they
are looking at on screen.

A very exciting development came along in the person of the wizard
Sandalphon, who is an expert back-end programmer for just these sorts of
applications in RL, and who has agreed to tinker with a proprietary client
for Genesis that new users can download before playing our game for the
first time. The initial steps into this setup have shown me that Sandalphon
is indeed very talented and can hopefully make this a reality. It remains
a big project that is not very far along, however. I am excited by what
he will be able to accomplish, but this, perhaps more than any other thing,
remains a far sight off from completion.

Again, if any of you are talented with this sort of thing, we would love
to know about it. It has come time to ask for help, and gratefully accept
it from those of you who have time and talents to share.

The last thing on the external list of things needed for preparation is
the category of "promotional materials."

Here, again, my plan is to call upon Denis Loubet. I would like to pay him
to provide us with a splendid promotional poster that features excellent and
compelling fantasy artwork similar to what he has provided for the website.
The poster is something that could be mass-produced and used in our initial
grass-roots promotional efforts in our own RL locales. The distribution
itself, along with other promotional efforts will be discussed in detail
down the road as the time for promotion draws nigh. At that time, it will
be appropriate for all of you who would come to the cause of your favorite
game to step forward and volunteer your own time to do what you can in
RL to make promotion work. Start thinking about that - I'll be calling
on you down the road! (not too far off, we hope!)

In addition, Mr. Loubet could be paid to create promotional web banners and
the like that we could use to canvas the internet in our own individual ways
as we find the opportunity when it comes to the big push.

This brings me to the final post, which will discuss the bottom line, and
what you can do about it.

G.

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05 May 2011 22:01
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Joined: 03 Mar 2010 20:51
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Location: Some old coffin
(Promotion Gear Up - Post 6 of 6)

As you may have guessed if you have read all of the above notes, (you get
a sticker, if so!) is that there *is* in fact something you can do to help
even if it cannot involve time and talent. Yes, we have spent real money to
pay for our promotional development. The wizard community has already funded
$500.00 of this development, with another $300.00 - $400.00 having been
pledged by wizards for future needs. (we are hoping to lead by example, after
all!)

But to do what we need to do, especially if it will eventually require the
hiring of external professional talent to do things like build website
content or web advertisements, is going to be a matter of money.

Some of you may be tightening your facial muscles as you read this,
dreading the idea that Genesis is somehow walking down the odious path of
pay-to-play in any way shape or form. Allow me to vehemently state, right
off the bat:

FEAR NOT. NEVER, EVER, WILL THIS HAPPEN.

What is, instead, happening is that you are going to be given the
opportunity to contribute, as you see fit, if you are able. This appeal
is, in fact, in direct response to numerous recent messages I have been
given by players saying, essentially, "How can I help? Is there a way I
could donate money to speed things up?" The idea that the community wishes
to play a role in this process is a welcome, healthy, and very very good
thing. Yes, this will indeed be possible.

A bank account has been created, along with a PayPal link to the
email address:

donations.genesis@gmail.com

If you wish to contribute funds to directly support the promotion of
Genesis, and help expedite the process of getting us to that wonderful
day when we can fling wide our doors and do what we have been working
toward for nearly a decade ... here is what to do:

1. Set up a Paypal account
2. Mail me in-game to let me know the amount you are sending. (optional)
3. Use your PayPal account to send that amount to the address above.

We will be keeping records of all donations made, and by whom. Unlike
donation campaigns in the past, this will not be anything supported by
any in-game code or content. Those who contribute will not get perks or
play advantages different from anyone who plays the game and is not able
to contribute. Naturally, when all is said and done, we will publish a list
of names of those who have contributed and do not wish to remain anonymous.

Though our on-line who-lists don't show it, Genesis has well over 100
active users. If each gave only $10.00, we would very quickly be at the
one thousand dollar level. I know for a fact, though, that there are a
number of you who yourselves would want to give quite a bit more than
ten dollars, which makes the possibilities that much more exciting. Certain
individual donors are already talking about hundreds of dollars they wish
to give.

Some of the sorts of things such monies will help to fund:

- More Denis Loubet artwork for:
- An illustrated character creation process on-line
- Small image portraits to represent all guilds in the game that
can accompany their descriptions (think game-manual style)
- Web-based banners and other advertisement material.
- A promotional poster to use in the full-scale promotion.
- Professional web-design (as needed)
- web-hosting (as needed)
- Hosting for the gizmo - the genesis machine - itself (as needed)

So, there it is. A fundraiser plainly set forth which allows you to do
something about promotion for Genesis. Those of you who have been waiting
for this opportunity - here it is! Those of you who think this sort of
thing is wrong-headed, well, you get to play for free just like always! :-)

My thanks to all who continue to enjoy this game. I am so happy to be
moving closer and closer to the day we have been working toward and waiting
for.

Yours,
G.

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05 May 2011 22:02
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Wanderer
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Joined: 12 Jun 2010 21:56
Posts: 72
Thank you for setting this all up, Gorby. Let's see what we can do!

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Manglor, Zauhak, Padraig


05 May 2011 23:47
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And how does this instancing of the tutorial work, then?

Will each instance allow 1 player, so you always run around alone?
Or does it allow up to maximum X players, and when that number is reached, open up a new instance the next people then enter, if more are waking up in there?


05 May 2011 23:51
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Joined: 04 Mar 2010 17:54
Posts: 748
I suggest you kill or dampen the grinding component of the tutorial (if it's not already done). If you need to grind for an _extended_ period of time in a streamlined tutorial, I fear you risk loosing some of the potential new players that "just try the game".

Boring and tedious aspects of the game are something you push onto the already _addicted/continuing_ players, not the newbies.

_________________
Might and Glory flaming for changing dawn, ancient power revealed of an iron crown, clear and cold and shining so far and bright, crush the world in one clash of your binding light.

Gû kîbum kelkum-ishi, burzum-ishi. Akha - gûm-ishi ashi gurum!


06 May 2011 00:17
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Wanderer
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Joined: 12 Jun 2010 21:56
Posts: 72
Kas wrote:
I suggest you kill or dampen the grinding component of the tutorial (if it's not already done). If you need to grind for an _extended_ period of time in a streamlined tutorial, I fear you risk loosing some of the potential new players that "just try the game".

Boring and tedious aspects of the game are something you push onto the already _addicted/continuing_ players, not the newbies.


Don't neglect this comment. I created a newbie just to see what it was like to start fresh. I understand it's meant to be a "true example" of what it's like, but I really think that it should be made a bit faster to get to the "end." The number of rabbits, wolves, lions that need to be killed pales in comparison to what us grizzled veterans are used to doing, but for someone who's never mudded before it may be a turnoff.

Constantly having to kill, loot, improve is a very real aspect of the game, but it might be too much too soon? I don't know.

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06 May 2011 00:40
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