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Echoes from an earlier period

Posted: 29 Jun 2017 05:09
by gorboth
It can be fun to see context for how things are playing out in the current era when held up in contrast with how things were years ago.

Here is a post I made on the Common Board in 2009, before I began my State of the Donut tradition, but with similar interests. What I like about this post, viewed with the advantage of hindsight, is how many of the things that were hinted at (and clearly only partially conceived) did indeed come to pass. It is also interesting to assess the tone of the note, which came at a very troubled time in the community, following numerous difficult personnel issues both of players and wizards - and a still very green Keeper.

Code: Select all

WARNING!! This post is long - but perhaps worth your time even so.
          If you don't feel like reading it, no one will blame you,
          but it might answer a lot of your questions or address your
          many frustrations by the end. (here's hoping!)

Genessissians ...

I've heard a lot from people lately how the communication lines seem
to be down between the admin and the players. I think this is probably
true, and has lead to some not-so-fun results. Nature, hating a vacuum
as it does, has turned many of you to outlets such as the rumor mill,
the Eden Forum, and your own speculation as to what the winds of change
are blowing in, and what interests are driving the changes.

Well ... my bad. I've not been my old self in terms of putting up my
semi-regular posts on progress, philosphy, energy, etc. The specific
reasons for my lack of proactive posting are numerous, but all
essentially boil down to me running into a few walls with my own
human limits. Fortunately, Armaggeddon caught me drunk and weeping
in the Wizard Lounge and hustled me into a recovery program ... I'm
feeling MUCH better now.

But seriously ...

I think a bit of frank big-picture talk is called for. So many of you
have been discouraged, unhappy, and downright outraged at the state
of affairs with regard to the Balance work that has been ongoing now
for the last year or so. Things I often hear:

    - Guild X is crazy powerful! Are you nuts? You call this Balance?

    - Why don't you stop focusing on MY guild and start working on
      keeping all your promises to the game?

    - How can you expect me to want to keep playing when all you
      and your wizards seem to want to do is nerf my guild into

    - I just got killed in 30 seconds by guild X. You've got
      30 minutes to talk me out of quitting this lame-ass game!

    - Got a minute?

The last one I hear about 10 times a day, which often means I have to
give the answer (quite honestly) that I do not. Please realize this
isn't because your concerns aren't important to me - it is more that
saying "yes" to that question ten times a day means that nothing else
gets done - this is why many of you get the response "mail me, please"
which I take very seriously, and work hard to keep on top of.

But back to the Balance stuff ...

Working on Balance isn't very fun. In fact, it is often the opposite
of fun. It isn't fun for the players who are forced to play in a
constantly shifting world where the realities they grow accustomed to
change month to month. It isn't fun for guilds who grow used to a
certain level of power and then, when adjusted into the norm, feel
they have lost everything. It isn't fun for guilds who feel like
things are happening to everyone but them, and that their guild is
therefore unimportant to the wizards. It isn't fun for people who
feel like one guild is way too powerful, and that nothing is being
done to make that fair.

Conversely, for us wizards, it is no fun to know that these feelings
are all real, and valid, and a big part of your decision to want to
keep playing. We get it! We really do!

All this being said, here is the deal -

Good balance is a must. The game has, over the 15 years and more of
development, been built on a foundation that has never had a wholistic
and consistent approach to balance. This leaves us with a foundation
that is filled with cracks which we have tried to compensate for with
all sorts of struts, props, crutches, and workarounds over the years
as the game has gotten bigger and bigger (in terms of content.)

Given the goals that the Admin have for future growth, the way forward
is to really start over in a lot of ways. As we've worked on Balance,
we've been ourselves discovering what we want it to look like, and
trying to build it from the ground level up, rather than from the
top level (existing, problematic stuff) down. This isn't always an
easy and obvious path, and it requires some trial and error. The first
guilds to be recoded were trial ... and they have involved some
significant (but instructive) error. To the members of these guilds,
specifically the Vampyre guild, I offer a very real and heartfelt
apology. It has not been a good process for the players.

The reason for this, partially, is that we have elected for a so-called
"iterative" process - one in which we release new aspects of Balance in
small semi-frequent chunks, rather than trying to build the entire
game without any release of new content and opening all at once about
3 years from now. The iterative process, I feel, is the best way to
go in that it allows us to float the small changes, see if they work,
and then rework them if needed. If we didn't do that, the 3 year away
model might mean we do all this work only to discover that NOTHING is
right when we finally open.

An iterative reworking of Balance sucks for the players. There is just
no getting around this. It sucks because you are all, essentially,
the test-subjects for the on-going process. Again - a VERY imperfect
system. You didn't sign up to be test subjects, but it is the best
we can do (testing things in our labs we do as much as possible, but
as you all know, it really doesn't equal what happens on in the real
game.) But here we are ... the dragon is in flight, and we're all
riding on its back. The dragon is sick, and isn't flying well ...
We can't land the dragon and work on her, so we have to do it during
the flight. Some people don't like the way she rides during this
process, and jump off. Not great, but so be it. Hopefully they'll
come back once we're flying at top form.

The big apology goes out to those of you who thrive on PvP. The PvE
game isn't really the thing that is affected by all of this. The
balance of guilds mainly draws upon the PvP experiences that the
game offers.

So ... thanks Gorboth ... nice to hear all this big-picture perspective
and philosophy ... but you haven't TOLD ME ANYTHING about what
is actually happening!!!

Oh, right ...

So, here are a few updates:

    - The Dragonarmy recode is essentially finished, and we are
      waiting for the final Balance Review.

    - The Mercenary recode is very far along, and is hopefully
      something Gorboth will finish soon (!)

    - The Neidar guild is mid-stream ... with Navarre having
      returned to activity, soon to be much farther along.

    - The magic system continues to be redeveloped, with much opinion
      from the Balance Team, and wizards like Eowul and Lilith being
      taken very seriously.

    - One of the big developments lately has been development of
      systems which run rigorous tests of guild performance. There
      are two separate entities developing these tests - one for
      the AoB team and one for the AoD team. Having two separately
      devised tests helps us get better data and improve (inform)
      our methods for testing. The tests have included performance
      of guilds vs. environment (PvE) and guilds vs. guilds (PvP).
      These tests will finally give us a meaningful ruler for
      the type of Balance we are after.

    - Global changes have been implemented in an ongoing manner.
      These have often dealt with effects that exist in various
      forms in the game, but often draw on the same idea. We have
      implemented global standards on effects such as haste, stuns,
      scrys, and the ability to cast a spell while executing a
      special attack. The fact that these changes have been global
      means that no single guild has been the sole recipient of the
      change. However, those guilds that make more frequent use of
      certain of these effects sometimes perceive themselves to
      have been the sole recipients of the change in that the effects
      play a bigger role in their gaming life.

    - A great deal of work has and continues to be done on the
      global restructure of Genesis ShipLines.

    - A global crafting economy is being developed.

    - Rare item mods are being developed, with the potential
      implementation of a (very expensive) imbuement system for
      New Sparkle's Magic Shoppe. (similar to Diablo II)

    - A new website design has been begun by a talented member of
      the Genesis community - hopefully to be completed and implemented
      before long.

    - Many more things I'm forgetting to mention.

I like to save the best for last. I'll be honest and let you all know
that around late October and early November I myself took a break from
Genesis to clear my head a bit and get my energy back. It seems like
I wasn't the only one, as the numbers during that time were the worst
they have been since the Census was active. The good news is that since
that time we have been on a steady climb back to health. Numbers have
been on the rise, as you can see below. The chart displays the average
number of people logged on at any given hour of the day for each day
from our low point to the present. Keep in mind that these numbers
show only non-linkdead non-wizards. Our peak hours are between 50-55
people online ... those peaks are leveled out against the valleys
to create the averages:

yr/mo/dy  Visiual Avg. Display   Numeric Avg. Display
20081127  XXXXXXXX              (8)  <- Lowest Day EVER!!!
20081128  XXXXXXXXX             (9)
20081129  XXXXXXXXX             (9)
20081130  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081201  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081202  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081203  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20081204  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20081205  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081206  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081207  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081208  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081209  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20081210  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20081211  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20081212  XXXXXXXXXX            (10)
20081213  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081214  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081215  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081216  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081217  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20081218  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20081219  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20081220  XXXXXXXXXX            (10)
20081221  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20081222  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20081223  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20081224  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081225  XXXXXXXXXXX           (11)
20081226  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20081227  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20081228  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20081229  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20081230  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20081231  XXXXXXXXXX            (10)
20090101  XXXXXXXXXXXX          (12)
20090102  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090103  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090104  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090105  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090106  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090107  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090108  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090109  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090110  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090111  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX          (20)
20090112  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090113  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090114  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090115  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090116  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090117  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090118  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090119  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090120  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090121  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090122  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20090123  XXXXXXXXXXXXX         (13)
20090124  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090125  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090126  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090127  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090128  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090129  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090130  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090131  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX          (20)
20090201  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090202  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090203  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090204  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090205  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (14)
20090206  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090207  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090208  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090209  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090210  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090211  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX              (16)
20090212  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090213  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090214  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090215  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090216  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090217  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090218  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090219  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090220  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090221  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX         (21)
20090222  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090223  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090224  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX         (21)
20090225  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX          (20)
20090226  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)
20090227  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX          (20)
20090228  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX                (22)
20090301  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX           (19)
20090302  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX             (17)
20090303  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX               (15)
20090304  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX            (18)


In our Summer months, just after the opening of the AA and the Bloodguard,
we saw the highest numbers we've had in recent years. The average hovered
in the 22-25 range for a total of about 4 weeks. We have not yet come
back to that level. But, we have since the new year been consistently
above 15, and for the past month been hovering around 18 or so, with
frequent hits at 19 or higher.

We are FAR better off than we were when the Census project began,
and FAR FAR FAR better off than we were at our low ebb back in late-
November when morale (even for your Keeper) was quite low.

Things are looking good for the future. Yes, we are in a rough patch
with Balance. Yes, we've got a ways to go before we are out of the
rough patch. But the promise of what lies in store is very great

Many thanks to those of you who have helped by staying positive and
giving energy back to the developers. Thanks to those of you who
have offered much constructive criticism - you help steer our efforts
and inform our choices! And, yes, thanks even to those of you who
can't seem to do much other than complain - your vocal efforts help
remind me how important it is to keep communication flowing so that
the grapevine and rumour mill aren't the only things churning out
information! :-)

Onward ... upward! (seriously)
As much as things change, many problems will always feel the same, I think. Even so, I feel very happy looking back on all of the progress that has been made since this post was written.


Re: Echoes from an earlier period

Posted: 29 Jun 2017 20:34
by Tarax the Terrible
Got a minute? Heheh

Lot of good work done since then =) and good results.
Grats all round.

What was the crafting economy mentioned?
Was that the plan for the rune smiths thing?