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.
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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 oblivion? - 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) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Analysis: 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 indeed. 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) G.