A Story of an Backseat Game Designer

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Tahru, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. Tahru

    Tahru Avatar

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    I created my Shroud of the Avatar account in 2014. At that time it was a game that many contributors, like myself, thought could become the game of their dreams. I think many of us had such dreams of a panacea, a revival of an age gone by mixed with the blood of a new generation. We all imagined creating a new deep alternate reality in which millions of players would collide.


    In the initial years, we feverishly debated on the forums and often attempted to hold the company at the gallows to try to build the game of our dreams. And I believe that Starr and Richard really did try to compituate all those ideas.


    Initially, I met many fellow avatars at the first SoTA cons and formed very close friendships with Minerva, Catherine Rose, Roper DocHoliday and Fenrir Jaegerson among many others. I also met both Richard and Starr at a dinner in Richard’s home in NYC. Let me tell you, Mr Garriot is an adept collector of oddities. There is nothing quite like seeing people in their chosen element. I had a blast!


    I spent my initial years on this very forum arguing profusely for the game of my dreams. Some of the same people still frequent these forums. I argued, like Robin Hood, to prevent pay to win elements. After all, what is the value of being a hero of a world you own? I also argued for harder PvE elements and reasonable PvP elements (trying to nix the burn of griefers).


    It was a noble effort! But, THE RECKONING WOULD COME! The developers obviously felt the pressure from the community and did their best to compromise between visions coming from everywhere.


    At this point, I am ready to take the blame. :( I finally have to face the results of my actions. There were others, but I played a role here! This turned into a game that “seemed” disjointed and without purpose. Some elements were too easy, many players created “ugly” or neglected elements, new players off the street had nothing to gain from playing. Or so I THOUGHT.


    I took a 3 year hiatus and came back to liquidate….


    At best I found a world that did not seem as vibrant as it used to be. Some might remember my first few posts after returning. As I was running for the exit, Minerva asked me to stay for a guild meeting. This action changed my SoTA life.


    The guild meeting reminded me of what was right about SoTA from the beginning, the players! So I hung out another week… It would be awesome to say that it was only the awesome community that kept me playing. I certainly would have 3 years prior. But these days, I am in several communities.


    Not this time… Instead I took my old avatar into adventure zones. And I noticed that easy is only the precursor to pain. I really started respecting this element. It starts easy and ends with blood, your blood!


    Also, as I got to know my new friends, I began to really see those people I am playing with. Our friends come from all walks of life, from all means. Instead of viewing SoTA in comparison to competitive games, I started to see how it’s strangely appealing quirkiness is making this game more available and accessible to more people, more important people. As a result, I have learned to adjust my lens to appreciate that the quality of this game is better than most. That is what I mean when I post about getting out of my own way and getting rid of preconditions.


    But perhaps the most compelling change for me has been the developers. The developers were always awesome, but they were constantly stuck inbetween some dumb debate on the forums from making solid game desicions, or so it seemed. This is easily the biggest plus for me. Now the developers stay mostly silent and just implement what makes sense. This is a BIG FREAKEN DEAL because not a single friend in this community is a good game designer (neither am I), no matter what any of us say. ← hence the title of the post


    Also, I feel more than ever that the game staff is really on our side, just like us, wanting to make the game what it should be. When I send an email to support, I feel like I am talking to a friend. It does not get better than that!

    Keep on trucking my friends!!!
     
  2. Time Lord

    Time Lord Avatar

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    Thanks for sharing your talents with us :) Without the talents of yours and others, our game would not have become what it is, which seems very enabling.
    As a person who is going blind, I have come to appreciate tech creative savvy people as yourself for what my last visions of the world will be some day.
    We burn like a flame here and I truly appreciate the flame of life you add to our world. This is still a long trail in game design adventure together!


    Like the singer Ray Charles once said, "You better live every day like your last because one day you're going to be right".

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for being here and sharing withn us Tahru!
    ~Time Lord~
     
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  3. Vaentorian

    Vaentorian Localization Team

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    I do appreciate the less frequent, more targeted posts from devs compared to the regular active debating which used to be the norm, and made us feel important but probably didn't serve much purpose beyond that! Thanks team (old & new) for taking the time to review feedback of all stripes.
     
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  4. Lazlo

    Lazlo Avatar

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    I don't really agree that it's the players' fault when various game elements don't turn out well. Just about every game has a community that provides feedback. It's up to the developers not only to listen, but to decide which ideas are good and which are bad, what's practical and what isn't, and when it's better take a course that might not be the most popular. Game builders build games. If players were responsible for how games turned out, every game would be terrible.
     
  5. Vero

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    We expect you at next Sundays meeting also ofcourse! ;)

    <3
     
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  6. Magnus Zarwaddim

    Magnus Zarwaddim Avatar

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    I myself have been dipping my toes in for the last year every month around release time. This past month, I don't know what it was, but things began to look a bit better. Today's release (R93) really impressed me - just the two zones. Places to get lost in. Nice and expansive. A bit of everything in the Outlaw zone. And the new frost giants - about time we got some new mobs. MORE PLEASE. (NOTE TO SELF: Don't bring up the old wishlist for more overland mobs like that fancy dragon that just stood outside Britanny begging me to hit "E").

    I also got some more XP, pumped up some of my skills, and now I don't feel so useless. On that point - one of the reasons I stopped playing frequently is because my own personal preference for a build (Death/Air) was almost useless since 1/2 the mobs are undead. Changes this past year to Death and Air affecting undead, well, they are welcome to me (I know that's subjective). Now I don't feel entirely useless. I can see that pumping up skills in those schools ... well, instead of it seeming like an insurmountable chore, actually I see light at the end of a long (really long) tunnel.

    That and also some of the crafting additions have helped to keep me engaged. Especially the artifact changes - I find myself seeking those out from mobs or (more frequently) from vendors. To me this is what gaming is about, chasing something.

    And that's the sum total of it all, keeping me (as a player) engaged. If they can keep creating new mobs, new zones, tweaking old ones, adding new mechanics (players or mobs), then I can't really see a problem (ANOTHER NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT BRING UP NEW OVERLAND MOBS AGAIN).

    I'm glad. Because I want to live in a world. And right now, it's between this and Wurm Online for me in terms of feeling like the world is partly mine in some odd way.

    Kudo's to the dev's for keeping the game going. Thanks!
     
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  7. Tahru

    Tahru Avatar

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  8. Tahru

    Tahru Avatar

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    I just want to say thank you to the readers and those compelled to respond. Making vulnerable posts like this are not easy. It is embarrassing to share a real glimpse into your thoughts with people you don't know. I am super introverted by nature, so I don't need this for satisfaction. I use "noface" on the Internet as an identity because I don't want to connect. Yet the people I meet in the game, and the developers, make me want to be more than that. In fact, I made this post because of the exceptional kindness I received. I wanted to pay back. I wanted to pay forward.
     
  9. Winfield

    Winfield Legend of the Hearth

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    I, like many others, am a backseat designer too.

    Many of us share the blame as backseat designers ... and we also deserve the credit as backseat designers. Chaos and Order are prominent themes in SotA, and perhaps they are also prominent in its development. I believe there is a good balance between the two at Catnip Games and we are seeing the fruits of their labors. Our suggestions, play-testing, discoveries, tutorials, welcoming new outlanders, and patience all seem to help.

    I stepped into Shroud of the Avatar as a backer in 2013. I played (and still have accounts in) Ultima Online since 1997. These are the only two games I've committed myself to for the long haul. The one consistent thing in both games that draws me in is the community of players and developers.

    Community, game freshness, attention-to-detail, listening, honesty, courage, commitment, consistency --- all these traits seem to keep many of us going ... and returning.

    A couple of years ago someone asked me if I thought my Kickstarter pledge was worth it; did I get value out of it? I thought for a moment and I replied "priceless".

    For being an Ultima fan since 1986 with Ultima IV to present, I never thought I'd meet Lord British; now I consider him a friend. I met many of the SotA developers and their families, and consider them friends. The smaller team now at Catnip Games is wonderful and courageously leads us into SotA's future, and they are my friends.

    I never thought player gatherings, SotA Cons, Austin Christmas Parties, Barons Men plays at Richard Garriott's property, and SotA telethons would be such memorable and important points in my life that I'd like to repeat them every day. I met so many players and they are my friends.

    I never thought I could closely observe and influence game development (in small ways) to appreciate what's under the hood and help. Quite an adventure!

    Well *clears throat* I just want to say I'm enjoying this game, its development, and the community writ large -- even as a backseat designer at times *cough*. Huzzah!

    Oh, and I love the fishing!
     
  10. Cordelayne

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    100% this for me as well!

    I have been playing a lot more recently and for exactly the same reasons. As a solo player, it is so nice to be able to kill strong monsters and like you said, not feel so useless! I absolutely abhor grinding, but now adventuring doesn't feel so punitive and boring. I am actually enjoying the experience because the progress I am making doesn't feel de minimis in nature; I can see it being made.

    The other thing I like, is that I am actually getting artifact rewards now. I used to never get drops like this before, and now that I am, it just adds to the experience. It makes it so much more enjoyable.

    My only gripe is that it costs an exorbitant amount of COTOs to repair items now, but I also understand they need something to keep the lights on! :)
     
  11. Barugon

    Barugon Avatar

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    I truly loved this game for the longest time... up until they gave mobs the ability to strip me of my primary defense at their whim. Now, for me, the game has lost much of it's luster.
     
  12. Scanphor

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    A lot of people have similar stories about different changes - not always a lot of people each time but cumulatively a lot... For me the first time round it was the PvP flagging XP boost which effectively killed my playstyle (PvE healer who refused to flag) from the post persistent days - I left and didn't come back for over a year after that.
     
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