How to make SotA great (please read carefully before posting)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Corv, Jun 21, 2018.

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  1. Ristra

    Ristra Avatar

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    I truly do not have the energy left in me to put hope into games in development anymore. (Hoping for great games like Dragon Empires and never seeing them published ruined me) When I spotted @Lord British letting out the hints that there would be a kickstarter I mustered all my hopes I thought were long dead.

    @redfish pretty much covered my thoughts on the subject. (page 3 for the post)

    UO was along the lines of a company making D&D rule book version 1 then selling the books. IMO UO was meant to be a ruleset for the devs to make adventure kits. Those epic stores created by the devs while giving room for players to create their own.

    I don't see that happening with SotA. All I see if player events.

    The place that MUST get attention ASAP is "the 'evil' forces of the world are not sitting in some instance waiting for players to farm them" "The forces in power have a plan. A plan that can be seen living within the world"

    Hopefully someone will be kind and @ me when they start focusing on the dev's being a true Dungeon Master as opposed to the players dancing around.

    Ok, that, and pace the character development to be in tune with following that Dungeon Mastering as to cut out the grind feel.
     
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  2. 2112Starman

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    Im confused. All that was said is that younger people were not playing this game and from that you throw out "ageism" and keep going off into younger people playing MMO's. So I take offense and have to call this out since you are saying people are discriminating here. First, ageism is a discriminatory practice which has nothing to do with someone saying "young people are not playing this game", second, you are making a straw-man by broadening the discussion by saying young people play MMO's which wasn't even remotely in the discussion. In fact your comment is correct and I have no argument about it, but I also think younger people clearly like different kinds of games largely because they have access to infinantly more computing resources then we did at their age, my first rig had 64K KB of ram and my current rig has 64 GIGS of ram and I have servers at work with 2 TB of ram in them.
     
  3. HoustonDragon

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    Ok, interesting thread, so I'll throw my two cents worth in.

    - why are you, as a (former?) Ultima / Garriott fan and backer not interested in SotA anymore?

    I've been an Ultima fan for close to 30 years, and have had a giant passion for the series. I maintained an Ultima reference site for years, worked with Stratics during the UX:O promotions as their Ultima Historian, was an Admin/Host for the Ultima Legacy UO server, and even worked as a dialogue writer on UV: Lazarus. I've been around for some time within the community.

    When I first heard about Shroud, the premise was a spiritual successor to the Ultima series. Now, I know that nostalgia makes things difficult to directly translate, but that's honestly not what I feel was delivered. It's basically an offshoot of UO, with the sandbox MMO aspect that is important, but lacking kinda everything that made UO burst onto the scene. UO was incredible for its time because it was one of the FIRST major MMOs to come about, and was directly set in Britannia using the existing story/lore/background that had been previously established by the series.

    It also was pretty freaking awesome for having unique crafting, housing, etc systems that are still not fully matched by other MMOs out there. I personally feel like the focus in Shroud to push the Real Money housing market is flawed, as in UO, while there were people buying/selling items, it was done organically from a high demand from an active playerbase. Instead, the cart is before the horse trying to push supply out there without actually marketing and promoting for newer players. The whales who bought their Duke plots are already going to play, they have too much invested. It's the little guys, the word of mouth, that I simply don't see flooding into the game.

    I'm also a huge story/lore nerd personally, and while Shroud has provided a decent base storyline, there's just a tremendous lack of polish missing. I've suggested before that there be more effort towards in-game roleplaying events, player quests, etc to help promote folks finding their own stories and expanding the world. UO had their Seers and Counselors, and was part of what drove such a vibrant community. To be blunt, while I'm not bashing on the folks that enjoy them, hot tub parties are -not- what I would use as the sole example of actual roleplay.

    Make the world a living and breathing place with stuff going on, not the static shell.

    - Why are you, even though you are playing, not happy with the game?

    Admittedly, I don't play much anymore, as there's not much appealing to me personally. One thing that sticks out, the issue of grinding XP is common in most roleplaying game/MMOs, so I'm not opposed to that, but I still think requiring freaking CRAFTING to have it is incredibly ludicrous.

    - What can be done to make this game more appealing to your friends?

    PROMOTE THE DANG GAME! The hardest thing personally is being able to point to SOMETHING in the game to be able to get other folks excited about. There has been some effort with the recent Travian trailers to show off stuff, but the website especially is still badly in need of updating. I've seen the manual draft, there's a ton of stuff in there that could easily be available for player reference/guide, so people would not have to hunt around so hard to find basic information about the game. Honestly, I'd like to see stuff like the fundraisers focused more on stuff in the game, versus the talking heads, to show off what's being worked on.

    There's a ton of MMOs out there in the market; Shroud has always been in a niche to itself. Market that for new players, and give them incentives why they would want to play.

    - What went wrong and how can we fix it?


    This one I'll spread among both players and developers. There was a lot of assumptions and expectations, and there was also some poor miscommunications during the Kickstarter and during the development of the game. Personally, I've felt like the focus went from making an enjoyable game with a strong storyline and roleplaying elements more towards the housing market. It's one of the things that drove the land rush and final persistence months before the "actual" launch, and left a lot of things like combat, story, etc still catching up. I'm concerned about how they are addressing continued content to keep people playing and active, especially with the recent layoffs.

    I think they need to widen their market and start driving the need for new players, and ESPECIALLY focus on keeping them. Information about the game should be on the front page, easy to find, and available as a marketing tool, not buried in hard to find player posts deep in the forums. Polish up and show off the gameplay elements.
     
  4. Corv

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    Can we please keep it nice and cosy here? And stay on topic? Thank you very much!
     
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  5. HoustonDragon

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    This is a great post.

    Don't get me wrong, I've always argued about the difference between trolling and constructive criticism for this game. There ARE times where players will be wrong. There ARE times where developers have to make their decisions knowing they will piss people off. That's part of business (good or bad) when running a game.

    But the echo chamber gets ridiculously loud sometimes, and I personally think it's killing the game. New players are generally either shouted down or abused off the forums (seen it happen way too often), and a lot of past critiques for feedback have been repeated ad nauseum without actually ever being addressed. Hell, the other day there was a post asking about the Physical Rewards that was almost immediately locked. REALLY??? I understand the need for moderation, and especially reining in when something goes on a tangent that breaks forum rules, but locking a thread should be the FINAL result, not used as a method to squash discussion.

    We know the rewards are coming. We've seen Richard signing them. But getting overly defensive when someone asks a simple question just articulates the snap reaction that's overboard, imo. There's a -TON- of other games out there to play, and the only way to get people to play YOURS is to give them a reason to do so.

    Someone else mentioned Witcher 3 and the sheer amount of STUFF on the map. I'm currently playing AC: Origins, and I've got 40-50 hours into it JUST roaming around exploring the open world and doing side quests, and haven't scratched the surface of the main quest chain. Instead of making the grind into a punishing chore, I'm having WAY too much fun running around hunting, stabbing, finding stuff and gaining XP as a side note.

    You want the game to succeed? Get people to play. You want people to play? Get them excited about the game.

    I don't wanna play Medieval Sims just for the sake of RMT.
     
  6. Vyrin

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    It's always a both/and/maybe/sometimes/yes/no kind of thing. I agree with what you say, Port has gone off the charts in their tolerance for any and all requests. In some ways they've encouraged it too much. For example, answering all the questions at every telethon like "Can I have a sparkly tutu for my komodo dragon pet that is enchantable and talks and gives me daily quests?" It gets kinda ridiculous.

    But seeing that, some of us have always pointed to that original vision. (See my post below) There are times on occasion where I did ask for a few things (yes, the book reading emote was me, guilty!) - BUT - the 99% majority of what I've always been concerned about and asked about is what was originally promised. It did get drowned out with the outrageous amount of requests, the "oh, they will get to that, it's just not time" dismissals, the players who fill up the dev's inboxes with PM's, and the outrageous forms of attention-seeking. So I will take the pitchfork in my butt too. I was against so many things that weren't part of the original vision like POT's, etc. NOT because I hated those things in theory but precisely because of what you said... I could see the vision and the core of what was promised keep slipping and sliding.

    But enough. You inspired all those mixed reaction that you intend... agree/disagree/attnetion/dismissal/love/anger. It's what you do! Send some of the pitchforks my way... I can handle it.

     
  7. Jaanelle DeJure

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    I'd like to take a pass at this one...

    First- what went RIGHT is the idea of "crowd development".. of getting the community involved and using their feedback and bug reports to guide the early development of the game.

    The dev team really and truly deserves to be commended for leaping into these uncharted and unruly waters. However good intentions only go so far...

    What went WRONG is in how this great idea was somewhat thoughtlessly implemented, leading to several other critical failures. Basically, these all stem from using a standard forum to collect feedback and bug reports.

    Really, it's probably an innocent enough mistake and nobody's fault, but the consequences have been disastrous.

    1. It is way too easy for people to "game" the forum... using multiple accounts, abusing the "like" and "report" buttons, and implementing other playground-level social conditioning tactics, to manipulate others, to make the appearances of false consensus, or to simply troll and cause mayhem and disruption, and distraction whenever the conversation starts heading somewhere they don't like.

    2. On top of a "wobbly foundation" of using a standard forum, you implemented an equally flimsy moderation policy. So.. you've asked everybody for feedback and bug reports, but then allowed your lead moderator to interpret this policy such that the near entire focus was the old adage, "It's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it." While of course, we should be civil with one another here, the basic fact is that forums are not conducive to that. Sometimes people just wanna give their raw feedback, and being constantly hammered by moderators about the "right and proper" way to deliver that feedback, takes away from the arguably more relevant aspect of their work... which was to collect the bug reports and feedback in the first place.

    This attitude has also lead to a great deal of vigilante moderation by forum members and abuse of the reporting system, which should have never been tolerated.

    3. Building on the above- the tendency to dismiss, deny, or outright censor so-called "negative" feedback that wasn't deemed to have been delivered the right way (i.e. with nice little gift boxes, bows, and ribbons) resulted in the development team receiving a distorted view of what that feedback was, leading the development to go down dead-end paths.

    4. Moderating the forum, and mining the forum for valuable feedback and bug reports are two different job functions, which should have been, and still need to be, compartmentalized within your organization. You shouldn't task your community managers with also being responsible for providing bug and feedback reports. In doing so, you created a conflict of interest within the job description.

    You literally asked the same person to moderate the forum AND report on what was being said there. Please let that sink in.

    5. As a specific point of demonstration- the dev team rightly accepted feedback that the "New User Experience" was bad, and decided to put a lot of other things on the back-burner in order to focus on the onboarding experience for new players. What went WRONG here is that, due to the effects of #1-4 above, there was undue focus on feedback from players suggesting that the game was "too hard" resulting in all kinds of resources being spent to turn this SANDBOX GAME into a THEME-PARK game. The result was pissing off your backers who were thought they were backing one kind of game, while simultaneously onboarding more players who were not really part of your core player base. The result was increasing tensions between two dramatically different types of players, with very different expectations for this game.

    6. Continuing to build on this, in a misguided attempt to bring in new customers, you appear to have lost sight of your core customer. The "misguided" part resulted from #1-4 above, because instead of listening to the players who had a right to feel and express their upset, you chose to place undue emphasis on the feedback from players who "gave the proper song and dance, with all the appurtenant please and thank-yous" and ended up gutting the soul of this game in order to appease new players whose main concern was making things easier... adding all the outskirts zones, (broken) sparklies, etc.

    The fact that you now have to go back and refactor all the rest of the zones is a great example of how resources were squandered by doing things in the wrong order. You should have focused on the NUE all the way back in the "chicken room" and not waited until 40 releases later.

    7. Because it would appear the lead devs do not substantially play this game with non-dev characters, it made them more prone to accepting distorted feedback and being so out of touch with the actual state of the game, that they didn't realize nearly 1/2 of the combat skills were broken, and genuinely thought that the quest system was in great shape going into commercial release.

    I actually asked the devs if they felt in their "heart of hearts" that this game was ready for prime time. 3 of them said YES. Guess who failed to respond at all? Lum.

    8. The practice of starting a new bug forum with each release, combined with an apparent lack of an effectively using JIRA to track bugs over time, or most importantly, to effectively triage the bugs in terms of priority, has had all sorts of negative consequences for the game, and for the community. For example, players left feeling that their feedback and bug reports were never heard, and in many cases, actually "forgetting" about bugs that weren't re-reported with each release.

    9. There is left the distinct impression that the reputation of players giving feedback has more to do with "how they say it" and the sheer number of hours put into the game, then whether or not their feedback turned out to be accurate or valuable. For example, on several occasions I found myself having to "prove" (yes, with graphs and charts) that certain skills were actually broken, because a "more veteran" player than me apparently never noticed, and insisted it was working properly. Just because a player has 10,000 hours into the game, it doesn't necessarily make them more qualified to adjudicate whether or not a skill is broken. If it turns out that 9900 of those hours were spent mashing the same buttons over and over in Superstition Canyon, then for all intents and purposes they really only have 100 hours into the game.

    10. Last- but most definitely not least- is any lead dev willing to:

    A. Actually read this post in its entirety.

    B. Not get all pissy because they don't like my writing style.

    C. Acknowledge that they've read this, and sincerely (not smarmily with a wry smile) thank me for the feedback.

    D. Actually make changes to remedy the problems described here.

    At this point, I've lost all faith that spending an hour writing this post will amount to any substantive change. And that's basically what went wrong.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  8. Floors

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    Janelle, you make many good points, but a few of the things you say are obviously wrong, like that "they have no way of tracking bugs over time" well, we do know they use JIRA and they have an agile process in place because they have standups and they make those standups public, so I really don't think that's true.

    I do agree that it would be better if bug reports would come straight from the game and not be in the forums, as is it very painful to write bug reports and time consuming and I gave up once I realized Lexie was the only person actively looking into them and she's gone. So you have that.

    "Because the lead devs do not actually play this game," Do you actually have evidence to support this ? Because I have a hard time believing that too. Of course devs play the game, it's part of their job. Not like normal players, no, but they for sure play it.

    As far as the moderation goes, it's much better now than it was when Firelotus was here. Now, it's more civil (alot of people left or went to reddit, okay) but it's definately better than it was, you don't get nasty personal messages from multiple moderators when moderation occurs, and they lock threads that are duplicates, that's normal for any moderated forums....

    Other than that I agree with some of what you say.
     
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  9. 2112Starman

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    I agree with most of what you said but not this and I have been vocal about it for the past 3 years. I think this crowd sourced concept and allowing people to play the game in EARLY development was the disaster. The vast majority of people dont understand this and reading the vast majority of reviews pre-release of people complaining about early systems that still had many iterations to go through show the fact.

    If this game was release in the condition it is right now for the first time to the majority of players, it would have been vastly better received.

    The good thing about it was that many people for the first time got to see the twists and turns of development and the thousands of variables that must change as they go. We got to see how they had to shift resources for various systems, make new ones or toss bad ideas that just didn't fit as they progressed. Unfortunately, all of this is what most people attacked.

    This is the case study for going back to a normal dev process and start beta testing at the 95%+ completion mark of the game which for SOTA would have probably started say at the end of last summer.
     
  10. Sol Stormlin

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    They have been making changes. I think the devs ARE listening to everyone. I agree that one of the lead devs needs to sit down and play the game but they look at the game from an entirely different perspective. And time is money. Either one dev plays and gets paid to do so or ask everyone who plays for feedback, to which it will vary widely. But if we report something, they DO look into it. I would suggest everyone to be super descriptive about it because one bug may create some other obscure bug that is hard to track.

    Earlier I posted the devs shouldn't listen to us, but I retract that statement. I think people have some valid points about what is going on right now.

    We can speculate all we want why things went wrong but we are in the here and now. Issues for why people stopped playing 2 years ago might have been fixed already. And what is important to one person might not be to another.

    Let's start with now and fix issues that are happening now. If you want to be heard, report honest and constructive feedback. Don't make smarmy remarks to them, because ultimately you get what you give.
     
  11. Jaanelle DeJure

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    Would be more accurate to say "no EFFECTIVE way of tracking bugs over time"... yes they are using JIRA, but based on results (i.e misprioritizing bug squashing) I would suggest something went horribly wrong there.

    What would you accept as evidence?

    I would offer my personal experience that, some months ago, I started complaining in the forums about how many skills were bugged or broken. I got NO traction here, and so eventually had to take my efforts to Discord. After being strongly challenged by several other "more senior" players, and Chris himself, I actually made a spreadsheet to put all this information together.

    It was first met with disbelief by Chris and Starr. The only way they could have possibly been that clueless is if they aren't playing the game.

    Another example: Chris recently changed the time it took after going out of combat to have access to the OOC bar, stating that it apparently was never working right in the first place. I believe it is fair to presume that if he had spent significant time playing the game, he would have caught on to this sooner.

    There are many other examples I could cite as evidence that take the same form... multiple players complaining for multiple releases about a particular problem. Getting pushback from the devs... only to finally have them do a 180 and acknowledge it was not working correctly once they finally looked into it.

    These are things that would be obvious to almost anybody playing the game for a considerable time. It is inconceivable to suggest that a dev- having known what the intended functions were- could have actually missed that they weren't working as intended for months, or in some cases, years.

    I was not here during the Age of Firelotus, although when I first joined the forum (R32 I believe) there was a pretty clear sense that some kind of bomb went off here, causing many players to exit and many sour feelings. But it's always been a mystery to me what exactly happened, since it seemed that anybody who was willing to talk about it had been run out of the forums.

    I won't derail this thread with that story, but I'd be interested to hear your take on PM.

    Which parts do you agree with most?
     
  12. Jaanelle DeJure

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    Snark is my schtick. It gets returned with smarm. I'd actually be much happier if I did "get what I give" in that department! :D

    But the question is... what went wrong? Do you have a problem with me answering this question?

    Sure I would agree that there has been TALK of things changing, but we all have yet to see if that has happened.

    Rest assured, I will be revisiting the broken skills spreadtheet this Release.
     
  13. Sol Stormlin

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    Maybe you should message them directly.
     
  14. Floors

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    Hmm. What you said is somewhat convincing. I am disturbed to hear that, but thanks for taking the time to make that spreadsheet because we definately had bad and persistent bugs for a long time, which is why I skipped ~40 months of releases.

    Things I agree with in whole or part, because I've also experienced them at times.

    1.) what went RIGHT is the idea of "crowd development".. of getting the community involved and using their feedback and bug reports to guide the early development of the game.

    The dev team really and truly deserves to be commended for leaping into these uncharted and unruly waters.

    2.) appearances of false consensus, or to simply troll and cause mayhem and disruption, and distraction whenever the conversation starts heading somewhere they don't like.

    3.) constantly hammered by moderators about the "right and proper" way to deliver that feedback

    4.) dismiss, deny, or outright censor so-called "negative" feedback

    5.) two different job functions

    6.) lost sight of your core customer.

    7.) At this point, I've lost all faith that spending an hour writing this post will amount to any substantive change. And that's basically what went wrong.

     
  15. Bubonic

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    I'm not sure if its actually possible for me to disagree with you more strongly than I do at the moment. :p
     
  16. Floors

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    Well, the way it was done was perhaps too early. But we wouldn't be as engaged (some in a negative way unfortunately) as we are now if it wasn't open. In fact there would probably not be a game.

    Go play R55 right now, you can see that some recent feedback (like the UI) was addressed purely from open dev process.
     
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  17. Jackrabbit

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    Here's some evidence for you:

    In a recent post by Chris related to the complete speed nerf, Chris was accused of 'not playing the game as an average player'. He responded basically that that accusation was absurdly untrue. His 'fix' for the speed nerf was to reduce the time it takes to exit combat. After investigation, he admitted that he had no idea that the exit time was almost 10 seconds, he thought it was just a few seconds. If he did actually play the game, there is no way he could have not known that the exit from combat was punishingly long.

    To me, that's pretty clear evidence.
     
  18. Vladamir Begemot

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    Unless I had taken out a stopwatch and timed it I wouldn't have thought it was 10 seconds either. I would have thought it was too long, but 10 seconds? Impossible.
     
  19. Hornpipe

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    Don't play with words. @Chris just had no idea that it was an issue, simply.And that's the problem. After playing this game a minimum, everyone was able to feel like it was damn too long, including you.
     
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  20. Floors

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    For the longest time I thought that was on purpose, to stop people from switching bars in combat or something.
     
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