How's the Vision? 2020?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ragnarr Lodbrok, May 24, 2020.

  1. Ragnarr Lodbrok

    Ragnarr Lodbrok Avatar

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    Q1 2020: First quarter our primary goals are:
    • Episode 2 Overworld Map: live in a real way with POTs moving in.
    • Halls of Balance (HoB): This is the working title for a new scene that is the Episode 2 version of the Challenge Dungeon AKA “Compendium of Pain and Suffering”. This will be a primarily linear dungeon that gets progressively harder. The idea being that it will get so difficult that players will never beat it completely. The reality is more like they will beat it and we’ll make it tougher or add more rooms at the end and it will continue to help us identify what really is the upper limit for encounter difficulty. This will also be used to drive some new in game rankings in the existing player rankings.
    • Bard skill tree: This will be a new tree in the strategy section that will be music driven skills.
    • Major combat balance pass: This is long overdue and very important to existing high end players. While an initial pass will be made in January, even more passes will be done over time based on finding from the HoB.
    • Prospectors Canyon: Working title for a new mine scene. Current plan for this is not to make it an underground mine scene but rather more of an ore rich, branching slot canyon or ravine that snakes and winds through a large scene. Miners need more fresh air!
    • Custom NPC Convos: Player written branching dialog trees for NPCs using the Ink markup language. This should go live in January and continue to receive updates to allow more flexibility and options over time.
    • Major loot and reward overhaul: Currently one of the top concerns for existing players and will be a large part of our focus for Q1 and into Q2.
    • Misc: Other minor additions include more server ranking categories, second ring slot, improved deco item scaling options, Lua feature expansion, GM feature expansion
    • Tiered subscription options: More options for subscriptions
    • Maps: We will be restoring the more feature rich web based SOTAMap system back in place with community driven map content creation but in a faster delivery system than before. While Catnip Games will host the system, we plan on turning this over to be under the control of the community.
    • New creatures: Big Cats, Koala Bear Pet (charity item for Australia fires), plus secret
    • Party Size: Expanded party size for up to 24 players in a raid sized party along with toggle for condensed party UI. Depending on what challenges we encounter with this, there is a chance this could slip into Q2.
    • Verbose mode options for combat: This will give a very detailed log of combat showing behind the scenes calculations that were done to reach the final numbers.
    • Attenuation: Attenuation removed after a couple of scenes receive a balance pass. For Release 74 in January, this will be changed to only attenuate players over level 100. Going forward, our goal is to remove this system completely and instead improve the content and skill balance to be within our design ranges for experience rewards.
    • Build System: Moving to a more robust build system, delivery system, and publishing practices. While this isn’t directly visible to the players the results will improve the quality of the game. It means we will always be able to keep QA up and current, that patches through our system will be smaller and faster to download and install, and that patch frequency and quality will both improve. With our old extremely long build process, we rarely rejected builds due to issues because we knew that would mean no patch for the players for almost a full day. Our goal is to make our start to delivered process under 2 hours. Progress was made over the Christmas break but some more work is still needed.
    Q2 2020: Second quarter vision:
    • Looking for Group: Expansion of the Looking for Group system to include some queue features for scenes and PVP. Our current plan is to expand upon the existing system and allow players to join scene queues for some scenes rather than just joining parties. If this ends up not being the right way to go, we’ll work to introduce a separate queue system.
    • Weather: Weather system updates for more control, more variety, improved visuals, and also weather effects on combat. Having snow for Christmas was fun but reminded us of how much we need to do to improve the system. Both in terms of visuals and also some of the quirky behavior like snow moving with the player and snow falling in some indoor scenes.
    • Quest System: Shroud quest system 2.0 initial release for developer created content. This will be in the early stages but will be based on our new, 100% bug free *knocks on wood* system for player quests and NPC dialog.
    • Steam purchase options: Currently between 1/3rd and 1/4th of our player base plays on steam BUT we make them jump through a lot of hoops to purchase things on our website.
    • POT Customization: Expanded POT customization options and tools to allow for some mild terraforming to flatten some lumpy areas or paint new ground textures.
    • Lua: Expanded Lua options to include limited execution of server commands through Lua scripts and more UI options.
    • Skills: Expanded skill trees with roughly 40 new skills and combos. This will start happening in Q1 but we hope to wrap this up but Q2. We will be adding at least 2 skills per tree to help add a tier 6 level skill plus at least one additional skill to help balance the tree based on what it is most lacking.
    • Theater system: This will actually be done by completing a few new tools like placeable exclusion zones that block some players out of a volume, silence zones to limit certain types of chatter, voice extenders for the actors, more donation box options, light and dark volumes, new decos, and a few other key items to help theater-goers.
    • Port’O Bones: new episode NPC port town build on connected atolls, reefs, floating platforms, and wrecked ships.
    • Snowshears: story related overworld adventure of mostly snow and ice that will reveal some of the main themes of the episode 2 storyline.
    • POT Templates: Two new “High fantasy” POT templates plus one new POT template based loosely on Port’O Bones
    • New Home Styles: New architecture set based roughly on the style of the new Lord of the Isle mansion. This will include some NPC builds and also some new player houses
    • New Creatures: Wendigo , Yeti, plus secret. These will be completely new models and combat mechanics and will include multiple variations on each one.
    • Find Items: Global item find to track down your misplaced items. This is as much to reduce the teams work load as it is to benefit the players as this is a common support issue. We have the tech for this already and just need to figure out how to expose it to the players.
    • Pet and tamed creature improvements: This includes support for multiple combat pets at once, improved response time, improved behaviors, and a heavy balance pass. Our goal will not be to make them significantly more powerful (though some summons will be improved) but rather make them more interesting and less frustrating.
     
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  2. Violet Ronso

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    This has got to be my #1 most anticipated thing, I really can't wait to see what water will be receiving! Maybe an AoE style spell like Solar Flare or Banish called Vorpal Blade which could have another style or feature like some bleed effect or something instead of slow!

    This could be so fun the next time I class change (hopefully I wont get that bad idea again lol!). But I know this could help tons of people!
    This HAS to come out ASAP devs... this is a real deal or no deal thing in this game and you are losing tons of players due to it.

    This has been asked since the subscription system has been implemented... you guys have no idea how much money you are losing on since all that time...

    All in all, pretty much this whole list looks awesome, some things are clearly more important than others, and honestly we are closing in on the end of Q2 and the amount of things delivered is a bit discouraging, I understand the small team and all the recent issues, but things need to be delivered or else even more people will lose faith, I have been waiting on new skills and combos for so long now I still don't believe it when I hear about it, I am at that point now.
     
  3. Vladamir Begemot

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    Wonder if the new system will still look like it's from a 1990's MUD?
     
  4. Violet Ronso

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    No work on the UI means yes, quite possibly, doubt the 1990s look will never go away.
     
  5. Ragnarr Lodbrok

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    When this 2020 Vision was implemented they had the same amount of workers as they have now. So why make a vision for people to be excited about IF you cant produce it? Over shooting on what is expected in each quarter will make people loose faith in the Development team, especially when we had a Lock down period from the government?
     
  6. Toular

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    It is/was just a "vision". that means "This is what we would like to implement and we will try to accomplish them, but as they say ...' Don't lawyer me, bro' "
     
  7. Violet Ronso

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    True, but the thing about that vision is that it creates excitement, and that excitement leads to deception, and loss of faith towards the team. One of the biggest complaint I heard from early backers that have dissapeared over the years was the lack of delivery of promises, or the breaking of them. As time goes by the cycle seems to repeat itself, granted, these were not promises, but you can be darn sure that some people will take them as such, and those will be the ones yelling the loudest when the time comes. We are halfway through Q2, and I can't even consider 25% of this list done, this means that they haven't even managed to fulfill half of the first quarters projects after borrowing half of the time from the second quarter.

    Once again, I will repeat myself, but obviously not everyone can do everything in this project, so Sannio and List are working on their things while Chris is working on the others, and we have a few bug crushes that are less visible, but once these things have been said, it often looks like if Chris doesn't touch on anything that isn't art, then you can be darn sure it wont progress.

    Pretty much every single group in this community is upset that their systems remain unfinished or broken, meanwhile some "visions" are making people get their Hope's up that things might get better, but they don't, one group gets a tiny bit of attention, and once again they receive an unfinished system once again, making them feel like that is the only thing knows how to do.

    All in all, sure, it's just a vision, not promises, but it is just as bad when these visions remain unfinished even when only 25% has been touched.
     
  8. Anpu

    Anpu Bug Hunter

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    Apparently you missed this part(?):

    It is important to note that this is not intended to be some kind of binding contract where we promise we will hit each and every item mentioned. Rather this is just intended to be a vision of where we believe we are headed for the next year. Items will move around, sometimes slip, or sometimes move earlier in the schedule, In some cases we might decide that an item no longer makes sense once we start digging into to it and we might remove it.
     
  9. marthos

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    This frustrated me before because it really highlights the problem with the core combat game play. There is an identity crisis where Shroud doesn't know if it's a class-based game or a skill-based game.

    In a class based game, characters are locked into using certain skills. A warrior skill tree, a wizard skill tree, etc. In those situations, there needs to be some level of balance between the classes.

    In a skill based game, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to have every skill tree "balanced" because players are not locked into those trees. Players get to pick and choose which abilities they want from every skill tree. In a purely skill based game, balancing the skill trees actually hurts the game. You want to have each skill tree shine in a certain situation, not have a dozen identical skill trees with different cosmetic effects.

    Shroud is a bit of a hybrid, where players are locked out of weapon and armor skills based on what they are wearing. There needs to be some balance there to ensure that a Light Armor Swordsman can complete content more or less at the same rate/challenge as a Heavy Armored Polearm user.

    But when it comes to magic, players can always use spells from every school. These schools should be unique and different from each other. There was no reason that Moon Magic needed a damaging spell - players were never locked into being only a "Moon Mage" unable to hurt enemies. They could grab other spells to do damage. Every magic school does not need a healing spell, or a damage spell, or a crowd control spell, etc.

    The magic schools in shroud suffer because they are so similar. Start with a touch damage spell, then get a ranged attack, then get a fireball/lightning bolt/earthquake, and finally get your capstone - which is a summon elemental type thing.

    I would much rather see the magic schools become something like Summoners who focus on magical pets, Elementalists who deal fire/cold/lightning damage, etc. But that ship has sailed, I know.

    The only school that really feels unique is Chaos. The rest just kind of blur together.

    I just hope that Chris's vision isn't that every magic school eventually deals the same amount of damage, healing, with crowd control, revives, and stealth skills.
     
  10. marthos

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    An unrealistic vision drives excitement and hype. Players get sucked into it and shell out a lot of money on houses, towns, etc believing that the game will look like the vision. They may realize that the devs won't do everything, and sure, it's expected that maybe you miss your goals by 10 or 15%. People have short memories. They'll forget about most of this list when 50%+ of these items appear on the 2012 list. They'll get excited again, shell out more money, and the cycle repeats.

    The devs wouldn't do this if it didn't work. Posting a realistic vision isn't going to get anyone to spend money.

    It may bring back some of the 60k players who left, who want to start trusting the team again, but there's an even better chance that it wouldn't bring them back - too much lost trust and too many other games out there.

    So keep doing what this playerbase rewards the devs with money. Otherwise there is no game for us.
     
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  11. Gorthyn

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    Well yes that's been the problem from day one of the game - hype things up, promise big and deliver little. Sticking a caveat on the bottom is no get out clause with any credibility.
    Why they still insist on doing this is beyond belief frankly. Will they ever learn ?
     
  12. Gorthyn

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    From what I can tell they are not even close on most of this "vision"

    Yet more empty promises lead to yet more loss of credibility for the Devs (what's left of them and quite how they thought they would achieve anything close with such a small team now is anyone's guess) plus more disillusionment from remains of the player base.
     
  13. Vladamir Begemot

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    Modern UI or it didn't happen. A new quest system with the same ugly chat box will not be worth the time they put into it.

    This game proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that using a prototype 5 year old UI that's was a throw back to a 25 year old UI, just for nostalgia (or to save money), does not fly.

    Do it right or don't bother.
     
  14. ShurTugal

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    I dont want to hear what they "would like to impliment and accomplish" . That's meaningless. I would "like" to be a billionaire flying a rocket ship to Mars but that is so not going to happen on my current path so for me to talk about it is meaningless. When they come out with a "vision" but then dont complete the vision it has a worse impact than if they never released the vision at all. What's needed is guarantees. A list that says this exactly is what we are going to do and here is the time table and then follow through without excuses. Anything less and well... I'm insulted.....
     
  15. ShurTugal

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    They can say it's not binding all they want but in my mind it is. You make a list of things, that is what I and others expect and when you dont follow through with said list, I dont care what the small print says, I lose faith in their abilities and eventually leave. Dont make a list of thing you would like to do. Its deceptive and shady. Make a list of things you will do and then follow through on or dont make a list at all. Its insulting really....
     
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  16. Barugon

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    I'm really hoping that the other elemental magic schools get a weapon buff like what fire has.
     
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  17. Ragnarr Lodbrok

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    I can say the Bard Tree has been really fun. I have enjoyed it. I am not a crunch the numbers type of player.. I just know I have been waiting two years for my town upgrade to be on the over world of the new lands, and I'm still waiting. I felt like this has taken sooo long, too long. Having one person working on 135 towns and new NPC towns is painful when we got the transfer tokens and finally got word in January really plays a role on a persons way of thinking. Patience wears down. Plus my friends list wears down. Will I get to enjoy my Town on the Over World? Who will be around left to enjoy it with me? It went from 20 something down to 4 of us, because they have lost interest in the game. The bugginess most grow tired of. They grow tired of the broken glyphs , the lag, the lock ups and the boots, the constant changes of the damage percents and of a specific class. The same ole loot, the same ole mobs. I am seeing PvP friends leaving and quitting due to the lack of excitement and their wants and needs as players. Over working and micro managing the game with constant changes that inst appealing with the main base of your backers and others whom have been around for years leaves a poor thought of "what does the future hold?" Is this game going under? I if I am feeling this way and worried, others are too. Of course we want to support our Dev Team, but how long must we cheer them on? How long do we have to cheer them on? The Dev's have delivered specific wants and needs and new ideas. I get that.. But where is the damn customer base going? Why am I staying loyal to a single game watching my game friends leave to play other games? As I stay here in SoTA hopeful upon their return one day. I did have one friend return after he took off a year and a half... He has been back for two weeks... He seems happy at times and he seems bothered, because he said nothing really has changed as he had hoped.. And I have heard that from a few others too whom returned for a short brief time. It seems like SoTA is becoming a "Light Switch" game like UO... Why are people leaving? I enjoy this game very much. I do not want to leave. I want it to grow. Why can't some funds be dumped into some advertising? Is it because players are not sticking around?
     
  18. Astirian

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  19. Datendrache

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    Everything that I know about business says this isn't an advertising issue. Free-to-play gaming needs to successfully turn over to a paying customer or the game company withers and dies.

    I've been (trying) to keep my distance as Chris acclimates himself to being the business leader, but I suppose looking at the overall situation since last October I can see that Catnip has been focusing on accomplishing some ... shall we say ... technological ideals rather than focusing on the business ones. Not that this is a terrible thing, but in every tech company there's a push/pull relationship between business leadership and the developers that creates friction, and without that friction a part of the wisdom of making a successful company goes away.

    First of all, what makes a small company successful? In a nutshell, its personalized service. That's basically it, you are never going to take on Amazon with your web site or blow away Walmart with your storefront. New technology and products are almost always niche at first, and therefore is right back to personalized service. However, IBM will hire thousands of small companies as consultants next year NOT because they have smarter people (IBM has an ARMY of Ph.Ds...) or that they aren't direct competition but because they can navigate the sea of very specialized requirements their clients have that IBM can't steer its own battleship to accommodate.

    I see SotA moving in the opposite direction of personalized service, and I could list out at least a dozen "big changes" that show that automation is the emphasis and there's less community engagement, with the exception of @Elgarion who is clearly engaged in the community to the point I'd call him passionate. But the company needs to make sales in order to hire people to do the personalized touch. Personalized touch used to get big bucks, after all only a night of drinking and spinning a "deal" wheel used to get at least $100K on average: https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/telethon-rewards-list-updated.111749/

    The opposite of the "Crowd-sourced" mentality is the "Tow-the-Line for the Team" mentality, where Catnip has actively decided to stop engaging the community for "unpopular" decisions. Each time they do it, they lose subscribers, interest, and support and expect to get more money in return. However, when they listen to the community, they get rewarded. You can see it all the time in the Livestreams as bits are given out when popular decisions are made. What's more important, sales or bits? That's a business question. Although one month Chris made nearly 600,000 bits -- that raised my eyebrow given that was good pay for just working with the camera on.

    And it isn't just Catnip, its the players too. All the argument against LUA having vendor access-- well, congrats. All that development time and its just a number cruncher, no impact on the economy. Very boring, thank you. If anyone knew that all that work was going to make such a minor impact, I'd have pushed to have something else done instead. I'm actually horrified that I've been pushing @Chris on this for years and this is what came of it, and its mostly the players' fault.

    Inky and Leaderboards suffer from this 90%-of-the-way-done problem, too. Thank you for expanding the Inky 1000 characters to 5000 characters it helped. But seriously, don't you guys think you are being stupid-level chincy? 1mb is a 90's concept. 1gb is a 2000's concept. 1tb is a 2010's concept. You guys are like "here's a kilobyte", that's a 70's level concept. Paper tape. I mean, your PLAN was to let US THE PLAYERS drive development for awhile, so why aren't you being serious about this? Afraid of people writing terrible things? That goes right back to the personal touch stuff I've been saying.

    Not sure there is a conclusion here, Catnip looks like it's having an identity crisis, and that crisis feels like its devolved into the usual death spiral that claim businesses like this. Sounds like the existing developers are landing new gigs to work on, feels like interest is moving to new ideas and opportunities that are being pioneered by @DarkStarr (good for him!), and the players who are still waiting for things like their Eps 2 PoTs are still waiting.

    I feel the community has made Catnip distressed and that has lead to a lot of distancing, those statements resonate on the Livestreams about Reddit and trolls. I feel the community is upset with Catnip due to many broken promises, slow delivery, and what appears to be a grotesque lack of appreciation (where's the ONBEs, testing rewards, and other honors bestowed?) If the amount of effort that went into Inky went into the Community, there would have been more buzz and more reason for players to advance their game.

    Back in the day, when a new technology like Dungeons or Conversationalists came out, there would be a big contest thrown to see who can make the coolest stuff from it. Engaging promotion, community participation, and out of the box thinking... Now I hear crickets chirping.

    Until these relations are fixed, I'm guessing more death spiral. I'm just really surprised that, at least from a business perspective, this isn't being addressed. i.e, is a new Q1 compilation pipeline really worth more than playing with the Community? (Seinfeld quote: "Did you trade love for soup?") There's really only ONE thing different Catnip has to offer different than Blizzard and Bethesda that they can't do in a heartbeat -- be personal and be our friends. It's completely fundamental. If that's broken irreparably, then Catnip joins the 9 in 10, because that advertising campaign may bring people in, but won't convert them to paying customers.

    Sincerely,

    Engineer
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
  20. GMDavros

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    A sincere and passionate post. It folds into the exact concept i've been espousing in that Catnip needs to re-imagine what the game could be given the staffing realities. By considering expanding their team base with vetted volunteers to engage the player population with ad hoc content leveraging existing assets they can focus on more attainable new build/content goals while re-engaging existing players through frequent and/or immersive interactions. Big bang simply cannot work going forward with a staff this size. Outside of episode 2 work, focus on fixing critical things while creating some low hanging fruit rewards for attendance at events.

    It is a totally different vision, but it is one that can simultaneously reduce the need for big, new things to engage/attract players while giving the dev team an opportunity to focus on important bugs and episode 2 content.

    Fenris