... the story so far ... choosing the path or not ... History of destroying a meaningful part ...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Paladin Michael, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Paladin Michael

    Paladin Michael Avatar

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    SUMMARY FIRST:

    For the sake of the storyline, please:
    1. bring back the Isle of Storms part (with reducing the mirror loading times).

    At least let the mysterious music play and a voice whispering:
    Welcome Avatar, get ready for your incarnation ... choose your appearance!
    After Avatar creation, let's enter the Isle of Storms, meeting Arabella and the Oracle!

    --> This means we get rid of load times (Mirror) while we are inside the starter scene!

    2. let a decision have consequences: given answers can't be changed!
    Send an Avatar to the place her/his answers are leading to ...


    NO possibility to choose another path after given answers!
    --> This means we get rid of too much complicated text in the starter scene!
    Like 'If you feel closer to enter the path of happiness, so just tell me!'

    If you think, starter scenes of Highvale and Bloodriver have still a few bugs:
    Please, debug it! Most complaints I read about were referring to Bloodriver Outskirts. Existing bug reports tell exactly, where problems occured ...


    All Outskirts are a great experience, especially Highvale!


    REASONS AND HISTORY:


    In recent years, I have tested the launch areas many times and while following the storyline, I found a few unnecessary destroyers of meaningful parts.

    1. The intro scene on the Isle of storms looked fine and brought us into the story:
    Incarnation on another planet. Meeting Arabella and the Oracle the first time.

    What was annoying:
    1.1 Load time to get into the mirror!

    Our decisions should have consequences - this is Ultima!
    1.2 After answering the questions of the Oracle - while game was in early access - provided the possibility to choose the path of the 'fighter' (Courage), 'Mage' (Truth) or 'Ranger' (Love).
    --> In a classless system!
    --> after we made a choice!

    After all paths were finished this part wasn't removed - unfortunately! It should have been!

    2. Next, fortunately, the choice of 'Ranger', 'Mage', 'Fighter' was removed, but unfortunately not the possibility to choose another path - no matter what answers were given before!

    So one of the most important parts was destroyed 'by design': The choice of the Avatar had no consequence. Answering the questions wasn't important!
    So why not having three buttons after receiving our body?
    Chooce your path: [Truth] [Courage] [Love]
    No choice, no Oracle needed!

    3. To help new players the intro was expanded with Anais, the little girl, who showed how the game works. Player could skip it - that was okay. Maybe a good idea, this intro could be reloaded later?

    4. Than, the choice of the Avatar was all for nothing, because it was decided to send the player, equal what he was telling the Oracle, to Solace Bridge!
    So a new player who took time to read the text did it alll for nothing!

    5. The current change was to remove the whole Isle of Storms starting experience!
    --> Understandable, because the reason for going there was destroyed before:
    NO MORE CHOICES WITH REAL CONSEQUENCES! Everybody starts in Solace Bridge ...

    Please consider to include it back into the Isle of Storms scene. May be AFTER the Avatar was chosen ... as suggested above? :) Let's have a good beginning for a good story :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  2. Vladamir Begemot

    Vladamir Begemot Avatar

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    The Isle of Storms was losing players left and right. Hundreds of players were dropping out just in the tutorial, in the short period of data I was looking at with @Titania Xylia.

    I'm guessing the metrics for a new player in Highvale vs. Blood River vs. Solace Bridge showed that Solace kept the most. Why?

    It has the fewest bugs.

    It is a linear map.

    Straightforward is sometimes a good thing. Players starting in Highvale are using mirrors to teleport all over the place, experiencing broken quests at the same time, and probably giving up in frustration. Players stating in Blood River are faced with a large open circular map with several very small hard to find quest locations, like the Spider Queen lair.

    Both of the latter scenes are good scenes, but from a player retention point of view the obvious move is to send them to the only scene that isn't complicated, so the new player can deal with all of the complicated UI first.

    Plus, those questions never had anything to do with anything. They weren't meaningful, they were just questions.

    I've suggested that the devs should send them to the next two starter areas upon getting to Soltown though. Or give them some teleport to zone scrolls and open up the Battle of Highvale scene and Blood River Massacre scene in their choices. Get them started in all three so they can choose their path once they have some point of reference.
     
  3. majoria70

    majoria70 Avatar

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    It was a beautiful scene though and should be incorporated in the game in some way imo.
     
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  4. Vladamir Begemot

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    It's still there for the grand tour.

    At some point hopefully we get towns that look like that.
     
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  5. Jaesun

    Jaesun Avatar

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    They could actually. Turn it into a place where the player could learn more about how they got here and maybe some history about all the Outlanders arriving. Something you hear about in game and you then have the choice to go there if you want.
     
  6. Girlsname

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    Isle of storms was for the true,
    “Ultima Fanboys”

    For the common gamer who looks up, especially now a f2p game, it comes up as annoying and confusing.

    They just want to run around the traditional, “noobies garden” and experience the the game; how it feels, how it looks, the movement, combat, and of course the entry level linear design.

    That’s just today’s audience imo, for whatever it’s worth- Isle of storms just looked badass tho, would love be able to have/use that scene/tile-set again in the future.
     
  7. Lord Aventine

    Lord Aventine Avatar

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    Its hard to believe that new players were dropping out at Isle of Storms because of the ambiance or story.

    I bet it was because of the …. extremely. basic. character. creator.
     
  8. Fenrus MacRath

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    I agree. I think a brand new player should have a controlled experience in a linear fashion that cause him or her to mentally invest in their character. Possibly give them the illusion that they have received an uncommon weapon or ability. That makes me invest when I play a new game. It both empowers the player and excites them about playing. Then after the "Hook" is set, give them the isle of storms scenario, choice, story option, if the desire that sort of thing, or simply give them a choice, Solace Bridge(Reccomended), Blood river (Challenging), etc.

    Players want to be engaged and given the choices to set their own tempo. once they have been in a few hours, they are likely to continue. I know in the past we used the Hospitiler (sp?) tag to alert players that this is someone who will help you. Maybe we can reengineer that program and set up a New Player channel for chars who just started and the helpers

    these are just some random thoughts and musings.
     
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  9. Lars vonDrachental

    Lars vonDrachental Avatar

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    I liked the scene too but if the new start is convincing more avatars to stay I’m fine with the change.
    Otherwise if there is no big difference I would suggest reworking the Isle of Storms too.

    But as dumping the scene would be a waste...what else could we use it for?
    Maybe there could be information shown about all people who helped making the game. E.g. statues of the current and also of the left devs with information boards about their influence on development, a library about game-creation-lore, some sitting accommodation to take a look at the planet below,...
    Making it a scene you should visit because of the appearance and not because you have to.
     
  10. Paladin Michael

    Paladin Michael Avatar

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    Now, do we still want to give newly arrived Outlanders the choice of which path to follow? (which was the plan of the game I assume)

    If not, no further discussion is required.

    First time was told: new players get lost, so the starting scenes got added helpful hints, like: 'take a sword' (instead of just a weapon) or 'enter the house'.
    Later it was told: new players get lost, they don't know how to handle the game - so the Anais training was done to be sure, every player knows about basic features ...
    NOW it is told: new players get lost because of the whole Isle of Storms ...

    Serious? ;)
    And now we don't need basic training for new players anymore?

    What about people who left because of missing consequences of made decisions?
    What about people who left because of the presentation of the storyline? (if you like, watch currently Vladamir's thread about one good point)


    It's the same thing about promised 'Solo Online' or 'Multiplayer Online':
    Just give us the choice as promised ... and everybody is happy to play the prefered game style.

    Why is there always only a yes or no? Why switch from one extreme to another?

    Different people want different game entries? Okay, is that complicated?

    People who like to follow a story probably won't have a problem with following an intro for 2 minutes.
    People, just coming in to visit 'another FREE mmo', maybe won't have patience to do so, because their steam account provides 100 other games, they got bored of ...

    SUGGESTION:
    Maybe we could change start menu somehow like that:
    1. Quick Start - Sandbox: Create your Avatar and explore the huge sandbox! [May be with an option to toggle of Quests? ;)] --> PLAYER starts in Multiplayer Online mode
    2. Quick Start - Story of Episode 1: Create your Avatar and follow the path of love! --> PLAYER starts in Multiplayer Online mode
    3. Story related Start: Find yourself in an intro to learn why you are here and follow your chosen path! --> PLAYER starts in Multiplayer Online
    4. Before playing: just learn the basics of the game - training with Anais - [Also should provide information to toggle from Multiplayer Online to Solo Online ;)]

    DONE.


    So people who want to have a quick start may choose 1.
    People who want play with story elements but without choosing their path 2.

    The first choice for Ultima fans would be 3, of course ;)

    And last but not least: If someone started Quick (1 or 2) and wants to have more information later, (s)he just can use 4. ...
    It is a pity that well made game elements are simply removed, although there is a target group for this as well!


    Some thoughts of mine for interested readers how I got the idea of a MENU for different play styles:
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————
    Years ago I suggested to let new Avatars start in Hidden Vale.
    It‘s not so huge, so let’s have a few quests, learn about the game and after defeating the Lych let Arabella appear to send a worthy Avatar with mid Adv.level to Solace Bridge... and let him do one Path after -another...

    Outskirts came in, people now should follow the paths parallel (with our chaotic Journal, having no sorting function at least for each path).

    Okay. So Hidden Vale could hopefully be, after finishing the paths, a high Tier area...

    I am just wondering, why the WHOLE starter scene should be responsible for player leaving.


    I assume this happend since the Anais part was created ‚to help new players learning about game basics‘.
    Normally if I start a game I know I have to follow an intro. Just taking a minute talking to Arabella and entering the mirror is not a long time.
    --> but the loading break to enter the mirror is something which shouldn't happen ...

    But after that:
    Reading the whole text given by the Oracle and learning our time was wasted, because we can choose something different (before intro was changed) or having NO choice (before intro was deleted) isn‘t a good experience, isn‘t it ? ;)

    And after this, running up the hill, thinking the game starts, talking to Anais and doing the training with her, well, seems not to provide more fun later ...
    Just how I feel about.

    But killing the whole intro for everybody seems not right
    :(
     
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  11. Girlsname

    Girlsname Avatar

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    Well I didn’t go into detail, because most of it is apparent, especially to anyone whose been following this, game, or reads anything about it..
    But lol yeah, there’s a lot more to it than just Isle of Storms unfortunately......
     
  12. Gorthyn

    Gorthyn Avatar

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    I really liked the Isle of Storms, would have thought with yet another polish/ streamlining it would have been fine.

    I suspect the less than wonderful Character Customisation had more to do with people thinking "Nah".
     
  13. Mylady ‘Gin Gin Darlin

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    It’s been a while since I played the start areas, but do new players who intend to play single player briefly appear in online mode before starting single player mode?

    If so that could account for some of the bleeding player numbers?

    One left as they where waiting for coop with a friend. Then returned months later when their friend was ready.

    Another it was their annoyance with the mirror. Their player in the world not matching what they had done in the mirror/character creator.

    Another felt the island was creepy.
     
  14. Vladamir Begemot

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    I don't think so.

    And people were dropping the entire time, not just from the mirror. During the tutorial every place players were given itmw thy we could see in the stats, there were less players.

    So in the time frame we were looking at, iirc, more than 10% were quitting just from one room to the next, ie from one piece of large dialog to the next. And again on the next room.

    Most people don't want to be presented with tons of text before seeing the game, particularly when the text comes through in such a ugly display.

    Thought process "this is a story game, cool." "ugh, if this is how I have to read the story, I'll pass"

    At least if you get them into the combat first they may "suck it up" and deal with the ugly UI.

    And for everyone sad, you can go there right now. Jump in a lunar rift, then jump in it again, you'll be there.

    Good thoughts on letting people decide how to start @Paladin Michael . Although you might still lose a large number of story players when they realize they don't want to do a story that has a 90s era MUD chat box as it's delivery method.

    That's a great place to start crafters and such as homesteading.
     
  15. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Legend of the Hearth

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    So what they could do is, once you have progressed along in Solace Bridge Outskirts and gotten your deed, is that Kinsey could give you another quest. You proceed to Soltown and meet with Stanley, but she also tasks you with speaking to Arabella there.

    Arabella then invites you to join her in the Isle of Storms, and if you accept the quest she teleports you to the initial spot (same thing in each of the starter cities). There, you go through the process of speaking with the Oracle and Arabella, learning some background, etc. Arabella gives you quests to visit Highvale Outskirts and Blood River Outskirts and meet with the initial characters in those scenes. The Isle of Storms Lunar Rift needs to only open to these starter scenes (at least from this "starter" version of the IoS). Players can learn about how the Rifts work, while only have to juggle three scenes instead of eight; just make sure to take them back to Arabella to teleport up after each instead of to the normal Rifts.

    This way, all of the Outskirts are linked, there is a clear connection between them, and Arabella is the common link. New players will be funneled through the various Outskirts scenes before doing making any major headway along the three Paths, which means they should be strong enough to start them by the time they finish the last of these.

    Ideally, once all three of the Outskirts are complete, we would have a "big" event (think of the first twist of a novel at the 1/3 point) to kick us off onto the main questline. I'd suggest an initial invitation to visit the Oracle Temple for a personal reading by the Oracle herself , which everyone would make a big deal about because its "unheard of". We would be found to potentially be the one foretold, but that those that came before (the Titans, obv.) failed to reach their goal. Although Love is the obvious place to start, its also the most dangerous; perhaps just giving three quests to seek news of the Titans in each of the cities would be enough, especially if they dovetailed nicely with the initial quests in each city (i.e., the bonesteel dagger, the amulet of testimony, and the report for Ardoris).

    This could be a full "Path of Storms", which provides a great start to the game. I'm sure @Lord British could agree that this area of the game needs more polish. @Chris, @DarkStarr?

    (The Dialog box is another issue entirely; just talking about the tutorial and initial outskirts part of the game, which arguably is the most polished overall)
     
  16. Browncoat Jayson

    Browncoat Jayson Legend of the Hearth

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    Other things that could use adding to the "Path of Storms":
    • After finishing one of the Outskirts, consider sending the player an in-game mail message from one of the characters in that scene. This should trigger the "you've got mail" hint, if you havn't gotten anything yet. This would give them some experience using the mail system.

    • Add roving encounter versions of the characters from the Outskirts as tier 1+ encounter scenes. Bloody Bones, Mistress Valdis, ice wolves and geists, obsidian elves, the Bogman, Naturamans, League of Skulls, etc. This would make players want to look for encounters to have additional chances to get some of the items from these guys, and possibly advance some of the B-stories. (The mail you get above could be used to trigger then to look for one of these encounters.) These could all easily share the same overworld spawn point near each Outskirts, so they don't roam too far afield or become overly monotonous.

    • Consider a Roving Encounter (non-combat) where you can find one of the master trainers (as well standard trainers) as they travel.

    • Explain food, and provide some of the "raw"/T0 food items so the player can get used to using them. Show them a simple food recipe so they can move on to better food. Having something similar for potions and scrolls would be nice as well (you could actually have Arabella give them a scroll to get back to the IoS, instead of coming back to her each time).

    • The reward/loot cycle in this early area is kind of out of sync with the rest of the game. There is no really "good" gear here (but decent coin); the best being the Bandit/Elven/Heavy weapon types. Consider adding a "Supply Bundle (Black)" in these very-low-tier scenes with access to weak, but good starter, artifact types. This could easily be the place where Rings of Luck end up, and be a great way for players to stock up on recipes. Also add a hint when picking up your first supply bundle and explain that some of the best loot in the game can be found in such bundles.

    • For the Oracle, while explaining the prophecy is the most important plot point in the IoS, her main function for players every day is her test. Make sure that there is a Virtue +/- event (easiest would be an honest response during the conversation), and then actually run the test for Truth at the end of that discussion. This gives players a bit of pocket change and some experience, plus sets them up to do the same thing in every confirmatory. They can easily opt out of this.
    I'm sure others can make additional suggestions. The NUE is one of the most important parts of the game, so just chucking out the IoS might reduce initial drop rate, but I think there could be a much greater grab here if we could get new players used to doing what older players already know to do. Dissemination of knowledge in the game is currently lacking.
     
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  17. Bedawyn

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    Why play a multiplayer game if all the characters are going to be identical and have identical experiences?

    Playing offline, within a few days of starting my first character (which I initially thought would be my only character), four more characters had evolved in my brain, that I wanted to try because each would have different experiences and different histories shaped by those experiences: one who valued courage first then love, one who valued truth first then courage, etc. Individual people who would be able to explore and settle in different regions of the world, absorb and reflect different parts of the SotA culture. Once I moved online, I was planning to give Port my money for alt slots so I could do just that.

    Well, I've got the money to spend now -- but Port has railroaded all new characters into one experience path that has no flexibility for different personality types or playstyles. So why bother paying for alts, if they don't provide a real alternative?

    Aside from my own disappointment at not being able to manifest the characters who are knocking about in my brain wailing for a chance to be born... I'm also afraid that by removing the Isle of Storms AND the choices made there, that they've changed too many variables at once and aren't going to be able to get good data on what was driving people away. If they really want to remove the Isle of Storms, force people onto one path, and get good data, they should have kept Solace Bridge as the only option for one release, then done another release with Highvale as the only option, another with Blood River as the only option. Or better yet, done all three at once with new accounts randomly going to one of the three, to avoid seasonal variation in the data.

    And for existing accounts creating new characters, there's no reason at all to limit our choices the way they've done.
     
  18. Vladamir Begemot

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    They've got over a year (two?) of retention data on the Outskirts and three in Isle of Storms. If one of the other two were performing better, it would be the one getting all the new players right now. From the limited data I saw of Isle of Storms (via the API) it was obvious that it was bleeding players at an unacceptable rate.

    Having been participating for a while, I have experienced having to sacrifice some of my preferences for the good of the game. In this case, don't throw out your other characters, just take the five minutes to walk to the other Outskirts and pretend that you started there, then enjoy. A thousand hours from now it won't have made any difference in your characters journeys.

    You'll only be limited if you allow it.
     
  19. Bedawyn

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    My suggestion wasn't about determining which of the three outskirts is best ("best" will always differ according to taste) but about limiting the number of variables they change at one time. Right now, if new players come or go in Solace Bridge Outskirts at different rates than they did before, they can't really determine whether it's because of the lack of Isle of Storms, something inherent to Solace Bridge, or a potential mismatch between Solace Bridge and the player's preferences. If they still had the path forks, then they could compare the player drop-off points in all three and determine what the common elements in those drop-off points were.

    As for starting at the other Outskirts, it's not quite as simple as that -- you have to fight your way through the Battle of Solace Bridge first, then make your way through a section of the Outskirts to the exit, back to Solace Bridge, then fight your way back to the rift again. Four different scene loads and two fighting sequences -- easy ones, but still frustrating to force a noncombatant character through when I don't even want to be in that part of the world. (Entering the starter scenes through the overworld apparently doesn't put you into the actual starter scene, only the permanent version, or so I've been told. I REALLY wish the Perennial Coast had a rift in a peaceful area like the other non-starter rifts.) It's immersion-breaking, and it's boring when you've already been through those areas previously.

    I will end up doing it anyway, probably run them through the forced section, get them just to Blood River, then leave them there at the start for a couple weeks, until I can clear my mind and come back and pretend they started there. It's not so much that I CAN'T do that, it's just that railroading and lack of choice/diversity/meaningful choices drives me bonkers. I wouldn't mind it in a lesser game, because I wouldn't have gotten emotionally invested in a lesser game -- but to see it in a game that has so so much wonderful potential, hamstrung... and to have all the characters start with the exact same skill sets, stats, and equipment... I never had the chance to see what a newbie in Blood River would be like (though from what I've read about it being the "mage" track it would have been perfect for my purposes), but I know the differences between my Highvale-start and Solace-start alts, the differences in how they behave and think and fight that evolved from their initial experiences AND their initial equipment. Won't know for sure until I try it, but having another clone of the Solace-start character just doesn't appeal.

    And that was my major point -- I made the decision to give Port money for alt slots (and for more land to house the alts) because three diverse tracks were available. If I were starting now, with only one starter track -- those other characters would never have come alive in my mind, because the necessary substrate for them doesn't even exist right now. Which means Port wouldn't be getting any of my money, because I'd have no motivation to go beyond the one free character. It's not about finding workarounds for me, it's about looking at the ripple effects and how they might influence the potential player base overall. Every time you restrict options, you're going to lose potential players (and potential money) who would have been drawn in by those options. Whether those potential losses will be outweighed by other gains... that we'll have to wait and see.