The True State of the Shroud aka Lets all just take a breath

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jackrabbit, Jun 30, 2018.

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  1. Jackrabbit

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    The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

    Shroud of the Avatar has definitely reached a defining moment, but exactly what that means is the subject of great debate. On these forums, the 'other' forums, and review sites.

    As I have finally come to peace within myself at where we are, I would like to take a moment to read between the lines and explain why this is not the Death of the Avatar and share the hope that is found in the light of the truth.

    I'll try to keep this as short as possible and just hit the highlights. You don't have to read this, you don't have to agree with me, to me, it's just one of those things you have to say out loud, so you can let it go and move forward in a productive way.

    Henceforth I plan to resume my well deserved forum ban and resume enjoying this game (despite the things that Chris does that drives me over the edge sometimes :p ) <<said with wry humor

    It's not a great or happy realization that shortly after launch, things have not turned out as planned at this point in the life of our project, but after many hours of reading any board and every post and dev comment that I could related to this topic, reviews, etc, as well as my nearly 5 years observance while being a part of this community backed by my real life, real world experiences . . . I believe I understand the truth of our situation and in so, see the path to our future and want to share that hope.

    The earthquake that went off in our community, is actually a good thing. We've now admitted the truth out loud, we've called out the elephant in the room, the powers that be have seen the writing on the wall and most importantly, they have given us a viable path forward.

    We've made mistakes, the Devs have made mistakes, but in the long run . . . so what? Tell me any other professional business or project where everything goes exactly as planned? We are all trying to succeed, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time.

    We most all have said at one time or another that Shroud has such great 'potential', and most all of us have complained about one thing (or 50) along the way. Portalarium had bold intentions and grand promises (haven't we all at some time?, I think that's how I got my wife . . . ), and most all of us have had quite demanding expectations all along the way. ( yep , yep, I think that describes my wife), in the end, we all get exactly what we deserve don't we?

    The truth as I see it and in my experience is:

    Portalarium started a grand project, we all jumped on board trying to build a $200 million dollar game on a $10m budget with a shoe-string crew in a time frame that would require 100 or more talented employees. Incredibly great and talented community contributed many wonderful ideas and actual work to a hard working well intentioned dev group that contributed to the game in many great ways, but also increased development time, increased development costs, changed priorities and scopes sometimes, increased the future possibilities and generally exponentialized the expectations. A demanding and impatient community cheered some things, despaired others, many left due to impatience or disappointment in one fashion or another, but most did and still do (myself included) cry out 'are we there yet'?

    The answer is: no, no were not, but we ARE gonna get there.

    It's not going to happen as fast or as smooth as we all hoped, BUT, the servers are still up, they are going to stay up, the dev team has finally addressed the realities, and as professionals, who want to be successful and continue to earn a living (not as easy to move on or shift gears at these stages of our lives), they have (IMO) garnered a plan forward and taken tough BOLD steps to implement that plan. They aren't perfect, and neither are we, but they haven't given up, and neither should we. It wasn't easy for them, it hasn't been easy for us, but after much introspection and reflection from my experience of this journey, I can believe in the path forward, with the better realization of how that path will look.

    The greatest journey starts with the first step, and there never was a great journey without some stumbles along the way. We're gonna get there, we have too much potential, and collectively as developers and community, we have too much passion.

    Shroud has a huge amount of great things going for it, the problem is that most of them are still in their 'infancy' and most of us can only look with the lenses of what we want it to look like as an adult, but we were so excited and proud we demanded to show it off for the world to see before we had it walking and talking and then are heart-broken when they can't see it the way we do. (baby pictures anyone?)

    1) We have a great virtual land that can be fashioned (and will be) in to many great adventures through the coming years.

    2) We have many great base systems in the game (housing, fishing, taming, heraldry, music, pvp, pve, emotes, quests, storyline adventures, allowance for moral choices to have impact, tenancy, in-game radio, vendors, etc etc.) that while currently at a base level, offers almost unlimited opportunity for further development, with plans to do so, AS WELL AS plans to add many more (treasure hunting, mounts, player content creation tools, ships, ocean warfare, castle sieges etc), AS WELL AS, a great ability to contribute many more, great ideas due to our dev-community symbiotic relationship.

    3) Developers who have grown and matured in this somewhat new and unique development process and tempered their plans to match the real world restrictions placed on them due to financial limitations and other realistic constraints. And hopefully now a community that can temper their expectations and return/continue to enjoy the journey.

    4) No press is bad press. (yeah it's arguable, but. . . . Trump!) We've gotten A LOT of press, problem is, we weren't ready. I lay that more on the expectations and demands of the community than the developers, as anyone can clearly see the mission creep that happened along the way, (it wasn't the outside world that was begging for 'launch') and anyone who doesn't appreciate the fact that the developers were willing to listen to us and implement it along the way because it was what 'we' wanted, just really doesn't understand the specialness of this situation. When things are more where they should be, there's gonna be A LOT of people interested in coming to see, and sorry they didn't do so sooner.

    5) Quest system to get an overhaul, combat system to get an overhaul, focus on bug fixes, polish, improving depth of play and existing systems, having a realistic plan for ep2 based upon actual ability to do so . . . . . everyone might not agree on what should be happening, but from my business perspective, it makes perfect realistic sense. Not that it's all going to happen overnight or perfectly, but the acknowledgement and prioritization of some of these things shows the realization and judgment needed to move forward in a stable and purposeful way.

    6) <Insert yours here>



    So, let's all just take a breath, and seek a truthful understanding of reality. Almost everything worthwhile in the real world takes time or money. There are no short-cuts to true success. We're all freaking out over episode 1, mistakes made on all sides, etc., . . . . by episode 5, 6, 10, etc, this will all be a proud memory of our ability to endeavor to persevere. The story will get better, the content will get better, the loot/economy will get better, it will all get better as long as we are here to make it so, and the devs have said, that while it may not be the idealized version we all envisioned before it was born, moving forward is do-able, even just with what we have now.

    If you want the process to get faster, it's simple:

    1) Find pleasure in the parts of the game you enjoy now
    2) Have patience for what is to come
    3) Support the game in whatever way you can
    4) Get back to being a part of the solution with your creativity in-game and the building of relationships and experiences.

    There is no one stopping us from succeeding but ourselves. The Dev's have re-grouped and the journey continues. It's not how your start that counts, but how you finish. While I may not agree with every turn we take along the way, I see the determination to get there, and I believe in our potential of being awesome when we arrive.


    TO THE DEVS:
    Thank you for your hard work and efforts, thank you for willingness to let us be a part of this process in the unique way that we are. Forgive us when we act out in emotion, as we should forgive you for the times you were wrong in direction, with the understanding that we shoulder our responsibility together.

    @DarkStarr Was nice to meet you at the launch party, keep being you.

    @Chris I appreciate your passion for what you do, and i'll admit most of the things I've said about you are unfair or harsh, but out of respect for you as a professional, I've never done it outside of our own forum community, and I would just suggest that sometimes you should take a step back and examine our criticisms with knowledge that there is almost always 'some' kernel of truth in there somewhere, it's your ability to mine it out and use it to make your ideas better, that truly defines your greatness at what you do. Most of us are just as passionate and intelligent as you are, we just exercise it in different walks of life.

    TO THE REDDIT CROWD et al:
    I feel your pain. Been there, done that. Bought in, Sold out, then bought back in. WTF? love/hate is a *****. For your own peace and health, get back in, or let it go. In the long run, it mostly only hurts yourself, I have my own scars too.

    TO THE RMT HATERS:
    Sorry, RMT is the only reason we have accomplished what we have, and the only way we will continue to move forward. It is not and will not be the anathema that you envision, but instead, in the long run, it will be one of the core things that blur the lines between virtual and reality that ensures the longevity and real world impact of this game. Portalarium has implemented it in-game in such a way that is almost purely cosmetic. I think that's a reasonable trade in a free society where gaming is not just a disconnected hobby. I'm in way deeper than is responsible when you are married w/children. It's really not about the money.

    TO THE GAME REVIEWERS:
    Thanks for trying the game, sorry we really weren't ready tho' we thought we were. Plz check back later, I know when we are all grown up, you're really gonna want to hit that.

    TO THE NAYSAYERS:
    In the great words of the original Bad News Bears : Oh yeah? Just wait till next year!



    Thanks for reading this if you did, hope it brings you some comfort, peace, and understanding. It's fine if you disagree, it's fine if your fear of disappointment won't let you find peace, I know it slobbers, has no teeth yet, can't coherently talk yet, and wtf is up with all that baby fat?, it's gonna be ok. It really is, it's just going to take a little more time than we thought, and that's ok.

    I'm going back to being banned from the forums, and finding ways to enjoy our game. If this posts gets deleted, well, that's just a consequence of my own past actions and I accept that.


    Jack Rabbit
    aka Grumpy Krabnevir
     
  2. majoria70

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    You are just fine don't worry. I agree with lots you say. I love so much about the game and see so much more for the game. And fishing update in R58 just has to be a good update.

    My biggest complaint from this game has been giving the game bare bone systems and features. I just hate that to death. It is demeaning to the potential of this game. Getting systems and features a bit slower is worth a better system or feature. Finish what is started and focus before moving on. So now it is said we are focusing. Please let that be the case and let it show.

    So fishing was pushed over and over for a few years and after a while no longer did release notes say fishing was pushed, it was just not mentioned at all. So now in R58 we will get a long awaited update finally and it does need bait types and high tier recipes, and fish must have weights and lengths so we can catch the biggest fish and have contests. It just must.

    And as the OP mentions to all of those who judge the game be it from way in the past to present judgments we will go forward in spite of all of this. We will carry on and forge a game and we will be many lessons for others forging their own way too. We will pick ourselves up again and again and get on with the show. Well as David Lee Roth kinda says in the song 'Thats Life'.;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
  3. Canterbury

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    A good read and some genuine thought put into your post, which is a really nice thing to see around here.

    One bugbear I see from many people, across a range of outlets (pro games reviews; Reddit, amateur games reviews like Steam, etc, etc), is the lack - or perceived lack - of dev listening during the building of the game.

    Now, I'm often the first to say that communities shouldn't develop games, or even think they have the right to, but at the same time there are situations where pushback is so strong, it ought to be listened to by devs.

    For this game I can think of several areas where this applies, but none moreso than the combat system, which still manages to be completely & utterly sub-par versus how combat is handled in other games of this ilk.

    My perception of how this pushback has been taken by the devs is in the realm of quite defensively and quite dismissively which, while being a developer's prerogative, hasn't really paid dividends in the longer term.

    I would also point to scenarios like next to no one turning up to play (relative to the number of game accounts), when the game went persistent. THIS IS AN ISSUE, some of us would say. AT PERSISTENCE A GAME SHOULD BE JAM PACKED. These comments were, of course, downplayed. "Everyone" would turn up when the game went live, we were told. People doubted that because common sense dictates that when an MMO isn't going to wipe any more, people who want to get ahead will dive in and just go for it. But was that happening in Shroud? Nope. A major red flag. A year and a bit later, or whatever it was, the game went live with barely a blip in increased players. Again 'the crowd' was right in what it had been saying, and what it was pushing back on, but it hadn't been listened to. There are other examples too. You read reviews by people who have no dog in this race, and they call out stuff people complained about here, literally years ago. I don't know what else to say.

    So if I had to pinpoint one bug bear, and one area where I think the development team could have done a LOT better, it's listening to feedback that was difficult to listen to and actually acting on it.

    It's very easy to take on feedback you agree with and say, "Hey, look, we listened to you..." but it's a lot harder to take on feedback about something you might really love, but which many people are upset by.

    'The crowd' is seldom wrong. Whether we're talking restaurant reviews, car reviews, or anything else, there's a good chance if a bunch of people are seeing a problem... then there's a problem.
     
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  4. Steevodeevo

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    @Jackrabbit , this starts off so Kung-Fu Master talking to Grasshopper I nearly went bleeeh! and moved on, but I stuck with it and despite the philosophic airs, it's a good solid post and easy to agree with. Maybe it is actually pitched just right? It is certainly timely given all the doom and gloom. A couple of observations, based on what you touch on -

    • This game (for some reason) is extremely divisive - why is that? I have a few thoughts. The game definitely polarises its player base. As a game with a perceived modern MMO aspect as well as an Old Skool Ultima flavour it splits its audience. You see it on the forums every day: Old Skool (of all ages) players defending certain mechanics or the absence there-off, whilst modem MMO players scream for standard MMO mechanics and are baffled by their absence... Is this a bad thing? yes and no, it is certainly 'hard yards' reading for the Devs and for those arguing passionately on both sides. But the root cause of this divisiveness is the unique and ambiguous game design (single player RPG, solo/group RPG & MMO). Not a criticism, just how it seems to me. The Devs have made a rod for there own backs, perhaps intentionally, they said they wished to 'break the mold'..
    • Yes, there is a great base system on which to build amazing content, but you omit the biggest (IMO): The OverWorld Map: hear me out, I'll keep its short as I've babbled on about this before... Those that have studied RGs early game concept sketches and code will see an evolution of the game map from a digital representation of a classic RPG cloth map, to a 2D hex based game environment (each hex a zone) to a Demo with fog of war and a ton of roaming instancing; dragons, bandits, beasts, wandering traders... It is pretty clear that RG sees the OverWorld map as a core game system, maybe even the central game system tying everything together. What is amazing about the OverWorld map is how infinitely scalable this design is at modest further investment of code and resources. The instanced content on the OverWorld map is only limited by imagination.
    • Naysayers, Old Skool players, Entitled brats, UO obsessives and Whales: Yes, I know, I have contributed to the labelling and name calling at times, which doesn't help with the growing player schisms, but we are all passionate about SOTA and wish it to thrive don't we? (If you're not here for that then go away). We get frustrated and angry at times, especially when as regularly happens, equally passionate SOTA players have a completely different vision for the game than you.
    • So... isn't it time truly passionate SOTA players of all persuasions set aside their differences and pull together for the good of the future of the game? especially with the staff cuts, budget concerns and myriad of other challenges facing the very existence of SOTA. Despite different factions wanting different paths forward, we will get nothing if the forums remain toxic, or get worse, new players will be put off and confused and we will fulfil our own doom-laden Avatar's prophecy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
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  5. chrisjwhite

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    Remember.... Ultima Online won the "Coaster of the Year" award when it was released. Now people are still playing it over 20 years later, so...
     
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  6. oplek

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    I think there's also a mismatch of expectations. Those who were involved with the game 4-5 years ago, whether through the Kickstarter or not, have a different game than they personally envisioned would be the "final" result. People like me started around persistence or later, and had no prior knowledge. From my perspective, I liked the game as it was, and everything since then has been a bonus.

    It's sometimes easier to enjoy a movie, going in with low expectations, instead of being hyped for it.
     
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  7. craftymethod

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    Supporting this project seems to offend a number of people.

    :Lights a cigar, lays back and begins to grin:

    And yet it carries on. Better and better every day.

    Although I would love to see more danger in safe areas, and territorial warfare. Ive been waiting a lot of EVE video's currently. We need our guilds to really get battling. Perhaps at the least castle warfare to set the scene for battles between the forces of light and darkness. across two large castles, either side of the rift.
     
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  8. Gyzarus

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    Nothing but and honest feeling without prejudice, I second on your post. Let pray that this game will be an international break through for all MMOs, For any other Honest comment I will do it in my live stream.. regardless, This is Alphaine Nine Signing out..
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
  9. 3devious

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    As a venerable forum troll, it is my favorite way to annoy people now.
     
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  10. MasterWan

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    Overthinking it I think. The game is fun and compelling. It’s getting better every release.
    My question is:
    If they do a big blitz for ep2, will people still be able to do ep1 or will the world be past that point?
     
  11. Violet Ronso

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    Saying out loud that you like the game, and defending its concept seems to put you on alot of peoples hate list! I was here pre-persistence, but after KS, and I actually love the game, love the concepts, and am Patiently awaiting release for something new to make the game better, and every release I turn around and see a rage wave. If I had not experienced the same with many other games that still haven't died, I wouls have clearly quit out of just seeing the negative from others, but managed to pull through.

    Threads like this are great because a new player browsing through the forums will see this occasional "I like the gane" thread and wont be as discouraged, maybe managing to keep him instead of quitting while he is ahead like all the other rage threads are inting towards.
     
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  12. craftymethod

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    We can all agree perhaps some priorities seemed a little out of order and the different interpretations of launched VS competitively ready for market there has been some pretty fair confusion, but tools for player to make there own quests etc and meaningful factional warfare is going to make things very interesting.

    And of course, if the servers stay online for a number of months more i'll be due to collect on a bet I made with they know who. ;)

    Good luck to all who are continuing to make this game a reality!
     
  13. Vyrin

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    I took the time to read this and don't understand why you'd fear getting banned.

    I can understand where you're coming from but I think you are heavy-handed in blaming the community in two parts:

    The expectations were set very high in the Kickstarter by Port itself before the community became involved. They are still walking some of them back (most recently the unique Duke+ custom characters). Overpromise/underdeliver has been one of the biggest challenges for the devs. This also applied to community involvement. They did not expect the intense amount of interest they received, and seem to have no overall plan for community management. People expected to have input according to what Port initially promised in the KS (for example, Dev+). They also continue to do things to encourage outrageous requests like answering every silly question in the telethons. Speaking as someone who has made plenty of suggestions, I think they need to walk back their attention to the community for a while (there is enough work to fix Episode 1) until they know how they can can set expectations properly and manage input.

    I really don't see how the community was responsible for demanding launch. So many of us argued against it (of course lost in the flood of suggestions per the last point). The pressure was primarily their own. They felt that they needed to generate interest to keep the game going - that the couldn't sustain the process of pre-release much longer. Plus, knowing not to release a project before it is ready is perhaps the #1 thing software developers should know and the #1 thing that destroys projects. (It's a tie with scope creep which is also on display here.) To blame the community for that is really just taking things way too far. As a practical example, you should never be adding whole new areas of untested functionality (for example, the heraldry system) concurrent with release. They are professionals and they should know these things.


    Long story short, the community has been outrageously generous with money, time, and passes on all the mistakes made along the way. No one should ever blame customers when a company was responsible for overinflating expectations. You're not going to get people to stop making requests and providing feedback. But if you open the floodgates with no plan as to how to control it, that is also not the community's fault. Another practical example, DS's admonition that people should not provide commentary in their feedback and just state the facts. That's not the community's problem... that's the problem of the expectations for feedback not being clear at the outset or standardized in any way. I hope I've provided enough examples. I will provide more if I haven't convinced anyone yet that community feedback is not the source of the problem.

    Certainly the game can continue and will continue to improve. They seem to be fighting like hell to make that happen through the post-release period. Part of that needs to be fighting smarter - not harder. And to that end, here are a few suggestions I would make (ironic, isn't it?):

    - Eliminate the ability to directly PM or email a dev. They don't need these distractions and it disturbs focus. They could have all the input they need through a streamlined system. Maybe this could be allowed if this was a smaller project with less interest. People may scream about this, but the devs already have clarity for where they want to go and sometimes people just need to put their damn heads down and work. Basic project management, managing communication so the team doesn't lose focus.
    - Decide on one streamlined method for input... stop the multi-channel system. Is it forum, email, Twitter, facebook, etc? For example, as most have learned, Twitter is the way to get RG's attention and he will add JIRA's from there. When you have no streamlined process for feedback, there is going to be a flood and disorganization. Better if they invest in or create some form of automated system.
    - Find a way to incent people to do bug reporting and dissuade open-ended commentary for a while. Come up with an easier method to both search for bugs already identified and report new ones.
    - Be very clear about when input is needed, provide a format for it (like Chris did with the combat survey a while back but it can be unstructure forum thread for a while), and have a plan for ending it (the decision is made).
    - Eliminate the perception (please pay attention to that word) that certain players have special access unless it was clearly laid out how and when this would be provided (for example, a KS reward). Casual and uncontrolled access to the devs has created frenzy and high-schoolish drama. I get it, devs like this because it adds the personal dimension to what they do. But in periods when you really need to work, do the work. Save the interaction for structured times like the conventions and when things are done well and everyone can relax and enjoy more freedom in interaction.
    - Stop fulfilling silly unecessary requests. For example, someone jokingly requested that they put POT upgrades on sale on 4/20. (For those who don't get the reference, 420 is slang for marijuana or pot, hence the connection to POT's). DS responded right away that was a great idea and made it happen. That may be a small thing, but with the distraction factor and the uncounted times this has happened, it really adds up. Again, if people need more examples, I will be happy to provide them. Now, apparently he's working like hell to fix bugs. Ok, why wasn't that happening sooner instead of paying attention to all the silly requests? Silly requests ding you for a little time here and a little time there, adding up to huge amounts of time wasted. I'm sure someone will argue that they may have earned a bit of $ from that... who knows and who cares - it wasn't enough to make or break the project, but projects face a real danger in losing focus little-by-little until people are left scratching their heads at the end saying "what happened"? And ultimately in the long run, the dollars will drop to 0 if that happens.

    So in honor of your long post, I reply with this one, which turned out longer than I expected, ha!
     
  14. Tardis

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    As a relatively new player (started a couple weeks before launch). I can say I like the game and find it oddly addictive. I was a UO player so that may have something to do with it. I have worked in software for 20+ years so I get the challenges of delivering every promise made. Sometimes you think something is reasonable and possible until you go to actually code it. The level of interaction between the company, the devs, and the players is not something I have ever seen before. It is pretty cool. Monthly releases which actually add to the game are cool as well. I also think the way they go about easing money and funding the game is also interesting. It plays off of what mobile games have done almost from beginning without being as annoying in my opinion.

    I suspect if I had dropped a lot of money 3-4 years again I might feel differently but I do like the game and have already spent more than I should in it. One issue I see is that a significant amount of real world money trades hands around this game but the company making the game is not benefiting from it all. As much as it may dismay purists, the game is a commercial enterprise and in order for it to succeed it needs to be profitable.
     
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