Armageddon MUD General Discussion Board

General => General Discussion => Topic started by: NerdyFingers on April 17, 2017, 06:12:43 PM

Title: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: NerdyFingers on April 17, 2017, 06:12:43 PM
So, I want to start this discussion by saying that I think the current staff has done a lot to improve Armageddon Mud. These efforts have been made both in terms of improving staff relations with players and in improving the codebase. And the effort that Iím seeing being made on these fronts is much greater than what it was five years ago. But player retention is still pretty poor and more can always be done.

I have been playing Armageddon Mud on and off for almost 14 years. And have created this account for the purpose of writing this post. Hopefully this will help facilitate a productive discussion on what should and should not be done to improve both player retention and how players and staff treat each other.

This post was inspired by this thread (http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,52291.0.html). It seemed like for the most part both the players and staff were willing to candidly discuss problems with player retention and staff relations. But it looked like more could have been done in terms of discussing possible solutions. Instead of just airing out complaints. 

Ways that we can improve player retention and player/staff relations:

1. Player/staff meetings. This was an excellent idea on Sanveanís part. And seeing the staff actively seek feedback from the players would go a long way towards helping players see that the staff care about both the game and the players.

2. Stop force storing accounts due to inactivity. Players put a lot of time into this game. Personally, I will typically put 20-40 hours into a graphical game. And thatís if I like the game. In Armageddon MUD, 40 hours means you might be starting to have the basics down. But are nowhere close to fully fleshing out your character. And thatís for one character. So when I had a character force stored after 3 weeks of not playing, I was upset. It was a clanned character that was not in a leadership position. I had very busy schedule at the time with work and school and simply needed the ability to play my character sporadically in order to continue to play. My request to have the character unstored was denied because I was honest when I was asked how often I would be able to play. And because my character was stored, I stopped playing for a couple of years. Force storages are the type of thing that is killing player retention. If a player isnít in a leadership position, and isnít hurting the roleplay of other characters by doing things like: OOC communication, not asking for consent, or abusing the code. Then you probably shouldnít toss away all of the time they have put into a character with a force storage. If they actively roleplay their characterís personality and play their character in a realistic way, then even better, give them karma.

3. Make these forums feel like a safe place to air grievances. This is the surest way to kill the shadowboard. Simply creating a section on the forum where players can post concerns or disputes without feeling like they will be punished for it would deincentivize many (although admittedly not all) shadowboarders.

4. Try to guide players instead of pushing players. A friendly in-character nudge that what a character is saying or wearing is odd is great. And helps the player understand the world that their character is living in. A blunt email explaining why the player was punished for not playing correctly might get the behavior changed quicker. But you are also a lot more likely to lose the player or have a player who feels like the staff donít care about their feelings.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 17, 2017, 07:26:35 PM
Meh.  I don't think any of those suggestions hit the mark.

The problems, as I see it:

1.  It takes too much time to play this game for people who aren't already invested in it.

2.  It takes WAY too much time to get any good at combat.

3.  It's far too difficult to be any sort of antagonist PC without some sort of uberness built in (e.g. psion, sorc, elementalist, mul, HG, AHMAHZING stats, extensive code/game knowledge gathered from past experience, etc.).

4.  The game rules make it very difficult to maintain word-of-mouth interest.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Dar on April 17, 2017, 09:11:43 PM
Synthesis is pretty accurate. These matters are the biggest obstacles of player retention. Although solving some of those problems may change the gameworld to such an extent that solutions themselves may be the cause of a new problem. There are no obvious answers.

The solutions that Nerdyfingers mentioned would help with the retention of 'certain' players. Unfortunately, due to the previous thread, I now count myself as one of those players :). Whether those certain players deserve extra effort to try and keep, is left up to staff decision.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Malken on April 17, 2017, 09:38:10 PM
Player/Staff meeting isn't going to do shit as long as Staff is not willing to share with us their "long-term" goals for Armageddon. Anything else would be just like a "live" Ask the Staff thread.

I don't think the shadowboardô is much of a problem anymore, it's mostly being used by a couple of mentally unstable individuals using it as their ranting box against society and paid for by Jcarter. It offers a nice alternative poop read when reddit doesn't deliver.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 17, 2017, 09:50:52 PM
I didn't know they needed to have long term goals for Armageddon. I'm satisfied if their only long-term goal is to continue providing the game to the public.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 17, 2017, 09:55:33 PM
My solution proposals:

1.  Code a minimum offline RL time-based skillgain.  Implement it so that the skillgain continues for the skills you actually used during your last RL month of logins, and cap the skillgain achievable via this method at 40% of guild max.  If you do nothing but log in once a month and use a bunch of skills a single time, after about 6 months, you could be at what...beginning jman in all of them.  If, in the last RL month, you haven't even -used- a particular skill, you no longer receive passive skillgain in that skill.

2.  Code a mobile-device app that allows for psionic communication without actually logging into the game.  Allow players to decide whether or not to be available for the app.  If you're logged in to the game, and your target contact is logged out, but available via the app, you can send the psi and it will be sent to the target PC's player's mobile device, and they can respond.  Such communication would be subject to all forms of magick or psionic snooping, spoofing, blocking, or other miscellaneous shenanigans.

3.  Code a psionic inbox so that when you log in, you can check the list of messages that your PC would've received.  Again, subject to snooping, spoofing, blocking, or shenanigans.

4.  Increase the rate of combat and weapon skillgain.

5.  Radically re-code the Labyrinth.  Change the room correspondence from 1:1 width of Allanak to like a width of 10:1, with a 3-layer aboveground Y axis.  Put so many quit rooms, hidey-holes, hidden places, and wandering NPCs in it that it would be entirely possible to be a relatively anonymous low-level criminal.  Implement a reasonable economic system for the area (i.e. one that doesn't revolve around looting dead NPCs.) Code some scrub-level gangs that are joinable from either chargen, or with minimal effort.

6.  Enable either mobile-app or offline payments...so if you hire someone to do something, and they do it, you can pay them for the work even if you otherwise rarely run into each other in game.  Maybe this could be limited to folks with active Nenyuk accounts or whatever.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Kalden on April 17, 2017, 10:15:27 PM
#5, turning the Labyrinth into a bigger place, sounds intriguing.

The reality is that it wouldn't kill the game to have fun activities for people who don't really want to just hang around in taverns or greb for salt. Exploring the wilderness is fun and engages those people pretty well right now. The Labyrinth could be more like a wilderness which would be interesting.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Malifaxis on April 17, 2017, 10:26:38 PM
The responses to this thread make me very sad.

Combat in no way needs to be more powerful.  No one needs the necksnap skill.

Retention is improved by creating more engagement and interest, not by creating more bodies.

Area expansion (rinth and silt), allowance of lateral changes (pc noble -> pc templar), and increased pc social dynamics (coded enforcement of social clout/semi immunity/susceptibility from crim code) could do a great amount.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: NerdyFingers on April 18, 2017, 12:32:40 AM
My solution proposals:

1.  Code a minimum offline RL time-based skillgain.  Implement it so that the skillgain continues for the skills you actually used during your last RL month of logins, and cap the skillgain achievable via this method at 40% of guild max.  If you do nothing but log in once a month and use a bunch of skills a single time, after about 6 months, you could be at what...beginning jman in all of them.  If, in the last RL month, you haven't even -used- a particular skill, you no longer receive passive skillgain in that skill.

2.  Code a mobile-device app that allows for psionic communication without actually logging into the game.  Allow players to decide whether or not to be available for the app.  If you're logged in to the game, and your target contact is logged out, but available via the app, you can send the psi and it will be sent to the target PC's player's mobile device, and they can respond.  Such communication would be subject to all forms of magick or psionic snooping, spoofing, blocking, or other miscellaneous shenanigans.

3.  Code a psionic inbox so that when you log in, you can check the list of messages that your PC would've received.  Again, subject to snooping, spoofing, blocking, or shenanigans.

4.  Increase the rate of combat and weapon skillgain.

5.  Radically re-code the Labyrinth.  Change the room correspondence from 1:1 width of Allanak to like a width of 10:1, with a 3-layer aboveground Y axis.  Put so many quit rooms, hidey-holes, hidden places, and wandering NPCs in it that it would be entirely possible to be a relatively anonymous low-level criminal.  Implement a reasonable economic system for the area (i.e. one that doesn't revolve around looting dead NPCs.) Code some scrub-level gangs that are joinable from either chargen, or with minimal effort.

6.  Enable either mobile-app or offline payments...so if you hire someone to do something, and they do it, you can pay them for the work even if you otherwise rarely run into each other in game.  Maybe this could be limited to folks with active Nenyuk accounts or whatever.

I like the idea of increasing how quickly skills are gained. Another way this could be done is by raising the starting level of skills and lowering the max level of skills. It just takes very long time to get good at things. Especially if you are playing your character in a realistic way. I also really like #6. A way to pay someone even if they are offline would also be huge for all sorts of characters (assassins, merchants, etc).

Trying to increase engagement would also help. One thing that I've always wanted to see is more competition between factions. This could be done by setting objectives (controlling an area, financial goals, people to kill, crafting goals) and then codedly rewarding factions that complete these objectives in some small way (small bump in salary, maybe being put in charge of an area or room that gives some small coded benefit, more npcs, etc).
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 12:37:19 AM
Nobody said anything about making combat "more powerful," or adding a necksnap skill.

Casually dismissing the concerns of achiever gamer types as preposterous is hardly "creating more engagement and interest," by the way.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 18, 2017, 12:58:47 AM
See this going down the same path as many other threads that were aligned towards this topic.

As stated in those threads, as far as combat, I don't think anything needs to be improving more quickly; I think branching could happen earlier, but 'viability' is already reached relatively quickly by those looking to 'achieve' viability.  The 'achievement' of having it tell you 'master' is a flawed premise when gauged against what is possible within the game and what's required to achieve them.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Melkor on April 18, 2017, 12:59:59 AM
I 100% agree with making the 'rinth bigger. like... waaaay bigger. A week or two playing in the Rinth and you can walk the alleys by memory. Not much of a maze, imo.

Leave the skills alone. Absolutely no offline skillgain. I would even advocate making combat skills harder to level, or at least making them require maintenance, so if you do not use a leveled skill every so often, you get rusty, and lose some talent.

I agree that it is difficult to play an Antagonist without staff support, as rubbing against the grain usually leads to being stuffed out ASAP, but I think this has to do with the game being largely player v environment, making antagonistic characters particularly annoying. I think the staff should help average players have the resources to be baddies, even if they are players who will take the opportunity given to them and fail miserably.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 01:06:56 AM
*sigh*

I'm just trying to help y'all out.  I'm at 26 days, branched my first set of advanced weapon skills, and on the cusp of a second branch, so I mean...I'm not suggesting it for my own sake.

But...whatever, man.  If y'all wanna keep sucking, I guess that's on you.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 18, 2017, 01:11:45 AM
How is your long-lasting gripe about what it takes to branch weapon skills not addressed by just making it branch earlier?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Jihelu on April 18, 2017, 01:19:52 AM
Remind me why I can't take a subguild that lets me know how to use a bloody polearm.

Also, inb4 thread is locked like the last time.

Outside of me complaining about some things I don't have problems with staff. I have problems with what I see them do, but none of it has involved me.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 01:23:49 AM
How is your long-lasting gripe about what it takes to branch weapon skills not addressed by just making it branch earlier?

I can't really answer that question without getting into a code discussion red zone.  That would be partially helpful, I guess...but it wouldn't make an appreciable difference in the overall grind.  The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Hauwke on April 18, 2017, 01:25:01 AM
Weapons skills are gnarly once you hit late jman low advanced. All those ridiculous long lived pc's that wreck face would be all but unstoppable if you made it easier for them to skill up.

Plus I dont want to be seeing master weapons skills on my sheet for a long time of playing. It should require several IG years of practice to git gud.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: ghanima on April 18, 2017, 02:03:22 AM
Yeah I don't know about increasing weapon skill gains either. There should be something that is seen as a long term goal, something that you can only attain by being alive a really long time. Otherwise people will feel that they've reached their limitations in a relatively short period of time, get bored, become reckless, then die stupidly or store. For me the long term goal is reaching master level in a weapons skill. It's important to remember that people will always ask for something. The trouble with granting wishes is that many times people don't want what they ask for once they have it. Do we really need to decrease the time it takes to improve in combat? I'm not yet convinced.

I think the player base has suddenly jumped up out of the blue and I'm going to venture a guess it has to do with the gladiator stuff on offer. Which I think is great! On the topic of our ever diminishing player base I do want to point out that while the average high during peak hours (until very recently) has been rather low, off peak hours are higher than they've ever been in the history of the MUD. There's still that time of day when the player list is 0 or 1 but that used to encompass a much larger time frame. Now when I expect to see only 5 players online I've actually seen 20+! Arm used to be very Americentric back in the day but now we've got players from all over the globe. So when it comes to retention, do just bear in mind that if you don't see higher numbers during peak hours that isn't enough evidence to say the population hasn't increased.

I love this discussion overall though and hope it continues. For me the best way to improve player retention is not with coded add ons but with game wide story arcs. Something that pulls the players in and makes them want to get in on the action. I'd rather a game with a faulty code but amazing storytelling taking place than amazing code with little or no real stories to tell.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: John on April 18, 2017, 03:14:06 AM
I can't really answer that question without getting into a code discussion red zone.  That would be partially helpful, I guess...but it wouldn't make an appreciable difference in the overall grind.  The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.
The only way this sounds like "viable" is if you define "viable" as being "close to fully maxxed out."

Some people really need to redefine how they view their characters if they think grinding to this level is required to be a playable character.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 03:54:08 AM
I can't really answer that question without getting into a code discussion red zone.  That would be partially helpful, I guess...but it wouldn't make an appreciable difference in the overall grind.  The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.
The only way this sounds like "viable" is if you define "viable" as being "close to fully maxxed out."

Some people really need to redefine how they view their characters if they think grinding to this level is required to be a playable character.

I never said viable.  I never said playable.  Why put words in my mouth?

Let's just drop the stupid combat suggestion then, since apparently people can't approach that discussion in even a minimally reasonable manner.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 18, 2017, 07:55:58 AM
Synthesis, here are 3 lines from 3 different posts you posted in this thread:
Quote
3.  It's far too difficult to be any sort of antagonist PC without some sort of uberness built in (e.g. psion, sorc, elementalist, mul, HG, AHMAHZING stats, extensive code/game knowledge gathered from past experience, etc.).
----------------
Casually dismissing the concerns of achiever gamer types as preposterous is hardly "creating more engagement and interest," by the way.
----------------
But...whatever, man.  If y'all wanna keep sucking, I guess that's on you.

Re the first: You don't need to have ANY "uberness" built in to be any sort of antagonist. You need to have at least some prior experience playing Armageddon, and at least some moderate understanding of the politics of the game world and of whichever area your character is living in. You can even show up knowing very little, and stay alive long enough to learn your way up the ladder. There have been extremely long-lived characters who didn't use most of their main guild skills at all, let alone maxed them out or gotten "uber" with them.

Re the second: Achiever types already have concerns addressed. They want to progress through the code. There's nothing stopping them. Eventually, as long as they play the RP end of things conservatively, they will max out. If they RP a yahoo cowboy who rides out into unknown territory all by himself and decides to take on a 6-pack of kryl, then no - he isn't likely to succeed. If he shows up out of chargen as a dwarf with a focus to kill the first noble he sees, then - he'll probably be disappointed.

Re the third: there's your problem right there. You are convinced that if people don't play the way you want to play, then their play style sucks. You are wrong.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: whitt on April 18, 2017, 09:38:29 AM
The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.

I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better do you really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your skill list? 

If so then I would be tempted to agree with you.  Enough successes without a failure should equate to the same opportunity for skill advancement as one or two failures during that same amount of skill usage.  I'm not a fan of the "must fail to learn" skill system either, it results in janky play.  I  think your attention only to combat skills makes mining this proposed change out of your complaint difficult.  It also leads me to believe that maybe this isn't your complaint at all, but then, I'm not sure what it is you do want.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 18, 2017, 12:38:02 PM
The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.
I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better do you really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your skill list? 

If I may: Because like nuclear armament, there will always be a Synth-like player out there who knows more than you, or an X-D Dwarf that has been around so long that you codedly can't even hit him, or even the fact that no matter how good you get, staff can animate an NPC that bitchslaps you like a boss.

I have a lot of feelings on this, that many people disagree with. However, I'll throw my hat in to say that keeping not just newbies, but veterans, playing is to honestly have MORE back and forth with staff. It seems what makes many veterans leave (including me) is the idea that it takes a week for staff to respond to a report, but in 2 days I could be dead to some altercation that happened the day before. Its not a fault of staff, per se, but the system itself. Staff are there to "make the world come alive" and "help out with personal plots" but they are so stretched thin with bureaucracy that even Leadership roles don't always get the attention they need (not complaining about anyone specific, my last staffer was a fucking great staffer).

I have a theory that players are, by majority, half-elves. They want to be accepted and part of the 'in' crowd, but are volatile and will fly off the handle when you suggest something may not be the way they imagined it. Those that don't, honestly, we don't have to worry about retention. If they're happy being on the outside, solo RPing and telling a mostly one-character story, so be it. I know personally I want to be part of the shared story, and just have my part that mattered one way or the other, but the staff time it would take for me to have felt useful takes away from the overall story's richness. I don't have a solution, but I want to better frame a problem.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 12:55:30 PM
Synthesis, here are 3 lines from 3 different posts you posted in this thread:
Quote
3.  It's far too difficult to be any sort of antagonist PC without some sort of uberness built in (e.g. psion, sorc, elementalist, mul, HG, AHMAHZING stats, extensive code/game knowledge gathered from past experience, etc.).
----------------
Casually dismissing the concerns of achiever gamer types as preposterous is hardly "creating more engagement and interest," by the way.
----------------
But...whatever, man.  If y'all wanna keep sucking, I guess that's on you.

Re the first: You don't need to have ANY "uberness" built in to be any sort of antagonist. You need to have at least some prior experience playing Armageddon, and at least some moderate understanding of the politics of the game world and of whichever area your character is living in. You can even show up knowing very little, and stay alive long enough to learn your way up the ladder. There have been extremely long-lived characters who didn't use most of their main guild skills at all, let alone maxed them out or gotten "uber" with them.

Re the second: Achiever types already have concerns addressed. They want to progress through the code. There's nothing stopping them. Eventually, as long as they play the RP end of things conservatively, they will max out. If they RP a yahoo cowboy who rides out into unknown territory all by himself and decides to take on a 6-pack of kryl, then no - he isn't likely to succeed. If he shows up out of chargen as a dwarf with a focus to kill the first noble he sees, then - he'll probably be disappointed.

Re the third: there's your problem right there. You are convinced that if people don't play the way you want to play, then their play style sucks. You are wrong.

I never said it was impossible to be an antagonist without built-in uberness.  I said it's TOO DIFFICULT, and that discourages people from trying it.  Then they get bored with playing milquetoast PCs, and they go play a different game.

My suggestion to improve skillgain is NOT INTENDED TO BE BENEFICIAL to pure achiever types.  Pure achiever types will be perfectly happy grinding away with incremental gains, because that is their bread and butter.  Improving skillgain is intended to keep around the folks who want to RP a badass warrior but who don't want to put in the grind required to do it, which is UTTERLY SOUL-CRUSHING if you don't enjoy grinding away in solo PvE.  So they play non-combatants.  Then they get bored with non-combatants.  Then they quit playing.

I never said anyone's "play style" sucks.  I didn't even imply that.  "Keep on sucking" simply means "your PC sucks at fighting."

The difficult spot has always been the near-maxed plateau where you can plow through a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure.

I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better do you really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your skill list? 

If so then I would be tempted to agree with you.  Enough successes without a failure should equate to the same opportunity for skill advancement as one or two failures during that same amount of skill usage.  I'm not a fan of the "must fail to learn" skill system either, it results in janky play.  I  think your attention only to combat skills makes mining this proposed change out of your complaint difficult.  It also leads me to believe that maybe this isn't your complaint at all, but then, I'm not sure what it is you do want.

I don't want to implement code changes in order to be better than anyone at fighting, because I ALREADY AM.  I know exactly what to do and how to do it.  I want OTHER PEOPLE to be able to get awesome, too...because being awesome undeniably provides an incentive to keep on playing the damn game.

I don't understand why you people seem to think I have my own interests in mind.  None of this has a damn thing to do with what -I- personally need.  I don't need offline skillgain, because I can max out any skill other than combat skills in like 4-5 days played, without even trying too hard.  I don't need "offline" psionics because I usually play solo or loner-type PCs.  I don't need a more interesting, realistic Labyrinth, because I know the ins and outs of the current map, and I know how to make it work.  I don't need offline payments, because I know how to extract maximum value from simple PvE exchanges.  I don't need increased combat skillgain, because I enjoy the grind, and I'm pretty fucking good at it.

I'm offering these suggestions because I -know-, after nearly 20 damn years of playing this game, that these are the things other people cry about over, and over, and over, and over again:  it's too hard to coordinate; it's too hard to be a bad guy; being in a clan is the best way to get good RP, but the worst way to skill up; edited to add:  need more support for casual players.

But, you know...fine.  FIIIIIINE.  I'll just keep enjoying myself, by myself, and when the playerbase drops to 5 online at peak, it won't fucking MATTER to me, because I'm used to it.  I'm trying to help the rest of you dinguses, but you can't get over this paranoid delusion that I'm trying to get EVEN MOAR UBER so I can come and apartment gank you or some shit.  It's ridiculous.  The last time I PK'ed someone, it was in defense of a third person, well over a year ago.  I can't even remember the last time before that.  I'M NOT THE BOOGEYMAN.  I'M NOT OUT TO GET YOU.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: whitt on April 18, 2017, 02:02:47 PM
I don't understand why you people seem to think I have my own interests in mind.  None of this has a damn thing to do with what -I- personally need. 

I don't think that at all.  I'm just trying to understand your proposal.  So let me re-word the question you quoted slightly.

I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you a ranger/warrior can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better would you that character really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're the players you're advocating for are aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your their skill list? 
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Feco on April 18, 2017, 02:08:37 PM
I'M NOT THE BOOGEYMAN.  I'M NOT OUT TO GET YOU.

I am.  I'm glad Synth keeps you guys off my back, tho.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Molten Heart on April 18, 2017, 02:16:56 PM
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Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: whitt on April 18, 2017, 02:26:40 PM
The message I'm reading from Sythisis is that skill gains are a long and sometimes tedious process that few willing to engage in. He'd like to see more characters in game with skills that he could enjoy interacting with.

There's the thing.  I can buy into everything from gradual off-line skill progression to help the game be more available to the casual player to starting folks off at higher base skill levels in their main guild to help them be less risk-adverse due to the crippling grind of the new PC.

Pretty much the only point I asked for clarification on, was the focus on maxxing out combat skills, especially after Armaddict's ask if lowering the branching point on skills wouldn't resolve that sense of a "must do" to get to Master.  In short, if you can branch all the guild's skills and you never seem to fail, where is the need to improve?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 18, 2017, 02:37:56 PM
Combat-wise, Whitt, there's a significant coded difference between "doesn't miss/fail" and "gets parried all the time".

Low Journeyman "not missing often" and high advanced is a totally different story. Higher skill helps you get over the opponents Parry/Block defenses, increases your average damage (which helps against armored creatures like bahamets and mekillots). So while you may "not miss", there's still a "I'm useless in an advanced group".
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 18, 2017, 02:39:46 PM
I don't understand why you people seem to think I have my own interests in mind.  None of this has a damn thing to do with what -I- personally need. 

I don't think that at all.  I'm just trying to understand your proposal.  So let me re-word the question you quoted slightly.

I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you a ranger/warrior can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better would you that character really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're the players you're advocating for are aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your their skill list? 

The proposal is not intended to increase maximum DPS for warriors at the top tier.  The proposal is to allow getting to the top tier to either a) take less time or b) not require highly specific and poor (at best) RP, so that a) casuals can achieve it and b) more social players can still play characters that are combat-effective.

I don't understand why you people seem to think I have my own interests in mind.  None of this has a damn thing to do with what -I- personally need. 

I don't think that at all.  I'm just trying to understand your proposal.  So let me re-word the question you quoted slightly.

I think this is precisely why your argument falls on deaf ears.  If you a ranger/warrior can rofl stomp a half-dozen of some of the most badass critters in the game and not get a single failure?  How much better would you that character really need to be to ring the bell for whichever sense of achievement you're the players you're advocating for are aiming for?  Is it as simple as seeing Master in your their skill list? 

The message I'm reading from Sythisis is that skill gains are a long and sometimes tedious process that few willing to engage in. He'd like to see more characters in game with skills that he could enjoy interacting with. The suggestion made isn't going to make people fighters into ninja warriors but it could make someone competent over a long time when those around them ho log in more regularly are already ahead in the skills department.

One plus of offline skill gains is that players with severe limits on their play times could spend that time engaging with others without worry of being stuck at low skill levels while they role play and engage with other players in non-combat orriated activities with their precious login time.

Yeah, pretty much.

I'll have to amend my previous post that the proposals aren't really intended to benefit me, in that, as a "casual" player (on a typical day, I can put in maybe 1 IC day--90 minutes, tops), offline skillgain capped at jman would free me up to do more interesting shit with that 90 minutes.  I mean, sure, my PC is pretty badass for a 26-day warrior, but that's 26 days played split over 8 months RL time.

The message I'm reading from Sythisis is that skill gains are a long and sometimes tedious process that few willing to engage in. He'd like to see more characters in game with skills that he could enjoy interacting with.

There's the thing.  I can buy into everything from gradual off-line skill progression to help the game be more available to the casual player to starting folks off at higher base skill levels in their main guild to help them be less risk-adverse due to the crippling grind of the new PC.

Pretty much the only point I asked for clarification on, was the focus on maxxing out combat skills, especially after Armaddict's ask if lowering the branching point on skills wouldn't resolve that sense of a "must do" to get to Master.  In short, if you can branch all the guild's skills and you never seem to fail, where is the need to improve?

There are multiple code reasons.  Suffice it to say...that last 10 points in a weapon skill is worth it, even if you don't notice the difference in hit vs. miss with the weapon skill itself.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: wizturbo on April 18, 2017, 02:46:33 PM
I saw this thread and was tempted to offer some thoughts because I deeply care about the subject, but I just can't muster up the motivation to engage in yet another one of these discussions.  If staff are interested in tweaking things, there isn't a lack of ideas on how to do it.  It's all about whether they want to focus on this topic, or spend their efforts elsewhere.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: solera on April 19, 2017, 03:00:37 PM
i like the sound of the mobile psi-ing. i don't know if it would make any difference to player numbers at all, but it would make life easier.  imagine the cross-world mistargetting.  ;D
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: nessalin on April 19, 2017, 03:35:12 PM
Not committing to any work, but I do like spit-balling.

On the concept of off-line skill gains two things come to mind.

1) Neal Stephenson's Reamde has an MMORPG in it where players can define tasks for their character's to perform while offline referred to as 'bot behavior'.  Read a book, cook food, work in the mine, etc...  There was no limit implied by the few references the book made to the system, but it was implied that this was mostly a way to keep people paying for their account even if they weren't currently playing.  Similar to Eve Online.

2) RuneQuest, a pen-n-paper RPG, had a system for what your character does while not adventuring on the premise that your character would not be out in the field full time.  OOC this was useful if you were going to miss a few game sessions your character could still advance through research, study, and practice.  IC this was useful for times when the plot calls for the characters to count time, such as holing up in a fort for the winter when a pass is snowed shut.

Part of this system involved declaring which skills could be improved through research, study, and practice while also limiting how far they could improve.  Knowledge skills (language, history, math) could be trained up as high as your stats and instructor (whether a book or a mentor) allowed.  Combat skills were similarly limited by your stats and mentor, but were capped out below maximum to account for the things you can only learn in the field. 
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 19, 2017, 04:12:15 PM
The second idea from HeWhoShallNotBeNamed has definite merit, and I honestly like the idea enough and trust staff to know how fast is "too" fast and etc (based on average PC life and expected competency at certain milestones). Not "I want to practice all my combat skills forever and never log in", but maybe more of a situation in which you're clanned Byn, but you can only play a few hours a week. After an IC year of that, you may or may not even see your skills move, which isn't realistic. So virtually, your skills are adjusted to match the expected level of a year-old Runner. Let staff decide which guilds get to which points, but it'd make the "I spent a year in the Byn" really matter, because you CAN hold your own, codedly, to be someone's field aide or etc.

I'd put my full weight behind it if you could force whippings and ass kickings for dustheaded Runners in the Byn that stick around a year, and tell employers they didn't learn shit.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 19, 2017, 04:34:41 PM
Not committing to any work, but I do like spit-balling.

On the concept of off-line skill gains two things come to mind.

1) Neal Stephenson's Reamde has an MMORPG in it where players can define tasks for their character's to perform while offline referred to as 'bot behavior'.  Read a book, cook food, work in the mine, etc...  There was no limit implied by the few references the book made to the system, but it was implied that this was mostly a way to keep people paying for their account even if they weren't currently playing.  Similar to Eve Online.

2) RuneQuest, a pen-n-paper RPG, had a system for what your character does while not adventuring on the premise that your character would not be out in the field full time.  OOC this was useful if you were going to miss a few game sessions your character could still advance through research, study, and practice.  IC this was useful for times when the plot calls for the characters to count time, such as holing up in a fort for the winter when a pass is snowed shut.

Part of this system involved declaring which skills could be improved through research, study, and practice while also limiting how far they could improve.  Knowledge skills (language, history, math) could be trained up as high as your stats and instructor (whether a book or a mentor) allowed.  Combat skills were similarly limited by your stats and mentor, but were capped out below maximum to account for the things you can only learn in the field.

Yeah, my particular suggestion was just one way to implement offline skillgain with particular answers to the fundamental questions:

1)  Which skills can you learn offline?
     a) Should some skills require a certain IC circumstance to be met?
2)  How do you pick which skills your PC is learning offline?
3)  What should be the skillcap for offline learning?
     a) Should some skills have an offline learning cap higher than others?
4)  How fast should offline learning occur?
     a) Should some skills train offline faster than others?

My proposal was 1) Any skill a) Yes, that you've used the skill in the past RL month; 2) Any skill you've used in the past RL month; 3) Jman for everything a) No; 4) Average-wisdom human 6 months to jman if you do absolutely nothing but log in once/month and use the skill once (in the extreme case).

Obviously, those are not the only acceptable solutions.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: burble on April 20, 2017, 09:19:25 AM
Just some ideas on gameplay

1. Wasted time/idling - a lot of the game is idling. Either waiting to find someone in particular, weather, daylight, mounts to rest.

Delays:
Is there a reason to have a delay after the failed "contact" attempt?

Is there a reason to delay logoff after being attacked by a kagor? It's not like the kagor mafia is going to put a hit out on you. Maybe do not set delays on outdoor mobs if you make it back to a quit room in the city. Or if you kill the mob. Or if it can't hunt you anyways - like getting away from a scrab attack.

Resting:
Logoff for a few hours - have the mounts fully rested when you log back on.
Maybe even have your stamina, hp back to full as well.

Weather:
How about not having the weather be terrible or worse for 2 days in a row? And/or make sure it is not terrible (or >) the same times of the RL day in a row.
You're going to be this grungy grebber. Log onto the game. Weather says nope. So you sit in an empty bar a RL hour to try again or logoff and try again tomorrow? How does weather roulette help the game?
Same with the moons. What is the purpose of having a completely dark city? Light up the major streets. At the worst, don't let two nights in a row be completely dark.

2. Communication - the in game boards are seriously whacked guys. You can read about someone from 2 years ago wanting hides. The boards make the world seem really dead.

Rolling boards:
Make a similar board but have it roll off over a short period of time (2 days or a week). Put it in the markets as local chatter. Someone probably mentioned there's a Mek out trampling in the salt flats today but it is certainly not relevant a month from now. Same with dead people - Someone found another dead grebber today..he had brown hair and a scar on his cheek. So-and-so just got to town with a pile of furs if anyone is interested. Put something more dynamic than the tavern boards.

Help files:
A new player should be able to get everything he needs from the helpfile. There's no help file for blowgun.
I remember years ago walking into a tavern with a spell effect, everyone staring at me and me going "what is something on my face"? "Look me" did not show anything. The help file did not say anything about others seeing the effects...so it makes no IC sense, it makes no OOC sense.
Get newbies to test the help files. If you already know how things work, you will miss important details.


3. Total dreaming - update the guild system

Full character customization:
Start the game with points to buy skills. Still offer preset guilds for a lump of points but have the ability to totally customize your character.

Reward current characters/incentives to play a certain way:
The karma system rewards a future character. Your current character has to die before you get any benefit.
Maybe for a character that is still alive after 6 months (might want a real time and play time qualification) you get a journeyman cap upgraded to advanced..or advanced upgraded to master. Have it preset so you don't have to get approval or bother people with requests.
Same thing if you are rewarded karma while playing a character for other categories - bump up a cap on that character.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: nauta on April 20, 2017, 09:34:08 AM
A comment and an idea.  The idea first.  Then the comment.

Idea. OOC Communication.

Plot hooks should be communicated outside the game and curated by storytellers.  Think of it as a kind of Zalanthas IG Newsletter. The content could be included in the MOTD as you log in and included on the web-site alongside chronology.  It should get a few plot hooks per month, and these can be both virtual plot hooks (e.g., Lady Borsail is rumored to be dabbling in dark magicks to keep her lips so fresh) and real plot hooks, both staff-driven plot hooks (e.g., that comet that fell from the sky) and player-driven plot hooks (festivals and the like).  Players can request plot hooks get added to it via the request tool to their clan staff.  This would leave in-game boards for more localized and temporary plots, e.g., trades, etc. Objection: but we don't want to advertise plots so broadly!  Reply: Granted we have but one city state, I don't see this objection having much force. It is true that a criminal on the lam in the desert or a desert elf would get access to plots going on in Allanak, but this isn't such a bad thing and we can pass it off as the virtual word-of-mouth from travelers.

The comment:

Help files:
A new player should be able to get everything he needs from the helpfile. There's no help file for blowgun.
I remember years ago walking into a tavern with a spell effect, everyone staring at me and me going "what is something on my face"? "Look me" did not show anything. The help file did not say anything about others seeing the effects...so it makes no IC sense, it makes no OOC sense.
Get newbies to test the help files. If you already know how things work, you will miss important details.

There's this http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,50232.0.html (http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,50232.0.html).  Staff have implemented a lot of the suggestions, so if you have a particular one, like blowgun (which is new and probably why it is not documented) I'd say add it to the list.  For the magick stuff, we can't really talk about it on the gdb, but I would think staff would be open to receiving a "bug" via the request tool with the rationale.  (I totally agree, too.  A couple years ago I played my first gick and the help files are the spells are in need of some serious reworking, streamlining, etc.  There's talk of 'God' in one of them even!  But for external effects of some spells in particular, "look self" doesn't tell you that you are (to use a random non-game example) flaming like a million lights, but people who see your sdesc see "The tall woman is here, flaming like a million lights.")
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: azuriolinist on April 20, 2017, 12:28:54 PM
I like the idea of a newsletter. Or the events feed that was being discussed here (http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,52374.0.html). Boy do I know how quiet the world seems at times, especially around off-peak in areas other than Allanak.

The secrecy's a necessary thing for immersion, I get it. Figuring things out on your own feels pretty damn good, too. It's stifling at the same time when you don't know what might be going on or where it's happening, despite everyone saying there's a slew of plots happening.

The stories going on in the world of Zalanthas, virtual and not, are a main part of what's got me hooked to Armageddon. I hold more interest in a concept if there are stuff currently going down with the PC. So, bring other PCs into the fold and yank them into the action. I'd appreciate it, personally, because I've rarely been one to start things. Seriously, all my accolades to you guys who involve others into your plots.

The opportunity to explore things (whether those things are character concepts or the in-game world) has always had me clinging to Arm, too. I still have a lot of things to come across, but it's always awesome to discover new (maybe?) things in the world. It's why I'm bummed over the closing of some stuff. Those are things I'll never get to dip my feet into, now. That topic's been discussed enough, though, probably.

Basically, changes to the game world and the opening of new things will pique interest. Show it's a dynamic world, both IG and out. The new gladiator clan, for one, definitely has me hyped!

In addition, though it's probably far-fetched: integrate character generation into the website. Graphical UI, buttons, the like. Along with that, a graphical client for those completely new to MUDs might lessen the steep learning curve Armageddon (and MUDs, generally) has. That's some work, though, but it's a thought. Modernize the MUD, all that.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Feco on April 20, 2017, 12:51:20 PM
In addition, though it's probably far-fetched: integrate character generation into the website. Graphical UI, buttons, the like. Along with that, a graphical client for those completely new to MUDs might lessen the steep learning curve Armageddon (and MUDs, generally) has. That's some work, though, but it's a thought. Modernize the MUD, all that.

I recently introduced a new player to the game, and they wanted to figure things out on their own.  They seriously struggled with the text editor.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Molten Heart on April 20, 2017, 02:57:57 PM
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Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 20, 2017, 04:12:31 PM
I don't think features are what make people feel like sticking around.  That's kind of the same approach we've been taking for a long time, but in the end, will usually result in 'It has some neat stuff, but I just didn't have anything to do.'
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 20, 2017, 04:17:03 PM
I don't think features are what make people feel like sticking around.  That's kind of the same approach we've been taking for a long time, but in the end, will usually result in 'It has some neat stuff, but I just didn't have anything to do.'

There are two lengths of retention we're looking at though. New Player retention (I'm thinking, less than three months) would probably get some use out of an easier interface, and nifty little tools. Not EVERYONE loved bios being editable after death, but man it is nice.

But we also need to look at long-term retention. The "things to do", the feel of collaborative storytelling, the adventures, a sense of "This is new, I haven't done this exact same adventure on a different PC".

Its like we're all stuck with old DnD Modules to play, and we've played every kind of character in them, but nothing is surprising.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: azuriolinist on April 20, 2017, 09:30:54 PM
I recently introduced a new player to the game, and they wanted to figure things out on their own.  They seriously struggled with the text editor.

That's exactly what I was thinking about. Instead of having to wrestle with the in-game text editor or setting up a MUD client, new players should be able to jump right in and not frustrate themselves in the process. The initial character generation and reading up on docs. takes plenty of time already, as it is.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: wizturbo on April 21, 2017, 12:10:38 AM
Here's an outline of how I view this subject.  The bullets that I marked with an asterix are the ones I have some ideas for, and I feel are worth a double-click:

1. New Player Acquisition

2.  Player On-boarding

3. "Veteran" Player Retention - Addressing why people leave

Double-click on things that are time consuming and/or make it more difficult to create content:

Skill training is general is slow, skill training for the fun combat roles is even slower.

There's plenty of discussion on this thread about this subject already, and there's good ideas there.  I don't think I need to add more to the pot.  My only other thing to add is that slow skill training also significantly impacts the "Player Conflicts" and "Staff Conflicts" portion of why people leave.  If you've invested 500 hours making your character decent at something, you're going to be significantly more pissed off if someone fucks with them than if you only spent 50.


A lack of tools to communicate
Planning an in-game activity is 90% coordinating with other players & staff using tools that harken back to the days of telegrams and snail mail.  I recognize that opening up channels of communication has potential consequences, but I would argue that these channels already exist and are being used by the 'bad guys' anyway which greatly mitigates this problem.  This problem also impacts the "Gravity" bullet on my list above.  It's hard to generate player driven content with one arm tied behind your back.

Bureaucracy
Sponsored roles require a lot of reporting.  I probably spent 100+ hours writing reports to staff over the years.  That's time where no one is having fun (staff or players alike).  The whole point of bureaucracy is to make things manageable, and I get that, but it definitely has an affect on people's ability to play the ever important sponsored roles.

Responsiveness of staff
It takes a lot of time to get staff support on something.  I'm not saying staff aren't open to supporting things, they definitely are, and do amazing stuff when they get involved.  I'm just saying that it often takes a long time to get that support.

To use an analogy, pretend you're going to have a bunch of friends over and you want to make sure you can feed them.  You're the worst cook ever, so you're forced to order food.  You place an order.  The guy at the restaurant will either say when you should pick up your food, or when the delivery guy will drop it off.  You know when you and your friends will be eating. 

By contrast, if you're planning something in Armageddon, the call for assistance is much less streamlined.  You use the request tool, which feels like snail mail.  You don't know how long it might take for the staff to get your message,  you don't know when they've read that message, and no indication of when they might reply.   This makes the planning process significantly less efficient, and saps a lot of the momentum and energy out of a potential plot/event.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 21, 2017, 06:44:03 AM
I guess I just don't consider "difficult to learn" to be something that falls on the negative side. I think it means that the game requires intelligent thought, not just pushing a bunch of buttons.

When you got your very first X-Box, did it take you while to open the container, take the parts out, figure out how to hook it up, spend time figuring out what to do with the thing, then load up a game and learn how to play it? Was it worth the effort and time you took to accomplish all that? All of that - before actually playing your first game?

How about your first computer ever. Wasn't there a learning curve to that? What about the first time you loaded up a game client. Didn't it take awhile to figure out the ins and outs of how to get it to work the way you wanted it to work, setting up macros, making scripts, changing colors, echos, etc. etc.?

How come people will spend hours upon hours of time figuring out how to prepare to have fun, but when it comes time to the "thing that is actually fun" they suddenly complain that it's difficult?

I just don't get it. It was difficult for me when I played my first mud, but eventually I figured things out, and can now play the way I like to play, and enjoy how I prefer to enjoy.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Molten Heart on April 21, 2017, 10:55:34 AM
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Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: azuriolinist on April 21, 2017, 11:18:51 AM
I love configuring my own set-up. That way, I can tailor it to how I want to play. The thing is, not everyone has time for that, so an already set-up default client widely available might help direct attention towards the game itself, rather than the process of getting things prepared for the MUD.

I think that's the point that's been made a couple of times throughout this discussion: make it possible for casual players to still be able to enjoy the game despite the lack of playtime available. I'm pointing this out under the assumption that by "difficult to learn", Lizzie, you're talking about setting up a MUD client, or maybe the ideas for skilling up that's been mentioned (ideas which I like the sound of).

If, rather, it's about the gameplay, I agree with Molten Heart -- in the way that we should be alleviating frustrations with the code so that roleplay can be focused on. Otherwise, I think the cultural details of a world like Zalanthas will naturally be difficult to figure out, and that should be a necessary stepping stone. Maintaining immersion should require understanding of the world. So I think we agree there?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 21, 2017, 11:22:45 AM
Lizzie, you're just being curmudgeonly. In your example, the Xbox was designed for more-or-less plug and play adaptability based on previously utilized designs familiar to those who would be purchasing the product.

So far a the PC and clients, many of us started with Telnet. But we were interested, so some people developed designs and functionalities that made things better. I never played Arm on Telnet (except that one time I was off-site at a training....), and even still I use GMUD, which is a woefully outdated client but does the minimum I need to interact. I'm still all for a better client experience if we want to attract NEW players.

Making things "Easier", I understand, might worry some that we're attracting the wrong type of people. But we don't want things "easier" we want them "better". If we want to include great storytellers that aren't used to the medium, we might have to make our medium easier to access.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 21, 2017, 02:44:49 PM
Quote
Making things "Easier", I understand, might worry some that we're attracting the wrong type of people. But we don't want things "easier" we want them "better".

I think there's a misunderstanding.  I don't want a hard OOC learning curve to curb non-enthusiastic players.  But I do think that people who get disgusted by having to input into a text editor so they leave are more than likely not going to be inclined to stay anyway.

Newbie-friendliness has been a big push for a long time now.  It's brought about various features, revisions, and approaches in reaching that goal. That's not a wasted goal; there's been a lot that came out of it.

However, insisting that this is the best way is being single-minded and negligent; I've brought 4 people to the game in the past two years.  Two were returning players.  1, I'm not sure if he's still playing or not, he hasn't communicated with me one bit beyond when I said 'Arm is still kickin', but it's gone through a lot of changes'.  But he also let me know he returned to play.  2, he quit again after about two weeks of 'This is a cool addition.  What were they thinking when they did this, though?  Was this...really necessary?'.  He was very critical of everything new, and wanted to expose me to his approval or lack thereof of each change.  But he fits into the same category as 3 and 4, who were entirely new.  One, entirely new to muds in general.

They were pumped by the creation.  They were pumped by their early play.  They had some frustrations with commands, but liked it.  However, they ended when they asked that inevitable question.  "Soooo...what now?  I just do this daily routine?"  "Yes, you live the character's life.  There will be fun events, I promise."  "I dunno, I've done this for a few days now.  It seems like there's nothing to do."

Enter my big push that the thing we need is -actual- content.  Not features.  Not color.  Not these things that provide beautification or simplicity.  We need for there to be things to do in game, even for those who aren't 'brought in' to the little plot groups that are often invite only, in practice.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Melkor on April 21, 2017, 02:54:06 PM
Has there ever been any consideration of NPC-driven newbie plots/quests? Or even a staffed (By helpers, or staff) character who's sole purpose is to give certain NPC quests to newbies? Perhaps tailored to their character's guild/subguild?

"Follow X and tell me what he is doing"

"Ride out to X and find me this herb/material"

"We need another caravan guard, go to X and you'll get paid after"

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Refugee on April 21, 2017, 03:05:18 PM
I said this back when they were planning it. 

Every game I've played where staff decided the playerbase needed to be forced to play closer together and thus closed down areas of play has died off.

I dunno why, but that's how it's worked.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: BadSkeelz on April 21, 2017, 03:11:58 PM
Has there ever been any consideration of NPC-driven newbie plots/quests? Or even a staffed (By helpers, or staff) character who's sole purpose is to give certain NPC quests to newbies? Perhaps tailored to their character's guild/subguild?

"Follow X and tell me what he is doing"

"Ride out to X and find me this herb/material"

"We need another caravan guard, go to X and you'll get paid after"



I don't think you need explicitly newbie quests. What you need are plots that anyone can potentially get involved in, or at least react to. I think Staff are the best source of these plots, because Staff can convincingly create and maintain an in-game crisis of appropriate severity.

When I started the game, I was fortunate in that the Ratsucker plot was running. (Basically it was a slowly growing infestation of giant spiders in Allanak.) Through my first year of play this plot was always in the background, sometimes on the foreground, of varying intensity but always something to work with and play off of. It didn't feel insurmountable, PCs never became spectators, it wasn't something you could ignore for being too big to deal with. It was a relatively low scale conflict with very personal stakes for my character. As a new player I had had just enough prep time to figure out how combat works before I was thrown in to my first RPT. I was lucky to be a combat PC, but even non-combat characters had to deal with this plot and its impact on the world. I met characters and made friendships dealing with those spiders. By injecting danger in to a "safe space" it really made Allanak feel alive.

There need to be plots like that running virtually all of the time in order to maintain player interest. No matter your characters' skill levels, no matter your own gameplay skill level, these are plots that provide excitement and impetus. As a new character (or player!) maybe you're just trying to survive. Veterans get to think about how they might win. Either way it's something to look forward to and log in for.

Incidentally my disdain for magick and magickal plots comes from the notion that the source of the crisis is too powerful for any mundane character to effectively deal with. Asking newbies, shit, players in general to willingly expend our characters on suicide missions is a tall order if you're looking to motivate people. At least with the mundane (or was it?) plot of the Ratsucker, mundanes and Gemmed felt equally threatened and engaged.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: wizturbo on April 21, 2017, 03:50:47 PM
Every game I've played where staff decided the playerbase needed to be forced to play closer together and thus closed down areas of play has died off.

I dunno why, but that's how it's worked.

I have a hypothesis as to why that's the case.

Armageddon is a sandbox game and relies on players to create the content.  It's an enormous 'content multiplier' of sorts.  EvE online has this too to a lesser degree.  A lot of Armageddon staff development efforts go towards expanding this content multiplier, giving players more sandboxy kind of features.  For example, the upgrades staff made to the player writing system has the potential to be a huge tool for content creation over time.  All the player books being in a format that's stable and saved is a big win. 

There are a lot of systems just like this, things that make the sandbox better and leverage that 'multiplier' effect on all existing and future 'developed content'.  For instance, if staff create a new fire spell (staff developed content), someone can write about it in their book and forevermore there's now an additional 10 minutes of (player developed content) for everyone who reads.  This is compounded even further by the fact that players might spend countless hours discussing the contents of that book, because Arm is a multiplayer game.

In my opinion, this is the secret to how Armageddon has lasted so long.  Every droplet of staff developed content is multiplied by the multiplayer nature of the game + tons of systems that leverage that.  It's a giant lever, a tiny amount of staff development work can generate 100x the amount of content for the players.  It's pretty awesome!

But this multiplier is a double-edged sword...  If you take content out of the game, the multiplier makes the impact of that removal much larger too.  Removing Tuluk as a playable city doesn't just remove X hours of playable content that was contained in those rooms, it removes X hours * the enormous Armageddon multiplier.  If Tuluk represented 10 units of content before the multiplier, it could easily represent 1,000 units of content after the multiplier.  The same is true for removing sorcerers, nilazi, drovians, elkrosians, the tan muark, the red fangs, etc.  That's a lot of content to make up for, and all the new content that's been created or old content that's been reintroduced doesn't come close to offsetting the loss. 

When the staff chose to remove these things, they put themselves in a position where the game as a whole is running at a deficient of content, and it might take years to play catch up on those things.

That's my hypothesis, anyway...  Who knows if I'm right or wrong here.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Refugee on April 21, 2017, 06:24:07 PM
That's pretty brilliant.  I think you have a good explanation.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Renenutet on April 21, 2017, 06:39:21 PM
If there is a strong feeling that newbie quests will have value, that is something we as staff can discuss.
If I am being honest, I personally am not enamored of the idea. First, I don't think that it shows new players what we do best. Secondly, what we do best comes down to player interaction. Clearly, not every PC is a good resource for new players, but in general our players do a great job of reaching out to new players and including them. I think you are going to beat an AI every time.

If I'm missing the point feel free to let me know. Also, other staffers may think the idea is great.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Melkor on April 21, 2017, 07:44:42 PM
Wiz +1

@Renenutet
Eh, I dont really think newbie-quests are necessary, I was just wondering if they had been considered, as people were mentioning that some newbies don't know what to do, or get bored with the daily grind.

At the end of the day, I think the problem is the playerbase. We need more. If we had more, we could open up closed races, houses, locations, etc. and remove the stagnation that people seem to be feeling.

I said it in the publicity thread, and I will say it again, here: I pledge 20 bucks toward sponsoring a gaming vlogger. I really hope we can make this happen.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: mansa on April 21, 2017, 08:53:48 PM
If there is a strong feeling that newbie quests will have value, that is something we as staff can discuss.
If I am being honest, I personally am not enamored of the idea. First, I don't think that it shows new players what we do best. Secondly, what we do best comes down to player interaction. Clearly, not every PC is a good resource for new players, but in general our players do a great job of reaching out to new players and including them. I think you are going to beat an AI every time.

If I'm missing the point feel free to let me know. Also, other staffers may think the idea is great.

Does the Byn still act like a new player net?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Melkor on April 21, 2017, 08:59:32 PM
Yeah. I'd say so.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 21, 2017, 09:09:38 PM
Wiz +1

@Renenutet
Eh, I dont really think newbie-quests are necessary, I was just wondering if they had been considered, as people were mentioning that some newbies don't know what to do, or get bored with the daily grind.

At the end of the day, I think the problem is the playerbase. We need more. If we had more, we could open up closed races, houses, locations, etc. and remove the stagnation that people seem to be feeling.

I said it in the publicity thread, and I will say it again, here: I pledge 20 bucks toward sponsoring a gaming vlogger. I really hope we can make this happen.

I'm not opposed to more players, however I feel your point is missing the point. We had lots of intrigue, fascinating mystery, plotlines galore, back when there were FEWER players, and MORE clans open, than we have now.

What was it about the game, 10, 15 years ago, when we had a lower playerbase, but more open clans, that made it so much fun, so exciting? Find that out - restore that thing, whatever it was. It's possible it was simply the fact that there were more open clans. If that is the case, a bigger playerbase isn't going to be the solution, because a smaller playerbase was never the problem.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Melkor on April 21, 2017, 09:18:59 PM
I'm not opposed to more players, however I feel your point is missing the point. We had lots of intrigue, fascinating mystery, plotlines galore, back when there were FEWER players, and MORE clans open, than we have now.

What was it about the game, 10, 15 years ago, when we had a lower playerbase, but more open clans, that made it so much fun, so exciting? Find that out - restore that thing, whatever it was. It's possible it was simply the fact that there were more open clans. If that is the case, a bigger playerbase isn't going to be the solution, because a smaller playerbase was never the problem.

If I am not mistaken, around 11 years ago, I remember seeing over 100 players online at peak. Since I came back a few months ago, I have not seen more than 50.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 21, 2017, 11:15:30 PM
I'm not opposed to more players, however I feel your point is missing the point. We had lots of intrigue, fascinating mystery, plotlines galore, back when there were FEWER players, and MORE clans open, than we have now.

What was it about the game, 10, 15 years ago, when we had a lower playerbase, but more open clans, that made it so much fun, so exciting? Find that out - restore that thing, whatever it was. It's possible it was simply the fact that there were more open clans. If that is the case, a bigger playerbase isn't going to be the solution, because a smaller playerbase was never the problem.

If I am not mistaken, around 11 years ago, I remember seeing over 100 players online at peak. Since I came back a few months ago, I have not seen more than 50.

That was during an HRPT, or the major RPT events leading up to an HRPT. 11 years ago on average there were pretty much around the same number of players online during peak time as there are now. Peak time then usually didn't even start til after 9PM during the week, and ran til some time after 11PM. All eastern time. Weekends were often all over the place but really picked up by 10pm and went a few hours, past midnight before it started dropping off.

I remember seeing over 100 players online too, and that was in the past half dozen years. Again - during an HRPT or events leading up to one.

When I first started, there were usually around 20 people logged in during the "after dinner" hours. Not peak time, but not exactly off-peak either. There was never a lack of "interesting stuff going on," then. The point stands: It isn't a low playerbase that's the problem, and therefore, increasing the size of the population isn't going to solve it.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: ghanima on April 22, 2017, 02:42:30 AM
10+ years ago the high during peak hours (not for an HRPT) was over 60. Now it's often below 40. That's not far from half!!

Of course off peak is busier than it has ever been in the history of the MUD, so there is some balancing going on that I think is often overlooked. But we definitely had more players back in the day than we do now. I don't think there's much to debate there.

I'd love to see Tuluk reopened too (and its concept reexamined to determine what works playability wise and what doesn't) but I'm also glad for the overall consolidation that's gone on lately. Tor is a great concept but is redundant. Merchant hunters being removed helps force merchants to actually require things from the outside world. And I know everyone will throw rotten fruit at me for saying it but I appreciate the changes to magick guilds, which allows for a greater focus on nitty gritty, mundane plots rather than high magick plots winning the prize every time.

I would definitely like to see more players than we have now. 20 more PCs running around during peak would really make the world feel alive. I can't even imagine that. And I agree with Lizzie that it felt like more was happening in the earlier days than now. Sadly to say, I know there's a lot of criticism thrown at the notion of HRPTs (they're firework displays that PCs have little influence in the outcome of) but they really boost the PC head count. I'm sure they're tons of work and it's easy for me to say "do this" but an HRPT every 6 months would probably really generate more enthusiasm. Player run RPTs just aren't the same thing. Staff have the ability to make the world come to life through senate meetings, earthquakes, comets, famines, civil wars, and more.  PCs can only make their own PC "come to life".
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: wizturbo on April 22, 2017, 04:22:51 AM
I'm sure they're tons of work and it's easy for me to say "do this" but an HRPT every 6 months would probably really generate more enthusiasm. Player run RPTs just aren't the same thing. Staff have the ability to make the world come to life through senate meetings, earthquakes, comets, famines, civil wars, and more.  PCs can only make their own PC "come to life".

An HRPT every 6 months would have a massive impact on player engagement.  I wouldn't be surprised to see 50%+ higher average concurrency within the first year, if not more.

The amount of content this would generate would be unbelievable.   But, it would probably burn out staff.  An HRPT is a shit ton of work.   Maybe shoot for once a year?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: deathkamon on April 22, 2017, 04:37:04 AM
I just wanted to share a link to a poll I made a while back. I think some of what's said in there could be relevant to what we're talking about, as well as the different responses in the replies.

http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,51289.0.html (http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,51289.0.html)
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Marauder Moe on April 22, 2017, 09:33:13 AM
Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge that this thread seems to have been pretty constructive, despite a mildly provocative title.  I'd been staying away because I figured it was just another one of the gripe-fest posts that seems to have been part of the standard GDB topic rotation lately.  Glad that is is not.

Secondly, I'm going to suggest that maybe the relatively modern policy of promoting PC-driven plots has been less than successful.  PCs have a lot of disadvantages when it comes to running plots.  They are mortal.  They have limited perspective.  They have agendas besides other player's enjoyment.  It's hard to expect a storyteller to execute someone else's idea with the same passion as with their own ideas.

I miss the old staff plots.  I miss having entire cities uproot their player base to go war-camping for 1-2 RL weeks.  I miss the magickal calamities that even the full-blown defilers of old weren't codedly capable of producing.  I miss the bloodshed that came from old guard immortals just stirring things up.  I miss the senate.  I miss the whacky and twisted shit that Shalooonsh tormented PCs with.

The Immortals walked the world like playful giants.  Now they tread lightly in the name of fairness, and I feel the world is flatter and quieter.  I don't blame them, though.  We, the players, demanded it.  I just think maybe it was short sighted.

[P.S. I'm running on too little sleep and too much medicine right now.  Maybe I'm being overly nostalgic.  Maybe I was one of the privileged elite back then.  Maybe I'm just a more passive player; happier than most to simply witness interesting stories regardless of my own character's agency in them.  Maybe I've just got my head in the sand these days.]
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Akaramu on April 22, 2017, 10:58:53 AM
Secondly, I'm going to suggest that maybe the relatively modern policy of promoting PC-driven plots has been less than successful.  PCs have a lot of disadvantages when it comes to running plots.  They are mortal.  They have limited perspective.  They have agendas besides other player's enjoyment.  It's hard to expect a storyteller to execute someone else's idea with the same passion as with their own ideas.

I miss the old staff plots.  I miss having entire cities uproot their player base to go war-camping for 1-2 RL weeks.  I miss the magickal calamities that even the full-blown defilers of old weren't codedly capable of producing.  I miss the bloodshed that came from old guard immortals just stirring things up.  I miss the senate.  I miss the whacky and twisted shit that Shalooonsh tormented PCs with.

The Immortals walked the world like playful giants.  Now they tread lightly in the name of fairness, and I feel the world is flatter and quieter.  I don't blame them, though.  We, the players, demanded it.  I just think maybe it was short sighted.

This, so much. Especially the bolded parts.

#moewisdom2017
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: chrisdcoulombe on April 22, 2017, 12:58:19 PM
I see people that are idle in the starting area from time to time.  They are obvious new players. Poorly written desc. no gear.   Never figured out how to get out of the Gaj.  Those players could use a little hand holding.   Maybe some kind of auto email to try and help them. 

I'm not the best at writing formal documents, but something like:

We see you had some trouble getting into the game,  here are some resources to help you.

Link to Helper chat, Ts, email ect. to let us know how we can help.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Renenutet on April 22, 2017, 01:10:06 PM
I see people that are idle in the starting area from time to time.  They are obvious new players. Poorly written desc. no gear.   Never figured out how to get out of the Gaj.  Those players could use a little hand holding.   Maybe some kind of auto email to try and help them. 

I'm not the best at writing formal documents, but something like:

We see you had some trouble getting into the game,  here are some resources to help you.

Link to Helper chat, Ts, email ect. to let us know how we can help.



That is a great idea. Please, if you see something like that, feel free to wish up.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 22, 2017, 01:19:29 PM
I see people that are idle in the starting area from time to time.  They are obvious new players. Poorly written desc. no gear.   Never figured out how to get out of the Gaj.  Those players could use a little hand holding.   Maybe some kind of auto email to try and help them. 

I'm not the best at writing formal documents, but something like:

We see you had some trouble getting into the game,  here are some resources to help you.

Link to Helper chat, Ts, email ect. to let us know how we can help.

They already get that in the character approval e-mail. In fact we all get the same standard e-mail, with certain guilds/classes getting additional paragraphs.

Here is what *every* player gets when their characters are approved:

Quote
Extensive documentation about the world is available on the web at
'http://www.armageddon.org'. You and those with whom you will play
will have much more fun if you are familiar with the basics of
the game's documentation. Please note, if you haven't already, that
Armageddon provides a strictly enforced roleplaying atmosphere. If you
are more interested in killing stuff and maxing out your character than
in character development, then please play at one of the great many
combat MUDs running on the Internet.

As a new player, if your character dies in the first hour of play, your
character will come back into the game. But whatever killed you will
probably kill you as soon as you come back, so we suggest waiting a while
before coming back into the game (a day is usually sufficient). In such
circumstances, the character should be treated as a new character.

If you are having major problems feel free to mail mud@armageddon.org
for assistance. You can also reach a player helper in a chat at:
http://www.armageddon.org/intro/helpers.php The game discussion boards
are located at http://gdb.armageddon.org. Thanks, and we hope you enjoy
our world.

That's the e-mail I received with my current character, and most of the ones before it. My mage characters got the extra info.

I think this e-mail can be improved upon, but it won't matter at all what it says, if the players aren't reading it.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: chrisdcoulombe on April 22, 2017, 01:34:22 PM
I understand that Lizzie.  I was just thinking that these people seem lost and if we gave them a little extra help early on it could help with retention.

Perhaps something a bit more personal and direct.  It would be cool to keep some of these people.   They want to play if they made it through character creation.   They are just overwhelmed, especially if logged in for the first time off peak.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 22, 2017, 05:00:34 PM
Here's a few constructive thoughts.

Obviously - people don't really pay close attention to form letters. If they did, we wouldn't have new players who don't know about the helpers - since they all get that form letter directing them to it.

But what if they got a brief one, immediately after their first character steps out of the Hall of Kings? It would auto-generate, and say something like this:

Welcome, [player name] to Armageddon!

Your character just showed up in the Gaj (or wherever else), a commoner tavern (or whatever else), in the city(outpost/village) of Allanak(or wherever else).

Please remember you can find HELP in game, or on our website (with a link to the website), just use the built-in search engine.

If you need additional help or just some words of support, our HELPERs would love to assist you (with a link to the helper chat).

Remember when your character is logged in, you can use the OOC command if absolutely necessary to convey a need for help with syntax or commands.

Lastly, don't forget when you're done playing for the session, to find a QUIT-SAFE room (with a link to quit/quit-safe or whatever the help file is named), type the word QUIT in full, and then you can safely exit the game without risking anything happening to your character.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Malifaxis on April 22, 2017, 05:10:08 PM
It doesn't take much to hook a newbie you see in the Gaj.

What it takes is you realizing that your idle time with a bottle of spirit or your way mudsex can f'ing wait 15 mins as you engage them and interest them.  Or if, wonder of wonders, the Gaj is "hopping" and there's a brawl or a card game going on, it takes you reaching out and establishing a connection with that newbie and giving them some sort of solid rock in the sea of missed-punch chaos to hang on to.  I do this almost every time I see a newbie.  My PC's have suffered IC consequences of me taking time away from plot/dev to focus on getting that new player to understand how awesome the game is and how to navigate it.

When a newbie logs in, more often than not, we as the game get *ONE* shot at hooking them.  If they spend 5-20 mins creating a character, then spend another 5-20 mins after initial login, that's already an investment on their part.  They already have a passing interest.  It does not take much to turn a passing interest into a "OMG I must learn more" but it does, more often than not, take something. 

I've seen so many newbies log in, stand around, and then *pop* goes the link and they're there until next reboot or whenever they get mis-targeted on a Way and the staff member forcequits them.  Don't count on an introductory email.  Don't think "oh, there's 20 people on, someone else will get them, I need to go forage for my 18th amethyst this Dzeda."  Please, take a moment, reach out, help out, and give them a shot at being interested.

I know I'm not alone in helping them out, but I could see us as a community doing so much more.  If we all took the time to preemptively stop that 1 chance from flitting by, I think, in a year, we would see a significant increase in numbers.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Akaramu on April 22, 2017, 05:15:12 PM
It doesn't take much to hook a newbie you see in the Gaj.

What it takes is you realizing that your idle time with a bottle of spirit or your way mudsex can f'ing wait 15 mins as you engage them and interest them.  Or if, wonder of wonders, the Gaj is "hopping" and there's a brawl or a card game going on, it takes you reaching out and establishing a connection with that newbie and giving them some sort of solid rock in the sea of missed-punch chaos to hang on to.  I do this almost every time I see a newbie.  My PC's have suffered IC consequences of me taking time away from plot/dev to focus on getting that new player to understand how awesome the game is and how to navigate it.

When I was a newbie, several players really went out of their way to interact with me, show me examples of interesting emotes and get me involved in a Kruth game. You guys were awesome! I don't see this kind of thing happen very often nowadays, but then I don't do a lot of tavern sitting.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: surveyvon on April 22, 2017, 05:45:58 PM
Based on my (admittedly limited) experience, I think the community does a fine job of greeting new players and getting them into the action. Something I think would be helpful is a new player flag and possibly the automatic inclusion of newer players in an OOC channel (helper chat). This is something I've seen work reasonably well in other MUDs.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: chrisdcoulombe on April 22, 2017, 06:41:12 PM
I agree with Malifaxis, the best way to hook them is in game, but if we missed that opportunity because an off peek login it would be nice to draw them back for a second try.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Evilone on April 22, 2017, 07:51:20 PM
What moe said.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Dresan on April 22, 2017, 10:09:39 PM
Hmm.

I don't think having staff do more plots will solve anything. There are some players never liked light shows in the sky.

Many years ago when I first started playing there was a perception that anyone could do anything, even become a sorcerer king. That perception is now lost though. It was an illusion that was mostly based on deciet, bias and outright cheating.  Too many times players attempting this climb were stomped down and those few that succeed often times had really good relationships with staff.

We are more sensitive to this type of behavior, and its mostly gone the way of the dodo. I hope. However, right now,the feeling that none of our character can make a difference anymore does exist.  While less favoritism, bias and cheating is a good thing, its cause people to stop trying. I believe recently the game/staff has tried to focus on player groups to attempt to dish out quest/rewards. Attempting to help players form their own groups/clan/houses while supporting existing clans. For the most part this has been a good idea, except that we as players eventually hit that virtual power ceiling.

It really all goes back to the thought i had a few days ago. Allanak is virtually too strong (the city, its clans, etc) and too far reaching. The virtual power ceiling needs to come far down, so that players and their groups feel like they can accomplish something again, without having god-like figures ready to destroy their work at every corner. Most of us already don't aim for goals that don't have a clear set of rules or require much staff interevention.

Staff plots should be aimed at changing and evolving the world, making it different and refreshing, bringing in new RP experiences and opportunities. However, its player plots and ambitions that should be the main source of fun and entertainment of this game.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Akariel on April 23, 2017, 01:09:07 AM
It should also be noted that when a new player submits a character they do get an email with a lot of introductory information. Not only the generic form text that you all know so well, but we as staff have the ability to write in comments on the center of that email. I tend to put a paragraph or three telling the new players what they should look at and do depending on their character concept. (Normally we get things like 'blacksmith's son's and I'll send them a link to helpfiles on metal and a small blurb about it, as an example.)
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Dar on April 23, 2017, 01:16:21 AM
Hey guys.

I myself am nooot too certain about this, but I guess it should be thrown out there as an idea.

What if new players that racked in less then 10 hours played across ALL OF THEIR CHARACTERS were to have access to ... ... the newbie channel!

Only staff and helpers would have the option of toggling into the channel as well as possibly having an echo of ,"a new player has arrived in dormitory" kind of thing.

That is ... not very RPI and so should be extremely limited, but could be beneficial in some aspect.


I 'do' realize that there is a helper's chat. But truth the truth is that there is a percentage of potential players that have tendency to skip a lot of text, just to get into the game and get the feel of the gameplay. It's unfortunate, but it's true. And some of that text that they skip is indeed an advice about the helper's chat.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: NerdyFingers on April 23, 2017, 01:30:58 AM
Hey guys.

I myself am nooot too certain about this, but I guess it should be thrown out there as an idea.

What if new players that racked in less then 10 hours played across ALL OF THEIR CHARACTERS were to have access to ... ... the newbie channel!

Only staff and helpers would have the option of toggling into the channel as well as possibly having an echo of ,"a new player has arrived in dormitory" kind of thing.

That is ... not very RPI and so should be extremely limited, but could be beneficial in some aspect.


I 'do' realize that there is a helper's chat. But truth the truth is that there is a percentage of potential players that have tendency to skip a lot of text, just to get into the game and get the feel of the gameplay. It's unfortunate, but it's true. And some of that text that they skip is indeed an advice about the helper's chat.

Personally I thought it was refreshing not to see a mud school or have a global channel when I joined Armageddon. I think that it helps set it apart.

Playing in a clan is significantly easier. And it helps you find people who can teach you how to play. Maybe we should let new players start out in a limited number of clans.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 23, 2017, 01:55:10 AM
I don't think there's anything wrong with having a mud school or tutorial area.  However, it should be entirely optional, and not so excessive that they get burdened down under the 'I just want to plaaay' feeling (which can happen when we send people to a whole shload of documentation).  People who don't want it, don't need it, and that's a-ok.  But it should be an option, the same as any other coded function of the game (i.e. Someone earlier was saying they didn't want to engage in NPC raiders.  That's fine.  But there should be content available for those who -do- want those sorts of activities to be readily available).

Altogether, I really do think, and have thought for a long time, that the closing of clans may have served some purpose that was desired, but it's having an undesirable side-effect as well that is slowly taking its toll on people.  Open up clans, and provide content for them (either coded, OR return to the expectation of clan staff working with the players to provide actual missions and goals that need relatively consistent activity), and you'll have people wanting to log in to get things done rather than log in to be available for maybe if something might happen.  The latter leads to a sort of malaise, I think.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Saiseiki on April 25, 2017, 09:24:25 PM
Playing in a clan is significantly easier. And it helps you find people who can teach you how to play. Maybe we should let new players start out in a limited number of clans.

That's a very interesting idea, Nerdy.  You mean like straight out of chargen?  Yeah, I could go for that.  Give them a one-sentence explanation of what the clan is - "The T'zai Byn are grizzled mercenaries, hired for missions ranging from bounty hunting to escort duty."  Huh.  Would have helped the two friends I've already tried to get into Arm.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Akaramu on April 26, 2017, 06:06:07 AM
That's a very interesting idea, Nerdy.  You mean like straight out of chargen?  Yeah, I could go for that.  Give them a one-sentence explanation of what the clan is - "The T'zai Byn are grizzled mercenaries, hired for missions ranging from bounty hunting to escort duty."  Huh.  Would have helped the two friends I've already tried to get into Arm.

It would also have helped my one RL friend who tried the game, I think. He was intrigued by my stories about ingame events, but then super disappointed because he couldn't figure out how to find players (as opposed to NPCs).
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 26, 2017, 10:19:20 AM
The problem with just sticking them into the Byn out of chargen is the availability of its leaders - or lack thereof. If a new player logs in at 4AM, and there are no Sergeants or even Troopers who log in during that time, he'll be in the Byn, a solo player with zero leadership, with access to everyone's stuff.

Worse, there's no one to explain to him that he probably shouldn't gather up all the sparring weapons and sell them in the Salarr shop. Not everyone spends time reading the room descriptions to take into consideration the virtual NPCs who are there, watching their character. It takes only that one new player who doesn't understand why it's a bad idea, to ruin it for everyone else. Can't fault the new player, they're new. But you can fault the system for shoving that new player into a situation with zero oversight.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 26, 2017, 06:43:51 PM
The problem with just sticking them into the Byn out of chargen is the availability of its leaders - or lack thereof. If a new player logs in at 4AM, and there are no Sergeants or even Troopers who log in during that time, he'll be in the Byn, a solo player with zero leadership, with access to everyone's stuff.

Worse, there's no one to explain to him that he probably shouldn't gather up all the sparring weapons and sell them in the Salarr shop. Not everyone spends time reading the room descriptions to take into consideration the virtual NPCs who are there, watching their character. It takes only that one new player who doesn't understand why it's a bad idea, to ruin it for everyone else. Can't fault the new player, they're new. But you can fault the system for shoving that new player into a situation with zero oversight.

Last time I checked, the Byn doesn't have any communal storage areas that you have access to as a Runner...but it's been awhile since I was in.  The only way to get access to everyone's stuff is to sneak past the guards and completely ignore the vNPCs and NPCs in the area.

That possibility isn't really an argument in your favor, though, because that already can happen and probably does happen, although not with enough frequency for people to demand changes like locked doors and the like.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 26, 2017, 07:11:04 PM
My point stands Synthesis, though perhaps that was a bad hypothetical example. The point, is that PC leaders with the authority to do the hiring, should be the ones doing the hiring. That is one example of oversight, that is eliminated completely when someone is able to automatically show up in a clan as a brand new player's first character. Not just zero oversight, but the lack of leadership availability. Presumably, everyone who has been hired into a clan, was hired by a PC. That requires the player of the leader PC to be logged in when the hiring is occurring. So at the very least, the PC doing the hiring, has some vague idea of who he hired. This - is also eliminated when someone is hired into a clan upon exiting the hall of kings, without even so much as an interview.

And then - what happens when the clan is full? Who gets to be auto-clanned and who doesn't? And why doesn't the PC leader get a say in the matter, since he's the one who ends up stuck with the results?
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 26, 2017, 07:13:42 PM
My point stands Synthesis, though perhaps that was a bad hypothetical example. The point, is that PC leaders with the authority to do the hiring, should be the ones doing the hiring. That is one example of oversight, that is eliminated completely when someone is able to automatically show up in a clan as a brand new player's first character. Not just zero oversight, but the lack of leadership availability. Presumably, everyone who has been hired into a clan, was hired by a PC. That requires the player of the leader PC to be logged in when the hiring is occurring. So at the very least, the PC doing the hiring, has some vague idea of who he hired. This - is also eliminated when someone is hired into a clan upon exiting the hall of kings, without even so much as an interview.

And then - what happens when the clan is full? Who gets to be auto-clanned and who doesn't? And why doesn't the PC leader get a say in the matter, since he's the one who ends up stuck with the results?

To make an omelette, you have to break some eggshells.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: NerdyFingers on April 27, 2017, 12:37:45 AM
That's a very interesting idea, Nerdy.  You mean like straight out of chargen?  Yeah, I could go for that.  Give them a one-sentence explanation of what the clan is - "The T'zai Byn are grizzled mercenaries, hired for missions ranging from bounty hunting to escort duty."  Huh.  Would have helped the two friends I've already tried to get into Arm.

Thank you Saiseiki. Yeah I mean right out of chargen.

The problem with just sticking them into the Byn out of chargen is the availability of its leaders - or lack thereof. If a new player logs in at 4AM, and there are no Sergeants or even Troopers who log in during that time, he'll be in the Byn, a solo player with zero leadership, with access to everyone's stuff.

Worse, there's no one to explain to him that he probably shouldn't gather up all the sparring weapons and sell them in the Salarr shop. Not everyone spends time reading the room descriptions to take into consideration the virtual NPCs who are there, watching their character. It takes only that one new player who doesn't understand why it's a bad idea, to ruin it for everyone else. Can't fault the new player, they're new. But you can fault the system for shoving that new player into a situation with zero oversight.




That's a good point Lizzie. I wasn't thinking about a newbie logging in for the first time and deciding to sell off all of their clan's stuff. For it to work, a newbie clan would have to be reworked first. It would need things like separate storage, good explanations of how to behave, and closer monitoring.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: hyzhenhok on April 27, 2017, 12:50:07 AM
I stopped playing because the enjoyment I got from the game wasn't worth the enormous time investment required. Honestly, I think there's flaw deep in the way the game is designed that leads to this. And I bet it's a far bigger constraint on the game's population than the game's difficulty for new players.

This is a game that tells you, "You're going to die, again and again. And it'll be fun!" But unlike most permadeath games where a death will cost you at most several hours of progress, in Armageddon it can take dozens or hundreds of hours. This is an important design consideration in all difficult games, permadeath or not, because the more punishing or frustrating death is, the more likely a player will put the game down for good after a death. What's the difference between Dwarf Fortress and Armageddon? Both offer utterly unique gaming experiences, have steep learning curves, require significant time investment, and feature "permadeath." Answer: Armageddon requires far more time invested to access the unique experiences it offers, and sets you back far, far more with each "death."

There's a minimum requirement of hundreds of hours played before your character becomes competent at most coded skills, and it can and will be lost so easily. And even with jokey flavor characters not meant to accomplish anything, it can take a lot of time to establish a presence in other player's mindspace and have even shallow social relationships going. And that, too, can be lost in an instant even if you're playing safe, city-bound character because of the nature of the setting.

My guess is this conflict is also the root cause of a lot of people who quit the game with hurt feelings--it's hard to convincingly say "Yeah that was kinda shitty, but this game is about a shitty world. Start a new character and do it again!" when everything about the way the game world works screams at you that you need to cherish and protect and covet your skilled & successful PCs (and their skilled & successful allies).

A different but related issue in the social game is how punishing it is to take breaks. If I step away from the game for 1-2 months and try to come back on the same character, usually the world has moved on. I might still have my skills, but socially you have to start again from scratch (usually, depending on the role and who your previous circle was). Reintegrating into the clan your character is a member of is horrifying--multiple of times I had PCs ICly hassled for being OOCly absent after coming back from a couple weeks break, generally leading me to either /gquit or store. So not only do I have to pump tons of hours into the game to get what I want out of it, but the more I invest, the more I feel obligated to keep investing lest I lose what I've built. I'd really, really love to have some realistic way to keep tabs on what's going on in the game that my character should be involved in even when I can only commit a couple hours per week to the game because of grown-up life.

Synthesis's early posts in this thread hit the nail on the head here. You massively enhance playability and bring the mechanics more in line with the apparent game ethos if you increase skill gains and/or find ways to enable to the social game to work with less in-game hours committed. This will effectively reduce what the player might "lose" to permadeath or periods of hiatus, meaning players will be less frustrated, less daunted every time they have to start over . . . and thus be more likely to take risks, make trouble, start a new character when they lose one, or jump back into the game when they get the itch to come back.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: ghanima on April 27, 2017, 02:45:53 AM
everything about the way the game world works screams at you that you need to cherish and protect and covet your skilled & successful PCs (and their skilled & successful allies).

I've never seen anything like this happen. Ever. Unless I just want my PC to die and play intentionally reckless (which is an OOC thing to do in itself) I cherish and protect and covet my unskilled and unsuccessful PCs as well as my skilled ones. I've also never been witness to people going to great lengths to protect and covet their skilled and successful allies. At least, not any more than would be realistic to do so anyway.


Quote
Reintegrating into the clan your character is a member of is horrifying--multiple of times I had PCs ICly hassled for being OOCly absent after coming back from a couple weeks break, generally leading me to either /gquit or store.

Why would you need to "reintegrate" into the clan if you were only away for two weeks? Every instance I've seen of it becoming an issue in a clan is when the person regularly vanishes for weeks on end and when they never give any heads up beforehand. No clan demands that you play the game every single day. You could get away with being a pretty consistent guy in a clan if you only played twice a week even. But if you're gonna be in a clan there is some commitment and communication expected.  I've been in clans like the Byn and vanished for an entire week, then jumped back in full steam and no one said a word about it. I just don't think there's this pandemic of clan leaders bullying people who can't play all day every day (it might happen once or twice but it's hardly the trend, and when it does happen you can file a complaint about it).

The grind aspect of the game is never fun. There's no two ways about it. But there has to be a period of beginner to mastery that requires some commitment otherwise everyone is exactly the same whether they're straight out of chargen or many, many months into their role. I agree wholeheartedly that a slight pull back on the length of time it takes to develop certain skills would be a tremendous boon to the game. So would some sort of smartphone app that lets you communicate through the Way without having to truly be settled down and ready to play with undivided attention. Though I'm also not about to quit because we don't (yet) have these things either.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 27, 2017, 08:46:06 AM
I stopped playing because the enjoyment I got from the game wasn't worth the enormous time investment required.
There is no "enormous time investment required," by your standards (which you define below).

Quote
This is a game that tells you, "You're going to die, again and again. And it'll be fun!"
No, it tells you, "your PC is going to die, and after it does, you'll have lots of options to try with your next one, that you didn't have with your current one." And by that I don't mean karma. I mean you can now play that rinthi elf you might've thought would be interesting. Or you can try one of the different guild/subguild combos. Or start out of a different starting area, or try to get into a different clan. All things you couldn't do when you were playing your last character.

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But unlike most permadeath games where a death will cost you at most several hours of progress, in Armageddon it can take dozens or hundreds of hours.
If you think of playing a game as payment, then yes - it can cost you. But most people play games because it's fun for them. It's what they WANT to do with their time. Time doesn't equal money for them, when they're doing something they enjoy doing.

(...in comparison to Dwarf Fortress, which I've never played and therefore can't comment on)
Quote
Armageddon requires far more time invested to access the unique experiences it offers, and sets you back far, far more with each "death."
My first character ever got sucked into unique experiences the second time I logged into the game. Most of my characters have the opportunity to get involved in unique experiences, and each time I lose a character, I have learned more about HOW to get involved in unique experiences, and I'm in a better frame of mind to be able to attempt it with subsequent characters. That makes having "access to unique experiences" easier each time. Not harder.

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There's a minimum requirement of hundreds of hours played before your character becomes competent at most coded skills, and it can and will be lost so easily.
This is just flat out untrue, and you're doing new players a disservice with your hyperbole. Competency does not mean mastery. Competency also doesn't mean "must be able to kill that bad-ass mul raider near Luir's." Competency means you can stand your ground against minimal threats, and/or have learned enough about code and roleplay to get away from (or talk your way out of) more significant threats. It means you are able to not lose sids every time you craft with raw materials, and get to a point where you're now able to feed and water yourself and your mount with enough left over at the end of the day for an ale at the bar. That's "competent." You might need a few dozen hours of active play time to become competent in all of your starting skills, to the point where you've branched a couple more skills. A few dozen hours of active play time includes practice at the skill and roleplay combined, and can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, tops. That's not even almost "hundreds of hours." Only a rare few characters ever have hundreds of hours played, and most of them became badass, not merely competent, long before they ever hit their first hundred.

If you want to master every skill on your character's skill tree including the highest-tier branched skills, get promoted to Master Sergeant Advisor, be invited to a private audience at a Senate meeting, and lead a crew of 50 elves and dwarves to war against Morin's logging camp, then yeah - you probably need a few hundred hours. But none of that is considered "competency."

If you want to be better than competent, then it means you want to get involved in some interaction between your character and other characters, who can possibly work in tangent to accomplish things. You don't need to be all that great with the code to do this, though being competent is very useful.

Quote
A different but related issue in the social game is how punishing it is to take breaks. If I step away from the game for 1-2 months and try to come back on the same character, usually the world has moved on. I might still have my skills, but socially you have to start again from scratch (usually, depending on the role and who your previous circle was).
This is no different from being in a clan where all the other characters either die, store, or have to be away for a month or two, leaving you by yourself with no one to report to or get tasks from. And then all of a sudden a new boss gets sponsored into the clan, and he tells you his way of running the clan is totally different from how you had been experiencing it back a couple months ago when your clan was active.

It's also no different than if your character dies, and you roll up a new one, who ends up in the same clan as before. Now you have to make new relationships, which is one of the FUN things about the game. If you have a different mindset than that, then you're definitely playing the wrong game and Armageddon is probably not the best match for you. This isn't the "fault" of Armageddon. Or you. It's just not a good match. You'd be better suited to a different type of game, that's all.

Quote
Reintegrating into the clan your character is a member of is horrifying--multiple of times I had PCs ICly hassled for being OOCly absent after coming back from a couple weeks break, generally leading me to either /gquit or store.
If you posted on your clan board or sent a request to your clan staff giving them a heads up that you'd be unavailable for awhile, then there's no reason why anyone should hassle you ICly about it. If you disappear without notice IC or OOC, then show up 2 RL weeks later and demand a promotion since it's been exactly a year since your character was hired, expect to get a critical response to that. Two RL weeks is a game month, and there are only 3 game months to a game year. So if your character is MIA for 1/3 of a year, don't expect a yearly promotion. Or back pay. You were hired into that particular boss's crew. If you want to play that you were assigned to a virtual crew when your character wasn't in the game for 2 weeks, then just assume that your virtual character was virtually payed by the virtual boss during that 2-week period.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 27, 2017, 10:13:38 AM
TL;DR Hyzen -

The way you feel about the game is wrong, because other people have different experiences.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: BadSkeelz on April 27, 2017, 12:04:44 PM
"My anecdotal experiences don't match your anecdotal experiences therefore you are wrong!"

I'm actually in broad agreement with hyzhenhok, Synthesis, and others. Armageddon is too high maintenance and too high investment for the return it gives you.

Eventually the gameworld will be ruled by the unemployed, the very young, and the retired, who will all jealously guard their 100 day characters' at the expense of others and continue the stagnation.

Unless characters become funner quicker, and unless staff more aggressively animate the game world, the game will continue a slow decline.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: nauta on April 27, 2017, 12:16:29 PM
I really like the ideas suggested a couple times about opening things up to asynchronous forms of play.  In particular, I like the idea of some vehicle (unsure about implementation) which would allow you to 'log in' to your character and only perform various psionic tasks (sending and receiving ways).  As someone who had a -lot- of time on their hands until recently, one frustration was that plots didn't move along owing to missed connections.  This would fix that.  As someone who now has a lot less time on their hands, I could log in and move plots along via the way, but I couldn't do much more than that.

It'd be a big coding project and there'd be a lot of ways to implement and things to think about, but I like the idea.  However, a simple way of implementing it:

You log into a special room and do not suffer from hunger or thirst, and can only send and receive ways (and no fancy magic stuff).
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Mazy on April 27, 2017, 12:23:02 PM
A lot of good suggestions have come from this thread. I don't think what Lizzie's trying to say is wrong. I had a similar situation where I jumped in then promptly was hooked and drawn into unique experiences that only the immersion of Armageddon mud can offer.

I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to retain players is through players being more involving. It used to be like a mantra on the forum, "be the change." While the staff can do some awesome things and give leeway on the first characters a new player submits, they can't bring the world alive or inspire someone to log in time and time again like a community or other players can.

Keeping players is another story. After the inclusion and initial learning process is done, people want to play a character who'll be good at what their bio intended them to do. Some like playing characters who are utterly awesome in combat, and I don't fault them for it. If you want to make a character who can fuck up someone in the training hall or dodge mekillots, I say more power to you. Most of us are ordinary in real life, so why not escape into something extraordinary. And it's not an exaggeration to say as a martial character, it's going to take more than a little bit of skilling up (perhaps in the excesses of 500 hours). Combat clans are a great place for these sorts, both for character growth and skill progression.

This's fine by me, as it give more incentives for people to play. If anything, combat, subdue, and weapon skills progression could use a review, perhaps it could be asked about during the player staff meeting.

If you're a new player and reading how much time it takes, don't be discouraged. Without any combat skills or magick spells, if you're smart and charismatic enough, you can enjoy yourself. If you're new, immerse yourself first, then find someone you genuinely enjoy being around who's willing to take you under their wing. Having a mentor, in my opinion, is the best way to get into Arm. You'll make mistakes with your character, but just as it is in the code, mistakes are how we learn. Be as fearful as your character would, but be bold enough to interact with the people and explore some of the game world. Don't be embarrassed to not know something, and know you will die. And for the love of all things holy, don't type like an LOLcat then except to get a lot of attention.

No matter how you slice it, Armageddon will require a chunk of time, can be very unapologetic to new players when they lose everything, and loses a lot of both old and new players. This doesn't mean the game isn't worth playing. On the contrary, it's the best roleplaying experience on the internet and worth debating over ways to improve it.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 27, 2017, 01:14:58 PM
Quote
Unless characters become funner quicker, and unless staff more aggressively animate the game world, the game will continue a slow decline.

I don't think it's master skills that make a character fun.  However, the rest of your statement holds true to it anyway; if the thing that makes characters fun is contribution/being relevant, then adding content to the world, either via code or via steady and reliable staff involvement, is what will hold players.

Honestly, I'm a progression oriented, code oriented, skills oriented player, and the amount of times that people talk about skills as if your PC is utterly useless until 30 days is truly bugging the living fuck out of me.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Feco on April 27, 2017, 01:24:30 PM
Quote
Unless characters become funner quicker, and unless staff more aggressively animate the game world, the game will continue a slow decline.

I don't think it's master skills that make a character fun.  However, the rest of your statement holds true to it anyway; if the thing that makes characters fun is contribution/being relevant, then adding content to the world, either via code or via steady and reliable staff involvement, is what will hold players.

Honestly, I'm a progression oriented, code oriented, skills oriented player, and the amount of times that people talk about skills as if your PC is utterly useless until 30 days is truly bugging the living fuck out of me.

Yeah.  If you want to go stomp the biggest baddies alone, or tank the biggest baddies, or do some PKing where you're outnumbered, you need to be skilled as fuck.

Most of the normal and hard stuff people encounter, though, don't need that level of training.  This is even more true with skill-bumps in mind.

I do agree with a lot that's been said in this thread, though.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 27, 2017, 01:34:42 PM
False.  I have anecdotal experiences that say otherwise, but you've certainly been locked into watching skills rise long enough to believe it's true.

However, I will say that it might be more true now than ever before...because everyone is convinced they need their skills higher.  At least on the PK front.

As far as making the standard 'I need to be able to solo meks and bahemets', that's a pretty head-in-the-clouds perspective to draw relevance from.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 27, 2017, 02:14:43 PM
Technically, "hundreds of hours" is only about 10 days played.

10 days played is, indeed, the point at which an average PC breaks out of the noob zone with respect to combat and weapon skills.  (At 10 days played, you could be approaching or already into second-tier branched skills, with other skill types.)  If you've been really grinding hard, you might even be at mildly competent.  Skillwise, at 30 days, anyone who's been training hard is going to be skillmaxed for all intents and purposes, with the exception of maybe grinding out some bonus points in additional weapons or fighting styles, or training some of those hard-to-train skills.

It kind of annoys me that people get wrapped around the axle about the skillgain suggestions, and it dominates the discussion, when the problem is limited to combat and weapon skills, and even then it's only really a problem for warriors.  I had four other suggestions to offer.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 27, 2017, 02:25:26 PM
TL;DR Hyzen -

The way you feel about the game is wrong, because other people have different experiences.

If you're being snide toward me, you can just give up. His *statement* is incorrect. His statement was: players require hundreds of hours invested into a PC before their PC is "competent."

That is not true. It's not an opinion, it's a statement. And the statement is false.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Molten Heart on April 27, 2017, 02:28:25 PM
.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 27, 2017, 02:33:49 PM
TL;DR Hyzen -

The way you feel about the game is wrong, because other people have different experiences.

If you're being snide toward me, you can just give up. His *statement* is incorrect. His statement was: players require hundreds of hours invested into a PC before their PC is "competent."

That is not true. It's not an opinion, it's a statement. And the statement is false.

Eh, it's not false.

It's "low hundreds," but it's still hundreds of hours.  8 days 8 hours is "hundreds" of hours.  That's reasonably about the time a PC starts becoming competent, unless your definition of "competence" is absurdly low, or you're defining the timeline in terms of what is maximally achievable using the "one weird trick" to artificially deflate your logged-in time.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 27, 2017, 02:37:33 PM
TL;DR Hyzen -

The way you feel about the game is wrong, because other people have different experiences.

If you're being snide toward me, you can just give up. His *statement* is incorrect. His statement was: players require hundreds of hours invested into a PC before their PC is "competent."

That is not true. It's not an opinion, it's a statement. And the statement is false.

Eh, it's not false.

It's "low hundreds," but it's still hundreds of hours.  8 days 8 hours is "hundreds" of hours.  That's reasonably about the time a PC starts becoming competent, unless your definition of "competence" is absurdly low, or you're defining the timeline in terms of what is maximally achievable using the "one weird trick" to artificially deflate your logged-in time.

I don't know any weird tricks, I am - as I've said countless times before, the "anti-twink." I've already defined "competence" in this thread. You don't need hundreds of hours to be competent. You just don't.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 27, 2017, 02:37:54 PM
Many of my PC's accomplish many things prior to 5 days of playing time.

It's not dependent on skill level.  It's dependent on available content/goings-on.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on April 27, 2017, 02:54:51 PM
Pfft.

Accomplished many things in 5 days played.

Whatever.

Logs or it didn't happen.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 27, 2017, 03:22:41 PM
Pfft.

Accomplished many things in 5 days played.

Whatever.

Logs or it didn't happen.

Less than 24 hours played on my very first PC:

Hired by a templar.
Whira-flown to the Rinth and ambush-inducted into the Guild.
Given oversight of a PC slave by said Templar.


Less than 5 days played by another PC:

Discovered by a sorcerer.
Taken to his lair.
Made one of his henchmen.
Found out about some plotlines that even now aren't known except by the people involved - and a couple of us who learned about it ICly.

Less than 5 days played with my Red Fang ranger:
Played a Red Fang. That right there stands on its own but...also...
raided my first raid victim (and let him live)
Killed a gith.
Successfully took my Red Fang to Tuluk, in public, sold off a bunch of stuff in their market, walked into the Sanctuary, made a non-hidden acknowledgement to a couple of people inside, and successfully left the city completely unscathed.

Another PC -
Joined the Byn within the first few hours of play.
Successfully beat the shit out of one of the other runners within the first 24 hours of play.
Was promoted to trooper within the first 48 hours of play.
Was promoted to Sergeant within the first 4 days of play.
Was murdered by my own unit within the first 10 days of play, having branched absolutely no skills at all.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 27, 2017, 03:35:45 PM
Okay.  I don't keep logs, but I can show you this:

Nordak, Ranger - Total time played, 13 days.
-Founding member of Borsail Wyverns at <5 days played.  First lieutenant of the wyverns at <8 days played.  Demoted because I was a newbie who didn't realize that meant I was a leader, basically.

Zurak, Warrior - Total time played, 23 days
-Dwarf with below average strength
-Escorted Allanaki forces at <5 days.  Killed Tuluki templar.
-Chosen to safeguard mantis valley excursion for scouting at <15 days played.

Zylin, Kuraci Ranger - Total time played, 28 days
-<5 days, wandered into <redacted>, found metal.
-<10 days, without knowing archery was awesome, used archery to fend off blackmoon raiders set up outside of Luir's outpost

Davros, Arm of the Dragon Warrior - Total time played, 16 days
-<5 days, Sergeant of the Arm because he was relentless in patrols and thus found more criminals than anyone else.
-<10 days, Got into a rivalry with a Byn Sergeant, ended up killing him in the streets and getting exiled from Allanak.
-<12 days, captured in the north, enslaved, made into personal slave of a noble.
-16 days, fought off attackers of said noble without a weapon.  She died anyway, with me shortly after.

Tariq, Desert elf ranger - Total time played, 5 days
-Raided Allanaki soldiers who were patrolling the sands
-Founded alliance with city elf groups to provide them with resources from beyond the gates they needed
-Served as enforcer for his tribe for a brief time.
-Died to a mantis pack because I ran myself to exhaustion, ending right in front of them.

Zaavan, city-elf burglar - Total time played, 9 hours
-Found an unlocked door, picked the chests inside the apartment, later found out it was a Red Robe's apartment.
-Argued with the guild over how he's supposed to know what's protected and what isn't.
-Formed a city-wide manhunt, was eventually killed by an animated PC that had died two previous times to soldiers attacking him in the city

Brogan, city-elf burglar - Total time played, 5 days
-Broke into Oashi mansion.  Killed a noble.
-Stole a magickal helm that was being studied, didn't know it was magickal: he was using it as a disguise to try and escape.
-couldn't take it off, died when a half-giant soldier took it off for him.

Torked, dwarf warrior - Total time played, 7 days
-Went through the byn.  Joined Tor.
-Routinely patrolled with the Arm for days 3-6
-Killed an Arm of the Dragon Corporal in a duel that the corporal demanded outside the gates
-Executed by a templar for the above, much to the Tor's dismay since it was an honorable request

Jelek, city-elf burglar - total time played, 2 days 21 hours
-Formed a city elf gang that received props from those running the 'rinth.
-Fueled inner-city conflict by defending eastside interests with said gang
-Targeted in group combat because he'd killed a couple guild members

Jaer, dwarven ranger - total time played, 5 days 21 hours
-Served as freelancer to Tuluki army in mostly scouting capacities
-Died after his third trip into muarki lands to a gypsy who brought two npc guards with him.


And so on.  And so on.  And so on.  All of them got involved in very fun events prior to or close to 5 days played in capacities where they were useful and contributing to the game.  Some of them were even incredibly important.  Not because they stayed behind walls trying to insure they stayed alive, but because they were eager to get involved and contribute.

The idea that the only thing that makes the game 'worth it' is living long enough to not die is screwing yourself out of the potential for fun, because you seem to think more in terms of investment than opportunity.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Molten Heart on April 27, 2017, 03:52:16 PM
.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Armaddict on April 27, 2017, 04:08:55 PM
Quote
How many achievements/accomplishments depend on other player's long playtime/days played?

'Achievement' is the wrong word.  Generating fun is what we're going for.  Some people will inevitably survive longer, but that does not equate with adding more to the game.  Sometimes, that 3 days played burglar is generating more activity for people in a short spurt of 4 RL days of continued playtime than the guy who logs in every day with total focus on skill gains so that he can be a badass in whatever event he decides to get involved in down the line.

I didn't add in some of my longer-lived individuals, because the point was that even short term, 'thrown in' characters contribute content to the game as long as they're playing for now, instead of holding everything off in order to plan for the future.

However, many of those listed were solo/small group.  Some of them, like Jelek or Tariq, I was actually one of the longer lived people in the group.

Quote
The time other players spend logged into the game is something that's being overlooked. Imagine if everyone playing the game only logged into the game for an hour at a time.

Again.  That's kind of what I've been pushing for, is content.  With players settling back into a more passive 'long-game' mentality, we require either a code based or staff-based presentation of things to do.  I said it before.  Logging in because 'There are things I need to do' versus logging in because 'Maybe something will happen' are two very different feelings as far as enjoyment.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on April 27, 2017, 04:11:26 PM
I have a hard time playing these days, and even if I DO log in for an hour, I see next to nothing. Primarily because of the time I can log in.

But when I do? I look at people, I emote, I change my ldesc, I DO things. But most people either aren't online, don't hang around communal gatherings, or spam-walk past anything that looks like an NPC.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: John on April 27, 2017, 04:28:25 PM
Unless characters become funner quicker, and unless staff more aggressively animate the game world, the game will continue a slow decline.
Armageddons demise has been greatly exaggerated for years now. Yet We're seeing numbers slowly rise from where they were a month ago, which funnily enough is what happens at this time of year every year.

Lowering Arm's difficulty will (IMO) destroy part of its charm and drive players away, IMO.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: hyzhenhok on April 27, 2017, 06:07:04 PM
Synthesis is right, I was referring to ~10 days because that's about how long it took me on average to get moderately competent at combat (we're not talking "stomp baddies alone" skilled. More like maybe can lead Byn or hunting parties against common, moderately-dangerous creatures?) or to master skills where a single failure can be PC-threatening. I've never been wholly skills focused, but there are lot of fun character concepts that are skill-gated and the time investment to get where you want the concept to be can be heavy. Sure, maybe only players who are drawn to those character concepts get burned by this. But that might be a significant chunk of the players that you can't retain.

And it's not purely skills. It also roughly tracks will how long it takes for me to feel my characters are socially integrated, but I'm not going to say I was ever a skilled socialite. I've played high-flavor, low-involvement, low-skill PCs before. It's a completely different experience when you're fresh out the gate, just hanging out somewhere trying to pull people into interactions, and when your character has dozens of PC acquaintances and you have a bit of a reputation, maybe. The most butthurt I ever got over a PC death was exactly such a (nearly) pure flavor character with 10 days played and almost no skill grinding that I felt was a bit unfairly PKed just as things were starting to get awesome. There's investment lost  there, too. It'll take my next character, what, 3-4 IRL weeks and tens of hours played just to get to the "oh, this newbie character is probably not going to run off and die. we can pay attention to it" point?

No, not every character needs 200+ hours of investment to reach their potential. And yes, there's fun in the early phases of a character. But I'm not sure how you could question that the game offers tantalizing payoffs (in multiple directions) that require significant time investment--which can be lost in an instant.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Delirium on April 27, 2017, 06:18:06 PM
I think part of the solution is to break the playerbase out of the mentality of only paying attention to "established" PCs.

Yes, it takes time to build trust, and it should, but you can absolutely come up with ways to involve even the brand newest of PCs.

Do it. Stop being elitist and just do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: BadSkeelz on April 27, 2017, 06:25:36 PM
As a corollary to that, continue the trend towards making all PCs useful more quickly.

Bringing people of any skill level in to a plot is all well and good, but it's not good for anyone's enjoyment when the [Novice] newbie gets put in way over their head, dies, and potentially takes Ms 100-days-played's character down with them. The newbie might bounce back (they often do) but how discouraging is it for the veteran to have to start as square 1 again? Lessening the sting of character loss and encouraging risk taking can make Armageddon a funner, more vibrant game.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Lizzie on April 27, 2017, 07:27:07 PM
No, not every character needs 200+ hours of investment to reach their potential. And yes, there's fun in the early phases of a character. But I'm not sure how you could question that the game offers tantalizing payoffs (in multiple directions) that require significant time investment--which can be lost in an instant.

They wouldn't be so tantalizing if 1) everyone could get them fairly easily, 2) there was no significant risk of immediate and permanent loss.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: hyzhenhok on April 28, 2017, 05:34:59 PM
No, not every character needs 200+ hours of investment to reach their potential. And yes, there's fun in the early phases of a character. But I'm not sure how you could question that the game offers tantalizing payoffs (in multiple directions) that require significant time investment--which can be lost in an instant.

They wouldn't be so tantalizing if 1) everyone could get them fairly easily, 2) there was no significant risk of immediate and permanent loss.

I didn't say anything about reducing the risk of immediate and permanent loss. And dumping 200 hours into a character to get from newbie to somewhat useful and socially established isn't any harder than just having to do 50-100 hours would be. It's just a time sink that prices grownups out of the game.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: nauta on April 30, 2017, 11:00:39 AM
Related to the op: I noticed this week (which still has 13 hours left in it) that unique logins are way up and new applications are double what they were last week. So whatever we did, do it more!

http://www.armageddon.org/updates/index.php?week=17&year=2017

(To view previous years just change the year in the url.)

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: ghanima on May 01, 2017, 09:02:31 AM
Related to the op: I noticed this week (which still has 13 hours left in it) that unique logins are way up and new applications are double what they were last week. So whatever we did, do it more!

I've noticed the increase in players lately too and I don't know if it's enough to just write it off as yet another cyclical thing. My money's on it being the new gladiator updates. I'm definitely excited to see how this turns out and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on May 01, 2017, 09:20:05 AM
Whatever happened to the graphs that were being produced, a while ago? That had peak players over the course of the week, or unique logins over the course of a year?

I found those incredibly interesting, and were a good measure of health (200 unique logins this week doesn't tell me much other than its "around what it was last week")
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Brytta Lťofa on May 01, 2017, 06:59:37 PM
My solution proposals:
...
2.  Code a mobile-device app that allows for psionic communication without actually logging into the game.  Allow players to decide whether or not to be available for the app.  If you're logged in to the game, and your target contact is logged out, but available via the app, you can send the psi and it will be sent to the target PC's player's mobile device, and they can respond.  Such communication would be subject to all forms of magick or psionic snooping, spoofing, blocking, or other miscellaneous shenanigans.

3.  Code a psionic inbox so that when you log in, you can check the list of messages that your PC would've received.  Again, subject to snooping, spoofing, blocking, or shenanigans.
...
5.  Radically re-code the Labyrinth.  Change the room correspondence from 1:1 width of Allanak to like a width of 10:1, with a 3-layer aboveground Y axis.  Put so many quit rooms, hidey-holes, hidden places, and wandering NPCs in it that it would be entirely possible to be a relatively anonymous low-level criminal.  Implement a reasonable economic system for the area (i.e. one that doesn't revolve around looting dead NPCs.) Code some scrub-level gangs that are joinable from either chargen, or with minimal effort.

6.  Enable either mobile-app or offline payments...so if you hire someone to do something, and they do it, you can pay them for the work even if you otherwise rarely run into each other in game.  Maybe this could be limited to folks with active Nenyuk accounts or whatever.

So, lemme tell you how I play Arm:
- I get excited about a character.
- I create the character and play as much as I can manage for a few days/weeks.
- Assuming the character doesn't just die, at some point I get (1) bored or (2) distracted, ignore him for a RL year, and store when I get excited about the game again.

Now let's be evil: offline play elements like Synthesis' Psychic Inbox (and eke the Arm IC Newsletter idea someone else had) would be amazing for keeping me hooked.  Half the fun of Arm is in thinking about Arm.  Don't let me stop thinking about it.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: number13 on May 02, 2017, 12:24:46 PM
There should be an option to roll an older character with decent skills, some things branched versus and not-so-decent stats -- versus a younger character with guaranteed decent stats and no skills.

People who play a billion hours and have the patience to grind can take the younger option, and get the power of potential. People who just want to log in and not be a complete chump for 3 or 4 hours a week can take the older character option, and be able to participate right away.

I simply won't play if I have to devote 3 to 5 days to developing a character before doing anything halfway interesting.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Riev on May 02, 2017, 12:29:24 PM
For "most" skills, it only takes like 10-15 minutes of every In Game day of practice before you can go about socializing or doing the things you need, to survive. Yes, it still amounts to a lot of time to feel "decent" in a skill, but it doesn't require THAT much.

However, I do agree. We should be able to cater to more of a "Rather than a Tabletop, I play Arm for 4 hours every Sunday, and I don't want to spend a RL month to raise my skill 10%".
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: RogueGunslinger on May 04, 2017, 03:07:08 PM
Used to be you could get as many skillbumps as you had karma PLUS 3. That was nice. Now you can only get 3 period, and using one on a weapon skill is like using 2... And considering weapon skills are the ones that suck shit and take forever it leaves me not really wanting to use my spec-apps on skill-bumps.

Basically the only option we have for skipping the grind got nerfed to uselessness.

Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Narf on May 05, 2017, 12:11:20 PM
Unless characters become funner quicker, and unless staff more aggressively animate the game world, the game will continue a slow decline.
Armageddons demise has been greatly exaggerated for years now. Yet We're seeing numbers slowly rise from where they were a month ago, which funnily enough is what happens at this time of year every year.

Lowering Arm's difficulty will (IMO) destroy part of its charm and drive players away, IMO.

I think one of the primary problems of the game is that "lowering difficulty" and "decreasing time commitment" are seen as synonymous.

I think the game would be substantially helped by decreasing time commitment and increasing difficulty. "Fail" (die) more often, but get punished less for it.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: maxid on May 05, 2017, 02:29:41 PM
Lizzie and Armaddict, you two have been around long enough not to argue with Synthesis in good faith.  Synthesis never bothers to argue in good faith, so you're putting forth a lot of effort for no real gain.

Anyway, staff and players trusting each other (and actually both being worthy of that trust) would go a long way toward making the game a better place to be.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Synthesis on May 06, 2017, 02:46:43 AM
Lizzie and Armaddict, you two have been around long enough not to argue with Synthesis in good faith.  Synthesis never bothers to argue in good faith, so you're putting forth a lot of effort for no real gain.

Anyway, staff and players trusting each other (and actually both being worthy of that trust) would go a long way toward making the game a better place to be.

How, exactly, am I "not arguing in good faith?"

At the very beginning of the thread, I listed the problems as I see them, and solutions that I think would alleviate those problems.

If that's not "good faith," well...I think you may not understand what arguing in good faith actually means.
Title: Re: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations
Post by: Nergal on May 06, 2017, 08:58:48 AM
I'm going to lock this thread now as well.

The GDB could do with some recognition of the following points:
1) The GDB is a harsh and, frankly, toxic community when unmoderated.
   1A) A lot of this has to do with the difficulty to see tone in text, and the lack of immediacy in the conversation.
2) Live discussions, and by extension voice chats, seem to be far calmer.
   2A) The Discord channel set up for the upcoming player-staff meeting has demonstrated this so far.
3) It's difficult to trust arguments when they are formed in bad faith, apparent self-interest, etc.
   3A) Argue for what you think is best for the game, not what you, personally, think is the most fun for you. Sometimes this overlaps, sometimes it doesn't.
   3B) Don't tank forum polls with clan forum alts. That's just embarrassing to see.
   3C) This goes for both staff and players.