Hi, I'm Asche. I've just recently returned to the game after getting burnt out, and its been my longest break in a while. But, on an off, Arm has been a part of my life for almost five years now. I don't really agree with the directions its been going in the last couple years especially, and I think the declining playerbase might be an indicator of that. But here is the thing: I genuinely love this game, and I sincerely want to see it have a Renaissance. But I don't think its on the track for one.
Now for the bit that will likely get me banned. I'm a member of the shadowboard. Not a prominent one, I'm mainly a lurker, but I found them pretty shortly after finding Arm, and I keep up with them because, to be frank, I wanted to discuss Arm in a setting that felt less policed. And really, how could I not have found them? They're the first result when you type in 'Armageddon Mud Forums.' Unlike many of the people on that forum, I don't really feel spite against staff. And thats what I feel it is, honestly. Its not an organized vendetta, its a bunch of passive aggressive nerds who feel, justified or not, slighted by the community that they came to love, and want to be able to discuss it openly without the fear of reprisal. And thats important, because I feel like if the staff were more open with the playerbase, there wouldn't even BE a shadowboard.
I don't think staff are villains, and I understand that feeling attacked for every effort and hounded for every mistake would be grating to even the best-natured people. To come up with a plot and then have it mocked incessantly because it wasn't novel-quality, turned into a meme of terrible storytelling? Thats gotta feel pretty shitty. But, and this is important, I think this highly negative sentiment is the product of many years of growing distance between the staff and the playerbase, a perception of apathy and condescension from on high that is only going to naturally culminate in condescension. Not once, in the years I've been on this forum, have I ever seen staff, individually or collectively come forward and say, "We're sorry." I don't really think anyone expects staff to be perfect, and theres going to be complainers even if you are. But all we, as players, want to know is that you care, not just about the game in a meta sense, but about the people who are giving countless hours of their lives to this game. A simple acknowledgement when a mistake is made, and a promise to try to do better, or to take the game in a new direction, would do WONDERS. Instead, you actively ban people who have played the game for years just because they went to a forum where they can say the things you won't allow them to.
I consider myself a neutral party. No staff has ever attacked me, and the biggest slight I've ever got from them is being denied karma, or being a bit pedantic. I don't really have a problem with any of you. But I know there is a community that does, and they didn't pop out of nowhere. And yeah, they can be reactionary, defeatist, and even cruel. But you're not serving the best interests of the game by hunting them. I want this game to be around in ten years. I want to see it improve, to the point I'm willing to risk my account being deleted just to talk about it. I want a real dialogue between this community and those who feel scorned by it. Because the truth is, we're the same community, just fractured by perceived injustices. And whether they are baseless or not, we don't help the situation by not addressing them openly. Make an account on the Shadowboard. One openly staff. Just talk to them, without any aggression, and I think you'll be surprised by how easily this community improves. I know they'll be surprised to see you.