Author Topic: A Discussion on How to Improve Player Retention and Player/Staff Relations  (Read 9486 times)

Refugee

  • Posts: 1728
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.

BadSkeelz

  • Posts: 8384
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.
janeshephard: You really think BadSkeelz understands the concept of Wine In Front of me? This guy shot me as a townie when he felt threatened. The man's a neandrathal.

Miradus: He's not some weird mental abomination. He's just a guy on the internet.

wizturbo

  • Posts: 2485
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.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 03:52:37 PM by wizturbo »

Refugee

  • Posts: 1728
That's pretty brilliant.  I think you have a good explanation.

Renenutet

  • Storyteller
  • Posts: 289
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.
There are people already knowledgeable in game.  Find them and kill them so no one has cures and then poison everyone. -Kefka 2018

Melkor

  • Posts: 1113
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.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

mansa

  • Posts: 9544
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?
New Players Guide: http://gdb.armageddon.org/index.php/topic,33512.0.html


You win Armageddon, congratulations!  Type 'credits', then store your character and make a new one

Melkor

  • Posts: 1113
Yeah. I'd say so.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

Lizzie

  • Posts: 7765
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.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
Delirium said: Notice to all: do not mess with Lizzie's soap. She will cut you.

Melkor

  • Posts: 1113
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.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:54:40 PM by Melkor »
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

Lizzie

  • Posts: 7765
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.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
Delirium said: Notice to all: do not mess with Lizzie's soap. She will cut you.

ghanima

  • Posts: 81
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".

wizturbo

  • Posts: 2485
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?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 04:32:44 AM by wizturbo »

deathkamon

  • Posts: 786
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

Marauder Moe

  • Posts: 12887
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.]

Akaramu

  • Posts: 6743
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

chrisdcoulombe

  • Posts: 1222
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.

Quote from MeTekillot
Samos the salter never goes to jail! Hahaha!

Renenutet

  • Storyteller
  • Posts: 289
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.
There are people already knowledgeable in game.  Find them and kill them so no one has cures and then poison everyone. -Kefka 2018

Lizzie

  • Posts: 7765
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.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
Delirium said: Notice to all: do not mess with Lizzie's soap. She will cut you.

chrisdcoulombe

  • Posts: 1222
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.
Quote from MeTekillot
Samos the salter never goes to jail! Hahaha!

Lizzie

  • Posts: 7765
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.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
Delirium said: Notice to all: do not mess with Lizzie's soap. She will cut you.

Malifaxis

  • Posts: 4616
    • Thoughts of the Sixth Age
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.
Yes. Read the thread if you want, or skip to page 7 and be dismissive.
-Reiloth

Words I repeat every time I start a post:
Stop being shitty to each other.

Akaramu

  • Posts: 6743
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.

surveyvon

  • Posts: 27
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.
Aranix

chrisdcoulombe

  • Posts: 1222
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.
Quote from MeTekillot
Samos the salter never goes to jail! Hahaha!