Game Feedback Wanted

Started by Halaster, September 16, 2021, 05:13:48 PM

Now that Tuluk is reopened we want to reach out to some former vets of the game, but we don't want to leave out those of you still playing, even if infrequently.

We're curious why those of you of late may not be as involved as you once were.

What are some of the causes that have made you play less or not at all?
What are some changes you think would benefit the game and draw more people - new and returning?
What sort of things should do we more of?
What sort of things should we do less of?

Before replying, please keep these rules in mind:

  • Don't share sensitive recent IC info.
  • Don't air dirty laundry.
  • Do be honest and open but do so in a respectful way and try to be constructive in your criticism.

I've purposely left those questions pretty open ended because everyone has their own things that matter to them - something with code, something with game setting, something with policies - whatever.

If you genuinely think your reason shouldn't be posted here, I'm open to being hit up on Discord.
"I agree with Halaster"  -- Riev

The truth is that I got old and married and have a career. As much as I'm super thankful for Tuluk reopening again I realize that I'll never have the proper time to dedicate to Arm again. I'm happy when I have a couple of hours here and there for my Steam games.
"When I was a fighting man, the kettle-drums they beat;
The people scattered gold-dust before my horse's feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back."

I think the biggest crux of our current position, is that we are an aging playerbase with children, families and jobs. We also are all pretty sick of having to stay inside at the moment.

I mentioned it in Discord as well, but I also think many players clamored for the return of Tuluk without fully thinking about what the benefit would be, or why they actually really wanted it open again. I personally only wanted reopened because it was taken away and I'm sure many others would say the same if they reflected on it.

I also think some of the players who clamored the hardest and still didn't return are just completely done with the game that even the return of Tuluk wasn't enough to draw them back in.

I think if we wanted to draw some more returning players back in, we need to adjust some of the pain points of the game. In my mind those are the grind and the sometimes arcane crafting system. I have no idea how we would fix them, I really don't but I do think addressing them and making them easier or at least clearer would help.

As for why I play less these days, I play less because I don't have the time anymore. Between kids and other things, Arm gets put on the back burner as much as I hate that.

I don't play as often because I'm busy with real life.

I did quit for a time when I was newer to the game. I was frustrated with the OOC-FOIC rules. I know a number of other folks quit over the same frustration, particularly new folks.

I have come back and love the game.

With that said, it's not a criticism of the staff. It's a criticism of the policy. I believe it's taxing for the staff to have to enforce those rules.

I remember when I had to go to the shadow boards to look up the branching trees of the legacy "guilds" but now it's in the help file for the new guilds. I find that what's FOIC is rather arbitrary and if you're a new player, it's frustrating enough to quit.

Some of the OOC outcomes of discord totally suck, some total jerks there. But it doesn't effect my playing of the game so it might be out of scope of your post.

I really really really like how attentive and flexible staff is. I really like my fellow players for the most part.

But. For a newbie. Getting familiar with the game with getting FOIC thrown at you all the time is a reason to quit logging on.

Another reason to quit logging on is that I can play and never come across any players. The game world is huge. But I'm not sure there is a remedy to this.

September 16, 2021, 06:31:30 PM #4 Last Edit: September 16, 2021, 06:35:26 PM by WarriorPoet
I still play 'regularly' but yeah. Kids, job, responsibilities have gutted my playtimes and, if I am being honest, my enthusiasm.

Arm is a game that requires a lot of time to thrive in. The last 5 years or so if I get a sponsored/leadership role, I end up feeling guilty that I can't put in enough time to move and shake. I would love to play another AoD sergeant but if I did I know in my heart that I will eventually have a week where I ghost completely because of kids' sports and that some of the storylines are just left on the table. I just feel guilty taking a spot that could be filled by a consistent player.

Then, there is the inevitable death to spider/gith swarm, or even RP-lacking PK that is so frustrating. Can I justify 12 days played only to die in a goofy-ass way that adds nothing to my story or anyone else's?
We were somewhere near the Shield Wall, on the edge of the Red Desert, when the drugs began to take hold...

My ebbs and flows over the years are from relationships mostly and work.

When I was in my last three year relationship, I couldn't put the time towards the game because I'd work 40 hours a week, then wanna play a few hours of Arm at night and my GF would be giving me grief because I'm not "Spending time with her." even if that time was just sitting on the couch watching TV.

Other than that, had a job where I traveled around the world, was in a different country ever few weeks.  So I also didn't play then, but I kept up with staff announcements and all that.

So I blame relationships and work are probably the biggest things.
"This is a game that has elves and magick, stop trying to make it realistic, you can't have them both in the same place."

"We have over 100 Unique Logins a week!" Checks who at 8pm EST, finds 20 other players but himself.  "Thanks Unique Logins!"

What are some of the causes that have made you play less or not at all?

  • RoI - time is precious and when I left about 8 years ago the game felt a little stale and the staff player relationship felt too toxic for me to want to be around

What are some changes you think would benefit the game and draw more people - new and returning?

  • GUI based character generation
  • A newbie 101 pipeline to help new players survive in game and learn the ropes without breaking the 4th wall. I posted a link about this in Discord.
  • A moble friendly site and board; posting this from my cell has been hell

What sort of things should do we more of?

  • Perform form-driven surveys to make data driven decision about where to take the game
  • Continue with the QoL improvements to the game. There's some really good new changes to the game, and probably more I haven't seen yet.

What sort of things should we do less of?

  • Continue on as if it were the year 2005. It's not that bad, just saying that staying current and being somewhat adaptable while maintaining the general atmosphere is important[

September 16, 2021, 07:31:41 PM #7 Last Edit: September 16, 2021, 07:38:51 PM by mhartman
I like to get really wrapped up in a role and try to get them to live a long time. Often between that I am puttering around on characters because I have a zoo and am married. It can be easier to play when there are more people around, but that's not it for me. Armageddon is an unchanging sort of staple in my gaming life, for a long, long time. During changing times, whether they are good or bad, like a move, or covid, armageddon basically stays the same. It's my favourite game.

I think over the years, if I look back, an amazing job has been done making this game MORE accessible, more interesting, rich and friendly (OOCly). Discord helps. Request tool helps. Transparent and helpful staff, some of who we have grown older with, all that helps.

I would love more time to play. I don't think there's much to be done about that.

Quality of life improvements would be great, there is a thread on that.

I know people enjoy crafting, but I don't. There's a huge emphasis on crafting and staff or PC-led plots. I like playing a character more than I like plot, and I find crafting encourages people to sit in apartments more than even mudsex did/does if/when that happened for people. In a way, the more this game is about crafting, and selling stuff, the cities become sort of a place for hunters to rest at night. I wonder if both sides of this equation get a little bored. The crafters live long and don't always accomplish much, and the hunters die off to aggressive wildlife.

I love how permadeath keeps the game fresh, new character descriptions, the air of not knowing who is playing who is really fun to me. With permadeath, it means something to lose a character. But it can be draining -- I wish I could talk to more of you and know you better, chat about our PCs and stuff. But then we lose some of the mystery that makes it exciting to play.

Those are some preliminary thoughts.

Biggest improvement to the game that veterans, staff and new players can make is to learn to forgive one another, and realize the nature of Armageddon, which can be surprisingly EASY to forget: it's a game. It's not your therapist, your friend, your lover, your family. It's just a game. Lighten up and play around! And lets not punish eachother for being logged in. :)

"If I knew where I was going, it wouldn't be called an adventure."

My playtimes are really low right now so I feel like I qualify for giving some feedback, mostly to plus one some points here.

+1 Everyone is getting busier and has less time in general. We can fix this with the point below.
+1 to the GDB and Discord being inadequate. The GDB is a PITA to use on a phone, and Discord is a toxic cesspool, agreed. People do not forgive each other over OOC grudges as another poster here alluded to, and it makes people have to do laborious crap like register new GDB handles to hide their identity, etc. Something like offline way messages or just a more modern means for us to communicate OOCly would help a lot.
+1 to GUI character generation to help newbies and old players alike, I would even volunteer to help code such a thing.

What's the common thread here? It is that we should invest in some non-telnet aspects of our game. I truly believe that our website redesign and new request tool ("new," it is all about a decade old now) is part of what allowed Armageddon to survive and what caused comparably great but less spruced up RPI games to die. As a telnet game, Armageddon is fantastic and a lot of great features have been added and balanced. But when I tell friends and coworkers what my weird terminal game is and they are interested (maxx vintage haxx), and they check out the website, it can be hard leaping right into the game. I think one of my coworkers, a big dork, told me, "It looks really cool but I couldn't figure out how to play," and he was a Technical Program Manager and not a total dope, he runs Roll20 games etc.

It is fun imaging a future state where if you make a character on the website, you get your offline messages, you get to see your clan board as soon as you join it without having to issue a request and wait, etc. If we care about data, a case can be made that the RPIs which have invested more in this outside-telnet tooling have done proportionately better in terms of player counts, etc.
message me if something there needs an update.

September 16, 2021, 10:36:58 PM #9 Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 07:26:22 AM by Dresan
I have just taken over a major project at work. This is amazing for my career but hampers my available time. However, the reason I have a hard time playing is not just because of less time.

The real reason is because while I respect the time and effort staff have put in the game, I have not always felt my time has been equally respected.

1. There is OOC unfairness to the game.

I am not even considering the flippant behavior by members of this community on both side of the field. I will also forget the fact that a mul miscreant using two handed maul conveniently appeared when two bored sponsored roles wanted to kill an indie elf in the middle of nowhere.  And I've made peace with the fact that there are stories and plots that my grebbers will ever get to learn about. And even the thought that trickle down economics does not work in finance or in storytelling is just merely my opinion. However i know what there are people who are ooc friends with staff or have cliques in this game which i am not part of who talk about Ic aspects of this game. This game needs to be reduce the amount of OOC information sharing by making it more avaiable ICly. For example, I've mentioned I would like to see value identify what skills gear helps with and perhaps by how much, because descriptions are not always clear.

2.  The grind.

Creating and training character is a huge investment in time. That is why most people never use some skills before they are mastered. Otherwise you are wasting your own time. The only skills which are fine are direct combat skills because you practice with people or in a pve setting. But there are a lot of other skills which are tedious to train(backstab) or take you out of the game crafting/magic/theft,etc. And again, whether a player with max backstab or max stealth or theft skills will appear now or later will not impact the game at all. The only cost is the one the player has to pay through grind ever single time they want to do something cool in this game. The grind should to be reduced by 75 percent at least. Again with the exception of direct combat, basically skills you train in a sparring circle,  that is fine as it is.

The RP grind to gain trust and connection will always be there but it would help if people had to focus more on that then coded grind. The character life expectancy is short, so even ride as short of a grind as that is feels so bad after having had to do it so many times. Please spare us.
This message was brought to you by a fair weather player.

+1 to Dresan's points.

I'm having trouble finding roles that I want to play, that I havent played in Arm 10+ times, that staff will allow.   Mea culpa.

The karma timer doesnt help this problem.   Maybe its a grass is greener issue, but I have had ideas that sounded fun that werent as alluring (or even remembered) 60+ days later.   

I played my last character for six weeks and failed to join four clans.  Part of this was an inability to be useful in perceived current storylines.   Oh well.    Next.

I feel like the only room for several kinds of indeps right now is as minor antagonists.   I'm just not interested in weeks or months of grinding to get pk'd by clan pcs that essentially cant be won against.   Can you embarass or assassinate a sergeant or aide?  Sure.   Will it matter a whit in the world?  Not ever.

Its the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fiiiiiine.

So I just came back from a big hiatus. Which was mostly caused by a PK of a new character of mine with almost no RP. Those situations are beyond frustrating.

I really don't agree with removing the grind. There are some things I think could be better. Like weapon skills especially when they have skills gated behind them just don't seem to increase now from what I've seen, but overall I feel everything else almost increases TOO fast, but maybe that's because I had two months recently where I was playing a lot. But for normal playtimes most skills seem fine to me.

My main issue is usually with how lots of plots often die when leadership dies/stores. I think this is a combination of leadership not properly delegating tasks, but also it sometimes seems like certain things just aren't allowed to be delegated by staff. Without going into details I basically stored my last character because "hire ups" had to approve any extra tasks, so 90% of the time I had nothing to do when I logged in. I think this also leads to burn out for leaders. I've never played a merchant house or noble house or sergeant or anything, but I have been around them enough to know people just never leave them alone.
21sters Unite!

September 17, 2021, 12:48:28 AM #12 Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 12:54:35 AM by X-D
#1 I dislike the new classes. (no secret)

#2 Time.

And #1 plays into #2 as I find it hard to be willing to make time because of #1.

I personally think the revamp was done backwards. The game went on for more then 20 years because of specialized classes. Classes where you knew you could be the best at what that class was specialized for. Will take warrior as example. A 50 day Byn sarge warrior KNEW he could walk into a gith camp and very likely have to climb over piles of bodies to get back out.

If I would have done this revamp, I would have actually specialized the main (non-karma) classes even more then they were...and removed all branching from them. So, like a warrior would be a specialized MELEE GOD. BUT I would have redid the subs, taking out the karma for subs and made them different levels of specialization and all the branching would be done there. You want to have a "fighter" Sub, that gets you some the main warrior skills, but only to high advanced and more then half of those skills will have to branch. You want "soldier" Sub, that gets you almost all the main warrior skills plus some of what like soldier has now but only to JM and again more then half have to branch. And so on and so forth. And Legacy mages would be able to choose from subs like this so there would be no reason to bother with any of them at all. Other then I would make it so that was also the only set of subs that Sorcs and benders got to choose from as well.

Anyway, Yeah....but even then, currently I am not sure if even that happened I would be able to up my available time by more then 50%. So.....

I am happy to see some tweaking going on to these new classes though, Most I have agreed with.
A gaunt, yellow-skinned gith shrieks in fear, and hauls ass.
If you -want- me to think that your character is a hybrid of a black kryl and a white push-broom shaped like a penis, then you've done a great job

I've had a lot of reflection on a game like this over the years. I relate a lot with both the aging player and the social issues in real life.

For game specifics, I don't know if the game changed, or I changed, yet i've found it far easier to enjoy the game the past couple of years when I can.

I don't really feel there is some sort of meta OOC issue, and having been around when only the GDB was a venue for communication, I feel like the discord (for what it is) has provided a lot of benefits and connection.

I don't know that any game can stop the gradual march of time or on the OOC note, the collaboration of players in a dynamic that disadvantages one player or another unfairly from time to time.

I'm grateful for the implementation of new code, and staff i've both praised and beefed with over the years staying on a project and game that returns nothing but the ire of disgruntled players more often than not.

If I had a specific area i'd want to see considered, it'd be the willingness of players to attempt to interact with different areas of the world with staff assistance in a reasonable way.

An example: "I'm trying to get people to build a tower at 'x' location."
Staff: "That's probably not possible because of x,y,z: No."


A: "I'm trying to get people to build a tower at 'X' location."
B: "Okay, provide progress updates every so often, good luck!"


A: "me and the gang are going to attempt <this>"
B: ".....Okay! Good luck! Looks like we'll be filing a lot of new character requests soon!"

I'll try to answer it based on category then maybe a more general answer towards the end.

The Tl;Dr is: I enjoy the freedom I get out of tabletop RPG's more than I do Armageddon, and I've found in other Muds I get more freedom as well.

What are some of the causes that have made you play less or not at all?

The skill grind is a big one. Ironically, the skill grind is sometimes why I play the game. I get on, I know what I've got to do. Go to X, do Y, do Z, etc. Then, sometimes I just log on and go 'Why the fuck am I doing this', can't find a soul around to interact with, then log off.

Staff response time to requests, special apps and what not I don't mind but "Hey I'd like to do X!" *Two weeks later* shit is...annoying. Are ya'll waiting for me to die? Do you need to email the staffer above you, invoice to his staffer, then fax a message to your cousin asking for permission? What's with the red tape? I'll pay for hourly staff support at this point.

What are some changes you think would benefit the game and draw more people - new and returning?

The advertising for this game seems to not exist, so maybe that would help a bit.

The skill system is also not user friendly. Absolutely 0 chance of leveling up on success means you hurt people who don't go to the extreme lengths of 'getting gud', and making it harder to get gud seems to be counter productive.

What sort of things should do we more of?

Top down communication was bad when I was playing my bastard, it should be improved or something. Example: I wanted to make an item. My staffer at the time said "Sure, sounds great, do it". I put the item in. "Denied, it doesn't fit the game".
....Well, okay.

I want to renovate the wagon. We've tried to do this IC, but the person who we have to go through wants a ridiculous sum (Basically, the cost of an actual wagon for the addition of what amounts to be a wall)
So I go "Well, I have wagon making as a skill, my character can draw very well (And has an employer who can too), our house has the labor or money to provide labor, we have a wagon yard, lets do it ourself!"
Staffer says "Great idea, - Sorry we can't do that upper staff said no".

What sort of things should we do less of?

I get the unpaid volunteer thing, I really do, I've moderated on games myself, I've been a DM several times and actively run games, but the response time on things is atrocious sometimes. I've waited weeks to get a 'no, and you'll never be able to' response on things that should be able to act as plot hooks or possibly get people involved (A situation I was thinking of once: Man this area I found is blocked off now, wouldn't it be neat to organize people and explore it? Nope too bad its impossible I hoped you enjoyed waiting for a week)

When I have an idea of 'man this would be fun to do' I'd love to be able to just start prepping for it IC, get people involved, get supplies together. But I know that there's a heavy chance whatever I want to do will just take a month to get a reply on, or a no. There's no way I want to devote my time to anything that requires an animation when there is a solid chance the answer is "No, request closed"

I've had to develop an IC-OOC skill for 'Telling people IC that I'm waiting on staff' and I sometimes just OOC it when I have to, as it borders on silly.

Non Category
Even when I was in deep with my roleplaying and enjoyment of the game I never had the effect of being able to influence the world in a way I thought was fun or overall meaningful, even taking into account 'Realistic world responses'. I also ever got animations  or 'realistic responses' that I felt added to the game, I felt they were mostly antagonistic and 'DM vs Players' (To use a DnD term). I played another Mud and every animation I had, even hostile ones, felt more interesting and less 'I want to kill you'.

I'll note I've had some okay animations, usually when I'm doing something reckless as hell with high profile individuals, but it's almost kinda sad that I can only expect to get an animation if I decide to...hang out with a noble in places I shouldn't, go to a spooky room that hasn't been used in 5 irl years, etc. I get that it adds a sense of 'Ooooooo don't do stupid shit' but I can be outside by myself for 10 straight IG years and not have a single animation then get the animation police on me to kick my ass.

Another example: I wanted to do the gang thing on a character. Got set up by staff to talk to an NPC, fun stuff. Put in a request with my plans. It took around 8 days or so to get a response for what would amount to, if I ever did it, me setting fire to a NPC building with no other pcs. The response wasn't a confirmation, and I replied again asking some questions (More or less: How can I make firegourds seeing as commoners seem to be able to shit them out at a moments notice and it seemed a good idea to make one). After another 9 days of silence I decided that, I really didn't want to have to wait so long inbetween communication.
It's too slow for my liking. Maybe other people enjoy it, but then again other people enjoy play by post games and those are icky.

As Aruven said, there's a lot of 'No'.
I don't advocate for the "No, but" approach for DM. I advocate for "No, here's alternatives or lets discuss what you want to do". I've had so many requests where I had questions that wanted to be answered just closed by staff and that feels like a slammed door in the face. Even if it's "Oh haha Jihelu you can just post another request" that doesn't stop the feeling that you hung up on me.
I've also had an annoying few situations where I asked questions that just flat out didn't get answered, and not in a 'find out IC' way just flat out ignored, and the request was closed. It's why I format my request with numbers now, I feel like I had to train myself with how to deal with staff.

Also stop being so high-school atheist over religions and 'Everyone in Zalanthas is an atheist' type shit. You and I know there are tribes in game, right now, that worship spirits and other junk. You can be firm with a "No christianity/organized religion" type thing but it's cringe.

The world feels...empty, to me. I've mapped out the entire southlands (Except those specific mountains in -direction-, fucking -insert monster-...exploring it sucks), I've mapped out the silt sea, I've mapped out the Red Desert...a lot of it feels empty after you explore it. I wish there was more 'neat' things to look at. I'll give credit where its due, some parts of the silt sea feel really neat, but aside from those areas its just -big number here- x -another big number- rooms of silt.

Stuff I liked
Bootlicking is for whelps, but I will list some of the things I've enjoyed about the game.
1: The animations have gotten...better.
2: The code additions have all been great. I can't think of a single major update that has had changes I've sat down and gone 'Why though' on. (Except giving bard master scan but that's less of a code addition and just an edit).

So speaking for me, it's a few things. Sorry for the ramble.

1. OOC obligations that have nothing to do with the game. When I was younger, wasn't married, didn't have a kid en route, didn't have X Y Z social obligation, didn't own my own business, yeah. I had more time to play ArmageddonMUD, build up a PC over the course of months, and die trying to outdo my enemies and friends.

Now a days I don't...I find myself reaching more and more for Dragon Age: Inquisition for the third time, rather than ArmageddonMUD, because I know I can put it on, have fun for 30 minutes or an hour, and then zonk out. As WarriorPoet pointed out, ArmageddonMUD requires time, and it isn't just to gain skills or the grind, it's to actually engage with the game.

If you don't devote an hour or two here and there every day or every other day, you're going to constantly be playing catch up if you are in the Political Game. If you are playing catch up all the time, you aren't actualizing any of your own plots, you're just reacting to other people's. When you get too far behind, you feel like storing or doing something drastic to overcome being left behind. Rinse and repeat.

This is not a fault of the game, per se. This is just the OOC lack of time that our aging playerbase has to engage with a game that requires so much time.

My proposed solution to the time sink:

-Staff assesses areas of the game for what plots are shaking. Maybe it's the Defilers in the West. Maybe it's the Templars in the Sewers. Maybe it's a Guild vs Eastside War. Maybe it's spycraft between the city states.

-They identify 2-3 role opportunities within organically grown plots and advertise for them via role call. They are advertised as probably short lived, and intended with a purpose, to further a story / plot.

-These 'Shaker Roles' are started out with high skills appropriate to their background, and a filled in RP background at that. Call it method acting. You have the Mage Hunter who is rolled out of the Pyramid. You have the Assassin hired on retainer with the Guild for specific NPC targets within Organizations that aren't paying up protection money. You have the Vampire in the Sewers, or you have the Elemental escaped from the Plane of Ruk. Heroes and Villains.

-These "Shaker Roles" really are flavor roles. They aren't meant to be the center of the plot, but the result of a plot reaching maturation, and a catalyst for the plot moving forward, either to complication or conclusion.

To me, this creates dynamic roles rather than static roles. It's all and well that when one Kuraci Agent PC stores, another one applies in, but that is what I consider to be a 'static role call', one that is made great by the one that plays it, but otherwise doesn't have too many bumpers or guard rails. The Secret Role Calls, and things of that nature, are the 'dynamic role calls' and I think Staff should push ALL role calls to be dynamic. So even formerly static roles, like a Kuraci Agent, would be made dynamic through plot and purpose.

2. Lack of direction. This is no fault of Staff, really. They wanted to give us a ball and have us roll with it. I think when all of us had more time and engagement with the game, that was great. You had the Raleris Winrothols and Dragean Tenneshi's and Samos the Red and all these great leadership PCs that poured their blood, sweat, and tears into the game. And hey, the game world benefitted from it. But we just don't really have that same pool of TIME to devote to the game. I think many of us would rather log in and ENGAGE with the game, with the plots going on, with the plots being shoved down our throats by Staff really, then to log in, look around for people, not find people, train a bit, then log out. It's hard to self perpetuate momentum, harder now than it was.

I find that when i'm playing a sponsored leadership role now, it's a long game. A waiting game. Waiting for pieces to fall into place, waiting for people to fall into place. And in the interim, PCs die, move on, store, change all the pieces on the board, leading to longer periods of waiting. Action is hard to come by. And trust me, I try to play daring PCs that aren't cowardly or fearful, they take risks. It's just hard to come across risks that are not PvE, or born out of throwing all caution to the wind.

3. Speaking of sponsored roles -- I think they need to be wrapped up quicker. I think people should be expected to rise quickly through the ranks and either store, or die on their path to victory or failure, or provided more opportunity by Staff to die if they are sitting pretty. I think exceptions to this could be Byn Sergeant, where they can be expected to be a Byn Sergeant for most (if not all) of their career, with the very slight chance of becoming a Lieutenant. But I feel that Templars and Nobles should be given the ammunition to make a difference, and then die trying to do so. There is a lot of gating behind virtual population -- You are one of many. You are taking on entire Houses, not just individuals. Don't swing above your station. But I really think that should change. I would like to see Templars less afraid of taking on X Y Z organization. Or fomenting a war effort. Or executing a Noble who steps on their toes too often. Maybe they don't survive the aftermath of it, but it keeps the world unpredictable, dynamic, and thrilling to engage with.

I'd personally like to see Nobles and Templars in a role bump up in promotion after a couple RL months of sticking with the role (After all, quite a few store before then, so they're giving it a good ol' college try). After that, based on merit and more time and 'what they do'. If they just sit on their ass and coast and don't make any plots or stir the pot, yeah. Have a chat with them OOC, encourage them to get into the mix more. But if they are IN THE MIX, promote them. Reward them for sticking through with the role...TO A POINT.

If someone's been playing a role for over a RL year or two...Yeah. I really think they should move on to another one. Both for their benefit, and for the game's benefit. Sometimes a GREAT player gets wrapped up in a MEDIOCRE role, or a GREAT player makes a GREAT role MEDIOCRE by sitting on it for too long. Because they have been playing it for way, way, way too long. They are way, way, way too comfortable. They have every Power Player in their pocket. They can get rid of the competition with a snap of their fingers. It's too easy, and it isn't the game as it should be. Go play a nobody in Red Storm sometime who is wondering where to get their next meal or drink of water from. THAT, is the game. That same feeling should be felt for people in politics when they log in. Will I Survive?

We're talking purely OOC here. Yes, I like to play leaders, and I like to see those leaders succeed. Will they always succeed? Hell no. They make more mistakes than victories for sure, and sometimes I make them do that on purpose to fit their personality. But no one wants to play an endless paper pusher middle-management nobody when they were pitched a 'somebody'. They want to play the somebody. They want to burn up in the fire of their own making, from flying too close to the sun.

Anyways. Just some thoughts. I don't know how or if it helps define by the outlines. Just some honest feelings about why the game is more difficult to engage with as I get older.

Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.

--Immanuel Kant

My biggest piece of feedback is how there's a large lack of trust given to players.

As anyone that's played a sponsored role before would know, when your character is first put into the game, you quickly realize you pretty much have little to no starting power in the world. It is earned. It doesn't sound bad at first, until you realize this earning takes place over many RL months that a vast majority of players just don't want to put in. This often creates a high storage/inactivity rate amongst leaders that I'm sure everyone has noticed over the years.

Every role that gets put into the game is very weak in terms of skills, and the only way to start with higher skills (without being sponsored) is through an application process that takes the same amount of time as a spec app for a boost that doesn't mean much. Secondary characters won't even be considered despite the fact they could be used for more blatantly aggressive/flavor roles (gith, mantis, beggars, gladiators). You can say this makes people privy to information their main characters wouldn't have.. which is exactly the gripe I have, the lack of trust.

In conclusion, my desire is to see more routes of eliminating this grind that's mentioned by many above, both influentially and mechanically. For example, being able to role app into the Byn as a Trooper with journeyman/advanced weapon skills with no rolecall on the GDB or an IRL month spent ingame being a runner and grinding needed. Maybe an automated system in character gen to up your skills/stats with your karma. Or, influentially, a Kuraci merchant being put into the game as an Agent with actual support from his house and seniors instead of an Apprentice Dealer that gets dismissed by everyone above him. This could create actual fast moving plots and gameplay that has a high chance of crashing and burning like Veselka said. Crashing, burning, and risks are fun. Firm stability.. really isn't.
You try to climb, but slip.
You plummet to the ground below...

September 17, 2021, 04:20:12 AM #17 Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 05:05:58 AM by Lotion
The only subguild with the poisoning skill is slipknife, would be nice for it to be more widely available. Also only a "city" sub having poisoner means the wild classes which lack it (raider, adventurer, dune trader) benefit far more from taking it than the city subs which lack poisoner (enforcer and pilferer).

Edit: I also think Adventurers should get improved plant breaking, probably also touched vivaduans, and maybe all other vivaduans as well.

Newer staff hierarchies culminating in a more strict 'developer's vision' that punishes people trying to think and play outside of the box is the major thing keeping me away. When you look at certain roles and houses and clans going through the same cycles over and over again, it's not hard to imagine the reason is staff intervention and restriction, especially if you've experienced it firsthand elsewhere. Just look at the general source of conflict and antagonism from two years ago to now. Less player created groups, less unique independent antagonists, less household names that actually echo with weight, less legends. These things fall to the side when people are having their game world revolve around staff pushed plots that seem to take precedence.

More and more the game seems on rails rather than player run.

I personally have a sneaking suspicion that certain roles (nobles, templars) have become increasingly 'flanderized' as time went on (you need to play the role this single, safe way, with no interesting taste of individuality) because it's easier to manage. And that just makes the same roles over and over again, changing and bringing nothing to the game.

Agreed one thousand percent with above. Though I would argue these debatably tired archetypes and their successes (as opposed to those who try to be different and their failures) are the reason for the flanderization. Being more easily managed vehicles for what certain staff members want to push, certain molds will struggle less with frustrating intervention and maintain longevity, leading to said molds being mimicked or just chosen from the get-go. That's on top of certain 'good fits' simply existing far too long for there to be room for any sort of genuine power struggle should someone try to come about and change anything. My take at least.

How do I turn that into more constructive criticism? Not sure. If I had to choose a revolving door, I would pick the one that involves everyone having a chance at staking a claim on what their role should look like within reasonable parameters even if it involves more conflict and turnover, as opposed to the revolving door of people trying to challenge the status quo and getting frustrated to the point of storage, lethargy, and so on. Basically, less intervention, more support, and a genuine effort to get different player archetypes in driver's seats. Again, within reasonable parameters. I understand staff doesn't want every sponsored role leading a revolution, but there is a healthy middle ground we are far from.

Overall my main point is that this didn't seem like an issue back in my personal golden-era of the game. I think this has recently developed as a result of a decided upon direction that opposes the variety I once experienced and enjoyed so much.

September 17, 2021, 05:43:14 AM #21 Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 05:47:44 AM by Dar
Aging playerbase is likely the biggest factor.  This has many facets and issues. First and foremost it's time. People do not have a lot of it. Players that were known and cherished for being able to sink 6 hours a day to bring a dying clan to glory no longer do that. Not because they don't like the game anymore, but because their IRL times take precedence. 

There are not a lot of ways to fix this. My only suggestion is to somehow work and improve on the need for grind. Trying your best to remove the need to sink hours into the game to skill up, before allowing oneself to actually start playing a role.

Some of it is emotional. Being staff often puts a person into a more informed/mentorship/final decision making position over less informed/less authorized players. While those other players, despite not being staff, are established intelligent people that achieved much in their life. And when the two meet in interaction. Staff vs a player. The stance of 'wise all seeing mentor' teaching an ignorant, awareness limited student often tends to not end well. There was once a time when most of our playerbase was student level, those days that kind of attitude have worked and rightfully so.

But right now, when a player could be a parent/grandparent, or someone with a dozen of people in their employ, or a pillar of their community, a name that makes their government representatives get tense and alert. Or hell, just plain ol' Adult person, Someone who've already went through life with it's share of real, non text, failures and successes, wisdoms, lessons, and achievements. Approaching such people with an assumed disbalance of authority/intelligence usually does not end well for the MUD itself.  Best case, the player will understand staff's need to appear authorative and humors them by remaining in a placating position, worst case plots die, players leave, interest is lost. 

This one is difficult to solve. My main suggestion is for both player and staff alike to treat the content and well being of the game above the needs, desires, and interests of their personal characters/egos/appearances. After all, the game is only as good as people make it out to be. Staff and player alike. It is a common goal. But it comes down to human factor and that is difficult to manage. So next time, when a player is talking shit and reacting disproportionally to situations, the player should ask themselves what exactly are they trying to achieve. Are their desires and goals genuinely improving the game, or are they just in a pursuit for a little ego boost.  At the same time, when staff reacts/makes judgement on the game's state/events in a condescending, plot killing, superior way, staff should ask themselves what they are trying to achieve. Are their actions genuinely improving the game, or are they trying to maintain the appearance of infallibility, wisdom, righteousness, authority.

These two issues are mildly interlinked and are in my opinion the biggest factors that affect the participation in todays mudding. It's not the game's code, or content, or balance. Fun can be created in almost any media if the inspiration is there. We still have enough of interactive audience made out of you and I to create enjoyable stories. 

Although I am being a little hypocritical in the last paragraph as I promised myself not to play the game for one year.  But before that, despite the lower numbers of active playerbase, I still found ways to create stories and have awesome scenes with other players. I still enjoyed the game plenty.  There is still fun to be had in this game. The priorities though should be kept in mind for the benefit of all.

Quote from: Tranquil on September 17, 2021, 03:32:02 AM
My biggest piece of feedback is how there's a large lack of trust given to players.

That to the point of me thinking that the glass ceiling is very low to the point that lateral promotions seem to be a thing, at least in GMH's, is due to the lack of trust. Maybe also the reason behind not having a full branch that just focuses on politics in GMH's like House Salarr's or House Kurac's. Not sure if House Kadius had one.

My biggest feedback is staff lead plots without railroading them. This was discussed on Discord a few times ago and I think that's why it felt stagnant between the volcano HRPT (2011 -2012) to 2019. I think it would be nice if the staff did these plots but allow players to have agency close to 75%- 90% of the time.

I do agree with the other points above my post along with my feedback.
i love being a nobles health points

I don't think splitting up the game world even further with the current population or numbers was really too good of an idea. Cool if you're enjoying Tuluk but it's a big oof when the "main city" is sometimes devoid of visible players.

I don't think staff animate nearly as much as they could, even if it is something as simple as one or two lines of emotes that generally just provide feel to the taverns or city or workshops etc. I'm all for making my own fun and all but like.... One thing I've noticed is that despite numbers of staff being online, it feels rare that someone who isn't part of my staffing team will animate unless I specifically wish up or something. Like... Sometimes I just want to see npcs banter or react in a meaningful way. Or a smelly place to be echoed as smelly and gross as possible. Or a bar reacting to clever jokes.

Certain staff members display a lot of distrust towards players for various things as a default. You can't allow xyz because abc will abuse it, etc. I can't play a gith on the side as a throwaway role to harass desert elves or whatever because someone either thinks its off game theme or boring or someone can't be trusted etc... As a player it is just awesome to have ideas shot down because someone else thinks nothing "meaningful" will arise from it.

Alot of the time, it feels like our characters can also have little impact on the game world itself. Even despite actual hours of real life time collectively spent trying to do x or y, staff seem to either take ages to do z, or do w and z is just out of reach. Or you die and despite actual hours of your time, staff don't update a room desc to reflect the labor put in. Shit, sometimes you just find something weird and want to pick it up with it being a virtual non-db item and you get told "nah."

Quote from: Halaster on September 16, 2021, 05:13:48 PM
What are some of the causes that have made you play less or not at all?

Real life.  I just don't have the time or energy to play 8 hours a night, and when I don't play 8 hours a night, I feel like I miss too much, hold up plots, etc.  Sometimes I need to take a break, and when I do, everything has moved on by me.

I feel like a lot of changes have been pointed at the people who like code and skill advancement.  There hasn't been much at all toward people who like social advancement, other than the warehouse system, which appears to take forever to advance through.

low playtime + things taking forever = why bother

Quote from: Halaster on September 16, 2021, 05:13:48 PM
What are some changes you think would benefit the game and draw more people - new and returning?

Fix the archaic and arcane command system.  Be able to have people type commands in plain english, like "get axe from backpack."  Fix some of the wonky keywords, where you try to "drink shot" but instead it's called "shotglass."  Revamp the crafting system to just make more sense.  Update the website.

Get rid of the glass ceilings.  They suck.  'Then people will have so much social power we can't reflect that!'  Well, that already happens?  I can point to recent examples.  And if everyone could do it, sure it could be reflected?  If those people get bored, they'll store.  People get bored and store all the time.  See also ...

Provide some meaningful advancement for those of us who don't think code advancement is the end-all be-all of the game, in a more compact amount of time.  Having to playing your noble for an RL year for a promotion sucks.  Having that promotion be effectively meaningless also sucks.

Stop babysitting sponsored roles so hard.  Getting a bunch of no you can't do that's because that isn't how it has been done and your mom wouldn't like it is kind of crappy.  Maybe X isn't how it has been done, but maybe it's how it should be done.  The game world should be able to flex to accommodate what players find fun.  The game world can be oppressive IC without being oppressive OOC because your 'family' is completely inflexible and someone really likes having the gameworld like it is.  Lean into what the game is good at, which is immersion and a dynamic environment.

Quote from: Halaster on September 16, 2021, 05:13:48 PM
What sort of things should do we more of?

Keep up the QOL improvements.  Those have been great.

Keep up being responsive to player feedback.  That has been great.

Quote from: Halaster on September 16, 2021, 05:13:48 PM
What sort of things should we do less of?

Less hearing "no."  'I want to build a sandcastle in the desert.'  'Okay, good luck have fun, this is what you need to do and how long it'll take.' instead of 'No, because then everyone will want to build a sandcastle in the desert.'  So?  Then everyone wants to build a sandcastle in the desert.  People already want to build sandcastles in the desert and people will whine when they aren't able to in a short amount of time, but people already whine.  One of the reasons Arm is a good game choice over a static RPG is because people can affect the gameworld.

Make them fill out a room description form so there's less staff work.  You already have to do that for custom crafting.  Better yet, have player submittable things be submittable online so that someone just has to edit, approve, or deny it instead of reentering it into the game.

Whatever burnout it is that leads to storyteller staff burning out and rotating hard?  Find some way to fix or reduce that.  It sucks as a player to go through that again (and again and again and again).  I can't imagine it's fun for staff, either.
Former player as of 2/27/23, sending love.