The Producer's Dilemma

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  • EvalyneEvalyne A CoffinMember Posts: 122 ✭✭✭
    Leana said:


    I wonder if there are records of player numbers for the past decade that can help determine what policy, game change, or improvement hurt or grew Aetolia's membership. The question we should be asking is: Why is Achaea still so massive? It's no where near as refined as Aetolia in some areas and yet it grows daily.

    I am not for copying Achaea, but we should be comparing them and ourselves a little more to see what keeps someone around there and not in Aetolia.

    The same reason Facebook and Twitter are so massive despite the fact that large amounts of their user base clamour for improvements or something better: the network effect. It's where everyone is. So that's where everyone gravitates towards.

  • TozToz Member Posts: 2,248 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Plus Achaea is the flagship game and came first. I'd wager Achaea has had significantly more money/resources thrown at it over time as well- afaik the reason Aetolia even exists is because Achaea was so big player-wise the server lagged. So the spill-over game naturally will have less population.

    The '2v2' setup is problematic, I think is a better core for your argument though. As it stands now, both sides complain 'we would split except the other two would stomp us', which I at least saw Duinorian do when the Syssin v Vampire plot line dropped. If there were an odd number of cities alliances would be more flexible, but I also think 3 would be better than 5 in terms of plausibility and playability - you might get 3 old players back to check out the change, but I don't think they'd have a common idea of what the city should be and it'd quickly fade to irrelevance because 1 city v 2 cities is its fate any time a fight goes down.

    Maybe some union busting is in order for that, with Duiran/Eno needing something to scrap over like Syssin/Vampires had, but I think the main conflict axis needs some love first.

    Also after that town hall I'm pretty excited about @Kelliara's plots for Spinesreach.

    Arbre-Today at 7:27 PM

    You're a vindictive lil unicorn
    ---------------------------

    Lartus-Today at 7:16 PM

    oh wait, toz is famous
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    Karhast-Today at 7:01 PM

    You're a singularity of unicorns awfulness Toz
    Teani
  • PhoeneciaPhoenecia The Merchant of Esterport Somewhere in AtticaMember Posts: 506 ✭✭✭✭✭
    So. Let's talk about themes, both from each city as well as the overarching one of the game. @Kelliara mentioned how Spinesreach is NOT neutral, but why it appears to be. Duiran is much the same way. Duiran's schtick essentially boils down to 'Dendara is the most important thing, everything else is a distant second'. You have a strong city focus right there. In terms of the bigger picture, Duiran gets classified as a Spirit org because Shadow corrupts Dendara, and that's a Very Bad Thing, so now they have a stake in the overall conflict. They'll sideeye Enorian a little bit for it control over the elements, but in the scheme of things, it's not as immediate a problem as Shadow is.

    In terms of having a fifth org that's 'neutral' that exists outside the Spirit-Shadow paradigm, I don't really feel it's reasonable to expect. Why? Spirit-Shadow is THE central conflict of Sapience, and each city org has a stake in why they support each side or why they don't want Spirit or Shadow to have greater influence. 

    Why not have a neutral merchantry based player org like Esterport? As someone who played rogue on and off for about 10 years and both loved and hated it, I can list a few reasons why.

    Esterport works as an NPC city because it's just there. It has no stake in the overall conflict and doesn't get involved, and just kind of exists to do trade and take people's money. Now turn that into a player organization and think on it a little more. Same theme, same everything, just run by players, and they have the ability to get involved in conflicts. This leads to a few really big problems.

    1. The city has no stake in the overall conflict. How is this bad? Well, when the rest of the world is at each other's throats, who do you side with? Side with the strongest because they'll earn you more money? Let's say Shadow side is the stronger one and you throw in your lot with them. Congrats, youvey just picked a side. Same if they had decided to side with Spirit. And what happens if the balance of power shifts back and forth? Are you just going to keep flipflopping between who you support? It doesn't look good as a player org, and makes players unlikely to trust you for anything. And if you do pick a side, you're pretty much choosing to support Spirit or Shadow anyway. Don't want to support either? Well, that leads to my next point.

    2. Divorcing an org from the Spirit-Shadow conflict leaves a big, wide door open for not getting involved in anything. Let's go with the merchant city theme again since that's easiest to work with. So. You don't care either way about Spirit or Shadow, you just want to make money off of people/everyone can get bent. Okay. Because the org wouldn't really care about the conflicts going on and is purely self-interested and has no stake in Spirit or Shadow, it ends up being...just kind of there. 'Oh, hey, Enorian and Bloodloch are at it again. It's not our problem.' Being divorced from the central conflict of the game wouldn't really give you and incentive to be involved in it, so you'd end up with an org that's very isolationist and apathetic towards most goings going on in the world.

    3. Problems in getting a neutral org involved. Bearing in mind the things I mentioned above, how would you go about getting a neutral org involved in meaningful conflict? What kind of plotlines would have to be run? What I end up seeing would be things that are relatively self-contained and probably pointless in the grand scheme of things. As an org, you'd probably end up getting a raw deal when it comes to events because, well...what purpose is your org serving in the bigger picture? Why can't anything your org does be integrated into the subcultures of existing orgs?

    And honestly, that's the big question to ask. You want a 'neutral' org? What would make it so special and what niche would it fill (beyond being neutral) that couldn't be filled by other orgs? What's stopping you from being in any city and just staying out of conflict like a bunch of people already do? What's stopping you from being out and out rogue?

    Aetolia's playerbase is nowhere near the size of Achaea's, so creating another player city would just splinter it further, and possibly create balance problems from dogpiling, or just end up with an entire org just not getting involved in things. I can understand being fed up with the whole Spirit-Shadow thing and wanting a neutral org - that was me for years, and I ended up rogue because of it. But that's a choice; the decision to opt out of the central conflict.You wanna be neutral and ignore the big picture? You can do that already. Why need an entire org dedicated to that?
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 160 ✭✭✭
    On the subject of Light classes being used by shadow and the reverse, for most LIGHT classes, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Templar get their skills from literal beings of Light, so it makes no lore sense to allow the skills to be corrupted in that way. If the classes weren't so tied to physical elements, think it would be a lot more doable, but we're not just dealing with the morality spectrum.

    I see a lot of talk of removing guilds and, honestly, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I know plenty of players, myself included, who put more effort into their guild than they do anything else. If I didn't have the Templar, I'd honestly probably not be playing! Guilds are a big part of character identity a lot of the time. When you can already have the class and not be in a guild? there's no reason to remove the guild. There's some claim it will encourage more city activity, but honestly some of the most interesting city activity has been when the guilds butt heads, and they always will. Why they agree on core things, clearly, the Templar are going to have a different way forward than the Illuminai, who will have a different way than the Ascendril! It makes things interesting.

    I WOULD like to see the system Duiran has in Enorian, I'll be totally honest. A representative from each guild as a political power, rather than voting in individuals. I think it would ease a lot of the "WELL SUCH AND SUCH A GUILD HAS TOTAL POWER" worries, and would allow for, well, people who AREN'T guild masters to step into a leadership role!
    ShachalaiMykellah
  • ShachalaiShachalai Member Posts: 96 ✭✭✭
    Rasani said:

    I WOULD like to see the system Duiran has in Enorian, I'll be totally honest. A representative from each guild as a political power, rather than voting in individuals. I think it would ease a lot of the "WELL SUCH AND SUCH A GUILD HAS TOTAL POWER" worries, and would allow for, well, people who AREN'T guild masters to step into a leadership role!

    I agree, and I think we could benefit from explicitly separating those powers so that GMs and city leaders must be different people.

    I also wouldn't mind it if guilds had more of an explicit, hardcoded role in city politics; since they don't exercise the same control over class anymore, making them able to - say - fill one or two ministry positions from their own ranks? Might be a way of keeping them relevant, but tie them into the city the way we're trying to go for.

    Or I guess in other words - Turn Guilds Into Political Parties.
    Leana
  • KalakKalak Member Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    edited March 19
    I think, on neutrality we should broaden our horizon and could even step away from the matter of neutral orgs.

    Neutrality does not necessarily mean staying away from conflict or choosing a particular side always. There are also subject of neutral roles such as the role of a bandit, pirate, mercenary, wandering merchant or a hedge mage etc. They are people seemingly unrelated to any major faction in a lawful manner but within the context of a dark-fantasy setting they can have their part within the struggles of the greater game. But those who play such roles are either seen as harmless (i.e they have no stake in the conflict) or as griefers or unfitting because they are not pushing the "get involved with guilds and cities as members" agenda.

    Of course, in the current climate of Aetolia and with Tether system along the lack of need for additional muscle in conflicts...there is really not much incentive in neutral roles. You cannot steal or control a village as a group of bandits(which would give knights a reason to liberate the place or die trying)...cities will not hire a mercenary since there is nothing critical to fight for and everyone knows evil mages kill little kittens and eat babies so they stay away. Merchant is the most viable option for now due to Esterport stuff. But that does not mean, we should shy away from those roles altogether for they can really add a mix of chaos to the pot in my opinion.

    The Spirit vs Shadow thing is so predominant in the game, you cannot make your character dump on a chamberpot without thinking whether the product will rip apart the reality or not. People need conflicts divorced from that Grand Play sometimes and even the same tethered sides should have a visible reason to slit each others' throats on large scale.

    Also to those who wish to create something politically different then current cities. You can try forming a group and have an impact upon the game in one way or another. The thing is, it is not easy and city people will not acknowledge you most of the time. But it is a fun ride and under certain cases the group itself can become quite influential upon the gameworld. It is not for the faint of the heart. In the end, IRE games are financially about supply and demand. The management will not cater to you if you do not show an interest towards a certain type of role or way of playing.
    NahuaqueEvalyne
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 160 ✭✭✭
    @Kalak I have to be honest: only one side would benefit from having neutral forces of bandits or mercenaries. A lot of light sided guilds have very strict rules about hiring anyone to do your bidding. It's an honor thing, so honestly a neutral force like that will only benefit one side. Doesn't make it really neutral in that sense. Sure, players rping a bandit or a mercenary get to pretend to be neutral, but in the long run? They're only impacting the game on behalf of one specific side.
    Leana
  • LeanaLeana Member Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    edited March 19
    @Phoenecia I did not want a 'neutral' org. I specifically said that a post earlier. I wanted an org that would chaff the other two, beyond spirit/shadow. I like the merchant example, but I think they would pick no side and all the sides. They would be motivated to keep as many players on the board as possible because you make the most money if you have multiple revenue sources. If the world got destroyed by shadow, they would suffer so they fight against it when the time called, but they don't want it taken out because those 'shadow folk' will always be around and they need their precious shinies. The city itself will have conflict within and without as one side dominated leadership the agenda would be more focused towards spirit or shadow. Cities would hire this fifth element to either take part or to do other tasks, like mercenaries.

    I don't want a city to call itself 'neutral', so let's stop using that term. I don't think we need a 'Merchant' city, but that example is easiest to use because it would be a pure capitalist and loyal to concepts that would allow them to operate freely and not fringe on their individual view on shadow or spirit. Each aspect of the city could be revolved around profit, contracts, and results. Better skilled writers would need to flesh out the details before it was created and give the city an edge over the others so it would automatically be drawn into some conflict with the other cities and not collapse into itself in the early months. But, if a 1v4 situation arose I would have major concerns with the other four city-states ideals.

    @Rasani Given a more fleshed out story, these light entities would have a different perspective on the whole morality/world thing since they wouldn't be mortal beings without direct needs, hopes, or motivations. What do they care if a handful of squishy fleshbags are in one region over another? So long as the people they provide power maintain their core oaths and values of the 'light' as presented to them and don't do anything to further the shadow directly. This is how things like cruelty and violence get by if someone wanted to play a hater of shadow. There would not be shadow-aligned individuals in this fifth city, but shadow touched/class users like necromancers or sciomancers, using their skills for the betterment of their city and not shadow as a whole. Then again, the city could of 'acquired' a light entity and tricked it to supply its citizens and I would imagine that would guarantee the Templars and Enorian never got close to the city unless they had no absolute choice if that were the case. The monks of the Sentaari get their ki from Dendara, that's why they get a unique style-scroll, but likewise a monk from Bloodloch/Spinesreach may have shadow based ki. There's always another way to supply the power.

    I don't think guilds need to go away either. I think they're struggling in the multi-class system and city dynamics being the forefront. There could be a firmer hand from the admin in how to structure each one, since the guildrank change there are far too many GR5s than there should be with little effort to earn the spot. More guilds need to be like Templars and Carnifex and have something to work towards beyond the first rank, like knightship, or the Indorani with their blood awakening, cult indoctrination, and authentic Bloodlochian food driving people to reach higher ranks. I noticed a lot of the guilds that don't have this carrot beyond GR2 struggle to get members involved and to keep activity within the guild.

    I was hoping that instead of treating guilds like class factories, they would serve as factions for citizens akin to political parties. Each guild would have a general goal to better the city that would be slightly different than the other ones and people would pile in regardless of their current class. The exception to this is that the Dominion would have members in all factions and that's expected because the vampires are supposed to secretly want to run everything.

    It may not be required to strip the class required to be part of a guild. I know Vyx disagrees with me strongly on this point and I wish there was a way your current guild granted you a free class slot like lycan. I think having more citizens in the guilds that may be guildless because they're using a class from a different city would give a new dynamic to the leadership.

    EDIT QUOTE:
    Rasani said:

    @Kalak I have to be honest: only one side would benefit from having neutral forces of bandits or mercenaries. A lot of light sided guilds have very strict rules about hiring anyone to do your bidding. It's an honor thing, so honestly a neutral force like that will only benefit one side. Doesn't make it really neutral in that sense. Sure, players rping a bandit or a mercenary get to pretend to be neutral, but in the long run? They're only impacting the game on behalf of one specific side.

    Please list the guilds that have these rules. I don't see Shamans being against it, for example. I don't think it's fair to say that without backing it up and even then, they would have to adapt and change or suffer the consequences of never relying on this new world dynamic. Mercenaries were a real thing that classic wars involved. There's a lot of battles in the greek city-states that involved entire mercenary hired armies when a city didn't want to fight. It fits with Aetolia. I could provide examples to the Greek historic battles, but I would need to ask my roommate.
  • KalakKalak Member Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    Rasani said:

    @Kalak I have to be honest: only one side would benefit from having neutral forces of bandits or mercenaries. A lot of light sided guilds have very strict rules about hiring anyone to do your bidding. It's an honor thing, so honestly a neutral force like that will only benefit one side. Doesn't make it really neutral in that sense. Sure, players rping a bandit or a mercenary get to pretend to be neutral, but in the long run? They're only impacting the game on behalf of one specific side.

    It is a choice of your organizations and your players. That does not mean the role is totally unavailable or not neutral. Maybe one day a pragmatical Witch-Hunter regime can rise within Enorian who will employ different tactics then their predecessors. Maybe it will never come. But that does not invalidate the existence of neutral roles, that just means you are not open to the possibility right now. Roles themselves are self-interested and follow their own agenda without bothering with the Grand Play or World-Shattering Events.
  • RhyotRhyot BloodlochMember Posts: 220 ✭✭✭
    Just a quick note... But Tiur did say in the previous Townhall that any ideas of rogue like ideas and roleplay were not going to be implemented or expanded on due to the fact that there's no real basis to have them. 

    Additionally, I don't feel the ideas of having a neutral city/org/etc is really conducive to the thread of conflict resolution and ideas. Especially since the likelihood of it happening is pretty much 0. At best its a sidebar thought and could very well have it's own thread. 

    Just my 2 cents.

    Teani
  • LeanaLeana Member Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    @Rhyot Again, not neutral. Again, adding more dynamic choices to the world will increase the conflict between the orgs. Mechanics are beyond our control now and we're just waiting for the hard work of the admin to come to light.

    It's unlikely to happen, but they said that about a lot of aspects of the game. Multiple times. Yet, I see two types of Magi, neutral classes, and democratic republic of vampires.

    Mechanics will only create conflict so long as the mechanic stays relevant. We've seen from Ylem that at some point, it stopped being important. Tying the mechanics to more players, on a micro and macro level, would help keep the subject relevant.
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 160 ✭✭✭
    I know, for example, Templar have a very strict rule on it and I know, for example, we recently would've ousted a player for hiring someone to off another player, had they not retired first. I've never played in Duiran so you're right, Duiran may very well be totally fine with it!
  • KalakKalak Member Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    edited March 19
    Tiur did not say "no real basis to have them". There is no such a fact. He was more along the line of that effort put forward for them would be a waste of resources and they try to promote organizations more.

    Playing a rogue has its own draw. After all, rogue players support the game as well. They are not playing a different game after all.

    Personally I am quite alright with them catering to organizations mainly, because players in the organizations need that. Rogues do not by the nature of the role.
    Zaila
  • MykellahMykellah EnorianMember Posts: 69 ✭✭✭
    I think what @Leana is trying to suggest is that it would be interesting to have additional axis of conflict rather than just the tethers. Correct me if Im wrong.
  • ShachalaiShachalai Member Posts: 96 ✭✭✭
    edited March 19
    Rasani said:

    I know, for example, Templar have a very strict rule on it and I know, for example, we recently would've ousted a player for hiring someone to off another player, had they not retired first.

    I thought that at least part of that - was the fact that it was a citizen targeting another citizen.

    Although, I guess the fact that I can't remember precedent for it establishes it as something that Enorian Doesn't Do, regardless of whether or not it would actually end up being okay/legal.
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 160 ✭✭✭
    Oh it was, but, again, I know at least the Templar have a rule against hiring thugs/ruffians
    Evalyne
  • KalakKalak Member Posts: 240 ✭✭✭
    Rasani said:

    Oh it was, but, again, I know at least the Templar have a rule against hiring thugs/ruffians

    I always respect those who play characters following a code or impose limitations upon themselves. While it is not clear always, that is my preferred method. Though I must point out, there is always a wiggle room depending upon the story.

    Actually bounties are a form of indirect hiring, but let us put that to side for a second. I think, the matter really boils down to whether you consider it "a player hiring to off another player" or not. You could have a different scenarios.

    1. Redemptionist Perception: The vampire who has been terrorizing your lands is actually a person that you can convert to your side and they deserve minimal respect that you show towards another person. So the Redemptionist will not hire a thug or assassin or anything to make themselves appear shady or due to rules of chivalry.

    2. Witch-Hunter Perception: The vampire who has been terrorizing your lands is an aberration of nature which must be tracked and put down as soon as possible. The person can hire a professional monster hunter (yeah I am going a bit Witcher(tm)-y here) if they lack the necessary abilities or time.

    3. Corrupt/Pragmatic Theologist Perception: They will clearly use the religious tones to their advantage and will not shy away from dealing with the forces of other nature as long as their agenda is furthered and their hands remain clean. Basically if you are doing their bidding, you are doing the bidding of "Light(!)"

    These are just few examples which we can multiply depending on the context. There are options players can explore on supporting neutral roles. But they are also free not to explore them. After all that should be the beauty of the game, we are given enough wiggle room in the field.
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 160 ✭✭✭
    What that ultimate boils down to, however, is "People have the options of breaking their guild rules and doing it anyway" which is already true. When someone is ousted from a guild, they find it hard to find another and, usually, go to the other side of the game.
    I get what you're saying, you want choice and, honestly? Nothing is stopping you from MAKING a mercenary gang or a witch hunters coven out of a clan. I do think that the idea of it being truly neutral is a bit pie in the sky. You've said it would be a neutrality on massive world events, but that's not really possible either, given the skills we have themselves manipulate either shadow or light.
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