Shattered Souls Event Retrospective

IctinusIctinus ProducerAdministrator, Immortal
Now that the Shattered Souls event is (mostly!) concluded (the latest events post will be up later today), I wanted to put this together to share some thoughts and also solicit some feedback and opinions. This is one of the most insanely elaborate events I've ever been part of - but also by far the most fun I've had since coming to Aetolia. First off, I hope you all enjoyed it too!

Before I go into any details, I want to rave about the team and dole out some credit where it's more than due. The amount of work and dedication that went into making all of this happen is astonishing. In particular I want to thank @Razmael (Gaming, Hardcore, lore genius, and king of feature creep), @Keroc (the war, and the brains behind all of the Bard things), @Wyatt (the builder of Portent and the hand behind a million other things), @Raah (The mind behind Yanai's ritual and the Djeirani play), @Ammerie (my partner in crime for scripts, helps, posts, and all things purple prose), @Brax (king of ideas, master of style scrolls and other content, and hype man extraordinaire), and @Haelra , @Xaspher , @Doloris , @Iseult , and @Izana for much of the supporting RP throughout.

Onto some fascinating facts:

- We originally began conceiving this event before the Aechros event had finished. We knew that Year 500 would need something special and we wanted it to be big.
- Nobody but Raz/Keroc/myself knew about Niuri's return or much of the Varian story until a week or two before the event got started. It was a big surprise for the team!
- The planning document for this event is currently at 40230 words. For a comparison, that's around double the Fragments of Time document length.
- The Arborean race was not originally planned, but was born via an impromptu conversation between @Razmael, @Wyatt, and myself.
- We considered a number of Elder God concepts before settling on the final five. Some of these found their way into the lore regardless!
- We were still adding additional skills and functionality to Gaming up until hours before its release.
- The premature Portent deathsights were definitely not intended. (@Elene this is for you).
- The (now infamous) beetle charm was not a planned addition, but a spur of the moment idea that we decided to keep throughout the subsequent Elders as a hint to their nature.
- Four different people wrote lines for the play, and it was performed by seven people all working together.

Now some of the challenges:

- Length. Originally we had allocated a month for all of this, but it became very clear even before the war ended that to properly do the Elders justice, they needed more than 1 or 2 days to settle in. I think we found a happy medium with each of them having a week, though this also had the side effect of making the event feel formulaic at times.

- Timezones. While we had one or two Elder God appearances during EU-favourable hours, a majority of the event took place late at night. This is an ongoing problem that I would like to solve; in this instance the volume of work and preparation involved made it very hard to find extra time for off-hours eventing. I think in the future this is something that we need to account for from the start, and I hope to deliver on that next time we do a large event.

- Pacing. The feedback I've seen has swung widely between 'this is too much' and 'please give us more ASAP'. I'm interested to hear some specific thoughts on this in particular!

I think that's about everything I wanted to cover, but I'm excited to hear your thoughts and comments, and I'll be happy to answer some questions too!


  • This was stunning. As someone who wasn't really able to be around for all of it, or even much of it, due to the timing (Really my only complaint/concern), the implications, the effort, and the outcome(s) of this are so rewarding as a player.

    Even if I won't end up going to every instance or bashing area, taking up every race or class or skill, seeing this amount of development not only be -done-, but be rolled out in a way that was gripping, engaging, narratively-focused, and ultimately rewarding while opening up a whole host of really fun questions, is so fantastic. I won't @ all the people named in your initial post, @Ictinus, but my love and my appreciation goes out to you and the whole crew.

    This just feels like a continued growth on some of the wonderful events we've seen from you all in the past year-ish and I love the way so much thought, care and effort was put into place to ensure it was not merely random lore-drops or class-releases, but that everything has real-world, and lasting, implications.

    RE: Timezones/Timing - Giving each Elder about a week was a really nice step. It allowed some of us who couldn't catch them at their emergence to engage with (Or willfully ignore) them later in the week. RE: Timezones, as someone in EST, it was often a bit tough to get into the swing of my normal routine, knowing that whatever was going to pop off was going to pop off fairly late in my evening for me, but I appreciate the effort taken to try to engage the wider array of our player base!

    I'm just so interested to see how this shakes out for the current Pantheon, for Order/Congregation/God-stuff, and for interactions with Albedi Gods going forward. As someone who -really- enjoys religion-centered RP (AND stuff that blows it to kingdom come!), this was such a treat for me to witness, touch my toes into the water, and panic at the aftermath and gnaw on a million questions in my brain.

    Thank you all so much!
  • I basically tuned out after the ritual thing. The verbiage and mechanics lead to frustration and miscommunication that was really off-putting and not worth the RL strife to juggle trying to play at a time I often can't afford to play.

    As I didn't play Aetolia during the Ashtan time frame, none of the releases really speak to me as a player and definitely not as a character. But I'm glad other people had fun and got to experience things, as it did make the world feel alive, and the uptick in activity is good for the overall health of the game.
  • edited March 2022
    I have to say I also found the premature preview of the Oblivion technique scroll after you guys added Revenant styles to older scrolls. >_> But I mostly kept it to myself. It was really cool though!

    That being said, the events were fun. I wasn't able to make for most of the Elder Gods reveal, but I got to make it for some of the interactions across the weeks they appeared. I do hope we'll be able to get a spread of events across the timezones and understand it'll probably take a while to see if that's possible, but otherwise, I don't really have much comments to make.

    The theorycrafting of what the Revelation could be was fun, too!
  • LinLin Blackbird The Moonglade
    Though my true thoughts on this event will need to wait until I have the time to type out a dense Marx-esque essay, I wanna say off the bat that the scheduling was, in my opinion, the best part of this. Yes, each God's appearance did seem to follow a formula, but this was also a considerable strength - it felt like the pressure was off if we couldn't be there for a day or two, we knew the general shape of what to expect, and that our friends could fill in details.

    This was just crazy unexpected, like you guys know you can slow down right? Good lord! This was so elaborate and ambitious! Definitely was not a disappointing way to kick off year 500.
  • One of my only complaints is that the conclusion of events has seemed to happen on Fridays more often than not. That can be a hard thing for some people to schedule around.

    That said this was an interesting and fun series of events with some really cool releases! I just hope you guys know that you don't need to try and keep up this pace.

  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    edited March 2022
    Ictinus said:

    - We considered a number of Elder God concepts before settling on the final five. Some of these found their way into the lore regardless!

    Jokes and my inappropriate obsession with Battlestar Galactica aside, this event was a lot and, I'd argue, probably the most important event Aetolia has ever had. I mentioned in the announce thread last night that there were a number of times over the past couple months that I was in some way disappointed, and it turned out to be unfounded (well, mostly. Several of those god concepts were just absolutely stellar, and disappointment in seeing them leave is def a normal reaction). Last night I was pretty tired, and soaked in the kind of negativity that a lot of shadow poeple were having OOC over Lexa's status as a Spirit deity, and how that lead a lot of them to not even try to engage in RPing. I decided "screw it" and did it anyway, and learned that yet another one of my disappointments/concerns was, at least apparently, unfounded.

    This is relevant to the point I'm trying to make, which is: this event felt like a slap in the face or a splash of ice cold water onto our expectations as a playerbase, one who's used to things only going a certain way. While a lot of us want more subtlty, more intrigue, we've more or less had years of that not being the main course, save for outlier situations. I even went into these events with the belief that they were injecting nuance and interesting tensions, and yet couldn't shake my instincts.

    And yet the events soldiered on regardless, like a train on a track, basically not giving a toss what my or others' concerns were, and kinda just barreled into our Conditional Training and said "uh, yeah, no, that's not what we're doing anymore." And I really appreciate that.

    I really admire the discipline and dedication that went into handling the playerbase's reactions; in allowing them to happen, in having the integrity to not drift from the mission, and in actually sticking the landing on multiple fronts. I feel several players (myself included) still have a long way to go in unlearning what we've internalized about Aetolia, but intellectually, in my brainy-brain, I can unequivocably say: Aetolia is starting to resemble what I always thought MUDs could be at their best. It's actually becoming the type of game I fantastized about--it's delivering the experience that more or less the hope of having kept me hooked in all this time. If that sentence made no sense, I'm not apologizing.

    Instead of just gushing, I wanna throw my two cents in regarding a few things:
    Ictinus said:

    - Pacing. The feedback I've seen has swung widely between 'this is too much' and 'please give us more ASAP'. I'm interested to hear some specific thoughts on this in particular!

    God I was somehow both of these at the same time. The absolute smashing of content was a lot, and I loved it, but it did get a tad overwhelming for me at times, especially when it came to trying to drill down RP kinda dissecting/absorbing the events inbetween the climaxes. Part of me actually thinks it might be better, for both upstairs and downstairs, to space out the bursts between scenes in future events that are also going to be this long. We've had events go on for too long before (hello curse), but that was kind of a different issue. This event had clear chapters and installments that felt very concise. I don't think anybody would've panicked if they'd had a week longer to digest the ongoings. Plus it'd given us more time to get attatched to the Elder gods, so we'd cry harder. It'd also make it so folk upstairs aren't running from end to beginning to end to beginning to end to...etc. Give y'all some breathing room, and maybe some time to sleep. I also agree that it gave it a sense of formula that took active effort to ignore.

    Anyway, this event was a rollercoaster of both positive and negative emotions, and the end result, I think, was worth every minute of it.

  • I love how excited all of my friends have been through these events!

    I do not have any true opinion of them, because I could not participate. Between new life responsibilities and when I can play it is very challenging. After a point, I am so behind on every thing that is happening, that there is no hope to catch up. This is a sad feeling, but, also my own limitations.

    Still I make these two requests for consideration:
    First, Please make Gossip last longer before it decays. By the time I can check it, it is already nonsense.

    Second, Please consider making an actual short summary available. I know there is responsibility on the part of players, to keep their own people informed. But it is hard to ask questions, or ask some one to post, if you do not even know a thing has happened to ask or post about.

    I know that there are the events posts, and they are so beautiful to read. I find that they take some effort and focus to read and follow because there is so much. I know I am more the exception than rule. The summary could be like the changelog but of events. Or a log log of events. That are just simple entries of the key actions.

    Simple things like:
    - Cultists gathered in the Vashnar mountains.
    - A new God appeared with the name of Helmut.
    - The God Helmut died after a fight with Esterport.

    This way a person coming in, if they are new or just tired, can understand that some Big Thing happens. Then they can know that they should ask questions of their people.
  • BenedictoBenedicto Tentacles Errywhere!
    The event and the creep of content as it was tied to events has been great. Honestly, @Tetchta has covered a lot of the pertinent positive points and I'd just be repeating them.

    As a UK/EU player, the scheduling was a bit of an issue and in the earlier stages (Varo through to Koduses) I was really struggling to keep up and stay awake so I didn't miss anything. It took a little bit of time for me to take a step back and feel like I didn't have to be there for every bit of the event. As a UK/EU player, if I use what Tet said regarding ingrained behaviours, there's a constant sort of pessimism that inevitably you're going to miss out on the big things.

    One of the things I appreciated that mitigated this to a certain degree was the addition of the 'final' stages of certain Elder Gods to the EVENTS calendar. Unfortunately, this was only done for the ritual and the play and I feel it would have been extremely useful for people like myself if other key/pivotal events had been also added - thus allowing us to plan our time accordingly rather than having to try and be present every night on the off-chance. It's something that I would really appreciate going forward, even if it simply says 'Something Happening' and gives zero other information. I believe this would also help players who don't suffer from an issue with timezones, but with other responsibilities as well such as family time or work.

    You guys put so much work, effort and love into the content you've created. I feel its only fair that as many of us as possible get to appreciate the wonderful work you do.
  • The Shattered Souls event has been incredibly inspirational. I really enjoyed the Curse event overall, but one of the things I didn't like about it is that it didn't have a very clear foundation for roleplay. There was a mind control thing happening, but I couldn't really tell how I was supposed to run with it.

    Shattered Souls started with a straightforward Dhar/Ivoln conflict, then Varo showed up and that made logical sense because everyone involved was a death god, then the event went in a completely different direction. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I had enough context to make guesses and ask relevant questions. That made it a lot easier to engage with the event as a whole, even the parts that didn't interest me as much on a personal level.

    The lore drop was amazing and I really want to see where the game's plot goes from here. The potential for pro/anti-Varian schisms could add a really interesting layer to the tether relationships.

    And the unresolved Soul Index plotline makes me paranoid as hell.

  • NipsyNipsy Setting fire to Aeryx's mine
    I cannot unpack everything in a simple post, it would be WAY too much to present, I will try to summarize.
    (Those who know me, know summarizing is -not- my strong suit.)

    This event produced so much emotion. Good and Bad emotion. It was absolutely breathtaking the amount of moments I gasped, clutched my pearls, got enraged, and battled with uncertainties, not only as a character but as a player. Nipsy who abhors enjoyment, started to enjoy things....though vehemently still declares he hates them. Of course.

    I have had to take lessons throughout this on how to play a character, improving and developing my roleplay to coordinate with the living, breathing world around me. At the culmination of the event, I am left with a hollow void that is yearning for more, for answers, and I am tumbling through a range of character emotions and coping mechanisms trying to deal with all of this, which is still ongoing. Being in Bamathis Order, Nipsy is in a very weird position, because on one hand he does respect Bamathis and hopes that his God sees more than this fealty to Varian, on the other hand the character is resolved to let go everything and embrace the uncertainties of our world, but I am just like WHAT NEXT with everything going on.

    I loved the Elder Gods, the range of emotion and personality they all possess was astounding. I loved them, I hated them....they made you FEEL something, and honestly I know it has been said elsewhere, but many of our Gods are old concepts, which no longer invoke the emotion that these gods did, and I think that is why they were received as strongly as they were.

    I can say the times were a bit of an issue, the howling is (for people working 9-5) a bad timeframe, at least here on the west coast, it is a struggle aetolia has always had though with our diverse timezones, and I as a player am happy to adjust, I do feel for our EU and Oceanic/Asian players. But, other than that, that's my only awkward 'complaint'.

    GREAT JOB TEAM....this was amazing.
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