Winds of Change

AeryxAeryx Docking Nipsy's pay
When I stopped playing Aetolia last year, it was after I moved from Charleston area, West Virginia, to Las Vegas, Nevada and in with @Erzsebet. The time zone difference and the uncertainty of how I was going to make money, mixed with a general boredom/irritation with Aetolia led to me not logging on except every once in awhile to keep my shop. I did this instead of retiring, because I've quit and came back to Iron Realms games enough times in the past 21 years that I knew I'd be back, particularly since I'd spent more money on Aeryx than I had on any other character on any game.

I've been keeping up with announce posts, city posts, personal messages(the few I get) and reading the forum posts here sometimes while eating proverbial popcorn. I have been tempted a lot lately to come back, as our lease here in Las Vegas is almost up, and I'll be moving back home to West Virginia. I find it kind of interesting that while I'm thinking of coming back, so many people are leaving or claiming to do so.

We all come and go, things change in our lives, in the lives of everyone involved in this game from staff to player. I think the things wrong with Aetolia are myriad like so many others do, but I also don't think it's one person or one thing or another. I feel like a lot of the issues are just systemic within Iron Realms as a whole. I can only speculate from 21+ years of experience with these games, particularly Aetolia and Imperian, where I've held every role you can really hold between the two games.(City, guild, order leader at various points, Celani at three different points).

My speculations are thus, from that experience:

A.) Iron Realms from the very top refuses to change what is and isn't allowed to happen with what types of roles are paid for their services to work on the game. IE: Only coders, no head lore people.

B.) The many negative things outweighing the positive leads to an extremely bitter, toxic playerbase(with a good few exceptions) that leads to a lot of the playerbase being driven off in cycles, while retaining the ones who are addicted or feel compelled to stay because of the investments they have made. In turn, these negative people either stay and don't like anything the staff does, or they become staff themselves.

C.) When you work in the staff of one of these games long enough, you lose perspective of what it is to be a player. If you aren't getting paid after doing it for a long time, oh 1+ years I'd say, and you continue to see the negativity, it will drain you, and that leads to less going on in all the games. It's a vicious, vicious cycle. If you do get paid for it, it still will drain you, and you still lose perspective, but you also likely see it as more of a job, with everything that entails.

My opinions on what needs to happen in Aetolia, and Iron Realms as a whole:

A.) Each Producer needs to be the only person with a guaranteed pay check, and pay should be doled out based on work completed to people based on tenure. The idea of 'getting to play a God' being your payment is extremely antiquated, and is not effective. We're all mostly 30+ years old now, not 18 anymore. In this, each game should have a projected budget each year that's split up by the Producer to encourage people to do more.

B.) You should allow, and encourage all staff to play a mortal, and tell everyone in the playerbase who each staff's mortal is, so that its completely transparent, and you should encourage them to play it a certain amount of time a week, to keep perspective on how the game feels to the average person.

C.) A Roadmap should be initiated every year at January 1st, and promos should be quarterly, not monthly. More time should be spent on the furthering of the game's story and events and general feature development, and not trying to sell us stuff inside your game. You have plenty of stuff for us all to buy already. Sell the players on why they should play your game, not try to sell something inside the game constantly.

What I think will happen in Aetolia, and Iron Realms as a whole:

I think things will likely continue along as they have. The slow decline will continue its natural cyclical course. There's a lot of vicious cycles that will continue on, and on, and there's really only a few people near the top of Iron Realms that can stop the cycle. I don't think they really care to.

Final thoughts:

I realize this is pretty depressing and negative, and I'm not trying to bash anyone, these are just some thoughts I've had lately reading the posts here and thinking about the last half of my life the past 20 years, as it pertains to these games. There is still a ton to like about Aetolia and all the Iron Realms games, or else a lot of us wouldn't be coming back or being so adamantly addicted. The investments keep us there sometimes, true, but the investments I'd say for most people aren't what you think about when you're sitting away from the computer at work or in bed or whatever, you're probably thinking about the players, or the roleplay, or what's going to happen next. That's a powerful thing, to be certain, but I just feel like with Aetolia inparticular we have a giant glass of potential and it's only half full, and has only been half full for a very long time.
Childhood's over the moment you know you're gonna die.


  • TetchtaTetchta The Innocent
    edited April 2021
    Aeryx said:

    A.) Each Producer needs to be the only person with a guaranteed pay check, and pay should be doled out based on work completed to people based on tenure. The idea of 'getting to play a God' being your payment is extremely antiquated, and is not effective. We're all mostly 30+ years old now, not 18 anymore. In this, each game should have a projected budget each year that's split up by the Producer to encourage people to do more.

    While I'm not logging in, I have been unable to resist clicking on the links people have sent me of various ongoings since I made my post, and none of which have tempted me to log back in more than this statement, and I'm going to say it as clearly as I can: this is an atrocious idea and if it were ever implimented, it would spell the end of Aetolia and would likely be the thing that pushes the game into Imperian Territory.

    I'm among the most passionate "Celani should be compensated" people out there, but turning Aetolia into a series of poorly-paid independent contractors skittering about desperate to get scratch is not the recipe for productivity and creativity that you seem to think it is. Dangling a few bucks over someone's head as "incentive" tends to work the opposite way, and is similar to putting a gun to someone's head to motivate them. It's ineffective and, in fact, can lead to decreased productivity and creative problem solving abilities. These sorts of "do work, get reward" systems often cause a lag in productivity as bad as 50% or more over other motivational/drive/compensation systems (see: Glucksberg, S. (1962): The influence of strength of drive on functional fixedness and perceptual recognition if you're a turbodork for more specifics on the studies they've ran on this.) If you want to see a game with more content, I can assure you that gutting our current compensation model is the worst way to do it, and I would highly recommend that if you want to see this game get better, you don't advocate for this sort of compensatory model (I bet you anything Keroc would've quit during the Celerity Incident if this were the compensation model of IRE/Aetolia).

    What motivates people is complicated, but it's a point not worth arguing, because much of this is treating Aetolia (or in this case, IRE) as a business with limited resources. This isn't the case. At all. Aetolia might have limited resources, and if it does, that is because the resources aren't doled out by the parent company.

    Aetolia (at least at one point in the past year) had the highest dollars-earned-per-capita of online players than any other IRE game. More than Lusternia, its closest rival, and more than Achaea. The money is (was?) coming in. The resources are there. They're just not being put back into the game or development. They zip straight out of Aetolia LLC and to IronRealms, and then a certain amount (of which there's no transparency so I have literally no idea how much) is returned to the Producers (or just Tiur, I'm also not clear on that) as bonuses. And that's essentially all the ROI we see as players. And, to be frank, it looks like the "get paid for the production you make" model isn't working very well here to begin with.

    Celani should get compensated in some way. Aetolia should have a person paid to maintain story direction and lore (even if they're just parttime). Aetolia should have the resources to do this-- and I've had my problems with Tiur that I'm sure haven't been the most subtle thing in the world to an outside onlooker, but at the end of the day this is actually a problem out of his hands. The financial structure of IRE as a whole (here's where I veer back to agreeing with you, Aeryx) does limit the resources of Aetolia, but it's an artificial limit. It's the exact same scenario as your favorite game studio that produces game after game that makes BAZILLIONS OF DOLLARS, but always finds themselves understaffed, overworked, and pressured to put in anti-consumer elements in products, and that's because the people above them are more focused on their own bonuses and pleasing their investors than they are the satisfaction and productivity of their workers. As long as the money comes in, the message remains clear: screw the workers, and screw the consumers.

    What Aetolia needs is to see more of the money that goes into it to come back into the game, and less up the chain where it's never to be seen again. And if they're gonna pay people, it shouldn't be nebulous contractual work, they should be getting paid a salary and feel secure in their position and empowered to take risks, and feel safe in their role. Because if we get into this "incentivizing with crumbs of carrots" bullsnot, it'll only accelerate the decline, not staunch it.

    Overall I think you raise very good points, and I don't want this to read as a critique of the post as a whole, but that one section, I felt, needed addressed, because I feel like it's not an uncommon idea/attitude among the playerbase.

    Anyway, tl;dr:

  • AeryxAeryx Docking Nipsy's pay
    While what you disagreed with is my opinion, and my opinion will never make a difference in the long run, even if you disagree with it or not, I just think that its a good idea because you have a situation currently where in the case of Aetolia and Imperian, traditionally, you have people who get paid to do the work that are only coders. The only person who seems to have input on events/lore/story that gets paid is the Producer. They don't seem to want to pay anyone but programmers on these games. Compensating them in the same way for 20+ years, when the entire thing clearly isn't working that well and continuing to do it repeatedly is just a recipe for disaster.

    But sure, I can agree that maybe my particular idea was bad, but its a good thing I guess I'm not in charge of Iron Realms. As a fellow player who isn't currently playing, I think we can both agree there are probably better/different things to do out there to consume our free time, but at the same time, we wish the potential glass was a little more full, right? We're still thinking about this game, and caring about it, which is better than discarding it completely, and there are a ton of reasons for that...which I think its a positive in the game's favor.

    I think I just really find it a shame that you have people getting paid who don't seem terribly pumped about the game they get paid to make. I just mean that like, are the people getting paid proud of what they've been putting forth these last few years? Do they care if the game is pushed forward narratively, do they care if new features are added beyond what it can financially do for the game? I have no idea. Are they dissuaded from having an opinion at all for PR reasons? Who knows.
    Childhood's over the moment you know you're gonna die.
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