Improving player numbers.


  • Crimson Guard

    So numbers have been rather low as of late, So for those of you who have left for some reason why did you leave and what would make you start playing again?

    The DM's listened to feedback on the draft and ended it based on it being disliked by the playerbase

    It's my hope to have open discussion so any lingering problems can be put to the DM's and hopefully fixed and the numbers increase and the server improved



  • I've been saying it for a while… but a neutral hub would make an entire world of difference. Basically the spire accessible to all even if the rest of the city is not. It would provide much needed interaction for those who die to the ooc boredom of exile.

    It's actually a very centric goal of my next character if it hasn't been implemented before then >.>



  • To be completely blunt- and speaking only for myself, I think a lot of the problems that have held CoA back are so endemic in the server that it's hard to imagine the place any other way. Some of these things would take incredible amounts of work that a lot of us don't have the technical skill, time or desire to necessarily handle. Most people (myself included 99% of the time) would much rather spend their game time playing games, not pumping forum stuff, writing scripts that may or may not ever get used, or developing areas that might never see the light of day, but I think that's kind of what's needed. . . .what I'm about to say is based on my experience running a smaller modern zombie server for around 3 1/2 years: http://outbreak.freeforums.org/

    It's shut down now, but when I took it over from the original admin, we had a consistent player rate of around 3 people with the occasional 'high' times of 10 people. What we had was a pretty static world where you needed a DM for a lot of things not already provided by the mechanics. Most of that which you could do was search areas, fight zombies, or RP. We had a very active DM presence, usually running 2 to 3 over the span of 24 hours and encouraged players to go out and start plots and improve things. Only a few ever really took us up on it (the ones who weren't coming in with established OOC cliques and the like) and we did our best to facilitate them with mixed results.

    We had plots that we ran and tried to keep open for people to get involved with, including IG hooks left (notes and stuff that could easily be found in the world) and we tried really hard to build interesting and diverse crafting systems, later on I was working on stuff like farming, herbalism, hunting and cooking as ways to facilitate more organic ways for people to establish bases and stuff like that and have them feel more invested in the world.

    A lot of the problems that I see in CoA are the same ones I saw on our server, though CoA has a much higher overall player number.

    What I'd propose is that the reliance (fair or unfair, I'm not getting into that) on extrinsic forces (like DM's) to make fun happen isn't doing us any favors. There's a hard disconnect between doing what's fun because it's your character's desire to and doing it because a DM is on to do so. There's no investment in the world, there's no tangible way to leave a mark without the team's say so, and your plots don't move forward unless the team says so. The entire server feels like an empty facade most of the time because of this, people exist to push plots, goals or ideas. They're not interacting with the world and being part of it so much as they are passing through on their way to retirement, forgotten while godlike npc's continue to get rich off the fat of these disposable people suffering no (genuine) side effects from dings to their name or failures of those who they exploit.

    So, that's my view on it, and here's what I'd propose to fix it:

    Once I get the toolset running, I'd be /HAPPY/ to help build some of this stuff, I've tried hard to keep my suggestions within the realm of possibility (and ease, I hope) From the bottom up, give players simple and small mechanics that'll improve their investment in the world. These kinds of things are (relatively) easy to script and make it FEEL more alive:

    • Allow players to make persistent signs they can leave somewhere. Something that can be destroyed, of course.

    • Allow players to be able to NAME and CHANGE THE DESCRIPTION of crafted goods. (I had been working on this, but I had to nuke and pave my system 😞 )

    • Rentable/placable stalls you can sell said crafted goods in. Allow players the ability to leave notes for crafters in said stalls so they can place orders and stuff.

    • More clothing, head and other options for vanity's sake. Seriously, seriously serious. >_>

    • Hirable heralds or message boys would be pretty damn cool. Hire them to proclaim your deeds about the city for a few in game hours (not by sending), so you could catch up on in game 'news' or people tooting their own horn about some cool thing they did. Maybe you need a piece of loot that the monster dropped or something to prove yourself, you go to them and give them a message (short) and they'll stand in some pre-defined places holding up the piece of loot saying stuff like "So and so slayed Strifu the Wifu! When asked about it, they said: [player message here]" There should, of course, be ways to build yourself up and lie about it. It'd be fun.

    • Much, much more opportunity for non-app characters to get involved in positions of power. Why /SHOULD/ you need an app for a militia private? Why /COULDN'T/ you campaign to your fellows and have them vote for your promotion to sergeant and /then/ app for anything higher?

    • A renown system that's not player facing (IE, no numbers visible to the player) but is calculated by PC's and can be bolstered in a number of ways.

    • Rentable shops, rentable rooms with storage and even rentable homes. With shops, allow players to hire NPC's to man the shop when they're gone so they're not tied to one static location, but can still have a sense of ownership in the game world and can actually have a presence- these could be costly, sure, but they'd show a merchant's success in the game world and genuinely be awesome to see and would by virtue of the NECESSITY of maintaining a high income, involve tons of people.

    • Allow some form of income (and maybe xp) to be gathered through means other than questing. Some ideas (though by no means exhaustive) that come to mind were:
      –Becoming a minor public official through support of retainers from noble houses (voting them into a position of city 'maintenance', giving the player domain over some small aspect of the server and an income to match which they can use to pay people and involve themselves.)
      --Becoming a major public official through the same methods above. May or may not require much more player voting or something.
      --Having people register mercenary companies with a city office/mercenary guild and be given randomly generated contracts/job offers. Mini quests LIKE waves against the grain or exploring the underdark in search of some mcguffin that spawns when the contract is activated (think the method by which the Notebook quest is activated). You could generate a pool of these types of quests using existing areas, making them perfectly reasonable for people to crash or join in on. You wouldn't need to pay out XP for them, just a bit of gold appropriate to the 'severity' of the contract on offer.

      Mindset Things

    • Encourage people to play longer term characters. Some of this will come from investment in the goings on of others and the world as a whole; when people feel as though they have roots in a community, they're more apt to stay and even stay with the character they're playing. That's not a /BAD/ thing, despite what people might think (not without reason!) about characters growing stale, having an investment in the world keeps people logged in and coming back day after day. Especially that journey to the top of whatever you're trying to accomplish.

    • Downplay the significance of NPC's who're obviously not important or give players more ability to handle it with as heavy a hand as they would express. Getting overruled by some random knobber because players will side with a DM controlled NPC regardless of their rank/social standing needs to be taken into account.

    • Stop shitting on player's accomplishments IC, make them unobtainable (and obviously so) or make them suitably impressive to npc's. Having some random farmer tell you he's not impressed because you did something no one else could do? Fuck. You. Dude. I don't care what the IC reasoning is (in this instance), I've seen it too often to see it as anything but a pattern. To be completely blunt, this kind of thing undermines the very idea of PC's as anything more than disposable minions on the way to retirement/death. Which, fair game, but respect where it's due keeps people invested and feeling as though they're somehow unique.

    I think a lot of these things would go a long way to bringing back the 'spark' that we've been lacking for an incredibly long time. . . .I will be honest in saying the community, roleplay and lower levels are the only reason I come back again and again. But even that's getting harder to stick by and find these days. Not poking anyone with a stick, just my opinion. I don't think it's just mine, either.



  • Hubs for organically. Not much DMs can do about it



  • @SlushieConspiracy:

    • Allow players to make persistent signs they can leave somewhere. Something that can be destroyed, of course. - Entirely do-able

      • Allow players to be able to NAME and CHANGE THE DESCRIPTION of crafted goods. (I had been working on this, but I had to nuke and pave my system 😞 ) - This in also pretty easy to do.

        • Rentable/placable stalls you can sell said crafted goods in. Allow players the ability to leave notes for crafters in said stalls so they can place orders and stuff.

          Much more complex for various reasons. Still do-able though, about ten time more time than the previous two suggestions at least though. Not off the table in any way though.

          • More clothing, head and other options for vanity's sake. Seriously, seriously serious. >_> Just a case of finding the haks really.

            • Hirable heralds or message boys would be pretty damn cool. Hire them to proclaim your deeds about the city for a few in game hours (not by sending), so you could catch up on in game 'news' or people tooting their own horn about some cool thing they did. Maybe you need a piece of loot that the monster dropped or something to prove yourself, you go to them and give them a message (short) and they'll stand in some pre-defined places holding up the piece of loot saying stuff like "So and so slayed Strifu the Wifu! When asked about it, they said: [player message here]" There should, of course, be ways to build yourself up and lie about it. It'd be fun.

              A little fiddly but I can think of a way to do it that isn't that tough. It'd be the things like making sure these guys spawns and unspawn correctly that'd be bothersome.

              • Much, much more opportunity for non-app characters to get involved in positions of power. Why /SHOULD/ you need an app for a militia private? Why /COULDN'T/ you campaign to your fellows and have them vote for your promotion to sergeant and /then/ app for anything higher?

                This really just needs more DM attention to have happen I guess, as it's technically already entirely possible, but is being suggested so clearly isn't visible enough.

                • A renown system that's not player facing (IE, no numbers visible to the player) but is calculated by PC's and can be bolstered in a number of ways.

                  I don't quite understand this one but it sounds pretty cool. Care to expand?

                  • Rentable shops, rentable rooms with storage and even rentable homes. With shops, allow players to hire NPC's to man the shop when they're gone so they're not tied to one static location, but can still have a sense of ownership in the game world and can actually have a presence- these could be costly, sure, but they'd show a merchant's success in the game world and genuinely be awesome to see and would by virtue of the NECESSITY of maintaining a high income, involve tons of people.

                    This would take a huge amount of effort to implement properly, but it would be sweet.

                    • Allow some form of income (and maybe xp) to be gathered through means other than questing. Some ideas (though by no means exhaustive) that come to mind were:
                      –Becoming a minor public official through support of retainers from noble houses (voting them into a position of city 'maintenance', giving the player domain over some small aspect of the server and an income to match which they can use to pay people and involve themselves.) - This kind of sounds a lot like the councillor positions that never really happened because of various reasons. But something very much like this (though much more restricted while being discussed) was discussed and wanted by the team, just never quite managed to get it to happen due to some idea clashes.

                      –Becoming a major public official through the same methods above. May or may not require much more player voting or something.

                      - this is basically what we discussed, just without the previous position.

                      –Having people register mercenary companies with a city office/mercenary guild and be given randomly generated contracts/job offers. Mini quests LIKE waves against the grain or exploring the underdark in search of some mcguffin that spawns when the contract is activated (think the method by which the Notebook quest is activated). You could generate a pool of these types of quests using existing areas, making them perfectly reasonable for people to crash or join in on. You wouldn't need to pay out XP for them, just a bit of gold appropriate to the 'severity' of the contract on offer.

                      Quite a lot would need to go into this, would need a lot of design time to get it to work well. It's a nice idea.



  • @people:

    Hubs for organically. Not much DMs can do about it

    that's not entirely true. We designed the Spire as the go to hub, and it was, because we put all the useful stuff there.



  • I think the solution could be a big media/advertising blitz. A promotional YouTube video could be made along with an article highlighting some features and story points of the server. As for outlets we could look into putting it up on Reddit and maybe some blogs that focuson DnD/ role paying games?


  • Crimson Guard

    Theres a NWN group on facebook if someone good at art can whip up a promo piece for it

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/nwncp/



  • (Copy-pasting from the Facebook page to reach a wider audience.)

    -Death is too… Meaningless, to me. I tried RPing the death of a friend as something impactful, then she was resurrected. I played along, but then she died and came back the same day. It happened once more not 24 hours later and I... Just couldn't get into it. In my eyes, people should fall unconscious when downed - it would make it RPable and immersive. Death as it stands is something you can fix with some gold or a scroll. It's meaningless! (RP-wise, not mechanics-wise. Mechanics-wise it's a pain in the di-)

    -Also, death is too punishing mechanically while still managing to be meaningless RP-wise. IMO.

    -Grinding... The same few scripted missions over and over again just because you were killed and need to be level 9+ to be relevant in any way. Why not make the quests be more like the goblins one in the sewers? You enter an area, kill things, and build the narrative yourself. Make it feel more like exploring and less like sitting around in the Spire to see if you get enough people to talk to the NPC that will give you the same chore you did last night.

    -The player requirement for missions is too high. Some times it's hard getting 3-4 players when no one is online. Make them 2-man, IMO.

    -The Spire... We need a means to connect that is more... Alive, less than a "lobby". It sucks sitting there waiting to form a group to go grinding.

    -The DMs (that I had contact with)... I'm sorry to say this but now that I've seen what DMs stand for and what DMs do in other servers I can't help but feel ours are... Well, self-serving.

    Those are my thoughts. Hope they help.



  • @Sophia:

    -The DMs (that I had contact with)… I'm sorry to say this but now that I've seen what DMs stand for and what DMs do in other servers I can't help but feel ours are... Well, self-serving.

    Those are my thoughts. Hope they help.

    Care to elaborate?



  • @CitizenBane:

    Care to elaborate?

    When I quit Arabel I had a conversation with DM Spiffy. He told me that if my character didn't fit the story he wanted to tell I would get no DM support. I think nobody roleplays to experience the story someone else is telling - for that we tend to read books or watch movies instead. In my experience, people roleplay to weave their own tale with the stories of others to create a new one - one that is alive and changes with the interactions of everyone involved. Arabel feels to me as if we're minor characters in DM plots, lead by NPCs in stories we never truly chose.



  • What's with the limitations involving alts? I had two characters going on at the same time and I was repeatedly hammered because of it. Wouldn't alts help us artificially elevate our PC numbers? I get it that there's metaknowledge involved with people playing more than one character but isn't everyone in Arabel a veteran roleplayer to begin with? I don't think people would abuse having an alt or two so they could play different plots when one doesn't fit at the moment.



  • @Sophia:

    @CitizenBane:

    Care to elaborate?

    When I quit Arabel I had a conversation with DM Spiffy. He told me that if my character didn't fit the story he wanted to tell I would get no DM support. I think nobody roleplays to experience the story someone else is telling - for that we tend to read books or watch movies instead. In my experience, people roleplay to weave their own tale with the stories of others to create a new one - one that is alive and changes with the interactions of everyone involved. Arabel feels to me as if we're minor characters in DM plots, lead by NPCs in stories we never truly chose.

    I, too, often feel this is the case. There's tons of stuff behind this statement that I don't have time at the moment to go into, but it always feels that this is the case to a greater or lesser extent. By no means am I bashing on anyone (at all), but even looking at the current metaplot it's pretty easy to pick out the highlights and know, without question, that nothing will/can be done to influence them. Again, not bashing, and the plots tend to be pretty interesting, but it can be a little frustrating.



  • DMs are players too, we just call them DMs. DMs here love conflict. Like…a lot. Maybe to an unhealthy degree if you ask some players. Keeping that in mind, it is important to note that DMs have gone out their way to help me out, just for having the courage to do something despite the fact that OOC, I knew I lacked the power and skill to achieve it. Taking on more powerful characters. Pursuing seemingly impossible odds. This is a dungeon adventure game. All those little stories we tell, that's for everyone else. That is what we do for other players and other players do it for us as well. I never expect a DM to do anything for me, and it helps me have more fun. Because I dont need anyone with a red or yellow name to make my imagination fun.

    I hope that doesn't sound like I am attacking you, Because I understand your sentiment entirely. So I took DMs out of my equation.



  • DMs are players with power over other players and the game world itself. Doesn't that give them some responsibility towards the rest of us to help us immerse? If not, why do they hold those powers?

    First DM interaction I had in CoA was them encouraging me to fight something in an event, then cutting off my hand for failing. First interaction I had in this other server was them spawning a copy character of my own and changing the spawning area for us to RP together an intro they crafted for my character.
    That and seeing each GM that logs on to that server announce that they are online and at our service… Just makes me feel something has been forgotten over time in CoA.



  • I've always found DMs to be pretty open to assisting in player plots -IF- (This is a BIG WORD HERE), you are doing things to involve other players/make your story interesting/generate intrigue/generate conflict.

    Fact is, for every great player who has an amazing PC with a sweet player plot that does big things, that is usually 1 out of every 10 of their PCs (if that, that's a generous percentage). Every player has had times where they do something awesome, and their next 5 PCs are lackluster and not that interesting. This is just an EBB and FLOW - sometimes players nail it and it's awesome, and sometimes we don't.

    Edit: Though, and this is pretty minor to me at least, maybe effects some people more, I do agree that DM shout is used a bit too much as of late. I like it being a mystery if a DM is watching, or online (unless its a situation where you need a DM for pvp, or some sort of issue obviously).



  • @Chomperchomp:

    Edit: Though, and this is pretty minor to me at least, maybe effects some people more, I do agree that DM shout is used a bit too much as of late. I like it being a mystery if a DM is watching, or online (unless its a situation where you need a DM for pvp, or some sort of issue obviously).

    I have to agree, especially considering there are still players who as soon as they realize a DM is on, they change their attitude to try to attract the DM's attention. I've seen completely serious characters turn into the Baboons from the Rugrats movie as soon as a "Goofy" DM comes on.



  • Not to nitpick but you're basing your opinion on an entire group of DMs by your "first" experiences. All our DMs were/are players too so if a DM's particular style of play (yep they too are allowed to have preferences of concepts), then just seek out another.

    I am not sure if it is still around but there was a great post about "Getting to know your DMs" and what plots they enjoy working with. Otherwise DMs are there to help you enjoy and immerse yourself in the game, not be responsible for it.

    Remember these guys aren't paid they should be enjoying there time on the server too 🙂



  • Just trying to help here. I do have something to say about each of the other GMs I've seen online but what's the point going around pointing fingers and making things personal? I named my first experience as an example, not as my only base.



  • I didn't intend to "get personal" if that's how it came across but anyway.

    Personally the thing that has stopped or rather delayed me from making a character right now is that I've just come back and the server seems to be holding its breath. From what I gathered InGame it feels like we are about to hit the climax of a plot/war that I haven't been here for, so i can't really see a spot for a new character trying to feel out the setting again.

    I am not sure how far away it is from the big finale but at the moment I am waiting to see if the new version of Arabel is close before I roll a new concept.


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