Retaining players/Lower Numbers

  • Purpose:

    Discussion of what will help retain players on a server


    1. Don't post crap about changes that just benefits your character or your particular faction/player group, this is a discussion to try and examine ideas that could make changes for everyone.
    2. Don't post comments, positive or negative, about other people's ideas. Just stick to your own, that way the thread can stay on track and not get derailed. It's meant as a spitballing/brainstorming exercise to generate ideas, so don't go around saying just "not going to happen" or "it's already in game" (if a comment is going to be made by a DM a little reasoning will be given). This goes for DMs too >_< Do feel free to propose alternative suggestions or expand on other people's suggestions as your own.
    3. Don't trash the thread either, if you don't have an idea to put down don't comment.
    4. Keep within the topic (this is a general thread rule)


    More soloable ore two man quests

  • I for one have never been a fan of the incredibly difficult to kill monsters that wander the wilderness. I'm talking the Hedge reagent dropping beasts. Great Bulettes, Bherskan Divas, that sort of thing. I remember that they were made so powerful so people couldn't farm or one man them, but from what I've seen that happens anyway and only serves to alienate players that are less skilled at the combat mechanics of the game.

    It also sort of felt like it was a way of trying to keep the mechanically adept players from looking/feeling like badass warriors, which seems weird to me.

    Ideally I think itd be nice if these monsters with incredibly high AB were dialed back a bit.

    Realistically I'd settle for such monsters to spawn in very specific areas that play like quest areas almost. Perhaps limit the number of times they can be visited per reset?

    That isn't to say the widleness shouldn't be dangerous, only that some of these critters are ridiculously powerful and spawn incredibly close to the city.

    There's nothing more daunting than playing a warrior class and getting owned by a wandering monster, only to see someone else beat it with ease a few moments later.

  • More DMs - easier said than done I know but I honestly hardly see anyone on in the Euro time zone. More DMs make the server better regardless of player numbers! Don't worry guys I'll step up, just give me the keys

    Area Management - condense lots of the areas we have and make it easier to bump into PCs. While they are all lovely and pretty I don't think we need 400 Underdark areas.

    Smaller quest sizes and removal / lowering of level restrictions on some quests.

    Have an applicationless month to fill factions up, and maybe a rethink on the actual factions (to me only Tammarast and the Chaos Brigade have much flavour, I don't think the PDs should be a faction as there isn't much "high level threat" stuff for them to deal with really?)

  • I wish I had time to properly type something up and but I have an exam in less than 12 hours, so I am just going to hammer something out.

    Customization player housing: It builds a sense of belonging and ownership. It gives them a stake in the world. Have something that they have invested in gives them attachment, and a sense of accomplishment.
    Easier plot and character advancement: Casual gamers need to be able to feel they can contribute. Arabel DOES NOT ALLOW casual gamers to prosper.
    More funzy quests: Funzy being low to moderate difficulty quests that can be done by two wizards, a bard and rogue, rather than needing to have 50% tanks or melee. Dosen't have to pay well, just has to be fun and doable so even super-weak builds and weak parties can do them.
    Widen Character Options: Arabel does not provide enough options for people to build with their imagination. Whether its a melee wizard or a naked barbarian or any number of builds which don't depend on STR. Whether you invest points in Str, Dex, Wis, Int, Cha, there should be options to be good in melee without needing to have str, dex, con. We should build with our imagination, not with mechanics.
    Stop overrewarding PvP: PvP has repeatedly been the source of much distress in the community, and has led to disagreements and many many departures over the years. Being able to roll crits and chug potions has too often become TEH WIN in Arabel, over the ability to tell a story. PvP is wonderful when handled correctly, but we're not an arena server.
    Stop unnatural competition and forcing rivalries: Arabel has way too many PCs which are given a motivation on creation, and that motivation is unchangeable. Where possible, Players should MAKE enemies, not have them on CREATION. The path to DM notice seems to be to make as many enemies as possible and being acidic to many people, which sort of means that Arabel regularly rewards being a douche.
    Forcing Rivalries: Outside of groups of friends, few people help each other any more, because DM rewards are based on slapping everyone else down. Player A tries to start something. Rather than joining him, Player B starts something else, because everyone knows that the DM will only reward the leader of the group that "succeeds". Arabel cares nothing for followers, only leaders.
    Reward Involvement, not Attendance: All too often, PCs go along with something to have their attendance taken. They aren't really involved. They have little investment in the plot. They are there to make up bodies so DMs see there is something going on.

  • Motivating players to stick around IG longer is a key-factor. Changing server-mentality regarding certain factors would act as a driving force. Here are things which we could do with a re-approach.

    1. Aim for more fun things to do while IG:
      Quests are fun, crafting is fun. Hunting is fun. Discovering new places/lore is fun. Let's remove some party caps on quests and see what happens. Add an actual bounty master who accepts orc-heads, goblin ears and kobold teeth (not just the Quest NPC which only accepts them if you are low enough level). Add new lore/hideouts to be discovered that can be used by the playerbase.

    Add more places that encourage people to go out exploring, even if you are a bard doing a solo exploration mission. Keep it a challenge, like add a mirror there which forces the character to fight his own reflection to get to that specific room of rewards or something. Also, set up a "quest giver" for players to reset the area so it can be explored again by the next character that drops by.

    The gambling hall is great. It's only a shame none of gambling machines are scripted. We have the Rat race in Sewer Bars which still somewhat works- and btw, I like it. We could do with adding a public gambling system where players could go and place bets and spend their time, and maybe get some gold to buy more supplies for more adventures.

    Are horse races and such possible? Maybe through errant quests? Or maybe an arm wrestling competition for all levels that can get you a couple of extra GPs for your trouble. Or a shady mission to steal a caek from the local bakery for a mischievous group of caek-monsters.

    1. Driving toward a more meaningful/interactive DM/Player experience:
      It's understandable DMs make statements in mIRC about the lack of players during silent hours, when there can only be one or two players online versus one or two DMs. Indeed, the DMs are there to have fun too, but focusing solely on one or two specific characters comes with a decision that breaks the basic principles we've agreed on this server: Be fun and involving in order to get the DM-love.

    Often times, during the silent hours, DMs find these players idling, or adventuring on their own, both of which are generally not regarded as something suitable or interesting for a DM to interact with. The DMs are then faced with a dilemma of choosing to interact with said solo player who at the time is not involving anyone, or the DM can choose not to do anything at all and log because of it. He/she adheres to the code by doing so, as we know fingers have been pointed toward DM favoritism for less. But a massive opportunity is lost.


    A DM logs in, and discovers Jon Snow has made a sending for a patrol. Sadly, he's doing it during the silent hour, but decided to go out solo anyway, looking for those imaginary white walkers Jon Snow keeps on rambling about. DM decides to spawn some zombies and rename them as "White walkers", then uses them to lure Jon Snow to discover further proof to solidify his beliefs. Jon Snow (PC) gets DM loot as proof of his discovery and shows it to Samwell Tarly (PC), and they go out to patrol together next time.

    Now, I may be completely blind in this regard, and its more than likely that DMs are already actively doing this. I just want both sides to know that it's okay to DM just for one character, especially during the silent hours. Aim to breed A&I and conflict by bringing people together to interact, but it's fine to have your RP session with the solo guy that's IG. If the solo guy is entertained, he'll spread the word for you, and next time- there may be more people IG during the silent hour.


    Beyond all the many flavors our server has to offer, be it heavy immersion or fun adventure, the key to get people interested and logging in is having a blast with what we got. The server is not broken, and thinking outside the box still works wonders.

  • Some players are reactors and are shy or reluctant to lead parties for fear of sub-par RP or lack of fun.

    Throw those reactor players something cool so it gives them motivation to push a plot or involve people.

    Don't just give plot hooks and loot to the active, pushy, awesome players. Take a chance and give a casual something nice too, and watch them turn into something awesome!

  • Focus more on fun, than challenge.

    This is a huge undertaking, but I've felt for quite some time, that keeping the levels down (we already have an effective "soft cap" which could be altered down if needed) and trying to limit the amount of gold players have has been too much of a focus, over making what they do in game fun and rewarding.

    I say "some time" but I'll be honest, it is -fairly- new in terms of how long I've been here.

    More tools for players to use in game to create their own stories. These take a whole lot of effort, but I think worrying about exploits/problems with them can make them take even longer. IT might sound careless, but I'd rather have a feature that has the potential to be exploited, but is super cool, than not having it there because people "might" use it to unfair advantage, or to block transitions or something.

    Deal with that stuff afterwards. (again, this coming from a guy that's used these exact reasons for not making stuff 🙂 I'm allowed to change my mind!)

    Implement new HAKs with cool appearances, and open up customisation (with a new system…) for every single item in the game, except maybe... like... very VERY specific items, granted by a DM. (again, this probably sounds hugely hypocritical coming from me... but, you know, I guess that goes to show I can listen to feedback, and learn new things, and change my decisions based on experience!) This is a huge butt tonne of work overall though.

    Add entirely DMless solveable "mysteries" or "events" into the server. (like a group of runes around the server, which, after having reached each one, and defeating their totem spirit or something, your character gains a unique power/item/permanent stat boost)

    Rotate these in, and out, every month (huge commitment!!!)

    Add even smaller versions of these, which are literally things like a door, with a password, which you can find out using persuade/bluff/intimidate, from some NPC, or on a scrap of paper found using search checks, behind the door, is a huge pile of gold, or a cool item. Things like this aren't -that- hard/time consuming to put in, so COULD be one shot (or ten shot?) then get removed, and replaced.

    These are all things I'd love to do... some of them take a bunch of effort, and co-ordination from an entire DM team, some of them can be done by single DMs fairly easily.

    I wish I had time.

  • Fun for the DMs and the players, if it is not fun for the DMs there will be burn out

    and like attracts like, the longer individuals are on will attract more people to come in and stay, have things that attract people and take some time in a area where people can find each other, in the distant past there were some quests that required people to decipher something, that took time and by merit of something like that alone, it would force people to stay on for a while, meaning when someone looks at the server and see's a few more people on they might be more inclined to come in, and be caught up in someone else's plots or intrigue

    how to keep people on longer i have no easy answers for, only self serving ideas i have posted about in the past ad nausium

    many of the events i have witnessed lately can not have been fun for the DMs, as one i can think about caused some players including myself to openly in game as a character be openly critical of the event, even though my intention was in game, i am sure the DM could have felt discouraged, i apologize if the DM involved does remember and it caused them to feel bad

    i will not do anything like that again and will try to be aware of how my actions in game effect others DM or player

  • So to get players to come back and play here where there is low player numbers harsh scripts and monsters scaled to a magic levels that no longer exists?
    The only suggestion i can think of is a complete overhaul of the spawns table and loot matrix and allowing players to progress there characters with XP and loot outside of script quests.

    But this is unlikely to attract players back but it could help to retain them them somewhat if you could get them to give CoA another chance.

  • We're still waiting for the fabled Gmork Re-Hak for some time now. Once it is out, we will have an influx of returning players. We need to set up the infrastructure to KEEP them here, interested and playing, when they come.

  • Advertising.

    It would bring new blood, who never played the server, and who will be amazed by quests and such, without needed to feel like "There needs to be something new", a bit like myself. I'm happy with things as they are, it's just the lack of players that's the problem.

  • As a returning player much better documentation of IG commands, actions, kits, alterations and all the custom content without needing to refer to irc, forums or wiki.

  • More stuff to do for lonely characters/players. More 2 men quests yes. All your ideas are great, but I think it's all about people having stuff to do.

  • Find reason_s_ for people to log in at 0 players, and to stay logged in, beyond "maybe someone else will see me and log in too."

    Beyond that, I agree with some of what Thune's said. His first point about player-owned stuff, but more importantly everything from point five down about PVP and rivalries. At some point (years ago) things stopped feeling organic. Conflicts arose because there have to be conflicts or else the DMs won't give you a cookie, rather than because of disagreements between characters.

    It's important to note that there's not one single solution here - it's a complicated issue which people aren't going to agree on - and it's certainly not a matter of just not having enough stuff to do.

    Anyway! I'm glad to see the DM team looking for solutions, it's a really good sign! But this isn't something that's going to be fixed solely by DM fiat, you know? There are problems playerside too.

  • Can the quest playerlimit not be lowered with the amount of people actually online?

  • I've been off-and-on for a while now, more off than on, lately… between RL work and Star Trek Online, not a ton of extra time... but I still have the COA hak downloader on my desktop for that moment when I get an itch to play again. I've been guilty, in the past, of being the guy that stirs the negative anti-DM pot... and have left for an IG experience that caused RW tension. Still, I do always come back because, well... Arabel is the closest we have to what I would build for myself if I had the time and skill to do so.

    Having said that, there are a few things I think could be done to retain the players that remain, and to get new blood to fill the server back up. Some have already been mentioned, but are worth repeating...

    Advertisement. This is your number one key to success and the ONLY thing that can be GUARANTEED. Everything else is nothing more than suggestions, take it or leave it. But advertising is a MUST. Just as in sales, it's a numbers game. For every 100 eyes that see your add, 10 will log in... for every 100 that log in, 25 will stay logged in after the initial introduction... out of every 10 that stay that first time, maybe 1 or 2 will return.... The more eyes you get in front of your ad, the more people you'll have playing. 1000 pairs of eyes, that's 5 new players.... 5000 pairs: 25 players. I would even go as far as to suggest paying for it... FP "sponsored" posts are only like $5 or something, relatively cheap. You can get your 5000 eyes right there. Do that once a month... who knows.

    Consolidate maps. Fewer maps = fewer empty spaces = more crowded places = more player-to-player interaction. With the exception of Arabel itself, I'd say no more than a single 32x32 map per major feature. Inmersea, 1 map. Hullack forest, 1 map. King's swamp, 1 map. But at the same time, don't hide features inside a bigger map. Eveningstar should have it's own map area (albeit smaller than 32x32) and not just 3 or 4 buildings placed inside the High Road map. For the city itself, since it's the main focus of the setting, I'd suggest 3-6 maps, depending on the size of the areas. Most "dungeon" areas should be a single map... two if it's a big area. Expansive places like the Underdark should be maybe 3-5 areas... You can use creative placement of doors, area transitions, and multiple elevations to make each map seem bigger than it is... but the actual map areas themselves need to be limited.

    More to do inside the city. It's the primary focus of the server, it IS the setting. It should be the primary focus of most plots and story arcs... not just a way-point to stop between adventures elsewhere. This will have the additional benefit of having more to do closer to the starting areas so that potential new players can jump right in and find something to catch their attention immediately.

    This next suggestion, I can't stress enough. It took me a very long time to learn this as a DM in my own tabletop games: DUNGEON MASTERS MUST LEARN TO SAY YES TO PLAYER REQUESTS. The whole idea of submitting an application for a character background had been turning people away, and will continue to turn people away in droves. And you won't know that you've lost a player. They won't submit an app. They simply will say "EFF that" and go somewhere else, you'll never see them and will never know how many players you could have had. If a player can't play what he wants to play on your server, he WILL play it on another one. Tell one of COA's players 'NO' and you are giving some other server a brand new player. IF a player concept, or background, or special permission, or whatever causes a problem... deal with it AFTER the problem has been identified--don't deny the player his fun just because something MIGHT become a problem.

    Speed it up! A week of real-time is a near-eternity in game-time. Player comes up with some plot idea, if he doesn't see results, he will drop it and leave... but not before complaining about DM favoritism and lack of attention to anyone who will listen. Player plots should be acted upon in the same session in which the DM becomes aware of the player's interest. Progress should be made within a few days, and conclusion for most plots within a week or two. Faction plots should last between 1-3 weeks, maybe a month if it's a real big one. Big server-wide world-changing plots shouldn't take more than 2-3 months.

    Focus on the solo's. Yes, group interactions catch DMs attention. You want player-to-player interactions. So when someone gets a group together, sure, by all means, pay attention to that group... but they're already a group. They've already created player interaction. Adventure and intrigue already exists. That solo guy... he needs help. Give him a REASON to interact with others. Nobody can intrigue by themselves. The group will appreciate DM attention, but the solo guy NEEDS DM attention.... or he will leave.

    Change it up. I'm aware of how time consuming it is to create new quests. Writing, designing, scripting, balancing monsters and treasures... it's a lot to do. But you can reuse and recycle just about everything. Take Myron's cave, for example? Its a classic. Everyone knows it and could probably solo-run the whole thing blind-folded. Maybe it's time for Myron's friend to finally get rescued for good? You can then use that quest with new NPCs on a new map, a few minor dialogue edits... and voila! You have yourself a brand new never-before-ran quest with minimal effort. There are literally THOUSANDS of published modules and side-quests that can be quickly edited and adapted for use by CoA with 90% of the work, including plot and balancing, already done. All you have to do is build the map, type in the dialogue, and fill it up with scripts and pre-balanced monsters & treasure for CoA's already existing spawn and treasure tables.

    Documentation. As a new player, I want a one-stop-shop. Single-click solutions for all my character creation options, hak-paks, setting background, server-specific backgrounds... if I have to spend 3 days scanning through ten years of forum posts just to get an idea of what the server is about... I'm going to log out permanently when the server doesn't live up to my expectations and wow me right away after I took all that time and effort to figure it out.

    Cater to the casual. Most people who might be interested in playing have real lives to live. Work, family... We might only have 20 or 30 minutes a day to play. They don't want, and should not have to, take a week or more to earn enough wealth and experience to raise to a "survivable" level. Sticking with the level 10 soft-cap (which I REALLY like, BTW) progression should be very rapid from 1st to 3rd... Easily raising a level in that single 20-30 minute play session. If someone has the time to spend an afternoon playing... they should be able to make 3rd of 4th in that first day. Then it should slow down until about 5th or 6th (which IMO should be average level for most "typical" players)... after that, a huge progression slowdown leading up to 10. This way, the casual player can feel like he's making an effort. He's contributing, he's advancing... and doesn't have "newbie" syndrome because he's the only 1st level guy surrounded by a bunch of 5th level characters... but at the same time, the non-casual players get a big reward for making that extra effort to make it to 8th or 9th and higher. Short scripted quests, quick one-off DM quests. Jump in, have fun, jump out.

    CoA is NOT a professional MMO. We don't have micro-transactions to pay developers and DMs for their efforts. There's no Pay-to-Win or cosmetic "game Barbie" mechanics... While it is a popular suggestion, I think player-customizable housing and player-led factions (with short-term exceptions for specific plots) is wasted effort. There's already so much to do, prioritizing cosmetics is only going to cause more problems when the "big ticket" items don't get enough attention... not to mention that isolating PCs in their own private homes is only going to SEPARATE players from each other, not bring them together. Having a private house, while nice, isn't going to keep me coming back to a server--DM attention and good plots will. Not having a customizable house for my PC isn't going to make me leave a good server--no new quests or player interaction will.

    PvP supports itself, don't need DMs for that. PvP is great for big US vs THEM mass combat war games... In D&D, for the most part, our PCs are heroes. Even if we're not good... or decidedly evil PCs... we're all playing the role of a hero, or a reluctant hero, or an antihero... PvP will happen on it's own anyway as character interaction and divergent plots intersect. There's no need to spend extra time, energy and effort focusing so much on PvP, when that time could be spent doing other things which will have a more direct benefit to the server as a whole.

    Less forum, more Game. If I only have an hour to play today... I don't want to spend 20 minutes of my limited time on the forums getting updated on the most recent rumors and plot advancements since the last time I logged in. While a great place go AFTER I'm done playing, or in between play sessions, anything that happens in game should be in-game. You should be able to get rid of the forum completely and not miss anything. Rumours, Scrawls and Word of Mouth in Old Town, Announcements from the City, Declarations from the City... They should all be in-game, awaiting the daily reset, shortly after, if not before, they get posted in the forum.

    More DMs. As mentioned above: easier said than done... but beyond advertising, DM attention & interaction is what will keep players coming back day after day after day. You can't do that without enough DMs to provide 24-hour coverage. In the beginning, it'll be hard... you might even have more DMs than players from time to time. But as player growth and retention takes hold, it will balance itself out. Just as in business... you have to invest into your company and risk taking a short-term loss in order to build for big long-term gains. Invest in CoA--hire more DMs. 3rd Edition D&D was built around a 4-PC party with a DM... that translates into 20% of your entire active player-base being DMs at any given time. Not only that, with the changes and suggestions mentioned above, by myself and others, you'll need that many... when they're not running quests, they can be building areas, designing new quests, creating named NPCs, writing adventure hooks and rumors for unnamed NPCs to give out. What's your target goal? 25 players online at the same time? Then have 5 DMs ready to take care of that level of activity before you get it. If you don't, someone will be left out and won't return. Prepare for what you want to have tomorrow--not what you had yesterday... if you don't, your virtual "sales" will never increase. And, business analogies aside... the players are CoA's "customers". Cater to your customer and you will attract more customers.

  • I honestly think more DMs IG and being awesome will be a massive draw for people, who doesn't like DM XP, lootz and interaction?

    Not saying the DMs we have aren't doing a good job, but the more the SO much better.

    More plots being run, more help for players wanting to do stuff, more questions answered, more events being done, more in game interaction between NPCs and factions.



  • For instance, I have become bored of playing because I could not find IG the people I wanted to plot with and have found it difficult to get ahold of the DMs to bridge the plot gaps when players were not available, whereas I could see lively DM support elsewhere. I submitted an application for a position which would reduce DM dependence, which got voted down based on IC things which were not ICly true, then was told that if a certain player posts a recommendation the vote may change… but that player is not playing these days. With a community this small, you may think that managing the server and community can be more straightforward than this.

    This kind of experience can result in gradually losing interest in playing, in creating plots and in engaging other players. You keep logging in from time to time but see too few players to have fun with, and then just give up because you know that driving some plot forward and engaging those few players will sooner or later stumble when you need a DM step in and that DM simply is not there for you.

    Temporary downturns in DM activity are not that big issue on servers with high player count since the players can sustain the fun among themselves. It does become a vicious circle when player count is low to start with.

  • Might be rehashing

    • Two person minimum for quests across the board and removal of class specific requirements for some of them. I can't recall any current example off the top of my head so going for a historic example. You used to have to have a rogue to do the Orc Camp quest to unlock the gate to get into the area. It's not always possible to make a party complete with your desirable classes these days, so ideally have no requirements in that respect.

    Two person minimum has been discussed elsewhere however I will add, if you're an evil PC with a reputation your options are even slimmer, there might be five people online but the other four won't Quest with you due to IC differences.

    Perhaps one or two solo quests as well. They don't have to yield massive gains in loot, gold or xp, but just something for lonely PCs to do in dead hours.

    • More server wide DM plots which I suppose equates to a greater IG DM presence.

    Run more plots players can get involved in, they don't have to be groundbreaking or intrinsic, just something for players to focus on.

    • More liberal distribution of perks and power. Another age old point; allow players to attain a greater say in the setting and as DMs be at the forefront of distributing this, don't wait for players; don't have a "don't ask don't get" policy.

    Yes, the really high ranks and true powers should be earned, but "middle management" positions/Subraces/Official clergy etc shouldn't be a struggle at all.

    And those high ranks should be more attainable for those that go the extra mile.

    Essentially, proactively reward players and give them perks and things to do. Don't wait for players to request them.

    • Stop censoring and "trolling" on the forums. Did I post something in the wrong thread? Tell me in a PM, politely, don't delete the post. Leaves a sour taste in players mouths.

    Players want to provide feedback and contribute, finding red tape to do so is just irritating. Politely return the thread back on topic.

    • Examine the loot level and overall power level.

    These days I never see more people online than when Spiffy is running his Thayan Arena events. Why? Because people love cool loot.

    People like cool loot and higher levels so they can do more stuff.

    All I can think of on a Friday morning, reading the thread there's a lot of cool ideas and a lot of similar points! Really hope some of these are implemented.

    Good thread and initiative.

  • @:

    • Stop censoring and "trolling" on the forums. Did I post something in the wrong thread? Tell me in a PM, politely, don't delete the post. Leaves a sour taste in players mouths.

    Yes please.

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