I think part of our problem, actually, is that we're elitist! There's nothing for the majority of the sorts of people who still play this game to do on CoA. We've scared away anyone who can't write, terrified people who can't PvP very well, and the sort of player we reward isn't just the top half, or even the top 10%, it's the top 5%. That is why, when compared with Arelith, EfU, and Sinfar, I think our numbers are really dwindling. There's just nothing for the middle, or lower-tiered writers to do except 'get good' on an endless grind train that, frankly, is exhausting and almost boring to participate in.
Just participating on this server needs to have intrinsic value. Even if that participation is screwing around with some crafting system or minioning for someone, we don't need to push every single character into having to be the most amazing badass paladin of winmode hero of Arabel minister of justice and finance and trade, just for the chance at some sort of ownership of something. We've got guide after guide of how to optimize characters plot-wise to make them better characters or gain more attention from the DMs and other players, and we've gone and forgotten that we do need the 'common rabble' to gain attention from.
100% Agree here.
Having been on the casual player side for most of the time I played here, at some point it feels pointless to seek those high RP and PvP standards. Casual players should be able to fill the shoes of a minion, even if he is on 2-3 times a week (as long as he does not metagame info it should be fine). This is mostly a player mentality issue though. Player groups tend to focus on PvP win I feel, not trusting random dude X to be in their group. Not an easy mentality to change at all.
From DM side, a random DM event on the random group of casuals, that has no involvement in any main plot, should not be a rare thing. On the contrary, it is what keeps casual players playing and once in a while, some plot might come up from those as these events tend to inspire people. I realize DM resources are limited and we feel it is better if these resources are focused in main world plots, but in reality it should be 50-50 split with casual events, no matter how limited the DM time is. An idea would be to assign a few DMs to this purpose alone, nothing else, no scripting, no main plots meddling that requires a lot more preparation, just preparing random DM events and trigger them first chance they find a random party of players.
Not everyone aspires to be a city hero, some even like CoA sims and stuff. There should be some attention for these players too. We grow up and our time gets limited, so many of us gradually become casuals, then realize there is not a lot for a casual player to do and achieve and fade away. The thing is we tend to consider casuals less important to the setting, but we miss the point. It is the number of casuals that make this setting feel alive in a way. The lead players have earned the attention, sure, but their awesomeness feels less awesome in a world without the casuals that will talk about them in their RP, follow them in their adventures, look up to them IG.
Maybe some of these things mentioned have changed these days, in which case do ignore this post. It is a 15 year old game then again, what can you do about it? Still there is no better RP environment in the PC game scene.