CS is not a Game Content Company... It's a Platform Developer...

edited August 31 in General Discussion
Lets consider a hard truth for a moment. CS is trying to be something it isn't... a great content developer. It is not and has proven time and time again that it lacks the ability to balance mechanics, design fun game mechanics, or even create the majority of in game assets. This is not a problem... you know who else realized they aren't a content company? Apple... apple's own iphone apps aren't the best they aren't even second best... what they provide is a great API for others to build the best apps within.

If I could wave a wand and magically pivot LOA I would return to the original concept - Shards Online. CS really had a winner with this one. The million dollar product wasn't another MMO or a successor to Ultima. It was providing people the ability not just to make their own worlds it was to make their own MMO. It's a scope that is grander than Never Winter Nights with its server caps. Imagine being a DM of your very own MMO - What a genius premise.

So lets turn our attention to the communities which receive the bare minimum of support from CS. These are the life blood of the game and moving forward can and should be the future of LOA. Community servers are afterall a big part of why UO still thrives today.

Shift Development off of the Official Game

So much effort is being placed into building a mediocre game. The balance is objectively bad. I can rattle off countless examples but the reality is that the game has gotten worse with each additional patch (karma system, mounted combat, archery, profession system, etc).

Shift development back to the platform. Optimization is atrocious. Honestly, the GPU maxes out on the intro screen and this issue has been around for over a year and it's replicatable. Fix everything that is wrong with the engine. Speaking from a strictly financial standpoint building a robust platform is going to be worth a lot more in an exit than the MMO itself, that is unless you own a massive IP which LOA is not.

Put the Spotlight on Communities

Stop hiding the community servers, like a red headed bastard child, behind a tab. This is basic UX principles at work. It is no surprise that VE is the least populated server, it is the last on the list... What message does it send to your player base when you place the community servers on a completely different view? Move them back to the front and add a divider between official and community.

Add a Community Server Ambassador

In the same vein as giving love to the community servers and lifting them up a bit the next ambassador that CS selects should be one that streams community servers. Again this places an emphasis on the support that CS provides for the unofficial servers and is a really simple vote of confidence.

Consolidate the Official Servers to Two (EU and US)

The grand experiment is over. As hinted above your strong suit is not content creation. Stop fighting against the tides. If you want to tear off an actual bandaid then consolidate the servers... even if it means destroying houses and causing a second land rush. It will be better in the long run. This will refocus your attention on developing the LOA platform. The official servers should be more of a test ground for feature development that trickles out to the community servers.

Make the Store Ubiquitous

So you need money and you're developing a Real Money Transaction store? Then why are you limiting the store to the official servers? Essentially you're placing your entire bet on the success of your own servers. If no one plays them then no one will desire the items right? So why not shift your art team to making custom cosmetics and make it a requirement that all community servers support their use in game. That cool hat you just bought? Yup you can wear it on any server... this will incentivize players on unofficial servers to buy into your premium sub... this strategy is used to great success in WOW where cosmetics like mounts and select transmogs are account bound.

The same goes for the Prism Lounge. It should be a massive nod toward the original promise of Shards Online. It is the wacky meeting place of all of the servers (community servers included). Where people can gather and socialize about their latest adventures and convince one another to give their server a try.

Reinstate the Community Admin Round Table

These are your most dedicated players/advocates. Not only do they know the ins and outs of your code but they also know from a micro level what their players desire. Working with them to support their visions and provide a solid platform as well as key features means an awesome playground for the player base to take part in. The round table should be an exchange of great ideas that back feeds into the official servers.

EXTRA IDEA: Support Community Servers with 'Profit Sharing'

With the RMT store enabled across all servers CS could use analytics to monitor which community servers are generating conversions to in game purchases and premium subscriptions. Those servers in turn would get a kickback that goes strictly towards server overhead. This would not be intended to turn a profit for community servers but to help them keep running.

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I don't have much hope for the official servers and the numbers are further supporting that picture. We are on a downward trajectory and there is still an escape route. Stop trying to build something that is not in your wheel house and start focusing on the thing that play to your strengths - platform development and engineering.
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Comments

  • BJC289BJC289 Monterey Bay, California
    edited August 25
    While there are some harsh truths and opinions you make here, i feel like you're making a lot of sense. If this game fails, who knows what their personal lives may turn out to be like as well. If im not mistaken, a lot of personal financial investment was put into this game as well, not including the developing part. It would be a shame if the game flopped, all because they strayed from the original vision. It would definitely be regrettable and I don't think any developer wants to wish they had followed their original vision and heart from the get-go.

    Not only that, but shifting the focus to the community, as you have stated, is a very strong basis. Look at Oldschool Runescape, the community shapes the future of the game. The franchise since 2001 has seen 260 million players since the original release of the first game.

    It truly may be the only thing that saves this game, if they are having problems. It seems like the popular opinion is that the game is going down hill. I really hope not. I love the game so far.
    Time will tell.
  • I hope everything gets better, I leave it too, I feel tired and frustrated

  • SachaSacha [Reino de Aldor]
    Being an admin for so long, I can only agree with your post, even if the forced store might not work (most of the items sold might not get along with the local lore and scripts, like deco items, power hours, etc).
  • BJC289BJC289 Monterey Bay, California
    edited August 22
    Im going to admit, ive been dying to play the game all day. But due to principle i just havent been playing at all. i realized how ridiculous it is for me to desire changes i want, that they dont want. in order for something to be a certain way, the people who manifest must also desire the same. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. It's sad, because this applies to a lot of situations. I know someone on hard drugs, but the only way to for them to get clean is for them to want to change. You cant force it. I apologize for making such a hardcore comparison, but im just at conflict in my mind with this game. I want to play, but i also don't want to waste time on a game that may possibly end up being something that never sees the light of day. :(((

    maybe ill play and just face the hard truth if it does end flopping. for the love of everything that fills the void for this type of game, i hope they just end up knowing what they have to do, rather than reading too much into what the possibilities are of making a profit. In the end, that's what it ultimately boils down to in a country of capitalism. SEPARATE YOURSELVES FROM THE REST CS.... YOU WONT REGRET IT.

    ps- been drinking, but i feel like there is a lot of truth in this discussion.

    EDIT: if this game flops, im definitely going to check out UO again, especially since ive read they did some overhaul to something in the graphics. Even though I have not played a single EA game in years, it's been 17 years since ive played that game and there is plenty of content available that ive never even touched. So I guess there is a plus side for myself.
  • ZaphieonZaphieon Philippines
    They could simply make a special sub for those that want to run their own servers as well. have all the servers listed on the main page. list them out according to ping, population, etc. and have a search function. allow admins to have locked servers with passwords for development etc. just a thought.
  • BJC289BJC289 Monterey Bay, California
    edited August 22
    Zaphieon said:

    They could simply make a special sub for those that want to run their own servers as well. have all the servers listed on the main page. list them out according to ping, population, etc. and have a search function. allow admins to have locked servers with passwords for development etc. just a thought.

    The way I see it is, priority shows how a development cycle turns. If you got money on the mind more than the community, then how are you supposed to appeal to the masses when your objective isn't aligned with what causes success? Community driven development has been a huge success for A LOT of indie companies. Driving the community is eventually what rakes in the dough. If you're trying to drive profit, then ultimately it shows when you aren't driving forward in a way that the community is happy with, because then you end up with a forum full of people who are pissed off. It isn't always simple, and im not a know it all, but this discussion/thread makes a good point.

    thinking now about a sub for making servers listed on main page should be the last thing on their minds imo. It's adecent idea, but it shouldnt be the focus, if you catch my drift.
  • BJC289BJC289 Monterey Bay, California
    edited August 24
    .
  • ZaphieonZaphieon Philippines
    BJC289 said:

    okay well i posted a reply in part to Zaphieon's comment and it got deleted for some reason. now im more than just annoyed. I feel like that alone is bs and i feel like im being silenced now. im 100% saying fuck this game and going to uninstall.

    ps- let this comment be a message to those trying to make a point. farewell and UO here i come.

    EDIT: if it doesnt get deleted >;/

    now i am curious what they deleted.

  • BJC289 said:

    okay well i posted a reply in part to Zaphieon's comment and it got deleted for some reason. now im more than just annoyed. I feel like that alone is bs and i feel like im being silenced now. im 100% saying fuck this game and going to uninstall.

    ps- let this comment be a message to those trying to make a point. farewell and UO here i come.

    EDIT: if it doesnt get deleted >;/

    These forums randomly eat posts. Which is why i copy all my replies before I post comment.
  • @BJC289 Ya they have some pretty aggressive anti-spam going on so if you comment or edit your comments too quickly they simply get deleted.

    Also sometimes in the bottom left it will say something about moderation... yeah it's all the anti-spam.

  • Good post. My advice is love the one your with. If the game changed beyond your expectations, just find one on steam. I enjoy the game, they need to continue to add content, push new systems. I still do the profession quests and want to group with a bard. I also want to figure out enchanting.

    The only thing I strongly agree with is client optimization. UO had an amazing client, fluid, fast, it rarely crashed for months. It always ran so fast, they need to ask the top programmers to really find out how to use memory, buffering, DirectX, there are so many Nvidia options not being used. Compare the video settings with an AAA title. Usually has 50 different texture settings. Shadow options, FX, just to hand pick the video settings would increase performance. And it needs to run better with lower end machines. There are ways to program Unity to create this. Someone should be full time on the develop team, fixing the "platform". Then they could license the game out in the near future if it does start to flop. Supreme, you got to show us results on this one man
  • SachaSacha [Reino de Aldor]
    Unity client optimization is hard when you're a small company. As you said, there should have been one person just for that, and the reality is that's not easy to afford.
  • edited August 22
    @sacha to answer your concern regarding the cosmetics, my thinking was specifically with the GEM shop in mind that they've hinted at being cosmetics only. So no power hour potions that are community server transferable or soul shards.

    Since all of the servers use the same base art style it wouldn't be difficult to keep the visual guidelines in check. Besides what harm does it do if they were to sell something like an 'uber unicorn of awesome' that drops rainbows and sparkles everywhere it goes for a tidy sum? Doesn't that player deserve to command attention on every server that they visit?

    Furthermore, I'd suggest that the servers have at their discretion the ability to disable specific cosmetics that are on the shop. Consider that this would be a disincentive for certain players to join as they wouldn't be able to bring along the cosmetics that they earned/bought.

    Also the flip side of that as an incentive community servers could create their own custom versions of cosmetics. So that 'Uber unicorn of awesome' may look different to provide additional draw for players to create a character and visit. Ex. it's an 'uber raptor of awesome' on 'Johnny's Raptor World Community Server'.

    Who knows in the future there could be a profit sharing instrument with community servers to pay overhead costs if they draw in a large crowd of players (like LOU) and those players in turn convert to premium subscriptions. Do a good job and CS can offset the costs!
  • edited August 22
    @Death

    LOL unicorn fart dust!
  • Ithiel said:

    @Death

    LOL unicorn fart dust!

    :smile:
  • SachaSacha [Reino de Aldor]
    @Death, in the short term is ok, but the gol (at least for Shards Online) was much higher, and community servers cound have their own custom graphics and art, which will allow them to be themed.
    If my server is a XIX century vampire setting, or an historical Roman Empire setting, or a cluster of Star Trek planets, I doubt Citadel's cosmetics would fit in right :)
  • Sacha said:

    @Death, in the short term is ok, but the gol (at least for Shards Online) was much higher, and community servers cound have their own custom graphics and art, which will allow them to be themed.
    If my server is a XIX century vampire setting, or an historical Roman Empire setting, or a cluster of Star Trek planets, I doubt Citadel's cosmetics would fit in right :)

    I would drop this game right now if someone created a skill based isometric style version of Shadowrun.
  • Sacha said:

    @Death, in the short term is ok, but the gol (at least for Shards Online) was much higher, and community servers cound have their own custom graphics and art, which will allow them to be themed.
    If my server is a XIX century vampire setting, or an historical Roman Empire setting, or a cluster of Star Trek planets, I doubt Citadel's cosmetics would fit in right :)

    I addressed that in my response. If a server is going to go through the trouble of a complete reskin to XIX Century Vampire or historical roman empire then they can choose to do one of two things: 1. Disable some or all of the cosmetics at the risk of losing the free inccentive for new players to joins, or 2. Assign their own custom versions of the cosmetic to their server... so the 'uber unicorn of awesome' becomes the 'Dread Steed of Vampirism' with blood trails wherever it goes.
  • SachaSacha [Reino de Aldor]
  • JoxxJoxx United States
    edited August 26
    Consolidate the Official Servers to Two (EU and US)

    The grand experiment is over. As hinted above your strong suit is not content creation. Stop fighting against the tides. If you want to tear off an actual bandaid then consolidate the servers... even if it means destroying houses and causing a second land rush. It will be better in the long run. This will refocus your attention on developing the LOA platform. The official servers should be more of a test ground for feature development that trickles out to the community servers.


    I agree with this but the written was on the wall before steam release and most of you (including me until after launch) still stayed on the legacy servers.. It is still not to late,players need to swallow their pride and just re roll to steam server so we are all in one server.
  • Joxx said:

    I agree with this but the written was on the wall before steam release and most of you (including me until after launch) still stayed on the legacy servers.. It is still not to late,players need to swallow their pride and just re roll to steam server so we are all in one server.

    I started a new character on Amber Moon but I just didn't see the point. Yeah I could have bought myself about 2 more months of fun at the cost of having to level a tamer for the third time... but why? Why do it all over again if 3-4 months down the road I would be looking at a dead server again? That's actually why I rerolled on LOU and haven't looked back since.

    LoU is the only reason that I'm still on this forum posting. Because regardless of what supreem has said to the admins of LOU I do not believe that if LOA goes down they aren't taking LOU with them.

    CS can turn this ship around but they have to stop trying to make a hit record and start figuring out how to be a competent publisher.
  • MisterGizmoMisterGizmo UnitedStates
    Death said:

    Joxx said:

    I agree with this but the written was on the wall before steam release and most of you (including me until after launch) still stayed on the legacy servers.. It is still not to late,players need to swallow their pride and just re roll to steam server so we are all in one server.

    I started a new character on Amber Moon but I just didn't see the point. Yeah I could have bought myself about 2 more months of fun at the cost of having to level a tamer for the third time... but why? Why do it all over again if 3-4 months down the road I would be looking at a dead server again? That's actually why I rerolled on LOU and haven't looked back since.

    LoU is the only reason that I'm still on this forum posting. Because regardless of what supreem has said to the admins of LOU I do not believe that if LOA goes down they aren't taking LOU with them.

    CS can turn this ship around but they have to stop trying to make a hit record and start figuring out how to be a competent publisher.
    The problem is is Citadel goes down, so does LoU because we are tied through citadel. Weather derrick gives out the server/client code if the company goes down is another question.
  • RathadinRathadin Fort Worth, TX
    I legitimately can't believe this company didn't see the most obvious route with community server real money stores.

    They take 30% of the cut, just like the Google Play / iTunes Store. That should have been hilariously obvious.

    If a community server development team creates a bunch of in-game items, even if they're pay-to-win items like Instant 100 point mastery potions and sells them for , let's say, $10 each, then CS should take a $3 cut for providing store infrastructure (have all community servers process through CS for real-money transactions, obviously), and for providing the MMO framework.

    Talk about missing the forest for the trees, guys.
  • RathadinRathadin Fort Worth, TX

    The only thing I strongly agree with is client optimization. UO had an amazing client, fluid, fast, it rarely crashed for months. It always ran so fast, they need to ask the top programmers to really find out how to use memory, buffering, DirectX, there are so many Nvidia options not being used. Compare the video settings with an AAA title. Usually has 50 different texture settings. Shadow options, FX, just to hand pick the video settings would increase performance. And it needs to run better with lower end machines. There are ways to program Unity to create this. Someone should be full time on the develop team, fixing the "platform". Then they could license the game out in the near future if it does start to flop. Supreme, you got to show us results on this one man

    Why would anyone work for this company, if they had the knowledge to do what you're talking about? The level of knowledge required to implement the features you're asking for would be a $90,000+ job at any game company (probably more like $100,000), and it would almost certainly be done by multiple people. I only see two options as a programmer:

    1. You've made your fortune already and you just have a soft spot for UO clones and want to see one succeed again.
    2. You're green and need a first job. This would be a great company to work for if that's the case, because you can learn how to do everything you mentioned, while also working on what has the potential to be a really great game.

    On a side note, I was also shocked to learn they hired Liz Finnegan. I've been following her on Twitter since before she had a blue check mark. Great hire there... honestly wonder how they got her.

  • It's eye opening to watch the original development team discuss the genesis of Ultima Online and see the parallels between LOA and UO -
  • Rathadin said:

    The only thing I strongly agree with is client optimization. UO had an amazing client, fluid, fast, it rarely crashed for months. It always ran so fast, they need to ask the top programmers to really find out how to use memory, buffering, DirectX, there are so many Nvidia options not being used. Compare the video settings with an AAA title. Usually has 50 different texture settings. Shadow options, FX, just to hand pick the video settings would increase performance. And it needs to run better with lower end machines. There are ways to program Unity to create this. Someone should be full time on the develop team, fixing the "platform". Then they could license the game out in the near future if it does start to flop. Supreme, you got to show us results on this one man

    Why would anyone work for this company, if they had the knowledge to do what you're talking about? The level of knowledge required to implement the features you're asking for would be a $90,000+ job at any game company (probably more like $100,000), and it would almost certainly be done by multiple people. I only see two options as a programmer:

    1. You've made your fortune already and you just have a soft spot for UO clones and want to see one succeed again.
    2. You're green and need a first job. This would be a great company to work for if that's the case, because you can learn how to do everything you mentioned, while also working on what has the potential to be a really great game.

    On a side note, I was also shocked to learn they hired Liz Finnegan. I've been following her on Twitter since before she had a blue check mark. Great hire there... honestly wonder how they got her.

    Agree with you, they need to keep pushing content, almost 1 month on steam, PUSH THAT PUPPY
  • Definitely wish they spent more time on the community server admin experience. It is what drew me to Legends of Aria in the first place.
  • edited September 7
    @The Plonk brothers

    I fear the damage is already done. Derek acknowledges in the interview that there are certain stigmas preloaded into community servers yet nothing in LoA’s design or UX mitigates these pressures. In fact quite the opposite, it’s all foundation for the officials and the communities aren’t ever spoken of - Derek won’t even say the full name of Legends of Ultima server or any other community server for that matter. This is in line with my original criticism above, take the community servers out of the closet please.

    He mentions that vocal players often say that if they had just copied UO line for line that LOA would have millions of users which he believes is wrong. But in the next breath diminishes the mild success of LoU, saying that it is due to it’s use of IP infringement that it has found popularity. You could say the same for LOA at this point as a significant number of reviews feel that the game was falsely advertised as the “spiritual successor to Ultima Online”.

    He doesn’t acknowledge community servers that are thriving or have thrived in the past like Ultima Forever or Outlands. These servers both have seen orders of magnitude greater populations than all of LoA combined. You might note that these servers are free since they have no box cost but that does not mean they do not generate revenue from their player base...

    I’ve followed many of the touch points (QA/interviews/discord/reddit) from this team and they are good at puffing things up but when the rubber meets the road their actions are always different than their words.

    His comment about pivoting back towards Shards online would be fantastic, but I’m skeptical until I see actual implemented concepts that telegraphs this direction. Things like the suggestions mentioned above which would indicate a full shift and not a half hearted one.
  • The Plonk brothersThe Plonk brothers Australia
    edited September 7
    The interview concerns me also, it seems to be all over the place.

    It all comes down to how much faith you can put in the long term vision, but I have not been around here long enough to judge this interview in the context of all announcements.

    I'm enjoying the Amber Moon server just now, so will keep playing it, but I'm starting to wonder whether I should focus on LoU.
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