Author Topic: Server Meeting  (Read 18679 times)

dylan_the_rabbit

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2012, 03:08:23 PM »
Please find below my thoughts and ideas for the server meeting.

So why are we having such a hard time getting people on the server?

NWN is an old game, practically a relic. there are games out there that are prettier, more advanced and generally better in all ways. As time has passed since NWN was released, people have drifted away from it. Now over a decade later all we have left are a hard core of serious enthusiasts and the odd new person that pops along. To use business terminology 'our customer base is in steady decline'

It's got to the stage now were the players that are left, can afford to cherry pick the best servers to play on. Gone are the halcyon days when servers were filled to capacity constantly and you effectively had to queue up to get on. Most servers listed on gamespy are showing 0 players whenever I checked on them. It is only the ones that offer more and better service -the cream if you will- that have a steady player base.

The criteria that players use to select a server has changed over the years also, were once the reputation of the server played a big part in which one you played on. Now it is 'what can it offer me' and 'what gives me the best?' It is no longer the server that dictates which players come to them, but the players who decide which server that they will patronage. They will only pick the best on offer now, because they can afford to. Every server out there is clamoring for players.  


So why can't we tempt people to come play on the server?

Simply put because we aren't tempting enough. I know it sounds like I'm stating the blatantly obvious there, but I've broken down what IMO I feel are the main reasons we are suffering such a dearth of players and members. I've listed each idea under a short term, mid term and long term goal heading. These are the things I think we need to strive towards and changes we need to implement to bring the server back to the aforementioned halcyon days and to make us 'the cream' again.

Only the Short term goals are fully fleshed out, the Mid and Long are little more than bullet points as they don't really need to be firmed up until we are further down the road. However a brief synopsis of each point is included for discussion and explanation purposes.

Short term goals

* Raise the level cap.

We are the only FR server in the RP section of gamespy that has a level cap lower than 30. We are handicapping ourselves straight away here. Referring back to what I posted earlier about players picking only the best, we fall far short of offering the best in this respect. In fact technically we are the worst. Yes I know that others show up with lower level caps than us, but they are by and large specialist modules such as Harry Potter or Zombie Survival etc. and so for the purposes of this post can be discounted.

I'm not suggesting that we go down the route of 'Rebirth of Trinity' that has used custom script to go to 60th level or 'Edon Revisited' that goes to 200th level-(which is a frankly mind-boggling concept). I'm not even suggesting that we go to 40th -at least not yet- but we should raise the cap to 30 to bring ourselves level with the rest of the bottom of the playing field.

Once this has been implemented, the first thing we should do is email every member on the forum to let them know. That's approx 400 people that might have a reason to 'dust off their discs' and bring their L25s out of retirement and get back on to try and get them to 30th. OK being realistic for a moment, we'd be lucky if 5% of them came back - but that's still approx. 20 people. This would serve to give the appearance that server is busy and popular, and this fact would make us look more attractive to new players.

Yeah I know we don't have a dungeon/hunting zone on the server that caters for that level, but we do have one dungeon that in my experience barely gets run, it's occupant has a utterly evil rep and for the purposes of a temporary dungeon that should be- i'm guessing- relatively easy to modify to make it a serious challenge for a pack of blood thirsty L30 wannabe's. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Lord Visen, the saviour of our server! *hurrah hurrah*

Seriously though, it makes sense both in RP and practical terms, to utilize Visen as a sort of rolling temporary dungeon, whilst a more permanent L25-L30 hunting zone is being constructed.

*Offer more choice

Again in the course of my -admittedly limited- research into other servers, I've found that we are one of the few if not the only one that does not offer some kind of custom content beyond the basics. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not forgetting about our custom skill systems, nor am I in any way trying to denigrate the sterling work of Tsunami and our other scripters over the years. I simply mean do not fear the hakpaks people. We need more options for base/prestige classes and races, I've not been a member of the server nearly as long as some people, but I still find the lack of options when it comes to character design to be frustrating.

This becomes especially important, if we choose to raise the level cap. At higher levels people are gonna want more choice for their characters. From what I understand - and please someone who is more technically proficient with these things correct me if i'm wrong- once a hakpak is installed server-side the powers that be, can select what content is usable and what isn't. So therefore a slow gradual integration of options can be done. We don't have to make every class/race available immediately. Each one can be made available only after extensive testing for game balance etc. After all if we didn't the server would be awash in Zakya Raksasha Fighter/ Weapon Master/ Legendary Dreadnoughts and other such monstrous power builds.

Each time we add a new class/race, we can utilize our social media outlets -(see below)- to make a big announcement about it. Again this will raise the profile of the server and garner interest.

* Create Social Media outlets

It's all well and good us making all these changes,but they are pretty pointless if no-one knows about them. Due to gamespy lists being arranged alphabetically, we sit in the roughly inglorious position of about halfway down. Anyone looking will either have got totally bored of server names before they reach us or will skim right over us. As we can do nothing to alter our listing position, we need to approach the problem of getting word out another way.After all given our listing situation people are unlikely to find us unless they are directly looking for us.

So what can we do to gain more notice amongst potential players? utilize some of the things that are taking potential players away from us to make them aware of us. Social media is all around us, its prevalent, invasive and free. Set up a Facebook group for the server, let's Tweet some stuff about LoTN and get some followers. In short lets use the various forms of SM out there to work for us in getting noticed and in retaining players.  

* Give them something to do when it's quiet

OK despite our best efforts, sometimes the server is going to be quiet. This is a timezone thing and really can't be helped. However it doesn't mean that there won't be the odd one or two people that might pop on at this time. I know from my own experience of living in an odd TZ for gaming, that jumping on and finding no-one there is a little disheartening and running dungeons solo is kind of boring after a while.

So to prevent this from becoming a reason we lose players, that we have worked so hard to get. We need to implement some other options than solo runs and sitting around the camp fire singing 'I'm so wonewy' in your chars best Team America Korean Despot Puppet voice. We need a good crafting system!

'What you talkin' about Dylan? , we got a crafting system fool!'...yeah I know, but frankly it's not great. I only know of one person that's used it extensively and that's NZ. I'm talking about something like the UO Abigail crafting system. A system so fiendishly addictive its the NWN equivalent of Crack for chars. It's the perfect way for 'wonewy' Korean Despots...I mean players to while away some dead time till other people show up.

Do not underestimate the power that OUA has, to help you understand I have included a handy conversation below to illustrate.

NWN players partner: Hi honey, you look like you haven't slept for week and you smell bad....are you doing drugs?
NWN player: LoTN installed UO Abigail and i'm trying to get grand mastery in gem polishing.
NWN PP: *wails* No not again, you promised me you'd never do this again....
NWN P: But i only need to polish another 1,000 gems and i'll get another 0.1% closer....
NWN PP: Why can't you just start shooting up heroin instead, it'd ruin your life less.

Disclaimer: Obviously the above convo was just parody used to illustrate a point and in no way do I advocate class A substance abuse as a lifestyle choice.  

OUA and other systems similar are -as far as I understand- completely modular. Therefore any sections of it - such as weapon and armour enchantment- that are deemed gamebreakers can be excluded, while still leaving a lot of options that are fun and time consuming and allow you to do absolutely nothing that would be considered unbalancing to the game. Unbalancing to your life is another matter entirely and is between you and your conscience.

* Anyone got any ideas for a quest?

Simply lets have more player interaction for quest ideas. Nominate a member of staff to be point of contact for player generated ideas. Players can PM them with concepts/ random thoughts about what they'd like to see, or quests they'd like to play. This could be anything from 'lets do something with pirates in it' or 'we need more Zombies' to fully fleshed out storylines and adventure hooks.

I know we have never said we couldn't do this and that GMs in the past have always listened to player input -Joc I'll always love ya for running the ring of 3 wishes adventure at 4am in the morning- but having it specifically stated on the forum with point of contact info will make it easier for new players to integrate and break down any feelings of 'us' and 'them'. It also increases the feeling of player participation, and especially for the new guys that we will hopefully attract let them feel like they are contributing and are valued members of the group.
 
* Start planning for L30-L35

It's going to happen. If we start down the road of raising the level cap, we need to keep going till we hit 40. If only so we are then in the top section of servers that offer this. As with the hakpak idea, we don't need to do this all in one go, but a gradual increase over time in five level bumps would be best. As such we need to plan accordingly, design hunting zones etc.

* Looking after the newbies

Ultimately the end goal for all this is to attract new people and revitalize the server. Once we've got them, we need to make sure we keep them. That means making sure that they feel welcome, are looked after and want to stay. I suggest we set up a buddy system, whereby the more established and longer serving players 'adopt' a clutch of newbies and show them the ropes.

This person should serve as a mentor, teaching them the does and don't of the server. Where the appropriate Hunting Zones/Dungeons are for their level, helping out with any generic queries and just generally keeping a watchful eye on them for their first few weeks on here.

This will help maintain the LoTN ethos regarding RP and other server values -especially if the buddy runs with them at the same level, as a team -and generally guide the new players in the right direction. I know that a lot of players do this as a matter of course unofficially in an adhoc manner anyway, but i'm suggesting a slightly more structured system that possibly rewards the participating buddy in some way. Possibly with an in game custom designed item for their favourite toon, if their 'clutch' stay with the server a certain amount of time.  

Mid Term Goals

*Run a player recruitment month

As stated earlier the purpose of all this is to try and repopulate the server. So let's run a competition, for all the currently participating players. Lets see who can actively recruit the most players/returnee's. For one month each current player should try and get as many people on board as possible. these can be entirely new folk or persuading old hands to return to the fold. Again with a prize for the person that brings the most people onto LoTN. I suggest a similar prize to the above buddy system, a custom designed in game item for their fav toon.

* Raise the level cap again

Raise the level cap to 35, change our FB status, send the tweets, email everyone on the forum. Give Visen his power pills, bump him to CR35+...let the carnage ensue  :D

Design/ build team sweat blood on the new L30-L35 dungeon.

* Increase the number of server staff

Hopefully by this point, if we are doing everything right we should have a fairly vibrant server again, and the GM's will be feeling the strain. It's about now that we should be looking at making more people staff, with clearly defined areas of responsibility.

* Metaplot, metaplot, metaplot.

Long term over arcing story lines...it's the way forward. To run concurrently/ along side/ twisted all around / lurking in the shadows biding their time, with shorter episodic adventures.

* Doing it old school.

I think it was Shades that posted the concept of an old school style adventure that takes you from L2 to L18. Brilliant idea and perfect for when we have new people on board. Will allow a big server wide game, but at the same time everyone will be on the same playing field. If it was run at the same time each week, it gives a solid time for everyone to be onboard.

*Prep for L35-L40

The final push that gives the build team ulcers. Getting prepped for raising the Level cap to 40 in the future.

Long Term Goals

* Raise the level cap some more.

Visen enters his final and most terrible form - Cue 27 epsisodes of powering up shots DBZ style  :P- The SM posts are sent out, the forum members are informed. The heroes gather...who will live? who will die? who gets to wear Visen's skull as a helmet?

Random screams can be heard across the server as the build teams have brain melts trying to build the most fiendish dungeon ever to grace the LoTN server, for the delight and destruction of all the wannabe L40s. Whilst they slave away, poor Visen has 17 shades of tar beat out of him on a regular basis until the new HZ is ready.

* Becoming 'the cream'.

If we've done everything else right, this should hopefully take care of itself.

To sum up

First of all, apologies for the length of this post, and thanks for sticking with me and reading it all. *hand out cookies to all that make it this far*

So my final thoughts are, that the world of NWN and its players has changed over the years and unfortunately we haven't changed with it. We have a chance now to rectify this situation and make the changes necessary to survive as a server. Simply put, we evolve or we die!, this is not a time to be hidebound by traditionalism. We must set aside the concepts of 'We always done it this way' because unfortunately that kind of thinking has led us to where we are now.

I love this server and the last thing I want to see is for it to die. Once it was a bright star in the firmament of NWN servers, now its the dowdy dowager aunt sitting by the side of the dance floor while the remaining bright young things dance the night away. Pretty soon if things carry on this way, the only option left will be to take her behind the metaphorical wood shed and put a bullet between her eyes. Doing that is a whole other folder of notes that I've got, one I sincerely hope I never have to take out of the filling cabinet.

Thanks for listening and lets see if the old girls got some dance left in her eh?
Dylan

Disclaimer 2: The author views should not be taken to mean that he advocates euthanasia of elderly family members, no matter how incontinent or unable to dance they become 

Disclaimer 3: No Korean Despot Puppets were harmed during the making of this post.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 03:22:38 PM by dylan_the_rabbit »
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Talie

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2012, 06:42:37 PM »
Thursday would work better for me, since I dont work this friday.



Anoran

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2012, 10:06:54 PM »
I used a crafting system? What crafting system? *baffled*

In all seriousness, Dylan, most of the folks still on the server don't believe in raising the level cap. 30 is pushing it - going beyond level 25 introduces a lot of potentially game-breaking characters, amongst other problems. Also, Visen is currently CR 3000 or something.

Considering the amount of discussion to be prompted from your post, I wonder if it deserves it's own thread, too.

On another note, I'm looking forward to the server meetup tomorrow!
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Alec Stann: Yes, it's through an arcane process I like to call 'Selling the Lead'.

Tails1879_

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2012, 10:28:22 PM »
Considering the meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, it probably won't be best to immediately change it on everyone. Would anyone be against a follow-up meeting the next day at the same time? It will mostly be ironing out anything we haven't quite settled on and getting in any last considerations. Not mandatory or anything, though input would be appreciated.
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dylan_the_rabbit

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2012, 07:30:14 AM »

Considering the amount of discussion to be prompted from your post, I wonder if it deserves it's own thread, too.


If you think it's justified to move it, then do so.
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dylan_the_rabbit

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2012, 07:33:20 AM »
Would anyone be against a follow-up meeting the next day at the same time?

Nope, I'll try and be there for it.
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NWoutcast

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2012, 12:34:42 PM »
As far as a meeting location, I recommend either MSN or maybe a chat site. I'll be at work so I don't know if I'll be able to run the game. To many people around to tell the boss.

Anoran

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2012, 11:20:18 PM »
Sorry Dylan, I'm not an admin :P

At any rate, we've got a little chat room setup for the meeting. It's quick and easy, and runs straight from your browser. Just click here, type in a nickname, and voilá!

Most of us are also on the server already, just so you folks all know.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 11:31:08 PM by Neutral_Zone »
Aristonike: The Master of Alchemy, they call him. He can even turn lead into gold, given time and the right materials.
Alec Stann: Yes, it's through an arcane process I like to call 'Selling the Lead'.

Jocularity

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2012, 03:58:59 AM »
This is the list we came up with at the meeting. They probably warrant individual discussion, probably their own threads, and could be added to.

  • Advertise: Get our name out there on NwN related message boards
  • Modify Death: Change to 5-minute wait per 2 levels instead of one. Respawn location choice?
  • Reward exploring: Put in more little Niche stores with cool goodies in difficult to get to places.
  • Make Niccolo have an interesting inventory again
  • Facelift: Generally just make the whole server more interesting. NPCs that tell little stories, hint at dungeon locations, sell mildly useful consumables, etc.
  • Make Luskan an available place to go to. Open the server up to havens for villainous PCs
  • More alternatives to the House for teen-level PCs
  • Quests: Static errand quest, randomized adventures, generally things asked of you by NPCs so as to give a sense of purpose to adventuring other than XP and Gold
  • Horse-Friendly dungeons, open the game up for those Riders to shine
  • Make an Evil Version of the Bounty board for Crown-Unsanctioned killings, Possibly sticking it in an Assassin's guild. (Include concequences for getting caught?)
  • Usable Ropes, glass cutters, fishing kits, etc. Roleplay items made to be more than dead weight
  • Capturing bounties alive
  • Possible reconsider teh background behind bounties
  • Rebalance economy so that newbies have beer money and so that character's above level 12 dont have enough gold to buy Port Llast
  • Make the Batcave more interesting. Stirges?
  • More interesting random encounters. Goblin and orc attacks (Which are actually challenging) or wandering magical beasts
  • Introduce hireable henchmen, Pay Gold for an NPC to follow you. Allow people to actually do something when no-one is online, so that new players don't just log on and get killed with no-one to help them

That was about it that i took down. Unless you actually want to include the joke suggestions like the Girls of LotN calendar, and making Death a Chinchilla.
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fealhach2008

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2012, 11:57:09 AM »
How much facelift are we planning to do before the recruitment drive begins in earnest? I still think it would be a pretty pointless exercise if we have only the same old LotN to offer them.

I'll dig out my builder manual and start playing with it again; see what I can come up with. Just don't expect much!  :P

Tails1879_

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2012, 02:03:33 PM »
Thanks for taking care of that list, Joc.

We should probably discuss what areas need a good revamp, since I don't think all of it needs a facelift. Otherwise, sticking in some areas and changing up the spawns a little might be good for everywhere in general.

We're having our follow-up meeting today at the same time, same place. Here is the link again for the chat we'll be using: http://chat.mibbit.com/?server=irc.Mibbit.Net&channel=%23LotN

Thanks to everyone that attended yesterday's meeting. Let's see what we can do!
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Tails1879_

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2012, 02:08:02 AM »
The follow-up meeting went well. We've narrowed down on what we should start working on first with a smaller list. This is what we've come up with.

  • Revamp the woods in general.
  • -Modify the bat cave. Possible quest here, since the basement of rats is gone.
  • -Modify difficulty of goblin cave. Make it more gradual and doesn't slam you upon entering level 2.
  • -Work on the Shaded Thicket in the Northeastern Woods
  • -Work on the Misty Ravine. This includes useable bushes with strength-restoring berries to help deal with drain attacks.
  • Remake Neverwinter Sewers. Make it a proper dungeon (Lvl 11 - 15).
  • Some new, interesting items for Niccolo.
  • Add a horse wrangler to Port Llast and Mirabar. All with proper stables.
  • More conversations for NPCs.
  • Henchmen. While it won't be a true replacement for partying with other PCs, this will definitely help during those quiet times.
  • Add in courier quests. The details still need to be worked out, though.
  • Progress meets on every other Saturday at 6:00 PM EST (12:00 AM GMT), mostly to discuss how building is going, problems, that kind of stuff. So, a small meeting every 2 weeks.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 02:12:45 AM by Tails1879_ »
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Tails1879_

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2012, 06:13:02 PM »
Most of those that do play NWN these days are veterans of NWN, if anything. The level trainer actually did come up in the follow-up discussion, and if I recall correctly, people were either for disabling that requirement, or boosting the XP reduction to 50% as opposed to 10%. The only concerns were whether there was a hindrance to the group for leveling during a dungeon run, and not RPing your character needing rest to level, though I'm sure not many would be upset about that.

I believe it needs a little more discussion on what to exactly turn it into. Otherwise, I'm for disabling the need to return to such areas. It probably would be a pain for the newcomer to try and learn where he/she can and cannot level.

Speaking of which, the next progress meeting should be on the 28th of January, 6:00 PM EST (12:00 AM GMT).
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Tails1879_

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2012, 08:01:20 PM »
I probably should have given a little more warning about Saturday's progress meet. There has been some building in the background, though nothing big to report yet as far as I know. I'll set up the next meeting on the 11th of February, and try to put in a bit more warning once the date gets closer. There was mention that if there is another time that could work (say Mondays in the Americas, Tuesdays in Australia), we can try that instead.

Same time and everything.
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Torin

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Re: Server Meeting
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2012, 09:41:21 PM »
Is this a DM-only thing or just for anyone wanting to listen in?

 

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