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Player Retention Report


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On 1/30/2021 at 11:18 AM, monkeypoacher said:

we need to change our expectations for the staff before we change the staff.

 

lotc has had far worse admins in the past, openly abusive ones, we need to make sure we don't just accept admin decisions that harm most of the playerbase and obey rules that don't make sense.

 

not to shill for telanir too hard but as the guy who only gets called in when every other channel has failed he's not that bad. The problem really is that when he tries to stand in for an active admin his "vision" always ends up filtered through several layers of bureaucracy and never implemented. At most he should share his head admin status with an active planning/organizer admin who writes rules, plans community events/storylines, etc.

Telanir is the end all-say all for all ideas being implemented. There isnt any layer of bureaucracy. If he has an idea, he can implement it without consulting anyone aside from Tythus. People should be going to TELANIR with idea's and see if it fits in HIS vision for LotC. This is the position of a HEAD admin. Just like people bring up with the idea of "road to 500" players or w/e that was. What ever happened to that idea? Like that was his vision. Where did it lead? What came of it? Where is the foundation for this vision? Its non-existant.

I am the first to preach that these guys are all volunteers for their positions. But stop volunteering if you actually have zero desire to make any change. We have a huge amount of lazy staff members starting all the way at the top and going all the way to the bottom. For a server than can only average 175 players on peak times, Why do we need 110+ members of staff? Especially when over half of the members are doing nothing.

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3 hours ago, Cloakedsphere said:

Telanir is the end all-say all for all ideas being implemented. There isnt any layer of bureaucracy. If he has an idea, he can implement it without consulting anyone aside from Tythus. People should be going to TELANIR with idea's and see if it fits in HIS vision for LotC. This is the position of a HEAD admin. Just like people bring up with the idea of "road to 500" players or w/e that was. What ever happened to that idea? Like that was his vision. Where did it lead? What came of it? Where is the foundation for this vision? Its non-existant.

I am the first to preach that these guys are all volunteers for their positions. But stop volunteering if you actually have zero desire to make any change. We have a huge amount of lazy staff members starting all the way at the top and going all the way to the bottom. For a server than can only average 175 players on peak times, Why do we need 110+ members of staff? Especially when over half of the members are doing nothing.

 

Telanir can have as many ideas as he wants, it doesn't change the fact that he never logs on so the actual people implementing those ideas are individual admins/team managers.

 

Don't misquote me as praising Telanir's "vision" or suggesting he even has one. I've written so much anti-Telanir invective that at this point I don't believe he'll ever resign, or that it would accomplish much if he did. He's the admin who doesn't do anything, remember?

 

The problem is that no one has the tools to make necessary decisions. Let's take moderation on this server: Every GM has a manager, who has an admin to report to for every single player infraction. The people at the top of the hierarchy have written "protocols" to push those decisions back onto the GMs. It's a recursive mess meant to waste people's time and get rid of any individual responsibility. Most of those 110+ staff members (this isn't that big of a number for the actual size of our community) just spend their time waiting for someone else to tell them what to do, which creates a feeling of impotence and bloat in the staff.

 

We should pare down the staff with an emphasis on getting rid of "managers" and giving competent people the tools they need to moderate, write lore, build the world, etc. But changing the head admin and downsizing the staff only serves to make this server's shitter middle management more powerful. You'd be trading Telanir for someone just as inactive with less experience, in all likelihood.

 

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2 hours ago, Cloakedsphere said:

For a server than can only average 175 players on peak times, Why do we need 110+ members of staff? Especially when over half of the members are doing nothing.

The server can get to ~270 on weekends with big events getting pinged for on discord. That being said, a large portion of the server mainly logs online when said discord pings for events happen. I talked to some folks in Haelun'or around a week ago and they said the city mainly logged online with discord pings and nothing else, and from my own experience in Bramblebury with the halflings the same is true for them.

 

LOTC is active when you ping a discord and not very active when you don't.

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Literally what is the point in this thread, honestly? We all know change is needed but the staff don't give a **** and won't ever make the changes needed so might as well close the thread

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Posted (edited)

I'm resurrecting this thread for two reasons. First, I read all the way through the replies and found the discussion interesting. Second, I actually have something to say about it.

 

Some very good points have been made in the replies. While no one actually summarized them as such, almost all these points regarded player agency. This is a vital concept that is a requirement for retention in any game, but especially in a creative sandbox such as Minecraft. If players, new or old, do not feel as if their actions matter, they won't stay. This comes in various forms.

 

LotC's hook is the roleplay element. It is what initially brings new players to the server. The application process is the first hurdle to retention. 10% of accepted players never log in! In part, this probably stems from the relatively long wait time between application submission and review. The Community Team currently has 21 members! There is no excuse for eight to twenty hours passing before an application is even looked at by a staff member - and I saw several cases of that in the last week. When I assisted in application review back in 2011, when the number of daily applications was considerably higher than now, we tried to review every application within two hours of submission. With 21 staff members reviewing applications and only a dozen or so new applications per day, the turnaround should be closer to that two hour mark.

 

The second hurdle is freebuild. Players, new and old, need the opportunity to express their creativity through more than just their writing. Reserving tiles for future nation expansion is a lousy excuse for not allowing freebuild in non-nation areas. If nations want to expand into those areas, they can either declare war on the inhabitants and win it or negotiate with the inhabitants for annexation. Both would be fun, exciting roleplay opportunities. Just last night, I loaded up the old Aegis map and tried to find my old house in Dunwood. I could remember how to find Dunwood starting from Oren, but couldn't remember where Oren was in relation to the orc lands, which is where I spawned. So, I spent an hour and a half exploring the map again while trying to find Oren (which I finally did). In 2011, I thought the builds stunning feats of architecture. Through the reading glasses I now wear a decade later, they were decidedly less so, especially compared to the fantastic skill of today's builders. However, the world felt alive. Everywhere I went there were villages, walled towns, farmsteads, guild halls, forts, mage towers, universities, logging camps, bandit camps, and roadside inns, all linked by an extensive player-built road network. While the freebuilds were for the most part subpar by today's standard, they represent the creativity, activity, and enjoyment of hundreds of players over the course of only eight months or so. They represent the best of player agency - the players had the freedom to roleplay how they wanted. They weren't forced into positions they didn't want. Nations rose and fell, expanded and contracted. Diplomacy was a real profession and roleplayed brilliantly. The military camps that dot the map existed for a purpose.

 

Almaris feels empty. Outside of the major cities, and not even in all of them, you rarely find another player. Mainly because nothing exists outside of the cities, or at least very little. Roadside inns or bandit camps would generate considerably more roleplay than a city full of afkers and silly jumpers, both of which I have encountered in the last week. Plus, as any author will tell you, conflict drives story. So your player gets murdered by bandits...so what? Create a new character and jump back in. So your farm out in the wildlands is looted and burned by a roving band of mercenaries...so what? Rebuild even better than before - maybe add some fortifications. So your wizard tower has exploded in a flash of light caused by a misfired spell...so what? Now it is an interesting ruin in the forest that adventurers will seek out in a hundred years while searching for the wizard's magical amulet. Destruction leads to more interesting roleplay than peace. 

 

The third hurdle is the lore. One of the replies to this thread recommended wiping the slate clean with each new map and starting afresh with new characters and lore. I can definitely see the benefits in doing so, but there are also negatives. Players have, in some cases, spent years spinning grand stories about their character or dynasty. Casting that aside will negatively impact player retention. However, lore seems now to be more of a top down system. Once again referring back to my days in Aegis, very little staff crafted lore existed. Yes, some ancient history was in place and the four racial kingdoms existed from the start, but from that point forward, lore was player generated through roleplay. Institutions were created by the players on the fly, not by applying for permission to start a new religion, or guild, or mercenary band. You simply did it and if your roleplay was convincing enough, others jumped on board and voila, you had an institution that worked its way into the server lore. If your roleplay wasn't convincing, your institution failed and faded away into history. Lore is part of player agency. Just let it happen.

 

There are a lot of lessons we can take from the more relaxed early days of LotC. Things weren't perfect then, but boy did we have a lot of fun. Fun that I can sense is fleeting now. In just the week or so I've been back, I have already fallen into the common pattern of waiting for an event to be posted in Discord before hopping onto the server. Why? Because otherwise I would quickly become bored for lack of anything to do. I can't build anything. There are few players online roleplaying in my region. The crops are growing slowly so I have nothing to harvest and replant. I can't go off into the forests to harvest logs or herbs or mushrooms because it's all protected. And the roleplay I want to do has been denied by the story team. Doesn't leave much player agency.

 

Sadly, LotC is a shadow of its former self. I'm disappointed to see it. After 10 years, I expected more than a museum. Give players agency and retention will improve. It really is that simple.

Edited by Orm_Proudfoot
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I was just thinking about this post the other day and wondered if any of this had activated any motivation for staff to do better because frankly as a server I once seen much potential in is agreeably a shadow of what it once was. I remember joining in Vailor witnessing constant player interactions, not only at the Cloud Temple which was a major RP hub and market but one of my favorite memories was about a week in when a Dread knight (Undead) attempted to murder somebody along the road so a bunch of traveler's ended up jumping the dread knight and killing it to save the victim. Another thing that kept my interest were common events performed by Event Team that i'd simply run into crossing the road, or asked to participate in from Cloud Temple.

 

7 minutes ago, Orm_Proudfoot said:

10% of accepted players never log in! In part, this probably stems from the relatively long wait time between application submission and review.


Applications are definitely one of the biggest hurdle as many external MC players do get very interested in LoTC and what it might have to offer, but many who see how lengthy and delayed the application process is quickly lose the morale to even try and complete it. Could be interesting to see an automated whitelist application with alternating questions so nobody can simply auto-fill.

 

8 minutes ago, Orm_Proudfoot said:

Reserving tiles for future nation expansion is a lousy excuse for not allowing freebuild in non-nation areas. If nations want to expand into those areas, they can either declare war on the inhabitants and win it or negotiate with the inhabitants for annexation.

9 minutes ago, Orm_Proudfoot said:

Almaris feels empty. Outside of the major cities, and not even in all of them, you rarely find another player. Mainly because nothing exists outside of the cities, or at least very little. Roadside inns or bandit camps would generate considerably more roleplay than a city full of afkers and silly jumpers, both of which I have encountered in the last week

 

This is something that has always grabbed my attention whilst playing. I don't understand why staff consistently create big maps built "specifically for roleplay atmosphere" yet most of the wilds are never navigated while players are forced to stay in nation tiles to not fail activity checks. It kills many of the player/nation interactions and de-centralizes the communities to be isolated. Free build can be very efficient in acquiring vassal states, but I do think on some level aside from "roleplayifying maps" that free builds should at least have a decent build for display. 

 

Small maps are useful especially to centralize interactions in a role-play server. I'm not saying it always has to be small but it definitely should be relative to the server activity. Almaris feels like a map that would be meant for fitting 1000+ active players, yet a lot of it is simply unused.

 

30 minutes ago, Orm_Proudfoot said:

The third hurdle is the lore. One of the replies to this thread recommended wiping the slate clean with each new map and starting afresh with new characters and lore.

 

My main issue when it comes to lore is simply that there are bad priorities when managing such, but that could stand for many staff teams as well. I was once LT in Axios-Atlas, but it wasn't something I was very fond of due to having consistent annual re-writes for lores and magics. After that experience I realized there should rather be a solid designed magic/lore with canon practices and information that aren't in constant flux like it was something experimental like Devs tend to do when they tweak their plugins after being implemented as if it was complete.

Personally, I think rewrites are very deteriorative to LoTC's design and lore/magic canon especially when any player can submit lore that may possibly alter what ancient lore already stated as the standard. What needs the most focus is the creation and progression about the story-line of the present map, instead of what was already documented since Aegis. A major or racial storyline could be established at the start of the map and simply follow a schedule through the months with smaller events between. Though it doesn't always need to have pressure on story staff, because most of each maps history is detailed by the constant struggles/feuds between main races or nations which makes things complicated and stagnant when conflict tends to be suppressed, demonized, or deflected so often.

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36 minutes ago, Orm_Proudfoot said:

Almaris feels empty. Outside of the major cities, and not even in all of them, you rarely find another player. Mainly because nothing exists outside of the cities, or at least very little. Roadside inns or bandit camps would generate considerably more roleplay than a city full of afkers and silly jumpers, both of which I have encountered in the last week.

Modern roleplaying servers have very little map interactivity compared to other Minecraft servers. Vanilla survival servers have a fully interactable map minus areas players have protected against griefing, factions servers let you build anywhere that isn't claimed by a faction yet, towny servers operate similar to factions but with a less competitive plugin, yet roleplaying servers are in the unique position of having massive, fleshed out worlds that players can't build anything in without going through a bunch of staff bureaucracy (and meeting a bunch of requirements) or begging a Nation Leader for land on Discord.

Back in Atlas, during 2018, Freebuild returned to LOTC. A good 2/3rds of Atlas was open for freebuild, resulting in a lot of players making good use of it. There were small groves planted by the druids in the savannah, human baronies, roadside towns, solo houses out in the woods, plenty of camps, wizard towers, and more. Players who did not make use of this were not happy, however. Unlike other servers that put players in survival mode, LOTC is about typing at other people in chat, not just building a house and doing all the vanilla Minecraft stuff you do in singleplayer. They saw all of the players out in freebuild and thought to themselves "Why are they out there, doing their own thing in freebuild, when they could be sitting in my big ol' city roleplaying with me instead?". Thus, they got freebuild removed on Arcas for the majority of the map, with nothing but a wildlands area wayyyy off on the edge of the map still keeping the old freebuild system. The idea was that instead of having people out in freebuild doing their own thing, there would be more people standing around in settlements emoting at others. It was thought that having more people in large groups would be good for the server and good for new players, since new players would be able to find roleplay easier if there's more people jammed into cities. You can argue that this centralization of the server away from freebuild and into regioned cities and settlements has increased playercount somewhat, although it certainly wasn't without downsides.

 

The solo LOTC experience was curtailed dramatically to make established roleplay groups stronger. You can no longer go off into the wilderness and do your own thing, you have to be a part of a group if you want to build anywhere or have any impact on the server (preferably a large group at that, such as an existing Nation). With the server more group-oriented and focused more solely on emoting at others using chat rather than more vanilla Minecraft experiences, the amount of things you can do on your own is a lot less than with freebuild. There really isn't much to do when your friends aren't online or during off-peak hours when the city isn't active.

 

So it's sort of a self-feeding loop of centralization. The server reduces the amount of stuff you can do on your own to encourage people to assemble into large groups for more roleplaying, yet in doing this there's nothing you can do on your own and being in a group with nobody online in it is a much larger issue. This means that in order to keep the roleplay flowing, you have to cram people into bigger cities so that they don't spend any time alone and unable to emote at others.

Reduce solo experience in order to strengthen groups, which then makes it increasingly necessary to make said groups larger so that people aren't stuck on their own without anything to do, which makes it necessary to further restrict the amount of things you can do on your own so that established groups are even stronger, etc.

 

We need to make the cycle work the other way around. LOTC should be a server that people WANT to play on even without others around them. There should be interesting mechanics to interact with all on your own. There should be meaningful things you can do all on your own. You should be able to have an impact on the server, however small, all on your own. Instead of solving the problem of people having nothing to do when they are alone by making places where can actually be alone and away from AFKers and sprint jumpers few and far between, the problem should be solved by making being alone a non-issue. Players should log online, look around them, see that none of their friends are online or that their settlement is empty, and still have interesting things to do, meaningful interactions to be had, and stories to tell. This is why I send so many letters in-game. It's a little bit of interaction I can have when nobody else is online.

I don't care if a bandit camp or wizard tower won't have people in it all the time, it's not a detriment to the server in my eyes. I'd much rather have an interactable world full of the strange things players have created rather than a museum where all there is to do is head to a city's tavern or wait around for an event planned on discord.

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4 hours ago, NotEvilAtAll said:

Modern roleplaying servers have very little map interactivity compared to other Minecraft servers. Vanilla survival servers have a fully interactable map minus areas players have protected against griefing, factions servers let you build anywhere that isn't claimed by a faction yet, towny servers operate similar to factions but with a less competitive plugin, yet roleplaying servers are in the unique position of having massive, fleshed out worlds that players can't build anything in without going through a bunch of staff bureaucracy (and meeting a bunch of requirements) or begging a Nation Leader for land on Discord.

I don't care if a bandit camp or wizard tower won't have people in it all the time, it's not a detriment to the server in my eyes. I'd much rather have an interactable world full of the strange things players have created rather than a museum where all there is to do is head to a city's tavern or wait around for an event planned on discord.

 

This exactly. A definite emphasis on the word modern because LotC of old had tons of map interactivity. And a ton of roleplay. They went hand in hand.

 

Imagine traveling from Providence to Elvenesse. Why? Because you are the Ambassador of Oren to Elvenesse sent to negotiate a trade agreement between the nations. Now, imagine a world without warps. You have to travel between by ship, foot, or horse. If by foot/horse, that's a long way to travel. Along the way, you stop at roadside inns overnight, gossiping with the innkeep, listening to a minstrel play the lute in a taproom warmed by a glowing fire, rolling dice with local farmers. A few days into your journey, your horse throws a shoe. You limp him to a small village just off the main road to find a blacksmith who can reshod the horse. The next day, you stand at swordpoint, wishing you had brought along guards because three bandits are demanding your purse of minas and your shoes, of all things. Dusty and tired from the long journey, you finally arrive at Elvenesse...only to find that war was declared between your nations while you were on the road. Now, you are the prisoner of the elves waiting to be ransomed back to Oren.

 

The builds don't have to be perfect. The proprietors won't always be online. However, the world will still feel lived in, and if each player is limited to a specific amount of land, then the map won't be completely overrun by abandoned builds. And instead of staff deciding whether builds fit the theme or are "good enough," allow a player-run "Guild of Architects" or "Guild of Engineers" to travel throughout the land roleplaying with players whose builds could either use some help or need to be demolished because of "severe safety violations." 

 

There used to be a rule that a player cannot remove the walls of another player's build. This made it difficult to break into someone's house if the doors were locked. I remember some crazy go-arounds some people dreamed up to get in without breaking blocks, but for the most part, everyone was cool with the rule because it meant that their stuff would be relatively safe despite their settlement/house/etc. not being protected by a plugin. There are ways of making it work and still having just as much, if not more, roleplay opportunity.

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