State of the game, pt. 1

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Frozboz
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State of the game, pt. 1

Post by Frozboz » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:09 pm

What makes a good game?

Well, duh - one that's fun, right? Well, true. That's very important. But one person's version of "fun" is so much different than another's. I'd say the deeper people get into a game, the less superficial "fun" they have with it. It becomes more rewarding, more like the way you felt when you were younger and build model airplanes or cars, or built dollhouses. You may have had fun thinking about the project, even building it. But wasn't the satisfaction the reward at the end?

Drakkar is way more than a game for most of its players. Most have been around multiple years, some over a decade, and see the game as more of a hobby or a place to socialize than a game like scrabble or pac-man. Much like that elaborate model airplane, your crit is a project in the making.

Others though, usually younger less experienced players, see the "fun" in the game as levels (exp or skill) coming very rapidly. A new crit could gain several levels in one sitting, and that's where the fun is.

Both sets of players though have one thing in common. They don't want their "vision" of the game altered by the game's administrators and those charged with upkeep and the customer service end. Game developers do just that, they develop content. It's the players that live in it, and mold the world how they see fit. There are few things more frustrating to someone than having the rules changed in mid-game. Here in a model-airplane building contest I personally have found myself and my friends way ahead of others building our model airplanes, and the makers then decide to add parts to the airplane that weren't offered when we started.

- "Oh, here, the design called for a biplane. You just need another wing. Should be no problem though! Just go back and add a wing! The others in the competition have to add it anyway what's the problem? It's your fault for going too fast with the parts you were given", when we've completed construction and have already begun painting our F-16 fighter.

No, of course that didn't happen, it's absurd right? Well, it's been going on here for years. Frustrating people to the point of quitting. Rule changes, not only in gameplay mechanics, but also in policing conduct as well. Realize that just a few years ago, it was understood you just didn't act up in channel 0, and no one did. Then, it turned into "no swearing in channel 0". Then, "no swearing in channel 0 or any heated discussion." Way too nebulous. As an example we were witness to a disturbance recently that, after 10 minutes or so of letting a problem escalate, a Deputy Sysop came in, gave a warning, and then promptly kicked both parties *after* one had clearly curbed his language because the conversation was still "heated". Just one example.

The point I am making, is the game's administrators exert WAY too much pressure than they should. The swear-word filter is already in play, why kick/ban people who swear? Sysops and Admins should be there, in the background, called for when they are needed. Now, it's a regular occurrence to see wild PK sprees by multiple Sysops. Is this right? What example are you setting for a new player just starting this week, when they see someone with an "S" next to their name killing people? If I were just starting, I'd think this was a PVP game and start attacking fellow players. After finding out this isn't a PVP game, I at the very least would be amazed at the unprofessionalism of the game's administrators. Not only that, but there seems to be a special event every single month. Do we really need a back to school event? St. Patrick's day event? And this doesn't even mention the countless "unannounced" events where previously absurdly rare items such as nork moonboots are handed out like IH's.

I've played this game on and off for many years, and up until mid 2004, *never* saw a Sysop in game unless they were called, period. Then came random searches, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??" questions from junior sysops, the aforementioned PK'ing, the "checking" up on me and my friends in previously undiscovered areas of the game. It's out of hand. It needs cleaned up. Customer Service is just about serving your customers, the ones that pay good money for your game. Anything else, regardless of your definition of fun, just isn't enjoyable.

Drakkar isn't like it used to be, and never will be again. There are MANY more choices for us to spend our money on, and the game administrators should recognize this.

This is a controversial subject though, so go ahead and debate it. Unlike some, I'm not out to get anyone, and am not "railing" against anyone.. I love Drakkar, I want it to thrive and I have come to the conclusion it's more than a game to me, it's my hobby. I just don't want the manufacturer of my model airplanes to yet again tell me I was using the wrong glue all along...

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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by flisk » Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:10 pm

I'll be the first to chime in (unless someone is faster than me at typing a reply)...

Things evolve; else they become obsolete (keep that in mind, we will come back to that word; obsolete).

Take the car for example; compared to the first Ford ever made, cars now-a-days are much more. Take gasoline; we now have hybrid cars and cars that can run on ethanol (spelling?).

Take televisions for another example, we have gone from a simple black and white tv from what our grandparents (and for those like me, parents) had; and now have Liquid Plasma High Definition "monitors".

Need something a little closer to home? Take a look at Dungeons and Dragons, perhaps one of the most played RPG games ever. It evolved to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, players were up in arms "I'm not going to buy all these books all over again just because it's a new version!" Then came AD&D 2nd edition. Same thing from the same players; "I'm not going to buy all these books all over again just because it's a new version!". Then came D&D3.0 and yep, you guessed it; "I'm not going to buy all these books all over again just because it's a new version!". Then D&D3.5 (only this time the rule books had seperate supliments you could download instead of buy to catch up to the most current version). And ya know... D&D3.5 is WAY more involved that the fist version way back in the late 70's and early 80's every could have hoped to be.

This brings us to Drakkar. How long has it been around? No, think back, think back to ascii days. It's been around longer than some of it's players have even been alive. While it has changed, it is on a very basic level, the same game. You still have the same classes to choose from (for the most part); you still have the same races to choose from. But it has evolved.

If Drakkar had never evolved, places like Aleria would not have been added, The Pit would never have been made (and subsequently "transformed into Cobrahn"), nor would Nameless Land be here.

As for the game's administrators excerting too much pressure, in all honesty, there are times when a player (or players) will get out of hand and all we have left is to kick them. I've read the chat late at night and have seen some rather disturbing things being said; things that simply have no place here. I read them because I saved the chat buffer and read it after I woke up; had I been there to see it as it happened, it would have been ceased right then and there.

We don't want to kick or lock anyone. But I can say that from playing other games, it ruins my night of play to see a player harassing another player and nothing being done about it. It ruins my time when it's happeneing to me when I am playing a game. I personally don't condone such things. When I see it happen here, I act swiftly. I cannot say that of the other sysops, some are much more lenient than me. I will put up with trash talk, but only for so long, and defintly will stop it once it gets beyond being all in jest.

Again, I will not speak for the other Sysops, but I will go to each player in any given scenario and watch them. But I do go to EACH player in the order in which they are in the scenario. For me, it's the easiest way to ensure that no-one is scripting or leeching, or whatever else may be against the rules. Usually I go by in a "ghosted" mode so many players never even know I am there. When I need to I will make myself visable to the player and go from there.

This is not wrong of me to do. I'm here (game-wise) to make sure that players are having fun, to protect players from harassment; and enforce the rules of the game. If a particular player's definition of having fun is scripting, then they get kicked. If a particular player's definition of fun os PKing, then they get kicked.

As was pointed out, there was a time when a sysop only ever needed to go into the game when specifically called upon; then players found ways of scripting, to counter that sysops have to go to player to player to see what is going on. It's sad indeed that players feel the need to "cheat" but as I stated before, I am going to ensure that a player is not breaking the rules. I cannot catch each person that is scripting; but I have found them in the past by going to them in game.

Do we police the lobby chat too much? Perhaps, and I'll openly admit that. But as has been posted by Brad himself; Channel 0 is there for new players to get help; it's not there to openly berate a fellow player or sysop. Neither is PMs for that matter, I've kicked more than one player for cussing me out via PM, and know this, never in my history of this game have I ever used a cuss word towards anyone.
Unfortunatly we have to police the lobby because some players think it's "fun" to get around the cuss filter, or see how far they can push an issue that is inappropriate. Again, if a player's definition of "fun" is to see how much they can get away with in bending the rules or trying to break them; then yes the Sysops will act on that.

I for one would love nothing more than to revert back to "no-one act up in channel 0".
Problem is, what do we do when they chose to act up? If we kick someone because of their acting up; then we are accused of asserting too much pressure. To not be accused of asserting too much pressure we then have to define rules to which we use as guidelines; if you cuss you are kicked; if you discuss certain issues you are kicked; if you harass anyone you are kicked; then we are back to the exact place we are right here and now. Sysops get accused of asserting too much pressure.

It's easy to complain about something; it's harder to offer a solution.

Obsolete: when something has outlived it's usefullness.

There is no easy set solution. Some players feel the need to try to get away with things. That is their definition of "fun". Problem is; it hurts the rest of the community.
Our current solution is to get rid of the trouble-maker so that the mass can continue to play.

Perhaps that is an obsolete solution that needs to be revised.

I used to run a retail store; we had in any given night about 30 people in there playing games and buying merchandise. Every now and again we would have someone come in that was giving us grief; (at the top of his lungs he yelled: "Fun and Games has magic cards at $2.50 a pack! You retards are selling them at $2.99 a pack; you had better match their price!"). I then told the guy to leave and never come back to my store. That was my decision to make. Had he stayed there he very well could have griefed my customers; I did not want that; so to keep it from happeneing, I banned him from my store.

I use the same philosophy here.

Perhaps it is an obsolete philosphy; but I feel that as part of good customer service; you have to put the well being of the customers first. Getting rid of one foul mouthed customer so that the rest can play peacefully is, in my opinion, good customer service.


If what I have stated here is wrong, if it does not make sense, if it is obsolete, then please provide to me a better solution.

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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Mars » Sun Feb 19, 2006 7:16 pm

Froz:

Some very valid points there. I will certainly be thinking on these for a bit.
I am always open to suggestions on how to make this game better in any way.

Thank you for your input

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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Frozboz » Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:17 pm

Thanks for the reply flisk and Mars. I really do appreciate that we can talk about these issues openly. Just for the record, flisk you in your sysop function have always treated me and my friends with the utmost professionalism. Thank you.

If Drakkar was the same game it was 18 years ago when some of us started playing, of course it wouldn't be around now. If any one of the current players had to actually type in every command, the game wouldn't be around now. Imagine, each crit you want to attack, "a orc", then "a goblin", "form enmiss at troll" - seriously, that's the way it was. The technical advancements made have kept the game alive. Aleria was incredible, one of the best scenarios. The addition of Cobrahn, and then the enhancements Pax made - again, incredible. Nameless, well personally it set the game back due to game design changes mid-way through it's beta period.

What's the difference? Many different designers had a say in the creation of Cobrahn, Aleria, even the Frore "segment" addition and king's quest. The creator of NL? One person. One vision, with little creative design input from anyone else. Even if some did have a say that I don't particularly have knowledge of, it was well, horrible. That's all I'll say about that specifically. It's a highly combustable topic, and one I don't care enough about to explore. But speaking as a player that has seen (most) all of Nameless, as a scenario it is poorly designed, poorly implemented, and poorly tested (other than player testing). Its ripped the most un-fun things from other games. For the first time in Drakkar's history we now have true timesinks in the game (faction). Timesink being defined as goals needed to be reached in order to advance, without actually improving your character. Compare the 25 levels of Mormar with the 11 levels of Nork. See any differences, aside from difficulty? I'll give you a hint: Variety. If I am spending 25 dungeon-levels in a place, please make each level a little different than the previous. If you want to call all these points "evolving", then so be it... And no, regardless of how many times it's called "beta", it's not. It's been out 3 years this summer, players are now capped because of it, it's not beta. I'll stop about NL.. Many share the same feelings.

Now I notice you didn't mention my point about sysop PK'ing, yet you talk about player PK'ing in the same light as scripting (very illegal). I'd like to see an official stance on that. I looked over Brad's position on the matter, and it seems it's allowed if it's not talked about in channel 0, and done away from other players. It also says no consent will be tracked, and anyone that is reported for a PK (even consentual) is subject to discipline. Does this mean we can complain when we get jacked by sysops? Again I have absolutely no problem with it, if the rules allow for sysop PK'ing. Currently, they do not.

As to checking on scripting, go right ahead. But note please, please, please educate new sysops actually WHAT scripting is. Someone could look like they aren't scripting, yet have a very sophisticated script running (I've seen those in other games that actually respond to questions). On the other hand, some may look like they are, and aren't. Popping in and talking to people isn't the best way to catch a scripter. I've caught literally dozens in my time all without saying a word. Again, not too long ago, like I said you'd just never, ever see a sysop in game. Now, there have been times you go AFK for more than a few minutes and one is popping in with a "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??" query. Also please keep in mind that you might be going through the list, but who else is? I see 4 sysops on now - can I expect a "visit" from all of you? How often? Earlier today, it was "funny" that a Deputy Sysop accidentally was shockwaved by a player he was spying on. If I was this player, I'd be *furious* since he's in the top end, capped, and has no reason to be spyed. Not to mention he might be in an advanced area of the game where your player crit hasn't been. Top end players also don't react well to being "handled" by Junior Sysops even though yes, it's their job, blah blah blah. Show some respect, and you'll get a lot more.

As to the state of the sysop program in general, there has ALWAYS been a system of checks and balances. I won't get to specific, but you long time players know what I mean: The sysop program included sysops from one "end" or philosophy of drakkar, and sysops from another "end". Yes, being purposely vague here, but if I have a past with a certain person or game administrator, I feel safe if an issue arises and I know that a particular sysop has my back. That is not the case anymore. All the sysops currently are from one end of the game. Say all you want how there is no "agenda", no "vendetta", but how can I be sure without anyone there getting my back? I'm not the only one, several high end players could easily be slandered without their knowledge, as its your word against ours... I have a specific situation in mind, but I will not post details publically for fear of "outing" a sysop. But suffice to say, a particular sysop recently was blatantly slamming myself and a guildmate (not knowing we were on free accounts), calling us cheaters in channel 0. How would that make you feel, knowing that these guys that supposedly have your back, have no agenda, have no vendetta, still hold grudges about situations they have no first-hand knowledge about 7+ years ago? If any sysop wants details, just ask me about it. Bring back the system of checks and balances. Add a sysop from that other "end".. Let the right hand know what the left is doing. You talk about railing against the sysops in public, all the while it's possible (and has happened) to rail against certain players in private with no one to stop you, and no way for players to defend ourselves.

As to loud-mouths in channel 0, a lot of times if something was said immediately there would be a lot less problems. I know, that's impossible. But there is some room for improvement.

Drakkar has many old players that have vast knowledge to contribute. Each time a player leaves for good, that knowledge goes away with him/her. Drakkar's rich history is part of the appeal. How often can you meet someone like Brenem, who has played for 14 years? Or can sit in channel 0 and talk with Bannor about paying $2/hr for classic? My acct expires the 27th, someday I will leave for good, and you'll never hear anyone talk about the mausoleum quest (well maybe, hehe), the days of text-based ancounters, who "Mangor" was, talk about buying YPs in Frore, talk about getting fullplate in the fresco room in Frore (coolest game moment, ever), how Chipuda was originally in n-2, and on and on.. Before I go, I'd love to help the game out in some way - design once again, documentation, even something as small as a history document would help preserve and enhance the gaming experience for others. I'm opening the door, all the game administrators have to do is ask for my input (and others, not just saying I'm the only one with unique info).

The game is over for Frozboz_JIHAD. I have nothing more to accomplish, I have no guild aside from my family members. Bannor and Brenem and I can all sit and act like old men talking about the good old days while I pass out loot and spoil game info like a bitter old man... But anyway as I said in my previous post, I love Drakkar. I want to see it evolve in a healthy manner, and go in the right direction. As my grandma used to say, "use that energy for good".

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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Longbeard » Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:41 pm

I very much appreciate time and energy that Froz extended in writing message that started this thread.

I have written a page long message in Word (in order to spell check it) but thought it to be obsolete (good word), because Froz, pretty much covered a lot of what I like to be heard about.

Then I still thought that one thing I would like to add.

We have these forums and over time, actually on two different occasions I was very expressly asked not to use them in order to "keep things quiet". One time my account was locked for a month actually, all for my refusal to apologize to one individual player for a post that I posted, which was without names and was not taken down or locked by SYSOPS based on it's content. This all after over an hour of chat with SYSOP. In which we talked about substance of the message and I was not proven to be wrong, actually I had to explain game mechanics to that SYSOP, because their understanding was lacking. Still I got locked out.

Recently when I was oneshotted in nork town while AFK during a SYSOP run event and posted about this. I was told that I was the one that had to PM the SYSOP and ask for explanations and should have not posted in forums.

My personal reflection on above is that customer service side in KOD is lacking because SYSOPS are at times able to take sides, because in turn being players at some level them selves. And are motivated by their opinions rather then such incomprehensible things like TOS or what not.

Ok, almost a page long again. Not that it is a big point.

In regards to posting in forums, oddly enough very few people do it any more, they are ether enjoying game too much, or keeping it quiet, one will never know!

One has to agree Drakkar if you do hang on for over 5 years is clearly part of your life, which is more then just "a game".

My best regards to every one

Tyr

Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Tyr » Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:05 pm

Originally posted by Frozboz
Earlier today, it was "funny" that a Deputy Sysop accidentally was shockwaved by a player he was spying on. If I was this player, I'd be *furious* since he's in the top end, capped, and has no reason to be spyed. Not to mention he might be in an advanced area of the game where your player crit hasn't been.
This was me who was shockwaved. I was walking around in UC3.5, and was hit by shockwave by some players hunting there. The spying comment made by a player in channel 0 was a joke, made in reply to a joke I made in the game. There were no capped characters involved.

Keep in mind that when you see player-sysop interaction in channel 0, you are not necessarily seeing the whole interaction. There can be part of a conversation in a PM, or in the game. Without knowing the whole conversation or the whole story, it would be easy to leap to conclusions that are not accurate.

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Replying to Topic 'S

Post by Darge » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:42 pm

I feel that I don't even exactly have a place within this topic, but two things really caught my eye, and I feel that old urge to comment on them. I'll try keep it short, but doubt I'll be able to..
Not only that, but there seems to be a special event every single month. Do we really need a back to school event? St. Patrick's day event? And this doesn't even mention the countless "unannounced" events where previously absurdly rare items such as nork moonboots are handed out like IH's.
I could be wrong, and probably am, but the reason for this seems to me to be a way to make people not notice the lack of added content, and time it takes for the content to be put in ('cause ya know, something slightly unique is happening to distract you and you might be getting a goodie I suppose).

Finally, on the vein of "what makes a good game". Letting your paying players know what their money is being spent on, content developement, new artwork, bug fixes, etc., for me is vital. It may not be that important to some, but there is a growing number of people out there who have NOTHING more to do with their crit. You could argue that they can build another, or work on a secondary skill or whatever else, but even that gets old. I don't know about all the others, but I'd like to know why I even bother to keep my account open, when the one I pay can't post in his Sysop Journal what he is working on and how things are coming. Obviously some things are in the "in the works" and you cannot say specifics, but even so, a truthful "56% completed!" or "I've managed to get so and so working properly!", is better than these complete gaps in programming status. I think I would even settle for the game's designer to come back to channel 50 like he had been doing and not seem so utterly distant. Not to mention alot of goods changes spawned from that time in chan 50 (mormar ma's became single hit per round, barb crys got some of their issues taken away, some f/m tiers got a minor retooling, I forget which). At least in my group, I and the players who meet that afformentioned growing minority, are becoming more distant and looking towards the vast MMORPG market for something else, or find that our time is better spent in real life. I love Drakkar, but I won't pay for something I don't benefit from, if I can't see any proof that mine and other's money ensures Drakkar's growth and prosperity.
Last edited by Darge on Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Mars » Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:35 am

Originally posted by Frozboz


Before I go, I'd love to help the game out in some way - design once again, documentation, even something as small as a history document would help preserve and enhance the gaming experience for others. I'm opening the door, all the game administrators have to do is ask for my input (and others, not just saying I'm the only one with unique info).
I'd certainly welcome a history of the game as you have seen it progress from it's earliest days. This history can then be posted here in the forums or even on the main website (whichever you choose) for all to read.

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Replying to Topic 'State of the game, pt. 1'

Post by Necron99 » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:20 pm

Froz…you are Legend!

I must congratulate you on a very well written and thought provoking piece. The fact that it comes from someone who has reached the “end game” in DZ lends even more weight to the observations.

Although I have only been playing on DZ for a couple of years, I have been playing MMORPGs since the early 80’s, starting with the Island of Kesmai, on CI$.

The sysops in this game derive their culture and attitudes from the early MUDs, not from any true customer service and/or game administration type of charter or experience. By enlisting sysops from the customer base, the DZ ownership has made the choice to empower individuals who are predisposed to their existing alliances and prejudices…there is really no way around this given that everyone’s actions are as a result of their prior experiences. A lot of us don’t really approve of the sysops in-game interference (although I personally find the impromptu “events” to be somewhat entertaining); and frankly, the idea of the sysops running around the game in “ghost mode”, systematically spying on the player base gives me the creeps!

As “hobbyists” (I love the label, BTW, it is so appropriate) we have a large amount of emotional capital invested in the hobby. Understandably, it really invalidates what we believe to be our “investment” in the community to be told that we can just leave if we don’t approve of DZ’s “evolution. Be that as it may, I am also sensitive to the sysops’ request for suggestions.

I would suggest a few things:

First and foremost, trust the player base. The vast majority of the players are honest and really just want to play the game. If they come to you with a problem, assume good will instead of malicious intent to defraud.

Second, have Brad code as many of the game “rules” as possible into the actual game engine. This removes any possibility of human error and or prejudiced decision making.

Third, remove the secretive nature of sysop identities. Once a player accepts a sysop role, their playing days are over…period.

Fourth, publish the rules and stick to them. If the rule is not written down, then it is just someone's opinion as to what should be done. That is why the government publishes the results of court cases...opinions and decisions become part of the public record and are used as the basis for future decisions. For my part, I was quite dismayed to learn that the TOS could be seemingly randomly augmented by sysop opinion as to what comprised the actual game rules.

That’s it for now, once again, thanks for initiating this discussion…while I realize that “hope is not a method” I will still hope that something good comes from the discussion.

Kind Regards…Necron.

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