Just wanted to drop a note in case you don’t follow the twitter feed. The next update is delayed, and there hasn’t been an update for a couple of weeks, but things are definitely not idle. In fact I’m working overtime to add a bunch of tech, new content, and new mechanics:
- Vendors will now act as consignment shops, selling your items for you. This is a kind of mini-marketplace, like an auction house but intentionally very localized.
- NPCs have several new tech features, such as the ability to remember their shop inventory between server reboots, a special Training menu for trainer NPCs, and other improvements.
- There’s a new outdoor area for high-level players, with challenging monsters and environmental hazards.
- The new area has a heavy focus on werewolves, fleshing them out a bit more with additional abilities, quest content, and so on.
- Orcs make their introduction, along with various orcish equipment.
Why all this in one swoop? Well, a couple reasons. The server population has dropped back to almost nothing again. I can probably jump-start it a little bit with some promotional effort, but if things are going to drop off again this quickly, that’s not so great an investment of time.
It seems like new players have a pretty decent initial play duration, and a good number of them come back for a second session, which is great. But they aren’t really telling their friends about the game. There’s not really any organic incoming players. So if I get a few dozen players into the game, that number will just dwindle down to nothing after a couple of weeks, and then I have to start again.
Given that it’s pre-alpha, with only a few zones of content, I feel like I’m actually in pretty decent shape in terms of retention. It’s good enough that I’m confident the game is on the right track, anyway. And one of the problems is paradoxically that nobody’s playing — a ghost town begets a ghost town. But I need to fix that ASAP. There’s a lot of things I need to fix, but three stand out:
- – more “first impressions” stuff, like better run animations, tutorial improvements, and GUI fixes. (A bunch of which I’ve been doing in the past few updates)
- – more “social” features that give players the idea that they could live in this game. (Consignment vendors are a small step in that direction; I’ll get guilds and friends lists in soon thereafter)
- – more content, to keep players involved longer. I need to be able to sustain at least 30 people online at peak time each day in order to build any sort of community. I’ve never actually tried to drum up that many people at once, so I don’t know how hard it’ll be to get there, but presuming I manage it, I’ll need more content to keep people involved.
So in a nutshell, I’m trying to improve retention before I try to drum up more players.
And on a related note, I want to do another Kickstarter in two weeks. The Kickstarter will be aiming to get funds to hire another developer. The current rate of development is just not fast enough, and I’m spread too thin, never really able to dig deep into any part of the game. So I’m focusing on things that might help keep a Kickstarter community engaged for the duration.
Anyway, apologies for the accidental radio silence — I have several blog posts running through my head and just haven’t had time to write them down. The twitter feed usually has the most up-to-date info, so if you’re ever wondering whether I fell off the earth or not, check there!