August Update Still In Progress

Just wanted to drop a note in case you don’t follow the twitter feed.┬áThe 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.┬áThe 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!

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8 Responses to August Update Still In Progress

  1. TP says:

    Greetings.

    Keep up the good work Eric.
    Feel free to drop me a line when you feel you would like an influx of players, and i will make it happen via my network… got several viewers on stream, thousands of unique visitors on my website, and hundreds of followers on facebook.

    I am used to helping people with various gaming related things, and most people i am sure, would gladly help fill up the world, and maybe even, stay n play!

    Also, should you need any help with world design, or other similar things, i will try and help… Unity aint that hard to make “decent things” in… talking purely world design here… i am one of those who gladly add dirt and mud all around the world, and blood splatter etc inside dungeons… you know… the boring stuff developers shouldnt focus much on, they should code!

    Anyways, just an offer, since it seems you have your hands full.

    Good luck!

    /TP

  2. Lolin says:

    Ping me in the forums when you have a date on the Kickstarter. I am trying to remember to check on ya every day but school days I don’t have much energy. This weekend I am going to try to get ahead a bit on my homework in hopes of having the next weekend free. I hope thats the time frame you are thinking for Kickstarter. Send you some ideas on community and events in the forums.
    Lolin/Luka

  3. Nikita says:

    So where would one try this game? I got linked directly to this site, and don’t see a download or play link anywhere. Google just comes up with the elder scrolls online when i try it. How would I go about playing this game?

  4. Rakai says:

    Well I can’t play at the moment because my windows partition died. Did you get a chance to squish any of the linux bugs yet?

  5. Gaius says:

    @Nikita: Apparently here. Which… surprised me, when I Googled it and anything came up. O_o I have been following these blog posts for ages, and legitimately did not believe there was an actual site just for it. I… really thought it was invitation-only or something, before this blog post. I thought there’d have to be a big link somewhere.

    So, Eric, I presume you’ve linked to the site somewhere in here and I’ve just completely missed it. Probably many times. But with how big a project this has gotten, have you ever given thought to linking it somewhere more prominent in here? The top bar next to “Home,” “About Us,” and “For Hire,” maybe?

    I have no idea how common the problem that Nikita and I had is. However, doing this might help out people who are very interested, but genuinely have no idea how to get into it. It might also help people who are vaguely interested to take a look, and they might get hooked from there.

    Or maybe there’s a reason I’m not seeing to hold off on that?

  6. Eric says:

    @TP: thanks, that’s very kind, and I’ll take you up on that soon!

    @Nikita: projectgorgon.com is the place. I need to add better links, sorry!

    @Rakai: yes! But no. I got some bugs fixed, but then things took a turn for the weird when I upgraded to the new version of Unity in the latest update. The live version right now is actually completely borked, but I’ve got it mostly working again so it will be back soon. Thanks for keeping tabs on it, I appreciate the testing help!

    @Gaius: good point, I’ve added a link to it at the top of the header. I’ve been meaning to do a bunch of reworking of websites, so I kinda put it off. But I should have added a perma-link a long time ago.

  7. Rauxis says:

    I follow your project closely, but as a general rule I mostly stay from alpha/beta tests. On a related note – have you tried to get listed on http://massively.joystiq.com/ – Betawatch?

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  8. Eric says:

    Rauxis – no I hadn’t, thanks!