April transparency thingy on the vague future plans of Polaris
I was going to have this more formalized and proper and neat. But I am a lazy rodent, so it is going to be more flow of mind from what I can recall from discussions and the brief notes one has took.
Anyways a blurb on the vague future plans of Staff for the server for the next six or so months, and a brief explanation of the plans for players and server staff that are unable to attend the staff meetings to read.
TLDR since otherwise its bloody long:
Note, yadda yadda subject to change and real-life crap. Everything written here is not set in stone and could change as the situation develops over the course of the next several months.- A shift both gameplay wise and staff policy to spice things up with more interesting occurrences and actiony stuff. This includes an overhaul to the event management system to make events occur more frequently within rounds and additions of old and new events.
- Policy wise, taking a more hands-off approach when dealing with IC conflicts and characters doing shady crap, letting players hand more situations ICly rather than having staff step in OOCly. Adjustment and removal of rules to allow antagonists to have a bit more wiggle room in order to do dastardly deeds.
- In general attempting to have a more hands-off policy in regards to staff and player interactions, to allow for more interesting rounds and to break up player fear of the boink.
- Implementation of a proper skill system.
- Based on player feedback attempting to give an overhaul of the stationside map one section at a time.
- Trickle in of new content while also ensuring that older stuff is overhauled and brought up to speed. Also attempting to ensure all of the stuff is balanced out.
- Trying to get everyone on the same page that the game is actually a game and to try to have fun. To also try to get folks to understand that one cannot always have a good round, since it is a multiplayer game with other folks there will be occasions where there will be a bad round or bad interaction due to circumstances.
For those that want some further elaboration on the above points, see below. (WARNING: Long rambling read).
-=- Addition of more ‘actiony’ concepts to the server. -=-
Or part one, a brief history. Over time, several of the staff have discovered that often times outside of direct action of antagonists or when a player’s character is able to interact with that character’s friends, playing on the server can be disturbingly dull. Often times upon observing new players on the server or even some older players the following is seen. Using an engineer as an example:
- Urist McEngineer joins round, kits up, sets up the engine, sets up solars, maybe sets up the shields.
- Has a 50% chance of either having to deal with a level 7 or round ending meteors. Rarely will have to deal with antagonist damage.
- Transfer and Round end.
This scenario applies to several of the departments where in it often relies on. Joining the round, gearing up or prepping one’s department, and then having to wait for action that nine times out of ten does not occur. Quite often in medical it is a join the game, get gear, wait for someone to get hurt, and either go SSD at the console or board the transfer with only minor cuts and bruises to treat. This deeply affects new players and new player retention. If new players don’t have anything to do even a medial busywork task (say, janitorial cleaning floors) they quickly get bored and leave. For other players it can be difficult (even for established players) to break the ice and form bonds with more established characters that may already be friends or more.
As has been put to staff by a couple folks, ‘Shite’s boring if you don’t have someone to interact with’. This is due to several reasons which if I attempted to describe them all would end up with a ten-page essay, so I will attempt to do a brief summarization.
In the past when we initially started up Polaris axed a lot of the events and things that we felt were gimmicky, quite frustrating, or tedious to deal with. For an example, viruses. Which in their old iteration were quite often a fun tax to deal with. It was often, get virus, get stuck in virology for an hour or two desperate to get. The mindset in the early years of Polaris was that, the antagonists would be able to carry rounds without the side annoyance of events and other quirks and occurances that we found annoying at the time. This included characters starting bar fights as non-antagonists and other restrictions on non-antagonist behavior that many players felt were a nuisance.
We were wrong.
Antagonists cannot carry rounds by themselves. Without the distractions that other events and actions provide everyone focuses on what the antagonist is doing or attempting to do. People do become quite starved for interesting things to occur, so when an antagonist does do a action people home in on said action, placing undue stress upon the antagonist to preform correctly in the eyes of everyone. Quite often you also have antags waiting for the perfect moment to strike or being too scared to fuck up or be caught, only for two hours to roll around and a transfer to be called because nothing occurred.
With the release of the Southern Cross map there was the plan to shift to a more PvE focus. Players versus the environment and such of Sif with the implementation of Places of Interest to loot and explore. Providing the action that many players craved without having to rely on antagonists to provide that action.
This also failed.
With things such as the exploration stuff it requires on a constant influx of new content and PoIs to keep it from becoming stale. If we have three or four dedicated devs to fleshing out the exploration content (adding new PoIs and mechanics) maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But often the trend is, someone joins, finds the Exploration stuff new and exciting and amazing, plays heavily for a month or two until they’ve seen all the content. Then either we become lucky and they shift to something else and interacts with other players, or more often then not they leave for elsewhere and maybe come back in roughly four months to see if we’ve added anything new.
So, what’s the vague plan now?
Solely focusing on PvP, or antagonist on non-antagonist concepts did not work, an attempt on almost completely focusing on PvE also did not work. Right now, what appears to be the path forward is, oddly enough looking back at our past at what did work on Baystation cira 2015. As one staffer put it, as frustrating as some of the events and actions that took place then were, they did make those instances when one had down time for RP more meaningful and they did remove the tedium of waiting for said RP, as you had something else to focus on in the interim. On some occasions they also led to future RP opportunities and interaction. Short of legalizing ERP (which is not happening), Polaris cannot exist as a low-pop extended server. Thus, we have to review the course of actions over the past few years and shift ourselves slightly, towards adding more content and more action gradually over time.
Future plans at this point are to try and incorporate more actiony elements in order to keep people’s interest and attract new players. To help alleviate the whole join the round gear up and wait for something to occur that 95% of the time does not actually occur. A brief but not total summary of all ideas includes.
Mechoid, has been working on an event system overhaul (the one that controls when blobs, spiders, carp and meteors happen) using the framework that Neerti created a couple years ago. This includes bringing back events that were at the time of our split from Bay considering unfun and frustrating at times, including, viruses. That said, these events should be less of a funtax, since Mechoid is also adjusting them to be less ‘bullshit’ as it were. It should also up the frequency of smaller events giving players more busywork if they choose to keep themselves occupied between opportunities to RP.
Loosening of the rules that govern antagonist and non-antagonist actions. Among the senior staff this has been quite often referred to as the ‘hands off’ policy. Basically, a lot more things are going to be allowed and deemed to be handled ICly, rather than OOCly by staff.
This has already been implemented to a degree by the removal of rules in regards to shuttle fighting (which was rule 1.6) and a modification to rule 4.6 to allow antagonists to do actions without the expectation of them to have a paragraph monologue. The hopes with some of these and future modifications and adjustments to the rules is to allow antagonists more freedom in order to pursue their objectives and less of a worry that they’ll be bonked by a staffer for their actions.
For non-antagonists they should no longer worry about being bonked for somewhat questionable actions, such as low-level crime activity (I.E. starting a bar fight). For the very early part of our life of our server there was a rather, uptight view on what a character could and could not do as actions and characters that strayed from the goodie-two-shoes path would be bonked by staff. In retrospective, this black and white view on things has kind of slanted things rather heavily. Non-antagonists may still be questioned if they go too far into actions that would normally be seen as direct antagonistic actions (I.E. murder, or stealing the vault). But for the most part they may be free to do less shady activities (such as security accepting bribes.)
Note, this does not mean we’re going to go full TG or CM. If a character starts a bar fight literally every single round or decides that every single round, they’ll be an insubordinate prick, or start a drug farm, that is a time when Staff will intervene, since at that stage it could be deemed that they’re violating 3.2 (Characters must have a reasonable level of sanity and maturity). However, the loosening of the restrictions in regards to character play should allow more interesting events to happen (and give security more to do than simply chase the antagonist solely).
In short, don’t expect server staff to handle Urist McDrunkard via an ahelp. Instead call security and or medical to handle the booze baron instead. No security? Improvise. To moderator staff, as much as it is bitter and painful to do at times, loosen up on the leash and if a character is going to pull a dumb, let them pull a dumb and the IC consequences to take its course.
Lessening the amount, we have to ping people over stuff. People get afraid of the boink, even staff. Thus, as part of that effort of letting more things get handled ICly and to lessen the fears of consistently getting boinked there is another shift on how things are handled.
For a long time, particularly around this time last year (and two months ago) there was heavy debate on what constituted powergaming, and what players can and cannot do and should and should not do. Should a person that specializes in x department be able to dabble in y department? Should a Head of Staff of one department be able to have knowledge in a separate department? Instead of leaving it somewhat vague and up to the hopelessly out of date skill system and staff whims there has been proposed an alternative solution. Neerti is developing a new skill system that should provide benefits to those players that specialize their characters at certain tasks. A system that is code based and provides players with tangible benefits and reasonable limits, rather than a reliance on server staff having to ahelp someone questioning why is someone’s character able to do Z.
-=- Part Two! –=-
(So much for keeping this brief)
Back at the start of the month there was thread entitled ‘What do you want?’ seen Here.
On the staff meeting on the 13th staff went over every single one of the posts in said thread, taking ideas from what players wrote. (We also went over posts made after the 13th, but in a more informal manner on the teamspeak). Trying to go off of the top of my head I’ll write down a brief summary of what was talked about.
Desire for more transparency in certain dealings. See, this thread.
Shift in policy in regards to extended. I.E. Extended now requires at least one person to be readied up in order for the round to start. If nobody is in the round at the two-hour mark, the round calls a transfer and resets. The original notion called for there to be two readies for extended to start but that was reduced to one. There are some concerns about how this may skew things but for the time being it is being monitored to see how it pans out.
Turning the notch up slightly in action. (Basically, see part one of this stupidly long soap-box rant).
One of the items to come out of this was a plan to overhaul the current map, focusing on one ‘arm’ of the station at a time. Currently the focus of the overhaul is the ‘eastern’ wing, the one that contains Research and Medical. For it in particular was a design goal to wrap maintenance around the departments, pushing them closer to the main hallway, while also giving them a bit more wiggle room to expand in. Depending on player feedback on the final product we may also extend this to the other wings of the station.
More public pictures will probably be provided when there’s a more final draft up for review. As a preview of what is being worked on see this picture.
Work pending still on buffing certain antagonist kits (see, medical options for traitors and heisters).
Further additions of content and items and PoIs and such when possible. See, the mech and other items Mechoid has added and the PoIs that Prismatic Gynoid and others have designed.
Trying to get everyone on the same mindset and reminders that at the end of the day this is a 2d Spessman game that people play to have fun on (with restrictions, cannot have people going crazy). This bit has been hard to do as both staff and players have been at odds with each other in the past, and still may run at crossed paths in the future. The important thing to remember at the end of the day is neither side should view the other as the enemy of the server as both are required for the community and such to function.
Ramble ramble, end rant. Comments, concerns, bitches, gripes, and or complaints? Post them here, or if you wish, talk to me or Rand0mname in private via discord. Can also be contacted at any staff meeting or at anytime when I’m on teamspeak.