With some recent radical changes like the faction claim limit as well as the increase in taxes, but also the implementation of the new player experience, we thought it would be beneficial to communicate our future plans to the players as well as provide some background to issues and what we plan to do about them. Most of this will just be speculation, but at least it gives us all a clear image of what we are internally planning for the coming months.
Attracting new players
MassiveCraft is going down its usual shrink of population after a holiday. You can check out the statistics on the MassiveCraft website, we suffer these shrinkage's every post summer and post Christmas holidays. They are normally not that concerning, after all, the next holiday coming around, players will simply start filling back up. In fact the numbers are steadily increasing every year, meaning that overall, MassiveCraft is growing. But it is not growing fast enough. And while the player base may be somewhat stable, our number of donators is shrinking.
So what are we doing about that?
Step one: Make player entry easier. This step has already started and is largely already complete even. The "new player experience" features a completely new Lobby, a new /tp RPHelp and /tp FactionsHelp zone, complete with a 30 page manual with helpful links and commands for new players. With this step, we have ensured that we have done what we could to remove the hurdles new players face when joining the server. We have yet to gather statistics on how effective the new player experience is in terms of removing frustration from new players not understanding how to play on Massive, but the early numbers are looking good and we will continue to monitor and do research to see if anything needs to be adapted.
Step two: Make more space for factions. This step is causing some controversy among the players due to its aggressive limitations that are put in place, namely the increased faction tax and the 3 world claim limit for all factions. We have done a 2 month opinion gathering thread on the forum in which we looked at everyone's opinions and arguments in favor or against certain decisions, and eventually decided to move ahead with our original plan, despite the discomfort it would bring. Limiting factions ability to claim more land while at the same time also punishing factions that are excessively over claimed should bring the total world claim to a healthier number, while at the same time claim near reductions and new map releases soon should buffer up a lot of space for new players. This does present some other issues however: The cost of tax bearing and the difficulty of easy raid access due to a lack of raid portal claim ability.
Step three: Revive the PR department. Our PR for all intents and purposes is 100% dead. We have nobody taking care of PlanetMinecraft, Facebook, Reddit, Imgur etc. We seem dead to the outside because the only place where PR activity is seen, is on our website. Our staff member LumosJared will be taking over the PR department. We have received roughly 10 applicants for the department, and we currently plan to accept all of them into a similar system feature as the "PVP Squires". While the PVP squires system ultimately failed, we learned an important lesson when it comes to ease of integration between players and aspirants. We want to maximize the success chances of those who do flow into PR aspirants, so that we can hopefully revive the various PR platforms. We want to re-establish Facebook competitions, encourage players to write and post things about MassiveCraft elsewhere and generally spend time letting the world know that MassiveCraft exists outside of our own server. We have the quality to keep players hooked, we just need them to connect in greater numbers.
The Cost of Taxes
Taxes should remain a feature that helps the server function, as well as keep the economy healthy, but it should never become overbearing for players to the point where playing on the server just isn't fun because half your time is spent on gathering the money to pay taxes to keep your 3 year old faction alive. We could get into a very big debate about the merit of trying to keep a dead or hibernating faction alive, but this sort of goes into a very touchy subject about what rights players have to infringe on each other's freedom of movement. We want to avoid such a debate because we feel it is unnecessary when we have the tools to resolve this issue ourselves.
So what are we doing about that?
Step One: Loyalty Rewards. We have discussed loyalty rewards many times in the past but the urgency was never clear to us. We believe that now, it has actually become a very potent tool that we can use to reward players for actively playing/logging on/playing for longer periods of time, maybe even reward them for going AFK on the server. The taxes are technically meant to punish people who log on every 2 weeks to top up their faction bank to keep a dead faction alive. This we consider unhealthy behavior for the server, and it causes us more problems in the long run even if it helps that player sustain their faction in stasis. Our implementations against this have however also hurt say, 10 players in a a faction with 600 claim who /are/ active. The tax burden is proportionate to the amount of chunks claimed, not the amount of people who are active, which is a weakness in the tax system. By providing automatic rewards for playing (say for example, X amount of Regals per hour, and a lore item if you log on every day of the week for example), we can ease the burden for active players, and maybe even make it so that if players know they play for X amount of time a couple of days a week, then they don't have to worry about taxes anymore. Taxes should help the server, not cause headaches for players. So in short: We plan to implement a playtime reward feature that will automatically grant players rewards for being online. This is both to encourage going AFK on the server for extended periods of time (which helps us increase the player limit and thus advertise the server more, which should attract more players), and it will also help players pay taxes more easily and find some peace of mind so they can focus on enjoying their faction and worry less about how to make sure the faction survives. There is no clear ETA for this implementation, but we will submit a plugin design document to our Tech department soon. Depending on how much time they have, we might see a partial or complete implementation at some point hopefully within the coming month or two.
Step Two: Job Island. Job Island has been hinted at for the past month or so. The world map itself is already done, we are working on the implementation of the quests and the actual construction this month. The plan is to replace the "instant 100 Regals from the Pious John" to a "work for 10 minutes to get roughly 120 Regals" system. Obviously this doesn't really help with the problem above, but it will certainly make the in-take of free cash into the economy more difficult, thus hopefully balancing out the potential inflation caused by the current model. Job Island however can be expanded in the future, meaning more repeatable quests for money in case we need it, thus setting the ground work for more easier ways to earn Regals than say, grinding in a dark room for an hour to get 90 Regals.
Decreased functionality of Raiding
Obviously reducing the amount of world claims that can be made limits the amount of raid portals that can be constructed by factions. We want to encourage raiding and freedom of raiding to all factions. We want to resolve this problem somehow, but there is no immediate solution in sight. We welcome suggestions, but at the same time request those suggestions to take time and coding efforts in mind. With the implementations mentioned above, we may actually have little time left to implement anything else in terms of tech implementations.
Lack of new Feature Implementations
MassiveCraft hasn't seen any major new implementations released for quite a while now. We need to obviously provide new content for our long term players, as well as make Massive more fun for new players by providing features that are unique to our server.
So what are we doing about that?
Step One: MassiveMagic production is not dead. We can't say much more than just this, but there are plans to make a limited implementations of MassiveMagic (relatively soonish) to assist MassiveMobs in creating more unique bosses with skill rotations and what not. There will be no rushed player implementation. In fact we plan an extended testing time with MassiveMobs to see how it can be put into practice and from that point onwards, we will include the players in the further implementation should the time arise.
Step Two: Suggest improvements to the Factions plugin. This isn't really a helpful plan right now, but it should provide some foundation for future improvement. The way our Tech department works right now is that we pin up smaller tasks and rate them based on urgency. We can however, also implement plugin coding suggestions in the forms of documents. The above mentioned player rewards is one such suggestion. MonMarty will personally try to suggest a MassiveEmpires document to see if some form of Empires system can be facilitated for late gameplay for more veteran players, but there is no actual ETA on this, it entirely depends on the Tech people having the time. Don't hold your breath for this as such, it could take 2 months, it could take 2 years. We cannot accurately predict such an implementation, but from the Game staff's perspective, an Empire plugin is very high on the list of wanted features, and we will try what we can do to have even a rudimentary feature implemented.
Step Three: Other feature plans. There are some other minor feature plans intended to be implemented at some point. This includes, but is not limited to: Re-opening the discussion around the /tpa command and whether it should return (be implemented) on Massive, an implementation of some sort of marriage plugin (which seems to be popular on other servers) and some sort of faction/player e-glory measuring system in kill count of won wars high score.