A bit more of a blog-style oriented News post this time, and more specifically talking about Factions as a whole, it's place on Massive, and what (from our perspective) has gone wrong over the years, while perhaps giving some insights that a lot of players aren't aware of. The point of this blog is perhaps to inspire a sense that some of us are finally taking Factions problems seriously, and why it has taken so long to make that step.
To give some context, let me first fully explain how Staff works on MassiveCraft. We have our departments, Game, Lore, World, PR, Quest, Tech, and the meta department: Direction. Each department controls its own respective sphere: Game deals with law enforcement, Lore deals with Regalia and the Wiki, World deals with construction of Regalia and other server builds, PR deals with external marketing, Quest deals with Quest worlds and Festivals, and finally Tech deals with the plugin side of management, while Direction is supposed to hold everything together. Now this already proposes an issue as readers might figure out: Where is the Survival Department. The short answer is, that there is none.
When I started on Massive some odd 5 and some years ago, we didn't have departments. Everyone was either Trusted, Moderator or Admin, and you did a bit of everything, though obviously in its infancy state. There was no Regalia, no Quests, no external PR. Staff members just built whatever they felt like regardless of the quality. Service provision was shit. I recall having to battle with the long seated admins for weeks on end to get anything done, while they continued to do absolutely nothing. Department implementations made sense, specialization made sense, it was all necessary. At first, it all worked out great. The specialized lore department quickly set up quite honestly the most amazingly set up and most popular role play experience on Minecraft, no other server (to my knowledge) is able to get sustained popularity numbers in one centralized area like we do in Regalia, and that's all thanks to the specialization of staff efforts, using skills of staff members where they benefit the server most.
The eventual problem this created however, was that the only department doctoring the game play experience of Factions, was Tech, which is primarily filled with coders who don't actually play on the server, or know the running and woes of factions since they've hardly ever ran one. Another problem piled on top: Game staff leadership chose not to (or could not) innovate. While Lore maintained a self restructuring drive (lore rewrites, Regalia reconstruction, noble system restructures, etc.), that constant flux of change was not present in most other departments. Game focused solely on maintaining the system and applying band aid solutions to a fracturing game play experience: Events, KOTH, Kit-PVP, etc. Don't get me wrong, Game leadership at the time did amazing work for years on end, and some of it we still all get to benefit from today, and the server would have broken down ages ago without their vigilant rule enforcement. But in terms of acting like the first barrier to hearing Survival's woes, and then solving them, it didn't work.
In the same vein, Lore staff also "failed" the survival community, or more specifically I did. As a Director, I bear responsibility for the whole server, but my go-to response when anyone tried to get me to do something for survival was "It's not my problem, I run Regalia", and all Lore staff members quickly followed suit with that same sentiment. Another issue that arose as time went by, was that most department members of all departments became role players. As the survival world shrank, we still needed to maintain a healthy staff population, so we recruited more and more from the Regalia community. While these people are all talented and great individuals, they lack the single purpose dedication drive, or the ambition to see Faction Survival flourish, simply because they don’t participate in it. This created the perfect storm of issues that resulted in the eventual withering of the Survival worlds to the state it is in today.
Factions became a hornets nest that nobody wanted to touch, and the only real engagement that there was, was rule enforcement. With that perfect storm of problems in place, Faction Survival could not cope with the change that most affected us all: The Eula Enforcement and worst of all: The loss of Minecraft popularity among the global gaming community. The Eula change saw our income suffer, but also changed a lot about the game play mechanic of MassiveCraft. In the past you could buy “OP” status and simply enjoy yourself shitting on those who didn’t have it. Suddenly with the EULA, that experience became a lot more stale. Then secondly, the loss of popularity of Minecraft as a whole has saw a decrease in players. I believe Cayorion looked up the google analytics at some point and said that in the US alone, Minecraft was losing about 20% traction per year (though in Russia and China, numbers were on the rise), and that the pocket edition of Minecraft was taking over. What this meant for us, is that competition becomes all that more severe.
- Tech doesn't know how to positively affect game play experience (and in present day, cannot, due to lack of manpower)
- Game Staff (and other departments) did not innovate or take any responsibility for the Faction Survival worlds.
- Direction (me specifically) constantly rejected responsibility for a part of the community for selfish reasons, which resulted in our respective departments doing the same.
- Staff became more and more dominated by Role players who lacked dedication and ambition towards Faction Survival.
We offered a game play experience 5 years back that found roots. The kind of medio-Roleplay Faction-Survival where you could build and not have to worry about your build being destroyed, but still maintain a competitive aspect. This game play was possible back then because it appealed to a small population of the Minecraft community as a whole, though the Minecraft community is shrinking to the point where we are simply losing to the competition. The feeling of achievement in building a great city does not appeal to many, and the fact paced instant satisfaction of competition by PVP and power is far more appealing to the larger population. As such, the game play experience we provided has gone beyond its zenith, Faction Survival as we know it on Massive has not evolved with the times at all, and that is largely what has been hurting it, and our ability to retain players.
Another problem that has caused us to be unable to retain players, is our stubborn adherence to perpetuity, the fact that we never reset. In the time our server has been around, it has never truly faced an economy wipe. I am still walking around with the silvers-become-Regals that I earned years ago, and in many situations, this exacerbated the problems. Other servers are healthy and fine, their experience is constant, while Massive is on a down-low. Many economic arguments have been had about this matter on the forum, and while the response was always the same, we have been aware of the issue, but were caught between appeasing new players, and ruining our relation with players who have been with us for many years, hoping that time would eventually make them believe that their own finances were hurting the server.
What can we conclude from all the above?
To that end, I am extending my personal apologies to everyone who plays Factions Survival, not because (as many claim) my work on Regalia and the Roleplay community has ruined the experience of Factions Survival, but because of my lack of interest and my (and in lesser part other Directors both present and past) rejecting responsibility for Factions Survival has resulted in it being neglected in a slow steady decline. In many ways, the leaders of Massive have failed both the player base and the staff members who worked in Factions Survival, by allowing the slow creep of devaluation to take hold on Factions as a whole, and constantly barraging the players with excuses to allow us more time to work on the stuff we personally feel more passionate about. That devalued Factions, it disrespected the players who had been loyally with us for years, and ruined something Massive became great with/for, being Factions, and I'm sorry for having let it come to that.
- Have we (more specifically, I) been deflecting issues? Most certainly.
- Have we (more specifically, I) been falsely deflecting responsibility for the faction survival worlds? Yes.
- Do all Staff from all various segments of leadership bear responsibility? Yes certainly.
- Is this the death of Faction Survival on Massive and are just giving up? Absolutely not!
As such, I will make it expressly clear, even though previous accusations of "MonMarty ruined Factions because of XYZ" were dumb and unfounded, a valid accusation that I've come to realize is "MonMarty ruined Factions by not caring".
The whole point of this post was to make clear that through the work of Sevak, Tokuu, Sephite and other Game staff members who are equally dedicated to the community, as well as reasoned voices within the Community we (more specifically I, as lead Director) have decided to go all on-board with taking responsibility for our failure and attempting to make the necessary changes that will save Factions Survival and hopefully give it potential to grow again. Here are our immediate plans:
For all the above, if you feel very strongly against one or more bullet points, don't panic just yet. The whole idea is to "save" Factions by making it more appealing to outsiders who are not years loyal on Massive meanwhile also /not/ pissing off our loyal playerbase. Much like how Massive's roleplay community became more hybrid after a large influx of players from a different server, we aim not to lose our identity that we set out many years ago, but to make the necessary changes that brings Factions Survival up to speed with how it should be in this day and era, instead of trying to cling to a game play experience that died years ago. Additionally, while some may be excited by the language used in this post, don't get immediate hopes up for immediate changes. While I (we) are dedicated to making the necessary changes, both Omnomivore and myself are in the middle of wedding stage planning, both of us are getting married within the near future, and as such, our private lives demand a decent amount of our attention. That being said, where-as in the past we were only the middle men between change and things not happening, now we hope to /be/ the change that positively breathes new life into the Survival Experience on MassiveCraft.
- I intend to cease my work for the Lore community practically immediately. Many functions within those systems work as are, and I can get replacements for the ones that do not. There will be some quality loss suffered by the role players, but I believe they can show solidarity with the members who are also part of Massive as a whole, and deal with a lower service standard to allow me more free time to work with Factions Survival.
- The Tech department is dead, but the Coding community on Spigot is very alive. Many coders provide custom coding solutions for reasonable fees, and we intend to potentially hire coders from there on a freelance basis to make plugins for us, the first one such on the list would be our own in-house Cannon plugin, though this is all pending on quality checks from Cayorion, after all, we don't want laggy junk to be put on the server from inexperienced coders. This wont result in a sudden revival of "Empires", but should give us additional functionality.
- By the project work of notably Sephite, Tokuu and Darkwatch (forgive me if I forgot someone), we have initiated competitive research on healthy Factions servers to see what they do different, and what we can apply to Massive to not completely lose our old identity, but to make the server more appealing to the player base we want to attract and keep for once.
- We will slowly start transitioning to less concentrated worlds, if not just a single one, though nothing has been decided on this yet. Either way: We want to limit the amount of worlds available to pull the community together, which will also limit our need for hardware, and thus cut costs for Massive as a whole.
- I've tentatively started talking to Cayorion about enabling the survival world(s) to be hosted on 1.8 instead of 1.12.2, before the disastrous combat update. The reality is that the player base we want to appeal to does not play on 1.12.2 at all, in fact all our major competitors are all stuck in 1.8. If this means that we'll have survival worlds running on 1.8 and on 1.12.2, this is a distinct possibility. There are some hurdles to get over, and it may not work at all since there are considerable Tech problems, but it's a realistic possibility.