Tinfoil hats – A Camelot Vault parade


First Walt:

(about the classic servers launch) This is aimed at many of our former customers, not our current ones. Our satisfaction is high in the polls that we take of our current customers.

Then Sanya:

This new server type is meant for people who would otherwise not play DAOC at this time. I don’t expect that most people currently playing are going to do much more than roll on the new server out of pure curiosity. I DO expect that the people with active accounts who try the new toy will eventually go back to their “home” servers. And I hope that people who are reactivating just for this ruleset decide to stay.

This server is just an attempt to meet the needs of a niche group of players.

Let’s start the univocal Vault parade now:

May it be that the new servers lead to a significant decrease of total player numbers ?

It seems to me that Mythic failed with their classic server strategy to make players return to DAoC: I watched only a few people returning from other games to DAoC. The majority of classic server players are old players.

An other effect of the classic servers is that the old servers are really empty now and the social infrastructure has broken down there. This forces many players who want to stay on the old servers to quit the game pissed.

The interisting question is now: Is the number of returnees bigger than the number of players that quit pissed from the old servers ?

the answer is marginaly…

instead of 14000 before.. theres like 15000 now…

so 1000 people.. or roughly 8% increase in users….

but when the “newness” of the new servers slows down in a month or two…. and those that resubbed find they still dont want to play… then the real numbers will show.. and i can only see this entire thing hurting the game over all in the long run then actualy helping it

You also have to look at the trend. The numbers were trending down before. They are trending up now.

Time for another Sanya spin:

Doing great. Log in and try it!

* we’re working on a gorgeous new expansion with the long-discussed player mounts, and cool new champion levels and quests.
* subscriber numbers are up, and it’s August (typically a very stagnant month in the industry)
* we’re trying a new server type, based off player requests, and it’s been very popular so far
* we’ve radically tweaked requirements and encounters for the Trials of Atlantis expansion
* we’ve revamped the new player experience (older MMOGs have a tough entry hurdle for true newbies, but we basically built a ramp over that hurdle)

All in all, it’s an exciting time. I’ve been hanging around Mythic since December of ’99, and it’s been feeling like the old days with all the changes.

Noone does blink at that last line? Way to go with this: “the game hasn’t moved forward in the slightest, we have released crap expansion packs that nearly destroyed the game. Now we are happy if only we can offer a glimpse of the good old times. Ahh, the good old times.”

Back to the Vault:

Is that “slightly” even statistically significant? Does the increase have longevity? *shrugs*, don’t know.

And if it IS statistically significant, is Mythic willing to act on it?

It’s time to look more closely at the issue. At least for what is possible.

This is the situation on Lamorak (the new classic server) today:

As you can see the population has been as high as it could be (it caps at 3.5k) for a few weeks. Now it is slowly decreasing as most of us were expecting. We still cannot say where the number will settle down or if the downward trend will get progressively worst.

This is Merlin on its yearly trend. The monthly chart cannot be used because it doesn’t show how the launch of the new classic servers impacted the population:

The launch of the new servers is obvious. 1/4 of the active population dropped off almost instantaneously and there is no evidence that this trend will change. This should be already enough to demonstrate how Walt’s claim I quoted above was completely offtrack.

Now let’s see the overall trend of all the US servers:

“Subscribers numbers are up”. Well, this is true, the launch of the classic servers is noticeable. But you see a trend? Many players discussed about how to “read” the impact of these new servers. If the trend is positive, negative, or flat. Many agree that this choice stopped the downward trend, others believe that the trend has been even inverted.

Well, the graph (till today) shows something else. The launch of these new servers has been a little step up (~1k). But the slow downward trend doesn’t seem affected in any way. In fact, after the step up, the subscribers are starting to slightly decrease at the same rate they were before. Guess what? It’s absolutely normal when you refuse to radically solve the problems with just workarounds. Guess what? It’s all about temporary, short term solutions. And nothing really changes as the direct result of the same attitude.

Now lets go back at Sanya’s “brag points” I pasted above. It’s true that the subscribers numbers are up. But it’s also true that they are up BECAUSE of the following point she listed (the new servers are popular). So she just counts twice the same score. Instead it’s absolutely false that they tweaked ToA in a radical way, no need to explain here. Again the two previous points are a direct demonstation of how this is misleading. There wouldn’t be any new server (and consequently a rise of subscriptions) if ToA’s problems were radically addressed. Hey, maybe at this time there wouldn’t be even a downward trend to speak about.

Or is Mythic deliberately breaking the game with awful design choices in order to consequently remove them and use this as a self-constructed marketing tool? “Hey, the game sucks less than yesterday!”.

What a major selling point, huh? Speaking about ambition.

Yes, it’s true that August is a stagnant month. It’s probable that this week, with the launch of the new Emain, some more players will show around. It’s probable again that these numbers will hold along September. But what’s next? We are still considering positive trends involving just a couple of weeks. As we all already anticipated: short term good and long term bad.

As ToA largely demonstrated the disastrous impact of these choices comes in the long term.

But lets give a last look at the numbers. We have an overall increase of 1k of the total population. This while the three new servers alone arrive to hold more than 7k. Now, with this simplicistic but effective math, lets consider that 1k of those 7k is about returning players. Well, we have 6k that were just cannibalized off the other servers. Which seems about right considering how the population is fallen on all the other standard servers, like the example of Merlin I brought above.

So, we are still speaking of “a niche group of players”? It’s roughly 1/3 of the overall active population and it would be so much more if it wasn’t for the social ties and time investment that so many players have put on the other servers.

Imho, this is more than enough to rethink the attitude. Well, it should have happened long ago.

An old comment from Jessica Mulligan may also be appropriate:

Experience has shown us that once a player unsubs and leaves the game completely, it is tough to get them back. 10% recovery is considered stellar; less than 5% is more likely.

In particular when nothing really changed.

Finally, with Imperator in limbo, and the company having previously planned to have three games in various stages of production, are there any plans to begin work on a third project?

Sanya Thomas:

Yes, it’s definitely time for a *third* game. The negation of reality is a typical defensive mechanic. Things aren’t going well, so, instead of trying to do something to change the situation, we imagine fancy worlds where three, four, five mmorpgs at the same time are so absolutely normal and acceptable.

Let’s continue the parade:

I’m confused by people that think the classic servers are going to be a bad thing for the game in the long run.

Before the classic servers the “long run” was just a continuation of the same steady decline into oblivion that had been happening for months. Thats a good thing?

A matter of perspectives. If the alternative is Mythic doing nothing to the game, yes. The classic servers are an improvement. But if we compare this choice with the other possibilities that ARE available and that address the problems of the game in a radical way. Well, you can see how the situation is different and how the classic servers are negative and temporary workarounds that do not really improve anything.

The classic servers can be the “less worst” option. But if we change the point of view we can see how DAoC isn’t doomed to follow this pessimistic and narrow minded perspective. In fact DAoC is declining exactly because it is DRIVEN by this perspective and so the decline becomes just the consequence of the decisions taken.

It’s just about the possibility to still believe in the game or let it rot in the less worst way possible.

Is it a matter of a game that still has a HUGE potential to tap (as I believe) or a matter of keeping the game afloat as long as possible?

Overall population may be up minimally but when you look deeper what you find is you have 3 new servers at close to max populations and the rest are down by about 1/3. That’s not a situation that is going to be viable for very long. Mythic needs to do something dramatic to restore life to the older servers, but I have no idea what that could be. More clustering would just be putting a band-aid on a gaping chest wound.

Would it be a bad thing for them to focus on both populations for future content?

Well see that’s another bad quandry. Do they have the resources to do that? I don’t believe so and neither population is sufficient enough to fully support the game except as a unchanging shell.

Unchanging shell. That’s a pretty decent definition.

Keep in mind that the game isn’t just split between people who like TOA and play on the TOA servers and people who hate TOA and play on the Classic servers. Many people who did not choose to reroll on Lamorak, Gareth, and Ector dislike TOA intensely too.

I think just as many people are unhappy with the new servers as like them. People who are unhappy are disapointed that instead of fixing the game for them on the servers where they have put in all this hard work they just tell people the solution is to give up and restart over here because its easier for them.

As I have said in the past the better thing to do in my opinion was just to fix toa the way they should have a long time ago.

If they had done things like this I would bet money they would have got back almost as many if not more people as they did from making the new servers. They would not have alienated so many people as they have with the new servers they would not have caused population problems on the old servers.

Excuse me, where you see that Mythic has actually acknowledged problems in ToA? The classic servers were, once again, a way to avoid to solve those problems. In the exact same way they did not solve the buffbots problems and in the exact same way they are launching a “New Isle” to not solve the problems in “New Frontiers”.

Come on, we all know Mythic and what they are doing is always predictable.

You go ahead and keep on thinking that Mythic is going to solve the ToA problem with some kind of Grand Solution other than the obvious one right in front of you (rerolling). I’ll keep playing Classic.

I agree with Swoosh, they’ve settled for a slight short-term boost in players for a long-term decline (time will tell) – unless they fix the real problems with DAoC on the standard servers which go well beyond just ToA (class balance, bugs, customer service, etc.).

There is no way in hell a player with a real job, wife/kids etc had the time to sink into TOA and still be competitive in RVR. Getting ganked by people with uber TOA goodies was just no fun.

I honestly feel sorry for those that let mythic fool them into spending months of their time getting artifacts etc, hope you all enjoy playing by yourselves. LOL

Dont know how many times I have to state this, but here I go again; getting ganked can be fun if it lasts a while and you get a chance to take part in the events.

What isnt fun is getting nuked to ashes before you even realize that they are coming because the TOA increases the casting speeds and damage so high that 1200 hp and DI1 are gone before the cleric can heal you.

You dont get to react, you dont get to even realize what is going on – you just die.

I’d rather be stun-nuke-nuke-nuked than to get cut down like grass to a fully TOAed, ML10 RR5+ UberTwink that was PLed up from 20th in 2 weeks.

When I played the BGs on the TOA servers, it was a blast. I died more times than I killed but it was still fun.

50th lvl RvR on a TOA server is no fun because it is way too short and unbalanced between the haves and the have-nots.

I agree. DAoC fights are way too short. I have lagged, and when I got control back I was already dead. Losing is way more fun if you have a few minutes to do something.

I agree that damage is way too high and quick because of the ToA bonuses and a lot of stuff needs to be changed. Will Mythic make these changes now that they see how many hate ToA? Time will tell us but i think their time is running out.

One can easily discern the slope downward at the end of the graph. Mythic hasn’t solved the real problems with the game in fact I think they’ve done more damage than good with the new servers. They’ve further diluted the already thin active population on the original servers, something which they really needed to avoid. The real problems are related to balance yet for 4 years Mythic has ignored those problems. I’m not sure they will ever realize what they need to do to keep the game alive honestly.

A last note about the numbers. As you can see from the overall graph, the game strongly suffered the launch of WoW in November 04. But what the graph doesn’t show is that the progressive downward trend was already going on from many months before. In Febrouary of the last year the active players used to peak at around 36k. And this was already after some of the players left after ToA’s launch (end of October 2003).

Btw, after all this I expect Mythic to start to hide their numbers. That would be comedy gold.

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