Creators Hour 16/11/05
Posted at 17:22 GMT on Saturday 30th September 2006
<Kloopy> Welcome everyon!
<Kal> yes, welcome
<Kal> Since the announcement of the new PATeam structure and Planetarion: NEXT, we have received a number of questions that are of a similar nature. As a result we will try to address some of them now.
<Kal> Firstly, the structure of the team:
<Kal> Many have asked why we have gone back to a similar structure from the time of Mr. Brick, with myself as the "leader". In reality this is not the case and we would like to think that the organisation chart is more a chain of responsibility.
<Kal> Biffy and myself are at the top end of the chart and consequently any failings are our responsiblity. We do not have any more influence on day to day issues than any other member of the team.
<Kal> This responsbility means that I see my job role as helping the team perform to the best of its ability.
<Kal> For example :
<Kal> Kloopy can’t code the next part of the game because Appocomaster hasn’t finished designing it –Therefore it is my job to make sure that Appocomaster gets his job done so that Kloopy can continue his work.
<Kal> Another common question we have received has been "why we are recoding the whole game rather than concentrating on getting new customers?"
<Kal> It would probably be best if i left Kloopy to go into the details and technicalities of the next generation of Planetarion but fundamentally we believe that rejuvenating the game by recoding and redesigning it will lead to greater interest and ultimately more customers.
<Kloopy> We feel that the whole Planetarion experience is dated.
<Kloopy> PA has been around, what, 6 years now and there has only been one major revamp in that time.
<Kloopy> Over the past year or so there have been many advanced in browser technology.
<Kloopy> People expect more from websites these days and to be honest, we can offer a better expereince.
<Kloopy> So one idea behind a total recode is that we can design for the current most popular screen resolutions and include some exciting interface styles that are now possible.
<Kloopy> The main one being AJAX. Examples of this technology in use are Google Maps, GMail, etc.
<Kloopy> Another reason we want to recode is that the game isn't very flexible at the moment.
<Kloopy> One major hindrance is the combat engine, we don't have much control without hacking the code to bits.
<Kloopy> Which takes time and unnecessary effort.
<Kloopy> By recoding the whole game can be strucutred, module and we can provide much more fluid game dynamics.
<Kloopy> Also, alot of people feel we've ignored the Suggestion forum and other sources of community input for some time.
<Kloopy> We promise you all the time that ideas don't get ignored and this is our way of proving it.
<Kloopy> We get to recode and build it so many of the changes you've suggested over the past monthd.
<Kloopy> And we still want your input over the coming months, as I'm sure Kal can talk more about.
* Kloopy passes the mic to Kal|idling
<Kal> The way the development will be working is as follows:
<Kal> various members of PATeam are responsible for different parts of the game, with AppocoBusy doing most of the hard work
<Kal> we will be discussing our ideas with a group of 20 or so community members in order to try and work out the majority of the problems with them, and then we will discuss them with the community as a whole. becuase of our tight schedule though, some of the coding will need to start before ideas are finalised
<Kal> this means that we will try to get the discussion of core elements such as combat going first
<Kal> AppocoBusy, have you got anything to add on development?
<AppocoBusy> well, not that much for the moment
<Kal> lets have some questions then
<AppocoBusy> as has been said, we'll try to discuss some of the issues with the community (hopefully both on IRC and on the forums), and we have quite a few people from the commnuity we've asked along to discuss just about everything
<AppocoBusy> please don't feel offended if we haven't invited you - we really can't have everyone on the team!
<AppocoBusy> and yes, now on with the questions :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 1): <Intruder> the new recoding design means that well have things like Java/flash components on the page?
<Kloopy> Since I'm coding it and I'm very against Flash and Java I guess the simple answer is No.
<AppocoBusy> we won't require flash or java, certainly.
<Kloopy> And with AJAX becoming popular, and almost all browsers now supporting it, there isn't a need for it anymore.
<Kloopy> a need for Java/Flash I mean.
<AppocoBusy> yes :-)
<Kal> even some mobile browsers support AJAX now
<AppocoBusy> we will try and keep requirements to a minimum
<Kloopy> And we have done some preliminary research and alot of screen readers support it too.
<CH_Bot> (Q 2): <Cowmando> can u set it up so u have beta going on at the same time as a real round so u can test it properly
<Kloopy> We already have that ability.
<Kloopy> We have two servers and this round we did exactly what you are asking.
<Kloopy> We were running the speedgame and havoc on the main server whilst we used the old server for beta testing.
<Kloopy> It worked really well in my opinion and it's something that we'll be doing all the time from now on.
<CH_Bot> (Q 3): <Phil^> Will bot-planets ever be introduced into pa, to counterbalance any lack of players? ( this could also be used in the rented games to provide more targets btw)
<Kal> never say never
<Kloopy> It's certainly a contreversial subject.
<Kloopy> But it would allow us to bring in alot of possibilities for making the game more interesting.
<AppocoBusy> I'm personally in favour of the idea of bot planets for smaller players to work off, to take away the "bottom rung" of human players.
<Kloopy> There are, with everything, a huge number advantages and disadvantages and it's ideas like this we'll be asking for your input on over the coming months.
<Kal> at this time though we have rather a lot of coding to be getting on with though
<Kloopy> Absolutely Kal, and I think that answers the question perfectly.
<CH_Bot> (Q 4): <Phil^> is there any truth to the rumour that killmark is playing pa again? and are the multihunters scruitinising him
<Kal> well it seems he is in the channel, we could allways ask him
<AppocoBusy> As far as we know, he's not officially returned
<Kloopy> (That's because he's cheating and you've not detected him. :P)
<AppocoBusy> obviously, he's got quite a reputation, and it'd be hard not to keep an eye on him if we knew where he was
<AppocoBusy> but we try not to concentrate so much on known cheaters we ignore everyone else
<CH_Bot> (Q 5): <Luci******> how about the comunit? there are many people complaining it doesn't work and if the new site is programmed without java... is there gonna be another way to connect beside the "program" irc?
<Kal> the issue with a non-java system is that its likely to put high demands on our servers
<Kloopy> And most people don't seem to have an issue with installing mIRC on their computers to access IRC.
<Kloopy> So perhaps we can assist people getting connected by providing a fully configured version of mIRC to download from the PA website.
<Kal> we will try to enhance the current comunit, but its likely to remain as a java app
<CH_Bot> (Q 6): <Phil^> is the main player base for pa still in the UK or are other countries beginning to show more influence?
<AppocoBusy> last round the UK had the most accounts, by a fair margin
<AppocoBusy> I think this is still the same this round
<AppocoBusy> I don't think that in the near future this will change, tbh
<AppocoBusy> though it'd be nice to see more players from other countries :-)
<Kloopy> UK, US, NO, NL, DE, CA, FI, AU.
<Kloopy> They are the top countries in that order.
<Kloopy> The UK is leading by about 500 accounts.
<AppocoBusy> I bet no one thought the US was that high up! I didn't
<CH_Bot> (Q 7): <Phil^> Will pa be returning to lan events such as the i-series 's or any lan games done by jolt in the future?
<AppocoBusy> Phil was busy with the questions
<AppocoBusy> I talked to biffy about this
<AppocoBusy> part of the problem is paying someone to take the code to the LAN, watching over it and making sure no one steals it, and taking it back
<Kloopy> Another problem is being accepted into the LAN event.
<AppocoBusy> also, a lot of the events are hosted by multiplay, who are Jolt's rivals
<Kloopy> Another problem is drawing enough players to the event to make running a speed round worthwhile.
<Kloopy> We can put some feelers out and see whether people would be interested in such a thing in the future, but I'm not confident there would be enough interest unfortunately.
<CH_Bot> (Q 8): <Laney> by how much has the playerbase decreased round-on-round since round 8?
<Kloopy> I'm hoping someone else chose this question because they have the data to hand.
<Kal> for a start it hasn't decreased every round
<Kal> I believe all of the rounds after round 10 have had more players than round 10 had
<Kal> and this round certainly has more players than last round
<Kal> we do however want to increase the player base more
<Kal> which is why we want to double the player base within 5 rounds
<Kal> we think that the new game will enable us to do that
<AppocoBusy> Also, once the game looks nicer, Jolt are willing to pay for advertising
<AppocoBusy> (which should increase numbers more)
<CH_Bot> (Q 9): <RobTD> Will there be prices like the prices in the speedround for the real game?
<Kloopy> I was thinking of donating a prize myself.
<AppocoBusy> Jolt aren't offering more prizes for the moment, unfortunately.
<Kloopy> A t-shirt to the top planet that says "I won Planetarion Round 15" and their ruler/planet name on the back.
<Kal> the speedgame in question was a special event as part of a series of jolt events, hoever i'm sure similar opportunites will come up in the future
<CH_Bot> (Q 10): <Markb> is the game ever going to be free again ? I played PA in a few of the early rounds and the P2P has put me off ever since. Other games have been able to generate an income from the game without inflicting a p2p system on players, so why not PA ?
<AppocoBusy> We are having a free round, but I can't see the game ever being free again.
<Kloopy> We usually get about 3 rounds into a year. At the moment three credits costs £10. Can you -reallly- complain about spending 2.7p per day to play Planetarion?
<Kal> certainly in the case of some of the other similar games they run at a loss and are funded out of their admins pockets, so making money in this sort of game without p2p is hard
<Kal> As Kloopy says, pa really is very cheap
<Kloopy> You could fund your PA rounds by finding loose change on the floor.
<Kloopy> Check down the back of the sofa.
<Kloopy> And you'd be astonished at the generosity of some people in the community.
<Kal> its also a current policy that all speedgames will be free
<Kloopy> If you REALLY are stuck and REALLY CANT pay for a round, you'll usually find some angel who will pay for you.
<Kloopy> I say usally, I mean sometimes.
<Kloopy> But there really are kind people who play this game, they know who they are and they deserve some recognition for it.
<CH_Bot> (Q 11): <Brug> it maybe is cheap, but paying for it isn't always that easy
<AppocoBusy> (jumping the queue slightly with that one, I'm afraid)
<AppocoBusy> We know that it is a bit limited in payment options
<AppocoBusy> I've been taking some paypal transfers and then adding people credits
<AppocoBusy> and i know others have
<AppocoBusy> (sorry, phone)
<Kal> with the new game we will revisit payment again, but its not something we have that much control over
<CH_Bot> (Q 12): <Paisley> when is Jolt going to start paying the PA a wage?
<AppocoBusy> Kloopy gets paid!
<Kal> I think its fair to say that most of us would prefer money to be spent on the game than on us
<Kal> that said, I coudl really do with some cash right now :/
<AppocoBusy> biffy's in singapore, he can't hear us now
<AppocoBusy> Maybe if the game makes a bigger profit, we'll get paid. tell all your friends to come and pay!
<AppocoBusy> freudian slip
<Kloopy> The current PATeam all deserve to get paid though.
<Kloopy> Despite any ideas that you have about members of the team, everyone pulls their weight.
<Kloopy> And they put in more hours than you thought possible.
<CH_Bot> (Q 13): <NorwegiaN> Will Spinner/Fudge/Zokum ever be back and what's happenin' to PA-Radio? (I used to be a dj.)
<Kloopy> Zokum is in the channel at the moment. I see him speak occasionally.
<Kloopy> There was a thread on the forums regarding PA Radio recently.
<Kloopy> I think Igloo was running the discussion.
<Kloopy> But I don't know what happened to that.
<Kloopy> As for Fudge and Spinner I think they've trulely moved on now.
<AppocoBusy> I know DigitalZero was also interested in starting it
<AppocoBusy> there are issues, but we'll see what happens I guess :-)
<Kal> we would love to have an offical radio station, but its a bit to much of a legal grey area for us though
<AppocoBusy> thread is here btw: http://pirate.planetarion.com/showt...ad.php?t=187616
<Kal> but we welcome community initatives
<CH_Bot> (Q 14): <TheFlo|study> What is PA doing to attract more players, thus creating a bigger community? Have you thought about giving away free accounts randomly (for example 1 in every 250 accounts??)
<AppocoBusy> I don't think randomly upgrading accounts is the answer, tbh
<AppocoBusy> we're spending most of our effort in redesigning the game (walking too and from lectures I try and come up with new covert op formulae, for example)
<AppocoBusy> It's actually quite good, and I still haven't managed to walk into anyone OR get run over.
<Kal> there was some talk of a fund for free accounts a few roudns back
<Kal> but there were to many issues with it for it to go forward
<AppocoBusy> I think we're really trying to improve the game and then get it advertised
<AppocoBusy> and hopefully that'll help bring in numbers :-)
<AppocoBusy> along with the free round
<CH_Bot> (Q 15): <skl> can norwegian players still pay via bank transfer?
<AppocoBusy> No one can pay via bank transfer anymore. more information on payment is found here: http://www.planetarion.com/manual/manual/
<CH_Bot> (Q 16): <Dude> will there be a completely new interface for the game, or will it look and feel practically the same to us as players, just with new features etc?
<Kloopy> A completely new interface. An exciting and fun one.
<Kloopy> But it'll not be so different that you don't "understand" it.
<Kloopy> You'll be able to relate from PAX to PAN.
<Kloopy> And that of course implies lots of new features too!
<CH_Bot> (Q 17): <Danthemandoo> Are there any plans to bring back the old system of allowing fleets to stay at planets for a custom amount of ticks?
<AppocoBusy> Yes, maybe.
<Kloopy> That's certainly possible. The idea of the combat engine re-write is things like this will be possible.
<AppocoBusy> Then we can just argue up until the last minute what it should be
<Kal> we want to be able to change the game dynamics between rounds without having to recode the game
<Kloopy> I'm coding myself out of the job with PAN.
<AppocoBusy> I know that 3 tick combat and 6 tick defence still holds a soft spot in many people's hearts
<AppocoBusy> we'll find something for you to do Kloopy!
<CH_Bot> (Q 18): <Kargool> if we dont like the new game, will we then get a refund of the credits we bought in this round? <Kargool> its a serious question <Kargool> since changing the game that radical actually is changing the product we are buying
<AppocoBusy> There will be no refund of credits, I'm afraid
<AppocoBusy> We're not changing the product beyond recognition, only improving it
<Kal> current credits will be valid in the new game though
<AppocoBusy> of course :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 19): <Intruder> Will Pa Team give anymore support to current/Future community projects like PA Wiki??
<Kal> i'm not sure pa wiki wants us interfering
<Kal> but we think its a great idea
<Kloopy> I don't think we should, either.
<Kloopy> It's a fantastic effort.
<AppocoBusy> no, it's good being indepedant. and yes, it's great!
<Kloopy> Everyone should help them develop further.
<Kal> and we'd love other community projects as well
<AppocoBusy> I've linked to it in the manual and on the signup e-mail (if you read that :P)
<Kloopy> Take a look and add your own useful information.
<CH_Bot> (Q 20): <Vikman> Will prices for credits be changing?
<AppocoBusy> No, prices for credits won't be changing (as far as we know!) in the near future.
<AppocoBusy> just because we're making a new look Planetarion, doesn't mean we have to put the prices up!
<Kal> we may at some point allow credits to be used for other things
<Kloopy> Like going for a romantic candle lit meal with Kal.
<AppocoBusy> highest bidder in credits gets it
<CH_Bot> (Q 21): <Intruder> I meant aking about supporting indeendednt initiatives not taking it within PA, but advertising and mentioning on PA page/portal as with wiki
* Kal hides
<Kal> we do list community projects we know of on the portal
<Kloopy> Yes, if a community initiative is good it will have our full backing.
<Kloopy> If a project wants our support, they should come and talk to one of us.
<Kal> the portal will be fully revamped for the new game btw
<CH_Bot> (Q 22): <Phil^> This Game Management System (GMT), isnt that just the (infamous) passport by another name?
<AppocoBusy> no, actually it's not!
<AppocoBusy> it has lots of extra fun admin tools in it too :-)
<AppocoBusy> It won't be quite the same as a passport
<Kal> a passport is a single login for everything, while the GMS may end up doing that, its purpose is to do a whole lot more
<AppocoBusy> You'll still get the bot login questions every 2 hours, don't panic :P
<AppocoBusy> for the game, not the passport
<Kal> a lot of it is as AppocoBusy says admin stuff - the ability for us to manage games without needing server access or game accounts for example
<AppocoBusy> it means you can't prey on us in 1:1 any more!
<AppocoBusy> though I'll probably still have a 1:1 account, as it's quite fun sometimes :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 23): <Intruder> Is Talking about mIRC, could PA release their own official simple-to-use auto-explain-config-with-game-tips mirc script in a way to help new users to use IRC first time?
<Kal> if AppocoBusy wants to make it i don't see why not
<AppocoBusy> The problem is, I'd end up going over the top, or not do enough.
<AppocoBusy> It's possible, but it's not high on the list of things to do I'm afraid.
<AppocoBusy> I know some people were making Planetarion IRCs
<AppocoBusy> and again, if someone feels they could make a better job of it than me (let's face it, you could), then they're welcome :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 24): <Heartless> Will PA infuture support multiple languages so that it will attract more players from other countries?
<AppocoBusy> and we'll link to it in the help manual and on the portal and so forth
<AppocoBusy> not as such
<AppocoBusy> that's ok
<Kal> this is a difficult issue
<AppocoBusy> all official game things have to be in English, we've been told by Jolt
<Kal> there are actually lots of good reasons against it other than the law of jolt
<AppocoBusy> Also, if everything were in 5 different
languages, they'd have no common ground, and it'd fracture the community more
<AppocoBusy> At least this way, with the forums and the game in English, there is some common ground
<AppocoBusy> I made a post about it here: http://pirate.planetarion.com/showt...ad.php?t=187918
<AppocoBusy> if people want to write unofficial help manuals, I'll find somewhere to put them
<AppocoBusy> as sometimes it's confusing to have to try and cope through poor English in learning the game, let alone communicating with someone
<AppocoBusy> but all official game material will remain English for the forseeable future, I'm afraid.
<CH_Bot> (Q 25): <Phil^> are there any parts of PAX going to survive or is it an effective rewrite?
<AppocoBusy> As has been mentioned above, some parts will make it through for sure.
<Kal> the galaxy system will be largly the same
<AppocoBusy> I'm trying to add changes that are optional and more complex
<AppocoBusy> so that it is similar to PAN if you want it to be
<Kloopy> But it'll all be recoded from scratch, we're changing the language it's coded in for a few reasons but alot of game dynamics will remain unchanged.
<AppocoBusy> Also, the fact it'll be all coded together means it'll probably be slightly more efficient
<AppocoBusy> some of the code is a bit "patched" at this stage
<CH_Bot> (Q 26): <Phil^> why so many acronyms?
<Kal> my fault i'm afraid
<Kal> in the indutry i work in we use a lot of them, so i may have got carried away a little...
<Kal> but, it is useful to have a way to refer to things
<AppocoBusy> I know them all!
<AppocoBusy> last one
<AppocoBusy> (have no idea what this is)
<CH_Bot> (Q 27): <kyew> what happens if you dont reach your team objectives? a slap on the wrist or something else?
<Kloopy> We get a forum and email inboxes full of abuse?
<AppocoBusy> I assume you're referring to the PAN announcement
<Kal> i was actually thinking about this a little recently
<Kal> and i guess it depends on what way we fail and why
<Kal> for example if we fail becuase kloopy did no coding i think its fair to say he would be out of a job
<Kal> if we fail becuase pan was the wrong thing to do then i'd probably be out of a job
<Kal> but some things are beyond our control
<AppocoBusy> I'm sure it'll be great :-)
<Kloopy> Yes, to wrap up...
<Kloopy> Lets not be so pesimistic. We intent to make PAN a relaity with your ideas and suggestions playing a huge part in the development.
<Kloopy> There's no need to think about failure when it's not going to happen.*
<Kloopy> *never being run over by a bus not guaranteed.
<Kal> the whole team is optimistic and motivated right now
<Kloopy> We are, yes.
<Kal> we are working towards a common goal and i think we are all actually happy about it
<AppocoBusy> We're so excited we've overrun by 4 minutes telling you about it!
<AppocoBusy> Hopefully most of you haven't drifted off to sleep
<Kal> we'll try to get some more info out and some discussions going in the coming weeks and hopefully we will have another CH soon
<AppocoBusy> anyway, thanks for coming everyone :-) If you want to add questions for next time, /msg CH_Bot <question> now. Otherwise, it'll be up again when we announce CH next time.