Posted at 10:30 GMT on Saturday 16th May 2009
Ok, after lots of hassling me and not being able to find a suitable vbulletin plugin (and not wanting to PAY for a vbulletin addon, let alone all the template changes) I've decided to give in and start a blog.
For those who randomly stumble over this, it will be my thoughts as I help to develop Planetarion, especially the game aspect of it. I'm sure that I'll have comments on the forums saying a mixture of "well done for being more transparent" and "why aren't you fixing all the problems?!?!?!?"
I like to think that this is moving on from my new change tracker in making things more visible for the community.
Here's a list of my current worries:
This is like, the neverending story part #100.
To the best of my knowledge, the following people have made portals since I joined the PA Team:
Kloopy (complete portal, no passport system, reused from Round 10 or so)
Jakey_coding (complete portal, no passport system, pretty retro)
therealmig (didn't get released)
Ph8 (didn't get released)
myk (got partially released, no passport system functional)
Cin (current version, not complete)
Ideally, despite this, we want a fairly comprehensive passport. This is to:
-act as a single point for users to sign up to. They would then not have to signup anywhere else. I cannot emphasise how important I think this is
-list all the current games. This will increase visibility of things like the speedgame
-act as a central point for the game. we have no focal point
-keep credits tracked more successfully between rounds
-allow us to link to things like a Planetarion shop, gallery, blogs, articles, etc
Please, someone, feel free to donate us a passport system :(
Current Portal Design
This seems on the up, after blueemu's thread and blog. I'm happy that it's looking a lot better, after the original negativity. Hopefully we'll get a game and forum skin out of it too.
After rounds of that annoying Java thing, we're going to look to integrate qwebirc in the next round or so, assuming we can work with NetGamers to have lots of people on it. Lunar kindly installed the basic version for testing, but we're going to have to use a newer version and potentially install Java, so I can't see us having something to look at skinning this weekend. Everything takes so long
This is where a lot of focus is, and admittedly needs to be. Over the last few years we've focused our attention more on the game itself than new signup users. We do need to work out how to firstly attract new users, e.g. a landing pad for adverts again (we used to have one, though it was never really used), and allow them to have more in-game support (apart from quests), and to find some way of making new and smaller planets more attractive to older players and making it worthwhile to invest time 'educating' them.
Exile / Disband
As of this morning, Light and JBG kindly pointed out in a thread that removing disband means that the weaker players are being picked off, as they were for the 20 rounds before galaxy disband. I'm not sure what either the short or the long term solutions to this are. I think I will have to speak to some of the members of the galaxies tomorrow to see how they feel for a short term solution. Long term, we may be looking at a more radical re-work of galaxies. We will need to support groups of players in terms of alliances and 'random' galaxy-type interaction, but if a better system supports that and it's feasable then it might be an interesting alternative.
One thing I would like to look into for Round 32 (33?) is to have some bots with better AI. As a minimum, they'd defend each other in galaxy, but more importantly perhaps they'd take the pressure off the smaller galaxies as they might be slightly 'easier' targets. They'd be introduced during the shuffle or similar and provide realistic targets to bulk up the galaxies and spread the load of incoming. They wouldn't be sitting ducks though - they would defend in galaxy. It does require a lot of planning and coding though, so whilst I think it'd be interesting, I don't know how viable it is at the moment, unless someone is willing to come in and design the bots.
I'm looking to spread the tabbing that Cin has introduced this round to the big alliance pages, as they're a bit of a mess at the moment. We think that in future the alliance system may be changed back to a pre-r10 style, but that's very much a "for the future" idea.
I would like to introduce a feed in game that's dumped like dumpfiles (maybe rss too?). It would start off with things like when we have a new top planet, galaxy and alliance, but it could add in random facts too (number of players currently logged in, random government usage, or something). More importantly, it could be used to host new features such as "War".
I know this has been knocked around in some forms, but I'd like to introduce an option for galaxies and alliances to go to war with other respective galaxies / alliances. It would be a case of:
gc / hcs specify target
12 ticks "warmup time", during which you can cancel the war
target mailed / war announced on "feed"
48 period of 1 way "war", during which you get significant xp bonuses and an increased roid cap on targets
12 tick "cool down" period, during which you cannot attack anyone else
no intel will be provided when you go to war with someone, so intel is important for alliance wars
you can only go to war with 1 player
I was also looking at some sort of ranking system, i.e. you'd get (their initial score)/(your initial score) * function( xp gained in war, roids capped in war), and you could average this to find how effective you were in war, and have a 'warlords' ranking.
I added in the 12 ticks either side to give the dcs a rest, really. I'm more worried about that than anything else.
A few players feel that there should be more pro-galaxy stuff. I wondered about adding galaxy asteroids at tick 72 and galaxy scores getting a bonus from this, to encourage some galaxy-based fighting. That's if we stay with galaxies.
Advertising / etc
We really don't have much of this. mPulse (and AndroX) are really amazing in offering us support in this department, but (together with improving the game) we need more work on this in general.
Well, this is quite lengthy. I hope I'll post another one soon with more thoughts or progress.
If anyone wants to volunteer (specific) advice on changing / improving text, or more generally if you want to write a guide, code (under an NDA), organise some sort of ranking site, or something similar then please contact me (via forum pm) or e-mail me, especially if you're allianceless and want to help.
I'll try and make my future posts shorter!