Posted at 22:18 GMT on Friday 20th September 2013
<Appocomaster> Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen
<Appocomaster> I think Lunar_Lamp is looking for his tie
<Appocomaster> or his dress
<Appocomaster> so I shall welcome you to the latest installation of the Creators Hour series
<Appocomaster> thank you all for coming
<Appocomaster> we shall look to answer as many of your questions as possible
<Appocomaster> if we can't answer them immediately, we will add in the answers and publish them on the forums and the portal
<Appocomaster> the log for this session will definitely end up on the portal
<Appocomaster> so those of you not around will be able to see the questions asked and the answers
<Appocomaster> without further ado, I give you ... Mr Lunar Lamp
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, ok, firstly, to pre-empt a question asked several times in a few different ways, at different times:
<Lunar_Lamp> "how are things now that PA Team is in charge?"
<Lunar_Lamp> Firstly, it's been far more tiring, and far more hassle, getting everything set up than I expected.
<Lunar_Lamp> All the company registration, legal, banking, tax implications have been painful. To the point that it's only in the last 30mins that we've got the bank account sorted out.
<Lunar_Lamp> On the other hand, there's a lot of excitement around in PA Team!
<Lunar_Lamp> We have ideas, we have hopes, and we're trying to work out a way to form these into a coherent vision moving forward.
<Lunar_Lamp> We're now 95% or so done with the boring stuff that had to be done to deal with the migration and establishment of the new company etc.
<Lunar_Lamp> So, hopefully that gives a little overview of what's happened so far!
<CH_Bot> (Q 1): <Paisley> Whos who in the PA team / ranual tech ltd
<Markb> I think I can say on behalf of the rest of PA Team we really appreciate the effort Lunar_Lamp has put in so far with keeping the game continuing ^
<Appocomaster> ^^ seconded. Lunar has been amazing, you haven't seen how hard he has worked for this
<Lunar_Lamp> Er, thanks guys :-p
<Lunar_Lamp> Onto Paisley's question!
<Lunar_Lamp> OK, legally speaking, Ranul Tech is a limited company owned entirely by myself.
<Lunar_Lamp> This exists largely to create a legal entity for the purpose of operating the game etc etc.
<Lunar_Lamp> PA Team *run* the game, and that consists of:
<Lunar_Lamp> Appocomaster, who you all know so well, general coder and "everything else" guy. Tricky role to describe!
<Lunar_Lamp> We have Cin, who hates to show any sign of existing in public, who codes for us (and does a fine job of that).
<Fiery> He fixes what Appocomaster breaks...
<Lunar_Lamp> We have Ace, who leads the multihunting team (thankless task that it is).
<Lunar_Lamp> Fiery, who tries to keep the support people in line.
<Lunar_Lamp> And Markb, who looks after IRC, and makes sure that Pea is well fed.
<Lunar_Lamp> I look after the servers, and now have to take on a role more on the business side too.
<Ace> Dont forget ther social media part :)
<Lunar_Lamp> Oh, yes, Markb and Ace do a lot there, particularly Ace, though I'm never sure who is supposed to do that. Everything seems to happen without me getting involved though. Which is probably a good thing.
<CH_Bot> (Q 2): <Paisley> what is the PA team's short and long term strategy
<Lunar_Lamp> OK, well, firstly, we're still in the early stages of clearly defining that, so this is rather wooly I'm afraid, but:
<Lunar_Lamp> My goal is to make a game enjoyed by many, and enoyed by many more in the future.
<Lunar_Lamp> Ergo, the strategy is to grow the player base through attracting new players to the game (e.g. advertising), attracting old players to return to the game (e.g. word of mouth and mail shots), and once they are playing to *keep* them playing.
<Lunar_Lamp> The last part of that is obviously something that, as a community, we've been rather fractured about, and whilst there are many good (and bad!) ideas that have been suggested, we have to paint these into a coherent single plan.
<Lunar_Lamp> I'd rather wait until I can describe a nice and coherent plan to announce it, than to give a rough outline that we're still assessing the feasibility of. I don't want to shatter too many hopes.
<CH_Bot> (Q 3): <NitbiT_> Now no 3rd parties are involved in decision making, will that speed up implementing (small) changes to the game? Like the new "Revolution/government reset" addition this round? If so, will we see other new things in the next round?
<Lunar_Lamp> It's possible, NitbiT_, though there was a degree of autonomy previously. In practice, I suspect that due to a renewed levels of vigour, excitement, and energy within PA Team that this will be the case.
<CH_Bot> (Q 4): <Kirlack> Are we ever going to see pictures of the ships/races?
<Lunar_Lamp> We lack artwork currently, and especially high resolution images.
<Lunar_Lamp> I have on my list as something to do to try and find an artist who can create a unified set of images, however the quality that I would desire might be probitively expensive at the moment.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, I am in agreement with you Kirlack, that I would love to present more images of the universe and its contents.
<CH_Bot> (Q 5): <Paisley> will the PA team impliment a research and developement team to make improvements to PA
<Lunar_Lamp> The short answer there is: maybe. It's a good idea, and if we can find a team of dedicated individuals willing to help out on more than just a short term basis, it could be very useful. I've already used a few trusted individuals to bounce ideas off, and formalising that process toward future development has potential.
<Lunar_Lamp> (i.e. "I like the idea, and would like to do so")
<CH_Bot> (Q 6): <Paisley> what arrangement have the PA team / Ranul tech ltd made with jagex
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not really willing to go into the full terms of the contract, because my hands will fall off if I try and explain the full details, however, briefly:
<Lunar_Lamp> Ranul Tech holds an exclusive licence to operate Planetarion, which remains owned by Jagex. Ranul Tech retains all profits from said game, and is obligated to keep running the game (or reliquish rights).
<Lunar_Lamp> There are a few other bits and pieces, like making sure we don't advertise Jagex rivals competitors, for example, and a lot of more tedious legal obligations.
<CH_Bot> (Q 7): <Cain> what are the short and long term plans for advertising pa?
<Lunar_Lamp> In the short term, I've already had a brief test of Facebook promotions to see how that works, and I think that might ahve potential (the amount invested was small).
<Lunar_Lamp> I also am currently working out a budget and the details of how to advertise for the next round.
<Lunar_Lamp> Amusingly, one of the things that is a small issue there is our lack of high quality images: banner ads and similar tend to need images!
<Lunar_Lamp> But, yes, it's in my budget, and the more the game grows, the more we can afford to spend on advertising!
<CH_Bot> (Q 8): <Clouds> Will you at some point be creating some sort of mobile app? In this day and age and with a global use of smart phones, this game needs to make an official Planetarion app. Not only would it be keeping up with the current technology, but it would be convenient for the average player.
<Lunar_Lamp> I like the idea of a mobile app (or two).
<Lunar_Lamp> Currently, we have a fair few android users, and a non-trivial iOS user base, though most users do use normal web browsers.
<Lunar_Lamp> I think, as a half-way-house, it would be better to focus efforts on making the user experience more mobile-browser-friendly.
<Lunar_Lamp> I have, however, had some discussion with an app developer or two to guague the complexity of the task.
<Lunar_Lamp> It's not the sort of thing we can do overnight, and it's not likely to be cheap to implement. Currently, it would probably be a financial gamble too far.
<Lunar_Lamp> But, I'm very much open to it, and am actively keeping an eye on it.
<Markb> Just as a reminder if you have any questions PM them to CH_Bot
<Lunar_Lamp> And, ChronoX, I'm not sure that any of the three Windows Phone users play PA.
<CH_Bot> (Q 9): <Cain> will there be mechanics implanted to make it possible to enter later into a round (for new players) to make signing up still an option
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not quite sure how this differs from "Late Starters", but I suspect I@m missing some nuance due to a lack of sleep here. Thoughts, Appocomaster?
<Appocomaster> just to note, currently late signups do get tech advantages, resource advantages, roid bonuses
<Appocomaster> late starters have sometimes done pretty well, around tick 300-400
<Appocomaster> but yes, beyond that, towards tick 800, it's hard for smaller players to join the game
<Appocomaster> and do amazingly well
<Appocomaster> I hadn't discussed this with anyone yet (this is where most of my problems) but I was thinking of merging the older late join code bonuses with the startup bonuses or something :-)
<Appocomaster> so you get RP and CU if you start late, to allocate as appropriate
<Appocomaster> sorry, new players
<Appocomaster> I think most people who are starting the game use half a round to understand how it works :P
<Appocomaster> so it's not exactly wasted
<Appocomaster> I'm not sure what could really be done with the overall game setup to make it more interesting for them :/
<Appocomaster> maybe more quests or bot planets
<Appocomaster> to play with
<Appocomaster> Lunar_Lamp: did you have any general ideas on new planets?
<Lunar_Lamp> Not really in relation to this question, though I do want to try and make life easier for brand new players, in terms of being able to understand and start playing the game.
<CH_Bot> (Q 10): <Cain> will there be made better use of ingame mails to inform players about future events to come?
<Lunar_Lamp> Hopefully. Sorry about tonight's late reminder.
<Appocomaster> I think that's the main thrust behind this
<Markb> We're also hoping to involve quite a bit of social media in addition to the normal Portal post + ingame notifications to get news out there
<Lunar_Lamp> As a more general point, I would like to improve our messaging *generally*, as Markb says. And he and Ace are starting some good work there :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 11): <Clouds> As much as it pains me to suggest this, considering I'm an old school player, Planetarion needs to move the communication of players ingame, ie a chat box ingame located in 'alliances'. Most games today use this feature. Not only would it keep up with today's technology, but it is be noob friendly and help keep newer players interested and not keep them isolated from the community.
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, we do have a chat box ingame. The com-unit! It's also accessible without logging in at http://chat.planetarion.com and even via IRC clients.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, I do think I see your point, in that you'd like to ease the integration of new players with alliances on IRC.
<Lunar_Lamp> This isn't a bad idea, if we can work out a way to implement it (it would likely need per-alliance cooperation).
<CH_Bot> (Q 12): <Cain> does the pa team look for help with coding to take the pressure of the few who are involved now?
<Lunar_Lamp> We've looked for help previously, and, to be brutally honest, have been let down often. It's quite depressing searching now as we're all rather jaded.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, we *are* 100% open to help.
<Lunar_Lamp> We're not trying to do it all on our own: we *want* to see people from teh community stepping forward to help, as every single person in PA Team, and support and MHs has done this.
<Lunar_Lamp> So, genuinely, if you have useful skills, please do not be scared to offer them.
<CH_Bot> (Q 13): <Anonymous> Can any thing be done to encourage and make small alliances a part of the game by incenticizing the small alliances to attract members?
<Appocomaster> to put into perspective, since Cin and I joined the PA Team, post us, we've had about 5 coders offer to help, and most of them ended up getting access to at least part of the code. only one of them made any sort of impact, and I think that was about 10-20 lines of code
<Appocomaster> most of them just went idle and left ;P
<Lunar_Lamp> The alliance size debate is... polarising. I've heard some say "small alliances will grow PA, and large will kill it!" and others say "large alliances will grow PA, and small will kill it!"
<Lunar_Lamp> I would like for small alliances to be a strong part of the game, as friendships grow out of such alliances often. And this, apart from the benefits to PA, is great for all concerned.
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not sure about giving specific bonuses to alliances below a certain cap, as it would have to be very carefully judged to avoid abuse.
<Lunar_Lamp> The idea, however, is not "off the cards". I've just not got a sufficiently detailed proposal to be able to critique yet.
<CH_Bot> (Q 14): <robert> With the general intention of increasing the playerbase of the game, does the PA Team foresee changes in regards to how new players to the game are supported (support wise and dealing with cheats) in order to keep them playing?
<Lunar_Lamp> I've discussed a little with PA Team, and I really want to make the first few clicks in the game far simpler for new players. I want a simple signup/registration process, that then guides them into a game with context and a better picture of what the game is.
<CH_Bot> (Q 15): <Paisley> will the PA team consider other events outside of the main game like competitive weekend/1day speedgames?
<Lunar_Lamp> Yes, though, currently, we are focusing on the main game. Speedgames, historically, have been played by relatively few and generated no income directly (and obviously have a cost).
<Lunar_Lamp> Speedgames are, of course, a great tool to attract players though.
<CH_Bot> (Q 16):
<Appocomaster> WE BEAT THE CH_BOT
<Lunar_Lamp> I think you broke it /o\
<Appocomaster> it ran out
<Appocomaster> everyone can watch this doggie whilst we wait for more questions: http://i.imgur.com/t9BrRmr.gif
<Lunar_Lamp> Oh, a question I was asked a while back that isn't in CH_BOT!
<Lunar_Lamp> "Are you going to do any PA Merchandise?"
<Appocomaster> go for that one
<Lunar_Lamp> In short: almost certainly. I was in fact samples to arrive today so I could review quality, but the parcels haven't arrived.
<Ace> same here :)
<Lunar_Lamp> Yes, we've distributed a few items around PA Team to check the global distribution too.
<Fiery> Waiting here as well
<Appocomaster> This partly comes back to Lunar's graphics comments
<Lunar_Lamp> It's likely it will take a little time to get the right "touch" for what the merch should be, but I'm sure that we should be able to find a "Round 53 Winner" tshirt this round ;-)
<Lunar_Lamp> (obviously, a special 1-off tshirt!)
<Appocomaster> Can we get "I've spent x years in the PA Team and all I got was this T-Shirt?"
<Lunar_Lamp> No, because we got some chocolates once a few years back!
<Appocomaster> oh true
<Fiery> I didn't...
<Appocomaster> *almost the only thing
<CH_Bot> (Q 17): <Tia2> Will you be re-introducing prizes to the round winners?
<Ace> only the UK part
<Appocomaster> we skipped a question :(
<Appocomaster> it's okay
<Lunar_Lamp> Haha, Tia2, I hadn't seen that question when I made my comment just now, but yes, I do plan on this.
<Appocomaster> (you can nqp)
<Lunar_Lamp> We'll see how things pan out, but for this round, the winner will get some sort of prize, but the exact prize will depend on a few factors (e.g. how happy we are with the quality of the merchandise we're looking at now, and what the shipping costs would be).
<CH_Bot> (Q 18): <galla> With plans to grow the game have the PA Team considered how they would deal with multying in a much larger player base as in the early rounds of pa multying was at epidemic proportions?
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, this is a bit of a non-answer, but, that would be a wonderful problem to have to solve.
<Lunar_Lamp> There are better administrative tools nowadays to help us out here though, so hopefully our baseline would be better.
<CH_Bot> (Q 19): <Clouds> Most alliance use their own tools (for example) to contact members via sms for defence. Have you considered implementing something within 'Alliances' where alliances can use a feature to do this sort of thing from ingame? Granted they would need to pay a fee, and you could actually make a profit from this.
<Lunar_Lamp> I have considered doing SMS in-game somehow, though haven't yet discussed this in detail with the rest of the team.
<Lunar_Lamp> I have a fair amount of experience with SMS systems, and am aware fo a few issues we are likely to have with an international userbase.
<Lunar_Lamp> Having said that, I do like the idea, and it could earn us a few coins over the course of a round.
<CH_Bot> (Q 20): <robert> excellent politician's answer to Q14, there are no current plans to change how the support + MH teams operate?
<Lunar_Lamp> Let me just read up to see the question
<Lunar_Lamp> Hmm, I wasn't really trying to give a politicians answer there - I genuinely *do* want to improve the very early stages of new players signing up to the game.
<Lunar_Lamp> I think the support team does a pretty good job, but if you have specific suggestions please let us know! (also, contact Fiery if you'd like to help out there)
<Lunar_Lamp> From a MH perspective, they are always a contentious area, so I'm going to try and be careful what I say.
<Lunar_Lamp> I think that they get a lot of unfair abuse, but, we're planning on having a review to see what we can do to help new players (especially friends, housemates etc) to play together.
<CH_Bot> (Q 21): <Anonymous> What is being done to make alliances responsible for members that break rules as there is no accountability, therefore no reason to self police?
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not sure if we should punish alliance HCs for the conduct of their members. I would be interested to see what the community thinks there.
<Ace> no no
<Ace> I think he means we inform the alliance
<Ace> I can answer that a bit
<Lunar_Lamp> I, personally, would err on the side of making it *more* possible to backstab your alliance (though I haven't really any clear ideas on how to do that).
<Lunar_Lamp> Ah, right!
<Ace> for a few years now we do inform alliance HC's a little more on some of the reasons we have to close people without going in to to much details
<CH_Bot> (Q 22): <Cain> Will random events be reintroduced again to have things to do during the hour between ticks as you can only do 1 covop skewing stealth. Something along the lines of using agents with a possible chance of finding resources, discovering a small roid amount, finding research / construction points etc?
<Lunar_Lamp> Hmm, there is definitely some potential there, though I'm not aware of any plans for the near future. I do think it's something we should look into though.
<CH_Bot> (Q 23): <Paisley> Will the PA team / lunar_lamp consider investment (cash) into ranul ltd?
<Lunar_Lamp> That's a complex question, and the answer is very much "it depends".
<Lunar_Lamp> We would be open to discussions, but we would have to be convinced that the *game* would benefit from such investment.
<Lunar_Lamp> We aren't looking for investment from people hoping to make a quick buck and do a runner.
<CH_Bot> (Q 24): <Mistwraith> Could there be in some time in the future a Planetarion meet a Team member night ?
<Lunar_Lamp> Haha, I'm not sure that my liver could stand up to that...
<Ace> I met one last weekend :)
<Markb> I met one last weekend too!
<Lunar_Lamp> We probably *should* do something of the sort, though we haven't even all met each other yet!
<Appocomaster> I assumed it'd be an IRC Q&A session thing
<Appocomaster> rather than a real life thing
<Appocomaster> I think Markb is in the lead
<Lunar_Lamp> Oh, well, yes, there is that too...
<Markb> RL > text :p
<Lunar_Lamp> We could do a textual "meet a PA Team member". That could be fun :-)
<Appocomaster> less work
<Ace> tbhI met a fair few PA players (mostly Dutch ofc) in RL too
<Appocomaster> Mistwraith did apparently mean a physical meeting
<Appocomaster> I'm at most ievents if anyone wants to say hi
<Lunar_Lamp> I think we'll do just one more question? :-)
<Appocomaster> Markb does other LANs
<CH_Bot> (Q 25): <Cain> Will the quest tech tree ever get finished (by rewarding all)?
<Fiery> Sure, if anyone wants to come to Kansas. We can drink and bake cookies
<Fiery> I'll take you out cow tipping
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not actually quite sure what this question means.
<Ace> rewards for all quests
<Ace> the ones you forget to do :)
<Appocomaster> there's obviously only rewards for the firsto nes
<Appocomaster> I think it needs general tweaking and rethought before we add rewards
<Appocomaster> to make it a bit more interesting
<Appocomaster> oh yes! victory over everyone else here
<Appocomaster> goodnight Jaran :D
<Appocomaster> ahem. anyhow
<Fiery> Good night, Jaran!
<Appocomaster> it was always the plan to do
<Appocomaster> and the XP bonuses should get bigger
<Appocomaster> it could make things more entertaining, but it would be hard to balance
<Appocomaster> I'll look at it if I have time before next round
<Lunar_Lamp> Right. Well, I t hink that's all we have time for, and technically speaking, a bit more still!
<Lunar_Lamp> Thanks for the questions, and hopefully you learnt something new, and/or had your queries answered :-)
<Lunar_Lamp> I think there's one more thing to say, from Ace I think?
<Ace> we seen a lot of questions on gfx
<Ace> a lot
<Ace> a few weeks ago we got the same question from the ally HCs
<Ace> there will be a competition
<Ace> for gfx (for facebook and adverts) and for a new gal banner
<Ace> we liked the idea a lot so there will be a post up with the announcement
<Ace> and the rules
<Ace> and to make it more intresting I will offer credits to the winners
<Ace> you will all read about that on the forums and portal
<Ace> I think you can open the channel again Lunar_Lamp
-!- mode/#planetarion [-m] by Markb