Might & Fealty Community

Gameplay => General Discussion => Topic started by: De-Legro on October 09, 2017, 12:37:29 AM

Title: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 09, 2017, 12:37:29 AM
So for a long time I have thought about if the subscription levels provide anything to the game other then a source of income. I would propose that we scrap it entirely. Even though we have a free account I think we will find that having a "pay wall" turns people off since general experience will suggest to them that playing free in any game that has paid accounts is signing up to be a second class citizen. Further it will get rid of the constant gripes about players with large accounts.

What I would suggest is that we change the rules, one player = one account and that all accounts are equal, say somewhere between 8-20 characters allowed. To offset the income stream we would need more goodies for people to purchase, or a subscription system that adds something that is desirable but doesn't infer in game advantage, like the ability to have have one of the in game houses/dynasties when that feature is completed.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Demivar on October 09, 2017, 03:07:13 AM
Generally speaking, whether someone is a subscriber or not simply depends on how invested they are in the game. Back when I was a Baron I had two characters, and eventually made two more alongside my main one to have a trio together and a single one elsewhere. I only started paying for the game after playing for 9 months in various capacities.


Most players don't need the First Ones, some do, and some others abuse it. I've never questioned my own use of First Ones since I've only ever created more when I've had a need to make more for various reasons, and mine tend to be spread out across a very large area. The only real problem I see with FOs is that some people choose to have disproportionately large numbers of the, and then issues arise.


I started the game amidst a large group of players, and we all felt comfortable with our numbers of FOs. A single character can do meaningful things, and if you're playing the game as it's designed to be played, then it's actually very fun without needing more First Ones.


Whether you think that it's done right or not, corruption is a very impactful mechanic which has large cumulative effects. It is mechanically better to have lots of players than it is to hoard stuff, and having more players tends to be more fun anyway.


With this in mind, you need to remember that First Ones are fairly useful in war. And whilst it isn't quite a straight linear improvement, having more FOs available tends to make wars a lot easier. Not all players are the same, some are more active, some are more committed, and some contribute more than others. If every player had the same number of FOs, the game would devolve into it being a race to attract as many players as you can. Having players as a currency would detract from the spirit of the game. When I started playing, I didn't need many FOs, and now I use a fair few across many locations. Player numbers becoming the defining factor of realms would not be beneficial, in my opinion. Regardless, this is a good talking point.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 09, 2017, 03:45:00 AM
Generally speaking, whether someone is a subscriber or not simply depends on how invested they are in the game. Back when I was a Baron I had two characters, and eventually made two more alongside my main one to have a trio together and a single one elsewhere. I only started paying for the game after playing for 9 months in various capacities.


Most players don't need the First Ones, some do, and some others abuse it. I've never questioned my own use of First Ones since I've only ever created more when I've had a need to make more for various reasons, and mine tend to be spread out across a very large area. The only real problem I see with FOs is that some people choose to have disproportionately large numbers of the, and then issues arise.


I started the game amidst a large group of players, and we all felt comfortable with our numbers of FOs. A single character can do meaningful things, and if you're playing the game as it's designed to be played, then it's actually very fun without needing more First Ones.


Whether you think that it's done right or not, corruption is a very impactful mechanic which has large cumulative effects. It is mechanically better to have lots of players than it is to hoard stuff, and having more players tends to be more fun anyway.


With this in mind, you need to remember that First Ones are fairly useful in war. And whilst it isn't quite a straight linear improvement, having more FOs available tends to make wars a lot easier. Not all players are the same, some are more active, some are more committed, and some contribute more than others. If every player had the same number of FOs, the game would devolve into it being a race to attract as many players as you can. Having players as a currency would detract from the spirit of the game. When I started playing, I didn't need many FOs, and now I use a fair few across many locations. Player numbers becoming the defining factor of realms would not be beneficial, in my opinion. Regardless, this is a good talking point.

There are plans to make FO's less essential to war, but those are a ways off. FO spam during wars is one thing I would love to stamp out.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Foxglove on October 10, 2017, 01:33:49 PM
I tend to agree that having any sort of paid subscription level can turn 'free' players off. However, it depends on how much the fees help out with the costs of hosting the game. Not very much, I'd imagine. But some regular income that comes in at a reasonably predictable level from month to month is possibly better than nothing. More vanity stuff to buy might offset some of the loss to income, but possibly not in predictable ways (e.g. if a player buys all the available vanity, that's all you're ever going to get from them).

If the subscription fees were stopped, I'd go with just giving everyone the ultimate level subscription as default. Let's not forget that during the early days of the game there were no limits at all on how many characters a single player could control and, arguably, the game had a lot more life to it then. However, I totally agree with De-Legro that First One spamming during wars needs to be wiped out, but I think that could be done just by tweaking the restriction that limits the number of new characters you can create in a short space of time.

I also agree that the rule should be one player = one account. If all players effectively had the ultimate level that should be good enough for everyone. I remember one of Tom's thoughts on multi-cheating was that a  big reason people create multiple accounts is simply because they want to play more of a game (i.e. experience more it has to offer), and that was a big part of why M&F initially had no restrictions on character creation. And also because catching multi-cheaters (and being sure of it) is time consuming.

Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Andrew on October 10, 2017, 01:51:01 PM
The game was 100% paying for it's own hosting before the move, and then some. As it stands right now though, all income goes to Tom, mostly because I've not gotten around to changing the PayPal API so I can receive the income then transfer the income-after-deducting-costs to Tom. It's also a discussion I need to have more thoroughly with him sometime, about what he wants done about all that and what I can spend on what.

A lot of the life in this game was lost due to lack of development and server issues. I can pretty easily get an email to anyone who ever played for longer than like 2 weeks, but that's a one-off thing if I do it. I'd want to give those returning players something that was truly interesting to return to--which is hard when I'm the only coder that is contributing (in the sense of the game is running code made by someone) to the game. That said, if you know people who left who would have good input, I'd love to hear their thoughts on things.

I have been wondering though, people may choose to make multiple accounts because they can't afford the game themselves. Would it be worth it to add ways for players to earn credits or subscriptions? The game already has volunteer subscription levels in the code that I added should I decide to reward someone for helping.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 10, 2017, 11:31:16 PM
I have been wondering though, people may choose to make multiple accounts because they can't afford the game themselves. Would it be worth it to add ways for players to earn credits or subscriptions? The game already has volunteer subscription levels in the code that I added should I decide to reward someone for helping.

If you go that route, consider adding in in-game trading with credits. What this achieves is that some "rich" players will be attracted because they can buy in-game influence via credits (i.e. they're spending on the game) but that's less divisive to other players since they are benefiting from the trade, too.

e.g. if you can trade for gold, then that's not a game-breaker but some rich player gets a temporary advantage, while the gold-seller gains credits to use in the game. However, whatever you link gaining credits to will be disproportionately done in the game. e.g. if you can trade gold for credits, then people will munchkin gold collection from their towns, which might not be fun gameplay. You can get more creative by listing things you want to encourage in the game and then tie direct rewards and/or credit-trading to those things.

So, say you want to encourage knight's offers instead. Then ... make a system where if you create a knight's offer and it's taken and the person sticks around as active for 30 days, then you get some amount of Credits. Guaranteed this will get everyone wanting to create competitive knight's offers, even if they play a free account. People will still hoard credits even if they're not using them. Human nature.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 10, 2017, 11:57:21 PM


If the subscription fees were stopped, I'd go with just giving everyone the ultimate level subscription as default. Let's not forget that during the early days of the game there were no limits at all on how many characters a single player could control and, arguably, the game had a lot more life to it then. However, I totally agree with De-Legro that First One spamming during wars needs to be wiped out, but I think that could be done just by tweaking the restriction that limits the number of new characters you can create in a short space of time.



This is an example of Correlation vs. Causation. It is true that during the time of unlimited characters there was more activity, but claiming that the unlimited characters had anything to do with it is much harder. If you recall the unlimited characters and bubba's actions using them was the first instance of a large scale rage quit, which incidently impacted the formation of the Imperium when we moved from a beta to the full game. More likely the high activity was due to the game being new and only being open to those whom have invested in the crowd funding effort. Just like any new game there is a honey moon period simply because it is new.

I have without a doubt been one of the player with the most characters in game, I one point I ran three ultimate accounts all maxed out. I now run a single account with 10 characters, and it is much much better for the game. Even with a single ultimate account there were multitude of characters whom existed purely to move troops and start battles. They never messaged anyone nor responded to messages, since who has the time to constantly trawl through the messages of 50 character to find those relevant to that character? As the game has evolved I have certainly changed my opinion in regards to characters. If you don't have the time to make the character a relevant individual within the game, then in my opinion there is no valid reason for that character to exist. I realise that this in conflict with Tom's vision but I think his experiment has shown the weakness of that vision. We have had realms of 50 or more settlements, with no internal communication and next to no external communication run from 1 or 2 accounts. I think 20 characters is a pretty high limit already, personally I would set it no higher then 12.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 11, 2017, 04:04:55 AM
I have to agree here, the more characters any one player has, they exponentially have less time and investment in each one. Even with only 4 characters in a "family" you're likely to only be communicating with 1 of them 99% of the time, because it's awkward to split your communication around with multiples and remember who was "speaking" to whom.

Here's my suggestion. Get rid of the 3-settlement limit per-character and change that to a 12-settlement limit per free account. And perhaps at the "basic" paid account level, you make that a 12 settlement limit per character. Some effects would be:

- players able to play a single character with 12 towns, if they want to
- less incentive to spam characters for purely logistical reasons
- more character slots free to be actual knights, not lords
- more character slots free for inter-marriage / children between accounts later on
- blur the line between paid and free accounts

I think these changes would be beneficial as starting players would make less "zombie" characters to merely hold towns, and have fewer characters - that they're more invested in - as lords, while freeing up spare character slots for miscellaneous adventurer/knight types.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 11, 2017, 05:01:39 AM
I can understand making the free account limit account based rather then character based. However if we retain paid accounts there is no reason to make hard limits on settlement ownership. Frankly I would remove limits on both accounts and just have a higher level of corruption applied to free accounts. That said nothing has convinced me that account tiers has any benefit apart from revenue, so I would rather remove them and create a new revenue stream. As foxglove said it can't be like the current cosmetic add-ons. It needs to be something compelling enough to warrant subscribing.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Foxglove on October 11, 2017, 02:45:00 PM
it's awkward to split your communication around with multiples and remember who was "speaking" to whom.

I must say I've never found it to be a problem to remember that. I actually see that as a problem of the nature of the message system and the way it handles converations. I don't think many people - aside from Tom - have ever really been fans of the message system.

As far as the character limits go, there are lots of reasons why players were given the ability to create large numbers of characters. Some of those came from lessons learned from Battlemaster (the reasons why people multi-cheat; the fact that a game like this actually needs a certain number of 'drone' characters to function but it not being fun to be a 'drone'; and so forth), as well as reasons more specific to the nature of this game, like creating big enough families to make marriages and internal conflicts within families work. I've always thought that the design concept for the family system here must have been strongly influenced by Crusader Kings II (I don't know if that's true, but it certainly seems like it), but has never actually been as effective.

Nevertheless, for me, the question of how many characters an individual player can play is more of a side issue when we're taking about whether or not to retain subscriptions. I always got the impression that the only real reason character limits were linked to subscriptions was because that was pretty much all there was in the game that could be linked to a form of subscription.

We'd first have to decide whether or not to retain subscriptions (in the sense of having players contribute something to the game every month). I guess that's up to Andrew. Then work from there. As far as I remember, Tom's original thoughts were that the only things that should be paid for in the game were the vanity items (things like the heraldry). I can't remember why he then changed that to introduce monthly fees and don't have to time to trawl back through the forum threads.

I think it would be possible to scrap the monthly fees and replace the income with something else based entirely on optional and non-essential content. I'd probably be inclined to link new paid-for content to families and characters. That would make people think more about their characters and invest more in them (invest in the emotional sense).

It would also give the game the chance of creating income every time a new character is created, which might well be a viable alternative in creating a regular income not based on monthly fees. Something along the lines of creating a new character costs nothing, but then you have a range of optional extras that can be bought to make the character more unique. That being said, I have no idea what those things could be. It would be much easier in a game with more visual imagery (for example, during the development of the game, the testers were very eager to see some sort of character portraits, but Tom couldn't find any rights-free portrait generator that he felt was suitable).
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 11, 2017, 04:00:13 PM
I've always thought that the design concept for the family system here must have been strongly influenced by Crusader Kings II (I don't know if that's true, but it certainly seems like it)

Nah, Crusader Kings II only came out in 2012, while might and fealty was already being developed before that was released. It's doubtful that CKII was any sort of influence. All the core ideas go way back. The Koei games (rot3k series) and Total War series have a lot of the core ideas already. CK just took that to another level of complexity.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Foxglove on October 11, 2017, 11:33:50 PM
Possibly, although XCOM: Enemy Unknown was also released in 2012 and Tom cited that as the direct inspiration for the way soldiers are handled in Might & Fealty (each being a named individual, and such).
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Demivar on October 11, 2017, 11:47:25 PM
CK2 was released on February 14th, 2012, and XCOM was released on October 9th, 2012, though CK2 was probably a bit meh without DLCs (not that the DLCs made post-Old Gods are at all worth it)


(Removed the stupid formatting that I neither intentionally added or checked. I hate forums.)


Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: silvershot on October 12, 2017, 12:15:51 AM
Possibly, although XCOM: Enemy Unknown was also released in 2012 and Tom cited that as the direct inspiration for the way soldiers are handled in Might & Fealty (each being a named individual, and such).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO:_Enemy_Unknown

Perhaps this?
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 12, 2017, 12:42:20 AM
Yeah ... every single soldier was a named individual in the original X-Com from ~23 years ago. It's not a new feature. Also, those features from Crusader Kings II were also in Crusader Kings I. Not to pick on young people but you seem to assume that the games which are current are the only inspiration out there. Most game developers are a little older and/or familiar with games from 1990-2010. Those are the core inspiration for most current gen games, not other recent releases.

There's also a logical problem here. People are saying that Might and Fealty (2013) was inspired by Crusader Kings II and X-Com 2012. That gives him a 1 year window of production to release. However - were they they only new games he played in 2012? Clearly to find the "inspiring" ones you'd have to sample a lot of games. You can't know what's going to inspire you before you see it. So we have the scenario where Tom is supposedly playing many new-release strategy games in 2012, to the required depth / time-investment to learn their core mechanics, yet he's somehow finding time to produce an entire game by himself for beta-release in 2013. It just doesn't add up.

People also don't think about how long a game development cycle actually takes. A released game today was probably in planning 4-5 years before. But people see a game come out in e.g. 2017 that looks like a game released in 2016 and they call it a "rip-off". That's just dumb. The 2017 game would have been in the late beta-testing stage when the 2016 game was released, and too late to make any big changes. Look at Star Citizen for example. Because of the crowd-funding you can get a glimpse at the development cycle. it's been in production since 2012. And add another 2-3 years of discussion and planning before that, then the idea was probably mooted around 2009-2010. So, overall planning and production on that game is going to stretch to around 10 years. Games are a major investment.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Foxglove on October 12, 2017, 03:07:14 AM
Yeah ... every single soldier was a named individual in the original X-Com from ~23 years ago.

Yes, I know. I played it. It was also a feature of Laser Squad from the late 1980s which was cited by the creators of the original UFO: Enemy Unknown as direct inspiration for their game. While Laser Squad itself was inspired by Rebelstar and Rebelstar Raiders. Having individual, named, characters in strategy games is certainly not a new concept.

Regardless of the history of the concept, when Might & Fealty was still undergoing development during testing, Tom said that the inclusion of individual soldiers was a direct result of the public reaction to the 2012 XCOM in the way that players developed an attachment to their soldiers. It was that sense of attachment that he liked, so he tried to reproduce it in Might & Fealty.

I took part  in the forum discussions where he talked about it. I certainly don't remember everything from the early days of the game, but I happened to remember that bit. I wasn't just saying it on a whim.

But we're all getting way, way off the point of the thread and we should try to get back to the main thrust of the topic. Much as I like a trip down the nostalgia tunnel of retro gaming, it's not the thread for it.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 12, 2017, 03:49:56 AM
While influences of M&F are interesting, we are seriously digressing from the subject.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Andrew on October 12, 2017, 10:22:09 AM
It is theoretically possible for me to figure out what most of M&F income actually is.

I'm loathe to go microtransactions, but if that's what most people spend money on (likely), and it'll still support the cost of the game's server, I can bring it up with Tom.

It's also something I'd want to ask the player base at large what their thoughts on it are, especially those who are presently subscribing.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Foxglove on October 12, 2017, 02:50:18 PM
I'm loathe to go microtransactions, but if that's what most people spend money on (likely), and it'll still support the cost of the game's server, I can bring it up with Tom.

It would have to be done very careful, in the sense that it would need to be made absolutely clear to players that they can fully play the game without ever paying anything. But there are a range of vanity purchases that can be made to personalize their game. Something along the lines of a notice where ever an option to purchase something appears to the effect of, "Might & Fealty is completely free to play and nothing you purchase will ever give you any in-game advantage. This content simply exists to enhance and personalize your [insert character, settlement, what ever]". Something like that, anyway. If new players get any hint (incorrectly) that they'll run in to a paywall, it'll be a huge turn off.

As I said before, the problem would be that it would be hard to replace the predictability of regular monthly subscription income just with vanity income. With the current vanity, once a player has bought something like the culture packs they're never going have to buy them again. Of course, that's how it should be with vanity. You shouldn't have to keep paying to maintain your content, once you've bought it, it should be yours for as long as you play the game.

So, if we were to go down this route, I made the suggestion of introducing new vanity purchases that can further personalize your characters. That way, every time someone creates a new character there's a percentage chance that the game could generate some income. People in this game become emotionally attached to three things: characters, settlements, and realms (perhaps also soldiers for some people). So any newly created vanity would perform best, economically speaking, if it were linked to those. It would have to be things that people would like to buy more than once. Again, that really leads us down the path of optional, cosmetic extras every time they create a character.

Of course, the big and obvious vanity purchase that is currently missing is realm banners or flags, akin to the family heraldry. However, we're going to have to really brainstorm to come up with further things that people would actually want to buy in enough numbers and regularly enough to create a proper income.

As far as the concept of the monthly fees goes, I've actually never been keen on it. Even though it's not a lot of money for most people, I don't think the fees give enough to justify them to the players. The game isn't going to be a runaway financial success and money spinner for anyone at this stage, so the fees are really probably just a barrier against gaining more players. However, it is important that who ever runs the game is at least getting the hosting fees paid and something to cover expenses. Perhaps more vanity could do that, or perhaps not. It would need a more detailed assessment of the finances to work it out.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 13, 2017, 06:10:55 AM
What about an Eve Online type model, in which players can earn credits in the game with which they can pay for their subscriptions? We haven't really discussed anything like that. It's a model that's proven successful in other games and it has some real advantages, because it's like a subscription system, but it also encourages player interaction / trade / role diversification.

Also, because the player earning credits and the player selling credits both benefit, there's much less of a sense of frustration as the paid accounts accumulate resources. Free players tend to wonder how they can exploit the rich-ass guys then.

One idea here is that instead of trading game-credits directly, you set up a special in-game currency e.g. called "Platinum" since you already have gold. That gives the game devs more control over how it works / balance. e.g. each paid account could get an "allowance" of platinum per month (which could be adjusted by the devs as they see fit), which would make them more willing to trade/spend it than game-credits themselves. Then, the free players earn platinum, and they can use that to pay for their subscription in lieu of credits. BTW a cap on Platinum per account would prevent a few people just trying to monopolize this resource, and encourage spending of it instead.

A well thought out system along these lines could work out pretty good for this game. e.g. if lords could offer a weekly payment of Platinum per vassal then that would mean people are more committed to the whole lord/vassal thing, since some players would use "be a vassal" as their strategy of earning enough credits to upgrade to a paid account. That lord would have to have their own source of Platinum or paid credits however.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: De-Legro on October 13, 2017, 07:49:53 AM
I wasn't really talking micro transactions, though they have their place. I was more thinking provide some "cosmetic" features that warrant subscriptions, so I guess something that is compelling and has a reason to pay to keep active. The sub fee for each feature might well be lower then the current subs but you might have more then one sub running to access various things.

It is all pie in the sky though, since as I said to those on Discord, I have no concrete idea's on what to offer in this space right now.

Another option would be to retain the current subscription system, but simplify things to having a single paid account tier.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Cipheron on October 13, 2017, 09:07:09 AM
Well another route is what Wurm Online does. With Wurm Online, group settlements need to pay upkeep, so some players pitch in for that while others tag along.

Translating that to M&F, you'd have something where it costs credits to create or maintain realms/subrealms. The ruler would have a number of means to raise enough credits for the upkeep (e.g. ability to trade credits). With unpaid upkeep however, I'd leave the realm intact but restrict the ability to conduct several areas of business.

Obviously this idea isn't very fleshed out, I'm just putting it out there as a concept for now.

Other than that, you could go for a hybrid system, where players are free to get a subscription to support the game, but that subscription also gives them in-game credits that they can trade to the other players, who might be playing for free. Then you have a bunch of things in the game that need a regular supply of credits but aren't over-powering, such as the realm upkeep I mentioned.
Title: Re: Discussion - Subscription Levels
Post by: Andrew on October 13, 2017, 01:15:09 PM
If realms cost upkeep, it won't be while I'm running the server.

The EVE Online approach has a few ideas to it though. This is part of why I was debating giving out credits to those who support development of the game, and the game already has free subscription levels for those I think are worth having one (no one does though, not even my own accounts).

If we take the Skyrim approach to skills, it may make it worthwhile to invest in skilling up characters for sale to others, and a highly skilled character could fetch a nice sum, theoretically. Character transfers, at a small fee (to the game, selling characters is debatable), are already on the todo list.

Artifacts are presently on the todo list to be purchasable. I've not determined a price for that though. Could also make them something you get after having so much subscription time. That might encourage people to stay subscribed actually. What would be a good rate, I wonder?

De-Legro mentioned player houses being a subscription or purchasable, but I'm kind of on the fence about that, because they'll already be something that encourages players to have heraldry, and they'll have some in-game mechanics associated to them.

Another idea is making monuments and memorials in cities or on the map a paid item, for like 100 credits or something. I'd want it low enough people would use it, but high enough to make it something done sparingly (because too many damn memorials would be really annoying).

A multi-sub system would be... interesting, though I fear confusing. Right now it's a question of subscribed or not. If there are multiple mini-ones, it's a question of subscribed or not, if yes, which ones.