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Messages - Cipheron

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1
General Discussion / Re: Conversations 2.0: What is the ideal setup?
« on: August 14, 2018, 02:35:53 AM »
I'd suggest streamlining it in ways that take into account how normal messaging systems work.

For example when you currently send a 1:1 message to someone it creates a new "conversation" so you can have multiple "conversations" between you and a particular other person. Ideally, sending a message to one other person should be streamlined, and the resultant conversation should all be in a single log. Streamlining the way that characters initially get in touch with each other would be good too. Perhaps a global mail system, but with a time delay to make the initial connection based on geographic distance.

It would also be really good to separate the concept of personal messages from group conversations. Perhaps, if there were separate sections for message board activity vs personal messaging, then people would be more responsive when you need to talk to them. Currently there's one single indicator for personally-addressed messages and realm-wide spam.

This could be an existing design flaw. The message notification system should be tailored/customizable to make sure that the player sees relevant unread messages notifications for each character. If someone logs in after a whle and sees "you have 3 new messages" but knows they're relevant messages actually for them, rather than "you have 133 new messages" but knows most of them will be irrelevant realm-wide chatter, they'd be more likely to seek out and read the actual messages.

There could be a system where there's one general "message thread" for each in-game entity. Characters of each entity could choose to turn on/off "notifications" for each conversation. That would determine whether that particular conversation ends up on your "unread messages" counter or not. So players logging in could choose which things get reports as unread for which characters. Personal messages would always count as a notification, unless you put that person on the ignore list.

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General Discussion / Re: The Next Big Step for M&F?
« on: August 08, 2018, 01:40:07 PM »
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feasts, hunting parties, weddings, actual questing that has some purpose to it. Basically, we need ways to tell the stories of everyday life.

The active player density is so low per settlement that implementing formal events probably won't help that much. If the game only consisted of free account players with their maximum 12 towns each that would be a density of one active player per 12 towns. Which is laughably low for any sort of location-based roleplaying.

Right now "There are only 0 knight offers open at this time" which underlies one of the main issues. The game is very not-full but not one single active player can see a reason to try and attract new people.


The cost/benefit of getting new vassals vs centralizing obviously needs to be improved. (obviously, because nobody wants more vassals at the moment). That's what my capitals/taxation idea was addressing: it reduces the incentive to hoard settlements under one player, while also integrating the new Seats feature into the game better.

it's also important to focus on quality over quantity: more active players, not more active characters. A player with 20 characters is going to roleplay each one particularly poorly, perhaps only focusing on one or two. Removing situations where a player is lead to think "I need to create a new character because" of some game mechanic is clearly a problem. For example, a free player thinks "I need to create a new character because I want more towns", so they create 4 characters with 3 towns each, not for any roleplaying relevant reason but because the game requires them to do so to gain their full complement of 12 towns. Making it a limit of "12 towns per free account" rather than per-character would remove the perverse incentive to spam extraneous characters, while creating more choice: play between 1 to 4 characters, with more thought put into why they want to create additional ones.

However, i think it's important to heavily increase the active-player density on the map to boostrap any serious amount of roleplaying. Having 12 settlements to one active player doesn't leave much room for people being in the same location to actually RP meaningfully. One idea is to replace the free account character and settlement limits with a "command points" idea, and you need to make a trade off between what those points are used for. Split of "armies" as a concept semi-separate to characters. A character could lead an army, but it counts as one command point, as does controlling a city, fortress or making another character.

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General Discussion / Re: The Next Big Step for M&F?
« on: August 08, 2018, 11:33:57 AM »
I'm looking for some world-event to generate activity and interaction.
Just adding in world events isn't going to help much at all. The problems with the game are the difficulty with contacting people, getting replies, getting them to set up permissions so you can visit towns. This, added to the time it takes to actually go anywhere makes the whole process hardly worth it. How are most people going to hear about these world events and actually go and interact in any sort of timely manner?


For example, if you turn up to almost all towns in the game and want to get in to interact, then it's such a rigmarole to get permissions organized that it's just not worth asking at most places on the map, so hardly anyone even bothers.

The permissions system is really broken, and it's a major PITA to do anything with it. Maybe the default permissions shouldn't be to disallow everyone from doing everything, since many new players won't set any permissions, therefore most towns are locked down by default unless you can get your vassals to follow complex instructions.

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General Discussion / Re: The Next Big Step for M&F?
« on: August 04, 2018, 08:37:33 AM »
ework equipment to be specific items created rather than man hours stored. Allow people to tweak what is made. Add more items for variety, and enforce resource requirements. Like Cipheron says above, this would make these things directly tradeable. Very tempted to add a subtle, slight variation to things as well, as to how effective items are. Hm. I'd like to do that without a table that has a hundred million rows tracking every dagger in the game though.

Avoid "subtle" variations. There's no point to them, because they have 0% impact on how people play. Rather than intricate, obscure tables of information, top-class game design focuses onlarge, granular abstractions that are clearly communicated to the player, and are affected by, and affect, choices the player makes.

For example, a much more cool way to vary weapons would be to implement types of metal: bronze, iron and steel varieties. The most abstract way to implement this would be to have three types of minable deposits: coal, iron and copper (just abstracting the tin needed for bronze away completely). To make the top-level material Steel, you'd need to combine a source of Coal with Iron, forcing trade if people want the best material in the game.

Then you'd have real meaningful decisions to make. you could have troops with iron chainmail, wooden shields and bronze-tipped spears, to try and make the best of the resources you have available. You might not even need a different database field to fit this in, use some bits from the item type field to be the material.

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General Discussion / Re: The Next Big Step for M&F?
« on: July 26, 2018, 01:14:58 PM »
First up, horses eating food that humans eat is realistic, it's just abstracted. You can feed horses on pasture or hay (which is just dried pasture plants), but that pasture could also raise goats, sheep and cows. By feeding horses, you miss out on the raising of meat animals, or the planting of food crops - some food crops end up being used to feed animals too, when pasture is not sufficient. Keeping 100 horses means raising 100 less cows, or having 200 people's less worth of grain crops to eat directly.
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As for big projects, I'd say the best way would be to focus on a goal for the game and see how the current game doesn't meet those goals, then adjust or build systems that support that goal using a multi-pronged approach.

Firstly, consider the concept that this is primarily a strategy game. That suggests the goal should be conquest. But a pure conquest focus isn't really compatible with the "persistent world" focus. Most conquest-oriented games run multiple servers and/or have periodic resets. That's because conquest-oriented games are focused on a particular "time period" - the planning and execution of military plans. However, Might and Fealty is a persistent world, so it needs fun things to do, in both peace time and war time. It thus, cannot just focus on the military/strategy side of things. It has to have cool things that happen in the peacetime as well as the wartime.


"Persistent World" is the key thing about Might and Fealty. So, when you do "Thing A" the focus always has to be on "what happens next".Say, I've got a paid account, and i take over a whole nation of 15 provinces due to other players slumbering. Now tell me "what happens next?". The cool things include:
- building up a large city using food trade from the other towns
- developing the towns as a whole
- builidng up troops in the region
Ok, so say I did those things? Then what happens next? I can recruit new knights, however giving away land means losing the big city I spent time and effort buiding up. Or, I could fight wars with my neighbors, but the only point of that is to accumulate more towns. That just feeds into a bigger army, a bigger capital, but I have the same issues as before, except now it's a little less efficient and more time-consuming.

~~~

Well, here's an idea on how to smooth over one or two of those issues - a trade system rework, that includes bi-lateral trade agreements and uses the system to implement taxation of resources by the new capitals system.


First idea is reciprocal trade routes. With that, you'd offer say "3 wood for 1 metal". The trade offer would go from one character to another, and could be altered and returned. As soon as both parties agree on the same terms, the trade agreement is established. Additionally, ever trade agreement (including unilateral ones) would have a "limit" on the amount of units. This would be specifiable either as a raw number, or a percentage, and would be separate from the actual agreement part. So in the wood for metal agreement, the wood side could independently decide "30 units of wood" as their limit, and the other side could say "10% of metal production" as their limit. However, both sides could view the limits the other had set - but for that percentages would be converted to a raw number.


Also, have trade links remember how much amount or percentage the player originally specified. It's a bit silly that if there's one bad harvest due to a population crash that the trade transport never recovers. The settlement should remember the actual orders you gave. Sure, there could a temporary reduction, but trade links should gradually recover to the original amounts if and when there's surplus production, so you'd need to store the current level and "goal" levels separately. Having to go back and remind the settlement leaders of your original orders isn't a good gameplay feature.


The second idea is Taxation. Say realm capitals can specify a taxation level of each resource towards the capital. And this taxation replaces the existing bonus-production built into the Local Seat building and the like. The taxation would be implemented as a set of automatically-generated trade links, so those paying the tax could view the details via the Trade screen. The goal of doing this would be to streamline management of realms/subrealm resource coordination, but also to make it more beneficial to have vassals. Those vassal lands will automatically generate some resources for the capital, meaning the Lord no longer needs to hoard so many settlements themself, but can still build a reasonable capital.

Similar to the reciprocal trade links above, a vassal knight could use the Trade screen to lower the % amount of some tax they're willing to pay to the capital. this would effectively be cheating on your taxes, and there could be a method for the Lord to work this out. However, the "tax cheat" amount should be adjusted along with the capital's tax rate. So, if the tax rate is 10%, then a knight could cheat and lower their payment to say, 6%. This is one reason the other party only sees 'amount' and not what % you set. If the tax was later raised to 12%, then the 6% should be raised proportionally to 7.2%, to allay suspicions of being a tax cheat (allow trade limits to have an option to be a "linked" amount that automatically changes proportionally to the other side's limit, and you turn this feature on for taxation). The Lord could in fact work it out if they arrive with a Prospector and work out that the local production levels don't match what's being paid in taxes.

A last idea would be that capital Seats store surplus wealth in them (they act as a treasury). This wealth would be used for a few of things: use wealth to pay transportation costs for different resources, give more use for wealth-generation buildings, and make it easier to collect wealth when needed.

~~~

A final idea, which is more of an additional possibility is that in the rework, leave open the possibility that manufactured resources can be traded. Then later, you do a rework on manufactured goods / town inventory/armory etc. e.g instead of the blacksmith making some generic "blacksmith stuff" you need to actually choose what it's making, and can possible say "make nothing" to minimize resource use. Then, axes, spears etc can be imported, exported, traded for, etc. This could lead to far higher levels of settlement-specialization, customization and flavor, while also setting up a player-driven market system. Another possibility would to have individual building upgrades/tiers, in such a way that it encourages towns to be more specialized.

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Conduct & Design Discussion / Re: Burn ships!
« on: May 07, 2018, 11:37:57 AM »
This wouldn't be hard to do or implement, as far as stealing and burning ships.

Making rivers navigable would be.... tricky, due to how the game handles the land/sea logic, and how it handles you coming ashore. I'd like to do this, and I think it's sorta on my TODO list already, but it's nowhere near as easy.

A quick fix for the river thing would be to treat travel near a river the same as travel by road, e.g. you get a speed boost by following the course of a river but still aren't able to cross it unless it's at a bridge. This would allow effectively the same benefits as trying to work in a river-travel system but without the coding headaches, and having to place docks on rivers.

An alternate solution would be to edit the map, and make major rivers wider and just treat them the same as ocean spaces, and allow docks on adjoining provinces. That way, the code shouldn't need to be touched, the map would just need editing.

Also, there are lakes in the game which you can't cross. It would be nice if docks were allowed there, so sea travel could short-cut settlements on each side, would that just be a matter of editing some database settings for the adjoining settlements?

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Conduct & Design Discussion / Re: M&F Changelog
« on: April 08, 2018, 03:29:11 PM »
If there are going to be "places" could you also include improved means of managing existing structures? e.g. removing unwanted roads and features would be a nice thing to have if the role of places external to the cities is going to be increased.

Also, i'd suggest that the updates should be generalized, e.g. towers and docks should become garrisonable / buildable locations that can have troops stationed there.

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General Discussion / Re: A Discussion On The Value Of Characters
« on: April 06, 2018, 01:10:01 AM »
I think there's often a vision in game design that a problem can be solved by a big stick rather than a carrot - punish a player to encourage them to behave in certain ways, rather than offer them some incentive to behave in a certain way.

That's right. Richard Bartle, the creator of the original MUDs also talks about this as a common stumbling block when creating online games. Devs often believe they can dis-incentivize a behavior and that players therefore must switch to the "preferred" behavior. But they can easily switch to the behavior of playing a completely different game or activity. When trying to shift players from Choice A to Choice B, you should take into account the risk of Choice C, which represents "play something else".

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I'd suggest things like giving characters a bonus to settlement production; a bonus in battle; and so on depending on their past actions - i.e. charcters actually have to do something to earn experience (in the form of players clicking options while playing them). They wouldn't gain experience just passively. That may mean that people who really focus on development of a few characters might then actually gain advantages over players who just spam large numbers of disposable characters.

I don't think if that would help tip the balance in this particular scenario. Consider a players with a 10-character account, they've trained up their core characters, then during a war, they bump up to a higher-tier account and spam additional commanders. They're still getting the benefit of the high-focus training on their core leaders, but that in no way dis-incentivizes them from spamming disposable grunts. This is not a criticism of the idea, but we need to think through real-life examples to see if the policy would actually affect behavior in the way that's claimed.

The thing is, there's a huge disconnected between how many troops an account can have in their settlements, vs how many troops you can effectively mobilize. It's this imbalance that creates the scenario in which massive character spam is a winning strategy in warfare. So while putting a dampener on character creation could slow this down, it's only hiding the exploit below an extra level of paperwork, not removing the core issue of game balance.

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Off-topic Chat / Re: Helllo! newbie on the forum!
« on: February 26, 2018, 12:10:36 AM »
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Hi People!
 
Not long joined up! I hope "<board name>" is ok to post in, saw a few posts by <frequent poster name> and thought i could contribute here :)
 
I tried to reply to <thread by frequent poster> but it popped up an error, is it because i'm new? (i assume it is lol)
 
I'm currently watching stranger things! > <spam payload link> < mine is ALL of em lol :)
 
Best Regards

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General Discussion / Re: A Discussion On Allowing Non-Human First Ones
« on: February 23, 2018, 11:17:52 PM »
What I think would be cool is a dynamic system. Here's a rough idea:

Have ethnic groups, derived from realms / subrealms. You can pick one as your primary identity when you spawn you character, and the realm creator gets to specify a set of (optional) bonuses and penalties for the realm. Children would be able to inherit the primary ethnicity of either parent. Possibly, allow characters to change ethnicity based on other realm memberships available to them, and based on marriage, so you can marry someone to get a new ethnicity, giving another use for marriages.

Optionally, allow each ethnic group to get certain +/- values for e.g. living in certain terrains, or for raising / leading certain troop types. I'd split terrains into three groups, mountains/hills, forests/marsh, plains/scrub, and troop ability into three groups too, archers, cavalry and infantry. So you could e.g. get a +2 in hill/mountain production and +2 in archers, but you'd have to take -1 in everything else to get that, or you can have an ethnicity that's an all-rounder. e.g. a large realm like Ascalon would probably make "Ascalonian" have the generic settings, and players could choose just to identify as "Ascalonian", but sub-realm ethnicities would be more specialized based on what terrain and resources are available to them.

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Conduct & Design Discussion / Re: How to Tutorial
« on: January 28, 2018, 12:25:07 PM »
*Spurred you to try things, btw. "Spurned" means to reject disdainfully. e.g. "she spurred his advances" and "she spurned his advances" mean two very different things.

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Conduct & Design Discussion / Re: How to Tutorial
« on: January 04, 2018, 01:09:56 PM »
In the vein of having an achievement system be tutorial-esque, i would prefer it's kept at more of a low level than that. Players respond better to immediate small goals that chain together, rather than making a long-term goal such as "become a ruler".

I would code small tasks "create a character", "place a character in the world", "take a knight's offer", "control a settlement", "set permissions on a settlement" etc. things that show you've found your way around some aspect of the game's interface. new task would become active whenever you complete an old one (some would be coded that you need to complete a different objective before they're available).
 
the point of having achievements is that they keep the player logging back in, so they need to be responsive and achievable right from the start. if you look at any system with "levels", then the first few levels (and/or tasks) are always really quick to achieve, then things gradually slow down. Having only things like "won a battle" don't serve that gameplay purposes, because you need to be playing too long to achieve that.

So ... basic design principles from any "level up" and/or achievement / badge system (they're effectively the same thing from a player psychology point of view) is to make them incredibly easy to achieve at the start, then gradually make them cost more work to achieve. You can signal this by categorizing them as bronze, silver or gold achievements. Winning a battle would be a "gold" badge, which making a character only nets you one bronze badge.

Having only long term badges such as for winning a battle or becoming king serves no purpose. Nobody is going to log back in who wasn't going to anyway because there's a badge for becoming king. But ... if they have a list of immediate tasks that they're told they haven't finished, then many players will log back more often to get those.

It also helps if there are separate tracks with overlapping goals. So, you've achieved one goal, but your halfway to getting another unrelated one. This is acknowledged by Sid Meier in the sucess of the Civilization series. They have separate milestones each with their own timers (producing units, making building, building wonders, your next tech upgrade, exploring), so you're never "finished" everything at once: you're always in the middle of a number of task. So you always feel "well I'm only a few turns away from producing XYZ so I'll keep playing" but then you achieve that next goal, e.g. producing a new technology, and you realize that then you're only a few turns away from building the Pyramids, so yet again you keep playing. having lots of small, little goals along the way is what leads to player retention. Promises of a big reward right at the end do not.

The only thing to watch out for is that if people are motivated by small frequent achievements, then you never really want a situation where they've run out of things to aspire to. Have some really difficult ones in there. You'd be surprised: if the goals just run out, lots of people will stop playing. However, if there are e.g. three near-impossible goals they won't ever feel like they've "finished" the game. Also you can do things like having repeat achievements for achieve "X" of something. e.g. you get a badge for having one vassal (per account), but then have that badge update to be to have 3,6,10,15  vassals (not at once, but across your entire account's history).

you can get clever about the type of behavior you want to encourage. e.g. if you have dungeon-exploring badges, and make ones for exploring 1 dungeon then 3,6,10,15 etc (pascal's number), then you're going to get a subset of players who go off dungeoneering a lot, who wouldn't do that otherwise. Hell, even counters that keep track of how many times you've done some tasks are enough for many players. e.g. if you had a stats page showing how many battles you've won / lost, how many dungeons you've ever explored, etc, then players will gear their playstyle to increasing those numbers. You don't need to get technical here, just take advantage of how silly us humans are.

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Conduct & Design Discussion / Re: How to Tutorial
« on: January 02, 2018, 02:42:30 PM »
Video tutorials are a pretty good idea, but keep them very short and specific, and have them cross-linked from within the manual, but also from the relevant page inside the game. So basically you have a troop-training video linked from both the manual, and from the troop-training screen, and have the video screen also have links to see all the topics covered. This set-up would add some interactivity and life to the game for new players.

however, building a decent in-game achievement system should definitely be on the list of goals.

in-game achievements are great for retention and getting people to log back in. They can also be used to foreshadow "things you can do" in the game, e.g. that gets around the problem of people not knowing what's possible. Additionally, if the "achievement builder" is built into the game itself, then it can be used by the devs to create missions, but also by players to create complex player-created missions.

I'd suggest that in-game tasks can be set as being at the character-level or the account-level (e.g. there should be an achievement for becoming a vassal to another player, but only once per account rather than per character, which would be silly: not every character should do every action), and they should be able to be chained together, with any new tasks that the current task opens up being shown in the current task (in a similar fashion to Civilization's "tech tree"). This would allow only a few tasks to be visible at the start, but gradually reveal new things you can do.

A basic flow of achievements would be "create a character", and then once you do that, several new ones appear, such as "become a vassal", "place a character in the world". In this case, taking a knight's offer right off the bat would clear off both of those tasks.

Once in the game,  there would be other achievements such marrying another character (only counting different accounts), and taking over a settlement. And once certain requirements are met, then that opens up new tasks. e.g. once you have a settlement, then that opens up certain game possibilities, and the way the task system opens up can mirror those possibilities, while also encouraging inter-player interactions such as making knights' offers. e.g. have a "make a knight's offer" reward, then a reward for having your first vassal (from a different account), but you could also have achievements for having e.g. 3 and then 5 vassals in total. Taking the vassals with your own account wouldn't count. While some people could "fake" that with multiple accounts, they're not actually gaining anything (just the abstract concept of having completed something), and most players wouldn't do that. It would incentivize enough extra knight's offer creation to really make a difference.

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I think it's enough burden already. Managing the characters is already a burden. Adding in the ETAs will make small player's time much more efficient since they tend to log in less often. Like I said, large players with lots of things going on won't actually benefit as much, in a proportional sense. It's not often that you have e.g. 20 character marching around doing stuff, you still need to log in to check town training and the like. And with 20+ characters all moving, just logging in per hour, and seeing who is no longer moving is efficient enough, since it's going to take time to order them to do new stuff anyway.

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It fails the "user pays" logic however, since it's more server burden if you need to open up many pages just to find out basic information. The user isn't in fact paying anything, they're just consuming more of the game's resources because the designers chose not to make it clear whether things are ready or not.

The game should ideally be designed to encourage players to efficiently use the game's resources then any restrictions be designed around that. Making it so it's costly in resources to the game if you have lots of characters, and that slows you down, is just a bad idea.

In fact, with more characters I could quickly log into the game, see who's stopped moving from the main screen, and find one that's idle to do some task with. With a large group of characters, individual ETAs don't actually matter so much, as you can just log in every hour or so, see who is free then get them doing stuff. Not knowing decent ETAs on e.g. travel, in fact disproportionately penalizes those with only a few active characters, since missing out on the exact ETA represents a bigger percentage of their total activity time. Efficiently queuing actions actually makes the most difference when you have very few characters, not more.

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