CUSTOMARY WARNING: This is more than a long-ass post, and if you can’t be arsed to take the time to read it then please be considerate enough to move along and not to make comments about a wall of text you know nothing about. Thank you! ============================== Every year around this time, I produce my “EU State of Mind” thread that takes a critical look at where I’m at, and where we are as a community. It takes into account the evolution of our universe, as well as those things that have had great impact on our game play. It also raises key questions that hopefully we will find some answers to. Please keep in mind that these questions are asked generally, and not directed at any one person, developer, or planet partner, unless specifically stated. SETTING THE TONE It is important to first establish that this offering is for the sole purpose of not only taking a look at the elements that make up our universe, but also those who deliver the universe to us in one way or another. This includes direct and indirect relationships that have an effect on our interaction within the Entropia Universe, as well as decisions made outside of our game play environment that have impact. ONE YEAR LATER Prior to VU10 and the introduction of the new CE2 graphics engine, we enjoyed many in game systems that gave us options not only relating to professions, but also the ability to be quite creative with these systems. I’m talking about systems such as beauty, makeup, taming, beacons, space travel, mind force, mentoring, and probably others that may have escaped me at the moment. To date, and correct me if I am wrong, only mind force has been reintroduced. While it was stated (and confirmed) several times that the other systems would return by the end of the year, we were recently informed via Marco’s “Planet Calypso State of Play 2010” statement on the front page of the Planet Calypso Forum that this is now not the case. Following is an encapsulation of Marco’s statement with a few questions, beginning with the old systems not yet reintroduced. SYSTEMS NOT YET RETURNED Hangars Hangars will return with the “first” FPC release in 2011, but no date was given Spaceships will not be “space taxis” but will be (UL) flying vehicles There was no mention as to how many passengers this craft would be capable of carrying Space travel itself will not be available until a later MA release, but no time-frame given Once space is open, hangars will be an important part of space, but no specifics given Questions 1. Are all hangar owners still continuing to get paid for non-operating hangars? 2. Will hangars be operable, even though space won’t be open? 3. Will the hangar spaceships have a different design than the current VTOLs? 4. Will the spaceships be able to leave the hangar, or just show up in inventory for use? 5. Since spaceships cannot operate in space yet, is making the spaceships (UL) a partial compensation for non-use of hangars and loss of potential business revenue? 6. Will the space travel spacecraft have the same system in place as current VTOLs to allow others to operate the ship so that space travel services can employ other pilots? Personal View Space travel was a viable system, even though there were battle lines drawn between fees charged by different groups. Some were very active and provided an ongoing service to the community, while others invested in hangars and did not. As such, I have mixed thoughts with regard to who should be receiving the compensation for disrupted services. As space opens up, I’m sure this will once again become a viable system, but will the dynamics in place be conducive to a more amenable interaction with the community, or will we once again be drawing battle lines. Perhaps a more important question might be – will space travel work more smoothly this time around, and without all the neverending glitches? Taming Is still in development by MindArk, but no delivery date given Will have more enhancements and game play compared to the old system Potential for being able to ride flying mobs Intimated that there may be a storyline hook for Calypso, but nothing specifically stated Questions 1. Is there any kind of ETA for when taming will be back? 2. Are we going “Avatar” – or will the stables still have a purpose? 3. Will our current pets still be useful in some way? 4. Will the taming-related equipment everyone owns still be useable? 5. Many provided taming services for hire – why are they not being compensated in some way for the potential loss of business revenue? Personal View While the previous taming system was quite limited, people still invested time and effort to build a presence, even to the point of some providing services for fees. Many tamed animals were used as advertising billboards if you will, to promote other services by their owners. The disruption of this system also caused the loss of potential fees for these individuals, yet I see no compensation of any sort as a result. Mentoring System Being redesigned from the ground up, but no delivery date given Goal is to add layers that allow good and proven mentors access to special areas These areas include the Calypso Gateway, but also Facebook, Twitter, and other programs for recruiting purposes to assist connecting with new players and their education of Calypso Questions: 1. Why was this not implemented at the same time as the Calypso Gateway? 2. Would this not have been important in helping to facilitate retention of new players? 3. Would this not have been important in assisting newcomers with their mission track? 4. Will the “good and proven” mentors prior to VU10 still be rewarded for the efforts being made at the time of disruption of the mentoring system? 5. What criteria will determine who a “good and proven” mentor is? 6. Will those who consistently go above and beyond helping new players within our community be recognized or rewarded in some way, or only mentors? 7. There are entire groups and societies who are consistent in their help of newcomers – will there be any system in place for these “good and proven” Entropians? Personal View While FPC has given great attention to the newcomer experience, and overall it has certainly been of great benefit, would it not have been more beneficial to also have had the mentoring system back in place to complement the effort? Despite basics, someone new with no knowledge of Calypso or Entropia whatsoever would I’m sure, have numerous questions as a result of their preliminary experiences. Since the general population has not been allowed back to the Gateway after our initial exploration, we have only seen bits and pieces of those who find the forums to share their experiences and to ask questions as a result of confusion. Shouldn’t this initial experience be comprehensive enough to give newcomers an easy learning path prior to the transition into main stream Calypso where they can get more help from other colonists? As a secondary entry point after the Gateway, there is Port Atlantis and Swamp Camp. An additional 33 (I believe) quests were added for the newcomer to continue their indoctrination of Calypso. It is here that they will meet other and more veteran colonists to assist in their learning process, which is a good thing, but there seems to be an issue for many regarding the update of this area, and perhaps why Swamp Camp isn’t so populated these days. While these new areas are graphically gorgeous, the weight of the code plays havoc with computers for many, causing crashes and having to put graphics on medium to low without an ability to truly enjoy the environment. The interesting thing is that nowhere else is this required, and I personally have a great system with plenty of memory to navigate the planet without issues, except for the Port Atlantis area. Some can’t even go to Port Atlantis because their system continually crashes, or the lag is so bad that game play is incredibly disrupted. So now one question becomes, are we going to have to continue to invest in our computers even if they aren’t that old to keep up with the development of our universe as new content and planets are added, or is this just a specific planet coded instance? I was told by an FPC staff member that FPC didn’t do anything different than they ordinarily do with code. If that’s so, then why does my computer go ballistic when I have my graphics on high in the Port Atlantis area when it doesn’t in any other location on Calypso? And why should I have to lower my graphics to a level that is less enjoyable when I know it’s perfectly fine elsewhere, and to compensate for what I think is a code issue? Beauty/Makeup Is an important system for personal expression and creativity Development had been started but is on hold for the time being, no delivery date given There’s speculation that it may have something to do with rumors of an upcoming avatar system update that may allow for more unique looks Questions: 1. Will the masks created prior to VU10 still be available for use, or will they be destroyed by the dynamics of the new system? 2. Many provided beauty/makeup services for hire – why are they not being compensated in some way for the potential loss of business revenue? Personal View To me, this is incredibly tragic, because I think of makeup artists like Trance, Butch Carisbrook, Jamira, and others who created brilliant and intricately-designed face masks that I’m sure must have taken them hours to do. Beautiful, wild, and even cultural-related, but what’s sad about this situation is that these individuals also provided a service to the community, and another group not being compensated for potential loss of business revenue due to disruption. Then we have the beauty industry with professionals such as Missa, Ido, Kimmi and others who provided a full scale of services to the community who also had their potential business revenue disrupted by the loss of the system. There were updates in the past where they had to actually do some re-skilling, so I’m wondering how they will be affected yet again by the new system. Beacons Will become a part of the current mission system Will be expanded to allow for more than just robot ships FPC may add instanced dungeons with different themes and styles Questions: 1. Will miners have any other system in place to replace the “strange signal” they received, along with looting the usual 50 PEDs and a potential beacon bonus? 2. Can you not just introduce dungeon instances within the mission system and enhance the previous beacon system to somewhat benefit miners and their efforts? Personal View Beacons were not only a source of fun, but that elusive “strange signal” for miners provided an additional element of surprise and reward while mining for ores and enmatter. If beacons are being added to the missions system, then this will certainly remove an aspect of mining that gave potential income to miners if they discovered a beacon in any of their strange signal episodes. Yet again, potential income for participants is being removed. SO WHAT’S ON THE DRAWING BOARD Marco gave an indication of a couple of things FPC is focused on for the rest of this year that consists of only two more releases as follows: Event A dedicated event with assets and scope never before seen FPC is interested to see how the community responds to this event It will be a guideline for future FPC-created events Questions 1. Does this mean that Merry Mayhem will not occur this year? 2. Will this event have anything to do with a potential land grab scenario? 3. Will this be better monitored than the previous SGA event? 4. Will there be exclusions with regard to who gets to participate? Personal View In the past, I would say that most events have been hunting-related with a great expenditure of time, effort and PEDs that came with a variety of reviews as to whether the events were just PED suckers, created just for those who had the skills and the means to participate, and even if the events were fair in nature as it related to the community as a whole. Whatever this event is, I hope that FPC has given great consideration as to how it will affect the community overall, and not just give us another event with a rinse and repeat cycle. If this is hunting related, then give us something that’s more than just killing a big-ass mob that found even the uberest of ubers defenseless, only to resort to turreting or drowning the mob to escape potential death. I also hope this new event is layered, and maybe incorporates more than just hunting. Miners, crafters, and others deserve an opportunity to participate for rewards in their own professions. Defending Calypso involves the cooperation of all professions in some way or another, and not just the ability to shoot bullets or use whatever weapon of choice to get the job done. Support operations are crucial and should not be forgotten. End of Year Sale Item December will offer a massive investment opportunity, but seems only for the bold It will be a newly constructed entity, with more to be revealed in November It will be much like Treasure Island, Club Neverdie and Crystal Palace in the past Questions 1. Will this once again be an in game auction with the highest bidder winning? 2. When will this new entity be available for the community to explore or experience? 3. Will this be on Calypso, or somewhere in space, and will there be a fee to get there? Personal View I realize that more information will be available in November, but the above questions immediately come to mind. Perhaps they will be answered at that time. STORYLINE Over the years, there never seemed to be a consistency with storyline, and even some elements of storyline introduced not making much sense to some, like the Swedish soap opera event, and perhaps others that seemed to fade into a black hole somewhere. Marco indicated in his statement that a lot more “why” will bring together a greater understanding of Calypso’s background, history, and society. It seems that more venues will be used to tie everything together, but my question is, if a variety of venues are going to be used, like missions, item info descriptions, and events, will we have to interact with all of these venues in order to get the full scope of the history of Calypso? What if people choose not to do missions, or to enter into events, or don’t interact with all item descriptions to get pieces of the history puzzle? Will there not be one interactive way to learn the background and history of Calypso that doesn’t require spending PEDs? CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE – BUT THEN It looks as though systems will eventually be put into place that will allow FPC to acknowledge and recognize those within our community who stand out as a result of their dedication toward building our community in any number of ways. Marco names event organizers, leaders, daredevils and helpers as some who will most likely capture their attention. They have even asked MindArk to add these systems to the platform, but no delivery date was given for this system either, so I guess we’ll see how all of this plays out, and who will be the deserving souls. First Planet Company was certainly busy adding close to 200 missions, as well as revamping areas and adding enhanced newcomer experiences. In June we were finally presented with vehicles that we’ve been waiting how long for? There have been a lot of updates and content added, but then … The big-ass question becomes … why? Why was it more important to add all of the above before bringing back the rest of the systems that have been so vital to our community? Why was it more important than fixing bugs and other challenges? See, this is something I, and apparently many others in the community, don’t understand. Revenue-producing businesses were disrupted with only one system being compensated for it (hangar owners), and while I understand enhancing the newcomer experience, why was it accomplished at a cost to veteran players? GOING PRO - (official) This is where I will be quite frank. While I think it’s a great thing that FPC finally has an official Calypso-related forum, I do not like, nor appreciate the manner in which it was created. Following are my reasons: The entire Entropian community was blindsided with an extremely short warning One planet partner bought the largest community forum that now limits other forums from reaching the bulk of the community with information other than approved news-related content – updates, offers, or events must be posted in a blog – and we know this is not a viable way to reach the majority of the community For nearly 6 years, the community collectively developed the content at EF for what was considered an independent game forum – for the community, and not a single planet partner The content of the forum was sold to the very company who develops Calypso, and money pocketed by a regular EU participant and investor Seller of said forum content is also now contracted by FPC to host, administrate, and provide technical services while still a regular participant of EU – is this ethical? The content of the EF forum was not all Calypso-related at the time of sale There are many “basic” guides that apply across the platform and not just to Calypso There are many threads related to “general” experience and not just to Calypso There are “technical” threads that are beneficial to all and not just to Calypso There is other content meant for universal experience and not just for Calypso This was a brilliant move on FPC’s part because they basically bought a built-in community who literally produced a crap load of content for nearly 6 years, but a move I consider to be less than fair. I feel that the community yet again has been manipulated all for the sake of financial gain on one side, and control of content on another, with the community only a secondary thought in the grand scheme of things. The community at PCF cannot be addressed other than in the restrictive ways presented. I often ask myself, when does the community come first, and when does the community really matter. I understand business, no really I do, and that having a built-in community with developed content over years is a great plus for FPC. They get to have the hard work that our community members put forth for what was an independent and fan-based game forum for the benefit of the community, and not for FPC as a planet partner and developer. I also understand that all planet partners must build their own player base, and maybe this was also a move to lower the anchor deeper to hold a captive audience, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t feel right that efforts on behalf of the community for the community ended up in a business transaction. I’m sure this may occur elsewhere with other games, but this is a platform that will incorporate many planets, not just one, and the core community is important across the whole platform, not just for one planet. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE COMMUNITY – OR IS IT? I’m trying real hard here to remain objective and keep things in perspective, but based on personal experience over 5-1/2 years, I’m having a difficult time of it, and specifically as it relates to the latest call for writers by FPC to feed their forum front page and to develop new guides. I can understand, that due to evolution and change, there would be a need for updated content, but for nearly 6 years, and maybe even longer, this community produced brilliant pieces of work out of genuine care as a result of a need by fellow colonists to be informed. FPC is now putting a price on a front page article of 100 PEDs, and is offering a piece of recognition armor and a 6 month modified forum membership for a single guide. This is considered to be a competition, and the community has been given only 10 days to complete these guides, which are due by the 1st of November. I would think that this is barely enough time to write a guide covering sufficient details that fully explain everything when 6 of those 10 days are real life work days. I fully understand why FPC is doing this. For several years after 711 purchased EntropiaForum, I was a member of the newsroom staff where time and effort were volunteered in order to provide news and entertainment to the community. It was a beneficial service that kept everyone informed, but there were challenges. We didn’t have enough active newsroom staff to achieve our goal of keeping the front page fresh and revolving, and even though I repeatedly asked to please allow an increase in staff, we continued to have the same people with the majority inactive. People complained about the front page not changing, and even created whole threads about it, but offers to the community to submit their own articles for potential publication at the front page seemed to fall on deaf ears. So now, FPC is offering payment for people to write for their front page, as well as develop Calypso-related guides specifically for their use. Some are asking, shouldn’t FPC be creating their own guides for the Calypso community? Also, is a piece of recognition armor and a 6 month modified forum membership sufficient payment for the amount of time and effort it takes to produce a guide? All guides are not equal, some are more intricate and detailed than others, is the price offered really fair and equal across the board – especially since a contributor can add a second (advanced) document beyond the 1500 word minimum – does this get more armor? There is no question it’s a good thing for FPC, they’re a business, so why not pay for services to accomplish their goals. The people of this community, where many have spent years together building it, have done things for each other to be helpful out of love for our universe and nothing more. To now put a price on what used to be a wonderful collaborative effort to me somewhat devalues it. People who provide consistent beneficial services within our community should be recognized, and perhaps even rewarded, but this latest move to me is nothing short of bribery to now elevate the front page of PCF to what EF was never able to achieve. I feel this splits the community, because on one hand you have potential contributors who may not be having such a good go of it in game PED-wise due to (what some call) shit balancing and look at this as a means to gain play money, for which I really don’t blame them, and … On the other hand, the feel of an evolving community coming together to help each other in ways that push us forward in our pioneering efforts (as a role-playing game) is now (IMO) somewhat tainted, and perhaps sets up an expectation that we don’t have to do things for each other without there being something in it for us, other than satisfaction that we were able to help our fellow colonists on this journey further into space. I hope that other planet partners through their own research of our community history will understand the meaning of community, and how important it is in the way we work together to forge new frontiers. I know one planet partner does, and even blogs about it at EntropiaPlanets. It’s nice to be rewarded in some way for our efforts and contributions toward bettering our community, and we take pride in our accomplishments as a colony, but there’s something just not right about this latest move – in all fairness, I’ll have to give it some more thought. SO WHERE’S MY HEAD AT My opinion in all of this is just that, and not a means to persuade anyone else to my way of thinking, but rather offering a different perspective as a long-time player who has experienced much along my Entropian path. For me, it is all about the community, with no strings attached. Those who truly know me know what that means. Our universe history has been nothing short of disjointed, and what we have done as a colony in our collaborative efforts (some of us anyway) is role-play our way through a semblance of our own personal history to hopefully make some sense out of it. Despite broken promises, and continued offerings of future things to come that don’t quite make it the way they’re supposed to at times, I still love this universe for all the good things that it produces, but it’s the community that sustains me. I appreciate the fact that we all approach this universe differently, but this is how I see my universe. In spite of my personal opinion, I really do wish FPC success in their endeavors, and I hope that decisions they continue to make will prove to be beneficial, not only to them, but genuinely to the community as well. I may not agree with everything they do, or how they do it, but I will give credit where credit is due. I believe that Marco has a clear vision for where he wants to take Calypso, and I also believe that he will succeed. He has more freedom now as a planet partner to work his magic, and I think Calypso will see some interesting things in the future. GOING FORWARD I’m on a mission, moving at MachStar9 with my hair on fire, and I have some pretty incredible people to thank as a result. The E-Team staff at EntropiaPlanets are simply the best, and I am incredibly indebted to Lykke and Peter for giving me the opportunity to do what I’ve wanted to do for a very long time – to build a Media Center that caters to the community. Development is slow going right now, but we’re moving along nicely. Where PCF is a Calypso-focused forum, and rightfully so, EP is an independent and all-universe forum that caters to the community and all planet partners which gives us an opportunity to be far more reaching in our effort to bring you what’s happening in our entire universe. Most recently, we gave birth to a new magazine called EntropiaTimes that is published quarterly. My main focus will be on the magazine, because it takes a large amount of time to produce each of the articles I get involved with, but I will also be interactive with EP front page news reporting, as well as MindStar Radio activities, and spending more time within our universe exploring and sharing time with old and new friends. AT THE END OF THE DAY I accept the fact that Entropia will never be perfect – history repeating itself proves that, but I hope at least that some lessons have been learned – and first and foremost, that the value of our community is more than database content with a price tag, and should be respected with all due considerations. Until next year at this time – I wish everyone in the community success with their Entropia experiences.