Players vs. volunteers

11 days ago, Xillix Queen of Fools, one of Planeshift’s devs, opened a discussion gauging the players’ opinions on a wipe. Late in the discussion, the developer weltall explained the database problems that Planeshift has.

91 items are buggy as there is a sorta of shift in the columns, before those items even crashed everyone in sight of who used them. (note there are probably countless ones in addition to these 91 bugged for other reasons, like items with a script which is missing etc)
the db is full of missing pet cross references
some items aren’t anymore supposed to be called in a certain way but til they are removed they stay there,
there are some named gold ring which aren’t supposed to be there at all and are due for deletion
money item glitches
items which shouldn’t have been released
problems with id consistency among various db
items which are losing unpickupable flag in laanx lately
data cruft loaded by the npcclient which doesn’t have anymore correlation with the main characters table
guildhouses abused as item storage, the next time you see laanx taking 40 minutes to load it’s the fault of those who use them for that the items in the sack maybe improve your pc performance but hogs down anyway the server, an alt is better.

and if you want past bugs what about fish of blinding strike, fish of talad arm, spidersilk fish or the hammer…

This is not unreasonable. After all, Planeshift is currently at 0.5, a beta version they codename Steel Blue. Their last wipe was in 2005, which was as far back as Crystal Blue, 0.3. Four years of development will likely result in a lot of database schema changes as bugs get fixed, exploits get closed and the design simply gets changed. Planeshift is a world in continual development, rather than a professional world that is launched as a (hopefully) polished 1.0. It is also built and administered by volunteers. These people donate their free time to keeping a world running for others to enjoy and they probably have to deal with a lot of frustration nursing along a crufty database. If Planeshift were a commercial world, doing this would be part of the job description, but we must keep in mind that these people are volunteers.

You can read the entire 22 pages of gore here. In a nutshell, some of the playerbase were supportive and understanding of the idea. An alarmingly large plurality was not at all supportive of the idea with posts ranging from emotional rants and warnings of leaving to “Monday morning deving” as one poster put it.

Planeshift, at least on in Laanx server, is supposed to be an in-character roleplay world. A character could potentially simply be recreated from scratch and keep all its memories and relationships. Far too many players define their characters by their stats and not by their stories and relationships; friendships, rivalries, etc. That players on a roleplay server would put their avatar capital ahead of their roleplay capital is alarming. As I mentioned in my previous post, Planeshift’s abortive wipe trial balloon might be an argument for an RPI style de-emphasis of avatar capital; either flattening character advancement or hiding the numbers. Also, the players seem to suffer from myopia and see only their own character. The volunteers running the world simply don’t exist as people. They are simply faceless trolls whose purpose in life to revolve around that leveled up character. A less myopic and selfish playerbase would have agreed that those who donate their time to make the world function should perhaps not have to work around a crufty database.

I find it depressing.

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About Dave

I’m a 38 year old American who has lived the past 9 years in Germany and India.
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6 Responses to Players vs. volunteers

  1. bloodedIrishman says:

    I enjoyed reading the poll topic. As for your small rant: I agree.

  2. Mordraugion says:

    As a PlaneShift developer I’m probably a little biased but thanks for a clear description of the wipe and reasons behind it and with your permission would like to quote a small part of it that I think most players forget.

    “Far too many players define their characters by their stats and not by their stories and relationships; friendships, rivalries, etc.”

    “A character could … be recreated from scratch and keep all its memories and relationships. “

  3. Dave says:

    Quote away 🙂

  4. PT says:

    We went through this two years ago on an NWN2 server. We had finally rebalanced monsters, death, XP gain, but enough had existed pre-changes that it would create two separate populations: those who had an easy time reaching very high level, and those who would never catch up due to the changes. So, the decision was made to wipe. The intent was to just hit the reset button on the PCs. The “systems” were already refined and balanced (after all, that was the motivation for the wipe). But some staff got carried away and started using the reset as a chance to implement their wish-list of changes, many of which included monsters, death, and XP gain. By the time the dust cleared, the careful balancing that motivated the wipe was cast aside once again, and what followed was another twelve months of tweaking on the fly, creating new rifts as things got harder or easier. The end result was that the population of the server is almost entirely different from the old.

    On the flip side, there was a game called Legends of Kesmai that was essentially a rogue-like GMUD from the mid 90’s that has endured three wipes as the game changed hands (KesCorp to Gamestorm, Gamestorm to EA-bandonware, to fan revival) and has maintained roughly the same players throughout all its incarnations. A surprising number of players today are old 0.49 players from the KesCorp days. And that is a game with zero roleplay, that is entirely avatar capital-driven.

    It’s all in how it is handled. I never expect IC RP servers that allow the development of avatar capital to be any different from the crudest rogue clone when it comes to wipes. In fact, it’s almost worse. On RP servers, you are almost certainly *competing* with other players, and the power of your avatar can allow you to emerge victorious either in combat or even just persuasion(people DO give deference to higher-powered characters). As a result, people are even MORE invested in not just the avatar capital itself, but what that capital empowers them to DO. Taking that away is more than just taking away work that has been done, it is stripping opportunities for work that CAN be done.

  5. morrighu says:

    Unfortunately, you get what you get when you allow the fanbois in to play your game. Yes, wiping is hard but you know, if it really means that much to them, offer them the chance to set up their own world where they can maintain their characters as they are now.

    I find it pretty hard to bitch very much about something you get for FREE. If you’re so sure that what you have right now is so awesome, then get a copy, put up a server and run it your damn self. If it’s so awesome, the rest of kids will come play with you. Otherwise, STFU, have a funeral for your characters, and get on with building new, less buggy ones.

    Just my 2 cents on the whole thing.

  6. morrighu says:

    Oh, yeah… if you want a perfect finished game… go pay for War Crack and play that instead.

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