Elaborating a bit on the upcoming downtime for OtherSpace:
Starting Aug. 19, the game will be closed to players until further notice. This is not the beginning of a weekly maintenance day program. The purpose is to lock the game to staffers-only so that we can focus our efforts on completing unfinished work, dealing with bugs, and refining the game for future development.
The length of the lockout is unknown at this time. It will take as long as it takes. Hopefully, it’ll just be a month or so. We will keep people informed via the forums and the Facebook fan page.
Thanks for your support and we’ll see you on the other side!
This morning, Marson informed me that the new MUSH was up, per my request. So, I logged on and set about digging the fundamental grid to get a sense of the layout of The Island. I don’t plan to build much more than a basic town and island grid. Development of the game world, by design, will be in the hands of players who get to bring their own flair to the strange environment.
I created the character object for the Sheriff. Began pondering his back story. So far, I’ve decided that he’s very old and quite determined to keep his location as secret as possible.
Installed an in-game bulletin board for development chatter. Also added a functioning clock in the town square, so that you can look at it and see the current time of day. Added a +who list. Imported the room parent from Chiaroscuro. It’ll need some tweaking.
Now in the process of installing a Wiki.
More to come as development continues.
We’re closing on the end of first year of the new OtherSpace, so I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and share some thoughts on what lies ahead for the game.
First, it seems that the theme reboot and the combination of player populations from classic OtherSpace, OS: Millennium, and Chiaroscuro worked out relatively well. However, we’ve also seen the departure of some well-liked and familiar faces from the game, either due to the demands of real life or MUSH burnout.
Second, the special offers for rift-drawn humans helped attract new blood – but didn’t always succeed in keeping the newcomers once they had arrived. We’re still exploring ways to reward new and veteran players for devoting their continued time and energy to the game.
Third, we’ve successfully implemented the new HSpace 5.0 system into the game, along with the start of the resource gathering system. Despite the fact that some players have embraced coded space travel, others are concerned about getting around without having to own or charter a starship. This is a fair concern, given that we now have several worlds open for players to visit. Watch for new shuttles to and from Comorro Station early in the new year.
Fourth, we initiated a roleplaying expertise process as part of our new badge/achievement system and many people participated, but so far only two have achieved the top rank of Golden Belt: Mikage and Zabyra. With recent changes to the belt testing rules, I’m hoping that more players will take advantage of the process.
Fifth, we’ve continued to tweak skills based on player feedback with a lot of attention paid particularly to psionics. These tweaks are continuing. It’s great to see the player community reaching consensus and working with the staff to improve the game systems.
Overall, it has been a year of rebuilding as we continue to search for secure footing in an era that presumably is leaving text-based games behind. It is getting to the point where it’s not enough to simply say “Come play on OtherSpace and we’ll show you space opera.” If the game’s going to survive, it’ll have to be less about the stories *I* want to tell and the theme *I* want to develop. Those stories and thematic elements can form the foundation, but the bricks and mortar have to come from the players in the years to come.
Meanwhile, I need to focus more on outreach, player retention, and creative writing outside of the MUSH proper. Does this mean I’m retiring? Quitting? No, not at all. But it’s time for me to step back and put some distance between myself and the game for a while. After all, I’ve got Necromundus to start poking around at too. OtherSpace has had my attention for a full year. It’s about time for it to start rolling along on its own as much as it can.
So, in 2010, watch for the following new features to come to OtherSpace:
* Player-driven organizations: We’ll see less influence by NPC governments such as the Koltkamir, allowing player-run corporations/organizations to become the de facto governments of Hiverspace.
* Space combat: As HSpace 5.0 continues to bring new features online, expect some regions of space to become deadlier than others with the addition of PvP territories. Those of you who don’t want to PvP can avoid those areas (although I do expect that some valuable resources will be found there).
* Space stations: Players can own their own interstellar trade hubs.
* Customized alien races: Players can design their own alien cultures to inhabit the worlds of the region known as Hiverspace.
* Customized human refugees: Players can invent their own “rift-caught” humans pulled through space-time from Earth.
* Customized worlds: Players can create their own worlds, hold events on them, and build their own epic sagas.
Our new slogan for 2010 will be: Your worlds, your stories. The goal is to give new and old players alike something that they can’t get anywhere else: A platform to shape their own universe and tell amazing stories, creating memories that people can talk about ten years from now.
Stick around. I think you’ll enjoy the journey.
MMORPG.com posed a question to me last week about the enduring popularity of sandbox games. They posted my response today. Here’s what I had to say about it!
Inevitably, I’m going to work on another MU* project. When I do, without a doubt, it will have to leave behind the arcane Telnet mechanics and shift instead to a browser-based environment.
So, the search is on: I’m looking for a text-based MUD engine for browsers.
It might be the holy grail. Chances are, I’ll never find it. But I’m convinced that if there’s a decent engine out there, it would be much easier to draw (and retain) new players if accessing the game, the lore, and your character information are all just a click away on the web.
The new phantom project won’t be OtherSpace or Necromundus. However, if I get a successful web-based game off the ground, it might be able to help feed activity toward the other games.
We shall see.