Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Announcements of major changes to Salem.

Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby JohnCarver » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:27 pm

Greetings Salemites!

Happy New Year! It has been almost 6 months (excluding the roadmap) since I have made a general announcement regarding the state, feelings, direction and just general chit-chat of the Salem Development Process. For better or worse (probably worse), I'm sure many of you have noticed that I adopted a level of community interaction that is prone to harvesting tears, and creating drama while trying to preserve as much mystery to the world of Salem as one can in this age where all information on all games is typically a wiki-search away. That being said, I do strongly believe that I have generally failed to "cut the crap" from time to time, allowing both myself and the community to take a step back, evaluate, and have an honest heart-to-heart about both where we were and where we are going.

In addition to this, you may have noticed that for all the trolling at the hands of your devs, we do not fancy failed promises, missed deadlines, or outright lies in relation to our performance or otherwise. I feel strongly that you as players (and those who are customers) invest both your time and your contributions under the implied assumption that we are indeed doing 'our part' to preserve the world you love, while simultaneously advancing it towards the world we have told you about in our roadmaps and otherwise. There is no worse feeling than investing into a game, ESPECIALLY an MMO with the uncertainty of how long it will be there or if there is somebody at the development level who is as passionate about it as you, the gamer. I hope, at a minimum, despite whatever shortcomings we may have experienced, that the community at large knows any limitations and failures in our development while under my watch is a byproduct of inexperience, and never one of a lack of passion or effort. As has been stated several times in the past, our experience with something as 'large' in scope as Salem is quite small, and, without the consultation assistance from SeaTribe, I can confidently say that we would have fallen on our face NUMEROUS times through our somewhat ambitious development goals. However, we are optimistic for the new year as we look back at all the things we 'struggled' with when developing Salem that have now become trivial to us and hope that this year we can unmask and wield the final weapons of the Code-base, dev tools, etc.

As you can tell, this post is going to be mostly rambling and random thoughts as this was not something carefully thought out or even something I "prepared" to do today. It is simply something that I thought would be a 'nice thing' if at least every so often I dropped my guard, turned off the trolling, and let it be known that at the end of it all there are people behind the pink names who do more than come up with new ways to aggravate and frustrate their player base :).

One thing that I have always thought was interesting was to hear from the developers what they liked and what they didn't like. As a gamer, I always found that I could better predict where the game was, and is going, and I could choose if the game would remain the right home for me based on similarities or differences between myself and the designers. If, for example, I am playing a game where the developer hates the things I love, then I would know my time is limited. If, on the flip-side, they hated the things I hated, then I could be reasonably assured that things could only get better with time. I am sure many of you have experienced a 'nostalgia' for a game. Where despite its developments, patches, and 'changes', you could confidently look back to a previous patch or expansion and say "The game was better back then". More often then not, this realization would have come earlier if you indeed saw and knew that the things YOU enjoyed about that time in the game's life were in fact on the chopping block. So, without further ado, here are some general thoughts on the existing systems etc. etc.

Combat
I'm talking about the actual 'twitch' of Salem combat itself. I.E. What you are doing AFTER you have established a fighting relation with something. Not the PVP/Siege etc. (more on that later). I was extremely excited about the combat rework we did and I still firmly believe it is 10X more dynamic and interesting than the previous 2-3 (practical) moves system we inherited. That being said, I still do not like Salem Combat and I'm not entirely sure what to do about it. I am generally proud for the things that Salem is "not" and accepting of them. I am proud that we do not cater to the masses. I am proud that we do not invest all our funds in polygon counts over content. I am proud that we do not 'automate' things the players could easily do such as 'pathfinding' etc. etc. But with combat, I cannot seem to muster the 'pride' in the simple-yet-complex style we were aiming for. I feel that Salem at every turn asks you to do more than just mindlessly drone off while playing a video game. I feel like it forces you to engage yourself intellectually, and even the act of going to 3rd party websites to 'find stuff out' reminds me of trips to a 'Library' to do 'research' thus having some throwback to the fact that what you are doing does require some mental stimulation for success. Combat to me is by far the 'dumbest' thing we do. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge that there is a learning curve to it and have frequently slapped many of you around with 'less humors' in duels to prove this point. That doesn't change the fact that I feel the upper level of 'strategy' is 'missing'. The speed at which some moves happen, while interesting, somewhat prohibit the ability to 'counter' your opponent and while it is true you can 'win' against an enemy if you know their 'fight style', a player pushing a single button over and over again may only be at a 20%-30% greater chance to lose than the certain defeat I would prefer. It is a 'nice thing' that Salem has movement combat and the ability for positioning and 'light' versions of twitch gaming to have an effect. But we are not graphically, or demographically positioned well to 'attract' your average player who is looking for this type of combat experience and I am quite confident based on our 'interests' that Salem will never be some hugely 'twitch' dependent combat system anyway. Thus leaving it the half-breed it is today.

Unfortunately, I don't have the answers here, just simply some thoughts to share. I do think the first step is to simply 'expand' the combat moves available and see if something better begins to organically form from that. From there I do think that it would be reasonable for 'combat stances' themselves to form a new dimension to combat. In the end I refuse to accept that Salem Combat cannot be wildly entertaining. I hate to reference other games genres like MOBA features in most case controlling a SINGLE unit, point to clicking around, with 4 spells/buttons, a very confined map, and no real AI to speak of in the 'jungle'. Somehow MOBA has taken a vastly lighter 'base' for combat operations and enticed an entire generation of gamers into ignoring those obvious shortcomings. And to all those LoL fanbois. I quite acknowledge that it isn't the 'combat' itself that makes a MOBA great, however, its just important to realize that the 'foundation' for the Salem Combat system is far more versatile and that the 'physical' act of combat itself is in no way a death sentence. It just needs to work in the over-all recipe that is Salem just as 4 buttons and point to click quite clearly works for MOBAs.

Purity
Purity has been our biggest failure when examined on the whole, I feel. We have yet to implement conclusions for the other impurities and we are constantly struggling on where to draw the line on items that do and do not have purity. In addition to this, it is no secret that we completely botched our timetables on how quickly it would be acquired. The speed at which an expedition evolves is one of the most crucial aspects of Future Salem, and for this reason it is highly important that we 'get it right' in relation to balancing the different purity foundations. Allowing Iron to max as quickly as we did completely ruined months of great testing data and simultaneously, frustrated many farmers and turkey growers who simply couldn't compete with the other product. We will be doing another go on this with the new mining system and there isn't much for me to say here except that at least we realize errors such as this and inject a new marker into the roadmap to fix major core systems that we feel are threatened. Aside from those missteps though, which are indeed enough on their own to ruin the system. I have been following those of you who chose to push the other industries anyways. I am very happy with the speed in which the other industries advance and I feel that it is a nice thing to have that thing you can log on and do which will be fruitful 6-12 months later in the game you are playing.

PVP
This is by far my favorite 'batch' of changes. Every single day I parse the server for every crime left. Several times since the patch I have gone and looked at every base hit. Coming from a background that yielded me a fairly good understanding of both what it felt like to raid, and what it felt like to 'lose everything', I can confidently say that I am currently very thrilled with the state of things. General theft and the feeling that loss can happen in Salem has never been higher, while the number of players who are purely quitting or 'losing their entire base' at the conclusion of a successful raid has never been lower. The people of Salem are armed to 'do something about it' should they choose to do so and thanks to rare drops in almost every industry that matter in almost every level of play, there is almost always something nice for a Raider to separate from his target. I am NOT happy with the idea that somebody can indeed sit in town and yell profanities at you, and even if you know where they live a simple brick wall can most certainly change your opinion if they are 'worth it to hit'. I feel that there is a time and place for more chaos & carnage. I also feel that the place for this is NOT providence. I would like for players who click "Providence" to have the general understanding that they can ascend 95% of all confrontation if they were to put enough effort into building their base. I also like the idea that if you have a strong base you can 'leave' providence for 2 months, come back, and be reasonably assured it will still be standing when you return. The idea that Providence is a more permanent and secure home I don't think needs to immediately translate to a 'failed' permadeath or hardcore system. For those looking for something where loss is more frequent and there are less ways to 'defend' against it that will be the focus of Expeditions :).

Expeditions
Speaking of Expeditions. What are they? How do they work? Why are we so excited about them? Well given that they are going to be deployed this year I see no reason to not begin expanding on the concept with you as long as we can agree not to reference this paragraph WHEN they don't turn out exactly as I describe here. Things in their infant stages are still subject to a LOT of change but I do feel confident that less of what I type will change than things that stay static. The first big spoiler
Everybody will die

All expeditions will end. Thus, everybody on an expedition will die. I think this simple fact in itself will cause a lot more YOLO of players willing to 'risk' something that they were certainly going to lose anyway. The 2nd half of this spoilers.
The Witches will choose when

It will most likely be the Witches that unlock the final tiers of their craft to end the expeditions. Thus allowing any Witch to 'age' and get both older and stronger is a direct risk to not only your character but every character on the server. While it is true that Providence may or may not keep a subset of rules that allow a general indifference towards Witches, on an expedition every witch is a direct threat to EVERYTHING you have there. If you wish for the Server to end, you might as well join a Witch Coven and accelerate the process. If you wish for the server to live forever, well, you better go out and find those witches.

We hope that each expedition lasts between 6 months and 1 year (although how long will depend on the players) and we hope that with each expedition we can inject enough new content that players can no longer see Salem as a permanent MMO that requires 100% of all their attention to be reasonably successful, to something where you can put it down, dabble in other things, and then ramp up with all your friends all over again at the start of the next expedition. All while still having a 'home base' on Providence for those times when you may not want to start fresh on the expedition, but you do have that craving to plant some fields.

WitchCraft
On the topic of Witchcraft. This is something I can say has probably been our 'favorite' implementation thus far. One of the key things we wanted was for everybody to know the witch is out there and to have the paranoia of witches be rampant while simultaneously not having 'everybody' be a Witch. Less than 3% of the active population has a Witch and absolutely 0 Witches know everything there is to know about their craft. The priest in town has cured COUNTLESS Pilgrims who were in fact NOT cursed and meanwhile countless others have lived with their curses not realizing or noticing the subtle yet detrimental changes to their characters. The system is extremely fun to observe and I only wish I could give myself the little Men In Black tranquilizer shot so that I could forget the whole thing and live a simple life as a paranoid pilgrim :). I understand that for many living in fear, especially fear of an unknown may not be how they describe their perfect gaming experience. However, I consider it awesome that there can and does exist a game where a collective organization of intellectual community members can be scared of something they do not understand and with all the wealth of the internet behind them, they still cannot understand it. Only through the bravery of those who dabble in the dark arts and 'share' can the knowledge ever see the light of day, and there is something nice about that which I will probably never let go.

Tempo
While we have made some pretty sweeping changes to the tempo of the game we are nowhere near happy with it. Some things in Salem are still too slow and some tasks are still too boring and repetitive. We do hope that inventory management eases the burden of a lot of tasks and we are hesitant to weigh in our final decision until players can reasonably carry many more goods.

Map Size
While the map size is still absurdly large I can finally say that the Map Size and me have hugged it out and are now in a bit of a bromance. I still wish I could change the biomes a bit and alter the map-gen but as far as 'distance' it concerns me far less. We plan on publishing a loosely helpful map of Providence for the players and thanks to the two way points from the wagon master you can reach almost any point on the map in 2-4 hours. A meager investment if it is in the name of killing a criminal, and yet still a significant investment for the troublemakers to find you. I've become less concerned with the map size over time and after the Mining Patch I suspect that I will have completely put that issue to bed.


Conclusion
So while we have talked about Systems, how about Salem itself? What is Mortal Moment's Salem? Where is it going? What exactly are we trying to do? And perhaps why does so much stuff we do not make sense to the average gamer?

I think we have proven that we don't want to be Haven, nor do we want to be WoW. Our development is inspired by absolutely ZERO existing titles on the market and we are trying to 'look like' nothing that exists. We have never played the game we have always wanted to play (and now build) nor do we know if there is a market for it. Thus, we are on a bit of a quest to build a machine to which there is no blueprint providing a function or service that may or may not have value. With that understanding it might be reasonable that as a passenger on this voyage with us you are indeed going to see things, and go places, that you never imagined existed. Perhaps arguably we will take you places that seem obvious to YOU shouldn't exist in the first place :). Please keep in mind that you will not motivate or persuade us with 'money' or 'publicity'. We will only laugh at your threats for bad reviews and have less than zero cares about what you or I think is popular. While I sincerely appreciate every player who looks at a screenshot of Salem and has the open-mindedness to 'give it a go', it is also true that I acknowledge that the vast majority of people are not going to get the experience from Salem that they are probably looking for. I do hope that many players can look back on their Salem experience and say that it was 'fun'. I also think that any player who can look at the last 90 days of Salem and confidently say they are 'not having fun' should just quit. There is nothing more foolish to me than a Gamer who chooses to play a game that they are not having fun with and at no point do I consider the fun players are having my direct responsibility. If Salem is not 'your thing or fun to you' then I have no immediate desire to make your suggested changes to make it 'your thing'. Salem is my thing. I think it is the best game I have ever played, and every change I make is to protect that. With those completely selfish intentions in mind perhaps that can give you a bit of insight as to how I can be so 'sure' of a destination regardless of any number of voices pointing in any number of directions that I know myself to be 'wrong'. For surely none of you have been in my head, thus none of you could know the final destination, thus none of you could be 'right' as to which way we should go. Please don't confuse this with a 'better way to get there'. Certainly many of you can and have made awesome suggestions and things that would better enhance the journey and experience which have indeed made it in the game. But the 'final' form, direction, and experience that Salem aims to deliver is non-negotiable.

So in conclusion, Salem is a place where you 'find' your fun and fight for your true friends. Salem is a struggle and Salem makes you constantly question if it is worth the struggle. Salem forces you to validate the time you spend on it and forces you to remember the good times if for no other reason than to block out the bad. Salem aims to heighten the emotion of a rare drop or escape from death not through rewarding the escape but by the viscous punishment of failure or sheer volume of previous failures. Salem is where you play at the edge of your seat constantly searching for threats and danger. Salem is the place where that one time when you afk'd outside your gates, was the last time. Salem is a place where when you commit a crime, you alter your real life schedules to accommodate the commitment that said crime has created. Salem is a game that does not tell you how committed or powerful you can become and does not attempt to accelerate the accomplishments of those around you to normalize your efforts. Salem is a place where the cooperation and teamwork of a group can trivialize that which you can do yourself, but finding said group is anything but trivial. Salem is a place where trust is earned and reputations are respected, where personalities are feared and invoking fear can be a profitable personality. Salem is a place where the people can choose their dictator or government (should there be one at all). Salem is a place where one person on a Saturday, disgruntled with the powers that be can alter the economic tides of war without ever revealing his true identity. Salem is a place where an act of self-less heroism, a pilgrim who take a bullet for another, or a friend who runs off claim against overwhelming odds to try to 'save' his downed comrade carries more weight than a years worth of skype logs. Salem makes you scared of that which you do not know and understand. Salem makes you scared of that which you do know and understand. Salem offers you a mystery that has not been discovered, a recipe that has not been made and a frontier that has not been explored. Most importantly, Salem offers you the opportunity to experience real emotion, generated from real triumph. Real triumph that is only made possible by real tears.

Thanks for coming along and I look forward to spending another year with you!
John Carver
ceedat wrote:the overwhelming frustration of these forums and the unnecessarily over complicated game mechanics is what i enjoy about this game most.

Nsuidara wrote:it is a strange and difficult game in no positive way
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby DarkNacht » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:30 pm

TL;DR
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby JohnCarver » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:32 pm

DarkNacht wrote:TL;DR

¦]
ceedat wrote:the overwhelming frustration of these forums and the unnecessarily over complicated game mechanics is what i enjoy about this game most.

Nsuidara wrote:it is a strange and difficult game in no positive way
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby Lusewing » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:48 pm

A very enjoyable and informative read JC, thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts to text and your time and love into this game, as well as all of the other pink names and locked up work-slaves. I for one feel very happy with the direction Salem is going and always feel like I have come home whenever I log in.
Do not argue with idiots, for they will pull you down to their level, then beat you with experience.
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby alloin » Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:54 pm

Thanks for this informative post, and yes! Salem is the best game I've ever played!
jorb wrote:all I see is misplaced machismo and a lot of very cheap talk. ^^

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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby belgear » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:01 pm

I've never had more fun than playing Salem. Happy New Year, and thank you
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby tweenprinc3ss » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:23 pm

Great post! I appreciate the glimpse into your thoughts of the future. I have been enjoying the occasional glimpse behind the veil as well, stats about how many witches, how many crimes on a given day. It can be hard to grasp what is going on out there from the secluded confines of ones homestead.
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby JohnCarver » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:29 pm

tweenprinc3ss wrote:Great post! I appreciate the glimpse into your thoughts of the future. I have been enjoying the occasional glimpse behind the veil as well, stats about how many witches, how many crimes on a given day. It can be hard to grasp what is going on out there from the secluded confines of ones homestead.


7,659 Crimes in the last week. (Bouncy Things on the Map)

7 Cold Blooded Murders
136 Structures Destroyed
2,089 Item's Stolen
5 People Rangered down with Revenge

The other 4-5K or so just peeking in peoples leanto,s assaults from duels, knocking people out, and otherwise things that cannot be summoned from.
ceedat wrote:the overwhelming frustration of these forums and the unnecessarily over complicated game mechanics is what i enjoy about this game most.

Nsuidara wrote:it is a strange and difficult game in no positive way
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby Heffernan » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:33 pm

no info on my shop update :?

apart from that looking forward to a less pvp oriented gameplay 2015
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Re: Happy New Year & Salem 2015

Postby JohnCarver » Thu Jan 01, 2015 10:34 pm

Shop update in new thread soon.
ceedat wrote:the overwhelming frustration of these forums and the unnecessarily over complicated game mechanics is what i enjoy about this game most.

Nsuidara wrote:it is a strange and difficult game in no positive way
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