Cloaking Gems (Again)

XenthosXenthos Shadow LordMember Posts: 7,017 Transcendent
This topic keeps coming up repeatedly, so here's yet another thread on the cloaking gem!  The gist of it is: New players come to Lusternia, see a QW/WHO that has just a handful of names on it, and think that the game's pretty empty despite there being a larger number actually present in the numbers below.  Actually seeing that people are around would be a very good change.  As such, here is a proposal.

1) WHO is expanded so that it works across all planes, like EWHO currently does, with the following limitations.
 a. It does not show anyone in manses.
 b. It does not show the room name of anyone not on the same plane (or possibly continent) as you are, only the character's name.
2) EWHO will continue to show the room names of anyone on a different plane/continent than you, and will still display manse rooms (ignoring rooms with a privacy gem, as it currently does).  Thus it is still an upgraded version of WHO.
3) The cloaking gem will remove your location's room name from WHO and EWHO, displaying only your character name (just as if you were off-plane).  If you are in a manse, the cloaking gem will remove you from the EWHO list entirely, as well.
 * Optional addition: The cloaking gem has up to 1 to 2 hours of activation time per weave for a special effect.  This effect will remove your name from WHO/EWHO (just as the cloaking gem currently does).  This can be toggled on/off up until the total time is expended.

The final optional idea is for those individuals who state that sometimes they just want to log on and do dailies / poke at some things without actually being "around."  This would hopefully help satisfy that need, while also making it something that is both an opt-in and expires so it's just not permanently left toggled on.  I'm not sure it's needed myself, but I can see the appeal for something like that.
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Comments

  • OletheaOlethea Member Posts: 12 Apprentice
    I second and support what Xenthos says here. I play a couple different IREs - currently, Aetolia and Lusternia, but I've nosed at Achaea too, briefly - and they seem so much fuller for having a large WHO list.
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,404 Transcendent
    I'd nix 1.a, include GWHO/CWHO/etc in the range increase, and ensure privacy gems hide you from all of them.

    It'd just increase the visibility, make things consistent across the board, and narrow that "I don't want to be seen" to the very specific "you have to be in a private room". Cause there are reasons you might want to be in a manse but not in a private room (shopkeeping, rp, etc)
  • CoralineCoraline Member Posts: 651 Mythical
    edited April 17
    I would just like to point out that manse privacy gems exist for when you want to not be disturbed, without hiding you from WHO when you are out and about in Prime etc. If you are not allowed to be idle while out of a manse, I don't understand why there is an artifact that lets you hide completely from the game while being out and about (if the former is based on needing to involve yourself in the game while you are out of the manse, so should the latter).

    Most of the players (usually from outside of my org), I don't even know they exist unless I have deathsight and the alliance clan turned on and they happen to take part in a timequake. I can imagine it must look even worse for a newbie without any of those skills. I agree that cloaking gems should be changed to where it shows you on WHO but hides your location (much like it shows Divine who are visible), and it will still be as useful as it is for sneaky combat related stuff while not making the game look empty (to both newbies and non-newbies).
    You are startled as a lemon meringue pie bounces harmlessly off you after being thrown at you by Mysrai.
  • XenthosXenthos Shadow Lord Member Posts: 7,017 Transcendent
    Saran said:
    I'd nix 1.a, include GWHO/CWHO/etc in the range increase, and ensure privacy gems hide you from all of them.

    It'd just increase the visibility, make things consistent across the board, and narrow that "I don't want to be seen" to the very specific "you have to be in a private room". Cause there are reasons you might want to be in a manse but not in a private room (shopkeeping, rp, etc)

    This gets into the realm of "asking for too much" I think (not the cwho range increases, but the rest of it).  The bigger the asks, the stronger the pushback is.  The last time this conversation came up, there were some very vocal EWHO mirror owners who thought any change that made their mirror less effective would be awful and that helped derail it, as one example.
    The goal is to try to come up with something that addresses the problem, with as few changes as possible, and that satisfies as many people as possible (even if it's not their own perfect ideal).
    Impacting cwho/other whos would also be an option with this proposal, yes.  The goal is to make it more obvious other people are around and that would fit.
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  • AfolliaAfollia Member Posts: 98 Capable
    edited April 17
    So, here's a little idea for all interested in this from someone that doesn't have a gem.

    Reading the posts above I see two problems:

    1.- People don't want to be seen
    2.- New players can't see the population

    and I though about this option:

    Just change the gem to generate random names on Who for players to see.

    Example:

    /who witouth gems
    ..........................
    Xenthos
    Afollia
    Coralina
    Saran

    /who with gems
    ......................
    Chade (Xenthos with gem)
    Afollia (No gem)
    Coraline (no gem)
    Synl (Saran with gem)

    This way people won't get outed for being online and people can still see a populated game.
    Names are randomly generated each time the player logs in with the active gem.

    Edit: Names can be picked from the database of inactive people - It's not like we lack choice.

  • SapphiraSapphira Member Posts: 170 Expert
    Afollia said:
    So, here's a little idea for all interested in this from someone that doesn't have a gem.

    Reading the posts above I see two problems:

    1.- People don't want to be seen
    2.- New players can't see the population

    and I though about this option:

    Just change the gem to generate random names on Who for players to see.

    Example:

    /who witouth gems
    ..........................
    Xenthos
    Afollia
    Coralina
    Saran

    /who with gems
    ......................
    Chade (Xenthos with gem)
    Afollia (No gem)
    Coraline (no gem)
    Synl (Saran with gem)

    This way people won't get outed for being online and people can still see a populated game.
    Names are randomly generated each time the player logs in with the active gem.

    Edit: Names can be picked from the database of inactive people - It's not like we lack choice.

    i like this, or even just some sort of generic 'Cloaked Person'. 

    To respond to Coraline, another reason people want to be cloaked is to not make it readily obvious to people what they are doing - such as engaging in conflict quests, or even preparing to raid or fight, or maybe just visiting an 'enemy' org or something...it's a tool to allow you to be sneaky. When suddenly your name is visible, people can go oh look Sapphira is logged on, going to scry to see where she is. Now, of course, anyone can be scried already but perhaps no one would specifically go looking for me if my name is not revealed to them.

    in the past i bought my gem specifically because it took my name off who/ewho, as there were players who would be like 'oh, some fresh pray hunting on astral' and would come and gank me. That became very tiresome to be hounded every time i stepped outside of the city so i saved up for a gem. There's many reasons people may want to hide.

    i like the idea of finding a way to show the population, but while also keeping the purpose of a gem, and that is to let you avoid general notice for whatever reason that may be.
  • AyisdraAyisdra Member Posts: 1,341 Mythical
    At the core of this, the problem seems to be that even if it said 'there are 60 players online', if a newbie only sees 5 names, they think the game is dead rather than 'where are the other 55 players'. Is there a way to shift this line of thinking? I don't know. If the reasoning is 'if I can't see them, they might as well not exist.', I'm not sure how seeing a name vs seeing the name of someone unlikely to talk with you is any different than not seeing the name at all. but all this goes against the nature of the cloaking gem (for reasons already stated about being able to hide completely all the time)

    Horrible idea one is just give newbies an ewho-like list but once they reach X limit that declares them not-a-newbie  and their who list is no longer huge, they will just go 'did the game die?'

    I think having a 'Cloaked person' type list could work if all that matters to a newbie is seeing a big who-list.

  • CoralineCoraline Member Posts: 651 Mythical
    I do like the idea of "a cloaked person" being shown on who instead of the name, since when newbies look at who, the game will appear populated, but you can be sneaky without drawing attention too. If this is implemented, I would like it to be like:

    Who:

    Coraline
    A cloaked figure
    A cloaked figure

    ^in that format instead of "5 cloaked figures"
    You are startled as a lemon meringue pie bounces harmlessly off you after being thrown at you by Mysrai.
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,404 Transcendent
    Xenthos said:
    Saran said:
    I'd nix 1.a, include GWHO/CWHO/etc in the range increase, and ensure privacy gems hide you from all of them.

    It'd just increase the visibility, make things consistent across the board, and narrow that "I don't want to be seen" to the very specific "you have to be in a private room". Cause there are reasons you might want to be in a manse but not in a private room (shopkeeping, rp, etc)

    This gets into the realm of "asking for too much" I think (not the cwho range increases, but the rest of it).  The bigger the asks, the stronger the pushback is.  The last time this conversation came up, there were some very vocal EWHO mirror owners who thought any change that made their mirror less effective would be awful and that helped derail it, as one example.
    The goal is to try to come up with something that addresses the problem, with as few changes as possible, and that satisfies as many people as possible (even if it's not their own perfect ideal).
    Impacting cwho/other whos would also be an option with this proposal, yes.  The goal is to make it more obvious other people are around and that would fit.

    It basically sounds like there is an existing tool that is the solution to this issue and the simplest thing seems to be to just replace WHO with EWHO and replace the mirror effect or offer refunds because realistically any change is going to lessen the utility of the mirror and/or gem. 

    Also, more broadly, rather than potentially nerfing the gem or coding halfway stuff... you could just provide positive reinforcement for the behaviour you want, people turning their gems off.

    For example, they could have some form of charge that builds up as long as you're logged in with them turned off where you'd be visible (i.e currently not in manses, if manses are visible then not in private rooms).  This wouldn't be a nerf which people have already expressed concern about, but rewarding players for doing the thing you want them to.
    What that reward could be can vary, though one thing that comes to mind is that maybe it's completely consumed at the end of each year to boost your activity essence, though active consumers might also be neat it's mostly what would actually get the effect desired.
  • KerithKerith Member Posts: 282 Gifted
    I really like using the Player Report plugin (from Kali, I think? and then made standalone by demonnic). It shows you names, not locations, for everyone who doesn't have a gem active, regardless of the plane they're on.

    For example:



    This is only 17 people out of the 37 that are online right now, but it still looks more active than the 4 that appear on QW. I think that would be nice for QW. And then WHO with thirdeye would show all the same names except you'd only see their location if they were on the same plane as you (and didn't have a gem active), just like currently.

    This wouldn't devalue gems, and although it would devalue the mirror a little bit by showing names you don't otherwise see, the mirror is still very useful for spying because it would also show location.
  • AlarinAlarin Wailuku, Maui, Hawai'iMember Posts: 75 Capable
    edited April 19
    As one of those cloaking gem owners, I actually bought mine just to be able to hunt in relative peace. I've also played Lusternia for fourteen some odd years across numerous characters (I'm actually afraid to check just how many there are total, lol) and remember a time where an enemy would attack on sight/go out of their way to give someone grief if you were anywhere off of Prime. 

    I've noticed it isn't so much the case anymore, so I've actually considered trading mine in a few times. As someone who is still a bit of a novice at heart and remembers what it was like when first starting out here, the novices are the main reason I've considered doing away with mine. I enjoy helping the new guys and like them knowing I'm around and willing to help. There are also others outside of my side of the alliance that I interact with both in-game and through OOC chatter. So I was thinking... maybe we could have the WHO list show people who are mutual allies, regardless of gem ownership? That way if someone has you allied, you just ally them and they'll be able to see that you're logged in. Then if you decide "Eh, I don't like this crazy bloke anymore," unally them and you no longer show up on their WHO list, nor will they on yours. Sure, people will have to alter their ally list from time to time to make room for others, but I'm pretty certain most of us already do it more often than we'd care to admit. >.>

    Just wanted to add my thoughts on the topic. <3


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  • ArixArix Member Posts: 1,450 Transcendent
    just make it so gems don't work in manses
  • LawrenceLawrence Member Posts: 35 Apprentice
    Coraline said:
    If you are not allowed to be idle while out of a manse, I don't understand why there is an artifact that lets you hide completely from the game while being out and about 
    I don't always feel like being seen when I'm just grinding my dailies. I don't want to be seen with thirdeye if I'm somewhere I'm not supposed to be. I, sometimes, just don't feel like being seen and open to interactions. I feel rude if someone sends me a tell and I just ignore it, so when I feel less social I'll have my gem on.

    When I was very new I was told "we aren't empty, people are just hiding." I don't see why it's an end of the world issue for novices to not be able to immediately see people when we have CW, newbie, and alliance clans to help them find people when they need help.
  • CoralineCoraline Member Posts: 651 Mythical
    For every newbie that sticks around despite the game looking "empty", there are four or five that leave because of the "perpetually empty feeling" (what I've been told by 80% of the people I have tried to get to play). This is despite people helping them and kitting them out etc.

    The true newbie experience is very different from newbies who have started new characters after having played extensively before on other characters, and I don't think people who aren't true newbies completely realize this - this is something Sulwh seems to agree with me on as well when we had this discussion privately.
    You are startled as a lemon meringue pie bounces harmlessly off you after being thrown at you by Mysrai.
  • SapphiraSapphira Member Posts: 170 Expert
    Maybe a short term solution - add an achievement/newbie task for checking WHO - and then add a hint that mentions the limitations of who you actually see - those on your own plane, and that many others may be using techniques to be sneaky and hide! 

    Maybe?
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,404 Transcendent
    edited April 20
    Coraline said:
    For every newbie that sticks around despite the game looking "empty", there are four or five that leave because of the "perpetually empty feeling" (what I've been told by 80% of the people I have tried to get to play). This is despite people helping them and kitting them out etc.

    The true newbie experience is very different from newbies who have started new characters after having played extensively before on other characters, and I don't think people who aren't true newbies completely realize this - this is something Sulwh seems to agree with me on as well when we had this discussion privately.
    I'd disagree with the last bit about people not realising it. In some ways being an experienced player can make it worse because I look at the outputs from like CWHO or GWHO and tend to automatically expect that all the "X on other planes" are people in manses who are just AFK (unless I've seen relevant conflict chatter recently) and are basically artificially inflating the online numbers. 

    There's also a bit of a question around specifics. For example, it seems super relevant to consider if those newbies are actually understanding the player count stuff at the bottom, because if they are then changing WHO may not acheieve much, particularly if they're coming from other MUDs/IREs and comparing numbers. You can also get that empty feeling if your guild or org is well... desolate which who wouldn't really help with because it doesn't really matter if there's a hundred people online elsewhere.

    It's also the same with objections really. The concerns about being visible, the desire to avoid griefing, and sometimes wanting to be covert about what you're actually doing, all kinda make me wonder if maybe another way to hit things is to look at how easy it is to actually scry. It's most basic form is available to everyone through enchanting and it seems to only get better from there, maybe there needs to be some work done around that which could make people feel more comfortable being more visible (if that would actually solve things)
    Post edited by Saran on
  • SynlSynl Member Posts: 218 Adept
    Will I be annoyed that I am more visible and thus more susceptible to being 'bothered' while out and about in the world? Yes.

    Is that worth it to potentially increase the game's retention? Yes.
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,404 Transcendent
    edited April 22
    Sulwh said:
    A true newbie is going to learn about QW or WHO and count the names. Let's compare Achaea, Aetolia, and Lusternia QW lists:

    Yes, Lusternia has a third of the population online as Achaea, but 75% of Aetolia. And yet Aetolia feels infinitely more filled. The issue is that cloaking gems compound the already smaller visible population resulting from the unique planar mechanic.


    Those snips personally highlight another potential reason our online count looks lower, particularly given they're blocks of text where numbers will naturally stick out.
    Aet and Achaea seem to be reporting total player counts, which creates the largest possible number (potentially also including admin into the count) and note the exceptions. Ours is instead split and reporting two numbers that are both smaller than what could be reported if we just... did what the other games do. It's also interacting with the "left digit bias" for me cause that 28 is looking way lower than the 41, at least a 32 would close the gap.

    There are also considerations such as if the "people that are hidden from you"/"other planes"/"you cannot fully sense" count ends up being just players in manses that could emphasise how many players are... inflating the online numbers. From what I've noted in CWHO recently, adapting WHO may not necessarily help that much, at times it's been basically half of the online players seemingly being in manses.

    The issues seem to be really that people actively don't want to be visible, particularly because of the game design around scrying, and that the emptiness really isn't just perception (when I was looking Aet was closer to double ours). The game is really focused on big group activities that get a bunch of players active all at the same time but then people seem to jump off or into manses waiting for the next one, outside of those you can like... do daily credits (which you may want to be concealed for), you could design or write (which if you're not paying attention can get you hit for AFKing encouraging you to hide in a manse and not be visible), and there are things like guild stuff (i.e potentially the only times you might comfortably be visible) but low pop can make that way more difficult than its worth when there are no real mechanical incentives.

    edit: Also to note, yeah a driver for gem sales is that not having them can make the game not fun, so any solution should consider whether you're trying to retain people while creating a different reason for them to leave. 
  • ChoganChogan Member Posts: 9 Inept
    Yeah this is simply a good idea. Dead looking game is big bad for attracting/retaining new players.
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,404 Transcendent
    Coraline said:
    Some of the players might get upset/unsatisfied/want their credits back if cloaking gems were potentially nerfed, but leave? I don't think any of the existing playerbase would leave because of a cloaking gem nerf, that seems a little far-fetched imo
    It's rather clearly not actually the nerf in a vacuum, and this is why looking at things in a vacuum is kinda useless, it's visibility in the context of Lusternia where it's stupidly easy to scry people.

    That ease makes it kinda trivial to see where people are and the ensuing harassment that this has lead to over the years has already been noted as a reason for why people have bought gems. Among others sure but those others are also things that make the game fun for people that would become more difficult.

    So it's rather simple, if you want to meaningfully increase visibility then you should also be looking at the reasons why we have so many players who have gems, cause let's look at it realistically... they're 400 credits each, so if they're making that big an impact why are that many people prioritising them over other artifacts? (To note: Kerith's post noted that 20 out of 37 players had gems here, compared to seemingly consistent single digits in Aetolia in Sulwh's post and my own looking there.)

    Otherwise just nerfing them without looking at those reasons is likely to lead to those reasons becoming drivers for disengagement. I.e the nerf might not make Bob quit, but being more visible leading to Bob being ganked on Astral regularly could very well have that effect. 


    Sure, you could put up random retiree names but if newbies are trying to find someone to talk to and get bounced back cause they're not online or honour's them and realise the names are fake it can look well like the online presence could be faked. And yeah, you could put up a "cloaked person" thing but that again doesn't help with people you can actually interact with. Both would also not help with other impacts of gems like not being able to see players who can help you join a guild/org.
    A similar thing happens with bringing in people out in aetherspace, they'll inflate appearances sure but they can lead to frustration because it would add in a mix of people who you can't talk to.

    So, long story short, you could more effectively get the actual outcome you'd like if you looked at the broader picture. Maybe scrying needs to be reigned in, maybe the whole distance limitation on communication needs to be nixed. As previously suggested maybe it's easier to create reasons for people to want to be on prime and visible.
  • KerithKerith Member Posts: 282 Gifted
    Part of the problem might also be a culture thing, where we Lusternians just tend to be more antisocial or introverted. I mean, in Achaea, the housing system doesn't hide you. You have to pay 450 credits for a bed, on top of having the land and the house, in order to take yourself off QW (at which point you're also cut off from all communication, like being on an aetherbubble with no planar skill). Here, manses are relatively cheap and easy to hide in, while still keeping an eye on CW in case of events you want to come out and participate in. This is one of the many reasons I prefer Lusternia to games like Achaea. I bet many other people feel the same way.

    However, maybe we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zone a bit, as players, if we want to attract more players. Maybe we need to be in a habit of turning off our gems when it's not really necessary. I got mine so I wouldn't be bothered, but to be honest, I rarely am bothered when I turn it off. So I'm trying to keep it off by default and only turn it on when I really want privacy. I forget who suggested having it off by default when you log in, and having to activate it as a defense, but I really like that. Making it opt-in would make us more conscientious of it.
  • ArixArix Member Posts: 1,450 Transcendent
    I got mine so I could gather essence in peace
  • EritheylEritheyl ** Trigger Warning ** Member Posts: 1,808 Transcendent
    I got mine because Celina was griefing me.
    Crumkane, Lord of Epicurean Delights says, "WAS IT INDEED ON FIRE, ERITHEYL."

    -

    With a deep reverb, Contemptible Sutekh says, "CEASE YOUR INFERNAL ENERGY, ERITHEYL."
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