Increase multiplayer numbers?

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Lacomas
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Joined: May 2nd, 2018, 6:48 am

Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by Lacomas »

Hey everyone,

I love this game. I love multiplayer especially.

It makes me a little sad/concerned to see what feels like dwindling numbers of people playing... what can we do to get more people playing Wesnoth, and especially getting onto the multiplayer server??

Peace,
Lacomas

bproberts
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by bproberts »

Off the top of my head:

1. Sign up in client, rather than having to go into a browser, register here, etc. I've had a number of friends who were very turned off by the whole process.

2. An automated, or at least considerably more user friendly, ladder. Currently this is the process you have to go through to get a ladder game. Again, forcing people out to a seperate website is a huge turnouff, and the process is cumbersome for new users. Even getting our rankings in client to help make it easier to see if someone is a good match would be a huge improvement.

3. Develop with MP in mind. Wesnoth has always been primarily focused on SP play. There's been improvement to the MP system over the years, and some attempts at making a ladder/balanced era, but it's never felt like a priority.

4. Promote Multiplayer. Push "Wesnoth Wednesday" or something and try to get as much of the community as possible on at the same time. Emphasize multiplayer on the Steam page. Host a tournament and broadcast it on Twitch. Anything to get more bodies in that lobby. One of the biggest issues with playing MP in a game with a small community is the negative feedback loop when player's can't find a good game, or sometimes a game at all. If I hop on right now, would I be able to find a player of similar skill to make a ladder game worthwhile? If I want to play a large game, could I grab 7 other people? If I want to play something other than default or one of the two or three most popular addons, would I be able to find someone?

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EarthCake
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by EarthCake »

I do not think any problem would make that people just go and visit one site or two.

bproberts
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by bproberts »

EarthCake wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 3:20 pm
I do not think any problem would make that people just go and visit one site or two.
I have spent years volunteering or working at game shops, clubs, etc. running events, teaching people games and what not. The number one rule of starting a player on a new game, or moving them into a new facet of a game (such as single player or casual play to multiplayer or competitive) is make it easy. Even before making it fun. A good game will make itself fun. A good game will not be fun if someone is already annoyed/frustrated before they get to turn one. Every time you inconvenience someone, even a small amount, you increase the chance that they'll simply say, "this isn't worth it," and walk away. You also significantly hurt the first (most important) impression they have for the new game/mode, meaning that even if they do stick through, even if they enjoy themselves, they may not come back. If you want to build a healthy community, you need players to come back day after day, week after week, etc. This is why games like Hearthstone and League of Legends are successful, despite being inferior to the games they're based on, they make it easy and for a new player to get into a game fast. I just introduced two friends to Wesnoth this week. They both complained about the signup process, and it killed the momentum/excitement they had from hearing about the game.

It might be helpful to imagine Wesnoth as a games store or club. Your friend tells you about it one Friday. It's the best games store ever. They have all the games you love, old hard to find ones from when you were kids, top of the line new ones, great snacks for while you play, top quality equipment. Everything you could want from the perfect place to hang out and play whatever you want. You go to the store with him, open the door, and the first staff member you see asks for your ID. Your friend flashes a card out of his wallet and laughs, "Sorry, I forgot. You need to go next door to sign up first." At this point you're probably thinking three things.

1. This is annoying. Do I even want to bother?

2. Why do I have to go somewhere else to sign up? This is really unprofessional.

3. What am I signing up for? Is this some kind of scam?

These are the same things that people think when they have to sign up for Wesnoth. People only have so much energy and time to invest in games. If you annoy them, they will sometimes just say, "screw it, not worth it!" Adding another step and five minutes to the process means that they're now bothered before they even start a game, and it's five minutes less that I have to explain how things work. It means we might not finish our game, that they might be tired and just want to go to bed by the end, or that we won't have time to talk about it after if they have questions.

Wesnoth isn't a big budget AAA game. No one should expect it to have professional voice acting, or fancy 4K/144hz cutscenes. But in game sign ups have been standard, even for low budget and FOSS games, for decades. If Wesnoth can't even do sign ups "right" what else is going to be screwed up or inconvenient down the line? It just looks sloppy.

Lastly, a lot of people just find it suspicious. As someone who appreciates FOSS you probably value security/privacy. Now this game is opening some website you don't know and asking for information. Great, another stupid thing spamming your email. Probably going to sell it to some bot farm.

The ladder is the same. It's yet another thing (not even associated with the devs) that I have to go through to set up a game. And if I want to actually find players I either have to hunt them down on the forums, IRC, or something. Potentially yet another third party program/account to deal with. Then I have to look up my ELO (not available in game) and make sure I setup my game name a certain way, check the right boxes in settings, etc.

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Pentarctagon
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by Pentarctagon »

bproberts wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 3:07 pm
Off the top of my head:

1. Sign up in client, rather than having to go into a browser, register here, etc. I've had a number of friends who were very turned off by the whole process.

2. An automated, or at least considerably more user friendly, ladder. Currently this is the process you have to go through to get a ladder game. Again, forcing people out to a seperate website is a huge turnouff, and the process is cumbersome for new users. Even getting our rankings in client to help make it easier to see if someone is a good match would be a huge improvement.

3. Develop with MP in mind. Wesnoth has always been primarily focused on SP play. There's been improvement to the MP system over the years, and some attempts at making a ladder/balanced era, but it's never felt like a priority.

4. Promote Multiplayer. Push "Wesnoth Wednesday" or something and try to get as much of the community as possible on at the same time. Emphasize multiplayer on the Steam page. Host a tournament and broadcast it on Twitch. Anything to get more bodies in that lobby. One of the biggest issues with playing MP in a game with a small community is the negative feedback loop when player's can't find a good game, or sometimes a game at all. If I hop on right now, would I be able to find a player of similar skill to make a ladder game worthwhile? If I want to play a large game, could I grab 7 other people? If I want to play something other than default or one of the two or three most popular addons, would I be able to find someone?
For #1, it mostly depends on there being someone who's able and willing to implement that feature, though given there's a Sign Up button that then opens up a web page that then does the same thing has meant it's not a very high priority. Another related idea that's been brought up before as well is letting people log in via their Steam account.

Edit - Historically (prior to 1.14), Wesnoth didn't require any registration at all, however that led to all sorts of problems as basic as being able to ban problematic users in a way that was even minimally effective. So while I agree that registration could be more streamlined, having the current registration is also far better than how the MP server was managed before.

For #2, that is very much intentional. There has been a recent discussion about it, and while personally I'm not especially opposed to the idea myself, I do think it would require some careful consideration.

For #3, there is a Ladder Era that's currently being worked on, to my understanding, and hopefully any changes that are beneficial to balance will make their way back into mainline Wesnoth. Current mainline is also considered to be decently balanced overall as well though.

For #4, I think that some of this in a problem is most communities. Wesnoth games can be fairly long, so actually playing an 8 person match to completion would almost certainly take more than a single session, or at least several hours, which a fair number of people don't want to do. You'll also always have trouble finding other people to play a scenario or mode or whatever that's less popular, except in the much larger communities.

As far as Wesnoth Wednesdays, tournaments, and the like, the problem is always going to be having the time to organize and oversee it - I know I don't have the time for a tournament, for example. There are community organized tournaments every once in a while though, and I wouldn't be opposed to sticky-ing the tournament thread/updating the MP server MOTD to mention it, if that's something the tournament organizer would like.
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bproberts
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by bproberts »

Given there's a Sign Up button that then opens up a web page that then does the same thing has meant it's not a very high priority.

For #2, that is very much intentional

The problem is always going to be having the time to organize and oversee it
And that, in a nutshell, is my point 3. That's fine, Wesnoth is allowed to be a mostly single player game, or one that people mostly play LAN/Hotseat, with internet play only as a secondary concern. It's not a commercial game that's beholden to quarterly numbers. It doesn't need to have more players on the server month over month to justify development. If the Dev team wants to continue to focus primarily on single player content, that's their prerogative. But these kinds of things are basic necessities for healthy multiplayer.

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EarthCake
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by EarthCake »

bproberts wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 3:07 pm
Host a tournament...
One tournament is currently being played.

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Tom_Of_Wesnoth
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by Tom_Of_Wesnoth »

EarthCake wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 6:35 pm
bproberts wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 3:07 pm
Host a tournament...
One tournament is currently being played.
It's not been publicised well, though.

Could the in-game help tab in the bottom left of the main menu advertise tournaments when they're ongoing?
If presented with the opportunity, I would take great pleasure in becoming a world ruler.

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EarthCake
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by EarthCake »

Tom_Of_Wesnoth wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 6:38 pm
EarthCake wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 6:35 pm
bproberts wrote:
July 26th, 2019, 3:07 pm
Host a tournament...
One tournament is currently being played.
It's not been publicised well, though.

Could the in-game help tab in the bottom left of the main menu advertise tournaments when they're ongoing?
Well that would need updates of the game every time when tournament is played / finished. I am pretty sure many people wouldn't want that, and if they are interested in looking is there any tournament ongoing, they should from time to time visit forums.

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Ravana
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by Ravana »

If they are qualified to play in tournament, they play multiplayer, so MOTD would catch them.

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Pentarctagon
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by Pentarctagon »

It's probably fair to say that many people only register on the forums since it's now required for MP. A lot people probably don't check what's on the forums at all - the daily user count for Steam is, last I heard, higher than the number of people that have replied to the OS poll, for example.
99 little bugs in the code, 99 little bugs
take one down, patch it around
-2,147,483,648 little bugs in the code

bproberts
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by bproberts »

Could there be a sticky somewhere that listed current leagues/tournaments, and possibly a link to the ladder for those interested? It could be linked in game (the title screen help messages, somewhere in the general help, and the MP welcome message) and out (Steam page, Discord, and the wiki.)It wouldn't require much effort to maintain, it's not like we have 10 tournaments a day, AFAIK all we have going right now is EarthCake's. Once the thread is up, the link would be fine unless we changed forums entirely, and whoever organized tournaments could simply PM whoever was managing the thread, or post their event as a reply. It'd also encourage players to be on the forums for something other than MP registration, which would help get them more involved in the community.

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octalot
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by octalot »

Please could we have a forum section for organising tournaments and similar things that need people to work out mutually agreeable times to have a game? The current tournament thread is in "Development > Multiplayer Development", but a non-developer is more likely to look in the "General" or "General > User's Forum" sections.

bproberts
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by bproberts »

It would make a useful Discord/IRC channel as well. A number of games I play use them to great effect.

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lhybrideur
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Re: Increase multiplayer numbers?

Post by lhybrideur »

A bit more general, but putting the tournament messages in updates would be simplified if wesnoth had a in-game update mechanism, like at least a pop-up with "a new version of wesnoth is available on the website", and at best a mean to checks for updates and update wesnoth from inside the game menu.
I don't say it is easy to program but I think it would be a really nice possible feature of future versions of Wesnoth.
This would also help increase the number on people on the MP server, as most people would then be playing the same version of wesnoth.

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