gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Various things about Spring that do not fit in any of the other forums listed below, including forum rules.

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raaar
Metal Factions Developer
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gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by raaar » 31 May 2015, 01:13

As of now, it's likely that unhappy users (or would-be users) just leave without giving any reason. Most won't bother to register on a forum to ask questions and silently quit.

Some people join the forum, ask something and never come back. Why did they leave? (other than the spam bots)

Some other people create an account and try to play one or several spring games, and they leave to never return again, why? Maybe they didn't like the game they wanted to play.....and they didn't like any of the other games...maybe they couldn't get them to work? Or it it something else?

If we asked them to leave a short sentence explaining why, what would they write?

We could have a feedback page and ask people to provide feedback (anonymously, without requiring registration) if they feel like leaving or becoming inactive in the spring ecossystem, with a free text box and a few multiple-choice questions about possible causes to get aggregated results (it has to be simple and short)


We could also benefit from more visible metrics about the spring forum and official server, to see how it's been doing over time. I think some of these are already being collected, sometimes threads pop up about them, but we could have a wiki page updated monthly about it.


forum
- number of forum users (logged in once in the last month)
- number of active forum users with 1+ post in the last month
- number of active forum users with 5+ post in the last month
official server
- number of players (logged in once in the last month)
- number of players with 1+ games in the last month
- number of players with 5+ games in the last month
(with filter by game for the above)

- number of users that deliberately left or became inactive on spring ecossystem by cause in the last 6 months
Last edited by raaar on 31 May 2015, 06:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Forboding Angel
Evolution RTS Developer
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 31 May 2015, 05:22

Lobbies Suck/Confusing

Spring does weird shit on ati cards/graphics issues

There, I answered 99% of the questions for you.

ZK is probably the only game that manages to sidestep most of these issues.
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Orfelius
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Orfelius » 31 May 2015, 13:53

1st please stop mashing all of the spring games into the same bin. It doesn't serve anybody since this way many people are confused of what is what and for example say that one game is crap and they didn't like of what was in that game while they were playing another game. Same goes with praise for a game. One can just go ahead and look up reviews of Evo on Steam to see what I am talking about.

ZK does a better job than other games sure, but it is still mainly being played by veterans and the retention rate is rather low.
Consider that it is required for Spring game to be played that it has stable player base, a certain critical mass.
No Spring game has ever reached a status where there is always one open room to play in (besides Evo at its Steam launch).

All in all Spring games just have bad infrastructure (as Forb mentioned) and rather confusing gameplay while not giving a damn about some kind of tutorial. I still remember when I found out about Spring and its games and I didn't have any idea what I am doing despite having played quite a bit of RTS's before.
Not to mention that whole RTS genre is rather unpopular these days.
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AF
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by AF » 31 May 2015, 14:12

Tech debt, and mismanagement

For example, my main projects I've had over the years and the reasons they were abandoned or entered limbo:

- NTai, a switch to a completely linux toolchain whose only support for non-Linux people with little knowledge was "get Linux". Then when the new API was put forward, it lacked pretty vital components such as tests and documentation. Without Hoijui being present for a while there were large gaps of knowledge, which I'm sure even Hoijui has forgotten now, coupled with no documentation on communicating with lua gadgets, a cryptic but not entirely clear post by Kloot saying it works, do X Y and Z, followed by admissions months later that it actually didn't work as described...
- NTai Toolkit, without NTai it made little sense
- Spring website v2, community and engine dev leads avoided the subject because not everyone had a 100% consensus, despite such a thing being almost impossible be definition. Because the site was so poorly built, the obvious choice was a blank slate with a porting over of data. However the total lack of mandate, requirements, meant that constructive discussion was impossible. The problem of wiki content couldn't be addressed, and in the end Fnordia jumped on a random design posted in a single jpeg, giving us what we currently have. It was done without supervision and left us with something that was even worse from a technical standpoint, something JK has done a lot to improve and fix over the years. Right now every attempt so far has either been a sneaky reach around circumventing all controls ( Fnordia, JKs latest update ), or an utterly demoralising exercise in spec work ( myself, Forboding&Abma, Argh ). Would you put in a significant amount of time energy and effort knowing there's a good chance it'll be all for nothing on the whim of someone who has little knowledge of your field? Imagine if BAR was blocked because 4 or 5 ZK players thought the design of the commanders arm was terrible and shouldn't be allowed, so it was blocked by inaction because it was too controversial. Or if it was blocked because SJ rose from the dead and released a terrible game he cobbled together with clip art and said "this is BAR, kthxbai"
- AFLobby, rather than innovate with lobbies, people added features, even though the number 1 complaint was usability, not lack of features. Combined with an ever expanding and complicate lobby protocol, maintaining a lobby was just too much for a single person. Major complaints such as using bitfields to store basic values, the removal of parts of the unitsync API ( e.g. the ability to request a jpeg of a map, and the early removal of the JNI layer for java applications ), or the proliferation of bespoke ways to download content ( torrent, plasma, rapid, the list goes on ) all contributed

All of which was easily solved:

- The switch to mingw32 could have been coupled with some posts about which tools were good for editing on Linux, how to run a debugger, etc. People who used Visual Studio didn't necessarily know how to use scons or cmake, or how to debug outside of Visual Studio.
- The new AI interface should have ran alongside the existing interface until it was ready to replace it, and was verified to work. The C++ interface should have been built as an extra and only bundled and merged into the main repo once it was ready and tested with basic documentation. The same is true of the Java API, which judging from the AI forum is a mess ( and one that probably has a simple answer that clears it all up into a nice elegant system if only someone had written a sentence or two ). If this had been done, other people could have helped maintain the API relieving the strain on Hoijui and lessening the decline of native AIs
- We've all agreed the website needs redoing multiple times in this projects history, what should have happened is that the engine developers, realising they're engine devs, not web developers, and realising they don't want to be controversial and deal with drama, should have set up a task force and delegated all responsibility to that task force to have free reign over the test subdomain. At this point it's nothing to do with them and they can continue doing engine development because they're not web designers and developers
- The lobby protocol is too complicated and expansive, the discussions on the lobby protocol that occurred were a step in the right direction but it's sad to see they didn't go far enough and spent more time discussing new features than simplification and compatability issues ( e.g if my lobby supports map options but yours doesn't, the answer is, disabled map options in my lobby to prevent desync )


Also +1 to Orfelius and mashing all games in the same bin. ZK got a hell of a lot of flack and accusations of splitting the community, but who cares, if it works for them, it works for them, if it doesnt then it doesnt. Nobody said we had to be a single unit, and the idea that people only participate in a single community is nonsense. I play minecraft, I go to conferences in multiple fields of web development, I have a job, family, clearly I'm destroying the Spring community by doing so
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gajop
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by gajop » 01 Jun 2015, 03:57

I don't consider this a player community forum. At the very least, any game that's played as often as ZK or BA should have its own forum, and only new games/games with really small communities should gather their players here.
It's best to consider this a forum for Spring related developers.

Additionally I think the problem should best be approached as "build it and they'll come".
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Forboding Angel
Evolution RTS Developer
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 01 Jun 2015, 04:25

Orfelius wrote:One can just go ahead and look up reviews of Evo on Steam to see what I am talking about.
The VAST majority of those reviews are having to do with the lobby. Therefore, the lobbies are a pretty serious fucking problem.

A smaller subset are ATI issues.

And a extremely tiny portion are people who don't like that there isn't an ingame tutorial.
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smoth
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by smoth » 01 Jun 2015, 05:04

A lot of users just like to jump in and smash stuff until they learn, which is why tutorials are a "NICE TO HAVE" our biggest problem is that spring is designed by developers for developers. As such we have a difficult and often conflicting path to "JUST FING PLAY THE GAME" for all games right now as there is currently no lua lobby.

it should be noted that i am excluding ZK which has it's own lobby
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Forboding Angel
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 01 Jun 2015, 06:43

Bighead made a widget a long time ago that accepted html for layout, for tutorials. It was simple and mainly text only, but you could make it pop up every time someone started the game. But then spring broke it.

I would KILL to have a chili widget that did that (doesn't need to accept html input, just let me feed it a big ass string). Just something that allowed me to have a wall of text with a scrollbar. Images would be nice but not necessary. The ability to color text would be nifty as well.

Anyone feel like taking that on as a project? I imagine for the vast majority of chili devs, something that simple probably wouldn't take very long.
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PicassoCT
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by PicassoCT » 01 Jun 2015, 10:03

Actually i once suggested something even better- a conditonal leave- basically, give us your emailadress- and we call you back if what pissed you off so much you left has been fixed.
Nooboddly liked the idea.
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Usaga
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Usaga » 01 Jun 2015, 10:29

I think no feedback needed. What is really needed is good tutorials shipped with spring somehow. Not somewhere on site or in separate document formed as manual. Maybe as bunch of missions for single player. All commercial games offers such tutorials where player been leaded through game basic step by step. And it works well. Even original TA had campaign begun with few missions with restricted number of units\building and poor AI witch gave player time to experiment with it, to understand what is for what...
But Spring is not user friendly at all. Not all lobbies it has, not event community. When player first runs some lobby (often SpringLobby) he see some kind of nuclear power station control panel. And if he can find, set up and join some game he see same situation in it - a lot of icons without any informative description what should be build in what sequence and what it does. Furthermore, there is very friendly community that ready to help anyone with helpful "Get the f*ck out of here, noob!" phreses and !spec %new_guy% command...
I have three friends that I tried to bring in BA and all of them complained it very hard to understand this game and lobby and that thees programs are very buggy...
I think this post covers about 80% of possible feedbacks)))
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tzaeru
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by tzaeru » 01 Jun 2015, 10:35

Usaga wrote:I think no feedback needed. What is really needed is good tutorials shipped with spring somehow. Not somewhere on site or in separate document formed as manual.
It's not unrealistic to have both. ;-)

But yes, it seems strikingly obvious that the lobbies and the learning curve are the major blockers. I checked the first page of downvotes on Steam's EVO RTS page. All of them were due to the lobby and lack of tutorials and documentation.

However, is it really Spring's purpose to determine what keeps players and what doesn't? Can Spring do anything about it, even?
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Usaga
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Usaga » 01 Jun 2015, 10:45

Spring can do only one thing: fix it's numerious bugs and buggy pathfinder :P
Tutorial is vital part of mods. I think it is vital. So it is task of the mod developers to do it. And lobby devs should work on lobbies. Everyone should work on it's own task. But work with some undestanding of what and for whom they working - simple people, often teenagers without any programming skills.
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Forboding Angel
Evolution RTS Developer
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 01 Jun 2015, 11:25

The first 6 videos on the evo steam page are tutorials on how to play. There is even a dedicated section on the website. Sadly, I have no way to play videos ingame.

http://www.evolutionrts.info/video-tutorials/
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tzaeru
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by tzaeru » 01 Jun 2015, 11:32

Forboding Angel wrote:The first 6 videos on the evo steam page are tutorials on how to play. There is even a dedicated section on the website. Sadly, I have no way to play videos ingame.

http://www.evolutionrts.info/video-tutorials/
Yeah, but it's an era where people are used to clicking "Quick match" and have a game right away with nothing more required from their behalf. Tutorials integrate directly to the gameplay, so you can start playing and learn as you go with the help of automatic pauses, in-game indicators, etc.

From that point of view, I understand why some people find these games difficult to get into. It's not difficult for me, and I can easily spend my time to checking the docs and tutorials, but I get it that many people wont do that. It's a shame, but it is how it is.

The main problem here of course is that to have services like "Quick match", a sizeable player pool is required to begin with.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 01 Jun 2015, 11:46

Ingame tutorial missions and the like are a non-starter. Think on more practical terms.
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Super Mario
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Super Mario » 01 Jun 2015, 16:21

AF wrote:
All of which was easily solved:

- The switch to mingw32 could have been coupled with some posts about which tools were good for editing on Linux, how to run a debugger, etc. People who used Visual Studio didn't necessarily know how to use scons or cmake, or how to debug outside of Visual Studio.
May I expand on this? Using cmake isn't an issue for me. Rather the tools that can use mingw32 produce binaries is rather a major limiting factor here which makes switch visual studio to mingw32 feel more of a downgrade than anything.(I really love VS gui debugger, it helps me many times in the past). I don't see why we couldn't use community edition visual studio for the development of spring as long we make sure that the gcc compiler can compile it, we should be ok.
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AF
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by AF » 01 Jun 2015, 19:00

I had issues running cmake on windows, it's a bit better on OS X but not ideal. I started up the vagrant box project to help with that as now anyone can fire up the VM and have everything needed to build spring in a pristine debian environment set up automatically regardless of host operating system. Sadly I lack the time and knowledge to keep it running upto date and current, but something like this would have been a godsend several years ago with a quick tutorial attached
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raaar
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by raaar » 09 Jun 2015, 04:52

People here seem so sure they know what the problems are. They're probably right somewhat.

Forb's hyperbole says 99% are due to lobby suckage and ATI issues. What's a good aproximation to the real number? 90%? 50%? 30%?

People here say
"1st please stop mashing all of the spring games into the same bin"
ZK left the official server and had divergences about lobby stuff. I was a bit cynical about it when it happened but that's their right, etc. That's one of the options for games.

Another one is admitting that if the games share not only the engine, but lobbies and server, maybe they are related and the issues are common to many games. They're different games on the same hub. Like those competing food stores next to each other on shopping centers, they ARE on the same bin.

I saw many dozens of people in game rooms in the lobby and in games when Evo had the steam popularity spike. Many probably figured out how to play. What % figured out how to play Evo and didn't like the game? What % figured out how to play other spring games and didn't like ANY of them?

What's the % of players created during those months that played a few dozen matches of different games and then barely came back or never at all?

One of the positive aspects of being on the same bin is that even if players flock to another game on the bin, you can keep improving your game and promote it later on the chat...or just join them and play too. If they leave the bin completely, it's going to be much harder to bring them back.

There's player issues:
- lobby glitches and crashes
- hard to setup games (which game, which lobby)
- can't find players for game (which)
- engine buggy or crashes mid-game
- dislike game (which)
- dislike community
...

and there's dev issues:
- lack of documentation
- goal depends on stuff that doesn't work as it should, fixing requires broader scope, not worth it
...

We don't really know the relative importance of each.

What I was suggesting is the creation of a simple feedback page and links to it on visible locations, wheret people could easily complain.

For every minor barrier added (ex: requiring registration), the likelyhood of getting feedback probably drops a lot.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by Forboding Angel » 09 Jun 2015, 06:11

raaar wrote:Forb's hyperbole says 99% are due to lobby suckage and ATI issues.
That's the problem... It's not hyperbole. If it were that would be wonderful, but frankly, it isn't. It's been the same issues for half a decade if not longer.
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smoth
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Re: gathering feedback about people who leave spring ecossystem

Post by smoth » 09 Jun 2015, 06:29

Players are not going to fill out an exit survey raar.

Not all games are hard to setup. Gundam had an installer, missions(both of which existed because of zwzsg), a quick getting started video, still there on moddb. Documentation of a game wil solve nothing, if that was the case "RTFM" would not be a thing. The lobby is probably one of the most user-unfriendly things, it breaks one of my key axoims, tries to do too much in once place. NOTA lobby was pretty good but the developers didn't want to share their source and violated the GPL(in before excuses this thing is dead now).

There are many problems that you create by lumping all projects in the same "bin" as far as problems go. You would have to look into each project.

For example GRTS, I purposefully left outstanding bugs for months after they were discovered to sabatoge the entire community. :). I didn't want a lot of attention.

Evo stumbled the release, while it failed, lessons learned etc.

PURE was abandoned by ARGH(the only spring project that went commercial), before that I have my own feelings on why it failed before that but I digress

EE was shut down because the community used to be filled with trolling assholes. It was doing fairly well.


But the question remains, why wasn't EE or any of the above projects more sucessful? Gamers are sheeple. They go to games that are advertised, games that build on an existing IP, games that are more of the same as everything else. RTS is not twitchy, MOBA is. Do I think a spring MOBA is going to fix this issue? NOOOOPE, We do not have an IP to build on, we do not have a massive advertising budget and a lot of bullshit marketing FMVs to apeal to the standard sheeple gamer.

Retro is fairly popular but we are not going to have that. We have our player base from those diehard indie RTS fans, so we will always be small.
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