I believe I mentioned recently that I’m smart and awesome. Also smart and awesome is my friend and mining buddy Scarlett Bearsdale, particularly for her summary of questions and answers in the thread “Questions about New Housing and Group Halls — NOW WITH STOOT ANSWERS”
I didn’t post that thread, but I would like to take credit for it. I believe I inspired it in a thread linking to an interview with Stoot with my post here. I had actually planned to organize a “Hey come talk to the community, please!” thread sometime around the end of January, but I saw the interview as an opportunity to get the torches lit and the pitchforks raised — and if you read down the thread, you’ll find it worked not only with fellow players, but it got Stoot’s attention as well.
For this post, I’ll be working off Scarlett’s summary, which as she notes has reordered some questions and condensed or paraphrased questions when necessary for ease of reading. I do not believe she always gives credit to the player that asked the question, though Stoot frequently notes whom he is addressing in his response. So if I talk about your question but don’t talk about you, mea maxima culpa, but I’m going to focus on Stoot’s words — at least, I am now that my whole 15 seconds bit is out of the way.
Here we go:
Q: Once the new housing is introduced, what steps will current users need to take to acquire a house and what steps will new users need to take to acquire a house?
A: Existing users will go through a tutorial/explain-y transition process to move from their old to new houses the first time they log in after we make the switch. You will get some form or “credit” for the price of your old house, translated into the new system. New users will get a starter house as part of the initial tutorial.
Q: Please tell me we’ll get a warning *before* the house is swept out from under us!
A: You don’t need to worry about moving your stuff — that will all be automatic.
Q: Does this mean it will not be possible anymore to play homelessly?
A: You will not able to able to play house-less (just like you are not currently able to play inventory-less or leg-less or energy-less) but since the house is inside your own mind you’d have to twist yourself into an impossible-to-sustain conceptual pretzel to get to “landlocked peasants” who are “more materialist” because of being “permanently assigned” to “a chunk of real estate”.
Everyone will have a house. Everything in your current house will move to the new one automatically. Don’t panic!
The most important bit of information here is that new players will receive a very basic house to start the game with. Houses are an important part of Glitch that help players create revenue streams that, while they need to be monitored, run automatically even if the player is not logged in. Although this is currently limited to herdkeeping and distilling, some things Stoot has said in the past suggest there will be more skills that will produce products or revenue without a player’s in-game presence, so houses are going to be even more important.
Currently new players do not even hear about housing from the game and need to save up in order to purchase their first bit of real estate. So this is at least one change that will improve the new player experience and introduce new players to mechanics that will remain important well into their time Ur, rather than quickly become obsolete as the player gains skills and currants-y.
Q: Will the new houses have a permission system that is more flexible and layered than the current permission system which allows anyone who has access to a house to take almost everything that’s not locked into a cabinet?
A: No. That may happen in the future, house keys are not related to what we’re working on now.
I’ve got nothing here. Continue to be careful of whom you allow in your house.
Q: Will a new house consist of a template that can be extended and added to? If so, will there be one template that everyone starts with, or will there be different starting templates to choose from?
A: New houses will start with a basic template, common to everyone. But everyone can extend and upgrade it in their own way.
Q: Will crop gardens and herb gardens be able to co-exist in the same house?
A: You will be able to build more than one type of garden on your property (they don’t come with any; you can “imagine” more land and then build many, many gardens).
Q: Will there be any sort of ‘ceiling’ on the new housing – will there be maximums on how much land you can have, patches you can make, plots you can add, levels you can build?
A: There will probably be some eventual limit. But, it will get geometrically more expensive to imagine more land so any hard limit will more theoretical than not.
Here’s some meat. I must say that I’m amused we will all start with the same template and expand from there. The idea reminds me of those post-WWII neighborhoods that start with carbon-copy homes with identical landscaping that then slowly evolve to conceal the original resemblance as different owners expand and remodel the original home and take the landscaping in different directions. Apparently, according to the third question, the only hard limit will be how much time I am willing to sink into the game. How very sandboxy of you Tiny Speck; thank you very much!
The second question makes it official: my alternate account is now retired. I had created him long before the herbalist-love update to check out the bog houses and the various herbs, resurrected him after that update to check out potions, and will now gracefully bury him and begin training “his” skills with Saucelah.
Q: Also, as for extending and upgrading houses, will this be by donating resources similar to old [street] projects, or by spending the mysterious ‘imagination’ stuffs (whatever that is)? In other words, is hoarding resources now, in anticipation of future value with respect to housing expansions, a complete waste of time, or will it be beneficial?
A: In general: to get more space/land, you’ll be spending imagination; to get more stuff on the land, you’ll be doing discrete project-like work, crafting or trading with other players. Hoarding stuff now will not help you very much (in the long run, having a billion cherries will only be valuable if there is demand for a billion cherries among the other players).
Q: If items for our new houses will be craftable, why isn’t it beneficial to hoard building materials? Should we liquidate our assets instead?
A: Hoarding Stuff in Anticipation of it Giving You Some Advantage in the Future
It will probably help you a bit to have 1,000,000,000 cherries at the time we cut over, but I would not sacrifice life’s pleasures to spend all my time getting incrementally more cherries right now in hopes that that might get me further “ahead” in the game after all these things switch.
It is just too complicated to know what the relative values of things will be (as above, some pretty major economic changes are coming and a complete overhaul of the crafting system will come shortly after, the introduction of imagination will change many dynamics and on and on and on …) to unambiguously say “we encourage you to obsessively hoard any item you can in the game”.
In fact, now, as always, I’d say: if you enjoy doing it for its own sake, it is worth doing. On the other hand, if you are stressed that you might not have “enough” allspice or dullite or butterfly milk then you probably have far more than you could possibly ever need and should do something else instead
Given that our new houses will reside in a Glitch’s imagination, I think it’s perfect that imagination will be used to expand our, well, imaginations. But I like that it stops there: imagination will not be used to build or plant things on our imagined land. Instead that will use real skills that we train or the borrowed services of another player that has trained them. Excellent, no complaints here.
As for hoarding, I share a suspicion with several other players that materials and processes that currently do not have very many uses will eventually get their own lovin’, sort of like tinctures and potions did for the once next-to-useless herbs. To that end, I have a small hoard of planks, crystals, and blocks that I started in anticipation of the group halls update that I figure will likely have more uses after The Big Update goes live. As hoards go, mine is not so overwhelming — I just figure if those items are needed I’d rather have a starter supply ready to go then immediately be looking for those particular resources or products. But, in the spirit of Stoot’s last comment, that’s not really how I want to spend my game time, so I while I would personally recommend to put away a small amount of these things, I don’t think dedicating the rest of the next two months to acquiring them would be the best use of my time.
Q: I have my lovely new house all built up and shiny. 6 months later i’m bored with how it looks. Can I sell/refund/take apart items then “Re Build” it again but choosing other options?
A: Yes and no: you won’t be able to sell it (you are the only possible owner) and I don’t know think we’ll have a single “reset” button which lets you start over from scratch, BUT you can change any part at any time (we imagine it being more of an evolutionary process for most players) and it is likely that transitioning to other layouts (e.g., from the meadow style of house and yard side-by-side to the cave style of yard-above-house) will cause more dramatic “reset-like” changes.
Q: What sort of architectural variety might be available? will I still be able to imagine myself as the Witch of Maybe Marsh living in a gourd house in the firebog? (ie, will we have the option to imagine our houses similar to where we live now or are they going to be radically different?)
A: It seems like there are two totally different questions here: (a) There will be a lot of architectural variety available (more than there is currently). (b) The new houses will not be in the normal world so they can’t physically close to particular locations in the world (but they also can’t be far either
Another reminder of the post-WWII neighborhood: though we start from the same place, there will be more “architectural variety available” — so perhaps the various elements we add will all involve style choices. I expect I will be building a “clown” house, intentionally patched together from completely mismatched architectural styles. I don’t expect I will have to do this — I’m just saying I like the option and plan to do it.
Thankfully, the first question lets me know I can change my mind should I decide to make something that looks good rather than something that looks ridiculous.
Q: Will houses have an exterior that is visible from public space such that any player could pass by, see the house, drop something in front of it, or knock on the door if they wish? If so, will there be ways to customize this exterior to make something that is visually unique?
A: Yes. And Yes.
Q: Will there be spaces with clusters of houses similar to the current housing quarters? If so, will there be public access to these spaces such that any player can come into them and wander around?
Houses will still have exterior and interior zones. But the exterior will not be present on neighborhood blocks that contain other houses. So it seems it will take a bit more effort for someone I do not know to end up at the exterior of my house, and gifts left outside my door will have a much better, though not 100%, chance of still being there when I log in.
Q: How will the lack of neighborhoods thing work? (how will people be able to find your house? will random passers-by still be possible? what will happen to animals that live on a housing block?)
A: We are still arguing about this. At the very least, you will be able summon friends to your street, and once there, they will be able to follow links you’ve added to your signpost to the public streets of other players where they’ll be able to follow links those people have added to the public streets of yet other players, and so on. So, random passers-by will be possible.
Q: [But I lobe my neighbourhood!!]
The existing ones function (barely) as neighborhoods in the best cases, but would be doomed in the long run without rent or property taxes, etc., because of the inevitability of player turn-over.
I have high hopes for the new system’s neighborhoods since the linkages will be dynamic and the map of the space will reflect the players relationships. Once we do group halls, doorways from the main group area to individual members houses would be fairly simple, so there can be multiple ways in the which an individual house can be grouped with others and multiple ways in which it can be found.
Q: Makes me wonder if it’s possible to “imagine” a door that connects your house directly to the Group Hall
A: Yeah, that’s what I was trying to say
Can’t say that I’m surprised about any of this. I take this as confirmation that I correctly identified the concerns with current housing here, here, and here. Even my deepest wishes in that first link are on the right track — group halls won’t launch with updates, but when they do come along, they will likely be an alternate neighbor grouping than the proposed street sign method.
Q: If the new houses are in our imaginations, how will they relate to the rest of Ur? will my front door always take me to the same place or will its destination be somewhat variable, à la Howl’s moving castle?
A: Most likely they will be variable.
My own preference would be that moving from our home back to Ur would simply take us back to wherever we were when we left Ur for home in the first place. Not that a variable wouldn’t have its own positives, but I immediately think of the times I show up to mine with my friends and realize I’ve forgotten something. A variable landing place for the return trip would add an extra step. Instead of teleporting home then waiting for the cool down or asking for a summon to teleport directly back, I would pop into my imagination to get home (with a loading screen), pop into Ur (with a loading screen), and then teleport (or be summoned) back to my friends (with another loading screen).
However, I can also imagine that both would be possible. As in, we can teleport or be summoned directly from our homes to a street, or we can choose to leave our street in some more direct manner which would then drop us in Ur at random.
Q: Any chance y’all might see fit to release some more swamp houses during the wait or do we just need to be patient?
A: I don’t know
Meh. One way or another this problem will work itself out in about 8 weeks (see below).
Q: Anyway, Stoot, does declining to answer questions about group halls mean they are delayed until after housing, delayed indefinitely, or just no longer part of the plan?
A: Group Halls will come after housing (and a few other things) and will make much more sense then.
This one is actually my question. Aren’t I special? The answer was what I hoped to hear though now I’m trying to imagine what “a few other things” might be. Perhaps that will give me some material for a future “Wishful Thinking” post.
Q: I hope that when we launch again we will get the referendum votes extended for a year.
A: The accrued votes will still work regardless of your subscription status at the time you go to use them. We are planning to have the first votes (likely on new animals) in the next few months.
Q: About how long until the next big change?
A: About 8 weeks.
Though he doesn’t actually say this big change will be the big change, a friend of mine noted that about 8 weeks from this Friday (January 13th) places us in the middle of SXSW, where Stoot will be presenting. As marketing for big reveals goes, that seems the best possible time to “relaunch” Glitch while having the largest possible audience to show off the new mechanics and the upgraded new player experience. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll be launching The Big Update in mid-March.
If this big change he refers to is not The Big Update, I imagine it will likely be a large infusion of new skills needed to make the transition smooth. In that scenario, I still suspect attendees of SXSW will get to see previews of the new player experience and housing changes.
Q: So… [that] higher-level play [I've heard you talk about before] … just housing modifications, or anything else in the works?
A: Many other things in the works.
Many opportunities to say, “Oh look! Shiny!” in the future. Good deal.
Q: Will currants stay in the game, or be replaced with something else?
There will still be currants for a very long time (probably forever) because having something to facilitate trade is very, very useful. However:
• When imagination is introduced, there will be many things which can only be “bought” with imagination (mostly land & character upgrades) so currants will become somewhat less important overall.
• The few remaining things which can only be bought from vendors (with currants) will be made craftable by players. Later, vendors will at first stop buying things they don’t “need” and vendor buy prices will become variable. Finally, game-run vendors (generally) won’t buy stuff at all. (Our long term goal is to completely eliminate game-run vendors, though player-run vendors would be ace.)
This is the answer that inspired the panic that inspired my post that inspired Stoot to quote me. There are people very adamant about not being required to sell to other players. If you ask me, they’re failing to analyze their assumptions and as a result, only imagining what that landscape would look like when laid over the current game.
And it would be a pain in the ass. But it won’t be introduced into the game as it currently stands — I’ll come back to that below.
Ultimately, however, Stoot’s last bullet on this answer is why I subscribed to the game about a month ago. This game plans to head in a direction I call “more mmo in our mmo” rather than continuously introducing more ways to allow players to ignore everyone else in the game and form no ties.
Though I accept that there are players turned-off by such an idea, I myself am adamant that such players already have a wealth of single player games that cater to them, and a number of incredibly solo-friendly MMOs that do not have functioning economies (WoW, SWTOR, etc.).
And it’s a breath of fresh air in this lately all too hidebound genre to hear that a game is not only planning to continue to innovate, but is planning to cater to those who appreciate the innovation and virtual world elements. More on this below.
Q: Will there be any role for player-generated content?
A: Someday, we hope, there will be tools to allow player-created designs for furniture or clothing to make it into the game. You would be unwise to expect this before 2013 though (and you would also do well to adopt a stoic attitude towards it ever showing up: it’s not an issue of whether we feel like it’s a good idea … just how complicated it would be).
However, I don’t think using someone else’s blocks necessarily means you are a passive consumer … it totally depends on the granularity: people do some amazing stuff with extremely limited palettes in Minecraft or with Lego.
Glitch won’t achieve Minecraft-esque modularity, but we are planning on adding tools for players to create some things (picture/story book items, art for house walls, music making and level creation are the leading candidates).
File under: “Oh neat-o.” My only artistic skills fall in the realm of writing, but I’d happily display art created by my more visually talented friends. I might even try my hand at building my own race level, if that ever becomes an option.
Q: How will things like gems and musicblocks work in an entirely player run economy? I get these things constantly in the course of my normal planting/harvesting activities, and currently sell them to retain space in my bags (I have collected a full musicblock set for fun), but without being able to sell them to vendors surely they will become worthless?
A: Good question! Some of them will have new uses, some of them will be useless (but less frequent) and some might be removed altogether.
“Some of them will have new uses” = gems
“some of them will be useless (but less frequent)” = music blocks
“some might be removed altogether” = not pictured
Q: [Can we go back to imagination and xp and currant conversion, for a sec?]
A: Converting to Imagination
The amount of Imagination that existing players start with will be a factor of their Currants and their Level at the time of conversion. Some portion of your Currant balance will be taken away and replaced with Imagination (you may be able to convert from one to another after, with a large amount of friction). Then you’ll get an amount of Imagination which is based on your Level.
However, we will be converting on a curve: being a higher level or having more currants now will mean you start with more imagination, but the differences will be reduced. An example might help explain it:
Imagine three players before the conversion: Fred, who is level 10 with 1,000 currants; Mary, who is level 30 with 50,000 currants and Sally, who is level 60 with 1,000,000 currants. In the example, Mary has 50x the currants that Fred has, while Sally has 20x more currants than Mary and 1,000x more currants than Fred (the differences in levels seem less, but because each successive level requires more XP, the ratios between their levels are actually similar to the ratios between their currant balances).
After the conversion, rather than 1 : 50 : 1,000, the differences between them might be more like 1 : 10 : 100 or even 1 : 5 : 10 (it depends on the curve and we have a lot more math to do before we’ll decide that). Bottom line: if you are ahead now, you will be ahead afterwards, but not as far ahead.
Q: Under the new system I will lose 90% of my XP and 90% of my currants?
A: No; you will lose 100% of your XP (we won’t have XP in the game any more) and some of your currants will be converted to Imagination (the exact amount has not yet been decided).
Q: [But,] the conversion ratios will result in them losing 90% of their relative wealth?!?!
A: Well, the answer is still “no” because (a) the two systems are not isomorphic and (b) we don’t know what the curve will be yet (there’s an enormous amount of balancing to be done with the pricing of upgrades, land, etc.)
I suspect (as do some others in the thread) that this “curved” conversion will somewhat level the playing field between max-level veterans and “younger” Glitchen, but I’m not concerned. I don’t want everything in the new system immediately handed to me — I do still need some goals to strive for after the conversion.
Q: Please dramatically lower the relative value of shrine donations as a way to generate xp/imagination.[Also,] please re-evaluate the xp/imagination values of various recipe completions – I know I’ve flogged this horse before but the problem certain recipes (rice/beans/whatever) gave too much xp/imagination is not really solved by a daily cap – it just makes us maximizers feel like we are *supposed* to be hitting the daily cap every day.
A: Those are good points — thanks! We are working through the ramifications of a few different ways of modifying XP/imagination from recipe-making and shrine donations even now.
Actions will not convert directly and rewards will need to be rebalanced. Imagination, while based on XP, will not be a 1:1 replacement of the current system.
Q: [But I'm still worried about these economic changes!]
A: For anyone worried about economic changes: (1) this is a longer term project which effects many parts of the game — not just vendors or auctions but the crafting system, resource types/distribution, and many new features (like player-controlled vendors, marketplace locations, etc.); and (2) we’re going to be changing things in small incremental steps with extensive testing over a long period of time (as we have been for the last nine months or so, with changes to pricing, balance, vendor availability). There will be plenty of latitude for tweaking and adjusting as necessary.
It’s important to understand that it’s a holistic change, not just flipping a switch to get rid of all vendors completely. Saucelah said something important earlier: “you are projecting that mechanic into the game as you currently understand it even though that mechanic will not go into the game as you currently understand it”. Most of the “objections” in this thread are based on things that we have no intention of doing (in fact, they are things we’ve never even considered, like forcing players to barter). So before you go creating and signing petitions, consider that what you’re imagining in your head is very likely not what will be happening anyway: voila!
Don’t Panic! We’re not going to log in one day and find the entire economy has changed. The entire market system will slowly change, one step at a time.
The major concern I saw, both in that thread and in others that have popped up as reactions since Friday, is that “ferengi players” (I owe credit to someone in the Glitch forums for that descriptor, but cannot recall whom) will control the market and intentionally drive prices up. Given that Glitch is a crafting-centric game, and that there is really no way to play that does not produce product — I find that unlikely. With a single server pooling all its players, and with every player producing something in some quantity, I think a Glitch economy would work just as well as Eve’s. Even though in Eve not all players have the necessary skills to produce anything, the single server allows there to still be a ridiculous number of players selling their manufactured goods. The profit margins, especially in the major market system of Jita, are rather small, just barely allowing profit over the cost of materials when skills are maxed. Though Glitch has a smaller population, everyone in Glitch is crafting, so there will be plenty of downward forces that prevent prices from being in the hands of just a few Ferengis.
Q: Would be possible to buy the “imagination” by credits as well? (i.e. for some items or land.)
A: No — you get imagination from the same things which currently give you XP (actions in the world, quest rewards, etc.) It is not something you buy with cash.
Glitch doesn’t sell advantages or gate content by cash now, and they won’t be doing it later.
Q: If I find that I DO NOT LIKE the “new” version of Glitch, will I be able to get a refund at that time?
Q: I second the refund question-I also have an annual subscription, but I’m really sceptical about the changes in economy (there’s a reason I don’t do any Farmville type of “game”) and housing.
A: I’m having trouble coming up with a way to draw a parallel between what we’re talking about and Farmville: in Farmville, you don’t interact with other players at all, the entire economy is run by the “game” (as opposed to other players) and you continually need to either pester other people or pay cash to advance further. Glitch has none of those elements and we’re not proposing to add any. Can you explain the similarity you see?
As for refunds, if we intended to make it so that you could get a refund at any time we would have said that, rather than announcing a specific period and a deadline. I think the policy of “refunds for any reason, even if you’ve already spent your credits, only taking away the last stipend no matter how long you’ve had a subscription, no strings attached and no hidden tricks” announced with over a month of warning, sent out by email, and posted in multiple places on the site was as generous as we can reasonably be (refunds cost us a lot: I don’t just mean the foregone revenue, but the fees and the cost of staff to do verification and processing).
Q: This sure sounds to me like I will be forced to buy/trade/sell with other players in order to “advance further.” I [really] hope I’m wrong. [My question] was, if this becomes a completely new game (which, it appears that it might) and [I don't like] the game that it becomes, can I at that time get a refund? I saw the “month of warning” etc. and asked the question long before the time was up [but didn't get a direct answer at the time I asked it during the warning period.]
A: I’m not sure what to say. [...] If we were going to offer refunds forever, we would have said that instead of saying “until Dec 31st”.
It’s a like a sign on a store that says they are open till 9pm … theoretically, that could be true and they are also open till 10pm and 11pm and midnight … but it is much more reasonable to infer that they will be closed after 9pm.
As for not getting an answer: not everything posted in the forums will get an answer. More than 99% of tickets submitted through the help system do get resolved though, so if you need an answer, that is the way to go. (Not sure, what you meant by “email”, but there was nothing submitted via the help system.)
As for “the customer is always wrong” or “Bait and Switch” … we’ll just have to disagree. I stand by the way we handled it. We gave months of advanced warning that big changes were coming, we gave everyone the opportunity to get a refund if they were worried about that … and in any case it’s free to play the game, so anyone could get a refund and then resubscribe again later, playing the whole time.
Finally, we’re making these changes because we think they will make the game much better, deeper and much more fun. I’d be surprised if there were more than a handful of people who like Glitch now who do not like it much more six months from now.
Having said all that, I’d gladly give you a refund today. Just create a help ticket and say “stoot sent me”. (However, I mean “today” specifically — not three months from now.)
Last, on Farmville and “This sure sounds to me like I will be forced to buy/trade/sell with other players in order to “advance further.” I REALLY hope I’m wrong.” Well, if you mean anything like Farmville, then yes you’re wrong. But if you just meant you’d have to at least indirectly interact with other players (e.g., buying their auction lots or harvesting a tree which someone else planted, etc.) then you’re right, but that’s not a change from what we have today (but, it is an MMO … Glitch will never be a good game for anyone who wants a completely solitary/solo experience).
Scarlett’s summary saves the best for last. The Farmville bit here actually came before the response where Stoot quoted me, though I do think she was right to regroup the concerns about refunds and place them together at the end.
Let’s take a brief moment for all the veteran MMO gamers that have read this far to take a deep breath. No, you’re not losing your minds, you really did just hear the concept of a player-driven economy (Eve in a nutshell) compared to Farmville. I suspect this person is not an MMO vet and really doesn’t understand what the complaints about Zynga’s required interactions really are. This person seems to think the problem with Farmville is not how it forces you to interact with others but simply that it forces you to interact with others at all.
Le sigh. As I said in a post in that thread: “This is the reason we can’t have nice things in MMOs” — I do not understand players that participate in massively multiplayer games, then complain that there are other people playing whose existence they must acknowledge. I know that in WoW and SWTOR one can completely ignore other players in almost every circumstance and that WoW at least has added tools so that players don’t even have to make friends to participate in group activities, but I think this is a trend of “treating the symptoms as opposed to the disease” (commenter named Adam from Syncaine’s blog here). To me, this means these companies have been giving people what they say they want, what they sincerely think they want, when what they should have been giving them is what they need that will make whatever it is they think they want no longer a problem.
If that seems confusing, let me simplify: from these last statements by Stoot, Tiny Speck has made it clear to me that they are not going to simply react to the forums and handover whatever the most vocal group of the week is demanding. They have a long-term plan, and while it has some elements some players might find scary, Tiny Speck assumes those players are just lacking the imagination needed to picture the mechanics laid over a foundation other than the one we currently have and will go ahead with the plan.
That said, they do still listen, even if they won’t crowdsource design. Win. Win. Win.
This is an incredibly long, nearly 6 thousand word post. Even if most of the words aren’t mine, I’m curious as to who made it this far. Hit up the comments just to say “I did!” if you don’t mind.