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Is PFO as completely dead as it seems?

Psomm
Unless I'm missing something? World is dead, in-game chat is dead, forums are dead, tons of alpha-like bugs, I could go on and on. I'm not trying to be negative, this was my first hour impression and I'm shocked at how lifeless it seems.

Anyone got a silver lining to let me feel like I wouldn't be wasting time playing it?
Stilachio Thrax
Well, the game for all practical purposes is in "Beta." There are people playing, however it is a small population at this point. Additionally, the game virtually requires you to join a player settlement after about one month if you want to have access to higher level training. As a result, most existing players are found in their settlement's chat (Mumble, Discord, TS depending on settlement) and are often in other areas of the map rather than Thornkeep. This probably isn't the most active time of day either- many groups have a majority of US-based players and our group in particular tends to have the most people on in the US evenings.

The silver lining? Virtually all the various settlement groups are made up of good and friendly people, and joining one will help your experience tremendously.
Virtus et Honor

Steward of Ozem's Vigil, Lord Commander of the Argyraspides Iomedais
BlackMoria
It is all about perception. Unless you chance into someone in a hex, you have no way of telling if that is because there is no one actually there or you missed coming across the dozen people that are in that hex.

The server population is low but it doesn't mean that the world is dead. I don't see my settlement mates at all but if I shout out in settlement chat, a number of them respond to me. They are just elsewhere at the time. I see people talking in General all the time but during my time in game, I don't see a soul for hours on end. Small population in the size of the map will give one the perception is the world is empty, when it fact, it is not. It is just a consequence of a small server population.

As for in game chat, most players don't talk to each other in general. They are in party chat or settlement chat, where most of the action is. Sure, someone is usually blithering away in general because they are bored or want to complain but most people go about their gathering or running escalations in relative silence on in-game chat, as a number of settlements prefer to use voice comms.

All that said, better chat and search is coming in the next few months that will allow creation of social companies to act as friend lists and provide tools to make it easier to find friends online, chat with them and invite them to parties.

When there is activity in game, the Settlements is where the activity is. As a new player, you don't see that at all until you apply to and join a settlement. Then you will see people. But to a new person, yes, the world will see empty and devoid of content. It is there, just not strongly presented because…duh, low server population.

The development team is small but dedicated and hard working to make this happen and add new features and content on are roughly two month cycle. See the blog on this webpage and check the Road Ahead of the current road map of features.

So, my suggestion - find a settlement to join and you will find people to play with and work with. If you want to be a lone wolf, you will find it a joyless and unfulfilling experience as you will miss the people that ARE out there in game and the game mechanics and the premise of the game is a social game, so working with others and playing with others IS expected.
Giorgio
+1

I am going to save this thread and ruthless qoute both of you in the future, just so you know. smile
First Elder Durin Steelforge; Leader of Forgeholm; Founder of Steelforge Engineering Company

PM Giorgo on Paizo Forums
PM Admin George on Commonwealth of the Free Highlands
Flari-Merchant
Psomm
Unless I'm missing something? World is dead, in-game chat is dead, forums are dead, tons of alpha-like bugs, I could go on and on. I'm not trying to be negative, this was my first hour impression and I'm shocked at how lifeless it seems.

Anyone got a silver lining to let me feel like I wouldn't be wasting time playing it?
Hi Psomm,
Mostly as has been said above so I could repeat here below, but I won't. We are out there in a fairly big play map with a small population nothing like the size of a triple A game. We are just very far apart and on different Comms by group.

Don't be shy about asking questions in Gen Chat just because it is quiet. We all truly enjoy helping out new players and it gets Gen Chat busy again when we can help you. smile
"I buy Azoth for 5sp/ea. I will trade Enchanting or other rare materials/anything for Azoth. Contact me if interested. GET YOUR COIN EASY!"
uotopia@msn.com
Hobson Fiffledown
I mean, OP isn't incorrect.

The silver lining is that GW is (as far as we know) going to do a marketing push when they move the game to Open Enrollment in March 2018 ($5 on it actually being June to August). My assumption is that, if it doesn't fail out of the gate, GW will add resources to move beyond the minimum viable product of the OE build.
This space for rent.
markuswaters
This is interesting to read, as a newcomer.
I hope that the Humble Bundle offer helps bring lots of new players, like myself, into the fold! smile
Paddy Fitzpatrick
I would call this a late alpha rather than a beta personally. The game still isn't feature complete yet.
Paddy Fitzpatrick - Rí Ruírec of Fianna, roaming bands of noble warriors!
Member of the Kathalpas Coalition and home of bandits, privateers, and anyone looking to get away from the shackles of law.
Find us on PFO Discord
Naia
Fist off, let me start by saying that everything in this post is just my personal opinion. I'm just a regular guy who tried out the game for some months. I might be right about some things or everything could be completely wrong. It's just how I see it.

History time.

I started playing when the game entered early enrolment. I brought one account for 100$, and was playing until April 2015.
At that time, the game was stated to be 2 years into a planed 5 years development phase. So less that halfway done. It is my understanding that the Goblin Works development team counted about 20 people.

A few months before I started playing, other people gained access to the servers. Those were people who brought the more expensive packets and therefore gained access earlier. Many of those people are who you today see as settlement leaders or high ranking settlement members. ( and active on the forums )
But some of those actually started "playing" almost a year before the server went live. They was planning out the set-up, rules and making alliances for their settlements. This may sound strange from a gaming point of view, but many of these people came from a table top background, so it can probably be compared to a game master setting up a game.
Many of the early players also spent quite a lot of money, on buying secondary accounts, holdings and so on. ( think the average is in the 500-1000$ range, there is an old poll somewhere, look it up if you want )

There is nothing wrong whit all this. People can play however they want. But if you are new player, coming here to ask "how is the game doing" Just have in mind that almost anyone one left on the forums are someone who have invested a lot emotionally and perhaps also financially.
You can probably compare that a bit to the band members of Titanic. They are going to play until the lights goes out, no matter what happens.
Anyways, during the spring of 2015 where the game peaked, you could on the most busy days see 120 - 130 people online at the same time. There was some pvp over territory and people was grouping together doing escalations. Personally the largest activities I was part of, had about 30 people in the same area, and it was a lot of fun being part of that.

That was however quite different from what Goblin works had envisioned. They expected they would have to cap the number of new subscribers to 2000 a month during early enrolment. So
2000 in Jan 2015
2000 in Feb 2015
and so on until they would finally open the floodgates and let everyone in sometime late summer - fall 2015 when the game got to open enrolment.

The Pazio crew.

Initially a large part of the focus was on getting the existing Pathfinder tabletop community to also join the online version. If you look up old post on the Pazio forums, you can see the interest was not overwhelming.
Some people just brought accounts to get the special tabletop collector items that was being offered in some packages, but had no interest in actually playing the online game.
The game have also been promoted on the Paziocon a few times.( I did not take part in any of those, so this is just my impression from talking to people who did participate and listening to the audio )
But it is my understanding the turn out was rather low to these events, and that most of the people who did attend, was someone already playing the game.
So Pazio hosting their own convention, trying to promote their own game to their own fan base, and hardly anyone cares.

So how about targeting the

Online crew.

This actually started off fairly well. The was a good interest from the gaming community. People seemed to agreed that there was some really good ideas behind. Of course Goblin works being a new company on the MMO scene was a risk, but perhaps that was exactly what was needed to make this game that so many people have been dreaming off for years.
Some tried out the game and like it, some didn't. All fairly standard for a game in early devolvement.

The big blow came when some of the gaming sites decided to review the game. During the spring 2015, Goblin works decided to deviate from the EE OE model and put a price tag on the game + the monthly subscription.
From Goblin works perspective reviewing was unfair since it was a game in devolvement, but from the game sites, the arguments was, that since the game was being sold and had a subscription, the game would be reviewed like any other game.

Not surprisingly, the reviews tried to focus on the ideas, mechanics, ui, player experience and bug, all things you would expect from a game review to do, but the game was not ready for this and the reviews was not favourable.
Somewhere around the same time CEO of Goblin works at the time, Ryan Dancey made a forum post, trying to encourage the existing player to go out and promote the game on other sites.
That is of cause fine by itself, and different people probably get different meaning from what he wrote.
But my understanding was clearly that he asked for existing player to try and lure other players to the game, by only telling positive things and then "forgetting" to mention the bad stuff..
Basically deceive people.
Apparently some thousand online games got the same impression from what he wrote, so needless to say, this was not only the final nail in the coffin, it was also the coffin set on fire, shipped out the airlock and detonated in a nuclear explosion. Whatever hope and trust the game had left, was gone.
And so was the online gamers.
While all this was going on, the game was actually progressing along nicely. Usually weekly updates and often small fixes in between.

Where's the money ?

Before the game going live and during the spring of 2015, the community was several time assured by different members of the development team, that the game was 2 years into a 5 years development cycle and that the game was fully funded for that period.
Whatever money came in from the game sales and monthly subscriptions was just icing on the cake.

If my memory is correct, it then was late Jun 2015 the development team went into complete radio silence for some days, then in the first days of August, the community got the news that CEO Ryan Dancey had left the company, most of the team had been laid off and the economy was so bad the servers might shut down any moment.

Personally this is one of the things I have a hard time swallowing. The people involved whit the game today, was also part of the team back then. It's quite a big step to go from posting on the forums "don't worry guys, we got money for 5 years" to "ups everyone have been fired and there's is no money left"

The new team was CEO Lisa Stevens and a few developers.

During late summer 2015, we was being informed the new plan was to preferably sell the game to a different developer or if that failed, to try and gather funds to keep devolvement going under Pazio.
New corp.

During the next two years ( sum/fall 2015 to sum 2017 ) there was apparently some attempts at selling the game. We don't know much about who this company was, or how serious it was.
All we have been getting is sporadic rapports of meetings being held, documents being sent back and forth and people talking to each other.
What does seem clear though, is if there actually was a new company, they might have been interested but didn't have the money to follow though. ( so it's probably also unlikely they had a large team of experienced developers sitting around. It would have been Goblin works 2.0 )

So what have happened, is that after nearly 2 years, CEO Goblin works Lisa Stevens have sold the game to CEO Pazio Lisa Stevens.
( Personally I wonder if Pazio was new corp. all along, and Lisa spent 2 years talking to herself )

During this time, the remaining developers have been doing their best. The quality of their work seem to be quite good and they have implemented some of the planned game features.
But needless to say, a few guys can not do the work equal to a team of 20. So progress is going very slow.

Furthermore, while there have been many bug fixes and a number of rebalancing, most of the large changes have been to the "settlement administration side of things" From a tabletop development point of view this probably makes sense, equal to working on the code book or game rules. But from a gaming point of view less so. These systems will only truly shine when thousands of players are playing, it does not do much to make the base game any more fun right here and now.

and this leads us to

Present day.

The good new is that the game is still here and you can play all you want.
But not much have happened devolvement vice in the last two years, the game is still very far from finished.

Where thing go from here is hard to say. So far it seems like Pazio have been unwilling to go all in financially
( whatever that is because that can't or wont, I have no idea ) Perhaps the game might still get sold, if someone is willing to put up the money, and then everything can happen.

It might stay under Pazio and continue at the current pace. In that chase, it will probably be the grandchildren of the current developers who get to finish it.

Or more fund could go into the game, a large team being hired again and some sort of half finished product could be put on the market 6 - 12 months from now, along whit some marketing efforts.

No matter what happens, there are a number of problems. ( just going to mention a few )

Everyone who decide to take a look at the game, have to climb a huge wall to understand the mechanics because it uses the terminology from he tabletop version.
Try imagine a French company, getting into the English market, but insisting on doing all their marketing in French. I don't know how large a percent of the English population that speak French, but it's probably a lot less that the percentage who speak English.
What I mean by this and to give an example, 99,9% of computer gamers would instantly understand the term "mana" and the concept behind it, while they would think as stamina as something you use when running around.
Sure people can learn in time what things mean in Pathfinder Online. It just makes the game so unapproachable for a new player.

Graphics. Even the very first reviews back from early 2015, pretty much all talked about how plain and bad the game looked. Personally I don't care much for how a game looks compared to what the content is. But a lot of people do. Even in the best chase scenario, the game still have some time to go before being finished, so 2019 - 2020 ? Whit graphics people thought was bad already 5 years before. Of course this can be fixed whit enough money.

Reputation. One thing is marketing a new and upcoming game, but the pathfinder name have already been badly burned. Many people out there might shy away from this game, simply by the name alone, and they will tell their friends. Any new marketing effort will have to start going uphill.

Time. The original plan was that EE would last about 6 months, and whit many new players joining every month. What we got now is a small amount of people who have been accumulating experience for years. No idea how they are going to address that balancing issue.

Anyways. I'm getting tired of writing. I'm not English speaking and it have taken several hours of typing. Tried to make this as sober as I could.
The point of this post is not to discourage people from playing. On the contrary, take a look at the game. If you like what is there, then go ahead and start playing. I'm just trying to make sure this forums don't turn into a complete echo chamber, and that any new players goes into this knowing what has happened so far.
I'm hoping the community is still open and honest enough to accept a different point of view.

Also I do not regret playing and certainly think I gotten my money worth of playing. I'm still here, checking the new and forums every so often, and hoping the game will get some improvements in areas I find important. If or when that happens, I'll happily jump right back in.
Paddy Fitzpatrick
That's probably the best and most fair history of the game presented so far. Nicely done.
Paddy Fitzpatrick - Rí Ruírec of Fianna, roaming bands of noble warriors!
Member of the Kathalpas Coalition and home of bandits, privateers, and anyone looking to get away from the shackles of law.
Find us on PFO Discord
 
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