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OPINION: Building a player base

The single most effective way to build a player base is word-of-mouth. I have talked with several veteran players who freely admit they know several TT gamers who might enjoy the game, they simply haven't mentioned it yet.

Once a new player is in the game, they need to make a friend. This is the single most crucial factor in whether or not a game can garner a persistent player base. I came on board the day OE 1.1 came out - I've gotten involved with a settlement and pretty much taught myself what I needed to know about how to play. If we as a community are not engaging new players, our numbers will stay where they are.

I must roll back some earlier comments about documentation - there is sufficient documentation in some areas, and scads of documentation in others. One personal project I am working on is editing together a Pathfinder-esque players guide that can be given to new players which includes the sort of information a new player will be wanting. Stat blocks, damage and loot tables (see related post in Crowdforging section), easily readable charts, etc. are all necessary, these are the sorts of things that are simply not available to the best of my knowledge. WHY NOT?

Interesting fact, I have found almost twice as much information about settlement upkeep and warfare as all the rest of the information about how to play the game combined.

I see the bones and some of the muscle here that can be built into a game that could become incredibly popular. It appeals to the more considered gamer, with a robust character building system that rivals anything I've seen before. This is the shining star of PFO and would benefit game development greatly if it is properly capitalized upon.

That said, PVP emphasis turned this sandbox into an untenable gankfest. The Forever War should be sufficient illustration of that - it lost the game most of the original player base. It would be ill-considered to stay that course. PVP is a T2-T3 game, it ought not be unleashing it on T1 characters.

Settlement Warfare is a T3 game exclusively. It requires T1 gatherers and crafters as well as T2 combatants (many of whom will need to continue with the gathering and crafting,) but without appropriate leadership at the T3 level this is a sinking ship. (I've said before that the results are the fruit of planning and implementation for better or worse.) Settlements do not belong in the hands of new players, they belong in the hands and under the guidance of veteran players.

This is where the game currently sits: 90% T3 veteran players ignoring new players and thumping their chests. The Discord server is barely used, I've never seen more than 5 people on at any given time, yet everyone I talk with says it's crucial to being able to play with a group effectively; and that's probably true, too. There are few T2 warriors, even fewer T1 laborers. New players looking for information tend to be forced to "choose a settlement/company" before any real information about playing is taught - the espionage dynamic has made everyone hoard every scrap of information, a great deal of data lies locked in spreadsheets and documents owned by yet another player who bailed long ago.

Look, I'm not trying to slam the game, I think PFO is fantastic, and I would really love to see it grow up into the game it promises to be, which would include a source of canon for the TT version. I'm not interested in "Your wrong so piss off" (not pointing to any particular Troll with that, but we should all understand spouting vitriol is counter productive.)

Here I invite meaningful dialogue. Goblinworks/Paizo is doing their part, but pull-through marketing isn't going to work here; nobody is going to see a sign that says PFO and think "Man, I really gotta switch up my game." Moreover, any marketing plan put in place is going to be meaningless if the game continues to lack the sort of in-game support I'm talking about here.

What is required is community-building to support the Developers efforts on our behalf. Anybody up for that?
Some good points.

Most of the older tools developed by players are falling into disrepair. With the increasing load (things like spreading escalations) being placed on a shrinking player-base there is often insufficient time to do more than give new players a help with gear and some basic pointers. Meanwhile there are not enough new players to do group training of the type that PFU used to run.
Always really nice to see enthusiasm for this game because I still have it too (now mostly nostalgic) even if I no longer play it. In my heart there is still a belief that it is a game brimming with potential and more than a few concepts to it that were designed well and differently than other MMOs do things.

As for TT players, this game is way too far away from PFRPG to even have the name it does. That needs fixing. The game, not necc. the title…

Of all other MMO players that I know (situation specific to my own self and not including some that I met playing this and are still here, ymmv) this game still lacks some important things. These players seem to be more hung up on games with better EYE CANDY, better STORY, better ADVENTURING or a mix of those three. It is difficult for them to see playing this game for free (hindered as they still would be) but especially paying to play such an unfinished "frame work" even in an unhindered way.
-Eye Candy is severely lacking and there is no point going into that as it is obvious.
-There is no real dynamic STORY because it was designed as a player driven sandbox. Someone (including early fans like myself) forgot that a "sandbox" can still have a great and dynamic under-laying story even if the local politics, economy and player culture is left up to the players. When there ain't barely any players, leaving that stuff up to us really falls short in keeping up interest. Increasing "STORY" by turning escalations "back on" feels like about the easiest, cheapest way to do that and (right now) has too many negative consequences attached. Not a good idea. Find better ways to bring the world around your players to life. Please understand that I do feel like the concept behind the escalation system was/is brilliant (one of the ideas I like most about this game) but it needs a larger pop… to work.
-Problem is, escalations and related spin offs are just about the only way to ADVENTURE outside of PVP. This lacking needs some attention.

I have to disagree a lil about PVP. That aspect is an important part of what this game is about. Biggest problem is that it was never fully developed/polished one way or the other so players from all "camps" became disgruntled or fear becoming disgruntled. It is a delicate subject. It needs to be improved and developed in a responsible way, but it needs to exist. I guess that you did not really dismiss all PVP aspects so maybe we do not really disagree. smile

As I have alluded to, I was around since some of the earliest days of this game's development. I have really given it more of a try than any other MMO I have ever played. The way that the mechanics work became just too boring eventually. This is my point of view and not meant to define the experience of other people. The mehanics of operating settlements, holdings, etc. while still trying to find enjoyment in "being a merchant" just became too… draining. They are like chores…. The chores just became too much as the pop continued to decline.

The way that this game was designed, has been modified on since and plays now requires a larger and active population to work right. It is just a "busywork" festival now with too few quality of life features to ease that problem.

TDLR; The game has much potential. The game has a few really neat twists on things that could make it better (in concept) than other offerings. At this point though, this game just has no "spice" to it to help it come together as a whole. Like a culinary masterpiece prepared without any seasonings, advanced cooking techniques, or even a little flavored oil. It's a pile of vaguely hooked together mechanical operations without any real "flavor".

Paizo needs to do something that causes the population to explode AND to get some $$$ rolling in. Until they do, there can't really ever be a "Great Birth" and success.
Jubal von Silberstrom
I've played the game since late alpha/beginning of early enrollment, but it has been very off and on. So I guess I count as a veteran? Anyways, I've tried many times to get friends to play and almost none have ever been interested. I'll admit, I haven't been selling the game well, but I'm also not going to sugar coat the state of the game to my friends and have them get in and be disappointed. That won't get players that are going to keep playing.

I do strongly agree with word of mouth advertising though. Specifically I was thinking it could be good to stream gameplay on sites such as twitch. Along similar lines, but also about documentation: I've had an idea to do a tutorial series of videos and put them up on YouTube. This might do double duty advertising the game and giving new players some guidance for how things work. I did an off the cuff video around 4 years ago, but I was wanting to re-visit it with an actual script and organize the information better. Possible collab opportunity Rhethwyn? Since you're compiling related info already. There also exist some YouTube videos of gameplay, even one as recent as March, with low hundreds of views. I didn't realize till now, but my video has a whole 705 views! And one comment saying my narration is boring lol.

Something that I've had as an idea in the "player created content" for a while but never actually worked on it much was to have a PvP tournament. The idea originally was to do 1v1 duels, though some that I've talked to said group matches could be good too. There would also be tiers of contenders. You could have a tier intended for beginner players that only t1 gear is allowed up to a tier where it is use any gear you want. For a more populated server I'd want to see it eventually have a grand tournament associated where each settlement puts forth a "champion" and they would compete over some sort of prize pool entry fee. For the nearer future and to help newer players I would want to make it be t1 gear provided (show up naked is the idea) and they get to keep their gear and the winner gets a prize. Frequency would depend on the number of new players and how much assistance I could get in organizing/reffing them.

Thanks Rhethwyn for opening the question, I'd love to see the community work together to grow the player base.
Characters: Jubal von Silberstrom, Paladin of Iomedae. Realndor Rockhammer, Master Armorsmith.
Company: Grey Guard
Settlement: Greystone Keep
Jubal von Silberstrom
… 705 views! And one comment saying my narration is boring lol.

Try channeling Boris Karloff.
I come from a history of playing PvP mmorpgs. I played Everquest pvp servers, like Sullon Zek, Shadowbane, MUDs with pvp (Carrion Fields I think and others), Ultima Online T2A, Darkfall Rise of Agon, and maybe a few others. I've also played in some PvP browser games. I've played Wurm Online extensively on the chaos server off/on for years.

Pvp in open world RPG is just not typically popular. It's much more popular in multiplayer online settings, like Rust, but those're very different circumstances, and usually involving wipes. Take Everquest for example. Project 1999 is a private server. It has a pvp server and a pve server. The PvE server saw population over 1000. The PvP server, meanwhile, had population between 50 and 200. You see the pattern? PvP causes a lot of tension and attrition. The average mmorpg player isn't interested in getting involved in chaotic pvp wars, zerging and greifing. It's too uncontrolled for them, so what you see are VERY small niche populations. The same thing happens in Wurm Online. In a sample size of 1000 players, about 200 or less are on the pvp servers.

There's no way to make pathfinder online hugely popular without extensive changes to its core mechanics, so what're we left with then? What can we do to make this the best situation possible?

Typically in pvp MP open world, in any game, what you see are attempts to even the playing field so fair fights are more common. This usually means soft caps or something like them, so players aren't too widely separated in character power. And in sandboxes, you see wipes or restrictions on building, so players don't have unfair advantages environmentally, and can't steal all the land claims making them unavailable for new players.

So I expect pathfinder online, the earlier it addresses these things, the better. However at this stage it might be too late. Maybe the best thign to do is figure out what the players want here and try to meet that need on minimal budget.

If I were manager, I'd 'attempt' figure out a way to restrict mass holdings, so major companies or groups of players aren't too powerful versus virgin companies. I'd restrict what players get when killing each other, vastly rewarding players who attack their equal–as opposed to vastly punishing those who engage in unfair fights. Thirdly I'd have a non-pvp alternative to endgame; aka safe areas or safe outposts. Just as players can opt out of pvp early on, i'd allow them to stay that way indefinitely, and also enable outposts to be non-pvp. BUT this might mean nobody would ever be pvp enabled. One possible route is to make open pvp part of the endgame, but not typically part of the early to mid game. It would be the equivalent of raiding in most mmorpgs. How to go about that? Not sure. This allows the average player still play most of game and not be bombarded by open world pvp. The only downside is pvp-minded players will not like to grind to endgame for pvp, so there needs to be a middleground somehow to scratch their itch.

I think it's all mute now. I'm just playing this MMO to see what it has.
If you think about it, most players never make it to endgame, so this is ideal for average plaeyrs because they'll never need to be concerned about pvp, assuming pvp-minded players are able and willing to "grind" to endgame for what hey want. Or maybe something can be inserted early to mid game that a) won't force non-pvp players into pvp situations b) allows pvp-minded players to do some hybrid open-pvp.

You'd wnat a system where the upper echelons of a company might participate in open world pvp and settlement raiding or warfare, but this wouldn't in turn trickle down and impact the lower echelons of non-pvp players. The open world pvp has to somehow happen in the bakground for ealry to mid players, such that it's not their pain or concern yet.

Maybe make it so safe areas or safe outposts are just as good early to mid levels, but only at endgame do player pvp-enabled outposts become better suppliers of everything needed.

I don't know how far off base i am with all this. I'm just trying to offer my 2 cents. PvP in open world, especially involving losses, not just unfair fights, has to be the single biggest negative contributor to population i've seen in any mmorpg. a major loss, be it a fair fight or not, can have wide sweeping negative effects, on top of all the other smaller defeats. It's enomrously negative for average player, and I am just trying to help offer something. I too am tired of cookie cutter safe space mmorpgs.
Harad Navar
What about the possibility of a game mechanic that only allows PvP among T3 level players, where attacks on players only work between T3 toons. The downside to this for me is that I finally have a T3 toon that can take GoL loaners and this would make me an even bigger target. This would give the larger PvE player base safety from PvP, However, this would also mean that some of the tougher escalations might be out of reach parties of these T2 max players. On the other hand, this might be a new possibility for existing long term players with T3 toons to have a new role: being hired to lead groups of T2 players to help the take on the tougher escalations.

Suppose the party size was increased to 9, 8 being T2 or lower, and 1 being T3. Having 1 T3 player might even be a requirement to have a party of 9 rather than 6. This would make the higher escalations more playable for the larger player population while still giving the T1/T2 players a feeling of safety.

Another idea might be to slightly change the focus of the game on territorial conquest. Settlements need a large number of controlled hexes to maintain a level that can support T3 players. If settlements were additionally compensated for reducing their number of controlled hexes in exchange for settlements that were easier to maintain, this might make more hexes available for other uses. Right now the only way to get to T2 is to join a company that is a part of a settlement. What if there were an intermediate solution to a settlement: a one hex Town.

Lets' suppose that a company of T1 players decides that they want to branch out to T2 without being a part of the territorial game. They could purchase a special Town holding (using existing graphics like the manor) to build in an uncontrolled hex. (Where they would buy such a holding, either from the Store or from a Settlement, is another discussion.) "Outposts" could be the adventurers cottages or the crafter's studios but still limiting the number to the existing 2 (of either type). This would help give the Town a personal flavor by providing limited training/crafting abilities. They would still have to negotiate with ether towns or even settlements to get training/crafting they can't do them selves. This could provide a income source to help the town maintain or upgrade itself. They would have to defend themselves from expanding escalations, but not from PvP players.

A twist on this might be that a town can only be placed by a Destiney's Twin character (who most likely by T3 by now) who would be the Mayor. There might be a a new game mechanic of the townspeople protecting their Mayor from assassination by another T3 player. Killing the Mayor might temporality limit the Town's ability to support it's townspeople. They could even hire a T3 law keeper/bounty hunter to go after the killer. Or a T3 investigator to look for the offender.

As always, just ruminating.
Knowledge can explain the darkness, but it is not a light.

it's good rumination harad. these troubles are common in pvp open world comeptitive mmorpgs. i can't say whether what you suggest would work. you obviously know pathrfinder online better than me.

you know it's stragne. these issues been on my mind a long time. i didn't evne read this thread long enough to know what it was about. my prior post emerged on its own.

i wonder how to make open world pvp settlement warfare and raiding part of endgame, like boss raids in traditional mmorpgs. most players are never concerned about raiding when they're playingtraditional mmmorpgs. most don't even make it there. can that happen with something like pathfinder online?

it might be too late, but if pathfinder online could find a middlegorund or something.

i say all this despite the fact i always enjoyed open world ffa pvp. i enjoyed the danger. but evenso i was always a far more pve invested character. i liked the thrill of levelling in ffa pvp environments, but didn't ever particularly enjoy pvp itself. that's my background.
PFO did not die and is not dying because of the PvP.
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