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Reform Lux?

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:56 am
by Bean
Lux is a great game that has not grown much, indeed has declined, over the past 5+ years. Any fix will require more new players and better a capacity to retain the ones that come. We have tended to emphasize the voices of those who stay and not bothered to record or attend to the feedback of those who leave. Reform is complicated by the incredibly small player pool remaining.

I'll focus the start of this thread on verbal abuse as a possible factor in driving new players away and so as a possible target for reform and/or shifts in moderation style. Please contribute your own ideas about reforms or targets for reform.

Verbal Abuse. With its popularity, it's no surprise that many claim something about Bio Deux caused Lux's declining player pool. In fact, for some segments that may be true. It certainly almost drove me away, and only recently have I come to the opinion there are structural abuse-generating features in the game as a whole that make it hard to keep new players. The rankings restructuring is not going to be a magic bullet recruitment-wise because verbal abuse is not map specific. Verbal abuse is endemic and awful in this and other online games.

If verbal abuse in Bio Deux hadn't nearly driven me away, it would have been in some other map. With shorter games, sure Bio Deux increases the possible instances of abuse (since abuse derives from disappointed expectations in EACH game), but that's not as important as the fact that verbal abuse and harassment are tolerated and little design work has gone into short circuiting it.

My moderation philosophy in this context is to go hardline on our Rule #1 and more softline on Rule #2. See: In short, I feel verbal abuse should corrected quickly and vigorously whereas asshattery should be corrected in a more normal way (e.g. warnings, discussion, reminders about what is not against the rules). However, I don't like hardline policing as a practice, so I advocate on the side for changes that indirectly reduce verbal abuse (e.g. small nudges in the incentive system).

One example I sort of like: use permanent megamute for players who can't seem to shut up with the whining and abuse when their expectations are not met by their naturally antagonistic opponents. Step 1: "hey there, please stop with the whining and abuse." Step 2 (if not compliance): Megamute.

Another enforcement idea: use more detailed offense descriptions in the moderation log. If a person is quoted there, perhaps they have room to see their error and a path to contrition. If not, then we all know there is a deeper psychological/moral failure that the person can work on outside the game and mods or others won't have step in speech code debates about who is qualified to say things about mental illness etc. Much better to say, "so and so violated rule #1 persistently, example, example, example, so is no longer welcome."

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:05 am
by Bean
My point about it not being bio deux already discussed in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=26057#p322442

Notable post in that thread from dominator: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=26057#p322455

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:46 pm
by elderberry
Bean wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:56 am
We have tended to emphasize the voices of those who stay and not bothered to record or attend to the feedback of those who leave.

How would you have done things differently over the last year if you had been more concerned with the voices of those who left Lux?

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:14 pm
by Bean
Me personally, I do the following:
a. advocate for rule changes to make it easier and clearer. reasonable progress here
b. explore evidence for why lux declined and try to think of solutions
c. try to make fun and non abusive games happen
d. advocate for rankings coherence, which we sort of have now

In the last year, barely anyone is playing. A few bio games a day and a player or two dominating. Not sure I have any solution. If I had the power, I'd try eliminating bio for a few months and get the weekly chase off the ground. (EDIT: limited workability for this because of vets). More importantly, I'd create a novice ladder or two on each ranked room. I'd also reach out to new players privately to equip them with some armor against the verbal abuse they can expect.

Good question Elderberry.

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:56 pm
by elderberry
Do you believe today's Lux can be reformed enough to ensure future growth and success?

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:43 pm
by Bean
Yes. That is possible.

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:05 pm
by elderberry
It is possible? Or do you believe it possible?

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:24 am
by Deep Blue
I don't think taking bio offline is a solution, what you need is players plain and simple. I think the reforms that have been done are great but without players it doesn't matter much. It is good that the 3 mayor maps now have their own ranking, it makes the game rankings more fair and also the weekly challenge/map looks good in terms of variety or marketing. But without players it is all a bit useless. Maybe use the strategy lots of compagnies use now, make it free and the you need to buy maps or something. Or just make classic map free to play, then your marketing can also go towards "free online risk". People who like the game will buy it, believe me. Ofcourse there will always be people who will just play the classic game.

I also liked Gfips idea of slower games like concerclub. I don't really see lux online evolving to be played online on mobile so mailboxmoves might be also a way to attract players.

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:22 am
by elderberry
Monthly map specific rankings have been available for three years. Are they effective? Does anyone respect those medals? Did they increase activity on maps like Classic or Rome? Look at the data! I do not believe so. Also, where can I find game result pages that show map specific, game-by-game scores? Or past monthly results? I can't find them because they aren't available. Three years later? Still not available? Why not?! It's obvious that monthly rankings were a last minute, half-assed "improvement", never fully realized, and they did not make Lux any better. Pardon me, but adding biodeux to those monthly rankings in December was an "easy fix" for a problem that no one was talking about, and required bare minimum effort from dustin, no? Look busy, but do nothing! I think it's strange that moderators believe that shunting biodeux into the monthly system is any consolation for the vast majority of current players who prefer biodeux. It's not! Look at the last four weeks of "championship" results. 14 players, 12, 11, and 13?! How long should we wait for a major uptick? Another month? Two or three months? Maybe years? Is this the future that Lux wants? Did anyone really ask for this change? No, sorry, I think there's some strange, delusional "group think" going on in the mod squad right now, and maybe, for too long. I wish Lux was improving for online players, but it is not, and I do not feel like anyone truly believes that the current path forward will work. Worse, there is no one here to talk about these things, in no small part, because leadership scared off anyone who disagreed with them. Maybe this state of affairs is the "natural end" of things, but it could have been different.

Welcome to Lux, everyone! Enjoy your stay.

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:33 am
by Bean
Elderberry, are you who I think you are? lol. Your prose footprint very similar to a certain someone we all love and remember fondly, but who perhaps is a bit reactive and reluctant on matters of nuance and evidence. Ad homs? check. Bald assertions? check. Provocative off point questions? check. Splitting hairs? check. ... c-Chopping

Welcome back. hugs. I'm sorry your ideas and tactics did not work out. If mine and other ideas do not lend Lux a growing online community at some point, I'll be sorry about too, but I won't be lurking and trolling in the wings like some creepy stalker if that happens. If you are not that man, sorry for the aspersions, but....

There is no delusion here. Lux did things X,Y,Z pretty consistently over the years with the exception of one or two minor coups and a fanatical strongman or two as well. The pool of players and richness of the culture grew at first and then rapidly declined. It is sensible to start dismantling X,Y,Z with as best a theory of which bits contributed to the decline as can be found. Yes, simple and easy will be important, and why wouldn't they be? Why would any rational person implement costly changes to an online game?

Do you have supporting analysis that suggests this situation calls for complex and costly?

A small group of patrons who like mac and cheese do not a successful restaurant make. "Oh, no, the lovers of mac and cheese and bingo are being denied their voice in this restaurant!" Well, it was also sad when they came to welcome any new patrons by sitting them at tables in the back and flung bits of pasta and gunk at them on the way to the back. Oh, and they drove the owner away a bit too. Oh, and they got bored of each other and mac and cheese but could not stop because well, salt and fat, so they started throwing it more and more at each other once there were insufficient numbers of suckers willing to enter the main dining room even though X% of the folks in there are actually pretty nice folks. Sure, if we got them to stop throwing food at new patrons, it might work, but then we'd still have a diner with only mac & cheese on the menu.

If said restaurant leaves them their mac and cheese, maybe even improving the recipe, but takes away exclusive access to the best seating and starts to prohibit food flinging, would that be so delusional?

Lux declined for X reasons and one of them, pretty well documented in the forums over the years, is that open-ended overall rankings that allowed regression to short, quick, and dirty maps was included in the design. As soon as rankings relied on competitor choice of maps paired with a points structure that rewarded number of games played, of course the quickest and dirtiest maps would dominate. You need multiple ladders for a diversity of tastes, just like a restaurant cannot of course ever work with just mac and cheese on the menu, or just mac and cheese in very small portions. If you have an overall rank, it needs to be credible/coherent, and not rank some players playing one game against others playing quite different games. I honestly think that if that had not happened, we might have avoided the decline by itself if some corrective to verbal harassment and abuse had been found.

Anyone can see current play and culture in bio deux and imperium will not accommodate new players and that no radical restructuring or rebooting will be acceptable to Sillysoft. It seems sensible, and not delusional, to me that we make the obvious fixes and see what can happen. Perhaps nothing will work, but to get so hostile and ad hom over my attempts, as if I caused the decline personally with my efforts, is in fact a little delusional. How persuasive is that?

Also, who thinks a critique of bio deux will appeal to the bio deux players? Not me, even though I have been critiqued a few times for that, basically in this form: "bean (or The MODs) = delusional because he/they think they can please the bio players by criticizing them." The bio players are not the pool from which growth is going to happen. Indeed, they are the only ones left after the system finished devouring itself with its design flaws. Let them keep playing. If you don't like bio, don't play. That's what I do. I even think maybe give them a weekly rank or make all the monthly ranked maps weekly, but have one overall/seeded rank that is not based on the same map week after week. Elderberry, I think I agree with that part of your argument, the part critical of the monthly. To be clear though, the rankings fixes are not delusionally thought of as magic bullets to generate more players. If players do come, the must face a coherent system where they are not excluded from competition because they try more adventurous items on the menu.

I like Para's (2006) version of the critique of bio deux, ""Deux will rot your brain ... !" It's among the most concise. But I don't think that means I find bio players immoral for choosing the quick, easy, relaxing version of Lux. I myself binge watch easy TV sometimes and have found bio a nice space to be many many times too, allowing me to sit and read or ride the exercise machine without being overly challenged or stimulated. Every 7-10 minutes, one can expect the bio end game to play out and sometimes one is involved in that, more times if you relax a little less in the early game. Short maps are mostly very relaxing but with a few nice bursts of flavor. Oh, but wait! I wallowed in my little Imperium corner for a good bit too and because it was relaxing. Even though it's long! Hmmm... It's the same or better for relaxing because a bunch more turns can go by without worrying too much and then the burst of flavor comes for more than a round or two because of the map size and the extra layers of complexity, not to mention the tide legitimately can turn back and forth without someone needing to make a dumb mistake (as with shorter maps).

To you and all the current players. If you want Lux to be better and bigger, it's going to be up to you. Please don't let trolls assert that reform efforts are causing the decline. Most of the decline came straight from abuse in the game. The ranking system is now more coherent, but could still be improved, maybe by making every map weekly and independent but have one curated weekly that has a more prominent role in seeding. Hell, I'd be happy with any scheme that only ranks players against players doing the same thing. But this one minor repair is not a marketing panacea and does not affect in-game abuse. It ONLY lends a little coherence to the system and enables the richness and variety of maps and scenarios to have a possible space to thrive.

If we fix a few things, it's better, but the biggest thing and the start of my thread here was to start thinking about whether we are a welcoming place when people enter.

I suggested abuse as a critical factor. It's touchy because folks have confounded my boredom with bio deux with some righteous crusade against their nice little daily relaxation device. Then my observations about abuse make folks possibly even more defensive, or at least trolls could play it that way. But let's be clear, one friend with whom I mostly enjoy playing (how much better than that can we expect?) said something like this to a new player,"What the fuck are you doing here?! You are a dumb shit! " I myself may have said fuck off or used name-calling here and there over the years. It's definitely true that new players will likely face shit like this, but it also doesn't mean I am saying anyone who plays bio will do that or that the in game poor behavior is exclusive to bio deux. Landlord has been dominating bio for over a year, and he is quite calm and non-aggressive in chat. For him, "poor play" is the harshest thing. I am not saying even that solving serious verbal abuse will help retention by itself. People will come and go even if they don't get verbally assaulted. We might need an excess of courtesy to make it welcoming. We might need novice/veteran rooms and ladders. Whatever.

At least verbal abuse is significant and real and relatively easy to enforce. That's how low the burden of proof is at this point, which means the smokescreeners and trolls have a correspondingly harder time defending the status quo.

No one thinks the status quo is praiseworthy.

Re: Reform Lux?

Posted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:28 pm
by plane crazy
Is abuse in the bio room driving away new players?
Some, yes. Would it be different in a classic environment? We will never know.

Is abuse in the bio room driving away older vets?
Some, yes. Most all who were offended by bio are gone now.

Is the mute command used enough?

Is bio to blame for the steady downturn over the last 10 years.
No. It makes a great whipping boy. Easy target to point fingers at. Lack of bug fixes and improvements have hurt the most. Combined with all the other games now available out there since this was introduced a long time ago.

Who are Lux's best potential future customers?
Prolly the folks that already own it, and have quit.

Can u breathe new life into this old game?
Gonna be mighty hard to compete with Fortnight and the other modern games now and in the future.

Is it wise to obsess over the future of this game?
No, it is not healthy. Additionally, clearly the owner does not do this.

Verbal abuse is an issue and has always been an issue with bio. Being "cool" in bio always leads to arguments and abuse by the end of the game usually flowing into the next game. Butt-hurt players can often verbally abuse others. In the end it takes-two-to-Tango and the mute function needs to be employed more often.