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Offline Insomnia2000

The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« on: Feb 12, 2018, 05:30 AM »
This is just intended to be a discussion topic. I know it's a bit lengthy.

The Idea
I'm calling this idea the "Pre-Paid Hands-Off" server. As the name suggests, the idea is that the server is paid for at least 1 year in advance and run in a similar manner as an official server, very hands-off. This would be going against the grain of what RO pservers usually try to do which is micromanage and be very, very attentive to player requests and suggestions (catering to the vocal minority).

Reasoning:
I think the biggest advantages pservers have over officials can be broken down into the following areas:
  • Pservers are usually bot free / spammer free.
  • Pservers usually have a lot less lag than officials.
  • Pservers normally have at least a few convenience features. (Custom NPCs and things)
  • Pservers normally have higher rates than officials taking away some of the massive grind.
  • Pservers normally are much quicker at fixing bugs or implementing new suggestions.
These are all pretty massive advantages that pservers have over officials, so why in the world do people play on official RO servers? Why deal with bots, lag, 1x rates, Pay2Win cash shops, etc?

I'd be curious to know other people's reasons, but as someone who used to play official RO, my biggest reason was longevity. I dealt with all the negatives because I knew that my effort wouldn't be completely wasted and I could come back to my character a few months later if I wanted to. With private servers, I don't even know if the website will exist next month.

The second reason I played on officials was partly because they seemed very "hands-off." It can be both a good and bad thing, but as a player it can be pretty annoying when admins change things left and right to please players (usually the vocal minority) only to end up pleasing less and less people as time passes. On officials, that's not the case. Official servers tend to not care if you're having a hard time completing XYZ quest, it is what it is. Unless there's some massive bug or something is literally broken, it's not going to get changed.

With how dirt cheap DDoS protected VPS and dedicated servers are, I've always wondered why someone didn't try combining the advantages of private servers with that of official servers. A lot of admins/devs are now in their late 20's and 30's so I don't think the initial cost is that unreasonable. Even if it was, I think some crowd-funding could make short work of the small initial costs.

Anyway, the idea would go something like this:
  • Get 1 or 2 competent/trustable individuals to set it up.
  • Pre-pay for 1+ years of a dedicated server to show commitment. Cost based on OVH prices should be somewhere around $1,200~$1,500.
  • Set up server with proper bug fixes, anti-bot/cheat system, and either no cash shop at all if possible or a cosmetics only shop to help pay for future years.
  • Open doors for players.
  • Be almost completely hands-off in terms of suggestions and in-game GMs* (see below).
  • Still ensure that bugs and issues are fixed prompty.
  • Still ensure that people caught cheating, botting, spamming, etc. are all taken care of.
  • Still ensure stability and proper maintenance of databases with regards to backups, storage, etc.
  • Let server ride. Everything is paid for in advance so there should be no need to ever close down the server before then.
In theory, this would provide players all the advantages that a pserver offers: no lag, no bots, no pay2win, no taking several months to level, but with the major advantage official servers have: longevity. You simply create an environment for people to enjoy RO for years to come without all the BS from officials or pservers.

*Hands-off approach:
In theory, you have a properly working server that doesn't require a bunch of suggestions (probably because you're close-to-official) so there's no need to be changing things left and right. You also don't need a bunch of in-game GMs either. As someone who has been an admin, a dev, and "support" GM over the years, the majority of in-game help needed can be foregone. It's 95%+ people asking for help with their build/stats/equips or asking basic questions about the server like "is there a healer NPC?" The remaining 5% of issues can be, and should be dealt with in a manner that allows for better tracking: missed donations, cheaters, broken NPCs, etc. You really don't need in-game GMs.

And because the server is run by just a small number of people with the hands-off approach, you avoid all of the issues surrounding people thinking GMs give advantage to XYZ guild or "GM unjustly banned me."

I'm sure there's some pretty big barriers to overcome like the initial fee, deciding on server specifics like rates, or custom NPCs. Just thought I'd add something different to discuss in the RO scene.

TL;DR
Combine the advantages of officials with the advantages of private servers. Pre-pay for 1+ year of dedicated server service so no one has to worry about hard work being lost. Ensure proper server setup with antibotting, no pay2win, no bugs, etc. Be hands-off for the most part. Admins/devs are there to ensure stability through bug fixes and maintenance, not to cater to every players particular request.

Longevity, stability and hands-off aspects of officials + lagless, bot-free, no pay2win, more convenient, better rates advantages of private servers.

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Offline Yuzo

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #1 on: Feb 12, 2018, 05:40 AM »
private server creators need to gain experience before they can manage a project like you are describing. pretty much the only way to do so is to do exactly what you describe would not happen in your scenario. the amount of people with the experience and capabilities to handle a project like this is so minuscule and most of them exist worlds apart, in that their world will never collide with the other people who would be able to manage it.

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #2 on: Feb 12, 2018, 05:51 AM »
private server creators need to gain experience before they can manage a project like you are describing. pretty much the only way to do so is to do exactly what you describe would not happen in your scenario. the amount of people with the experience and capabilities to handle a project like this is so minuscule and most of them exist worlds apart, in that their world will never collide with the other people who would be able to manage it.

I'm sure it would be unlikely to actually happen correctly, but as far as the idea itself? Is it feasible assuming that the initial setup is accomplished? Would players stick around longer knowing their characters are safe or would they flee after a month or two as usual? Would you actually create a viable alternative to officials?

Offline yennar

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #3 on: Feb 12, 2018, 06:58 AM »
So your plan is: The owner has to finance for a year or more and still won't get much Money from the Server. Why should he do this?

for Server owners, it doesn't really matter if the Server doesn't last -  they still get enough $$$.
After that: just Close/reopen and repeat. (Greetings to CapeRO)

Also: the Content is still the same as any other Servers.
Create a low rate Server: Most People won't Play - ugs, i have to lvl and do quests, that's so unfair!
Create a mid rate/high rate Server: Ugs, The Endcontent is still the same as everywhere or not available at all, cuz WoE/BG goes bad. And i am 99 so fast, what else is there? that's so boring!

The idea would be good, but let's be realistic: who would create such a Server?
And if someone creates it, would he/she also think about the main Problems Ragnarök Online nowadays has?

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #4 on: Feb 12, 2018, 07:36 AM »
So your plan is: The owner has to finance for a year or more and still won't get much Money from the Server. Why should he do this?
...
The idea would be good, but let's be realistic: who would create such a Server?
And if someone creates it, would he/she also think about the main Problems Ragnarök Online nowadays has?

Like myself, I'm sure there's others out there that truly care about the game and hate seeing the state of things. It doesn't seem like there's a decent alternative for those of us who prefer to play official-like servers, but without the lag, bots and pay2win.

A lot of the players and developers are older now with better income on top of the price of servers dropping massively in price. Back when I ran PureRO, it cost me nearly $700 a month for a proper dedicated server + DDoS protection alone. Now you have companies like OVH offering better hardware and better DDoS protection for 7x cheaper at $100~$130 a month.

It's tempting just to foot the bill for such a project, but I think you describe the inherent issue with any private RO server lately.

Also: the Content is still the same as any other Servers.
Create a low rate Server: Most People won't Play - ugs, i have to lvl and do quests, that's so unfair!
Create a mid rate/high rate Server: Ugs, The Endcontent is still the same as everywhere or not available at all, cuz WoE/BG goes bad. And i am 99 so fast, what else is there? that's so boring!

This is probably the real issue with any project, maybe more-so with a "hands-off" approach. You'd have a hard time deciding between all of the content, rates, mechanics, etc. Pre-renewal seems like the ideal candidate for a "pre-paid hands-off" project, but like you said, it gets stagnant and old quickly without some sort of refreshing content. How long ago was it that renewal came about? 7-8 years? That sounds like a lot of missing content.

And then the rates, like you said. Low rates, and people complain about having to grind through the same old stuff and get bored. Mid/High rates and people "finish" too soon and get bored.

It's just sad to me to see the low number of options out there. It seems like your only option if you're looking for renewal is official (problems listed above) or NovaRO. If you want pre-renewal you've got TalonRO or maybe a non-English or temporary month-long server. Nothing against TalonRO or NovaRO, I think they are doing a fantastic job, just not my cup of tea. That's why I brought this discussion up.

Offline Blinzer

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #5 on: Feb 12, 2018, 10:52 AM »
servers cost a lot less than you think, that's not why they shut down. that's a lot of wasted text you've used there.

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #6 on: Feb 12, 2018, 01:12 PM »
servers cost a lot less than you think, that's not why they shut down. that's a lot of wasted text you've used there.

I didn't say they were expensive. I explicitly pointed out how cheap they were; that's kind of the point of the post. It's super cheap, so perhaps buying a year or more in advance would reduce the community's fear of the admin deciding to just not paying for the next month.

Almost always the server closes due to lack of population + cost. They go hand-in-hand. The population starts to drop due to boredom and various reasons, then it falls exponentially due to perceived risk of closure. The admin then says, "Sure it may be cheap to pay for another month, but why waste any money when the population is low?" And thus the server just goes offline.

So part of the point is to get rid of the perceived risk of closure. You've already paid for 1+ year of server time, and coupled with the more "hands-off" approach, you're not heavily involved, so why close it? If you have no reasons to close the server other than being spiteful, maybe the population wouldn't fall off, or at the very least you've provided a long-term home for those players who hate having to hop servers every few months because of closure.

Offline Erissa

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #7 on: Feb 12, 2018, 02:47 PM »
Anyway, the idea would go something like this:
  • Get 1 or 2 competent/trustable individuals to set it up.
I'm surprised you didn't just stop writing at this point, and aside from that, isn't the whole thing you've written here basically describing originsRO?

Why deal with bots, lag, 1x rates, Pay2Win cash shops, etc?

I'd be curious to know other people's reasons-
Longevity with the side dish of 1x rates is the main reason I would (and do) generally play more on officials rather than private servers.

Considering the less convenience and speedup there is, the more of the potential of me having to team up with random people and make great friends on the ride to 99 or 175, as without having the experience of travel/leveling/farming watered down by instant warps and inane high rates, I am (and other players are too) pushed towards creating a community and many friendships to get around these issues.

After all, why would you be playing an MMO if not for the experience of playing with others?

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #8 on: Feb 12, 2018, 03:43 PM »
I'm surprised you didn't just stop writing at this point, and aside from that, isn't the whole thing you've written here basically describing originsRO?

I guess it would describe OriginsRO if you were interested in pre-trans servers. However, I think the difference would be opening a server with "proof" of being open at least a year versus proving longevity just by being open forever like OriginsRO. Perhaps the end result is the same.

Longevity with the side dish of 1x rates is the main reason I would (and do) generally play more on officials rather than private servers.

Considering the less convenience and speedup there is, the more of the potential of me having to team up with random people and make great friends on the ride to 99 or 175, as without having the experience of travel/leveling/farming watered down by instant warps and inane high rates, I am (and other players are too) pushed towards creating a community and many friendships to get around these issues.

After all, why would you be playing an MMO if not for the experience of playing with others?

I agree with this. I tend to like lower rates as well. 1x rates are pretty difficult, but officials tend to have VIP systems and battle manuals to make it play more like a 3x server if you're willing to pay real money.

Offline Satos

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #9 on: Feb 12, 2018, 09:18 PM »
I like your idea.  And you've addressed the main reason why I played official for years, after getting introduced to RO on private servers; longevity.
And you've addressed the reason why I left official after several years; Cash Shop that gives an unbeatable advantage.

The only thing that still tipped official in my favor (despite all the junk) was the WoE.

I see so many servers that completely disregard WoE (almost completely), and focus on BG instead.

I have a whole novel floating around out there somewhere on the importance of WoE for long term endgame success.
But here's the Readers Digest version, to add to what I think a long term server needs for success:
A FULL blown WoE...not just one or two castles.
God Item creation is the purpose of WoE.
MVP cards are the rare trinket that give an advantage, and spur people to keep hunting after they hit the level cap, and upgrade their gears.
But large scale competitive WoE is where Ragnarok set itself apart from other games, and really made a name for itself.

Guilds dedicate months and years to the creation of God Items.  Alliances, strategic rotation of castles, sabotaging economy when you leave a castle vs giving it to an allied guild at prime value, blitzing an enemy castle but letting them keep it at the end of the day just to tank their economy...So much strategy went into successful God Item creation.
So much in fact, that the ownership of the items were tracked and facilitated by Gravity...no other item got that kind of detail and service.

Full WoE is the one thing I miss most about RO.  All the farming, grinding, hunting, and production was what made a good WoE guild pull away from a casual guild.
Man, you've ignited some nostalgia in me now.

tl;dr (because I ranted)
Your idea nails why I server hop, don't play RO much anymore, and don't feel satisfied when I do play.
Longevity is key....
That and full scale WoE. ^_^

I would dedicate time to a server like you describe.
« Last Edit: Feb 12, 2018, 09:27 PM by Satos »

Offline dreamzky

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #10 on: Feb 13, 2018, 06:53 AM »
I think ragnaroksea use this system. Only 1 admin manage this server. Very very dedicated one. In 3 moths, he manage to open very good revo classic server, with most accurate aspd calc for revo classic, all monster follow revo classic stat, rework matk to cater with revo classic, very nice event (chinese new year event with evil chaos dragon spawn every night right now).

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #11 on: Feb 13, 2018, 09:33 AM »
But here's the Readers Digest version, to add to what I think a long term server needs for success:
A FULL blown WoE...not just one or two castles.

Interesting thought and probably worthy of a discussion all on it's own as some people are very strongly against having all castles open (for lack of competition) while others think having all castles open is more fun for reasons you described.

I like your idea.  And you've addressed the main reason why I played official for years, after getting introduced to RO on private servers; longevity.
And you've addressed the reason why I left official after several years; Cash Shop that gives an unbeatable advantage.

tl;dr (because I ranted)
Your idea nails why I server hop, don't play RO much anymore, and don't feel satisfied when I do play.
Longevity is key....
That and full scale WoE. ^_^

Server hopping sucks and for me personally, a reason why I've stopped joining any pservers at all. I don't care what the admin promises or how impressive the server may seem feature-wise, the second the population dips, the server closes. Now, I don't bother playing or recommending RO servers unless it's an official or has a proven track record of longevity like OriginsRO, TalonRO, or NovaRO. That's why I suggested the idea just pre-paying a year for a host, setting up a stable sever, and giving players an obvious choice for a long-lasting server.

However, I wonder how well the "hands off" approach would work. It seems like most of the RO community now expects regular maintenance with all of their features and suggestions added ASAP. I know that's a frequent complaint about OriginsRO: they don't update much. Plus, running a pre-trans or pre-renewal server is inherently going to be lacking features so perhaps even with the guarantee of longevity, you still just end up with a server of a handful of players after a month or two anyway.

Offline Blinzer

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #12 on: Feb 14, 2018, 03:50 AM »
Interesting thought and probably worthy of a discussion all on it's own as some people are very strongly against having all castles open (for lack of competition) while others think having all castles open is more fun for reasons you described.

Server hopping sucks and for me personally, a reason why I've stopped joining any pservers at all. I don't care what the admin promises or how impressive the server may seem feature-wise, the second the population dips, the server closes. Now, I don't bother playing or recommending RO servers unless it's an official or has a proven track record of longevity like OriginsRO, TalonRO, or NovaRO. That's why I suggested the idea just pre-paying a year for a host, setting up a stable sever, and giving players an obvious choice for a long-lasting server.

However, I wonder how well the "hands off" approach would work. It seems like most of the RO community now expects regular maintenance with all of their features and suggestions added ASAP. I know that's a frequent complaint about OriginsRO: they don't update much. Plus, running a pre-trans or pre-renewal server is inherently going to be lacking features so perhaps even with the guarantee of longevity, you still just end up with a server of a handful of players after a month or two anyway.

allow me to quote you something from my discord which came up in discussion recently:

Quote
noako - Last Monday at 11:36 PM

In your opinion, what makes a server bad?

Blinzer - Yesterday at 3:02 AM

that's a very good question
i guess it's a simple answer, with a much more complicated explanation. no direction, bad staff, bad game.
direction is most simply explained by "it's not where it is now, but where it is headed". is there a target goal or objective that is being worked towards? can you visibly and tangibly see that it is heading towards that direction?
bad staff is the one we're all used to. people who abuse powers in-game, whether it be to help themselves or to damage others. people with special interests: greed, pride, selfishness. bad staff tend to also be people who have no direction or don't have the ability to follow through with their direction. you're a bad staff if you suck at what you do.
bad game is the final one. your game is bad if it's: unbalanced or unfair, cannot sustain itself in the long run, does not have a strong link between skillful play and strength in the game, does not have depth and a high ceiling to said skill, is not intuitive and fair, gives significant advantages from outside sources. i'm not saying there's anything wrong with a server just slapping vanilla ragnarok and running a solid, honest server about it; but ragnarok itself has numerous of these flaws in itself, so it drags down anyone who does that with it.
now, there's actually a secret fourth thing exists for an MMO that doesn't necessarily count for a developer, but does for players: popularity. a server can be bad in the eyes of players if there's not many people who play on it, because a lot of the appeal of playing an MMO is having the people to interact with and enjoying the game alongside others. if there's nobody playing a game, a lot of people tend to not play that game because they want to be part of something that everyone is doing. likewise, a server with a high population will tend to attract players because people reverse engineer a "if a lot of people are playing on it, it must be good" mentality. these are flawed ways of thinking that lead to this behavior, but they exist regardless.

noako - Yesterday at 3:38 AM

yeah, it's a bit disheartening to play on a small servers with so little options with vendors etc

Blinzer - Yesterday at 3:42 AM

despite shining moon having a lot of rock solid stuff that i approve of, they have very few players
less than 20
that, in my opinion, is a testament that the community of RO has been conditioned so hard to eat the exact same garbage for so long that they have become out of touch with what is actually possible in this game

longevity can be threatened by all four of these aspects, honestly. if you have no direction, you have no future. if you have bad staff, your bad staff is a permanent threat to the longevity for one reason or the other. if you have a bad game, nobody's going to want to play your game for very long. if you have nobody playing your game, you're technically not physically threatened by longevity, but at that point i put into question what you consider something to be alive in the first place.

i'd like to remind you that most players of ragnarok quit in 2008 and 2009 because it got old, boring and was an unbalanced broken game, so ragnarok already falls into the "bad game" category in its normal state. yet people are skeptical whenever they see anything that isn't just the standard game, and that tells me that the people left who play the game aren't very good at it(not good enough to quit) or knowledgeable(don't know enough to distinguish the good from the bad). in other words, a very LARGE portion of the reason this game doesn't ever go anywhere is because of the players, not the developers. for as long as you keep picking s*** servers and bringing it to yourself, you're going to keep eating dust.
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2018, 04:14 AM by Blinzer »

Offline Yuzo

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #13 on: Feb 14, 2018, 04:39 AM »
nice post blinzer no sarcasm hope i can say this again

Offline Insomnia2000

Re: The Pre-Paid Hands-Off Server
« Reply #14 on: Feb 14, 2018, 11:27 AM »
despite shining moon having a lot of rock solid stuff that i approve of, they have very few players
less than 20
that, in my opinion, is a testament that the community of RO has been conditioned so hard to eat the exact same garbage for so long that they have become out of touch with what is actually possible in this game

Personally, I think shining moon has a lot of other issues that would probably be deserving of it's own thread and that's why it doesn't have many players despite having some really interesting and cool concepts.

so ragnarok already falls into the "bad game" category in its normal state. yet people are skeptical whenever they see anything that isn't just the standard game

This is kind of what I was thinking already. No matter how much effort, or lack of effort (as the "hands-off" approach above suggests), you'll likely end up with a low population anyway. In the end, maybe the people who still play RO just aren't the type to stick around long-term.

A lot of servers try to "revamp" RO by adding in things they think are cool or unique, but 9 times out of 10 it's not in tune with the base game of RO and features clash with the base game. That's probably why a lot of people are skeptical when they hear of a bunch of customs. Usually things that don't belong in RO, something that takes away from the original RO, or something that is grossly overpowered comparatively. Then you end up with people wanting the standard 8 year old RO, getting bored, and leaving. It's a pretty hard situation to win in.