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Numby

Population Decline on Laughing Skull, High Risk to Blame?

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TL;DR
High Risk rewards incentivise solo-grinding over Raids and Battlegrounds. Solo-grinding is unfun and cannot serve as an end-goal so many players eventually quit. Thus, it would be best to rework High-Risk at some time in the future.
Introduction
I’d like to start by saying how much I enjoy playing on Ascension. I’ve played WoW on and off throughout the years both in retail and private servers since Vanilla and I can see the devs have really done a great job in many areas - when things work out as intended Ascension is some of the best WoW I’ve played. I hope Ascension keeps growing and I’d keep playing for years to come.
Problem
There’s a huge drop-off in population in the last ~1-2 months. The lack of players makes it much less exciting to play and limits your options content wise. Although the drop-off can be largely attributed to the double-whammy - the start of a new season (S4, ironman) AND the release of classic WoW, I don’t think we can blame the population decline entirely on these. If Ascension's LS (Laughing Skull) offered a unique and compelling game play, players would prefer it despite the alternatives.
Cause
The root cause of the recent decline is that the typical player lacks meaningful end-game content. I will define meaningful as content that is both challenging and rewarding. These 2 ingredients are necessary for a sustainable and thriving community - whereas leveling, various progressions (i.e. items, professions) and specializations (i.e. builds, techtrees) are present in other MMOs,  what really sets WoW apart and keeps people playing is the focus on meaningful end-game content. Specifically, I’m talking about:

  • PvE - Raiding & Dungeons (Heroic, Mythic, Mythic+ in later expansions)
  • PvP - (Maybe Battlegrounds), Arenas, Rated Battlegrounds. I’m intentionally omitting WPVP (World PvP) because WPVP has always been overhyped not an essential element in my opinion. This is because most WPVP encounters are decided not by skill but by sheer numbers and organizational factors (i.e. high-end guild vs pugs).

We can see how Raids and Arenas can be both challenging and rewarding - the challenge is the mechanics, communication and coordination, counterplay etc. and the reward is the loot, the defeat of a hard boss and the rating and titles that set you apart from other players.
Currently, rewarding raids are completely inaccessible to the average player because High Risk farming provides such a strong alternative and drives down Raid loot prices. The best way to progress your character is to grind mobs in High Risk. Only Nax (Naxxramas) items are unobtainable in High Risk but most players cannot participate in Nax raids due to gear/spec requirements. The issue is not that Naxx is hard - it should be hard as the latest raid. The problem is there’s almost no reason to complete earlier raids because of the flood of raid items obtained from High Risk grinding.
A Solution
Although High Risk is a really cool and unique feature of Ascension I believe it’s degrading the game experience in its current state. I would propose changing High Risk with the release of a future major patch (Burning Crusade release would be ideal), as follows:

  • Completely remove dungeon/raid drops for High Risk farming - these should be obtained by cooperating with other players; completing dungeons and raids and competing in PvP. Letting players get high-end loot from solo grinding mobs eliminates the alternatives and is unsustainable.
  • Increase profession materials drops in High Risk - cloth, ores, herbs, leather from skinning etc. This would make it easier to grind everything you need to start doing dungeons, raids and pvp which is what the game is about.
  • (Optionally) Add cosmetics/mounts to High Risk loot tables. These would provide the gambling aspect previously provided by the rare epic drops you could get in High Risk without wrecking the game economy.

To Discuss
I’m interested in hearing others’ opinions on the matter and seeing a discussion around how we can bring up the realm’s population. Specifically, I’d like to ask:

  • The Players - What do you enjoy most about playing on Ascension/LS? What do you enjoy the least?
  • The Devs - Can we estimate High-Risk’s contributions to the population decline using some player data? For example, we can compare the decrease of daily/weekly active players on LS vs Andorhal around the time S4 launched and around the time classic WoW was released. Also curious what is Andorhal active population vs LS’s active population. Finally, do you have any thoughts/plans on reworking the High-Risk system? 
  • Everyone - What do you see as the main problems with Ascension/LS that drive down the population? What are some solutions?
     

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Or just play Andorhal? It's populated and many 10 man raids progressing Naxxramas right now! No high risk and no non-soulbound items bullshit. So having gear actually means something!

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You claim naxx is inaccesible for newer players because of gear requirements, yet you claim is too easy to get good gear through farming or buying it because of cheap prices. Just admit you want to have monopoly on items through raiding and sell them for insane prices. I suggest you to rope yourself.

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From the Devs side (Statement of Dutch himself), Andorhal currently holds 5x the pop of LS. Dutch is also allready working on a merge of both servers. That doesnt seem to be an option annymore, it will happen, most likely before TBC. The team is currently looking into multiple ways of allowing both system to coexist. A System that Dutch introduced was "Bloodstained Items", meaning raid gear that drops in the world will be drop as "Bloodstained". Those items have either reduced stats of the original equivalent from raid, or are redesigned to fit a pvp theme (example reduced Strength for Resilence).

Dutch wants to test some of the stuff they think could work with upcomming seasons.

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2 hours ago, Vedartha said:

From the Devs side (Statement of Dutch himself), Andorhal currently holds 5x the pop of LS. Dutch is also allready working on a merge of both servers. That doesnt seem to be an option annymore, it will happen, most likely before TBC. The team is currently looking into multiple ways of allowing both system to coexist. A System that Dutch introduced was "Bloodstained Items", meaning raid gear that drops in the world will be drop as "Bloodstained". Those items have either reduced stats of the original equivalent from raid, or are redesigned to fit a pvp theme (example reduced Strength for Resilence).

Dutch wants to test some of the stuff they think could work with upcomming seasons.

Thanks for the update. It's great to hear that the team is actively working on a solution and trying cool new things out! I agree a lack unified High Risk system is a blocker for merging LS and Andorhal so this seems like a move in the right direction to me. Hope to hear more updates  - is there a Discord channel or another place I should look out for?

2 hours ago, Ascensionsimas said:

You claim naxx is inaccesible for newer players because of gear requirements, yet you claim is too easy to get good gear through farming or buying it because of cheap prices. Just admit you want to have monopoly on items through raiding and sell them for insane prices. I suggest you to rope yourself.

I'm actually not in one of those 2-3 LS guilds raiding Naxx. I've geared my characters and made bank entirely from High Risk farming which is exactly my issue. After I'm done with the grinding there's nothing else to do. I've tried raiding with several guilds and the experience is always the same - we struggle to get a full (10man) raid and usually have to settle with people from /World and/or 8-9 man.  I think a lot of this is due to lack of motivation - people don't want to risk wasting time wiping in a raid when they can get the items much quicker by High Risk farming and buying on AH.

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On 9/22/2019 at 8:53 AM, Mograine said:

Or just play Andorhal? It's populated and many 10 man raids progressing Naxxramas right now! No high risk and no non-soulbound items bullshit. So having gear actually means something!


What about those of us who dont want to raid in order to play PvP?  That option doesnt exist in Andorhal.

 

Edited by Ashsj1992

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The problem with laughing skull is most of its players are on seasonal. The thing that kills LS is seasonal and there is no gap between seasons... there should br at least 1 month between.

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No what's kill the servers are the dev's lack of attention or care ot anything that's not season, even tho I stopped player around when classic came out I'm sure as hell nothing's changed.  The honest truth is that nothing going to be truely fixed untill asncesion dies out and they reboot it and hopefully realizes their mistake, untill then the ascension will be on livesupport withe the dev's repeating the same damn mistakes over and over and over and over and over and over.

if you don't believe me what once the game goes to tbc and get a boost in player I bet the dev's will manage to do something that will cause them to leave just like what happened in january 2018, start of season 1, 2,3 aq release, ect. we get a boost in population, then tho's players players point out a major bug or flaw in the system nothing happens then they leave and suddenly it's fixed. except the fix it to late.

Edited by SirGank

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18 hours ago, SirGank said:

No what's kill the servers are the dev's lack of attention or care ot anything that's not season, even tho I stopped player around when classic came out I'm sure as hell nothing's changed.  The honest truth is that nothing going to be truely fixed untill asncesion dies out and they reboot it and hopefully realizes their mistake, untill then the ascension will be on livesupport withe the dev's repeating the same damn mistakes over and over and over and over and over and over.

if you don't believe me what once the game goes to tbc and get a boost in player I bet the dev's will manage to do something that will cause them to leave just like what happened in january 2018, start of season 1, 2,3 aq release, ect. we get a boost in population, then tho's players players point out a major bug or flaw in the system nothing happens then they leave and suddenly it's fixed. except the fix it to late.

Yeah, not enough attention to the legacy realms in favor of the seasonal realms is a common complaint I've heard in game. On the flip side, I guess seasonal realms bring new population and excitement to Ascension as a whole and the devs can only do a limited number of things anyways.

Regardless, I'm curious if there' anything specific that you would call out as neglected atm on LS?

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3 hours ago, Numby said:

I guess seasonal realms bring new population and excitement to Ascension as a whole and the devs can only do a limited number of things anyways.

Except that this 'population' is somewhat fake and only stays temporarily, with a fraction also not caring about legacy realms at all. The amount of turnover the servers see is insane. People coming and going, and rapidly quitting after seeing all the essentials and all the flaws that follow: Messy balancing, TC bugs, class bugs, etc.

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3 hours ago, Numby said:

Yeah, not enough attention to the legacy realms in favor of the seasonal realms is a common complaint I've heard in game. On the flip side, I guess seasonal realms bring new population and excitement to Ascension as a whole and the devs can only do a limited number of things anyways.

Regardless, I'm curious if there' anything specific that you would call out as neglected atm on LS?

Not just ls andorhal too. I'd say having the community managers say that they don't really care about veteran players are they're a minority and they'ed rather cater to the new season players because they're a bigger portion of player base even tho they leave after a few months like they did when classic came out.. renaming main realms to legacy realms is also a dick more imo as is it show they rather care about seasonals and just rerealease the same thing over and over and over and over and over while main realms have a time span of almost 1 year between raid releases. they somehow manage code wildcard and draftmode in timespan of 3-4 months total while working on a raid that's already had the base code done (they ported naxx  from northrend rather then completely recode it) and it still took just as long maybe even longer then AQ  which was two raids they released.

Edited by SirGank

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On 9/22/2019 at 9:28 AM, Numby said:

Hope to hear more updates  - is there a Discord channel or another place I should look out for?

Just for anyone reading this thread in the future - I found a pretty healthy discussion around LS+Andorhal merge using the "Bloodstained" idea on the Ascension #suggestions discord channel. Some highlights:

Dutch09/11/2019

Quote

Andorhal has about 5x more players by the way just to contribute to the discussion here
We can mostly attribute that to the nature of PVE on the realm. The soulbound items keep people engaged with the content longer and create more investment
and since it is more PVE focused, it isn't as affected by PVP balance issues.

Dutch09/11/2019

Quote

We create 'bloodied' versions of the items for high-risk pvp with different stats more specifically tailored towards pvp
dropping a naxx item in the open world would convert it to a bloodied version
effectively meaning it could maintain relevance in PVP
but not be used effectively in PVE
if we get the balance of it right
that's our best everyone wins scenario atm
Would also allow us to be a bit more liberal with PVP gear in open world while still maintaining PVE progression

Nato09/11/2019

Quote

But for tbc, you can easily let all the raidgear be soulbound, becomes bloodied if dropped and in world you can find bloodied pieces already, you get a working system with no issues to earlier raids

Dutch09/11/2019

Quote

It is just a medium to solve disparities between the two realms and potentially merge them if that is something the communities wanted
Sure, that's essentially the proposition too.

Haddeqi09/11/2019

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wouldn't it be possible to simply make bloodied gear have no stats in instanced dungeons / raids ?

Dutch09/11/2019

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Right, but that would be a huge take from high-risk players. I'd rather just tune the gear properly so it isn't as suited for raids
and is more suited for PVP

Skray09/11/2019

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Would make sense for TBC.  Those dedicated to PVP would get arena gear as an upgrade over the currently available bloodied set.

Dutch09/11/2019

Quote

I think we'll experiment with something like this in a season, as it would be healthy for hybrid risk. Then yeah, that could be the play ^

 

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Skray09/11/2019

Quote

Would make sense for TBC.  Those dedicated to PVP would get arena gear as an upgrade over the currently available bloodied set.

Dutch09/11/2019

Quote

I think we'll experiment with something like this in a season, as it would be healthy for hybrid risk. Then yeah, that could be the play ^ 



Yus.. Arena and PvP gear has been acknowledged, holy **** this has been the only thing i have cared about since the begining of this experience.

I dont care what anyone says about the reasoning behind the population in High Risk / PvP Servers
Its all down to the lack of competitive PvP content such as ranked Arena and the rewards from it.

Just look at another private PvP server example, you can log on to Warmane right now and jump straight into Arena without delay
that **** is old as hell and has not been worked on for a millennia and offers nothing new, yet its held an active pvp comunity since day one.


Ranked 3v3 Arena = Happy Priest


 

Edited by Ashsj1992

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3 hours ago, Ashsj1992 said:

I dont care what anyone says about the reasoning behind the population in High Risk / PvP Servers
Its all down to the lack of competitive PvP content such as ranked Arena and the rewards from it.

Yeah, I agree 100% - all I wanna do since I learned about Ascension is ranked Arenas with classless + RE system.

I do hope they get the details right though - if High Risk rewards are too good/comparable to ranked arena rewards we may still get issues with long queue times and lack of competitive scene. Also the player population being fragmented across 2 realms isn't helping so the solution consisting merge + hybrid system + bloodstained items (described above) + TBC with ranked arena sounds pretty awesome.

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9 hours ago, Numby said:

Yeah, I agree 100% - all I wanna do since I learned about Ascension is ranked Arenas with classless + RE system.

I do hope they get the details right though - if High Risk rewards are too good/comparable to ranked arena rewards we may still get issues with long queue times and lack of competitive scene. Also the player population being fragmented across 2 realms isn't helping so the solution consisting merge + hybrid system + bloodstained items (described above) + TBC with ranked arena sounds pretty awesome.

Honestly don't expect it. unless they decied to make it the new season gimmick you'll most likly either never or have to wait months-years to get it and at that point it will either be to late or half-assed. now this isn't me just being whiney rather this is based on how they treat anything that's not seasonal.

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It looks like they have a ranked-arena system ready. GMs ask people for futage of Arena Fights most likely for a teaser. However, like the past shows us, you shoudnt count on it. Its only confirmed when its actualy implemented. Everything that gets promised is just a teaser... .

For the merge, S5 will introduce systems that would allow the coexistence of both realms.

PERSONAL THINKING! We discussed the merge a lot on Andorhal Guilds. We think the reason why LS has such a bad pop is the fact people get to easy on gear. You have no long time reason to play. I PERSONALY would like to see a change to none bound items by just making them Bind on Equip. That way they are still tradeable, but if used they ultimately end at the vendor or get disenchanted. = the items leave the system some time and the economy doesnt get floated with thousands of copys of an item and doesnt lead to them floating the auctionhouse for 50G / piece. The idea of Bloodied Items may need an addition. If you drop an Bloodied Item to an another player, this item may needs to be tradeable again. Maybe time limited.

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On 9/28/2019 at 7:25 AM, Numby said:

and since it is more PVE focused, it isn't as affected by PVP balance issues.

Plenty of players PvP on Andorhal. How much in denial could one possibly be?

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10 minutes ago, Vedartha said:

PERSONAL THINKING! We discussed the merge a lot on Andorhal Guilds. We think the reason why LS has such a bad pop is the fact people get to easy on gear. You have no long time reason to play. I PERSONALY would like to see a change to none bound items by just making them Bind on Equip. That way they are still tradeable, but if used they ultimately end at the vendor or get disenchanted. = the items leave the system some time and the economy doesnt get floated with thousands of copys of an item and doesnt lead to them floating the auctionhouse for 50G / piece. The idea of Bloodied Items may need an addition. If you drop an Bloodied Item to an another player, this item may needs to be tradeable again. Maybe time limited.

Not sure if you can make the items BoE while maintaining the item loss in high-risk. If you can drop the items you can just death trade them making them effectively non-bound. I guess you can make the argument that death trading is so inconvenient compared to AH that most low/mid tier items would get vendored/disenchanted and leave the economy.

I think leaving bloodied items as non-bound would be OK if 1) they're only good for PvP and possibly equivalent to 1.5/2+ tiers lower for PvE (i.e. AQT bloodied~=MC/ZG non-bloodied for PvE purposes), 2) there are always stronger rewards from ranked PvP (arenas). With these 2 conditions met only "starter" PvE and PvP items would ever flood the market and these would mostly help newcomers catch up to the expansion progression.

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Posted (edited)

I don't mean to be this guy but, you are just a new-comer to Laughing Skull, and you've joined after years of decline in population. This didn't happen overnight, changes that were made, the lack of content for PvP players, frustration with the game, frustration with Devs are what caused a huge decline in the population of LS, as well as the fact that seasonal is just easier to play. Seasonal has actually seen a large increase in population. New players just don't want to play legacy because they are behind the curve. 

+The pvp meta is boring, old and stale. We've had very little new adjustments, talents etc to make it exciting again.

 

I can't say why raiders quit, as I have no idea, but overall that's how I see it as a High Risk pvp player, who has been playing since Sarg.

Edited by Tekkies

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Posted (edited)

100%

The developers work hard, i also don't doubt that this is a full time job for @Dutch
however the issue is where the time is being allocated, I am no scripter but i would imagine
simple balance changes and tweaks too build mechanics is good value for time, for example if you
know how to change the databade for Blinks CD to make it 30 Seconds, how long would that take really?
That example doesnt even need to be discussed, every player has been Blinking around like a mage since day one 😂

I would also guess the first step, enabling ranked Arena/3v3 is not a mountain to climb either.
A reward system can come later and a website ranking tab can come much later on.

Asscention makes PvP progression feel impossible, at times the devolobers make players feel like they are asking too much from them.
However there is clearly a LACK OF PASSION with @Dutch and PvP, untill this mindset changes the PvP side is always going to be a disapointment.

 

Edited by Ashsj1992

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7 hours ago, Ashsj1992 said:

100%

The developers work hard, i also don't doubt that this is a full time job for @Dutch
however the issue is where the time is being allocated, I am no scripter but i would imagine
simple balance changes and tweaks too build mechanics is good value for time, for example if you
know how to change the databade for Blinks CD to make it 30 Seconds, how long would that take really?
That example doesnt even need to be discussed, every player has been Blinking around like a mage since day one 😂

I would also guess the first step, enabling ranked Arena/3v3 is not a mountain to climb either.
A reward system can come later and a website ranking tab can come much later on.

Asscention makes PvP progression feel impossible, at times the devolobers make players feel like they are asking too much from them.
However there is clearly a LACK OF PASSION with @Dutch and PvP, untill this mindset changes the PvP side is always going to be a disapointment.

 

Yeah I hear lack of balancing a lot but can't say I agree it's such a good value for time spent. I'd say game fixes are always good value for time - like they recently improved pet pathing, for example. This will improve the quality of game play indefinitely. 

Also balancing a game with so many available options is notoriously hard. I'm also not sure how devs would even tackle balance - play battlegrounds/raid all day and observe what's OP? Even blizzard which has the luxury of detailed data from millions of users, ranked arenas, dungeon/raid clears, timers etc. usually messes up balance and there's always a handful of specs that dominate each season. At least on Ascension changing spec is fairly painless. Having said that, we can still see there's a fair amount of ability/talent/RE tuning: https://project-ascension.com/changelog

Regarding enabling Arena isn't it already enabled? There's a NPC in Booty Bay where you can register a team and I've seen some people who have a team from inspecting. I disagree that rewards come later, they're essential to get people playing the format/reducing queue times.

13 hours ago, Tekkies said:

+The pvp meta is boring, old and stale. We've had very little new adjustments, talents etc to make it exciting again.

Yeah TBC additions should freshen things up but also having people play competitively (arenas) should make PvP exciting. Right now on Laughing Skull Battlegrounds are only consistently available on the weekend and when they're available it's boring to play because either teams are unbalanced (i.e. 3v1) or noone cares about actually winning the battleground.

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Posted (edited)

@Numby

I believe what your refuring to is fine-tuning, what i was refuring to is big issues such as Blink, every build has been useing this without fail forever
or every melee build other than Retri uses SoJ to auto stun every target they look at, and casters always run Fellhunters in 1v1s.

"play battlegrounds/raid all day and observe what's OP? " - Actually yes, it would be very good if Dutch was passionate enough to take part in PvP from time to time
how can he be passionate about somthing he has no interrest in doing himself?

"At least on Ascension changing spec is fairly painless" - What?

No you can only que 1v1 skirmishs, the 2v2/3v3 or any ranking is not enabled, i actually tried to setup some friendly 2v2's & 3v3s with my guild and learnt this,
and when i say later, i mean like 1 or 2 weeks, i am just saying its takes little effort to open the door here.

Edited by Ashsj1992

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High loot grinding and high-risk PVP is what a lot of people came here for. Raiding you may do in any progressive WoW server, this is however unique in the way that you can reach a destination unlike other servers by yourself.

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