[BB], 2019 in review

Another two years (given no 2018 post), another set of milestones reached. Like the 2017 review we’re going to look at what’s happened with more of a high-level overview as opposed to granular in-depth looks. We’re also going to pretend that some of the 2018 changes happened during the 2019 session just… because.

Core BBase Changes

BBase the last few years again has been the target of the big updates. Things such as tighter discord integration, adding an absolute metric ton of new cosmetics for the equipment system and hell, even the equipment system itself receiving quite the update. Of the two years, we can see in the git history that 2019 clearly received more updates as obligations from ourselves here at [BB] became more manageable as well certain things reaching completion.

One thing that didn’t happen was a replacement for the steam group bonus. Due to time constraints it was easier to implement a system within discord for a bonus instead which has led to further developments, such as Betty Bot and other realtime information being exposed to the average player. Feedback on such things has only been good so we’ll look to bring more of this in the near future I think.

Beyond that BBase is in a mature position where we can pretty much build anything around it without having to really make sweeping, large changes cursing ourselves for the lack of foresight.

Platinum is now monthly (unless you hold legacy Platinum)

This finally happened. My original plan of making an a-la carte system was really too complex for the average person just wanting to donate and be done with it but $15 one time-donations just don’t cover server bills. As a result Platinum became $8 a month of which we’ve seen some moderate success.

The next step is to get Gold ($5) out alongside branding (which will be attached to the title-card system). I appreciate some may feel that the new Platinum model isn’t as good value as $15 for life and I would prefer to keep it that way – but it just wasn’t sustainable. Along with our goal to make it so donation effects don’t become pay-to-win it means we miss out on a market (commonly known as whales) in the micro-transaction world.

We are however open to ideas on what people may like to see – so let us know if there’s something you feel we’re missing out on!

Trading / Marketplace

We finally released it! Instead of just having users trade items / cubes willy-nilly, we implemented a marketplace system that allows users to place items for sale without having to actually be on the server. This seems to have overall been successful although not without some teething issues, such as costs being too high at launch and so on.

One thing we’re currently investigating is private market listings aimed at specific people / groups of people (to incentivise trading groups) and also a “black market” listing that may appear every so often with rare / no longer obtainable items for large amounts. We’re not sure what the appetite is for such things, but proof-of-concepting exists to help discover if it’s worth our time or not.

Server Health / Maintenance

I don’t think we’ve had any major outage over the past few years beyond Windows Update sometimes taking longer, just because. The infrastructure changes have been instrumental in keeping us online at times and completely secure even when new exploits were discovered.

We have had to extend what we protect and cover – mostly down to the fact that we should have been doing so in the first place and we’ve had no excuse with the new setup to not be doing this.

Trouble in Terrorist Town is back!

I’m not going to cover too much here as the previous blog post mostly covers it. Turns out 1 month = 2 years.

Surf

Surf has gone through some interesting developments over the past few years. At the moment most of the dev time is focused on a few larger features – namely split runs and the recording feature for timetrials. Both of these are fairly finnicky as the gamemode was never designed for either of these (with the latter having the potential to grow in size in a nasty way) so the groundwork is carefully being lain for these.

The harder server also got rebranded from “hard” to “Tier 2-6” for two reasons. First off – people except those whom become true enthusiasts rarely enjoy anything too difficult (I blame the state of gaming today) and it was putting players off.

Secondly is that there are maps we don’t add to the easier server (Tier 1-3) because there are stages and maps that just don’t mesh with giving newer players a fun or interesting time. An executive decision was made that the 2-6 server can receive maps that are interesting / challenging, as long as they’re T2 and above and we’ve actually seem some success in rising playercounts on the harder server. Nothing spectacular in terms of player counts, but large enough that we’re seeing players on it daily most of the time.

The last few years have shown me with the thousand of players (yes thousands) we get per month that Surf is a niché gamemode; T2-6 is even more niche and the ‘conversion’ rate of keeping players as a result is incredibly low. More work will continue to be done on hard though these days I tend to believe unless we cater to a more hardcore crowd it’s unlikely T2-6 will ever be as busy as T1-3.

Escape

So we released Escape in a beta form with a much better map, but a more “die and you can retry immediately” sort of form. It seems players like playing it at first, but frustration happens after a few deaths and then they leave. Even with larger rewards on offer it’s not enough to keep players enticed.

It’s likely we have a winner on our hands here but we need to pace players at how often they get to play Escape, which I think the previous lobby system actually did a decent job at; though if it’s the right method to go about this is hard to say.

Go Fish

During August I got ill. Bored, I took up a community request to launch a Go Fish server. This isn’t easy because most of the source code is either from 2008 (so pre-2012 Gmod update) or has been poorly updated on the workshop.

After a few days I had a modern version of it up and running with all exploits fixed. So I suppose we have a Go Fish server now.

In future: NPC / Boss fights and some RPG elements.

Overall…

We’re in a pretty decent spot right now in terms of community. In terms of GMod as a whole, I think we’re currently in a rough spot. Using publicly available tools we can see that the overall population of GMod has gone down over the past year and coupled with the closing of the Facepunch Forums I think has only added further fuel to the fire.

S&Box is nowhere to be seen and it’s getting more and more awkward to provide for newer players given that CS:S content is no longer shipped automatically with GMod (or at least, that game-pack combo is long gone). I think 2020 / 2021 will be interesting to see how the GMod community lasts and how that impacts us as a community.

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