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Why I think the server is dying
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#1
I would like to first point on in big text that [font]this is an opinion. Obviously I don't have a crystal ball to tell me why exactly but here are my educated guesses. [/font]


Maps
I would like to first bring attention to our map pool and why this is so essential to how many players we obtain and maintain.
Currently, our map pool consists of a few majorly played maps (community pool/ minecraft b5/ dolls and a few others). The main problem I want to bring up is the fact that the average quality of your maps is directly correlated to your average player count. This can be seen by simply looking at the game tracker for any major server (GFL and Moat exemplify this statistic most). I don't think there is any debate that the more minecraft maps you have the better your average player count is. This is a large factor as to why you see Moat servers trend at the top and a lot of other servers with "24/7 MC!" or however they phrase it at the top consistently. 

Here is a screen capture of ttt servers ordered by player count taken today just an hour ago ish (https://imgur.com/CXvHS41)
5 of the top 8 servers are exclusively minecraft maps servers. 

Contrary to what you think I'm about to say, I really don't want carbon to become a minecraft only server, and I don't think any of you want that either. What I can suggest though is the removal of some less popular minecraft maps and the addition of a new one that has been tried and tested over the years to hold players.

Probably the least popular one would be ttt_skycraftfinal (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f...=943154929)
Skycraft is an older map that maybe some of our older players may have seen on other servers if they were around and played on different communities back in the day.
It isn't overly large, yet has a height element that makes it much more unique than most. 
I'm not very good at explaining why maps are good, but skycraft would be a great addition in my opinion. Any of you are free to download the addon linked and give feedback or your thoughts.

On the contrary to this, I think we should swap the minecraft version of innocent motel with the real version. Anyone who has played this map more than once knows that players love to spam the doors and block themselves in rooms. This proves to just be extremely annoying and promotes round delay which is the opposite of the goal. I will touch more on this in a later section, however, I don't think anyone would be too overly sad to see this swap take place as they are both essentially the same map. I also figure this would balance out the adding of one minecraft map with taking out another. 

What we most certainly do not need is the addition of more wildcard custom maps that don't have any major following. While I am all for the idea of trying new things and letting the server have fun on new maps, I feel like we are constantly flooding the map pool with these. I can guarantee there has been a point where you have come to the end of a map and the map selection shows up. You then say to yourself "what the hell! all these maps suck!." I definitely have on a few occasions and this is simply due to the fact that we have flooded our pool with a lot of wildcard maps; some that have proved to be unsuccessful.

Here is the list of maps that I think need to be removed, in no particular order of urgency:

Nuclear Power
Towers
Als Toybarn 
dev ruins (untextured map)
Mc jondome
plaza (literally don't even know what this map is but I see it, a testament to how unused it is)
marciels mannor

Not all of these need to be removed but I highly highly recommend removing most of those. They have a consistent track record of absolutely destroying our population when we switch to them.
I think this would really help with what maps show up in our end round pool which would help people stay motivated to want to play. 


Round Timers
Round time has seemed to be a problem for a long time. As of the current nerfs our server is incredibly overtime heavy. Allow me to explain. As of the latest big patch, we have changed the starting round time to 3 minutes before overtime begins. We have also nerfed the amount of time that traitors gain for killing innocents. On paper, this seems like a direct push to force traitors to play the round faster. In reality, this ends up making our rounds go into overtime way faster than they should. Overtime is called overtime for a reason, it's to signify that the round has gone past its normal average time and that the T's need to hurry up. However, it isn't all that uncommon to see wrongs continue to go into the 6 and 7-minute mark. This is incredibly disastrous for keeping players. Nobody wants to sit out of a game they want to play for 6 minutes after getting shot one minute into the round. The underlying problem with making our rounds go into overtime faster is that our ruleset is very unfriendly to traitors when this switch happens. Innos can now claim rooms, koses can now be called off of simple suspicion. This makes it much harder for our new players to try and attempt to get kills when they know that the slightest wrong move ends up with the dead in overtime. The default round time is 5 minutes because the traitors need some time to get kills before overtime occurs. Pushing overtime onto the player base faster encourages camping in rooms and the delaying from traitors that everyone doesn't want to see constantly. 

So I make my claim that the round timer needs to go back to the default time. GFL plays with the default round time of 5 minutes before overtime and they have a very healthy ~4 ish minute average round time. This is on top of the fact that they consistently have 20+ players on which makes it even more of an accomplishment. 

I hopped on GFL rotational to gather 5 rounds of data for round times. Here are the 5. 
Round 1 - https://imgur.com/A3Hbk1M
Round 2 - https://imgur.com/gR9ub0z
Round 3 - https://imgur.com/qO7hbxh
Round 4 - https://imgur.com/bPXOf64
Round 5 - https://imgur.com/sZPhX1Y

The math comes out to a few seconds above 4 minutes. Maybe I got completely lucky but after playing on this server for over a week now I can attest that this seems to be on point with the typical stride of the server. 

Regardless, I believe actually increasing the time before overtime will help with our delay problem, as the data supports. 


I really just wanted to post this as the server has really been suffering these last few weeks and that isn't what I want to see when I log on. No one wants to sit on the server for hours trying to populate it because that is mind-numbing and boring. Should these changes be implemented I strongly feel we would gain and maintain players easily. However, instead of just ranting in admin chat I feel like you should all see this and give your inputs. 

Have a great day,

~Plinko the slinko


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#2
I really think we can have 4 mins before overtime but remove the rule where you can claim rooms. That rule sucks anyways in my opinion because it leads to people getting killed because they don't know what the rooms are like/where they are. This especially fucks with new players and makes them not want to play or causes reports to flood in because they really don't know why they were killed.


dogs are awesome
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#3
I have not been part of this community for too long to voice a very detailed opinion about this. I do agree that the server has less/not populated in the past 2 weeks. I think that adding more MC maps would increase the server population. If the less/never played maps were to be removed, it will increase the repetition of the more played maps to voted for(obviously). If we go back and set the round timer back to default, it would make maps like "al toys barn" feel like the rounds drag and sometimes people leave because of that. If the maps are good, the round timer should not be an issue. I have seen players leave mid map cause the RTV did not go through, or they did not like the map, or whatever it may be... More recently, I have seen more not played maps display in the voting list causing people to leave cause nobody wants to play the maps listed.
       Danny refreshing the crate system did improve a lot of lackluster features like a shop to sell your crate items instead of just exchanging them back to the server, more attractive GUI, sounds, etc. There are very little things we can do as a whole to improve the player-base, but I do believe that small updates like the new crates system and new maps could cater to newer people. When I first joined Carbon Castles, I loved to see Minecraft maps being voted for since I like Minecraft outside of Garry's Mod. It kept me playing and overall it made me stay as a routine player.
       Pingu, you have listed some valuable ideas and I hope Danny considers them. I do not want Carbon Castles to get to the point where it would only start to get populated when staff is online (to make it more distinguished in the server list). Thank you for your data, and I hope it is used to enhance the server.


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#4
I agree with the points here and I think it'd help to focus on having more popular maps to keep people around. Any time you're trying to figure out how to solve a problem, you should define what the problem is. If we're defining the problem as "The server is dying" I'd break it down into 3 main focus areas for a TTT server. If your "solutions" aren't somehow contributing to one of these points while you're looking to solve "server dying" problem, you're probably spinning wheels. I think Pingu's ideas fit somewhere along point two.

1. Strong Community with likable regulars
2. Content that keeps people wanting to play and a hook for feeling progression
3. Constant playerbase so that it's easy to ramp up during peak times (no one likes joining empty servers)

On point one, you're all set.

On point two, you're no different than most other TTT servers (sorry.) Like anything in life, if you want to succeed you have to find a point to stand out on or be in the right place at the right time. The PIONEERS figured out the pointshop/skins, but now that it's everywhere it's just upped the minimum threshold. The leveling/member system is neat but it's half baked. By that I mean I see no reason to level or even care because it doesn't really
do anything. After a couple hours I got my anime skin so I fit in. Any "gamification" system has to abuse the grind/reward loop to work. So IMO if you come up with something there and advertise it successfully, it will bring in new players. Problem is I really can't think of how to incorporate that in something like TTT because you don't want new players being unable to take on old players due to stats.

On point three, the only way to do that is through sheer numbers. Given that the servers dies off peak hours, you'd need some sort of Aussie/European presence to bolster the current dip. Fuck if I know how to do that, put out Marmite and crumpets or something. Realistically you probably have to accrue them naturally via points one and two. Something else you can do to help new player retainment is to engage people who join so they feel more welcomed. If you have staff/regulars who are willing to do that (genuinely) it'd help.

Those are my thoughts and I hope it helps in some way to help you more creative folks focus somewhere, because I think this community is pretty cool and would hate to see it die. I'm basing this on 10 years of TTT (and other modes) experience and going through a lot of community deaths.


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#5
Going into this I want to make my stance clear, I agree with most of the points made but like mentioned it is a bit extreme and relatively unrealistic to push these changes especially with all the maps. There's a few reasons I'll get in to later which all ties into what I believe the main issue is. We are only struggling recently because our regulars are playing less for a whole multitude of reasons. I believe that the more regulars we have on the more guests we will generate and therefor are most likely to cap the server. I don't think the inverse is true. More guests doesn't always mean we will get the regulars on that generally populate the server. So with that in mind, in my opinion we should be catering to the regulars right now. New updates that encourage guests to stay is great but I think that should be secondary for now. I firmly believe that if our regulars interest in playing is re-kindled we won't be having these issues with population.


When it comes to pushing updates, it is a tough situation. Currently people see the population as the largest issue which although they are right doesn't mean it can be easily pin pointed and fixed. There are so many factors that create this issue. People are just busy once again there's always times like this during the year. With finals and the current pandemic people's lives are undoubtedly shaken up. Although that is not the entire issue, I do believe there are changes we can make to draw players back when they have free time. Which leads into a few things. Firstly, Danny is solely responsible for pushing every, single, update. Which I'm sure we can all imagine is very exhausting. Especially considering since the release of the new weapons (and even a bit before) large updates have been coming out. If you ever talk to Danny recently he is always working on something new. So I think it's important we keep in mind how much work load this is for one person. Secondly, other issues also have required time and effort. Danny has mentioned he's currently working on fixing a long time issue in muzzle flash. So recently to some extent necessary updates have come before quality of life ones. So realistically changes to help the server population would either be pushed back or be pushing back other updates. 


The thing I agree with most here is changes to our maps. We just got an update which is a good step and definitely helpful to the server. However a few more improvements could be made here as mentioned. Removing maps notorious for killing the server population and adding new minecraft maps would certainly help. I think what I like about this idea most is that it's practical and very doable. Maps left with concise feedback make things easier for Danny so he has to do little to no play testing especially in the event of minecraft maps. So I think a small map change is very possible in the near future. Although it of course won't entirely fix the server, I think this among a few other changes and most importantly time will see the server thriving again. 


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#6
So regarding the minecraft maps argument, I've always been all for Minecraft maps. It's the regulars and community members who have been hardcore against me adding a lot of minecraft maps.
But I'm hesitant to because of the reactions I get. Regarding the removal of the maps, Nuclear Power is indeed to big but it's impressive, so it'd be a shame to remove but I guess it needs to be done so that's been removed. Towers is iffy, Als Toybarn in my opinion is pretty awesome but apparently that's debatable. Dev ruins is another one of the maps that I know gets picked often and then whomever doesn't like the untextured aesthetic hates the map so that one is pretty debatable too. Jondome again a few vocal people dislike this map but I do know a lot of other people that like it and it's a popular minecraft map. =\
The plaza argument I don't really understand because if it isn't used I don't see why it can't just be an option for players in the map pool in-case they do wanna play it. And Marciels Manor has now been removed because I agree that map is trash. 

Regarding the round timers, the gamemode has been set to 5 minute round timers for awhile now. If it isn't then there's a problem. I updated a few things recently to make sure the convars are going through, and tried reducing the length of over-time because I agree the rounds do go on for awhile sometimes. But I got a lot of push back so I set it back to 4 minutes and set the amount of time gained by killing each person in overtimer to .20.

GFL is a poor example anyways to be honest in my opinion, because they are a decade old established community who has most likely over 100,000 members who have past through there server's in the past 5 - 10 years they've been open. So comparing our population to their population is harder. Also, they are significantly more vanilla than our server is. They basically only have a pointshop I believe.


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#7
Personally for me this is how I see it.

I disagree completely on why server is dying with round time, I have never found an issue dying and waiting to play the next round. What holds my attention and keeps me coming back to TTT is usually some of the key notes FOR ME.

1. Community ON the server AND OFF (How they act with other players, mainly anything humorous, I love comedy shit gets me laughin and wanting more [that sounds weird])
2. Game play, I love TTT to a point where it's not overcrowded with different addon's like weapons, playermodels, and T weapons. I want to connect to the server fast and be optimized, too many time's I've hopped in an overcrowded TTT addon server to have like 60 fps, and dip below 20, when my PC averages 200+ average fps.
3. Community treating TTT like its an actual game, I've joined so many servers that go teeth to the rules, no swearing, always have to be mature, like TTT is some sort of competitive game which it is not.
4. Friends that also regularly play the server, do you think I want to play a community I don't know anyone in or play in a server where all my friends are playing on the server?

It's not much but that's what captivates me in TTT and keeps me on. Now for why I think the server is "dying" is because...

1. The leading TTT servers or more popular servers have WEEKLY to MONTHLY updates, it leads to new fresh content being added to the server to keep the players from being burned out, I also want to point out that happens because said servers have multiple Devs, compared to Danny being the only Dev (and sometimes bor/birb helping from what I heard) it leads to slow updates compared to other communities. Lua is strenuous and life draining, so with Danny mainly being the one to work on the server I can see how it starts to work down on him, still appreciate the updates when they get pushed out though. (Piper touched up on this as well.)

2. Lots of TOP TIER games updated recently or got released... Apex Legends with Season 4, Terraria with their final update, Halo MCC adding Halo 2+2A to the PC collection, Valorant being available to more players, once a lot of these updated or came out the server slowly lost population due to the regulars going to said games along with new players. (Piper always brought something like this up.)

3. Game spikes in pop when it goes on sale, as do a lot of games but I feel like we get more people when this happens, new people get on GMOD and test the waters of different servers, they join medium pop servers because too many people makes it confusing and medium filled servers (10-15 players) allows them to learn.

4. Aggressiveness on new players, multiple times I've seen players get aggressive to people who play TTT slower then usual because they may delay or not take shots they would, I've seen multiple reports on players where the reported player doesn't know what RDM or how to even PLAY TTT, some people who put the reports out don't read the response or care to check so they just want them slayed immediately, usually I'll check those people profiles to see them not set up, like 4 or 5 friends, or like 2 hours on GMOD, they're quite literally new to GMOD a lot of the times I do interrogate them. I'm not saying be lenient on them or let them get away with RDM, help them out or give some points out to them and try to be friends with em. Literally the only reason I stuck with this server back when I was just a new guest that not much people enjoyed was cause @cat literally gave me a stormtrooper model and was nice to me. Kindness can go places.

5. Piper stated it with the pandemic stuff. Jobs are coming back up as well so I've seen more regulars getting back to working at a normal schedule and people in school taking finals n stuff. Not much more to add on this point.

6. Maps, small maps are always good, why does MC servers do so well? MC maps are usually small, reknown among the GMOD community since a lot of people like minecraft, and the rotation in those maps all have small MC maps, the large MC maps are usually taken out of the picture because well, they drag rounds out. Big maps made for anything more then 15-20 players are bad in my eyes because TTT if you want it to be fast, toy barn and crummy cradle kill off population because it takes time to travese such large areas with no actual map stuff to interact with. Also maps with no actual originality to it, like jondome, that map is actually so fucking boring and the only actual place people go to is the middle because underground is all small 1 person linear bullshit, Get rid of large and unoriginal maps is my suggestion, starting with pingus list. [This isn't a reason we have no pop, it's a reason it KILLS pop already on]

That's all that can come to me at the top of my head, I apologize for any grammatical errors or if something looks like gibberish, I'm hammered right now but these are my thoughts on the topic off the top of my head after reading it over.


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