The absolute state of MSC

Myrlance

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I think that it's been quite some time since a patch, and there's a lot of discerning details to look at piece by piece, and why a patch is being delayed as of current; on to top of existential issues. This should be a healthy topic, if any of us here are passionate about the future of the Master Sword community. This thread is not to be made as a means of instituting drama, at least in my eyes- but perhaps to shake things up and awaken people to details and maybe discuss where we can go from here.

There's some factors to realize before we go into any conversation here:
- We must acknowledge the limits of the engine.
- We must acknowledge that there has been a security threat in recent years, delaying any foresights of a patch.


The topic of individual content creators

With all and any projects, the usual stable element to keeping obscure communities, such as MSC alive on such a dated engine- is the fan content creators.
In the recent years, say five to ten. It's suffice to say that content creators are what has helped keep Master Sword: Continued alive.
TheOysterHippopotamus, Dridje, Caluminium, Regorty, Father Brandon. The list is extensive.

It's noteworthy and reputably worth mentioning that TheOysterHippopotamus, with his series of maps- is also what has instituted for the past few patches hype. Cheerleading and prompting others to try, give feedback, address any concerns and ideas before ushering in his content. In the past 10 years, excluding a few, he's been single handedly responsible for the mass of maps between the timeline of m2_quest and kroush.

For reasons disclosed to me, he seems to be banned from the forum. He's incredibly passionate, and because of such he's willing to argue the future of the project.
Without users as spirited and skilled, such as TheOysterHippopotamus- without his released maps this project is likely doomed to fail. The only handful remaining /active/ mappers who would willingly contribute on such an evenly timescale would only likely be dridje, or regorty, but no one matches to TheOysterHippopotamus' drive to map in recent years. Despite him being banned he still continues to work on Melanion, and subsequent projects.


The lead development does not play the game with their players

This is very much a true thing, the developers of Master Sword Continued are not down to earth as it's veteran players. They are not seen daily in the mix with their players, and so development decisions and personal test results are skewered. They grab an insanely modified, high leveled character, test the map locally and off FN and report their findings and force said changes onto the live project and servers. This is critical to assess, because communication and shared experience is key and paramount between the users and developers of a project.

The issue with such a thing is also that design decisions are made due to a particular inexperience. Developers do not create a character, commune with players on the daily, and have first hand experience with the difficulty in dungeons and are able to assess skill or level ceilings. This allows a certain disconnect from the developer to the player, down to the finite detail such as game-level tiers. Master Sword developers back in the day would play, and interact with their players on the daily. Forum usage does not obviously constitute underneath this. It's simply not enough. They don't go through the adrenaline of the dungeon as players. Players don't have a slay all command. Players have to work to the end of the maps.

It may be obvious to note as well, in their defense- that they may not have that much time to play, if any, at all anymore- but the next best thing would be to consult the entirety of the players before making decisions. Perhaps allow players and content creators more persuasive judgement in the community as a whole in the topic of development direction, such as a council of trusted, responsible, open-minded, and clear-headed veteran players, or whatever comes to mind to add more of a means to focusing healthy player-ran development. Instead of it all being one or two person(s) making the choices. (Hence, alpha, and community feedback being a thing, initially; but perhaps there can be something more intuitive and streamlined in an official governing capacity.)


The obvious "feeling of developmental exchange" between Master Sword, and Master Sword Continued

The low-tier to mid-tier part of the game is pure bliss, but it is short lived. It is where Master Sword has left off before Master Sword: Continued became a thing. Before, serious things were taken into consideration, alongside the limits of the engine. Character immersion, progression, and overall growth of player characters. The elements of an extensive RPG, instead of a modders playground and nexus was the focus. When I first started playing this game, and even when I make new characters- I can "feel" the new game. It feels great, it's rewarding to get your new item, your new level, your new weapon, your new spell, scroll, or armor. It eventually hits a stonewall where Master Sword left off, and Master Sword Continued picked up. You can feel the change. The mid tier portion of the game simply lacks enough content, Lore maps to explore, quests. Instead, players are dumped into higher XP rewarding gauntlet dungeons with higher XP monsters, or areas to circle until your insanely leveled, and they get "high tier" equipment earlier than expected. Orc_for in times past and it's horrible imbalance also allowed such jumps from the low-tier levels of the game to the high-tier prior to getting fixed.

(Roughly estimating, I'm likely not accurate, and it's open for interpretation)
Low Tier - 100-300 HP~
Mid Tier - 400-600 HP~
High Tier - 600-900
"Epic Tier" - 1000-1245

The usual proceeds of a typical MSC player goes like this (roughly?? been a year since I made a new toon):

Edana/Thornlands > Edana Sewers > Chapel > Isle (all transition crossed, by the way) > ocean crossing (then around mid level) > the keep > dragoon caves > isles of dread > (dungeons like thanatos) > gauntlet chain maps like Lodagond > circle grinding tundra's bear boss solo > epic level dungeons and gauntlets on repeat, such as Nashalrath.
After leveling exceptionally, the user then goes instantly to what I'd call some sweaty and legendary dungeons, like Umulak.

The game simply lacks a lot of mid-game content. Potions are all in abundance. Content creators who contribute to MSC make these chain, gauntlet maps- with no (or barely) lore constituency or connection to the world map, minus a very few. Giving a higher skill ceiling to appease the already highly-leveled players (because they have nothing else to fight of interest) becomes all the interest ever is. There's rarely any love to the earlier portions of the game, except for in cases of Dridje/Dridmar for things such as gertenheld_forest2, and crypts. I think Dridmar's example of mapping lately is exactly what MSC continues to need. Maps that players can stumble upon, explore, as MSC has enough of it's share of gauntlet and epic level maps.

What do I think we need from this portion?
- We need to look back on the original MS and what made it's portions great, and continue to replicate it's style. Both in maps and execution. Make some mapping standards and guidelines. Things that we need, or otherwise want to be seen.
- We need to make up for the large leap over the mid game content.
- Fill in lore areas!
- Consider greatguys' questing system, maybe have a quest ideas thread so people can still suggest ideas, contribute back to the community, in ways that matter.
- Connect places to the worldmap. (May not be possible as some map sources are private, or otherwise gone~? question mark?)

The gatekeeping on ideas and progression

I firmly believe there is never /one/ true way of doing a single thing. Player feedback, especially those who are passionate about the project, including content creators- offers insight that is invaluable. It's wise to follow such insight, even if you don't necessary agree with it, be open minded at all times and consult their idea- see how far it's willing to go in the theoretical rabbit hole, and if it has any feasible outcomes. Perhaps run tallied votes with players on if such features sound reasonable to institute into the community. The fact they're coming to the table about a future for a mod that's already so ancient, is dedication to a project if anything. It'd be a massive loss if they were to be ignored, shut down, dismissed so easily, or to even leave the community.

There is a lot of gatekeeping when it comes to mapping, from my experience and accounts of what I've been told. Now, it makes sense- as development has to make sure things are all ABSOLUTELY top notch, before they are allowed into the game. For matters known, such as balancing, to make sure nothing is being cheated, to make sure everything is absolutely safe to add. But then there's a point where such meddling in people's creativity becomes too extraneous. Standards for mechanics, are one thing- but editing someone's map when they didn't ask you to, over matters hardly considered trivial under their own creative freedoms, is prone to enraging the constituency and there's nothing they can do as the source becomes out of their hands.

But then there's a fine line between what's reserved rightfully to the creator, what's to not be touched, and what should be allowed in their maps. Just because one simply disagrees should not completely warrant the halted addition of someone's content, especially that they've worked so long for.


On the topic of Oyster again, if his map ideas were actually consulted, pursued, and given a grain of attention and thought- then perhaps we'd have already had a patch by now, perhaps two to even three- in the past six years. He, as any and all fan creators have the full extensive rights to their work, and oyster is refusing to release his work because of some disagreements over design concepts that can't be consulted, or even considered at the table. He withdraws his creative freedoms and works in fear of the gatekeeping and modification of his work. So it results in argument, ban, and with no content to be released and a lot of wasted time. In essence and fruition, map creators are handicapped and limited- not only by the engine, but by a social and developmental flaw.

What do I kind of hope to expect from something this portion?
- Maybe limits, and checks and balances on a list from what and what not can be modified, and which parts of mapper's works are considered a right to be left alone?
- Maybe in fine print somewhere, where and what map creators for MSC are to expect from submitting their content?
- More leniency, perhaps, towards our map creators? They give an asinine amount of time to contribute to the project.
- An unbanning of Oyster from the forum, and to heed the things he has to say. He is still working from the shadows on keeping this project alive, with the dedication and persistence towards mapping despite treatment, unlike any I've seen. He can help with securing us a future, at least on the mapping side of things. His visions are amazing, and I share in complete confidence the validity of them.

How are stolen assets are being handled

I think this is critical to assess since sounds, models and such from Neverwinter Nights, and other consequential games such as Morrowind- are used in Master Sword Continued. Beamdog is on the rise recently with updating Neverwinter Nights and getting it streamlined to audiences with their Enhanced Edition on steam with a recent graphics and lightings update. I don't wish for them to come knocking over at MSC in regards to the assets being used. Not sure how it's all handled, or if they were all released at some point on licensed usage agreement in regards of being abandonware at one point.

How is the progress of stolen game assets being replaced? How many newer models do we have aside from ones donated? Do we think beamdog will do anything about the NWN assets we currently have?



I'd also like to point out for those who may wonder why I am making such a large post, or why I'm incredibly passionate about the project is because it, and the people in this community were here for me when others wouldn't or couldn't in many of the previous years. I don't wish to see the game die with all the resources, topics, tools, skilled individuals, and decisions all present before us, capable to be entrusted to the future of MSC.
 
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zeus9860

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I don't think low and mid tier content is lacking, the problem is how fast that content is skipped with the additional xp, which is welcoming at later stages of the game. There is some variation in the early stages of the game too, i would dare say it is more balanced than the endgame content which has been mostly focused within 2 criteria: dungeon raid and loot.

The xp bonuses simply fixed part of the problem while also creating another problem when initially introduced. I've mentioned before that xp bonuses should be tied to player level instead. The higher the lvl, the higher the bonus, makes sense since xp values goes to absurd requirements at later stages.

The end game problem, too many simplified/copy pasted ideas on content creation. There is overabundance is dungeon raids and the sweet epic loot, lack of focus towards what should matter more which is actual progression of the lore. The current situation of the game in terms of content creation should have occured "after" most of the lore was applied to the game via content creation, as a means to keep the mod going for a while longer. Since there was no one stopping this flow of random yet similiar creations back then, we are left sitting here with an half arsed project that will likely never see the light at the end of the tunnel in it's current shape and form. Of course, some people still work their asses off to try and make lore related content, but at this point it's just beating on a dead horse meme. Best solution is to focus all resources towards a new engine and try doing a reboot of the mod itself. The game as it is, is a complete mess, anyone trying to grab it and keep it going goes mad, props to Thothie for managing it this long, probably only cost him his sanity even though he was also part of the problem. Even if things were controlled, we have no clue if the mod would go far into development just as we see right now. Despite being extremelly slow or dead, there is no indication that if we took the "lore-friendly" approach, that we would see more things development-wise in the long run, there is that to consider at least.

Even if we get another patch to revive the player base from 2 players to 10, what is the purpose in this? The game will remain dead since the core issues with the game are still there, this is literally repeating the same cycle over and over again without having any logical improvement that could actually break this cycle and improve the chances of a long term revival. Which again, is best suited on a new engine. I know part of the charm for MS:C is also based on the engine it runs, but gotta be realistic, the same engine is one of the core issues this game has.

Anyways, this thread, as good as it's intentions are, it's just... pointless, as this is an ongoing topic for what, 5+ years with some additional info added on top (such as Oyster being banned). Not trying to be harsh on you, but this is something similiar to an abusive relationship. Sometimes, it's just best to let it go and focus on something new. Keep on lurking in the forums like many of us do or discord but don't beat yourself into making more of these topics, it's just a waste of time on your end. Time that you could spend doing something else, that could be more productive. Think about it.
 

Myrlance

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I don't think low and mid tier content is lacking, the problem is how fast that content is skipped with the additional xp, which is welcoming at later stages of the game. There is some variation in the early stages of the game too, i would dare say it is more balanced than the endgame content which has been mostly focused within 2 criteria: dungeon raid and loot.

There's certainly a lot of gauntlet maps and "high to epic" level dungeons in aspect to ratio with the more earlier convened maps, like thornlands. Though mappers like Dridje, Oyster, and Brandon are (or for some, were) still adding to that amount which is a cool and great thing.

There is some variation in the early stages of the game too, i would dare say it is more balanced than the endgame content which has been mostly focused within 2 criteria: dungeon raid and loot.

Indeed, and that is definitely part of the problem. The whole simple dungeon raiding and loot part. Where's more of the other RPG elements? Sure, getting items and farming dungeons is a lot of the appeal to MSC, with the "chest at the end of an obscene amount of monsters" but it's also an RPG, which is what the original MS developers tried to perfect, engine limitations aside. Quests, lore areas, and even if content creators don't follow the lore they could simply make things like thornlands and try to fit them in on the worldmap, as compared and opposed to appeasing higher level players every patch until they get tired of running the same dungeon over and over again. With a lot of veteran players sitting at 1000 HP (or above) there's still a few select amount of map series for them to run and still pose a challenge, but perhaps with light of making this thread it can help aim and shed light on areas that are lacking, (which were, and what was intended) and try to expand more on areas that aren't high high end epic dungeons or gauntlet maps. Even a gauntlet map or epic dungeon (if that's their choice) that's more lore-affixed and would be at least a good change in the least for the better.

The end game problem, too many simplified/copy pasted ideas on content creation. There is overabundance is dungeon raids and the sweet epic loot, lack of focus towards what should matter more which is actual progression of the lore. The current situation of the game in terms of content creation should have occured "after" most of the lore was applied to the game via content creation, as a means to keep the mod going for a while longer. Since there was no one stopping this flow of random yet similiar creations back then, we are left sitting here with an half arsed project that will likely never see the light at the end of the tunnel in it's current shape and form. Of course, some people still work their asses off to try and make lore related content, but at this point it's just beating on a dead horse meme.

Couldn't agree more, and you likely got the point across better than I have. That's exactly the case.
But some people are devout necromancers, I s'pose. They don't want things they find enticing or genuine to themselves to dwindle away, such as the case with MSC.

Even if things were controlled, we have no clue if the mod would go far into development just as we see right now. Despite being extremelly slow or dead, there is no indication that if we took the "lore-friendly" approach, that we would see more things development-wise in the long run, there is that to consider at least.

Agree there, too. A lot of the custom gauntlet maps and things people made were spirited attempts no doubt, even if they didn't follow lore to the letter, I wouldn't like to discard them and their hard work- and their content will always be welcomed; it's just a matter of balancing out the RPG elements from instituted new maps or changes, so to speak. All their work was added in a time when anyone was able to contribute anything, for discerning developmental activity over the years, as long as it followed by a certain minimalist amount of standards.

Best solution is to focus all resources towards a new engine and try doing a reboot of the mod itself.


Agreed.


Even if we get another patch to revive the player base from 2 players to 10, what is the purpose in this? The game will remain dead since the core issues with the game are still there, this is literally repeating the same cycle over and over again without having any logical improvement that could actually break this cycle and improve the chances of a long term revival. Which again, is best suited on a new engine. I know part of the charm for MS:C is also based on the engine it runs, but gotta be realistic, the same engine is one of the core issues this game has.

Completely and whole heartedly agree. That's why there's a lot of remaking attempts lately and we can only hope the number of them going can succeed with flying colors and stay true to the original developer's visions of the project.


Keep on lurking in the forums like many of us do or discord but don't beat yourself into making more of these topics, it's just a waste of time on your end. Time that you could spend doing something else, that could be more productive. Think about it.

Eh, I leave my decisions to being my own. Lot of thought was put into the making of this post, I heed what you have to say but that's not going to really discern apart my interest for MSC to succeed, even if death for the project is "projectably" inevitable. Time you speak of spent on something else, is entirely your decision- I wouldn't have made this post if I didn't consider the things I'm addressing as productive. The things you had to say provided a lot of insight though, and I'm thankful. Mentioning oyster was a big thing for me, because he still wants to contribute. I think everyone has had pleasant and memorable experiences with and because of MSC to say the least, I'm not willing to walk away from it so easily, and if there's still work to be done then there's hope, but perhaps I'm just an eternal optimist.
 
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renamon

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The mod is pretty difficult to play at the moment especially for new players. There are problems where you have to leave the game and restart it everytime you want to change a map or join another server to prevent memory issues. My framerate will drop on maps like shad_palace because of the intensity of it. Servers will also take forever to transition to different maps sometimes like when you are doing lodagond you have to wait up to 10 minutes sometimes for the server to changelevel. Not to mention random crashes that can occur during gameplay.
 

Lucifer Majiskus

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^ the things mentioned above are the only things that should be worked on. GAME BREAKING bugs that we need fixed 10000x more than any sort of new content. Hard to play ANY content when the game doesn't work :(
 

renamon

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Gauntlet series also seem to just crash or take a really long time to load when multiple players try to complete them.
 
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