Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since I stepped into this role in the middle of this year, I have had high hopes and lofty goals for what may lie in the future yet for Cosrin. We met with some early success powered by our initial "green" spirit and the motivation of the new volunteer staff that had come on board. Chiefly among them was the launch of our new website that moves Cosrin: A New Dawn to its own domain away from and separate to Legends of Cosrin.
As the days wound down after the release of the website and the initial content tweaks, the staff presence began to dwindle (myself included) and the initial resurgence in interest on both sides lost its shiny luster. As quickly as all had come, all had left once more. As I found time, I did minor changes here or there, trying to keep my own interests alive; but real life work priorities got the best of me and the amount of time I was able to put into Cosrin had dropped to nearly nil.
For a short time, that was a far as things were: we had no active staff members, the players that remained were content simply hunting, and even those were slowly drifting away as well - waiting and hoping for some sort of activity, event, invasion, or anything. As time became available again, we kicked off the guildmaster elections. I was able to gather the attention of the volunteer staff team long enough to discuss the submissions and add their voices and so the election had come to pass and our first guildmasters selected.
As the first matter of business, the guildmasters began drafting up their guild histories, which would forever set the course for the rebirth of this world and the relationships between all of its members. This has been an ongoing effort, with activity coming and going of its course. Again, myself as much responsible for its delay, this effort has not yet been completed. For the grand majority of you, this is where things stand today - the current state of Cosrin: A New Dawn.
Dancing With The Devil
From the onset of taking the role of Admin, I had been in discussions with OGC on ways to help Cosrin: A New Dawn become more successful, enjoyable, and relevant to not only nostalgic players but to new players leaving other MUDs in search of a new place to call home. These discussions were driven by some of my own ideas as well as suggestions made by players and staff over the course of the year.
These discussions ran the course of the year, reaching their culmination only recently on 20 December 2012. At various points along the way, decisions had been made and plans decided, but nothing concrete had been laid. From time to time, I had hinted to those still logging in and present in the game that things were being discussed and that I had hoped to have finalized news available soon.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, I can now share the outcome of my discussions with OGC.
Owned, Not Operated
Perhaps one of the largest changes going forward is that Cosrin: A New Dawn will be granted a level of autonomy it has not seen in the nearly two decades of existence. In the past, a number of decisions required going through OGC for approval, or being performed by an OGC associate, which could lead to bottlenecks or disagreements as to what was the appropriate direction to take.
Beginning now, with the exception of financial and legal decisions, all other decisions can be made and decided at the Admin level. For the current time, that is myself; however, should a new person enter that role, they too would be granted that ability and responsibility going forward.
This will provide the active staff the capacity to make any desired changes without the potential for bottlenecks that we have seen in the past - things which have led to many "my hands are tied" or "when the moon is right" statements from prior staff members and current staff members. Further, this shifts the appointment of new staff members entirely at the discretion of the current volunteer staff team and no longer requires approval from OGC beyond a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Paying It Forward
A topic that has been discussed multiple times by players - advertising for the game. It is a firmly held belief that, were advertising to take place, we might see an increase in legitimately new players. Should that coincide with an active period of players, we might see some of them stick around; some nice, fresh faces to interact and roleplay with. This is something we will now be able to put to the test.
I have secured for Cosrin: A New Dawn a generous seed payment to a marketing fund. In addition, I have negotiated a portion of all character registrations be automatically separated as a continuous income for the marketing fund.
This fund is owned and monitored by OGC; however, all matters of appropriation of the funds for Cosrin: A New Dawn are granted to the current volunteer staff, with account access limited to the current Admin. This can be used for placing advertisements, purchasing software packages, graphic design, and many other activities that would improve upon the web presence of Cosrin: A New Dawn.
Zoran Helps Those Who Help Themselves
To further the autonomy of the game, it was also necessary to shift engine responsibility away from Doug and the rest of the OGC Development Team into control of the current staff of Cosrin: A New Dawn. This will allow for many advantages, chiefly among them is the ability to handle issues in a more agile manner while working to stamp out bugs and feature requests that have been sat idle in the development tracker.
Additionally, this will allow and facilitate the development of tools to improve the way staff members can develop content, as they can now be developed to create databases that are recognizable to the engine itself. Previously, one large step forward was made when staff received a new method of creating content, allowing them to produce new data every 2 or 3 months. With Cosrin: A New Dawn, we saw the advent of an automated building system which brought deployment down to minutes. The next area of improvement is to remove the pain of development of that content.
This includes the ability to deploy a new build of the engine to game server. For the immediate future, access to this is limited to the current Admin; however, discussions continue on this matter to allow multiple capable individuals to help improve and add features to the current engine.
Before you ask - yes, it is everything I had expected 90's C code to be.
You Deserve A Gold Star
A feature that was requested when the server was first brought back up after the hard drive crash (aside from a backup system) was a way to gather player snapshots on a regular basis, to be used as a means of generating interesting data sets.
This information has been sorted, collated, and processed thoroughly over the last six or more months. After much discussion, planning internally, and work by Tilius we have an presentation of that data for public consumption.
You can view it here. This data is continually being collected and not all of the information being collected (no personal information) is currently being used; however, since it has been collected since the server was first brought online, all future updates - if they were to contain a history or a chart of some sort - would be fully retroactive to day 1.
This section of the website should be considered actively in beta and may change or experience issues. Player feedback will greatly help us to improve or expand the information that is available and visible.
Bells And Whistles
Over the many years that I have played Cosrin, I have always found the official OGC Desktop Client to provide the most aesthetically pleasing interface to the game, however limited it may be in features relative to third party clients.
With the release of Cosrin: A New Dawn, and allowing any client to connect to the game legitimately, I experienced both joy and frustration with how things worked - I continually desired to use the official OGC Desktop Client when just playing the game or chatting or questing, but any serious hunting was to be done with a separate client. This can be quite an inconvenience when needing to swap between clients depending on the activity at hand.
To alleviate this issue, the next - and likely last - feature release for the OGC Desktop Client for Cosrin: A New Dawn will include a complete scripting engine in lua. This, when coupled with a large amount of client data being exposed to the scripting engine, should help to bring the client itself on par with (if not improve upon) a great number of the third party clients available today.
After this release, it is expected that the client will receive only bug fixes going forward; however, the source has been made available to allow a forked version of the client to be released as the new official Cosrin: A New Dawn client. Unfortunately, this client has been built upon licensed, non-free code from companies or persons that no longer make the relevant code packages available for purchase or for free.
Due to this, it is unlikely that further development will continue on this base, but instead a longer-term plan of producing a new, fully-functional, cross-platform client is being strongly considered. As all internal client resources are owned by OGC, they would be available to ensure a similar look and feel to a rewritten and redesigned client in the future.
With all of that said, I believe this year to have been a successful one in the history of Cosrin: A New Dawn, and for the better part of Cosrin itself, even if most of the outcomes were made behind the scenes and with little game world progress being made. These successes allow us to build forward in ways that have never been available in the past.
However, this in and of itself is not enough to accomplish anything. Progress is not something that will happen overnight and in the niche market that are MUDs, we have an uphill battle against more mainstream sources of video game entertainment. With the new freedom we have been granted, I still believe it to be a battle worth fighting for and will continue volunteering my time towards the effort of improving and updating Cosrin: A New Dawn to be a game that I can find as enjoyable - if not more so - as I did 10 years ago.
The year is long ahead for all of us and I look forward to hopefully seeing more of you back than gone. As I have shared my thoughts on the current state of Cosrin: A New Dawn with all of you, I would enjoy hearing all of your thoughts and ideas on the best directions to move forward with the game. Please post your thoughts in our Questions and Support forum.
Best Wishes This Holiday Season,