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Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Writer » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:21 pm

Given what's been happening with Campaign 2 and Kern's last news-post on this issue, I though it would be good if someone created a thread for clarifying and discussing things and, hopefully, get some admin and GM feedback, as well as give some player feedback of our own.

If you haven't been paying attention, here's what's what, as best as I can gather, and may someone correct me if I'm wrong:

-Trouble with Campaign 2 has been pretty unforgiving the last few months, with both the artist Firefox and GM Jaibyrd getting somewhat regularly distracted by RL issues and updates coming in late as result. This is unfortunate, as the 'get a second artist for Relic Hunter' deal was supposed to help prevent such delays.

-Campaign 2 GM Jaibyrd has recently been hospitalized and, I can only presume, been unable to write the script for C2 or contact the Drowtales team to have someone fill in for her. The result has unfortunately been that there's been no update, with no word of what's been happening or if an update has been forthcoming at all. This is understandably frustrating on the already-suffering players. Indeed, a similar situation happened to C2 last year (for which apologies were made and a bonus page rendered).

-Meanwhile, Campaign 1 has been forging ahead at a relatively decent pace, thanks to the efforts of Donnie and Runes.

-The situation is clearly unfair on the players of Campaign 2, as was pointed out by player AielloA in the RH chat a few days back.

-Kern saw AielloA's comment and decided to write a news-post to explain RH's situation and try to deal with the issue by declaring that Campaign 2 would be merged with Campaign 1. Note that the merger does not mean the immediate end of Campaign 2. This was stated in chat: "(admin): Campaign 2 is not over either until the quest is fulfilled. We're not shutting it down mid-way."

-Additionally, a message outlining options was also put in the chat: "(admin): Tibana you can join other squads, you can play in campaign 1, you can ask for a bot to be added to fill out a squad. You can even ask for a refund."

So, C2 players' options seem to be, a) join a squad already in C1, b) switch your entire squad to C1 upon completion of final mission in C2, c) create a new squad in C1 (and get a bot to fill out a spot, if needed) or, if you're really unhappy, d) quit right now and ask for a refund (presumably for the last month or so in which C2 has been missing updates).

What we don't know is the intent of and the likely results of the merger. Will Firefox still be drawing part of the update to remove some of Donnie's responsibilities? Will Jaibyrd still be a GM? Or is the intention to give responsibility for all 11 squads solely to Runes and Donnie alone? Will updates come at a slower rate as a result of this?

These, and more, are questions I'm sure we'd all like to know answers to. Add your piece, players of Relic Hunter.

Side-issue:

So why is Relic Hunters being called 'failed business', in that news-post? According to Kern, at the current prices, Relic Hunters need 100+ members to be marginally profitable... and something along the line of 250 players in order to be -guaranteed- a regular update schedule with paid GMs. In other words, money from Daydream is funding half (or more!) of Relic Hunter, which I'm sure we can all agree is a shame, especially as it means that Relic Hunter is a mere money sink to Team Drowtales, maintained solely for our personal pleasure. Hmm.

The sentiment Kern expresses is that Relic Hunter's growth is stagnant and will ever be so. RH's lack of the necessary people to fully fund it is the reason why things can, at best, merely plod along as they always have, without improvement in schedule or quality. To an extent I agree... this is how it seems to be right now. That it cannot improve, however, is something I am not so sure of.

Let it be said: It is not a great surprise to me that RH's growth has been slow to non-existent, when it receives little to no advertisement, the public FAQ has been 'coming soon' for nigh on two years now, the scenarios are run by volunteer GMs who can (and should) only devote so much of their time to maintaining it (and are subject to the whims of RL, without fail-safe procedures in place should they be distracted) and also, perhaps most importantly, the fact that you need to be part of an established group of four-to-five players to even enter the game without having to wait around. Lack of information on what you're actually getting yourself into also hurts RH's number and recruitment potential. It has happened that new players have had to sit twiddling their thumbs for a while, waiting for a squad to pick them up and learn them the ropes.

I would say the reason why Relic Hunters is a 'failed business' is because it is not doing enough to encourage growth by a) attracting new players, b) being welcoming of new players and c) engaging the old ones into staying. Regarding what's being done right now in combining campaigns and setting all 11 or 10 groups together, I do not think it solves the core problem, which is that it is not growing, merely (and barely) maintaining somewhere in the vicinity of 50 players, which isn't enough to be profitable.

So, here's a few simple steps that -I- think should be happening to improve affairs, one way or the other:

1-Open Access.

I believe the Relic Hunter forum should be available for public perusal. This would give the Drowtales fans a look into what is actually happening here, and let squads who are missing members advertise for new members someplace other than in the chatbox or among their personal cliché of friends. It would also allow interested non-players a public forum to use to look for other interested non-players so they can form new squads for themselves, which I think is something of an issue. Without an official forum to do so in, finding the people to establish a new squad is a lot harder than it has to be. Only three new squads have formed since the very first missions, with most new players being exchanged with old players leaving existing squads.

Benefits: Increased RH publicity, ease of recruitment, allows access to information that is likely to get people interested in playing.

2-Less Artist Effort - Faster Results!

We the players could cut back on our expectations a bit. Kern says that the entire squad was never supposed to be on display at the same time. Could we live with our characters appearing in scenes only every other update, or something similar, as long as the appearances were split fairly? Honestly, for me, seeing my character be drawn in a scene, while having an appeal, was never really the main draw of Relic Hunter. Personally, I could stand having less 'screen time' in exchange for steadier updates. If others express the same, this could help artists like Donnie cope with increasing demand on their time and effort.

Benefits: Ease of updating, increase in number of players an artist can handle per week.

3-Content Clarity.

It is my humble opinion that previews for the older part of the campaigns should be removed from RH preview and put somewhere else. Show some of the more relevant recent stuff, like RH2's first mission or two, so that potential customers know exactly what they are paying for and getting themselves into. The old campaigns being shown off are not part of the current deal, and people may buy into Relic Hunter with the somewhat wrong impressions on what they are to do.

Benefit: Avoiding disappointed or confused new players.

4-Frequently Avoided Questions

The FAQ has been incomplete for too long. Make one and put it up there or get a knowledgeable fan to do a competent write-up for you to edit... in exchange for a chibi sketch or just the sheer pleasure of having Helped Out, if you don't have the time to do this yourself. Just put SOMETHING official up there that'll help new players understand how Relic Hunter operates and give them the help they need to establish themselves in it -before- they leap into the whole shebang that is squad-based action-writing. The Survivor's Guide to Relic Hunter is nice and all, but it doesn't come close to answer all the questions a person might want to ask.

Benefits: Avoiding confused new players, giving potential new players a look into how the game operates and what would be necessary to form a new (and successful) squad of players.

5-Player Survey

Some players leave after a while! Why is this? If everyone who'd been through this incarnation of RH had stayed to play, we certainly would have been closer to the ideal total of 100 players. If someone leaves, you, or we, should be figuring out what, if anything, went wrong and if there is a simple, non-costly thing which could have been done to keep them staying and happy. Perhaps a feedback thread for exiting players could be posted here on the boards, where they could offer their 5 cents before departure?

Personally I have gotten the impression that some part ways with Relic Hunter due to discouraging events, like the mission not going anywhere special for several updates' worth of time, whether through GM flaws or missed votes. The lesson I've taken from this is that 'waste of space' updates tend to dampen player motivation and increase the likelihood of them wanting to depart from Relic Hunter.

Benefits: The chance to learn from past mistakes and counter the effects of unintended player discouragement.

6-Just Stop Kicking The Dead Horse

Alternatively, and this is a sincere, if pained, suggestion: Man up and stick a fork in Relic Hunter. Declare it a failed experiment, close it down and suffer the proverbial 'wrath' of the 50-some of us who has invested so fruitlessly in it. If it's such a drain on your resources and you just cannot devote the time to improve it, then there's no reason to keep it going, right? Better to suffer a big one-time loss than a permanent, frustrating drain for years on end. As much as we, the players, don't want to see it happen, I think even we have to admit that as Kern describes things it really isn't a good investment for Team Drowtales. If matters had a hope of improving and player interest and numbers grew, then maybe... but right now? According to Kern we're kicking a dead horse. It's a vigorous kicking, and its twitching is providing some amusing scenes, but our amusement isn't going to pay for Team Drowtales' ass-kicking efforts.

Benefits: The simplest of options. Forever limits the amount of disappointment in Relic Hunter.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Tsuris » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:40 am

I have to agree with Writer on a few points, the open access sounds good, this way, if people who are considering joining Relic Hunters want to join, they'll at least be able to see if there are openings.


Although the reason I joined Drow Tales was in fact Relic Hunters and I'd hate to see it go, I have to admit, that if it's such a poor investment on the part of the DT studio, I think it would be unwise to keep at this, *cringes a bit* although, if the delays with C2 are singular incidents from a result with hospitalizations of the GMs, then I think it's an overreaction on the part of the players to act the way they have. (although I understand why no updates and no word is upsetting).

10 dollars does seem a bit light for some of the artwork that the artists put out though, but 50 dollars monthly(?) seems like too much for most of us.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Exate » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:43 am

Relic Hunters has been pretty terrible for a long time. Path to Power has been pretty terrible too, but that's neither here nor there; what keeps me in both is largely momentum. That said, I'd say Relic Hunters is salvageable- IF some fairly drastic changes are made.

Make the archives publicly available.
Who gains from keeping them locked up? Not the Drowtales team; the draw of being able to see the archives isn't exactly attracting hordes of subscribers. Not the Relic Hunter players; we're in this for a game, not for archive access. And it would be much better advertisement than what we have now. Make the forums public as well.

The draw of Relic Hunters is that it's a game; focus on making it a functional, entertaining one.
I've been a subscriber to Relic Hunters for something like 27 months, in Campaign 2 the entire time. I've paid $270 total and gotten ~90 pages out of it, most of which my character appeared in on some level. That said, I do not feel like I've had much fun. The slow pacing, the clumsy voting system with its hurry-up-and-wait time constraints and penalties that end up hurting the squad for a month of real-time because someone was a day or three behind in clicking a button when the page hadn't updated for two solid weeks... these things detract a lot from what could be an engaging and interesting story.

Relic Hunter is not Daydream; people are playing to play a game here, to watch their characters running around having adventures, not to see a story be told according to their whims. So the question is, what can we do to make it a good game?

Sacrifice art quality for update speed.
Every update, something happens. Things happening makes the game move, which engages the players and results in entertainment. If updates aren't coming fast, then there is no player engagement.

Every squad pays $50/month- what does that buy in terms of artist-hours? Let's say three. Would I rather have three one-hour panels similar to the latest update for my squad- which basically shows all the characters standing there looking dumb against a simplistic background, fully illustrated but pretty blah and not even demonstrating what the text says is happening- or would I rather have twelve fifteen-minute uncolored sketches showing only rooms, or only single characters/enemies doing whatever they're doing in-game, or quick-drawn mass battle scenes that skimp on the detail but effectively add illustration to the ongoing action. The answer is 100% the latter; I've known enough art students to know what fifteen minutes can accomplish. Particularly important scenes can eat up additional artist-time, but we simply don't need them that often; much of the full-color detailed art that we get these days is squandered on wasted scenes where nothing important is happening, but hey, everyone gets a panel so it still gets drawn.

Have GMs who are responsive and communicative.
One easy way to do this is to sell GM positions. Have people pay say twice what a squad member does in order to run an adventure for a single squad. Not only does that result in more money being given to the artists on a per-squad basis, it also means that there is a single point of contact for the squad who is almost certain to talk to them constantly and generally move us away from the clumsy dropbox-orders-everyone-must-rubber-stamp model of getting actions done.

Yes, this makes it harder to run squads against each other directly, but frankly the competition aspect of Relic Hunters has never been a draw at all for me- in order to enjoy a competitive game, one first has to enjoy the game itself. Solo squad adventures can be run fairly flexibly in this system with the GMs passing artists easily drawn requests for small art pieces on a frequent basis rather than doing each set of orders as one giant snarl. Multi-squad adventures require coordination between multiple GMs (or one higher-paying GM) and slow things down somewhat, but that slowdown is the price of competition that the squads agree to pay by signing up for an adventure with more than one squad in it.

Yes, there's a certain amount of difficulty with maintaining quality, but with any multiplayer game the problem is generally the other players. The current "squad leader only after a successful mission" system could be extended to "GM only after two-three successful missions", perhaps, or similar.


Combine all the above, and consider what you get. Relic Hunter updates consisting of a few sentences and a simple image could go up completely irregularly as artists complete them, potentially as often as one every few hours. They would be visible to absolutely everyone, making Relic Hunters the most frequently updating content area on the site and encouraging people to watch the antics of the Relic Hunter squads on a day by day basis and potentially comment on them in the Relic Hunter forum. That's a huge advertisement draw; arguably better than what any other subscription service on the site has. When squads have membership or GM issues, anyone watching their game would be able to immediately subscribe to step in and fill the gap.

I think it could work out pretty well.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Alric » Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:15 am

Exate wrote:
Make the archives publicly available.
Who gains from keeping them locked up? Not the Drowtales team; the draw of being able to see the archives isn't exactly attracting hordes of subscribers. Not the Relic Hunter players; we're in this for a game, not for archive access. And it would be much better advertisement than what we have now. Make the forums public as well.

I agree with opening up the forums and perhaps the older RH campaigns. It sounds like there are very few people are reading RH who aren't active participants, and in my opinion RH needed advertising badly.

I've been quite pleased with Relic Hunters in any case...the community is generally quite easy going unlike PtP's and there's a greater sense of accomplishment in each action/page.

Exate wrote:Sacrifice art quality for update speed.

They did this before, and the results weren't popular. Personally I'd much prefer to waiting a bit longer for an excellently-drawn page than a more hastily done one.

I will say that since RH is a major money drain on Drowtales as a whole, I can't blame Kern if he decides to just shut it down. That said, some of the ideas here for reforming it might be of worth.

EDIT: I also have to admit that having 55 players in one archive at this time would not be likely to solve update problems and could serve to inflict undue strain on the artist. Will there be two artists but one GM?
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby blackjack217 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:59 pm

Alric wrote:
Exate wrote:
Make the archives publicly available.
Who gains from keeping them locked up? Not the Drowtales team; the draw of being able to see the archives isn't exactly attracting hordes of subscribers. Not the Relic Hunter players; we're in this for a game, not for archive access. And it would be much better advertisement than what we have now. Make the forums public as well.

I agree with opening up the forums and perhaps the older RH campaigns. It sounds like there are very few people are reading RH who aren't active participants, and in my opinion RH needed advertising badly.


Hey some of us do exist. But yes, both ptp and RH could use advertising, although where kern would get the money for it is and interesting question. I suppose he could start selling adspace on the forum.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Dice Warwick » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:44 am

I've been with RH group to from the start, with the surface group, and it has contently been hit with problem after problem. The current RH2 has been a vast improvement in opening up RH to more people, but as we can see, it has not been enough to counter the cost. I can't think of anything major that would save RH, as having 100 more people join in, but most not being able to play (not with overflowing the GM with players) I would not be surprised to see RH, along with PtP be slowly closed down. they seem to have the same problem when it comes to bringing people in, and keeping them, and for me that is a sent's of controll, though in RH I do have control, but my squad-mates have no control other then asking me to change an action (and that's only if there is time for it)

the art not on time is still the biggest problem, it's the main thing that keeps us invested, it what allows us to overlook a lot of the other problems and steam ahead. I can see Relic Hunters moving passed the comic, and become an interesting strategy game, but that would take more time, and money, that DT would be willing to invest in. But I could see RH changing up the art, with maybe having that characters more chibby'fyed in most of the mission parts, keeping the art simplified unless it's something important. that could save a lot of time on art, and still keep things charming, plus it might help bring more people in, as we all do love cute things.

Though in the end, most of the problems are probably going to persist, until someone can find a way to make RH more engaging, most people are going to pass on RH. :[
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Roan » Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:10 am

As one of the newest members in RH I was a bit lost with what was being shown out in the open and what is being done currently, showing of current RH setup keeps ones expectations leveled perhaps ...

about the FAQ ..it was one of the first things i noticed but I didn't know this has been an ongoing issue. I think writers suggestions to let a player have a go at it for extra fan-art is an excellent solution.

Wasn't there talk about trying for a space age special? Will it still go through ? Maybe that can be a stepping stone in trying a different RH layout..
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby cdog21 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:09 am

A better explanation of how RH worked would have been a real big help. There's nothing really out there about how things are done in the game, like how squads work for example.

An aggressive ad campaign might do something for Drowtales as a whole, but I doubt anything will pan out for RH.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Runes » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:14 am

Exate wrote:Have GMs who are responsive and communicative.


I actually find this somewhat offensive, considering the amount of effort I put into RH and always responding to any PMs sent to me. I am pretty much always there, and check my email and DT many times a day. I don't need money to motivate me.

The only other thing I can say here, is that if more people or squads want into Campaign 1, I will begin rotating squad members being shown in panels, so depending on how many more want to join, between 1 and 3 members would be shown each week.

Otherwise, considering what Kern said in the news, RH will either become a whole lot more expensive, chug on with just one Campaign or get cancelled.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Tibanna Vilrath » Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:25 am

Like Tsuris my only reason to join DT was Relic Hunters. FInally im allowed to play but there were many things that got into the way.

1. FAQ page
2. Hidden Forum
3. Waiting for an open Slot

And now all goes down... i payed around a year the full price while i was waiting to support drowtales and now it seems in vain. Im feeling a little depressed right now ~_~
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Writer » Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:44 pm

Now, I understand people are a bit disappointed and feeling a little down at the way things are looking right now, but please do try to focus on being constructive. This isn't in response to any particular comment so far, I just want to head off the potential of this becoming more accusatory or more of a pity-fest than is strictly necessary. What's happened has happened. Let's look at what can be done.

Runes wrote:The only other thing I can say here, is that if more people or squads want into Campaign 1, I will begin rotating squad members being shown in panels, so depending on how many more want to join, between 1 and 3 members would be shown each week.


Well, I do hope you, or someone else, can say more, in time! I have a slew of questions in my first post which I am ever so curious about.

Re: being communicative, I'm certain no offense was intended to you, and I will personally state that you've been quite a decent GM for Campaign 1, prompt in response to any query I had for you. If anything, you might be the poster child of what Exastiken wants his GMs to be. Personally, I don't think selling GM positions is much of an option. Anyone who would GM in the Drowtales universe would need a certain familiarity with it, which I think only very long-time fans or associates of Team Drowtales could manage pulling off. There's no book on how to run an RP in a drowtales setting, after all, and despite having read the comic for years and been part of Relic hunter for quite a while, I still only maintain a loose grasp on how some things operate, like mana arts.

That said, could you perhaps clarify what 'rotating squad members, between 1 and 3 members would be shown each week' actually means and refers to? Because I am -slightly- uncertain whether you mean what I actually think you're meaning.

Do you mean to say that individual members who aren't in any squad will get their own panel each week, 1 to 3 at a time? I believe this has been mentioned previously (god knows where and when, but probably somewhere here on the forums) as an opportunity for the squad-less to still get something from Relic Hunter while they wait getting into a squad.

Or are you saying that only 1 to 3 members per squad in the campaign will be shown each week for their squad's panel, and (as would be inherently implied, I hope) that you will be tracking people's appearances to even them out fairly for us?
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Runes » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:29 pm

Yeah, I would start tracking which members were shown, and only 1 to 3 actual squad members would appear in the panel of their squad each week. That will only happen if more squads decide to join Campaign 1, however.

Though it would also be a good idea for Campaign 2 to start limiting the squad members shown each week to try and increase the update speed.


And as for the future of RH, it really depends on if Kern wants to keep it running, if updates can be more reliable and if more people could be tempted to join. I have recently moved into a new apartment, and once I have things properly furnished, I can be start on the Space Age for RH project again. Perhaps that will get people joining, if it can be made to happen.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Tsuris » Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:18 pm

Runes wrote:Yeah, I would start tracking which members were shown, and only 1 to 3 actual squad members would appear in the panel of their squad each week. That will only happen if more squads decide to join Campaign 1, however.

Though it would also be a good idea for Campaign 2 to start limiting the squad members shown each week to try and increase the update speed.


And as for the future of RH, it really depends on if Kern wants to keep it running, if updates can be more reliable and if more people could be tempted to join. I have recently moved into a new apartment, and once I have things properly furnished, I can be start on the Space Age for RH project again. Perhaps that will get people joining, if it can be made to happen.

So long as the fact that a Space age adventure is advertised, I think people will be interested, but if no one can actually see it, I doubt people will be too interested
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby Tohya » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:34 am

I also think that RH and its forum should be viewable to everyone.
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Re: Campaign 2: What happened? What can be done? Discuss!

Postby nakhtichaos » Wed May 30, 2012 1:09 pm

begin rant/

I agree to opening the archives.

One of the things that stopped me from joining relic hunters for a year is the fact i could not see the archives i could see a little of day dreams and i joined that right away but RH was in accessible and it really didn't interest me you want to honestly know what made me pay 27 dollars a month to be in RH at first?

Boredome good ol fashion boredom I had a choice between PTP and RH and you want to know how i chose i flipped a coin. Thats it since i saw no archives no ads no through explanation I took a chance figured I'd pay a little extra on my subscription just to read an ARCHIVE since i was bored but you know what when i read that Archive i got caught up in it I loved it and then i saw a potential to have fun.

So I banded up all the mercs sitting on the sidelines and made the Iron Roots Ruin Crashers Company and I have been carving a path ever since and i have been trying to spread this game Via word of mouth but lets face it I'M A NERD anything i advertise by word of mouth has a 95% chance of being ignored and it upsets me that more is not done to promote PTP and RH.

These two things are a product. A product NEVER succeeds without proper advertisement but what dose RH and PTP have tiny little squares under the big FREE AWESOME popular comic and when you go to 'browse stories' you get nothing maybe a page of some drow saying how awesome it is and nothing more no comic no nothing not even a hook. and if you do get a comic page whelp it has nothing to do with the adventures just the end where the squads are chilling.... doing nothing cool like fighting dragons

/end rant

P.S. I'm not quitting relic hunters your going to have to terminate my subscription before i even think about it.

P.P.S. I gave the choice to my squad if they want to switch campaigns majority wins all they gotta do is vote.
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