Epsilon's Legion server will soon be one year old and I wanted to take some time to reflect on the server, including some good and bad things that have happened, and hopefully create an open and healthy discussion where other players can share their thoughts.
Around this time last year, Epsilon experienced a huge influx of players and the decision was made to launch earlier than anticipated. Beforehand, we were a much smaller Discord with approximately 30 members (of whom maybe half were active) and we would often sit around in voice channels, play games like Overwatch, and talk about the server. I remember the excitement leading up to the launch of open beta relatively well: Rosehearth had been shut down on another server so its members had come over, increasing the average online Discord population to around 400. I felt overwhelmed but I was also happy to see things be sped along. Everyone had their own idea of what they wanted to build, who their characters would be and what guilds they would form.
I fondly remember fighting the constant server crashes on July 23rd to try and log in. At one point I was successful in creating a randomized version of what would later become my main character, logging in, and claiming phase 210 about one second before another crash occurred. The first week experienced similar turbulence while Azarchius patched most of the major issues. Building began once the server had stabilized, and by the second week, phase owners had started to advertise their role-plays.
I think most people would agree when I say that the first few months of Epsilon were the most memorable. We had more than 80 players on slow weekdays, more than 100 players on weekends, and role-play was not too difficult to find. We cracked the CDN technology and uploaded content directly to the server, giving everybody access to building tiles, Genn Greymane's cloaks, WMOs with removed doodadsets, and recolors of the most popular WMO buildings. Over 10,000 custom objects were added to the server in September. The first edition of the Gossip Corner was published in October, not even three full months after launch, showcasing the pristine night elf WMOs and Gilneas recolors that were soon added. Seven days after the Gossip Corner we participated in the eighth annual Running of the Gnomes as a community and raised $374 to fight breast cancer. The emphasis, and what I want to reiterate here, is truly that we did things as a community. It went beyond logging into a WoW server. Epsilon was a community where I could log in and have fun doings things knowing that the players were just as excited for the future as I was.
I am now going to discuss a few of the negative things that have happened over the course of the last year, but I do not want this to come across as a personal attack to anyone:
Epsilon was touted as a fresh start, a second chance for everybody to begin again, and for a time it was everything the Rosehearth community and people like I had dreamed it would be. I will be the first to admit that active role-play was always a struggle, even when it was "not too difficult to find." There was, albeit very briefly, a command to see which phases had the most players, but overall it was impossible to expect players to know that a phase was active unless they were waiting to see announcements in the event channel. This, coupled with mounting failed promises of additional features as time dragged on, resulted in most players becoming lethargic or apathetic to public role-play.
The most prominent example of a failed promise is the Phase Manager addon. Players were promised a Phase Manager addon that was never delivered, and eventually more players spent their time asking for these features than creating role-plays they felt nobody would attend because the phases could not be easily discovered. (We did eventually receive a command to see open phases, although not until many months later.) Lack of communication in numerous other regards, such as future editions of the Gossip Corner, developer content, and a general lack of staff presence in the community created considerable unrest with the Rosehearth community who were often labeled as trolls by the administration. Some of us may recall the exact details which led to Rosehearth/LTB ultimately leaving the server but they are unimportant. What is important here is the community sentiment.
Compare Epsilon's first 6 months with our last 6 months and anyone will notice a stark contrast. The once bright and vibrant community is little more than an absentee server where players login to role-play in private phases and occasionally some will talk in announce. I have watched the Rosehearth/LTB community leave, the once-most popular guild on the server Steel Banner has dissolved, the Scarlet Hand of Venstroyer is down to a mere handful the last time I spoke with their Guild Master, and while phases continue to pop up every so often, most players have lost the majority of their friends to another server or left themselves.
An administration that has failed to deliver on numerous promises with little-to-no explanation and a presence that is more than negligible in the community combined with player stagnation has created a bleak outlook for Epsilon's future as a community. It is safe to say that the server will probably not die any time soon -- we still manage to pull roughly 40 players on a good night -- but there are also times when we are lucky to have 10 or 15 players online. It does not help that the last major content update was in November. From my perspective, players feel like they have better opportunities on other servers where they are actively engaged by a larger population and more consistent development updates. Both things that we once had.
In conclusion, Epsilon has had a rough latter half of its first year, but there are rumors that the 7.3 content update is "soon." Do you think that upgrading to 7.3 will revive the lackluster community atmosphere, or are there other prerequisites to a healthy community? Will the players and groups who left return if there is more content and staff activity? Will we be better or worse off in the future? Also, what are some of your favorite memories from this year together so far?
I've only scraped the tip of the iceberg -- it's very difficult to summarize an entire year in one post! -- but I hope that we can have a valuable discussion for everyone who is a part of the community. I know that Epsilon will be around 6 months from now and then on, but I want to see the communities return and I want them to be energized about the server.