State of the Oceans: Upcoming Projects in 7Seas

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State of the Oceans: Upcoming Projects in 7Seas

Postby Seven Shikami » 06 Feb 2009, 08:38

Hi, folks. I was gonna post this in my personal blog as a way of organizing my thoughts, but I figured since it's all 7Seas related, I'd post here instead. Let's discuss recent work in 7Seas and upcoming work you can look forward to. (All upcoming projects are subject to change and have no declared release date, note!)

Recently I spent a month of dev time to create the Contest Expansion Pack, which includes two passive-activity toys to play with (Bounty Hunt, Leaderboard) and two interactive-arcadey toys to play with (Wheel of Fish, AquaDash). While the pack's been getting rave reviews, it's no surprise that it's not selling through the roof. People love the passive contests which are always useful, but don't wanna use the more situational interactive games. We could sell them in two different packs, but it'd mean less money for fishing area owners per sale since the actives would barely sell at all --and I'd hate to see the fun games be totally overlooked even by people who might have enjoyed playing them if they had a chance. Your feedback is welcome here on how you feel we could best change this arrangement (or if it's fine as-is).

One thing I did get out of this is that along with releasing add-on products, improving the core experience people already purchased is just as valid an approach. It may not help us in terms of immediate sales but it'll increase draw and get us new customers in the long run (presumably). I'll admit I'm a coder and I'm just armchair-philosophying the business side of things -- the 7Seas business motto is We Make Stuff We Think Would Be Awesome, first and foremost!

So, let's look to the future. I've got three projects in the works which are targeting improving the core 7Seas experience.

The long standing one is an upgrade to the Oceanography Database. This is tricky. With the lifeblood of the game shifting away from solely catching official fish and towards collecting customs, people have asked for the OD to also track custom catches -- something that's impossible to do with SL memory limits and the constantly-shifting inventories of custom servers. Any serious efforts towards a Custom Tracker would require a radical rebuilding of our entire game system and website backend.

Despite that, there are still some improvements I can make to the OD! Searching the database by name, instead of manually paging through it one item at a time, for instance. (The work for this was done in the Bounty Hunt, where you can search our databases by name!) Adding a Restore function so you can transfer your catches to an upgraded DB without losing them. Making a HUD version -- which you can also Restore into, to transfer your handheld one into the HUD if you'd prefer to use that instead. These are very strong features which will make the OD far more useful!

Next, we're doing some preproduction thinking into how to automate our Fishing Area List. Right now this takes our customer support rep 7Seas Sass five hours a week to compile, and that ain't gonna work long term!

So instead, we're going to have a one-prim, moddable (reskinnable) rezzed object that represents the 'drop point' into your fishing area. With this scripted Fishing Area Welcome Mat (working title), you can set your fishing area name, any rules (kid avs okay, furry only, must wear a pirate hat, etc), a URL to where they can learn more about your area including your customs available (point it to your thread on our Community Announcements forums, or your blog, or a wiki, or whatever you want). Once done, the gadget sends the data on up to our website and Bammo, you are on the list! A LOT easier for everybody involved, and being able to establish a weblink for more information about your customs means YOU can decide how to present your fishing area in a way that makes it really stand out!

One restriction (to keep the system simple and our lives sane and security tight) will be that you can only rez one drop point for each combination of Owner + Sim. (Sim being a 256mx256m standard Second Life sim, not just a parcel on that sim.) That way, Bob can't have 14 entries in the Area List for his single fishing area -- but if Bob owns fishing areas in two different sims, or sets up a telehub to several areas in the same sim and puts the drop point there, he's fine.

This is not going to be a problem for 99% of you. Our Area List right now only has ONE entry where an Owner has multiple completely unique and distinct fishing areas in the same Sim. And if you absolutely must do this, there are workarounds, such as telehubs, or even having a friend set up the second drop point for you.

(Oh, and as for the Contest Schedule page... for the time being it'll still be manually updated, but this new gadget sets the groundwork for you to be able to automatically schedule contests on that page. Stay tuned for future news on that!)

Also on the docket is a revamp to the entire system we use for Team Fishing Contests. Team contests are barely used, since they require colored crates to be rezzed for teams to sit on, or boat owners to be able to rez vehicles, etc. Even then, the 'teams' were too adhoc and too easy to grief (someone discons, sit in their seat and stop fishing, etc). It's a pain in the butt for fishing area owners to wrangle, so most don't bother when solo contests are easier.

Instead, the revamped Team Contests are going to be wholly embedded in the contest board...

* Wanna start a team? Click the board, come up with a team name, and you decide Open Join/Invite Only.
* Wanna join a team? Get a team captain to invite you or click the board to join an open team.
* Can't get 3 fishers together? No problem; an NPC fisher will fill in the missing slot(s), at a slight point penalty.
* Did one of your teammates disconnect or go AFK? No problem; after 2 minutes of hearing no scores, the teammate is automatically replaced by an NPC until they get back in the game.

With this new system, getting into a contest is easy, you're not at an overwhelming disadvantage if things don't go according to plan, and nobody has to rez any special crates to sit on. Show up, hop in a team, drop out, whatever, it'll simply work and work without hassle. (One DISADVANTAGE is that our L$500 Team Motorboats will no longer "count as a team" in these contests. We will likely drop the price on them as a result, and add other modifications to make up the difference for current owners.)

So, in tl;dr summary...

* The Contest Expansion Pack rocks, and we're looking into how to improve sales
* We have upgrades to the Oceanography Database in the works
* We'll be automating the Area List via a rezzable, user-controlled object
* Team Fishing Contests are gonna be super neat in the future

Thanks for your ongoing support of 7Seas! We couldn't do this without you guys.
From the workshop of Seven Shikami, Official 7Seas Code Monkey.
For technical support please contact 7Seas Sass by IM in Second Life.
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Seven Shikami
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Re: State of the Oceans: Upcoming Projects in 7Seas

Postby Atashi Toshihiko » 06 Feb 2009, 11:45

Lots of great news in there Seven, thanks for posting it!

I'm particularily excited about the 'Fishing Area Welcome Mat' idea, and the updated Oceonography Database. It would be cool if there was a way to import our area custom lists automatically, say from a notecard format (like one line per entry, with rarity, name, fish/stuff/salvage). Speaking of automation, how about automating the Hall of Fame? I get the impression that is another manual job at the moment, but maybe it could be automated too?


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Re: State of the Oceans: Upcoming Projects in 7Seas

Postby Seven Shikami » 06 Feb 2009, 12:05

If the fishing area list works out okay, we'll look into automating the Hall of Fame. We've been a bit uneasy about putting dynamic content right on the website, since it might result in bogging down everything, but if this pans out then adding an auto-HOF makes sense.

As for the Welcome Mat, it's not actually going to categorize or store any information about your customs. We don't have a web backend to store data about custom catches. Until now we've been manually copying and pasting big lumps of text onto a web page that's approaching the point of uselessness (it's 250k!). We feel it's best to move the burden of posting these lists to the user, especially since they already have a means to do so (Community Announcements forum).

So, we're providing a way for you to link to your custom list on either our forums, or your own blog, or a wiki, or whatever. You maintain the list yourself and therefore you can present it in any style you want. Make it a straight list, or make a website with a sortable table, or a wiki with a page for each custom catch, anything! That's what the "Information URL" is for -- you can point people to any information you want to point them to about your area and its catches.
From the workshop of Seven Shikami, Official 7Seas Code Monkey.
For technical support please contact 7Seas Sass by IM in Second Life.
User avatar
Seven Shikami
Posts: 144
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 09:43

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