Virilneus’ GS4 Idea Book

January 17, 2009

More Stuff Simu doesn’t want you to know.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Virilneus @ 8:15 am

Hide the truth… do not give your opinion that Simutronics is not the best software company evar! You could be flaming!


Your message has been removed from the GemStone IV Forum for being disruptive and encouraging other people to flame Simutronics.  I understand that the game can be frustrating at times and we do encourage constructive criticisms that will benefit everyone.

However, posting text such as:

>>IMO Simutronics is one of the most poorly run companies I’ve ever seen.

 is both off-topic (it has nothing to do with 2009 Sorcerer Dev Goals) as well as inflammatory to the Company.  If you have CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to offer to the Company, you can do so on the Simutronics Forums or via Feedback.

To date, this is your second post removed for flaming Simutronics.

If you have any questions about my action in removing your message, please don’t hesitate to email me at so we can clarify the issue to your satisfaction.


GM Emeradan
GemStone IV Forums
GemStone IV:  One MMORPG to Rule Them All.
“Master of the Black Helicopters.” — BROWNA94
Forum:    GemStone IV
Category: Sorcerers
Topic:    Developer’s Corner - Sorcerers
Msg#:     5876
Subject:  Re: 2009 Sorcerer Development Goals

>How many years has it been since sorcerers had something specific to our spell list on the Dev goals? 3 years?

Longer than that. You can actually trace the lack of sorcery development as a pattern going back to Hot Summer Nights in the late days of GS3.

I still have the saved post somewhere where Melissa apologizes to our profession as a whole for leaving us entirely out of two consecutive release events. One of them was more like “Ranger Summer Nights” where they had like 3 spells released and companions and everything else.

Then the only thing we got in the switch to GS4 was 712, which we HAD to have as otherwise we’d be 100 DS below any other pure. Meaning they did the bare minimum.

Then AD was supposed to be released… and it was… 2 years late, and still buggy.

Meanwhile the next big project after EN was major demons… err no…

Its a pattern, its just how it is.

The worst thing is, I think that we have some of the smartest players in the game playing this profession, and the most creative, and as much as I tend to dislike say, your ideas Jesse, the fact is, we post ideas, we debate things, we are full of players who have ideas for our profession. A GM could post a request for a new sorcerer spell at X level and get 10 really well thought out, complete, and unique ideas within a short time (not to mention countless of less thought out ones). All we lack is the coding.

IMO Simutronics is one of the most poorly run companies I’ve ever seen. In addition to them needing to increase the trial length, lower the base price, and engage in better referral marketing, they need to make the game open source, allowing any player with the idea and the time to add to the game. They could even toss out a base empty test enviroment for us to play in with our creations. Then, rather than having GMs do coding, many of them could simply QC and the implement things players do.

SO SO SO many software companies are run like this now. There is a core software package, and then there are hacks/contributions/mods that extend it. When the mod becomes popular enough (and or is good enough, or useful enough, or genius enough), it is integrated into the core.

Look at what players have done with the tools available to us. Shaelun made Lich, Jamus made PSInet, Tsoran did his maps (Which is a time commitment, if not a technical commitment). Lots of players have coded scripts and extenders. I combined a bunch aggregated data into a frontend to make RoomData. Then, we can’t forget Xygon, who has scriptbot players that run around scanning all of our playershops, which is a far more complicated way of accomplishing something than if GS was opensource (and Simu cooperative) he could have just done a direct data transfer.

I bet if all players had the tools to contribute to the game engine (and I don’t mean the joke of an intentional timesink that is Alae) I bet sorcerers would be one of the most fleshed out professions.


August 7, 2008

An Open Letter to Simutronics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Virilneus @ 6:18 pm

One doesn’t have to look far to see far more successful games out there, I am surprised you’re not doing more to emulate them, your business model stinks.

The hard costs of running an IT business have dropped by ridiculous amounts since GS3 launched, but prices have been steadily rising since the move to the web. Bandwidth is cheaper now, hardware is cheaper, and skilled employees are cheaper. There is no longer a shortage of IT workers.

You, as a company, need to hire more people with business degrees. Does anyone with an MBA work for Simutronics? I would be very surprised if they did, you seem to hire programmers or fans and eventually through seniority they end up in a position like project manager with what experience exactly? What training? (no offense to any former or existing PMs, but lets be honest here).

If you did have such people working for you, I think they would tell you what I am telling you now.

You need to sit down and figure out what your fixed costs are, and what your variable costs are. Your fixed costs are the costs it takes you to run your business regardless of the number of customers you have. Your variable costs are what it costs you to serve your customers. Your fixed costs do not go up when you add more customers, your variable costs do. So what you need to do is figure out the incremental variable cost for each new customer, what does it cost you to serve one additional customer.

Then that has to be the point at which you work on pricing.

Your pricing model stinks. The ideal business situation is where you charge everyone exactly what they’re willing to pay, optimum pricing. A common example is that if you’re selling hotdogs on the street and someone is starving and has $10 in their pocket, they may be willing to spend $10 on one hotdog, someone else may merely be looking for a snack and not think it is worth it to spend more than $2 for something on your cart. If you can charge the first guy $10 and the second guy $2 you’ve hit optimum pricing. You lose no revenue by under pricing, and lose customers by over pricing.

You guys do fine with the $10 people, but you do crap with the $2 people. Your game is just too expensive for some people, I’m not one of them, I go to every pay event and have multiple premium accounts, but some people can’t afford it. This is where knowing your incremental variable costs comes into play. If you can service a new account for $1, why not only charge $5? Better to get $5 for a customer than $0 because they don’t play.

Many, many, many, many, many games, software providers, and other online services make money with a free basic level of service and then charging for upsells. You get someone using your service and you nail them on the upsells. Get them addicted, them charge them for more features. That is a business model.

You could, indeed, have a free level of service subsidized by incentivized affiliate programs. Allow people to play for free if they complete enough affiliate offers through an incentivized affiliate network. In your affiliate links you pass a unique identifier for the customer account, in the reports that is passed back to you. The software portion of tracking such things is as such very very simple. There are free websites out there that make seven figures monthly off of things like this. It isn’t small potatoes.

For free or cheaper ($5) levels of play I would recommend limiting to 1 character per account, and forcing them to stay in a player start city. No traveling. To travel, they have to buy the upsell. Also, no type ahead lines, a weaker assist queue, etc. Maybe even a lower character item limit to encourage those who would merely use them as lockers to buy the upsell.

You also need a realistic referral program. Your best method for gaining new customers is referrals from existing customers. Do you even still have that ridiculous referral program? Everyone who refers someone in a month gets their name entered into a hat for a free alteration? Ohhh… a chance at a free alteration, that’ll get me to push this game on my friends.

It costs you nothing (nearly so) to give away free premium points for referrals, not just to “the lucky winner” of the monthly raffle, but to everyone who refers a paying customer to you.

Give everyone who refers a friend 100 (or more) PPs if the friend continues playing after their trial. Give them 10 pps per month for every month their friend remains a paying customer. How hard is that? Now only do you then encourage people to refer their friends, but you encourage them to make sure their friends stay active, they give service beyond the sale. Maybe 100 pps for a referral, 100 more when they end their free trial, 100 more at 6 months. Then 10 a month after that.

Finally, your free trial needs to be longer, 90 days. You should know your own game and you should know that the single cause for people continuing to play is attachment to the character they create. You can build 3x more attachment in 90 days than you can in 30. For necessary reasons do not allow transfers of characters off of free trial accounts, or accounts less than say 6 months old, unless it is a premium account.

Understand this, your eggs are gradually going into fewer baskets, and that is not desirable, you want a large customer base, broad bases are stable. Understand that interaction and communication are one of the main draws of this game, and having more players increases opportunities for those things, for everyone. Understand that many areas of the game seem like ghost towns because of the low population, and that such things encourage other people to quit, which results in a spiraling problem that has gotten out of control.

Gemstone does not have to die, you’ve survived passed the dawn of graphical competition and are still here, but you need to make changes.

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