There's been a lot of talk lately that maybe DS needs a mayor, and maybe that mayor should be Fred. I have tried my best to stay out of it, instead tending to my various charities and attending church regularly. However I started thinking, if I was in charge of DS, and not as a mod or an Admin, REALLY in charge, what would I do? We all know Darkswords is pretty much at its lowest point in 8 years, the server split has caused a divide in an already insignificantly small player base and the amount of people playing is just having a continuous spiraling effect as more people leave due to the low level of players, which in turn triggers more people to leave. So I have put together a list of changes that I would try to breath fresh life and potential back into DS if DS belonged to me. I don't expect many people to read all this, as it's not all that interesting, just makes me feel better to contribute in some way even if it doesn't actually make any difference. Advertise Overview - This has been said time and time again by everyone at some stage but it seems absolutely absurd that we have a tech department actively working on game changes but nobody actually attempting to bring new players on board. Darkswords is a niche product, in an age of 3D realism and huge free games there is a limited market for games like DS, but that doesn't mean there is no market. If people will pay to play Farmville they will pay to play anything. SEO - Currently the Darkswords.com website ranks lower than .eu and .ru on a standard Google search for 'Darkswords' if you can't even rank highest on your own name then how do you expect people to find you through common search terms. The DS website needs a major overhaul, it should be aiming heavily at keywords such as 'Free To Play' , 'Free MMO' , 'Free Online Game' , 'Classic MMO' , 'MUD'. The effects of increasing your Google rankings is dramatic, when was the last time you looked beyond the second page of a Google search? If DS doesn't show up in the first 5 pages for these terms it practically doesn't exist. Top 100's - Many of you won't remember back in 2010 / 2011, DS used to regurlarly post on the website and through Gra's requesting players to vote for DS on various 'Free MMO Top 100' charts. If we made it into the top 100, then bonus gold or exp days or free gifts to online players. This was a fantastic idea, it rallied the community, it benefited the game and it gave players the impression that the Darkswords technical team really wanted the game to get somewhere. It wasn't long after this stopped that player numbers started to dwindle. Blogs - Currently in-game currency is rewarded to players who moderate for the ever shrinking community. Well why not sponsored social media activists. A DS blog post a week for 5 / 10 plat. It's a small amount to dish out if it keeps 2 users interested or God forbid attracts someone new to download the game. Darkswords Twitch streams for tournaments and big fights. Offer people something in return and potentially rebuild the community that this game was founded on. Share a DS post on Facebook? 1 plat to your account. These are all simple things that require little to no additional technical infrastructure. Get your players advertising for you and you'll start to see a small increase in active players. Forum Posts - Similar to the above, back in its prime the Darkswords forum would receive more new posts in a day than Arkijah now gets messages. It helped to create the world that encapsulated players. Nobody is going to spend £100 for a clan when they can buy 2 new PS4 games or 4 new PC games for that money. Not unless they feel like Darkswords is more to them than just a computer game. It needs to be a hobby in its own right. Pay some of your player base to be content writers, discussion generators. Give a few players free Gra's under the condition they are used to link to various forum posts and have them start asking questions, creating interesting debates and drawing people back to the community aspect of the game. Competitions - When was the last in-game competition held? These are so simple, you can hire one DS player to be in charge of running competitions with unique prizes, they don't even need to be complicated comtests! I'll even give some examples off the top of my head Best Darkswords YouTube video - First prize 50pt and a unique flower that doesn't expire Player photos (Mr & Mrs DS) - First Prize a plat helmet with a tiara image or a top hat. Easter Egg hunt - hide items throughout the game that drop clues, all the clues combined give an answer. First support ticket with the correct answer wins Payment Gateway - It is absolutely ludicrous that a game like Darkswords process's its ingame purchases through direct Paypal transfers. Payment Gateway should have been step 2 in making this game. Us old players know and trust (to a degree) the game, but a new player is not going to want to send his money directly to a dealers Paypal account. Payment gateways are not expensive or complicated to implement, please set one up. Relax Moderating - I logged on .eu this morning, and someone swore, they got a 5 minute mute for it. That was nice to see, Admin said 'jerk' nobody blinked an eye. The .com moderating is INSANELY strict, strict enough to stop players wanted to talk in open chat. If a new player joins and say "wtf how do I move" and gets a mute for 24 hours and a trip to Kartoga they probably won't stay long. Yes that's blatantly an exaggeration but the point remains. Also stop banning people! Fix the bugs they exploit, penalise them with removed religion levels, but banning your tiny player base will not help grow the game. In Game Events Weekly Quests - The current weekly quest system is flawed in so many ways. For starters the times are always fixed, these times NEED to rotate, when you're running a game to support all of .EU and places like Australia you can't have a fixed time for important events, it's ludicrous! Secondly they make no sense, it's no surprise that the event that sees the most users month after month is the poker event. That's because it is relatively straight forward. Collecting teapot lids while trying not to get hit by a train is the brain child of someone on a very bad acid trip. Every quest should have an exit. People don't join because they don't want to be locked in a quest area for an hour, if you want to quit you should be able too. Bulletin Board Quests - These were a great addition to the game when they first came out and they still are. My main requests here would be vary them up a bit, how about the chance to receive a Dark drop from a BB quest. For example, kill 11x rateaters for Dark dragons shield, or soulbound potions like accuracy and rewards. It would also be really nice to get uniques occasionally appearing on BB boards with large rewards. Quest Mobs - I can only assume this is a bug, but the current system of receiving all quests when you enter an area and quest mobs being useless is peculiar. Don't get me wrong, the increase in quests has been noticed and is appreciated, but I for one liked the quest mob approach. Finding a quest mob that started a long chain of quests for the first time was really interesting and exciting. One large problem with quests is the rewards, almost always gold or experience. We need more interesting quest rewards. Non repeatable quests with rewards such as Mowers / Extractors / Furnaces / Fishing Poles give players a taste for items they may otherwise never have bothered trying. If there was a quest that involved me going from BT to ES then Citadel then ES again all for a fishing pole, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Main Quest Chain - We now fix players to starting in Seastone, this gives the opportunity to guide users through the entire game in one long quest chain. Quest starts in SS, takes the user through to the garden, then dead swamp, working a snaking trail throughout the game and ending in Egypt or wherever the highest level mobs end up. Admin led events - There is a video somewhere of RU server where the admin begins randomly summoning players into one place and pitting them against each other. This is a bit extreme, but it's this kind of drama / story that makes players log on day in day out to see what is happening. Even if it's Admin saying "first person to find me get's 10 plat" every little additional thing going on in the server helps maintain a happy active player base. Zone Bosses - We have uniques currently, which despite recently being ruined lately to drop almost nothing of interest are still the most interesting mobs to fight. I propose a new type of mob. A Realm boss, each realm has one and he can walk from zone to zone within the realm and may or may not aggro anyone he comes across. The mobs should be suitably high level (weakest one lvl 500) and have the ability to use any number of skills, from Fire rain, to Knockdown, to Backstab all randomised. Killing a realm boss will announce to the world (like killing a dark soul or wanted dead mob) and all players involved receive a suitable reward, this could be increased gold drops by 50% in the realm the boss was defeated for 24 hours, or 10 plat each, something worth the effort. Quizzes - Recently Azov held a quiz in Arkijah for UA goodies, this was by far the most active Ark had been since I returned last month. We need a regular quiz master again, an account with an inn full of goodies that a selected player can log on and host a quiz whenever they choose, with the ability to gra for free. Fix Broken Quests - The City in the Clouds quests for example, these were some of the more creative quests Darkswords has ever had, and now they are just broken? Please can we get these fixed. Game Mechanics and Features Essences - I am not sure why the game was changed to contain only reign essences, but it was a very poor decision. Removing drop variety from a game where almost all drops were already of no value. I implore you to return the variety of essence levels, so that I actually get a little excited when I see a special mob, as there's a significant chance it will drop something that I won't instantly furnace. Fishing - At some point fishing was changed, it is now unbearable. If you specialize in a profession and work your way up to level 25 in it, you should not have to worry about making enough money to actually cover the fishing rod. This is an avenue of game play that used to offer non pvp players a bit of variety. It is now done by very very few people as the cost of a pole (50 million) exceeds the output of one. Revitalise fishing by reducing pole cost by 5 - 10pt and adding a few new fishing recipe's and fishing drops. Here are a few examples off the top of my head. Sunken Treasure - A chest that when open will contain a random amount of gold from 1 gold up to 1 million. Pirates Rum - A potion that when drunk gives the user an hour of outlaw status. (Something not very useful but fun!) Blowfish - An extra type of fish Blowfish Soup Recipe - When killed in combat with the blowfish effect on, there is a chance the opponent may also die (cog style) Mining - I am led to believe that mining is now the way it is currently because of bots exploiting the previous system using automated scripts. Well that is no reason to take a good mechanic and break it. Punish the bots, not the entire player base. Previous mining was far from entertaining, but it was miles better than what we have now. PLEASE return this to the previous method. Nobody likes the current set up, it is horrendously boring, and if DS did happen to have even 100 players online, it would quickly become impractical due to congestion in the one mining area. Furnacing - Currently furnacing has the same effect as fishing, you are paying money to do something dull. There is no reward because nobody makes 50 million worth of Gold Bars in once furnace. Luckily the solution here is very simple, double furnace durability so players can at least break even. Don't punish people for grinding. Level 320 - 360 gear - Can someone point out the logic to me in lvl 320 / 340 / 360 gear selling for SIGNIFICANTLY less than level 300 gear. This must have been an oversight, the prices to these gear pieces should be amended as currently I can make more gold off gear in lower level areas and that is baffling. Shop Auction - There is nothing worse than an inactive shop, if a shop is closed for 3 months it should go up for auction, half the plat cost of that shop returning to the inactive player. Level limits for areas - I understand the logic behind this change, making it so new players cannot walk into areas they shouldn't. However please make this a toggle-able feature, if a user turns off '\newbie' then you should assume they want to be able to walk wherever they please. PVP Overview - Religion on Darkswords has long since been something we all can enjoy. With a rapidly diminishing player base the prey available for the religion elite is becoming thin on the ground, so we need to get new players, we need to get old players back and we need to encourage mid ranged players to take up arms! Here are my proposals for doing that and more varied pvp. New Religion Guilds - I have proposed this before and I am proposing it again, we need some PVM focused religion guilds. Players like Botman won't take up religion and get killed all the time just to hit a little harder and get a tiny % more gold. We need some religion guilds that give perks everyone would be interested in, here are a few off the top of my head. Cult of Greed - Each level gives a % gold increase from mobs every fifth level can give a testament of life. Cult of Salvage - Each level gives a % increase in mob drops every fifth level can give a testament of life. Cult of the Enchanter - Each level gives a % increase in essenced drop chance every fifth level can give a testament of life. Cult of luck - Each level grants a much smaller % increase in all of the above. These are just a few random examples, essentially we just need something that is going to make a brewer give some serious thought to leveling their religion. Scanners and Anti Scanners - Currently 99% of religion players are roaming around with anti scanners on, and 99% of religion hunters are sitting around with scanners in their inventories that do nothing. I propose we remove both from the game. Keep compasses with their current functionality, but the current scanner / anti scanner scenario means you're either wasting plat buying scanners, or wasting gold buying anti scanners. I know DS wants to make money so this probably seems great from that perspective, but if people know they can go hunt without being scanned more religion players would risk leaving town. Especially knowing they don't have to drop 1 million on an anti scanner to go brew some teleports. Clan Siege System - The old siege system worked well, why did we change it? I like that guilds can now level up but the current approach to sieging is bizarre. Can we please go back to the old ways with a slight tweak. Here is my proposal. Siege with 0 lands owned - 250 clan exp Siege with 1 land owned - 350 clan exp Siege with 2 lands owned - 450 clan exp Etc etc, non war clans could get to 3 lands before having to fight to get a 3rd. It's a nice compromise and it simplifies a currently obscure system Land Control - The revenue from non city lands is ridiculously insignificant. Can we please split the shops and guilds back up, I don't know why we simplified these into 1 store and 1 guild. Making a new character and having to walk all the way to puppet theater (rip) to get to academy of life was a right of passage, doing everything in Seastone may be easier, but it also reduces any need or desire to explore a largely deserted map. On top of that it makes areas that used to generate nice income absolutely worthless. On top of that I think 1% of all gold generated through grinding in an area (and 1% of the value of drops) should be transferred to the clan that owns the region. Make clans want to fight each other again! Give people a reason to shape up and PVP. Alliance Bonus - There has been a lot of debate around this in the past, and I think it would be a great time to re-enact the old style where it was the top clan NOT the top alliance that received the 5 / 10 / 15% boosts. As it stands currently, theoretically we could all join one alliance and all get 15% hp / mp, for doing nothing. It seems an odd system as it currently stands. If Dark Phantoms are top clan, they should reap the benefits, not someone else who just happens to have the same alliance. Religion Gold Bonus - Hunting with religion active is risky! It needs to be equally rewarding. Increase the gold bonus you get for hunting with religion by double its current amount. Give more people the urge to get fighting once more. PVE Level Cap - When I heard the level cap had been reduced I was thrilled, the build choices you have to make within 360 levels are much more important than in 540. However, now you have a player base who is largely at the level cap with no real reason to leave town and hunt. I propose increasing the level cap by a guild to 375, but making each of these levels INCREDIBLY hard to obtain. The old days where leveling past 300 was ludicrously difficult also saw the highest amount of competition in PVP players trying to get that extra edge. Green / Yellow / Red - This may be before some of you used to play, but back in around 2011 I think. The game had a major overhaul, before this point you could only ever gain 3 levels at a time. You would gain green exp when you could level once, yellow when you could level twice and red when you could level three times. Dying would half your gained exp. However to gain anymore levels you would have to pay for the three you had built up. This made a HUGE difference, it staggered the game so that not everyone would simply grind until they hit the level cap as many of us couldn't afford it (and still can't). I propose bringing this old method of leveling back to force people to work harder for their levels. This combined with an increased level cap is going to see many more people out grinding with an actual purpose. Randomly generated mobs - The caravan in the desert is a great idea. Why not have more mobs like this in more random places, killing one gives the user a random flower stat buff, could be 10% strength for 24 hours, could be mana. It's a little extra variety that will spice up the life of grinders. Dark Drops - Way back when mobs used to drop dark drops, and I'm now talking before only uniques dropped them. Please return this to the game, a level 360 dark set would be a nice interim step before getting Zodiac gear. It could also have the added bonus of being unbreakable! This would give it much more value for grinders. Uniques - Uniques currently drop literally nothing of value. Grindstone scrolls you only need once, and the odd aspen cross which you can't furnace so usually winds up on the floor. I propose that all uniques drop at least one reign drop. Make them worth killing, I was in a group the other day that calculated the gold from the unique wasn't worth the time it took to kill it based on speed of killing other mobs. New Zones - I have yet to go to Plutoria or whatever it is called, but one look at the mob levels caused an instant 'Meh' we need more STRONG mobs, give grinders a challenge. I remember when nobody could solo past Dead Rock, attempting prison or Harbour was monumental. We have nothing close to that now. We need new areas to go with my proposed level increase that drop lvl 375 gear and high gold drops AND ARE HARD TO KILL! Genetics herbs - The genetics subscription works really well, as such the herbs used for in game genes are now practically valueless. To change this I propose re-implementing the ability to brew hp or mana pots in bulk using these herbs. Give them at least a small value to the game again. Prices Overview - the recent 10pt for $1 USD is definitely a step in the right direction, but stop calling it a sale and make this the default price. Anything more is ludicrous compared to what else is on the market. Gear Prices - I will start by stating nobody wants to be using 1.0 temp weapons. But when the alternative costs over $5000!!! Then temp arts is what people will use. I understand people have paid for it in the past, but people also used to pay £1000+ for PC's that now wouldn't run your operating system. Move with the times, your offering a significantly worse service than 8 years ago when the game actually had a community, but still charging the same prices. Slash weapon prices to a 1/3rd of what they are now and see how many more you sell in a month, I bet it's more than 3x the amount you're currently selling. Temporary Artifacts - Temporary artifacts should be limited to 0.75 mod, you should NOT be able to spend 92 plat and have the same quality weapon as someone who has invested in the game long term. Clan Castles - New proposed price, 7000 plat. Not USD, if someone can script together 7000 plat they will have almost definitely invested a significant amount of money in the game, more than it will cost your developers to stick a land together for them. Avatars - Avatars and Pet Avatars shouldn't be on sale for 250pt, they should cost that at maximum price. You're paying for a small picture to display where you walk, that should not cost more than $25. Prices need to change if you want to draw any new players to the game, currently they are unrealistic. Well that's everything I have so far, this has all been typed on the fly without too much thought, so I don't expect them all to be winners, but hopefully some of them get picked up, I still see a lot of potential in Darkswords, I just wish the techs and admins shared that ambition. Thanks, Fred for mayor.