Warning: This is a typical long post essay, so if you're not prepared for a 5 minute read, you should stop now. Please do not leave pointless comments about the length, as this is meant to be a productive post.
So... it's been what, 9 months since V10? While I personally liked some of the features, I think we can all admit V10 had big ambitions, great intentions, but poor execution. I don't blame the devs and staff for it, they truly did try. I think the big problem was the players. No one was willing to adjust, and simply wanted to bitch and moan about how their crappy playstyle was removed. Roughly 90% of everything added was eventually removed, and I really think that while V10 harmed our player count, it has returned to a degree we can call acceptable. But, now we face a new challenge, one I didn't like considering. However, time is cruel, and things sometimes just have to end. The hosted and internet tabs now no longer work. No one can find the server without having the IP. We risk being stuck with zero new users unless we either improve, advertise, or OpenMP finally works out. Still, if we wish to survive as a server, we need people, meaning we need to bring back older users too.
Now, some might think this is a giant suggestion, and that I put this in the wrong section. I assure you, I did not. While you can consider these points 'suggestions', they are more of discussion points, a way we can all put our heads together and figure out what would be best for the server as a whole. Maybe with enough work, we can put together a suggestion. Perhaps we might even be able to create a whole update devs would be willing to create if it they think it'll make everyone happy. But these remain discussions, not suggestions.
My first point is our admins, and how some of the ways reports get handled simply fail. Let's not sit here and bullshit, we have to be honest: we have a fucking problem! I wish I could be polite on that, but that time has passed. Ls-rcr has a severe and unignorably large problem of players who simply do not give a fuck
about the rules. Staff talk to them, over and over, and add warning after warning, and they still simply do not care. Mostly this is because they are immature, but also because staff warnings don't mean shit. There is no punishment, nothing that truly affects them. Even bans do nothing as they can make new accounts. We need punishments that actively deter poor behavior and directly affects gameplay of trouble users. With that note, I bring up my first point on 'account retention'.
Having an account on Ls-rcr is something we take for granted. While being able to play is great, we need to look at a solid truth: What is there truly gained? A large bank account? Score? Groups? There is no ultimate goal, nothing to work towards. This lack of progression leads to a lack of motivation. Lack of motivation breeds a game mode of TDM where the only real fun is dueling, because little else matters. This is a large part of why rule breaking and ban evading is a problem: accounts have no value. This lack of motivation also makes older users have nothing to go for. Once you've been here a few years, everything is stale, bland, the same. There is nothing to do. You either try for a faction, or drift off to other games. We need to give accounts a sense of worth. This will accomplish two things:
A: Having an account of worth will create motivation to play, a desire to reach the next goal, a wish to obtain a new feature, a dream to someday be a notable user.
B: Having value to an account from having worked hours upon hours to accomplish goals would make rules stick more. If you risk losing fun features, or even your entire account, players may just start caring so they don't lose hundreds of hours of work.
So, how do we accomplish this? I was thinking of having score/playtime based achievements. We already have this in a form, with BM and Regular Players club, but to truly make this work, we need far, FAR more to work towards. I have a short list of ideas, and I welcome people to discuss things to add to it.
1: A daily login reward: something simple like 5000 cash, a full loaded gun on spawn, a nice
car, something simple. On notable days such as day 100, we could award a jailcard. On day
1000, a few week of VIP. Something to make people want to log in every day.
2: Score based rewards: at 500 score, you unlock Regular Players club. At 1500, Black Market.
At 3000 and 500 hours, you get a tag. Yes, we would bring the tag back, but it would NOT be
applied for. It would be better seen as a way to show others who has worked hard, who has
been here for a significant time, and who should know the rules. at 5000 score, you get a
week of free /dweap. At 10000 score, you get to enter a new location called the Elite Players
Club, with some free stuff, cars, and some neat services. We could work on higher goals too,
something to hammer this point home.
3: A second new club called the "Ls-rcr High Society" with cars, weapons, services, and minigames. But this wouldn't be a place for new members, or people with 500 warnings. This would be for players who have been here longer than a year, have 5000+ score, have minimal warnings, and players would either apply for this and be voted on by other members, or would have to be invited in by staff. It would have it's own chat (/hs (message) and this would be the sign that you're doing things right, you're respectful, and you are someone others can look up to. Think of this as a more elevated version of how the previous tag worked.
Enforcing the rules in a way that matters
Like I said earlier, we need to make punishments that actually work. I'm by no means saying staff should start raining fire and brimstone, far from it. Mistakes happen, players act out, it's not a big deal. When it becomes a problem is when these players CONSISTANTLY do it. Day in, day out, report after report after report. I won't mention anyone by name, but I know that in reading that very sentence, SOMEONE came to your mind. Don't deny it, you absolutely thought of someone. But, as I said earlier, warnings only do so much. Jailing users and such also doesn't work, they just AFK. We need to hit them where it hurts: long term work. When a user has 1000+ score, and is working for achievements, they won't want to have that ripped away because of their poor behavior. We need to basically be their parents and ground them. So, I would rework punishments like this. Please note, I would have a 'punishment' decay feature were after 90-120 days warnings are removed. So every 90/120 days of good behavior, a warning is removed until you have a 'clean' account.
1: Verbal warning: minor first time problem. Just a reminder, no harm done.
2: Admin warning: Come on, read the rules. No harm this time, but you're pushing it.
3: -500 score: Now you're getting annoying, so you're getting your score chopped.
4: -1000 score: you need to stop! You're becoming a problem, and it won't be tolerated
5: Group removals: ok, you want to be a douche? Well you just got removed from all your groups, and they can't rehire you. You can reapply for them in 30 days.
6: Group ban: Still being a douchebag? Well now you permanently lose your right to be in a group for 90 days.
7: Total score reset: At this point, back to the damn beginning with you. You lose everything you worked on.
8: Bank empties/debt: Resetting your score wasn't enough? Well now you're broke and owe the bank 100k. Good luck without your robbery skill btw, because we reset that too
9: Total loss of privileges: You can no longer ever be part of a group. The bank will no longer save your money, you have to keep it on your person at all times. Your cars are gone and you cannot buy new ones. Your houses are up for auction. You own NOTHING!
10: Get the fuck out, you're no longer allowed on Ls-rcr. Perm ban.
Make stuff to do
Probably one of the biggest killers of old users is the complete lack of anything to do aside from the same ancient and rotten game we've had for years. Since I joined five years ago, only fishing, hacking ATMs, and owning businesses have been added. Fishing is fine, I enjoy it, but they pay sucks. Hacking ATMs would be a fine job, but with TDM being the main game mode, no one cares enough to do it. Owning a business was a great idea in theory, but too complex for most users and had pretty severe game breaking bugs. I really liked the idea, it's a shame it didn't work out. I would love to see it redone in a more player friendly way.
But, my concern here is still that aside from being a cop hunter or being a cop... there's really NOTHING to do. Most jobs have a criminal aspect, so you get wanted and get busted alot. The legal jobs are boring and uninteresting. We really need a good selection of legal, well paying jobs that give us a reason to not want to just sit around and cop hunt out of boredom. I think a large part of why we've become so TDM is because players have nothing to actually work on that isn't criminal, and because with no real rewards for jobs, there's just more fun in being a general pain in the ass for the cops. Removing two-shot and such won't make people want to not cop hunt, we need to give them something fun and exciting to do so they don't feel bored and decide to cop hunt.
However, I know cop hunting IS a large part of the server. We can't deny that. So, I think we need to work on making cop hunting an actual PART of Ls-rcr, but not with it being a server wide chaotic mess. It's not fun to go to LSA and have 9 users all gunning you down just because they're bored. I think we need to make certain locations where cuffing and tazing becomes disabled, and it's guns only. These would have a warning for any cops entering the areas. To enforce this, we would also need a rule stating that no more than three
criminals can group together outside of a designated cop hunt location, with the exception of breaking alcatraz (as you need two people just to start it, and you might break out 3 or more); Pagati, when working as a team of hitmen; a bank robbery going to/from the bank/claude as there are four bags; if people are getting wanted to go to a cophunt location. Some fairness would be needed when looking into reports on this rule. Was it two teams of two who just happened to meet up and worked together on a single cop and went their own ways after? Was it a few users who just all went to the same area, took out a cop who showed up, and left their own ways after? Was it a team of three driving past who decided to saw a single user being hassled by a cop so they offered a hand and left? Users would need to prove in a report that 4+ people were consistently teaming as a cophunt outside a cophunt area.
The 2-shot controversy
V10 tried to remove 2-shotting altogether, and while I personally LOVED this idea, because I feel it's a bug and is a very pathetic and dirty tactic, I think the players were incredibly vocal about how it's a core part of the server. Simply put, we cannot remove it outright, not without pissing off everyone and their grandmother. That said, we can limit it down to a privilege and use that both as a skill, an unlockable, and a punishment. My idea would be that you could always, 100% of the time, buy the sawn off at a high price from ammunation. But groups would NOT have the sawn off any longer, users would have to buy it from dealers, BM, or ammunation. Cops would see it removed from their checkpoint until they reached 1000 score, and bounty hunters would never see it in a police checkpoint. This would make users have to spend more money, work on score, and stop using the damn bounty hunter class all the time. So it would be still be there, in all it's glory, but you'd have to buy it, work for it, or earn it. Add to that, we could add a system were around warning 3 (see the above list) admins could revoke a users right to a sawn off, making them entirely unable to get one for 30 days. You want to stop cop hunting, and enforce punishments, without annoying everyone, that's my idea on how to do it.
V10 saw a true tragedy when it came to the profitability of the server: The removal of BM items from /dweap. But that's only a small part of how utterly broken donation items have become. In it's current state, I actually cannot justify donating for /dweap. Granted my finances irl are a problem right now too, but even if I had the money to donate, I wouldn't get another /dweap until it's fixed. I'll try to keep this brief...
Dweap: For ten dollars
you get free guns, free items, free drugs, and auto /bc. Except the katana in /dweap has been broke by the new anti-dm, making it useless. Auto /bc has incredibly shit chances of actually working, and it only works ONCE. A recent issue is it's also triggering late. Twice now I've been sent to alca before the damn command works, and believe me it's hilarious to be in alca with "Escaped from handcuffs!" on your screen. Removing BM items made an already pricey package utterly overpriced.
BM VIP: For half the price of /dweap, you get free guns, free items, free drugs, free cars, free UNLIMITED BM items, all without a wanted level! The only thing you don't get is a relatively broken auto /bc and you have to drive to the BM. It also can't be used as a cop. But you're getting more than /dweap for half the price + a bit of a drive. With so many groups being so close to the BM, that drive is also pretty much moot. Clearly the cheaper option is FAR better, and that's just not right.
Neons/Police lights: A cosmetic feature every group has now, and has become completely useless. Why donate for what your group gives you free?
Hats/glasses/parrots: Who actually buys these? I know people buy the attachments, which is probably the most fair donation option right now, but I really question why these others exist.
I've been told by multiple staff since January that donations were going to be reviewed... but it's been months of the same answer. Now, I donate when I can because I want to help the server. But I also do need to be able to justify the money. Making my gameplay more exciting is a great way for me to go "is this expense worth it? Yes" when I do my monthly budget. Last month, I had to ask myself where to put my 'fun money', the money I use on games. I had three options: Ls-rcr, Baldurs Gate 3, and Warframe. Well, I can't run Baldur's Gate 3, so that wasn't a purchase. Ls-rcr just doesn't offer enough for me to justify the expense, I just can't when I can have FAR more fun giving that money to Digital Extremes in exchange for Wisp Prime and her full kit. All hail Wisp and her now primed glorious BUTT!
If you made it this far, congratulations, have a cookie! (vo.o)>(::)
In all seriousness though, these concerns have been boiling deep within me for better than half a year now. I have stuck it out through V10, through players attacking me, through so many set backs, hackers, trolls, and just so much more. SA-MP as a whole was a dedication for me. My history with it goes FAR back, older than even Ls-rcr. Through out the years, I've watched many servers shut down. My home servers are gone. Servers I worked for, coded for, designed for, mapped for... lost to the sands of time. Ls-rcr is my home now. I want to see it succeed. I love it here, and I've made many friends. I consider several users here to be extended family of mine. Words cannot express how much the server and it's playerbase means to me. Those who knew me when I joined know I was a very different person then. While I certainly had help outside Ls-rcr in making severe life changes, I know Ls-rcr was a large part of why I wanted to make that change to begin with. Seeing our player counts so low, and mostly consisting of rule breakers and other problems... it hurts my soul. I truly do hope that we can someday make this server the one I was once so proud to be a part of. I think if we all sit down, think long and hard on it, and pool ideas and concerns, we can make a suggestion together that with any luck, can be seen by the devs as worth putting in. That's my hope here, that we as a community can team up and make something that will last. Something to bring back old users, something to bring in new users, something we can all be proud to be a part of. So, discuss your thoughts and ideas. Let's see what we can accomplish.