Greetings all, I hope you’re having a great holiday season so far.
IC is still here, obviously, but things aren’t looking so great lately. We’re not going offline or anything*, but a few things need to be addressed.
2022's Loss: Player Count
Whereas last year we held steady on activity, this year we are down again. This is due to, amongst other things:
Insufficient marketing budget/effort to find new players
Insufficient development and improvements to keep existing players
Insufficient effort put into community engagement
Performance issues earlier in the year drove away players in general
The common theme here is that IC does not have the budget or staff resources required to sustain an active player base, let alone grow it.
This has always been the case somewhat, but this year has been particularly challenging. We’re used to not having a budget, but my time as dev/admin has been spottier than normal this year and the effects are very evident.
2022's Win: Autonomy
Despite the problems above, things are actually better than I feared earlier in the year.
* To be completely transparent with you all, early this year I considered shutting down IC entirely as the demands of running it were becoming more than I could manage, even with a historically low player count. My lack of available time this year had me questioning IC’s viability and future.
Thankfully, I was able to deliver on our #1 goal for 2022: autonomy. Player-managed rounds went out this year and I am not exaggerating when I say that this feature, despite its early hiccups, very likely kept IC online.
While the manual work of setting up rounds wasn’t all that bad, not being able to take an extended break from IC (for 7 years) was detrimental to my mental health. Even in the past when I took “breaks” and hid from the community, I was still doing work behind the scenes or at least working with staff to keep things moving.
This is thankfully no longer the case and IC now operates by the hands of the players, not me or mods or anybody but the players themselves.
It should have always been this way.
These critical gains from autonomy are going to inform our plan for 2023. More automation is needed for other critical features, such as:
Automatically adding more spots as needed
- this is a short term fix, and there is a tradeoff as it will create more imbalanced families. a longer term change to how families work is still needed
Automatically sending scheduled emails for player outreach
Improved automated performance monitoring
- This will notify me of potential performance issues before they escalate, allowing me to fix them before players feel them
This type of work is the priority going forward. These aren’t huge problems conceptually, but given my continued limited dev time it’s very important that I don’t get distracted with other problems. I can’t afford to stretch myself too thin. IC can’t afford it.
We had 2 other main goals for 2022 that were not reached: splitting the tick and finishing the redesign.
There’s nothing to say about those other than I just didn’t have enough time for them.
I will reassess our goals in general next year after the aforementioned automation work is in a satisfactory state.
So, that’s it with regard to updates. I know there are still a bunch of things we all want, including updates to game mechanics that were discussed this year. I very much hope that I can get to that work next year, but for now I am doing my best to plan for our critical needs first.
On a personal note, I do want to thank you all for being here, and even want to thank those that aren’t here anymore. IC is still very important to me, and despite our struggles I am thankful for everybody who’s been on this ride.
Happy holidays everybody, I will see you next year.