What Killed TDZK?

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What Killed TDZK?

Postby Harbinger » September 26th, 2010, 9:30 pm

It's a topic that always comes up. What killed TDZK? Everyone has their own opinion.

Cheating.
A raucous playerbase.
Incompetent admins.
A buggy codebase.
Lack of advertising.

The list goes on. It's been three years since the game went down. We can all (hopefully) look back and take our own assessment of the downward spiral. For me, it seems that post 2.3, the game really started to slip. There was a huge influx of players from Schlock in 2.5 or so (TT), but I can recall the playerbase peaking at around 7k in 2.2/2.3. After the IA/Carlos scandal, a lot of players lost trust in the administration and left. Others stuck around, like myself, and had a jolly ol' time. However, the constant delays of Nomad and a vocal minority of players who antagonized the administration, staff, and other players drove so many players away that the community became unsustainable. By 3.0, the writing was on the wall. I can recall several times in #tdzk-staff where we knew it was the end. The TDZK staff, in the end, were simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So, it's your turn. What do you think?
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby zer0das » September 26th, 2010, 9:52 pm

Mechanically weak rounds was part of it (2.3, 2.7).

People cheating to the point that their actions affected entire rounds was probably the largest factor- and then these same people being allowed to play the game with scarcely a slap on the wrist. Carlos, Wolverine, etc.

The existence of trigger scripts which were around since god knows when... maybe as far back as 2.2 or even earlier? Their proliferation after it became obvious the admins 1. were not adequately punishing those who had them 2. it was questionable whether they could even ID who had them through their moderation tools, despite it being pretty obvious to anyone with a brain stem who actually played the game (at least the big names).

Prematurely ending 2.6 without a solid plan for 2.7 was also a huge factor. A return to 1.0 was perhaps the worst possible thing that could have been done. I'm somewhat convinced part of the reason this ill conceived plan was carried out was because the way 2.6 went down. 8002 was rebuilt putting the admins at a bit of a crossroads- do they let Fury dominate for another couple months, or do they yank the round before people get disinterested, even if they're not at all prepared for a new round? In either case, I think neither choice was optimal.

Also- 2.6 was pretty much the culmination of the cheating, despite 2.3's being much more well documented. Rereading my logs, the amount of questionable crap that happened in this round was unbelievable. We had people hacking an inactive account in our alliance, and the parties responsible don't get booted from the game instantly? What the crap.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Becky Gunther » September 26th, 2010, 11:57 pm

I hated all the bugs that constantly came up and it wore me down to the point of me pretty much quitting around 2.5 becoming a refresh trader that would ship up to raid every couple of weeks..
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby foamy » September 27th, 2010, 2:45 am

Newbie unfriendliness and lack of promotion. TDZK would've been fine if the playerbase had stayed fresh, but it very much became the same circle of (slowly dwindling) faces after 2.1.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Alucard » September 27th, 2010, 3:41 am

The admins turning off the site.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby X-Dume » September 27th, 2010, 7:17 am

Noob bashing...

New player was totaly destroyed by hunter in noob sector!
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby zmaniacz » September 27th, 2010, 7:27 am

When they made Harbinger a joke admin.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Andrew_tM » September 27th, 2010, 11:53 am

As always, it was a combination of these things.

The main killer was the fact that there were always more players leaving the game than joining the game from about 2.1/2.2 onwards.

The game was cut-throat and that was a great appeal to many - but it also drove off a lot of new players. There was little guidance available, no information on what to do, how to survive, what the dangers were.

Then you had the extreme rounds for players - 2.5 had too little space and there was no safety, not even any racials. This was terrible for new players. Then you got to Nomad and it was so big there was nobody else there, and it felt like playing alone. Not a great experience either. Remember that over probably 4-5 years TDZK didn't change enormously while the online game market changed drastically.

All the other little things contributed to this, pushing more people to leave, or fewer to stay, and so on. But realistically, without new people in to replace those who would inevitably leave, it was always a downhill spiral.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Iccyh » September 27th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Three-fold answer:
1. Lack of promotion and lack of retention
This has been discussed to a fair degree already, but the game would have been able to survive just fine if there had always been new players coming in even if all of the old players had left. There wasn't enough promotion of the game, and there wasn't enough of an effort to retain the players who came in.

2. Lack of solid commitment to alliances
The way that TDZK was built, team play was required to be able to do much of anything; the game was balanced around groups and solo players were quite limited in what they could do. Yet despite this, it was only relatively late in the game that solid support for alliances was built into the game. Forums, alliance management tools, uncapped alliances, all took a long time to be included and only after a lot of debate (THANK YOU SQUEE <3 <3 <3). Instead of fully embracing alliances and using them (and the community) as a platform for things like recruitment and retention of players, alliances were viewed by the admins as a very, very mixed blessing which perplexed me given how they'd built the game: it was never, ever supposed to be a solo game.

3. Lack of solid planning
This covers a lot of things that have been mentioned, but there really wasn't a good plan for where to take the game. I'd say this came down to admin dynamics: time limitations (especially for Squee), Aelanna's strength not being decision making (I still think Aelanna did an awesome job, just that decision making was/is *NOT* her strong suit), and Jerle a) not being there from 2.2-2.6 and b) misreading things when he returned. Its hard to fix the issues that are plaguing a game when there's no real plan in place for how to do it, and how to get to the point where they're all fixed.

I think that yes, while online gaming changed a lot over the course of TDZK's existence, 2.x (especially the Alternity rounds) was a damn good game and that it could have held up very well for a very long time if properly developed and marketed. Pushing the game in a direction that specifically catered to alliances, attracting players who enjoyed alliance play, and that pushed alliances into competition would have likely resulted in a game that would still be very, very alive and vibrant even today (and might have even been able to make a few $$$).

But, of course I'd say all that, right?
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby JSG » September 27th, 2010, 3:07 pm

fury!
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Andrew_tM » September 28th, 2010, 11:33 am

Although I love Iccyh as always, I must resume my traditional role as the ying to his yang and at least mildly disagree on one point.

Yeah, you know which point of the three it is already, Iccyh.

I think that you're right in that there was an awkward divide between solo play and alliance play. I'd also suggest that there was a lot which didn't really go either way - you focus on the lack of alliance stuff, I'd say that to start with - while this is the 'next step' for a new player, or any player, the 'final goal', the initial starting point to activity and a thriving game should also be able to do things solo. This was increasingly difficult, as everyone knows.

By all means, make the greater alliance challenges too, something to encourage that would have been great. More community involvement, working together, and so forth. Some sort of mechanism to do that would have been lovely. However, on the flip side, I think that the same for solo players would have resulted also in a thriving game too (although different to the one you envisage, naturally). Both would have been nice, of course!

(Also, while forum management, group management, many other things were utterly awesome - I will note on alliance caps the timing sucked. Alliance caps were a bad thing, and had they been removed in, say, 2.1 it would have been fantastic with the thriving multi-dimensional political sphere we had going on. Removing them in 2.5 was a bit more tiresome, as it meant you typically had people coalescing around fewer groups and slowly killing the diversity. That's undoubtedly much more to do with wider activity at the time than the capless alliance mechanism itself - people had gotten tired with forming, reforming, etc at that point - but still worth noting.)
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Solace » September 28th, 2010, 1:28 pm

I think the discussion here raises a number of strong points re: the decline of the game, but is missing the obvious: the game died because Nomad, in the end, was just not very good and should never have been released in the form it was in.

Sure, there were a lot of underlying structural improvements -- less exploitable code, a better base engine, more room for expansion, etc. -- but it was a mostly terrible user experience that couldn't hook new players and actively drove away the old ones.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Kazmo » September 28th, 2010, 3:37 pm

I don't know but I think fury figured out how the game worked and the admins gave up trying to come up with ways to stop fury from winning on the first day.

but seriously while Alliances were TDZK's best point it was also a point that hurt it a bit. Every round would have a max of 3 big alliances and most of the new players were solo or part of the small alliances. Small alliances then got throttled by big alliances and smaller alliances with the new players stopped playing. I really saw this in 3.0 in OotB. We had a good like 30-40 active or semi-active players and we started strong but then (due to questionable leadership) we got ownt and all the newer players went inactive for the rest of the round and we were comprised mostly of new players.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby zmaniacz » September 28th, 2010, 4:00 pm

Kazmo wrote:I don't know but I think fury figured out how the game worked and the admins gave up trying to come up with ways to stop fury from winning on the first day.

but seriously while Alliances were TDZK's best point it was also a point that hurt it a bit. Every round would have a max of 3 big alliances and most of the new players were solo or part of the small alliances. Small alliances then got throttled by big alliances and smaller alliances with the new players stopped playing. I really saw this in 3.0 in OotB. We had a good like 30-40 active or semi-active players and we started strong but then (due to questionable leadership) we got ownt and all the newer players went inactive for the rest of the round and we were comprised mostly of new players.


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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Iccyh » September 28th, 2010, 6:32 pm

A lot of the issues mentioned about alliances would have been solved simply by the game being larger and having more players. It takes a lot of effort to organize alliances, so as more people join a game like TDZK the tendency isn't to more people in the same alliances as much as it more alliances.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby foamy » September 28th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Solace wrote:I think the discussion here raises a number of strong points re: the decline of the game, but is missing the obvious: the game died because Nomad, in the end, was just not very good and should never have been released in the form it was in.

Sure, there were a lot of underlying structural improvements -- less exploitable code, a better base engine, more room for expansion, etc. -- but it was a mostly terrible user experience that couldn't hook new players and actively drove away the old ones.


That much is true, and certainly had the admins simply kept resetting, say, the Alternity code things could well have continued longer, but the long-term trend was downwards for a good while before Nomad, and even before Retro. Retro accelerated things; Nomad threw them off a cliff.

A fully featured Nomad could've been excellent, but what we got was two teeth and a thighbone of a T-rex fossil.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby ECAFRUNOTABMUN » September 30th, 2010, 3:39 am

zer0das wrote:Mechanically weak rounds was part of it (2.3, 2.7).

People cheating to the point that their actions affected entire rounds was probably the largest factor- and then these same people being allowed to play the game with scarcely a slap on the wrist. Carlos, Wolverine, etc.

The existence of trigger scripts which were around since god knows when... maybe as far back as 2.2 or even earlier? Their proliferation after it became obvious the admins 1. were not adequately punishing those who had them 2. it was questionable whether they could even ID who had them through their moderation tools, despite it being pretty obvious to anyone with a brain stem who actually played the game (at least the big names).

Prematurely ending 2.6 without a solid plan for 2.7 was also a huge factor. A return to 1.0 was perhaps the worst possible thing that could have been done. I'm somewhat convinced part of the reason this ill conceived plan was carried out was because the way 2.6 went down. 8002 was rebuilt putting the admins at a bit of a crossroads- do they let Fury dominate for another couple months, or do they yank the round before people get disinterested, even if they're not at all prepared for a new round? In either case, I think neither choice was optimal.

Also- 2.6 was pretty much the culmination of the cheating, despite 2.3's being much more well documented. Rereading my logs, the amount of questionable crap that happened in this round was unbelievable. We had people hacking an inactive account in our alliance, and the parties responsible don't get booted from the game instantly? What the crap.


I'm just going to directly address bits and pieces of this to give perspective. I'm awesome like that.

Moderator tools were implemented to monitor the whole "money" situation after the original exploit, though extremely bare bones and required lots of leg work on the operators part.

Trigger scripts; unless I 'infiltrated' a particular alliance, the only proof you have is someone going "BOO! HE KILLED ME!". I was an active player and was never on the receiving end, and just going around ban hammering everyone would've just turned it into a mess of a witchhunt. There was NO moderator tools available to help with this.

Typically in game bannings were required to be justified and able to show evidence. Difficulties of operating in a communication vacuum (I couldn't really start messaging people ingame going "oh hai? are yourz cheatin lawl?"), and often unless someone sent in a support ticket it got very difficult to spot particular things or people coming back under aliases for instance.

I also find it funneh that #TDZK-staff was never a channel I was ever allowed into :( Bunch of fgts tbh.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby zer0das » September 30th, 2010, 9:07 am

I traded for a solid round. I watch every single "top" trader go down. Granted, most of them are idiots and have no idea how to survive, I get that. The fact that they all die in about a day or two though seems highly, highly suspicious though. 1. You have to know their locations. You can compile this information ahead of time, but they're going to move. Tracking them all is nontrivial. 2. You have to trigger on them. Point 1 is simple compared to this, because most of these people are on relatively fast connections- if you have the same ping/connection speed, the trader is essentially invincible barring a severe screw up.

Trading during Euro times was virtually impossible for me. It wasn't because I refused to- it was because the server was essentially being DoSed, near as I could tell. One person would come on, completely unable to do anything. Person idles out, lag suddenly improves to being tradable. Logs on again, reverts back to the previous situation. This happened for the entire round. Know how I died? I traded, the person logged on, I decide to make one last trade, and then I got a page not found- the server was overloaded, I was left out in space, and I died.

This happened exactly once in my entire TDZK career. I had situations where my browser would freeze but then resume shortly (I even died once due to that), never had one where it completely died and I was unable to login for an extended time. I pissed and moaned about the lag for the entire round to my alliance, and they were like "You're just imagining it." I don't really think you can imagine that sort of thing. Trading at nights was fine- it wasn't the difference in the number of people online either. I was pretty much fully expecting to die at some point, because the situation was absolutely ridiculous.

Then 8002 happens and we had trouble getting any significant number of restockers on despite the fact the planet is over a node and the raid was at a time no one is typically on. Yeah sure, planet raids cause lag- like that? I teleported from 8002 to a completely different sector, and then back to 8002, and then died. That's the tip of the iceberg as far as retarded stuff that never happened before then. You could say "oh, an event like 8002 was unprecedented" but that's not really true. Asgard had been raided by the Kitchen Sink, there was never anything remotely like that. The player numbers may have spiked over what the Kitchen Sink had at times, but anomalies were present before then. As far as I'm concerned, SD distributed trigger scripts to every single hunter in their alliance. And even if they didn't, they may as well have- the same stupid rainbowssss would have happened.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. we rebuilt 8002. So who has the last laugh. ;)
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Andrew_tM » September 30th, 2010, 11:40 am

I'd strongly doubt that such things were distributed to everyone, or we'd have heard much more about it.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby zer0das » September 30th, 2010, 12:12 pm

Well, not for the entire round obviously. But for 8002? I would be more surprised if it were only one or two given how ridiculously glitchy everything was. TDZK had a lot of bugs over the years, but when you see anomaly after anomaly after anomaly when the server probably shouldn't be stretched any more thinly than it was in the past the majority of the time... it looks a mite suspicious. Maybe half a dozen? A dozen? I don't know. People have their little "victory" over Fury, everyone goes off and celebrates and no one uses it because they've "won." There's no point, it would just raise further suspicion.

It's not like SD had some high moral standards or anything. With Magma's "sister" mysteriously showing up in our alliance, and members hacking/guessing an inactive's password, I wouldn't put it past them. Was it even limited to SD? Who really knows? Of course it's all conjecture, there's only a few people I could tell you almost assuredly used them. Anything beyond that is simply paranoia- I'm sure most of the plebians were unaware of what was going down (or I'd like to think so). Unfortunately, the grim reality of the situation was that the cheats were far ahead of the detection tools, so unless someone implicates everyone they were aware of who had them, we'll probably never know. The only ones we do know of are the dolts who were brazen about it. And even then, who is to say that someone else wasn't?

The complete inability to detect this sort of thing with the game engine was probably a huge reason for going to gimmick rounds and the early switch to Nomad.

I'd almost like to say it makes my blood boil- but it really doesn't anymore. It's more sad than anything. At the time it pissed me off, sure. But now that the game is gone, it just makes Fury's legacy stronger for essentially facing all this garbage and still saying "Sorry, we're not lying down even though we're beaten and bloodied. Here's 8002 version 2, your efforts were for nothing."

And of course, we have Silver Horde to thank for the notion that even in utter defeat, we can still emerge, stand stronger, and burn with a fire brighter than anyone else can. And that is a victory in itself. It's a shame the game went down like it did.

(Also, and I never thought I'd say this- I kind of miss those treacherous Poles :oops: ).
Last edited by zer0das on September 30th, 2010, 3:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Iccyh » September 30th, 2010, 2:21 pm

I don't know about every hunter, but if you had a half-dozen people with the script (which is certainly plausible) in the same sector, then things would get ugly fast.
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby JSG » October 4th, 2010, 5:25 pm

someone is a little sad he lost still....
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Irishdrunk » October 5th, 2010, 9:28 pm

zer0das wrote:I traded for a solid round. I watch every single "top" trader go down. Granted, most of them are idiots and have no idea how to survive, I get that. The fact that they all die in about a day or two though seems highly, highly suspicious though. 1. You have to know their locations. You can compile this information ahead of time, but they're going to move. Tracking them all is nontrivial. 2. You have to trigger on them. Point 1 is simple compared to this, because most of these people are on relatively fast connections- if you have the same ping/connection speed, the trader is essentially invincible barring a severe screw up.

Trading during Euro times was virtually impossible for me. It wasn't because I refused to- it was because the server was essentially being DoSed, near as I could tell. One person would come on, completely unable to do anything. Person idles out, lag suddenly improves to being tradable. Logs on again, reverts back to the previous situation. This happened for the entire round. Know how I died? I traded, the person logged on, I decide to make one last trade, and then I got a page not found- the server was overloaded, I was left out in space, and I died.

This happened exactly once in my entire TDZK career. I had situations where my browser would freeze but then resume shortly (I even died once due to that), never had one where it completely died and I was unable to login for an extended time. I pissed and moaned about the lag for the entire round to my alliance, and they were like "You're just imagining it." I don't really think you can imagine that sort of thing. Trading at nights was fine- it wasn't the difference in the number of people online either. I was pretty much fully expecting to die at some point, because the situation was absolutely ridiculous.

Then 8002 happens and we had trouble getting any significant number of restockers on despite the fact the planet is over a node and the raid was at a time no one is typically on. Yeah sure, planet raids cause lag- like that? I teleported from 8002 to a completely different sector, and then back to 8002, and then died. That's the tip of the iceberg as far as retarded stuff that never happened before then. You could say "oh, an event like 8002 was unprecedented" but that's not really true. Asgard had been raided by the Kitchen Sink, there was never anything remotely like that. The player numbers may have spiked over what the Kitchen Sink had at times, but anomalies were present before then. As far as I'm concerned, SD distributed trigger scripts to every single hunter in their alliance. And even if they didn't, they may as well have- the same stupid rainbowssss would have happened.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. we rebuilt 8002. So who has the last laugh. ;)
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Irishdrunk » October 6th, 2010, 2:20 pm

Stupid forums what happened to what i fooking wrote...... :evil:
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Re: What Killed TDZK?

Postby Andrew_tM » October 7th, 2010, 9:07 am

You have to write something first :p
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