This is a follow up to the original thread “A Letter to the Developers”, from April 2016.
(I have learned my lesson from the first thread; this letter is addressed from me personally. I cannot speak for the community.)
I have supported and been a part of this community from day one. My opinion has varied from time to time about the state of the game. I was disappointed for a while, to say the least; I felt you had lost touch with the community and what the game was supposed to be. But I love where the game is right now.
The lobbies feel alive during peaks, with game world servers easy to find for most games. Just this year alone, we saw a complete lobby revamp, achievements, fishing, and an inventory/selling UI rehaul with two new maps and a visual overhaul of four. It’s hard for me not to see the spirit in the team to bring the best content possible. But there are some underlying issues that TU continues to have that hinder the game from actually reaching its potential even in its current state.
I love your current focus on the Plaza. One of the issues the game has always had was the plazas feeling empty, because what were you doing there other than gambling? Lobby 3 was a game changer. It pushed all the shops together, removed unneeded clutter, made the lobby look more in line with its theme, and added water slides. With the addition of achievements, it gave the plaza a reason to be played. You could explore and find hidden stuffed animals, you could play at the minigames pad, ride the lazy river, and now: fish. At release, I really didn’t enjoy fishing. It was difficult, and I thought it would be a plaza activity I wouldn’t visit. However, three hot fixes later, I really like it. Thank goodness for the added color difficulty indicators, and it’s now easier (if you were unfortunate enough to get a very difficult fish, you knew you were getting man handled). Which is another thing I really love about the team now: your ability to tweak your updates relatively quickly to adapt to how the community feels. This is also one of the very few dev teams to be so open with your development plans. I have checked the Trello at least once a week for four years now, just because I know I will see changes and new cards. We also get detailed (and updated) threads about future plans and updates. We are getting an arcade with over thirty detailed machines. If you check the Trello you can find an insane number of future updates (although disregard the time standards, all this will take years not quartiles) and this is only the content we are aware of. Who knows what the future holds, but it looks bright.
During updates, we see a surge in players and the game feels alive and plentiful. During down season however, we get to average lows below four hundred. Now don’t get me wrong, GMT could only handle 124 players maximum, so TU beats that by a long shot. GMT was only two lobbies and a handful of game servers. TU is ten official lobbies and player hosted game servers, with individual condo servers. During peak, it would be suicide to attempt to join a plaza server with over forty players. The lobbies, as they currently stand, cannot handle their listed maximum. The experience is a jittery nightmare for nearly everyone. Even now in lobbies with twenty players, I constantly frame lag and skip frames. With the massive arcade update approaching, I think you should seriously consider looking into a resolution to this issue before the plazas get flooded. During down season, the plazas can feel quiet as the players are spread out on different servers or different areas of the large map. The chat issue was fixed with the introduction of global chat, but physical plaza loneliness exists. I believe you should strongly consider prioritizing bringing spirits back. If I recall, they were originally removed due to lag issues(?). They added a real presence to the server so that all the players across lobbies could see each other spiritually (although I wish the model was more creative). The plaza is looking great, but it needs to run well during peak and feel more alive during down season.
The worst crutch to the game, in my opinion, is the player hosted minigame servers and workshop models. With desync and lag, there have been several attempts to combat the issue of a player hosting the server, such as A Quality of Life update. These - updates - barely - help. Slashing in Virus is a coin flip. All Ballrace maps are a slip n’ slide for non hosts. The host can literally shut the server down at anytime. I understand the financial reasoning behind not paying for your own dedicated minigame servers, but I cannot enjoy anything outside of Minigolf or Zombie Massacre with how the current servers are handled. I don’t think there is a game mechanic that can be implemented to negate the immense upperhand the host will always have and the desync that the rest of the players encounter. Open a Patreon or donation panel on the TU website specifically for game servers. I don’t think the gameworlds will ever be an enjoyable experience for all players on the servers until a dedicated server is made; the host player has an advantage while the other players have mild to severe disadvantages. To touch on player models; make them resize to normal height in gameworlds. I am sick and tired of coin sized models on Virus.
If I didn’t love you, game, and community, I wouldn’t have stayed with the community this long or spent all this time writing a thread. Every update the team updates brings fixes and content that matters. I am so excited for the future, and I am glad you are adding a bunch to the Plaza to keep players occupied when focus gets shifted to gameworlds. I am glad you stay as transparent as you do, even adding a new community manager for community events. But you need to fix how the plazas handle players and how gameworld servers are managed.