Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
I hope you are all enjoying the December period so far and settling in for the holidays! This post will be a large, end-of-year update that will cover several topics: most of which affect the entire community in one way or another. This will include summarising what our goals and intentions are as a leadership team as we move into 2017 as well as addressing numerous topics that are at the forefront of the community's attention and concern. There are a few key changes to the admin team's leadership roles that I would like to touch on in this update that also affect everyone. On top of that, there are a few festive activities to note near the footer of this post as well. Please ensure you take the time to read through this update in full - it'll be split into many different sub-headings as you will see below.
The regular monthly staff team post will still be up on January 1st to summarise promotions/TA, etc.
LS-RP SURVEY 2016 FEEDBACK
Again, I would like to thank everyone who chipped in with a response to the LS-RP Survey we ran a few months ago. I think this will be a valuable survey to run once or twice a year to get a whole lot of feedback in one place that we can use to shape up the server and let the voice of the community show us what changes are needed the most. I recently sat down to go through the responses and, for the year of 2016, I think most of the issues that are weighing on everyone's minds are already well-known and talked about. These "hot topics" for change are going to be what we'll focus on next, and I will touch on those in this notice in more depth. Before I do, I'll share the first two questions in the survey so you can see the range of players that responded to the survey, and what their background is on the server:
Quite an even spread both across the years and between illegal and legal role-play backgrounds! I believe that once we tackle the more prominent issues that most people comment about in their survey responses, the survey will be more valuable as everyone will get another opportunity to chip in with their thoughts of what's on their mind next.
STAFF TEAM LEADERSHIP CHANGES
Based on the feedback of the community and what I can personally see in the staff team, I decided that I needed to mix things up a bit and try and improve the efficiency behind some of the staff team processes. That meant that I reviewed the roles that our core leadership team (Level 4+) hold at the moment, and made some changes:
NEW HEAD OF ADMINS - GUS
I have held both Head of Staff and Head of Admins for some time now, and gus has been helping me with some of the workload so we can try and cover all bases. I think the experience that gus has on the server as a staff member is better utilised entirely in a role like Head of Admins, as opposed to his current role of Head of Properties. That way, we can work towards the admin team functioning more efficiently and have someone solely dedicated to watching over it, as well as having myself over-viewing the entire staff team and the core leadership team. He has expressed interest in the position, and I will work with him to ensure a smooth transition as he takes on his new responsibilities.
With someone solely dedicated to watching the admin team as their primary role, we will be placing a focus on ensuring that Report Players, Refund Requests, Ban Appeals and Tickets are monitored more closely and wrapped up in a timely fashion (ideally 24-72 hours) and thus keep the wheels turning. Reports on admins will still be monitored closely but they are not down to one person to conclude - they are split across the admin team's mentor program. A dedicated Head of Admins can try and ensure they are also wrapped up in a timely fashion for the players. Gus will now be your point of contact for admin-team related queries as well as the person you send your admin reports in to.
Congratulations to gus on becoming the Head of Admins.
REMOVAL OF THE "HEAD OF FORUM MODERATORS" ROLE
This is a role that I have never been fond of, and I felt that splitting the Tester Team as a whole down the middle and having two people have their hand in the running of the team jumbled up the processes too much. The Tester Team is our main staff base and, for most people, it's a transition from Tester to Forum Moderator to TA to Game Admin. My preference (with the person's cooperation) is to have one person look over the Tester Team as a whole as their sole role and dedicate their full time to just over-viewing that team. Jakey is happy to take this on and will absorb the Head of FM/SFM position and continue as the Head of Testers, overlooking the entire Tester Team and working on the efficiency behind the process of moving through the Forum Moderator ranks. He will now be the one, single point of contact for anything tying to the Tester Team, including regular Testers, Forum Moderators and Senior Forum Moderators.
NEW HEAD OF PROPERTIES - SPARX
Sparx previously held the role of Head of FM/SFM but will now move on to taking gus' previous role as Head of Properties. Whilst this role isn't people-related, it is quite an integral role as the individual who holds it controls the majority of property changes, requests, auctions and so on. It requires a keen eye. The main focus with the change of leadership will be to allow Sparx to fully dedicate his time to the Head of Properties role to ensure all our property-related bases are covered and the community has a good point of contact for any property-related queries.
My main concern for Head of Properties at this time is ensuring that all house, business and garage requests are always handled within a 24-72 hour range so we do not fall behind and people do not have to wait longer periods to start using their property as desired. It's also important that inactive properties are taken from inactive players on a frequent basis and that these properties are available to buy or (if past a certain price threshold) are quickly available to the players via a property auction. I think having the property requests section handled on a very consistent is the primary point here, as that affects a lot of players on a daily/weekly basis. It's all about keeping the property system moving and having the amount of vacant or inactive properties minimal at any time. We have a few fresh ideas for properties, and we will be working with Sparx as the new Head of Properties to try out some of our ideas down the line. He is enthusiastic about his new role, and I certainly hope that enthusiasm extends on to the community.
Congratulations to Sparx on becoming Head of Properties.
As mentioned in previous notices, we will be graduating our new Tester-Admin Scheme batch (the _Tests you see in-game) and be looking at bringing in another batch as soon as viable. This will likely be January/February, so we can bolster our administrator coverage for the server around the clock. More on that in the staff updates.
BUSINESS & LEASE SYSTEM
As you may have noticed in the General Discussions section, I have been replying to a thread about the state of businesses, and the current lease system on the server. I completely agree that these two areas are dated and inefficient, and this will be one of the first major re-vamps that we will be looking at as we move into 2017. Whilst I cannot exactly release the specifics of what changes will be made (as they are still under discussion), the general idea is that we want businesses to be used a whole lot more and have consistent business activity so players can visit them and role-play in them. For example: having a thriving and consistent night-life on the server for players who are on at peak.
To give you an idea of what I mean: one of the ideas is to update the abilities of business owners down the line (/furniture, etc) to create more diversity in businesses and to place them all on a cost-free lease system. We want businesses to be more available to players who have great role-play ideas and motivation, as opposed to just those who have managed to amass a large fortune of cash over the years. Businesses would then be seen as something that any player can attain if they have the right mindset, and can keep for as long as they actively role-play with it and open it. The current lease system as it stands is not very effective, and some improvements can definitely be made there.
We will be making strides as a leadership team and with the newly appointed Head of Properties and Lease to try and come up with a better system that benefits the players and promotes role-play with businesses. There are already a few threads open on this topic, so feel free to chip in with your thoughts. If we need any focused discussion on the new Business/Lease system down the line, we will most certainly reach out with new discussion threads.
THE AVAILABILITY OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS
This has been noted to be another primary concern of people on the server. Whilst, yes, anyone can say that you just need the "right connections" - it should not be near-impossible for some players to get their hands on an illegal weapon. This is also one of the reasons that the PF License system is being constantly abused by players - although it's definitely not an excuse to break our server rules and you will still receive a server ban! It is typically believed that it should be easier to purchase an illegal weapon than it should be to purchase a legal weapon via the license route. Our weapons system relies on Official Illegal Factions buying weapons from their warehouses and passing them down through the ranks, and through other illegal factions like gangs until they are finally distributed amongst the player-base through gun deals for profit. Whilst this makes sense, it means that it's reliant on a few select groups of players to function.
We are actively working on changes that will improve the availability of illegal weapons to unofficial factions and players without disrupting the entire market or flooding the server with guns, but you have to understand that because of that: it is not an instant process and it needs to be done the right way as not to upset the balance. We will also be placing a focus on ensuring that Official Factions fulfil their obligations to distribute weapons from their warehouse.
LOS SANTOS' MAYOR & ELECTION SYSTEM
As you may have already heard, we are in need of another Mayor of Los Santos. The current Mayor is no longer available to fulfil the role, and the Deputy Mayor will be in charge until we decide what to do next.
The election system (as a whole) is not where we want it to be and feel it is far too open-ended. For a Mayor to be functional, the system should not purely be a popularity contest and we feel that there needs to be a more comprehensive assessment of each candidate for both their competency in such a role (as the leader of City Government) and what they can bring to the table with the role. Instead of immediately launching another election, Faction Management will be reviewing what can be done with the position/system for the next Mayoral appointment.
SERVER APPLICATION SYSTEM
Another area of focus will be re-vamping the process for players to get into the server. Many people have expressed concerns that people that aren't fit for LS-RP have been getting into the server with too much ease and are disrupting the role-play environment with poor role-play or deathmatch. There is obviously never going to be a 100% fix for stopping certain players getting into the server, but we can certainly do our best to try and adapt the application system to keep out the players who are not fit for this server - i.e. no idea how to role-play, or are not able to communicate properly in English. This is one of the things that we will be trying to set into motion in the short-term.
For everyone's awareness: once our developers are finished on their major projects in January, we will be looking at the "easy wins" of development and what the players are looking to see implemented or changed that will not take very long. The focus will shift onto frequent, regular updates rather than long-term development processes. This means we can try and tackle some of the players' concerns. I will allow Mmartin to touch more on that himself if he wishes.
We will also be looking at releasing ~monthly progress updates on what's being worked on, and what's next for the development team as we move into working on smaller projects. Transparency with the community is key here.
SUPPORT TICKET SYSTEM
The Ticket System is one of our support back-bones, but the amount of tickets that we receive compared to the size of our team is absolutely astounding. Hundreds upon hundreds of tickets are submitted on a weekly basis, and this is another area of focus that I would like to shape up. Otter has volunteered to take on the role of Head of Tickets, and he is our new point of contact for the Ticket System. He has been doing an exceptional job so far, and has been clearing out the Ticket System on a daily/weekly basis and is trying to keep it all under control. With the help of our team in the long-run, we will be trying to find a good, consistent balance of staff participation that keeps the system efficient.
THE SUGGESTIONS FORUM
Everyone has always expressed their concerns with the fact that the suggestions forum has essentially been a neglected pit of ideas since the section was first created years and years ago. At this stage, the suggestions forum has become a very large, un-moderated pool of ideas and threads and there is certainly way too much there to tackle with our staff and development team. It has, for the most part, been left unsupervised and we intend to change that.
As we move into the new year, a small team will be going through the entire section (with development insight) and cleaning out any of the suggestions that are not feasible, or will not be accepted. It will be quite time-consuming, but the whole section will be cleaned out and freshened up for the first time in a very long while. What will finally remain will be a more tight-knit, sensible pool of ideas that we can use for ideas and implementations down the line. We value your suggestions, but they are not always possible due to time and/or script constraints.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW - EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY AUCTION
Two exclusive, fully furnished properties with a magnificent view of the Los Santos cityscape will be up for auction soon. This was a venture into seeing how working with the /furniture system turns out when you use a personal world of Los Santos as your base and work around the exterior shape of the house for realism purposes. This means these properties have fully functional windows, and you can see out into the city of Los Santos in all its glory.
These will be the only properties available for sale with this feature at this time. Similar to the exclusive vehicle auctions, this is an exclusive auction! Do not request to have this set on your own personal property.
Keep an eye on the auction section - don't miss out!
HOLIDAY PERIOD PROPERTY INACTIVITY SALES
Property sales due to inactive users will be halted over the holiday period due to people being busy with their families, going overseas, going on holiday trips and so on. As of this message, any owners of properties that have not logged in for two weeks will not have their properties sold over December, but the inactivity sales will resume as of January 10th so please ensure that you have updated your login by then. If you will be inactive beyond January 10th then follow the usual process and contact the Head of Properties (now Sparx) about your inactivity.
HOLIDAY EXCLUSIVE VEHICLE AUCTIONS
This December, we will be holding another opportunity for everyone to get their hands on an "exclusive" vehicle via auction. You can bid on an Infernus, Super GT, Turismo, Hotknife or BF Injection this time around.
More information on that to come shortly. Keep an eye on the auction section - don't miss out!
Nearer the end of the month, we will hold some form of giveaway/competition for the community to get their hands on some Steam/Origin game prizes as well as bronze, silver and gold donation packages for the server. That will be commented on soon enough when we have established what prizes will be up for grabs!
Thanks for taking the time to read LS-RP's Christmas/Holiday 2016 update. I hope you enjoy the holiday period both on and off the server and take the time to participate in our auctions and giveaway/competition as the year comes to a close. We'll continue to work on new changes and ideas as we progress through the year of 2017.