I'm back

Posted 4 months ago by tom

Hi All,

Firstly welcome all new players, and old players, hopefully you will appreciate this post.

I started developing Zapoco in back in the summer of 2017, myself being the only developer took until January 2018 before I felt the game had a good enough initial concept and features to open its doors to the public. I always wanted the game concept and features to grow based on the community feedback, I quickly started developing new features based on the communities advice. At this point I felt I had total control of the core game structure and features, being the only developer I could quickly identity and fix any problems. I also wanted Zapoco to keep a 'minimum' style of gameplay, limited solo features to push players to work together and build a community. I always wanted 'Safehouses' to be at the core of the community.

After the first 4 months of opening Zapoco to the public the community was growing and was starting to thrive, I took on 2 very active players as helpers, to assist with collecting feedback and providing support to new players. I still felt in control and enjoying growing Zapoco. The 2 helpers where very happy in there role and I very much appreciated them.

Now 6 months since opening, the community was continuing to grow, as was the pressure to develop and release new features with players wanting to see new releases almost on a weekly basis. At this point I should of reviewed the development progress and focus on adding new content and building on the existing features. At this time 4 very active, top players who I knew through the game community approached me and offered to help develop features, 3 of them having coding knowledge and the other a very good writer. I was very cautious having invested 1,000s of hours of my life into building Zapoco up to this point wanting to let other people have access to my code & database. NDA's where drawn up and things went off to a flying start, the new dev team had access to the core code and development server. I remained in control of the live server and database. Not with the new dev team onboard the original helpers felt pushed out and stood down from their roles, maybe this should of set my alarm bells ringing…

After a month or so (Summer 2018) with the new 'dev' team onboard many new features where being developed, working together to compile code and fix bugs. We had a roadmap in place but all the team had different ideas of what features should be released and when, looking back at this point I should of taken more of a leadership role and acted with more authority. I started to feel like I was loosing control, being put under a lot of pressure from the team and developing Zapoco didn't feel as enjoyable, at this point member of the dev team left to focus on their real life. I was working through the night, not sleeping and started to drift away from my real life.

In September 2018 I had a serious event happen in my life which meant I couldn't be online as much, initially the team where very understanding but by November/December 2018 I felt they started to turn against me. Having invested 1,000's of hours over the last 18months of my life into Zapoco, I still didn't feel comfortable giving full access to the games database on production server to the dev team. I reassured the team I would be back in time once I had fixed myself, looking back I still think 2 of the 3 team members didn’t believe me. January/February 2019 they all left.

Since February 2019 I have started feeling better, maybe because I don’t have the pressure of the team, Zapoco is becoming fun again for me, a new player in particular has boosted my drive and focus again. Over the last few days I have been updating the server and code base, tidying some content up, doing a lot of thinking and getting excited for the future of Zapoco. Initially I will be adding more content, particularly new awards and quests. I will keep you updated on progress and I will create another thread on the future roadmap.

I’m feeling glad to be back, continuing to build Zapoco with you, and looking forward to see the community thrive together. Any older players please feel free to leave your thoughts below or message me if you have any concerns.

Tom

15

Logy 4 months ago

Glad to see you back again!

4-Sale. PM me. 4 months ago

Glad to see you back, honestly tho.... why not at least let us know what was going on at all during that time. I think Zap had/has the opportunity to be something big and I invested lots of time into growing new players and trying to make the game grow. I spent more money on this game than I had on any game Since being married(about 4 years) then it felt like you just dropped off the face of the earth. I really hope to see you make a recovery with the game, but I will have a hard time getting back to where i was due to the very long hiatus that we were all completely unaware of. As far as having the devs "turn against you" I think that is a very unfair statement. They worked their asses off trying to keep public interest while you were away recovering from whatever it was that hit you so hard. I know of many things they had ready for you and all you had to do was implement. Yet here we are going back to December and restarting. Sincerly, Tman23 Padfoot ThePad

4-Sale. PM me. 4 months ago

also, jesus... fix the formatting on forum post pls

hunterdab 4 months ago

hey get to see you back hope the roadmap feature works well

Seabiscuit 4 months ago

Honestly you should just do a wipe at this point if you're serious this time- There's been too many months of abuse with things like the hammock or fish tacos, both seem fixed now, but that's still a lot of accounts (me included!) that used the heck out of them and new players have no chance of competing ever.

freezeep 4 months ago

I would also probably be good with a reset, I might be one of the few people who never left and I just keep grinding away during the work week and haven't been able to budge past 95th place and this is using whiskeys and 100s into stats over and over all day for weeks. A reset would wipe out all the burner accounts and make it more fair for people like me who never knew about any exploits.

So, how come that as soon as you come back some features seem to disappear from the game (have to sow/harvest plots individually again, the food section of the inventory is now gone, with the over 100 fish I had in there)? These are just the changes I found in the first 5 minutes of playing today... I'm confused.

Zazyman 4 months ago

Hi all, I'm Zazyman, a long-standing player of Zapoco and friends with the ex-developers and many other veteran players. I'd just like to point out a few things with Tom's post which newer players may not be privy to, and I'll refer to the post going from top to bottom: > being the only developer I could quickly identity and fix any problems. This simply isn't true. The community felt (rightly so) that Tom was actually struggling to keep up with dealing with bugs when updates were released, and so it was suggested to him that he takes on help from several community members to ease the burden. Updates after the dev team became a thing were far fewer and were much less severe. One particular bug was so bad that the game slowed down so much it took minutes to complete any single action. > ... limited solo features to push players to work together and build a community. I always wanted 'Safehouses' to be at the core of the community. If this is true, they why has there been no real development for safehouses? The two main updates for safehouses have been a safehouse inventory and the safehouse kitchens. That's it. Sure, some safehouse roles have been added after a long time of needing them but they are very primitive. The game forces you to join a (highly-upgraded) safehouse because of high max happiness and its the only easy way of getting food reliably. Outside of shoving grain and vaccines in and taking bread out, there is no reason to interact with your safehouse. Squad raids, implemented properly by the dev team, have brought players together but don't relate to safehouses at all. If safehouses were truly part of Tom's vision, then he would have pushed for more safehouse features. With all that said, I haven't even mentioned safehouse raids. New players don't know they exist because they have been removed, and they have been removed as they were buggy and unbalanced. Surely this would have been a higher priority early on of Tom wanted to have the game be a safehouse-centric one? > Now 6 months since opening, the community was continuing to grow, as was the pressure to develop and release new features with players wanting to see new releases almost on a weekly basis The players, to my memory, has never "pressured" Tom into providing more updates. In fact, we were as a whole patient with Tom and wanted quality releases, not rushed ones. > the new dev team had access to the core code and development server. I remained in control of the live server and database ... [Some helpers stepped down], maybe this should of set my alarm bells ringing This, when bringing on total strangers to your project in its infancy whilst its just taking off makes perfect sense. However, later on this becomes a massive problem when Tom leaves for practically months at a time, and the dev teams have bug fixes literally ready and waiting just to be deployed and they can't because of this major bottleneck in production. The devs have pours hours of time and even their own money into the game just by playing it, and have now given time developing it, only to be shut away from truly being able to help the game. > We had a roadmap in place but all the team had different ideas of what features should be released and when, looking back at this point I should of taken more of a leadership role and acted with more authority The team had several ideas from the community. They actually went to the players and talked to them, asked them what they liked, didn't like and what they wanted. As for taking a leadership role: Perhaps you should have. Or maybe a better idea was realising you have a good deal of expertise at your disposal, willing to work for nothing and acted as a facilitator for the team to really help the game grow. Instead Tom was incredibly distant from development, barely communicating with his team and doing next to nothing. > In September 2018 I had a serious event happen in my life which meant I couldn't be online as much, initially the team where very understanding but by November/December 2018 I felt they started to turn against me. That's purposely very vague. This time perfectly crystallises why the development team quit, and how it could have been easily avoided. On the 29th of August, land ran out (back when land was limited). Before then, several members have expressed their concerns about land running out, and I *constantly* pestered the development team that land was running out about a month before it did, and was promised an update was coming to fix this problem. Fast forward a month, and there was no land. There was no announcement, nothing. After some time, ThunderGunExpress made an announcement saying that more land was coming. On Discord, it was mentioned by the team that the update has been made, tested and ready to go. However, who was the only person with access to the live server? And who wasn't going to be around for the next few months? Tom. This was an issue that was clearly going to come a few months before it did. And Tom made no preparations made by Tom to make sure the game could keep running smoothly in his absence even though he now had a team to help him. The team kept trying to reach out to him to tell him how bad it was getting (Since new players were not able to play the game properly at all since land is central to gameplay) but he did not do anything, not even come online for an hour or so to deploy the update or give them temporary access to push code to the live server. I won't rant any more about this time period since I've done it enough in other places, but look at the other points where Tom says the dev team is at fault, when truly you can see he could have taken a few simple steps to make the game far more enjoyable. And by the team didn't "turn against him", they gave him many chances to come back and fix what had happened. When you leave your team for almost half a year, can you really expect them to just wait patiently? And what if there was no team, just leave the game without any development whatsoever for 6 months? > [last two paragraphs] Ask any veteran player of the game whether you can trust Tom in terms of promising something for the future, and they will tell you that you can't. So many times has he promised to "come back", and so many times the date that he promised to come back has been pushed back and back. We will not be purchasing any more donator packs, and the development team will not devote any more time to developing the game. If anyone would like to know more about more of the history with Tom, the dev team and previous events then feel free to message me on discord (preferable) or in game, I'll be happy to talk more about past events. I'm sure there are some other veteran players that will tell you about what has happened before.

Romeo 4 months ago

let the game go on

Romeo 4 months ago

I had over 300 fish ..what happened to them ..and produce and sow all feature ?

Bigelowed 4 months ago

Good luck Tom, thank you for letting me finally sell off my land.

ThunderGunExpress 4 months ago

>being the only developer I could quickly identity and fix any problems Okay yeah that's not how it works, why do you think everything else in the world has teams? >NDA's where drawn up and things went off to a flying start Right here Tom is leaving out the NDA's stated we were to be given Production code and database access >We had a roadmap in place but all the team had different ideas of what features should be released and when Almost none of this was conceived or developed by Tom, and the few pieces that were had to be redone or revamped. >In September 2018 I had a serious event happen in my life which meant I couldn't be online as much, initially the team where very understanding but by November/December 2018 This timeline is inaccurate, and also we never turned on Tom, or ever acted like it, we showed extreme patience (I have discord and text messages to back all of this up) and Tom continually lied to us, ghosted us, and is now trying to shove the blame. >Since February 2019 I have started feeling better, maybe because I don’t have the pressure of the team, Zapoco is becoming fun again for me, a new player in particular has boosted my drive and focus again oddly enough that coincides with a huge drop in revenue from the game when most of the playerbase quit because you had put zero effort into the game and let it crumble to pieces.

ThunderGunExpress 4 months ago

Thank you for the reply and support Tman23, we need to go back to Zapoco's roots and look at and build on what makes it so great. On reflection I think the issues started when top players transitioned to developers, when individual players/developers are pushing for their individual features to be pushed it just doesn't work, the direction has to be driven by the community..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................Tom, this is one of the biggest dick comments you've ever written.

tierbeer 4 months ago

Oh gosh, here we go haha. Some of you guys might remember me, but I was one of the devs who helped Tom last year. (Although, I think technically I was more writer/whip cracker/scrum master/PM/tom wrangler than true developer.) I'd heard some rumblings and wanted to add a few thoughts (that are probably surprising to no one, but y'all know how much I love words.) TGE, Maser, Merlin, and I all started helping with the game purely because we loved it, and we wanted to make it better. Yes, we were some of the top players, but we also had close relationships with most major players in the game, and collectively, we had our fingers on the pulse of what the player base wanted. We also had the skills to help make things better. And honestly? We did make things better. We had some hiccups, sure (cough HUNGER GUYS I'M SORRY THAT WAS A BAD IDEA haha), but overall, we poured hundreds of hours into trying to make the game a better place. From working closely with those three devs, we didn't always see eye-to-eye on things, but I can stand here and emphatically defend them whole-heartedly. Those guys never wanted anything but to make this game good. They never asked for money or compensation or even part-ownership or credits. They just wanted to make a good game, and I don't know a person who played during that time who wouldn't agree that they did their best with the resources they had. Tom, this is to you specifically. I so enjoyed working with you. I think you are truly talented, and you clearly have a passion for this game. I still fondly think of you as "Tomas" lol. I know this whole situation has been hard on you, and believe me, I know real life gets in the way. (Hi, I'm the girl who just dipped out to deal with my real life lol - I get it!) But as someone who was still around while you were here..ish, I witnessed first-hand the frustration both the devs and the players had during those long absences. We'd have massively game-breaking bugs that needed to be fixed ASAP....and they'd just sit waiting for you to make an appearance to deploy. We wanted production access so we could run the game smoothly in your absences - and the NDA we all asked for and willingly signed covered any concerns you had of theft or plagiarism. None of those guys ever had anything but good intentions when it came to your game, and I'm saying this as someone who didn't part on the greatest of terms with some of them. I wish you had been around during those long absences to see how much of a burden we were all carrying for you. I'd get dozens of angry messages a day via Discord or in-game of people who couldn't progress or play. We managed your Discord server and patiently listened to player concerns and tried to reassure them that you were hearing them and that changes were coming soon. We carried such an emotional load for so long - trying to keep your player base here and happy while knowing we were powerless to actually do anything to help. I say this with as much fondness as I can - but this game isn't anything super special in and of itself. BUT I think the community of players really is what made this a great place to be around. When you have such a passionate community (who I can't believe is still around after so long and all the drama!)... you need to take advantage of that. It's so special, and take pride that you created something that has generated such a devoted community. At the end of the day, everyone involved just wanted to make a great game. And I know they still do. It makes me so sad to see what it's all come to, and I really think you and the guys would benefit from a good conversation where you can be open and honest on how everyone can do better. xoxo Tier

Ksil 4 months ago

Glad to read you enjoy developing again :)

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