A Change of Strategy: Olympus, GMCL, Yuki, Legacy Donators, Donations, etc

WinterPhoenix

Founder
Staff member
Founder/Lead Developer
Hey! It's been a while. We wanted to write an update for you, announce some important changes, and ask for your feedback on some things.

Olympus

Around March 2020, we were confronted with a problem. YukiTheater and GMod Cruise Line, being two separate projects, had nothing in common for code. With most of the developers graduating college and starting to work full-time, we were finding it more and more difficult to maintain two separate projects on two separate codebases.

So, we devised a solution. We would go from this:
  • GMCL Base -> GMCL Ship
  • GMCL Base -> GMCL Minigolf
  • YukiTheater (old, Cinema-based)
To this:
  • SGS Base -> GMCL Base -> SGS Social -> GMCL Ship
  • SGS Base -> GMCL Base -> GMCL Minigolf
  • SGS Base -> SGS Social -> YukiTheater (new, rebuilt on new Inventory/Achievements/Media/etc Systems)

This would allow us to share any changes that could possibly be useful between our gamemodes, using a stable unified platform. As an example, the Media System is handled in SGS Social, which meant now whenever we'd update/add a Media Service, the changes would automatically be usable in all gamemodes built on it.

This also has the significant bonus of YukiTheater being effectively "rebuilt from scratch" on top of the same systems that GMCL has been using up until now, which solves longstanding issues in the old gamemode like:
  • The server freezing for short time whenever somebody joins
    • Seriously! Take a look at net_graph 4 while somebody spawns
  • Hats being completely terrible and not working on a bunch of playermodels
    • This led to us pretty much never adding hats, because without a useful customization system, players can't fix them themselves
    • We also decided long ago we wouldn't add specific offsets for each playermodel, due to the significant time investment involved
  • No way to change Playermodel bodygroups/skins
  • Audio settings being really weak
  • Settings in general being a confusing mess between 3 different menus
  • Cinema's ancient video system, which was built for a different era when every video site had a stable server-accessible API and used Flash Player
    • The Anime services in particular suffer from this, and aren't very stable in Cinema
  • Many many other issues

GMod Cruise Line

Unfortunately...as time went on, we found it more and more difficult to work on anything for SGS with our collective free time dwindling.

In April this year, we made the difficult decision to shelve GMod Cruise Line indefinitely, and focus on YukiTheater and potential future projects in S&box.

I'll be real with you. GMCL is kind of a failed experiment. We had some early outpouring of support and interest, went through 21 Dev Showcases and numerous updates together, but we started the project in 2015, 6 years ago, with no appreciable growth.

GMCL still regularly sits completely empty. The Discord channel we have for it averages about 1 message/month. None of this happened without a reason, it happened because we bit off way more than we could chew. We set our goals too lofty, wanted more than we could possibly ever build with the time and resources we have.

One look at the Ship's map, and you can tell we didn't build this thing organically. "Coming Soon" is a sign often seen, the Excursions Marina has 1 gamemode in a plaza that's supposed to hold 6, there's a whole empty Casino area that we had to make players teleport past to help feign the illusion of content, and just generally the whole map is too sterile and uninteresting. It feels like a cruise ship with no passengers, and that's exactly what it is.

We tried to fix the map, did things like remove "Coming soon" signs, fill in areas with art and trees, but at the end of the day the project is fundamentally flawed, and it may even be without a soul. Combine that with a lack of manpower or time, interest on both the developers' and players' sides, and the project is dead.

If you were a supporter of the project, came to any of our Dev Showcases, played hundreds of hours (there are 24 of you!), made extremely innovative Cabin designs over the years using our limited tools, or donated to help us keep going, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I'm sorry it had to turn out this way.

We hope that you'll stick around. With a bit of luck, you might find something about YukiTheater or our future projects that you like.

A Change of Strategy

So what did we learn from GMCL? Well, the main thing is to not over-promise and under-deliver. GMCL's Blast gamemode was our first experience with this, where we held a Dev Showcase showing the in-development gamemode, only to scrap it entirely later. Some players in the community even made a gamemode called Blam as a meme because we never finished it.

A more long-enduring thing we learned was about map/world development, and making the world feel "lived in." We made the mistake of creating huge empty boxes for each area of the Ship map, trying to use real measurements in Source Engine. Really. We had a whole Microsoft Visio document outlining the entire map at the start, which turned out to be wildly inaccurate.

We built GMCL in a way that was "outside-in" — creating empty space and then filling it in. This is opposed to Yuki, where we've traditionally built "inside-out," creating new space once we have something we want to fill it with. The latter is far more organic, and makes the world feel like it's growing, instead of just filling in empty space.

Another thing we discovered is that quick, small updates tend to be better received than slow, large ones. The former lets players just kind of come back every once in a while and find that there's new stuff to do or new areas to explore, rather than waiting for big updates to happen, spending a couple of days looking at it all, and then not coming back until the next big update. So we're going to try changing our strategy to smaller, more frequent updates after Olympus's release, and we'll see how that goes.

Legacy Donators

In May 2017, we consolidated the old Donator ($5) and Power Donator ($15) ranks. As part of that, players with a certain criteria were given the title "Legacy Donator." Legacy Donators remained as Donators in YukiTheater, and had a few special things in GMod Cruise Line, but they didn't get all of the perks that came with being a (modern) Donator.

Today we're reversing that decision. With GMCL shelved and YukiTheater as our flagship/only supported game at the moment, there's no need to have a separate Legacy Donator designation. This means if you've ever donated to us (even in 2011!), you now have all of the perks (modern) Donators have, including Discord/Forums/etc!

Our Donations Recently

Something unfortunate I have to bring up, is that SGS's donations haven't been good at all for the last few months. We've been running entirely on reserve money for months, and that reserve money is about to run out if we don't turn things around soon, probably even this month.

Since Olympus isn't out yet and we haven't released an update anywhere in quite a while, because we've been working on Olympus, we've held off on asking you all for help. But once Olympus comes out, if you like it and want to see more, please consider donating. We won't ask you to donate before then, because we have to earn your money. But once it's out, please consider it. We're in extremely poor shape for finances right now.

We've also listed some ideas we have below on making it more worthwhile for you.

Donations

With Olympus, we're also considering reworking how our Donation System works, the kinds of perks you can get for donating, and possibly even a Patreon/subscription thing.

No changes are happening today, these are just ideas we're thinking about:
  • An income multiplier based on how much you've donated total?
  • Straight up purchasing Credits with real money?
    • Swamp Cinema does this, and apparently to great effect
    • We would probably need way way more usable/one-off items for it to be worth it
  • A Patreon/subscription model for some/all of the perks?
    • Could have different tiers, maybe one that's really cheap ($2-3/mo) to just support us
    • Could have a "base set" of perks for having ever donated, with an "active subscription" giving you more on top
    • The Income Multiplier is a perk we could offer for having an active sub, maybe still tied to how much you've donated total so you'll passively get a larger multiplier the longer you've subscribed
Please let us know any feedback you have on any of these, and whether or not you'd be likely to contribute!

FAQ

Here's some questions you might have given all of this.

Q: When is Olympus for YukiTheater actually coming out then? You've promised as far back as June 2020!
  • A: It is extremely close. We've been working on it like crazy the last few weeks, and hope to have it out as early as tomorrow. We'll have more info about its Open Beta in a follow-up announcement, but we won't promise a stable date until we're sure.
Q: With GMCL being shelved indefinitely, what's going to happen to its servers?
  • A: GMCL's servers will stay up for the time being, but there won't be any further changes to it. If you want to check it out while it's still up, you can join it here.
Q: What about all of the work you put into GMCL? Is it all going to waste?
  • A: No, fortunately! Because post-Olympus Yuki will be on the same platform as GMCL used to, we can take some of its features and games and bring them over to Yuki fairly easily. The Elixir and Alcohol systems, for example, will be coming to YukiTheater with Olympus.
Q: What do I do if I was a Legacy Donator but don't have some/any of the perks listed on the Donation Page?

TL;DR

  • Our finances are in really poor shape. Please consider donating if you like Olympus.
  • YukiTheater is being/has been rebuilt from scratch through Project Olympus. Coming very very soon, possibly even tomorrow.
  • GMod Cruise Line has been shelved indefinitely. The servers won't be updated, but we'll keep them on for the time being.
  • We're going to be doing smaller, more frequent updates after Olympus is released.
  • Legacy Donators are no more! Anybody that's ever donated has all the perks now.
  • We have some ideas on how to make the Donator Perks better. Let us know what you think!
  • The FAQ are factual

Phew! That was a lot to get through. Thank you all for still sticking around and playing on our dumb little servers for a game that's a mod of a 2004 video game.

💖

 
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