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The Everskies update is the worst thing that's probably ever happened. Parrot is killing his website. The new layout design is literally ableist. They need to listen to the consumers about what the consumers want. I've never seen such a bad idea in my entire life. This is awful. What is wrong with them? This is the worst thing that's probably ever happened on the internet to any group of people. This might be obvious to some of you, but none of those opinions are mine, but they are opinions that are held by members of the Everskies community in reaction to the most recent update announcing the deprecation of the forum feature on everskies.com. I do think that is a curious direction for a forum-based game to move forward with, considering that it is the primary gameplay mechanism besides doll dress-up. A lot of people have been asking for me to share some thoughts about what's going on, so you're only gonna get that outrage that came in the first few seconds of this video. I'm not gonna be really presenting content in that tone, because as I mentioned before, those are not necessarily my opinions. I'm not saying that I support the layout change, I'm just saying that it doesn't really inspire very much passion in me, so we'll be discussing what changes are being made, why they're being made, and then kind of the community's reaction, ways to optimize it, et cetera. Let's get into it. Here's a general rundown of the scenario, what's going on, and who the players are. Everskies.com is a browser-based doll dress-up game, kind of in the style of MovieStarPlanet or Virtual Popstar. It was started by the developer Parrot and his girlfriend. They were inspired from the game Virtual Popstar and they decided to make their own game. In December of 2020 it went viral on TikTok. Since the game launched in the summer of 2021, it has had consistently over 5,000 users online at one time. It has been successful by the measurements of browser-based virtual pet games, and specifically the genre of doll dress-up games. However, this has been accompanied by endless drama, onslaught of accusations against Parrot, his girlfriend, and the rest of the administration and moderator team, and I'm not saying it's unfounded, I'm just saying that there's been a consistent amount drama within the community and the moderators themselves. I've actually made a video about it if you would like to hear a little bit more about the style that that drama usually takes. In July of 2021, in response to the nature of this pervasive drama on the website, Parrot decided that they will remove the forum feature from Everskies and the community will now basically handle most moderation through clubs and chatrooms that are ran by the users. The site mods will have the final say on issues that are brought to them. However, the first line of defense against the user base is going to be user-selected moderators in chatrooms. This is an incredibly unpopular decision. This change was accompanied with a update to the layout of the homepage, and this is not being received very well. That's kind of the understanding of who the players are and what the space is and the nature of the game and the challenges they're facing. For full disclosure, my relationship with the Everskies team has been that they reached out to me at the beginning of their project. I took an interest to it, I started monitoring it and communicating with them frequently. The communication ceased from their end at the beginning of 2021, so I have not heard from them. They don't really respond to my emails, and I mean, that's fine, I just want to be upfront with you guys that I am not in active communication with them, and I mean, I wonder why, when I share images like this in my videos. As far as I'm concerned, this update has one central component, and that is phasing out the forums. This is basically a forum game in the sense that you have an avatar that you dress up to participate on the forums, and there is an incentive to participating in the forums. There has been a lot of challenge on Everskies to moderate effectively. The user base seems to have the opinion that the moderators that are chosen by the developers are not effective at moderating, and when people approach me to make videos about Everskies, it's usually about some sort of drama that happened on the Everskies forums. To me, the big pain point that Everskies has faced has been kind of the wild nature of their forum. I'm not surprised to see this change at all, considering this is the biggest pain point on the entire website, and this is what people talk about when they talk about Everskies, is how much of a Wild West the forums are. The moderator team moderates the entire forums. I am not sure if they get paid or what the compensation schema there is, but I'm sure that this has just overwhelmed all conversations about development and growth of the website. This site wasn't developed by a team with experience developing games. I'm pretty sure that Parrot is either fresh out school or still in school while developing this project. There was not a large plan, there were not wireframed layouts, there were not user experience paths in the development of this game. It was more so get it up and running and we'll figure it out later, which is what I believe is going on now. We are in the figure-it-out-later part, because it is now later and it needs to be figured out, because it is preventing the site from growing even further. This is an incredibly unpopular decision. There were over 800 comments on the thread. Usually the developers lock the threads once they kind of have an overwhelmingly negative reaction. However, this one was granted the permission to continue living, and has over 800 pages of comments, and I've read through them, lots of them made me laugh. This is unpopular, but I definitely understand the perspective of the forums are broken and they could hire 100 moderators, and that could work, but what really needs to happen is they need to scrap the concept and figure something out, because 100 moderators would be impossible to manage, and that would be just an indicator that the entire system is broken. I understand scrapping the entire concept, because Everskies' forum is broken. The second big change that accompanies this update is the change to the homepage layout. Functionally, this probably will affect me much more than the forum feature, as I don't really go on the forums, but every time I load the website I go to the homepage, so that is kind of frustrating. There are different comments like the layout update is ableist because of its reliance on text, and also the fact that it's kind of hard to understand what all these text bubbles are doing. My response to that is poor design tends to bother lots of people and is hard to interpret by all sorts of people, including the neurodivergent ones, and I do believe that this layout is not optimized. Parrot said that there is an algorithm that is going to generate which posts show for you, kind of like a newsfeed. Some of the criticisms that I appreciate and that I agree with are about the fact that on the Everskies homepage people would prefer to see widgets related to new clothing in the shops, or a full-body shot of their avatar, as their avatar is the thing that they're really coming on to interact with in some instances, and this has to do with different play styles. Some people are here primarily for communication and the community, while other people are here for the creative outlet of dressing up their doll, and this overhaul of the layout assumes that one of those is more important than the other. I don't necessarily have much to say about this layout versus the old layout and which one was designed better or more intentionally. From my perspective, this new one actually might be more intentional. I was present and saw some of the conversations going on about the original layout when it was wireframed, and it seemed just kind of a figure-it-out-later type of circumstance, and as mentioned before, we're in that later part of the let's-figure-it-out-later situation. So, I'm not surprised to see an iteration here, and my hopes are that since we are seeing iterations that we will continue seeing iterations and that it won't stay this kind of jumbled overload forever and that we'll see more widgets or more customizability on the homepage. One of the curious pieces of feedback that I'm seeing is that this is killing the website and that traffic is dropping off completely. I understand why this conclusion would be reached. Usually the website has about 7,000 users online, and immediately following the update, it crashed to around 3,000 users, and right now it's sitting in the mid-5000s on a regular basis. Compared to other games that I follow and I track the usership numbers, this isn't exactly what I would call a disaster. I've seen much bigger drop-offs as far as percentage of usership week over week, and to me, this doesn't raise any really big red flags. It's just kind of the fallout of a standard site update that touches major parts of the site. This happens all the time on these sorts of games, but the bigger frustration is when they never change, when they absolutely never address issues, and I would much rather see there be a temporary drop-off in usership while the moderators try to fix an overwhelming problem than to just have that overwhelming problem persist over years. That's under the assumption that this is a good faith update and iteration to optimize the game flow and the frustrations that users have. This very well could not be part of a series of updates, and updates can stagnate forever after this point, but I can't live in that what-if. I can only really base judgments based off of what has already happened and what I've seen on other websites. So, I do anticipate that we will see some rebound in that number. There are a lot of glitches on the website right now. I imagine a lot of people just need to step away from the computer and cool off, which is what we're seeing right now and why that number has dropped. Once we see some of those bugs smooth out, I think that we can anticipate that that number of users online is gonna rebound, and then the next time there's a big, sweeping change to optimize what's going on that we'll see a similar tiny drop-off in users. But 5,000 users? That is still a lot of users and more than enough to keep the site up and going. I mean, Dappervolk is somehow doing it with 300 users online at one time, so certainly Everskies can do it too. I want to thank everybody who commented on my Everskies blog post where I was soliciting feedback for context on understanding these changes and how they affected you. Thank you, everybody, for responding. I didn't really pull from those in this video, but they definitely informed my understanding of the situation and gave me context. So, thank you very much for doing that. I really appreciate everybody's input. As a final note, there was an interesting perspective that I wanted to highlight and acknowledge in this video in a particular part, because I think I kind of hinted at it, but I don't think I really jumped into it, which is that by removing the forum's information, we'll be able to be disseminated rapidly by the admins, because the admins can still distribute content. However, it hinders communication between players, so if the players dislike something that the admins or developers do, they cannot spread that information as rapidly, because the community is now in different silos instead of in one uniform location, and I did want to make sure that I was acknowledging that perspective in this video, because I do believe that that is one of the reasons why this change is being made, to hinder the quick spread of information between players and give that power unilaterally to the developers. Anyways, I don't want to be too much of a downer. I'm really curious to see what kind of iterations they make on this model, if it lasts. Who knows? Maybe they can't handle losing 2,000 concurrent users and that is a big problem to them and we do see changes. I'm curious to see what happens. I know a lot of you guys are upset, so go ahead and leave some comments. Let me know what you're thinking, and regardless, thank you for watching. I appreciate you, and have a good day. Bye. 




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