Okay... let's see...At this point, I don't play Layo or envision Layo in its current incarnation as a video game. Yes, I use a video game platform, and in many ways it nicely handles some number crunching and gives me a great visual which helps with immersion (despite it not having the most up to date graphics). I play Layo like I play my weekly pen-and-paper tabletop games with the guys. I schedule a time to play (or GM), and I spend the time not only playing/GMing in the Layo world, I also catch up with my friends here on Layo, out-of-character, making the whole event both an experience in gaming and a social experience. With pen and paper, I sit around a table with my buddies, and we collaboratively develop a story and meaningful characters. I do the exact same thing with Layo except that I'm at a computer instead of a coffee table.So, when I ask myself what keeps me around Layo, I realize that it's likely the same thing that keeps me going back to my PnP games every week. Okay, then what is it that keeps me coming back to those PnP games? It is the characters, the story- both of which are created via roleplay by players and GMs- and the community, my friends. The same thing keeps me interested in Layo, keeps me coming back. There is a model here of success. A Gamemaster, a handful of players, camaraderie, challenging stories, and characters you fall in love with. If you have all those things, you have staying power. It's a classic design that has worked well for our niche of roleplaying gamers for decades. We have this on Layo. What we're lacking is structure and consistency. I can count on my weekly Saturday PnP game. I know that a little more than three out of four weeks a month I will get to roleplay with a great group of friends. The meetings are consistent. We have a set schedule, set start and finish times. The game, our social outlet, has structure because we know when it will start and when it will end, so we can schedule around it.I believe that for a community like this one to not only survive, but thrive, you have to build it around this classic gaming convention: a structured, consistent roleplaying session with a group of friends. Imagine if you popped onto Layo every Saturday night for four to five hours with some good friends for your regularly scheduled weekly gaming session. Now imagine if that was the same group of friends and the same GM every Saturday. Maybe you only log in just for that block of 'quest' time. Now imagine if every day of the week had a classic PnP style of session on Layo: one GM, a handful of players (let's say five for simplicity's sake), 4-5 hours, lots of RP and story and character. Well, that means we'd have seven GMs actively running a 'quest'/session every week, and at five players per session, that's 35 players. Okay, now, imagine if we had two classic PnP style sessions a day (accommodating other timezones), at the same ratio, that's 14 GMs and 70 players. Even if these players only logged in once a week for their weekly session, we'd still have more people online than we do right now. More than likely, though at least half those players would log in outside their weekly session, and bum around and meet new people. Now, imagine if we upped the number of players per GM session to eight. That would mean 112 active players. You know what I envision? Three classic PnP style sessions a day set in the world of Layo- one for the Europe zones, one for the America zones, and one for the Aussie zones. At eight players a GM, that's 168 active players. We have what, thirty to forty active players right now? That would more than quadruple the community size, AND it would have staying power. People stick around for that weekly gaming session, that weekly dose of story and character, that laughing and joking with friends who share the same interests. Because suddenly playing on Layo is about that social experience, suddenly it's about the creative endeavor of roleplay, and not about a video game, which you 'beat' and then move on to the next game.I believe that the key to growing the community, that the key to the staying power of the community, is building the community around the classic pen-and-paper style of playing RPGs: The Weekly Gaming Session.
Let me back up the train just a wee bit. I want to point out that no amount of improvements we make in game are going to matter if no one is looking. That was sort of the vein I hoped people would take with at least some of this thread.