RHCP ZT!

November 18th, 2011

Turns out Figment players aren’t the only ones outfitting their bands with ZT Amplifiers.  Look who else is rocking out with ZT Lunchbox amps!

That’s right that little ZT Lunchbox Amp on the table is giving John Frusciante, the guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Hendrix-style power sound he needs to keep up with Flea and Chad. Your band can rock ZT as well, just visit the Figment G-Base Gear Store to pick a virtual Lunchbox amp for your band!

Gearing Up!

June 13th, 2011

It’s been a while since we’ve announced a new feature here on the site, but as we await Tad Kubler’s final decision on who will win this year’s Figment Album Cover Design Contest, we thought it was high time we announced not only a few new features, but also a whole new concept.  What’s that you say?  Well, remember our discussions about moving to virtual goods?  The time has come…gone is the Figment Lucre Store and rising from it’s ashes…behold the Figment Gear Store!

 

The Figment Gear Store will feature everything your fake band needs to gear up for the studio and the road.  Whether it’s a ZT Lunchbox Amp, a V-Shaped Guitar or some wheels-of-steel, the Gear Store has it all.

You’ll notice that we’re teaming with GBase.com on the store.  GBase.com is the definitive online source for used, vintage, and new musical instruments and equipment for musicians, collectors, enthusiasts and gear junkies!  If you want to stock up on real instruments to match your virtual ones, GBase.com has you covered.

So, how does it all work?  Well it’s simple, let’s start on your dashboard page where you’ll notice that every band now has another link underneath that says “Buy Gear”.  Just above that link is a list of any gear your band owns.  Of course, right now it says “This band doesn’t own any gear!”  So let’s buy some.  Click on the “Buy Gear” link and it will take you to the Figment Gear Store.  You should see a whole selection of musical equipment ready for purchase, that is unless you don’t have enough lucre to buy any.  If you don’t, there won’t be anything in the store, and depending on how much you do have, you’ll only be shown those pieces of equipment you can afford.  To buy a piece of equipment simply click on the button to the right of the piece of equipment you desire.  That button will have the price in Lucre listed on it.  When you click the button the lucre will automatically be deducted from your account and you’ll see this message at the top of the page.

You can also check the bottom of the page to remind yourself what gear your band already owns.  Any new purchases will immediately be displayed in this area as well.

Once you’ve loaded up on equipment you can either click on your band’s name under the Gear Store header to visit your band page or the dashboard link at the top of the page to return to your dashboard.   On your dashboard page you’ll be able to see the equipment that you bought listed to the right of your band, and on your band page you’ll see the equipment appear under the section titled “Band Gear”.

 

You’ll notice that we made a few changes to the layout of the band pages as well based on the feedback you’ve provided.  We’ve concentrated the primary info on your band – your Fans, Bio, Gear and Albums/EPs  – down the main right-hand column of the page with sections clearly marked with identifying headers.  From now on your band’s fans will be listed at the top of the page.  In the header you can see the total number of fans your band has and 13 randomly selected fan icons.

If you click on the link below the fan icons you will be able to see all of your band’s fans in the order in which they became fans of your band.

Under the fans section, you’ll see corresponding sections for the Band’s Bio, Gear and Albums/EPs in that order.

For those of you who asked for Band News archive, your requests have been answered.  The left hand column of the page now features, in addition to your band image and shout box, a new “Official Band News” section.

Click on one of the news stories or on the “View all news items” link and you’ll be taken to your band’s news archive that contains every news story you’ve ever published about them.

 

Another improvement that you requested was to have album descriptions allow more text.  Well, we’re happy to announce that we’ve increased the character limit on album descriptions from 500 characters to 2000 characters.  That should give you plenty of room to say thanks to all of us here at Figment!

We’re very excited about the launch of the Figment Gear Store, the new band page layout and the addition of the Official Band News archive, so we hope you are too!  The Gear Store is just the first step in our plans to improve the Figment virtual economy and better enhance the overall Figment game experience.   We are looking forward to rolling out more features related to it in the future, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please refrain from creating any equipment, equipment companies, etc. using Figment band pages.  If you do we will ban them and ask you to delete them.  We are looking into the best way to handle the creation and sales of custom and “endorsed” equipment by Figment players going forward, but until we announce those features please do not create any equipment related figments.

Thanks for all of your feedback over the past year, as you can see it does factor into our plans for the site.  We hope you enjoy the Gear Store and new band page features.  Now go gear up!

 

As many of you know we announced last Thursday that we were raising the lucre levels needed to earn rewards in our Lucre Store.  Some of our players were irritated by this move, while others took it more in stride.  Let me start by saying that we appreciate all of the feedback we received on this issue, both positive and negative.  Having said that, I want to be clear – we didn’t raise our prices to deny anyone an opportunity to cash in their lucre for a reward prize.

So why did we do it?   As you know, Figment is a free online game and as of now, the prizes we supply all come out of our operating budget, so to keep lucre prize levels artificially low while simultaneously increasing your opportunities to earn lucre would be suicide for the site.  We also feel the players who play the game consistently have received a fair opportunity to cash-in their lucre for rewards, and to my knowledge there aren’t many sites that even offer rewards of this kind without some kind of monetary outlay on the part of the player.

So that begs the question, why did we create the Lucre Store in the first place?  When we began developing Figment we were unsure how many people would actually share our love for creating and role playing with fake bands.  In our research, we could only find 2 previous examples of web-based music-related role playing games, and both had collapsed after only a year or so of operation because they weren’t very well regulated and provided no incentive for players to create a successful community.

In an effort to avoid the pitfalls that doomed those two sites, we set out to create a game that had relatively easy parameters, allowed for creativity and provided an incentive to various levels of players.  The lucre rewards store was the incentive – a way to engage new players who might otherwise have dismissed Figment as a waste of time, and reward committed players who created successful bands.  In both regards, I think the lucre store has been successful.  The problem is that the Lucre Store was never meant to be how you “won” at Figment.  It was merely designed as an incentive to encourage and reward players for helping to build the Figment community.

While many of you have helped to do that, and we’re proud of the vibrant community we’ve built, it’s still a small community.  The costs of acquiring new players and maintaining a free site that gives away physical prizes merely for participating is not sustainable unless it ultimately leads to a community that supports itself through advertising, direct sponsorship or even the development of a subscription model.  Advertising and direct sponsorship are very challenging models due to our relatively small size.  The subscription model is interesting and probably the best model because it allows the contributions of the most dedicated players to guide the further development of the game.

So how does increasing the prices in the Lucre Store help?  First of all, I think it’s important to remember that we (the game’s administrators) don’t introduce lucre into the economy, Figment’s players do.  So as thehoseman pointed out in his comment on the original post, by introducing more lucre into the economy you do in essence diminish the individual value of a piece of lucre.  This is why I’m always preaching against buying anything and everything that is released.  Not only does this tactic diminish the quality of submissions on the site, but it also diminishes the actual value of a piece of lucre.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we’ve yet to employ any type of market forces in our game (charging you lucre to release an album, lucre losses for not getting enough fans of a tour – which could connote poor ticket sales).  We haven’t done this for a variety of reasons – some that are platform related and others that have more to do with keeping the obstacles to entry and the rules as simple as possible while we build a base of players big enough support a virtual economy that includes those types of market forces.

In the meantime, as new players join Figment (we added 65 in July) and begin to play the game more lucre flows into the economy.  When you combine the lucre created by new and existing players it’s easy to see how the growth of the Figment economy was fast out-pacing the Lucre Store pricing.  So as our Terms and Conditions clearly allow, we raised the artificially low Lucre Store pricing to be more in line with what we felt the Figment economy could now support.

So what plans do we have for the Figment Lucre Store going forward?  Well, we’re very pleased to hear some of our more established players express an interest in moving to virtual prizes/goods in our Lucre Store.  We have been planning a move to virtual goods for some time, and should be instituting the first wave of these goods in the near future.  We see this as a more sustainable method of incentivizing and rewarding our new and established players.

With that in mind, we’d be interested in hearing what types of virtual goods you’d like to see in the store.  You can leave a comment on this post, but we’d prefer if you would add your ideas to our User Voice forum by clicking on the red “feedback” tab on every page on Figment.  By posting your ideas in User Voice other users can vote on each one and we’ll do our best to incorporate those ideas that make the most sense and receive the most backing.

We’d also like to know what you think of the idea of a premium version of Figment and what you’d be willing to pay for such an enhanced version.  I’ll be posting it as a User Voice idea, so let us know what you think.  We think it’s one of the key ways that we’ll be able to keep Figment solvent and growing into the future, but if you don’t agree we want to know that as well.

We look forward to hearing your ideas and thoughts on how we can keep growing Figment.