A number of people have asked me about my departure from Eleusis, either out of their own curiosity or care for my personal well-being. While there were things about the leadership of Eleusis that were frustrating and ultimately led me to step down, a large part of my disinterest in continuing in the position has to do with the interactions that I had with several divine on behalf of seeking a patron for Eleusis, and trying to produce RP content for the Village. The opinions expressed in this post are my own, and while not everyone will agree with what I have to say, it's important for me to express my experiences because I believe they are indicative of a broader decline in the game as a whole. For context, I have played Achaea since around 2001 off and on, and have left for stretches of time. I've served in various capacities of in character leadership across Ashtan and Eleusis factions.
In recent years, I've noticed a staunch decline in interest in engaging specific factions in meaningful RP experiences as a whole. Thinking back to the old days of Achaea, each of the City-states had some active RP through-line that made sense within the context of its' faction, each exciting and engaging in a way that provided purpose and added to the meaning for the player as being a member of that faction. With the exception of Mhaldor and Ashtan who seems to be able to keep a high level of activity for their divine, I think there's a wholesale lacking of this for the other factions. The two factions that I believe have suffered the most from this lack of story development are Cyrene and Eleusis. I cannot think of a single recent RP event that highlights the true proactive RP of either faction. More specifically, Eleusis has been seemingly eliminated from consideration from the last major roleplay event, the re-emergence of the black wave, and their alliances with Hashan and Targossas.
As I took leadership in Eleusis, and while working hard to overcome the lack of directive leadership created by mismanagement by previous in game administrations and far further exacerbated by a lack of divine presence, I became aware of just how difficult it is to engage a large organization from a position of leadership. Even with efforts to push roleplay devices and with regular consultation with some of the garden, it seemed as though the garden was unwilling to do anything other than act in a consultory role. Whether this was the case or not, it seemed as though they were paying lip service to helping Eleusis while not actually seeming interested in the Village's story or promote any new RP within the Village. From my vantage, and even after having talked to several divine on the matter, it seemed the Garden were completely divested from Eleusis having any RP significance. This opinion was further solidified during world events where the divinely controled NPCs would shout derrogatory remarks about eleusis or certain villagers, and not being given an opportunity to contribute to the story in any meaningful way. When Eleusis made attempts to become involved, further remarks from NPCs about Eleusis's involvement were biting criticisms about it's lack of relevance. These types of comments only contribute to the toxic sentiments within and without, about lack of direction of the Village. Lady Pandora was the first to actually take some time to work with the Village towards fixing some of the damage done by the garden as a whole due to lack of attention and guidance. Even then, this commitment has been severed once more as Pandora moved on to patron Ashtan (a city with 2-3 active divine already).
As I considered my options for moving forward, I even considered Celanihood, trying to apply for a position (and giving the garden the benefit of the doubt) because perhaps they don't have the manpower or the right person to work with Eleusis. In addition to two RP events that I sent into the garden (who solicited these types of events in the Leadership clan) and no response was given. I sent messages to the administration for even an acknowledgment of receipt, but they couldn't be bothered to respond to any of these. Even if they outright didn't like the ideas or feel like they would fit within the theme or other ongoing storylines, a simple 'thanks or no thanks' would have gone a long way to demonstrate that they cared about the time and effort that went into putting it together. It seems that as long as the tried and true victimization narrative is alive and well, then nothing else need be done to push the RP throughline forward for Eleusis. This lends to the feeling that the garden has certain factions that it favors over others in terms of pushing roleplay forward, at the cost of other factions just 'being along for the ride'.
One such RP event that I suggested was one that put Eleusis in the seat of the antagonist (something I don't think has been seen at all in the history of Achaea), pushing forward the 'expansion of nature' throughline and giving some of the traditional antagonist factions an opportunity to be a protagonist for once. As it stands, the current tropes of 'large invading force from some far off land' or 'evil or chaos are at it again', feel unoriginal at best, and gone are the times where an individual guild/house had a sense of specific identity other than that of just being ancillary to that broader faction. It lends to a blandness that each house while stating a specific aim or goal still feels like .. general combat or non combat styled house of each faction. (At least it certainly feels that way to me.) Much of this was caused by the renaissance (but that's a different conversation altogether) as much of house lore was abandoned in lieu of thematic shifts to this new model.
I've encountered other issues with garden responsiveness that have led to an erosion of my confidence that the administration is committed to the player base. The move away from monthly or holiday events towards almost exclusively purchase-oriented events, as well as strictly content expansions that do little to enrich the general richness of the game as a whole, gives the impression that the administration is more interested in squeezing every last penny out of the playerbase rather than creating an experience that keeps the person coming back for something unique and new. The addition of numerous items whose actual in game value is arbitrary, as well as the rampant market deflation and recycling of certain talisman sets and legend deck cards shows an lack of concern for quality across the board. Numerous systems have been left obsolete or undeveloped over the years, for example the talisman market, Village Relations/feelings villages, legions, and more lend to the feeling of a game that feels bloated and clunky in certain areas, and feel like there were a lot of missed opportunities to create something meaningful to the overall game play.
I have ideas about how to change and fix a lot of these problems (which may be better left for another post), but this rant is not meant to be the complaints of an ungrateful player, so much as an opportunity for us to revisit the golden days of Achaea where every action felt like it meant something.