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Network Nirvana 10th Anniversary Director's Update

Well, I can actually say that I didn't believe we'd ever make it this far. Today Network Nirvana (as a company) turns 10 years old. Now I feel old.

I'd like to start out by thanking every single person who helped us get this far. Thank you. We really couldn't have done it without you. We started this company 10 years ago with no capital to begin with and a dream that seemed to large for any team to ever accomplish. Sure, we've had to pivot the dream a couple of times to make it work, but the core values stayed the same. You could say that what really helped us the most was the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. They helped us attain resources and credibility that we couldn't have gotten anywhere else, and now because of them I get to wake up every day and go to my dream job.

After getting out first office at the JPEC I just so happened to meet our first client while attending the wedding of my former high school German teacher. At the time I was just having a casual conversation about my first book I had written, but what ensued was larger than I could have ever dreamed. NirvanaOnline didn't even exist at that point, but then a few months later it was our main project. The Cedar Falls Public Library was the first to jump on board, and then the Waverly Library joined the family next. After that, we jumped up to what is now 11 total libraries who've joined the NirvanaOnline family, bringing hundreds and hundreds of players into the NirvanaOnline Monastery over the years. So I'd love to thank each and every librarian and library director who took a chance on us. Thank you. We've had some really great times with the kids at all of your libraries and learned quite a bit about what not to do with an MMORPG (lol). I'm not going to say that it's been all great, as we've had our fair share of game-shattering bugs in that time, but overall it's been a dream come true.

Additionally during this time, I've published three entire books whisking players and readers off to the worlds of Adytum, Chernobyl Carnivale, and Ikarus. I had hoped to have been able to release our fourth book this summer, but we chose to focus more on NirvanaOnline during this time instead. While the books provided a great foundation for the belief systems that govern the World of Nirvana, they are projects that take an incredible amount of time and effort to get them written and published, so there's likely going to be a longer gap before the next one is released.

Now for my favorite part, talking about the future. Yes, I know things are still very uncertain right now with the Coronavirus keeping us from conducting our face-to-face library workshops, but fear not, because we are still indeed designing new content for later in the year. Right now we are nearing the end of the Season of the Sidewinder, and I'm very excited to announce the next season and the next flagship game world next week, but looking beyond that we have even more ambition goals for the future.

One of my favorite parts about this job is getting to go to the library workshops. Working with the kids and hearing the questions they ask is one of the most valuable resources we have right now. It tells us what they find most confusing and what they need more clarification on. It shows us which parts of the game need to be easier to complete and easier to understand. One of the biggest problem areas in NirvanaOnline is the AdytumOnline game world. We disabled this game world back in December and have been working on it in the background ever since. We're taking into account all of the questions and comments you've been having, and we want to work a new core philosophy into Adytum before it returns to the NirvanaOnline Suite later this year. What's this new philosophy you ask? Accessibility.

Accessilibity in the gaming industry means all players having access to the same content regardless of obstacles in front of them. Now this is a delicate balance, because in NirvanaOnline we want you to complete certain content before tackling the bigger stuff. Earlier this week, we released the most difficult level we've ever produced for NirvanaOnline. The Dark Reliquary sure is fun to look at and it was a ton of fun to build, but it's not very accessible to our players who don't prize high-level gear. In a sense, that's desirable, and in another sense, it's not. On one hand, everything in the game should be open to every player, but on the other hand we need to reward players for honing their craft and climbing the power curve. Here's what we've arrived at: 90% of the game should be accessible to any player, but the top 10% can be reserved for players who enjoy the harder content. In addition to that, starting today we're providing players with new Exotic Gear that will make this pinnacle content easier to access. Obtaining Exotic Gear is not too difficult, and just requires a little commitment, as it's mostly locked behind puzzles and scavenger hunts. The first piece of Exotic Gear goes live today in the return of Bad Joke. Next month will feature an exotic shield called Salt Prophet's Mercy. More exotics will trickle into NirvanaOnline throughout the year.

On top of that, we have a really interesting world here, but since the advent of player teleportation at the beginning of NirvanaOnline, players don't explore the worlds all that much anymore. We'll be changing that up a little bit with these new Quests. Quests will challenge the players to explore regions of the game worlds they've never been to before. We believe this will trigger a higher level of spacial awareness in players as they are forced to examine areas of the worlds that they might not have noticed before.

That's just the beginning, though. As you've already seen, we're working on a new Ancient Egypt game world, but that's not all. There is one more mini game world in development that I'm going to briefly talk about. The first of these two is Happyland, a 1980s idealistic suburban neighborhood. We're hoping to introduce this sometime this year as a role-playing focused game world with more NirvanaOnline features, with Questing and exploration at the heart of the IP. We'll have more info on that closer to when we decide to release it. We want to try forging a game world that has a different feel than the others. This would be a bit of a departure from the usual world structure, so we're approaching it with a high level of caution.

Lastly, I'll touch on a big decision we're currently weighing both ends of. Should we be producing more game worlds with a smaller scope so that we may cover more themes each year, or should we focus on fewer themes and apply more content and resources to existing and our yearly themes. It's kind of like slicing a pizza. Do we get more pieces but each is considerably smaller, or do we slice fewer pieces and allow each to be quite a bit larger? On one hand we can always revisit the smaller game worlds and add more content to them over time, but on the other hand large, meaty game worlds are what we originally became known for, and it worked well for a long time. Is it time to change up our content release model, or do we stick to what has historically worked? If you have an opinion either way, please reach out and let me know, because it's keeping me up at night.

We have a lot of ideas and projects in development right now, and these last 10 years have been great but we're dreamers, not historians. That means we're always looking to the future and always excited for what lies on the developmental horizon. What will come next for NirvanaOnline? Will it be Pirates? African Safaris? A Zombie Apocalypse? An Orbital Space Resort? A Mexican Hacienda? A Native American Reservation? An Aztec Temple City? A Giant Waterpark?

No matter what it is we find ourselves producing in the future, we can't wait to see what it is, and we can't wait for you to go on these adventures with us. Thanks again for the last 10 years, and here's to many more to come. Sorry for the long, somewhat-rambly blog post, but I hope you garnished a little bit of insight from it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the dark ritual that's currently going on in NirvanaOnline as the Acolytes of the Monastery attempt to return the game to the dark age of Bellatraux Asylum... Actually I'll just leave that topic alone for now...


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