The way you sorted your experiments kinda forces me to talk about some of my beliefs about who the server is “for.” As the current Space Master, these beliefs probably matter to people besides myself, since they drive what kinds of things I’m likely to support, implement, or pitch in on. Brace yourself, I’m going to talk frankly about some uncomfortable topics.
The way I slice the server population when I’m thinking about proposals and administrative work is in terms of how much investment each player has put into the server. “Investment” in this sense comes from multiple places:
- Time spent playing the game quietly and building things is investment, although often it’s the most self-serving kind as most constructions are not shared that I’ve seen;
- Time spent playing the game and talking to other players is investment, which pays off in terms of keeping people engaged and socializing and in terms of setting the tone and culture;
- Time spent outside the game and talking to other players in Discord or on these forums is investment, of a similar kind;
- Time spent writing, reading, and passing proposals is an investment in changing the nature of the game we all agree we’re playing; and
- Time and money directly spent on tasks that support the server, forums, site, and Discord sever is an investment in everyone being able to play the game in the first play.
There are probably other kinds of investment I’ve forgotten about.
I’ve sorted them like this because, in my mind, these individual kinds of action show an increasing degree of investment. At the very least, someone who takes the time to read and revise the charter is investing in ways that have a larger, longer-term, and broader impact than someone who builds a very cool spaceship for themselves and their buddies.
I bring this up, because this framework is how I consider what I’m willing to do and support. To me, the question is one of deciding where to divide this list into “important investments” and “not important investments.” Personally, I believe that the server is “for” anyone who invests in the community. Those are the important investments. It’s open to people who want to play solipsistically, too, and I’m more than happy to have people playing even if all they do is build neat things, but silent players’ needs are the least important to me. Those players can play the same game nearly anywhere, and don’t have much dependence on SOA’s community or resources. We even publish the mod list and game configuration in use, so that people who want to play by the same rules can do so even if they don’t do it on the SOA servers.
One important corollary to this is that my sense of who the server is “for” includes people who have made the effort to join as voting members, but also includes - on relatively equal footing - players who participate in the community without joining up or voting.
Someone’s level of investment can and does change over time. I’ve been less active on the server in the last month or so as my life has turned in other directions. In terms of the framework above, I’ve reduced the amount of investment I do in terms of building things and being present on the server, and somewhat reduced my investment in Discord and these forums. As my life swings back the other way, I expect to invest more heavily in those things again, but if I had to be brutally honest with myself, I’d say I’m fairly disinvested right now other than in that last category, where I am fully invested so that the lights stay on. This is normal, in any project.
When we’re talking about limited CPU and about deleting grids, we’re talking about reallocating resources from some players to other players. Inevitably, players whose grids are deleted will lose out, as other players build more projects taking up the CPU cycles freed up. I have faith that we can devise a system for doing this that we all agree is “fair” - there are presently only four people to convince, so it’s not socially that hard to have those conversations and find compromise - but in the long run, we’ll need to be cognizant of how and why we’re doing that reallocation and empathetic to those who bear the costs.
TL,DR I think that, if we want to reckon with reclaiming CPU time on the server, we’re going to need to have a discussion about who will benefit from that reclamation project, and who will lose out.
Having said all of that, I have another suggestion. Torch is an improved version of the Space Engineers dedicated server software, and PingPerfect, our hosting platform, claims to support it. The Torch Concealment Plugin claims to dynamically pause and unpause simulation on a grid by grid basis based on configurable conditions. This might allow us to compromise by concealing grids that aren’t currently in use, without outright deleting them, so that if the players who own those grids return, they can resume without losing the time invested in their projects.
I’m willing to experiment a bit with Torch, but I’ll need time to do that and I don’t know when I can make the time. If there’s interest, I might be encouraged to try it sooner rather than later, though, or if anyone wants to volunteer to figure out how this works, I’d love to see your notes afterwards.