The Crescent Rises Again - Part 1: "To Start Anew"

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Opalium

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Crescent Infinity
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Jun 21, 2019
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The Crescent Rises Again
A series of posts on the return of Crescent, what happened, and what will happen next.


Part 1: To Start Anew

Hello again, everyone! Thank you for joining me again.

I know, I know. You're probably wondering what this is all about. "Wait, what? Crescent is back? How? Why? Wasn't it gone for good?"
Indeed, this is not what many of you expected - and neither did I, to be really honest. I definitely owe you all an explanation, and this is what this thread will be about. This is the first in a series of posts that I plan to make on the return of Crescent, where I will address some of the problems we had in the past, what is different this time, and how will it all come together.




A Change of Heart
Back in March, Project Crescent was shut down indefinitely. This came as a finale to a fairly bumpy journey that started in December with the launch of Crescent TTT. After the shutdown, I announced that I will be leaving GMod completely in favor of a new "super secret" project - and indeed, this really was my new plan. After multiple years in the world of GMod and TTT, I felt like it's time to start anew, and the bitter experience that was the first attempt of Crescent definitely left a mark.

Truth to be told, when Crescent was finally shut down, I was truly exhausted. The months prior to that were completely hectic, and not in a good way. Together with the team we spent almost all our days trying to get things up and running, only to be hit by issue after issue. The many issues that plagued our launch, from the unexpected bugs - including the fatal HTTP lib bug in Source - through the constant DoS attacks on the servers that kept hammering on our door since the very first day, to a fair share of poor design choices and a messy schedule on our end; all this has put Crescent as a whole, and the team specifically, in an unfortunate place. Pressure began to take its toll on us, and to say we were stressed out would be an understatement.

I’ll be the first to admit that some of this is directly my fault. I didn't do a stellar job managing this project and the team behind it, despite my efforts. Sure, it’s easy to point out the flaws in a hindsight, but I definitely could've done better as the leader of this charge. I was too ambitious, and my focus was all over the place rather than where it should be. It all became chaotic very quickly, and I can't deny this wasn't partly because of me. A leader should be the anchor around which the team builds itself, but with all the madness around me, I wasn't able to be that anchor when it was needed most.
On my defense, however, I’ll say this: time constraints, pressure, an ever-expanding to-do list, and some internal team issues – all these clouded my judgement and pushed me to do hasty things. Sure, that's not really an excuse, and it's not that they weren't expected - but do understand that I was mentally exhausted at this point. After multiple years of dealing with a different community, jumping straight into the hell of starting a new one was draining me of my powers quickly.

The final nail in the coffin was the crashes. An unpleasant surprise to us all in the team, a bug in Source Engine (specifically in the HTTP module) has led to constant crashes - ones that we couldn't even do anything about. As I explained in the past, we based a very large portion of our data system on this module in an attempt to modernize our workflow and make things easier for us. Unfortunately, we only discovered the issue with this module after the launch, when it all came down collapsing on us. This put us in a very tricky spot, to say the least. The only to fix this issue was to complete rewrite the data system from scratch, and then modify all the systems that used it (i.e. all of them pretty much) to work with the new system. In other words: this is a LOT of code that needed to be rewritten from scratch, tested thoroughly, and then added into our live servers - all while we have so many other things in our hands. None of us could find the the motivation to even start this. Our spirits were crushed.

With this fatal issue, and the many others that piled upon it, some people in the team were ready to give up. In an attempt to save this ship, I came up with the "backup plan" of CrescentCraft and the rotating games - an idea that never really came to light. CrescentCraft was somewhat successful, but only for a limited time - and it wasn't long before it also died out. Indeed, MC is not something that can be done in the long run, and it was honestly an attempt to buy more time - an attempt that didn't work either.

At this point, I was exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed in myself. I took a lot of the blame on myself, regardless if it was justified or not, and it affected my mentality when it came to deciding the future of Crescent. My judgement was clouded, and led me to do something hasty. And so, on March 25th, I gave up as well.




In a Hindsight
Now, in a hindsight, I understand this was a mistake.

In the weeks that passed since then, with no more pressure on me for once, I finally had the time to unwind and rest. I saw this as the end of my GMod 'career', and was ready to leave it behind for good. As mentioned, I started planning my next big project, completely unrelated to Crescent, and to move on with my life. The rest of the team - mochi, mellow, veri and Zack - have all done the same, each moving onward to their own things.
But it was during these days that I finally had the time to properly evaluate everything that happened with Crescent, and to learn from my errors and mistakes. With my mind finally clear to objectively think of what happened, I understood that I made two fatal mistakes with Crescent:
  1. We needed more time: Crescent was built in a very short time. Despite our very quick progress through many of the tasks (mostly thanks to the fantastic skill of my two fellow developers, mochi and veri), we weren't quite there yet even at the launch. Actually, this is an understatement: it was not nearly enough for a project of this size or caliber. I think we can all agree that while things were technically operational, Crescent was far from ready and polished. There was so much to do, and the poor combination of very high expectations with not enough time to fulfill them resulted in a collection of loose ends rather than a complete package. I'll admit that some of this was also due to pressure from within the team - I was personally in favor of delaying the launch and continue working, but my teammates disagreed. I don't blame them at all - we were many weeks into development at that point, and we were all eager to just get it all out there. But this turned out to be a bad idea - Crescent came out unpolished, unfinished, and not really great overall. Yes, it was technically a beta phase - but honestly, I admit this wasn't quite beta worthy either. In a hindsight, I should've put my foot down and insist on giving development more time.

  2. I acted too quickly: indeed, even after the launch, I didn’t give CTTT the chance or time to outgrow its initial constraints. Yes, the launch wasn't great and we were too early, but these were still solvable given enough effort and time. We made the decision to launch early, and we should've stuck with it all the way. However, the overwhelming amount of issues and trouble that followed felt like too much for me. When everything felt like it's collapsing, I panicked and jumped ship. It was a mistake, and one that I regret a lot now. It was mostly due to me failing to take things in proportions, and probably also because of how much I was invested in this project emotionally. I had big hopes for Crescent, and this turned out to be my curse in the moment of truth.
I spent the next few months away from anything GMod related, focused on my new project and some other small side projects. However, the realization that I made a big mistake with Crescent left me restless. At the end of the day, I truly wanted Crescent to succeed and to grow, and knowing that it could've been like this if I only held my ground for longer, it all felt like a missed chance. Despite my announcement to both myself and you that this will be the last of my GMod adventures, this missed opportunity haunted me. A loose end that I couldn't leave like this.

And so, on July, I decided to try again - and to do it right this time.




Learning From the Errors
So, what's would be different this time? What will make Crescent work now?
I am approaching Crescent again with a vastly different mindset, both for me as a leader and for the project as a whole. With more time, more knowledge, and a better plan, I believe Crescent is worthy of another chance.

First, there's me. I learned a lot from the mistakes that I made in old Crescent, and the errors we made as a team. I am recovered, focused, and ready to take this upon myself again. The experience from last time taught me how to manage expectations better, how to implement and follow a proper workflow, and how to plan better and more accurately. I also know now how to prepare to operate things in the long-run, despite the inevitable road-bumps that await. I learned from the mistake of jumping ship too early and know that I must give Crescent far more time instead of sealing its fate almost immediately.

then, there's Crescent itself. The many errors that were made in old Crescent may have been its demise, but have also taught me very valuable lessons. Additionally, the feedback you all provided previously on things like weapons, the economy, the overall gameplay and the content, allowed me to see the many flaws in our previous design choices and ideas, and to improve them quite a lot. Not only that, but time was on my side as well. With no external pressures anymore and no deadline ahead, I was able to dedicate the development of Crescent the amount of time it deserves.
I kept this project as a secret to ensure I have enough time to do it all, and armed now with the knowledge of what needs to be done and improved, I ended up tying together many of the loose ends in old Crescent. I spent the last months changing, rewriting, redesigning, and improving many aspects of Crescent, shaping it according to my vision of it and what I expect of it. Missing and promised features were added, content was improved, the gameplay and weapons were redesigned, the economy was rebalanced, and the crashes were completely resolved. And there's more.


There's a lot to talk about regarding the new and improved aspects of Crescent. In the next part of this series I will do just that, and dive into the changes made to the technical foundation of Crescent, to CWB (Crescent's Weapon Base), and the content. This post will be in a couple of days, so stay tuned.




That's it for now. I hope you better understand now what made Crescent return, and why this time it should be different. You probably have a lot of questions as well - some of them I will also address later on in the series. However, you are also welcome to post them here in the replies, and I will do my best to answer.


Once again, thank you so much for being here and for giving Crescent another chance. I know last time wasn't spectacular, but I have high hopes for the future of Crescent now - perhaps even more than before. I will do my best to improve and fulfill this promise - and I welcome you all to join me on this journey.

Long live Crescent!
~Opalium
 
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