DarkVault

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Created By: Webman97 and JMM

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Project Codename: DarkVault

Project Type: Gaming Community

Primary Project Game(s): ArmA 3 (Co-op, A3Wasteland, Exile, Missions), Call of Duty: Black Ops I

Associated Game(s): Company of Heroes 2, Battlefield 1, Grand Theft Auto V, Total War: Rome II

Duration of Project: July 2015-August 2018

Role: Founder/Owner

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Website(s): http://www.darkvault.co

Associated Website(s): http://steamcommunity.com/groups/darkvault

Server IP(s):

  • ts.darkvault.co | Teamspeak 3 Server
  • a3w.darkvault.co:2302 | ArmA 3 – A3Wasteland Altis Server
  • a3w.darkvault.co:2312 | ArmA 3 – A3Wasteland Stratis Server
  • a3w.darkvault.co:2322 | ArmA 3 – A3Wasteland Tanoa Server
  • a3w.darkvault.co:2332 | ArmA 3 – A3Wasteland Malden Server
  • a3w.darkvault.co:2342 | ArmA 3 – A3Wasteland Altis Hardcore Server
  • exile.darkvault.co:2302 | ArmA 3 – Exile Altis Server
  • exile.darkvault.co:2312 | ArmA 3 – Exile Tanoa Server
  • exile.darkvault.co:2322 | ArmA 3 – Exile Namalsk Server
  • exile.darkvault.co:2332 | ArmA 3 – Exile Chernarus Server
  • exile.darkvault.co:2342 | ArmA 3 – Exile Altis Hardcore Server
  • missions.darkvault.co:2302 | ArmA 3 – DarkVault Missions Server

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Milestones:

  • Creation of DarkVault – July 5th, 2015
    • The name “DarkVault” originates from brainstorming a Guild Wars 2 guild name with JMM. It took a few hours, but eventually I came up with DarkVault. To my surprise everyone approved of the name immediately.
    • The name of our gaming group was created, but no purpose was defined.
  • Creation of Teamspeak 3 Server – July 15th, 2015
    • We launched our Teamspeak 3 server to keep all of our friends and those who join DarkVault connected using voice communication.
  • Creation of DarkVault Website – August 14th, 2015
    • Using a website license from a previous project, I launched the DarkVault Forums. I use these forums to post community updates and show the status and statistics of all DarkVault servers.
  • New Years Eve – December 31st, 2015
    • Purchase of VPS for ArmA 3 and creation/launch of the DarkVault A3Wasteland Altis Server.
  • Tanoa Update – July 16th, 2016
    • Conversion of our A3Wasteland Altis server from Altis to Tanoa.
    • Enabled external database saving, enabling many features of A3Wasteland and preventing data loss in the future.
  • JMM – August 6th, 2016
    • JMM was the first staff member to contribute to the A3Wasteland servers on the back-end.
    • A3Wasteland Tanoa was converted to A3Wasteland Altis, a new A3Wasteland Tanoa server was created, and A3Wasteland Stratis was launched on September 4th, 2016
  • Emerson – December 11th, 2016
    • After JMM and I launched all three A3Wasteland servers, DarkVault server traffic began to dramatically increase. We needed help to manage the community while planning future updates. As a result, Emerson joined our ranks as a Trial-Moderator, and a month later (December 11th, 2016), was made an A3Wasteland Administrator.
    • By becoming an Administrator, Emerson took a large load of work off of our shoulders in terms of community and front-end management.
    • On May 31st, 2017, Emerson was promoted to a DarkVault Community Administrator.
  • January 2017 Update – January 11th, 2017
    •  After a year of tweaking and fixing the A3Wasteland mission file, we revamped all three of our A3Wasteland servers!
    • The following major features were implemented on our servers
      • Change in Default Spawn Gear
      • Additional Airdrops
      • ATM Bounty System
      • Scoreboard Overhaul
      • New Welcome Message (TOParmaInfo)
    • Launch of DarkVault Missions servers
      • JMM’s Missions
      • JMM’s IronFront Missions
  • SECWAR – February 3rd, 2017
    • SECWAR joined our ranks as a Trial-Moderator, assisting us with community management since the January 2017 update. He was promoted to A3Wasteland Administrator on February 24th, 2017.
    • On May 31st, 2017, SECWAR was promoted to a DarkVault Community Administrator.
  • A3Wasteland Altis at Maximum Population – June 20th, 2017
    • Our A3Wasteland Altis server maintained a maximum population of 72/72 players for an extended period of time for the first time in DarkVault history. We believe the ArmA 3 Steam Sale helped us reach maximum population, as it brought the price of the base game down to $13.59.
  • Malden Update – June 22nd, 2017
    • Launch of our A3Wasteland Malden server.
    • Maintained maximum population of 72/72 players for an extended period of time one hour after launch.
  • Exile Chernarus Launch and Shace – August 19th, 2017
    • Launch of our Exile Chernarus server.
    • Shace joined our ranks as an Exile Administrator.
  • Webman97’s Inactivity – August 21st, 2017
    • Prioritizing is an important part of life. Due to responsibilities, I have to leave the task of running DarkVault with JMM until May 2018.
  • SECWAR’s Leave and JMM/Emerson Promotion – December 6th, 2017
    • As a result of SECWAR’s leave and our plans for May 2018, JMM and Emerson were promoted to DarkVault Lead Community Developer and DarkVault Lead Community Administrator, respectively.
  • Black Ops I Server Launch and 4thPanzerDivision – January 21st, 2018
    • Launch of our 24/7 Team Deathmatch Ranked servers.
    • One does not use DLC maps while the other exclusively uses DLC maps.
  • Exile Chernarus Conversion to Altis and Temporary Exile Shutdown – January 25th, 2018
    • After much consideration, we have decided to switch our Exile Chernarus server to Exile Altis.
    • All Exile servers are offline until we finish development.
  • Network Infrastructure Upgrade – January 26th, 2018
    • After several years of running servers, we decided to upgrade our existing infrastructure. We now have 5x the computing power we had before behind our servers!
  • MuphPatrol and DWkilo – January 29th, 2018
    • MuphPatrol and DWkilo were promoted to full Moderators on A3Wasteland after successfully going through the Trial-Moderator period.
  • September 2018 Update – May 4th, 2018
    • We announced our Five-Phase plan to revamp DarkVault, to be completed by September 2018!
    • We made heavy modifications to our A3Wasteland Platform, launched our Exile Platform, and launched our Hardcore ArmA 3 servers! This increased our server count from four to ten!
    • DarkVault Missions was redesigned from the ground up!
    • We also redesigned our website home page and made significant functional tweaks to both the home page and the forum!
    • Return of SECWAR, promotion of MuphPatrol and DWkilo.
    • Our ban list was wiped!
  • Shutdown – August 28th, 2018
    • After completion of our five-phase plan, I came to the conclusion that it was time to shut the project down due to insufficient manpower and other private issues.

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Yearly Reports:

  • Year of 2015
    • Theme – Creating DarkVault
    • After creating the DarkVault name, I realized I wanted to begin another project. It took me six months to decide what game this project should involve. I spent many nights researching the capabilities of many games in a dedicated environment. After my research, ArmA 3 turned out to have the best tools in its genre to host a gaming server in a dedicated environment, if configured properly. I launched the DarkVault A3Wasteland server with zero knowledge of ArmA 3 outside of the Breaking Point Mod and no understanding of the ArmA 3 community.
  • Year of 2016
    • Theme – Tweaking and Fixing
    • When I started searching for vanilla ArmA 3 servers, A3Wasteland seemed to be the most popular. I joined a popular A3Wasteland server and was treated poorly. I was killed repeatedly just spawning. Staff and other players went out of their way to insult and laugh at me while breaking server rules and taking advantage of others friendliness. This problem is popular among large servers, however there wasn’t a middle ground. Servers were either full or empty. I joined a few more servers just to find them either dead in the water or full and unregulated.
    • Once I saw the flaws with most, if not all A3Wasteland servers, I set out to create a website and server environment that conquered these flaws. I purchased a VPS and reformatting the DarkVault website for A3Wasteland. As I experimented with the Altis server, I started to understand the reasoning behind many decisions that other servers made. However, I disagreed with other decisions that weren’t practical or didn’t add value to the A3Wasteland experience. I began to make my changes to the A3Wasteland mission, tweaking and fixing for a year. This was (and still is) dependent on user feedback and staff feedback, however user retention was not as important as this process.
    • User retention came into play once I enabled proper saving, as data integrity became assured. When Apex launched, I converted the Altis server to Tanoa. JMM joined DarkVault as a Community Administrator once I had experience with A3Wasteland, enough to begin hosting more than one server at a time. When JMM joined, we migrated our hosting to accommodate two additional A3Wasteland servers. Altis and Tanoa were launched side by side, while Stratis took additional time to set up properly and launch.
    • By September 2016, all three servers were launched, hived, and running smoothly. We began our tweaking and fixing process until we hit a new limit – community management. Our community began to grow rapidly around November 2016, preventing JMM and I from continuing our tweaking and fixing process.
    • In response to this problem, and our first encounter on DarkVault servers with hackers, we hired Emerson as an Administrator. Emerson started as a Moderator and quickly proved his worth as an Administrator. Once our staff members were hired, we had our first small team of individuals working with DarkVault. JMM and I were able to divert our time and energy to revamp the entire mission, planning to add content we thought impossible to add a year ago in the January 2017 update.
    • Our servers have active staff who interact with players on a daily basis. Admins teleport to players to greet them, welcome them to the server (sometimes with a bullet) and give them a bit of cash to kickstart their climb to the top of the leaderboards. All staff are friendly and assure that malicious players don’t ruin the A3Wasteland experience for players.
  • Year of 2017
    • Theme – Growth and Development
    • When the year started, the January 2017 update implemented most of the technical growth we needed. We’ve come to find that the growth and development done this year has been preparation for something greater. Problems from 2016 remained solved, and we were introduced to a new side of the ArmA 3 gaming community. Many new players joined our servers and noticed our Administration treats community members and guests differently than other server administrators treated their communities. As a result of a relatively large expansion, there was an increase in players who joined with an agenda to negatively impact our community. Those who wished to impose their will within our community kept their intentions to themselves while attempting to change our platform as a whole. This was an ongoing problem from March 2017 to August 2017. Throughout much in-game overly dramatic behavior from new players, we did our best to keep our traditional values. We banned more players than ever before, bringing into question our original “zero tolerance” policy on overly dramatic behavior.
    • Nobody in our Administration was prepared for the events that would follow for nearly all of 2017. From March 2017 to July 2017, we refined our simple rules, keeping them simple and banning offenders. This was not enough for many players who grew attached to our community. Our Administration was constantly harassed by banned players who claimed that they did not deserve their ban, and our Administration did not treat them fairly. Eventually, we realized that most players being banned were taking advantage of a form of behavior we’ve come to know as “gray area abuse.” Simply put, players would find methods to break only half of the listed server rules. For example, when a rule was broken, the player who broke the rule was halfway in the right and halfway in the wrong. With all of my experience hosting video game servers, I have never seen so many players go to such great lengths to make a rule system as complex as possible.
    • Gray area abuse came to a peak in July 2017, A number of players within our community spent months complaining about and bad-mouthing Administrative behavior, claiming that our Administration was divided. When these players finally asked to address their issues in a serious environment, I sat down the entire Administration with the players in question and we spoke about the issue. By the end of the meeting, the players in question had totally flipped sides, siding with the very Administrators they spent months bad-mouthing and redirecting their behavior towards myself. We learned that these players were simply befriending Administrators for their own gain, and they were well aware that if our Administration put the pieces together as a whole, they’d be banned. After this, we finally developed a robust method of cracking down on gray area abuse. By the time I took leave in August 2017, we had removed this abuse entirely from our platform. However, there was still much to learn. This abuse and behavior wasn’t just present on our platform – it had taken a life of its own within other ArmA 3 gaming communities.
    • We initially announced plans to release Breaking Point Mod servers in July 2017, setting the launch date for our servers to August 2017. Deathlyrage announced in July 2017 that the Breaking Point Mod would be open-sourced and server-side code would be available by August 2017. The deadline that was initially set in July 2017 passed. Deathlyrage and Breaking Point remained silent. When nothing changed two weeks after the release date announced by Deathlyrage, I took to Breaking Point’s social media to gather additional information and question Deathlyrage’s and Breaking Point’s silence. I was met with swift aggression and told that I had no right to question both Deathlyrage and Breaking Point’s silence. Sick of the overly dramatic behavior that followed from both Deathlyrage and Breaking Point after expressing genuine support and concern about the silence behind the project, I pulled DarkVault support and my personal support of Breaking Point. This was painful, as Breaking Point was the catalyst that began my dive into ArmA 3. I was excited to support a mod that I believed had amazing potential. However, it was clear to me that Breaking Point does not align with our values after my Administration was attacked and harassed by Breaking Point community members for several weeks after I made my initial post to Breaking Point’s social media.
    • Before I became inactive in August 2017, I trained my Administration to operate DarkVault without my presence. Our servers calmed down with my leave, and we were honestly relieved to catch a break. While there was a burst of overly dramatic behavior with an attempt to hire additional staff in November 2017, it was eventually addressed and resolved quickly with our new policies in place. We learned through all of this how to keep our community tethered to reality. We now train our staff to notice all kinds of aggressive and overly-dramatic behavior immediately and remove it as quickly and efficiently as possible using our rules. Our rules and community management systems have been made extremely robust. However, we will admit that we did make mistakes along the way. We are not afraid to admit that we arent perfect, and mistakes simply happen. The best way to learn from the past is to study it and act upon it. The only fear we have is losing the privilege to make mistakes and fail.
  • Year of 2018
    • Theme – Expansion
    • Two years of A3Wasteland, tweaking and fixing in 2016 and growth and development in 2017. While it wasn’t a pleasant year for our Administration, we are armed to the teeth with knowledge and code.

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Message to Project Participants: 

  • General Contribution Policy
    • “All users who participate in our community activities are contributing in their own way. In our experience, most users wish to play the game plain and simple – shoot to kill, loot, and rise to the top of the server. By simply playing on our servers, you are directly contributing to the present and future of the DarkVault Community. As a result of the direct contribution all users make on our servers, and the DarkVault founding members past experiences with server hosting and community management, we have zero tolerance for dramatic behavior. It is much easier for us to ban players than it is to mediate/babysit. Our staff not only enforces this policy, they’re required to follow it. “
  • Thank You!
    • To the project participants who follow this policy on our servers, thank you! You make our servers an enjoyable place to be for all – new ArmA 3 players, experienced veterans, college students and other groups of gamers!

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Top Contributing Members:

  • JMM
    • Founding Member, July 2015-August 2018
    • DarkVault Lead Community Developer, December 2017-August 2018
    • DarkVault Community Lead Administrator, October 2016-December 2017
    • A3Wasteland Administrator, September 2016-October 2016
  • Emerson
    • DarkVault Lead Community Administrator, December 2017-August 2018
    • DarkVault Community Administrator, May 2017-August 2018
    • A3Wasteland Administrator, December 2016-May 2017
    • A3Wasteland Moderator, November 2016-December 2016
  • 4thPanzerDivision
    • Black Ops I Administrator, January 2018-August 2018
  • SECWAR
    • A3Wasteland Administrator, June 2018-August 2018
    • DarkVault Seasoned Veteran, December 2017-August 2018
    • DarkVault Community Administrator, May 2017-August 2018
    • A3Wasteland Administrator, February 2017-May 2017
    • A3Wasteland Trial-Moderator, February 2017
  • Shace
    • Lead Exile Administrator, August 2017-August 2018
  • MuphPatrol
    • Exile Administrator, July 2018-August 2018
    • A3Wasteland Moderator, January 2018-July 2018
    • A3Wasteland Trial-Moderator, January 2018
  • DWkilo
    • Exile Administrator, July 2018-August 2018
    • A3Wasteland Moderator, January 2018-July 2018
    • A3Wasteland Trial-Moderator, January 2018