(I just noticed that while writing this post, some things have been mentioned already. So be it, I am not going to rewrite :3)
First of all: I still greatly enjoy playing on VA; otherwise, I would not be here anymore at all. BUT you are right, the site is not really up to date anymore, and some things really need improvement. All criticism is meant to be constructive While writing, I had the feeling that I stumbled from one improvement-worthy point to the next…
You mentioned the decreased activity of players due to lack of updates, but I think this is only a part of the problem: VA has a lot to do, especially for new players. But here lies the problem: new players usually do not stay very long. I think this has one reason: the overall confusing layout. Since it has been almost ten years since I registered, too, I am not sure how this is done today, but I do not think new players receive a welcome message via PM in which things are explained? Now let us list the features new players might be interested in… first would be adoption, it is a click site after all. The adopt button is clearly visible, so no problem here. The explore button is also easy to find, but here starts one of the problems:
the little map of the different site locations is pretty neat, but my first instinct would be to click on the links to the left, and there are two locations missing: the Starter Corner (which would be REALLY interesting for new players) and the laboratory (which is usually more „late game content“, but still not as easy to access as the rest). So two locations that are easily overlooked. Next is the „Pokémon Center“. It is logical, though not as clear as it could be, that you can manage your boxes here, which includes nicknaming your Pokémon and so on. What is not so clear is that you can manage items via „View / Edit Pokémon“, and that you can change things like the site header (by answering what is your favourite region without any explanation what effect this has!) or how you want your personal stats to be displayed. And what does „Add/Remove Pokémon to the system“ even mean (when you are new)? I think that the items should have an own little page for their own, a „bag“ or „pouch“ of sorts. There are all your items displayed (it would also be neat to be able to SELL them again, maybe for half of the prize), and if you click on the item, maybe there is a little list of which Pokémon you may apply the item to? An example: if you click on a fire stone, a page opens and all Pokémon, which need it to evolve, will be displayed. I know that there is an FAQ page for this, but… it is SO EASY to overlook that it is not funny anymore. And outdated. There is a question „Why is Pokémon X/the special form of Y not available yet?“ answered there… additionally, many people are not interested in the social aspect of the forum at all (*cough* me at first *cough*), and might be turned off by having to look through it. Some questions might even sound confusing to new players! And why does the FAQ on the site not have the same questions/answers as the forum? That new players (and old ones, too) do not really use the FAQ or browse through old questions in the „Help section“ can be seen on the amount of similar questions in there (I am especially thinking about the new, AWESOME, Daycare update and how people ask why they have not received an egg at 100%). I myself asked questions there and later remembered where I can look it up, and it was such a small tidbit that I am sure there is no mentioning in the FAQ at all. And why is the „Main page“ not always up to date, sometimes there are only mentions of an event in the forum? I guess my main point here is that the site is incredibly complicated to navigate, especially for new players. But how to fix this? (I thought I had made a topic about this in suggestions before, but I cannot really find it right now, so let us explain anew): How about a quest system for new players? If you start the game, you get simple tasks like „Click 10 Virtuadopts“, „Hatch an egg“, „Evolve a Virtuadopt“ and so on, with the tasks getting more complicated every time and slowly introducing all the features of VA, with little prizes for completing the task like money, items or specific eggs (for example Pikachu, Eevee or other user-favourites, or even your own favourite Pokémon, which you get asked for sometimes during the quests). And if you completed this quest series, you get a special Promo. That way new users get taken by the hand and guided through the game while having little experiences of success. The fun thing is that you can use such a quest system for seasonal events, too. We already had events where you need to click a certain amount of VAs and then receive a special Promo. This could be easily implemented as a quest instead.
Another, well, not issue, but maybe draw-back if you compare VA to other click-based Pokémon sites, is that it is incredibly slow going, and you need to put in a lot of work (and/or time) to even hatch a single egg. People are used to fast success while playing games; slow and steady is just not that attractive for many people. Personally, I both enjoy and hate this about VA. An example: hatching a Shiny is HUGE here on VA, it is rare and you are incredibly glad about it. If I hatch a new Shiny (that I like and want to keep), I usually look at it a few times that day while smiling, just to see how nice it looks in my Shiny box. At another, more fast-going Pokémon-based click site, I hatched more Shinys in one year that I did in ten years of VA. It has the effect that I do not care as much for Shinies on that site, but… again, people this days (got, I sound old) are used, or at least search for, fast success, especially in their free time. Many do not have that much free time at all, ruling VA out as a hobby from the beginning.
That brings me to my next point besides making VA more attractive for beginners, and that is… make VA more attractive for the working population. When I registered on VA, I was sixteen-ish, still going to school, with a lot of free time and a friend who shared a similar interest. I frequented other sites like DragCave and Neopets, and had overall not a care in the world besides my next written exam. Now I’m 26, have a regular work day plus three hours commuting a day, and I simply do not have TIME to be as active anymore. And looking at how long some other veteran players are registered here, my guess is that a lot of players are at this age or older (I also don’t remember seeing any kids playing Pokémon GO, I think there was a definitive change of the audience). At the aforementioned fast-going Pokémon site, I do not need to make any effort to hatch six Pokémon a day. At VA, I need to click around 30 minutes give or take to have the same effect. And the money I earn does not even cover the cost for the Daycare a day, let alone other games like the lottery. Now, I could probably click on my mobile phone while commuting to get a little money, but… well, recently the size of the clicked Adopt page was increased, but not the size of the CE as a whole. So clicking will alter between these three pictures, from which two are way to small (yes, this could be an issue with my small-screened phone, but still…). So, to play getting a minimum of improvement, I usually put in 60-90 minutes of clicking. A day. Even a workday. You see my problem?
Also, double-money Tuesday is pretty neat. But why does it have to be a Tuesday? In the last three years that was always the day I had to work the longest, sometimes getting home at 8 pm or later (that was personal bad luck). But the point still stands that for a working member of society, this is an awfully chosen day. My guess is that it was to improve activity under the week… so why not make two double-money days? Maybe triple the money on Tuesdays, and double it at some weekend day? And, please please send the promo code to a Congratz via PM. Maybe the code can expire after some time to discourage cheat bots, but clicking on the phone is a hassle as it is, without having to worry about Congratzes.
You also mentioned a „lack of updates“. While new content is always nice, I think seasonally reoccurring content is just as fine. Like the ice cream event. I remember the breeding quests for specific promos like the Cookie Mantyke. Maybe we can choose specific seasonal Promos to be breedable, and they will reoccur at specific month for years to come. That way you have new-ish content, and maybe not as much coding work, since it is reoccurring. Anyway, making old Promos accessible with the Raffle was definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe we can have these breeding quests also with old Monthlies?
I think, that is all for now. It is enough as it is. Please keep working on VA, the reason I am still here despite having not much time (I am only online all the time because I have a tab open in the background, but not actually playing ^^‘) is because I really enjoy the game.
PS: from the comments above me:
- about the Megas, Alolans and Unowns missing Dex entries: Yes, please.
- about Ditto being able to breed with reduced chances: Also, yes, please.
- evolution of babies: maybe
- babies from random eggs: no
- breeding Alolans: no, otherwise their value would diminish. I like the way it is right now
- breeding history: not something I’m interested in, but I’m also not opposed
- Shion: „if you click a VA from a box, a way with the arrow key or so in the click to jump to the next VA without having to return to the box“ OMG YES PLEASE!
- automatic deposit of money in Daycare: Yes, please
- shiny history: Yes, please