Does size matter? What about duration?


  • Coder

    Hi guys,

    Man. I bet some of you are thinking, "This old chestnut?" But let's lay down the conversation:

    • Which do you prefer, short, collaborative 'posing' (or emoting), or long, back and forths?

    At least that's the boilerplate. And I want to definitely discuss it. But I'd also like to do something a little different to get the conversation moving in a new direction, or at least to see it from a new light.

    We should start by defining the metrics by which one could characterize a particular style of posing:

    • Continuity: What's the relationship between the flow of fictional time, versus real time?
    • Size: How long or detailed is the writing?
    • Frequency: How often is writing performed?
    • Duration: How long should the scene last, in real-world time?

    Using these metrics we could describe PbP as involving posing where real time has zero impact, the size of posts is quite large to account for the low frequency of posts, and scenes can last anywhere from an hour to a few weeks.

    MUDs on the other hand try to enforce continuity (to no success), but otherwise have no explicit standards. The implicit costs of roleplaying in a MUD is effort and time commitment when dealing with mechanical systems such as combat, thirst, hunger, movement, what have you.

    So what's your preferred cocktail? Does your MU* allow for variation for all, or only some of these? And can you imagine a MU* that caters to everybody?


  • Pitcrew

    Personally I prefer a solid paragraph in most cases, though the big thing for me is frequency. If the wait between a new pose starts to get mush above 5 minutes I find my mind straying from the scene.
    Though honestly every scene has a rhythm and that can trump personal preferences. For example not long ago my PC was in a scene with an IC friend of his and they were essentially just giving each other crap. During that part of the the scene poses got shorter but also quicker so it felt right still.
    Now in a moment of high IC drama I tend to go for longer poses even if they take longer because it tends to fit the moment.


  • Pitcrew

    When I'm in a scene I'm there to play, and personally I can't stand poses that take 15+ minutes to write. I know a lot of people don't play that way because of RL things going on, but it is what it is.

    I could see a mu* integrating PbP more formally (it's already kind of there with +jobs/+bboards/@mail) which maybe would satisfy slower RPers. But I suspect those people would protest they're not actually that slow.


  • Coder

    I try to write my pose within 6-8 minutes, but sometimes it can take as long as 10-15, but this is rare. Usually it means I've told someone I'm slow cuz work or something IRL is going on, or if I'm in a combat scene in another window (which, again, I warn my partners). Sometimes its much shorter, 2-4 minutes. It just depends.

    The size? I have no idea. I tend to pose big. And the later it gets, the bigger it gets. But what's big? Less then 5 lines (as defined on an 80 char width wrap) and I feel I'm not really contributing.

    Over 20 happens sometimes. 10-ish is an ideal sweet spot.

    Again, it varies.



  • For me, I enjoy a pose with content. Generally a bit on the larger size - two paragraphs of moderate length are good. About ten minutes between poses is ideal, but I'll wait about fifteen, if I'm also doing other things.

    Generally speaking, I don't at all assume that a scene correlates to real time at all.

    My biggest thing about pose length, is if people give me something to work with or not. You can pose for ten paragraphs and still leave the other person with little to nothing to react to, and that gets frustrating sometimes. I like learning about people's characters, so some superfluous information is good, to me.

    I still remember one of my most irritating scenes before I went kind of away from RP for a while. All the poses were basically "soandso nods. "Blahblah blah, no real information, bantering for no reason, blah."

    And that was a scene I was STing, too, where I went out of my way to get them to react and use their brain, rather than just standing around or rolling dice.

    But anyway. My point is, I'm clearly a wordyperson, so I tend to enjoy more wordy poses.

    Eta: duration of a scene - really depends on what kind of scene, for me. I can easily drag a scene out for hours and (generally) be happy as a clam. I know that I'm kind of the exception there, though. I try to kind of read the opposing player - If their poses keep getting shorter and more sporadic, or if they start talking ooc a lot, I try to help wrap things up as best and as quickly as I can.


  • Pitcrew

    The later it gets the bigger it gets. <3

    I actually do not have a strict size or stamina preference, other than I lean towards longer than a sentence. I prefer shorter poses when the scene is large. Also I prefer there to be actual content that can be responded to. I'd rather deal with single word :smiles in rapid fire and misspelled/unpunctuated than people who pose for 4 paragraphs about how the fucking wind blows their hair in a dramatic fashion at just the right time or a shitload of stuff that cannot be responded to at all but is meant to beat everyone over the head with the pc's internal monologue. God. It makes me want to chew my own leg off to escape the fucking trap. I wish those folks would just go write a novel, since they aren't really actually interested in anyone else. Oh, except for those folks also tend to suck, which is why they need their captive audience I guess. :P


  • Pitcrew

    I don't care so much about length as long as it gives me something to latch onto and to respond to. So, "how you use it" rather than "how big it is."

    As for time between poses? Unfortunately, I'm easily distracted, especially now that there's a little one int he house, so I sometimes take longer than I'd like. For that reason, I like to also give people who pose slow a little grace. But more than 15-20 minutes is really getting kind of long (this is why scenes larger than one-on-one are great, because you can start your response to one pose while the other 1-2 people are posing, then just finish up after the last pose).


  • Coder

    @Ide said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    When I'm in a scene I'm there to play, and personally I can't stand poses that take 15+ minutes to write. I know a lot of people don't play that way because of RL things going on, but it is what it is.

    I could see a mu* integrating PbP more formally (it's already kind of there with +jobs/+bboards/@mail) which maybe would satisfy slower RPers. But I suspect those people would protest they're not actually that slow.

    That's a really interesting point. Do you think the PbPers, or anybody in general, feel that the speed of their partner would be somehow... intimidating? You know, this does remind me of the other side of this - another question, "How detailed should my writing be?" - and I find myself occasionally prompted to step outside of my comfort in the presence of almost poetic prose.

    So does that imply that, when dictating the conditions of a scene, minimum times between posts might be important than maximum for some people?

    I'm also curious about what the Twitterfication of poses might result in. You could certainly dictate character limits.

    @thebird said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    Generally speaking, I don't at all assume that a scene correlates to real time at all.
    [...]
    Eta: duration of a scene - really depends on what kind of scene, for me. I can easily drag a scene out for hours and (generally) be happy as a clam. I know that I'm kind of the exception there, though. I try to kind of read the opposing player - If their poses keep getting shorter and more sporadic, or if they start talking ooc a lot, I try to help wrap things up as best and as quickly as I can.

    I'm curious about this. I don't play Mushes, or MOOs. I'm a tabletop and MUDer by circumstance rather than choice. But in MUDs, there are environmental messages that try to enforce consistency and linearity of time. How does 'syncing' work when everybody plays at their own speed? You're in public, two people are posing faster, going through more time, fading to black and posing 'morning afters' while other players are still posing the night before...

    What happens if they bump into each other? What about global communication?

    How do MU*s try to handle this disconnect between individual character narratives and the more global.... time-fabric?


  • Pitcrew

    I don't have a strict time between poses preference except in a managed scene (STed or something like court). I very much appreciate @Ganymede 's suggestion long ago to preload poses and alter as necessary. It's really helped me in light of some health issues that make me a little slower in typing/processing things. Even so I tend to be in the 10-15 minute range (so my difficulties are far more noticeable 1 on 1 than in 3 pr scenes), but I tend to not get too many complaints because I do try to make it up in quality if I can. The flip side is that unlike my younger mushing days I find I greatly enjoy work-slow scenes, rather than getting impatient, so I enjoy a wider variety of people than I once did. (As long as they're quality!) it has its rewards. :)


  • Pitcrew

    @SkinnyThicket said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    What happens if they bump into each other? What about global communication?

    You talk it out OOCly, asking "So, when/what time is this scene set?" And then one person will say, "Oh, we just did a scene that lasted until like midnight," and the other person will say, "Huh, we just finished up 3 PM. How about going for a 3AM snack at Taco Bell, or meeting up for last call?



  • @SkinnyThicket

    In my experience, since I exclusively play on MUSHes (I think? never did understand all the different things...either way, RP-heavy/enforced online places), I generally ask the other person/people beforehand if they have any preference of time (in the case of people restricted to nightime, etc), and kind of go from there. In some games, you can use a command such as +weather, and it will give you a general idea of what's going on in your environment... otherwise? You just wing it.

    In the instance of people coming in to a public scene, generally there's someone who will do a "Set" to let everyone who's just come in know what's going on, so folks are on the same page.

    It's usually considered poor RP etiquette (at least in the circles I tend to run in) to skip people unless something weird happened... like RL got them, or whatever, so things tend to carry on in a linear fashion. Usually if you need to "skip ahead" for some reason, it's discussed briefly ooc and then...again with the "winging it".

    That's probably my favorite thing about MUSHes and RP. You can start wherever you want, do whatever you want (more or less), without any real prompts, unless you want prompts. Winging it is my forte, and what I enjoy the most about RP.

    I don't really know how to explain how a more global "time-fabric" works but...it just kind of does? Haha. I think most people try to keep things in order with...whatever they play out first, happened first. Or, that's been my experience with, again, the circles I tend to run in. Hope that helps explain things a little bit =D



  • @Seraphim73 said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    @SkinnyThicket said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    What happens if they bump into each other? What about global communication?

    You talk it out OOCly, asking "So, when/what time is this scene set?" And then one person will say, "Oh, we just did a scene that lasted until like midnight," and the other person will say, "Huh, we just finished up 3 PM. How about going for a 3AM snack at Taco Bell, or meeting up for last call?

    ^ Another example of how wordy I am, versus other people <.< Summed that up nicely, @Seraphim73 =D


  • Coder

    @thebird

    Haha wordyness is exactly why I think it would be cool for one game to make everybody feel comfortable in their posing choices! Because who wants to be word-shamed?

    To me, I'm hearing a lot of 'OOC communication is key', and I love hearing that. It gels with a belief of mine that stepping out of character and treating players as people is beneficial to RP. It's a thing I learnt from the table, and I just sort of assume it translates online. But, I also know a lot of people who are all-aboard the train of thought, "OOC breaks my immersion and I don't want it forced upon me."

    What I'd like to know is, can MUSHes only achieve this level of flexibility with time because they're... mechanics-lite? Because the mechanics explicitly already require discussion, and time becomes part of that discussion. Or could you mechanize time, put it in the player's hands, and see the same level of coherent interweaving of personal narratives.

    HUH.


  • Pitcrew

    @SkinnyThicket said in Does size matter? What about duration?:

    You know, this does remind me of the other side of this - another question, "How detailed should my writing be?" - and I find myself occasionally prompted to step outside of my comfort in the presence of almost poetic prose.

    So does that imply that, when dictating the conditions of a scene, minimum times between posts might be important than maximum for some people?

    Some people RP like they're writing a novel, and others like they're acting/improvising in a play (which isn't totally descriptive -- I like more of a director stance myself), and this affects posing in so many ways. It's important to recognize what kind of RPer the other person is and not get bent out of shape that they're doing it the 'wrong' way.



  • @SkinnyThicket

    About the time/mechanics...could be? They're definitely more "mechanics lite" than MUDs, in my experience. After a while, when I get used to a certain group of players, I tend to find people who are good at "fudging" the mechanics, within their sheet's abilities. Like... not necessarily rolling all the time, but only in scenes that are PrPs, or when they "feel" like it "really" matters. Again, feel I'm explaining that poorly, but ah well.

    I tend to try to play my characters up to the dots they have in certain abilities, so hopefully that means I don't have to use the mechanics/dice all the time. I think that helps a lot with the time factor, because then there's not as much discussion about what's going on, and things can happen more fluidly. Improvising.


  • TV & Movies

    There are so many preferences in how one enjoys games, one of the problems we have in the MU* community is that quite often people try to shoehorn one particular way as being better than another way. People are different. Different people enjoy different things. One way to help with this is RP preferences, but something more structured that gives people a better idea of who you are as a player and what you enjoy.


  • Pitcrew

    I think in a communal game it's really important to observe the environment. If you're in a small group that loves the 5 paragraph posing each time and you click enough that you are together enjoying it, great. I have a few people that I love to spam cannon with.

    But if you are in a scene with 8 people with a time frame or one in which people need to be in order to impart information or what not, and everyone else is keeping it to 1-2 paragraphs to keep things moving, when you take advantage of a captive audience by posing 5 paragraphs of nothing but meta and environment and won't move your information forward or respond to anyone or give anyone anything to respond to you about...it makes you look like an ass, not a superior writer.



  • I will always prefer to wait forever for really good writing than watch someone pump-and-dump something mediocre. Well, maybe not forever — ten minutes between emotes is the max I like to wait, though I'll wait longer for someone special. I find that the speed of my own writing is inversely correlated with how engaged I am, funnily enough. If the scene really grabs my attention, I will take longer, because I want to put more thought into what I'm writing. Quick banter with a writing partner who doesn't challenge me has never been, well, challenging for me. This improves over time as roleplay chemistry and familiarity develop, but there are writers out there who are so damn interesting that anything they write means I have to stop, stare, digest, and really care about what I offer up in response.

    The content of the emote matters. I like a good paragraph, on average, but I also like variety. A sentence or two is fine, from time to time, as is the occasional two, three, or in recent memory, even four paragraph response. There are times when a short one-liner is more apt, and I don't like it when people needlessly pad in these instances.

    I have a personal preference which I think makes me pretty weird, and is the opposite of how most MU*ers think: I dislike emotes containing too much dialogue. Spare me your character waxing poetics and serving up all their philosophical and political views on a platter; rants and rambles feel inorganic and unrealistic to me. I would so much rather read a paragraph detailing your character's body-language, the way they move, the way they meet my character's eyes, the tone of their voice, and for this to breathe life into their one-sentence, even one word verbal retort. I wish more people loved writing body-language and actions as much as I do, as it's so much more immersive than reading a screenplay. C'est la vie.



  • @Kestrel

    God yes, about the dialogue. I second that so much. So much. I even prefer to write more about the body language, than the dialogue. Kills me when there's nothing but talking, since in RL I don't tend to talk a lot (Shocker, right?), and as a result my characters don't tend to speak all that much, either.



  • Does a pose respond to mine and give me something to work with? If so, I"m happy. That's all I really care about. And honestly, if someone is waxing poetic, chances are I'm not reading most of it. I don't care much about description. I skip over most of it in novels too. I want the meat. I'll probably skim it to see if there's anything important there but it simply doesn't hold my interest.

    In exactly the same way, I prefer to see a pic of your character instead of reading your desc.


  • Pitcrew

    @SkinnyThicket
    I wouldn't call MUSHes mechanics light. When it comes to points where time is important (combat) they have can have it mapped out pretty close if they use a TT system.
    you mentioned a table top background MUSHes really work like that in regards to a lot of things. In most tabletops the GM does not keep track of exactly how long it takes the PCs to cross town to talk with the mayor or exactly how long that convo lasts.
    Though if they are going to the mayors office to stop a kidnapping attempt the Gm does make not of how much time is passing in much more detail, and then when they fight the bad guys time is definitely tracked rather closely.
    MUSHes are like this too. No one really concerns themselves with how long the scene were you meet with Billy and find out he is a wolf too and talk with him about joining the pack, but when you and Billy go out to fight the murder spirit that is possessing hobos and turning them into killing machines you would handle that round by round like in a table top.


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