There's Nothing to Do Here


  • Pitcrew

    Just to not completely derail another topic ..

    Its come up here that if Staff or STs or some other official type person on a Mu* isn't running things, players leave a Mu*. Just the way it is, nothing to do so they lose interest.

    I am of the mindset that 'nothing to do' is more on the player than staff.

    Personally, I think creating a game, creating theme, should be the ground work for inspiring player creativity to go out and do things. There should be potential for that to change the world (affect the meta), but affecting global scale (whatever scale the mu* is, be it a small village, a city, a nation, a galaxy) shouldn't be the goal, having fun RP should. I think staff should be available to quickly answer a page, 'yes have fun', or 'that will break the world'. If the latter, staff should say yes, do that, but this is how the world reacts (police show up, government military, etc. etc.). Less 'no, that will ruin 'my' meta'.

    More and more the Mu* seems to be heading towards OTT, players need regular adventures and plot from staff to do things. Now, I come from a large metropolis (its in the top 40, not big by actual big city standards, but plenty of people regardless). Its not hard to find a TT game, its a matter of clicking with personalities. I think MU* is more for getting people together to find others to play with.

    The only inverse to this idea I've heard so far is that a player then comes to ask staff what's going on with X, Y, or Z, which is player driven plot, and its a headache. I really don't see the problem with staff then saying, that is player P's plot, lets check with them real quick. Staff can react for the world after seeing a log or hearing about a plot easily enough with something like a BBpost as needed.

    I think having things to do is more on the players, and this is only damned by staff that have restrictive policy on what players can do without needing divine (staff) intervention prior to doing anything.


  • Pitcrew

    I disagree.

    It is a shared responsibility.


  • Pitcrew

    There has definitely been an increase over the last few years, in my experience, of people expecting Staff to entertain them constantly.

    I've seen people leave games, citing that there's 'nothing to do,' when there's 1-2 Staff-run scenes a week and a few player-run +events beyond that.

    And a lot of these people just flat out will not attend player-run +events.

    It just reminds me of the brief time period in which I tried to LARP and 90% of the other players just pressed in around the STs and ignored absolutely everyone else, in the sheer hope that they would get their precious seconds of attention.


  • Admin

    @Lotherio said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    I am of the mindset that 'nothing to do' is more on the player than staff.

    Yes and no. Before you legitimately stone me for a cop out answer please allow me to explain. :)

    First - yes, some players go and sit in a room expecting the world to provide for them. Where's my plot, bitch? I'm bored, entertain me! There's no real defense for that, we are all responsible for our own fun and failure to be proactive by trying to make something happen, reaching out and offering meaningful RP to others... generally being creative is at the very core of our hobby. There are after all no mobs to kill, we're all we got.

    But the other half of it is, games can do a great deal to at least facilitate players if not actively encourage their interactions. For example at various times during MU* code evolution we didn't have handy commands like +meetme (no need to know the grid, if you want to join someone you just can), +where (see where RP is happening), assorted seeking-RP flags that show up in bright colors if someone's actively searching for scenes; those helped. The XP system itself can act as an incentive - yes, obviously people should just go play the damn game they're in without having to be rewarded for doing so, but I've spoken to people before who were still 'looking to cap their XP for the week' and were on the lookout for something - such scenes can lead to boring bar stuff but they don't have to, so that too helps.

    The latest evolution has come from games like RfK, or so I understand from @Ganymede's gushing over its system - political environments tend to work well since they don't require the presence of a Storyteller (in fact in some cases they might actually discourage it since it introduces a degree of bias) and make characters each other's tools, adversaries and needed allies to advance their agendas. So in that way such resources can be great to have and give people both reasons and methods to engage each other.

    Sure, if all other things are equal and the players involved are eventful and proactive none of this is really needed. I suspect many of us can bring up anecdotes where awesome RP took place with everyone contributing and adding elements to it without the need for external tools... but they sure do help.



  • @Auspice said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    There has definitely been an increase over the last few years, in my experience, of people expecting Staff to entertain them constantly.

    I've seen people leave games, citing that there's 'nothing to do,' when there's 1-2 Staff-run scenes a week and a few player-run +events beyond that.

    Yeah, this is where I'm at. It's absolutely a shared responsibility, but there's been a shift in the last several years more toward 'entertain me, bitches!' that frustrates me. I think it's part of a wider trend in how people interact with the Internet and stuff like MMOs/mobile games, and for better or worse I don't see it changing. I think the best you can do it try to fight against this on a local level (encouraging player-run stuff and just generally doing shit as a player).


  • Politics

    Players do need to take the initiative and be willing to create their own content- but what most players get to do is micro-plot. Plot staff often tends to pick up the other end of the deal by working on the macro-plot, the over-arching threads that can make really cool stuff happen by incorporating some of the things going on into a Big Thing.

    When plot staff stop being active, things tend to stagnate pretty quickly. Speaking as someone who is playing less and less on his once-favorite MU*, the lack of a good plot staffers can make a place feel more and more like splashing around with your bath-tub toys. You make a splash and then it stops, and that's where it ends.


  • Pitcrew

    @Vorpal said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    Players do need to take the initiative and be willing to create their own content- but what most players get to do is micro-plot. Plot staff often tends to pick up the other end of the deal by working on the macro-plot, the over-arching threads that can make really cool stuff happen by incorporating some of the things going on into a Big Thing.

    When plot staff stop being active, things tend to stagnate pretty quickly. Speaking as someone who is playing less and less on his once-favorite MU*, the lack of a good plot staffers can make a place feel more and more like splashing around with your bath-tub toys. You make a splash and then it stops, and that's where it ends.

    Which is true. If Staff has dropped off running anything, then that IS a Staff issue.

    But in the cases I've seen where Staff is running 1-2 +events every week... and people still complain there's 'nothing to do'? That is entirely and completely on those players.



  • The whole 'entertain me!' thing is weird too. I remember way back when I used to run things, I would get bored, see people sitting out in public, do a quick scan of their bg to refresh myself if they had a mortal enemy or something, page if they minded if I joined and threw something at them. And people liked it.

    But when I stopped running things pages would be met with, "Noo we're in a private RP!" And lots of people would sign up for events. (And I know some people don't mind large scenes, but I tried to include whoever I could. I was often running a couple of scenes at a time to keep everyone entertained.)

    My PCs generally try to keep people involved (murder board, anyone?) so much so that I think I will need to make an exposition fairy somewhere, just because. I jump on every offer for RP that I can and find some reason to be there to keep things going. I have no issue with bar or coffee shop RP. Sometimes a story isn't always an adventure. You need some down time too.

    With @Cobaltasaurus 's +events, anyone can run a thing if they want to. But sometimes some people really can't run things. They either don't feel confident in their abilities, are tied up by staff having to approve every little thing before they can run it, or don't have the time to plan things out. And being spontaneous doesn't seem to be as appealing to people now.

    TL;DR: If there is at least one other person around, there is something you can do. If it's not obvious, you can make up a reason.


  • Admin

    @Auspice You know what gets me? Players who do send each other pages ("hey,let's do a scene"). And then they go and have the most boring scene possible, set at a bar, talking about the weather - sometimes literally! For example they're both different supernatural types but they don't know that IC and neither does something or gives any hook for the other to pick it up so they can do something more fun.

    But afterwards... 'this place is boring, ugh'. That grinds my gears.


  • Pitcrew

    This is what I get for trying to start a new thread so another isn't derailed too much. I think staff have responsibility too, more closer to @Arkandel's point of providing environment and tools to stimulate player interest and activity. I mentioned in the 2 Many Alts thread that staff should provide things to do, meaning plot, events, RP opportunities. Things to get players together to mingle, to meet new chars, to see what sort of things can happen, to give some flavor and inspiration, to make some cohesion, to inspire other ides for players in their continuing development of their characters and character driven plots.

    @Vorpal ... I agree in part. I think staff can make the splash bigger for folks without having to run multiple events each week or holding the reigns on the weekly adventure (and I enjoy weekly adventure), by both allowing broader spectrum in PrP arena and by having the world react to others plots. I favor logs and log posting, as a means to easily keep staff appraised of what's going on without constant bombardment by +request and page alone (I do favor both, I favor communication between staff and players, I enjoy working with a player on a plot idea they have, I prefer pages and such over official +request system).

    But staff should react. If two player run plots involve fires in a large city. On one level, folks may say they should of checked with staff before blowing up the city. On the other hand, it takes staff two seconds (five minutes) to simply put up an IC news response, officials are looking into the fires, any word on culprits or suspected arsonists would be appreciated. They can take another two seconds (10 minutes) to contact any folks in the RP circles to spread it out (contact fac heads, the authorities asked around for culprits, point out there is a pinch on the city for anyone selling items related to arson (from chemicals to explosives), etc.).

    I think I'm of the mindset, its easier to be reactive to what players do than to be proactive and make hurdles. But, having nothing to do or being bored, is more towards the individual I think, its just seems more and more lately as others are pointing out.


  • Politics

    @Auspice said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    But in the cases I've seen where Staff is running 1-2 +events every week... and people still complain there's 'nothing to do'? That is entirely and completely on those players.

    Pretty much. I am a very big proponent of Granny Weatherwax's Making Your Own Entertainment.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    @Auspice You know what gets me? Players who do send each other pages ("hey,let's do a scene"). And then they go and have the most boring scene possible, set at a bar, talking about the weather - sometimes literally! For example they're both different supernatural types but they don't know that IC and neither does something or gives any hook for the other to pick it up so they can do something more fun.

    But afterwards... 'this place is boring, ugh'. That grinds my gears.

    This right here, and what @Insomnia said, just two players on a Mu* should be able to do something. If they make it a bar scene, that's on them. Even if they don't reveal something like being different types, they can do something. Most places are in big enough cities that anything could happen, sure bar fights, gang stuff, but other things, like a fire, or someone has a stroke, or some guy shouts at the nearby store clerk, 'man, that's racist', or a car accident, or a street busker hustles someone (or someone in the crowd is picking pockets), or they overhear trade secrets revealed about the stock market.

    But also, yeah, we're more transparent with our chars these days. +finger to read notes, a check of the wiki, two people should be able to come up with something between them as a reason. There are a bunch more better reasons of things to do than that quick list based on actual genre and the two chars involved. If they feed off each other once the scene starts, it could grow to involve others depending on who all each RPs with, and all not needing any Staff intervention.


  • Pitcrew

    @Vorpal said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    Players do need to take the initiative and be willing to create their own content- but what most players get to do is micro-plot. Plot staff often tends to pick up the other end of the deal by working on the macro-plot, the over-arching threads that can make really cool stuff happen by incorporating some of the things going on into a Big Thing.

    When plot staff stop being active, things tend to stagnate pretty quickly. Speaking as someone who is playing less and less on his once-favorite MU*, the lack of a good plot staffers can make a place feel more and more like splashing around with your bath-tub toys. You make a splash and then it stops, and that's where it ends.

    There are other factors that aren't mentioned in this discussion, due to politeness perhaps. I will rudely name a few. The first is the Plot Barrier Fatigue Factor. The second is the Plot-killer Player Avoidance Factor. The third is the Not A Team Player Factor.

    I'm sure you all know of games where the same plot with a few limited tropes, repeated with various paint jobs is run over and over and over and over and over and into the ground. These plots are strip-mined repeatedly until there's no more goodness left. This is Plot Fatigue. A second form is when a complex plot is run that takes YEARS to advance. Getting into and out of the plot, and having an actual effect, is like being a guest star in someone else's giant sized annual. The costs are not worth the investment, or the sense of participation is nullified. This is Plot Barrier. Then they get together and create an unholy spawn.

    I'm not sure there's a cure for this. It's something that has discouraged me from play on a number of games where I simply didn't have the time to participate enough to have an effect, because it would've taken more time to do so.

    Plot Killer Player Avoidance strikes when someone has hold of a character who has every reason to be involved in a plot, but the player is so utterly awful and unpleasant to play with or be around that you simply avoid them rather than forcing yourself to be pleasant and grown-up. Hey, it's sometimes a GOOD reason. (Unnamed but obvious personages remain unnamed here.) But it can make playing in a plot a bad thing overall.

    Not A Team Player Factor - my personal gripe, after being one of the primaries for several teams. We tried to run a few plots for the team. We got agreement from most of the team to do it. Then when time to play the plots came... two of the players have gone off and super-god-moded their characters, one of the players drops and is replaced by someone who doesn't have a compatible schedule, and only two or three show up, and then they fail to interact to the scene in a way that allows it to be interesting. (If they hadn't been playing in four other games at the same time, perhaps they'd've been more involved?)

    The basic problem here was twofold. First, scheduling. Second, getting team buy-in and feedback and follow-through.

    So, there are other things than lack of initiative and who can plot what. The perfect doldrum has to be built from many blahs.



  • This is a tough one because there are often a wide variety of other factors going on beyond JUST "staff" or "player" things that can contribute to a loss of fun, less activity, and onset of boredom. I've been going through some of those things myself.

    The first thing I should note is I've been doing this stuff for a long, long, LONG time, much longer than I ever thought I would. If we all stopped for a moment to look at ourselves, I think the majority of us would say something like that.

    In fact, I've done so much RP over the years that, to be honest, I've let it take up too much of my time when I could have and should have been doing more productive things with my life. That's not a knock on the RP itself or any of the people I've played with, but the word "addiction" would be a fitting one.

    On numerous places, most of them superhero-based, I've gone through the pattern of being very active, to seeing that activity wane, to me twiddling my thumbs feeling like I'm just spinning the tires fruitlessly, to finally giving up and moving on.

    Some of that is on me. I love to brainstorm with others and find fun things to do, but outside those idea sessions I'm not very proactive. I've hit a point where I have little interest hanging out in an OOC room or on a Public channel, because both of those tend to be overwhelmed by people in need of attention to the point one or the other (sometimes both) often turns into a place full of endless spam I have to escape from. It's easier for me to stay in a quiet place and try to figure out things with others on a more one-on-one basis. The downside of this is, yeah, I might miss out on some things.

    Another problem is my ability (or inability) to focus on things sometimes. I used to be able to handle three or four RPs at once, though I'm pretty sure the quality of my poses suffered for it. These days, I try never to do more than two at once and usually one is my limit. Part of this is because I put more into my poses than I used to. Another reason is sometimes I have other things going on and if I'm stretching myself too thin...well, let's just say I don't want to be that person who only poses once every 30 minutes and it ends up being two lines.

    On top of that, it can be tougher for me to keep up with everything in a large group RP like a fight scene where a ton of stuff is happening. I end up having to focus mainly on the stuff that's only directly related to me, and if the rest isn't moving too quickly I can at least skim it to have a general idea of what else is going on. This is why most of what I've done these days is social, slice-of-life stuff, or minor action with no more than two or three other people. It's usually the limit of what I can handle.

    Enter the problem: a hierarchy that breaks down. There's only so much staff can do, and there's only so much one player can do. Ideally, I think people benefit most from a setup that goes something like this:

    • RP Staff takes care of the big picture and pitches in for teams/players when needed or able. This is on the macro level.
    • A team/faction/group head (or 2+ depending on size and scope) needs to be there and active to keep things running more on the mid to micro level.
    • The average player benefits from both of the above, but there is still a responsibility to pitch in with things from time to time along with participating in what's offered by those above. Players can't expect everything to be handed to them. If they want to focus on something related to them as part of character building, they have to say so. They do need to have their own ideas and seek out RP on their own whether it's with a teammate or a "stranger."

    Take that and add the following problems to the mix:

    • If RP Staff doesn't provide over-arching plots or a general direction, the rest eventually breaks down.
    • If group heads don't communicate with RP Staff and they don't give their groups things to focus on, the rest eventually breaks down.
    • If players don't communicate with anyone, don't offer any input/ideas, and don't take part in what RP Staff or group heads offer them, the rest eventually breaks down.

    This inevitably leads to one thing no matter the path it all takes to get there: multiple people growing frustrated, doing less, and eventually leaving the place.

    This is what's happened to me and the characters I have on the last place I was remotely active on. I did a slow build to get them involved with groups after bringing them into play in more of an "on their own" state, and while some things went on that helped them settle in, various things started happening that caused RP to grow stagnant.

    In one case, it's time zones not working out well with the RP Staff and/or players who run things. By the time some RP could be set up with someone I enjoy RPing and discussing ideas with, usually it's getting to be bedtime for me. I don't mind starting something, having to pause, and pick it up a couple times over the course of the week so we can finish it, but it's really hard to start something when I'm going to bed in half an hour and there's no guarantee we can keep it moving over the next few days. After all, I'm not the only one this person RPs with, but for various reasons he started to be almost the only one I RPed with. Part of that is my fault.

    In another case, a group was set up without clearly defined leadership, at least on an OOC level, and the IC leader didn't do a whole lot so there was never really any progress made on doing team things. Now the majority of the players in the group either left or don't do anything, so that's a dead project. I tried to work myself into more of an active status with some of them, but when those who are left are only around intermittently, nothing really happens.

    There's been another player on the place (I think he finally left to set up and run his own game, so more power to him) who tends to cycle through various characters, but the problem with that is he's often started to set things up and form groups to run RP with, only to leave them in the lurch when he inevitably bails for another "project." If it became an activity thing in any way, I don't know how much of that was him vs. the players. Then, if nobody else is proactive, the team essentially dies on the spot as far as activity goes. That's a difficult place to leave anyone in. I wasn't directly involved with that player or his groups, but some people I did RP with were and I've seen them around less and less afterward.

    So, add ALL of that up, and it's left me in an empty place when it comes to RP that "matters." My motivation is gone, my effort is at an all-time low, and my urge to take a chance on doing something new is minimal, whether it's on that place or a different one. Like I said above, some of that is on me as a passive player who struggles to break out of an RP "comfort zone" and approach more people, but some of that is also due to circumstances that feel beyond my control. I hit the point of just doing a log a month to meet minimum activity levels, and once that starts repeating it's time to go.

    All of this, to me, sums up the ebb and flow of one place after another, one player/character after another.



  • I am of the mindset that 'nothing to do' is more on the player than staff.

    I largely agree, but I'm also of the mindset that staff has to get out of the way of players playing.

    If the staff wish to micromanage the theme of the stories, and do more than setting maintenance, then they have to be the ones driving the plots and doing the heavy lifting, and that means more than just running a few scenes every 2 months for faction/sphere heads, that means running scenes for every player who is interested in taking part.

    If they don't wish to actively micromanage everything, and allow players to take the initiative, then they really have to be fairly hands off and maintain the sandbox. Respond to rules queries, tally up rewards for submitted quests and maybe dig a room or two on the grid when needed.


  • Admin

    @Dragginz said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    There are other factors that aren't mentioned in this discussion, due to politeness perhaps. I will rudely name a few. The first is the Plot Barrier Fatigue Factor. The second is the Plot-killer Player Avoidance Factor. The third is the Not A Team Player Factor.

    I think the implied assumption most of us were making so far is that all extraordinary factors relating to badness weren't present; i.e. staff weren't incompetent bureaucrats blocking everything, any players involved weren't horrible people no one wants to hang out with, etc.

    But you are right, such cases should also be mentioned.



  • I think players have some obligation to make their own fun but I also think that staff has an obligation to run story that will shape the game in the direction staff hopes players will go. I also find that an engaged staff leads to an engaged playerbase and vice versa (of course there are some exceptions to this rule as with any generalization).

    But I find as a staffer that when I (or my fellow staffers) am not actively creating story players will do stuff but mostly it will consist of making out with each other. Which don't get me wrong I'm fine with! But do staffers really get in the way of player initiative?



  • I tend to ask myself three questions, when thinking about attempting to generate activity, create events or RP for people. But this also really is about just creating the overall systems that people then make their own fun with.

    1. Is it easy to be involved, without feeling any particular IC or OOC barriers that prevent involvement?
    2. Once involved, do they personally feel engaged in a way that's compelling?
    3. Once complete, did they feel it was a rewarding experience?

  • Pitcrew

    @saosmash said in There's Nothing to Do Here:

    But do staffers really get in the way of player initiative?

    Yes. Via policy and enforcing it. There are a lot of ways that limit player initiative to go out and do something. After my lots and lots of years of gaming, I tend to ignore it to give people at my time of day something to do with me and so that I have things to do.

    Take a place that says, we encourage player run plots! ... all you have to do is write up a summary, of likely PCs to be involved, needed NPCs, locations on the grid, rewards you expect to receive, and the name of your first born child.

    Staff has gotten in the way of player initiative, because now, instead of starting the mystery of the desert man plot that just came to them, they have to think of all those things necessary to submit a plot application.

    In part, as @Arkandel pointed out, I'm assuming in general this isn't such a barrier though (otherwise that is an issue ... staff need to be more involved, or need to lower the barrier).



  • I think there's a difference to make between "hindering player initiative" and "keeping in the know about what's going on."

    If you want to run a one-off thing that has no real repercussions and doesn't affect anything in a major way, people should generally be able to do that to their heart's content. If it involves an NPC villain and a game has a pool people can pick and choose from, once it's over there should be something that goes back to staff in order to summarize what happened so staff can make any updates they need to when it comes to what that villain's done.

    If it's an actual plot that involves something bigger, I see no reason why staff shouldn't have a process in place to review and approve or disapprove of those. A plot is more than a one-off, and even if it only affects one or two people, it's important for staff to know what's going on. They might have feedback to give. They may have something to point out that the players weren't thinking or aware of.

    A player-run plot is not meant to be a spur-of-the-moment thing when it comes to RP. It requires planning and setup, and in most cases part of that should probably involve running it by pertinent staff. It's also more likely to lead to putting together something that's well-defined from beginning to end instead of "Hey! I just had an idea! Let's go do it!"

    On the other hand, if staff has a policy like that in place, they need to hold up their end of the bargain by being quick and efficient with whatever their response is. If it's something you want to start in a few days and there's a reason it can't wait, staff shouldn't be sitting on it for two weeks before giving any feedback. Of course, there may be reasons for staff to have a policy that includes not trying to force a quick yes or no out of them.

    This all ties into staff actually having a say when it comes to certain things that happen on the game they've built and run. Playing a character there usually doesn't just give you carte blanche to do whatever you want, whenever you want, particularly if it's a big thing.


  • Pitcrew Banned

    @Lotherio I completely feel this man. And then they feel the need to 'correct' all of the 'mistakes' of your submission, which really just means watering it down into generic, boring, uninteresting crap because you aren't part of the in-crowd and therefore have zero leeway for any special snowflake shit. Everything you do has to be strictly by-the-book, so to speak.


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