Identifying Major Issues



  • @Rook said in Identifying Major Issues:

    @WTFE said:

    Players are enjoined to run plots, but only if the plots don't in any way, shape or form touch the grid in the slightest. So your PrPs are fine so long as they have zero noticeable impact on the setting!

    So I read this and think to myself, when I was building and advertising Umbral Shards as a game entirely designed to be modified, changed and built out by the players... no one was willing to either believe it or touch it with a ten foot pole... where is the draw?

    I didn't try out Umbral Shards because WoD gives me hives. It has zero attraction to me as a setting and the few times I tried it out because I wanted to see if maybe there was actually something to it were sufficiently disastrous that it's not a brick wall I'll be smashing my face into any time soon ever again.

    Granted, I suspect that most everyone that checked the project out was a MSB reader, so the sort of group-think that has lead WTFE to that conclusion above might be statistically prevalent amongst those that showed up. Thus, there was a lot of uncomfortable feelings when reading the intent and mission statement of the game. See, US was supposed to be entirely PRP-driven, with the locks taken off and the players trusted to not only do dangerous things, but game-changing things. That was the entire dream!

    And then there's this: "PrP-only" reads to me as "staff doesn't give a shit". At this stage, I may as well play over IRC for all the difference a game server makes.



  • @WTFE said in Identifying Major Issues:

    @Rook said in Identifying Major Issues:

    @WTFE said:

    Players are enjoined to run plots, but only if the plots don't in any way, shape or form touch the grid in the slightest. So your PrPs are fine so long as they have zero noticeable impact on the setting!

    So I read this and think to myself, when I was building and advertising Umbral Shards as a game entirely designed to be modified, changed and built out by the players... no one was willing to either believe it or touch it with a ten foot pole... where is the draw?

    I didn't try out Umbral Shards because WoD gives me hives. It has zero attraction to me as a setting and the few times I tried it out because I wanted to see if maybe there was actually something to it were sufficiently disastrous that it's not a brick wall I'll be smashing my face into any time soon ever again.

    Granted, I suspect that most everyone that checked the project out was a MSB reader, so the sort of group-think that has lead WTFE to that conclusion above might be statistically prevalent amongst those that showed up. Thus, there was a lot of uncomfortable feelings when reading the intent and mission statement of the game. See, US was supposed to be entirely PRP-driven, with the locks taken off and the players trusted to not only do dangerous things, but game-changing things. That was the entire dream!

    And then there's this: "PrP-only" reads to me as "staff doesn't give a shit". At this stage, I may as well play over IRC for all the difference a game server makes.

    So, in all seriousness, is there anything that actually does please you? All I ever see from your posts, even here in the mildly constructive area, is whining and vitriol about how this thing is shit, or that thing is shit, and you hate the following three things, even if they're literal opposites of each other. Is there anything that you don't hate, other than, I dunno, Chinese culture, exotic alcohol, and math? Because I'm starting to think that maybe MU's in general just aren'r your thing.

    What would you actually like to see?



  • @Derp Their connection aside (which has torpedoed five scenes now), I've found United Heroes to be near-perfect as a game. (This tickles me in particular because usually I'm not a fan of supers games.) It has about the right amount of staff vs. player balance. Applications are often approved within seconds (!) of hitting the submit command, rarely taking over a day. Code exists for helping with scenes instead of interfering with them. About the only thing that's missing from making it perfect (connection aside--not really their fault entirely) is a means for player actions to impact the grid without staff intervention. Given how engaged the staff is, though, this may prove not to be much of an issue.

    I'm sorry if you think finding "staff über alles" and "all PrPs and nothing but PrPs" being both equally problematical is an issue. (Hint: I'm not sorry in the slightest.) <flamebait>You're probably American, of course, so you can be forgiven for thinking that there's only polar opposites possible. What I'm looking for, though, isn't something an American would like: a middle ground or compromise (evilbadword, I know!).</flamebait> I'm looking, in short, for something where staff are actively engaged but where players are also empowered to do their own thing within reason instead of having to wait for staff to get into the mix.

    Leaving everything in the hands of players is abdication. It really does render the existence of a game server entirely moot; it's basically the equivalent of RP over IRC or online-TT servers or even ... I don't know ... Livejournal only with more arcane commands and fewer players. This isn't a solution to a problem so much as a throwing of hands up into the air and giving up on the problem.

    Requiring everything to go through staff, on the other hand, is terrible in the opposite direction. It engenders the whole learned helplessness thing that staff then later ironically bemoans as "entitled attitude" and generates a player base that won't even try doing things on their own because staff beats them down for it. Worse, though, and we're seeing the fruit from this particular seed now, it engenders a MUSHing-wide culture of people who won't do things on their own because "everybody knows" staff doesn't really want you to.

    You won't believe me right now because I'm the Big Bad Man Who Says Mean Things™ and can thus obviously not be trusted, but holy fuck, just fucking read! Read Thenomain's reports, for example, about how games used to be exactly what is now viewed as so rare as to be mythical: populated by players who just went out and did fun things. Then come up with a plausible mechanism that just mysteriously turned the playerbase into the mewling entitled creatures you have in your mind's eye. Be sure to include in your model the fact that the players from back then are largely the same players as now. (And be sure to factor out that part where everybody but you is lame while you're super-awesome because that will just make anybody watching you laugh.)

    SOMETHING HAPPENED to that player base that used to be self-starting and fun-seeking and turned them into the mewling "entitled" zombies you see today. If you don't figure out what that something was, you won't change anything. And the connected counts at MUDstats will continue to drop.



  • @WTFE said in Identifying Major Issues:

    SOMETHING HAPPENED to that player base that used to be self-starting and fun-seeking and turned them into the mewling "entitled" zombies you see today. If you don't figure out what that something was, you won't change anything. And the connected counts at MUDstats will continue to drop.

    That's easy; those players matured.

    It's not a trite answer. It's a real one. They got older. They got jobs. They got less time.

    But importantly, their tastes also changed. Whereas before it was easy to just drop a few orbs on the outskirts of town, slay a few orcs/bugbears/cylons/sentinels/whatever and call it a day, their taste in stories matured with them. They wanted more drama, more involvement. More character building. Just more.

    But that requires more setup. More investment. More time. And time is a luxury a lot of us don't have now.

    So what changed in those ten or fifteen years with those players? Their age. Their connectedness to information. Their maturity.

    So , I guess we need to fix that. It's easy. Recruit the younglings that have no time or lives but also have a level of skill and facility with writing that will please our aging population. Cake.


  • Coder

    @Derp

    Cool.

    Let's try to work out what works now, then. I mean, there's a reason why Fall Coast has high connect numbers in spite of I think we can agree that it's not a deeply developed game, right?



  • @Thenomain said in Identifying Major Issues:

    @Derp

    Cool.

    Let's try to work out what works now, then. I mean, there's a reason why Fall Coast has high connect numbers in spite of I think we can agree that it's not a deeply developed game, right?

    That's the thing. I don't think this is a problem. For as much as people bitch about 'just another copy of a sandbox game', those games always have players. Plenty of them. Which ones are hurting for logins?

    The problem isn't, as mentioned, the games. The problem is that the people who hate that aren't a member of the target audience, which is... broad, but also very clear about what it is. And those who want the setting but not the way it's run don't want to do the logical thing and just make one.

    The problem is not enough games to suit all tastes, and the easy ones to make/run are the ones that the vocal minority dislike.

    That's just the nature of the beast.


  • Coder

    @Thenomain For games like Fall Coast (I have never been there so this is pure conjecture) is also one of the reasons that Dark Metal had a huge player base at the time compared to a lot of other games:

    Freedom.

    From what I understand Fall Coast is entirely about your clique, there's very little interaction between clique's, and when there is it is usually spectacularly nasty which of course drives drama. This allows a wide variety of freedom available for the player base to play out their stories.

    Dark Metal was similar in that it was so batshit crazy(tm), and I say that fondly as I quite enjoyed it from time to time, that people literally did practically anything they wanted to, and most of the time it didn't matter.

    That's another type of freedom.

    So as to why some games don't have the same kind of weight, you get situations where player A gets butthurt because player B does something IC that hurt their OOC feelings. So they run to staff and set up official complaints against others or they start up campaigns badmouthing others. It doesn't matter what type of scene this is, but once it happens and it starts snowballing... people /stop/ trying to include others because the risk is to high that shit is going to go sideways.

    I also think the current mindset of just throwing XP at people also doesn't help create RP on the grid, sure, vote systems were something of a popularity contest but at least they got people out there doing stuff.

    Of course ymmv and I could be very wrong, but it's just how it seems to me. What's the point of doing anything if it doesn't amount to anything? Where's the incentive? Sure there's the 'story' but for a great many people they also like character development and growth which is part of why some people hate pure consent games.



  • @WTFE said in Identifying Major Issues:

    I'm sorry if you think finding "staff über alles" and "all PrPs and nothing but PrPs" being both equally problematical is an issue.

    The problem is, no one has suggested, let alone said, either of these things are ideal.

    You have an issue. People responded to say, "Yeah, we should do that," and instead of realizing, "Oh, hey, maybe these people are listening, cool, that will be an improvement if people get on that, do it!" you chose to find different reasons to just keep on bitching and being negative and shitting all over people. Example, @Rook, who agreed with your idea, you seemed to see fit to attack just because you don't like the kind of game s/he (sorry, don't know which!) picked (WoD), despite their support for using that idea and thinking it needs to be more available.

    Then you just bash @Derp for 'probably being an American' -- while you're the only one thinking of absolutes, by insisting everyone else is thinking of them, when they're not. That's in your head, not on the screen. You're at the point of making a fool of yourself. Seriously? Take the condescending attitude and scrambled-for justifications to just keep being a dick to people for no damn reason to a different thread; this one is meant to be productive and constructive and while 'OP doesn't get a say', I sure as fuck am going to speak my mind on this point because I'm tired of people's grudgewank-filled sandy vag whining, and inability to see how inappropriate their bullshit behavior is, fucking up otherwise useful dialogue.



  • @Derp said in Identifying Major Issues:

    So , I guess we need to fix that. It's easy. Recruit the younglings that have no time or lives but also have a level of skill and facility with writing that will please our aging population. Cake.

    This is mostly what we did on F&L in regards to running plots and staffing-- either they're relatively new and young and have no life (our most prolific plotters) or they're older and busier but still enthusiastic (and who give more guidance).

    Re: storytellers-- a lot of folks just don't like running plots, or are nervous, especially with combat stuff. I won't run combat scenes because chemo fog WILL make me make a dumb mistake, but I'm happy with running a casual one-off.



  • Issue: The Trust Gap.

    Reasoning behind this one is obvious enough, and plenty of it is actually reasonable: there are people who gleefully and cheerfully abuse the hell out of any power they have.

    This could be IC or OOC power, since you see it in the form of people stat-bullying or exploiting a position in cheaty or shady ways (Jeurg and his 'and none shall pass without the TS!' approach being a good example here) in cases of IC power, but really, I'm interested in the OOC angle more than that for the moment.

    One of the things I've focused on as a means of attempting to minimize the problems that come from this is to reduce the amount of power that rests in the hands of staff alone, spreading both ability and information to players that are (most typically) staff-only.

    The wiki-based general setup goes part way to making this essential, since privacy levels are somewhat problematic. Generally, all information on the wiki is and will be public. Instead of worrying about that, I'm interested in looking at it like a feature rather than a bug. Open sheet, open background, etc. That's a whole lot of power no longer resting in staff's hands alone, and a lot more information open to all -- including who has adjusted that information, and when, as a default feature of mediawiki. (Edit protection is a lot easier than read protection, and is relevant for things like sheets.)

    The ability to edit things in game (or add things to the game) has been covered somewhat, but aside from being able to add things to a room desc on a grid, what things like this would (generic) you like to see along these lines?

    Further, do you think this diminishes the power disparity in terms of players/staff in a productive way?

    Do you think that sort of reduction helps, or that it still really just won't make any difference in reducing the trust gap?


  • Creator

    This is not a knock on Fall Coast, because I haven't played it and I like some of the people who I (presume) run it.

    However, if it's anything like Reach, then it has high connection numbers for the same reason that people actually eat at Old Country Buffet despite there being better options at a similar price.

    For the price of one really decent high quality meal at other restaurants, you can get a huge variety of stuff that doesn't necessarily go together and probably not a huge amount of care goes into making sure that it goes well with anything else anyway, the food isn't really presented particularly well, or at all, it's just kind of put out there for you to eat. And you can put ice cream on your fried chicken if you damned well please, though as a black person I find the idea of eating fried chicken at Old Country Buffet to be appalling on multiple levels, not to be a racial stereotype here (eat chicken at Popeyes or a Chinese takeout place like a decent person, if you must get cheap fried chicken).

    Sure, people could go somewhere nice, where the walls are fancy, the people are polite, and they pushed all us brown people out of the neighborhood so that we won't make anyone uncomfortable. But you know, why do all of that when you can indulge in wasteful human decadence for the same price, and no one's going to stop you from going made with the power of making a dry pizza slice and mediocre steak sandwich (with funnel cake as the bread).

    This is why games like that have 100+ connections.

    If you cast a ridiculously wide net and appeal to a huge demographic at the detriment of overall quality and focus, then yes, you can get a ton of players. If getting a ton of players is your goal, that's the easiest way to do it. There are other ways to do it, but that's the easy one.

    Though I should repeat that this isn't a knock at Fall Coast and the people who run it, it's mostly just what I see as an honest observation. I feel like this is not something that they're unaware of, it doesn't make them bad people, they should do what they feel like doing and enjoy that.

    My personal belief, because I came into MUing at around 2005, is that 30-40 unique players is ideal. Larger games can work with proper planning, but in a lot of large games you get lost in a sea of noise and don't truly feel like a part of a world. MCM is probably the largest game I played while feeling like I was a part of its world. Early Reach also made me feel like I was a part of it, but that went out the window after a while.

    RPI MUDs are shockingly significantly at this than MUSHes and such.



  • I'm a staffer at Fallcoast, so I'll go ahead and chime in here:

    One of the problems with the idea of Metaplot, even within spheres, is that there's just too damn many people with too much xp. It'd be a ridiculous amount of overhead to try and include everyone into something like that. I, personally, don't have the time for stuff like that.

    What I prefer (note: not require, simply prefer) people to do is find an area where they have fun, and then run stuff in that area. This might be some grid area, or some thematic area, etc. Essentially, I encourage people to do is find a corner of the sandbox that has sand they prefer to work with, and try and build things in it. Other people can come along and try and kick it down, or build it up, or whatever, and I'll largely stay out of your way. I can process your jobs and answer questions, and I'm happy to make some rules to try and keep everything sane and running smoothly, but when it comes to what people want to do? Do whatever makes you happy.

    The flip side of this is, even with supernatural powers, you have a fairly narrow ability to change the world around you. Magic is magic, yes, but magic has limits. Werewolves have to sculpt a territory, but they still have to deal with things like competing spirits and human intrusion and mortages and shit like that. Mages can spell up a whole building, or perhaps even a block if you're super, super dedicated but it's still one building/block.

    What changes are you -wanting- to make to the world? Do we mean the literal -world-? Because that's often outside the scope of what any one person, or even game group, can do. Hell, it's a hassle to make large-scale changes to one part of a city even with magic, of whatever flavor. And we do try and follow the common sense rule of 'don't do something that's gonna fuck it up for everyone else'.

    Even Mages, those people who everyone hate because they can do seemingly anything, are limited in this ability. Shit, man, even archmasters, the uber-mensch of Mage, aren't going to make these kinds of changes with any kind of frequency. If they make a change to the world, it's something small. If they make a bigger change to the world (keyword: IF), they might get one in their archmagical lifetime over the game's scope, between gathering appropriate quintessence and keeping up the Pax Arcanum.

    That's the reaity of the world, man. Even the supernaturals have limits. So 'impact on the world' is ... kind of confusing to me. What sorts of impacts are you looking to make? And more importantly, are they actually feasible with the resources that you have? That's the big question, there. While you might want to do something world-spanningly epic, your actual ability to do so isn't much less of a pipe dream for your average archmage than it is for your average city politician. That's just the breaks. Scale is a thing.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Identifying Major Issues:

    Issue: The Trust Gap.

    For me I think the biggest issue with trust is the lack of personal interaction with staff in on modern games.
    Hell I trusted staff on DM and was actually shocked to hear of the shenanigans that happened staff side there when I learned of them. Why? Because these were people I had talked to and dealt with a fair amount even been in arguments and disagreed with but they were people I interacted with so trust built even if in some cases that was misplaced.
    On a modern game for the most part Staff and Players do not deal with each other as people, now most interaction is about as impersonal as can be. Instead of relationships you are left with processes. This does appeal to some, I know @derp has stated a preference for process centered thinking, but for others, like me, trust is a personal thing that all the processes and well written policies will never build. It takes actual interaction.
    to tie into the PrP issue, pretty much every game has a +policy about PrP and pretty much all of them make it sound pretty easy to get go ahead to run things, that sounds all fine and dandy but where the difference lies in how those policies are enforced/used and that varies widely. For example if @faraday and @rook both are running games with open PrP polices, I am a hell of a lot more likely to trust Faraday's and run a PrP mostly because of thier reputation with people I trust and my admittedly brief history on some games Fara has run/been involved in. No offense to @rook meant at all but I know nothing about him/her. So regardless of written policy on the game I would not have any trust in it so would not run a plot until that level of trust had been built.


  • Coder

    @surreality said in Identifying Major Issues:

    Issue: The Trust Gap.

    Reasoning behind this one is obvious enough, and plenty of it is actually reasonable: there are people who gleefully and cheerfully abuse the hell out of any power they have.

    ((Stuff))

    Do you think that sort of reduction helps, or that it still really just won't make any difference in reducing the trust gap?

    Here's the problem with WoD/CoD and it comes to everything being on the wiki. A) Wiki's are easily editable, so how do you ensure accuracy? B) People like their dark secrets to be dark secrets. It seems many people do not know the difference between IC and OOC knowledge, and they will let stuff they know OOCly influence their RP or how they act towards a character/person.

    I've seen it happen where someone shows up and starts speaking about stuff about my character that they had no way to know because they read it on the wiki.

    So that trust gap is there, and it's a hard thing to overcome.

    ESPECIALLY for games that can end up in PvP so easily. Politics are a big part of CoD for example, intra-pack, inter-pack, Coterie, Elysium, Tur, etc and politics /are/ pvp most of the time.

    I have seen very open games work in the past, but those were mostly Fate games which were more pve than pvp.


  • Coder

    @ThatGuyThere said in Identifying Major Issues:

    For example if @faraday and @rook both are running games with open PrP polices, I am a hell of a lot more likely to trust Faraday's and run a PrP mostly because of thier reputation with people I trust and my admittedly brief history on some games Fara has run/been involved in. No offense to @rook meant at all but I know nothing about him/her. So regardless of written policy on the game I would not have any trust in it so would not run a plot until that level of trust had been built.

    Thanks. Though I think the hobby as a whole could do with a little more slant toward giving people the benefit of the doubt. We've all been burned before, but at some point it comes down to what kind of community you want to build and be a part of. I don't think I could have kept playing MU*s this long if I went around looking at each new game like the players and staff there were about to bash me in the face with a shovel at any moment -- even though I've certainly experienced my share of bashing.


  • Creator

    @Derp said in Identifying Major Issues:

    That's the reaity of the world, man. Even the supernaturals have limits. So 'impact on the world' is ... kind of confusing to me. What sorts of impacts are you looking to make? And more importantly, are they actually feasible with the resources that you have? That's the big question, there. While you might want to do something world-spanningly epic, your actual ability to do so isn't much less of a pipe dream for your average archmage than it is for your average city politician. That's just the breaks. Scale is a thing.

    It's honestly very difficult to really put this in words, but it's not really a matter of "Alright my e-peen is the biggest and now the world knows", what I'm saying is something simple like just feeling as if you're a part of the world, even if there's not necessarily a metaplot. MCM sure as hell only has something resembling a metaplot like every two years or so, and I at least personally felt like a part of the world (at the time I played), despite the massive amount of players.

    When it comes to impacting the world, I should clarify that I don't mean the world as in Earth, I mean the world as in the world immediately around you. Having your actions in general, like, matter. In a game like Reach (I'm saying Reach because I actually played that, unlike Fallcoast) you could have presumably gone and stabbed Cthulhu and half the game probably wouldn't even know it. It's not really a matter of what you can do, or the scope of what you do, it's a matter of the world feeling connected, cohesive, and alive, not like every sphere is an entirely different MU.

    I'm not going to say that this is what everyone wants, or that even if it was possible to even make that happen in Fallcoast, that it would even be something that the playerbase wants (they're enjoying themselves just fine, if the numbers are any indication). My post was simply to illustrate why Fallcoast has high numbers vs. a game that hits more of the notes that I consider to be more quality focused rather than quantity of things to access.

    Windy City, despite all its problems, hit a lot of the notes I'm talking about. You generally felt like the world was cohesive, that all of these spheres existed in the same place. Even if people had cliques, those cliques were still in the same world as you, that's how it felt. It didn't feel like there were lots of walls in between everything. Though I should note, again, that this is mostly me talking about Fallcoast in the context of being anything like Reach, so this is mostly me assuming based on conjecture due to how much time I spent on Reach and how people say that Fallcoast is similar.

    Like, I'm by no means saying Windy City was a great game, just that it successfully felt like a single world and even minor shit mattered if it made sense for it to matter. It's difficult for anything to feel like it matters in sandbox-ish games, and when things don't really matter because you know that you're in basically a shiny sandbox, then I find it difficult to invest. A lot of people enjoy getting to do whatever they want and be as uber powerful as possible despite the fact that it actually doesn't matter and not much had to actually be done to achieve that, but literally the bare minimum that I want out of a world is to feel as if I exist in it.

    This is not something that every game is capable of addressing, nor should they even feel obligated to address it, because not everyone has those needs, and despite my language of one thing being higher quality than the other, this is ultimately my subjective opinion. HeroMUX (I think that's the right one, I've played so many of these damned things that they run together sometimes) was similar in that I got bored and left because nothing really mattered. Characters could get retconned and rebooted and history suddenly didn't matter anymore, big plots could happen but they didn't feel important because, again, it just didn't matter and the world didn't really feel like it was a living world so much as people just doing stuff.

    And, you know, there's nothing wrong with people just doing stuff, if they're having fun, have fun, I'm not going to criticize people for what they find fun. My explanation of Fallcoast was specifically "this is what people enjoy about it". I'm not gonna login and go "Change for me", I'm like one dude. If it works, it works. Maybe my language was too harsh in my post, though, so I apologize for that.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in Identifying Major Issues:

    Thanks. Though I think the hobby as a whole could do with a little more slant toward giving people the benefit of the doubt. We've all been burned before, but at some point it comes down to what kind of community you want to build and be a part of. I don't think I could have kept playing MU*s this long if I went around looking at each new game like the players and staff there were about to bash me in the face with a shovel at any moment -- even though I've certainly experienced my share of bashing.

    In defense of the hobby but not the species, I trust the average person on a game the exact same amount I would trust the average person walking down a street. I don't expect to be bashed with a shovel at any moment but I also don't expect positive interaction either, so I proceed with caution until a level of trust can be developed.


  • Coder

    @ThatGuyThere I like to think of it more like showing up in a new town at a gaming store (or a con) looking to play. Yeah, you don't know these people and I wouldn't expect you to act like they're your new BFF. But there's a shared interest and experience there... some common ground you don't have with a random dude on the street. I think people have more fun in those situations when they extend the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Why would you even bother if you you went into it expecting them to all be a-holes?


  • Coder

    @faraday

    To agree with you, this reminds me of something Brus and others used to say on Wora: Treat others as adults and expect them to act like adults.

    My spin on this is: Be patient and understanding. Not so much that you are a doormat, but enough to let people correct themselves when things do go wrong.

    As far as I care, I can deal with anyone who shows willingness to try and not be a jerk. I do have a limit, where someone shows time and again that they don't care for anything but their own world-view, tho right now it only has the name of VASpider.


  • Creator

    @Thenomain My experiences with VASpider were all good until I learned she was secretly trying to kill me on her staff alt.


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