FCs on Comic MUs



  • So I didn't want to clutter up the ad thread of United Heroes with a big tangent, but @Arkandel made a joke about how much drama there was compared to WoD games, and I think it's important to consider why.

    When making a game, someone has to ask themselves what design choices they are making that will put any players in a position to feel antagonistic to one another. If they opt into that, if they -want- that, what they can't do is say, 'I expect players to be mature and never get upset' because that will never happen. Encourage it, foster it, but absolutely never depend upon it. So either you take active steps to avoid a toxic, antagonistic environment where players loathe one another, or you ignore it and let it happen, and just hope for the best. I've never enjoyed games that opt for the latter and I swear an awful lot do, because it isn't really fun to think about this stuff for game runners.

    So what design choices are resulting in extreme toxicity on some comic or multiverse games?

    For games that are essentially entirely PvE and collaborative, they have one of the most antagonistic setups imaginable from an ooc perspective. You have people wanting to play or play with other feature characters as their motivation for playing the game to begin with, put in a position of judging other people's roleplay and whether they are basically doing their job by roleplaying. With not being able to really see what other people are really doing, and motivated to believe the worst about others if they don't get the interactions they want, there is absolutely no way that does not become toxic without extraordinary effort to prevent it. Look at the huge number of posts on UH's ad thread bitching about how people are playing their characters, and I really, really do not think any of those people read that and go, 'Wow, that's a fair complaint, I better spend more time RPing with this person shit talking me. Thank you, @Social-Diseases , I learned a lot today.' Putting people in a position of feeling competitive for either time with FCs or playing the FCs themselves is always going to result in resentment for how they are played- it doesn't really matter if the criticism is justified, just the fact it happens is going to create fights.

    Games will usually have a honeymoon period and then a crash, and how violent the latter is depends upon how much resentment is allowed to build. The game opens, there's a wave of a hundred people taking characters. They are having fun, so they ignore the shit that really bothers them. Months go by, they still aren't getting the RP with some FC that is off RPing with his friends mostly, they get annoyed about it, say that FC is always TSing. FC might be spending 50% of his time RPing with strangers, but the larger the game, the less that will be noticed or appreciated. Criticism gets back to him that he doesn't do shit, he is now intensely resentful also, scales back what he was actually doing. Repeat this 500 times, as people become less and less willing to ignore the stuff that they were annoyed at to begin with. Complaints pile up, Staff starts dealing with embittered people rather than making story for people that aren't embittered, resulting in people that were having fun and happy not doing so. Eventually staff quits, game collapses, or there is a mass exodus as staff retaliates in ways that punishes people for having resentment and drives them off.

    So what do you do to avoid that?

    For starters, create powerful incentives for people RPing outside their circles and not just their friends. This is important to begin with in games. On games with FCs that are why people are there to begin with, I won't even say it's important, I'd say it is vital. Like I disagree with the reserve system to begin with, but if I had to maintain something that checked activity with votes or one ups or whatever, I would never allow the same people to ever vote again, relative to the size of the player base. For something like UH, you could pretty much say someone could never claim the same person again and be fine. On a WoD sandbox, cliques can exist pretty much without incident since no one really needs one another at all, or even particularly wants to interact with them, and a game of 200 people can be more like 50 games of 4 people each. That just isn't true for a FC game, and the dynamics are way different, and each one of those 50 cliques is a recipe for intense resentment. If they aren't playing with one another, there will eventually be a blow up.

    Now on the flip side, when I said that staff should not expect players to be mature and never get upset without creating a place that encourages that, staff has to absolutely be proactive in creating the positive atmosphere and pushing back against the kind of behavior that will create long term problems. That sounds basic but very few people want to deal with behavioral problems, and the ones that DO want to deal with it are very rarely the people that should be. This tends to be the default because most staff don't create games because they have a burning desire to punish bad behavior from their friends or from socially dysfunctional members of the community. It is mind boggling that people think that, 'I really don't want to start a fight with the people I enjoy RPing with and police them on the behalf of strangers' is the most machiavellian, mustache-twirling corruption, because I guarantee you that will be the default for almost everyone. If you see problematic players and they aren't talked to, you can be absolutely certain that problematic staff aren't being talked to either, and the place is probably doomed. That is not rare, and that's not special, that's normal, and if a game opens as a lassiez faire, anyone-can-do-anything, that often probably means they have zero desire to police things and you can expect this. Basically, if there's chatter on channels that is snarky and acerbic, and it goes by without being challenged, run. So yes, running a large game is exceptionally challenging, but you either run it, or you let it devolve, and god help you if you set up it up in a way that has players disliking one another for their RP.



  • @apos said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    That sounds basic but very few people want to deal with behavioral problems, and the ones that DO want to deal with it are very rarely the people that should be.

    I'd honestly expand this to "very few people want to deal with problems that involve other people in any fashion whatsoever". And I believe this is one of the main problems in the hobby. The irony is not lost on me, either. But, for all the loud bitching I do around here, I have the self-awareness to realize that on-game, I should not be the person dealing with player-problems. At least not without having my +job responses/etc vetted by other staff first. Not to "brag", but a lot of fucking people lack that self-awareness.

    This can also be expanded to the fact that generally, the people with the time & interest to run a MU are rarely the sort of people who should be. There are exceptions here. But good, decent staff like @Apos are the minority, by far. People like @Arkandel or whoever you want to hold up as a 'reasonable, good RPer and person' don't have the time to run a MU. Most of the time, the people running a MU are doing it for flawed reasons. They want to be popular. It's a replacement for a social life. They want to 'make friends' and then those friends become the 'favored players'. Or just simple shit like they want a GOMO.

    The mentality around 'competing over FCs' is definitely probably a problem, but, let's be serious here. @Apos, I don't know how familiar you are with comic games, anime games, etc.

    People camp characters like a mother fucker. If the rule is "one log posted a month", there are dozens of people who will take an alt, and regularly go 27 days with that alt offline, then log on, get in their 1 log, and disappear for another 25 days. And they're not breaking a rule....technically?

    I for sure agree that the same character/player shouldn't be allowed to 'vote' (or whatever) for somebody else over and over. Especially depending on the tiers of what we're talking about. If a game has 100+ characters logged in, and Batman explicitly plays with even the same FIVE people over and over for 6 months straight, that's not okay. Nevermind how common it is for people to play with 1 or 2 people over and over.

    Staff on these games are generally the core of the problem, because they do all this shit themselves, and between them and their friends each having 5 fucking alt slots, they've covered half of the high profile characters. If your BFF is playing Emma Frost on your game and she only logs on every two weeks to play with you, there are very, very, very few human beings in the MU community who are going to pull that character from their friend or tell and enforce them being more active in public. I've staffed multiple comic games. The other people on staff are why I quit every time. They inevitably want absurd shit that wouldn't get approved for a player, or constantly skirt around activity rules and get a 'pass' because "holy shit wow, there'd be drama if we talked to another staffer about that".


  • Admin

    @tempest said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    People camp characters like a mother fucker. If the rule is "one log posted a month", there are dozens of people who will take an alt, and regularly go 27 days with that alt offline, then log on, get in their 1 log, and disappear for another 25 days. And they're not breaking a rule....technically?

    That's on staff. In fact I suspect that's on staff copying the rules of previous games, since it doesn't seem to be a single MU* that's the main culprit there... it sounds like every new one that opened just copied the last one's rules which allowed camping on characters - which is as stupid an idea as it can be. If FCs are offered to regular players, and they're allowed to be important, then they should go to active and involved players.

    Hell, even if the activity rule allowed for this malfunction when the game started it should be the easiest thing to spot and change afterwards. That's 100% on staff, it's not like policies are written in stone.

    I was shocked the one and only time I played on a comic-book MU* a long time ago ( @Vorpal was in my group, if he remembers) and I found out the same person had Superman, Flash and... I want to say a Green Lantern, too? Man, that's half the JLA right there. Let someone else have a toy too, didn't you learn that in kindergarten?


  • Pitcrew

    @apos alt text

    You have to begin with a solid base. And I understand this should go without saying but it does apparently have to be said - if you do not have the temperament, if you do not have the organizational and narrative skills, you should not even make the attempt. If your goal is self-aggrandizement, you should not make the attempt; if your goal is to create a sandbox for yourself and for your friends and your attitude is that anyone outside of that group is so peripheral to your interests that they may be subject to any level of abuse, you should not make the attempt. When you begin toxic, you have no right to complain that the environment is poisonous. And when there is a problem on a comic game, 9 out of 10 times, it is because of this. All other problems flow from the source of malicious or inept staffers.

    Camping is a problem. There is no easy solution.

    I remain fond of my idea, which is not shocking because it was my idea - do absolutely anything you want with a character, anything at all. As long as, in addition to whatever you want to do, you fill the role that character occupies. Batman must be Batman. Superman must be Superman. If you are not filling that role, you must be removed from that character.

    And I think a solid patch-over is that, every few months, characters who are hugely important to their world or hugely popular with players should be required to stand for vote. If a writer so bungles a book that sales plummet, he's fired; if a player so bungles a character that a plurality of people think he should not be playing that character, he should be fired.


  • Admin

    @social-diseases said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    And I understand this should go without saying but it does apparently have to be said - if you do not have the temperament, if you do not have the organizational and narrative skills, you should not even make the attempt. If your goal is self-aggrandizement, you should not make the attempt; if your goal is to create a sandbox for yourself and for your friends and your attitude is that anyone outside of that group is so peripheral to your interests that they may be subject to any level of abuse, you should not make the attempt. When you begin toxic, you have no right to complain that the environment is poisonous. And when there is a problem on a comic game, 9 out of 10 times, it is because of this. All other problems flow from the source of malicious or inept staffers.

    Self-awareness is the main roadblock there. How many of those people honestly, truly think to themselves "well, I lack the narrative skills", let alone "I am a toxic person" and reach the conclusion they ought to abort the project because of those reasons?

    In a way it's like politics. Sure, some folks go into it for the right reasons, but many get in for the perks.



  • One thing that I see a lot of on games but have never really seen working too well is conflating IC positions of leadership and authority with expectations of OOC administration or quasi staffing. Things like the High Priest also being some kind of 'helper' or designated OOC authority on stuff related to their religion, etc.

    I can see why this happens given that the player of the High Priest presumably knows a bunch about the organisation they ICly lead and is likely to be somebody many enjoy or at least can stand interacting with. Inevitably though you end up with people writing the fluff for their faction in hagiographic terms along with people feeling out of character pressured not to disagree with the 'faction head'. Even if it is relatively subtle and not abusive very few people define the IC reality of their organisation to have deep issues or flaws especially related to the leadership of their character. This has obvious effects even without players often relying upon faction heads for plot and similar goodness.

    Additionally the level of pressure expectation leads to faction head types burning out rather quickly unless they are surrounded and supported by a clique. Not comic book specific, but pretty relevant where feature characters and activity levels are a concern.



  • I mean ... why not just make a rule against squatting and then enforce it? No need to turn character retention into something to politic over. Yes, you do need competent player management staff but I think games need that anyways.

    You do have to actually enforce your squatting rule but this is not an insurmountable obstacle.


  • Pitcrew

    I"m in the boat, camping is a problem. Whether you're on 'Any character ever is welcome' the Comic Mu or the X-Men Blue and Gold that only allows Blue and Gold FCs from ancient times, someone is going to camp on Rogue and someone else is going to camp on Gambit. No matter how many rules and safeguards are in place, they'll figure out how much they can camp (TS) while meeting minimum requirements.

    But, an appeal to reason, Comic Mu*s are one of those last places that can still be played, generally, as open sandbox (have fun, fight enemies, don't blow up the walls without staff approval because we don't want to lose the sand). Lets not try to tuck them into the fold of police staff states, more code to control things like monitoring activity more and more, or relying on player favoritism of who plays who; I mean voting, which isn't much different than staff friend pretendy fun time.

    Really, please, if a place sucks and is police state or whatever, please, open a new place. You can get space on the cheap, I know of at least two boxes that remain free if you ask the owner for space. Codewise, you can find all the old standard global that every place has on github or Mushcode.com or from others if you just ask nicely (BBS, CRON system, player request/staff jobs, misc global (+who/+where/finger code). Not to call her out or drag her in, @Faraday has, just prior to AresMUSH go-live, consolidated a lot of standard global features and add-ons that players have come to expect and enjoy all in one location as a Softcode Core.

    The appeal continued, dislike a game for staff or staff implementation of some system or whatever, but I really want to see some return to a flourish of options for places to play rather than one basic standard for each genre (ie, this is the one place for oWoD, this is the one place for nWoD, this is the place for Supers, this is the one place for L&L). We can determine if staff is good or bad, they can even learn from mistakes and become good, or continually be bad and called out for it. But I don't want to see advocacy for just more lock down and state control.

    The players don't order the state, its not Nazi Germany, they are free to leave, and there is room for other states. We're not in some closed society here. Ref: Hitler propoganda: The state does not order us, we order the state.


  • Pitcrew

    @arkandel said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Self-awareness is the main roadblock there. How many of those people honestly, truly think to themselves "well, I lack the narrative skills", let alone "I am a toxic person" and reach the conclusion they ought to abort the project because of those reasons?

    Absolutely and unfortunately true.


  • Pitcrew

    @packrat said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Additionally the level of pressure expectation leads to faction head types burning out rather quickly unless they are surrounded and supported by a clique.

    It might be even better to look at certain characters who occupy that sort of role not as "you get this character until you're bored with it," but as -

    You are writing an arc with this character.

    You do not get to keep it forever.

    You will, eventually, not have that character. Someone else will have that character, for a different arc to tell a different story.


  • Admin

    @saosmash said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    I mean ... why not just make a rule against squatting and then enforce it? No need to turn character retention into something to politic over. Yes, you do need competent player management staff but I think games need that anyways.

    To some degree that's the same issue as firing bad staff.

    It's far easier to hire someone (or to not hire them in the first place) than it is to fire them after the fact.


  • Politics

    @social-diseases said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Camping is a problem. There is no easy solution.

    Here's a solution: how about only allowing one PC for every player? No alts. You're either playing on the game or you are not.

    Permit people to use redshirts or proxy bits for the same PC, so that they can RP in two places at once if they are worried about missing RP opportunities on the game by being occupied in one scene.



  • @ganymede said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Here's a solution: how about only allowing one PC for every player? No alts. You're either playing on the game or you are not.

    But, but, Gany...then your +Who list looks small. :(


  • Politics

    @tempest said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    But, but, Gany...then your +Who list looks small. :(

    The size is not as important as the quality. At least, that's what guys tell themselves.

    As I said before: allow for redshirts/proxies. You can bump up the +who list that way.



  • People froth at the mouth for alts, it's crazy.

    @ZombieGenesis opened his DC game with a 1 char limit, and didn't even make it one week from opening before he got persuaded/harassed/browbeat into opening alts, if I recall correctly.



  • @arkandel I dunno, if you have an established rule that says no character squatting I think it's a lot easier to go "Hi there, you are barely meeting this FC's activity requirements. Please review our policy on character squatting. Either start getting out there and rping or consider returning this character to the FC roster! We will check in again on activity in two weeks," than it is to fire someone from being staff for generalized shittiness or failure to pull their weight.

    That said, TLF has a 2 FC alt limit and I think that does help. Honestly sometimes people squat when they only have one character for whatever reason, though. It really comes down to being willing to make rules and then enforce them.


  • Politics

    @tempest said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    People froth at the mouth for alts, it's crazy.

    Too fucking bad? People clamored for alts on RfK, but the absence of alts was one of its best policies.

    Many people have disagreed with my point of view, but I believe that players need to invest in their characters more. If you cannot get your PC into RP for whatever reason, switch PCs. Keep trying, or don't try, whatever you choose.

    I can see very few reasons for playing an alt, other than "I want to try something else but I don't want to lose the RP I have on the PC I currently have." That's fine, but, if you want to get more RP on the PC you currently have, why not put more energy there rather than split them with another PC? And if you just want to switch concepts, why not do that, quit your own PC, and pick up the other? This is especially true for FC games.

    Where FCs have leadership positions, activity needs to be higher than just one scene a month. Much higher. And staff needs to be pro-active and get on people to either set up alternate leadership or giving it up in favor of players who can meet staff's expectations.


  • Coder

    @lotherio said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Not to call her out or drag her in, @Faraday has, just prior to AresMUSH go-live, consolidated a lot of standard global features and add-ons that players have come to expect and enjoy all in one location as a Softcode Core.

    Heh, that's been around for close to ten years. :)

    Since @Tempest asked in the train wreck thread about a sandbox setup -
    here you go - Zero to Faraday Softcode. It has FS3 and other stuff built in but you can get rid of them with the +uninstall command. It doesn't have +traits, but that's easy enough to do. Maybe @tangent or @ixokai has that quick and dirty version I threw together for Marvel63 when it first opened.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    Heh, that's been around for close to ten years. :)

    I'm old, Sweetwater Crossing feels like yesterday; but that in itself is like half a decade+ ago. Old age is settling in ...


  • Pitcrew

    @ganymede said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    @tempest said in FCs on Comic MUs:

    People froth at the mouth for alts, it's crazy.

    Too fucking bad? People clamored for alts on RfK, but the absence of alts was one of its best policies.

    Many people have disagreed with my point of view, but I believe that players need to invest in their characters more. If you cannot get your PC into RP for whatever reason, switch PCs. Keep trying, or don't try, whatever you choose.

    I can see very few reasons for playing an alt, other than "I want to try something else but I don't want to lose the RP I have on the PC I currently have." That's fine, but, if you want to get more RP on the PC you currently have, why not put more energy there rather than split them with another PC? And if you just want to switch concepts, why not do that, quit your own PC, and pick up the other? This is especially true for FC games.

    Where FCs have leadership positions, activity needs to be higher than just one scene a month. Much higher. And staff needs to be pro-active and get on people to either set up alternate leadership or giving it up in favor of players who can meet staff's expectations.

    I have to agree with all of this.

    I could probably see allowing 2, maybe 3 characters so long as those characters were sufficiently different in focus, but...

    When you have someone with 8 or 9 alts, I don't care how active they are, that's a tremendous problem.


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