Alternative Formats to MU


  • Coder

    @arkandel said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    In this thread's context though all I'm saying is that the key isn't so far to do away with some features we are familiar with or to do them differently, it should be to provide the technical capability to do so.

    I disagree. A platform that tries to be everything to everybody is by its nature going to be either

    • incomplete - requiring you to fill in the blanks yourself (e.g. current MUSH servers) or
    • insanely complicated. I mean, it's nice to talk about magically-functional Wordpress plugins, but have you ever tried to write a Wordpress plugin? There's a reason why almost all of the decent ones are behind a pay-wall.

    So it comes down to what your goals are. With Ares, my goals are 1) Make it easier to play, 2) Make it easier to create a game, and 3) Make it easier to code.

    All three of those core goals get screwed if I try to keep every existing feature, plus every conceivable feature you could build with current softcode, plus a web UI on top of that.

    Keeping to those goals requires compromises. There are many compromises I've made with Ares. Some of those will turn off some people. I don't really care as long as it doesn't turn off everybody. (Which is why it's not web-only even though I'd like it to be, because that would turn off almost everyone.)

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    I think there's a confusion here that if we allow backwards compatibility with telnet it's an all or nothing agreement. This isn't true. You could allow a telnet client to connect and make the same commands people have always been used to, but also provide a web client that runs off a restful API. These things are not mutually exclusive.

    They're not - Ares has done it. But as @Roz said, that choice has added a lot of complexity to the code that I wish wasn't there.

    Just a trivial example, let's say you want to have "Race" as a new chargen field for your space-game-with-aliens. With either telnet-only or web-only you'd only need to touch two things: the command/screen to set it, and the one to display it. But when you try to support both, you now need to have the telnet command to set it, the telnet command to display it, the web screen to set it, the web screen to display it AND the Rest API to allow it to be set via web. And help files for all of that. And oh-by-the-way they're in different languages, because web uses Javascript/HTML and the backend uses Ruby.

    And that's just for one extremely trivial command race <race>. Now multiply that by a thousand or so different commands/features.

    Now imagine explaining all that to a novice coder trying to learn a new platform and you hopefully see the problem.


  • Politics

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    The reality is that you could open a game with a clear theme and maybe 10 important, constantly used locations alongside a coded RP Room creation wing and it would work just as well.

    The problem is that if you do this, people will stare at you like you're fucking nuts.

    It's been done before, with questionable success, on Victorian Reverie. If I recall correctly, it was something that the player-base actually liked. What we didn't have was a temp-room or scene command that could spawn rooms attached to those RP Nexuses. We do now, so I don't think there'd be much of an issue.


  • Admin

    @faraday said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    @arkandel said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    In this thread's context though all I'm saying is that the key isn't so far to do away with some features we are familiar with or to do them differently, it should be to provide the technical capability to do so.

    I disagree. A platform that tries to be everything to everybody is by its nature going to be either

    Sure, but I don't see how that's what I argued.

    My point here is that with telnet there are many things you can't do. You just can't - and that's aside from whether you should be doing them. If you want to use italics in a pose... well, you can't (Pueblo protocol aside, of course), which is independent of whether people should be splashing italics all over their poses or not.

    By allowing such features through different protocols some games will be developed that use these new (as much as enriched text is 'new' :) ) capabilities badly and that will hardly constitute progress, but someone will have a good idea which others will pick up on, copy and maybe improve - same as we did with telnet over the years.


  • Coder

    @faraday said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Just a trivial example, let's say you want to have "Race" as a new chargen field for your space-game-with-aliens. With either telnet-only or web-only you'd only need to touch two things: the command/screen to set it, and the one to display it. But when you try to support both, you now need to have the telnet command to set it, the telnet command to display it, the web screen to set it, the web screen to display it AND the Rest API to allow it to be set via web. And help files for all of that. And oh-by-the-way they're in different languages, because web uses Javascript/HTML and the backend uses Ruby.

    I mean, this is a design issue. It's an easily solved design issue too. You can easily template out CG.
    The only place that this template method would fail is with CGs with special constraints, such as NWOD and Specialties, but like you said, you can't be everything to everyone and at some point if you're trying to be universal, you have to lose out on some features.


  • Politics

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    The only place that this template method would fail is with CGs with special constraints, such as NWOD and Specialties, but like you said, you can't be everything to everyone and at some point if you're trying to be universal, you have to lose out on some features.

    Specialties, Gifts, Rituals, Devotions, Threnodies ...


  • Coder

    @ganymede said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    The only place that this template method would fail is with CGs with special constraints, such as NWOD and Specialties, but like you said, you can't be everything to everyone and at some point if you're trying to be universal, you have to lose out on some features.

    Specialties, Gifts, Rituals, Devotions, Threnodies ...

    Gifts, Rituals and Devotions are pre-defined spots on a sheet. They don't require the extra work that specialties do (Being attached to a skill, Customized to what a player inputs). Threnodies could even be attached to a player sheet really, though they'd be harder to do since they have multiple moving parts.

    Really, since I had to come back and think about this, it would be fairly easy to attach specialties to players and a specific skill. So you wouldn't even really lose out on specialties. I suppose if you worked hard enough, you could do that with threnodies, maybe.

    The problem there would be having a CG template that could understand advanced command definitions and that's a different sort of problem. Maybe have it read columns from the table?


  • Coder

    @arkandel said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Sure, but I don't see how that's what I argued.

    Sorry I apparently misunderstood what you meant by providing technical capabilities.

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    It's an easily solved design issue too.

    Yes, for that extremely trivial example it's not so hard. But in general? No, it isn't easily solved. Things designed well for an immediate-feedback telnet-based text environment just fundamentally work differently than things designed well for an asynchronous web environment. Supporting both requires considerable complexity.


  • Politics

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    The problem there would be having a CG template that could understand advanced command definitions and that's a different sort of problem. Maybe have it read columns from the table?

    Wouldn't it be easier to have a CG template that creates a message sent to staff, who can then construct the sheet for the applicant?


  • Admin

    @ganymede said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    The problem there would be having a CG template that could understand advanced command definitions and that's a different sort of problem. Maybe have it read columns from the table?

    Wouldn't it be easier to have a CG template that creates a message sent to staff, who can then construct the sheet for the applicant?

    Easier for whom? It depends on your goals. If you are aiming to reduce work for staff then it wouldn't be, for example.


  • Politics

    @arkandel said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Easier for whom? It depends on your goals. If you are aiming to reduce work for staff then it wouldn't be, for example.

    This presumes that your CGen is straight-forward.

    I've noticed in the nWoD world that CGen still requires significant staff assistance in the setting of bits and pieces. It's not much, sure, but there's still some time investment there. And then, there's answering those 'how do I set this in CGen?' questions you have to field. And then, there's the 'can I have this?' questions.

    I remember, long ago, that I set people by hand. I could set up a sheet in about 10 minutes with the commands on Legacies and Eternal Night, for example. All someone had to do was tell me what they wanted. Seeing what someone wanted meant I could talk to them about their concept and what skills and attributes they wanted, and more, often than not, I could catch problems with point distribution, especially with new players.

    I can understand the desire to be hands-off. I love automation for XP spends, for example. But I think we need to consider the relationship players have with staff, and part of that is communication and conversation. When I hand-set stats, I always felt that I had a relationship with the player. And I think that's what helped me cultivate good relationships with my players.

    I miss that.

    So, call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I like hand-setting stats, and I like helping people set up their PCs to make them fit within the system and do what they want them to do.


  • Coder

    @ganymede said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    I remember, long ago, that I set people by hand. I could set up a sheet in about 10 minutes with the commands on Legacies and Eternal Night, for example. All someone had to do was tell me what they wanted.

    I know more than a few games who have at most 3 people on staff. I don't think this is something that WoD games can do anymore.

    I know that I've created unfortunately new terminology and ways to get the detailed information that White Wolf/Onyx Path demands of us, but then people like @skew create a step-by-step guide for which I'm eternally grateful.

    Sure there are still questions, but now they can be fielded by players and staff between the dozens of other things they want to do in a given day.

    Mind you, a simpler system would be nice, but there are almost no options for a game with a simple RPG system in spite of how much we need it. @faraday's FS3 is the only one that comes to mind that we've talked about recently.


  • Politics

    @thenomain said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    I know more than a few games who have at most 3 people on staff. I don't think this is something that WoD games can do anymore.

    Legacies had, basically, that many active staffers at any time. Eternal Night, known for its crazy-shit staff, basically had me filling in every sheet.

    The more spheres you have, the more people you'll have applying -- I know this, I get it.

    There's also other options, as I mentioned, though, like using published templates and adding points to them here and there.

    But nWoD is its own beast, and, frankly, I just --

    Look, just tell me when you're ready to work with Ares. I have a concept that's leaking out of my head, and I want to crow about it, but I can't because I don't want to bug poor Faraday with my wacky ideas, and you're an obvious target for my insanity, Buckeye-boy.


  • Coder

    @ganymede said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Look, just tell me when you're ready to work with Ares. I have a concept that's leaking out of my head

    Does it have to do with Mass Effect?

    Does it?

    (I kid because I care, of course. It's an established overgeneralization that 99% of ideas are never realized. Even from the greats.)


  • Pitcrew

    @ganymede said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    Buckeye-boy

    Gonna forever call him this, now.


  • Coder

    @thenomain said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    I know more than a few games who have at most 3 people on staff. I don't think this is something that WoD games can do anymore.

    <off topic>
    But, aren't WoD games basically just a bunch of Spheres cobbled into a single setting, several separate groups of characters who generally avoid each other for everything but TS, all playing in their own hidden sanctuary locations?

    I mean, a WoD with multiple Spheres is essentially a bunch of games on one grid. So yeah, every one of them has to have those three staffers. And probably oversight staffers to make all the spheres "balance". (( Sorry, I was laughing too much there. ))


  • Politics

    @rook said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    But, aren't WoD games basically just a bunch of Spheres cobbled into a single setting, several separate groups of characters who generally avoid each other for everything but TS, all playing in their own hidden sanctuary locations?

    Not the really good ones, no.


  • Coder

    @rook

    They were back when all the spheres were purposefully antagonist, but they shouldn’t be now no.


  • Coder

    As someone who is constantly pushing the automation/no-automation line, I'll give you my experience @Ganymede - though you didn't ask for it.

    RFK was probably the most ridiculous example of automation I can point to. I would wager that it could stand up to Firan by the shear amount of automation it contained. There was automation that people never saw. There was automation that other staff never saw. There was automation being done on a google calendar to place territory crisis in their dates and send notifications to staffers. RFK was a clusterfuck to code for, but interacting with RFK was made as easy as possible since pretty much everything was automatic.

    On the other hand, RFK was a clusterfuck. It didn't toe the line between automation and staff interaction, it obliterated it and put a sign over the grave. This was a point of contention. Either you really liked this feature or you took one step on the game, found that even the guest character was assaulted with a myriad of automated systems and ran the fuck away.

    This is a line I find that I toe a lot. I'm heavily on the side of automation. At some point, we gotta admit that we can't do this manually for a myriad of reasons. On the other hand, there are those that don't like the automation. I see both sides. The more we automate, the less we know what players are doing. Knowing what players are doing is at least thirty percent of staffing in this hobby, so certainly any time you remove a tool that people use to know their players there is an understandable amount of discomfort.

    There's always this line between don't automate too much and automate this more. This is going to be one of the biggest discussions moving forward really. Moving forward and modernizing the Mu* world is going to be talking about automation. You can make the UI better, you can add a web interface, you can change the underlying architecture and all these things are a good change, but until we change the way we look at the game then we'll still just be going through a bunch of commands in a different client to do a single, simple thing.

    That's why Web Based CG is such a big deal. That's a ton of commands taken away from players and staff, but put into an easily understood and condensed form. The player doesn't care what it looks like behind the scenes, just that it does what they put in. Staff doesn't care how the system makes the players, they just care that it does.

    TLDR (For the rest of you): Ya'll need to embrace chrons/events/timers.


  • Politics

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    TLDR (For the rest of you): Ya'll need to embrace chrons/events/timers.

    If I didn't sometimes get what I do not ask for, I'd probably not be happily with my partner, with children.

    There's a lot that can and should be automated, but there are some things that don't. For me, creating a World of Darkness PC is something that doesn't need to be automated, and I personally think should be done with active staff cooperation. I'm in the minority, I'm sure.

    RfK placed a lot of optional work on players, like filling out those background worksheets and whatnot. That was fun and enjoyable because it was optional. I also really liked the Beat Sheet weekly XP system, which I thought was exactly fitting for the setting and game.

    Those things get tossed when it comes to BSG:U, and I couldn't be happier.


  • Pitcrew

    @alzie said in Alternative Formats to MU:

    @arkandel If we're talking about travel specifically, My personal opinion is that no game needs a grid. It's an expected feature of a game, but the reality is that nobody actually RPs in 90% of the rooms most games have. The reality is that you could open a game with a clear theme and maybe 10 important, constantly used locations alongside a coded RP Room creation wing and it would work just as well.

    The problem is that if you do this, people will stare at you like you're fucking nuts.

    That's actually pretty much what we've done on The Eighth Sea. We have a grid of about a dozen rooms, and then descriptions of another 30ish rooms available for use in Ares's delightful scene code. Plus anyone can always add their own rooms on the spot using the scene code. But the grid is only about a dozen rooms.