How important is it to be 'needed'?


  • Admin

    One of the most commonly asked questions in any MU* I've ever played in is "what concepts are needed?".

    People want to be in demand, either in terms of their skillset ("there aren't enough spirit shamans around"), identity ("there are too many Ventrue, I'll play Lasombra instead") or even concepts ("I wanted to play a chef but ugh, there is already one").

    How important in your opinion is it for a character concept to be useful? The general answer to the question above tends to be "just play something you like" but, again in your opinion, is that better advice or does it lead to oversaturation of certain popular archetypes, and does that matter?

    What should staff's role be in this? For example do incentives to artificially spread out the demographics better ("+5 XP to anyone playing a <X>") help? Is there a measurable negative impact from 'bad' concept selection or is lack of finding roleplay - or groups to join - a symptom rather than the cause?

    And for players in leadership positions, how important is a prospect's general concept to your recruitment efforts? How often do you search for something character-specific rather than for attributes or characteristics more related to their players (timezones, posing ability, whatever isn't strictly IC).

    Discuss.



  • @Arkandel I don't think people want to be "in demand" in as much as they want to avoid being sidelined. "Sorry, we already have a healer and a tank..." So I'd argue that it's less about pure utility than it is about a combination of utility and a chance to actually do the thing you joined the game to do.



  • @Arkandel said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    does it lead to oversaturation of certain popular archetypes, and does that matter

    It all depends on how you structure your game.

    On BSGU for instance, it wouldn't have mattered if every player through the door wanted to be a Viper pilot. The setting, the theme, the game structure, the plots, etc. all accommodated that.

    In that type of environment, steering people toward "under-represented" roles may be detrimental if now the poor newbie has nobody to RP with or no plots to participate in.

    Also some people can be really over-protective about their perceived uniqueness. "Ugh, I was the chef but now there's this other guy butting in on my 'territory'." So emphasizing/rewarding that is not necessarily ideal either.



  • So while I have, in the past, absolutely been the Staffer encouraging people to play what you like, I also acknowledge that a lot of people want that direction.

    The reason we (people like me) push the 'play what you want' is because someone crafting a character just to fill a niche may be wanted, but they're also less likely to stick around.

    I'm taking a slightly different approach on SGM.

    We have a sort of top-down approach. Scientists and Military are kept very separate. Not ICly (not remotely!), but in terms of build. You can be a combat char who has a hobby in entomology, but they won't be as good at it as a scientist who has a PhD in it. And a scientist can absolutely have some skill in martial arts or firearms, but they won't be as good as the Staff Sergeant who is a career marine.

    Paradox terms this along the lines of the 'special' factor.
    We acknowledge that people IRL may exist who have multiple PhDs and are combat trained to the point of being able to handle war zones.
    But for the sake of teamwork (IC and OOC) and 'sharing the spotlight;' we don't allow it.

    Along these lines, something else I am doing is closing concepts pretty quickly. We're still a small game. When a full fifth of our playerbase is one type of thing? It's time to put it on the restricted list. And I do keep an eye on things and take stuff back off restricted once we've spread out a bit more.

    I also keep a 'Wanted Concepts' post with things we either have none or very few of.

    So while I want people to play what they wanna play (to ensure they have fun and are engaged), I also know that people are sometimes uncertain about what they wanna play or they want to come in knowing they can be engaged. I'm trying to facilitate this.

    (Another way Paradox and I encourage this is by reeling in people from that old habit of 'I'm gonna do all this by myself!' And making it very very very difficult for Janet the Anthropologist to do extensive, difficult things in astrophysics. Instead, we tell them 'Just so you know, these two other PCs would be a great help to you in this. Why not involve them?')



    1. It's important to not make a useless concept. An easy way of ensuring this is to ask which gaps in character concepts are needed to be filled, or what people are putting on the Wanted Concepts board.

    2. It can be important to not buy into an over-populated concept, because other players may already be getting the RP you want and it sucks to have to compete for relevance.

    I would usually ask "what's needed?" and then based on the response determine if any of those things are interesting to me.



  • @faraday said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    Also some people can be really over-protective about their perceived uniqueness. "Ugh, I was the chef but now there's this other guy butting in on my 'territory'." So emphasizing/rewarding that is not necessarily ideal either.

    I will admit that I go onto games to look for "what is needed." This is important to me. I'm not entirely jealous about it, though, and I usually find niches that absolutely need filling. For example, on Gundam UC100, my PC is the sassy-backtalking military chick who was into sneaking around and doing rogue-like shit. And on BSG:U, I played the sassy-backtalking ...

    ... I think I just tend to play the same trope over and over, and people like it, and I have that place everywhere, and I'm not totally desperate to be wanted and loved for what I bring, not at all.

    sad kitten



  • @Ganymede said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    @faraday said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    Also some people can be really over-protective about their perceived uniqueness. "Ugh, I was the chef but now there's this other guy butting in on my 'territory'." So emphasizing/rewarding that is not necessarily ideal either.

    I will admit that I go onto games to look for "what is needed." This is important to me. I'm not entirely jealous about it, though, and I usually find niches that absolutely need filling. For example, on Gundam UC100, my PC is the sassy-backtalking military chick who was into sneaking around and doing rogue-like shit. And on BSG:U, I played the sassy-backtalking ...

    ... I think I just tend to play the same trope over and over, and people like it, and I have that place everywhere, and I'm not totally desperate to be wanted and loved for what I bring, not at all.

    sad kitten

    This is what you get for being a trash panda.



  • @Auspice said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    This is what you get for being a trash panda.

    I should just join games using those terms as my concepts.

    1. Trash Panda;
    2. Murder Mouse;
    3. Great Turtle; or
    4. Creepy Cat.

  • Admin

    In my personal opinion the concept selection is essentially unimportant in a vacuum. There are several reasons for this.

    • Success isn't - shouldn't be - the goal. A team with three meatheads who manage to recruit... a forth meathead is obviously not optimal but it could be fun. And in a way it makes sense too, because people often look for others like themselves.

    • Within a reasonable environment and when it comes to inclusion OOC factors trump IC ones by a fair margin because how could they not? That Ithaeur is a better pick than the Rahu who just applied to my pack, but if the former has different hours, or the latter is a great roleplayer... isn't that more important?

    • I've yet to see a good player truly made ineffective because of their concept - because that's part of what makes them good. You're not roleplaying your sheet, a soldier isn't just a guy with a gun. Sure, the troupe already has a singing bard but this newcomer - who also is one - is a rowdy, improvising scoundrel while the current one was schooled at the Academy and has an almost mathematical view of what music should be. They can coexist.

    See, my suspicion is concepts are often blamed for other - systemic or personal - issues. Maybe the problem isn't the group already had a healer. Maybe it's something else.


  • Pitcrew

    This is a tough one.

    I think most people look for "needed" PCs but what they want truly is inclusion and importance for their PC individually.

    I don't know that this is something that the vast majority of games can deliver on, regardless of intent of staff or frankly even working hard as a player. (We like to blame staff favoritism or players sitting on their asses, which can happen but it's a lot more complicated than that.)

    This expectation/desire of "if I make this PC that looks like they have a niche and work hard to put myself out there, rp with a lot of people, be cooperative oocly, ect then of course I will be included by others too" has led to a lot of frustration and hurt and burnout. Almost everyone I know has experienced this, across a wide spectrum of games, compounded by people often saying "work harder like me."

    I do not know that this is a solvable problem without adjusting individual expectations/desires or seeking staff or storytelling structures that support that truly (that often leads to things that people also do not like, like player or PC caps, high levels of staff involvement, sandboxing, ect).



  • @Arkandel said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    In my personal opinion the concept selection is essentially unimportant in a vacuum.

    You and I don't agree on everything, but this is a point that I disagree with vehemently.

    If I'm playing a character, the concept is of central importance. In my opinion, there is no character without its concept, and I therefore am not, and cannot, play a character without its concept.. At best, I am playing myself, something which I do every painful, heart-wrenching, pride-swallowing minute of every hour of every day.

    I have seen great players hobbled by their concept. Maybe they did not click with it; maybe they could not get their mind into it. It does not matter. A concept that does not fit into a theme or setting will produce an unpalatable character in the long run. This is one of the reasons why an adjustment to a theme or setting can make a character unplayable.

    That said, I see people connect to games without a concept for their character, and they never, ever seem to fit in. Or they have a concept that staff isn't really looking for, but staff bend their vision and later regret it. For me, the best way to avoid both situations is to ask the question. Figure out what concepts fit in, and what's needed from a staff perspective. I may not select that concept, but it gives me of an idea of what will work with my playstyle.

    If you have a vacuum, the only reason why a concept is unimportant is because you have neither a theme nor a setting. If you don't have those two things, you're screwed for other reasons. But if there is a theme and a setting, having a solid concept is my primary concern as a player, and having a good group of desired concepts is my primary concern as staff.



  • People are just asking that because they want to know what will make fun people seek them out for RP, and feel valuable and important. If something is needed but no one plays it, it's because the RP they get isn't fun, and they don't feel valuable and important despite being needed.



  • @Apos said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    If something is needed but no one plays it, it's because the RP they get isn't fun, and they don't feel valuable and important despite being needed.

    This is a very valid point. And why I've had times when I answer this question (on a variety of games) with 'We need <X>, but it isn't going to be a concept that gets a lot of play. I recommend it if <you don't have a lot of time to RP / you're still learning the theme / etc>'

    This is where NPCs come in handy.



  • I ran into this recently on a game where I had two characters that broadly interacted with the same group of players. The first of the two was a character I made based on what other players in the group wanted to have in the group, with enough contribution of my own to make it "my character" and not "someone else's PC." I have problems getting off the ground with this character sometimes because while the others in the group all enjoy the character and like having them around, I'm just not incredibly motivated when it comes to doing anything other than the specific role the character was genned towards. With the other character, it was entirely my own idea and me genning whatever I wanted to gen with no outside input, and I run into the inverse problem where I feel much more motivated to play them than the other, but the group I most enjoy playing with generally don't think as much of the character or want to offer them much. (Edit: by which I mean, offer them stuff that's CONSEQUENTIAL -- I'm not being frozen out of RP as character #2, they're just not ICly as competent as character #1, and so character #1 gets all the to-do lists.)

    None of this is the end of the world for me, but it's been on my mind more than once in the past few months, and I haven't come up with a satisfying way to tie it all up with a bow. I do subscribe to the overall idea that if you make something you enjoy playing, that you're motivated to go out and do stuff with, and that you can present to the rest of the game with at least the APPEARANCE of "hey! I'm not a maniac or a crybaby or a dog-brain OOC!", then you'll find yourself validated and useful because people will want to play with you. Maybe not the people you specifically WANT, and maybe not the stuff you specifically wanted to PLAY, but you certainly won't feel useless.


  • Pitcrew

    When I hear a new player ask "what is needed," I think about this just like @mietze and @Apos said: I think they're worried about having a unique position where other players will come to them for RP. And that's not entirely a bad thing, but when they would rather play a doctor because people will come for them to RP than the fifth Marine on the game, a role that they would enjoy more, I think that it's turned into problematic laziness.

    That's why I always say, "Play what you find interesting," and then follow it up by some data about what there are lots of and what there aren't many of.


  • Pitcrew

    To be clear, I do not think that people are seeking out a passive way to be involved necessarily--they are just seeking ways that they will be valuable.

    I think most of us at some people have experienced working very hard and receiving a lot of feedback that people enjoy the character, but little reciprocation or inclusion even after we have been proactive and inclusive, at least in our own perception. (this may or may not be shared by others though.)

    I look at it more as people seeking ways to invest in a game and with a group that will also be opportunities for them. I do not see it as a negative at all, though I think by asking it that way a lot of folks arent really going to get the answer they're really seeking.



  • @Seraphim73 said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    That's why I always say, "Play what you find interesting," and then follow it up by some data about what there are lots of and what there aren't many of.

    If you happen to be getting onto an Ares game with FS3, you can also use "census" to figure out what tropes aren't being played.

    It really is the sweetest command.



  • @Seraphim73 said in How important is it to be 'needed'?:

    That's why I always say, "Play what you find interesting," and then follow it up by some data about what there are lots of and what there aren't many of.

    This is absolutely my approach.

    I also try to lean into ways they can be involved. Like right now, I admit, SGM is absolutely geared towards evening US. Paradox and I have similar schedules. As more players begin STing, it'll improve, but right now I simply can't guarantee event scenes for people outside of that.

    What I could guarantee though is investigative/research roles. Players are awesome, so far, about going out to other people 'Hey we need a biology expert to look into this!'

    So a player who is, say, in the UK and really looking for 'way to be involved,' I might point at a more research-based role. That way they can get into the plot, get Staff-attention via +jobs, and still have RP hooks... even if I can't guarantee them on-camera +events. But someone who can be around the same hours I am? I might point to a military PC because hey, you'll have more opportunity going on missions.

    I think it's a more difficult question than anyone can really answer easily. I think the answer to 'How important is it to be needed?' is 'Kinda.'

    You want to be a role that has hooks (on a game like mine, a Civilian who is an expert in astrophysics is gonna have more hooks than, say, Base Chef), but you also want to have fun. It's a tricky balance to make, but I think the first question needs to be: "What type of things do you enjoy?"

    Once you know the answer to that, you can go through (maybe with Staff help!) and find what niches need be filled that match what you enjoy.


  • Pitcrew Banned

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  • Pitcrew

    @bear_necessities and I have had moderate success with answering the "what's needed" question by front-loading the info. We keep an up-to-date list of what concepts we think are most needed, open but overdone, closed until further notice, and (a very short list of) banned concepts.

    As to whether or not people have more or less success picking up needed concepts than what they'd prefer to play? Enh. There are several characters on GH right now that I would have sworn would never get any traction, but now they're right there in the thick of things. And then there are several that were awesome concepts that I thought for sure would slot right into plots... and they wind up doing a few coffee shop scenes and wandering off. So it kinda seems like a crap-shoot.

    Personally? I create characters that I want to play vs what's necessarily in demand, but I often tweak my starting concept to make it a little more attractive to the game if it's still something I can play and enjoy. It's no good apping in as the #1 thing a game needs right now if I'm never actually going to play that character 'cause it's outside my wheelhouse.


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