How can everyone play the same game?



  • @Thenomain I like that. That would definitely curb some of that "I dont give a shit what this game is but my friend told me to join" stuff.



  • I feel like this thread is kind of looping around two very distinct questions. I don't think the title helps.

    One is not actually about design or play after the fact, but about communication and education, about relating extant information first to staff and then to players. I don't think there's any better solution here than communication: explain things, have things written down in easily accessible places, and continue to provide access to this information including in real time (a channel with both enough players to answer trivial stuff and staffers to vet those answers/chime in on more complex questions.

    The other issue is the 'getting people to play the same way' problem (I think 'play the same game' is terrible phrasing- so long as you're logged in, using the game resources, and adhering to policy, you are absolutely playing the same game). This one is vastly more complex, and deals with modes of play (see academic crap like Bartle types), which are much more inherent to the players and not something you can just teach/enforce. In the latter case, I think it's better to think about these as you build your game and understand how you will engage or channel various player motivations, because you really can't filter them out.



  • @bored said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    so long as you're logged in, using the game resources, and adhering to policy, you are absolutely playing the same game

    Then this is your answer. This was @surreality's answer too, and some of the conversation in the thread so far could be considered, "How do you make sure everyone is adhering to policy?" Or, "What kind of policy helps?" Hell, @Ghost mentioned the kind of "RP Types" that are academic and yet feed into the concept of what is the game about.

    you really can't filter them out

    Except you can.

    Staff is always capable of showing someone the door.

    A constant or blatant ignoring of game's theme, setting, or intent is a valid reason to show someone the door. If you don't have respect for the game, you shouldn't be playing it. (Or running it. God, the number of times I've seen staff who lack respect outright. I could write a book.)

    Sure we can get into the "but I can always return" discussion about Tor and VPNs, but at that point you're not playing the game.


  • Pitcrew

    @bored said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    The other issue is the 'getting people to play the same way' problem (I think 'play the same game' is terrible phrasing- so long as you're logged in, using the game resources, and adhering to policy, you are absolutely playing the same game).

    That's an... interesting question, although I think it's getting more into terminology than epistemology.

    If there are two PCs who log onto the game, interact with no one but each other, are they playing the same game as everyone else?

    What if they're doing things in their one-on-one RP that wouldn't pass staff's definition of theme, but nobody but the two of them ever know about it?

    An exaggeration, but not by much, of some PCs I've seen on some games. I understand that Arx had issues with a certain knot of Thrax players who actually tried to limit how much staff learned about what they were doing, to keep theme policing from cracking down on some of their stuff.

    We are--to wank philosophic about pretending to be a sexy vampire--trying to create a shared fictional space for us to participate in this collaborative fiction... improv... thing, If we don't have some shared baseline assumptions, we're not really engaging each other.


  • Tutorialist

    @Thenomain said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    Something I haven't seen since Aether: Have a test at the end of chargen.
    It might be surprising that I'm advocating hoops to jump through, but if you make it mild then this way you can make sure that players aren't skimming, or if they are skimming then they recognize that this particular thing is important.

    I have wanted to do this so many times.

    I have been told no precisely that many times.


  • Tutorialist

    @Arkandel said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    Personally speaking I found that your Werewolf policies didn't fit me. Which was okay, since that meant it wasn't the right game for me, so at least I didn't have to invest too much in it before I found out.
    The thread's title can cut both ways. Nothing wrong with that.

    I know. We've talked about this. :) At the end of the day, I have to think of the long-term health of the game, and sometimes that means that the short-term gains that some players want to see don't fit into that. This is why we have a number of games with a number of styles.

    But likewise, nobody can claim that I'm anything but upfront about exactly the kind of game that we're playing, and exactly how I intend to run things. Which is really more what I was trying to get at there.

    It's important to be straight up, with yourself and your players. Draw lines. Stand firm. Set boundaries and clear expectations, and don't try and couch your meaning in colorful, ambiguous language in the hopes that it appeals to the most number of people because they can interpret it four ways, when you really just mean it one.


  • Pitcrew

    I'm with @surreality on this one: Mission Statement. Up front, on the game's homepage, first thing you (should) read after the title and maybe the connection information. What is the game's setting, what themes will the game be exploring, what type of characters will there be, what kind of things will the characters be doing.

    Then you have to enforce it. That involves a lot of saying "No, but" or "No, and here's why," but it's critical to the game. If you have a game about tiny Rebel cells resisting the Galactic Empire at the height of the Dark Times, don't allow a bunch of Indies with no connections with the Rebels or reasons to make connections to the Rebels, don't allow bounty hunters without an explicit connection to the Rebellion, and don't allow Rebel fleet commanders -- they'll all be disappointed when they get on the grid, and their attempts to find RP will spread out your playerbase instead of concentrating it.

    ETA: You also have to live it as Staff. That's where we fell down with The Eighth Sea: we had a mission statement that said we were about pirating in a world of monsters, and we ended up running monster hunters in a world of pirates. It led to disappointment and cognitive dissonance.


  • Tutorialist

    @Seraphim73 said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    they'll all be disappointed when they get on the grid, and their attempts to find RP will spread out your playerbase instead of concentrating it.

    Oooh, but this one, and this is relevant to recent RP, too:

    Likewise, don't try to condense your playerbase too much, because you will end up with similar levels of unhappiness.

    It's a delicate balance. Characters, like their players, need space. If you're telling everyone that absolutely everything they do is public and discouraging them from going after their own private character growth, you're probably doing yourself a disservice. Some personalities clash. Sometimes, you need a small group focused on a thing without constant interruptions from outside sources.

    I have seen this go both ways. It's easy to split the playerbase. But it's just as easy to make the game feel claustrophobic and unwelcoming to people who are just not cool with all being pushed on each other.

    It's a delicate balance.


  • Pitcrew

    I honestly like the 'test' idea. Ansible had a part of this to graduate from Launch. (Dear god the idea of playing a 5-year-old weirds me out now as an adult...) Part of the test was straight mechanics, but some of it was theme. Like, "If X happens, which of A,B,C,D,E are in theme things to happen." I felt like it did give us a common frame of reference and when I finally passed the damn thing (I swear I failed it four times because I'm actually not that smart) I knew how I was suppose to act in theme and knew when to stop a scene and go, "This has gone too far guys."

    On Ansible we had to give it in person, but I feel like it could easily be done via some in game system (I vaguely recall something I once had to do to request a character), over a @mail with the questions in a room/on a wiki page, or even via a google form that pinged back to the people who "graded" it and gave a pass/fail or whatever. (I would totally give it over to players who like being in charge of that kind of stuff, with staff on consult as needed.)



  • @Thenomain said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    you really can't filter them out

    Except you can.

    Reading comprehension miss. I am saying you cannot filter people out by Bartle type (or equivalent), not talking about theme. And I stick by the fact you cannot. You can try, but these are so ingrained while at the same unrecognized by most people, that you will attract all varieties of players even when some of them are bad matches. It may be the underlying cause of later actionable behavior, but you absolutely cannot pre-screen it.

    Staff is always capable of showing someone the door.

    A constant or blatant ignoring of game's theme, setting, or intent is a valid reason to show someone the door. If you don't have respect for the game, you shouldn't be playing it. (Or running it. God, the number of times I've seen staff who lack respect outright. I could write a book.)

    This is a trivial point and I'm not sure what you think you're adding with it. My definition of playing includes 'adhering to policy,' and the basic elements of setting/theme are implicit policy. When you say 'on our game, we play shiny knights!' that is creating an implied policy that 'no, you may not app Superman or a pokemon, or RP about hacking the Matrix.' Someone doing one of those things is misbehaving as blatantly as someone who spams chat or tries to crash the server.

    .

    @insomniac7809 said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    @bored said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    The other issue is the 'getting people to play the same way' problem (I think 'play the same game' is terrible phrasing- so long as you're logged in, using the game resources, and adhering to policy, you are absolutely playing the same game).

    That's an... interesting question, although I think it's getting more into terminology than epistemology.

    If there are two PCs who log onto the game, interact with no one but each other, are they playing the same game as everyone else?

    What if they're doing things in their one-on-one RP that wouldn't pass staff's definition of theme, but nobody but the two of them ever know about it?

    An exaggeration, but not by much, of some PCs I've seen on some games. I understand that Arx had issues with a certain knot of Thrax players who actually tried to limit how much staff learned about what they were doing, to keep theme policing from cracking down on some of their stuff.

    Same answer as to @Thenomain: this is a trivial case. If they're playing something utterly unthematic, then no, they are not playing the same game. But they are also violating policy. This is an enforcement issue. But so long as their private play isn't in violation of policy, they're absolutely playing. Arx has many such knots of players, and while some might do screwy things, many do valid things that nonetheless will never affect the big picture metaplot outside their family/clique/etc. Presumably you do not discount that as 'not playing.'


  • Pitcrew

    @bored said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    Arx has many such knots of players, and while some might do screwy things, many do valid things that nonetheless will never affect the big picture metaplot outside their family/clique/etc. Presumably you do not discount that as 'not playing.'

    Arx has several knots of players. In my experience, most of these knots interact with other knots, intersecting other knots, and so on. Which gets you to a sort of... widespread... collective... thing.

    And I wasn't saying that two PCs who play exclusively with each other aren't playing. I was wondering if they can be said to be playing the same game. If we're going to be calling the overall collective collaborative fictional space the 'game' (wank wank wank wank wank).


  • Pitcrew

    Depends on the expectations of staff and how things are laid out. Does staff expect people to RP with a certain percentage or number of people outside their knot or group or does one extremely social person give the rest a pass? Does staff require that everyone interact with metaplot or a category they belong to (like their family group, some kind of larger group, ect?)

    It isnt wrong to say that they must, but it usually gets people howling especially in this crowd about OMFG I should NEVER have to interact with anyone I may not like/don't know/a metaplot/some big organization.

    But if there is no expectation of required interaction, nor of metaplot involvement or wider org involvement, and the people have no leadership roles, then what is the advantage of forcing them to interact with others. In my experience that tends to be unhappy for everyone involved.

    If that is a need/expectation of the game though (again, nothing wrong with that expectation) and the people are refusing to comply, seems like a good idea to cut them loose and usher them out.

    But yeah, if they are playing to theme and rules, they can still be playing the same game, just not including others in their play.



  • @Thenomain said in How can everyone play the same game?:

    @insomniac7809

    I am slightly curious about this "TS Mystery" genre.

    ... Oh, wait, there's the comma. Hahahaha, my bad.

    Could not find a 'Who is in my mouth?' gif, and honestly, not sure if I'm upset over that or not.



  • @bored

    Nice, man. I don't know who pissed in your Cornflakes, but it's good to know that you're not interested in having a conversation.



  • @mietze I think the limited interaction scenario tends to come with other limits, too. Some people are cool with that, and I kinda view this as not just natural, but necessary to actually enforce at times.

    For example: someone who doesn't want anything to do with the metaplot is not going to get RP from it, which may be precisely what they want. I don't think it should be changed to forcibly include them; if they wanted to be included they'd seek to participate. The enforcement part comes in regarding the folks who don't want to participate, but want the benefits (IC prestige, XP, special items, whatever) of having participated. That's when it's time for the NOPE. ( Barring cases in which the world is altered or similar and everyone is impacted by a thing.)

    The other examples are similar. My preference is to let people be as insular as they wish provided they aren't interfering with others by inaction (faction heads, etc.) but that choice limits their opportunities in a variety of ways as well.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality I do not think either structure is wrong, as long as it is disclosed up front. For example I think a very limited slot game that has a great deal of staff attention and interlocking storytelling as the reason for those limited spaces probably doesnt want a people only interested in hermiting with the same person with little interaction beyond that--they are taking up space and not really a good fit for a game where it is important that people participate beyond that. Or even in an unlimited slot game really, depending on game vision and scope.

    By the same token, it is just as okay to have an unlimited slot game with minimal metaplot and more hands off staff, and an expectation that players are primarily responsible for creating all action and story on the game, with staff proving some ic and ooc feedback and arbitration for disputes. If someone is constantly talking about how they hate it on channel, or taking up 5 times the amount of staff time than anyone else does because they are in need of a ton of handholding and personal guidance, then it is ok for /them/ to be told that obviously there is a mismatch of styles and needs here, so they can be ushered off before they burn people out or become super disruptive to everyone else due to their distress.

    And everything inbetween!

    I do not think that any game is beholden to try to meet all comers' needs while trying to keep true to the vision of the people running it, and practices that make their life easier.

    But clearly I do not believe in "the customer is always right/every player who finishes CG is to be accommodated at all costs philosophy either, so I know that's easier for me to say than a nice person. Though I think that you can be kind and still enforce/preserve your vision, regardless of whether the player is able or willing to accept it.


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