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RPA presence, pbase activity

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RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby seenmycorpseanywhere » Wed Mar 21, 2018 1:56 am

Hello!

Many of you have noticed the game has reached a status quo where nothing is what happens pretty much every week.

There is a barrier between players and staff - not one of communication, because we have Discord, but rather one hindering the flow of ideas. It is extremely hard to get support for plot pushing, which is something the game sorely needs to survive in an acceptable state - current one is not - and the main factor for that is that requests for such go largely ignored, whether by lack of authorization to pursue them, simple disinterest or perhaps lack of time.

As many players from previous SOI iterations can attest to, things are way more interesting and apt to keep both new and old players coming back for more when administration with the aproppriate tools is present and active. Unfortunately that is not the case - everything needs to be run through Elder Staff, which at the moment is a 1-person thing, if that, and therefore subject to a very personal spectrum of likes/dislikes, and their availability or lack thereof.

I think it'd be time to let admins do their own RPA thing, because they are admins for a reason, and to accept that there are many definitions of fun and that the best way to cater for everyone is to let them come up with their ideas and, within reason, say "Yes, let's do that, I'll help you push it forward" whenever possible. There is something wrong in disregarding this and simply considering that players should look for their own things to do without the equivalent of a tabletop game director. Player-run attempts have been made at this, they are actually being made, but I personally no longer buy the idea that that is the main ingredient in this recipe, because the tools available to them are limited - simply put, player activity is directly proportional to RPA presence. Period.

Frigga, Vorondil, rest of admins and playerbase, what are your thoughts on this?

Cheers.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Tykanis » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:54 am

I can agree with this statement but would not say its 100% the problem. More like 85%
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby MrT2G » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:21 pm

The way I've seen this best dealt with in the past is for players to establish a regular time to be active and do things together. This is most effective when coordinated with the Staff.

The Staff can then decide if and how to interact with players as it makes sense or as they want to push a new plot line.

Active Staff helps, but ultimately I believe it is up to the players to push activity through their characters own desires, aspirations, and goals.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Frigga » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:35 pm

I think the first thing to clarify is that everything does not need to be run through Elder Staff. There have been a number of events and RPTs related to plots that did not get Elder Staff pre-approval.

Time-pressure is an issue, so what I was attempting to express earlier is that I am more than willing to provide RPA (and encourage our other port-side admins AKA RPAs to do the same) that said, we might at present need to consider if can come to a mutual agreement on what sorts of things players can/should be able handle themselves before admin involvement is required that we can support with code as it stands.

I think it'd be time to let admins do their own RPA thing, because they are admins for a reason, and to accept that there are many definitions of fun and that the best way to cater for everyone is to let them come up with their ideas and, within reason, say "Yes, let's do that, I'll help you push it forward" whenever possible.


This is probably a deeper discussion on what is "within reason." I don't disagree that there are many definitions of fun and I love to see what people come up with. But some times being an admin (particularly an Elder Staff) is to make decisions on what is "within reason."

Sometimes there are disagreements there.

So how as a community do we come up with an agreed upon standard for what is within reason?
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Faroukel » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:08 pm

seenmycorpseanywhere wrote:simply put, player activity is directly proportional to RPA presence. Period.


First off, let me quote this as an absolute truth in my experience with SoI.

I don't really know how to continue with this topic and actually stay on topic. But I'll do my best.

I agree with SMCA on many points, but really I can't help stepping back and just looking at the bigger picture through the cacophony of voices trying to be heard with ideas and thoughts and concepts that are all very valid and worth being entertained.

I sort of relate it back to my every day life, what I do for a living, and think how can this 'game', this thing that I love go through kaizen, improvement, for the better.

One is we all think of SoI as a game. Really, it is, but it isn't. It is more like a project, one that everyone continually contributes to, no matter how small the role. The fact that it's fun and all that is a given of course, by that doesn't make it any less of a communal environment we all collaborate on.

One of the most important things about a project is empowerment, which is what I personally takeaway from SMCA's post as an item to be addressed. Who can do what? Who makes what decisions, and who do they make it for? What happens when they can't. These are a lot of the questions that come to mind when I appraise the situation that end up being the cause of frustrations amongst players and even staff themselves.

Now, I'm not going to get all Kitey and start applying Gulickism to SoI, but if I was to treat SoI like a project, I would seriously suggest making some changes to the staffing structure to help relieve a stagnation that is common in a lot of projects lacking a solid concept.

So, lets address the issue that I believe SMCA is voicing. One of the common complaints about SoI is that it's hard to get any sort of support on an idea. When an RPA is reached, sometimes the request has to be approved by senior staff. Due to the current situation, it -seems- most of these requests, which really are things that can and would've been handled by your rank and file staffer 'back in the day', now go to a singular senior staff member. (please note the -seems-) This means not only is one senior staff member making all the decisions, applying a single filter and bias on requests, it means also that all requests are going to -one single staff member-, which also is an obvious bottleneck.

On top of this, there is an obvious downtrend in player activity that directly correlates to perceived RPA activity. It seems to many that the game isn't as alive as it could be, an idea I too share. I believe, and can back up through personal experience, that people are more likely to stay online when there is the chance that 'something might happen'. Without that spark, the allure of SoI diminishes. Add to that struggles to 'create your own fun', and it sort of comes to loggerheads.

Alright, back to the solution right? We need to empower our staff, and we need the right people in the right places (my opinion). How do you do this? Here it is, my Discord phrase of the day, project structure.

If I was to set a structure for SoI staffing, it would look similar to this;

Game Lead
|
[Senior Staff] ------------------------------{Game Coordinator}
[Bad Guy Lead RPA] [Good Guy Lead RPA] [Lead Coder] [Lead Builder]
|
<Staff>
<Bad Guy RPA> <Good Guy RPA> <Coder> <Builder>
|
*Support Staff*
*Bad Guy Trainee* *Good Guy Trainee* *New Builder* *Clan Storyteller*

Sorry it's messy, but I'm not breaking out Visio at home.

This structure is my ideal, and can be adapted to SoI needs. I think most of it is self explanatory. Ideally, You'd want all senior staff positions filled, and at the least one in the continuing tiers, with the exception of coder which may be too hard to come by (is Ceredir still here?).

You will notice Game Coordinator aligned to Senior Staff, and also Storytellers in the mix.

A coordinator would basically do that just that. Keep game lead and playerbase informed of relevant news, maintain the JIRA (or whatever is used nowadays) and delegate tickets, lead hiring efforts to maintain the structure, and provide backfill for RPA and Builder duties.

Storytellers are players already IG, but should be developed and taken advantage of further, to the point where they are able to animate environment situations to fill gaps, provide lead contacts for clans, and be part of plot planning potentially. But this all leads to;

Decision making matrix. This is applied to the structure. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a 'decision making matrix' per se. It's basically letting each tier in the structure know what they can perform and what they can't. It isn't about restricting people, it's about empowering them within their agreed upon confines.

Anyways, I could keep going and going, but I don't want to spend too much time on something I don't know people are interested in, so..

I'd like to finish by acknowledging that I think the community and leadership behind SoI are a great, diverse, and creative bunch who I thoroughly enjoy spending a lot of my time interacting with not only in a text-based virtual reality, but also just as normal people interacting in the internet. We should never be placated with status quo, and keep improving this common thing that bring us all together and in the darkness binds us.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby seenmycorpseanywhere » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:55 am

MrT2G wrote:Active Staff helps, but ultimately I believe it is up to the players to push activity through their characters own desires, aspirations, and goals.


True. Surely we can agree, though, that there are points where admin intervention is necessarily required, which is what this is about?

Frigga wrote:what I was attempting to express earlier is that I am more than willing to provide RPA (and encourage our other port-side admins AKA RPAs to do the same)


Thank you!

Frigga wrote:...we might at present need to consider if we can come to a mutual agreement on what sorts of things players can/should be able handle themselves before admin involvement is required that we can support with code as it stands.


Players have certain tools at their disposal, and while extensive, they have limitations. It's easy, in my opinion, to know when admin involvement is required - there is nothing that quite matches how the world feels alive and reactive than seeing both PCs and NPCs react to one's actions.

Frigga wrote:This is probably a deeper discussion on what is "within reason." I don't disagree that there are many definitions of fun and I love to see what people come up with. But some times being an admin (particularly an Elder Staff) is to make decisions on what is "within reason."


I would say as Elder Staff there is the extra responsibility to trust RPA and players to act "within reason".

Frigga wrote:Sometimes there are disagreements there.


When that happens, then it is the time for the higher-ups to take action. A hierarchy, as Faroukel suggested, helps immensely there, as it points out who should address the situation. Still, I am of a mindset that people tend to stick to common sense naturally.

Faroukel wrote:not only is one senior staff member making all the decisions, applying a single filter and bias on requests, it means also that all requests are going to -one single staff member-, which also is an obvious bottleneck.


That is one of my two main concerns.

I have been told I may have come across as blunt - I apologize if that is the case. I simply did not know how else to word it.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby tehkory » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:19 pm

This is probably a deeper discussion on what is "within reason." I don't disagree that there are many definitions of fun and I love to see what people come up with. But some times being an admin (particularly an Elder Staff) is to make decisions on what is "within reason."

Sometimes there are disagreements there.

So how as a community do we come up with an agreed upon standard for what is within reason?

Mostly we don't--Staff just produce it via fiat and people either accept it, bitch about it privately, or move on.

Like I've said before, Nimrod running Nimrod's game is an objectively better game than Nimrod running Kory's game. Just making it clear what you see as 'within reason' improves the game and the discussion by miles...though giving specific examples can be difficult without outing IC things.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Knight26 » Tue May 01, 2018 3:02 pm

I wish this game was as active as it once was. :)
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Nimrod » Wed May 02, 2018 7:03 am

MrT2G wrote:Active Staff helps, but ultimately I believe it is up to the players to push activity through their characters own desires, aspirations, and goals.


This is something I believe with all my heart. Unfortunately it does not work if staff act as a road block to players who are chasing their desires, aspirations, and goals.

For the record, I have been very inactive for the last several months due to some real life stuff. The lack of coordination staff-side is completely my fault. I have been lurking over the last week on both the forums and game. Some of you may have seen me about as I'm not trying to be sneaky or hide from you all, I'm moving slowly because I want to get a handle on what's going on rather than just bullying my way in and stomping my feet all about whilst yelling and screaming.

Don't expect miracles because I'm a bit more active than I have been, but please know that I've read your concerns and am actively addressing the issues as best I can.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Nimrod » Wed May 02, 2018 7:19 am

Another thing for folks to consider is that we all run through cycles when it comes to SoI. We have a rhythm that none of us really quite understand. The amplitude of our interest within these cycles varies wildly from individual to individual. The period (read frequency) of these cycles varies greatly by individual as well.

Knowing that both amplitude and frequency of interest varies so much makes our job that much more difficult. Another kicker is that these variables can change within the individual as well!

Getting everyone synchronized is utterly impossible, so we must learn to accept these rhythms and take them in to account when addressing important issues. i.e. Just because I'm all gung-ho to be active doesn't mean that the rest of staff, or even the player-base is excited.

I'm interested to hear anyone else's input on this and how we can address the ebb and flow of interest across the board.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Faroukel » Wed May 02, 2018 10:05 am

I hear all this Nim, and I don't really disagree in theory.

But there are ways to plug the gaps. From what I can tell, we actually have active staffers who want to get out there and do things to improve the play and retain/grow playerbase.

From my perspective, they are not empowered to do very much of anything. Maybe this is better than when anyone on the PP could do more or less whatever they wanted, and if it was crap, then there would be some sort of reactive action.

To me, this free-for-all is better than everything waiting on one person to say yes/no. It would seem to me, through mostly second hand info as frankly...I don't really communicate with staff that much anymore, that even the simplest of requests, like transferring a npc, a plot, an armband for a clan request, etc, all requires going through an approval proves that hinges on one staff member. And by the time something does get approved/denied, its so far gone that it doesn't matter anymore? example...a request for a clan armband I put in I dunno, 6 months ago, was looked at and closed after the pc had died. Plots that were put in motion were put on hold/ignored for so long that players retired and literally left the game. Maybe this is an unfair analysis, and there are things going behind the scenes that impact this sort of stuff...maybe? Don't know.

Maybe it's that the perspective is messed up, and the staffers want this rigid approval process to prevent getting wrist-slapped for nonos...I honestly don't know. But yea...that is the perception.

My personal goal for staffing has always been how to respond to things with a "how yes" mentality, instead of a "why no."

Getting lost in my response...I think the solution is too drastic for anyones tastes, and really should probably withdraw into the shadows.

My closing point is: don't take this kind of talk as negative, salty snark. Anyone who takes the time to respond, complain or whatever cares/enjoys our common hobby enough to spend some time trying to string together some coherent thoughts. I think too often people look at constructive criticism as a personal jab as to their capabilities/qualities...when its not. It may be a comment on communications, availability, and decision making processes...but not on someone merits overall, which unless you're behind the veil on the BP/PP you can't really judge as a player with so many uncertains being out there.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Faroukel » Wed May 02, 2018 10:11 am

My biggest 'complaint' if I was to list one...

Is that everytime Nim pops on the scene, things then seem to speed up, get entertaining, get populated....

...and then something RL comes up, and we dwindle down slowly to a point where there's a couple people logging in..

...and then rinse repeat.

How can we fill in those Nim-less gaps, to provide some sort of carry over for that energy and activity that comes with Nim-returns?
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Pinklepea » Wed May 02, 2018 10:25 am

At this moment, I don't think it would be out of line to say the game is dead. The handful of players that are around (and handful is being generous) are unmotivated, myself included.

I've had this conversation on Discord and privately with people but when I literally spend 2+ hours a day poking people, begging them to get them IG, bribing them with RL money or IC whatevers to have the same three people show up... it's depressing as hell. I spend more time trying to get roleplay than I spend roleplaying. Every. Single. Day.

Now we can argue until the cows come home about who is at fault and why we're dead, but I'd rather just y'know. Stop the blame game and start some CPR or something.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby bladerunner » Wed May 02, 2018 11:13 am

Its just a game but I will agree that the currently level of PC and Staff activity seems directed towards the end of the story that some of you have invested over a decade of play towards. My level of investment is lower so my level of passion is lower than some of the expressions noted above. The end of SOI/Laketown will be sad for me, but less so after an 8 year gap.

This is not only a chicken vs egg problem. PC activity cannot be shown to correlate to STAFF activity. If the staff have decided that they wish to invest time to make this a worthwhile place for players to invest their time and energy, then they have to make the investment for a time without seeing immediate results (I expect it would take months). Then they have to measure the effect of the PC activity and determine if they care to continue investing.

If the answer is no then shut it down and blame the players, but the level of staff activity that I've seen since my return is not indicative that the staff are invested (in terms of playtime/activity) to give this a shot at success. If that's where everyone is then no need for blame, just shut it down and say it's not worth the investment.

Many of us smile looking back to the Osgiliath days and that's not where we are now... but that doesn't mean it can't be good and fun. Fact is my kids don't think reading and typing is entertaining... they just want to scroll on their phones. MUD's are for a narrower niche of people. Hopefully we can attract enough of those to create the great story that we all hope to contribute to in large and small ways.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Faroukel » Wed May 02, 2018 12:06 pm

PC activity cannot be shown to correlate to STAFF activity.

Sorry, I respectfully have to disagree here. I cannot show any citations. But I like to think that my perception regarding online mudding is fairly well versed, and from personal experience as a player, staffer, and player again...that RPA activity is directly attributable to player counts ig.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby seenmycorpseanywhere » Wed May 02, 2018 12:32 pm

While I agree with your approach, BladeRunner... yes:

Player activity is directly proportional to RPA presence. Period.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Nimrod » Wed May 02, 2018 12:39 pm

Faroukel wrote:My personal goal for staffing has always been how to respond to things with a "how yes" mentality, instead of a "why no."


Finding ways to say 'yes' has always been my mantra. I will continue to beat that drum and will empower our existing admins to be able to solve problems and move forward without the blockades.

I don't take any of your post as being dissenting or as a rant, I take it as serious feedback. Thanks.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Nimrod » Wed May 02, 2018 12:44 pm

Faroukel wrote:My biggest 'complaint' if I was to list one...

Is that everytime Nim pops on the scene, things then seem to speed up, get entertaining, get populated....

...and then something RL comes up, and we dwindle down slowly to a point where there's a couple people logging in..

...and then rinse repeat.

How can we fill in those Nim-less gaps, to provide some sort of carry over for that energy and activity that comes with Nim-returns?


I'm with you on this, Faroukel. I feel bad that my absence seems to cause some type of lull or change in staff's feelings. I am trying to address how to fill those gaps when I'm not around. (That sounds absurdly pompous, doesn't it?)

At the moment it feels like some staff members are afraid to make mistakes and I want to remedy that. I would much rather a staff member made a mistake in good faith than avoid mistakes and never get anything done.

Time will tell.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby Nimrod » Wed May 02, 2018 12:48 pm

Pinklepea wrote:At this moment, I don't think it would be out of line to say the game is dead. The handful of players that are around (and handful is being generous) are unmotivated, myself included.

I've had this conversation on Discord and privately with people but when I literally spend 2+ hours a day poking people, begging them to get them IG, bribing them with RL money or IC whatevers to have the same three people show up... it's depressing as hell. I spend more time trying to get roleplay than I spend roleplaying. Every. Single. Day.

Now we can argue until the cows come home about who is at fault and why we're dead, but I'd rather just y'know. Stop the blame game and start some CPR or something.


I don't think there's a lot of blame being dealt out here, Pinklepea. I think it's just folks voicing their concerns, which they have every right to do. Like Frisia used to say: If there's two ways to interpret what I say and one of them offends, I meant the other one. ;)

I choose to see the best in long-term players, they've earned it.

As for the game being dead... I don't think so, I saw 5 or 6 players on last night. We're running slow, and that's okay.

Don't beg, bribe, or cajole people in to playing. If we (as staff) get things right and give you the right tools to entertain yourself, it'll happen. :)
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby MrT2G » Wed May 02, 2018 6:08 pm

Let me start by saying, I don't think the MUD is "dead." It has been worst and bounced back.

I haven't read this whole thread, but I don't think I will be out of line to express my opinion on the overarching theme.

Ultimately, sustained activity and interest stems from players pursing their interests and goals IC. Similarly, Staff needs to be interested and supportive of these pursuits where it makes sense IC and OOC. The Staff are the gatekeepers in this regard. They decide what will be facilitated and what won't be. Both sides need to realize that neither is likely to get 100% what it wants and be willing to compromise. Players need, particularly, to realize that the Staff does this for enjoyment and deserves to be able to support what they want to. This is a balance that needs to be developed over time by both sides engaging the other in open, responsive dialogue.

With that said, I think that creating activity and interest can be sparked in a number of ways. First, is for players to be active IC and having their characters pursuing their goals. This provides a foundation for the Staff to build off of. However, plots, RPTs, and other Staff-based activities are probably the best way to produce short-term interest and activity.

Collecting bounties/killing NPCs is an IC excuse/activity to be done in the hopes something more interesting will happen. Coin produced by these activities is nice and a good IC motivator, but ultimately meaningless and not good for sustaining OOC interest.

However, Staff supporting these patrols/hunts with simple supplements would go a long way. Possible examples;

- Leading out evil-sphere players along with NPC fodder to interact with good-sphere players
- Leave a corpse of an ill-fortune traveler in the path of the patrol with a book containing clues to other adventures or where a trove of lost jewelry might be.
- Have the players encounter a trapped animal and choose whether to help it or kill it either to profit off its pelt or other possible outcomes
- Bandit attack, Orc attack, dangerous beast attack
My experience with these is that fewer, stronger NPCs are better. Draw out the engagement with force stops to encourage RP within the coded combat.
- Have bandits/orcs/wargs kidnap a child for people to hunt down and rescue.
- Have players encounter a creepy, old gypsy fortuneteller in the woods; let them decide how to move forward.
- Have Utterby's Masters put out special bounties on unique beasts/objects. Randomly load these somewhere in the world for players to find on their own. If it takes too long, provide hints.
- Have a ship wreck on the river and post messages in both spheres for players to race to recover any remaining goods.
- Have a competitor merchant come into Utterby and compete with locals in an underhanded fashion. I think crime has been a greatly overlooked thing and would likely make the Guard much more interesting for players. If the Guard doesn't respond, then it should be left for other players to resolve. Added bonus, you can involve crafters and other "towners!"

Players should consider how they can prepare for these things through their RP. It shouldn't be all about blood and murder. What makes the carnage exciting for me is the greater consequences it may have on the world. Let events shape and change your character.

The options are truly endless. The examples I gave above I tried to avoid things that would take a lot of building or time commitment from both players and Staff. Plots or RPTs don't have to be some grand, complex event. Something out of the normal where players don't know exactly what to expect is sufficient. Also, loot! It may sound cliche but people love rewards. It doesn't have to be some uber sword of insta-gib. Cosmetic items are nice too, even if it is just a unique looking necklace, ring, or boots. Coin is boring and plentiful.

To complete my thought, I would like to say that everyone needs to realize that SOI is not currently a completed world. It needs a lot of work and growth by everyone who is part of this community for it to become so. Whether this work is coding, building, running plots (no matter how short or simple!), or just seeking RP. It is only by working together (or against one another IC!) that we will be able to live again in the wonder and excitement that we all know SOI has the potential to be.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby seenmycorpseanywhere » Thu May 03, 2018 3:32 am

MrT2G wrote:Collecting bounties/killing NPCs is an IC excuse/activity to be done in the hopes something more interesting will happen.


Yes. Agreed. Yet exactly what's not happening.

MrT2G wrote: ***All the example situations that you described***


These are summarized as simply DMing. In other words, RPAing.
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Re: RPA presence, pbase activity

Postby seenmycorpseanywhere » Sat May 05, 2018 1:20 am

I consider myself an overly polite person, moreso on the internet, and from the very first post I had to hit delete more than a few times to keep in that line. It must be the memories of what SoI can be and what it has not been for way too long that's doing the talking.

Frigga, you act as a handbrake for the development and player retention and spiking of the game. That's the plain truth of it. Without thinking too much, a dozen players come to mind that will just not even consider getting IG because of your way to handle SoI. Ultimately every single thing has been given your approval or disapproval, or more consistently, your disregard. For months might I add. Stuff anyone minimally committed would solve in a couple of minutes and move on, or delegate onto someone, be it plot advancement, item creation, an answer, you name it: utterly ignored. Which brings me to another point. Staff members quitting because they cannot get to do their thing?! Seriously? Because they are not trained to do the things they volunteered to? Because of RPAs needing to run everything through you, and you have players going from them to you and back because neither one nor the other has got the slightest idea of what you are up to, if anything? People volunteering, that is what every Mud owner needs, and should cherish!

I know for a fact I'm not the only thinking these thoughts. We can beat around the bush and ponder how we'd collectively reach a solution and how players should look for their own thing to do and stop the blame game and smca stop being an ass and get IG to despair waiting for something to happen but it doesn't change the fact that consistent, helpful RPAing keeps things alive and that whenever the topic is brought up you say a lot of nothing, grasp the last funny thing someone said to obviate the elephant in the room, toss a few emotes with the damn snowflake elf or worse, go wolf hunting, and there, on the fifth day RP was created and it was good.

And yet you cling to that position - which I'm not really sure you even want - lording for the sake of lording without doing much at all. Is it so because nobody else was available at the time for the job, and it evolved into a last-man-standing situation? Is it because of the server costs? There are some available for 5$ a month. 4 point something €. A couple of coffees.

I get it, really. You are burned out. Step aside and let whoever is feeling with more energy, you know, do the stuff that needs doing. Staff and players will go through cycles and simply stop coming only to come back later, and that's totally fine. Just don't bring the whole thing down with you.
seenmycorpseanywhere
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