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Old 08-10-2004, 05:08 PM   #1
Brody
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One of the classic problems that can arise in story-driven roleplaying games is that players can come to rely on staffers to provide major events for entertainment, rather than using initiative and imagination to generate activities for themselves and their friends within the parameters of the game's theme.

How do you deal with this? As a staffer, do you constantly struggle to keep the masses appeased with another big event? Or, as a player, do you have a knack for drumming up activity without relying on staffers?

Share your experiences, thoughts, opinions in this thread.
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Old 08-10-2004, 06:22 PM   #2
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As a player I don't mind changing my own playing style a bit to accomodate another player's interests. If things are becoming stagnant in our 'circle' I'll try to look for things that other players or characters are interested in and run with them. If one character likes the thrill of underground caves, I'll keep my eyes and ears open for mention of the crab-infested crotch-cave of the world. If another player likes dusty little villages on the fringes of civilization, I'll watch for them as well, and maybe suggest a trip to see a new one. If a char likes whores, cake, or booze, I'll listen for them as well and tune my own character's interests accordingly, at elast as much as I can without comprimising the concept of my character.

This keeps our characters and us, the players, bouncing off of each other nicely. It keeps spice between old 'RP buddies' and mebbe catches the eye of new meat that could add flare to a group that's declining. When I do things like this, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant at the time, 9/10's of the time I see positive results, such as simply fueling character interaction or creating a few minor plotlines to keep us occupied until a time that we can get into a 'major' storyline.

However, I know it can get discouraging when you and your clique RP through a hundred minor plotlines without ever seeing an Immortal give you an echo, a thums-up or a slight prod in a certain direction. We all want to know that our efforts are being noticed, even if only occasionally...
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Old 08-10-2004, 06:58 PM   #3
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The general rule I use for this situation is: I don't care who drives, but the passengers should pitch in for gas if they can. - RP leaders usually like to be led sometimes too.

Anyway, as a player, my most successful characters can have a few hooks I can throw in to make things more exciting. Sometimes from a character view I can throw these in from something someone else does. A simple action/reaction sequence that will make a night's roleplaying a little better for those around me. (A sidenote: those characters that don't quite work out for me, I seem unable to come up with these little things to do on a character to character level.)

From the staff angle... I have a weakness for trying to find a balance between what is done on a character level (such as day to day interaction, player generated RP), and what should be done on a larger level (the staff generated plot ideas). A part of me writes up ideas and wants to execute, while the other part keeps saying: "Hey, there are things going on that don't require you to keep making drastic changes."

For me it's a balance. Though so far most of my efforts and philosophy have been leaning towards generating more player level roleplaying, rather than spoon feeding activity. Though as I said, bigger things have their places, I just don't think everything should be some huge thing.
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Old 08-10-2004, 07:00 PM   #4
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I was a staffer for a fairly short period of time and tried running a small plot.
It never really got off the ground, partly because I have a poor sense of time and wasn't on when I should have been. But it was also partly, in my opinion, because even in the early stages, I had to badger the players to get anything that resembled interest out of them. It was incredibly frustrating and it got to the point where I just didn't want to continue the plot any more because there seemed to be only a handful of players actually interested enough to contact me and say "Yes, I want be a part of the plot."
And knowing how frustrated and tired I got in the face of all that....I can't help but feel sorry for the staffers who face such indifference on a regular basis.

And there have been times when I've seen what look like really interesting plots put forward and I haven't taken part; either because I couldn't think of an IC reason, or because I was too busy with other things at the time, or other reasons.

But when I meet up with people IC'ly, I RP - that's why I logged on in the first place, after all; because I wanted to RP.
In my opinion, players shouldn't ever get to the point where they're relying on staffers alone to provide RP. You meet someone in a bar? Talk to them; pester them; start a fight with an NPC if you have to. Whatever it takes to get RP going.
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Old 08-10-2004, 07:21 PM   #5
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I think the key thing from a player perspective is to roleplay in such a fashion that you and the staff can complement one another.  The pitfall to avoid is playing a role that requires special attention from the staff to be playable, for several reasons:

1) Players tend to outnumber administrators, and tend to vastly outnumber the administrators with the ability/authority to add custom features and events just for their role.  Even on a well-staffed MUD (we have 30+ people 'behind the curtain', and still hit this constraint all the time) interaction resources can get stretched thin.  If you write an elaborate plot that requires administrator intervention to move forward, you might run into the practical constraint that no one is available to pick up that end.

2) If an administator begins a quest, it is usually quite easy for a player to drop what they were doing and participate.  ("Goblins are attacking Tir'Talath!  I'll worry about shopping for armor later!")  The reverse is not always true- a good game requires all sorts of duties besides interaction (building, coding, watching for cheating, managing and training newer staff, designing, etc.), and if a player is ready to do something, the administrator might be already busy with something else.  Thus, driving a plot where most of the action comes from other players means that you're more likely to be working with people who can pay full attention if they want.

3) When you write something, you generally think it would be fun to play out.  However, if you write something out and rely on someone else to run with it, you're betting that they find it interesting, which won't always be true.  If you write something where you can drive the plot yourself, you'll have fun with it even if it isn't someone else's cup of tea.

Obviously, some styles of plot require the intervention of someone with broad power over world events- as a player in most games, you can't unleash an invading army against a rival city, whereas an administrator can load, equip, and take control of groups of NPCs to simulate this.  However, as a player you have a lot of freedom to design what you're going to play, and you can choose from the beginning to maximize your ability to play it out.
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Old 08-10-2004, 09:53 PM   #6
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Yay Valg! A lot of what you said is right on the button as far as I'm concerned.

As a staffer at Chia, I've randomly begun running plots. I couldn't do that on Otherspace, because I didn't have a good sense of theme, any confidence in my ability to do something that wouldn't offend another staffer, or an idea of what players wanted. On Chia I have all those things, and so I'm good to go.

A major staffer tool for me is bios. That's right -- those things you may or may not write to get into the game are a huge help for me. They let me know that someone's long-lost brother exists and could be brought back, that someone's especially afraid of spiders and so maybe that'd a good device to bring into a plot, that someone... well, anything, really. It enables me to tailor plots for people using stuff I know will effect thair character.

Someone up-top mentioned running RP for a clique and not getting staffer plots thrown at them despite their demonstrated RP ability. I'm definitely guilty of not throwing plots at people who do any of the below:
1) seem to be having a great time without me, I don't want to disturb that
2) all seem to know each other OOCly and like a lot of OOC chat during their RP
3) are under another staffers jurisdiction, because I don't want to alter or mistake theme someone else has done
4) ignore my staffer emits, for obvious reasons
and
5) seem to shy away from interacting with people outside the clique

Pretty much all of my plots are run either in public domain (roads, taverns, fields) or on 'my' domain, the areas for my factions.

How would a clique go about getting me personally to run RP for them? Well, sending me an OOC note in-game's a good one. So is going to a public location, such as a tavern, or especially going to one of my pre-announced events. Interacting with a wide variety of people catches my interest in a player, as does posting a biography, or posting logs to the log forums on Chia's site. Being visible on the IC grid and active's a great thing, because it makes me realise that you want 'interfewrence' which so many people take issue with in staffer plots.

To go back to Brody's question: the kinds of people who come to my events already have the ability to create roleplay for themselves. They get out there and create fun. The people who don't come, and who then complain about lack of roleplay, aren't appeased by my events anyhow, so I don't beat myself up over having events seldom.

In fact, right now I have three or so church events lined up that I -can't run- just because the people prefer to self-start their RP elsewhere. Le sigh.
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Old 08-10-2004, 11:52 PM   #7
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Nothing happens in a vaccum. In the end, I think a lot of it comes back to staff.

First, there should be a running storyline that staff works on, and keeps moving. Think of this as a stone thrown into a pond. What's supposed to happen from there is a series of ripples.

How do you make sure that get these ripples? When players come up with an idea, support them. Be willing to build for them, to run an npc or an avatar and react to what they are doing, let the player-led plot affect the game world, write it in and respond to it.

Before I began mudding I played a graphical game that was in theory rp intensive. The prevailant opinion from the staff was, don't wait for us, make your own fun... "but don't actually do anything." That doesn't work. You either have to be willing to step back and let your players run and support them, or you need to do more work, and constantly give them things to do, and write all the storylines.

The other side of this coin is with the freedom to affect the game world, players have the responsibility to do more of the work. Often a player will have a plot idea and bring it to the staff, asking them to make their story happen. So, when a player comes to you and says, "Oooh, let's overthrow the government," instead of a yes or no answer, a better idea is to say "How?" "How much does it cost?" "Have you recruited help?" "When are you overthrowing the government?" Not every plan has to succeed.

In summary, if you want your players to run plots you have to actually let them.
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Old 08-11-2004, 03:17 PM   #8
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Well, I'm a follower.  There's not an ounce of leadership in me.  And that's been kind of a problem for RP, in the past.

So I avoided big things for a long time, because I'm a spaz and don't like scenes with more than 5 people in them.  Well, that, and the whole "eek staff is teh scary" thing.  ;>

At some point a couple months ago, I found that I'd reached my soap-opera-drama limit and wanted something big to do.  My Friendly Neighborhood Staffer liked for players to come up with things.  And I couldn't come up with any ideas for running things on my own... not that I'd have the guts to run anything anyway (it's been three years and I /still/ have a hard time joining RP already in progress... issues, much?).

So, talking to the Friendly Neighborhood Staffer in a non-staffy-context, I kinda tweaked.

Okay, I /completely/ tweaked.

Not a great idea.  It tends to be really unproductive.

So anyway, someone else and I left for someplace else where we wouldn't have to lead too much.

'Course, then he got uber-busy working overtime, and I broke the computer at the house I'm house-sitting, so nothing's really happened since.

Nice.

I think I had a point... yeah.  Point is, life can sorta suck for an uncreative follower type who can do what she's told and not much else.  ;>
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Old 08-11-2004, 07:13 PM   #9
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In summary, if you want your players to run plots you have to actually let them.
Amen. I also agree that the void issue falls largely to the staffer types, but not exclusively their problem.

I'm not saying that everyone should be running plots, what I do say though is that people should to /do/ something. Some things are simple affairs. While others are larger and do require support from the staff angle. That's where an inherant problem comes in: The conflict between what needs staff support, and what should be handled in the IC realm. (The answer differs by RP envirorment, so there is no hard fast answer) On one hand, overthrowing a government needs a lot of support, but throwing a party doesn't generally.

The line between where support is required or isn't can be harder though. Especially when it comes to skilled NPCs or the need for coded benefits. Do you say, "Find your stuff ICly?" or support in those cases? That's where the question is in allowing things to be run. It's a potential barrier to self-sufficiency, but sometimes letting those higher up know what's going on is a good thing.

- An unrelated thought: There are three main philosophies for staffing I am aware of from player and staff perspective (they can be mixed though): Coder (mainly working on code), RP leader (actively generating RP regularly), and Active Supporters (the concept of being more in business to support/help along the ideas of players as needed, but more lassez faire in RP related matters). - I think I've almost always been heavily in the third category, with smatterings of the first and second.
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