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Old 02-13-2003, 09:27 AM   #50
Mithadan
Spirit of Mist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
Posts: 2,895
Mithadan has been trapped in the Barrow!
Sting

*Mithadan whacks Maika and Helka upside the head with a wet trout.

Maika, I don't think anyone is really attacking you here. The issue you raise is valid and is a matter which I have been considering since we reformatted the RPG forums. This very issue was discussed last November in the Chasm forum that was created to discuss changing the way we ran our RPG "program".

I'll first address this by looking at the old problems chronologically, then addressing our solutions, and finally by trying to feel out a way to deal with this "perception" issue. This will be a long post.

April, 2002: in order to meet the demand for more RPGs, we opened the Freestyle Room. See my earlier posts for the results.

August, 2002: recognizing that we had a real mess on our hands, the admins discuss the RPG room and conclude that change is needed. BD is a Tolkien site and board, first and foremost. The quality of our content is and will be one of our primary concerns. We have a reputation as a thoughtful and serious discussion board. This is what sets us apart from all the others. The quality of the majority of the RPGs in the Freestyle Room was poor. There were chat-style RPGs (virtually every game involving one line posts with chatspeak). There were off-topic games (Jedi Knights, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc.). Most of the on-topic games lacked any direction or goal (let's hunt some Orcs...OK, they're all dead...let's find some more). Literally hundreds of abandoned or unfinished games cluttered the board, using up our bandwidth.

The interim solution was to create a set of rules and appoint people to enforce them. One of these people was me. Included among these rules were that your game gets closed if: there are no posts for 2 weeks; the game is off-topic; or it is a chat-style game. We also restricted the opening of threads and required that proposals be submitted to start a game. Finally, we demanded that goals be set in existing games so that every RPG would someday end. In short, we cracked down, and we freely admit this.

October, 2002: it is clear that our Rules are both working and not working. Dead games, chat-style games and off-topic RPGs had been eliminated. But people found the proposal process to be inimidating and very few new games were opened. We ran a mentored RPG to try and help people understand what we wanted, gain skills and confidence. While it was well-received, it was also too complex (my fault) and cumbersome.

November, 2002: (some secrets revealed here) the admins get together again. The initial debate is whether to try and fix the problem or just do away with RPGs altogether. The vote was closer than many here might want to think. The decision was reached to restructure the whole RPG system and recruit help in running it. The restructuring process was to be inclusive; we invited a lot of people into a private forum, The Chasm, to discuss what to do. The outcome was our present system which was put in place in late November.

The key pieces of the puzzle were promoting new games without the proposal process (The Shire and its "seeds"); the opening of an intermediate level where people could create their own games through a better proposal process (Rohan); the creation of an "advanced" level where the better players could create and open their own games without a proposal process (and could be trusted to do so with restraint); the creation of the Inns.

The idea is that people start out in the Shire, hone their skills, move on to Rohan where they can propose and run their own games, then move on to Gondor once they have shown that they can create and run a game. At the same time, anyone can join a game in any forum if their skills are up to it. Even so, players or entire games can be moved out of Gondor or Rohan if they are not up to snuff.

Now let's focus on Gondor. It was always recognized that Gondor might be viewed as elitist. We went around and around on this issue and simply couldn't work out anything that could avoid this perception entirely(even though what Child and others have commented on about including RPers in Gondor games is absolutely correct).

However, the real problem is not that Gondor exists, but rather that no one is trying to get there. Not enough games are being created in Rohan by members. To date, no one has asked to be approved for Gondor either (one person PMed me asking what is up with Gondor...why are there so few games and why are they invitation only, etc.). If you want in, do it! Make your proposal in Rohan. Run the game. There are people here who have the skills to do it.

Not enough time? Run the games slowly, control it through the discussion board and by PMs so that it doesn't run away from you. No ideas? Read the books, haunt the Inns, ask an Innkeeper. There are lots of ideas floating around. Too young? By whose standards? There are 14 year olds here who write better than 30 year olds. Need help? ASK FOR IT! A game can be run by more than one person. Its happening right now in The Shire.

We are trying to make our RPG system the best that it can be. You can make of it whatever you want to make of it. You want to stay in the Shire? Fine. You want to play without the responsibility of running a game? Also fine. You want to run games and join Gondor? Do it.
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