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Old 02-07-2011, 02:51 PM   #121
Thinlómien
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Oh and a few more things regarding the game owners making stricter plans:

this would mean the game owners really need to commit their own games. They should also send their draft week-by-week (or fortnight-by-fortnight if that's better) plan to the moderator of the forum so in an emergency case they really need to give up their game, the mod can PM the plan to the next game owner (who can of course alter it if s/he wants to).

Every game should have a game owner who keeps it in schedule and order. The players feel safer and better when someone is there to navigate the whole thing, and the RPG doesn't fall into pieces so bad if someone clearly takes the charge. In the event of a game owner disappearing, there should always be a new game owner emerging from among the players, anyone who has sufficient time and will to finish the RPG.

I'm sorry if I sound like I'm trying to make RPGing less fun by making them authoritarian, but I'm afraid that unless the players are extra enthusiastic, there really needs to be an auhority to keep stuff going on smoothly. Mods have an important role in the werewolf games and tabletop RPGs and larps collapse without a game master who has the reins. I don't mean that the game owner should be a dictator - discussion with players about the plot developments and going along with the players' ideas are vital - but his/her role should be bigger if we want to have any games finished. Or that's how I see it.

Kind of in nutshell, I'd rather have game masters or game leaders instead of game owners, and I'd require them to commit to their own game. (Maybe people shouldn't be allowed to own games if they haven't proven they can commit to a game for that kind of period of time, whether they are planning a two-week game or a half-a-year game.)
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:32 PM   #122
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I meant pouncing in a good way...like Tigger-pouncing...

So the consensus from others is that games need to be forced to very specific timelines/forced to completion? Who's going to want to stick to any timeline (there have always been timelines, which in the past were enforced) if they aren't enthusiastic about what they're writing/playing? How do we get the enthusiasm back?

In a way I agree with people who have been talking about shorter, smaller scale games. But I don't agree with shorter, smaller scale games that are planned out to the details so it's easy to just work through the steps of the plot. Let players do smaller scale things on their own, rather than establishing *short games* vs *long games* and each having to adhere to a specific structure and timeline.

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Originally Posted by Lommy
In the event of a game owner disappearing, there should always be a new game owner emerging from among the players, anyone who has sufficient time and will to finish the RPG
And for this you need interest/enthusiasm. The game can't feel like work that's being passed from shoulder to shoulder. Players need to feel like they have more invested in the game. They have to have more invested in their characters. And for that I think we need to reduce the emphasis on *game owners/game masters*. Let people just collaborate on something and start writing. Forget about forms and leaders/owners. Let them all be players. At any given time, different players might then take the lead.
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:42 PM   #123
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Question

Taking it one step further than the actual game players or the game leaders/game masters, how do you see the role of the RPG Forum Moderator changing?

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Old 02-07-2011, 03:42 PM   #124
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I think I disagree, but I believe we have both stated why we think the way we do.

I personally believe people would be more enthusiastic if they knew where the RPG was heading and if there was more action (ie if at least one person aka the game owner kept "feeding the plot"). I think the inns, on the other hand are/would be ideal for relaxed, slow-paced writing with nobody "leading" it much. Why couldn't there be more inn-style RPGs? Meaning RPGs with a centered location and no set timeframe, where times just floats on and stuff happens, big and small.

But I think it has kind of been proven that the slow-paced and nonmarshalled RPGing (in most cases) leads into slowly decaying RPGs whose original plot is either crudely cropped for the sake of finishing the story or left totally unfinished. In an inn-type RPG it of course doesn't matter the same way as it always goes on and it doesn't have any set plot, but I do think it's a big problem for the regular RPGs.
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:48 PM   #125
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Pio -

I think it depends on what kind of other changes we settle on. I would love keeping the Shire policy that a mod has to "accept" all new RPGs and discusses them shortly with the game owner. It's good for the game owner to have feedback and assistance, especially if s/he is new.

Also, we will still need the all-around handy(wo)men who can edit posts and close and move thread. Of course you need to discuss in your high modly abode () if the number of mods should be decreased or increased if the number of the fora is changed and who is responsible for what.

Basically, I'm not sure it has to change much. It's one of the things that I feel really works here.
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Old 02-07-2011, 04:55 PM   #126
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I do hope we don't have to choose between dictatorially run games where every player has to comform to the game-master's minute-plans and free-floating games where no one takes responsibility of driving the story forwards... and I know you Lommy and Dury were not advocating those views as such. But I thought of taking the liberty of stretching your points to the edge just to open the basic difference between them.

I think we all agree that something between the extremes would be the preferable course to pursue.

And here I do once again see at least a kind of Shire - Gondor separation still being relevant.

Just from the POV of getting new RPG'ers along we'd need some quite down to earth and more mod-driven games (plus a lively and appealing Shire Mead Hall) easily accessible to anyone, even just for a whim to begin with. Only after that can we think there being more players willing to take part in the more complicated and freer games which I think all we vets prefer as players.

But as Lommy says, even the vets at times disappear from lengthy games - and like I said, oftentimes it's the question of a too ambitious a plan that just takes ages to get moving forwards. So either we just accept the fact that "this game is so complicated it will take years to finish" and just hope for the people to keep their interest in it regardless of their RL situations changing etc. or then we need to restrict our ambitions in the "Rohan games" as well.

Or maybe we could open both kind of games when there are enough dedicated people to play either kind of game?


Mithadan asked nicely indirectly whether we have omitted certain important factors here - which I find pedacogically a superb move, like he tried to make us speak our minds and bringing forth all the taboos while trying to guess what he meant...

But as this is a thread now for thinking what shoud be made better and so on, I think I'll venture forwards to make two short points.

Firstly there is a kind of dilemma involved as many people who have played with each others for years and like to do it together naturally wish to keep posting & playing together. But that may feel to an outsider as repelling or turning down anything she or he wishes to do. We really should make everyone feel welcomed even if we had good time writing with just one or two close friends of ours.

Secondly, if there are no preliminary stages or "try-outs" (fex. a requirement to first post in the Shire Mead Hall and play a Shire game first before going into Rohan), whole games, and thus great efforts of a host of people for a long time may be compromised. I think we all have seen these enthusiastic new players who wish to take a central role in a game and are happy about it for a short while and then disappear as it was not that fun after all to them. And thus they leave the others who have played the game a long time into an awkward position as to what to do with that deserted character (or not knowing if that character has been deserted in the first place).

Okay, that's for it this time (time to bed now).
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:28 PM   #127
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Thoughts...

I like the concept of a back up game owner. Having played in a game where the owner bailed, as did half of the writers, I can say from experience that leaving the responsibility to players who signed up to be players, not Big Decision Makers, is neither fair nor kind. After all, if you love the characters that have been deserted, you want to do them justice. Also, you wonder, what happens if the game owner comes back and hates what you've done, and what gives you the right to take charge anyway, and etcetera. I think that the mindset of a game as a small business is hurting us.

Here's what I mean by that: the game is an entrepreneur. S/he has this wonderful idea, and gets together a crew of people to staff the enterprise. They get a solid thing going, and then one of the staffers is offered a better job elsewhere. Maybe you hire on a new employee, maybe you just all do a bit more work to make up the difference. You're still pretty okay, though, because it's all the kind of work you feel qualified to do, even if it's a bit more than you originally signed up for.

Say your small business owner trips on a puppy and somehow incapacitates his or herself entirely. They're in a puppy induced coma. Can't make decisions, can't come to work, can't do anything. They're gone.

You're left with premises populated with people who are really good at their jobs, but definitely didn't sign up to become responsible for paying rent, back taxes, employee health insurance. They signed up as writers, not managers, and there's a huge difference between being in those positions.

With the concept that a game has an owner, we either need to ensure that there's a second in command with the ability to take over as needed, or we need to frame games more efficiently as a collective, belonging equally to all of the players.

Granted, I'm a hippie. I believe in gardening, and goats, and community living with shared chores and cabinets stocked with miso and tea. So the concept of a collectively owned story wherein every player has equal ownership and equal responsibility appeals to me. In the case that the game leader (a bit more democratic of a position than game owner or game authoritarian, don't you think?) needs to step down, the players can choose who will be the boss from amongst themselves.

Bwahaha, I've just realized what I'm proposing.

Shire: a benevolent dictatorship. Games are structured by owners, with predetermined seconds-in-command. The structure of these games provide a basic framework for the writers to work within, giving them a firm but generous place to write. The games are owned, more or less, by one person that makes key decisions, and the players are obligated to work within the game owner's constraints.

Rohan: hippie commune nation of love and voting and sharing. Games are proposed, players sign up, and responsibility is shared. Decisions regarding plot, time lines, and any other game related issues are made by everyone, who will have equal stakes. It's more work for everyone involved, but also provides a greater since of investment, since it becomes OUR game instead of His or Her game.

Regarding Pio's question, if we worked in this manner, the role of forum mod would possibly be unaltered.

With regard to my proposed Shire plan (guiding the players by the hand), we already have it set up so that game owners write out proposals for the admin. That would not change, except maybe it should be required instead of suggested that a rough outline (weekly? biweekly? monthly?) of how much should be accomplished in certain increments of time should be sketched in. The work for the game owner would go up, but the work for the forum moderator would remain about the same.

For the Rohan plan (players guiding themselves), the forum moderator's work would possibly decrease, because players would be taking more responsibility onto themselves. Perhaps the basic premise would be proposed, but the details would be hammered out by the players themselves?
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:54 PM   #128
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Well, I'm going to throw in another 2 cents worth (those of you who have been around here long enough out to get a laugh out of that reference--that won't be many of you--and therein lies one problem with RPGing) and see where my thoughts fall between those two stretchers of Noggie's.

First of all, some history. Not all of you might know that I was the Moderator of Rohan when the new three-part system was instituted. So I go back to the bad ole days when irresponsible kids would try to write indulgent, self-flattering Lego luvah and Mary Sue fanfics in the worst forms of text-ese. And when some of the more senior members of the Downs would laughingly let games go silly. Yes, it was a habit of even the most illustrious of us. Not good role models. So the present system was designed to counter the blatent bad writing of many fly-by-night posters and to provide a gaming equivalent of the best of the discussions in Books and N&N. Whether the Hobbit movie will reprise those days, we don't know. As Noggie says, times change.

More history . . .

My son, an avid RPGer, joined the Downs, as Tharkûn, for the first game in the early days of the new system, An Audience with the King. He was looking forward to gaming here, despite the fact that his mum was here. Yet he was completely turned off by the requirement--and the reminder--that he was expected to post daily. That requirement ruined that elusive thing which Durelin has called enthusiasm. And just so you understand what his committment to gaming is, he is now in post secondary studies learning to program and design computer games. In his spare time with his buddies, he works on story boards and illustrations. So the Downs lost that kind of committment and enthusiasm. There's a million stories out there, and his is but one--which I'm telling here for the first time--but I don't think it's the only one like that.

Rohan was/is a difficult forum to define because it was supposed to be the place where responsibility and independence was to devolve naturally to gamers, who cut their teeth in The Shire, but it wasn't supposed to be as complex or (for want of a better word) as literary, as Gondor. As such, I didn't see it as my role as Moderator to undertake the incredible and very laudable efforts which The Shire Moderators did to attract new gamers and to supervise game development. The Books Moderator doesn't do anything to encourage threads in Books, so, once gamers have got the gist of things, why should the Moderator in Rohan? There was supposed to be more freedom here in Rohan. Well, that was my line. So when I go back and read the start of the Scarburg Meadhall thread and see gamers posting character bios and asking if they are accepted, I'm a little bit nonplussed. That was for The Shire games sure, but for an Inn in Rohan? Maybe it's a matter of old habbits once learnt in one forum stay with you in the next. But as I say, I'm of the old stock and my time is passed. And in many ways I'm deeply impressed by those who have run the new Rohan inns, Littlemanpoet and Noggie, especially because they have brought new gamers in and developed a bond amongst them. That's not an insignificant factor in making RPGs attractive.

So how do fora (NB: that's another old joke from days gone by. Forums) develop? As I've already said, no Moderator sets out topics in Books or N & N. Nor in Mirth. Or accepts submissions before threads are started. The Chapter by Chapter and Sequence by Sequence fora have their Moderators starting discussion because the discussion was supposed to be focussed and it was a way simply to keep track of the discussions. And the Werewolf games, they have an interesting history. SaucepanMan started a rules procedure for them because of the heated emotions they were creating amongst the players. Yet just recently, when there was another quite heated discussion over rules and procedures, most of the WW gamers came together to discuss the rules and create some further guidelines which Morm oversaw. It was really a community effort and I was impressed with how the WW gamers themselves resolved the problem without authoritarian intervention by a mod. But there, they had already come together as a community with a shared interest in the game. Still, it was a community procedure.

So I look at Rohan and wonder why that cannot happen here, when Downers have already proven themselves in The Shire? Which is not to say that I think the well-defined time frame of WW games should be carried over into RPGs. There's a reason why WW has set time limits and it all has to do with the plot, the conspiracy, and the highly structured nature of the endeavour.The timing is part of the appeal. But fantasy-driven, narrative driven role-playing games--where characters aren't stereotypes of cobber, villager, werewolf, etc-- are not like that.

What I think is crucial is something Fea mentioned: allowing gamers to have more of their own investment in the games, allowing gamers to "hammer out the details" amongst themselves. Not quite a Borg collective, but where every gamer has (like WW) a vote in the proceedings.
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Old 02-08-2011, 07:51 AM   #129
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... I want to make a lengthy reply but Real Life at the moment is screaming for attention. And I have only read the first four or five recent posts (apologies; RL again.) Let me just say this: I am glad I landed immediately in Gondor when all of this started, because although I played in a Shire game or two, I don't know if I would have survived the structuralization. Many did and some admirable games were played. But I am far more comfortable in Gondor.

And yes, I am painfully aware that my recent game is over two years old and still dragging. ... and I still intend to wrap it up!....

But I miss the life that was here once.

Off to real life again, but I do hope to return to this thread...
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:55 AM   #130
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I have very ambiguous feelings about the role of WW games in the development of the Downs forum. On the one hand, they have drawn in new members and formed a feeling of community that is positive for the site. On the other hand, they have taken a lot of energy away from the Books forum, which is my main concern, and from the RPs, in which I was also involved in the past. Formy makes a valid point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
I do want to go on record as saying that WW siphons off a lot of RPing energy from the stable, committed members of the forum, and that as long as it continues, we're going to have a personnel problem here.

*IF* we could relatively sure that a two/three week or month-long game would actually last that long, I think one could reasonably ask players to refrain from playing WW at the same time... but, obviously, that might detract from people's desire to RP.
I wonder - is there any way to get dedicated WW players interested in "normal" RPs again? Could a story be devised that is as much fun for them as a TiG game? After all, WW *is* roleplaying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinlómien View Post
...our games have become too long and complicated.
I remember being involved in a game (Corsets and Corsairs) that was fun at the start, then got so involved in subplots that it became unwieldy, slow and complicated. I don't even remember if it ever finished - I lost interest.

Probably the most interesting game I played (aside from the marvellous Entish Bow series, of course, which was something special that can never be repeated - like Yavanna's Trees or the Silmarils) was a two-person RPG involving Rimbaud and myself, with occasional guest appearances by Bêthberry. It had a clear objective and a simple plot, a minimum of characters, and a time limit. We told our story (in this case even without a discussion thread, since we did our plotting by way of chat and PM) and had fun doing so.

Isn't the time committment factor one of the central strengths of WW games? I think we can learn from their success and try to adapt their best ideas to RPing.


Thanks to Snowdog and Durelin for getting this discussion going: I'd love to see RPs being more active again - not just for involving newcomers, but also for getting more of us oldtimers active again. I had signalled interest in a game some time ago; unfortunately, it never got off the ground.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:19 AM   #131
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I too agree with the fact that the games need to take a shorter while. I usually start playing an RPG with quite a lot of enthusiasm, but if the game stalls, I tend to lose interest, whether because real life problems take over or because I decide to focuse on my own stories, or maybe simply because I tend to have a shorter attention spam. And once the interest is gone, it is harder for me to get back on track. A fixed timeline would help me concentrate better.

I also have to say that I do not mind the rules and structuralization and I tend to agree with Lommy that some degree of commitment and ethusiasm needs to be shown. I don't think rules would interfere with us having fun (although I admit that my ideas of fun are rather nerdy, after all I had fun researching for my diploma paper, although in my defense, it was about Tolkien). And after all, any kind of game should have some rules.
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:05 AM   #132
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I write this in full awareness of my many and varied inadequacies as a RPGer. I am aware that many respects that I fail - yes my personal life has made writing genuinely impossible for sixmonths (and I have been correspondingly quiet across the forum) but I cannot claim that there have not been lengthy absences with less reason. Anyway I have participated in several Shire RPGs, dipped my toe in Rohan and have tried to encourage activity in the Perch. Anyway for what it is worth these are my observations.

I do think Werewolf is a factor. It does take a lot of attention and creativity and before its inception the RPG discussion threads were possibly the more sociable ones on forum where chat is strongly discouraged. Personally one of the reasons I stopped playing regularly was that I wanted to RPG more. H Yes it has brought some new members but they often don't get further than mirth. However it isn't the only thing and WW does show that it is possible to write a lot in a short time. Most ww games are longer than most RPGs.

Another factor is that a lot of players simply moved to a different stage in their lives - the young teenagers who perhaps came to the books via the films had important exams and went to unversity and so forth and I think we did lose a lot at the same time and so a lot of impetus is lost and a downward spiral becomes a vicious circle. For this reason I think we do need to review the structures before the likely influx from the next lot of films.

The problems with actual games I have encountered or observed are game owners bailing out, games as "star vehicles" - if the other players are merely a backing chorus for a Prima donna or uomo you may as well just write fan fic. You can't expect people to show a lot of commitment to someone else' s ego trip.

The structure of the game can also make a huge difference. It is harder to keep things going and up together if the roles are divided into various factions operating semi independently, it is harder if the game is set in a very specific time and place -especially if you are nerdy like me and want to work with or at least not against what Tolkien wrote. You can also hamsting yourself with your character. So basically easier games are the ones where you aren't bound by a very specific geography or history, the players are able to interract fairly freely un hindered by race or status (it will be long ere I saddle my self again with a character who is the servant of the only other person who speaks the same language ).

I certainly don't think the location of a game is an automatic indicator of standard - Island of Sorrow was a Shire game presumably only because Anguirel was a first time "owner". It had a group of highly skilled writers and extremely literary. Inexperienced players benefit from writing with the more skilled - I know I learnt a lot from writing with people here even if if it hasn't manifested itself in m own efforts yet! There are players who are generous in their writing - while developing and playing their own role they give opportunities to others to build theirs - in my own experience Aman and Envinyatar stand out in this respect but there have been others - Folwren in her role as Innkeeper particularly.

I haven't finished - I just have to be away for a bit but I do have a few more constructive points to add to the observations.
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Old 02-08-2011, 01:33 PM   #133
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I certainly don't think the location of a game is an automatic indicator of standard - Island of Sorrow was a Shire game presumably only because Anguirel was a first time "owner". It had a group of highly skilled writers and extremely literary. Inexperienced players benefit from writing with the more skilled - I know I learnt a lot from writing with people here even if if it hasn't manifested itself in m own efforts yet!
very nice of you to say so Mith. But in his next owned game Anguirel proved to be one of those awful absentee fathers. I'm still pretty ashamed of that. It was difficult re: real life, but everyone has that excuse. I've been quite commitment light as a player in other games too. I'm very proud of Island of Sorrow but really it's the only thing of its kind I've seen through, and I had a lot of exceptionally expert help...

yup, so dropping out is a problem. I've done it often and it's bad for the soul. It should be discouraged as much as in Werewolf. It would be nice if that meant faster games, I agree
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Old 02-08-2011, 05:43 PM   #134
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Nurse! Nurse! She's out of bed again....!

Don't be too hard on yourself Ang. Sometimes life gets in the way and that is especially likely to happen when a couple of months turn into a couple of years.

It is hard to make rules for this kind of thing because so much of it is a balancing act - you need some discipline to keep things going and maintain a reasonable standard, but also flexibility to cooperate with others and allow for interesting diversions, the confidence to progress stories and the humility to allow others to do so.

I do quite like the idea of The Shire being a more structured and supported place and Rohan being more where you stand on your own two feet. I think you do have to have somewhere where new players can find their feet without spoiling the enjoyment of others. And while noone likes their character being bunnied you do need to make it possible for people to interract with your character and not have a hissy fit if they don't psychically respond to your character in the way you want them too (sorry I may be venting years worth of frustration and minor irritation!).

Would it help to say game facilitator rather than owner, or steward? Obviously if you plan a game you have plans, you can lay out a framework of expectations but give the players rein as to how they are achieved.

I did quite a bit of work developing the seed called "Golden and Proud" back in the day (and still have the notes somewhere if anyone is interested) until it was effectively if not perhaps deliberately sabotaged (did I mention I was venting?) andif you have planned a journey to Dol Amroth for a specific purpose you might be miffed if they took themselves off to discover the source of the Anduin but you do need to allow some freedom.

Different "owners" may have different expectations and it rather depends on the game. Personally if I ever run a game I'll be only too grateful for plot ideas (I am stronger by far at character than action) but give your horse an inappropriate name and I may have to kill you (have never recovered from a game elsewhere where Elrond's horse was called Peanut).

It is alright..the nurse is coming with my pills now
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:09 PM   #135
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Okay, I have tried to push this issue of werewolfing in contrast to RPG'ing away as I have thought it's quite hard to compare the two as they have such different qualities - and maybe also because I have thought it more being driven by some envy on part of those who don't play WW for the enthusiasm and involvedness people show in WW-games - and maybe the limited time active ww-players might show for RPG's while a ww-game is on; two things I have not been too keen to express openly. Well it's done now.

But after reading all these recurrent references to the ww-games I must say I have been forced to think about it again, and hopefully in a constructive manner.

Even if there is the same problem with ww-games, that some people join in and then do not play actively enough to the majority-tastes (or just drop out), there clearly seems to be a kind of enthusiasm, energy and commitment one rarely finds in the RPG's. Although I do remember more or less as hectic feelings with RPG's as well, but those have been rare occasions.


So which are the strenghts of the ww-games and which of them could be carried into RPG'ing?


1) The prospect of winning or losing & having sides where your effort does not only count as your own succes but also as all your fellows' success.

Okay, I'm not sure I'd wish to play an RPG where there would be two sides trying to win the "game". That would be nightmarish - unless it was something like a very special game between very good friends in good humour (so not anything like a general guideline to RPG'ing).

But what we could bring from there is the idea that every individual player has a stake and feels responsible for the success of the game as such. And I do actually think that some of those old-time Shire RPG's actually had something of this in them when the mod threw all kinds of obstacles into the way of the players' characters and they had to come over with them together.

2) The ww-deadlines are sharp and decisive - and fast. If you don't make it you really stand for apologising.

Even if I can't see a 24-hour deadlines in an RPG, it is clear strict deadlines do help. Now how that could be transformed into RPG-world is another matter. If you lose a DL in an RPG then just part of the story stays untold, but in a ww-game it can really affect the outcome of the game - for you and your side (all those who rely on you as well as you rely on them). So we come back to the earlier point: the stakes are higher in a ww-game.

Also one knows from the beginning the time-limit the game will take - which ranges from a week to two or three at most. So it is quite a clear-cut thing: you don't have to commit yourself into a game for an unlimited time - and if you get killed it might even end sooner for you. So in a ww-game you play for the right to be able to play on the next day - the possibility of being thrown away from the game works as a big incentive to try your best.

I can see no humane or literarilly satisfying way of applying this to the RPG's...

3) The ww-games can give a player very strong emotional kicks (for good or bad), but most of the time they stay within limits.

These emotional "kicks" in ww have turned a few times into personal tragedies making people leave the playing community - and that is sad. And it's not too uncommon that on some stage of a game people's feelings get a bit overheated (I should know it as I have been guilty of that a few times), but generally people do overcome those and in the after-game discussions they are already congratulating the other side and giving high-fives to everyone.

The problem with the RPG's clearly is that if you get people emotionally as bound as you get people bound in a ww-game, then the bad side of it can be just devastating (as we have a few very bad examples in the RPG-fora). I mean, after the baddies drive a lynch to get rid of you as the seer of the village in a ww it feels soo terrible, and you feel like you'd wish to curse the whole world - but you are able to look at the game with fresh eyes after you have slept one night. In an RPG, on the contrary, when your character and all you have invested in her/him gets somehow sidetracked or denied in any plot-driven happenstance it probably feels so much worse that it will be much harder to come over it by just sleeping one night on it.

4) In ww the game rules are from one point very clear and decisive and make it easy to play, but on the other hand the social rules are much looser than in an RPG. In a ww game you can just socialise, have fun with people you know already or get to know new people - in a way you seem fit in that particular game. Also in a ww game you can just make a fool out of you on one post and then get "dead serious" the next. It's up to your every whim...

In an RPG it feels different... in a RPG you're anticipated to write coherently: as others can use your character to ease the storytelling - which is a good thing to my mind - your character needs to be somewhat predictable for that to work. I mean, sure a character in an RPG can surprise others but the general requirements are much tougher even if they are not exact rules as such. This is somethnig we have nothing to change - and need not change.



Okay, I have been thinking about these things while writing these down so I had no clear view about what is it I would come out with... But what I have learned is that my initial feeling of the comparison being hard to make is even stronger I thought.

But is there anything, except the lengthy ramble?

WW-games manage to make their players involved and feeling they have a stake in the game. So here I should go Fea's and Durelin's way. Give the players more stakes and they might feel more involved.

But also, the question of some real timelines could help - in the case there is the motivation to make a difference: otherwise the DL's will just hamper the game setting up further obstacles to some players.

Getting people more involved emotionally is a double-edged sword. In a way it could make people more involved but then we also risk more personal catastrophies we really don't want. Getting too involved is as bad as being uninvolved, well it is worse.

Looser "social rules" of feeling free to play in totally unpredictable manner might be tried in Mead Halls (well, in Shire), but I'm afraid nowhere else - if not in some special game. But basically that freedom doesn't seem to fit the RPG's in general.

The problem of mainly socialising with others you like vs. playing as trying to be able to play for the plot is actually a big question with the RPG's we should think more about.

Also, part of the appeal of the ww-games is competition / competitiveness - even if I think most of us regular werewolvers do not take that as the primary motivation to those games (as we just love to play itr together), I think it has a role to play there. And competitiveness is quite far away from my idea of a good RPG... quite the contrary.


~*~

A short add-on in respect to Gondor role-playing (in response to mark12_30)... I have always thought that to be the most elitist writing-ground of all, only fit to the English majors or at least to the well-educated and literary excelling humanists who have English as their native tongue. So I have never even peeked in as a non-native speaker, as I have felt it's beyond my level of writing-skills in English. I have nothing against there being levels of playing that reach above my skills, but I do feel the attitude you show is not exactly welcoming to anyone outside some closed circles... which exactly is one of the problems in the RPG's.

Heh, don't read me wrong, I'm not aspiring to write to Gondor myself and make a case for it. I think there is a general problem here - not your fault mark, or anyone's in particular - that the diffrent levels of writing also create castes we tend to follow... I mean, if I think like this about Gondor roleplaying while being quite at home with Rohan and feeling a bit too old to take part in Shire... then what does it tell us about the situation? How many people think Rohan too high for them? How many people think a Shire game too low for them?

Why I speculate about willing to partake on a Shire game first and foremost as in an advisory role, like not playing it so much to myself but to be a kind of pedagogical aid to the newcomers?

I think this thing you oldies talk of as the re-structuring of the RPG's is the only reality to us latecomers... and it structures our thought about the RPG's quite heavily.
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:22 PM   #136
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The other thing I meant to say was that when a game gets very strung out it makes it harder both because you have to remind yourself of what is going on and you feel your post has to be amazingly good becasue it has been so long since your last one. I am not saying that many poor posts are preferable but that maintaining momentum perhaps makes it easier to post to a reasonable standard since you don't have to spend so much time working out who is doing what.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:13 PM   #137
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I really don't like the comparison with Werewolf. It really isn't roleplaying because...people don't really take on roles. They have secret game roles, that's it. Sometimes they have for fun roles, but it's not like people 'play in character'...when people have attempted to, other players get upset. If I use the Col Mustard playing piece in Clue, I move around the board as Col Mustard, but I do not pretend to be Col Mustard or make decisions as Col Mustard. It's a completely different mindset, and a completely different culture. In my experience it's a lot more about egos than RPing ever is (and I know well that egos get involved in RP).

My problem with saying, let's enforce timelines/posting requirements strictly (or fairly strictly) and change some language (game owner to game leader, etc)...is that to me that doesn't seem to be fixing anything. Or really changing anything. Maybe nothing needs to be changed, I don't know. But the timelines were enforced to varying degrees in the past. I don't think enforcing that was successful. If people don't post, they don't post. Saying 'I am moving the plot ahead tomorrow, if you want to post you have until then' doesn't make people who aren't interested/don't care post. And if it does it makes people post once or so before they disappear again, just because you brought them back on some sort of guilt trip. But apparently they're still not interested enough to post consistently. Timelines are going to drive some people away, as are posting requirements. As I said in my first post, you're not going to please everybody, no matter what you do. But I don't see the benefit of enforcing timelines and posting requirements.

The other big thing seems to be that we make the games 'smaller scale' or that they have one plotline, or a simpler plotline, or something of that nature. So that they're not too clunky and don't get stuck. That we should change the style of the games. But is that a rule to decide ahead of time? Or should we let people decide for themselves the style of game they want to play? I'm not advocating epic, clunky games. I'm much more interested in more freeform games, games that are less clunky (but do not necessarily have one plot line at all). But regardless of what sort of game you're interested in, or what you think might work...I don't think we want to limit things even more. The current RP structure allows for a variety of games. I think we should open it up to allow more freedom, not limit to a certain style of game.

And there's concern about 'new people'...I think it's better to help new members get involved (which will also help them understand how to RP here) than to set up rules and procedures that keep them from getting fully involved right away. Some sites use mentoring systems. 'Veteran' RPers on the site help new people figure out the rules and get involved in RPs, give them advice. They're not authority figures, but they know their way around. Because frankly it's not just about whether or not they *write well*, which to a great degree is subjective...it's also just about figuring out how RPing works on a single forum. Every RP on a forum/RP forum has a different style, a different feel. Different norms and expectations.

And I guess part of what I feel is that we need to change our expectations a bit here on BD. They have changed a bit over time. A good bit. Early on there was a wide variety of people, different kinds of writers, different ages. Then as things consolidated a bit, the posts started getting longer and longer, and as others have noted, the RPs started getting more and more 'complex', like they were trying to outdo one another... As Mithalwen has said people's egos got in the way a bit. As they always do. But writing here was like a huge project. Every post had to be a book. There are sites out there that require a certain amount of words for every post, some upwards of 500 and more words. They think that makes them elite. I think a bit of that mentality got into things here. There are other mentalities, but, that was one of them.

I guess part of what I've been trying to say is that RPing here on BD is only one style of forum RPing. The games on here that are specific plots a group of people play through with one-time run characters (like mini table-top RPs, but the game owner is not quite like a DM) is only one style. And it may be a style we want to stick with. It probably is, for the most part. But I don't see what harm there can be in bringing in some elements from other styles of forum RPing, particularly those styles that seem to be really quite popular. Most RP forums are open world -- they are of course forums entirely dedicated to RP, though. Of course BD is not, so it is going to be different. But it seems to me that most people who RP on a form these days are used to more freedom, less structure. If that makes sense? And of course that doesn't necessarily mean anything, because we're not necessarily going to attract people who RP on forums/have RPed on forums before. We may only or mostly attract Tolkien fans who then get interested in RPing because of the RP section here. And then we just have to make it welcoming for them.

But if we're just talking about retaining players/getting back old ones, which has been mentioned, than this discussion is a bit different. It does seem like those players still around/lurking don't want to change much so I should probably shuddup nao.

omg, this was supposed to be a quick post. ><

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Old 02-08-2011, 09:20 PM   #138
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I agree with you, Snowdog. You find yourself bogged down with all the planning and details, and of course by all of the expectations. For some time now RPing here has been about meeting certain expectations, performing in a certain way. It does end up feeling like work.
Thanks Durelin for responding to me. A page or so of discussion since you did. I guess it takes the right person saying something here to get a discussion about RP going. Reading through it all and though there are plenty of good opinions, I somehow don’t see too much changing. Maybe if things get freed up a bit control-wise I may consider Barrow Downs as host of one of my RPs I’ve outlined.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:41 PM   #139
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Hmmm. Quite an active thread we have here...

I'm not going to weigh in just yet. I have some ideas and suggestions, but I'd first like to focus and sharpen this discussion. I hear a lot of different and not necessarily uniform opinions about what's wrong (and not a lot of agreement about what's right). Last time a discussion like this was held here it was done by invitation only in a private forum. This time, I'd rather be very open about things. Ironically, some of the comments I hear now are the same as I heard back then: elitist; too structured; etc. And like last time the favorable comments are often about the same things some people complain about.

I happen to agree with Snowdog (NOOO, not that!). Must be an age thing. Too much talk about what's good and what's bad, which is not to say that this dialogue hasn't been valuable. But it's time for you all to do my job for me. No egos, no fighting, but tell me what you would like to see done!

*Mithadan looks over his shoulder at the oliphant sitting in the corner -- strange, no one else seems to see it...
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:45 PM   #140
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I guess I don't see why there can't be room for both the types of games that Durelin and Snowdog are describing vs the type that Fea outlined. The two types are likely to attract different players (that's kinda obvious, I know), but personally I like both sorts...

The issues that need to be addressed would be: in a more free-form game, how do you make sure it doesn't wend on for years and years so that the players just slowly drop out due to RL constraints? And in a more structured game, how do you give the players some ownership in it so they don't feel like they're just going through the motions of putting a story together?

I think the key is to make the expectations clear at the beginning. If you want it not to have a set plot and you want for people to feel free to introduce twists as they desire, that ought to be explained up front. And if there's a plan for the story, that should be said upfront as well.

Personally, I don't see why all of this has to be mutually exclusive. I've always really enjoyed RP'ing at the Downs, and having been in a rather wide variety of game types and complexities I think there are things to be enjoyed about all of them.

Maybe I should also mention that I've never RP'ed anywhere else so I don't really have a feel for other ways that it can work.

I guess what might better help me conceptualize all this is this: Snowdog, if you don't mind me putting you on the spot, would you be willing to explain more concretely what it is you'd like to do and how it doesn't fit the Downs? How do you see it playing out? Which part(s) is(are) too controlling?
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:56 PM   #141
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*Mithadan looks over his shoulder at the oliphant sitting in the corner -- strange, no one else seems to see it...
In the words of Eowyn, I do not wish to play at riddles. Speak plainer!

As far as what we would like to see done? Well, define "see done." If the answer is "do," I think Fea at least is taking the initiative and getting a game idea up. I myself just sent a game idea off to pio that, hopefully, will take some of the ideas that have been discussed here and try to put them into action. If, however, by "see done" you mean things for the moderators, etc., to do--I don't know how much of this is a moderator solution, since the problems don't stem as much from the rules as they do from the game owners and the players. At least in my estimation.

So the best way to clean up the RPGs is to clean up ourselves first. That, at least, is the tack that I am taking. I am using this discussion to reconceptualize my idea of how RPGs should work, and trying to come up with something that will take those new ideas and test them in the field.

But if there's a problem that no one else is seeing, I'd very much like it if you just let us know what it is.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:21 PM   #142
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Snowdog, if you don't mind me putting you on the spot, would you be willing to explain more concretely what it is you'd like to do and how it doesn't fit the Downs? How do you see it playing out? Which part(s) is(are) too controlling?

I don’t mind at all. I would love to do this, but being its mid-afternoon here and I’m sneaking on here at work, I’ll have to gather my thoughts on it later this evening after I get home and settled in with a beer in hand.

I just became aware a couple hours ago that this discussion had finally taken off.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:22 PM   #143
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Dunno - that everyone is talking about it not doing it? He may tell us if he I suppose .. what is really fascinating me at the moment though is how or rather why Crowned Pigeon whe has never actually posted has spent most of the past two days private messaging. I may have more insightful when it isn't stupid o'clock.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:37 PM   #144
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*Mithadan looks over his shoulder at the oliphant sitting in the corner -- strange, no one else seems to see it...
Ooh, I know, I know! If the Barrowdowns as an institution actively encourages members to borrow aspects of Middle Earth for their own Tolkien inspired writing projects, it will inspire a lawsuit from the Estate! Am I right?

No, really. I rather doubt any of us are intentionally ignoring something that has occurred to us, since we all appear to be actively trying to pin down a prognosis and a prescription. Playing coy, Sir Mithadan, isn't really helping any of us, nor does it help dismantle the concept of Gondorian writers or moderators as elites who need not share their information or talents with the rabble.

The only thing I can think is that you lean toward saying, "If people want to play RPGs the way other websites play them, they can go to other websites." Which is akin to saying we should allow the slow demise of our own writerly frolics within the realms of this place.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:53 PM   #145
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No can't be that -
http://www.tolkienestate.com/faq/p_2/

I must admit I have mixed feelings about rule making - the WW thing seemed an overreaction to an isolated problem (letting a virtual unknown quantity mod) and I can't help feeling that some people enjoy too much making rules for others. We got a whole statute book when a Denning like judgement might have sufficed. However I stand by the uncanonical or even implausible names as capitaloffences
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:28 PM   #146
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the concept of Gondorian writers or moderators as elites who need not share their information or talents with the rabble
I've gotta be honest, I'm surprised that this is still coming up. There's really only one game running (barely) in Gondor. Otherwise its been pretty much abandoned for about 4 years. Gondor was NEVER intended to be elitist. It was supposed to be an award or honor for skill and effort. The goal was that the majority of gamers would end up in Gondor and those who weren't yet would be newcomers.

You want Gondor gone? That's an easy one. But it doesn't solve the real issues.
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:48 AM   #147
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Snowdog, if you don't mind me putting you on the spot, would you be willing to explain more concretely what it is you'd like to do and how it doesn't fit the Downs? How do you see it playing out? Which part(s) is(are) too controlling?
Well... let me start off with a bit on my one and only experience participating in an RP here on Barrow Downs in what was it... 2003-4... We had a good setting and outline for an RP, and some writers that wanted to commit to it. At the time the "rules" were there had to be a time limit for the conclusion of the RP, and so that in itself put, on me anyway, pressure to develop the story, write it through, and conclude it within a certain time frame before it even really started. But I gave it a go. I got a few posts into it, and I started getting PMs about my posts and requests to edit them so they would fit someone else's concept of what the RP direction should be. The first time was a minor detail and I agreed to 'tweak' my post to accommodate. another post later, I get a Pm request to edit a whole section of my post. I didn't do it, instead told them to work around it. I don't think I continued after that, being real life was drama enough and I didn't need to try and work at writing posts that were acceptable to other writers. I never had this sort of interaction anywhere else on the net I have RP'd. Instead of a free flow of interaction, it seemed that RPs had to be "scripted" here. The whole structure of the Shire, Rohan, and Gondor and how you had to 'work your way up' added to that, along with the extensive character bios and opening setting that had to be set before you could even begin to try and write a tale. Its like I said before... an RP had to be constructed, not created. Maybe that's how an RP "GAME" (as the term so lovingly is used here) is done I guess. Its was a style I obviously didn't fit into. I'm a writer not a gamer. I thrive in the spontaneous interaction of other writers who can take what is posted and use it to carry the story forward and leave hooks for others to use in their posts, etc. I understand why the stringent rules were put into place here, and the three tier forums, etc., but carrying it to the letter, with a forum mod being what I consider, overly intrusive in structuring individual RPs by copying writer's posts and putting then in their omnibus posts seemed a bit much.

Sorry about the ramble. I doubt I will ever partake in RPs here, or even post in the inns. I have tried on occasion in the past, and my ppsts were either ignored because the didn't fit into whatever plot-line had been discussed in an OOC, or whatever reason. I have also been invited to post in the inns in Rohan and Gondor, but never could push myself to put forth the effort to do so because I had to wonder if the effort coming up with characters and posts would be worth it when I had a hard time trying to figure out what all was supposed to be happening in the inn at the time. So it goes. I don't seem to have this issue on other sites, and can engage with minimal effort. I'm not saying how things are done here are worse or better than how they are done on other sites, I'm just saying that it's always been hard for me to find a comfortable niche to write here.

That said, I have enjoyed reading some of the RP threads and inns, and even got some ideas from reading them. I just can't see myself being able to meet expectations of writing here without tremendous effort on my part to 'work' it into acceptability. Barrow Downs RP"gaming" is what it is, and suits many, but not me.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:25 AM   #148
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You want Gondor gone? That's an easy one. But it doesn't solve the real issues.
Kind of. But not for the reasons one might think.

I find the idea of a reward for good writing/modding/playing to be laudable, but I also think that due to the slow progress of RPGs and players, it's a more or less unobtainable goal. As you said, there's only one game (kind of), and as most others have mentioned, they usually don't even go into Gondor to READ, much less hope some day to write.

I also think having the seemingly unobtainable 'best' status deters interest from the inherent quality of 'lower' games.

Can you truly claim surprise that people "still" feel left out in a system that classifies by 'new and can't be trusted to know their eyes from their elbows,' and 'still need hand holding and permission,' to 'nobody ever goes here'? In any system wherein there is a concentration of power there are going to subsequent feelings that those without it are either lazy or inherently less deserving.

And this still doesn't address the vibe of 'I know something you don't know' that you're giving off, Mithadan. If you know something of benefit to us (or even detriment), why are you keeping mum about it? What purpose does it serve to make us question the validity of all of the very solid points that have been made by anybody who clearly cares enough to be part of this discussion?
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:59 AM   #149
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I've wondered whether I should post here, because my last two RPGs (Tears of Mirrormere and An Adventure of Hobbit Proportions) have slowly died to nothing. Despite the sporadic spiritics attempts by Kitanna and Lommy to get the games going again, I've lost all interest in continuing.

I've got no credentials, if anyone asked me why I don't RP on the BD, my first response is, "I'm not terribly interested, and have only joined games when I've been asked, to fill in needed characters." Which is of course a terrible reason to sign-up for an RPG, I don't want to be filler space, and don't want a Game owner to count on me in any way, because chances are, I'll lose interest quickly.

So, why am I saying anything? Well, I've been a part of a few lovable RPGs (Ungoliant's Children - which I recall being very very short, but a good RPG for a first timer like myself. Siege of Gundabad, and my favorite was probably Sailing Away). And I still have Form's RPG proposal in my PM box, which I would be interested in, if he ever gets started on the thing! Form, I checked the date, that was sent in March, of last YEAR! Get a move on!

Anyway, RPGs can certainly be fun and interesting on the BD. I don't think anyone is saying that it's not. And, I'm not sure what any of the moderators and Admins can do about Game Owners and/or players dropping out and the games slowly dying with no end. I mean maybe a Co-owner to games would be a big help, but it's got to be a different role than simply an empty title. I don't know how much you were kept in the loop Lommy, with Groin's game, but I imagine a Co-Owner as one who can step right in and take control in the absense of of the Game Owner. However, the Game Owner needs to let the Co-Owner "in the loop" more if it is to work. Otherwise, the Co-Owner is essentially just another player, only with an empty title like "Assistant to the Regional Manager."

As far as Gondor is concerned. Mithadan, I can see where the good intentions are in rewarding the dedicated and top-forum RPGers. However, when you do that, I think the first problem is the place looks like the Steward's lore archives in the Tower of Ecthelion. It's a tomb, most of those who can be Game Mods have not been active in...how long now? Granted, you don't have to be on the list to play in an RPG, but the list of who can propose a game needs serious updating now. Otherwise, it's just going to look like a dreadful tomb of gone and former, albeit great, RPers.

The other thing is the language of the Gondor-forum is really off putting and intimidating. I mean you're essentially telling people "don't be intimidated. BUT if you are intimidated, this isn't your place. Go to The Shire or Rohan. You can haz more fun there!" It would go a long way to inform people what type of RPing, and the skills you're looking for, in the Gondor forum. Instead of relegating anyone not up to the standard to The Shire or Rohan. I know this isn't your intention for having the Gondor forum, I'm just saying what it looks like to an outsider. The language is far from welcoming and encouraging RPers, it's quite intimidating.

Also, it sets up a tier between 3 RP forums. It's as if, "you're not good enough for Gondor, so go goof off in The Shire." Ok, I am being too generic there, but don't you see the point? It makes The Shire and Rohan look like inferior places, and thus, the games in there are inferior. When you have in this inferiority built in, people are far more likely to slack off and not take the games in the Shire and Rohan seriously.

Anyway, that's my take on the RP forums. Some things like Game Owners and players dropping out, no one can do anything about. Unless if it's a flaw in the system which is making people just decide NOT to care about the RPGing (which I don't think is the case). However, Mithadan, there are certainly things that can be changed with Gondor, and the 3 forums in general which could improve.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:08 AM   #150
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the concept of Gondorian writers or moderators as elites who need not share their information or talents with the rabble
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I've gotta be honest, I'm surprised that this is still coming up. There's really only one game running (barely) in Gondor. Otherwise its been pretty much abandoned for about 4 years. Gondor was NEVER intended to be elitist. It was supposed to be an award or honor for skill and effort. The goal was that the majority of gamers would end up in Gondor and those who weren't yet would be newcomers.

You want Gondor gone? That's an easy one. But it doesn't solve the real issues.
As the owner of that (barely running) game... I'd like to point out that we carefully recruited participants from Rohan and The Shire; the game began in The White Horse Inn, and indeed once the game left the White Horse Inn and officially began in Gondor, I was the only Gondorian in the game (except for a guest appearance by Estelyn early on.) Littlemanpoet advanced to gamestarter status in Gondor midway through the game; so did Aylwen Dreamsong.

The main requirement in that game was that the game be as canonical as possible; that exceptions to canonicity would be brought before the entire team to be resolved; if that did not resolve the issue, we would bring it before elders of the Downs and seek their opinions as t othe canonicity of the subplot involved. I am proud (of my team!) to state that this was never necessary; all who volounteered for the game were as dedicated to writing *for* Tolkien as I was. In other words, canonicity was the main requirement for the game, and all the Rohirrim and Shirelings who joined were as adamantly pro-canonical as I was. The issue never even came up, unless I am forgetting something.

However-- currently, all but lmp and I have faded from the game completely. This will be moot in about ten or twenty more posts, which is all it will take to close the tale. ( And therein lies the delay-- I don't WANT to close it, any more than I wanted The Lonely Star to close. ) But the game was not a 'closed-to-outsiders-elitist' game.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:57 AM   #151
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Regarding the plotline in The Seventh Star: I don't think there is one, or hasn't been one for a long time. People rarely come and go, and few discussions happen. It is a dusty place. Sometimes I have had fun with that (I've played a mouse there, for one thing.) But it does serve as a reminder that a once flourishing place has become tired, quiet, and faded.

Oddly enough, if the posting members of The Coming Of Age Club were to post, in some sort of character, in the Inn, discussing the same things but in Tolkienese, then The Seventh Star would come to life. At least, I always thought that was what it was for. Isn't that what a real Inn is for? It takes a little work to do it in character-- but that's half the fun. We do that to some degree in "The Coming of Age Club". Be a mouse if you want to, but stop by the inn and say Hello. Have a stout, come on over to the fireplace, put your feet up by the fire, and tell me how you've been.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:40 AM   #152
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The point is well taken from some of the elder members that we've discussed the problems in great detail, but we need to start proposing solutions. I would quibble that these have been suggested already, but in very tentative ways, but before I can even quite get to the point of looking at concrete solutions, I think it might be helpful to recap the situation, as I see it.

Problems Facing Us in the Current Situation:

Basically, this seems to come down to a problem of numbers. The current three-tier RPing system--which, as an aside, I think was entirely valid when it started--hails back to a time when there were many more people on the Downs generally, but especially in the RP forums. This numbers problem is somewhat compounded by the popularity of WW games, which draws from the same pool of people. As Nog notes, however, RPs and WW are different in kind and cannot simply be interchanged for each other.

The general mood would add to the numbers problem the additional concern that the three-tier system is "elitist"--and, perhaps, that's a bit of a straw man position, but, hey, this is a recap... The root of the elitist complaint, in my opinion, is that the three-tier system is too much structure for so few people. In an era when the Gondorian players with status to open games were highly active, and were invited people in regularly--and when there was a lot of activity in the lower fora as well--I don't get the impression that it was too much structure or elitism. It may have been off-putting to start out "small"... but we can all list games in the Shire that were not mere babysitting hoops to jump through, but fun, even complex, stories we all enjoyed.

That was then. Now we have no gamers active in Gondor to invite those who have proven their mettle, so the forum looks even hoarier and more forbidding than it should (even if there is truly a high value of licit foreboding involved). Rohan and the Shire move along quietly, but without clear distinctions betwixt them, save the impression to newcomers and outsiders that they are hierarchical and rigid, and somewhat sluggish.

There is also the problem that games often drag on far past their expiration dates in a perpetual limbo, which decreases everyone's willingness to get involved in the next game.

Things Worth Keeping in the Current System:

Despite these problems, I don't think anyone is suggesting that we go back to the days of the Wild West--even though it would be more of a Ghost Town than a Gold Rush. I think other people should really think through what they like about the system as we have it. They should also think, though, about whether or not these qualities are something that need to be present throughout the gaming fora generally, or if they would be sufficiently present if they were only in the rules for a particular game.

Speaking for myself, the one thing about the current system that I would not want to lose is the forum-moderator(s). Pio plays an indispensible role, and I think that in a restructured Gaming Forum we would still want someone to approve new games, with an eye to whether they're sufficiently Tolkien, and to help with general forum maintenance/policing. In case it's not obvious, I don't think we want heavy-handed mods (nor do I think we have them now), but we do need someone to open/close/merge threads, and I think it's important besides that for the forum to have someone who can serve as a Court of Appeals, if disputes break out between players. Bêthberry's anecdote about moderating in a way comparable to the Books forum was very interesting to me. I think the general hands-off, helpful approach is definitely worth emulating, and I certainly don't want to imply that she did things wrong before, but speaking from my own experience as the Gaming Moderator on another (albeit less excellent or literary) forum, I think it does require a special sort of interest... mostly, though, it's about having common sense, fairly regular availability, and a good handle on both Tolkien and RPing.

However, since this is something I want to keep that we already have, perhaps I've been unnecessarily long-winded.

Suggestions for a New Gaming Forum

What follows are my own thoughts, intended most to get the ball rolling.

I think we should have:

1. Two forums, rather than the current three.

2. These fora should be distinguished between "Doriath" (Tightly Controlled) and "Rivendell" * (Loosely Controlled). In a sense, this will parallel to the current "highly babysat in the Shire" and mark's free expressionism in Gondor, but not exactly.

3. Doriath:

a. Games in Doriath may be started by any BDer who wants to start a game (no prior experience required), though they will have to run the game by the Mods for approval.

b. The game must adhere to all the current rules about being Middle-earth based.

c. The mods might also deny someone the right to start a game on the basis of past failures to run a successful game, but this need not be hard and fast rule.

d. The game owner will be the game moderator, and will have a fairly "controlled" game. In plot vs. character terms, these would be plot-driven games, and would be the kind of games that Snowdog can't really play. The powers of the game owner might be considered comparable to those of a WW mod: broad discretion, subject to their own posted rules and those of the forum.

e. They would also be required to have a definite timeframe (3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, whatever), and players would have a right to expect the game to end at the end of the advertised timeline. If the game was not over, players would have a right to drop out of the game, regardless of its status, or to remain aboard with the moderator (who would also have the right to drop out) and continue--but the continuation would also require a deadline.

f. Games would be by invitation or open to interested comers according to the preference of the game owner.

g. In the event of the disappearance of the game owner, the players could either request and propose a new game owner from among their numbers or the game could be terminated. Alternatively, the disappearing game owner could have a co-owner from the beginning, or appoint one when the crisis arose.

4. Rivendell:

a. The Rivendell forum would be for open-ended games (those with no deadlines) and for character-driven games where collaborative writing rather than a plot idea was the main motivator.

b. Anyone on the Downs could propose a game in this forum, subject to Mod approval. The Mod(s) would be within their rights to refuse newcomers and/or inexperienced players.

c. Because of the collaborative nature, there would be no formal game owner. A game might be, in practice, led and/or founded by someone, but that person's disappearance would not automatically cause the game to be closed or reassigned, since their role would not formally be to run the game.


So... umm... that's a lot of writing. Thoughts?






*For the sake of having a name, Doriath and Rivendell is what I'm using in this proposal. "The Shire" and "Rohan" could be retained or "the Shire" and "Gondor," or new names devised, or whatever... I just needed names.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:09 AM   #153
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Formendacil, good post.

Time to focus now. Here's the issues list based upon what people are saying, in no particular order. Some may be beyond anyone's control, but things can be fixed.

- How to increase activity.

- How to get newcomers involved in games.

- How to make the forums more "user friendly".

- Pace of games, frequency of posting, etc.

- Length of games (in my view never ending stories will still not be allowed - I mean short vs. long).

- Procedures for starting new games, planning, proposals, bios, approval (I am not taking a position on these issues yet - just identifying issues).

- Player commitment and recruitment.

- Inns, their format and roles in the scheme of things. Also Innkeepers.

- Responsibilities and roles of game "owners".

- Number and organization of forums.

- Rules generally.

OK, here comes the oliphant. Mods. Their roles, responsibilities. Who will take responsibility and keep up with it? Piosenniel has been doing this for a very long time. It was never envisioned as a lifetime appointment. While she will, I think, continue to help it is not fair to have her continue alone if activity is going to increase.

Some people have posted thoughtful suggestions already. Assume nothing is graven in stone, though its not a true tabula rasa.

Have at it! You want things to improve? Let's do it.
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:39 AM   #154
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Its like I said before... an RP had to be constructed, not created. Maybe that's how an RP [i]"GAME"[i] (as the term so lovingly is used here) is done I guess. Its was a style I obviously didn't fit into. I'm a writer not a gamer. I thrive in the spontaneous interaction of other writers who can take what is posted and use it to carry the story forward and leave hooks for others to use in their posts, etc.
I think Snowdog has an important point here, the distinction between gamer and writer, between game and role play. Games are always directed by a manager--think back to Dungeon's and Dragon's--and highly organised. Think of Werewolf, which is highly structured by plot/time. A werewolf game is not really about developing character and seeing how that relates to action. (I differ on this point from others.) It's controlled. But role play isn't so highly controlled; 'play' is not always structured drama, but, well, play--imaginative combinations. Children need both play and game to develop healthily. (I mean this in the most positive way, as an essential nature of the human species.) Maybe we threw the baby out with the bathwater?

I also have some sympathy with 'dawg's comments because in several games my posts were called into question by the game owner. At one point, even my wording was questioned (and no, it wasn't spelling or grammar). In fact, I probably greatly disappointed one of the game owners because I refused to write my character the way he wanted. This meant there was no maudlin resolution between her and her father (which to my mind would have violated the character's psychology) although there still was a climactic resolution.

I also understand well dawg's idea of posting spontaneously with hooks for other gamers to pick up, because I started gaming at an Inn he ran on another forum. The Inn wandered all over the place as it was never expected to have a beginning, middle and end. (Did "Cheers" the TV show have an overarching plot? Or was it just episodic?) But it did inspire several games, as gamers worked on character and came up with ideas, and those games had some sense of direction which the writers worked within.

I've had "hooks" taken in directions completely unlike what I anticipated and this was fun, because it was challenging. I've also had 'hooks' completely ignored, to the point where I felt there were parallel projects going on and my character was being ignored. (sob! ) That happened, I think, because I was spontaneously creating actions for reactions whereas other gamers were following some master, prepared game plan. I've also found it frustrating when nothing happens for an eon after a post, because it's like talking to yourself in a void. Or some kind of writerly interruptus.

I will reiterate: I think gamers and game owners would be more committed if they felt the actual writing accomplished something that the planning hadn't already done.

And to support another point: Mark has clarified a good point about Gondor, which my word 'literary' didn't really get at, with her use of "canonical". Yes, Gondor was where the most canonical (or deliberately non-canonical) games were to be. Good games and good writing can occur in all forums, and be created by all ages, but playing consciously and deliberately with Tolkien's style--getting inside his style as he got inside language--was supposed to be the defining mark. (Sorry, no pun intended on Helen's nick.)

EDIT: Sorry, cross-posted with Formy and Mithadan.
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:06 AM   #155
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Okay, on Formy's points.

1. Absolutely.

2. Ehhh... Not sure how I feel on the issue of "control." For one thing, whence this idea that short games need to be "controlled" and "plot-centric"? I understand why people would associate all of those, but how much of that association is due to the system that we already have in place? Why couldn't you have a "shared authority"-style micro-RPG that focuses on character interactions driving the story? And why couldn't you have people work together, for six months, on an Epic Quest plot run more like a D&D Campaign?

I would much rather have both fora have very similar rules and net standards, but only have the difference be in length--say, RPs that take up to a month belong in Forum X and RPs that take longer belong to Forum Y. I think that this would help lessen the perception that one forum is for the newbies and the other is for the more experienced players, particularly if writers frequent both fora.



Okay, those are my big structural suggestions.

As far as rules, and this is going off what Mithadan's Big Questions are:

1). Loosen up on rules that inhibit forum activity
2). Create or tighten up on rules that will discourage forum-killing behavior.

Specifically, what would this entail? Some ideas, and please thrash them thoroughly:
  • Pare down on the rules to get a game started, anywhere. The mod can still consult and approve, and some of the beginning forms like "You will know when the game is over when" can be really helpful, but that should be it. Ideally I'd like to see the mod take on more of an advisory role in this phase, like, "Well, you can try to save all of Arda in six weeks, but maybe this should be a longer game?"
  • Pare down on the rules for players to join either forum. Keep the inns as on-going, open-ended RPs, but don't require people to participate in them. Maybe tighten the character sheets up.
  • When games end up dying--say, someone posts a seed and no one else bites for a month--keep them from stagnating the forum. This doesn't necessarily mean moving them to Elvenhome, although of course you can always move them back. A nursery would work equally well.

About mods, now that Mithadan has let us know what he's been thinking.

I like the idea of changing up the mod system, even if the roles don't change. More than anything else (as with changing the forum names, though I really don't want to lose the Meadhall) it would signify a psychological change, and I think that that's most of what we're trying to accomplish here.

I think a lot of what we're trying to change involves our own attitudes as players and possibly as game owners. The main thing is trying to get rules that reflect that.
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:31 AM   #156
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2. Ehhh... Not sure how I feel on the issue of "control." For one thing, whence this idea that short games need to be "controlled" and "plot-centric"? I understand why people would associate all of those, but how much of that association is due to the system that we already have in place? Why couldn't you have a "shared authority"-style micro-RPG that focuses on character interactions driving the story? And why couldn't you have people work together, for six months, on an Epic Quest plot run more like a D&D Campaign?
Well, I guess I'm simplifying things in my own mind for the sake of convenience. A short game would not, of necessity, be plot-centric. And, since my divisions are between plot-centric and character-centric, and since I'm making this distinction not based on the motivations of the writers but the motivations of the game owners, it would make logical sense to have short, shared authority games ("micro RPGs") in what I've called the Rivendell forum, while you might have some very long plot-driven games in the "Doriath" forum.

I guess, without having seen Bêth's post, I was unconsciously thinking along the lines of a "gamer" forum and a "writer" forum, with the secondary characteristics of "more structured" forum vs. "less structured" forum. One could also look at it as "owner responsible" forum vs. "player responsible" forum. Granted, the lines could easily blur in these respects, and you might end up with a "more structured, game-inclined, player responsible" game... which I would put in the "less structured/writer inclined/player responsible." The biggest distinction for me, between forums, would be owner/creator/progenitor responsibility in the game: length, structure, character/plot are sort of secondary.

It's a bit of a cluster concept, and I'm not sure I've explained it as well as I might...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne
*Pare down on the rules to get a game started, anywhere. The mod can still consult and approve, and some of the beginning forms like "You will know when the game is over when" can be really helpful, but that should be it. Ideally I'd like to see the mod take on more of an advisory role in this phase, like, "Well, you can try to save all of Arda in six weeks, but maybe this should be a longer game?"
Agreed that the Mod should be more advisory than authoritative, but insofar as they are charged with keeping order in the forum, they would still have a technical right of veto.

Also agreed that it should be easier to start games, at least in one forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne
*Pare down on the rules for players to join either forum. Keep the inns as on-going, open-ended RPs, but don't require people to participate in them. Maybe tighten the character sheets up.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne
*When games end up dying--say, someone posts a seed and no one else bites for a month--keep them from stagnating the forum. This doesn't necessarily mean moving them to Elvenhome, although of course you can always move them back. A nursery would work equally well.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne
I think a lot of what we're trying to change involves our own attitudes as players and possibly as game owners. The main thing is trying to get rules that reflect that.
Agreed and agreed again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan
Mods. Their roles, responsibilities. Who will take responsibility and keep up with it? Piosenniel has been doing this for a very long time. It was never envisioned as a lifetime appointment. While she will, I think, continue to help it is not fair to have her continue alone if activity is going to increase.
I quite agree that while Pio has done an exemplary job that she ought to have company in a new system, but it's a very tricky business on a forum to go about suggesting moderators--akin to suggesting admins! Even in as comfortable a setting as the Downs, one doesn't want to step on toes by overlooking people, or start political camps--or (God forbid!) put forward one's own name.

If the Admins/Mods of the forum were to raise up a new mod (or more than one), I don't think anyone would disagree that it is timely. Speaking for myself, I think the chief things to look for in a new Mod are less their RPing credentials (though a familiarity with the system as is and as it will be is important) as the general mod credentials that would be looked for anywhere on the Downs: balanced judgment, ability to explain things, ability to keep a cool head, etc... and, of course, someone who's able to be on the forum frequently and regularly.

With regards to the Inns... I think I speak for all the active participants (although I'm not one of their number, playing a rather erstwhile Dwarf in Rohan) when I say it would make sense to important both the Shire and Rohan inns to the new forums... though the Seventh Star might be a different case (and one for the Gondorian veterans to weigh in on).
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:45 AM   #157
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I don't think we need to get to hung up on many game rules on a forum wide level. I do think the person running it (if there is one) should have a degree of control since they are the one putting in the hard yakka. I think in a way this is more of an issue since gaming is so sparse, it has to be one size fits all. To take something positive from the werewolf games you know the style of game on offer before you sign up and if the current one doesn't suit you there will be another that might shortly. So I know I will never get my head around Duelling wizards but can sometimes be tempted by another concept or a short and sweet classic game.
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Old 02-09-2011, 11:59 AM   #158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan
Length of games (in my view never ending stories will still not be allowed - I mean short vs. long).
When you say 'never ending stories will still not be allowed'...I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean open-ended stories/threads/games will not be allowed (which the inns would fall under), or do you mean games/stories *must* end at some point? Or do you mean, games/stories will be deleted/moved to Elvenhome if they do not end in time? Or only if they stagnate?

I just don't see it being successful to enforce strict timeline rules. If a game/thread/story is not posted on for some time, remove it. Otherwise, let it be.

Do we really need multiple forums? How about just one discussion and one RP forum?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan
How to get newcomers involved in games
One of the problems here that hasn't really been addressed yet is that the style of 'plan a closed game, run a closed game -- when I say closed I mean it involves a set number of characters and the plot is planned out as such that it is not easy for someone else to join in. Not that the players might not be able to make room, but the newcomer might have a lot to trudge through and figure out in order to take part.

We already have a good start toward getting new players involved in that list of player contacts, so we can make more use of that. And there's the possibility of 'mentors' who help newcomers get into a RP. But in general, more open games/open world RPing allows for newcomers to more easily jump in.

Pace of games and length of games -- in my opinion, leave up to those involved.

Procedures for starting new games, planning, proposals, bios, approval -- starting a discussion thread (anyone can); planning a thread with other players in the discussion thread; interested players post bios to join.

Inns, their format and roles in the scheme of things. Also Innkeepers -- Inns can be open for short RP interactions, and if people feel the need to get their feet wet somewhere. I think inns need to return to being more open ended like the Green Dragon. I am not sure bios should be required. No plot you have to know about in order to really be involved. Let people be able to jump in as they feel like it. Innkeepers...well, I'm not sure how necessary they are. It's a tough job, to be expected to keep up with the inn. And I'm not sure that's necessary for people to RP. Maybe have someone overseeing the inn, but mods could do that. Keep people in line, but let players just interact. Let the In-Character Innkeeper be an NPC.

Responsibilities and roles of game "owners" -- They become nothing more than the person who started the thread/game. We could leave it up to the initiator of the thread/game how much they want to control the thread and its plot. They decide if they want to reject players or only open their game to certain players.

Rules generally -- obviously there are general rules such as etiquette (no 'god-moding'...no controlling other people's characters!! unless given permission OR perhaps if the person is gone for a long time)
--encourage people to write their posts in a word processor to help with spelling and grammar mistakes, encourage a decent post length (we could keep the 2 paragraphs, or go with a word count of 100-150 words or something...encouraged but not necessarily *required* of every post).
--Canonicity...well, make it clear that we want people to stay generally realistic to the setting of Middle-earth. If people want to require that their players not only stay generally realistic but try to write 'for Tolkien' or however it was described, and adhere to strict guidelines not only of plot items, characters, but also of terms and language...well, that's up to them. They start a game/story/thread with those rules attached.

I'm typing from behind a fog of a cold so this is mangled...

Edit: Crossed with Mithalwen and I agree completely. Leave a lot up to the individual who initiates a game/story/whatever you want to call it!

Also on the mod note...that was why I brought up pio, because here we are discussing what to do about the RP forums and she's the only mod ATM who would have to enforce all these things people are coming up with (or adapt to them, etc), so I think her opinion means A LOT and I feel bad for sitting here declaring how things should be and then expecting the mod(s) and admins (Mithadan) to do all the work involved with these changes. So I guess what I mean is that I'm not expecting that.

Last edited by Durelin; 02-09-2011 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 02-09-2011, 01:10 PM   #159
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Great post, Formy. I can't rep it because I've repped you too recently, but it deserves one.

Because today is turning out to be very busy, I'll comment only on one point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
I think that in a restructured Gaming Forum we would still want someone to approve new games, . . . .

Doriath

. . . .

a. Games in Doriath may be started by any BDer who wants to start a game (no prior experience required), though they will have to run the game by the Mods for approval.

. . . .

4. Rivendell:

b. Anyone on the Downs could propose a game in this forum, subject to Mod approval. The Mod(s) would be within their rights to refuse newcomers and/or inexperienced players.

Currently, gamers in Gondor can start their own games without prior approval of any Mod, even the Gondor mod. It is only in Rohan and The Shire where games must be approved. So this proposal, instead of creating more ownership and responsibility for gamers, would in fact increase the control of Mods and place an absolute restriction on posting rights which no other forum here has.

Frankly, I think there's a place for Downers who have played in many games, have successfully run games, and have participated on the Forum demonstrating respect for the policies, not to have to seek approval if they want to start a game. We don't have to seek approval to start a thread in Books or N&N or Mirth. Are WW games "approved" by the WW Mod?

If there's a problem with a thread, a Mod can always close it, temporarily or permanently. That's what's done in Books, etc. Why can't that apply to games?

When people look at a member's profile, they can ask to see recent threads and recents posts. I tried to find an early game I started, Picnic at the Bonfire Glade, but it's not down under my profile as a thread I started, because the RPG Moderator, Mithadan at the time, "opened" it. That happens for every game in The Shire; none of them are "recognised" as being the thread of the people who actually write them. (That wasn't the case in Rohan, where gamers could start their own threads once the game was approved.) So if you like someone's game and want to read other games the Downer has started, it becomes an onerous task to try to track them down.

Does this state of affairs really need to continue? (I grant it was a solution to a problem back in the day.)
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Old 02-09-2011, 01:36 PM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
And to support another point: Mark has clarified a good point about Gondor, which my word 'literary' didn't really get at, with her use of "canonical". Yes, Gondor was where the most canonical (or deliberately non-canonical) games were to be. Good games and good writing can occur in all forums, and be created by all ages, but playing consciously and deliberately with Tolkien's style--getting inside his style as he got inside language--was supposed to be the defining mark.
Extremely high standards (but there's nothing bad about high standards, as usually anyone who cares will rise to them - and hopefully above them). So, you've concisely pointed out the expected standards, and reasons for the Gondor forum.

I think though, and why the "elitist" sentiments have come up again, something got lost in the translation to the Gondor forum. I know it's no one's intentions on here to discourage, and make it insanely hard on new RPGers, but I think the standards you've pointed out Beth, aren't made clear enough in Gondor.

Several times it's mentioned that Gondor is the most advanced and expert RPG place. The people posting there have to live up to quality posts and the high standards. There's nothing wrong with having that advanced system, and with an end goal of hoping the place continues to grow and still keep those same "Tolkien" standards of writing. The issue becomes, there is no explanation of what you mean by "maintaining high quality posts." Quality or higher standards are vague, and subjective. Not completely subjective, but what I would call "high quality" may vary from what you call "high quality." We become lost by what the expectations for posting in Gondor are (other than...it has to be high quality!), just as Mithadan was lost when he asked what we want him to do. Combine the high expectations with, "if you don't measure up to these, you may be asked to leave Gondor, but don't feel intimidated!," and that is where the feelings of elitism come up.

We wander in the dark, not knowing what we have to do to get to Gondor, and then finally get frustrated by wandering in the dark for so long. Having an advanced RP-forum, that sets high expectations in and of itself, is not elitist. I don't feel it is, but if there are no clear and explained standards, and "if you can't maintain these standards, you shouldn't be here," does have the unintentional feel of elitism. If the purpose of Gondor is to grow and tap into the talented writers of the forum, we need guides.

Gondor is looking like another Elvenhome. That doesn't mean it needs to be completely tossed out, but life needs brought into it. I am not a writer by any means, but I know (and have met) several talented writers on this forum. Make it easier on the writers and guide members better on the RPG expectations (particularly the high ones for Gondor). I find it impossible to set standards that are too high for people, but we need to know what those standards are and help getting there to reach full potential.
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