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Collaborative Plotting


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#1 viriesque   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 08:17 AM

Preface:
Back before consoles and computers, there were games. I'm sure plenty of us have made character sheets and played Dungeons & Dragons, where imagination and interaction with others are keys to making the game a fun experience. Even after computers became household objects, imagination was important -- in games like Zork, or other text-only adventures, writing was all the user had to interact with.

Now, I'm not suggesting that everything should be text-only. So don't jump to any conclusions -- just setting up the point.

Something I've wanted to do for a long time, now, is make a community for role-playing that employs a sort of 'prompt-and-response' and 'simplified rulebook/character sheet' formula for users to interact with an open world.

I believe that concept art is helpful in setting a tone for how this world looks and feels, but for the most part, text only would be used.

There would need to be a world-wide story arc, regional story arcs, and then more specific arcs to have outlined out...but that's not what would make this fun and unique. The point would be to create an open world that players could actively make an impact on. A game in which someone's character would not only be someone of their own design, but would be able to truly rise from a nobody to the leader of an entire nation.

The Topic:
To make something like this a reality, some sort of sustainable system would need to be in place.

How would such a thing become long term? How would users be able to become active and important in how this world grows and develops? Would this thing really need to be a text-only venture?

I've got some ideas of my own, but as this would be an RPG, I can think of no better place to ask for input than game-writers! Though...maybe this thread is better placed in the Game Design forum...?

Edited by viriesque, 07 June 2012 - 08:41 AM.


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#2 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3424

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 09:08 AM

You might find these sites slightly more useful if looking at RPG's from a pen and paper perspective. Not too say that you won't find valid advice here :)

http://www.rpg.net/
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/
http://www.therpgsite.com/
http://www.pen-paper.net/

Hope these help. I would offer much advice but having broken my +6 divinely gifted mace on an earth elemental I earned the disfavour of my god and was banished from the realms into this hellhole we call Earth :(

#3 viriesque   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:04 AM

I don't actually want to make a table-top RPG xD (Though I will definitely look over those sites.)

It's more that I want to make an interactive RPG community that mixes text, artwork and roleplaying in an open world to make a story in which players actions make a difference in the long-term story of this world :D

Akin to what Elder Scrolls MMO is doing with some of their ideas on questing and such...but in a completely different setting with completely different lore (and absolutely no big budget).

#4 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3424

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:18 AM

I don't actually want to make a table-top RPG xD (Though I will definitely look over those sites.)


You might find these sites slightly more useful if looking at RPG's from a pen and paper perspective.


I must admit I hadn't gained the impression that you were intending to necessarily make an actual table-top RPG persay which had me slightly confused until I realised that it was probably my own language creating the possibility. RPG's that are not video game RPG's but rather using the elements as you described are more commonly these days referred to as Pen & Paper RPG's (as well as table-top rpg's). A distinction to separate them from the more commonly understood use of the term RPG's (with regard video games) today. So basically the sites I were linking were sites that were more oriented towards that style of RPG creative thinking. Again not too say that you won't find valid advice here. :)

#5 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5073

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 01:00 PM

I've participated in several diceless online roleplays. They really didn't need any infrastructure besides a forum which allows adult content and swearing, and a pool of interested people. Getting enough of a population base to get started is the problem. Most forums with active roleplaying subforums, such as SoFurry, GaiaOnline, and Literotica, attracted members by some other content and a certain percentage of those members discovered a common interest in roleplaying, started to roleplay, and were given a subforum after it became clear that the population was producing a sustainable amount of roleplay threads.

Though, in addition to the forum itself, a 'matchmaking' system where people can create profiles for themselves and search others' profiles for similar interests could be very helpful. And, a story archive where cleaned-up finished roleplays and related art can be posted for others to read would also be nice. And maybe an art-specific subforum where people can commission artists to make art of their characters.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#6 viriesque   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 01:20 PM

I ran a roleplaying board with a small team of administrators for five years. It was good fun, but after a while, story lines become recycled if you don't have a moderation team that is dedicated to throwing prompts out to people and such.

I'd never considered the idea of a matchmaking system before -- though I do really want to make good use of user profiles so that they're actually used for current In-Character information and not as an afterthought.

I've got the premise and name of this open world already hashed out and reserved, as it were...Ideally, main draw to this 'game' would be interacting with the world, though a gallery and commission area would be very helpful!

Maybe some things I've previously written will help better communicate what I'd like this thing to offer:

Social Roleplay
The Play that many RP sites offer is highly social and focused on relationships. Etherwyrld is no different, in that relationships are vital to the life of the board.

Progressive Roleplay
This element of Play separates Etherwyrld from some other boards because the character you create can indeed grow and become stronger than they were when they started. This is usually achieved through quests and threads similar to them.

Character Progression:
An individualistic level of progression that allows for different characters to grow themselves via skills, (levels) and the sort.

Plot Progression:
An individual/group level of progression that explores differing plotlines. This can be thought of much like a scavanger hunt or an easter egg hunt. During a plot, more information about the Wyrld will be revealed.

Board Progression:
As different plots progress, the board itself will change. Board-wide changes entail moving forward in the Wyrld's history and watching how things have progressed. Board-wide changes (called Chapters) will only happen once all the plots for that 'time period' have been exhausted.

IRC Events
The Wyrld can also be accessed over Internet Relay Chat as well as on the forums! We host certain real-time RP events for the whole community. It is always open for members who want RP in a semi-free-form and quick way. Chat logs are usually cleaned and posted to the forums after a scene or a plot has finished.


I'm not even sure this is viable to maintain as a writer -- to guide a collaborative plot line that spans an entire world or even how to really manage it. I think that is where I keep getting snagged. What does guiding a collaborative plot look like? Maybe the key really is in pen-and-paper table top GMing.

#7 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3424

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:04 PM

I've participated in several diceless online roleplays. They really didn't need any infrastructure besides a forum which allows adult content and swearing, and a pool of interested people. Getting enough of a population base to get started is the problem. Most forums with active roleplaying subforums, such as SoFurry, GaiaOnline, and Literotica, attracted members by some other content and a certain percentage of those members discovered a common interest in roleplaying, started to roleplay, and were given a subforum after it became clear that the population was producing a sustainable amount of roleplay threads.


I ran a roleplaying board with a small team of administrators for five years. It was good fun, but after a while, story lines become recycled if you don't have a moderation team that is dedicated to throwing prompts out to people and such.


Okay I finally understand what you mean by RPG in your circumstance.

http://en.wikipedia....le-playing_game

edit:

I'm not even sure this is viable to maintain as a writer -- to guide a collaborative plot line that spans an entire world or even how to really manage it. I think that is where I keep getting snagged.


You might look at it from the perspective of a team of writers as used in television shows etc. An overarching set of guidelines for development are established and then individual episodes are farmed out to individual writers (or smaller teams within the larger team) to bring out about the required guideline's immediate needs as well as create their own story within that "universe".

A more sizeable example would be Warhammer 40k Universe which contains a number of differently authored books which remain (mostly) true to existing canon as well contributing to expansion of the canon.

Edited by Stormynature, 07 June 2012 - 02:22 PM.


#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5073

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:42 PM

Personally I prefer roleplaying communities where there are a variety of worlds to play within at any given time. I mean, some days you wanna be a dragon, other days you wanna be a spaceship pilot, other days you wanna be a tribal warrior, right? And some people like a more cheerful world, while others like a more gritty one. But if you want to provide story content to players, why not do it like tabletop content packs, and let the originator of each thread pick one they want to use or make their own based on your template?

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#9 viriesque   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 03:44 PM

Personally I prefer roleplaying communities where there are a variety of worlds to play within at any given time. I mean, some days you wanna be a dragon, other days you wanna be a spaceship pilot, other days you wanna be a tribal warrior, right? And some people like a more cheerful world, while others like a more gritty one.

There are lots of post-by-play forums that span genres, universes, fanfic-doms and such already.

I think my desire is to weave one tale with many stories centered in it. To make real world that can stand up on its own, alongside other players and writers. I have different things I want to do on a day by day basis as well, but (to me) that is what my bookmark bar is for :D

You might look at it from the perspective of a team of writers as used in television shows etc. An overarching set of guidelines for development are established and then individual episodes are farmed out to individual writers (or smaller teams within the larger team) to bring out about the required guideline's immediate needs as well as create their own story within that "universe".


That strikes a chord with the feeling I get when I think about this project ^^ Perhaps it's just a matter of finding the right writers.

#10 bvanevery   Members   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:48 PM

I've participated in several diceless online roleplays.


Been there, done that. I've called them "Freeform PBEM RPGs," with no rules, other than the notions of continuity that players themselves want to give them. Such games can be implemented right now, by anyone, without any technical constraints.

Getting enough of a population base to get started is the problem.


I don't agree. Once upon a time I GMed as large a number of players as I thought I could handle, to see what the sustainable limit of my output + player output was. I wanted to know what a text-based MUD could possibly look like, how far up my efforts could scale. At peak I believe I had 32 players. I had many plotlines, quite a number of which were definitely dying for lack of attention. To try to make the game survive, I consolidated them down to 4. Within 1.5 weeks I cancelled the game, it just wasn't tenable. I think that game ran 4..6 weeks, can't quite remember. I wrote full time, meaning 40+ hours / week.

What you actually need to make a sustainable game, is about 5..7 people. I believe strongly in "The Rule Of Three" : no more than 3 independent units of action going on at any time. It allows for creative diversity, but still keeps things perceptible and manageable for player and GM output.

Of course anyone is free to find out if, by sheer force of will and writing output, they can do better than I did. But I have my expectations and predictions of what will happen, so take those for what they are worth to you.

Edited by bvanevery, 09 August 2012 - 03:49 PM.

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#11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5073

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 01:34 PM


Getting enough of a population base to get started is the problem.


I don't agree. Once upon a time I GMed as large a number of players as I thought I could handle, to see what the sustainable limit of my output + player output was. I wanted to know what a text-based MUD could possibly look like, how far up my efforts could scale. At peak I believe I had 32 players.

I was referring to a situation in which players could volunteer as GMs, and new roleplays would be starting every day or two. Making that happen is largely dependent on player base.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#12 bvanevery   Members   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 12:53 AM

I was referring to a situation in which players could volunteer as GMs, and new roleplays would be starting every day or two. Making that happen is largely dependent on player base.


That's a much more "macro" concept than I have experience with. I'm not seeing the quality control in it. It's darned hard to get 5 people to write well together.
gamedesign-l pre-moderated mailing list. Preventing flames since 2000! All opinions welcome.

#13 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2247

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 04:34 AM

Hmm, I guess the main tricks would be:
  • Getting the community together
  • Putting rules in place
  • Getting a regular system working
  • Preventing universe splintering
I think the right rules could help a lot. For example, the seed lore, rules on how many major developments at once and how long they can last, consensus rules for background and character development supplementing known lore, rules on what kinds of races and tech may be added, etc.

#14 bvanevery   Members   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

I think the right rules could help a lot.


Can you point to any RPG running on the web that has actually achieved all of that? If one exists, I'd be interested to study what they did. I did make 1 or 2 forays into "large" web RPGs like you describe, back in the day. I found the administrators to be exceedingly immature and the writing quality low. The admins were inclined to get bent out of shape about small aspects of the game fiction, and their customer service ethic was extremely poor for how they handled differences of opinion and approach. I really have my doubts that any large organization would do a quality job of this, unless they were paying some people to do it, and firing those people when their management proved substandard. I don't think the typical large group of internet volunteers can handle it, and I say that as a veteran of many open source projects as well, thinking back to all sorts of tiffs and dramas about "how to do things."

I got focused on what I could actually handle, about 5..7 people with no more than 3 independent units of action. I consider those games successful, for my purposes back then. Unfortunately most, possibly all, of my email archives of those games got wiped out in some Windows catastrophes over the years. So I can't exactly show you what I did... and I don't really have time right now to do it again, tempting as it might be.
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