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I'm not even sure how many people will look here, as often many of the threads here go ignored, but there's something that I've been thinking about of late.
All of us who have played, and especially ran play-by-post RPG's will realise this at one point or another: It just doesn't work out. Unless you have dedicated players and a dedicated GM who has a passion for what they are doing, a game will often simply fizzle out and die.
We have seen it happen many, many times. Some games go for longer, but inevitably they will most likely die. There are a few exceptions to this - the 8 winds of chaos being one of them. I managed to finish a game with two different threads of teams of up to 10 people, painstakingly intertwined them, and come to a conclusion, but it was no easy task. It took a lot of work on my part, and also dedication on the player's part. But I'm getting away from the point.
The problem with play-by-posts, is exactly that. You play, by posting. It takes time for people to post, which leads to boredom. Boredom leads to disinterest, and then the game just dies. Things need to happen faster. You can't stay interested if it takes a week for the full round of players to post. That's the problem with large numbers. Large numbers lead to the downfall of a game, because the more people, the more likely it is that they will not post in time.
So on to the solution. It may seem radical compared to the usual approach, but I would suggest;
1.) Smaller numbers. And I don't mean conventionally smaller numbers, like 6, as compared to 10, I mean something like 4. 4 would be a good number to work with, I think - the less people, the more pressure there is on people to post. Games could go as small as 2, even - they'd certainly be able to be updated quicker.
2.) Player dedication. Player's need to be dedicated to playing the game. If you don't think you can manage one post a day minimum, don't join. It's as simple as that. Always make sure you let a GM know if you will be unable to post for any reason, such as a holiday, a cold or flu, etc. Unexpected things do happen, but do your utmost to let the GM know.
3.) GM dedication. It will often occur that players will be eager enough, and will have all posted, but the GM doesn't get around to it for a week. This can often be for a number of reasons, but if you don't think you can handle checking the game once a day, it's probably not a good idea to start a game. Don't try to run more than one game at once, or participate in too many others while running a game, to get your priorities sorted.
4.) Alternative measures. Alternative measures, such as an instant messaging game can work, although it's a whole different kettle of fish. Getting all the players (often from different time zones) on at the same time, regularly to have say an hour long session can be difficult - more difficult than one might expect. Then there is finding the appropriate method of IM - Messenger, LO chat, etc. Regardless, this is still a much faster way of roleplaying.
So, those are my suggestions to those of us here on LO that enjoy play-by-post roleplaying. Take them as you will - you do not have to follow them, they may be too demanding for some who would prefer a more laid back game - but I offer my advice to you as someone with experience in getting games finished. I would like to see a bit more of that here on LO, for everyone's sake - constant unfinished games is frustrating for everyone involved.
To right, I have run into all the problems you have listed here and it has made me more or less swear off on-line RPs altogether. I definately think the solutions you have presented here are good ideas but for me it smacks into #3... HARD.
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I know what you mean, Ghost. I myself find that I can generally handle number 3 okay, as long as the 1st 2 points are okay. I get very frustrated when I make the effort to check a game I run every day, and maybe 1 or 2 people have posted out of 9. I now realise that 9 is waaay too many people, so I will start sticking to these guidelines I've layed out.
I kind of agree with Dr. Nick here. Just in general, play-by-post RPs are a lot harder to put together. The best ways to do it are if everyone knows everyone else anyway, in RL or from something else where they interact often, so know what the other people are like, or if everyone is on at about the same time. But if everyone's on at about the same time anyway, some kind of IM does it better. You also can't have a conversation in posts, so a lot of the RP, the part that isn't combat, gets kind of skimmed.
Yeah, that's what I don't like about play-by-posts - you can't have a good dialogue without it taking forever, and it mostly ends up being combat, which really detracts from the roleplaying experience.
Would anyone else like to make any suggestions of perhaps how things could run smoother in a PBP? They are certainly welcome.
i like what you're all doing here, i always love a more oldfashioned approach to the intraweb, this sort of thing used to happen a lot more, say, 15 years ago.
I'm always in favour of using older technology or new tech in an old way.
i still love old computer games, i have an up and running sega mega drive with a bunch of games.
I thought about this for a bit and i had another suggestion:
Having separate lines of communication: i gather from all your posts it's difficult to separate on topic and off topic chatter... perhaps having a stron separation between the 2 might help?
Got a "good" rumour from a GW staffer? Forget about it, LO'ers know more than any random GW shop staffer.
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(OOC: Nick, I actually meant that I was going to pick up the sword, then attack the Orc)
So they are fairly easily distinguishable from the in character stuff. Generally, OOC comments posted in the action thread should only relate directly to what's happening, all other OOC talk should be done in the OOC thread.
So good suggestion, but it's something that's already been implemented
And another thing - I think we need to attract some more users to LO RPG's - there's barely any going on at the moment. I'd be happy to help anyone out if they have any questions etc. I think for that we also need more people running games as well, and as I've said, it can be a bit of a hassle, but if everything goes well, it can be fun and enjoyable. So if any of you are thinking about maybe running a game, or playing in one, give it a shot
Player dedication online is a tricky thing- people do go on holidays, take exams and in some extreme cases just plain vanish for months on end! That’s part of what makes it (for me at least) so much more difficult than handling things face to face.
I also find that in freeform RPGs, people tend to lose interest without a sense of challenge. It's easier said than done, but it's important to create an atmosphere that challenges the players and keeps them guessing as to what is going to happen next without making the puzzles and investigations so hard that people will just get turned off by them. This is doubly important for action RPs with a lot of combat or fight scenes as these can get repetitive after awhile. One of the reasons I stopped RPing in general is because I found that the average player will unconsciously slide towards godmodding in the absence of a set of rules that dictate combat. Let's face it, no one wants their prize character to get badly mangled in a back alley firefight or a tavern brawl, but every action one player takes against another, or against an NPC, invariably results in a stalemate as no character can ever seem to hit or wound another, or in the gutting of said NPC. Like a fish.
If players were challenged to find innovative solutions to situations where they would get mowed down by charging blindly on. A good example is when a friend of mine was running an Eternal Fortress Inquisitor campaign in which a squad of Imperial Fists had to break through an Iron Warriors trap and link up with their Primarch on the other side of the map. Everyone got to be a Space Marine, but the problem was that every enemy was also a Space Marine and they had the advantage in terms of high ground and supplies. We knew from the outset that we were going to be outnumbered, outgunned, and likely out of ammo by the midway point. Then, our Sergeant (played by the GM in a scripted event) got picked off by a sniper's bolt shell.
Needless to say, running a freeform RPG requires a lot of time, patience, and dedication, not just on the part of the GM, but on the part of the players in order to keep the story believable and interesting. Doubly so on a forum where you don't know half the people, in which case you need all those things plus a healthy dose of faith in humanity.
You make a good point about making it challenging for the players in the absence of strictly defined rules. It's something I'll have to keep in mind in the future. It's annoying that there's so many things that you have to precariously balance to make a good RP that often you just think, 'stuff it' and don't bother.