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Author Topic: online gaming methodology  (Read 1378 times)
poppocabba
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Posts: 48


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« on: June 16, 2001, 10:34:00 PM »

I am running my first multi-player online game in a couple of weeks, and I was looking for advice as to what works best.
my thoughts to this point are to use a combination of pbem, and online chat style sessions for combat, and player conflict with a integrated mailing list through yahoo. does any one have any experience with any of these methods?
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james_west
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Posts: 292


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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2001, 08:32:00 AM »

I've run a lot of online games, mostly using a chatroom format (IRC or WebRPG)

My main advice is: keep the system really, really simple. The simpler the better. They really bog down in online formats.

Having a supporting web page is also very useful.

Finally, "set piece descriptions" work a lot better online than they do in person; you can just cut and paste 'em in. Doesn't seem nearly so stilted as reading does in person.

[ This Message was edited by: james_west on 2001-06-17 12:33 ]
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greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2001, 11:25:00 AM »

Tons of advice, but first and foremost: make sure everyone *knows the rules.  Not just, "Yeah, I read the gamebook" but they can quote you the gist of entire sections and don't need to ask you how critical hits or their own skills work.

One of the quickest ways for a game to bog down on-line is when the players engage in 20-questions or ask rule-related questions to you, for things they could look up themselves.
When they don't, it is a game killer, trust me (for those of you who have experienced this in tabletop games, it is even worse when it occurs in an on-line game).

PBEMs and threaded game-forums: I personally don't like 'em, though I have participated in a few.  There's little feeling of camaraderie between players...everyone is seperate from everyone else.
Also, and perhaps because of the above, most people don't bother responding in time, or can't respond in time, so you have to be harsh about the posting requirements, especially if you are running a weekly game in addition to the threads/e-mail.

For these bits you'll absolutely need to use a narrative style (or rather, declaring intents, not actions) to pull off any e-mail gaming, just to get through even a simple encounter.
This also means the players need to trust you to keep their character personality integrity when you write what they actually do to get to their goal.

Basically, you're setting yourself up for a ton of work if you want to do it right.

For the chat-portion of your game: Action is harder to keep flowing in an on-line game, things can quickly turn into player-character arguments that easily last the entire session, or a good portion of it (and there's nothing more boring than watching two or more characters argue back-and-forth while the game stalls)...ask the players to help make things MOVE in your game, set up a system to reward players who take initiative and make the game exciting.

One of the differences between Narrative and Simulationist styles in this regard would be the N would need to be movie-like: you never see an argument that lasts more than two verbal passes, then one person gives in and they DO something...or something happens to them forcing them into action.  The players have to understand this and you have to understand this...hence the above.

The S might feel like this is cheating the world to allow, but if they can live with the broken pace and funky tension levels produced by ignoring it, then more power to 'em.

Back to the first point I made: Make sure your players are proactive, not reactive.  They'll need to know what to roll when (and thus need to know the rules well) instead of waiting around to ask you "Can I do this?  Can I do that?" and then waiting for you to confirm or tell them to roll a die.

Instead, they'll need to be upfront about things: "I pick the nobleman's pocket.  [rolls d20+3]"  Flat out, no waiting for confirmations or assurances that they can actually do that.
If they can't, tell 'em afterward; but more often than not they can and you'll have saved yourself about three more lines of exchange with the same results and the game flows on.

One more useful trick, get yourself and your players into the habit of typing [done] or [go ahead] when they finish their actions or speeches, it saves headaches when players start reacting in the middle of your long description or when the other characters are still acting or whatever.
It's a bit of polite decorum that really helps keep the game moving and saves frustration.

As well, if they leave the keyboard or switch away to another window, make sure they TELL you, because it can become very annoying if they aren't there when you are trying to get their action out of them.

Alright, that's all I have to say on this for the moment, all I can think of besides the caution that on-line gaming is a whole different world than table-top.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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