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Tau Tower

The Burnout Factor

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I create what you might call High Concept Games. They are big, flashy, and crafted in detail to provide an intense Role Playing Experience. In general they do pretty well.

But what I have noticed is that there is a distinct 'Golden Time' that goes along with each and every Game. From the moment play begins there seems to be a Countdown running. For a certain amount of time you get full effort from everyone involved and the Game flys along at a wonderful pace.

Assuming you do not make any major mistakes as a GM I think that this Golden Time may be about 1 month. Consider a weekly Game on a VT where you play for 4 hours each Saturday. In 3 months you will have put in (4*4*3) = 48 hours of play. If you spend 2 hours per dDay on a PbP you will put in 48 hours in 24 days.

Since I am always interested in the optimal way to use any game medium I have begun to think about what you could do in one intense month of PbP gaming. I believe it would be possible to maintain say 50 Turns per day with a group of 10 or so. What sort of Story could I tell with 1,500 Turns or so?

Not sure how long it will take me to come up with a full Concept here. And since I have 2 Games at the moment I have even less of an idea when I might try such a 30 Day Game out. But I have to admit the idea of having full involvement and participation from start to finish would really help to make things work properly. Games always go on but when people are lost it does change things. I always end up wondering at the end of a Game what it would have been like to finish with all the same people who started.

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  1. TheTallestDwarf's Avatar
    PBP can move fairly quick if people maintain interest and the rules are well defined or there happens to be a GM a watching. The issue I have with PBP, is that after a point, people start making excuses not to post.

    "I'm waiting for someone else to go before me"
    "I'm considering what to do."
    "I need to ask a question."

    And when those excuses hit, the game starts to trip up a bit. That's why I honestly prefer Live games. If you have a question, you can ask right then and there and be done with it. Live games also introduce a random factor of spur of the moment actions. Sure, not every action is worded beautifully with metaphors and adjectives everywhere, but it adds a certain silly element that just makes gaming much more entertaining.

    30 Day Game sounds...interesting, but I'd suggest not considering it to be able to move 1500 turns in that period of time. People might not be able to dedicate that much time to it each day, or spontaneous factors come up to trip it, or perhaps the excuses are made. I'd say you could definitely do a Long story in the time, but I'm not sure how much action would actually happen...
  2. Alexander Tau's Avatar
    I am just working on getting an idea of how much text could be generated. Kinda looking at the Game more like a big piece of Fiction. If I estimate the average Turn at 100 words that gives me a story legnth of 150,000 words. That is a decient sized Novel.

    Live games have lots of advantages. Slow PbP is also a different thing. I enjoy what can be done with PbP when everyone is spending a few hours a day online and posting. You can tell a very interesting Story when you have that happening.
  3. obtusehobbit's Avatar

    I understand where you are coming from, but I have found it is less of a dieing out as highs and lows. The trick is to survive the lows.

    As the game goes people will get bored or RL will kick in. These to factors generate low periods of posting. The thing is to figure out why the people are bored and switch up the game enough to get them reintrested, and the second part is to get new players to replace the ones lost to RL.

    My opinion as to how to do this is to keep an open and free exchange of ideas between the players and GMs. That way you as a DM can get feedback from players as to what they want, and why they are bored or not posting. From there you can work with the players to move the game in a direction they would enjoy and there by bring posting up.

    The key I guess I am saying is to make your players happy, with out players you don't have a game to tell a story with.
  4. Alexander Tau's Avatar
    That approach is fine when you want to go for the long run. But what I want to do is see how much I can get done with a single group of Players. I realize that all of my observations and experiences are simply giving me estimates to work with not exact numbers.

    Truthfully I believe that there are a lot of tiny factors that affect each individual Player's experience. Even the best GMs can only do so much to influence many of these. The excuse of 'Real Life' is used to cover a lot of mostly petty things that build up into real problems. It is of course different with a smaller Game. There you can cater more to each Player but I like large Games and that means I go with 'If you build it, they will come'.

    When I got my newest Game started I was told by one of the Players that it was the most exciting idea she had seen in 5 years of online play. I planned this Game for 4 months but now I find I wish I had gone for less. With a tighter plotline I think it would have been perfect. As it is it is going along well with 10 active Players.
  5. obtusehobbit's Avatar
    I don't think there is much difference in the end bettween aproach for large and small games. They are both pbp games and suffer the same issues it is just a matter of a slightly different scale. The issue with online gaming in general that causes players to leave a game in my mind is no commitment to the game because it is not their game.

    Think about how a RL gaming group makes a game they work together to decided who is going to DM, what type of game they are going to play, and who they are going to play within the party concept. Making the game their game even if they are not the ones GMing. They had a personal input into the game and so are commited to playing it because they feel the game is their's as much as everyone elses.

    In an online game the DM creates everything then recruits players the issue with that is the players aren't playing their game but the DMs. So they don't feel connected to the game on a personal level and leave more easily. My point is that by adjusting the storyline to the players wants by talking with them about their PC's story and adapting the game based on their input you work toward reastablishing that personal connection to the game.

    Now in another blog I posted about a week ago I talked about another way to bring back that personal connection to the game. That was by the group function on the forums to create the equivilent of gaming group where games can me crafted by the whole instead of just the one.

    Now note these are just my personal opinion and there is more then one way to run a game, and there is more then one way to do things.
  6. Alexander Tau's Avatar
    I respect that approch but I think player-driven games in that fashion are more of a problem than they are worth. For me there is a very stark creative line between someone who makes Games and those who play them.

    Not everyone is creative at least not to the point where others will like what is produced. More than anything I think the Internet has proved that while there is certainly untapped creative potential in some people most of what is created is really, really bad. For every 1 good worth-watching YouTube video there are 1,000 horrible ones as just one simple example.

    I think most people want something that involves them and includes a fair amount of surprise and unexpected twists. Some level of player feedback is always important but you and I just differ on how much.
  7. coboney's Avatar
    I must say I disagree strongly here AT.

    To some degree we are all creative - are some more or less? Yes and you must account for your players strengths and weaknesses. But my best games, in mine and my players', opinions have been those where its not one person buta collaberative story telling. That is the biggest difference between running a game and writing a story. A game is a collaberative, group effort and involves everyone. A book is just you telling your story to an audience.

    Also what me or you consider horrible, another person considers great.

    Am I saying a DM should not have a general story idea or an idea and direction? No, as a game needs some direction, but it is key that the players are contributers to it and not just for putting words in their characters mouths in my opinion. Also, you can do surprise and unexpected twists while working with people without a doubt and that goes both ways. My players have on more then one occasion completely floored me with what they chose to do and the choice that never could be expected was done and led the game down a path I never foresaw. Character development is the same.
  8. Alexander Tau's Avatar
    Anybody that wants to go the cooperative path has my best wishes. I think that what I can create with the help of a select group of people is some of the best stuff out there. Everyone is free to disagree.

    But the point of this Blog post was to ponder what I could do to maximize my PbP Games. And as I have considered it more I see them as doable but with some specific limitations. For example I think it would probably work best if the Game was one continous moment without the need to span any fixed number of days.

    This means certain kinds of things cannot happen because there will not be enough time. There are a few other things along those lines that I have considered.

    But to be able to have the whole Game run at a smooth fast pace is my goal. I appreciate other approaches but that is what I am looking to do right now. Or at least what I will be looking to do when SiC is over on Plothook.