Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed)



  • Yeah. Nothing is perfect, and no game will ever be perfect. People will always bitch; I try to tell folks to play a game based on what it is rather than what you would like.

    Do your best, treat people empathetically, do staff jobs in a timely manner, and listen to genuine criticism. If the game fizzles, well, that happens. Most of them eventually do, good and bad alike.

    Don't feed the trolls by letting the wrongfun police drive you off. Give yourself and the people who want this gane to work what y'all want, not the folks who want to tear you down.



  • @Arkandel said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @Three-Eyed-Crow
    long policies

    Long policies got us here in the first place, policy envy.



  • @Rook said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    This should be an ingrained part of our culture, don't you think? Doesn't this fall under Respect Your Fellow RPers? Maybe. Surprisingly, this is the EXACT reason why we need News files so explicitly and agonizingly worded.

    This is pretty much where I am on this, yep.

    Also, and I realize this is a deal-breaker for some, and possibly many, but: the game is hybrid consent. That makes it especially relevant, really.

    What hybrid consent means in this case:

    • Some subject matter will always require consent. Here's the list: sexual and romantic relationships, common taboos•, character type changes/becomings (mostly because this could force someone to freeze an alt they didn't want to if they already had one of whatever that was, and that sucks), complete personality rewrites (via mind control or social fu), pregnancy, sexual assault, and acts against/contrary to sexual preference. Again, all of these things seem like common sense to me; these are things you do not force on another player without consent in a mutually respectful game environment in which everybody's fun counts and matters.

    • PvP defaults to consent/negotiated outcomes, in part because while there are factions in competition or conflict with one another, it is not designed to be a PvP game for the most part; it's permitted if people want it, but it's not the core direction of the game or it's primary objective. If people can't agree, call in a GM or staffer to help mediate, or go with the dice. If people want to go with dice from the outset, that's totally cool, too, if everybody agrees.

    • PvE -- and this includes PrPs and plots, typically -- defaults to dice, though whoever is running it can opt for consent/negotiated outcomes in most cases. Because of this, the warnings become a little more relevant than they might otherwise, and I think they're relevant even without this.

    We already warn about risk to PCs by rote almost everywhere, and PCs are ultimately not as important as the players behind them.

    If we give a player a warning that something bad may happen to their character by participating in a scene so they can make up their mind about whether they want to join or not, not warning the player that something bad may happen to them if the scene/plot/event goes in certain directions for the sake of 'surprise' seems especially ridiculous.

    •This was actually the hardest file I've ever had to write about anything. The game is not Shang, or designed for the primary purpose of indulging in sexy fun times. That said... if people wanna get their kink on with consenting partners (and it doesn't involve child sex)? I have zero issue, and it's nobody's business but the people involved and enjoying themselves at it. This was the final takeaway on that one, and was about as tactful as I could get without making a list (which I'd rather not do):

    "If you want to go somewhere in a scene that involves any sexual taboo, ask first. We're going to define this as 'anything that isn't traditional intercourse (for your sexuality) or oral sex with a humanoid that is not a blood relative'. You're smart enough to be able to infer the rest from there without a problem, right?"

    Just keep the donkey and the cheese log out of the public eye and I really just do not care. I can't even make myself start to care, provided both PCs, the donkey, and the cheese log are all consenting adults. This is horrible to spring on people, though, and having had surprise incest plot in a plot that started with a pitch insisting there would never be any incest! and surprise panther mind control wang! sprung on me personally within a span of a handful of months a few years back, well, people do seem to need to be told to ask about that stuff first. I mean, you'd think... but no. :/


  • Admin

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    We've had this discussion before, and I grok your stance on it, @Arkandel. It is a fascinating philosophical argument to have; it's also completely irrelevant when compared to the practical truth that human beings are more important than any 'surprise plot twist' somebody has in mind on a pretendy fun time game.

    Sure, but I don't see where you are disagreeing with me.

    @Arkandel said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    Rating areas is a good step (if you walk into an IC brothel you might see someone's breasts, the horror!) but it won't fix the underlying issue which is what staff will get/be forced to see and handle. I guess we can also rate PrPs - if I plan to run something where canonballs are going to tear people's legs right off I could warn participants ahead of time?

    I outright said people should warn about their scenes' content ahead of time, and that my concern then becomes staff having to witness it either way.

    Granted, often that 'way' is the creepy voyeuristic boasting kind ("so I had teh sex after shapeshifting into a gorilla, would you say that's more rape or bestiality? I ask so I can file an aspiration") but that's all I said. There's no question in my mind springing surprises past a certain line is a no-no, no matter the plot value.



  • @Arkandel Gotcha. I was thinking back to one of the earlier discussions we've had about this one as well, which was focused more on, I want to say it was a plot involving animal abuse? I don't remember the specifics this early in the morning, unfortunately, and a very 'anti-warning' stance taken at the time, but... coffeeeeeeee, needed.

    In all seriousness, for a lot of things like this, it's very much an honor system thing. We're not likely to extensively read through submitted logs for fine-grained detail. Plus, if they tick the warning boxes or what-have-you, it's fairly easy for those to be passed to a staff member who is comfortable with that subject matter.

    We have a 'please do not go into gory blow-by-blow detail about these things in backgrounds if you choose to write a background' thing, but that's because backgrounds don't have the same markers on them to flag anything.

    From what it looks like, there will mostly be... me, with @Coin as backup headstaff there if people have a concern about me, someone willing to do player relations, and someone willing to help with build. I don't know how much @Coin or the builder staffer are keen on processing log jobs, but the way it's set up, it's meant to be quick and easy with some shared work (submitter fills out the form, that will do the math for everyone, staff reads through the log and processes the spend script the form spits out) rather than 'we get a log and everybody argues for half an hour about the math and the job bounces back and forth three or four times before it gets anywhere'. I'm figuring this will be fairly simple, though, and faster for all parties, and best of all: consistent.

    Ideally we will be able to find a few folks willing to do some jobmonkey stuff, too, but that's a ways down the line. We're aiming to make stuff as quick and simple as possible, and to keep the staff as small as possible. Even so, it still should be large enough that if somebody hits a 'nnnnngh' point in a log, there will be someone else who can pick up the job.



  • (...and time for today's weird question and quirky explainer.)

    There are a lot of attributes in this system. A lot of them. Oodles. There's a reason for that, but it's long-winded as heck and gets into some philosophical weeds I'd rather avoid while trying to get some progress in today.

    Like WoD, the typical mundane human scale is 1-5. Non-humans and fancy humans may be able to go higher in some things based on the character type and class, with 8 as a hard cap PC maximum. There's always a trade off, though: higher in something(s) means lower in something else(s). (For instance, if you can go to 7 in something, you can only get to 3 in another, or maybe two other things are limited to 4.)

    5 is, obviously, considered exceptional. Anything over 5, amazeballs.

    For every level in an attribute someone has at 5 or higher, they get a special perk for free that's uniquely associated with that attribute. So if they have, say, a 6 in intelligence, they'll get two of these perks that they'll be able to pick from a list.

    This gets a little into the weeds, but part of the idea behind this is that while many people eventually get to the point that they have fairly high stats sooner or later, everyone still wants to be at least somewhat unique. Being able to pick some perks help customize that high stat's strength and IC interpretation helps people further define their niche, so while two characters may be just as intelligent, there is a notable mechanical way on +sheet that they're intelligent in different ways and potentially likely to remain more distinctive -- which, let's face it, people like, whether it's 'I like my niche' or 'I like being a snowflake', and so on. (Being fairly anal retentively specific on attributes helps this along, too; that's partly why there's a pile of them. Also, the specificity helps narrow down which to use for what, which was often something of a squint-inducing headache to me in WoD, which seemed to generalize a little too much.)

    Most of these are fairly low grade perks, or something that the character can pull out of their hat once a week or once a month if it's something more impressive.

    The question: is there anything like this out there that you know of that you would recommend I take a look at for reference? (These are something I expect to see a flood of ideas for from folks during beta, honestly, but again, I'd like to get a nice selection of them in there before that.)


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    I do not believe in considering downtime between formally organized PrPs, plots, or even pickup GM'd scenes to be 'lesser'. ... This includes scenes like dressing wounds after a battle, discussing how some things worked and others didn't in IC terms, going off drinking to celebrate a particular victory, reuniting with a long-lost family member that finally arrived in the area, and so on -- all of these scenes can have a major impact on the characters involved.

    Oh god yes. I agree 100%. I wish very much that more people would keep RPing after the "end" of a GM'd scene rather than just being like, "Welp, we killed the bad guy, and even though we're at the bottom of a collapsing mine, knee-deep in acid, with wounded to carry out and prisoners to rescue, we're gonna log out for the night and not worry about it." (I exaggerate, of course, but you know what I mean.)

    I've said it before, I'll say it again, I think that downtime scenes are immensely important for setting and resetting the status quo with your character, because it's only when the status quo is changed that you really find out about your character (if the status quo is "office work and beers after," how do they handle having to save the world? But also, if the status quo is "always out saving the world," how do they handle downtime?)

    Totally agree, and I love your emphasis on these sorts of scenes, and the idea of rewarding for them.

    • The log applies to one or more game themes (checkboxes for which apply; these will be linked on that theme's info page so people can see what is going on in game related to that theme in play and how people are interpreting it)

    Ooooh, linking logs to themes/storylines via checkbox rather than having to put in a link by hand is awesome. Autopopulating the theme/storyline page with linked logs rather than having to put in a link by hand is awesome too.

    provided both PCs, the donkey, and the cheese log are all consenting adults

    If you've got an 18-year-old cheese log, I don't want to be in the same county as it, let alone the same room.


  • Pitcrew

    @Seraphim73 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    I do not believe in considering downtime between formally organized PrPs, plots, or even pickup GM'd scenes to be 'lesser'. ... This includes scenes like dressing wounds after a battle, discussing how some things worked and others didn't in IC terms, going off drinking to celebrate a particular victory, reuniting with a long-lost family member that finally arrived in the area, and so on -- all of these scenes can have a major impact on the characters involved.

    Oh god yes. I agree 100%. I wish very much that more people would keep RPing after the "end" of a GM'd scene rather than just being like, "Welp, we killed the bad guy, and even though we're at the bottom of a collapsing mine, knee-deep in acid, with wounded to carry out and prisoners to rescue, we're gonna log out for the night and not worry about it." (I exaggerate, of course, but you know what I mean.)

    While I love aftermath scenes SO MUCH, let's be real on this: a lot of the reason for signing off at the end of a big GMed scene is exhaustion. I want to do aftermath, totally, but I usually want to do it -- the next day. Because a lot of GMed action or adventure type scenes have already been a couple hours, and they tend to be more intensive than RPing other types of scenes for that long.



  • @Roz Yup, this. This is basically what I'm aiming at: a way of making sure that even if the log goes up the next day and so on, people are still getting 'you are being awesome and continuing kickass story things' credit where credit is due. Often, this stuff gets overlooked entirely, and that always bugged me.


  • Pitcrew

    @Roz Oh, I totally get it, and usually fall victim to it along with everyone else. Just... I want that "everyone coming down off an adrenaline high together" moment ICly as well as OOCly. It's so rich for relationship building (and I don't just mean sexual relationships, I've seen Speed, I know "relationships based on intense experiences never work").

    I guess it's more a whine on my part that I want more of this sort of RP, and a thumbs-up for @surreality for putting together a way to reward it.



  • Those kinds of scenes are honestly one of the reasons I strongly encourage people to watch the hell out of Black Sails. They really are. While it has its share of action, the prep/planning and aftermath/reflection scenes outnumber them dramatically, and they're excellent.

    (The other reason is how much the characters consciously discuss the power of a story, whose story is believed, why it's important to tell a good one, which ones last and are remembered, etc. Genuinely amazing on this front.)



  • @Roz said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    While I love aftermath scenes SO MUCH, let's be real on this: a lot of the reason for signing off at the end of a big GMed scene is exhaustion. I want to do aftermath, totally, but I usually want to do it -- the next day. Because a lot of GMed action or adventure type scenes have already been a couple hours, and they tend to be more intensive than RPing other types of scenes for that long.

    Yeah. This. If I've been RPing for 4-5 hours, I need a damn break. It's unfun, and I don't want actual meaty character things to feel like chores (they're why I'm there). I'll aggressively chase people down for follow-ups, but they're more meaningful if I can actually play them, not just be shunted through them while wanting to collapse.


  • Admin

    @Seraphim73 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    Oh god yes. I agree 100%. I wish very much that more people would keep RPing after the "end" of a GM'd scene rather than just being like, "Welp, we killed the bad guy, and even though we're at the bottom of a collapsing mine, knee-deep in acid, with wounded to carry out and prisoners to rescue, we're gonna log out for the night and not worry about it."

    If I run a scene which the PCs see no reason to play about after it's 'over' I consider it a failure.


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