Long-Term Goals

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Elystole
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Long-Term Goals

Post by Elystole » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:52 pm

This post is coming out of a few other threads that I've seen and discussions I've had. I don't want to sound like I'm whining, but I do want to have a constructive discussion about this and since I'm not at liberty to discuss other people's characters I'll be using examples involving Elystole.

I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels, and I'm not the only one. I've been asking other people what I can do to stay engaged or what the point is to my playing, and they tell me that I can increase my skills. That is what I've been doing: Pushing my skills towards 1000. And after that? I guess I can go for 3000 and then 5000. What I get in exchange for that is a feeling of achievement, but advancement in CLOK is so painfully slow that it isn't efficient. It also really discourages casual play since if you don't invest a lot of time into CLOK then you aren't going to progress. If all CLOK has to offer is a feeling of achievement from increasing numbers or finding a new zone and socializing with friends, I would be better off playing WildStar or a similar game which is better at generating that feeling.

But that isn't what CLOK specializes in, so this isn't an appeal to make advancing easier. It's simply an explanation as to why expecting players to stay engaged simply because they can increase their skills is bound to fail.

CLOK is a roleplay-enforced MUD, so I think it is safe to say that all of us (or at least most of us) play for the RP. Yet that is falling flat for the simple reason that nothing changes. To quote Rias from the Razing Emleth thread:
Here's our typical invasion scenario: Mass of badguys moves in, player characters rally, badguys are cleared out within about 30 minutes to a few hours, and things go back to normal like nothing really ever happened.

The players and the GMs both know this is a problem, but what can we do about it? The GMs have pointed out a few times that resolving problems like Tarueka means that we're out an entire hunting zone, and CLOK doesn't have that many to spare. It certainly can't afford to flush however many hours of building and code, so we have to suspend our disbelief concerning these problems that never go away because a total victory would actually diminish the game. Similarly, trashing a town when the PCs totally fail also diminishes a game. The game world is going to be static as we generally want it to get larger and not smaller.

What I think gets overlooked and is an even bigger problem is that characters are mostly static. We have nothing to shoot for except increased skills and guild ranks, and guild ranks and abilities cap out eventually. It's probably why so many people have so many alts. The treadmill is a chore. Our guilds forever treat us like mere grunts or children, we're doing the same things all the time with nothing to show for it, and on the occasion that we do come up with some way to amuse ourselves for a bit or a GM does run an event there are almost no lasting effects. "Things go back to normal like nothing really ever happened."

I want to quite Rias's entire post from his "Very impressed with many people. Also: Grr, alts!" because I think it is so relevant:
Rias wrote:The GM team recently had a meeting, and one thing we talked a lot about was how excited we were about several characters that have been around lately. Some are fresh off the turnip farm, some still fairly new, some older whom are now focusing on a single character and really developing that character, and some oldies that have recently come back after an absence. We're super excited! We're hoping to give people their chances to get involved in greater things, and all that fun stuff. Some have already started!

Now, let me bring up something I've grumbled about before: alts. Grr! Several of us in our meeting said things like "Oh yeah, I really like [character]!" and then another says, "Yeah, but they've started making alts, and they're not on that character much anymore." Blah!! We get that it's fun to try new things, and take a break from your norm sometimes, we totally do. But still, please try to pick a character and settle on them! We can't do much with characters that get abandoned for alts, or characters that are on once in a blue moon because they have too many alts to rotate between. It's frustrating when we start to get invested in a character and start thinking of ways we can get them in on things, and then they drop off the face of Arad (and a new person mysteriously arrives in the Lost Lands). And frankly, if we know that a character is just one of a zillion alts, we're far less likely to invest time into them, because it so often ends up being time wasted on a character who's never around.

So play around with your alts, find your groove, and then consider really sticking with one character! You can even send us an email (clok@contrarium.net) if you've settled on a specific character out of your alt army and really want to focus on them. Then we know, and we can start scheming- errr, plotting- errr, conspiring- ... ehem ... then we can start deciding how we can get them more involved in the bigger things going on in the Lost Lands!

Pretty please, with sugar and chocolate sprinkles!
The GMs are frustrated because they want to get characters involved but the characters vanish or start playing alts. I want to say that's because the players are frustrated since it seems like nothing they do matters so they either stop playing completely or roll an alt for a bit of novelty since that's all they can do. I haven't seen big plots go down that really highlighted a particular character. I can't think of a single example of a player who has somehow managed to distinguish themselves inside their guild and risen above the rank of anonymous task henchman who usually can't even get the time of day from their leadership. There are veteran players that seem to embody their guild yet seem to be nobodies.

I don't think Elystole is at that point, but I'll use him as an example of some of the little things that I think matter: Elystole came back from hiatus (because I was getting frustrated with spinning my wheels), saw that things were a mess, and decided to make up for lost time by working his way up the blacklist. I've said this flippantly to a few people, but I meant it: He's dropped half a dozen Corvites, including Public Enemy #1 (maybe #2), and no one's even bought him a shot. He has received no feedback on his activities or his roleplay whether that be good ("Nice job tracking that Corvite clear across the Lost Lands.") or bad ("Attacking someone in a tavern? Good initiative, poor judgement."). So why bother? Why take risks and make enemies when it apparently accounts for nothing? And why should I hold my breath for some big plot when I don't even see the little things?

I think that applies not just to Elystole but every character.

And since I don't see anything happen with something as central to a character's identity as their career, it really makes me question the point of most anything else. I probably need to do a better job of portraying it, but Elystole takes the Immortals seriously and has some strong thoughts and feelings about being Undying. I'm not sure how much to pursue that since so much other stuff gets overlooked. Elystole would like to remodel his house to better suit his RP. Is that possible? Again, I don't know since I don't see it happening. I would guess not.

I think there are a few reasons why this happens, and they are pretty good reasons. We don't have a lot of GMs, so any suggestion that is essentially a plea for the GMs to get more involved isn't going to work. And the GMs that we do have are busier than they used to be which kind of sucks for CLOK but is very good for them. I don't think anyone, much less those of us who have been unemployed, are going to begrudge Rias a job. If they do, they need to reassess their priorities. But I think it is to say that because of the changing situation that the way things used to work isn't going to work anymore.

Part of the problem is the Rias/Jirato bottleneck. When you only have two people who can code or have finally approval authority over changes, there's going to be restrictions on how much gets done. It used to work alright when both of them have more time, but they're both busier now and I think we are starting to see the strain.

Part of the problem is the overarching guru system. When GMs have spheres of influence that only they are allowed to work on, things come grinding to a halt when that GM isn't available. You could have a character with a legitimate emergency trying to reach someone in their guild, but if their guru is offline or busy then that character is out of luck even if there's another GM who is available and would like to help.

Part of the problem is that we simply don't have that many GMs and the GMs that we do have are busy.

So I think that on the GM-side of things that reassessing the current organizational model would be a good idea. Maybe switch from a system of approval to veto where anyone can assist, but gurus can veto another GM's actions within their sphere of influence. Ideally, people keep better notes so that vetoes aren't necessary. When I GMed ElseMU* I had to almost sign-out NPCs and leave a quick note about what I did with them when I was done. You just have to trust people enough to do the right thing with the game even if it isn't the perfect thing.

But I think an even better, more important suggestion is to delegate. Give some of that "work" to the players and it not only lifts some of the burden off of the GMs but gives the players the real sense that they are an active, contributing part of the world. Start putting PCs in positions of leadership based on their RP and empower them to handle the day-to-day affairs of their guilds. I think about some of the other MU*s where guilds are almost entirely player-run and how much more invested players are in their guilds. It can get pretty crazy and even incestuous at times, so I think it is a good idea keeping guild leaders and either top-tier members as GMPCs, but surely some player-involvement is better than none, and the general abilities are going to provide a fantastic opportunity.

With general abilities, we can have a effective, powerful characters without ever joining a guild, so there's not really a penalty for not joining a guild right away. You can still learn to ride, shoot, and track without ever becoming an Outrider. You can learn to fight without ever joining the Mercenaries. You can learn bushcraft and archery without becoming Udemi. Also, since we all get the same point pool at the same time and both our general and guild-specific abilities draw from that pool, I don't see why we'd keep guild ranks. Your ability to grind tasks does not reflect how well you really perform your duties. Your RP does.

What I suggest is taking one or two stellar PCs from each guild and giving them an RP promotion to a rank that actually matters. These are established characters who stick around and embody what the GMs want to see for that guild. It makes sense for the GMPCs to promote them to a position of leadership and responsibility. Give these PCs the ability to induct new members into their guilds and eliminate the ability for people to walk off the street and join. Occasionally a GM might need to step in if there's a scheduling problem or something, but for the most part you want people to RP their way into the guild and you want the existing guild members to be the gatekeepers. You want people to be more invested in their guilds than what it takes to type "guild join" and with general abilities they are still viable characters.

And while we're at it, give the leadership PCs the ability to award guild resources. All that stuff we can just buy with recognition points? Now it's awarded to you by leadership. Throw in some stuff that has no purpose besides separating out ranks and commending people for doing a good job. Make screwing up hurt because you lose it. It sounds silly or even petty, but there's a reason the military has rank insignia, hands out medals, and fights over who does or does not get to wear a particular hat. "I have what you don't, and I freaking earned it. You want this? You have to earn it too."

If I were to do it with the Outriders, it'd probably look something like this.
  • Characters interested in joining the Outriders are called "boots," "greenhorns," "frogs," or some other quasi-demeaning term for "new guy." They haven't even joined the guild yet, but they aren't penalized since all of the Outrider abilities are general abilities. They just don't get the title and calling yourself an Outrider before you are one is a real quick way to piss everyone off.
  • It isn't until a character gets their first kill, thereby becoming "blooded," that they are invited to join the Outriders. You've spilled blood by our side, and there's no going back. Our enemies are now your enemies and you've proven your commitment, so you're one of us. New Outriders are awarded the crossed pistols and horseshoe badge identifying them as full-fledged Outriders.
  • Outriders who perform meritorious service or otherwise distinguish themselves are awarded a pair of spurs. Maybe they have a mechanical benefit. Maybe they're just freaking cool. Whatever the case, if you see an Outrider wearing spurs, you should probably move to one side.
What do Templar have to do to earn their destriers? Do Elemancers have to write and defend a thesis before they can become Masters? What crazy heist does a Thief have to pull before their peers respect them? I don't know, and I'm not suggesting the GMs have to know either. Leave it to the players who wrap their minds around their characters almost every day. Just give them a little mechanical support and the authority to act.

Things mean so much more when you earn them. Ever wonder why Elystole doesn't ride one of those spiffy Morgan horses you can only get in Shadgard? Because there's a story behind his generic, dusky gray warhorse that you simply can't replace by dropping 20,000 riln (or 20,000 recognition points) on something. Abolish recognition points. Think of the stories that will come out of "Where did you get spurs?" or "What's that feather mean?" or "How did you join your guild?"

Make it fun. Rule of Cool some stuff. And get players involved in their guilds in such a way that they have something to show for it besides abilities. I would think that being able to approach your leadership PC and ask them for help - and have them able to deliver it - is infinitely better than our current system of "Send a letter to your guild leader and wait a month or two for a reply (if ever)." Let the leadership PC be the gateway to the guild leader so that most requests are handled by players and only the really hard stuff gets handed up to GMs. Let the GMs focus on stuff that only GMs can do so that it can be awesome.

I'm starting to ramble, but I hope I conveyed the point. I think you'll see more and better RP because it matters, more people sticking with their characters because that's how you build a reputation, and people coming up with some really unexpected but cool stuff to inject life into the game. And I think that effect will radiate out from guilds to other facets of life.
You overhear the following rumor:
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Vitello
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Vitello » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:10 pm

On a Mux I once played there were 'player storytellers' that had a 'kit' that could create custom monsters and give treasure rolls. The higher the the player's storyteller level the tougher the monsters and the better the treasure. This allowed players to create stories and 'dungeon crawls' on their own without staff dependency. Personally I wish I had access to this with Vitello to send other pcs on jobs, even if Vitello go no ic reward it would be great to rp and give others things to do.

Player controlled factions can be awesome for promoting activity. On another game I played there was a 'resource bin' that could be fed gathered resources to fuel various things (production, literacy, mortality rate, corruption) Power struggles and politics were great fun to, but they are corruptible by cliques and powergamers.
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jilliana
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by jilliana » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:07 am

I'm glad that a few points on Elystole's post were brought up as they are things that I have been thinking about and bothered me since before Jilliana left the Knight's Templar some months ago.
Elystole wrote:What I think gets overlooked and is an even bigger problem is that characters are mostly static. We have nothing to shoot for except increased skills and guild ranks, and guild ranks and abilities cap out eventually. It's probably why so many people have so many alts. The treadmill is a chore. Our guilds forever treat us like mere grunts or children, we're doing the same things all the time with nothing to show for it, and on the occasion that we do come up with some way to amuse ourselves for a bit or a GM does run an event there are almost no lasting effects. "Things go back to normal like nothing really ever happened.
This is exactly why I created an alt or three after having decided since creating Jilliana that she would be my first and only character. Things changed after I realized that I have nowhere to go with her unless I wanted to grind skills endlessly and look for RP that may not always be readily at hand. She got all the abilities with the Templar and had nothing to show it but a lot of frustration (mostly ICly stuff that still bothers me to this day) and fancy abilities...none of which I got to keep. Creating an alt was the only way I could truly enjoy CLOK again without outright leaving the game. I felt like after she left the Templar I had to start over and boy was that restart quite the shocker... I'm not complaining at all, but it was unexpected for sure.
As for the point about GM run events and things going back to normal as if nothing happened...well...there aren't enough game-changing events to warrant a huge change and have characters affected long-term. A lot of the events that we do have are just a variation on a theme. I'm not saying it's a bad thing at all, but the variation of the theme eventually does become routine.
I've been thinking that it'd be kind of nice to see another event similar to that of the Shadgard/Corvus event that happened...years ago now. I get the impression that a lot of it was PC run with GM influence thrown in. Not only that, but newer players aren't bothered by that bit of CLOK's history. It's like a myth or something one-sided when really it seemed to have affected the entire playerbase in some way at the time. The Emleth event recently could have been close but that got shot down and it ended...abruptly with seeming no explanation and it feels...off and incomplete in a bad way to me.
Some players have wanted to create plots for their characters that weren't fully supported by the staff and I found that to be part of the problem. One GM likes the conflict a particular backstory where another doesn't agree with it at all and in essence chokes the RP and conflict occasionally needed on the game. That can be discouraging to a player and they wonder why they should even make the effort if it's going to be choked upon trying.

And that takes me to another of Elystole's points:
Elystole wrote:The GMs are frustrated because they want to get characters involved but the characters vanish or start playing alts. I want to say that's because the players are frustrated since it seems like nothing they do matters so they either stop playing completely or roll an alt for a bit of novelty since that's all they can do. I haven't seen big plots go down that really highlighted a particular character. I can't think of a single example of a player who has somehow managed to distinguish themselves inside their guild and risen above the rank of anonymous task henchman who usually can't even get the time of day from their leadership. There are veteran players that seem to embody their guild yet seem to be nobodies.
I can think of only one plot in which something happened to a particular character, and even then only a limited number of players were involved. I don't know all the details but from what I have been able to gather ICly, that's the impression I got. Of course, it doesn't mean that there weren't other plots.
I think that a lot of the players, particularly the players who managed to make an influencial character in a particular guild do get recognized by other players. Alexander, Gad, Orris, Spearhead...just to mention a few...are examples of this. It would be nice if influencial characters did get looked upon with whatever respect they are warranted by the towns and hamlets they frequent and by the officials they speak to every time they log in. It would make sense that if Morcant or another guild master saw Jilliana enough times, he would see her as more than just another member of the guild, but as an experienced fighter who bled and died for them...and maybe give her assignments that would show that level of respect that don't include just another run to the Infested Logging Camp.

There are players, me included, that have backstories that have developed over the course of playing and learning about CLOK but not sure how far a GM is willing to go to support that backstory and help contribute to it. An example of this would be someone from Jilliana's passed. I would like for them to show up out of the blue and for something to happen there. Like Elystole, I'm not even sure how far a GM is willing to go to support certain RP that would make a character more three-dimentional.

I don't really have an opinion about the condition of the staff other than it has changed since I started playing well over a year ago. That's always bound to happen and often it's something that can't be controled. Maybe they do need to delegate or change some things, but I trust that the staff will make the necessary changes without it affecting the playerbase too much.
Elystole wrote:What I suggest is taking one or two stellar PCs from each guild and giving them an RP promotion to a rank that actually matters. These are established characters who stick around and embody what the GMs want to see for that guild. It makes sense for the GMPCs to promote them to a position of leadership and responsibility. Give these PCs the ability to induct new members into their guilds and eliminate the ability for people to walk off the street and join. Occasionally a GM might need to step in if there's a scheduling problem or something, but for the most part you want people to RP their way into the guild and you want the existing guild members to be the gatekeepers. You want people to be more invested in their guilds than what it takes to type "guild join" and with general abilities they are still viable characters.
I can see two sides to this.
Positive:
* Less GM influence with character development and more roleplay in general.
* It helps a player determine the destiny for their character.
* It forces characters to know who is in their guild and who isn't.
* Less need for a bunch of characters to mail one NPC about the same issue, and in effect flooding the system with mail when an experienced PC can just assist with.
* Helps a player feel more involved in influencing the world they enter when they log into CLOK.
There are probably a few other positives but I can't think of any more at the moment.

Negative:
* Creates a more obvious hierarchy that can backfire if a PC put in charge takes a guild in a downward direction
* What's to keep the PC guild gatekeeper from just inviting his buddies without the RP needed to join the guild?
* Some guilds don't have enough characters in them to establish a balanced position of leadership
Elystole wrote:And while we're at it, give the leadership PCs the ability to award guild resources. All that stuff we can just buy with recognition points? Now it's awarded to you by leadership. Throw in some stuff that has no purpose besides separating out ranks and commending people for doing a good job. Make screwing up hurt because you lose it. It sounds silly or even petty, but there's a reason the military has rank insignia, hands out medals, and fights over who does or does not get to wear a particular hat. "I have what you don't, and I freaking earned it. You want this? You have to earn it too."
I agree with a reward system for those characters who earned something special from their guild to evidence their service. I don't agree that it should be handed out by PCs. There is something nice about being recognized by the true officials of a guild.

In essence, with the right balance, I hope something does change. GMs want characters to stick around, but they must give us something to stick around for. Elystole mentioned abolishing recognition points and I don't agree with that. Players need that instant gratification in addition to something better to come in the future. Give characters certain tasks to show their level of importance in the pecking order of the guild that aren't included in the randomly generated list of tasks according to their skill level.
Rias said that once abilities are generalized, guild RP is going to be more important to focus on. We need to know as players what kind of roleplay will and won't be encouraged...and if even character conflict to affect a guild is going to be shot down. How can we make our characters and guilds more three-dimentional without putting strain on the staff?

I tried to say the above stated as constructively as possible and hope that the GMs will take some of it under serious consideration. I'd like to think that some of the players on CLOK have earned the trust of the GMs to give them the degree of power and importance that they deserve and definitely have earned. Not only that, but people will be happier because the player gets to stick to a character they love and the GM gets to create events around characters that stick around for longer periods of time.
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Fayne
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Fayne » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:37 am

Both Jilliana and Elystole have inspired me to add my two cents.

Alright, so, first, I want to address the thing that really inspired me to throw in my say:
Jilliana wrote:There are players, me included, that have backstories that have developed over the course of playing and learning about CLOK but not sure how far a GM is willing to go to support that backstory and help contribute to it. An example of this would be someone from Jilliana's passed. I would like for them to show up out of the blue and for something to happen there. Like Elystole, I'm not even sure how far a GM is willing to go to support certain RP that would make a character more three-dimentional.
This right here really made me want to speak up. Personally, I see that backstories do absolutely nothing for a character unless you are trying to create a monk or templar, and I'm not even sure that a good backstory is a requirement to join either guild anymore. See, here's the thing: In my two years of playing CLOK, I have created nearly 25 characters. Most of them were flops, created to try out a guild, or out of sheer boredom. Most of them will never see the light of day again. I've been contemplating bringing at least one of them back just so I can try and have some fun again (more on that later). But, out of those 25 characters, I have 8 that became at least somewhat well established, either in skills, RP, or both. Out of those 8 characters, 3 had backstories, 2 had sort of "shadow" backstories that weren't set in stone and I was constantly trying to get where I liked them, and 3 had no backstory whatsoever. My two most well-known characters are of course Drayla and Fayne. Everyone who currently plays knows Fayne, and I'm sure most oldbies and GMs remember Drayla.

In my opinion, Drayla was my most well-established character; she had lots of friends, was always involved in anything that had to do with her guild, and while her skills were and still are quite horrible, that is because I spent 90% of my time playing her in RP of one kind or another.

Fayne is pretty well-known by most characters and probably all players. Her skills are decent, still need lots of improvement, and her RP is, well, different. I don't enjoy her RP half of the time, (more on that soon) but at this point I think she's too involved with other characters to just move on to someone else, and I created her to be my main, so I'm determined not to drop her.

Now, do you know what's funny about those two characters? The most enjoyable and well-established one, Drayla, is the one who has no backstory. I never made one for her, amd as time has gone on it has been harder and harder to even think of one for her. At this point, I honestly don't think it matters, and I'd just BS my way through any IC questions concerning anything to do with her past. Fayne, on the other hand, has a backstory that I'm proud of, I sat and thought about it for days, weeks even, and prodded Riad for Huec lore just to make her backstory as lore-friendly and well thought out as possible.

However, I'm now going to address Fayne's rather unenjoyable RP, as I think it stems from her backstory, and I believe this also relates to Jilliana's point of how the GMs seem averse to a lot of conflict-driven RP. See, I had made this backstory with a certain progression in mind. I wanted to create some conflict-driven RP, and I can't get more specific than that because I still have a shred of hope that maybe I will actually get to pursue my original plotline eventually, since the timing and situations are perfect for it right now. Anyway, back on topic, I laid out my ideas in my original backstory, amd tweaked it a bit when pfficial Huec lore was released so it would be a bit more lore-friendly. I got a compliment on my backstory from Rias. I thought this showed promise. However, what I had truly wanted feedback on was my character progression ideas. Now, I'm not a child, I wasn't looking to make up my own personal RP to go along to get my character where I wanted her, although I would have happily done so if asked. All I really wanted, though, was either "No, not gonna happen, sorry," or "Yeah, we can totally do that." So, I waited, and played her out in pursuit of my goals to the best of my abilities. I sent in updates on her, letting the GMs know what she was doing, what she was thinking, what her plans were. After a month, month and a half of this, with no hint at progression whatsoever, I was getting a bit anxious. I didn't want Fayne to get where I envisioned her in a day, but I also didn't want the small handful of events I had mentioned to take a whole year to play out, that'd just be absurd. So I started taking the initiative. I joined the Tse Gaiyan in an attempt to push things along myself, and create an extra bit of RP to go with it. I sent in another update, which may have been my last if I remember correctly, detailing why Fayne had suddenly decided to join the Tse Gaiyan, what her plans were, what her thoughts were, a general ipdate on her. I never got a response. The most I ever got was about two months later I had exactly two sentences that were a GM emote of some kind that I can only assume were thoughts or a voice in Fayne's head, and I'm still confused about that, because it said some pretty serious stuff, then poofed away, never has said anything since, nothing ever came of it, it's like it never happened.

I've pretty much given up on Fayne's original plans by now. I haven't sent in am update in months because honestly I have no idea where Fayne is at right now. I have no other plans for her, and I have huge road blocks in my way. I would love to go back to my original idea for her, but I can't do that without GM support, as, while my idea is rather simple, it's not something I have the ability to do on my own as a player. If it's still possible, please, GMs, contact me, all you have to do is ask my ideas, I do have ideas as to how Fayne can progress if I get some support.

Anyway, back to my original point. It seems to me that a character without a backstory is actually preferable in CLOK, as it lets you be open-emded with your character, make s ap decisions that may not make sense for a character with an established backstory, amd most importantly, if you have something come up that relies on GM involvement, you can turn around, shrug your shoulders, and go in a different direction, because it rarely ever happens, and takes, as Elystole said, weeks or months to get something as simple as a response to a letter. I know this may seem like bad RP, but honestly, if you want to, you know, play a game, and not have to work through endless hours of being completely stalled out, then you have to have a character who is less defined and more fluid, as least with the way things are now.

As for Elystole's topic of guilds, I have to agree. Generally, wjen you first join, the other PCs might treat you like a newbie, but after about a month, the PCs will treat you just the same as the other PCs in tour guild, and the NPCs will always treat you the same as the other PCs, no matter what. The closest we've come so far to special treatment or honorinv distinguished characters is Tse Gaiyan's trusted stores, as well as a few characters who got given pretty much meaningless titles not all that long ago, and not even all of those were given to distinguished characters, at least one was given to the first person to eventually volunteer.

Anyway, I won't beat a dead horse on this topic. Great suggestions have already been given, and I can't really add anything meaningful to them other than my support.

One thing I do want to emphasize my support on though is Jilliana's comment on wanting another Shadgard/Corvus thing. While some of that lies with the players as much as the GMs, I would just like to point out that it seems years ago things were a lot more exciting and fun on CLOK. Every oldbie that played three or more years ago seems to have a special story all their own. There are remnants of what seem to have been pretty amazing plotlines dotted all around the place, especially near Shadgard. We have signs and locations mentioning or belonging to certain individuals, some of whom I have never even seen online in my two years. There are things I've seen and known about their existance for ages, and yet if you ask ICly, no one ever knows, and going OOC for information gets you bitched out for trying to find out IC information OOCly. We have characters who are known for special abilities, and spectacular feats, the likes of which I've never seen a character do in two years. The GMs just don't seem to be as involved with the playerbase as much as they used to be. Amd yeah, as great as bugfixes are, and as much as I love new features, unless there it is something game-breaking or game-changing, I'd much rather see more GM interaction with the players. All the features in the world won't make the game more enjoyable than gripping plotlines and interesting little interactions here and there.

I'd have to say that the most simple solution to this problem of stale characters is likely to release generalization, then focus on player interaction over feature introduction. There are so many things planned and worked on all at once anyway that many things have been started and never finished, such as the mining overhaul. I'd much prefer to see one feature worked on at a time, slowly, with the GNs interacting with everyone more altogether and individually, than have the GMs always hidden in a corner, maybe watching, maybe not, focused more on getting features and bugfixes released with the occassional event when they get burnt out on code.

Alright, I've said my fill, likely forgot to mention a few things, but I'll address those later if I have. I'm sorry for the long post, and remember, these are my personal feelings, if I come across as rude, or angry, or whatever, it's because I'm frustrated that a game that I used to enjoy so much has just been getting less enjoyable, and more posts exactly like this are showing up more and more frequently. Maybe this is something we need to have a voice chat about someday, or maybe one of these posts will eventually get things sorted out.
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Lae » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:21 am

I've sat here for five minutes trying to decide if I should be blunt and honest, or polite and placating. I guess in the end we'll go for a bit of both and see where we end up.

First off, in response to the older characters having fantastic storylines and plots. Most of that wasn't because a GM dropped down from the ether and decided we should have a nifty thing. I started playing a while ago, and anyone who was around at that period of time will tell you that most of the craziness and amazing things that happened were *player driven*. Did the GM's put their fingers in? Sure. But you can't send an email and expect RP to come from there. Play out your story, don't ask for feedback and don't expect people to tell you if you can go in a certain direction. Do what you think your character would do and if it's so abhorrently wrong someone will eventually tap you on your head and say, you know...that's never going to work.

There are a few reasons why emailing an update and expecting a storyline to blossom isn't going to work. First off, most RP and amazing character driven progression happens because of something you say, do, or get involved in that can be prodded into a story. Everything is fluid, you're not going to be able to control every aspect of who gets involved, what they're going to say and how that is going to pan out. All these amazing things happened in the past because we went out, caused trouble, yelled, argued, talked to and even attacked other players.

Besides that tidbit, I agree on a lot of what was said. Not how it was presented, but the core of it makes a lot of sense. I've always been around for the RP, and grinding isn't really my thing. Once you reach a certain point you really are just knocking around looking for something to do and unless you are good at engaging yourself with lots of different people you can't always find that. The reason I've not been around so much is because I'm not a fan of grinding, and my character is so established and has opinions and other things that keep her from getting involved in some of the current storylines. I'm not going to radically shift her personality to fit her into anything happening. I've been stubborn about that from the outset, so I just log in and listen to chat and ESP to see if anything pops up. Sometimes it does, most times it does not.

For those of you out there who feel that you've been pushed in a certain direction because of the GM's, just remember they are people too and they might have ideas about a way your character can go, but in the end it's all up to you. You don't have to do what an NPC tells you to do. If you feel your character is going in a direction and you like what it is. Stick with it. The only time you should ever abandon your character's methods or actions is when you are approached OOCly and told that it isn't going to work and that doesn't happen all that often. It's upsetting to see that people give up on what could be amazing character development just because someone didn't tell them that it was okay to do it.

Nobody is going to map out your character's life except you. It's not going to turn out how you expect it to either, and that's not because of GM's it's because nothing ever goes as planned.


TL;DR Do what makes you feel right about your character, validation isn't necessary unless you're completely butchering lore.

Also - have fun. This is the most important thing.
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Fayne » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:22 am

Alright, I have to respond, to because I think an important aspect was missed in my post.

I was not complaining because I didn't get catered to on my every whim. I didn't piddle around and wait for something to happen. I opened up to a few characters, I tried following my plans, for a month I did all the limited things I could to push the story along. By actually telling a couple of people about Fayne's backstory ICly, I actually added to my plan, because I never actually planned on telling anyone.

But you see, my storyline involved interacting with a faction that normally would rather attack and kill you sooner than look at you, so in order to progress at all, I absolutely had to have GM intervention. Not that Fayne didn't progress at all in that month, oh no, I actually got her fleshed out quite well. But I wasn't making any real progress, and so I decided to try a new tactic. Here I am now, 6 months later, still absolutely no progress made toward my original character idea, despite my continued efforts to work toward it. Yes, I have slowly stopped trying, because it has been six, damn, months. I envisioned the whole storyline taking six months when I started Fayne, give or take a couple months.

There are only two or three major points to it, all of which need GM interaction, one of which is completely optional.And honestly, I wouldn't mind not having completed my goal by now if I had made even a hint of progress, a word of encouragement, literally anything letting me know I'm not wasting my time. As it stands, I don't know if my storyline is something I can even do, not because it's iffy on lore, but because we have mechanics, and we have certain things that no PC is ever going to achieve no matter how hard they work toward it, like joining the Mining Guild in Shadgard, which has specifically been said is impossible to join.

So there, I hope I cleared things up again. I'm not whining that I haven't had things go my way, I'm irritated and frustrated that I've never gotten so much as a hint as to whether or not I can ever achieve my goal no matter how hard I work for it, and because the few times I have actually asked for help or advice, about this plot or others Fayne has been in, I've either not gotten a response, or basically been told to figure it out myself, which is really a moot point to make, as I wouldn't come forward asking for advice if I had any idea as to what to do, since I know my character better than anyone else.

Anyway, I'm ranting again. /endrant
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Lae » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:36 am

Fayne wrote:Alright, I have to respond, to because I think an important aspect was missed in my post.

I was not complaining because I didn't get catered to on my every whim. I didn't piddle around and wait for something to happen. I opened up to a few characters, I tried following my plans, for a month I did all the limited things I could to push the story along. By actually telling a couple of people about Fayne's backstory ICly, I actually added to my plan, because I never actually planned on telling anyone.

But you see, my storyline involved interacting with a faction that normally would rather attack and kill you sooner than look at you, so in order to progress at all, I absolutely had to have GM intervention. Not that Fayne didn't progress at all in that month, oh no, I actually got her fleshed out quite well. But I wasn't making any real progress, and so I decided to try a new tactic. Here I am now, 6 months later, still absolutely no progress made toward my original character idea, despite my continued efforts to work toward it. Yes, I have slowly stopped trying, because it has been six, damn, months. I envisioned the whole storyline taking six months when I started Fayne, give or take a couple months.

There are only two or three major points to it, all of which need GM interaction, one of which is completely optional.And honestly, I wouldn't mind not having completed my goal by now if I had made even a hint of progress, a word of encouragement, literally anything letting me know I'm not wasting my time. As it stands, I don't know if my storyline is something I can even do, not because it's iffy on lore, but because we have mechanics, and we have certain things that no PC is ever going to achieve no matter how hard they work toward it, like joining the Mining Guild in Shadgard, which has specifically been said is impossible to join.

So there, I hope I cleared things up again. I'm not whining that I haven't had things go my way, I'm irritated and frustrated that I've never gotten so much as a hint as to whether or not I can ever achieve my goal no matter how hard I work for it, and because the few times I have actually asked for help or advice, about this plot or others Fayne has been in, I've either not gotten a response, or basically been told to figure it out myself, which is really a moot point to make, as I wouldn't come forward asking for advice if I had any idea as to what to do, since I know my character better than anyone else.

Anyway, I'm ranting again. /endrant
I get your frustration. Really I do. Try RPing being pregnant for nine months without knowing if the GM's were accepting of it/going to do anything with it.

I didn't stop. I didn't give up. Maybe the thing you want to happen hasn't been something that could happen yet. I read your post Fayne, twice. I get what you are saying. I'm not saying to be patient, I'm saying that sometimes what YOU want isn't something that can be done yet or ...something that the GM's want to do. Don't focus on something and then get defeated when it doesn't happen. KEEP GOING. It's your character. You have a vision. KEEP. GOING.
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Fayne » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:39 am

And I appologize for being so rude in my response.

I will contact you outside this post, Lae. However, I do think I caused us to derail the topic a bit, so I think it's only fair I bring the focus back to the original point.

I would love to see characters take on more commanding positions in their guilds. I also like the idea of items to show rank. I do have two concerns though.

First, what if the people who are in those higher positions stop playing? How long do we let them stay gone before passing on their title to someone else, and what do we do if and when they come back? Sure, this would help give everyone a fair chance to take that position, but it would bring things to a halt for a while every time that character became neglected or leaves. The only other option is to give it to people who are always around and play all the time, and have been around for a long time. However, then you have an inflexible system where the same people are always large and in charge, and no one else ever has the opportunity to ruse up into those positions. Maybe every few months a vote could be had between a few candidates to keep it rotating and give everyone a chance, and restrict people to having no more than two or three sessions in a row of having a commanding title?

Secondly, this system wouldn't make sense with every guild, and I can't think of a way to adjust it to their style. The Claw, for instance, is run by one person, and to have a position of power in that guild would be a lot more than simply proving yourself to be a good Claw. And the thieves, I doubt they'd want any way of identifying how important they are in their guild, no matter how subtle.

My last issue is, generalization is supposed to be making it so joining a guild is no longer this super important thing that you'd be crazy not to do. It's supposed to level the playing field not only between the guilds, and improve the RP for those in guilds, but to also make going guildless a perfectly viable option that gives you no disadvantages. It's meant to improve RP for everyone. So, I'm a little concerned that a system like this might be slightly detrimental to those who go guildless, as focus will be slightly more on the guilds still.
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Re: Long-Term Goals

Post by Rias » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:26 pm

(Disclaimer: Due to the numerous walls of text, I will not be responding to every point brought up. If you think I missed or didn't comment on something that's important, let me know and I'll be happy to comment on an issue specifically!)

I like the idea of giving PCs more of a say and function in guild dealings - depending on the guild. Some lend themselves to it better than others. We've actually already started some of this as of a while ago! We've got some guilds where some members have the authority to find and initiate new members, members of various guilds who hold considerable clout but don't use it often (which I think is good, we don't want it to be overused/abused), and we have Tse Gaiyan most recently whom has elected several officers amongst the PC guildmembers. The last has gone, um, interestingly. I haven't paid a huge amount of attention because Tse Gaiyan isn't my focus, but I do know it's caused some drama. Overall though, I think it's reall nifty.

One thing to remember is that being a high guild rank due to grinding auto guildpoint gain activities and tasks doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot, frankly. You can be all kinds of wrong for a guild and still be a high guild rank from grinding. Just wanted to remind that guildrank (as currently implemented) does not equate to authority or official position.

Another thing we're conscious of is that a leadership role will often burn a player out VERY quickly. This doesn't mean we're never going to appoint leadership roles, but we're wary of when to do so and what kind of scope that role has.

Some guilds just don't have many members, so appointing leadership roles or offices would be kind of pointless. Other guilds, I have a hard time coming up with believable special positions for. And yet other guilds have their leaders encourage their members to be proactive in establishing themselves and taking on roles rather than the leader assigning them. I can see how people would like it more if an NPC officially gave them a role of some kind, though.

I think player-handled allocation of some limited guild resources could be interesting in the right situations. It'd be fun to test on a small scale and see how it's handled.

On guild leaders and contacting them: I'll admit, this is often a source of frustration to us (in a general sense beyond guilds - it extends to non-guild NPCs as well). I can understand wanting to get your guild's official thoughts or policy or advice on a matter, but we want the members to be proactive and to be the ones making decisions and taking action, rather than going to their guild (or an NPC or NPC organization) and asking them to come up with a plan or take action. The PCs are the heroes, the world-changers, the ones who get things done. I can totally understand wanting to get more support and recognition by the NPC side of the world so that you all really DO feel like the heroes, world-changers, and so on. It's something I've fallen short on. Point taken, and not begrudgingly or anything. And I do recognize that sometimes it makes complete sense to go to an NPC. It just frustrates us when sometimes people seem to refuse to do anything because they're expecting NPCs to handle it instead.

Regarding generalization and impact on guilds: I meant more that a big part of the idea was that people wouldn't think they HAD to join a guild in order to be viable and go joining guilds they had no real interest in, beyond picking up some of the abilities. Joining a guild would be more of an RP decision than a mechanical one (though obviously guilds will still have some mechanical benefits in way of facilities, exclusive items, and some unique abilities (mostly magical and trade secrets)). It didnt mean that we were going to go all gungho crazy on amping up on guild events and stuff (not saying that we won't try to give guild RP more love, because I want to, but that wasn't necessarily tied to generalization).

Regarding GM involvement with players in general: I think a lot of it goes unnoticed because it's not always big, large-scope things. I've done a lot of fun stuff with players on individual levels lately. It rarely gets shared or talked about, and I'm fine with that. Some experiences are personal and don't need to be shouted from the rooftops. Pretty much all of the Emleth refugee stuff was handled by several different individuals, so I can see how there might be a sense of "did that just disappear without being resolved satisfactorily?" I don't think so - it's just that it involved several different people making individual efforts that all eventually culminated in the wrapping-up of that situation.

Regarding Fayne's situation: I don't want to get into much Fayne-specific detail in a public discussion, but I have a few things I'd like to say.

Firstly, we did talk a little about it (Fayne's player and I), and I did say I liked the ideas and concepts. I still do! But I have to say that we (the GMs) were all kind of blown away when your character seemed to pull a complete 180 and her apparent desires became the complete opposite of the original intent as we understood it. You seemed to be taking the character in a completely different direction, likely due to events going on at the time, and I didn't want to smack you and say "Hey, what about the original plan? Get back to that!" because it's your character. Characters develop, and things change both from both a player and a character perspective. We found it pretty clear Fayne had changed and had a different path in mind at that point, and she seemed like she was having a good time of it and enjoying herself!

Secondly, I don't like making specific large character arc or plan commitments to anyone. I don't think I've ever sat with anyone and committed to a series of events as part of their story arc. I do like to give encouragement and broad approval of concepts that would fit with the game and lore, but I don't like giving guarantees that something specific will happen and pan out exactly as desired/expected. I encourage people to pursue what they want and stick to it. By all means, email us (clok@contrarium.net) to ask if character concepts and backstories and hoped-for future plans are lore-friendly and viable. I'd say that rather than wait for a specific black-and-white "Yes, let's do this specific plan", instead go ahead and do what you want to unless you're pulled aside and told "this is not going to work." That tends to only happen when it's an issue with lore. For instance, we had someone who was claiming to be part of a Viali patrol in the Lost Lands - but there are no Viali patrols in the Lost Lands. With the exception of Valeria (which is a garrison of people who just want to go home at this point, they don't do any routine patrols or anything), the Viali stay out of the Quarantine. I let the player know that via tells (or it may have been emails/PMs, I can't remember) because it would have been real awkward to have them continue on when it didn't reconcile with the lore.

Thirdly, if you have an extraordinary character concept in mind, please try to be patient when it comes to GM support. Some things do require GM action, yes, but situations and mechanics take time to get set up and planned out. Don't expect extraordinary things to pan out within a month of character creation (not saying it's impossible, but don't have it as an expectation). We often give people a period of time in which we want them to prove themselves, because we don't want to give someone something special just for them to squander it or change their mind about it later, or something like that. We want to see that someone's really dedicated to an extraordinary idea before we give them extraordinary attention and mechanics/situations to support it. Maybe that's a bad attitude, but that's how I approach things.

Fourthly, I just wanted to use the word "fourthly".
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