Monday, September 14, 2009

Events for Players by Players!

It’s a pleasant Monday morning with little to no chance of the Foregate getting any easier to finish. After mapping it for the last steps of the review, the staff discovered that someone managed to botch the layout. Clearly it wasn’t me! Regardless of which event immortal may or may not have caused the issue in layout, it is in the process of being fixed and will only add a few more days onto the release schedule at most. However that isn’t what this article is about, this article is about events. Not just any events, mind you, but events for players by players!

I am, of course, speaking of player events, those often mentioned and rarely seen set of circumstances where a player can run an event just like a staff member. As the only active event immortal on the Sea of Storms, I’ve often wondered what players want out of the game. At first glance I can surmise they want roleplay and story. With a second pass, I can determine that excitement and growth of power is important. On a final overview I can see that, despite the previous two observations, maybe I don’t have an inkling of what the average Sea of Storms player wants out of their gaming experience.

So the event immortal has come to the conclusion that he doesn’t actually know what the players want. Being in charge of creating an fun experience for players through story based roleplay, makes that a bit of a problem. Yeah, it was pretty jarring for me as well. I kind of sat around for a couple weeks looking at options. I could try to change how I ran events to make them less scripted and more reactive to players. When I tried that with my co-event immortal Orson a group of players ended up staring at a door for 4 hours in a roleplay. Clearly a disaster had evolved with the approach of reacting to players instead of providing plot and guidance. To be honest, I only really tried this before realizing maybe the best people to run the events are the players. The only problem with this approach is that players can’t be trusted with forsaken, shadowspawn, rulers of countries, captains of the guard, children of the light, assassins in the great game, etc. etc.

From this impasse with allowing players to run their own events arouse the current player event design. A group of players can join a roleplay and have universal control over non-restricted NPCs; barkeeps, serving girls, citizens, travelers, scholars, even Ogier on occasion. I thought maybe I’d discovered the key to providing the players with what they want. Giddy with excitement, I brought the Idea to Luthien and he quickly agreed. In almost eight months of being in place it has been used less then eight times!

I hope that the above explains why I created the player event system, if it doesn’t then here’s a simple version. I trust players to know what they want. I thought players would like to tell their own stories. I know the players on the Sea of Storms can be a creative and fun group.

With all this being said, I will be using this devblog entry to announce a new tool in the player event line. Hopefully this will help entice players to use it and grow comfortable with running their own events. Starting on 09.14.09, I will be providing player event kits. These kits will include NPCs with descriptions, motivations, and roleplay notes. In addition, they will include holodeck room descriptions and in some cases premade items.

It is my hope that with these easy to use player events, players will start to use the system. There’s a lot of really cool stuff that could be done on the Sea of Storms if the player event system was more widely used. In fact I’ve designed some storylines completely around the player event system. Which causes a bit of a problem considering it has been used only rarely. I can’t release these storylines until players have actively shown they can responsibly control NPCs and story first.

- Jeshin

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