Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maintaining Event Momentum With IBGAs

Everyone gets that addiction after a good event. They send a lot of IG emails. They post on IG forums. They go through tags. They figure out what skills they'll get next.

They're totally hooked from the event momentum.

But the problem is that they can only do so much in between events before they lose interest. That's when we see the lulls in forum activity or lacking responses to IG emails.

But what if you could cultivate that momentum year round?

You see, we've always had a strange relationship with IBGAs. The problem is that there's only so much that can be done between events. Maybe this is due to lack of time for the plot team to get back with people. Maybe it's just that the players run out of activities that can realistically be done off-board.

But what if your IBGAs were semi-automated? What if you gave the players a field in which they could trade, politic, and interact with others without involving plot. And what if you could link that activity back into events?

Well, I bet you'd have a perfect storm of enthusiasm for your game.

Let's take a look at games like Darkon*. In that game, there is a whole world involving grids that people fight over. And they can do interactions with those grids outside of the game. I love the idea.

The real difficulty is balance. You need to make sure that the system has some effect on the event, but you don't want it to have more impact than actions performed at the event.

So what's the solution? Universal benefits.

Create a goal that the players need to work together to obtain. In my mind, it would look something like this web-browser game Pardus** that I played back in the day. As long as the players can pool together enough resources, an effect happens that is beneficial to everyone at the event. Maybe all craftsman can make twice as many items as normal. Maybe everyone trains for free. Maybe a certain module area is unlocked, where players can get the phat lootz. Any of those would work.

And to keep them involved, make it so that interactions can happen monthly, and benefits can stock up if, say, you don't have another event for 3 months.

The big downside is that you need to find a way to involve everyone, and to do that probably requires some considerable work - not just in design, but also in programming.

But it would be awesome, wouldn't it?

Edit: I realize I probably should have used links for Darkon and Pardus.

*Darkon - http://www.darkon.org/ or YouTube Thursday: Darkon
**Pardus - http://www.pardus.at

7 comments:

  1. Larpcraft.com already does this in many ways via role play scrolls, minecraft server, teamspeak voip... All of it earns you xp and keeps players going between games.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How does the XP from the IBGA stuff compare to the XP one would receive at an event? I would be worried about it overshadowing game attendance, but I think any limit per time period could take care of that nicely.

    How's the Minecraft server working out for you guys? Is it intended to be an IG world, or is it just for social interaction?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think White Wolf really invented this idea with their system of Influence Actions in Mind's Eye Theater. Both of the active boffer games I'm involved in, Trials of Terra Nova, and Kishar, offer somewhat similar systems, with different limitations and benefits.

    One common issue with such I've seen addressed in such systems is fairly meting out finite staff time to players. In ToTN, this is resolved by giving most characters only one BGA (they don't bother with the "I"), with additional BGAs being an extremely limited-availability power (available to only one Culture in the game setting; the setting offers each character the option to pick a race, a class, and a culture, all of which do have character sheet impact). Further, ToTN is structured so that most anything you wish to accomplish between games requires an appropriate ability or skill to complete, spare basic interaction activities (grouped under the heading "Socialize") and another called "Pillage", which represents looting in the surrounding area of the game-setting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The problem I see is that one BGA might not be enough of a 'fix' to keep the players involved until the next event. The benefit of an automated thing is that players can literally spend every waking moment between games doing stuff for the next game (should they choose to).

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think one of the main reasons why we don't do a TON of IBGA's at NERO (on my part anyway), is because it simply gets too overwhelming. You run a bunch of events and can really use the break over the winter to get reinvigorated and excited to run stuff. Answering endless emails gets very tedious, especially when it is typically volunteer work.

    I LOVE a good rp session or event action, especially between pc's, though. I think a really great way to do it is have pc's rp'ing/doing stuff, with plot acting more as an email moderator. Then plot can chime in once in a while, give pc's direction, etc....Another thing I've tried that worked well was a Vent rp session. People rp'd and tried to figure out what direction they wanted to go and go over all the information they'd gotten before. I was on facebook chat and they were able to ping me with specific questions on what they knew or use their co's and contacts.

    Jenn

    Jenn

    ReplyDelete
  6. A cool thing that NcN and Elkins do is the Roleplay forum on their message boards. Basically, your characters go into the tavern (or somewhere else), and just roleplay like yuo would if you were there IRL. No combats allowed, but you can still interact, amke deals, and get angry at other people. Altough theres some long periods of no posting, when it gets going it can get really fun.Like this one
    http://www.dalantia.org/smf/forum/index.php?topic=391.0, we wnt on for 37 pages brainstorming, or here
    http://www.northcoastnero.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=2259, where plot used it to set stuff up at the actual event.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Jenn and Dylan

    While I fully support IG communication between players, the problem with email strings and forum postings is that there's not a goal that can be accomplished, and so players have no incentive to stay involved. Sure, it's fun for a few players, but most will disappear shortly after an event.

    If you had a system where there was some set goal that players could chase with minimum effort by plot (again, back to automation), then players would be naturally drawn to participate.

    Let's say each player has a chit that they can spend each month on a number of things. For this example, let's say one of the things you can spend chits on is the alchemy lab. If enough chits are spent before an event on the lab, all alchemy production is doubled at that event. Unfortunately, there aren't enough alchemists to reach that threshold. That means you have to get chits from other players who aren't alchemists.

    Now players start politicking between one another to try and get those chits from other players, either through buying chits from others, bartering, or even blackmail. Now the alchemy guild is more than a group of people who just make alchemy. They use guild dues to make sure they have enough chits do double production each event.

    All of this can be performed with fairly simple programming/minimal input by plot. And yet, it is now beneficial for the players to stay involved in the game between events, because there's a tangible benefit to staying involved.

    That's what I'm looking for.

    PS: I added links for Darkon and Pardus, for the people who are not familiar with those games.

    ReplyDelete