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Archive for January, 2010

Thinking About: Exclusivity

January 30, 2010 10 comments

Here are the facts:

OtherSpace gets maybe 20-30 new visitors logging on to check out the game during an average month. Of those, maybe five stick around to give it a chance. Of those, we’re lucky if one really commits long-term to the character they’ve created.

From a promotional standpoint, this can be fairly demoralizing, especially when we have gone to great lengths to make the game so damned easy to join.

So, it occurred to me, maybe I’ve been thinking about it all wrong. Maybe ease of entry is the problem. People run through the simplified character creation in-game, usually without reading the material, just to make it onto the grid and disconnect before anyone can interact with them. Maybe the simplicity of the process puts forward a message like “Hey, you can join. Or not. It’s no big deal. Whatever.” And that sounds like the wrong message to me.

Maybe the message needs to be: “We’re concerned about quality. We’re looking for commitment. We don’t want just anybody running around the place. We’re exclusive. But we want to make sure you feel at home too.”

If we turn things to a new perspective, then those five people who give OtherSpace a real chance each month are the basis for us to say, for purposes of discussion, that we’ve got five open new player slots each month. We could set up a web-based character tutorial, have newbies read through it, and then submit an application via email at its conclusion. If a player’s application is approved, we set them up for entry into the game and close one of the available slots for that month. If we’re lucky enough to get six people interested during a month, then we start a waiting list. With that, perhaps we manage to turn a perceived weakness into an actual strength.

It’s not just a matter of being exclusive, though. I also want more of a hand in the character creation and player introduction process. I don’t want to miss a chance to communicate with potential new players – and an email application allows fairly rapid response.

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Quote of the Week: Better Off Ted

January 28, 2010 1 comment

Linda: When you do care, you care one hundred and crazy percent.

Wessed Up History – Week in Review 1/25/2010

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Jan. 18, 1873: One dark and stormy night, the grave proved mightier than the pen for Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
Jan. 19, 1920: U.S. Senate votes against forming League of Nations, because Justice League of America sounds cooler and involves wearing capes.
Jan. 20, 1920: A sad clown with one red balloon rode a unicorn-unicycle around a melting maternity ward as Federico Fellini came into the world.
Jan. 21, 1884: Roger Baldwin, social activist and oldest Baldwin brother on record, is born. Credited with Alec’s comedic timing and Stephen’s heavy drinking.
Jan. 22, 1906: Hither came Robert E. Howard, the Texan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, pen in hand…
Jan. 23, 971: War elephants of the Southern Han are defeated by Song Dynasty “Mouse Brigade” trained rodents.
Jan. 24, 1947: Warren Zevon is born to a werewolf drinking pina coladas at Trader Vic’s. His hair? Perfect.

State of the Union 2010

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Good speech overall, but: I wish the president hadn’t saved his best moments for the end. I’m also a little disappointed he went down the path of using that occasional “peeved” tone. Granted, it’s no secret that I have an affinity for snarkiness, but I think speeches before joint sessions of Congress and the entire free world are probably best kept at a level that can’t be easily construed as sarcastic or condescending.

Eh. I don’t regret my 2008 vote for Barack Obama, but I expect to see better from him and Congress. I’m particularly interested to see how far the spending freeze will go.

I’m cautiously optimistic. Maybe not so “Yes We Can” as 2008, perhaps more along the lines of “Yes, Maybe We Can, If We Can Get Out Of Our Own Damned Way.”

Monday MUD Day – 1/25/2010

January 25, 2010 2 comments

Here are today’s selections:

* Crossroads
* Atonement
* Ishar
* Lusternia

Looking Ahead: Crafting on OtherSpace

January 23, 2010 3 comments

The crafting system on OtherSpace is about to get a massive overhaul.

And, by overhaul, I mean – well, a full rewrite for all intents and purposes.

First, we’re setting up parent objects for all craftable items in an SQL database rather than using MUSH objects. What does this mean to the average player? Not much. For staffers, though, it will make it much easier for us to set up and modify new craftable items. It means less clutter in the MUSH object database. And it allows us to streamline the coded infrastructure behind all the crafting commands – something Colchek has been working on for the past several weeks.

Second, we’re eliminating the concept of craftlevels and item grinding. You won’t have to reach certain numerical thresholds to open access to craftable items and you won’t have to waste crafting minutes making lesser items to get to what you want to make. Instead, whether you can craft an item will be determined by your level of skill in the craft (Fair, Good, Great, etc.) and the number of crafting minutes you’ve got.

Third, we’ll have baseline weapons and armor that just about anyone can make, but more advanced versions will require certain Action Cards or Event Cards as components. For example, you might have a standard Pulse Pistol. If you’ve got Great skill and a Tier 3 Miracle Worker card, perhaps you can turn that into a Boosted Pulse Pistol, increasing the ODF.

Colchek is fairly close to finishing the code work. I’ll be moving in next to start populating the database with new items. Phase I will be all current Action Cards, Event Cards, and Veteran Rewards. Phase II will be the new Weapons, Armor, and Gadgets. Phase III will be more advanced stuff related to starship construction and colonization efforts.

We may need to replace items that are currently in your +inventory, so be sure to make note of what you’ve got before anything changes.

Thinking About: The Captain’s Chair

January 22, 2010 4 comments

It takes a special player to successfully tackle the role of a starship commander on OtherSpace.

If you’re doing it right, you’re not just some walk-on bit player who shows up once in a blue moon. You’re a regular, in-game as much as possible, recruiting new crew and making sure that the crew you’ve already got is having a good time.

You’re a walking, talking roleplaying event generator. Where you go and where your crew goes, fun often follows.

It’s not all about barking orders. As others have observed, if you want to be captain just for the sake of bossing people around, you’re going to have a short shelf life as commanding officer. People get bossed around plenty in real life, after all.

It’s about creating a dynamic situation where people have clearly defined roles and making sure that they’ve got the tools and the encouragement to use them.

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