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OtherSpace: 13 for 13

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The official 13th anniversary of OtherSpace will be Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.

However, I’ll be commemorating the occasion for three days, starting Monday and ending Wednesday, with a total of 13 events in honor of 13 years.

The full roster of events, times, and locations can be found on the MUSH at 1790 via +calendar.

I’m not sure yet what all will happen. All I know is that I’ll run activities throughout the anniversary celebration, powered by Sunkist, green tea, and Mountain Dew pound cake courtesy of the lovely Catherine. I also know I’ll have a special badge to honor any player who manages to participate in all 13 events (in some form or another – must make allowances for alternate universe characters). I also expect to give away a $25 gift certificate as prize. And I’ll give out copious quantities of Saga Points every time we get a new backer for the Kickstarter project during the anniversary period. AND there’ll be a PDF of all the events produced sometime later in the week.

Looking forward to the mischief and mayhem to come!


Thinking About: Empire +crafting

March 9, 2010 1 comment

The next phase of crafting – besides expanding on the fundamental types of weapons (I’ve got to add projectile, edged, bombs, etc.) and continuing the replacement of items from the other games where practical – will take things in a new direction as we start rolling out the Saga Rewards system.

I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that OtherSpace needs around-the-clock activities for players. In the past, that amounted to the concept of a trade system, which saw players flying from Point A to Point B to pick up cargo to sell for a profit. This was always pretty easy to exploit to raise individual wealth to ridiculous levels.

Now, though, I’m leaning more toward a system that doesn’t require knowledge or use of HSpace but does require Roleplaying Point and Saga Point investment from players and expands on an existing coded system so that players don’t have to learn a whole new interface to participate: Crafting.

An offshoot of the new crafting system philosophy – where modified versions of basic weapons and armor are created using Action Cards as components – I’m planning a system that will use Event Cards as components, with starship and planet objects (acquired with Saga Points) serving as equipment for the crafting of goods that can be sold to NPC vendors.

With this system, players will have the opportunity to build their own worlds, using +craft/desc and the Wiki to flesh out their vision. They’ll also be able to amass fleets of freighters without having to clutter the grid with extra rooms or satisfying pre-requisite crew numbers to get an actual HSpace vessel. However, if someone gets at least one starship object with Saga Reward points or as a Veteran Reward, they’ll be eligible to have a starship on the grid if they want it.

The goals with this system will be as follows:

1) Provide an around-the-clock activity that’s profitable but requires an investment of RPP and Saga Points
2) Create another mode for players to build their own worlds and generate their own lore on OtherSpace
3) Expand the utility of the crafting system

Between the Lines: The Lost Missionaries, Part II

February 22, 2010 9 comments

Part II of The Lost Missionaries picked up just minutes after the showdown between Jaswinder and Thayndor, with the group setting aside their differences for the time being and delving into the jungle in search of the missing Opodians and the lost rescue party.

In my original vision of this adventure, I had anticipated a more extended period of jungle exploration. However, knowing how some folks felt about each other behind the scenes, I decided it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to prolong the situation any more than necessary. Besides: Encountering trash mobs in the middle of the jungle would just dilute the story that I wanted to craft. Instead, it didn’t take more than a round of poses for the group to come upon a cave entrance flanked by two of the newly discovered “Aukampires.” Razorback also detected noise coming from the direction of the shuttle landing site.

This was soon followed by the first reveal of the evening: The two Aukampires killed the other night? They were back, cranky, and rather persistent about wanting their crystals returned.

Read more…

Between the Lines: “The Fate of Zof Annak”

February 14, 2010 2 comments

The new Shattered Mirror story arc on OtherSpace got underway last week with an event titled “The Fate of Zof Annak.”

This first thread in an extended arc was intended only to get the ball rolling. It wasn’t meant to be an epic kitchen-sink adventure. We’re just starting the rollercoaster ride, so the goal was to take a few people on the initial climb, turn, and drop.

In this case, it was the crew of the Laughing Fox. Although several crew wandered in and out of the scene at various times, it ultimately involved only three: Tiana, Fauze, and Tryg.

First, Tiana met with a couple of Hekayti merchants aboard Comorro Station. Here, she learned about a missing freighter called the Ainda and its captain, Zof Annak. Annak was overdue with a shipment of electronics from the city of Vor on Kamsho. The Hekayti agreed to pay Tiana’s crew 30,000 Hekayti Credits if they could pick up the replacement crates from Vor.

The Laughing Fox flew to Kamsho without incident. From a story perspective, it was more important to get them to Kamsho (where the story was) than it was to hammer them with a crisis en route. Once they arrived, it wasn’t long before Zof Annak’s body came tumbling out of a crate and the crew of the Laughing Fox got detained for questioning.

The next day, the crew met with two Llivori detectives – Zip and Odan. Odan was excessively uninquisitive about Zof’s demise, ready to accept that Zof had gotten himself into something nasty that led to his murder. Zip, on the other hand, wanted to keep poking and prodding at Tiana’s crew for more answers. After Odan walked away from the Laughing Fox, clearing the ship for departure, Zip ducked under the freighter’s belly and planted a device that would come into play after the Laughing Fox went into faster-than-light.

And this is when the crisis hit: The Fox went to FTL, while three worms activated within the engineering systems. If the ship dropped out of FTL, one of the worms would trigger a critical reaction in the ship’s reactor. Two of the worms, besides providing a trigger for the third, created some annoying Muzak-style tunes through the ship’s intercom system. (My goal with this was to provide some light-hearted humor to go along with the “ZOMG WE’RE GOING TO DIE!” crisis business. The players behind the characters aboard the Fox are already pretty good at this, so I wanted to play to that strength.)

Tryg and Tiana used a lot of action cards – including some received as veteran rewards and special holiday event cards – to safely resolve the crisis. They didn’t always think of this option on their own. At times, I would check their +inv and note “You could apply so-and-so to this,” and they’d usually take the advice. So, players: Remember, you’ve got those cards to use! And refs: Be sure to check those +inventories and provide some guidance when you’re putting players in peril.

After the crew got back to Comorro, they received a payment of 35,000 (including a bonus for the hazardous incident) and each participant got a medal for their +sheet commemorating their involvement in this arc event.

The Ainda is still missing and the Fox’s saboteur remains on Kamsho. What happens next? Well, that’s largely up to the crew of the Fox. Wait and see!

Thinking About: Being a little bit mercenary

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

One thing that I’ve found rather intriguing about free-to-play web games like Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Castle Age: They’re all pretty shameless about looking for ways to get money from their players.

Even more intriguing: People seem more than willing to pay, even if it means that all they’re doing is paying to change numbers in a database faster than their friends.

And, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. If people think that’s important, more power to them!

I’ve tried a few different approaches to making games profitable at during the past decade. They’ve worked with varying degrees of success:

* Chiaroscuro (2003-2009): People could acquire peasant characters for free, but paid as much as $100 to become nobility on the game. Short term, this earned a significant amount of money and paid the game’s marketing and server costs for a good while. Long term, it just wasn’t sustainable. Eventually, we dropped the price requirement on social status and went instead to the Chia Credit system. Contributions earned certain amounts of CCs, which could then be used to buy crafting minutes, property, custom weapons, and custom armor. This was a much more successful long-term system.

* Necromundus (2006-2010): Initially, we tried a subscription-based system, limiting some content to players who paid a monthly fee. We also included a Necro Credits system, based off the success of the Chia Credit system, which allowed for extra crafting minutes, property, and custom goodies. This combination actually saw some success, but I lacked the time to keep personally working on Necromundus due to the new job at Fallen Earth. So, it fell dormant.

* OtherSpace (1998-2010): It’s always been free to play, but we’ve asked for help from time to time. Just asking nicely works sometimes. Right now, we’re in the midst of our latest Olympic Fundraiser. When we first introduced badges for fundraising efforts, the contributions came a bit easier, because players enjoyed the recognition for their contributions. These gifts helped pay our marketing and server costs. Just having the game pay for itself makes me happy! However, over time, that novelty has diminished and the contributions dry up, no matter how nicely we ask. So, taking a page from Chiaroscuro and Necromundus, we’re now offering Saga Points in exchange for contributions. With Saga Points, players are going to have faster access to special crafting schematics, starships, customized alien races, and crafting minutes. The exchange rate: $1 per 100 Saga Points. (Saga Points are also going to be available to players who never give a dime to the game, but they will accrue via paychecks.)

I don’t feel the need to be quite as money hungry as the web games, but I do think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to receive enough compensation to make sure this hobby pays for itself. It costs hundreds of dollars each year to maintain the server. I’ve dug into my own pocket for gift certificates for special contests. And, finally, it does take a lot of time and energy for me to run and promote OtherSpace. There’s a value to those things that even I have dismissed in the past. I can’t afford to be so free with those anymore. It’s important that I be just a little bit mercenary. Long-term, it’s in the best interest of the game. When contributions roll in, I feel obligated to invest more of myself into the project. That’s an energy that keeps feeding on itself.

Interested in helping out? Contributions are welcome via PayPal to

Farewell, Necromundus

February 10, 2010 8 comments

Today, I regret to announce that we’ll be ending the adventure on Necromundus in the near future.

Effective immediately, the main website at showcases only OtherSpace. The forums have Necromundus boards just for those few staffers still working on the game.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. In fact, it’s a decision that I probably should have made back in 2008 when I was also weighing the closure of OtherSpace: Millennium and Chiaroscuro. In the end, we just don’t have the resources to support more than one game. And it’s enough of a struggle to promote an original theme text-based roleplaying game without adding the quirk of a MUD-style monster combat system. If I had chosen to close both OtherSpace games and Chiaroscuro to focus on Necromundus, I think it would have been okay. However, I chose to save OtherSpace and it appears that the space opera game will always be my favorite. So, rather than continue letting Necromundus go neglected, we’ll just let it go.

A storyline in progress on Necromundus will make it possible for characters there to make the transition to OtherSpace in a new mortal form, if they so choose.

Staffers on Necromundus will be welcome as staffers on OtherSpace – just drop me a line at OS and we’ll get you set up.

Thanks to all the players and staffers who’ve helped on Necromundus since it first came to life in late 2005.

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.