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Posts Tagged ‘MUSHes’

Top Sekrit Option No. 4

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I appreciate the post Falk made about the three options that he sees for me going forward with OtherSpace.

In short, they are:

1) Shake things up again.
2) Hand the game over to someone else.
3) Close the game.

I’ve given it a lot of thought during the last week and I’ve reached the conclusion that none of these options addresses the fundamental problem: I miss *enjoying* what I like to do.

The most vocal players on OtherSpace make it clear that they don’t want their corners of the universe messed with anymore. Even just opening the door for them to make their own changes leads to people throwing words back in my mouth about keeping things simpler. If anything, they seem to just want systems fixed and/or finished so that they can plod merrily along with the game they want to play. I don’t suppose I have any room to blame them.

However, that doesn’t solve my problem.

Picking an heir apparent isn’t the answer. We’ve tried it before. It doesn’t work.

Closing the game would do nothing but make people angry. We’re not at that point yet, and I certainly don’t live under the false pretense that if I “can’t have it,” no one can.

So, I’m going with Top Sekrit Option No. 4. It’s a pretty simple option – painless to people who have invested themselves in OtherSpace, creatively interesting and potentially lots of fun for me.

I’ve started development of a modest side project that won’t get any major advertising. It’ll be a small MUSH with web character applications and invitation-only play, minimum age of 18. No badges. No medals. No Twitter feed or Facebook fan page. Just an easy-to-grok theme, story-driven, which won’t be designed to compete with OtherSpace.

I’ll probably have a little more to say about it as work continues on the project, but I’m optimistic that it will help rekindle some of my passion for this storytelling format.

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The circle of ennui

July 8, 2010 5 comments

Something Chiro wrote in the “Too many doors” post has stuck with me during the last week or so:

“You’re obviously not here for the same reasons we are.”

It’s accurate. When I think about why I started OtherSpace, the reasons are as follows:

* I enjoyed the fast-paced back and forth interaction of collaborative storytelling in a MUSH environment.
* I knew and liked many of the players/staffers and wanted to entertain them and to be entertained by them in return.
* I relished the challenge of building an audience for an original theme RPG.
* I wanted to do this for a living.

Well, look at where we are now:

* The interactions usually aren’t fast-paced anymore.
* Many of the folks that I liked entertaining are gone. Many of the new faces are awesome, but some, let’s face it, we just rub each other the wrong way and that doesn’t make you want to participate in my events anymore than I want to interact with you.
* We reached our popularity peak a long time ago.
* I do this for a living.

This leaves me less motivated, which may lead to more player frustration and boredom – a vicious circle that keeps feeding on itself.

I’m not sure where things go from here.

Too many doors to open

June 23, 2010 35 comments

I think there’s just no room in even the above average attention span for a roleplaying MUSH to thrive anymore.

Next week, we celebrate the 12th anniversary of OtherSpace – an evolving collaborative space opera epic that’s been the shared creation of hundreds of participants from all over the world. We still manage to draw 50-60 people on our busiest nights, but the new blood is rare and the veterans just can’t do enough to gain and retain new prospects.

It’s no one’s fault. The world’s just so different these days. Back in the peak of our popularity, the worst distractions that threatened MUSH activity were:

* School/work
* TV shows
* Other text-based games

Now, we’re faced with those distractions, plus:

* Graphical MMORPGs
* Console games
* Smart phone apps
* Hulu
* Streaming Netflix
* Hundreds of cable channels
* Facebook – with Farmville, Castle Age, and Mafia Wars (among other attention funnels)
* Twitter

It’s not that hard to find a few minutes here or there to tend crops or help our friends fight boss monsters in a Facebook game. But who really has the time, energy, attention, and creative drive required to tell a collaborative evolving story?

It takes a special person to invest themselves in the effort of building a living novel, but such people, I think, are just becoming too rare a commodity anymore.

Sad but true: I envision a bigger draw for players to a web-based OtherSpace: Dominion game than we’ll ever see on the story-driven MUSH. It’s unfortunate, but it’s what people have time for. It’s as deep as most people are willing to go.

The age of the MUSH may really be over.

So, let’s assume it’s true. What’s next? Can the form evolve?

We’ve tried to experiment with other options – play-by-post in the forums and the Facebook fan page – but that’s never quite taken off. We’ve seen players start blogs to enhance the storytelling experience beyond the game. Again, they start, but they never really take off. Google Wave? Maybe, but that’s still less than elegant and not wildly popular.

I’ve heard some initial murmurings of a MUSH client for the iPad, but I remain skeptical that it would improve the likelihood of people committing themselves to the effort that’s necessary to create a quality storytelling environment on OtherSpace. It’s far more likely that iPad users would be drawn to apps like Plants vs. Zombies – quick fix, easy to drop, low intensity entertainment.

I’m not yet at the place where I want to call it quits with OtherSpace. However, I do think we might be reaching a point where we have to accept and embrace that the game’s never going to grow significantly and that the generation of players that we’ve got now may be the last of a dying breed.

Monday MUD Day – 3/22/2010

March 22, 2010 1 comment

Monday MUD Day – 3/1/2010

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Thinking About: I can’t hear your typing’s intent

February 26, 2010 7 comments

There’s a nasty trap that people who interact in real-time text-based environments can fall into. Even on a MUSH, where people can spend multiple paragraphs setting the scene for what their character is doing and saying, we don’t always do the best job conveying meaning when we type. It’s particularly nettlesome when people are having an out-of-character, player-to-player conversation without any of the aural or visual cues that are normally available with real face-to-face communication.

You may be the most well-intentioned person in the world, but sometimes what you type might be read a totally different way by someone else. Or, you might read something someone else types, make a joke about how it offends you, and then offend them with your behavior. Or, you might be someone like me: You’ve got a reputation for being snarky and cranky, so any time you type ANYTHING on an out-of-character channel, some people will immediately infer a certain tone from it.

And, no, I’m sorry, but 🙂 and 😉 and 😛 don’t help. In fact, they will just make it worse, adding new layers of potential offense for people to puzzle over. Is that a snotty wink? Is the poking tongue dismissing me as irrelevant? Is that regular smiley like the kind you see on the face of the fellow with the knife hidden behind his back and ready to strike?

So, the next time you’re thinking about typing something in a text outlet – MSN, Facebook, Twitter, the MUSH – you might do yourself a favor and think about the words you’re using and the intent behind them, and be sure to make that intent abundantly clear.

I’m not saying you should always be nice and polite, though. Fact is, if you muddy the waters too much when you’re TRYING to be a sarcastic son of a bitch, you might miss the mark entirely. Subtle nuances of tone rarely work in real-time text interactions.

Monday MUD Day 2/22/2010

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment