A (kind of long-ish) essay on roleplay etiquette || Charlie!

Discussion in 'Understanding Roleplay' started by Charlie!, May 6, 2019.

  1. Charlie!

    Charlie! Actual Satan

    Jan 23, 2018
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    Roleplay on its own is a subjective hobby and the rights and wrongs varies greatly from community to community. In a way, one can say that there are no wrongs when it comes to method, because in regards to method and style, each community has their own way of doing it. The general consensus is set by the platform and the users, and roleplayers will often gravitate towards communities that fits their style and preferences in regards to roleplaying.

    But while there are many agreements when it comes to the rights and wrongs of how to play one's character, how to interact in character and how to properly communicate the words and actions of one's character, the general etiquette is still a grey area. Because with etiquette, this is mostly defined by the smaller groups within the communities. Just as the platform is defined by one's preferences when it comes to method, the people one migrates towards within the community is defined by a shared sense of etiquette, more than a shared roleplaying style. This raises the question; why should it be so? How come the etiquette is so subjective?

    Of course there is always the mandatory 'be nice to your fellow roleplayers, when interacting off-character', and 'be nice' is something everyone can relate to. This can be related to the norms of the society we have grown up in. Don't be a dick. Treat others with the same respect you would expect from them. The general definition of those terms is something mostly anyone knows at least the foundations of. This is mostly objective.

    Roleplay as a hobby brings in a myriad of other factors than the ones we know from outside of these communities. It is a different way of interacting with others through fictional characters, and that can make things complicated. This is why the etiquette is as important as it is and why there should be common ground, not just between the players in established groups, but between each and every member of the community as a whole. Doing so would not only improve the experience of the roleplay, but also the experience of being a part of the community formed around the roleplay.

    This brings the question. What is good roleplay etiquette? What is bad roleplay etiquette? Personally, I think the answer is simple:

    First and foremost there is communication and self reflection. In more or less all social environments, communication is key. The better you are at stating your needs and intentions, the bigger the chance of those needs and intentions being met. This is especially important in a roleplay community. Because while the general consensus is that whatever happens in-character is fictional, misunderstandings still ought to happen. One might not want to do a particular kind of scene, one might have a certain preference on how to go about certain scenes, and so on, so forth. This is all subjective, which is why it is beyond important to measure the expectations, especially during the harsher scenes. It does not have to break immersion to quickly state your intentions and ask another roleplayer on their preferences of how to continue a certain scene. If anything, this will only make the experience better for all parts involved. Sometimes a scene leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths as well. During those times it is just as important to acknowledge it and talk about it. Putting words on why something left us uncomfortable or dissatisfied in a sensible manner (and validating the experience other people have, especially during these times) will ease a community of a lot of conflict and keep the roleplay fun for all parts involved. Communicating also forces us to look inwards and ask ourselves 'why was that scene bad' and 'how come I experienced it such', and that self-reflection is an important skill to have, when roleplaying with others.

    This brings us to
    bleeding. Bleeding is either when a roleplayer experiences their in-character emotions, thoughts or conflicts on their own person, or when the roleplayer's thoughts, conflicts or emotions rub off on the way they play their character. To many, the act of bleeding is seen as something to avoid or something shameful. People tend to look down on whoever they perceive as being bleeders, but one has to keep in mind that not all bleed is bad bleed. Feeling sad when a character dies is a form of bleed. Being annoyed after a certain scene is also bleed, in most cases. It is next to impossible for a roleplayer not to experience bleed in one form or another, while enjoying their hobby. Turning bleed into something taboo is extremely counter productive. Instead we should learn to recognise and accept it as a part of being a roleplayer. This brings us back to communication. When experiencing bleed, we should instead talk about it and acknowledge it for what it is. The moment anything transfers either from in-character to out of character or vice versa that's bleeding, whether it's good or bad. With it being inevitable, it is not about the bleed itself as much as it is about how we handle it. Always keep in mind that roleplay is fictional. Conflicts are what sparks roleplay, and in-character conflicts and overcoming them is what makes roleplay interesting.

    Which brings us to metagaming. Most metagaming is caused by some sort of bleed, in some shape or form. When experiencing negative bleed, either towards a player or a character, exposing meta-knowledge can easily become a tool to ease that bleed. Although just as with bleed, metagaming does not necessarily have to be bad either. The difference between the good kind of metagaming and the bad kind of metagaming is consensus. If two players agree on their characters 'randomly' meeting up somewhere or two players agree on one or both parts having knowledge about the other that they had not obtained in-game, this is the good kind of metagaming. This is the kind that sparks roleplay. Once again, communication is important. Asking people "I think so and so could be fun, would you like to do this?" can create a lot of interesting situations and scenes. Opposite that is the
    bad kind of metagaming. Whenever the metagaming is not agreed upon between all parts involved, there is a good chance it will interfere with the intentions a player has with their roleplay, which is something we all know is beyond annoying. It does not always have to be intentional, but even unintentional (bad) metagaming can be easy to avoid with a single rules of thumb. Metaknowledge given to you by another player is not to be used in-character or shared with other players, unless that player has consented to it. For example, if you are told that a certain character has committed a murder (or if your character is murdered by a certain character) keep it a mystery. Don't mention names when mentioning said murder to others and try not to reveal too much. Let people find out in-character. This makes for more and better roleplay for everyone, and is what creates plot. Getting to a point using meta knowledge is not nearly as satisfying as seeing one's character get there on their own accord. Everyone hates spoilers.

    Finally there is
    playing each other up. The act of playing someone up is many things, but most of it builds on acknowledging their character concept. Good roleplayers can express their own character and their character's agenda and motivations. The best roleplayers can do that and both acknowledge, play along with and even boost another character and their agenda and motivations. Instead of setting up a wall, you build a bridge and adhere to the "yes, and" mindset. Play the ball back and forth. React to what they are doing. Knowing the concept of a character you encounter does make this easier. In most cases the roleplayer manages to make their intentions with their character clear through their roleplay, but for some it can be difficult. If you have a hard time playing someone up, asking them how you can play them up can help create a dynamic that makes for more roleplay. Is the person playing an intimidating character? Maybe your character has a hard time speaking up against them. Is the person playing a cowardly character? Your character might try to push for them to get themselves together, and if you are that cowardly character, you might get inspired or even intimidated into stepping over your boundaries, the more you're pushed. Is someone playing a sneaky thief of a character? Let them pick your pocket and don't ever notice. Are they playing seductive? Maybe your character is too distracted by that to notice the red flags. If they are playing the carpenter, you can ask them to put up shelves. If they play a charismatic sort, make them handle diplomacy. If they play the doctor, your character might have some headaches that worry them. Give people something to do and don't hog all the tasks yourself. Don't always expect to win, but don't expect to always lose either, and keep in mind that your character doesn't have to notice everything. Picking pockets will not go unnoticed forever, and at some point a manipulative character might show their true face. Play on your character's weaknesses as well as their strengths. Escalating over longer periods and letting a conflict linger creates more roleplay than jumping straight to murder, because someone did or said something your character disagreed with. Always do what is true to character, but keep other characters in mind as well. Negative interactions can be as interesting as positive interactions too. Everyone does not have to be the best of friends, and even best friends can argue. Think dynamically instead of statically, when you encounter other characters. The art is escalating and de-escalating at the right moments, and playing along with not only your own intentions, but the intentions of others as well.

    To sum it up. Most of good roleplaying etiquette boils down to common decency and more importantly communication. Whether it's a close friend or a total stranger playing that character you're interacting with, good communication can make the experience better for all parts involved. Make your intentions known and play along with other people's roleplay. Respect their boundaries. This makes for a better community and a more comfortable environment.

    With that said! What is your take on it? What do you consider good and bad roleplay etiquette? :)

  2. VCarrasola

    VCarrasola Master of the Crops Nation

    May 28, 2015
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    where the hell did you come from
  3. Charlie!

    Charlie! Actual Satan

    Jan 23, 2018
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    I really don't want to get into biology. It gets awkward real fast.
    Warden and VCarrasola like this.
  4. a rabbit

    a rabbit Active Member

    Jul 1, 2015
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    way more fun though to have the notion that my character is more important than everyone else's and if anyone dares try to do anything to my character just know that i'll file ticket after ticket until i get my way

    just kidding, ha ha
    VCarrasola, AmongTheCold and MindGate like this.
  5. Wispear

    Wispear No.
    Contributor + Contributor

    Dec 9, 2016
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    Can we sticky this thread somewhere?
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Great post. I hope some people take this stuff to heart.

    As for my thoughts, I'll be frank with you: I think some people need to realize that just because they decide to take a course of action IC doesn't mean it's always the best course of action. I admittedly get tired of receiving tons of messages saying that the admins are out to get someone because a certain plan fell through where the demographic of players who went for it felt that it should not, especially when we play zero part in the downfall of said course of action. Believe it or not, the admin Gods are not constantly watching and trying to make you fail - sometimes the game wins and people lose. I think this has been best noted by the whole current IC situation with the mall, I'll be honest with you. I don't want half of you there, I'd very much rather stay with the group of players I'm currently with and have great IC relationships with rather than let in a group who very clearly doesn't want to be there, however ... the current course in the completely player crafted story has sent me towards having to let people in. I won't complain about it, because it's the logical next course of action in my characters natural development.

    That's the thing I think people miss, winning isn't always character development. Sometimes you have to lose things to really shape your characters, some of the best stories on New Dawn have started with a character losing something, not in their backstory but on the current course of said lore. Sometimes, we have to bite our lip and deal with it as this post states. I'll put it this way, nobody is the main character of this lore. I don't care how important you think your character is, how much you craft this idyllic fantasy for them in your head while you're writing them - it isn't just you playing this lore. It's everyone and everything someone does to your character should shape them naturally, if it is in your favor, so be it. If it isn't ... well, get over it and deal with it. Shit happens, just like in life.

    We're here for some form of escapism, and that escapism may, in your head be this idyllic fantasy as previously mentioned - but it isn't. It's the story that is being crafted by everyone. This is ultimately a collaborative effort to make a compelling story with one another that we can look back on and say "Wow, I really had fun that lore. I wish we could go back and do stuff like that again." but if we aren't actually focusing on the real collaborative effort part, nothing matters. It's as frank as that if someone dies that you should care about to some extent but dislike them OOC and do not react. You've completely abandoned the notion of collaboration and have started down the trek of believing what you want is the only important thing on the server, as much as you may have disliked that person for something they said or believed OOC. They put work into that character and cared about it just about as much as you do yours, usually. You have the responsibility of honoring the act of collaboration on the server, and if you do not do it. Well, you're part of the problem with lore's dying, if you can't stow your personal feelings for more than five minutes, I think you should leave New Dawn and start doing personal forum or discord roleplay with your friends because I don't think you're ready to be a mature adult who can conduct themselves in a community environment, simple as that.

    It honestly humors me though, as much as we get requests for sandbox lores, I don't think anyone actually cares about what it really entails. It's all about this fantasy that everyone is going to actually listen to this and follow through with everything said in this post, even though the person that's asking for them never does anything like this. A lot of this is a constant state of jerking each other off OOC and shitting on anyone you don't like IC. If you're wondering why I'm usually disagreeing with using these lores, that's the reason why. I can remember clearly enough and take off my rose-tinted goggles for more than five minutes and recognize that the Original Mall Lore had these exact same issues and that isn't to say it's a flaw within the type of lore. It's a flaw within the community itself, so many people here focus on one thing, and one thing only: What is it that my character is going to do to be the coolest main character ever? And honestly, that's a reason so many of these lores fail. People will join as a day one character, keep this stupid idyllic vision of their characters and then die, and quit the lore because they don't feel that they can app another character and actually get invested in them, merely because they weren't there day one. I find this absolutely and completely pathetic, are you seriously telling me that the point in time inside a lore actually affects your bearing on writing? Are you telling me you cannot sit down and write a completely original character that comes in towards the mid-point of a lore and make them as memorable as your day one character? Yes, you can. It's just that you decide to limit yourself with these absolutely bum-fucking stupid pre-conceptions that you have to have had a day one character to be popular. News flash, you don't. It's a matter of you creating a completely original character and actually dedicating more time than an hour into them before you throw up your hands and say "FUCK THIS. NOBODY PAYS ATTENTION TO ME." and you know what, even if they don't. How about you take that IC and actually roleplay that as a symptom to your character's personality? You are aware this can lead to decent roleplay, especially if you confront the person that you feel is ignoring you, correct? It's the simplest scenes that can actually make your character a mainstay. The problem usually isn't them, it's you being too afraid of losing your character to actually make them memorable, matter of fact. It leads to you playing a stupid caricature of a human who can do no wrong, make no possibly dangerous actions or any sort of mistakes.

    Everything I've said above is what I find to be bad roleplay etiquette. It's a person who is so egotistical that they cannot dare let someone else get a leg up on them, and if they die. That's it for them, they're either threatening to quit the lore because of something not going just how they wanted it for their character, or they're spamming in support tickets explaining how awful this other person is OOC because they dared to kill someone IC. It's fucking sickening the number of people who do this, in a lore that is quite literally based around the actions of violence. It baffles me to the state of complete and utter "WTF?" when I hear about people actually shitting on a character because they dared to do something unheard of and try and make their character not a complete and utter good guy. If you want to know what good roleplay etiquette is, it's really simple and can be used for a whole host of things that would make your experience better in a community-based roleplay server.

    Realize that your character isn't the best of them all. You're not the main character, you're an ensemble cast who support one another - and no, when I say support I don't mean frolicking in the woods while the FRIENDS theme plays. I mean, you're supporting each others story, whether it be the pre-mature conclusion of your character's story or the negative/positive elements of your character's story. To be clear here, I'm not shitting on having friends IC, or even having nice moments. I'm stating that if you're coming into this sort of environment with the concept that all the entire concept is going to be is IC good events, you need to stop and think. Why on earth would that be? How is that logical? An apocalypse is a bad place. You're playing in an environment that is possibly humanities worst moment in history - a time where all law and order is gone. Do you honestly expect the entirety of society to band together and play it nice non-stop with one another? It's unlikely. I have no doubt some people would, but the grand majority of people would be in it for themselves, and you know what, the shit I'm calling out proves that. If you're in it for yourself on a roleplay community, are you honestly telling me you wouldn't be if you were in IRL danger in such a setting? That's just how it is. It's survival of the fittest and I think people need to realize that from a roleplay perspective.

    I apologize if this has turned into a full-on rant that may have gone off the rails from the original nature of the post, I felt that this information was ultimately relevant to the points I've listed above, and honestly. I'd like for once if someone would try to read this all and actually take this information to the heart rather than message an admin who is your friend who posted this message so you can shit-talk them. This post may upset you, but have you ever considered something that might upset you could have some truth in it?

    - A concerned roleplayer.

    #6 Anonymous, May 6, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2019
  7. Wispear

    Wispear No.
    Contributor + Contributor

    Dec 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Just a little correction if I may to the above post. First, I'd like to agree that we as players are not the main characters....and disagree, because we as players ARE the main characters. Every single player is one. Which probably brings a confusing mixture. What I'm trying to say is - everyone should play as they were the main characters of the lore, they should ASPIRE to be remembered as the goodest boi, or the biggest baddest madafaka of them all. But where many fail is probably in the following statement...

    "What is it that my character is going to do to be the coolest main character ever?"

    I don't think it would be a flaw, if this question was in the mind of every single player - but I have my doubts that it is the case. Partly because we do not know as the players what to expect, and that part is fine, however as I pointed it out MANY MANY times, this question probably doesn't even turn up in most heads. Proactivity, proactivity, proactivity. Make things happen, dare to fail but be active - I think we agree on this completely with the above poster. But in order to do so, you as the player will have to invest in it. Both energy and time - roleplaying unfortunately is a very time consuming hobby.

    We remember the people who were around, and were contributing to things. Especially driving story forward, or just simply being there to offer the opportunity for others to interact with you.

    It's simply not enough if you just show up for an event in my opinion. I've seen many initially interesting characters show up for 2 or 3 events then fade out - and that in a long arc of a storyline will end up making that character completely blank and frankly, nobody will care for them.
    And it's not enough to be online but do nothing at all for hours either. That'll only get you extra hours on Steam, and probably a bit of xp to your chosen skill. But not the story or your character.

    I'm turning into ramble mode, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter.

    Long story short, play as you were the antagonist, or the protagonist - but know that the other player next to you does the same. You will have to bring something special to the table to make your impact.
    Master Blaster, Devon, Tucker and 2 others like this.
  8. Tucker

    Tucker The Canadian Moose
    Staff Member

    Mar 7, 2016
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    I think the most memorial of characters from every lore have been the most active of the bunch. It’s kind of a shitty reality, but that’s just what it is. Reality.

    Get on. Be active. Fun times will come and memorable shit will happen.

    Just as an example? For those around for the BT lore you probably remember Abraham Washington. If you don’t, you’re probably lying. El Cid would be on constantly, RPed with ANYONE AND EVERYONE. I swear he wiggled Abraham into so many people’s stories without even having an inherently social occupation such as a trader. He was just around.
    #8 Tucker, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
    Master Blaster and AmongTheCold like this.
  9. Devon

    Devon The pirate droid
    Take All My Money! Contributor + Contributor

    Jan 10, 2019
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    Buckle your seatbelts, M80s. This comment is sponsored by Nine Inch Nails, because once everything else has been said, nothing short of a past-post remix will do.

    For a TL;DR of the original comment:

    Players get bored with basic PZ -----> Admins spice things up with story / new things --------> players say they're feeling confined --------> Admins let up on the reigns -----------> Players get bored with basic PZ.
    "I got my 10 whips, my M16, my canned goods stockpile, and my four wives--what more could a guy ask for?"

    This post is also a meta testament to the modern player's suffocating falsehood of “We’ve tried everything, so we’ll just sit here.”

    You haven’t done everything. You’re just lazy.

    It’s okay--I am, too.

    But that isn’t why I’m remixing the comment: because I genuinely feel it might help newer players, disgruntled veterans, admins, and myself alike. Admins didn’t fuck up the lore. Players just can’t remember what they asked for. Only. . . that’s not necessarily the truth, either. Fact of the matter is: This misconception is a minor fakeout maintained to feign playful misbelief that, well, things are just sort of fatiguing and broken by accident.

    But here’s the real truth:

    There’s a decent enough chance you’re taking cheap shots, utilizing mob mentality, and manhandling a sandbox from admins with a tip of the SnapBack, amongst other SnapBackers, to pretend like you ain’t some SnapBack-wearing, mech-gaming, sociopathic-character-creating, meanie. I agree very much with the anon post--and I agree very much with Charlie's main thread points. Still, I'd like to add some stuff and dig up old skeletons for reference.

    As a forward, this post doesn't necessarily point out any characters / players in particular. I've had a blast watching darker characters decimate and make shady decisions which drive lore conflict and genuinely enhance the lore's overall diversity. Sure, people make mistakes at times. I'm not innocent of being a mech-fiend, either, but I feel that acknowledging some of the mistakes many of us have made can remove some of the inherent awkwardness which currently exists in our lore.

    While the original Long Ass Comment took a perspective from narrative-heavy lore, looking at sandbox lore--the Longer, Assier Comment will do the opposite. I’ve removed some sections that aren’t really relevant to current AGN (a good thing), and I’ve added some additional snippets of age-old wisdom from veterans and new players alike.

    Anyway, here’s Wonderwall:
    (Trap remix)


    Ain't nobody got time for a four-foot forum post.

    Eventually, players will lose interest. Rather than finding a source of long-term interest, it's probably a better idea to focus on "problem areas" either the players, or admins, currently have. Medium-length lores are still baller. The base PZ game just doesn't keep anyone interested for over 6 months. It's a problem that likely won't be solved until Indiestone either has a major update (unlikely), or completely changes the way the game works (Die, Indiestone. Die.)

    So, what do? As per rabbit's good comments: Avoid the shit that wipes lores out. As much as possible, at least. I'm not talking about forest bases, ERP forts, people making lax characters, or people not RPing. These things will occur in any lore, with any playerbase, and in any setting. Outliers exist, of course, but in general I feel that these things are unavoidable the longer a lore carries on. To actively undermine each would severely limit RP--creating a slightly toxic environment while simultaneously suffocating creative freedom.

    So, buckle your seat belts my peeps. I'm about to dish out some good, ole'-fashioned constructive criticism.

    Oh, there will be unpopular opinions in here. I'm bound to upset at least one of you.

    But, I must say: "Let the games begin!"

    "Rumors say that teenagers were among the most fit and likely to survive the Red Eye pandemic. But only in Kentucky. Specifically, Valley Station."

    Things Players Can Do Better

    While I enjoy our ensemble of teenagers, don't get me wrong, I feel they're beginning to saturate the lore. This is understandable, due to the time skip being prevalent. However, I feel that growing numbers of teens and early 20-somethings are fundamentally part of the bigger sandbox problem--one which is caused by a lack of character diversity. Much like the comments have stated above, everyone has crafted an ideal teen character to age throughout the apocalypse.

    I feel this staggers the overall. . .point (?) of the time-skips in general--as if the presumption of a 20+ year time-skip into a lush Mad Max scooter-ville already exists. This correlation with the lore features is also causation, to a degree: Admins often blend and mold lore structure around the playerbase's needs. If a vast majority of players are rolling teeny boppers and soon-to-be Laura Crofts, we will likely experience a similarly stratified environment when the time skip happens. This ain't nothin' good, neither, because it immediately lessens the environments acceptability of stranger characters.

    Players can lower their judgments of what it means to 'be a good character.' This is particularly important in a sandbox environment--one which, once more, really thrives on diversity. I feel there's no catch-all solution for elitism, and I'd even argue that elitism is at an all-time low, too, but it still exists to a degree wherein The Walking Dead and The Last of Us are stock standards for zombie fiction--despite the fact that the lore seems to have, presumably, been left a little loose for us to experiment.

    So, how do you deal with the wild, outrageous, completely earth-shattering characters that are like, totally ruining my. . .like. . .immersion, bro? Well, to begin with--read the OG post up top once more, as those fundamental RP rules which cater rather well to a slew of tabletop and online RPGs, realism-grounded and not, still apply. I'm not necessarily saying to start crafting Zombeavers characters with pet Zoombie Shiba Inus, but at least sit back and take a minute to appreciate some diversity before disparaging the creativities of another.

    Needless to say, if you're going to be the one behind the steering wheel of a one-eyed, mute, motorcross racer, still make realism a grounding point to aim for. Two-way street, you know?

    Players can generate their own RP. This doesn't mean they should wait for a dramatic lore-tone to drop. Rather, they should always ask themselves something before hopping into a lore: "What can this character do that nobody else is doing? What can this character do that's unique, in some way, shape, or form."

    Yes, I firmly believe you should be able to log in, RP as your fantasy self, have fun exploring a different side of yourself, etc. I'm not suggesting every character should contribute to "the greater good" by doing RP chores, pestering people, and keeping a lore moving. That's work. Eugh. Who has time for that? I don't. I have work in real life. I'm sure plenty of you work, too. Or, you're in school / classes for a decent part of the day.

    Rather, I think every player owes it to the playerbase, the admins, and--most importantly--themselves to try something new. To try something very few, if any, people have done before. Hell, it could be something small. Make your character have a strange hobby. Whack off one of their arms. Make them do something which is new for others. Even if it's small, it'll have a memorable impact on the lore around you. Even if one person--a single person--comes online and goes, "Huh. Strange. I've never seen a competitive French long-boarder before," you'll have made an infinite amount of positive change.

    So, you don't want to play the competitive French long-boarder, huh? You want to make a teen, huh? Or, maybe the ideal version of yourself, huh? (For me, it's a totally jacked, blonde-dreadlocks bearded man who can bench press 350 and has a constant tan.)

    Well, then find some other way to do something new. Have your run-of-the-mill teen. Whatever. Have your jacked, tan, awesome ex-marine with dreadlocks. Whatever. But do something different. Find a new way to make creative content on the forums. Make things for people. Make a badass 350-Bench-Press Only club. Charge for memberships. I don't know. But do something you think would really give people excitement, or a laugh, or some tears, or a little of everything! You do you, Random Person. But just don't forget about everyone else.

    Players should be more careful about contributing to a lore's center mass. Specifically, they should think twice before jumping into the massive turtle which chases the objective. Examples of this would be:

    A) Finding whichever group is leading the charge, then joining it.

    B) Finding out which characters have the most OOC support via forum bio posts, website likes, etc. etc. Then, joining them.

    C) Finding out, OOCly, who has the magic sauce. The Magic Bench. The headquarters. Then, joining them.

    D) Finding out which group has a Mindgate NPC. Then, joining them.

    E) Finding out which group has the most firepower. Then, joining them.

    F) Finding out which group has the most long-form-writing RPers in it. Then, joining them.

    G) Finding out which group has the most mechanically-gifted players in it. Then, joining them.

    Basically, this boils down to creating an environment which promotes population diversity. Not winning.

    Well, wait. Hold up!

    What's that you say?

    "But Devon. You're a hypocrite. You've actively advertised going into your group in /shout. You made a farm, advertised it, and B-lined for the mall! I've seen you do this!"


    Ah, yes, random reader. You are correct. As I've said above: This isn't a one-person show. I'm just as in the "wrong" as anyone else is. Thing is, a lot of players don't realize how many things occur under the table, lore-health-wise. They don't know that players in the past (and in no particular group; a lot of people have done this), have actively shifted their character's intentions, OOCly, to help balance the server.

    Yeah, it's true.

    Take a chill pill, people.

    It's not like it's some grand conspiracy, or anything.

    Actually, these days, it just as well might be.

    Sign me up for Vector, though. I'm up for a pyramid scheme. In sandbox-verse, OOC becomes the new IC. It's sad, but it's simply true--and it is a problem I feel still has a solution; it is a solution, however, that's just a guess--and one I'll mention a little later on.

    I get you, though. Why not simply play the server how it's meant to be played? Why should you follow Illuminati politics to help diversify the server population? Why should you drag people in one direction?

    Well, random reader, I sympathize with you. A lot of other people do, too. Unfortunately, as with any RP community, what's seen cannot be unseen. Once you play long enough, you see the same ole' patterns pop up. You'll see the same ole' base, the same ole' leadership crew, the same ole' romance forts, and the same ole' driving forces. Eventually, you too will start moving your characters around to promote diversity. You'll also find yourself doing it to promote whatever your version of "lore health" is.

    *Everyone hiding in their homes? Not logging in? Maybe you can help out by making an RP hub.

    *Everyone in the RP hub? Getting bored? Not logging in? Welp. Time to blow something up. Or, find a way to spread people out.

    This sounds like a whole lot of OOC shiccanery, Devon. I'm not into OOC shiccanery. Not. One. Bit.

    Oh, I know, Random Reader. I'm not, either. Unfortunately, though, it's come to this. There was once a time when New Dawn's pastures were fresh, green, and untouched.

    Whoops, sorry. Wrong gif. New gif below:

    (Seabiscuit sighs.)

    A day when players roamed free, when everything was new, and when nobody knew anyone.
    Wooden forts littered the landscape.
    Espionage, intrigue, and mystery was around every corner.
    Some dude was cannibalizing your brother in the mall cinema.

    It was a time you'd RP with anyone--because they were no one. This is before the dark times. Before the Steam chats, the OOC friendships, the Skype groups, and adding people on Facebook because you've made a genuine friend within this bleak apocalyptic wasteland.

    Shame of you for making a friend. Shame.

    Unfortunately, the past's mystery was why everyone loves the old lores. It can't be helped. I mean, it can, but every person here--and I mean everyone--would need to go silent on Steam. Then, we'd need to threaten the admin team with familial homicide if they so much as look at the same character app page to see who was who. Ya dig? Everyone knows everyone. And if they can't figure out
    who you're playing within a couple of weeks, They'll at least be able to narrow it down to a few people.

    So, yes. Eventually, you'll find yourself among The Ascended: Those who understand the inherent OOC problems in New Dawn, who actively impose their own OOC wills to attempt to "balance" things by adding drama--often fucking it up, halfway through, and making more problems.

    Ironically, this "fucking things up" aspect has become the new organic drama. It's funny how things play out.

    So, what do you think? Is this artificial-life-support-way-of-playing "right?"

    I don't know.

    But I will say this:

    I've given up on trying to play morality in an element as nebulous as New Dawn. Everyone has a different opinion. Every incoming admin group has changes they'd like to see. Every year, some players come, some leave, and many do both. I can't make claims as to what is and what isn't "in good server health," anymore. All I can do--as anyone can--is to try and benefit the whole of the server by doing what I believe might help people out. There was a day when bandits were bandits--they weren't half-bandits who meticulously planned their attacks to promote server health by raising hell, only to warp reality by avoiding murder because it "hurt player numbers."

    My, my. How far we've fallen.

    There have been instances of these well-endowed bandits who neuter themselves to promote said server health. Rather than doing what any logical baddie in our post-apocalyptic wasteland would do (silently pick people off, taking their shit, and having a moving camp), they take on mustache-twirling attributes, kidnapping kids, and subconsciously plan out their own demise. For the players, that is.

    I've done this, myself.

    I'll probably keep doing it, too.

    And, not to throw too many stones, but bandits who do kill players are often shit-scared of the OOC outrage which will likely occur in such an event. Either via the victim, their OOC bud, or a number of players. As a result? Well, we certainly have less murderous bandits, don't we? I feel like we're in this bizarre Cold War scenario, wherein people are too frightened to make a murderous scum character who'll actually pull the trigger, again.

    Similarly, there are other characters who're secretly dedicated to a lore's "health" by being overly social, being a manic house-warmer, or giving random people any number of heinous tasks to do--things no ordinary person would consider in reality--all to make our humble server a little brighter. There are other players who've killed off their own characters in the Name of Realistic RP, if not to make a point to the population at large. A valiant effort, indeed, though the sacrifice is--more often than not--overlooked by others.

    Do you do this? It's an honest question. At the end of the day, I wouldn't fault you for playing for your own entertainment--as any sane person with three hours of free time would do (and as everyone did, way back in the Years of Yonder.)

    But, that said, do you feel you're having your soul sucked through your face by trying to mix things up for everyone else? Again, it's an honest question. My guess is this: For every player who tries contributing to "server health," whatever that is, there will be another who's completely justified in playing for their own mechanical--or RP--entertainment. Similarly, for every "good guy" who makes a fish-fry stand, blasting /all with radio advertisements, there's probably a super-secret hell-villain who can't wait to capture you!

    All so he can. . .


    Hurt your character a little?

    Make them feel bad?

    Let them escape?

    What gives?

    This is why we constantly hear the roundabout statement from the admins:

    "We're trying to benefit the players as much as possible."

    A lot of players simply don't see the shitstorm, constantly a-brewing, that the admins do. The admins are everywhere at once. They see the apps. They see all of your nitpicks, all of your arguments, all of your hurt feelings, all of your comments, all of the whack shit you build, all of your drawer-stored cows, all of your attempts to exploit the game, and everything in between. Simultaneously, no human being should reasonably be charged with the task of micromanaging your--yes, your--OOC exploits, character-breaking blunders, or your out-of-game chatting. It's simply too much to handle. In fact, you'd need to dedicate an entire admin team to a single player to root out any of the subconscious OOC.

    (Homies in the room who've relocated because you've heard an argument through a steel wall, say "aye.")

    Joining the admin team is a bit like becoming the President (I know, radical comparison) in that you're immediately exposed to the framework which drives New Dawn--a framework which, in any bad week, can spiral out of control due to any number of things. Either someone raised hell over the app process, or someone is blowing up someone else over Steam, getting way to personal with their insults over a $20 steam game. Now, five players are leaving. Now, the admins have to deal with it.

    It can be stressful, and it's even more stressful when players attempt to "stress test" the current rule sets by going left-field to prove their own point. I understand: Freedom of opinion, in-game choice, and forum posts, are important to you. It's important to me, too. But, at the end of the day, are you really prioritizing the server's health over your own urge to prove something? It takes very little to masquerade under the banner of New Dawn is for the Players while being fully aware that you're opening up a can of whoop-ass, via your opinion, which may very well destabilize things, cause an exodus, and make things worse.

    I should know. I've done it before.

    (And there's a chance I'm doing it now. I'm just too jaded to realize it.)

    Players can stop talking smack, and being cynical in general.

    (Me double-checking my New Dawn karma currency stacks to spend on this comment)
    "Well, fuck. If you're broke, guess you've got nothin' to lose."

    I think negging, making fun of characters, and generally laughing at the misfortune of others is just sort of shitty, frankly. I've done this, veterans have done this, new players have done this, admins have done this--everyone has done this. People make mistakes, and sometimes it's all too easy to accidentally contribute to something which could spawn a rough environment for people. This point is very reminiscent of a comment made by Oddish, not too long ago, which (iirc) was akin to:

    "I believe the server will be more active if it's a fun environment to play in."

    For me, personally, I dislike playing in an environment wherein a Discord is a major background factor. Now, this said, I feel the same factor has sort of melted down in recent months. I've also been lucky enough to have a kickass Discord group, this lore around, that's genuinely stacked with a couple of awesome people. I feel the initial community-wide accessibility to Discord VC rooms, general chat, etc. etc. served as an initial OOC kick to the head for the entire community.

    Again, however, that seems to be dying down a bit--which I feel returns some of the game's inherent mystery away from a constant group stream of character whereabouts, memes, and discussions juxtaposed against daily RP.

    Naturally, sometimes players upset others--and, of course, there's discourse about it with the expression of frustration. That's natural. But if it's a constant negativity, it can really poison a lore environment from the ground up. It just makes things awkward for people, contributing to cliques and even minor playerbase narcissism which can spread across the entire community.

    I feel this is also why the randomized group Discord groups were such a great idea. I feel they sort of mixed up the bag a bit, introduced players to those they don't regularly communicate with, and restored a sort of 'status quo' to the playerbase. Arguably, this new element removed a lot of the initial problems to a point where the slower Discord activity, at first glance, might make it seem like the community, itself, is slow. But, no, this isn't the case. And, no, this isn't a reason to avoid logging on. In fact, I believe it's even more of a reason to log on. Everyone might know everyone, but there is still an underlying fresh segmentation to the playerbase--one which, oddly enough, kind of makes everything feel unpredictable again. It's nice.

    Players can lighten up on 'circle-jerking' comments. While, yeah, it can become incredibly toxic--I honestly believe that celebrating and talking with others about their characters is one of the highlights of AGN. I also feel that there's a pre-loaded and antiquated perception that gushing about one's character is wanky. I don't blame anyone for this, necessarily, because it was at one point a problem within the playerbase--however, this was a problem which (just imo) was only damaging to heavy narrative lores, wherein popular characters could end up wrangling a lore via OOC gossip and discussion.

    On the flipside, I feel there's an environment at play, sometimes, wherein people might be too quick to lambast character discussion. It isn't out of pretention, or because the person thinks they're necessarily better than others. Rather, I feel that there are those who simply have a lot of hours invested, want to try new writing styles, want to talk about RP relations, and talk about mystery elements. I also believe that, really, this stuff is incredibly important in a sandbox environment.

    Not only is there a looser narrative structure which can't be as easily exploited--but, for the same reason Discord groups were fun, sandbox lores are more about individual stories and character friendships / relationships. For the same reason, I absolutely love getting to RP with the buds from the OG Discord group. It feels like a pre-established platoon, or something, wherein we have a little group of diverse survivors that wound up together, were pre-loaded to be different, and end up making the ends meet out of sheer survival needs.

    Players should stop passively ignoring 60% of the online population. I've done this. I'm sure others do, too. I'm trying to get better. It isn't because I don't want to RP with others. Rather, it's because I've got shit ta' do, in game. These lores can escalate at break-neck speed. As a lore's social RP environment gets more intense, people form attachments. As they form attachments, they'll B-line to characters they connect with. Then, they'll hole up for 5 hours in a fishing shack, whacking their keyboards at each other.

    I feel this problem, this lore around, spawns from a quick-cut mech environment that kicked off as soon as we started the lore. I also don't believe this is created by admins spawning sprinters, offering the mall as a quest hub, or rolling a horde through the map. Fact of the matter is: Players sometimes log in to grind their mech skill, build up their hovel, fire off a line or two to people, and log off. This is frustrating for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that it contributes to the above-mentioned 'passive ignoring' problem in which players, at times, might be forgetting why we're all here in the first place.

    The second reason is that this seems to be a widespread issue--to the point where, shit, I'm doing it too at times. It's a widespread player environment issue, and it isn't caused by admins 'giving us a bunker' or forcing us into one location. I feel this is important to really point out, because I had the very same misconception until I sort of saw more sides to the thing: Players are using the mall as an excuse to be lazy in RP, and they're yet again pinning their own lapsing RP on admin decisions.

    The reason players are underscoring this stark RP minimalism isn't because of the admins decision where to drop food, supplies, quests, or hordes, however. It's because players are being influenced by the mech-first mindsets of one another. Trust me on this, guys. It's still possible to build, farm, or create a faction beyond the main hub. Hell, I more or less have one. At first, I felt I might be shunted into the mall due to admin decisions--and this was a mistake. I relocated to the mall, more or less, because a sizeable chunk of the server's population traveled there not because of IC reasons to avoid dangers beyond the walls--but because they were OOCly lazy to invest the time in maintaining, growing, organizing, and defending their own factions.

    I really do apologize for ranting on this particular point, but it can't be overstated: Please don't log in with the expectation that others should be your ride to RP. It's a widespread contribution which drives roleplay engagement, especially in a sandbox environment. Akin to the above comment about what players request, I will also say this: As the guy who made a spiritual successor to Splash Mountain and attempted to craft A-B-C hand-holding narratives for people at the end of The Road Ahead, I can honestly say that the same problem persists, no matter the environment: The same players, time and time again, become invested in the story, world dynamics, player politics, allies, villains, and mystery. It's a phenomenon I struggle to wrap my head around, too, because it's often an all-or-nothing scenario. There are a good few players who actively engage the game--and there are a good few that simply stand around and wait for things to happen to them, or for them, but not because of them.

    As a bit of a zinger, here, I'll follow up #7 with this: Players need to react to imaginary danger more. Moreover, they need to take extra care in being flexible around those who approach them with the perception of danger. No, not solely because it's the nice thing to do (although these folks really are what make AGN amazing). It's because every single player--and, thus, their respective character--has a different perception of time. If Joe Schmo plays for eight hours a day, and if Jerry Moe plays for two hours per day, Joe Schmo will develop (age as a character) four times as quickly. Joe Schmo might slow this development down, of course, but he is still encountering more conversation, more conflict, more characters, more zombies, more starvation, more looting, more supply runs, etc.

    In this case, it'd make sense that the common perpetrator of this suggestion would be, well, Joe. Funnily enough, though, it's often (unfortunately) the player with a few less hours who might step on some toes. That's alright, of course, and it's to be expected. But both sides, in my opinion, should have due diligence enough to warp their perceptions, a little, to meet on an even kilter.

    On many occasions, characters who react appropriately to, ya know, a four-hundred bodied horde at the door, are met with sighs, stares, and possibly even sarcastic remarks from other characters controlled by the same mistakes inherent in Reason #7: Joe Schmo might holler at people, informing them that a front line is failing, they're running out of food, and water will soon be an issue--only to meet a couple of looks which suggest something along the lines of, 'Stop worrying.'

    "The front line shall hold, Joe Schmo. I have run a logistical survey of the area, dividing the turning radius of every Red Eye by their movement speed which is four-point-three miles per hour. Your constant worrying does not contribute to multifaceted group synergy--nor does it secure me an Alice pack or 9mm ammunition. I am afraid you are irrelevant. Farewell."

    This above axiom of superior Skynet processing is normally verbalized in the following way:

    "It's fine."

    Even more unfortunate is that characters who actively contribute to delivering tension by failing at something--and even those who help them, creating something to RP about--are (I can only imagine) probably perceived like this by the same Model T-1000 which exists to prowl potential mates and chew bubblegum:

    I won't feel bad about firing shots, on this one. It's too upsetting not to. If a couple of players are having an evident blast with a rare shred of emotional, dark, or perilous RP--don't be an asshole and publicly neg and/or void the weight of things with psychic RP. Have the character disregard them, sure. Spit on their grave, that's dark and causes good tension. But, please, just let others have fun. They're in their own world, and they've gone out of their way to try to bring you into it. If you're busy, that's fine. But if you're just standing around, waiting for another admin hat to drop for you, kindly keep your thoughts off the keyboard if they're cynical. RPing takes energy, and it's already quite a challenge, at times, to coordinate with others--meshing thoughts, emotes, dialogue, pacing, and such--to make a scene. A single player can walk up, say something snarky, and completely erode 45 minutes of honest, sometimes even sensitive, expression into little more than a Family Guy episode.

    Players should stop bleeding on those who're clearly risking their necks by RPing out a potential villain, a morally gray person, bandit, bounty hunter, etc. I will follow this up by saying I, myself, bled pretty badly on a possible baddie just a couple of days ago. This was wrong, and I was giving my character a perception that, while within the realm of realism, still wasn't cool in the moment.

    We're lucky enough to exist in an RP environment wherein our lore's darker characters express their quirks right off the bat. This isn't a mistake--it's done intentionally, and it's done for a reason: To give people good RP. It's insanely easy to roll a closet bandit, RP nice, and turn around and rob someone. It's insanely difficult to persist, day in and day out, as a character who's openly not a very good person.

    I feel this bleeding--wherein players will not only react poorly to them, but even shatter reality to mechanically avoid them--stems from such a mistake. I feel that people don't appreciate the complexities such characters bring into the lore, and I feel that they also fall into trap #8 ("It's fine,") even more. More importantly: I feel players don't acknowledge the possibility of a darker character possibly turning their 'life' around. While it's rare, it realistically could happen in these situations.

    In fact, I'd go so far to say that, sometimes, the 'good' characters often subconsciously bleed-grief the 'bad' characters more than the 'bad' characters subconsciously grief the 'good' characters. 'Good' and 'bad' are subjective, of course, but it really is the case--and I've done this, too, to several darker-aligned characters whom I felt afraid of. This is a bad thing. Hell, I'd argue there's even an aspect of moral elitism, here, wherein--sometimes--the supposed 'good' guys ICly end up becoming the 'bad' buys because of straight OOC paranoia or fear.

    As a way around this (because it's also a natural response) I feel that slowing down the conflict, really writing things out, and being cordial is infinitely helpful. It can immediately de-escalate the OOC, put both sides on an even kilter, and circumvent the subconscious finger-pointing which, more often than not, results in character death. Players who slow things down, respect one another, and view conflict as a chance to share scenes together, more often than not, have characters that survive--even if they're 'bad' guys.

    As a natural follow up to this--and as a sort of conclusion, #10 is about refreshing, forgiving one another, and chilling out a bit. Once more, this refers to me as well. I done talked a good bit of smack, in these posts, but I respect all of you guys as awesome people who I've been lucky enough to RP with, over the years.

    I feel that a big part of the OOC bleed, the mech-first environment, and the inherent ambiance of situational negativity, really, can be solved by this. Some of us have been here for over three years. Some of us have graduated high school, have gone to college, have left college, have picked up new jobs, have moved, made new friends, and become entirely different people. I feel it's safe to assume that someone who blew up my house in an online RPG, that one time, isn't going to grief me again. Likewise, I believe it's possible that AGN, as a community, will bounce back after an awkward lore stretch.

    Y'all are great, and I feel that this lore has a lot to offer. I also feel that not speaking one's mind about stuff, sometimes, can be as damaging to a playerbase as saying too much. People engage the game through osmosis, post on the forums because they were inspired, and make posts like Charlie's, anon's, or even this one, because they care about helping the community become a healthier place to RP in. So with that, I conclude this wall of text. Cheers.
    #9 Devon, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  10. Rally

    Rally Member

    Mar 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Recently, I decided to step away from AGN for a break, but I've been pretty vague about why. While it's true that the availability of my time is shrinking and that there are other, perhaps more important tasks I should be concentrating my efforts, the decision was aided by what I consider a relatively negative environment stemming from player attitudes. I've also been pretty conflicted about sharing any of this, because I don't believe threads like these actually ever lead to quantifiable change, but rather help people who are already thinking about the subject to formulate better foundations for their opinions, and typically, they aren't notable contributors to the sort of problems being discussed here, anyway. Maybe I'm bored, I don't know. Maybe I wanted to get it off my chest.

    First and foremost, it seems that players are less willing to give each other, and the staff, the benefit of the doubt. Perspectives are going to differ from individual to individual. Character's are going to be written in ways people don't agree with, or think aren't logical, or whatever other justification someone might want to provide for why what's being written isn't the right way to portray it. We're all guilty. Maybe they aren't as knowledgeable about a subject, or didn't do the research you have. Maybe their experiences differ from yours. Just roll with it. Assume other players are writing what they're writing for a reason, and that you might never know what that reason is. It doesn't have to be a battle.

    Secondly, there doesn't seem to be much room for patience in regards to character interaction. Part of this has already been discussed in other posts on this thread, but the nature of mechanics in Project Zomboid aren't a boon to nurturing long form RP. For some people, this won't be a problem. If someone's here primarily to play the game first and write second, it's likely never been an issue. For people who are here to write first, however, there's not much that can be done. We can't change what the game is, the framework for what we do here is built on the mechanics that come with Project Zomboid, so it is no mystery to me that players have short attention spans and are focused on other things, like making sure hunger or thirst doesn't kill their character before the narrative does. Slow down a bit. I'm a firm believer that people should be allowed to play with who they want, so if the majority of the player base isn't concerned with long form RP or taking their time to post paragraphs of carefully considered responses, why would people who are stick around? People don't enjoy feeling like a burden to other players, so extend them a courtesy from time to time if you're worried about the longevity of their participation.

    Lastly, I think everyone here would benefit from being kinder to one another. It's a simple thing, to play nice, but it's a problem almost every role play community struggles with, and after twenty years of doing this as a hobby I know it isn't always an easy request. And I mean that, it can be a real struggle sometimes, it's something that every single one of us can improve on. Practice the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Think before you speak. Consider the feelings of other players. This is a collaborative project, so creating animosity or stoking hostilities does no one any good and serves only the ego.

    In conclusion, I'd like to reiterate my points. Give players and staff the benefit of the doubt. Be fluid, roll with the punches. Slow down a bit, give characters and players you might not normally the time of day. Be kind to each other. You don't have to be friends, you just need to be friendly. Practice being polite. Most importantly, thank you to the players who are already thinking about these things, and thank you to the staff members who have to put up with it.
    #10 Rally, May 10, 2019
    Last edited: May 10, 2019