Wednesday, 24 August 2016

World Building Game Update

A kind of Post-mortem / Resurrection thread of what happened with version II, How it maybe worked, how it didn't and how I can improve on it for the future.. oh and what we're doing with it.

Years Later, the Adventurers discovered a plaque that spells out the demise of the Ancient Civs: Pokemon Go!

Ancient Civs started in Feb 2016

40 Players started, each playing between one and three races, starting in the Stone Age. I personally knew about 25 players, I also played, but not wholeheartedly I guess, Each player started with 1 city, of a size 4 (max 6). Players were given a set of instructions, I was available for email at any point, we had several video conferences and I made some video instructions (well, beta attempts at this) but we still didn't get even 25% attention rate of players..

I've run several Roleplay events, and getting 100% is impossible, getting 50% for the first session is a huge turnout. Usually 10-25% is standard. My friends in sales are always asking me, how do I get such a huge turnout.. mostly because 5% is standard for a sales conference.

No Players... No Game!
And so, while I was happy with a 25% attention rate, it also turned out to be my retention rate.. i.e. week after week, I was lucky to get 1/4 of the previous weeks players to remember to make a turn.

Now imagine if your a GM, running a game, you have 8 players at your first session, 2 at your next, 1 the week later and finally, you're by yourself. Dismal.

What worked: Players were interested, getting a huge number of responses from the start meant I could have had a great game. The concept was intriguing, people wanted to see where this was going to go and how it was going to work. Some didn't believe it would, but they wanted to see the train-wreck up close.

What didn't: Players were interested in seeing things happen, almost instantaneously. Is the modern role-player, so gratified in all their dealings that they can't hold out for a month? let alone a year?

So, The Interface was lacking. I gave all players carte blanche on their 'character sheets' with a template for anyone to work from.. but pretty much everyone stuck with the template.

The Maps took too long to process, and when I got a new job, and lost 40 hours of my week, this became too much to run by myself, thankfully Rory stepped up and was a great help, but maybe too late.. players were sensing a drop in the game and maybe that contributed more than I thought.

Player vs / meeting Player, didn't happen quickly enough in many players views, and this maybe was a problem in expectation.

By the time we sorted out these problems, we'd lost the interest of over a quarter of the players. Once that happened, the players still playing were encountering 'empty' players.. they didn't respond to messages, and playing a game by yourself is boring.

How to Improve: By the end of turn 12, we had a list of things we'd have liked to have done before play started.

  • Some kind of interactive map, so players could "see" their game easier.. even if turns would still be processed by GMs, they could maybe interact with the map and get a feel for whats going on.
  • GMing needed to be done, per player, and weekly.. verbally even. I think that the 15 odd email players, should have been upgraded to skype players, having the interaction with the GM, asking questions about turns, etc. Maybe using roll20 or something for the next run.
  • Allowing more scope with turns, i.e. you can be a turn late, and pre-process your turn ahead, might have helped deal with timing, and the lack or in ability for GMs to always contact a player
  • In counter to that, NOT allowing player to fall behind, even 2-3 turns, players felt like they had already lost too much and continuing was pointless
GMing 40 players in one game sounds impossible, or at least daunting, yet I've run this game with 80 and it went well. The difference was, 80 players within arms reach, I could speak with them all withing a week, remind them of their turns, the rules, they could ask questions, make deals. heck, when we had 'negotiations' we'd do it live, it was sorta fun watching two or three people negotiate contracts about a fictional universe.

Maybe they all had the same player?
What Now: Well, not to waste all the hard work done already, the GMs and some players have elected to take up the mantle of several of our lost players, and play them on until we reach turn 50. We'll see what happens, mark records of major events, and use it as a kind of decent world for roleplay.
Yet with only 8 minds, it'll be limited in the creativity, decisions, deals and crazy that it might have had, we might allow a smaller kingdom to be swallowed up into a larger one, because its easier to deal with less paperwork, while a single player may have fought it out to the bitter end, or come back from the brink of defeat with a successful event or two.

The End game was already pre-set, A great war (on a different continent) triggers a spell turning the mountains into mud, and swamping the continent, burying all the cities and such, causing people to dig into the world to retrieve their culture, creating hundreds of dungeons, which names the very game its all run in.


As per my promise, When its done, I'll draw it up, scan it, and all players that started will get a copy. If you were/are a player and you'd like to maintain influence on your race/culture, drop me a line and we'll work something out.

p.s. you may have noticed, I tried to blog my turns, I got as far as three blogs when things went sideways, I didn't publish the last two, because it didn't seem relevant, but maybe I'll do them in blocks of 4 turns and catch up.

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