Tag Archives: Roleplaying

The captain’s chair

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.

Back in the old old days on TOS TrekMUSE, I assumed the role of a starship commander in the civilian Federation Merchant Marines and, eventually, aboard Starfleet’s USS Excelsior. My crew didn’t need me around all the time to give them things to do. The ship’s doctor kept pushing for health exams. The engineer ran tests and drills. The science officer conducted experiments, gathered data, and encouraged us to go out exploring the stars. Day-to-day activities weren’t hard to come by. And when they ran out of stuff to do aboard the ship, they’d go to the starbase pub, get drunk, and start fights. This often led to RP for my character, because I’d have to bail them out of trouble, get yelled at by the brass for my troublemakers, and then discipline the bunch of them to demonstrate the principle of crap rolling downhill.

When people saw us coming, though, they knew we’d be bringing something interesting with us.

I’d like to see more of that return to OtherSpace. We’ve had some memorable commanders and crews over the years, including VanMahr, Falkenberg, Jest’liana, Marlan, and Mika. We’ve got a few good ones these days too, trying to make things happen.

In other media, if you want references for interesting dynamics to explore that might be educational for our purposes on OtherSpace, check out Firefly, Stargate SG-1, and The West Wing. (The West Wing? WHAT THE HELL? No, I’m serious.) Firefly’s a great space western that got canceled after only 13 episodes, so it doesn’t take very long to watch. Plus, you can see the kind of interplay between roles that might be of interest in our space opera setting. SG-1 is a nifty series about a team of explorers – a mix of military and civilian – who roam the cosmos via ancient stargates. Their adventures and interactions should be educational.

But what about The West Wing? The most advanced vehicle in that show is Air Force One! So, I’m crazy, right? Bear with me, though. Take a closer look at the show’s character dynamics. You’ve got a charismatic leader (the President) and the equivalent of a bridge crew (Bartlett’s closest advisers). Navigating political currents can be as hazardous as exploring deep space.

All of these shows – and many others – can demonstrate what I’m getting at.

The real success comes when you bring enthusiasm and personal drive to the role of starship captain, and when you recognize and embrace the fact that it’s as much about being a director as it is a person who gets to tell other people what to do. It’s about empowering people who play with you on these roving RP stages to spread fun like a virus.

So who’s the next legendary crew going to be?

Breaking Bad: My occasional role as villain

It’s amusing that some people out there in the universe think that I’m some kind of devil.

I’m trying to grasp what it is about me that’s so evil. Maybe others can help guide me to the light.

Is it that I’ve changed web designs and upset the game theme so many times over the years?

Is it that I’m occasionally blunt to the point of rudeness in text communication?

Is it that Neidermeyer never quite seems to stay dead?

Is it that I taint the “pure” roleplayer’s habitat with MMO-style achievement opportunities, such as badges and belts?

Is it that I have the temerity to seek ways to get my game development hobby (job) to pay for itself?

Is it that there’s some perception that I play favorites with people?

Is it that people think I’m a snob? Or that I’m not snobby enough?

Or is it that I kick puppies, eat kittens, and steal candy from babies?

I’m not perfect. Far from it. I am flawed. I’m always looking for ways to improve and grow.

To those who like me: Hi.

To those who hate me: Hi.

To those who fear me: Boo!

To those who just don’t care: How did you manage to read this far? Good on you.

To everybody: No matter what differences we might have had in the past, know that I wish nothing but the best for you now and in the future. I can’t say I’ll forgive and forget every offense committed against me any more than I’d expect you to give me a pass on any slights, perceived or real, that I’ve committed against you. But, for what it’s worth, everybody’s got value.

One of the reasons I started this blog and initiated facets of it such as the Between-the-Lines posts was to give a more transparent view of how I work and what makes me tick. It’s my hope that this helps alleviate the idea that I’m some kind of monster. Or not. Like I said, it IS sort of amusing to hear that you’ve made that kind of impact – especially when you consider the source.

I leave you with this exchange from one of my favorite movies:

Norrington: You are without doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.
Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.

OtherSpace: It’s not for everybody

Games like OtherSpace aren’t for everybody.

They require the sort of person who:

  • Likes to read.
  • Likes to write.
  • Likes to experiment with cause and effect.
  • Likes to fly by the seat of their pants, crafting dialogue in real-time.

It’s like a LARP – live action role-playing game – in that participants assume roles that evolve over time. It’s like a tabletop game in that the game’s staffers act as referees or “dungeon masters” for the participants. It’s like theater in that the participants are actors performing roles – sometimes dramatic, sometimes comedic, and sometimes tragic.

But LARPs may meet once a month or so. Tabletop gaming groups might get together once a week. Theater groups may put on one or two shows a season.

OtherSpace is online around the clock every day. Our participants come from all over the world. Events occur in real-time. One day in the real world equals one day in the game. When major story arcs are in progress, missing a few days might result in returning to find the universe fundamentally changed or, at the very least, embroiled in some kind of crisis that potentially affects where your character can travel. So, above all else, you’ll find that OtherSpace differs from all these other forms in that it requires a commitment of attention, creative effort, mental flexibility, patience, and time.

That makes it an acquired taste for a rather limited audience.

However, if you’re willing to make the commitment, it can pay off in the satisfaction of creating a memorable character who experiences epic space opera adventures while making friends with strangers from across the globe.