It’s been 18 years since that first day a handful of us gathered in the Van Allen Belt Tavern on Mars for the opening scene of OtherSpace.
We’ve all gotten older. I’d like to think wiser. And the world – it’s changed so much. Our game started in an era before the War on Terror, when the internet was just a toddler, and before smartphones stole our attention spans.
The world’s not slowing down for us. It’s not changing back. We’re not liable to steal back players we’ve lost to MMOs. But I like to think that we can still cater to people who are nostalgic about old days. I just don’t think OtherSpace can do it on its own. It’s always been a tough sell – an original-theme space opera setting in a niche of a niche gaming environment. Now, it’s just short of impossible to imagine the game, as it is, ever reaching the break-the-who-list heights we hit back in the early 2000s.
I’m not ready to give up on it yet. This isn’t a last-one-to-leave-turn-out-the-lights post. Instead, I think Jointhesaga.com just has to grow up now. It’s got to be more than what it’s been. The way M*U*S*H has carried the banner for PennMUSH programming, I feel like JTS needs to step into more of a role of cheerleading the benefits of collaborative, real-time improvisational storytelling. So, OtherSpace doesn’t need to shut down to serve that goal. In fact, keeping it around provides a great option for sci-fi fans who decide to stick around. However, we must expand and diversify what we offer, including themes generated by our own players.
As we kick off this new era for JTS, we’ll have grids for OtherSpace, the fantasy realm of Chiaroscuro, and the modern-day weird Florida tourist trap of Cypress Knee (featured in Knee Deep). I want to make everything as approachable as possible, so here are the rules of the road:
- We won’t worry about stats/skills. What happens in combat is consent-based from now on. We’re adults. Let’s work out what’s best for the story.
- By extension, we’re not worrying about coded weapons, armor, gadgets, or crafting. However, as with combat, gear our characters carry must be consent-based. No magical rocket launchers out of nowhere.
- We’re much more interested in building that word count in the who list and in our +sheet/stats. We should be in-character, riffing off each other’s poses, in furtherance of the stories we want to tell.
- We’re making better use of the +calendar system in-game to schedule seminars and RP events.
I may add more storytelling grids. If players have ideas for their own thematic playgrounds, I’ll help get them online.
I’m building a small JTS campus that’ll include a lecture hall, one-size-fits-all stage, player dorms, and a pub for more informal hangouts.
Lately, I just don’t have time to invest in major roleplaying events on the MUSH. I wish I did. It’s a struggle for a lot of us, I know. I’ve found that even if I schedule something on a weekly basis, attendance is chancy and my own real life often interferes with what I’m planning. When I show up to nobody giving a damn, it’s demoralizing and I let other obligations take priority. That’s demoralizing for players who want to see more things happen. They stop coming around. Slowly, we just circle around a drain of disappointment.
So I’m taking that weight off myself. It’s not my job to lead the charge on telling in-game stories anymore. I’m shifting to more of a mentoring role. I’ll hold in-game seminars, advise players who want to share stories with their peers, create content for the JTS website, and preach about what we do on social media with the hopes of pulling in a new audience that’s looking for some old-fashioned collaborative storytelling.
Short version: We’re sticking around, we’re simplifying what we can, but diversifying as much as possible to appeal to a broader audience. I’m done running plots. I’m ready to help people like you run them.