It’s been a hectic, amazing year.
For me, on the personal front, I remarried in March and in May became father to an adopted infant boy.
At work, I went from education reporter to news editor in the spring and by the end of summer became a hybrid news editor/crime reporter.
On the OtherSpace front, I started a new “isolated” style of story arc with Colchek, taking a handful of players aboard Comorro Station to an alien universe where they could be caught in the crossfire of a war for freedom.
For a few months, though, that storyline faltered because of the intense increase in the demands on my time by both fatherhood and journalism. It’s just been impossible to find reliable blocks of three or four hours a pop to run events on a consistent basis.
I’m sorry about that.
Luckily, most (if not all) the players involved in the Comorro arc have multiple characters who can stay active back in the home universe. So, when things are in a lull aboard Comorro, there’s still someone to play with back in the Ancient Expanse.
But I want (need) the arc to plunge onward and, thanks to some encouragement from the players involved, we’re managing the adventure using posts in the game forums. It’s like an experiment we tried on a broader scale in the past, employing play-by-post techniques, but it may prove a better fit for us when it comes to small-group adventures.
I can make time – a few minutes here and there – between feedings and reporting on gang violence to post about what the True Children are doing to make life interesting for our heroes.
I miss the immediate gratification of real-time literary riffing in scenes, but the forum posts are a better alternative than inert silence.
And while we explore what’s next in the evolving narrative, we’re also thinking about what’s next with the game itself.
Among staffers and players alike, we’ve started a discussion about the evolution of OtherSpace.
My feeling, especially after talking with Coyote and Colchek (the two most visible and active admins left on the game other than me), is that we need to take a sharp turn away from what I’ve spent the past few years trying to build.
A few years ago, OtherSpace was meant to be my livelihood, so I developed the game in such a way that it would encourage fiscal support in the form of sponsorships. In my experience, it’s rare that people contribute money to something unless they’re getting something out of it.
This resulted in the development of longer-chain crafting and empire-building systems that would provide Saga Point sinks. But the reality is that we’ve NEVER, even in our best days, had the player base to support long-chain crafting. And empire building really could use more fleshing out.
And, let’s face it, Pepsi Co. is never going to become an Epic-level sponsor.
On the upside: I consolidated the game and website onto a single server at Linode.com, cutting the annual maintenance cost in half. So the need for sponsorship isn’t felt quite as keenly anymore.
So, now, OtherSpace needs to be what it is.
But what is it?
We had a great “fireside chat” last week where we talked generally about a simple premise: Getting back to basics. De-evolution is probably our next evolutionary step. We must do what we can to strip away some of the layers of complication that we’ve added over time. We need to make sure that our coded systems serve the story and that they encourage players to participate in or even run roleplaying events.
For example, we may cull the wide assortment of races, trim skills to focus more on career packages than min-maxing opportunities, and turn crafting into a system that rewards players with critical components not because they type +craft a lot but because they earn the material through RP. We want to put more creative control in the hands of players too, such as the creative opportunities of Operation Sandbox.
The motto that needs to guide the development of OtherSpace going forward into 2014 has to be: “Tell a story.”
Our time is precious. We’ve got lots of other distractions. If we’re here, let’s make it count.
If we’re not doing that, why the hell bother to show up?
Merry Christmas, Spacers. Let’s have a great new year.