So, the more we talk about simplifying systems on OtherSpace – making gigs easier to handle, drastically cutting the resource chain in crafting, tweaking how skills are rolled – the more I think we’re not going far enough.

I’ve expressed resistance in the past to ditching some of my darlings, such as badges and gigs and the Dominion empire system. But a conversation tonight on the Public channel with Narai about World of Warcraft, of all things, gave me cause to reconsider.

As a player, I walked away from World of Warcraft because what I enjoyed most about it – the roleplay interactions with other players – simply stopped happening. People got too caught up in raiding or PvP, questing, pet battles, gear advancement, guild advancement, achievements, crafting, mount collecting, alt collecting … and I just lacked the time and energy to keep up with the Joneses.

So, if I look at OtherSpace through a similar lens: Yes, it’s going to be daunting for people to consider trying to earn badges for being around 15 years, or competing with people who have lots of SP to build up an empire or earn oodles of credits through gigs, when all they really want is to simply create a character, get it approved, and RP with others.

It’s folly to imagine that a reworking of the Dominion system as a whole – or even just the gigs, as a part – will somehow draw in new players. It hasn’t worked so far, in the past three years. Why would it work now? And if it doesn’t serve to draw in new players and instead daunts prospective players for fear they can’t compete with veterans, why have it?

I’ve heard the argument that if it doesn’t contribute to RP, it doesn’t belong. It’s not an invalid point, but it’s not the main point that I think we need to worry about.

The main point, I think: If it creates an atmosphere in which new players can’t compete with veterans, it doesn’t belong.

To my mind, this would include:

  • Pretty much the entire Dominion structure. There’s no reasonable argument against allowing player-driven empires to grow organically, through RP and creative effort. And we’ve seen good arguments against allowing SP-acquired empires simply through the rise and fall of several such empires due to player-leader inactivity. Also, gigs are good for earning credits, but those just end up becoming little dragon hoards in your +inv. We simply don’t have enough money sinks or the playerbase to support a genuine economy like that. Realistically, it’s safe to say we never will. And that’s okay, ultimately, because I don’t think Colchek, Coyote, Loki or I really want to build a tiny space econ simulator.
  • Badges. I wouldn’t get rid of them for those that already have earned them. But we probably ought to end the monthly SP payouts that they yield. Too many players don’t know about them or forget about them. It’s just one more extra thing for newbies and veterans alike to track that doesn’t really contribute to telling stories or developing their character.
  • Trading in CSpace. The cargo hauling aspect of CSpace doesn’t get much use. It’s a fun feature for those of us who used to play Trade Wars back in the early days of the internet but, again, there’s no real demand for in-character income. I think CSpace is valuable for exploration and providing for mobile RP opportunities, but hauling cargo just takes a player from place to place, eating up time while they play a math game.

Moving forward, I’d just as soon new players have to worry more about fitting in with our personalities as opposed to competing with veterans for power and influence accrued over more than a decade and a half in some cases.


By Brody

18 thoughts on “Too much noise? Focus on the signal.”
  1. “Pretty much the entire Dominion structure. There’s no reasonable argument against allowing player-driven empires to grow organically, through RP and creative effort.”

    There’s nothing wrong with this sentiment, given that most of my efforts have not been through Dominion. The only question becomes one of conflict resolution. If you want to say ’empires can not enter into conflicts’, then that is an acceptable answer, but otherwise you need a way to handle those matters. To balance out things between old players and new on that front, there is no good criteria to handle it that is fair to all parties involved.

    SP for Badges? Well, you will need another way for players to earn SP, and some players may object, but it is not a strong personal objection for me, contingent upon understanding the entire package of changes that are desired. I am willing to consider any new setup could have undesirable interactions with this idea.

    Cargo hauling: It never really contributed anything, and I do not know how many people ever used it more than once or twice to test it out.

    Also, if you really want players to only worry about roleplaying, you should seriously consider allowing new characters to start with the full 500/500 cap sheet with SP to fill it out. That’s a form of competition between newbies and veterans. Some may argue that it takes out ‘progression’ and this is a motivating force for some players, but if we measure ‘progression’ by the stories that are told, then +sheet progression no longer makes as much sense.

    I’m not against removing of some systems, I only ask that the full costs of such decisions are investigated and understood before anything happens.

    1. It would be my intention to reward players upon approval with the full 500 SP for their +sheet, rather than the usual 250.

      As for weighing the costs of these decisions: It’s hard to predict all the ramifications. For most players, honestly, it’s not going to make any real impact. +Sheets already are maxed out on most existing characters. Only a few players used crafting with any regularity. Only a few players were fanatical about accumulating badges.

      If those things don’t exist for new players and their lack doesn’t deprive new players of anything veterans might have, then I think the cost of not having those systems is negligible.

      The cost I have to calculate is whether existing players are so attached to any of these systems that their lack would drive them away. But, the simple fact is, if these systems are what keep them coming back, they’re coming back for the wrong reasons.

      1. For most players it will not make much impact for +sheet purposes. Though 500 SP is not actually the full amount. The full amount for a full +sheet actually costs 4600, or 1000 if you just start the caps at 500/500.

        What might work better if you want to eliminate the SP difference between players is removing SP costs from skills/traits entirely.

        I did not say ‘remove caps’, I said remove the SP costs. All that would require is removing the SP checking/removing functions from the +raise code while still allowing the caps to be checked. Additionally, doing this would take away the abuse potential of unrestricted superior/inferior traits, which means those could be returned to their original status for their original intent, rather than something that needs to be applied for.

        These things that you want to do will ultimately come down to trusting the playerbase to do the right thing in an overwhelming majority of cases. If that trust is there? Then the plan to do these things should be committed to as fully as possible. If it is not? Then there are significant questions as to whether these plans are a good idea.

        1. Math: Always my greatest strength! I’d be interested in exploring with Coyote, et al, the idea of an SP-less skill system. I don’t really think we need a “sense of progression” for players in the game beyond that given through their character’s evolution within the framework of the ongoing story.

          When it comes to trust, I’d really rather worry about trusting players to get on the grid, run events and participate in events run by others. I’m not too worried about grid-building excesses, because nothing becomes official until a staffer clears that grid for addition to the main grid.

          I think we’ll still need props, such as weapons and armor, but given the relative rarity of combat on the MUSH and, again, the limited playerbase, I don’t think we need a wide spectrum of craftables. But invention-minded players should still have the opportunity to RP development of new weapons, robots, vehicles, etc.

  2. I got some thoughts myself as I read through this post and the reply so far.

    First of all is a little comment about the gigs and earning credits from them. It’s said that “…those just end up becoming little dragon hoards in your +inv.”
    I’m a fan of dragons and thus also a fan of dragon hoards. And to be honest I’m probably one of the few players (if not the only player) that is planning to get alot of sp and credits, only to get the corresponding Wealth- and Saga Point Hoard Badges.
    As for the economy simulation? I agree that without a large enough player base that might not be worth spending time on.

    When the credits become more usefull to players to spend on items or even ships and such. Then credits might become more interesting and a little economy will end up being created by itself as players spend and earn those credits ingame.

    As for the badges.
    My first thoughts where this. “Nooooo, Don’t get ride of them or stop using them to payout monthly SP’s. I need those to get 1 million Saga points and thus obtain my Saga Point Hoard VI badge.”

    It sounds crazy I know and probably confirms my earlier statement where I mentioned being a fan of dragon hoards. But that’s not the only reason I rather not see that go. One of my characters is a ship builder and that involves great costs both in Saga Points and Credits. Especially if your making a new design. I love making new designs, I tend to spend more time thinking about making designs then I probably should. Added problem of thinking so much about designs is that nothing gets out of my head and onto paper or even in game.
    That being said, So long as there is a use for Saga Points
    and credits, I don’t think we should get ride of the means to obtain those credits and SP’s.

    As for the trading in Cspace.
    I totally forgot about that. I have done it for a while myself, But I agree that it takes up time and I often I prefer. to use that time to rp if I can. I also have found myself somewhere far away in space and someone requesting RP with my character. I’d then have to travel somewhere and spend several minutes or up to an hour getting back. Time I could have spend role playing. That doesn’t take a way that Trading is still a nice thing to have. Time has been spend on it by the team to get it working and into the game. So I personally hate to see it go. Plus, for as long as it doesn’t bother people or is in the way of the crafting chain. why think of getting ride of it at all?

    As I’m typing this I’m even thinking of spending some sp on one of my characters (or make a new character) to get them a ship and have them do trading runs to get credits.

    Finally I agree with what Sergeytov said. If any system is nominated to be removed or changed. The effects of those changes should be investigated.

    1. I get what you’re saying about wanting to design new things. However, as I said about empires, I say about designs for new things: There’s no good reason not to let a ship designer develop new ideas for ships organically. I’ve given players the power to build their own grids. You shouldn’t have to worry about playing a resource-gathering game or spending SP to do what you want.

      As for badges, I could envision keeping them and maybe even adding to them, but without the SP rewards. Collecting the badges would be its own reward for those who like them.

      1. I suppose part of this depends on the definition of ‘organically’, if that means ‘happens in roleplay/to assist roleplay’ and that’s the only requirement, we will either have to accept these things at face value, or create some concrete mechanism for ‘at what point does one earn a new ship design?’ There’s nothing wrong with either decision, but going with the first option means that there will have to be trust in the playerbase to regulate itself in terms of what happens organically.

        Furthermore, there is still the outstanding question of how SP will be earned, especially if in order to build players will need SP still. Though one could solve that issue by just allocating a quota allowance every month to each character without charging SP to allow building, but not allow excessive building.

        1. Well, I thought I made it clear – and if I didn’t, my bad – but when I say “organically” I mean “without an SP requirement of any kind.” Instead, it would be through the course of RP – posting logs, conducting taskrolls, etc. So an SP allowance/paycheck wouldn’t be required.

  3. My turn to chime in….

    I will be the first to admit that, as a player, I have benefited greatly on many levels from the vast amount of system Otherspace implemented in the last few years. From the Badges (what I really a fanatic about collecting them? I don’t think so, in the end it was more to fund my Empire-building), to Narai’s various adventures, the Bright Cluster and more. I can say that I benefited, but I’d like to think that others benefited from it as well (Danu is a perfect example, among others).

    Would I be sad for a revamp? No.

    Even if it hurt my long-term plans? Fine by me.

    Privately, for the last year.. maybe year and a half.. I have said (to those who shall remain unnamed) that the OS system became too complex, and is a detrimental put-off to some (most) new players. Those that leave far outnumber those who stay. Coding system-wise, definite factor. And we have quite a few ‘veterans’ of 5+ years still around (a couple 10-15 years like myself).

    I agree with the following:

    1) Removing or heavily revamping coding systems to have a less detrimental effect on RP – this includes crafting, etc..

    2) Lock down the character sheets – no more shifting around. Once you are out of Character Generation, you are locked in.

    3) More focus on RP – I agree, fully, with development of the story and posting of logs to tell a story. While some things would have to be run in conjunction with staff approval (new empires, races, etc…), there is merit to it. I look at Star Wars MUSH as an old example of this. Coded systems were at a minimum (CharGen, space, combat and an econ system were really it). To develop items, you would have to put the time in ICly, have the required skills and money

    4) Move away from Saga Points.. More focus on IC currency.

    5) Active players get rewarded – quality over quantity though. Again, SW1 was a good example of this. If you were in any major military force, good luck getting any sort of promotion/command without activity. Regular plot runners are recognized in some way.

    6) A rework of the theme, perhaps? Not at the Core, but I think the multiverse, the amount of history and races, etc.. is daunting for a lot of new players, especially in an original themed game. Where as jumping into a Trek or SW game, where you probably know abit about a lot of races, etc.. is easier to delve into, for example.

    7) A serious rework of the Wiki, along with a regular person(s) to oversee it and maintain it. Wiki’s are a great resource, and OS’s is underutilized.

    Fin. 🙂

    1. 1) Agreed.
      2) If we go with Sergeytov’s suggestion of just fully funding a person with all the SP they need to flesh out their +sheet, right out of the gate, this works.
      3) I don’t think we’ve taken a focus away from RP as much as we’ve added bells and whistles in an (admittedly unsuccessful) effort to lure people to somehow accidentally stumble into RP with each other. But what we know is this: RP breeds RP. If people are doing stuff, it tends to encourage other people to do stuff. If people aren’t, then the crickets chirp louder and louder.
      4) Not entirely sure we need either SP or IC credits going forward. I might offer someone 100,000 credits to kill a Space Pope, but what are they going to do with that cash once they have it? In our OtherSpace economy: not much.
      5) Agreed.
      6) Maybe even at the core. Perhaps the weight of 16 years is just too much without ever tripping the reset button (as opposed to simply branching out to new universes and special variants of the old one).
      7) Absolutely agreed. Of course, if we turn it into just a repository of lore and logs, that retooling becomes pretty straightforward.

      1. Feeling a bit too hazy to respond too all of this right now, but #2 is one that I can muster some fairly coherant thought on.

        Honestly? I don’t like the idea of the sheet being locked in. Now yes, I know that there’ve been cases where people seriously abused the flexibility of those things. However, I do feel that not locking it allows more room for character growth.

        Keth for instance, was conceived as an architect. The only reason he took up the construction of armor is that Vessa, a dear friend of his, kept landing herself in the hospital after lending out her armor to someone else.

        1. That’s a fair point. Of course, maybe “locked in” is the wrong way to look at it. In my case, I’d see it as: You have all the points you ever need when you leave character creation. The +sheet should probably remain flexible.

        2. Let me address this…

          By ‘locked in’ I mean you cannot reduce your skills or change them from one to another.

          If you can, through logs, show character advancement, then great, you get a boost. Or SP is handed out to improve current skills.

          I just hate the ability to change skills. It doesn’t reflect on what your characters abilities really are.

    2. #2 is a bit troublesome, because it comes with a couple hidden pre-requisites in order to work in a beneficial way.

      The biggest one is that the skill system must be finalized first, as in no more changes at all. To lock everyone in to a skillset and then change how skills work is a terrible idea. Even with the new dice mechanics, my understanding is that the skills system needs a lot of work done on it before it is ‘final’.

      The second is that this prohibits a character from changing at all. If, over time, a character’s values change, so their skills are unable to keep up.

      The abuses of ‘sudden skill changes’ were not caused by some players going nuts and becoming totally different overnight, as a rule, but rather a rational response to the +craft system and the lack of a sufficient playerbase to support that crafting. So remove the source of the skill change abuses and the abuse potential is greatly mitigated without robbing players of the ability to change over time or causing issues if the skill system ever changes in any way again.

      1. If there are going to be changes to crafting, this should not be an issue.

        But if SP is handed out for RP and etc.. use it to increase skills. Just don’t allow random changes, etc.. Is all I am saying.

  4. I’m on board with the idea of keeping the skills somewhat malleable to reflect changes in your character. Since there’s a cap, if your character changes as time goes on, you won’t be able to get ‘better’ at new things without getting ‘worse’ at an unused, rusting skill if the +sheet is locked.

    Also from a far simpler POV, sometimes you put something on your +sheet that you think fits your character and that you’ll use a lot, and it turns out that whatever you picked (say, Investigation – Profiling because to you it sounds like being able to analyze people and tell when they’re lying) doesn’t actually do what you had in mind.

    I have to agree with Sergeytov here, most of the skill juggling I’ve seen outside of “My character is no longer doing X” is “I need this widget but damn if I can’t find somebody who has the skillset to build it”. Without the huge crafting system, we take that out of the equation.

    …all that other stuff is damned complicated so I’ll leave that to you number crunchers until I see something else I can shake my cane at.


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