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.