Topic: Best Practices

Putting this up to share and discuss best practices for running sims. If you have, tips points, peeves and topics you want to add please do. It is not to be a critique of any individual, but an opportunity to improve our community.

I'll open up with one of my biggest peeves, having a sole SL/GM. The leadership of a sim should always be shared. Having a single person responsible with no back up or redundancy is a recipe for disaster. If that one person leaves, or goes on an extended LOA the sim is sunk, or thrown into chaos. That's why phoenix emphasizes the ASL or assistant sim leader. As I see it, this could be the GM. As is apparent on Greenleaf, I like a co-GM situation on a regular basis, to keep coverage of the players and moving the sim along. The SL and GM should both know where a sim is going, and ready to step in when necessary.

I'm not trying to squelch anyone's storytelling, or ability to build suspense in their sim, but it would be BEST to have two people know where the sim is going. I would recommend that all new sims have a separately designated SL and GM to qualify for opening. For fledgling new sims it is important to create the stability of two people being responsible and working together.

Re: Best Practices

Don't go too fast on a plot; it may be best to let a couple of others post first.

Re: Best Practices

I tend to prefer telling a story alone myself, mostly as if there are too many people trying to guide the story, reacting to the characters etc, it can make things messy in my experience.

Flexibility is also a plus, I mean the course of my Zombies sim has changed SO many times due to the responses given by certain characters, to the point of I can't even remember my original plan!

http://oi40.tinypic.com/t8uufd.jpg
"If you live in the UK, dial 999. If you live in the USA, dial 911. If you're from another country... SO SORRY."

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Re: Best Practices

Always give your players the maximum freedom and never, ever, force their reactions.

In other words, keep the plot on tracks but be sure to hide the tracks very well!

"My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps" - (Jim Butcher)

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Re: Best Practices

I agree, somewhat. When they same person is both SL and GM  and goes on a LOA the game shuts down. Now, in a way it isn't that bad of a thing. On the other hand, stopping the game could lead to disenchantment with the Sim. When in turn might bring about its closure from lack of play.

Say the SL/GM goes LOA= game stops. ASL could move it along, given they know the basic plot. Or say GM goes LOA... He/she could share their plot with the GM Support Officer who could step in and gm until the regular GM returns.

Re: Best Practices

Currently I am alone in managing both my sims, and I agree that this could be a problem. But while finding an assistant for Pacific Rim could be easy enough, probably it would be much more difficult for Dreamcatchers, because the plot is complex and contorted.

Anyway if the community thinks that it should be done, I am sure that we will find a solution.


~Giorgio

"My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps" - (Jim Butcher)

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Re: Best Practices

Misty Wilson wrote:

I agree, somewhat. When they same person is both SL and GM  and goes on a LOA the game shuts down. Now, in a way it isn't that bad of a thing. On the other hand, stopping the game could lead to disenchantment with the Sim. When in turn might bring about its closure from lack of play.

Say the SL/GM goes LOA= game stops. ASL could move it along, given they know the basic plot. Or say GM goes LOA... He/she could share their plot with the GM Support Officer who could step in and gm until the regular GM returns.

This is actually a problem that I ran into with my TLJ sim. I am both SL and GM for that sim. When I went on an extended LOA, there was an ASL, but he didn't know about what I had in mind for the story. So I had no backup for my GM'ing, which meant the sim came to a halt.

I do like the idea of the GM support officer being able to pick up on this, but the question would be if this officer would be able to keep the sim going. I'm not trying to bring discredit to the GM support officer or anything, but like many other sims, this one is set in a universe known only to those familiar with the games on which the sim is based which means only those would be able to understand the details of the story the sim is set in.

From that point of view it would make the most sense to name an Assistant GM. But, like I mentioned, this AGM would probably have to be recruited from the player pool of the sim itself. This in turn poses the problem of that particular player (who is then also the AGM) knowing at least the direction the GM wants to take the story so that he/she can take over when necessary. But that would then ruin the story for that player when posting as her/his character since there will be few surprises left.

Does anybody have a solution for this particular problem?



-Mischa

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Re: Best Practices

I like to check in with my GM every six months or so to see where a story is heading or to give my desire of where I want it to go. Lots of room for surprises, but the general direction is known so I can pick up if needed. I like making the story as a character and I'm not clever enough to figure out real mysteries on my own.

Re: Best Practices

ksabers wrote:

Always give your players the maximum freedom and never, ever, force their reactions.

In other words, keep the plot on tracks but be sure to hide the tracks very well!

haha that remindes me of a comment i read on 4chans /tg/ : hide the rails behind bushes

b2t:
the main point seems to be: How do i back me up (in case i'm the GM)

i think thats a good thing to have an ASL, he/she doesn't need to know where the game is heading. The ASL just needs to have all notes on the setting and the okay from the SL/GM to create a bit too.
So in case the SL/GM is on LOA the ASL could take the party to his little place on the playground and run a side story/quest/whatever and keep the players busy and entertained till the SL/GM is back and things roll as normal.

*shrug* at least that would be the thing i would try to do when Osprey says she has no time for MI from one day to the other ... *makes note who to ask for some edit rights and stuff*

Armored with faith, armed with knowledge, blessed with wrath.
Jennifer Roth-Mud&Mercs|Felix Winter-Wing Commander|Jochen Baumann-Covert-81|Neera Anzari-Area 88 Waving Wings|Eric O'brien-Area 88 Crimson Skies|Torsten Winkler-Rainbow Six

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Re: Best Practices

I can (and make it a point to) sum up my PnP or sim games in two sentences. Those two sentences are what I have determined as the plot for the entire game, or at least it's current chapter and makes for the most flexibility.

How the players accomplish the plot is up to them. For instance, although I knew in Miskatonic I would have nightgaunts, I didn't know they would be at the top of the steeple, nor that I would need an Archivist character up until the players needed his presence, as just two examples.

I don't really know the storyline more than one post ahead of where the players are, despite that it may seem that I am leading the players on a very linear plotline, it's not like that in reality. The two sentence plotline is linear and that I have to stick to but how the plot takes place is completely up to the players.

That premise would make it easy for an AGM to take over for me, although, without knowledge of the two sentence plotline, he'd have no idea where to run with it. And yes, what Mischa said is true, if the AGM doesn't know the world, he won't know how to add his own plot twists as he's a complete noob to its capabilities and that is key.

Even if the AGM can't move the main plotline forward, he could implement sidequests or some other thing that moves the story forward. On a short term basis only, moving forward can be equally if not more important than moving the main plotline forward.

The AGM being a player is important in that sense, but not required as long as they keep up with the sim (i.e. they read it). The more complex the sim, sure, the more work it'll take. Some, as ksabers said, like Pacific Rim, don't require too much in the way of storyline, just kill Kaiju, but others would take on a whole new meaning altogether as far as time requirement to know the sim well.

Just food for thought and my two cents.

Last edited by Elrood (2014-08-18 19:16:00)

Re: Best Practices

I think that was a veiled attack, Spart...
Now I think my decision to ask you to step down as Co-SL was a good one.

Also I'm starting to think the whole point of this thread is some sort of side-swipe against me. I am asking for a new Co-SL, or perhaps someone to take that role fully, to ensure if I splinter further than I am already, there will be a plan B in place.

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Re: Best Practices

I think you're taking this out of context Osprey...

I interpret this discussion as being a means to discuss and thus attempt to work out how best to proceed with things such as the GM Support Office, GM and SL responsibilities etc, all in the regard of how we deal with sims, and how best to ensure a sim not only survives, but continues at a healthy pace even when people are forced into LOA.

At least, thats how I interpreted it anyway

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"If you live in the UK, dial 999. If you live in the USA, dial 911. If you're from another country... SO SORRY."

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Re: Best Practices

I take it as sharing advice amongst the GMs and SLs (and members). Some of it may not apply (such as in Giorgio's situation). Some of it may be useful advice that others may want to apply.

I didn't read anything that lead me to believe it was a personal attack on anyone.

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Re: Best Practices

I'm finding that hard to believe.

I'm sorry I took this public, but I am having a hard time to trust that.

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Re: Best Practices

This thread seems to be established as a way we, as Phoenix members, can try to work together to keep all sims running as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Re: Best Practices

I'll be very direct here. This thread had nothing to do with you Osprey or Mach Idol. I will speak no more on that. This thread was  started to discuss making healthy sims. I have expressed my personal interest in not having any sole SL/GM situations for the last four years, because I think even in the most capable hands it eventually ends poorly. There are no slights, there are no slams, just a desire for phoenix sims to be the best they can be. The discussion is important, for mine is but one point of view, but I think it needs to be considered. Cooperation, community and collaboration among many players keeps a sim viable. If any one of us disappears, the world of our collective imaginations continues on.

Re: Best Practices

Oh that explaines a lot ... I guess sorry everyone for being stupid me.

Armored with faith, armed with knowledge, blessed with wrath.
Jennifer Roth-Mud&Mercs|Felix Winter-Wing Commander|Jochen Baumann-Covert-81|Neera Anzari-Area 88 Waving Wings|Eric O'brien-Area 88 Crimson Skies|Torsten Winkler-Rainbow Six

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Re: Best Practices

Elrood, sounds like you got a pretty good system!

Spart....nothing stupid. Nobody is stupid.

Re: Best Practices

Misty, you never met my next door neighbor.  big_smile

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Re: Best Practices

gfictional wrote:

Misty, you never met my next door neighbor.  big_smile


OK, OK.... I relent! I just don't like people calling themselves stupid.

Re: Best Practices

Let's get this discussion back on track:

Kevin, I totally see where you are coming from. I think that having co-GMs for some sims makes complete sense (it's been successful in Greenleaf so far!). That said, sometimes there are those (and in this case, I mean myself) that can't bear to let go and let others run their creation. With the amount of time I spent on the USS Repulse, it would have been weird to see someone take it in a completely different direction then what I had intended. In hindsight, I should have come up with a similar but not-so-dear-to-me sim. Unfortunately, I tend to invest in the sims I run, and it can be difficult to let go of that kind of investment (or to share it).

The problem is quite real, however. We've seen it many times in the past year or two, someone leaves or takes extended LOA, and the sim stagnants and closes (or gets put on hiatus). It's the nature of a sim where there is a single person 'pulling the strings'.

The best way to avoid this is to make a sim that is truly cooperative, in that *anyone* can steer the story, but then you risk having a jumbled mess of activity with no real direction.

The other issue with multiple GMs is voice. I'm having a hard time taking over as temporary GM of Umbra because Paul had established NPCs that acted in certain ways that I don't feel I would do justice by taking them over (and because the storyline was going towards a setting I am unfamiliar with). Perhaps if I had been in collaboration from the beginning, it would have been easier, but I just don't know.

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Re: Best Practices

The idea of a Co-op sim sounds great. I dunno if its possible to have every main NPC double aka every GM has his verion of the NPC.

Armored with faith, armed with knowledge, blessed with wrath.
Jennifer Roth-Mud&Mercs|Felix Winter-Wing Commander|Jochen Baumann-Covert-81|Neera Anzari-Area 88 Waving Wings|Eric O'brien-Area 88 Crimson Skies|Torsten Winkler-Rainbow Six

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Re: Best Practices

I am very grateful for some of the tips given here. As mentioned, I myself recently experienced an unexpected extended LOA and although I did inform my ASL's, the TLJ sim was the one where I was both SL and GM and were the only one knowing the direction of the story. This means that there was no way for the ASL to know in which direction to steer the story, which meant that it basically stopped in its footsteps. I will take some of the tips to heart and start working on having at least some sort of backup system for this.

I have also been thinking about a 'in case of emergency break glass' solution: a document in which I summarize the direction in which I intend to take the story and the ASL/AGM would get a regularly updated document of this, only to open when I go on extended LOA. He/she could of course read the document without my LOA, but since that would spoil the fun for her/him, this might actually work. Does anybody have any thoughts on this?

Also, I have mentioned before that I would be interested in running a sim which has co-GM'ing. I don't mean a sim where one GM handles the story and the other the NPC's or someting like that, but one were one month player A is the GM, the next month player B (and then possibly player C, D, etc., depending on how many players would want to GM). I think a sim with alternating GMs could be very interesting in the form of plot development. It could also turn out to be a disaster, but I think it'd make a nice experiment.



-Mischa

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a281/hollyzuzu/6bd9dace-1d9f-469e-b069-b872b1d826dd_zpswfifvw2x.jpg

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Re: Best Practices

Use a Google spreadsheet, put in the story and where it should go.
Keep it updated (i guess,that's the Most important point!)
If you Post in the LoA thread, take a second to pm your ASL and send him/her the link to the document. So there is not even a chance to spoile the fun for the ASL.

Last edited by Spart (2014-08-20 14:47:50)

Armored with faith, armed with knowledge, blessed with wrath.
Jennifer Roth-Mud&Mercs|Felix Winter-Wing Commander|Jochen Baumann-Covert-81|Neera Anzari-Area 88 Waving Wings|Eric O'brien-Area 88 Crimson Skies|Torsten Winkler-Rainbow Six

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Re: Best Practices

That's a very clever solution. Thanks!



-Mischa

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a281/hollyzuzu/6bd9dace-1d9f-469e-b069-b872b1d826dd_zpswfifvw2x.jpg

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