What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?



  • I'm interested in getting an open discussion going about our current "fanfiction" system, specifically our "team stories", and how they are seen in the current Cythera community.

    About eight years ago we started running these group-oriented tales of adventure and we've had the opportunity to experiment with a range of different storytelling styles (ranging from completely improvised to pre-plotted scripts). However, one of the problems back then that has still lingered today is less than half of the team that starts the story makes it to the finish - many people drop out even before the halfway mark. I suspect there are a variety of reasons why, and I want to dedicate this topic to discussing them. Hopefully once several people have replied, we can shift the discussion to include some brainstorming about ideas that we might be able to use to make long-term posting in the stories more appealing. While I don't think there is a "perfect solution" that addresses everything (like "I don't have time anymore"), there may be aspects of the TS structure that we can change to try and address some of the bigger issues.

    So, to kick it off, I'd like to ask a couple questions.

    1. Do you participate in the team stories? If not, why not? (If so, what do you like about them?)

    2. What's the biggest obstacle you face when trying to write for the TSes? Does this happen with every TS or with just some of them? (examples of problem stories would help) I have the second part here because not all TSes are run the same way - some of them had a significant amount of out-of-character organization and some had almost none, as an example. Or maybe the plot on one of them just wasn't easy to write for, or something. If you want, go ahead and list your favorite and least favorite TS.

    3. If you've ever dropped out of a TS, what was the reason?

    4. What is one thing you want to change most about the stories?



  • Yay, Tyry's alive! ^_^

    One- Not much. They're fun to read, and it's fun to see how different the story is depending on who's posting, if that makes any sense.

    Two- Well, laziness is an obstacle, as is busyness. But probably the worst obstacle is that half the time I'm not exactly clear what's going on. For example, the last poster leaves something a little undefined, and I'm not sure whether it's something obvious that I'm just supposed to know , or a blank that I'm supposed to fill in. I like to ask TSers to clarify their posts over the IRC channel, but several of the TSers don't visit the channel, and those who do, don't visit nearly often enough! Sending a PM over the forums or posting in the OoC topic just seems like too much trouble when I'm not even sure if I'll be the next one to post...
    Personally, I feel very reserved towards making assumptions and deciding directions, because it seems like most of the time that people do, they get either shot down or ignored by fellow TSers.

    I think Yesterday's Dawn was different than the other TSes I've "participated" in. This TS was fast-paced, and almost all the behind-the-scenes stuff took place in the channel. People were checking with each other before posting, since everyone was readily available to check with. I didn't post much in that TS mostly because there was always someone else posting, and I didn't want to ask for a turn. I enjoyed posting when I got the chance, but I always preferred reading other people's posts :D

    Three- I've never officially dropped out, but I've always gotten way slower towards the end. I guess because the further along the TS is, the more complex and confusing the plot, and the less I want to try to impose my own ideas.

    Four- I actually dislike the OoC topics. I feel like they are generally unfriendly and unproductive. I guess it's not a change in the stories at all, but I'd vote to get rid of OoC threads.

    Really, I think everyone needs to play off each other more. I see a lot of people saying to each other, "I'm not sure that was a good idea..." Well, no, maybe it wasn't a good idea, but now you've got to see what you can make of it instead of just complaining about how the idea had a negative effect on the story. (Example, one TSer decides it's time for a nice graphic fight scene, another TSer decides that it would just lag up the story, and smothers the fight scene before it has a chance).
    It's like everyone's got their own ideas. There's lots of posts in our current TS that blatantly ignore the posts right before them. More like a lot of parallel stories, than a team story.

    Cheers~



  • "I don't have time anymore."

    :p

    Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    1. Yes, I try to, although lately I've been somewhat bored with them and too busy (even more recently). The former I suspect is due partially to the fact that overall participation is low and few people participate in the plot (although this seems like it might be getting better). It's more fun when more people are active in my opinion.

    2. At the moment? Calculus. And (again for the moment) only with this TS (I hope!). Boredom has become problematic as well (again mainly with this TS).

    3. I can't recall having dropped out of a TS.

    4. Hmm, I'm not sure. In the past, I had started a topic or two discussing TSs, but I don't know that I ever arrived at one conclusion about what was most needed in TSs currently. I would like there to be more participation and more activity (partially this means more people) and creativity in working with the plot of the TS.

    I'll try to participate more in this discussion once it gets going, but I can't say for sure when I'll be able to post next.



  • 1. No, mainly because I've never been good at these kinds of things.
    2. Trying to think of what to do or make happen…
    3. ^
    4. Nothing, really. I read them and love them but I'm not the kind of person to participate in them.



  • Quote

    1. Do you participate in the team stories? If not, why not? (If so, what do you like about them?)

    Yes, I post when ever I think my ideas will work and be interesting.

    Quote

    2. What's the biggest obstacle you face when trying to write for the TSes? Does this happen with every TS or with just some of them? (examples of problem stories would help)

    The biggest problem I see is people not being able to interact enough with other characters. This is most likely caused by people not knowing when the person they're interacting wth will respond (if ever) or just not knowing enough about the other characters.

    Quote

    3. If you've ever dropped out of a TS, what was the reason?

    Never! Yomu doesn't drop commitment that easy. :p

    Quote

    4. What is one thing you want to change most about the stories?

    Can't really think of much. These types of things really just need practice I think. My advice is, don't feel bad if you think your posts aren't good enough. Everyone gets better over time.



    1. Yes, I participate. Woot!

    2. I get nervous about mucking up peoples' plans.

    3. cough Does extensive forgetfulness count? Uh... NCEA exams stuff and general homeworkyness.

    4. I agree about the fact that the OoC topics are annoying. Do you read them first, or the TS? Because if you read the OoC topic first, you have no clue what's going on in the TS, so don't understand half the posts, but if you read the TS first you might make a wrong post.



  • I'm actually surprised about the OoC topic remarks. Prior to the OoC topics people were leaving OoC comments all over their post (or maybe their entire post was OoC), so the topics were originally a way to shove all of the OoC stuff elsewhere for those people that just wanted to read the stories. I think its intended that the story should stand on its own without a lot of OoC explanation (so in response to Crazy, you should be able to read the TS first), but I guess I can see how it might be a hinderance in that people would need to catch up on two topics instead of just one. (Though, reading the OoC topic shouldn't be mandatory, I think I'd only peek at the last dozen or so posts to make sure there's no immediate interference with what I'm about to post - most of the other stuff is outdated)

    One of the ideas I have about the OoC topic was to turn it into more of a "primer" for the particular story it is tied to. In the past, I tried running and updating a "group cast" list as the story went on, and I found it helpful (for myself at least) in keeping track of the 30 or 40 character names floating around. But, I think there's a lot more that can be done with the topics to make them more useful. It sounds like we'd need to be careful though if we follow through on this (if it ends up creating more work for the writers, that's a problem), but the idea is to have a topic that isn't necessarily something every writer has to read but a source of information that people can go to when they're looking for help. Maybe they need information on the characters in the story, or the background/setting information - treat it sort of like a mini-library, read the sections you want and you can skip the rest and still do fine.

    As an example, for the current story some background information on the time period would be included. Things that every character who has lived on Cythera should know, but their authors might not know - major dates, major events, names of major characters/locations, setting descriptions (as appropriate, no need to describe the entire island, but stuff can be added as the group arrives there). I think personally, all I know about the current setting would fit into a single sentence, and that makes it hard for me to write something "believable" set in the world, but I suspect some of you have poked around at every line of dialogue in the game three hundred times over and probably have a fairly good knowledge of what it was like back then (and more importantly, what was going on).

    On the downside, these "primers" would create a lot more work for the OoC topics. Probably, in order to work and keep it from being an unorganized mess, the first post would have to serve as a continually updated index of sorts - which puts pressure on either the topic creator or the mods to keep it updated. After reading the above, I'm also worried about creating work for all the writers, when the primer is intended to try and make it easier for someone to get into the story.



  • 1. Do you participate in the team stories?
    Yes (If so, what do you like about them?)
    I was originally attracted to the interactive storytelling, though recently we've been turning out collections of parallel stories instead. I also find the RP facet to be appealing, "If my character were in this situation, what would he do? How would the other characters respond?"

    2. What's the biggest obstacle you face when trying to write for the TSes?
    Anticipating other characters' responses.
    Does this happen with every TS or with just some of them?
    It happens with most, the one exception being with that one that took about a week, & filled a "full" number of pages. (somewhere 6-9 I think) We were all posting so fast (& discussing in #cythera) that it was easy to build on other posts.

    3. If you've ever dropped out of a TS, what was the reason?
    I don't think I have... >> But either non-intentional due to an unexpected loss of time, or because I don't see how my character would respond until the TS is fully baked._

    4. What is one thing you want to change most about the stories?
    The pace. I think it is best when we can write our next addition to the plot, confident that there will be another post before long, so that we don't feel like we have to include half a month's worth of plot in one post. That would also help with the time issue, because an action or two doesn't take as much time or effort to write as a whole block of plotness.

    I also definitely like a list of Characters, preferably in the first post (either of the TS or its OoC)



  • @jehezekel_bot, on Sep 26 2008, 03:45 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    I also definitely like a list of Characters, preferably in the first post (either of the TS or its OoC)

    I'd also like to see this. Maybe a brief history of the character and the reason for him or her being their.



  • I haven't been here in over month! My how time flies. . . :o

    I was going to say that I don't have time anymore, but Selax stole my reply!

    @avatara_bot, on Sep 15 2008, 03:21 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    1. Do you participate in the team stories? If not, why not? (If so, what do you like about them?)

    Yes

    @avatara_bot, on Sep 15 2008, 03:21 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    2. What's the biggest obstacle you face when trying to write for the TSes? Does this happen with every TS or with just some of them?

    Time constraints. I take a long time to write TS posts, and I don't always have enough time available to do that. I'm not even caught up in the current TS. Usually, I feel more limited in TSes that take place over the school year.

    I think the other major problem we all have here is innovating. How many different ways can we present a fight scene? Or a tragedy? Or anything else? Many of the elements in our stories are similar to those in previous stories. I'm not really sure how to fix this problem, but it helps, in my opinion, to try to make our characters more human. I sometimes enjoy reading long dialogues or a short, funny twist. All of this and more seem to add a short pause to the story, like a breath of fresh air.

    @avatara_bot, on Sep 15 2008, 03:21 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    3. If you've ever dropped out of a TS, what was the reason?

    Never have dropped out, never will!

    @avatara_bot, on Sep 15 2008, 03:21 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    4. What is one thing you want to change most about the stories?

    I'm with Avatara on the OoC topics. I like how cleaned up the actual TS is when all of the OoC comments are relegated to a separate topic. It does, unfortunately, add another topic to read, but the OoC topic seems much shorter than the TS.

    As for changing something about the TSes, I would like to see more plot development going on between battles, but I know how hard it is to do that. I like our current characters and even the majority of our current plots. I just can't figure out how we're going to keep the stories themselves fun and interesting. More people would help.

    In closing, we seem to be suffering a lot right now from lack of people. We need to all get on #cythera and have an irc reunion sometime! I'll try to be around a little bit more than I have been, but that's not saying much.



  • There's a big stigma right now that anybody who wants to post should join in relatively early and tough it out as part of "the group". Perhaps we can work a way for those people with time constraints and busy schedules to contribute for only small portions as the opportunity arises (for example, maybe a character could offer some useful (or unuseful) advice/information to the group while staying overnight at the same inn without necessarily being on the same adventure - an analogy would be the TS is a television series, and these characters are guest stars for a single episode or two - or maybe even reoccurring guest stars if the author gains more inspiration). That might help alleviate some of the big daunting "well, I would post, but I don't know if I can commit for very long" and might even double as a way for people who are new or just want to try things out to "test the waters" before taking on an entire story. Of course, there's still the big hurdle of allowing people who join stories late to get up to speed (I guess the OoC topic can also contain a periodically-updated synopsis of the story so far, leaving out as many super-spoilers as possible, put that character list first post to double use).

    I know I haven't been posting much, but I have been reading people's thoughts, and now I'd also like to hear some ideas and other suggestions on techniques we can try for future stories.



  • @the-wizard_bot, on Oct 1 2008, 12:08 AM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    \ think the other major problem we all have here is innovating. How many different ways can we present a fight scene? Or a tragedy? Or anything else? Many of the elements in our stories are similar to those in previous stories. I'm not really sure how to fix this problem, but it helps, in my opinion, to try to make our characters more human. I sometimes enjoy reading long dialogues or a short, funny twist. All of this and more seem to add a short pause to the story, like a breath of fresh air.

    ...

    As for changing something about the TSes, I would like to see more plot development going on between battles, but I know how hard it is to do that. I like our current characters and even the majority of our current plots. I just can't figure out how we're going to keep the stories themselves fun and interesting. More people would help.

    In closing, we seem to be suffering a lot right now from lack of people. We need to all get on #cythera and have an irc reunion sometime! I'll try to be around a little bit more than I have been, but that's not saying much.

    I agree with you on this one. I find the stories most interesting usually when there's not some kind of combat scene going on (the exception being those few combat scenes which stand out because of something unique, rather than ten people smashing up yet another band of overconfident ruffians/undead/whatever).

    Of course, as you mention, the character-to-character interactions are the toughest to write. I do notice that as people write with one another over time they get more comfortable using each other's characters and start taking risks (oops, it appears I just burned your clothes). There are probably little things each of us can do to help out with that. For example, I know in the past I got grumpy because people would often use my character in a way that I felt was out-of-character, but in hindsight a large part of that was because I had a terrible character description and nobody had anything solid to base "my" reactions on. Perhaps if people can get more used to using other people's characters and having their own characters be used by other people, the issue with "I don't know where to move the plot next" might also be resolved a bit. Maybe an IRC story group session might help after all (hang out in the channel for a weekend, run a quick story - if you're unsure how to use somebody, they're right there in the channel so you can ask).

    I'm not necessarily convinced that more people is the only solution. Yes, it would increase the pool of ideas, but I don't think a story with 30 posters is more fun than a story with 5 posters simply because more people are posting. In fact, it'd probably be a lot more complicated and you'd likely not have much character depth at all. On the other hand, a story of two people might as well be a chronicle.

    I think a bigger issue is poster retention - fifteen people start off on the story, and only three people are carrying the weight throughout. That can work, but it works much better when there's less open-ended dead weight stuff to sling along as well (ie, I think it makes for a better story if instead of people randomly vanishing*, they write a plausible exit for their character - temporary or permanent). Three people can carry a story, but its easier on them if they know in advance they're the only ones posting and they don't have to worry about keeping track of thirty other characters from people who may or may not post again. That's why I kind of like the idea of not pressuring people to be "locked in" for the entirety of the story, they can join in and leave as they want (assuming it fits in with the story at those times, of course). But I'm still not sure how to retain posters overall, I guess it depends on how engaging the story is at the time (two weeks between posts is certainly a detriment).

    • Yes, I'm certainly guilty of this on at least two occasions.


  • basically the only thing keeping me from participating in pretty much anything at this point is my messed up computer. Until I get my new one, I'm pretty much a ghost here.

    However, when I'm actually participating in any TS. The one main thing that keeps me from continuing to post is the absence of other people. If there's like 8 of us in a TS but it's basically:

    my post
    someone else's post
    my post
    another person's post
    my post

    ..etc.

    that's no good

    I don't like posting too much because then I feel I start to become rather annoying and then the story sort of just lingers forever, because I don't want to be the one to make the next turn in the plot.

    I'm not saying this happens in these TSes. I've only participated in one so I can't say much on that. I'm talking about my overall experiences in RPing. Basically, I always end up being the only one who's still active, then I wait after my last post (because I find posting 2 times in a row to be terribly excessive) and if no one else posts, the thread dies.

    I don't know what we could do to improve these TSes and keep them going
    all I'd need is a good number of dedicated RPers
    ...and a new computer of course ;)



  • (Note: the following post might be somewhat disorganized...I'm rather tired at the moment.)

    I'm somewhat ambivalent on the OoC topics. Personally, I find it easier (albeit messier) just to keep most of the OoC comments in the story, although some of the discussion in the OoC topic is useful. I do find the the list of characters handy and a "primer" might be useful, but I agree that it could create work for the writers.

    One of the problems that I have noted with character-to-character interactions lately is that, when time is set aside for them, one or two people post and then the story stagnates for awhile. I am not sure of the solution to this.

    Recently, I have had some success with pushing the plot along as much as possible in an attempt to the keep the TS focused and moving. (I hope that I don't shut anyone else out of the plot by doing this...I try to leave it open while keeping the TS moving.) There are downsides to this method, such as the risk of cutting out character-to-character interactions, and I can't be sure of its overall effects. I personally prefer it when everyone is involved with the plot, but I'm unsure of how to get people involved and interested in the plot and am open to suggestions on this point.

    As for future stories and possible ideas—I have had a little time to think on this point and have a few suggestions (mostly having to do with villains in Cythera).

    I have noticed that there is a general cycle to the world of Cythera in the stories: evil arises (perhaps another band of ruffians or undead)—heroes crush evil.

    Perhaps, the cycle could be broken by having the heroes fail in one of the TSs. Some evil force succeeds in defeating them and taking over Cythera. The next TS or two they attempt to deal with the effects of this defeat and eventually find someway to yet again crush the villains (this might just be a different version of the cycle but, if the heroes never recover, then future TSs would be difficult).

    Another idea would be to create a "group" of villains in counter to the heroes (not to be in all TSs), perhaps actually giving them a challenge. One aspect of this would be that, when doing TSs with the heroes gets boring, we could do TSs with villains instead (after some nefarious objective, naturally). This is similar to an idea that was proposed some time ago (that of having everyone but one person be a villain trying to defeat the one hero).

    An arc of TSs centered on a single plot might be interesting, but to keep people on track there'd have to be some kind of a summary (perhaps one sentence for each) written out in advance and this might make it boring and unworkable.



  • Is it me or did I just kill the topic :blink: ?



  • Naw, it's just that everything's already been said. Though I might add that the biggest barrier to posting is probably that Cythera isn't an osX native FPRPG after the style of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic , (which I think has a fairly compatible engine, though I never played it personally)



  • But nobody's commented on my ideas! I WILL BAN YOU ALL!

    Just kidding :) .



  • Very interesting ideas my dear sir, very interesting indeed. I think it might be fun to implement one or more or less of them at some time after we finish this TS.

    Another Idea would be to try to integrate puzzles more, like in the game. It would at least make a change of pace from, "How can I kill this villain so that I don't bore myself and the others?" to "How can I solve this puzzle in an interesting way?" Of course, there's always the danger of making puzzle too boring/difficult/obscure thus inciting others to emulate Alex when he met the Gordian Knot...



  • @selax_bot, on Oct 15 2008, 08:08 PM, said in What's your biggest barrier to posting in the stories?:

    <Ideas>

    I am commenting on your ideas. They are very interesting, as Jehezekel said.
    :p

    Anyways, I do like the idea of having the heroes fail in a TS. I like it quite a bit and hope that we can implement it in some future TS.



  • I personally think it would be cool to follow the plot of the game itself

    though I guess not many people other than myself would find that to be much fun what with the fact that everyone already knows what happens


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