The horror of organizing a VT game

Over at Pixels & Polyhedrons, MJ mentioned how he was nearly ready to give up online gaming because it is so hard to get people to commit or show up. I started thinking about some ways to insure that you get good players who show up on time.



I realize that some of these may be controversial, but I'm just throwing out ideas.


  1. Have a category for "premium" games, which are run by experienced GMs with high ratings. People will have to pay a small amount of money per session. I'd pay $15 bucks to participate in a game run by Vincent Baker, Jason Morningstar or Judd Karlman.

  2. ...which leads us to a) having some sort of ranking/karma system for players. I hate to say this, but I had experiences with two "nightmare" players when I used Fantasy Grounds. I wasn't the only person to have problems with these folks. It would be nice to have some sort of warning (I know...I know...).

  3. ...and b) perhaps you don't get charged unless you don't show up. For example, Game X has a deposit of $10. You give the GM at least 24 hours notice if you can't make it to avoid being charged.



I think all of these things should be optional, and not at all appropriate when playing with people with whom you have a good relationship and gaming history.

Comments

  • I like the karma notion. I also sort of like the idea of participant stats--how often does a guy bail on the game within 24 hours, how often is he more than 10 minutes late, etc. Maybe we could figure out a way to give people who fall below a certain threshold a mild jolt through their keyboard.;)
  • Could this be some sort of optional thing that GMs could set in campaign preferences? It could be automatically updated so the players would know the GM isn't just being a jerk.



    I think GMs should be held accountable also. Almost like feedback on Ebay. I know that in the story-games culture it's pretty common to have a roses-and-thorns session after each game to discuss what went wrong/right.
  • Brennen Reece;781 wrote: Could this be some sort of optional thing that GMs could set in campaign preferences? It could be automatically updated so the players would know the GM isn't just being a jerk.
    Yeah, that's what I'd envisioned. It has to be automatic and impersonal--just the facts as collected. No value judgment, no notion of acceptable or non-acceptable tardiness or absence--just the stats. Kind of like airline/airport stats for flight delays, or baseball stats. There might be a good reason to have that guy who bats .220 in your starting lineup, but it doesn't change the fact that he bats .220...or that you still want him on the team.
  • What would be nice is if you could set a player limit ahead of time. Say you have 6 slots for your game, and 6 players committed. You could set those 6 players up (with their ID) and they are guaranteed a spot IF they log in to the game before starting time. Then other players that connect to the game would be put in an alternate list. When start time approaches, if all the registered players are not in game, the alternate list unlocks from top down until you have your 6 players. Of course this is still not an ideal solution. I've played in many games where either a)class mix was so borked that the session was unplayable (in a game like D&D) or very little fun, or b) you get some random guy that has no concept of role-playing and ruins it for everyone else. But generally after a half hour of waiting people tend to start bailing.

    You could also take alternates based on class, previous sessions, or some other criteria the person running the game dictates. Which is the best option because there is a better chance of having the game go well. It'd also be nice if the alternate pool could view the game in case players drop out early and you want to keep the full slots filled.
  • Could this be some sort of optional thing that GMs could set in campaign preferences? It could be automatically updated so the players would know the GM isn't just being a jerk.



    I think GMs should be held accountable also. Almost like feedback on Ebay. I know that in the story-games culture it's pretty common to have a roses-and-thorns session after each game to discuss what went wrong/right.


    I don't know how easily a rating system would be on a global level, but local rating shouldn't be too difficult. You could even have two fields, DM and Player. Then when you are looking for a game or a player you could see people you have previously played with and their rating and a note on why you like/disliked them. Of course you could just do it in notepad or if you wanted to go crazy an excel sheet.
  • In my experience people are so used to FREE that getting them to cough up money to play a game, even if it was with a well known personality, would be difficult. It could work for conventions and such, but on a regular basis, I do not see it working.

    I think a rating system would be awesome, but in practice it would probably bring up so many flame wars that it would in time become useless as well. We gamers are a fickle bunch and when something we care deeply about (favorite game system anyone?) we tend to rise up and show our ugly heads. Just wait until a GM rates a player poorly, the flames would rise high.

    I like the idea of a deposit, but again, getting people to cough up dough is difficult to see through.



    I have been burned in the past with players that are iffy, it seems to have gotten worse in the last few years. I ran a online game (using mIRC of all things) in the late 90s that ran for over a year and a half, was great. Since then, getting people together has gotten harder and harder. I am sure my choice of game systems is somewhat to blame as well.



    I think all of these things should be optional, and not at all appropriate when playing with people with whom you have a good relationship and gaming history.[/QUOTE]
  • snikle;973 wrote: I think a rating system would be awesome, but in practice it would probably bring up so many flame wars that it would in time become useless as well. We gamers are a fickle bunch and when something we care deeply about (favorite game system anyone?) we tend to rise up and show our ugly heads. Just wait until a GM rates a player poorly, the flames would rise high.
    I agree. For that reason, I really like the notion of totally objective stats. Stuff analogous to airlines percentage on time stats per flight--it's not explaining whysome flights tend to not be on time or whether that's understandable or justified or horrifying--just that some flights do tend to not be on time.



    I think a similar thing with game participants might work. They either showed up, canceled 24 hours ahead, or didn't. The guy could be a doctor on call, an EMT or a secret service agent--that is, he might have really good reasons for why he misses games, and that's cool, but the stats still say that he misses games, because that's his real, objective profile. He'll still be able to play, because at some point it all comes down to personal relationships, but if he's new to a group or running a game, everyone will have the right expectations.



    Of course, I suppose the list of objective stats for a gamer might be short.
  • What if players were to rate themselves?



    Part of my problem organizing games was finding the right type of players. Are you guys familiar with the Robin's Laws of Gamemastering? There's a section that I'm sure you've seen paraphrased over and over about the different types of players: the actor, the power gamer, et cetera. I'd like to see how people rate themselves according to those classifications.



    For instance, my GMing style is highly improvisational and I don't pull punches for my players. I'm going to allow the players a chance to set stakes and negotiate, but they have to accept the consequences. I tend toward darker themes. I prefer drama over "roleplaying"...if you want to haggle with the blacksmith, go somewhere else.



    As a player, I often tend to make my choices based on what I feel is interesting rather than using my player as a wish-fulfillment avatar. I don't mind failing a roll, because that makes the story interesting. I want a GM who will give me plenty of interesting options and not railroad me.



    How could we take those things and classify them? Kind of like a dating service for gamers (non-romantic, of course)?
  • I think this is somewhat spilling over into an overall gamer issue, and not just a ET issue, but that said....



    I agree with both of you actually, weird huh? There should be two sections.

    The first:

    I think there could be a player profile where the player details himself: catagorically ranks himself (per Robin Law's cats), perhaps submits a short bio, lists their experience, type of game preferred, etc.

    The second:

    Submitted details from others (such as listed by John above, on time, cancels 24 hours out, etc), number of games played, number GMed, perhaps an average Gm rating. BUT I like the idea of a pure statistical approach.



    That said, this could actually be developed to become a complete gamer network, with official badges and officials.....but that is a lofty dream to be sure. And God, I would hate to see my own stats.....
  • This is one reason I generally try to play with friends and other people that either I know already, or that the other players know already. For me, the game is about drama, storytelling, and social interaction. I like a good story and a good time with friends. I have nearly no interest in spending my time with people I've never met for the game itself...it just doesn't seem to work that way for me.
  • I don't rate players as 'power gamer' or 'gamer', etc. What I do is decide if a new player is getting along with myself and the other players. If the new player wants to be in the spotlight all of the time, that isn't going to work with my DM style as I call on the players in order. After their actions, the monsters get their actions.



    I have a contact paper notepad I put together. Character names go down the left side, and the rest of each page shows their actions, spell casting, melee, bow use, etc.



    I go around the table in order of that page. The sequence is marching order. So front rank first, then second rank, etc. I find it helps anxious players deal with not all being called on at the same time.



    http://crestofastar.drivein-jim.net/articles/431/game-aid-2-combat-round-tracker



    But I can see that Epic Table would mean I don't have to use that anymore. If that will help anyone, feel free to copy my idea for personal use.
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