View Single Post

Thread: Guide to Play by Post Games

  1. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
    Strawberries's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    East Midlands, UK

    Default Re: Guide to Play by Post Games

    I found in a word document my old post on why play by post tend to die and how best to prevent it. I'll repost it, even if most of it it's in the guide, since sometimes it's useful for me to link people specifically to this bit:

    Strawberries' analysis on why pbps die (and how to prevent it)

    Here's a list of the most common problem play by posts have, and some advice to how address them.

    ----Problem: Games tend to die because players drop out
    This is one of the most common problems, in my experience. A player stops posting for whatever reason, other people keep waiting for him/her, game dies.

    Possible solution: As a player, warn others if you are going to drop out. Noone will judge someone who says “Guys, I’ve got too much on my plate, I have to quit”. This gives the DM and the other players an heads-up, as they know they shouldn’t wait for you.
    As a GM, as addressed in other parts of the guide, it’s probably helpful to establish a “maximum inactivity time”, at least during combat, which is the maximum time a player is allowed to go without posting before the dm takes control of their character or the action skips to another player. Ideally, this time should be shorter during combat, longer outside combat (as then the other players have more chances to step in).
    Also, as a GM, remember that you have the option to start recruiting again to fill the empty spots.

    ----Problem: Game stall because people wait for other to post.
    This may in itself have various causes:

    a) people don’t post because they don’t know what to do.
    I’ve seen this happen quite a lot (and happened to myself, too). As a player, you think “Uhm, I’ve really no idea how to act in this situation, I’ll think about it for another while/ wait for someone else to take the lead”. Then people forgot, and the game dies.
    The solution: post OOC. Say that you’re stuck. For instance, say “Hey, guys, Sir McINT should know the answer to this riddle, but I’m stumped. Anyone has any ideas?” Brainstorm plans, courses of action, whatever you like. Chances are, the barbarian’s player knew the answer, and was waiting for you because he felt that it would be out of character for Mr Smashalot to say it.

    Which brings me to

    b) people don’t post because they think their character wouldn’ t say/do anything
    Which is fine, really. If it’s out of character for someone to act or speak, they shouldn’t. Except the other players have no way of knowing why you aren’t posting. So they’ll still wait for you, leading to the game stalling and dying.
    The solution: that’s easy, but rarely applied. If your character does nothing, post saying you are doing nothing. I. e. “Julia Introverted waits by the window, uncomfortable in the presence of the large group of people and not sure of what to say to break the ice”. This way, your character still doesn’t move or speak, but people know you (the player) have read and reacted to their posts.
    Moreover, both as a player and a GM, poke people. A lot. Either by posting in the OOC thread or by PM. PMS work wonders in cases like these.

    ----PBPs are slow, therefore people lose interest.

    That’s not an astonishing piece of information. PBPs are slow because you have to wait for people from all around the world to post. There are timezone issues, as well as real life issue. Combat is going to take days.
    The solution. That’s not an easy one, as pbps are by nature much, much slower than real life games, but there are some things both GM and players can do.
    As a GM, beside the aforementioned time limit, you can, for instance, do some rolls yourself. For instance, rolling initiative for the players (as opposed to post “roll initiative” and wait for everyone) can save days, and free the first player to focus on the active part of combat. Same goes with spots/lsten checks. Please note than you should tell in advance to the players f you are using this system, and be sure everyone agrees.
    As a player, if you aren’t sure if/what to roll, roll all the same, and ask the DM to disregard if not relevant. This saves time as you don’t have back/forths like “Can I make a knowledge check?” “Sure” “Well, then [roll=knowledge]” “You have these info:…” This may seem a trivial exchange, but in a pbp can easily mean a day of real-time. Compare with “Can I make a knowledge check? [roll=knowledge]” ”Yes you can. You have these info:… / No, you can’t, it doesn’t apply”. Half the time, same result.

    General advice

    My general advice, not linked to any of the problems in particular, is to talk OOC whenever possible. Share opinions, talk about unrelated subject, whatever. Because it’s a good way to get to know your players and/or your gamemaster, and it’s always funnier to game with people you know and like than with total strangers. Moreover, there is a thing I consider of great importance: this is a forum. People can’t see your face, and can’t tell if you are enjoying yourself or you’d prefer to do something else (more combat/roleplaying/intrigue/humor. They don’t know if you’re arguing IC because your character is going to be fiercely opposed to a course of action, but you think it’s a great idea, or if it’s you as a player that think the idea is stupid. The only way you have to let them know if to post OOC. Feedback (both from players to the GM and vice-versa and between players) is a fundamental aid in having successful pbps.
    Last edited by Strawberries; 2012-10-19 at 03:16 AM.

    "Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot" - N.Gaiman, The Sandman