Hederik

RP section development

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Having spent a few months on the site, I feel eligible to share a few thoughts I have concerning the area of the forums I mostly dwell in, namely the RP section -- or, to be more specific, the readily accessible part of it called Everfee Empire.

 

Much of what I'm suggesting may already be a part of the plans for the roleplaying Poniverse site, but since it isn't yet here, I might as well bring these up.

 

1. Segregation isn't always a bad thing

 

tl;dr Move some topics elsewhere to make the category more transparent.

 

The current layout of the category makes it kind of difficult to use, as it's a huge melting pot of ideas, open invitations and discussions concerning currently-active sessions. From what I've gathered, the traffic in said category has greatly diminished in comparison to previous years, but to me it still looks like a few improvements would be prudent.

 

a) Sieve the ready from the forming

 

tl;dr Create separate categories for player-recruiting threads and OOC discussion of running RPs.

 

A visitor to the category of EvE OOC will most likely be interested in finding a session to join him- or herself. Instead, the most active topics around there are often the OOC threads of RPs that are already underway, and neither interested nor open to accepting newcomers. Conversely, the posted offers of RPs to be launched get a few responses at best and after a few days fall onto a second page of the category, unless they're systematically bumped. And, since said practice in itself is somewhat questionable, it shouldn't be encouraged by how the environment behaves. Thus, it would seem wise to somehow divide the currently overlapping zones of these two levels of activity.

 

b] Promote the quality

 

tl;dr Exactly. Plus, high standard means a long time to reply, leading to the thread being difficult to find.

 

At first glance, the RPing forums follow this principle: there is a separate category for "advanced" roleplays to take place in. After a closer look, however, the only purpose of said exclusion is enforcing the several-hundred characters minimum length of posts (which to a properly selected group is rather redundant, and may perhaps even be an obstacle, but that is beside my point). Especially since the differentiation only applies to running RPs, which, to be honest, aren't probably all that often sought - the participants either have them bookmarked or are notified of new answers therein. Now, I'm not saying anything of it is wrong -- but it is too little.

 

The OOC section of the roleplaying category contains no such rift. And mostly any "advanced" RP topic is bound to be flooded in the rest of activity happening there. I do not intend to insult anyone in any way by saying this, but a majority of the posts appearing in the RP section contain a mere few words and are directed towards the sessions with lower requirements. It is a good thing! RPing is a fantastic way to practice written language, develop imagination, maintain a healthy, intellectual hobby and tighten the bonds between users. But with such an influx of messages to the topics that might be outside the scope of interest of those looking for more, the threads that would potentially draw them may easily go unnoticed.

 

I recognize that this may create a little friction. RPs deemed to be "advanced" enough to be moved to their own category may be looked upon as elitist, and some may find it unfair if their RP isn't accepted into the high-brow "club". It is an issue that would have to be addressed along with the requirements for admission and I'd love to hear others' opinions on the matter.

 

c) Take out the trash

 

tl;dr There are 79 pages of RP-related threads. I doubt 5% of them is in any way active.

 

This one would potentially require a lot of work, or a clever implementation of code, but how about making the forming (i.e. not yet connected to a running RP) threads have an expiration date? That way, topics which have seen no traffic over the course of, say, two weeks would automatically be moved to some kind of archive. With the deadline drawing near, the author could refresh it, proving they're still active on the forums and interested in carrying out the RP -- it would also function as a "within the lines", officially-approved bumping tool. And as an effect, the entire category would be made that much more transparent, which if implemented along with proposition a) could perhaps make the entire b] point redundant.

 

To avoid confusion: as I see it, the archived topics would still be easily accessible, especially to their creators, who could refresh their expiration date from there to automatically have them restored to the active section.

 

2. Open discussion: RP learning 101 AND a refining tool

 

tl;dr Provide an option to learn by public discussion, concerning both the basic skills and the more advanced techniques involved.

 

I applaud the initiative to help the inexperienced RPers along, implemented in the form of the Mentor program. As I have pointed (perhaps in a somewhat unclear manner) some time ago, it does not meet all the needs of teaching and training people in RPing. It is discreet, focused on the individual and tailored to their needs. And it's commendable.

 

Its effects, however, are in no way accessible to anyone who would seek the same answers in the future and thus, there is no way to search for already-answered questions in order to avoid pointlessly asking them again. Furthermore, while some may enjoy the behind-closed-doors approach, others might appreciate hearing opinions of more than one person on the matter. Plus, by asking the right questions, the "newbies" could involuntarily work for the betterment of the more experienced players, forcing them to ponder certain aspects of their hobby.

 

On a related note, I find it almost unbelievable that a forums of this volume and age has gone by without a topic for the discussion of RP "meta". Beyond the basic educational needs concerning RPing, there is a world of topics that could provoke interesting and worthwhile exchange of opinions and ideas. How do you handle a player character dying? What is your outlook towards rule-heavy vs description-based RPing? What is the acceptable ration of OC to NPC? Do you plan far ahead or let the RP flow as it will? This is just scraping the tip of an iceberg, and I'm surely not going to request a Mentor to discuss such things with, especially since I'd be more interested in hearing a variety of opinions from different people.

 

Why did I not just start the topic myself? Well, I'm really not quite sure if the OOC section would be the best place for it. And since I was already going to write here, I decided I might as well avoid irritating somebody with building without permit.

 

3. For pony's sake

 

tl;dr Really?

 

This one is a really minor suggestion, but how about a "Pony" or "MLP" tag to differentiate the pony-related RPs from those focused elsewhere? The authors often forget to make it clear themselves, and it would often provide instant clarification when just browsing the OOC section. Because that's the extent to which I see it implemented: OOC. Once an RP is running, there is no need to encumber its title with a tag that by then is irrelevant.

 

 

 

Honest congratulations and heartfelt thanks to each and any reader who made it through the entirety of this post. I eagerly await whatever response this might provoke, be it from fellow forum users or the moderating staff.

 

Kind regards,

Hederik.

 

Edited in: P.S. "b" + ")" is not exactly the same as "B" + ")" and I find it ungrounded that it should produce the emoticon rendered as B). Not that I have anything against the emoticon itself.

Edited by Hederik
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a) Sieve the ready from the forming   tl;dr Create separate categories for player-recruiting threads and OOC discussion of running RPs.   A visitor to the category of EvE OOC will most likely be interested in finding a session to join him- or herself. Instead, the most active topics around there are often the OOC threads of RPs that are already underway, and neither interested nor open to accepting newcomers. Conversely, the posted offers of RPs to be launched get a few responses at best and after a few days fall onto a second page of the category, unless they're systematically bumped. And, since said practice in itself is somewhat questionable, it shouldn't be encouraged by how the environment behaves. Thus, it would seem wise to somehow divide the currently overlapping zones of these two levels of activity.

 

Isn't there already something like this already implemented? The "Searching" Tag line . 

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This? Touché.

 

Yes, it does serve the similar purpose. You'd have to search thrice, however, to browse the full scope of Planning/Searching/Open RPs.

 

(Sorry if this gets sent twice, it got stuck on "Saving..." for kind of a long time.)

 

Edited in:

Also, unless I've missed something, this isn't the most instinctive feature, as there is no option to sort/search by Tag in the category view, you just have to figure out that the tags themselves are clickable for a reason.

Edited by Hederik
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Shoot. From the title I was hoping you were volunteering to join the PonyRoleplay development team. :) In which case I was going to forward you on to @@Feld0.

 

1) Part of the plans for new PonyRoleplay site is the elimination of the OOC thread concept, so that ongoing OOC is occurring in the RPs themselves but on a separate channel so that RPer can flip back and forth between easily. That's was due to the many requests we've had to merge the OOC/IC threads together and get rid of the need to 'link' the threads. However, that also removes the central place to search for any RPs that are needing promotion. Because of that we're still thinking of having 'Roleplay Recruitment' folders to put in any promotion or requests for more players.

 

1a) The prefix tags 'Searching' and 'Plannning' are supposed to be doing this, but we recognize they're not really functioning that well as it's not obvious that you can filter/sort by prefix tags. I've put in a request to the dev team to make it more obvious by adding it to the visible filter/sort tools on MLPForums, and it's on the list of things for the new PonyRoleplay site that is in development.

 

1b) Promoting quality is a tricky thing. We haven't quite figured out how to do it without organizing a review board that would tag individual RPs as 'Quality' based on some undefined criteria. Unfortunately, self-policing methods don't work very well, as either everyone puts their own RP forward as a Quality RP regardless, or if it's a member-vote thing it devolves into a popularity contest. And we've proven on this forum that popularity contests... don't go well. This is a fandom, and fans are by definition passionate about stuff, which often leads to rather unfortunate consequences.

 

1c) Interesting thought. As an alternative idea; there is a 'hot' feature in the MLPForums software that tags threads if they are highly active, I wonder if the opposite would be possible and have inactive threads marked in some way that the filter/sort function could deal with this. I'll have to ping the tech team and see about that.

 

2) This one has been discussed before amongst the staff: Where do we put Meta-RP discussions? The new PRP site will hopefully have a folder for Meta-RP discussions, but we weren't too sure where to put that in the MLPF folder structure. Media Discussion is currently the closest, but that's rather tenuous.

 

The Mentor program was actually two-pronged. One: To pilot the idea of official Mentors which could be expanded to other parts of the forum like Octavia's Hall, and Two: To gauge interest in that kind of discussion. I'm going to raise this up to the RP staff now, and see if we've gotten enough interest to justify modifying the MLPF folder organization to add a Roleplay Mentoring and Discussion folder to Roleplay World.

 

3) This is another thing we were planning for the PRP site, having Everfree Empire RPs segregated by genre. Action/Adventure, SOL/Romance, 1x1 Roleplays, Alternate Universe (for EqG type things), Tabletop (to go along with the new Tabletop section we just put into place here), and Non-Pony. This, of course, just our first pass at the list of genres.

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Shoot. From the title I was hoping you were volunteering to join the PonyRoleplay development team. In which case I was going to forward you on to @Feld0.

I wouldn't mind lending a hoof. But from the announcements I've read you mostly need people specializing in maintaining servers, servicing databases and writing in languages that are alien to me -- I just work in C# a little. Heck, I'd gladly learn them to help you, if I could squeeze a dozen extra hours out of a day, but it's not going to happen presently. Unless I misunderstood, in which case I might be interested.

 

 

I don't want to sound bitter about this -- I really have no ground to be so, as I'm pretty happy with how the site has been treating me these past few months -- but from the reply, I gather that you're working on implementing these and other features on the new site, and thus would rather avoid unnecessarily doubling your workload by working on them here at the same time. That is understandable, and if the project is alive, quite frankly perhaps even preferable to having them here and waiting longer till the big project is completed. Might I ask if there is indeed a realistic ETA for PonyRoleplay? Or is there so much to be done still that no dependable dates are conjurable?

 

Also, for the points that are indeed going to be looked at, many thanks. I appreciate very much this being taken seriously, not to mention the quick and honest reply.

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I wouldn't mind lending a hoof. But from the announcements I've read you mostly need people specializing in maintaining servers, servicing databases and writing in languages that are alien to me -- I just work in C# a little. Heck, I'd gladly learn them to help you, if I could squeeze a dozen extra hours out of a day, but it's not going to happen presently. Unless I misunderstood, in which case I might be interested.

Well, nothing says you can't ping @@Feld0 and see if your can lend a hoof. :)

 

 

I don't want to sound bitter about this -- I really have no ground to be so, as I'm pretty happy with how the site has been treating me these past few months -- but from the reply, I gather that you're working on implementing these and other features on the new site, and thus would rather avoid unnecessarily doubling your workload by working on them here at the same time. That is understandable, and if the project is alive, quite frankly perhaps even preferable to having them here and waiting longer till the big project is completed. Might I ask if there is indeed a realistic ETA for PonyRoleplay? Or is there so much to be done still that no dependable dates are conjurable?

 

Also, for the points that are indeed going to be looked at, many thanks. I appreciate very much this being taken seriously, not to mention the quick and honest reply.

Well, to be honest, the features we want for PRP are simply not feasible with IP.Board, the software the forum is running under. At least not without tearing the whole thing apart and rebuilding it. Little tweaks and configuration stuff (like adding folders) is possible, but since all our developers are donating their time and energy, and pretty much all of them are students, we can't really 'spend' them on things that aren't critical. I sometimes think about lending a hoof myself, but my developer experience was far too long ago, and I'm really a SQL guy now.

 

The new site is at the moment based on a completely different software package, and should be easier to build the features we want (like the OOC/IC split threads, a better character system, a die roller for Tabletop, and so on). But we've had several serious delays, as the developers volunteering for the job get repeatedly hit by the RL bus and can't devote any time to the project. So... we can't really give a good date for release. :(

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Man reading all that is getting me in a tizzle. God I want this other RP site to come to life Can I help? I can try to help I did computer science at school dose that count at all?  :kindness:

 

Probably not but heck I am looking forward to the new sight.

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