Mr. Win, Or How I Shot My Server in the Foot - Read This!

  • Please note that this post is my own personal opinion, though many of the things said below have been said countless times over a smattering of differing topics, I feel putting them all in one place, from the viewpoint of a long-time player can really put some myths to bed. In my previous post, I've let loose on a number of hard truths about the problems with the server, it's setting, and it's DM Team. This isn't the only proverbial can of worms I feel I must open up. There is a flipside to every coin, and in the case of CoA, it is the Players. I've given my thoughts to the DM Team about how they can faciliate creativeness and activity, what features they might look to implement to improve immersion, and how CoA can begin regaining the strength of its identity. But this is only one half of what needs to change. The DMs have been very keen to listen, I found it extremely easy to have my say and feel like I gave them something to mull over. Now, I believe, it is up to the players to begin giving back to the people who build and maintain the world we've help populate.

    In my time playing here I've developed my writing and challenged my creativity in any opportunity I can get. I've seen concepts get picked up by DMs and showered with plots and loot, whilst other, equally exciting concepts remain largely ignored and the players behind them scrap it, thinking they did not impress. We've addressed the things players complain about; Not being able to find a DM IG, not being able to find one on IRC, not being afforded the opportunities given to other players, the belief that there is an combination of favouritism and cliques among the DMs. So now lets look at what the DMs are seeing from their angle; Players are too reliant on DMs, the majority of players act when an NPC acts, there is a sudden lack of risk-takers, players are too quick to jump to PvP, players complain about plot hoarding and plot stealing, I can't do anything to help these guys because they just point a finger at me and say I am keeping favourites, why can't players just learn to enjoy the game.

    To be quite frank with you, much of what I have to say has already been said and repeated. Why am I saying it again? Because time and time again there are players who point fingers at the wrong people. But why is this? I mean, the DMs continually tell us what we are "expected" to do. We're told what "they want". We're given this memo on how we can "ADVENTURE & INTRIGUE" our way into CoA history. So surely it makes sense to point a finger at them and say "You're telling us to do all this but you don't give us the attention we need to do them!". Hell, I am guilty of it as well, its so easy to do that. Thing is, its the players who have gotten other players to think that the DMs are making playing this server become a second job. Why you ask? Well, lets see.

    John Cobb McEviltits throws up a poster on the bullentin about how evil he is and how all the other evil people should come and see him and plot with him.

    John Cobb McEviltits manages to gather three other people. They spend the majority of their time in the Broken Bottle, scheming and sneering and skulking.

    John Cobb McEviltits now believes he needs a DM to continue what they have started.

    After a month, John Cobb McEviltits is beginning to get annoyed. He doesn't think hes getting the attention he deserves, he feels hes been doing some exciting plottage and needs some recognition by a DM and some loot too but unfortunately, his followers are quickly getting bored and leaving or playing side-concepts. Hell, one of his lieutenants was a side-concept..

    John Cobb McEviltits is now disillusioned and believes the server is too faction-orientated, or at least, only looking to promote DM factions and DM favourites. He writes a compelling thread in the forums about how fucked this server is and how he can't be bothered anymore and how the DMs are all dicks.


    So where did John Cobb McEviltits go wrong? Was it the third point? I'll bring your attention to something written by my man Lizzy…


    I used to feel this way, and watch other players do so much and generally feel frustrated. What changed it all for me was an idea borne out of that frustration: Forget the DMs. I'll do something awesome without them and they'll be forced to take notice. It almost worked, right up until I realised that for at least a few DMs, this was exactly what they wanted.

    So, the one thing I cannot suggest, underline, highlight and engrave deep enough into anyone who has ever asked me for advice on "achieving something in CoA", it's Do It Yourself.

    Give yourself a direction and then keep breaking down your goals until you've got something that you can do without ANYONE but whoever happens to be on the server at the time, and is certainly not reliant on a DM to go ahead. Something like:

    Cleric of Bane


    Need DM

    Doesn't need DM

    You should not rely on DMs, or even on other players unless you know them very well to play at the same times as you and share your interest. Whatever you do, there should only be one person stopping you from moving forwards: you. If that's not the case then you either need to re-asses your strategy or be prepared for some frustration as you try and cater to everyone who you need to be actively involved before it can go ahead.

    If you build it, they will come.

    Makes sense, doesn't it? See how exceedingly simple he makes it so that the whole "I need a DM" factor is all but cut out? A lack of DMs is a problem, yes, but it is not THE problem. So lets look back at the John Cobb McEviltits example. Hm. Point four is interesting. John Cobb has probably given his followers a shitton of exciting things to think about. Big plans has Mr. McEviltits got for his men, its sure to get them excited. But whats missing? Players these days expect so much from DMs and faction leaders. They expect results.

    Potential "Movers & Shakers", or PC Faction leaders take it upon themselves to help keep their own followers interested in what they do, thats probably why they get the attention.

    If they don't know how to go about it properly, however, they get burned out. They demotivate themselves. Look at this thread. Here you have an exceptional player burned out and demotivated. Doesn't know how to keep her followers interested, tired of the "be active, not reactive!" quip expressed by players such as myself (Because I am an elitist. Bitches.), and is turning to forum-threadmaking to try and glean as much help as possible from her fellow players. No doubt she read the wealth of advice that can be found here from our wuvable DMs, but in the end decided to post the thread, express some valid points and then marr the post with a throw in the usual "Need DM" direction. Lets pull something up something small from her post.

    Getting people involved is a good thing but how do I go beyond that and actually -get things done-?

    Getting things done. Surely that needs a DM? It does, most of the time. When a plotline you've created requires anything involving NPCs or changing the gameworld, it usually does, but when its something that can be found and created IG, it doesn't. I lead a PC faction. It was an Elven-based faction called the Theur Everae. I feel it was pretty successful, people still talk about it, at least. How did I manage that? To be quite honest with you, all I did at the beginning was slowly gather the Elven playerbase, using bulletins initially and then finding them individually IG, and then take them into the Hullack. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do, I wanted to establish an Elven base in the Hullack and get it to the point of being semi-DM supported.

    Had no idea how, however. I used what the module provided. I threw away any OOC knowledge of the secret passages and elven crypts and made sure I got whoever followed me at the time to work on finding them. I started with vague references, gave them some encouragment when they made progress, I began to declare aloud that all Lycans can go fuck themselves and that Elven surpremecy was imminent. I focused, however, entirely on my followers. I didn't give two flying shits about what the DMs were thinking at the time, all I wanted to do was take these characters on an adventure with me. I don't know how many times we cleared out the Hullack before stumbling on our first clues. We made good use of what we found, what was already in the module and then decide to fiercely protect it. A meandering git named King in Yellow happened to catch us during one of our hunts and threw a clue relating to an old ass plot our way. It had nothing to do with Elves, but I decided, fuck it, I'm going to follow it up.

    So what did I do? I PMed him. I PMed the fuck out of him. If PMing was a metaphor for sexual relations, I damn well made him walk lopsided. And guess what? It worked. When the plot itself was resolved, we had our own NPCs, and other players were beginning to notice. Most of these uncivilized animals hate Elves, so they made an opposing Malarite group. Our first real enemy. They eventually got tied to their own set of NPCs and there own set of goals.

    When you start to do shit, people start to notice.

    But what about the confusedgamers of the server? The Senseitravis'es? The youfireds? The games?


    I feel some of what games said. Everyone has made some interesting points here. I know I've said this before in other threads but throwing a bone to players that aren't in factions and then playing a plot out in a reasonable amount of time (days or hours, not months or years) would really fire people up. Over the years I've pushed things on occasion. Sometimes I've followed the pushers as support. Universally the most heartburn on CoA that reaches my attention, is over not being able to get something your involved in moving - plugging away at it for weeks or months - then seeing someone else run off and finish it with little perceived effort. Half of the plots I've put effort into I still don't really know what in the heck happened to finish them. Mystery is all fine and dandy, but too much is too much. Someone a few threads back mentioned a lack of "movers and shakers". Moving things takes effort. Effort without reward doesn't last. Circumstances have conditioned some of the best movers and shakers to say "the hell with it" I know I certainly don't want to waist my time persuing something, only to see it dead end or get solved by one of the plot hoarding crowd. That being said, the movers and shakers still exist, they just need help, maybe a nudge once in a while. If there's something wrong with the server, it is the underlying smell of resentment that seems to be clinging to everything.


    I'm proabably going to get flamed for saying this but I think some dms have the preconceived notion that only a certain group of players are able to "shake up the server" and as such they gives them more attention and goodies than the rest. While it's true there is an "elitist group" that accomplishes big things and brings fun to the server, the outsiders feal disanfranchised. Then again I see the logic of aiding the "elitist" as they bring more fun to the server. Perhaps i'm just paranoid and stupid which if it's the case than disregard everything i've said.


    I log in to say, 25 people. 10 are sitting in their HQ's chatting about elves.
    8 are out questing with the same 2 or 3 people as they grind thier way to level 10.
    3 are discussing the possibility of grinding to level 10 with thier level 2's.
    2 are fed-exing.
    And then there are just 2 people standing in the sewers plotting evil master plan #1247!
    Where is everyone?"

    Hell. Why aren't you as a DM, first of all, kicking those 10 people out of the factions,
    and then maybe doing something interesting to get the grinders something to do to not be grinding.
    or maybe showing up in the sewers to try and prod the plootters into actual action?

    Well, thats what I disagreed with. All the rest I agree with… and I think COA is Stale and Dying.
    Too often what Stooge describes is whats going on. Its visible as a character also.
    Now... get your flamethrowers ready.. I know i'll be flamed... but it's because I still care that
    I'll be brutally honest from what's seen from my particular point of view:
    The above situation is the very reason COA is DYING.
    Factions dont do anything - or anything that non-faction people give a turd about.
    Theres nothing else to do, except grind or Sims.
    If you try and do anything else, it gets ignored.
    Unlike prior versions of the city, where "Factions" were powerful but did not "run everything", now they do.
    House Bhaliir/DeSchurr/Thond etc were really.... backdrop.
    Non-faction players could try and acomplish things.
    In the current setting, the factions are the be-all/end-all, so unless you are in one, you're ignored.

    People dont want to do leg work, because 99% of the time it goes nowhere, or gets vanished into a faction.

    I know you'll say that players are supposed to do stuff on their own.
    But even when we try and set things up, why bother? nothing will happen.
    Factions only "take" from non-faction characters and never include them.
    DMs utterly ignore non-faction people trying to arrange things. So why bother?
    Eventually you reach a point of not bothering anymore and letting things turn into COA Sims.
    Then you try once more, because you see a opportunity to make a huge difference…
    and due to the months it takes for the simplest thing to be arranged, nothing happens, because
    none of the dozen-odd people or multiple player factions you've gotten arranged into something even exist anymore.

    As far as the cause of this…I blame the extreme focus on factions, and the innate powerfulness of the factions.
    it sucks up player independence and DM attention.
    Read the shit I highlighted in red. Read it. You seeing a pattern? You have excellent players feeling ignored, feeling mistreated, assosiating themselves as "outsiders", doing the legwork for plots and then having it taken by factions at the end, feeling resented, feeling unwelcome. Feeling that if they're not in a faction, they ain't gonna get a say. What is this bullshit CoA? Really? What the fuck happened to collective storytelling? And whats worse, in the end, these guys end up blaming the DMs. Yeah, the DMs have their faults in terms of this and have done and said things that only reinforce the belief of these players but Instead, I believe they should look to the players within the factions. Read that shit again.

    Don't you think this stuff can be fixed by ourselves? Shit man, when did those hanger-on Noble House Mercenary Companies become a bad thing? Why do people think only certain players can be the "Movers & Shakers"? The important ones? Where is the confidence? Its dead, stabbed to death by that underlying smell of resentment to players who don't do things a certain way. Players are their own worst enemy sometimes, I'm sure you all can think of some examples in your head where IC hatred became seemingly more invested in the OOC perceptions of certain players. When you join a faction you are taking responsibility on your shoulders, you've been trusted by your fellows that you can be mature and civil and keep IC whilst also making the necessary OOC considerations for your fellow players. Plot-hoard IC, but OOCly, why not make an effort and create some innovative ways to get the independants feeling involved, wanted, needed. Why not have your dude accidently drop an important note? "But BG, theres no notes or items or anything I can drop that isn't important" Fuck man, just write one up! Important you say? Well! Even better! You joined the faction as a character not a player, your collective OOC wanking over how awesome Guild of Awesome is is irrelevant. Lose, win, don't mean shit. You think you're gonna tell your grandchildren that you were this super awesome blackguard/assassin who crushed everyone who stood against him for 3 months? You think they'd give a shit?

    Heres an example which I'll sum up my points.

    I log into the server, I'm a super awesome Retainer of super awesome man. I'm fucking loaded with loot, DMs love my ass, Savn wants my babies. Someones at the door, I go and check and find this noob who doesn't use capital letters, fancy little []'s, and makes some silly emotes. [i]"What do you want?" I say to him, emoting some fluff about how enourmously sexy I am. "hello,. i was looking for a reprsentive of super awesome man, migh you be onee??" Lol, who the fuck is this? Man. I suppose I have a responsability. I entertain him for awhile and then tell him to gtfo. "???" he says as I use my skillz to befuddle him into running away. Never see him again, until he makes a thread on the forum that is.


    I log into the server, I'm a super awesome Retainer of super awesome man. I'm fucking loaded with loot, DMs love my ass, Savn wants my babies. Someones at the door, I go and check and find this noob who doesn't use capital letters, fancy little []'s, and makes some silly emotes. [i]"What do you want?" I say to him, emoting some fluff about how enourmously sexy I am. "hello,. i was looking for a reprsentive of super awesome man, migh you be onee??" Lol, who the fuck is this? I suppose I'll talk to him. I entertain him for awhile and then give him some menial task to do, maybe kill xxxx amount of not so awesome goblins and get their ears, yeah that'd work. A week later. Oh look its him again, hmm, he did my task, I suppose I should reward him. Oh, he wants more work. Maybe I'll get him involved with this plot, noone else gives a shit about it. Two months later. FUCK, who is this dude!? How the fuck did he get so much information!? Hes changed so much! This new character of his is awesome! "Who are you!?"

    "I am Verkosh."

    Fun? What is fun? Ain't been any fun here since 1962!

  • @Broken:

    This new character of his is awesome! "Who are you!?"

    "I am Verkosh."


    PS Almost everything he writes is true. We DMs are here to enhance your fun, we cannot be the source of it. Other players are. If you are not having fun while being with other players, the presence of a DM cannot change it.

    Spend less time trying to appease a DM and more time trying to let your fellow players have fun.

  • I appluad you

    Well written, well thought out. Thank you for sharing.

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