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  #1  
Old 10-31-2000, 01:11 PM
GMSkarka GMSkarka is offline
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SIGNALS FROM A DEAD CHANNEL

I'm pleased to announce that "Signals From a Dead Channel", the column that will detail the development of my modern horror game for Skotos, just went live (as it will every Tuesday by 3 p.m. PST) at:
http://www.skotos.net/articles/

Feel free to post your commentary here...I look forward to hearing from you.

Gareth-Michael Skarka
One of the Skotos Several
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2000, 01:17 PM
Monkey Monkey is offline
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I just wanted to say real quick that I'm excited that you list The Kingdom as one of your inspirations.

--Monkey
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  #3  
Old 10-31-2000, 01:40 PM
Atama Atama is offline
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You also mentioned among your isnpirations, Clive Barker? American Gothic? Twin Peaks?

Sounds sick, twisted and demented. http://www.skotos.net/ubb/frown.gif

I look forward to it. http://www.skotos.net/ubb/biggrin.gif
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  #4  
Old 11-07-2000, 01:33 PM
Monkey Monkey is offline
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In your second article, you asked for opinions about whether players wanted to see your game take on a Dark Fantasy setting or a Horror setting.

I for one, would love to see a Horror game. I know that Skotos's Lovecraft Country is supposed to do that, but Lovecraft's Cthulhu stuff never really frightened me. I just don't find fungal aliens very scary. The two Lovecraft stories that always didget to me were both pre-Cthulhu, 'The Rats in the Walls' (up until the guy goes insane, and then the story seems just silly to me) and 'In the Vault'. I still can't read either one at night. I'm excited by the idea of a game that can cause that kind of reation in me. I think that you are certainly right that Horror will be more difficult to pull off, but I think it will also be more rewarding if you can.

Mood is one of the things you mention as being necessary (and difficult) to maintain. I think you're absolutely right. If, at the moment the characters unearth the terrifying whatever, someone cracks a joke OOC, the mood is lost.

Perhaps some Horror games should be run as Stages, and if they just aren't working out for you, the game could evolve into a Dark Fantasy setting?

The Stages can also be more tightly controlled in a way that makes the games enjoyable. For instance, if I crack that OOC joke, you just don't let me play in your Stages anymore until you trust me not to disrupt the mood again (if ever). Also, the charaters that are played can be pre-designed, so that you can ensure that each character is supossed to have a weakness of some kind (and just hope the players are skilled enough to role-play those weaknesses).

--Monkey
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  #5  
Old 11-07-2000, 02:46 PM
JeffCrook
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Well, for one thing, I still haven't decided on whether the game is going to be Dark Fantasy or Horror (I outlined what I see as the difference between the two in last weeks column). I'd like to hear your comments about this...click on the link below to post your opinions on the forum.
Why not do both? Some people can play the vampires, and some the vampire slayers (my choice). Excellent source of player conflict.
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  #6  
Old 11-08-2000, 09:08 AM
GMSkarka GMSkarka is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JeffCrook:
Why not do both? Some people can play the vampires, and some the vampire slayers (my choice). Excellent source of player conflict.
That's not a bad idea...and certainly one that I had not considered.

GMS
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2000, 12:15 PM
Danielo Danielo is offline
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The problem is that you lose any sense of mystery. If some players are vampires then pretty soon everyone will know exactly what they can and can't do. And, for me at least, a lot of the horror comes from the unknown - Cthulhu is a good example.

It's still a good idea, just not perfect.
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  #8  
Old 11-09-2000, 01:03 PM
Atama Atama is offline
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That's the case only if vampires are the only mystery. If you also have ghosts, aliens, extradimensional beings, lycanthropes, dark cults, psychic powers, and even weirder stuff, there's plenty of mystery left for vampire and normal person alike.
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2000, 02:00 PM
SamW SamW is offline
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The problem is that you lose any sense of mystery. If some players are vampires then pretty soon everyone will know exactly what they can and can't do. And, for me at least, a lot of the horror comes from the unknown - Cthulhu is a good example.
But what if it doesn't matter that everyone knows what the 'monsters' are capable of? It's what the monsters are doing that is scary, not their abilities. And what could be scarier than KNOWING that somewhere, out there, was a cabal of other characters making plans to ice your character?

I'm a huge fan of conflict betwixt players, especially from a design standpoint, 'cause it's self-sustaining. Give players the tools to scrap it up IN A REASONABLE CONTEXT and the game can run itself for a long time without any GM intervention.

::smacks his lips and sharpens his stakes::

Player conflict, that's the stuff.

SamW
Member of the Skotos Several
MetaStatic
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2000, 10:30 AM
ChrisW ChrisW is offline
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In his reply, Monkey touched on the problem of OOC disruption of IC mood. Now, I don't know if the SkotOS currently supports (or will be able to support) such a solution, but a common feature I've seen on MU*'s is the implementation of "channels," a means for game-wide OOC communication. Players can subscribe their characters to various channels (different channels being set up for different topics/purposes, etc.), or not, as they see fit. And while channel-based communication obviously will show up in a player's client window amidst all the IC goings-on, the player will have the option of "muting" some or all channels so as to cut down on the distraction. Further, logs can be set up to ignore channel output, so that at the very least a player can read back over a completed session and view it as a purely IC piece of prose.

Channels could even be used for IC purposes--say, e.g., that you have a group of supernatural entities who are able to communicate telepathically (or by some means not normally detectable/intelligible to humans); PC members of that species can be subscribed to an exclusive channel to facilitate that communication.

Now, as I said, channels are generally game-wide, so OOC chatter will carry across the whole game. One solution might be to create location-specific channels; i.e., players should/could subscribe to them only when in specific areas within the game, so that such channels could provide an outlet for OOC chatter amongst players whose characters are all in proximity (and hence supposedly RPing together).

Personally, in a horror game especially, I would prefer to see OOC communication constrained in this manner--to not even *have* the "OOC" command implemented in that particular game. That way, if I prefer to play in a total-IC-immersion style, I won't have my suspension of disbelief shattered by some joker who constantly makes OOC remarks. I simply don't subscribe my character to any of the OOC channels, and/or mute the ones to which he/she is subscribed, and carry on oblivious to any and all OOC chatter going on around me.

Just a thought.
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  #11  
Old 11-11-2000, 10:04 AM
GMSkarka GMSkarka is offline
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The channel idea is an interesting one...I'll look into it.

GMS
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  #12  
Old 11-11-2000, 11:26 PM
ChristopherA ChristopherA is offline
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Yes, we can do channels -- already have a channel command that is a only between the storyhosts.

However, there is a price that we need to be aware of. As the system grows, in order to increase the number of users in a game, we need to use Symetric Multi Processing (SMP), i.e. multiple processors. Our underlying driver library, DGD, is right now preparing the foundation for this capability, and we hope it will be delivered within a year. In order to properly take advantage of SMP, the library on top of the driver also has to keep in mind issues that cause problems with SMP.

One of the issues that SMP and our driver/library will have to avoid for performance reasons are situations where every (or many) objects in the game are sent messages from a single source. The classic example is a system wide chat line. (The other major example is a wedding, where there are 1000 guests in a single room.)

The storyhost channel is ok, because it only sends to the wizards. The broadcast channel sends to everyone in the game, but it is only done rarely (typically two or three times a day) and the slowdown it causes is acceptable. However, a system wide OOC channel would be used often, and could significantly impact performance every time someone sends some text.

The solution is that future of these chat channels should be limited in scope, probably by in-character restrictions, like there can only be 100 amulets of communication in the game, and that allows the wearers to communicate. Other solutions might be that when a channel is "full", new requests go to another channel.

BTW, I (not we) think the future of OOC will be Instant Messaging. At some point we may experiment with +yahoopage person "text" that will send a yahoo page to the user's yahoo messenger account. One of the main reasons we have not done so is that AOL/ICQ is closed, and will not let you interoperate.

-- Christopher Allen
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  #13  
Old 11-13-2000, 09:13 AM
ChrisW ChrisW is offline
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Christopher Allen wrote:

"BTW, I (not we) think the future of OOC will be Instant Messaging. At some point we may experiment with +yahoopage person "text" that will send a yahoo page to the user's yahoo messenger account. One of the main reasons we have not done so is that AOL/ICQ is closed, and will not let you interoperate."

Interesting. Check out www.imgames.com; they provide realtime board-style gaming (e.g., chess, checkers, etc.) that utilize the ICQ IM as a "carrier." AOL/ICQ may be "closed," but it's amazing what a license will open up... http://www.skotos.net/ubb/wink.gif

(One thing to bear in mind, however, is that some folks may be be loathe to install/use *any* IM client, for a variety of reasons; should such a client become an integral subcomponent of the Skotos environment/system, that could be a significant turn-off, even a barrier to entry, for such people.)

As for the problem of channels overloading the server, I'd certainly advocate restricting channel subscription to manageable numbers. Half a dozen people chatting OOCly across a channel can be useful; everybody currently logged in doing it game-wide is just plain spam.
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  #14  
Old 11-13-2000, 11:43 PM
JeffCrook
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Originally posted by ChrisW:

(One thing to bear in mind, however, is that some folks may be be loathe to install/use *any* IM client, for a variety of reasons;
That's me. I hate IM in all its variations. There are some things that are so convenient, they become a nuisance. This is one of them.
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  #15  
Old 11-14-2000, 01:56 PM
JeffCrook
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11/14/2000 Article - By George, I think you've got it! This sounds too cool.
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