Welcome back all, wow, you guys really are a glutton for punishment, reading this blog again! Its been a couple of months since I blogged last oocly, and there have been changes, directly related to both the previous blog, and to the title of this one. So lets get to it shall we?
As you know if you read this, I’ve gone and did both a new build for the sim, and a new storyline to go with it. Its a rather drastic change, that I feel will lead us in a new direction in the future, while keeping us connected to our past. As I stated, verbosely, in the previous blog here, the story/sim we’ve been running, was loosing its ‘fun’ factor for me, and I think ‘us’ as a whole. Upon reflection, I can see where things started to go ‘sideways’, we started playing ‘their’ game, and stopped telling out story, and doing what makes us, us.
At some point, we became a ‘successful’ sim: partly because we’ve been around a rather long time in SL time, but also, many players, from many other parts of SL have passed though our sim, and most of them, with some exceptions, left for the ‘better’ of things. Meaning they left on good terms and we helped new players to RPG’s in SL find their way, with little drama for them. That’s the good part about being open and having ‘portability’ for players. They can pick up and move their stories when the simply find a better fit.
As we became successful both oocly, and IC, meaning the story progressed far past that of a struggling rim colony, but to a seat of power for a well developed, expansive, interstellar government. The change in story was progressive, well played, and developed over time, many years of time and thousands if not tens of thousands of ‘player hours’, it was great storytelling and wonderful RP, but it had in many ways, painted us into a corner.
We pride ourselves on being a player and character focused game. While ‘space opera’ of great wars and fleets, makes for an interesting backdrop at times, trying to actually PLAY those fleets, in an open cooperative game, is difficult at best, but really, after over 30 years of gaming, I’d say its impossible. There are simply too many moving parts, and way too many egos involved, when trying to play out the grand sweeping ‘invasions’ and ‘fleets of ships’ RP that have become common in the SL Sci-fi RP community. More on my feelings on these later.
Our successes, often become our downfalls, and I was seeing this in what stories we were telling; not only with my own characters, but with the sim based groups, including the Colonial Rangers were involved in. It became clear, that as a ‘power’ we’d be either sidelined or challenged by other groups and sims, based mostly off of their OOC dealings with me/us. Rather than cooperative intersim stories, I found that most stories that we would enter into with other sims or groups, required us to either be continually challenged, or to kowtow to the other group, and be sidelined. Very rarely were we treated as equals, which is the golden rule, and how we treat groups who choose to organize play with us (which is different than groups just dropping in). There seemed to be no middle ground, at least none that we could find.
I found this, on a personal level as well. As I stated before, Jubilynn, as a character, had become too successful, and too ‘powerful’ for open casual Roleplay. Having risen to the level of Khan, a leadership position of her people, just sitting in a bar and having people randomly pull pistols out all day, didn’t jive with the characters position and history; simply put, it led to many rather silly interactions, which became akin to 1st level characters pulling their sword on the 20th level king. (table top reference)
Obviously something had to give here, and since you can’t control others, it had to be something I could change. I knew, there needed to be a change, for me, as I was not enjoying SL at all, so Jubilynn was ‘retired’ as my Player Character, and I developed Cashidhe. Sometimes, its important to move on, and I had pretty much played Jubi out, I had more in her really, but it was all political and deeply personal play, and sadly I was finding the SL community wasn’t really up to that kind of .. advanced.. roleplaying. Thus, Cashidhe came into existence.
At first, for a few weeks, I tried to see if it was just me, and if a new character, with ‘fresh’ eyes and attitude, might make the kind of change needed to make the game fun again. Pretty quickly, I saw that it wasn’t going to be enough. While certainly being a ‘new’ character helped make everything old new again, it didn’t fix the underlying issues I spoke of earlier, the ‘sim’ was still too successful, and the IC relief to play that out, a really detailed, productive, mature, intersim political RP, just wasn’t going to be there. Not that we didn’t’ try; for months I had worked with several other sims and groups to try to get project Babylon off the ground. Intended to be a large, organized intersim UN, called the Star League, the project was designed to give the intersim play a ‘structure’ to hang it self on. Sadly, after months of work, I realized that, if I went forward any further, that would be all I did on SL, as getting such a group together was much like herding cats.
There were also ‘business’ issues going on. SL is not a stable economy, as generally renters carry very little burden as they can come and go and unlike RL, being ‘homeless’ isn’t a big issue. While, for sim owners, Linden Labs wants their money every month, no matter how your income stream has been. I always approach SL as a hobby, its not here to make me money, and I’ve chosen to take on the responsibility of paying for the sims I own and play on; I’m lucky enough in my RL to have a well paying, steady job, and rather stable ‘life’, and its my way of sharing with a community (role-players) who over the many years of playing have given me so much. There is, however, a limit to what percentage of my RL income I’m willing to give LLs, part of what that percentage is, is based off of how much use and enjoyment not only I am getting from the sims, but the ‘community’ is. Meaning, I’d gladly pay for the full sim and homestead if they were full and used and people were enjoying them. But *I* don’t need that much space to be happy, in truth, I need a homestead to do the RP and tell the stories I want to tell, something I can easily afford with out really batting an eye right now. Over the months leading up to April, traffic and rentals had dropped below the ‘sustainable’ levels. My personal payments to LL had grown to nearly $400 USD a month, while not ‘painful’ it was above what I had considered the amount I wanted to be paying for my hobby and entertainment, also, with lower traffic, we simply didn’t ‘need’ that much space.
All these factors, including the ones I’ve blogged previously, led to a critical decision: Close Botany Cove, and move the story off of Nova Gaia, to a new world.
Yes, it was a dramatic, some would say Drastic change, but it was necessary. I wrote the backstory for the change in about an hour, that should tell you how hot to trot on this I was. I choose to keep the story connected to all the many years of play we’ve had, but to ‘spin off’ of that, into new territory. I did this literally, but choosing to place the new ‘world’ of Dok Refurinn, in a newly rediscovered sector of the ‘verse called the ‘tri galaxies’. I see this as a spinoff, a new ‘series’ set in the same ‘Cannon’ if you will, much like SG:Atantlis is a spinoff of SG:1 and Deep Space Nine is a Spinoff of Next Generation. Both are apt examples, of the similar solutions to a similar problem: how to tell new stories, in established settings. Both ‘moved’ the story to new ‘distant’ locations and while the old, familiar, powerful, (SG:1/SGC – USS Enterprise, ect) still existed, they simply couldn’t always ‘be there’ to solve the new locations problems. This is how I see us going forward. Dok Refurinn is a new outpost in the Hengeyokai Protectorate, Botany Bay is still ‘there’ its just off screen now. Its time for us to tell new stories, and occasionally our old (and powerful) favorites may return for a guest spot. I think you get the gist…
So the new build, I wanted it to be different than the previous ones. The original colony was my first build, was quaint but rather ho-hum; the second build was the giant space station, the third – short lived desert, the fourth was the one at Nova Gaia which was a jewel of a tropical world. Dok Refurinn had to be different. I toyed with it being a ice world, you just don’t see those on SL that often, but, in the end, I went a different route, one I had orginaly toyed with for Nova Gaia. Dok Refurinn became what you see today, a dark forested world. With the new Mesh trees, and a decent sim surround, we can make the sim not look like an ‘island’. The giant trees give that ‘old’ look, and cross of endor and Pandora, its what I as looking for. Also, the lack of day cycle, was a choice, and a tough one. We’ve lost the lovely sunsets and sunrises we had on the old build, but the constant ‘twilight’ allows us to tell a different story, and it gives the forest that, shady, look.
The new outpost, is much smaller too, that’s by choice. one of the things that happened over time is the actual ‘build’ of Botany Bay had gotten to big. Most locations never saw use, and when they did, players were so spread out, there was little interaction at times. Everything in the new build was made much smaller, closer, compact. Its a design choice, and it works with the story. Dok Refurinn is an outpost, not the ‘jewel’ that Botany Bay is. The outpost build will ‘evolve’ as the colony and all other builds did, as this happens we’ll be keeping an eye on the ‘sprawl’ factor.
The story too, got a makeover, as you know. Every part of the story is designed to support the type of Roleplay and storytelling we want to encourage in the players, and that we enjoy ourselves. There are no ‘grand fleets’ in the tri galaxies, all the exploration and conflicts will be on a scale available to the average player, no one will simply become an ‘extra’ in our game. We placed Dok Refurinn on the far rim, to literally, get us ‘away’ from the grand space operas and ‘fleet battles’ being forwarded as the ‘norm’ for intersim RP. This isn’t our style, its not why we come online, and in the end, its not what we want to be doing or supporting.
This brings us back, to the whole intersim thing; and how it will never work. I’ve talked extensively on this, and I’ll try to sum up quickly as we come up on 2000 words on this blog post. Simply put, there is WAY too much OOC jockeying going on in every intersim story between groups, than a Roleplay can support. My observation of the stories, especially the most recent very public (hourly updates given in multiple intersim groups group notices) ones have been this: intersim stories mostly server, to bolster one groups ego , at the expense of the other players involved. Very rarely , have prolonged, organized, intersim stories been executed that are designed to be fun, mature, mutually enjoyable events. The politics both IC and OOC , with varying levels of transparency, are about how much more ‘powerful’ one group is than another. Even when they are ‘scripted’ RP, meaning the outcome is known before the RP even begins (which boggles my mind on many levels) ‘fleets’ of ships show up to defeat a single antagonist, fleets that conveniently never existed before but are ‘rezed’ out of nowhere. The appearance of ‘fleets’ begets more ‘fleets’ arriving, and the constant group notices, appear to others as an invite to come play, so they do. When others show up, those running the story loose control and we get tons of ‘recants’ from ‘unauthorized’ RP having occurred. While some of this may be justified, much more is just , well , wrong, and control based. That’s what I’ve found, in my now Six years on SL. It actually gets worse, because then we get some groups just ignoring parts of RP they want to ignore, while over stating parts they want to have acknowledged. I’ve personally been bit by this, on several occasions, the ‘cherry picking’ of what is considered to have happened, and what hasn’t based off of OOC convenience. That alone is what kills any hope of ‘Political’ RP, sadly, its all way too personal and OOC based for it to be successful on SL.
There is also the ‘business’ of SL at play here, when we talk of intersim. There are still those sims and groups out there, that approach intersim and cooperative play as a way to ‘poach’ players to come to ‘their’ sim/group. Rather than being a supportive community of aligned groups/sims that enrich each others play and stories, more and more, SL digresses into a divided land of ‘mine’ and ‘yours’. As the player base shrinks, or at least, doesn’t grow, each sim and group seems to feel the need to ‘protect’ their own intrests. Now, many sims/groups will say they don’t do this, but if you look at how folks behave and give it an honest assessment, this is often truly the case. I can say from my own personal experience, I’ve spent hundreds of hours a year supporting and visiting other sims, brining whole groups of players with me to support events from combat to social balls, to scheduled political RP. Very, Very rarely have I seen, if ever, Organized visits in return. yes, we get drop by traffic from individual players, or small groups of friends, but the organized ‘trips’ by other groups, nada, and , interesting enough, the MORE organized a group is, the less likely they are to visit YOUR sim, if you spend time on theirs; its a matter of self interest, each sim/group, vying for your support and $L.
I’ve decided to, not play that particular game for a while. Since it is a dog eat dog Second ‘world’ if you will, I’ve made the choice to focus on ‘us’ for a while. In that mode, I encourage players to continue intersim play, you should have the freedom to move about and enjoy the many different sims SL has to offer. In contrast, as my time in world is limited, I am going to focus my efforts on OUR sim/game. I’d be open to some organized intersim stuff in the future, if conditions warranted it, but I’ll be making those assessments as the opportunities arise.
On that note, as you saw on the IC blog, we have some exciting stories and events lined up. The Tri-Galaxies are a rich setting to write new stories and explore both the background and each other as we move forward. In many ways, we’ve come somewhat full circle, as the “Botany Bay” colony started as a small outpost, and now, we’re back… but with a ‘big sister’ just a dial away.
As always, my pledge to you is this: YOU are part of OUR story. What your character does, matters and effects the overall outcome of the story arcs in play. We do not have pre-determined stories, this is an interactive , give and take environment. All we ask, is that players be respectful of the story and background provided, and the ‘scale’ of the stories they put into play. We do not want to be the ‘biggest’ RP on the grid, nor do we want to be the ‘Best’ , we don’t’ have to want that, we ARE the best, thanks to all of you. I never feel the need to go out and ‘defend’ how we play, or what we do, we’re not interested in that. We know what we are, in many ways were a boutique sim, something not quite like the ‘big chains’ with their many sims and big plans, we like that, and that’s what we’ll always be.
Thanks for sticking with us, and I hope you enjoy the coming months as we reveal more of the story that has already taken place (yes you may have missed something 🙂 ) and how that influences the stories your playing now – beginning with the Expedition to Ís Heim.
PS. Feedback is always welcome, opposing views will always be approved for posting, as long as they are a bit more than ‘Jubi you suck I hope your house burns down’. (no really that was real feedback). So Please, submit a response and I’ll get posted ASAP.