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Immersion
The heart of roleplay

I have found in my return to Sindome as a 'perma-newb' who never really quite cracked the game (always perming by accident or getting distracted by something...)n that there is a problem with immersion that I've noticed and is really putting me off.

The SIC for example - an admin posted something about not treating the SIC like a chatroom but it really -does- feel that way. A small friendship group who dominate the SICnal with their daily lives.

There are also some other examples like people talking of game-systems like a player would, not how their character would see those things or topics, talking about modern history as though these topics would still be fresh knowledge 85 years in the alt. future.

Or like today when someone 'heard a wallet being opened from the gym' like that is an important thing to notice in what is presumably a busy and noisy gym. How many times a day does someone hear these sort of ambient nothing noises in their daily life?

It's things like this and the 'small town' vibe that really make Sindome feel less alive and it kills my interest because I'm pulled back out of character by these kind of things which then makes my activities more player-directed rather than organic as I seek to re-immerse myself.

Biggest draw of SD for me has always been the immersion. Watching all the moving parts and feeling small in a big city is fun. I still very much feel that way even when things slow down because I have witnessed the scale and can carry those feelings through less eventful times or more placid moments. On the other hand, I can see how someone who doesn't have the same investment in the world or has caught both the ebbs and flows before might not.

If there is something drawing you to the game and you do give it another shot, my advice would be to just be the best example of what you want to see. Want more conflict? Create more conflict. Want less of what someone might consider too innocuous chatter? Bring it back by being themely or abrasive. When a game runs 24/7 365 and has for a long time, people settle into casual habits that might take away from your 'big cyberpunk city' immersion, but I have always found it's easy to draw those sorts back in.

With all that said, there are some issues you just can't overcome due to the fact it is a game at the end of the day. Mechanics and aspects of the world are going to be talked about in arguably immersion breaking fashions because people need to explain things to others or discuss these topics in actionable terms. Of course there are better and worse ways to do this, but sometimes you just have to settle on what's not perfect for the sake of getting your message across. In a similar vein, small worlding is lame but it is at times necessary to keep things rolling or facilitate activity and conversation. No game that takes place in a big world is entirely resistant this, unfortunately.

I disagree about the 'its inevitable' part of what you said but I am not giving up on the game - just wanted to speak out about a problem that only gets worse the more its tolerated.

Systems and things like that.. if someone couches it in acceptable language but is talking to me as a player referring to a system without an explicit 'help, how do I do this?' kind of preface then that is 100% avoidable.

To revisit my example of the wallet thing - because the game generates a noise that is audible - apparently penetrating walls a whole room or two away - someone chose to pick up on that and comment about it. Ordinarily - someones wallet opening is amongst the mundane and is white noise, part of the coughing, sniffing, low hum of chatter, traffic noises - etc. It would not be worthy of comment, let alone in the fashion of 'I can hear that from here' which further implies that the person is making a note of there being no players nearby and ignoring the invisible virtual crowds and all that ambient noise that would normally drown out such a noise.

Not to deliberately pick on a person or highlight a situation but I felt it was a really great example of a moment where someone is saying HEY THIS IS A GAME and reminding me that the city of nearly 100m people is much much smaller.

It's one small fresh in my mind example amongst dozens I've experienced since returning to the game and its something that pervades across roleplaying games as a constant enemy.

If it is tolerated, it spreads and becomes normalised, and with it immersion and roleplaying standards shrink. That is the point of my complaint/moan because I think we can do better and the admins have spoken up on it audibly when I've been logged in - about how the SIC shouldn't resemble a chatroom or have those 'small village' vibes.

In the case of the velcro wallet, it is something of an IC meme about it being one of the most abrasive noises in the city, and is supported mechanically by like multi-room opening echoes. Think you have a point about general SIC small worlding but that one in particular is a lack of cultural context I think.
I think that a velcro wallet being the most abrasive noise in the city is a player-meme and a symptom of the normalised ic-ooc breakdown and if anything it reinforces the point I'm trying to make.

You have literally so many awful, noisy, dangerous, and chaotic things being described on the streets of the Mix, the fact that particular item it is so audible is probably a mechanic to aid in alerting thieves or to add some flavour, so to then draw attention to it like it has a greater importance than the other thousand mundane things in the world that aren't codedly echoing to the point that it becomes a 'meme' takes away from the atmosphere and underlines the 'the object did a thing and made a noise' when realistically there is a lot of much worse and upsetting/disruptive noises at any one time..

tdlr - i still disagree

"when realistically there is a lot of much worse and upsetting/disruptive noises at any one time.. "

Want to know the reason why? Because it's a game. Games can be fun, and a silly callout of velcro being loud is something to break up the cold world where someone's child chokes them out to get drug money for ain inevitable OD in the alley nearby. funny little quirks like that are entertaining and give the game a little character beside just being dark and violent 24/7.

in short

it is a game and i think that having the velcro wallet make noise is not something that absolutely unravels ever single part of the theme the instant it is heard

It's valid criticism. The community is very small and skews towards long-time players, and doesn't always have a lot of introspection about the external impression. I know I've criticized players for falling out of step with theme, while sometimes doing the same thing myself in other ways; it requires a certain amount of vigilance and outside perspectives are good to have on it.

We could probably all be a little more aware of what impression is being delivered.

If the game makes something equivalent to gunshots in what is presented to the player as being heard by the character, characters will react. I can't see the wallet thing as any more than an issue with hyperbole being coded into the game, not player culture.

On the other hand, the game can simply be very light hearted at times. Velcro wallets are an IC meme as others have stated. If you think it's unthemely, well, sure, but also, mixers have shot eachother over hearing it too much. Multiple times! That's a little more on point, but still with the basis of the hyperbole of the noise being so loud in the first place.

I would argue that stems from bad roleplay. A velcro wallet opening is not special or especially loud enough compared with the other noises and experiences that the streets (especially in the Mix) would be offering on a 24/7 basis.

The wallet thing was just an example and not my whole point but just because there is a coded noise doesn't mean its the only relevant noise your character can hear at any given time.

That someone chose to remark upon it and that there is a culture of remarking on or being upset by does not therefore make it 'good roleplay' or disprove my issue with immersion-breaking behaviour - ie: in this example a player breaking the 4th wall almost by pointing out something humour to players but mundane in any other real life situation.

There is a few comments about 'light hearted' and 'fun' but again, the theme should be fun in and of itself so why need to detract from it with diluting or stepping away behaviours at the expense of roleplay?

I'm trying to understand how a player remarking upon one loud noise in specific in a city of loud noises is unthematic or bad roleplay. Why does any person remark on one thing and not the other? Because that's who their character is, the mindset they were in at the time. They are roleplaying their surroundings and what they hear. They just happened to choose to remark about the Velcro rather than the constant gunshots and murder in that moment.
Been a busy day, but I wanted to come back around and agree with what 0x1mm said. We can all be a bit more aware at the external impression the words we write provide.

On the flip side if you go looking for ways to have your immersion ruined it's going to get ruined. Moving past the immediate example given : We all fuck up. There needs to be a certain suspension of disbelief and an acknowledgement that the theme is relatively static and what you hear on SIC is not always going to be an accurate representation of things. There may also be a reason for your impression of theme being broken by somebody.

Just wanted to clarify because people have fixated on the wallet example a bit..

There has been dozens of moments I could pull out and go 'look at this shit' and describe how it negates and adds to the 'small world feel' or the sense that people aren't in-character so much as just playing the game as themselves in costume which I believe is called persona play.

I'm not here to bash the community, I'm just trying to raise an important point about immersion which is seeing through the eyes of your character, being in their brain, experiencing the world through them.

The suspension of belief comes into play when ignoring coded nuances and things that feel dead like someone said, perhaps Leech, and I completely agree. You have to imagine the living world around your character.

But my original point was and still is that it isn't that I should try harder and blot out the flagrant immersion-breaking behaviour, it is that, as has been recognised (I am grateful) that there is a responsibility for us all - me included - to help build that atmosphere. If I try and ignore or tolerate, it then goes to validate and hand wave that behaviour, it becomes normalised, and then the quality of rp drops as a result as the bar is lowered.

As I say, I am not here to bash the community - not here to single out a single wallet noticing person - but I am 20+ years playing these kind of games and you wouldn't see this in Armageddon so why should Sindome get less effort from its players when its very much still a serious and involved roleplaying game?

I know further discussion of the velcro wallet thing is superfluous, but I think it is worth noting that the code doesn't just represent a noise it makes, it plays the message across rooms adjacent as well. The only other things that do this in the game, with any frequency at least, are guns and explosions. I think it's definitely a silly thing to fixate on, but I also think the original memery around the issue was more of an attempt at using the absurdity of it all in order to critique the implementation, but it's been lost to time as just another joke.

All around, however, I agree that the game can do better when it comes to being more in-character and thematic. This would be a neat topic for a town hall, if one is to be hosted soon.

You absolutely would and do see these situations in other MUDS, Armageddon included, this coming from another vet of a variety of MUDs (always glad to see more players from the hardcore RPIs). You are going to see these situations more in Sindome due to the setting and theme ironically enough to the discussion. Arm is post apocalyptic low tech medieval and doesn't have something as global as SIC. The amount of thematic bleed between the real world and Sindome is going to be more because up until 1970ish(?) we share a timeline. You're probably going to see it more because everyone is in your head all the time.

Prepare to hear some dumbass shit. The best way I've found to deal with it, both as somebody who makes the mistake of small worlding/unthematic behavior and criticizing people who fuck up, is that it's best for either party if they handle it IC when you can and when you can't xhelp about the behavior.

I do try to deal with it IC but then it starts a 4th wall tidal wave and in some ways it exacerbates the situation.

Ultimately the responsibility is on players and there should be no blame for the code or the admins (in most cases). One thing I try to do now and then is respond to vnpcs, incorporate vnpcs in my emotes, talk about imagined situations, and world-build a little.

By not treating everything as literal (ie: 2 players in a room "Man its quiet in here tonight" when the room description says crowded) its a small step in the direction to reversing the small world. Another example - "Sorry I can't hear you, come over here," -- creating positioning and dimension. Or Hugz turns to greet a familiar face as they clap him on the back and then tries to hide his disappointment when they tap him up for a drink/remind him of a debt/ask about his sister/start to talk about themselves excessively - (utilising Vnpcs) Or Hugz grabs you suddenly "Lets move, don't look over there, just follow me ~> Yeah, I saw my mother-in-law/some guy I owe money to/my illegitimate 18yr old son on a quest to find his father/a Judge.

One thing I've seen that I think is either automated or admin-led is random Siccers who are not players doing random or saying random things like you would see in a massive social network - people who aren't familiar, part of your daily, who you know face to face, can go react to in person, saying and living out their lives.

Another thing was when I first came to Sindome around 10 years ago - there were some really toxic players who just wanted to find a reason to kill or hurt everyone and hide behind the theme - but there was also a few players who lived in the CP slang, whose performance as Sindome citizens was authentic - they were ripping me off and helping me at the same time, or to be clearer - their roleplay was sleazy, greasy, untrustworthy, exploitive, irritable, as though I was dispensable (and ultimately I ended up being dispensable) but OOCLy they were creating rp openings, introductions, they were teaching me the game, they were gaining IC progress but it was all subtly woven into their roleplay.

I find the heavy attention on Immigrants a little bit jarring and unauthentic in comparison. They are literally 1 in 1000 that walked through the gate in the last 12 hours or less. They are human rubbish mixed with those who actually have something to them. I'd find it interesting if Greeters were able to be more impatient and irritable 'You're number 452 I dealt with today, I don't give a fuck what your name is, just sign here.. oh and check in at the factory/couriers if you want a bit of work after your papers are through.' -- Its a very very rough example but hopefully my point is clear on what I'm trying to say. There are ways to keep the theme, encourage players to stay, and enrich the atmosphere.

With the SIC - everyone knowing everybody and knowing everybody's business - they shouldn't. Leave something to mystery. Don't squat on the SIC like its your personal facebook feed, do create thematic things to put on the SIC - made up shit - "Damn my neighbour is such a fuckhole - turn your tv down guy!" Don't jump on and swamp everything thats said so that it becomes a reddit thread, let the atmosphere simmer. Treat Judges like the ultimate authority they are (unless you're a scumbag or an anarchy loving terrorist) instead of novelty celebrities you can poke fun at like your school english teacher till they turn and give you detention.

These are examples to show the difference and what helps to -build- immersion because maybe someone just needed that inspiration and to better understand why the wallet example is just one example of a wider problem.

One thing to keep in mind is that everyone will have different things that they consider immersive and different things they feel breaks immersion or theme. I know it's rough. There is a lot that goes on that I am not a fan of from body reporting to poor week immies to being questionably strong. They are not 'themely' or immersive' to me.

At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there are, without a doubt, things that my characters say or do that are not immersive or themely to others. If I want to have the ability to play my characters my way, within reason, I feel I also have to be tolerant of others as well.

I am not trying to shut down the conversation on this topic. I just want to urge everyone to consider this as the discussion continues. I think that the game's population is one of it's greatest strengths. I am happy to deal with a few behaviors that challenge my sense of immersion as I thin that imposing a strict vision of what is and is not allowed because of immersion would quickly deplete that wonderful population.

This is really interesting to read HuginnMuninn, because it's a real change from a lot of new(ish) player feedback. Aside from the SIC complains, how the game world treated new players, how the WJF interacted with the world, and generally how unforgiving things were, are all things that have deliberately softened over the last 5 years.

It's a tricky balance, and as Grey rightly points out, hard to get correct for everyone's wants and expectations and tolerances. An atmosphere of mercenary uncaring tends to appeal somewhat more to experienced players who are more likely to know what other players themselves are like, and therefore may recognize when roleplay is just for theme. The same roleplay has a tendency to scare newer players because they won't necessarily be able to parse when animosity is directed at them as players versus characters, or even when they can, the character-directed animosity can still feel overwhelming when it comes from authority.

I know I've deliberately softened my in-game persona with more irreverence and friendliness as my character has aged because the experience of a negative interaction is often amplified for someone when they feel a power imbalance. Not to trot out a cliche but creating a slightly darker atmosphere is probably up to younger player characters who want to see it now. If you serve it you tend to get it sent back, which is not ideal since it involves taking more shit than others might, but the first ones through the door always get bloody.

Question for Grey - can you elaborate on what you mean by the things you don't find themely or immersive?

I encourage this to be a discussion and so want to hear about your perspective on what you've found to be immersion-breaking

This is a very difficult thing to answer as we have all consumed different cyberpunk media and interpreted it in different ways. We all lived different lives and carry unique impressions from the events we experience. So anything I say is an opinion. Not a judgement of what's right or wrong in terms of Sindome and Cyberpunk (not the game but the genre) theme and the things that break immersion for me in regards to RP within that theme.

A few things off the top of my head however:

The obsessive need to talk about skill/stat levels. In my opinion there is never a 'need'. I know that many feel there is and will sometimes quote the system's obscurity and complexity and the need for IC training, but I personally disagree. If I can't think of a way to say it that would sound natural enough IRL, I do my best not to say it at all.

The frequent tabletop RPG references, especially from characters who are in 'the grind' (topside or mix). I feel Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a pretty useful tool and accurate more often than not. So many in the dome, even those 'rich mixers' and 'power corpies' are stuck in the 'safety' level at best. Some even dip into the 'physiological' level often enough. In this environment I am personally unsure that playing a table top RPG would ever be something most would do or have ever done. Heck, I bet if you went to the local gangsters of a poor neighborhood or to a the executives of powerful corporation and ask them about level 75 wizards and if an incubus or wavryn would win in a fight, they are likely to respond along the lines of, "What the fuck you talking about? I got no time for that shit!"

I know the lore and am fairly familiar with it. It's always very hard for me to smile and nod when other characters are making claims that just aren't in line with the lore. Usually they are new players. Or just missed a thing. It still grates at me though I tend to try and give them time to learn more about the game setting. It is even more difficult as Support GMs, who are awesome and helping the game immensely, are not all lore geeks and sometimes might not realize some bit of a character's history might not line up with lore perfectly. Causes conflicting world 'facts' here and there.

I also think that small wording is a challenging problem. It has to happen to some extend or there is no way for the PCs to have reason to interact with most other PCs and I want to interact with them. But it's easy to think less and less about the larger world and keep it in mind as you RP. I am super guilty of this too all too often. Things like 'report corpses' or how hundreds of drugged up, disorganized and often poorly educated gangers can verify with certainty who all has and has not paid their 'tolls' (a concept that is actually fairly new in it's current form) and who hasn't.

A last example for me, and one that will be controversial I'm sure, is the static leveled design to the world and the mirroring among IC organizations. You have Synticate A, B and C and Gangs D, E and F and extra gangs G, H and I. Their power levels do not change. None fall or raise. Gangers have to be fighters and they all have 'boys' and 'kings' (funny enough only two of the three main gang leaders called themselves kings when I first started playing. It's too cleanly organized and static and unyielding. Just my opinion.

These are just a few random examples. End of the day though, SOMEONE thinks all these things are themely and not immersion breaking. Ranging from new player still learning the setting to Senior GMs who built the world. I'm not going to tell them they are playing wrong unless actual rules are broken and that goes to the GMs. If I think there's something the GMs can do to help a player learn or grow or develop, I'll make the suggestion in an @note and they can ignore it or help the other player or tell me I'm wrong as all hell and help me understand their vision better.

Actually Grey0, your examples are spot on and I completely agree.

I don't think there is a valid argument to counter it and therefore the only thing I do disagree with is that it is only your opinion and not reasonable observations.

There is nothing wrong with people being beginners, new to roleplay, learning, improving, and by accepting lesser standards as the normal just to avoid friction or making someone try harder, we cheat ourselves of what could be.

I myself really need to polish up my emoting because I've got so out of practice. I have RP'd for years in places where you have to write the surroundings, objects, everything and now I barely remember to throw out 1 line of emote half the time. So we are all learning and improving, thus it is something to be embraced rather than shied away from.

I actually think most or all can be argued against. Hell, I'll even give it a go myself! I won't pretend these are the best arguments against my points but I think they demonstrate that there are other opinions that seem as reasonable and valid as my own. Just because I might put more weight in factors that form my opinions doesn't make other opinions invalid in my mind.

Tabletop RPGs:

Ever hear of escapism? A lot of people who have lead difficult lives find solace in comics, TV, games and more. This is just one form of escapism. And maybe my character really isn't in a constant state of danger. So why do I need to act like they are?

I can't argue that. I have my idea of how people in a city like Withmore might act and others have their own ideas another. Is what it is!

Small Wording

My character sees/perceives what the game says they see/perceive. They see you weather they like it not. And my character isn't getting reports on all corpses. Just reports on the corpses those in my character's social circles see. Same with my ganger. They aren't tracking everyone. Just the ones they know. If the game gave me a way to track and work with the nameless masses, I would.

IC Organizations

Sure. Maybe it's not as organic and fluid as it might be in a 'real life cyberpunk world'. But it's important to know that the PCs in Sindome are not the biggest, the baddest or the best. Ever. They live in oppression and have to bend. It's important to make a character feel small and like a cog. Besides, changes ARE possible. Just VERY unlikely and hard. As they should be.

Stat/Skill Levels

I feel being able to RP effective mentorships is more important than the minor loss of immersion you might experience when I find ways to talk stats/skills ICly. You value one aspect of this game highly and I value another aspect highly. And I do try had to keep it subtle and how well I've done is a matter of opinion. You can't ever please everyone!

Lore/History

There is no truth in life and there should be no truth in the game. Just like it's hard to prove anyone completely right or wrong as to how they view the world, it's hard to do the same in the game. After all, a history is mostly the things the character thinks they know about themselves and the world. If there's a discrepancy, then it can easily be a simple matter of different perceptions of reality. Take it IC and beef over it!

At the end of the day it depends on what kind of game you want to play

But I think it is a terrible mistake to loosen standards and validate mediocre behaviour - like discussing stats and skills which is horrendously OOC, even when shoehorned into 'IC themed' language - and allow for realism and authenticity to be traded for 'well, that's too hard for me, I just want to relax' type attitudes.

There are plenty of games for people who want to pick and choose when to really put in an effort to roleplay and when you just want to be silly and I am very disappointed if Sindome has become one of those games just to get numbers in the door.