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Puppet Scheduling

This post is part Idea and part Complaint, so I thought it best to put it here and focus on the positive side, a possible solution.

One of my big pet peeves in this game is using puppet requests. This is by no means intended to disparage the GMs or the work they put into filling these requests: on the contrary, I greatly appreciate the time and effort to provide the RP that fills out the world and makes it feel alive beyond just the PCs.

My problem with puppets is often one of timing. It often seems that whenever I file a puppet request, I can be around and available all day to try to give GMs an opportunity to fill it, and I will invariably be contacted literally when I am about to logout in order to attend to RL. I then end up putting off important real life stuff for a game, which should never happen, but I don't want to waste GM time by telling them I can't do it then, and I don't want to waste my time if I've been waiting hours or even days for the opportunity to advance something, so it happens. Again, this is no slight against the GMs; it's just the luck of how schedules and availability seem to line up.

I also find that when waiting for a puppet request, I spend more time than I should at my screen figuratively twiddling my thumbs just to try to increase the window of opportunity that a GM will have to get back to me.

It seems to me that a lot of time could be saved if there were some means of scheduling puppet requests, instead of having when they are likely to be filled as a complete unknown. Perhaps available times and hard stops could be included in the initial request in some way? Perhaps when a GM intends to fill the request, they could contact the player first and let them know approximately how long it will take for the scene to run (of course allowing that things could change depending on the RP), and ask if now is a good time? If it's not, then maybe the player could be given a few different time slots to choose from, and the puppet event could be scheduled at a time convenient for both GM and player?

I would think something like this would take out a lot of the guesswork on the part of both the player and the GM: the player doesn't have to sit around and wonder when a GM will get to them, spend extra time needlessly waiting on the chance a GM will be available, or worry that they have to log out earlier than intended just so they don't get the request answered right at the end of their play time. Meanwhile, the GM doesn't have to hunt for the player, wondering if or when they will log on or be available so the request can be answered. It would take some work to set up and make use of, but overall I have to think some sort of scheduling would reduce frustration and improve efficiency on both ends.

its also kinda fucked when you need to ask an NPC one minor thing that only they know and is important to your RP & plots, and then it ends up taking days because you live in a fucked timeone so you're never up at the same time as them
I would like to think that players have a certain amount of control over this.

We can be specific, in our @notes and @puppet-requests, and actually spell out "best times" for the next couple of days.

If those couple of days pass, we are free to cancel and update the puppet request and add new @notes with new information.

We're free to just be persistent, and keep approaching the NPC, keep @noting that we did so, keep @noting what we said and asked for, and keep doing things so that GMs notice that we're active and engaged. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind is what cripples players (I'm not saying you're doing this, Blackbird) who are tentative about sending their business across the desks of the GM's and politely wait in hopes that it'll come together sometime soon.

We're also free to use the @notes to illustrate or communicate about why performing the puppet will be good! What ramifications will ensue? Who else will be affected?

I'm not saying "be a pest", I'm saying it's not pesty to simply continue trying to push the RP along and documenting that that's happening with whatever frequency is legitimate.

There was at least one GM comment in OOC-Chat about why scheduling a puppet can be hard for them on their side, but we have ways to make it easier for them to have a chance at making it happen when you're available and before the opportunity evaporates.

Be bold, give it a try? If you haven't already. I don't know.

But even if OP has, and it didn't work, these are still ideas that other players can exercise if they haven't.

beandip, that actually does sound very much like pestering the GMs, and something I would be very cautious about doing.

Adding some schedule info to the puppet request, yes, I can see that (and as in my OP, it would be nice if the request form facilitated this at least to an extent). But making multiple notes about an outstanding request does not seem like a good idea. The request is in the queue; poking GMs about it should be unnecessary and I expect is unwanted and unappreciated.

Well, just use your judgement. Let me be clear:

Don't pester.

But if you make things happen, there can't be anything wrong with updating them.

If you put a schedule that's good for X number of days into a puppet requst, and you don't get it, there can't be anything wrong with canceling it and making an updated request. It isn't any more bothersome than having the first one stay open.

There is no rule saying you can't be persuasive and illustrate the cool shit which will flow from you getting your puppet.

Use your judgement.

The reason I'm saying these things is I'm convinced people are generally way too timid about this. The line between helpful information with a mildly persuasive voice, and an argumentative pesty string of obvious @note bumps is not as fine as people fear.

One note about canceling puppet requests: I have been told in the past that canceling and recreating a puppet request puts you back at the bottom of the queue.

I do it periodically, and I haven't seen an issue, but I suspect it does play a role.

Please do update your puppet requests. There is not a queue, per say. GMs take puppet requests as they can. We also try to jump in when we see NPCs being talked to - its just not always possible. We all have COI to consider, certain strengths, some GMs may be running a particular plot, sometimes we need time to discuss how to handle a puppet at the staff meeting... there's just a lot to consider.

Please remember that GMs are volunteers. We can attempt to schedule things - but it's just not viable for us to allow that for every puppet.

I understand this can be frustrating. Some puppet requests go a couple months while we try to coordinate things (though that is rare). I can confirm that every staff member is concerned with puppet requests, and we feel the pressure to answer them already. It's not that we are avoiding you! We are always looking for other support staff - but we also need to make sure everyone gels.

Some puppet requests go a couple months while we try to coordinate things...

Don't they expire after two weeks? Seem to remember having a few like that.

They do not. We have one that is a month and a half old in queue right now.
The help puppet file says if the puppet request isn't fulfilled after two weeks, it'll be removed, which is probably leading to confusion there.
I tend to notice my requests are filled dead in the middle of other major rp going on, so I have to choose. Not necessarily a bad thing though.

I will say, that the literal biggest plot point for my character right now hit a full stop dead end after my first related request closed out without resolution (I assume from the length of time it sat?) I resubmitted, and it happened again. So I have up. Did attempt to call the npc once or twice, and made note of it, but meh.

Either way, being able to schedule would be cool. We already do that ICly between non gm players.

Maybe something like a flag players can flip on and off as required that indicates whether they're able to take their puppet requests?
A few thoughts based on this thread:

In my experience scheduling for GMs is hard but puppet requests are designed to draw attention to your need when both you and the GM is online. I know it sucks to have to wait but, honestly, I'd rather not have GMs required to schedule their lives around a game any more than I want to as a player.

I am also not saying we should pester GMs but I do think that far too many players are scared of even making reasonable requests. I've seen players scared to even make a puppet request. GMs are there to animate the world and are reasonable people. Use them. THey generally want to be used.

There is a flag for if you are available to take a request. You are logged in. If you are not logged in then your request isn't highlighted for GM attention. IF you have a request in can't respond to it and don't want to turn it down, then log off. There is no need to idle and sometimes you just have to log off.

Lastly, if the NPC you are waiting for contacts you at a bad moment, just make up an IC reason and, maybe, an xhelp.

SIC FROM NPC: Yo! You wanted to talk?

SIC FROM YOU: Sorry chum. I'm tied up with other biz. Gonna have to get back at you later. Or you can try me later. Sorry.

Your xhelp to GM: Very sorry! I was just logging off to put my daughter to bed!

Then move on. It's okay. I doubt many GMs will be bothered at you for something like that.

But if you are logged on and want to prioritize your RP with other players or make an excuse then chatter on SIC for hours after, don't be surprised if there are IC consequences. They might not be much but IC is IC. This kind of thing shows priorities.

Just like it might look bad to GMs if you tell NPCs you don't have time then continue your moosex scene for hours. Then do it again, and again. I could how someone might feel that you are not valuing their time and effort if this kind of thing happens.

In general, I am not saying the puppet system is perfect but I personally haven't been able to think of a better system and I am personally against anything that would cause GMs and Players to schedule their real life around any game, including this one. And there are options like Beandip pointed out.

I don't know, the flag sounds like a pretty good idea. Just so players know that it's an optional thing only to give them an idea on your schedule.

I have several times been trying to exit a scene gracefully so I can log off. I don't want to just leave, but have a small bit of time to bow out gracefully in whatever manner the scene requires. They you get a puppet and as we all know... Puppet requests can go south on you very quickly depending on who you are talking too :)

So it would be cool to flip a flag to say, "hey I plan on logging off" so that you don't get that puppet just as finally manage to extract yourself and are about to tuck your kids into bed.

It would just be a tool the GMs can use and they can chose to honor it, or not.

I kind of like that idea a lot.

Puppet scheduling is complex for both players and staff and always has been. Puppets can involve hours of RP or major plot events, and while there may be no perfect solution to this, dismissively saying just log off or deal with the consequences is frankly pretty patronizing and unhelpful.
I heard your opinion without being insulting 0x1mm. I would appreciate the same.

Then you should re-read your own comment. Announcing that because you have decided something is sufficient so it should not change, and presenting real player scheduling problems as 'an excuse to chatter on SIC for hours' is patronizing and unhelpful.
I don't believe it should change for my own reasons. At no point did I say that you were disrespectful of staff's personal lives, dismissing their time and effort. Nor did I say that you were borderline abusing the system by, presumably, lingering in the game by being logged in with no intent to actually play.

I could have thrown all kinds of shade at you. But I didn't because I choose to give you and others the benefit of the doubt and to focus on the issue. I don't believe your words are a reason to say or believe such things about you. I was being courteous by choosing not to start attacking a person and focusing on content.

I could have and I could have 'supported' such insults via your posts as you think you did just now. But I don't believe you deserve that and neither do I. I am simply asking for the same courtesy.

Back to the actual topic though...

I forgot to mention. I have been told by staff that most GMs will check on possible puppets to see how long the player requesting it has been idle and they generally try not to work a puppet for someone who is likely AFK. So that is another factor worth considering. It is yet one more thing staff does to try and catch players when they are actually able to work a puppet and to try and avoid catching players at a bad time.

At no point did I say that you were disrespectful of staff's personal lives, dismissing their time and effort. Nor did I say that you were borderline abusing the system by, presumably, lingering in the game by being logged in with no intent to actually play.

Suggestions for tools to make player's lives easier are not attacks on the staff, nor are systems that improve things for players something that must come at a cost to staff time or convenience, and it's a bit alarmist and hostile to take those position or one where players would be abusing the system by playing the game but maybe unable to take a key puppet.

I can assure you it is unnecessary to valiantly tilt at the windmill of the terrible influence of people suggesting that puppet scheduling is often hard, something basically everyone can agree on. These strawman have not come to steal Sindome away from you.

I don't think that scheduling is the right answer to the issues that have been brought up. I know from my own experiences volunteering online, that as soon as you start trying to book times (on the administrative time) that you have to log in and be present to do a puppet/email/xhelp it can quickly go from feeling like 'Hey, I'll pop on for a hour or two and knock some things out of the queue' to 'Suddenly my volunteering is starting to feel like a second job.'

I'd like to +1 Grey0's comment earlier. I've had puppets pop that I had requested, as well as ones that I had not requested, and I've simply said: 'Hey, I was just going to go run and do something' via XHELP or simply tell the NPC that you have business Outside Of Central and will have to speak to them another time. I've never had staff pressure me or even give me the impression that they were pressuring me to continue playing due to a puppet.

One thing I think might be helpful to mention in a puppet queue, is that if you're normally on say, 9-11 Eastern, that you simply put in the request (Please no long puppets past 10:30) as an example. I don't know if this information would be helpful for staff to be browsing the queue and see, they'd have to weigh in on that.

There is a flag for if you are available to take a request. You are logged in. If you are not logged in then your request isn't highlighted for GM attention. IF you have a request in can't respond to it and don't want to turn it down, then log off. There is no need to idle and sometimes you just have to log off.

Lastly, if the NPC you are waiting for contacts you at a bad moment, just make up an IC reason and, maybe, an xhelp.

SIC FROM NPC: Yo! You wanted to talk?

SIC FROM YOU: Sorry chum. I'm tied up with other biz. Gonna have to get back at you later. Or you can try me later. Sorry.

Your xhelp to GM: Very sorry! I was just logging off to put my daughter to bed!

Having experienced a nearly identical scenario, I am going to state that this does not work. The response I got when I indicated I needed to log was that if I didn't fill my part of the puppet request at that time, I would have to wait months for another opportunity to accomplish the task at hand.

As the OP reading through the recent responses here, there seems to be some misunderstanding. My intent was not for GMs to have to book time on their schedules for a specific request. Rather, I asked that as part of the puppet request, the player could input their available/preferred times, so that this information would be flagged for GMs when they came online and checked open requests and online players at the GM's convenience. I did also stipulate that prior to filling the request, it would be appreciated if GMs could OOCly check with the player to confirm that the player would be available for the time the puppet is estimated to require.

Yes, I did suggest that if the player was not available, the GM could potentially recommend another time, but that would be purely at the GM's discretion. The crux of the matter is having a means of communicating 1) player availability and 2) time required for the puppet as part of the process.

People, can you try to have thicker skin? This sniping is the kind of thing that made BGBB a predictable hellscape a couple of years back.

Stop imagining personal attacks and reacting "to teach someone a lesson".

The dogpiling is not necessary. Stay on topic.