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A new player's experience

Hi,

A couple of days ago, I gave Sindome a try after browsing through TopMUDsites. I'm an avid MUD player, even staffing on one of the regular top 5 there.

At first, it was a pretty confusing muddle and mess, if I'm honest. I went into chargen 100% blind, not knowing what my skills did beyond their basic descriptions, with a pretty much random assortment of shit flung into them. This is something you really need to improve I think - I really, really badly butchered my char's build and while circumstances have sort of ameliorated that somewhat, but if that hadn't happened, I would've probably 100% attempted to suicide the char and start over.

Bit of a forboding prospect when history can take a little while to tidy up and approve, too.

My first two days were punctuated with pretty much non-stop chaos. I think I died like five times to assorted things. The red scroll and I became friends very fast. All the experiences landed me some interesting interactions and connections to certain characters though, which is ultimately what kept me around.

It's been a blast, honestly. But I totally and 100% understand why a lot of people get turned off early on in their Sindome experience - the NPE is super, SUPER rough, and things like wounds healing in realtime serve to make 'experimental' mistakes extremely costly in terms of time. There's not a lot fun about sitting on a street mortally wounded in a SIC blackout and just having to wait for someone to stumble by and offer to help.

I don't really have any meaningful feedback on how to improve that without diminishing the grit and consequence that makes Sindome so alluring in the first place, other than maybe giving new immies a little kit with some self-meds to patch themselves up a TINY bit so that they can at least walk around and to a clinic without having to wait 20 minutes for fatigue to clear. Maybe brand it hard with Fuller street clinic stuff so people get used to visiting the place early on.

I would also say that perhaps providing some sort of compelling initial 'hook' that encourages players to explore early on would be good. Maybe they're hungry, or they come out of the immigration process with a faint lingering addiction to a certain drug that they need to get a fix of.

Lots of fun outside of that, and the sheer depth and FOIG atmosphere is something pretty new to me, but also something that I am rapidly beginning to embrace. Information is as much a resource and source of progression as currency and connections are, which is something very difficult to appreciate in other games, especially with things like wikis and Discords being so prevalent.

The community's been great and I've honestly slid into a circle that I'm already very happy with after only a few days, and probably had more concrete RP in these past three days than I have out of 6 years playing another popular IRE mud.

So, yeah. Good shit. Major props.

Welcome to Sindome, that's awesome you're having fun now.

I think part of the philosophy behind FOIC is that things are as unfamiliar to you, the new player, as they are to your character. It's a little atypical to die so much so quickly, I think, so not everyone may have the same experience. There are always people that try to attack gangers right off the bat or otherwise get right into trouble, but that's how you learn how weak you are. The extreme danger of the game world compared to a new character's capabilities help reinforce your incredibly marginalized position in an uncaring society.

I'm sure many players get frustrated at first, but if you push through, you realize how much depth and interest there is in the game. It's a pattern you'll repeat over and over as you learn new things. The game has a very long learning curve. Even a year after starting you'll still be learning things left and right.

Enjoy!

'I would also say that perhaps providing some sort of compelling initial 'hook' that encourages players to explore early on would be good. Maybe they're hungry, or they come out of the immigration process with a faint lingering addiction to a certain drug that they need to get a fix of.'

When I started, my initial hook came from reading the room descriptions, the messaging that you get when you come in the gate, and the fact that it was late fall and I was naked in a very, very bad neighborhood. I needed food, shelter, clothing, and work and didn't know how to get any of them. That in and of itself was the RP.

I hear a lot of newbies sort of roll in and ignore that part, then get upset when they're jumped into the school of hard knocks. I'm not sure to impress upon new characters any better just how desperate their situation is supposed to be.

It's been a long time since I've created a new character so my recollections of things might be vague. But I recall that a new character is addressed by guards just before being tossed into the city. Perhaps these guards can be used to deliver said hooks.

Something like maybe one guard jokingly telling another guard that they bet this new immy won't make it past a day before they do something stupid like getting creased by a ganger. And the other guard responds with something about how he bets the new immy is going to get mugged or dipped first.

Then one of them tells the immy that while he couldn't care less what happens to the new immy, here's some advice. Have the guard set the hooks. Something like: "Personally, I could care less what happens to your worthless ass. But if I was you, I'd see about getting some new clothing, find some food and check in with a doc. You don't want to be running around naked, hungry and jacked up in the Dome."

Maybe the other guard says something about how if the new immy needs any help that they should reach out on SIC. Maybe ask for a WCS Immy greeter.

Perhaps something along these lines will bring attention to how dangerous the place is and hook them into getting certain things done. Their first few micro-plots.

I’m no avid MUD player, in fact Sindome is the first and only one I’ve played, and even then I’ve only been here a couple of years. Yet over my time here, I’ve come to understand a few things about Sindome, and would like to respond to some of your comments Ephemeralis.

Sindome is a game of experience; you explore the world around you, learning new mechanics and information as you go. This lack of information going in (and throughout the game) contributes strongly to the sense of uncertainty that accompanies the theme. This effect may die off over time for you the player, but you should roleplay it in every character that steps through the Immy gates. It doesn’t matter how badly you butcher your stats and skills at char-gen, because the amount of UE spent there is miniscule compared to a characters lifespan, and even if your character does reach its UE cap there is always the option to refund your points to make up for these errors when you have a better understanding of how the game works. Even if your character is permed, what you learned in that character’s life will be sure to help you in the creation and operation of the next.

Suiciding a character for ‘poor char-gen stats’ is, quite frankly, a waste of roleplay potential.

Character history and approval can take some time, yes, but it’s up to you how you spend this time. Some, like me, kept their characters outside the gates until approval so they knew exactly who they were playing when they started the game. Others use this time to explore the game world and establish contacts that can lead on to becoming allies, friends, enemies and more as their character progresses.

Some players join during quieter times, while others such as yourself may join in moments when things are a little hectic around the city. Whether your character pursues the action (accepting the risks and benefits involved) or actively tries to avoid drawing attention is up to your character’s personality and ultimately you. I can assure you, most Immy characters that try not to draw attention to themselves will generally not be fucked up too hard. Players and GMs alike tend to recognize a new player and ease up when necessary to make sure that player’s experience isn’t brought to a halt too quickly (which may turn them off the game).

As previously stated, if a new character doesn’t want to end up in the shit, they shouldn’t be sticking around it. If they accept the risk and stick around it anyway, then you should be trying to make friends with the kind of people who can/will help you out in a jam. If your character winds up wounded or dead, you just have to hope that you’ve made friends with the right people. I believe this all to be part of the theme that Sindome upholds so firmly.

Finally, the ‘hooks’ that you mentioned. Honestly, I feel like I shouldn’t need to talk about this, but seeing as we’re here then I might as well. The game shouldn’t need to give you a hook because you should be creating your own. Assuming you’ve at least started work on a history, you should know why your character is in the city. What you’re looking for or running from, what you’re lacking or trying to fix. Your character has just entered a strange new city, now they’re poor, naked and need to get their bearings. Common sense should be enough cause to start looking around. Sure there are some OOC issues here stemming from players who may not realize just how lacking they start out, but I’m fairly sure measures are being taken to make new players more aware of this (refer to ‘OOC Reminders from SYS-MSG’ in the New Game Features and Bug Fixes section).

That is everything I wanted to say. Do keep in mind all this is just my opinions and perspectives on the matters you brought up.

Thanks.

Don't disagree with any of your points at all, Stelpher, but the main thing I think a lot of people forget at the start is that most players come into games of all kinds, even RP heavy ones like MOO and the like with some sort of basic expectation of 'feeling out' the game's mechanics at a very, very basic level before committing to any sort of story or narrative development.

I'm certainly not advocating for any softening of Sindome's pretty heavy approach to consequence and social relations - anything but, just noting that it does sort of make for a fairly brash new-player experience if you're unprepared for it, which I figure most people trying the game for the first time will be.

Food for thought, anyway.

I love the fact that Sindome has such a hardline approach to progressing your character. The conflict, challenges, and failure are what push me to do better. Every time I get a bit more and one mistake has it all ripped from me I learn and adapt. Much more than any other game because there are real consequences.

However, the skills need more definition. My character most likely knows what he has to train to be better at any one skill, so why can't I?

I ended up building strength on my current character, thinking they would help in martial arts, only to find that martial arts is more dependant on agility. Not much I can do now since I've invested so much in martial arts and should've studied brawling, or just gotten more agility.

Both of these things I put no investment into so my character is just dysfunctional in combat.

It's a hard line to walk. I agree it can be very frustrating trying to navigate what are sometimes very ambiguous skill / stat interactions. But I also understand that the admin don't want to provide straight up behind-the-scenes looks at how exact skill rolls function and are weighted, which I also don't want, don't get me wrong. But I agree a little clarity in some cases would be welcome, some skills themselves are very ambiguously worded.

When I first joined, it took someone talking to me to distract me from ALL the information I was digesting at the moment to get me to remember--oh yeah, I've got to think of what to do next! I don't think the player was mentioning "hooks" as if the game is boring. There's a lot to process when you get here, so something like what I experienced is good to help out.

Honestly though.. automated WCS npc tours? That might help a lot. Follow the npc, get the usual pep talk, get reminded of where you can seek help if you need it. We're getting more players now so this might be necessary.

We have a specific job that is meant for that, Supermarket. While NPC's would be nice on occasion, that defeats the purpose of having the character job.

Will the hires increase to match the ratio of newcomers? Maybe that's a good next step.

I only started a few weeks ago, but I have to admit that the absolute trainwreck of spam that scrolls down your screen on Sindome can really feel overwhelming when you're first getting started here.

Ad-blimps, SICADs, the whole playerbase (and more) on SIC, talking in encryptions that come out jumbled (and you don't know why) fairly long and detailed room+PC descriptions, everything being in different colors, the weather, the mass of sleeping bodies by the gates... oh, and by the way, you step into all of this awkwardly naked, trying to figure out where and how to walk, talk, get clothes on, describe yourself, etc etc.

If I could make a couple quick suggestions myself:

1 - Find some way to lighten the spam or delay SIC coming on full-force right away. The screen scroll here absolutely DIZZYING compared to anywhere else I've played. It's still taking me time to adjust to figuring out what I need to read versus what I really don't. Maybe it could take awhile to fully activate?

2 - Drop newbies straight into the clothing shop from the start, and provide an easier explanation on how to buy clothes from it. Being naked is awkward.

3 - Have clearer directions towards some starting funds. Namely, ACME and (I guess, though I haven't personally experienced) SHI.

Oh, yeah, can attest - encrypted SIC stuff is fucking monstrous the first time you see it. I wondered what the fuck was going on for a solid hour until I eventually caved and figured it out from reading the SIC command stuff.

The IMMASSIST stuff on the Grid probably should be introduced via NPCs, maybe move the term on Sinn to the courtyard where they come out, and have a guard show it to them and how to use it? Grid was a real big step in learning how to do stuff.

I would point out that @newbie does a great job of covering all the basics from moving to buying clothing to earning money. If someone reads through @newbie and the help files it points to one will learn most of what you will need the first few days of playing at least. Thought I think it would be great if @newbie section 4 (Communicating ICly) would point players to 'help sic'.

I'm not saying @newbie is perfect but it covers a LOT of ground and I think that if people dig through it and the help files proactively instead of only when they have no other choice they will find the Sindome experience a little easier.

I don't know what's going on now with WCS Immy Greeters, but when I had a character with the Role, I made every effort to drag my character to the Immy gate whenever the NEW CHARACTER alert popped up. I used whatever excuse I needed to, to get it done. Sitting in a bar? "Aww shit, better check on the gate. Make sure Immies ain't shittin' theyselves" - Boom, done.

What I'm seeing a lot of, and it's just my perspective, is Immy Greeters on SIC asking Immies to let them known if they need help. This is not an effective method, imho. That assumes Immies know how to contact you. Knows about SIC. Knows they need to try and find a SICnal.

I treated every Immy that walked through that gate like they had no idea what they were doing. I did not automatically expect them to be a reroll, or know what to do, or assume anything. Everyone got the same treatment. IC, I treated Immy through the gate like a special ed case till they proved otherwise.

I had a simple routine when I got the New Character alert. Got my character to the gate. Addressed Immy. I had this entire schtick, trying to get their attention and get them to FOLLOW me. I brought them to the store, showed them how to EXAMINE things. How to get dressed, etc. Next, the coffins. Explained that. The SIC, the Grid. SHI. Acme. I called it the tour. Every Immy got the tour, unless they opted out. No exceptions. I assumed everyone was new OOC, and functionally retarded IC.

Just a suggestion. Immy greeter is an important job. Don't wait for them to contact you. Thinknof them as little bits of Gold you have to dig for. Go to common Immy Areas. Walk around, looking for where Immies might be. Hell, an Immy ended up on Gold. I don't even know how. It's your job, it's important. Go get em.

+1

@Dumpster & @Smexy et. al.

You're not wrong. That is a great way of RPing an Immy Greeter.

But as I'm sure you also are aware, no one rolls a character with the singlehanded goal of doing the most OOCly helpful job to the make the game grow. We should expect these players to balance their character's time, nothing more. Asking for 100% accountability to an IC job for OOC reasons is not, in my opinion, right.

There could be a case for making Greeter NPCs. But then the whole point/joy of having a PC greet you, with a real, interactive, personalized tour by another human is lost.

I'm 100% convinced that there already exists sufficient IC automated help to get enough new players up to speed. Every player that decides to take their Precious RP time up with developing & helping the game grow...including those who ICly interact with new players...deserves OOC praise. But it is not expected of you. It should not be required of you. Helping new players is often super boring & tedious & repetitive, and every character's participation comes at the opportunity cost of other RP.

Balance, yeah? Ease up.

I'm 100% convinced our new player experience is good. I don't really think we need any changes, I especially do not think we need to lighten the load of information coming across a new player's screen. We want them to feel overwhelmed, it's the whole point of SIC.

Anyway,

Not putting greeter NPCs, hiring PCs to do it, I see them doing it regularly, everything looks good.

We have a super high population, seems to be working out fine.

The 'hook' idea has made me realize I should probably give my later characters more vices and built-in prompts...

I enjoy this thread. Thank you OP for your words and taking the time to write them. Thanks to everyone else for their thoughtful replies.

After a few characters worth of play, I can safely say that following the archetype ideas for skill build and priority makes a MASSIVE difference in your early game experience.

Specialization is super important and I feel like that needs to be highlighted in the chargen process. If you spread your initial stuff out too thin, you can basically end up not being able to do much of anything skill-wise for a really, really long time.

Good discussion.

Dumpster, in regards to your comment about WCS immy greeters asking over SIC whether immies need help:

This is typically done in addition to going to the gates to meet new arrivals, not in place of. Greeters are frequently parked near the gate and head up to meet new arrivals as they come in. Not always, obviously, but often.

Cheers.