So apparently there was a lot of drama, both on OOC and now in Reddit. I missed the OOC, but have pieced enough together through these threads and through what's said on Reddit to have a good idea on what happened. I have read and understand both the complaints and also what staff is saying. My take on this comes from another angle.
I understand the reasoning behind the OOC communication ban. I understand why the desire for it to take place exists. Yet... I do feel that it causes more problems than it's worth. Significant problems. I will go over my reasons and why I think it contributes to a lot of the issues and bad feelings that seem to permeate reddit and other places about this game.
First, lets dispel the notion that people don't talk OOC. They do. From the various bans that are handed out, to the call out in Storm's post that his accusation was made over Discord. To think that people don't talk OOCly is ludicrous. It has been insinuated, and I have no way to prove it, that even Staff talk to various players they are friends with. The implication is that build help, tips, and other meta info DOES get bantered about. Even if Staff do not do this, it would be the height of folly to assume that no one else talks.
I recall a Bug note talking about players who were abusing the trust system to find out who was shrouded. At the time I was dumfounded. Who would do that? Aren't we all playing a game where collaborative cooperation is the rule? That answer is most definitely no. Players in XOOC shattered that myth long ago talking about how they live to mess up people's character and day. Fine, this is a PvP game in a harsh world, but to think that those same players will not take every advantage they can is sticking your head in the sand.
So while I have no direct proof of OOC communication going on, there is enough allegorical information out there to assume that it happens VERY regularly. Human nature tells us that people will talk. They always will talk.
The second reason falls on staff trust. A list of who plays which character was released and while I had kind of pieced together a some of that same list over my years of playing, the confirmation does sit a little ill with me. Let me start by saying that being Staff or an Admin IS a thankless job and I'd have no issue if there were rewards for being staff. However, if that's the case, that should be transparent.
Because I have been XHELPed that I'm getting upset over losing in the past and that's a little hard to take when I look at that list and realize that many, if not all, of those characters have not seemed to have the same hardships that mine or others have had. Perhaps they are better players, perhaps there is, unintentional favoritism, perhaps they are put in favorable positions so they can concentrate on plots and puppets. All of those could be true and yet, since we can't know or talk about any of this OOCly, we are left to conclude that staff gets these advantages all while telling us that losing is fun and good RP. I look at that list and I wonder about how fun losing really is, when most are very successful over long periods of time.
Again, it could be 100% above board. It could just as easily be unconscious bias, and it could of course be outright favoritism (which I would be fine with if it was just disclosed that Staff are going to get an easier ride because they work their asses off in other areas).
At the least, there are violations of 4.H because staff clearly knows each other IRL and yet there are relationships among staff players. This hits me close to home as there was a player who had joined that announced they knew me as a player. I had no idea who they were, or their character was; only to be told a month or two into RPing with their character that I know this person IRL and find a way to stop. It was jarring and terrible and I felt horrible since I could not tell this person why I could not RP with them and had to come up with lame excuses why I could no longer RP with them. Having suspected, but never confirmed that Staff can void this rule is... upsetting having gone through it. Had it been disclosed that this is a Staff perk, it would not be nearly as upsetting.
When this sort of thing is revealed, it causes a breach of that trust, which as Slither put in his post recently, trust is all we have to think that we are playing a fair game. When staff tells people "you need to risk more" but are playing a game where their risks are insulated, players are going to see that. When it's not disclosed that perks exist it just looks disingenuous. If Perks are not given, and people look at that list of characters, they naturally are going to wonder about COI, favoritism, and other issues EVEN if nothing has happened and they are all fantastic players.
My character has been a punching bag for a lot of people for a long time. Basically, of the negative events that have happened to my character only a couple felt like a collaborative story. Those were some of the highlights of my SD career. These were bad things that have happened that caused my character to lose RP, power, position, etc. After thinking on it a lot, part of the reason I felt they were so great was during the scene, the character actually apologized OOCly for what they were doing. It was great. I loved it. Immediately it went from, this person is a dick and trying to screw me, to something fun that I played into hard.
The months of getting pounded for reasons I've never been able to discern, not nearly as fun. Faceless people spreading sex rumors and being an unintended "media star" was bad enough that I've taken multiple breaks because for something that is supposed to be entertainment, I should not have had Real Life anxiety and depression over a game. Yet, these things happened. In part because I didn't get that same feeling of collaborative story. I got the feeling that people were "out to get me" OOCly. Was it true? I have no idea. Having a player call me out in everything but name in Guided Discussions and XOOC did not help either when I couldn't talk to people for any kind of support. That bit where you can talk with friends and get some OOC confirmation that, "ooooh, that sucks, but you'll make it." is really important for mental health and we just lack that as a community.
Since Sindome is a slow burn long term game, you make relationships with people that become, at least to me and I am sure others, friends. You can't RP with someone for over a year and not have some feelings for them. I have been chided by GMs in the past about fear of losing. No. I could care less about position, money, power, deaths, or any of that stuff. Yet, I have woken up with cold sweats at the thought of having connections with people in this game cut off. I don't know them IRL, I don't know their player names, if I perm, fall, etc. will I just lose this person that's been a part of my life for over a year? That's a tangible fear of mine and I'm sure others.
This third reason is perhaps the most compelling reason that this strict OOC ban should be gotten rid of. Often times, when you have lost, a simple laugh or word about it with the person you lost too could make that feeling that "they had to have cheated" or "this isn't fair" into something that actually resembles collaborative competition. More important, the fear of losing people would be lessened and perhaps people might be more inclined to take risks that Staff encourages us to take. Or simply just some words of encouragement and the knowledge that, "yeah, I've been there too." or "hey, maybe look at it this way" would be a massive boon to a lot of people's mental states.
What happened over the past day or so is hard to read. It's a lot of intertwined drama and things that have been swept under the rug of OOC communication. It is difficult because it challenges some of the basic premises of the game: everyone is treated equal.
I know that the answer to this is likely going to be, "No. This is how we do things" and so be it. But I really feel that Sindome should have both more OOC means of communication and also more transparency. I've listed my reasons above and I think they are very compelling and important reasons. Yes, trust is a good thing, but there have been a lot of reasons to make me want to question that trust. Which, that sucks,. I would rather know that, "yes, staff get some perks for putting in hundreds of hours of thankless work" rather than be told, "you should enjoy losing more." I would rather risk that a player will use some OOC knowledge to protect themselves, because they are already likely doing it, just in a an unmonitored manner. I would rather have my plans spoiled and know that people are getting the support they need to not make this a mental health issue.
Please, seriously discuss and consider offering up a more transparent ways of OOC communication; both on how staff acts and how players can communicate with each other. Other games, even RPI games, manage this. They have Discord channels and more transparent methods of communication. They don't try to silo players away from each other and realize that these are social games and the benefits of social communication outweigh the gamification of the system.
If you want to engender trust, if you want players to feel good about playing this game, this is a simple step to do so. Be more transparent. Trust your players to be able to separate OOC and IC. Open up a Discord server. Let people communicate and know each other.
I think you will find the benefits to the community and the perception of the game far outweigh the instances where people use OOC knowledge to thwart some scheme or plan... and those people who do... are likely the same ones who would use @trust to identify shrouds and will always find a way to cheat the system.