There is a dramatically reduced TL:DNR version at the bottom. I really recommend taking the time to read the whole thing through before responding though. It is long because it touches on a lot of topics.
Introduction: Who am I? Why am I posting?
I am Chris, more commonly known as TITan/RedRadio on xooc or through my characters: Nion and Leona (sicalias: Evolve. #Corpie4Lyfe). I've been a player on Sindome for approximately 680 days (That's 1 year, 10 months and 3 days) and have always tried to make my contributions to this game positive ones be they via RP, forum or townhall feedback, or the brief stint I spent as a support staffer. The intention of this post is to provide constructive, polite and concise feedback as to the state of the game and what could be done to improve it. It is not a challenge to the six month ban that was placed on me for having shared information with a player OOC. I broke the @rules and so I got punished, my opinion that the punishment is somewhat extreme is irrelevant to the message of this post.
I hope that this post is taken as the helpful feedback it is intended to be rather than simply dismissed as the words of a rule-breaker or worse still, used to prompt a witch hunt for players who I or other players have been or are in contact with. The staff would have to ban a -LOT- of players to eliminate everyone who talks about Sindome via out of moo means including some existing staff members; It would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I also took the time to have this post appraised and approved, prior to posting, by no less than seven players (including me) to ensure it is a reasonably universal view from at least a snapshot of the playerbase. One of them even went so far as to do a whole phase of editing on my behalf, correcting grammar and simplifying sentences to make them more concise (You know who you are. Thank you.).
What's great about Sindome?
That moment when you walk through the gates and aren't sure if the wet patch between your ass cheeks is something you fell in, or something you made.
Sindome is THE most immersive roleplaying environment many have ever been part of. It is a dark, gritty setting rife with naturally unfolding conflict and retro-tech sci-fi ambience galore. There is an enormous variety of things a player can codedly do within the game and the growing community means that roleplay can be found at almost any time of day, regardless of what timezone you are in or sleeping pattern you maintain. Characters are visceral entities with motives that can be learned, understood, manipulated and sometimes even empathised with. It's an addictive emotional rollercoaster. There is no sensation quite like meeting your equal and engaging them in a battle of wits, finance, politics and finally fists; Savage pleasure should you come out on top, and bitter loss should you lose. Add to this that the actual in-game world itself is so enormous that in 1 year, 10 months, and 3 days of near ceaseless RP I have not yet explored half the expansive world in game, and Sindome has the potential to be a timeless game with infinite playability.
All of this is rounded off by volunteer staff who put hours, days, weeks, months and years of their time into expanding and harnessing the potential of the setting, be it by driving plot lines, building code, or simply performing the copious amounts of administrative work that needs to be done just to keep the game economy and the game itself running. I cannot understate my appreciation and admiration of what staff do OOC on a daily basis for the players. All on the staff team have my sincere thanks for all of their hard work.
What issues exist within the game? How could we solve them?
Letters, there aren't enough letters.
1. Lack of Communication
The biggest and most ongoing problem in Sindome is a distinct lack of communication about the game between staff and players. There is no community without communication, but at the moment, the only means available for communication are one way @notes and somewhat intimidating xhelps (I'm sure I am not alone in being slightly shocked when one flashes up on my screen unexpectedly). As a result of this, unenjoyable or even universally detrimental roleplaying can continue for a very long time. This often ends with someone lashing out over xhelp, be they staff or players, but some, like me, communicate their grievances via OOC communication, so that at least it feels like someone is listening and sympathizing. Neither of these last two actions generally results in lasting progress, and can in fact generate even more issues.
I am suggesting a two way review system to expand the means of communication so staff can get regular feedback on what players do and do not enjoy with which to produce more informed, fun plots. Vice-versa staff can inform a player when their ic behaviour is positive or detrimental to the game without an intimidating xhelp. A full example of the proposed system will be left in a separate thread.
2. Dependency on Staff
The following is not at any point intended to be a slur against staff. If anything I consider it impressive and admirable that staff do as much as they do whilst so overburdened.
The game is way too dependant on non-player characters and staff operated systems. Most of the in-game employment system in game requires NPC approval and direct staff intervention to hire, promote, demote and fire players. In addition many high-value items are locked behind NPC 'gatekeepers'; This is before we even start looking at @histories, redecoration requests, NPC relevant plots and the policing of the players that must be done. With Sindome's rapidly growing playerbase, staff are hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for NPC puppets, gridmails and more. This often leads to player RP being disrupted, slowed and sometimes abandoned entirely.
Steps need to be taken towards empowering and enabling the player community to do more themselves, thereby making RP a smoother, more rewarding experience. At present there are player characters in positions from which they can quickly interview and recommend a character for a role only to find they wait weeks for an NPC to approve the hire. Allowing these players to perform the hire themselves would eliminate the wait. In fact, there are other M**s like The Inquisition: Legacy, in which factions are entirely player driven and these M**s run very smoothly.
Simply saying yes to more ideas from player characters, particularly topside, would lead to a lot more RP developing naturally. Every time a player suggests something and an NPC says no an entire avenue of roleplay is shut down before it can even begin; Usually, when a player suggests a plotline to pursue it is an idea that they would enjoy and that has the potential to draw other players in (e.g. "Should we investigate X player for Y reason?" This plot practically runs itself.).
3. Staff Alt Standards of RP
I begrudge to mention this, as ALL staff work hard OOC to make the game a better place to play, and most alts are played with careful restraint. I can vouch for this personally, as I have seen a little from behind the curtains as a support staffer. Nonetheless, having actually spoken to a number of players, I can see I am far from alone in perceiving inequality between the way some gm alts are treated versus how player characters are handled.
There is a common perception that some staff alts are treated favourably by other staff and abuse their ooc status as staff for an ic advantage over player characters. Some things that trigger this perception of inequality are the known alt(s):
• Generally retaining position(s) of wealth, status and power (not a problem in and of itself).
• Abusing their characters' power to bully pcs (Conflict RP is good, but conflict generally implies a two way struggle against characters capable of defending themselves and of recovering from what is done to them.).
• Denying characters RP (E.g. Involuntary extended periods of imprisonment).
• Perming, or facilitating the perming of characters (wherin an alt sets a player character up to pull the trigger on a cloneless character to avoid the technicalities in which staff alts are not supposed to perm). Perming is something players are strongly discouraged from doing, let alone staff for whom it is specifically against the rules that are set for them.
• Ignoring rules. Most obviously 4. d. with some alts remaining connected for days and idling for dozens of hours. There is no reason any character should be seen connected without icly "sleeping " for 7 days or more straight. It grants a ue gathering advantage as well as wasting player attempts to contact them whilst allowing those who idle to glean data from sources like sic even whilst they aren't actively playing or even necessarily awake.
• Negligible visible consequences from NPCs for actions that would have any other character SERIOUSLY punished. E.g. Overt theft of expensive valuables from major corporations.
Whether or not the things listed above actually happen is almost irrelevant to this point. What matters is that these abuses of staff status are perceived to be happening based on what players see. Players naturally extrapolate from the data they can see for themselves, which leads them to wonder what other abuses go on outside their line of sight; This breeds mistrust in the playerbase and no amount of reassurance (like this http://www.sindome.org/bgbb/open-discussion/anything-really/restrictions-on-gms-admin-826/ ) will counteract this divisive mistrust when what players see for themselves suggests otherwise. We all want Sindome to be a co-operative competition, but it is hard to co-operate or communicate with someone you do not trust not to abuse their status.
This is a hard one to treat. I admit that, at present, I am stumped as to how to resolve this one. That being said, a major purpose of this post is to prompt dialogue on how to resolve these issues. Talk amongst yourselves. I cannot be expected to do all the thinking (wink emoticon).
If I had to pick any ONE message I wanted people, players and staff alike to take home from having read this carefully crafted text, it is that there needs to be communication for there to be community. Opening up the game for even carefully moderated communication about IC events would enable staff to police what is communicated to whom and would have the benefits of enriching the player and/or staff base with knowledge about what is considered -FUN-, themely RP. Sindome is a game after all, it's all about having fun.
Anyways, there we go. I have said my piece and I hope it has been heard as it was intended, which is helpful and constructive feedback with which to improve the game. Again, no witch hunts please. Burning members of the playerbase at the metaphorical stake is a sure-fire way to just create more division within the community. This post is designed to provoke dialogue (and therefore progress) so please make your opinions heard whether you agree, disagree or feel another way entirely. If you do not say something, you will not be heard. If you do not try, you will never succeed.
All the best to EVERYONE! Walk safe Withmore.
Cue Overly emotional outro music.
• Trying to help improve by offering polite feedback and suggestions relating to commonly perceived player problems.
• NOT trying to challenge my ban.
• Expanded communication might solve like, everything.
• Devolve more powers to the players. Staff are overburdened by the present necessity of NPCs.
• Staff alts need to set the gold standard of RP players are expected to operate at. Failure to do so creates a suspicious atmosphere that divides the playerbase.