Yes that’s right, this blog has moved location. It’s become so popular and so awesome that we had to put it somewhere else and not on the basic WordPress.com hosting. There’s many reasons for doing this, mainly to make it even better!
Just like the hundred minions carrying the house in this picture, I’ve worked hard at moving all the useful articles across that I and many others have written over the last 4 years (Wow! Has it really been that long?).
The new blog will continue to have useful posts for all PBEM and play-by-post roleplayers.
Why did we move?
To make the blog better. The free account we had (this one you’re looking at right now) only allows us to choose from a few templates, and I have niggles with the presentations of each of them. Like the way the headings don’t quite have enough spacing, and the colours are all drab and dull. Moving to a proper hosted WordPress means I can choose from a million other templates, and make changes that will make it match the OngoingWorlds website so there’s no confusion when you go from there to the blog and go “what the hell is this? It looks all different!”.
Also there’s more options for allowing other users to post to the blog. I’ve had some amazing people contribute articles to the blog, but unless they go through the complicated process of getting a WordPress.com account, the article looks like it was posted by me, and they don’t get the credit they deserve.
Anyway, enough of the boring technical stuff which I’m sure you don’t care about. Check out the new blog here.
You’ve worked hard setting up your online roleplaying or simming community, and harder still to spread the word about it.
A stream of new players is joining, but some of them are flaking out and disappearing without a trace. How can you overcome new players’ shyness and make them feel comfortable and included in your community? Read more…
Writing has always been a skilled art form since man scribbled on the walls in the cave. No writer anywhere thinks they are as good as they will ever be. Many of us strive to improve, and end up surprising ourselves with elements in our writing we never thought were possible. In the spirit of this idea, UFOP: StarBase 118 will be hosting month long event to help writers everywhere improve on their writing quality throughout February.
The group will be utilizing the Writing Improvement email list to send out tutorials, examples and schedules upcoming events. They will be hosting many different IRC and Google Hangout events during the month to help many writers with tips to improve their craft. StarBase 118 has lined up many authors to attend and host these chats, and all are welcome to attend. Read more…
Yeah, I did it. I invoked the much-maligned theme song from Star Trek: Enterprise.
Hopefully you’re still reading, because I used that line for a reason and that reason was not just to annoy you or to get that song running through your head. Which I expect it is. My real reason for using that line is that I would like to have a chat with you about character arcs and how important they are in story-based role-playing.
Mary Sue; the name is immortalized in a song and in literature, but they aren’t the same person. So, my friend, you want to write a book, short story, or merely participate in a play by E-mail online roleplaying game and need a character. This article is going to tell you how to avoid a trap even the best authors can fall into called Mary Sue.
It can be seen by some as a wish fulfilment of the author to live vicariously through the character while having no noticeable flaws or having flaws that don’t make sense, either physically or mentally. Read more…
In the last article about OtherSpace‘s upcoming story arc, I mentioned that the new story was funded by the members. This goes to funding the website’s hosting costs (not to be underestimated! I bet there’s many GMs out there who selfishly foot the bill of their hobby, whilst users get a free service!), marketing costs, player rewards, artwork. I thought it was pretty unusual for a roleplaying community to ask for money for the volunteers, so I asked OtherSpace’s Wes Platt about it:
Are the contributions mandatory or voluntary?
It’s worth noting that we don’t just have contributions coming from participants, although many of our sponsors do play the game. Several are just friends of the game or fans of the idea of collaborative real-time storytelling. Honestly, I’d prefer to see more patrons supporting our creative efforts from outside the playerbase. It just feels so unfair sometimes, going back to the same well and asking for help from the same people, time and again. I’ve been very lucky, though. We have some extremely supportive players. All that said: It is absolutely voluntary. There’s no price of admission and no membership dues. You can join the saga and never contribute a dime – you’ll still be welcome. Read more…
Weeks after the end of WBWW, and the winner has been announced, I found this exciting gem in my email spam folder. My heart sank as I realised what had happened, this had been submitted by email but for some unknown reason was treated like spam. Usually I trust Gmail, as it usually does a decent job of distinguishing actual spam, but for some reason it hide this away from me. The story was submitted by Wes from OtherSpace. We’ve featured several articles by Wes about his MUSH.
I can’t apologise enough to Wes, this is a great story but unfortunately it was never passed to the judges. So the best thing I can do is post it here so you can read, and wonder how well it would have done in the WBWW competition. Read more…
This article is written by Marissa Jeffrey, an active member of the Starbase 118 Star Trek RPG, where she plays Captain Kalianna Nicholotti, commanding officer of the massive Trojan Class Starbase 118 Operations.
Whether you are a Starfleet Captain like I am, are a leader of a fighter squadron, a GM of a game you created yourself, or a member of a sim, there are life lessons we inherently learn as we play. Much like a time we may barely remember, as children, when our most important lessons were learned through the simple act of play, as adults, we can continue to learn and grow through our roleplaying games. Though our sims are ‘just games’, there are hidden nuggets of wisdom around every corner, and if you’re open enough to catch them, you can often find yourself applying them to the real world in much the same way you do in your game. As for myself, it took three years for me and my character to traverse the path to command in the game I play, but it was only when I looked back from the center chair of my starship, that I realized just all I had learned from the process. Read more…
I haven’t seen the Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams” because it sounds terrible. Fortunately I have seen Waynes World which spoofed the film’s main catchphrase “If you build it, they will come”, leading Wayne and Garth to create a rock concert, which goes surprisingly well despite barely any advertising.
The mentality of “If you build it, they will come” is a dangerous one in my opinion. Read more…
One of the most important and obvious aspects of a text-based roleplaying game is that it uses text. But we don’t just have to stick to the written form, many roleplaying games use imagery and cool graphics to convey ideas, places, characters and mood. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!
One of the most illustrative roleplaying games I’ve seen is Star Army, which uses brilliant custom artwork. I recently spoke with Wes Davis, creator of Star Army about the amazing artwork they use. Read more…
Last week I added a new feature to OngoingWorlds which allows long-running games to show an summary of the recent story. This is to communicate recent events to a new member without amending your game description.
I explain it better in the video here:
Here’s the story that came third place in our WBWW competition. It’s the tale of a cowboy called Alex Solvay in the American old west, being told to his great grandson, also called Alex. Alex is a character in the game Blue Dwarf played on OngoingWorlds.
The story is written by Jack Tennant, who has even recorded this story to audio, which you can listen to through the YouTube video below, or read the story underneath.
This story got a lot of praise from one of our judges, Aimee the winner of this year’s First Person Fortnight competition.
The strengths of the story that spoke to me most, aside from the expected “good grammar/punctuation/understanding of storytelling”:
1) Great demonstration of “Show, don’t tell.” It’s probably the only story that didn’t do this to a fault. It was narrating but it was describing what the characters were doing and how they were interacting with their environment and thus communicating “this is good/exciting/something I’m proud of” to the reader.
2) A clear format made to show the intended style; well-chosen names of places and dates. Very striking in their military/future origin, but not over-explained.
3) It comes full circle and leaves this reader with a simple feeling of family identity and pride in one’s place in the world, but doesn’t get more complicated than that. Vocabulary is tight and story feels focused.
4) Mature and sophisticated world outlook and a writing style to match it.
I also liked the detail that the “ancestor” was from 2003. That makes great sci-fi.
Here’s the story in full.