July was an intense month. I think All-Stars thoroughly exhausted everyone involved, and that's without accounting for the administrative side of things. I've spoken about the problems that went into it elsewhere, but I'll cover them again here. All-Stars is always a difficult prospect: several people are coming into the community, several of whom are here only for the one game before they disappear until the next year's game. Rules are often relaxed at this time for the simple reason that typical punishment (giving warnings) is ineffective. Either a punishment warrants moderating posts, suspension, or banning, or it doesn't. And doing any one of those things risks interfering with or even compromising the game.
Meanwhile, in this year's game more than any other, the variety in players was extreme. It was always possible that there were going to be some conflicts, but some of the problems that emerged were completely unexpected.
Meanwhile, Neopetsmom, who rose to the challenge of hosting the first 45 player game we've seen in three years, dealt with difficulties of her own in managing the game. In the past, I've often sat out Werewolf games in case an impartial administrative authority might be needed. Off-hand, I can't recall a case before this game where it ever turned out to be necessary. And for better or worse, this was a game where I was resurrected and nigh immortal during a period where the game would have benefited if I had been able to be completely out of the game.
At the start of the year, both community and Werewolf rules were put back into place largely unchanged from their previous iteration, with the notable exception that the warning system was altered to eliminate warn reduction. This was never intended to be a permanent solution. Rather, it was the initial response to an uncommon occurrence in the past. The warn reduction period was so low that some users would willingly take a warn to be “allowed” to break a rule, knowing it would be nothing more than a permanent mark on their warn history. It's also noteworthy that since the beginning of the year, only a small handful of warns had actually been assigned.
All-Stars saw a shift in behavior that was completely unexpected. Blatant flaming has been rare over the years. Most rule breaking usually occurs in regards to the spam and swearing rules, and those were the things that were intended to be given a slight pass during All-Stars. Instead, we saw some of the worst flaming in Sparkbomb's history. Despite it calming down after the early game, it erupted again during the post-game.
During each of these events, I contacted and spoke with the members involved. At this point, I also think I've contacted the majority of the players who participated in All-Stars. If I didn't contact you, or if you want to discuss matters further, my inbox is always open.
I expect to make an announcement at the beginning of Traj's game. Stay tuned for that.
My month was equally busy outside of Sparkbomb. There's an annual conference for singles in my church during the summer, and it's always one of the highlights of the year for me. This year's was pretty relaxed, except that I had quite a bit of pain during it. A month or so beforehand, I had a bizarre flu with identical symptoms to those I woke up with on the Saturday morning (the main day of the conference). Perhaps against better judgment, I decided to go anyway and spent a fair chunk of the day on painkillers. Sunday wasn't much better. I spent the next four days in and out of the doctor's office, and I now have surgery planned for later this month. I don't really want to go into more detail than that, but suffice it to say that this happened shortly after I was resurrected in All-Stars and about the same time certain events were occurring behind-the-scenes in the late-game.
Granted, that was the last thing to happen during the month. The beginning of the month started with me selling off a large portion of my Yu-Gi-Oh! collection. It was a somewhat surreal feeling, having spent upwards of a full two years building it up and trying to find employment that way. I owe Zen a thanks for keeping me company during that day.
I also finally upgraded to a smart phone. I've been using a flip phone for the past eight years, so it was pretty exciting to finally catch up, so to speak.
As for the Sparkbomb Gaming League, Clucky and I had an enjoyable night of playing Mario Kart 7 and having a few really close races. Trouble in Terrorist Town during Sparkbomb Hour went over less well: getting a dedicated Sparkbomb server will probably be necessary if we want to give that another try in the future.
Coming out of All-Stars, I want to spend the this month getting back to writing. Episode 6 of The Mansion is long overdue, and I'd like to get involved with some of the role plays. SparkWiki is ready to have more of its articles written and published. While I'm focusing my attention on those things, I'm hoping that the Staff applications will see a few of you taking care of the forum-wide activity.