InuyashaOhki

Enforcing Activity

50 posts in this topic

The latest game has brought concern over how inactive players affect the game to the forefront. While it is debatable whether inactivity is a workable strategy, it's certainly harming the fun of the game when very little of substance is said.

The goal of this thread is to come up with a generally useable tool that will allow MC's to be flexible enough to maintain game balance while disincentivising inactivity.

I think we should start with brainstorming ideas, even incomplete ones. A week from Friday, we'll move on to discuss what's been tossed out and try to pare it down to a few ideas to refine. We can start testing out what we come up with in that discussion and bring the results back to the thread.

 

I will start the brainstorming:

These are some mechanics from individual games that might be starting points -

1. Posts accumulate currency towards something in-game: NPM's shop in the 2014 All-Stars being the best example. I don't know how to generalize it, but it seemed to work well.

2. Powers do not work if a player is inactive publicly: Circumstances vary, so this could be used to clear players. It would have to be made into a penalty with no potential for abuse.

3. Player activity is metered and falling below a certain level gives the villains added power: I haven't seen it implemented, but it's something I talked with someone about.

4. In HP games, having some HP gained by posting, possibly with daily damage to offset it where a player who is inactive dies by predictable game mechanic rather than modkill: Came to mind while writing this. Not sure if it's been done.

Rule-based thoughts -

We've tried black and white modkill/replace rules and have run into situations where it would break the game to be implemented. In games that are as previously balanced as Werewolf, mid-game modkills are almost never feasible, and they're never fair. We might need a different penalty than modkill.

1. I have tried public shaming. "Everyone glare at Player X who has failed to vote!" This brings attention to the inactive rather than letting them potentially go under the radar. Public shaming loses effect as it becomes routine, though.

2. Blackballing is a possibility. Essentially, we agree not to let people who violated the previous game's inactivity rules play the next game. The downside is that we are short on players as it is.

3. Reward players for going a set number of games without inactivity. Perhaps have an annual event exclusive to those who met that goal.

4. Instead of shaming, offer the inactivity of players as info from the MC, which may bring attention to it and reinforce arguments for executing the inactive.

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It is a difficult problem.  Replacing is a reasonably good solution but you have to have a replacement available.  Also, the most frustrating times is when someone isn't really contributing but isn't entirely inactive.  So, comes in and votes in the morning on Day 1 and then vanishes until Day 3.  Or submits a night list but never posts in the game thread.  Or, vice versa.  They are just active enough to think that maybe they will get it together but then they don't.

I have generally found what has worked the best for me is (1) give benefits for activity such as earning points to be able to gain a level or to buy stuff in a store or (2) give every player abilities that require daily activity.  Those aren't foolproof.  Some players are just inactive even when they have abilities they can use or stuff they can earn.  I always wonder in that case why they player signed up at all.

In general I find that if a player is bored by their role they tend to be more inactive.  The average player doesn't like to think about strategy and then post publicly to try to analyze things.  Giving that player something they are supposed to do each day does tend to cause more activity.  It doesn't necessarily cause more discussion and analysis.

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I'd like to reiterate something I've said on previous occasions: I trust a current MC to manage their game in whatever manner they deem appropriate. If NPM or myself are available as non-players (or dead without the possibility of resurrection), we can consult on particular situations as desired or needed. I value the smooth flow of a game while the game is ongoing.

I'd like to ask a question: what is inactivity, and at what point is a game negatively impacted by it? Rules have often used the rubric of posting and voting. Power use has been included in some (several?) games. Are these our only measurements? Are these the only relevant measurements?

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With the trend of disallowing all PMs that are not team related, or from player to host, I think there are really only three categories of activity that count. 

1. Posting

2. Voting

3. PMs to the MC or other teammates. 

 

With regards to inactivity, I think only the first two should count for avoiding replacement as a general rule, but there are other ways around that. Specifically, the ruleset I would use would be that you must post every day. Failure to post can result in one of two things; if you have been in contact with the host, either from sending lists or general communication, then you stay in the game, but it is publicly announced with the night results that you are not being modkilled or replaced due to that. If that happens twice in a game, you get replaced/killed. If you have not been in contact with the host and you do not post, then you are modkilled or replaced. If you post, but do not vote, then you are automatically put into a "No vote" bucket, with that specifically highlighted in the vote count (e.g., Did Not Vote (Counts as a Nobody vote): X, Y, Z). Repeated occurrences of that should sort themselves out with ingame methods. 

As for encouraging in-depth discussion, I'm not sure. Rewards for it seems to be a way to do so, but then you're disadvantaging people who don't want to be in the forefront trying to push ideas through, either from natural personality or because they're trying to lay low. Anything that goes on the basis of # of posts gets spammy.

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10 hours ago, Shattered Rift said:

I'd like to ask a question: what is inactivity, and at what point is a game negatively impacted by it? Rules have often used the rubric of posting and voting. Power use has been included in some (several?) games. Are these our only measurements? Are these the only relevant measurements?

I agree that we need a better definition for inactivity. I would propose that posting in thread daily in all circumstances (unless a game mechanic prevents it) is a mandatory baseline. Above and beyond may need to vary from game to game but be defined in the rules. I like the suggestion that players who communicate with the mc and are therefore not punished be declared in thread.

I think a reasonable punishment could be the revealing of a random piece of the offending player's role in thread.

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9 hours ago, Shattered Rift said:

I'd like to reiterate something I've said on previous occasions: I trust a current MC to manage their game in whatever manner they deem appropriate.

I'm trying to put a tool in the MC toolbox here that anyone can use, not impose on how others run their games. I want to make it general enough that it can be used in almost any circumstance. Essentially, we have a gun (modkill) but we don't have a flyswatter, and the flies are upsetting the players. I want to make that flyswatter.

9 hours ago, Shattered Rift said:

I'd like to ask a question: what is inactivity, and at what point is a game negatively impacted by it? Rules have often used the rubric of posting and voting. Power use has been included in some (several?) games. Are these our only measurements? Are these the only relevant measurements?

Inactivity, insofar as what I want to solve here, is not participating in main thread discussion. That's the toughest nut to crack in this. Failing to use powers and failing to vote are related inactivity, so if we can find a tool that takes the place of modkilling that works for them as well, so much the better, but I think we will have cut the problem down to size with focusing on thread activity. It also doesn't have to be just one tool. If we come up with an array of things an MC can use to fit most circumstances, it will probably do just as well. It just needs to be things that can be used generally rather than something so overwhelming it has to be the core of someone's game.

2 hours ago, Exiled Phoenix said:

As for encouraging in-depth discussion, I'm not sure. Rewards for it seems to be a way to do so, but then you're disadvantaging people who don't want to be in the forefront trying to push ideas through, either from natural personality or because they're trying to lay low. Anything that goes on the basis of # of posts gets spammy.

Laying low in the sense of not posting is a "strategy" that takes advantage of the allowance for inactivity. It's not so much playing the game as it is hiding from the game. Sort of like "winning" a game of paintball by hiding in a closet for the whole game and popping out when everyone else is coated in paint. I'm all for penalizing that sort of "strategy". You can lay low in other ways - inoffensive contributions that seem to add to the discussion while being so dull and useless that people ignore them and don't think of you, or simply agreeing with and supporting the posts of others in an innocuous manner. Mccraabi does this masterfully (though I don't know if it's strategy or just her public personality) - she almost always participates in games and her posts are generally on topic, but her posts rarely get attention. You can curtail the spamminess by either setting the number low (2 posts a day would be enough) or by only counting ones that contribute to discussion. The latter is tedious to manage as an MC, but seemed to work extremely well in NPM's All-Stars game.

10 hours ago, Neopetsmom said:

Also, the most frustrating times is when someone isn't really contributing but isn't entirely inactive.  So, comes in and votes in the morning on Day 1 and then vanishes until Day 3.  Or submits a night list but never posts in the game thread.

True. Having a daily, minor-but-noticeable penalty or reward seems like it might help with it. A thought that's coming to mind is a publicly view-able "Player Status" of some sort. "Posted | Voted | Used Required Powers". It would be tedious, though, and the third part only works in games where everyone has a nightly power.

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13 hours ago, InuyashaOhki said:

The latest game has brought concern over how inactive players affect the game to the forefront. While it is debatable whether inactivity is a workable strategy, it's certainly harming the fun of the game when very little of substance is said.

The goal of this thread is to come up with a generally useable tool that will allow MC's to be flexible enough to maintain game balance while disincentivising inactivity.

I think we should start with brainstorming ideas, even incomplete ones. A week from Friday, we'll move on to discuss what's been tossed out and try to pare it down to a few ideas to refine. We can start testing out what we come up with in that discussion and bring the results back to the thread.

I think inactivity includes not sending in list, not voting, not participating in any element of the game, or at least very infrequent. I would say not voting (the most basic way of metering activity) every other day flags you as an inactive player. 

I think the best way to trace activity is through voting, generally speaking. Every game should have some form of daily voting. If not, you might have to trace through some other daily mechanic, and if THAT is not even there, I guess posting? MC check? The reason is because voting is often a requirement. Discussion is not. Sending in list is not. 

Activity/Inactivity should be measured by the requirements of the game but should be also fair in determining who is inactive. If you are marked inactive because you were assumed to do something, that's just unfair. If you are expected to send in lists, but don't - that doesn't mean you are inactive. You might've chose not to without notifying anyone. 

Back to the night lists, I think the measurement of activity should also be consistent for every player in the game. Some players are required to send in lists, some do not. If a player is required to send doesn't do it, while another player is not required, why is one player inactive and the other not if both of them don't execute any action? 

I believe Inu is talking about gameplay, or playstyle, strategy or meta. In my opinion, passive (ninja >:D) play is probably the best strategy statistically. Making it to the end game (top 25% players left) is generally easier if you're unnoticeable, not targeted, have no basis of arguments. I think this is very viable strategy in non-competitive games because not everyone is too worried about people that appear weak. I believe that showing strength in discussion and logic is often threatening to other players. I think it's safe to say a passive player appears less threatening than a player that is active and highly invested in arguments and discussion.

But anyways, the way to punish passive play is to increase competitiveness in werewolf games. In a competitive game, I believe the meta is different and more punishing for passive play. People are more organized, alliances happen, information is exchanged and suddenly being passive doesn't look so good. I suggest reducing randomness, increase quality - on the game side. Not sure on the site side. 

As far as what kind of rules or mechanics can be used to suppress passive play (there's a lot of things, but i'll list the general ones):

Add requirements for posting. Maybe not just voting, but you have to tell everyone what you think about someone. Make it very clear that discussions, posting is a requirement. I know werewolf is intended to be a discussion base game, but if there are no rules regarding it, you're still playing the game even if you're not contributing as much as the next person.

Usually activity decreases as more players are dead. Have dead players support/keep playing until the end. For ex. dead people can still talk in game thread, but not reveal info. Or they can still vote in a different way. 

Get blacklisted or marked for being inactive.

Ban PMs. I know a certain case where someone is extremely active in PMs. But on thread, the only post is votings... I've been baddie consecutively for the last three or so game, this was the case -_- I'm not inactive, I'm just shy. - my excuse

Give everyone abilities. Boredom can be a factor for inactivity,

Add more quality to the game, make things look nice. If the game looks terrible, with spelling errors and stuff, it may influence the seriousness of things. But I guess we are a small group and everyone is nice so this may not be a factor...

Give people rewards inside or outside game. The item shop sounds cool. 

Incentives to win the game, increase power, scale up anything because you're talking or meeting some quota and yeah. That should do it.

 

Final thoughts - I don't think this is an issue because of the game itself. I think Werewolf on SB is somewhat revived, much better than a certain point I remember. It's about 10-15 players now? These are somewhat small almost medium games, and inactivity really depends on the outside circumstances of each person. I'm sure some people would invest a lot of time in these werewolf games if they could. The size of the game, and the unknown circumstances of each person can be a big impact on the activity of the game. Large size games, maybe a couple of inactive won't have an affect on how enjoyable the game is... but in a small game, it can mean a lot of things. Basically, can we even afford to enforce activity? Heh. Recruiting more people, increasing the player pool, breaking people in is direct solution. 

Edited by Bed
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3 hours ago, Celairiel said:

I think a reasonable punishment could be the revealing of a random piece of the offending player's role in thread.

Sorry for not responding earlier, my internet was being flakey and didn't show a new post while I was typing my big reply.

This works for some verbose MC's, like NPM who has enough for a "random paragraph" dreamer role, but a lot only have basics. I have been paring mine down because players seemed to get confused if I used too much text.

I have been thinking about just posting a list of those who did not submit lists nightly, with a thing for non-nightly and optional powers to submit to stay off the list. It would be something like a public disable, though, so it would need to be done in a way that couldn't be used to clear. For example, villains having the option to choose who uses the kill, or to submit null lists to incriminate the inactive.

 

Bed - I think the key is thread participation. Once you have that, the rest is quantifiable. Everyone sees a failure to vote pointed out. Failure to submit a list weakens your team. Failure to participate in conversation goes under the radar.

Another thought - Instead of having the MC trolling for problematic inactivity, perhaps something the players can trigger for reward. A daykill power to the first one to point out an inactive player that can only be used on the reported inactive players and has a chance to fail, for example.

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28 minutes ago, InuyashaOhki said:

Sorry for not responding earlier, my internet was being flakey and didn't show a new post while I was typing my big reply.

This works for some verbose MC's, like NPM who has enough for a "random paragraph" dreamer role, but a lot only have basics. I have been paring mine down because players seemed to get confused if I used too much text.

I have been thinking about just posting a list of those who did not submit lists nightly, with a thing for non-nightly and optional powers to submit to stay off the list. It would be something like a public disable, though, so it would need to be done in a way that couldn't be used to clear. For example, villains having the option to choose who uses the kill, or to submit null lists to incriminate the inactive.

 

Bed - I think the key is thread participation. Once you have that, the rest is quantifiable. Everyone sees a failure to vote pointed out. Failure to submit a list weakens your team. Failure to participate in conversation goes under the radar.

Another thought - Instead of having the MC trolling for problematic inactivity, perhaps something the players can trigger for reward. A daykill power to the first one to point out an inactive player that can only be used on the reported inactive players and has a chance to fail, for example.

No way.  Roles or powers shouldn't be given or changed based on inactivity. Games should be balanced around the idea that everyone who signed up make their best attempt to be active.

 

And generally, the thing I've found is that most MC's give a warning for one day of inactivity and replace or modkill on the second. 

Honestly: the biggest reason that this has become much more of an issue recently is because the lower amount of players. With less people playing and less total days to game completion, one day of inactivity has a much greater effect on the balance and result of a game than a game with 20 players that runs 50% longer.

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2 hours ago, Red said:

Honestly: the biggest reason that this has become much more of an issue recently is because the lower amount of players. With less people playing and less total days to game completion, one day of inactivity has a much greater effect on the balance and result of a game than a game with 20 players that runs 50% longer.

Precisely the point. Unless we have some way to do a recruitment drive, we need something more subtle than a modkill to bridge the gap.

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I'd say maybe a skype game. Or maybe a chat game. Install a chatbox. Then play a 30 minute game. Hmm, maybe 1 hour can be ideal.

The issue with week long games is dedication.  week long dedication is hard to predict - high chance of inactivity. A potential solution is to shorten the game to less than 1 hour. The game can start once everyone is on. 

This solution, inactivity is almost completely eliminated. I'm leaning toward a chat box solution, because speaking is just too different, and even disorganizing because so many voices and stuff.

Bring back the shout bnox, but with extra features - the refresh is real time, add a list of players, add MC tools to regulate games. 2 MCs may be needed to operate due to fast pace, game structure would just need small tweaks to calculate results non-linearly to produce results faster with 2 MCs. voting execution mechanic goes to 1 person. night actions goes to another MC. If MCs can produce results less than 5 mins per night that would be great.

if the game is 6-7 night long that would be 30-35 mins alraedy. I would say day discussion can end as soon as the last vote is casted. The key is to reduce any wait time as much as possible.  Also, add functionaly so chatters can vote, and the chatbox can count for MC. if this is implement, 1 mc is enough. 

Edited by Bed

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35 minutes ago, Bed said:

I'd say maybe a skype game. Or maybe a chat game. Install a chatbox. Then play a 30 minute game. Hmm, maybe 1 hour can be ideal.

The issue with week long games is dedication.  week long dedication is hard to predict - high chance of inactivity. A potential solution is to shorten the game to less than 1 hour. The game can start once everyone is on. 

I'm going to guess that have never tried to get 10+ people from different parts of the country and/or world to find a mutual 1 hour block to do an activity online. Even if you can find a time that 10+ players will agree on, I'd wager even odds that 30%+ of the people who agreed on the time wouldn't show up or would leave in the middle (and most of those with little or no warning). Seriously, the great thing about forum games is that there is no specific time that you are required to be online... you can be online whenever is convenient for you.

The only negative reinforcement for inactivity that I've ever seen be effective is what you call "blackballing" (but you are correct that it's not something we can afford to implement). So I think positive reinforcement is the way to go, short of a meta shift to players being more harsh toward inactive players. After all, inactivity is almost never caused by actually not having the time to log in and post, but by forgetfulness or hesitance to actually do so, which itself is usually caused by low player engagement. Unfortunately, positive reinforcement and/or increased player engagement is a tough nut to crack. Obviously, all games on SB give roles to all players, and have for quite some time because it increases player engagement. Other than that, I'm not sure what we can do that will have the same effect (short of very involved subsystems, like the shops that NPM puts into her games sometimes).

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I would like to say that it's something players should deal with. If a player is inactive they get executed. This in turn deters others from going or seemingly going inactive for future games. The only problem is that nobody actually goes through with said votes.

 

I guess partly the reason why is that people don't want to waste executions. They are limited in supply afterall. So perhaps a compromise could be if a host deems a player to be inactive, at the start of day they could announce at the start of day that players have to vote on whether to keep a player alive or not. This will be in addition to a standard execution.

 

Eg. "Player x has been inactive and has failed to improve after a warning. In addition to your regular vote, you can also vote on whether to spare or kill player x".

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Bed - Rex covered the practical problems with that. I have tried to arrange live games with a far larger pool than this, and I can confirm he is correct. It also is too short a timeframe for the sort of in depth stories, game mechanics and player shenanigans we enjoy here. Both live and daily can be fun, but we don't have the option of live games here.

Sinical - That's a nice approach. I really like that it invokes player engagement. I can see someone trying to defend themselves from such a vote being a good foil to the inactivity "strategy".

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16 hours ago, Rexozord said:

I'm going to guess that have never tried to get 10+ people from different parts of the country and/or world to find a mutual 1 hour block to do an activity online. Even if you can find a time that 10+ players will agree on, I'd wager even odds that 30%+ of the people who agreed on the time wouldn't show up or would leave in the middle (and most of those with little or no warning). Seriously, the great thing about forum games is that there is no specific time that you are required to be online... you can be online whenever is convenient for you.

The only negative reinforcement for inactivity that I've ever seen be effective is what you call "blackballing" (but you are correct that it's not something we can afford to implement). So I think positive reinforcement is the way to go, short of a meta shift to players being more harsh toward inactive players. After all, inactivity is almost never caused by actually not having the time to log in and post, but by forgetfulness or hesitance to actually do so, which itself is usually caused by low player engagement. Unfortunately, positive reinforcement and/or increased player engagement is a tough nut to crack. Obviously, all games on SB give roles to all players, and have for quite some time because it increases player engagement. Other than that, I'm not sure what we can do that will have the same effect (short of very involved subsystems, like the shops that NPM puts into her games sometimes).

Sure, for the particular set up I described, it isn't realistic. setting up a werewolf game on gary's mod on the weekend is probably more successful than this. We tried gary's mod once, it failed. Oddly, setting up 10 or so players online was once a weekend moba thing for me a while back in customized team games. It only happened maybe 2-3 times though.. Before that, MMOs yielded quite a number of players. I remember holding raids with 20 ppl, with multiple different groups. These are multi-million dollar games so it's not fair to compare.

For Sparkbomb, I do remember playing Transformice with many people at once. There was at least 6 people, but I don't actually remember. 

I agree with forgetfulness and hesitance as being one of the causes of Inactivity. I also agree with the low player engagement as being a reason fir this and you guys seem to have it covered. 

Hmm, summarizing all the possible causes of inactivity is a good starting point to finding the best resolution for them.

I also think forgetting/hesitance to play is caused by other priorities a person may have. That may be because the person has work, issues, friends, things that they would rather think about other than Werewolf. I think there is a connection between New Players/Inexperience players and this specific scenario. 

If forgetfulness and hesitance is a frequent cause, besides better player engagement, maybe there's another thing to add on top of that -  to elevate the priority of Werewolf to the point where people would remember. Something like igniting the flame of how great werewolf is for players on the edge - this is more of a /brand/ engagement... and something bigger than just the games...

When looking at Werewolf All-Stars, this game is once a year, and an incredible amount of effort is placed into making and running this game. Is it fair to say that because this game is highly advertised, and has a good track record as being an awesome game, that the priority of playing this game is above a normal game? 

Can the same model be applied to normal games? For example, maybe a certain MC puts a good amount of time on quality for a game, and the game is a monthly  thing - it a series, would this help people remember? Further, it wouldn't be a stretch to expand to social media, and setting up reminders. Sadly, I don't think the impact would outweigh the cost of these activities.

Edited by Bed

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On 10/13/2016 at 0:07 PM, InuyashaOhki said:

I'm trying to put a tool in the MC toolbox here that anyone can use, not impose on how others run their games. I want to make it general enough that it can be used in almost any circumstance. Essentially, we have a gun (modkill) but we don't have a flyswatter, and the flies are upsetting the players. I want to make that flyswatter.

I know. :) I was just reiterating my past and current stance on MC authority for those that have forgotten or weren't already familiar with it.

20 hours ago, InuyashaOhki said:

Unless we have some way to do a recruitment drive, we need something more subtle than a modkill to bridge the gap.

Most ideas/plans for this are currently in limbo. Current recruitment is relying on referrals. I was hoping that the emails announcing each game would improve attendance and bring back a few more players. It did bring back Exile. :) But I'm not sure if they're having as much success as I would have hoped.

22 hours ago, Red said:

And generally, the thing I've found is that most MC's give a warning for one day of inactivity and replace or modkill on the second. 

How often have players been modkilled in... even the past few months? How often have MCs been consistent about enforcing the modkill rules, and how many have fudged them for the general health of their ongoing game? My impression has been that the latter is much more common (if the former is happening at all). Am I correct in that impression?

16 hours ago, Sinical said:

I would like to say that it's something players should deal with. If a player is inactive they get executed. This in turn deters others from going or seemingly going inactive for future games. The only problem is that nobody actually goes through with said votes.

 

I guess partly the reason why is that people don't want to waste executions. They are limited in supply afterall. So perhaps a compromise could be if a host deems a player to be inactive, at the start of day they could announce at the start of day that players have to vote on whether to keep a player alive or not. This will be in addition to a standard execution.

 

Eg. "Player x has been inactive and has failed to improve after a warning. In addition to your regular vote, you can also vote on whether to spare or kill player x".

I can't Like this post enough. It summarizes a lot of the old school of thought, that several of us have agreed to execute inactive players in the past but failed to actually do so due to the circumstances of the moment. We care about the game we're currently in and feel the circumstances outweigh the long-term effects across games. It also offers what could well be a very elegant solution.

I would recommend two more additions to this suggestion: One, that an inactive player be eligible for execution for the remainder of the game. This may be short-sighted of me and result in cases where a late-game execution of an inactive player results in an unexpected baddie victory. On the other hand, given the high innocent win-rate, I assume that most MCs would consider it balanced to use their existing set-ups with this rule. Two, I think that an inheritance mechanic would work well with modkills. On occasion, I think that such a thing has been used (reassigning an inactive role to a living player). However, the issue is often the missed Nights of power usage. In several NPM-style games, the reassigned role could also be given a Special Power that works in exactly the same manner as the role power (effectively working like a double). This could result in baddie lies during the Day/Night cycle following a modkill being brushed off as inheritance shenanigans, but... that seems like the type of thing the metagame would find ways to deal with. An inheritance mechanic would also address the argument that executing an inactive player might eliminate a power role from the innocent arsenal.

Someone please remind me of this in the next plain innocent game I host. :)

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Has anyone discussed the use of rolestops as negative reinforcement? I.E. if you don't post, you don't get to use your role.

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Thoughts from a semi-regular, non-veteran player:

I have played enough to know what's going on most of the time, but I still consider myself an outsider every game that I play. I don't have a status where people message me early in a game; it's usually not til there's only a few left and people are trying to persuade for votes or whatever. Unless I'm on a baddie team, of course. But then it's out of necessity and not a need for me to be included in the "group."

So I naturally end up only posting when I need to, instead of every chance I get. And it's honestly easy to skate by in many games with minimal posting. I try to get into the games as much as I can, but sometimes it is simply just making sure I get whatever requirements met. 

A lot of it for me is that I don't know any of you. Besides, the two people who brought me to Sparkbomb. I used to only play games when they did. But they aren't on as much anymore, so I had to just jump in alone. And since I am also noob to forum gaming in general (Sparkbomb is my first and only source of werewolf), it has been a slow road to learning the nuances of the forum version of this game. 

It's easy to feel alone while playing this game, on top of the fact that I don't know anybody. The secludedness just makes it that much easier to disappear in the middle of a game, or only post when necessary, or makes it easier to not pay attention and forget to post/send in lists, or make irl plans without remembering or regarding the commitment made to the game. 

I'm getting better at juggling all of it. But it takes an effort. And sometimes, I feel rewarded for the effort. My input during a game feels to have made an effect or something like that. Or a game was really fun to be involved in. 

Anyway, I think the point to all this, was to explain what it's like for a newer player to deal with all of it. Or why inactivity happens with newer players at times.

I know I've been guilty of just skirting through a game. I don't like to. It makes me feel bad for those who put in the effort to play. I think that if the experience was more welcoming to beginners, it might help players be open to being invested during the whole game. Or help them learn good playing habits. Playing with people you know helps a lot.  But, I know that's not always possible. 

As far as veteran players who go inactive, if that's even a problem, I have no real input. You guys would have to figure that out yourselves. :)

I think I'm done rambling now. 

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lion -- thank you in particular for commenting.  It strikes me that in discussions of inactivity (or lesser activity) that the voice we often miss is that of the less active players. 

That is important because if we don't know what causes the problem then it is hard to know how to fix it.

For a truly inactive player, it is really easy to deal with.  The best solution is to replace the player.  I occasionally have modkilled a player although I've sometimes reassigned role abilities when I did it particularly if this happens relatively early in the game.

The more difficult situation is the player who is only sporadically active or who submits lists occasionally and votes occasionally but vanishes at a time.

Having a rule to post each day is easy.  The problem is what to do if the player doesn't do it.  Ideally I come up with a solution that doesn't punish the player's team. And that can be hard to do particularly if there is no replacement player available.

Which gets back to trying to prevent the problem in the first place.  The best way to deal with inactivity is to try to reduce inactivity.

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7 hours ago, Shattered Rift said:

How often have players been modkilled in... even the past few months? How often have MCs been consistent about enforcing the modkill rules, and how many have fudged them for the general health of their ongoing game? My impression has been that the latter is much more common (if the former is happening at all). Am I correct in that impression?

We use modkills about as often as people shoot flies. :) I don't remember the last time someone was modkilled for inactivity. A lot of demands for it, and the occasional replacement, but very, very few modkills. Last time I personally exercised a modkill, it was a villain who told someone in the public thread (not here) the names of their entire team. Obviously, that required a total game reset as well.

6 hours ago, Trajectory said:

Has anyone discussed the use of rolestops as negative reinforcement? I.E. if you don't post, you don't get to use your role.

Yep, I mentioned it earlier under a different wording. Thank you for bringing it up again, though.

4 hours ago, lion wiggles said:

As far as veteran players who go inactive, if that's even a problem, I have no real input. You guys would have to figure that out yourselves.

It is, but I think your points apply well to them as well. A lot of what you said resonated with me, even though my personality has be not knowing when to shut up instead of going inactive. 

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Lion, thank you for your thoughts. In particular...

5 hours ago, lion wiggles said:

It's easy to feel alone while playing this game, on top of the fact that I don't know anybody. The secludedness just makes it that much easier to disappear in the middle of a game, or only post when necessary, or makes it easier to not pay attention and forget to post/send in lists, or make irl plans without remembering or regarding the commitment made to the game. 

... this is a reminder to me that the community is much more Werewolf-centric than it has been in the past.

24 minutes ago, InuyashaOhki said:

We use modkills about as often as people shoot flies. :) I don't remember the last time someone was modkilled for inactivity. A lot of demands for it, and the occasional replacement, but very, very few modkills. Last time I personally exercised a modkill, it was a villain who told someone in the public thread (not here) the names of their entire team. Obviously, that required a total game reset as well.

That's what I thought. The question I then have to pose is, why not? Have players not been so inactive that they missed two Days during a game? (I know that some certainly have missed that much.) Or has game integrity been too important to exercise a modkill?

 

Forgot to include this in my last post...

One idea that hasn't been brought up is extending the 24 hour cycle to 48 hours or longer. I know that at least one other community out there uses week-long Days, followed by a 24 hour Night. (I think that's what it was. Or maybe I'm blending two communities in my head.) We have only once, in Nightless Werewolf, had Day extend until a majority vote is reached. In the case of Nightless, this made the game drag on for quite some time due to how little action there was. In a game filled with powers, I wonder what the result would be? On the flip side, this of course means that games are longer affairs in general... but made long enough (such as waiting for majority votes), I don't think that would be a problem in the slightest. It cuts down on the immediate need for posting, thus allowing more leeway in people's schedules. I am currently and have in the past been active in games (non-Werewolf but similar in principle) with 48 or 72 hour update cycles where the players were active for years.

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30 minutes ago, Shattered Rift said:

That's what I thought. The question I then have to pose is, why not? Have players not been so inactive that they missed two Days during a game? (I know that some certainly have missed that much.) Or has game integrity been too important to exercise a modkill?

I have modkilled someone but the last time was a couple of years ago and it was due to a clear rule violation.  I don't usually modkill players for inactivity for 3 4 reasons:

1.  It is  rare to have someone been entirely inactive.  That usually happens at the start of a game where someone hasn't read their role by the time the first day ends.  When that has happened I've been able to find a replacement.  If I couldn't do that, I would be likely to modkill and reassign the role abilities.  But, what happens more often during the game is the player who is technically not entirely inactive but votes one day and doesn't submit a list.  Or, submits a list but doesn't vote or post.  Or, the player who votes but doesn't post anything of substance (and not because of strategically lying low).  This is often coupled with not submitting a list.  Players who have nightly lists are more likely to do it.  Players who have abilities that are limited use often don't use the abilities.  Sometimes that is waiting for the right time (and dying too early) but sometimes it is part of inactivity.  But, having someone go totally MIA during the game who was present the first day of the game is not all that common.

2. Modkilling really does punish the team the player is on.  I often feel it punishes the remaining players more than it punishes the modkilled player.

3.  It is often ineffective.  That is, it may make me feel better but it doesn't really make the player more likely to be active in the next game.  So, it doesn't accomplish much.  What is the goal of modkilling?  I would assume it is to make it more likely that the modkilled player will be more active in the future and is to serve as a warning to others.  I'm not sure how much it really does to modify behavior.

4. Often times an inactive player in a particular game is someone who regularly or semi-regularly plays.  I don't really want to run off a player.  So, I hesitate to modkill for that reason.

39 minutes ago, Shattered Rift said:

One idea that hasn't been brought up is extending the 24 hour cycle to 48 hours or longer.

This is interesting.  I can situation where it could encourage participation by someone who is really busy and can't commit to being on every night.  I would be interested in seeing it tried.  I worry about it resulting in loss of engagement with the game.  It reduces the intensity.  But, that might be a fair tradeoff.

The one thing that I wonder about is situations where every has appeared and submitted everything and the votes are being done and then we have to wait another 24 hours for day to end.  I am reminded of the time late in games when we only have a few players alive and the moves are relatively clear cut and done within a couple of hours and things drag on for another 22 hours.  I have thought at having a days that are X hours long but they end immediately when all players have voted (and voting is required).  Of course, this can play havoc with players from different time zones so I don't do it, but I would like to think of a fair way to have longer days but have some mechanism to shorten the day when all has been done.

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32 minutes ago, Neopetsmom said:

3.  It is often ineffective.  That is, it may make me feel better but it doesn't really make the player more likely to be active in the next game.  So, it doesn't accomplish much.  What is the goal of modkilling?  I would assume it is to make it more likely that the modkilled player will be more active in the future and is to serve as a warning to others.  I'm not sure how much it really does to modify behavior.

4. Often times an inactive player in a particular game is someone who regularly or semi-regularly plays.  I don't really want to run off a player.  So, I hesitate to modkill for that reason.

Is in ineffective? I can't think of any time in Sparkbomb's history where the inactivity policy has been actively enforced. I would hazard a guess that everyone active currently is aware that very little (if any) penalty will follow being inactive. While punishment simply provides a deterrent, I do wonder if we would have issues as often if the penalties were enforced.

Is it usually someone who's otherwise active?

While we're throwing out some good ideas in this discussion, I would also like to start keeping track of actual numbers for inactivity. How many players not modkilled/replaced, how many Days missed during a game, which members, etc. Having an actual data set might yield some unexpected information.

32 minutes ago, Neopetsmom said:

The one thing that I wonder about is situations where every has appeared and submitted everything and the votes are being done and then we have to wait another 24 hours for day to end.  I am reminded of the time late in games when we only have a few players alive and the moves are relatively clear cut and done within a couple of hours and things drag on for another 22 hours.  I have thought at having a days that are X hours long but they end immediately when all players have voted (and voting is required).  Of course, this can play havoc with players from different time zones so I don't do it, but I would like to think of a fair way to have longer days but have some mechanism to shorten the day when all has been done.

I'm not terribly concerned by this. Advancing Day early could simply have its particular requirement (either a 51% or perhaps a 67% majority) and then become reliant on the MC's schedule of being able to run the update early. Something like, "If two-thirds of the players elect to end Day early, I can end it at the next 8 PM timeslot," or somesuch.

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I modkilled the entire last game I hosted about three days in, but was persuaded to just let it run...and I edited it before most people read it. Does that count?

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9 hours ago, Trajectory said:

Has anyone discussed the use of rolestops as negative reinforcement? I.E. if you don't post, you don't get to use your role.

My biggest problem with this is that it is least effective against players who are most likely to have low engagement. If you feel like your role is important/powerful, you're more likely to be engaged with the game. If you think it's unimportant/weak, you're less likely to be engaged. Similarly, with a perceived unimportant/weak role, the rolestop is less effective as negative reinforcement because the player cares less. Additionally, it doesn't address the (very rare) scenario where it is impossible or unreasonable for a player to log on for the entire cycle (generally cause by RL emergencies). In that case, the player wouldn't have submitted their list anyway.

8 hours ago, lion wiggles said:

I have played enough to know what's going on most of the time, but I still consider myself an outsider every game that I play. I don't have a status where people message me early in a game; it's usually not til there's only a few left and people are trying to persuade for votes or whatever. Unless I'm on a baddie team, of course. But then it's out of necessity and not a need for me to be included in the "group."

I am a veteran player, but I know what this is like to an extent. People don't message me early in game without a solid reason either. No one approaches me unless circumstances within the game make it very, very favorable for them to do so. Of course, this is due to my playstyle and my reputation of not role-trading and focusing on analysis of in-thread information (at least, I assume). I assume that something similar is true for NPM as well, due to her playstyle. That being said, I'm definitely glad to see your perspective on it.

2 hours ago, Shattered Rift said:

One idea that hasn't been brought up is extending the 24 hour cycle to 48 hours or longer. I know that at least one other community out there uses week-long Days, followed by a 24 hour Night. (I think that's what it was. Or maybe I'm blending two communities in my head.) We have only once, in Nightless Werewolf, had Day extend until a majority vote is reached. In the case of Nightless, this made the game drag on for quite some time due to how little action there was. In a game filled with powers, I wonder what the result would be? On the flip side, this of course means that games are longer affairs in general... but made long enough (such as waiting for majority votes), I don't think that would be a problem in the slightest. It cuts down on the immediate need for posting, thus allowing more leeway in people's schedules. I am currently and have in the past been active in games (non-Werewolf but similar in principle) with 48 or 72 hour update cycles where the players were active for years.

To be honest, I would love a standard 48 hour day cycle. However, I haven't pushed for that nor have I implemented it in my own games. And there's several reasons why I think it's not a great solution (despite loving the idea). Many of them can be seen in Star's most recent game, which operated on a 48-hour cycle. First, it's confusing to players. People will forget whether they're in the first or second day of the cycle. If they mistakenly think they're in the first half when really they're in the second half, you can bet they'll be missing their list and/or vote. Second, most players don't know what to do with that much time in thread. I think this could be solved over time... but only if all the players shifted more toward on thread analysis and stuff... and I don't know whether we'd lose players in that process, but I bet we would. Third, it doubles the actual duration of the game, making it easier for players to lose interest if the game isn't designed extremely well (and designing games extremely well requires skill, luck, and a lot of effort and time). There's probably more reasons, but I got distracted, so I'm going to just post now rather than let it be lost to the aether.

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