OOC Channels

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Karjus
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OOC Channels

Post by Karjus » Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:18 pm

I'm curious to hear peoples thoughts if the following happened;
  • OOC was moved to 3rd party access, with its content being to discuss Cogg in regards to ideas/suggestions/chatter about the game
  • New channel, called Questions that was the base channel allowed in game, intended just for the asking of and answering of questions
The main reason being, we're getting a lot of new players lately coming through the game. This is a great thing, and it also means that OOC is currently very busy. Also great, it is nice that people want to chat but I can see this causing a few problems.
  • A. It can be massively overwhelming for new players who just want to get to grips with the game, and get questions answered when need be.
  • B. Questions do get lost in the chatter on OOC, and it can be very hard for the people with the knowledge to answer them to keep up.
  • C. There is a trend that has been around for a while, that people discuss ongoing events on OOC. I've done it, and let us be honest. It is jarring and also with NotShadgard coming up and conflict potentially becoming a lot more commonplace it has huge potential to create messy situations that should remain IC. We've had it happen before, and I am not naive enough to think it won't happen again even with OOC being taken to a 3rd party only but it might at least give people that moment pause of going, "I actually want to take my time away from playing the game to chat about me playing the game." If people prefer to do that, fine but I don't think it is necessarily something to encourage.
  • D. I think if there is separation, we're less likely to see channels muted which negatively effects new players experiences.
Possible counters I can foresee coming;
  • 1) It will break community, and not make us see as active to new players.
    - People can check WHO, which is already better than many games, and I'd rather them see active RP and engagement in game, than idle chatter on OOC
  • 2) People don't want to work third clients.
    - I get it, but there are a variety of options and Nobody posted a great idea before about a different login server that just feeds to chat. Neither of them are as instant or easy as OOC in game, and honestly. That is the idea.
- Karjus

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Prism
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Prism » Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:28 pm

I think the concerns are valid ones, honestly, and I'm inclined to agree with most of them.

That said (and this might just be my current comfort with the way things are) I'd be more in favor of the addition of the question channel in-game, and leaving the OOC channel accessible gameside as well, with the following change.
A. The standard channel that users are connected to upon making a new account/new character is the proposed question channel
B. The OOC channel, if it remains accessible, is muted upon generation until a user intentionally chooses to toggle it on game-side so they can view it.

However, it creates it's own problem in that users will be more tempted to sit and chat, as stated. I know that I can already have a bit of a tendency to do this now and then when I should be, y'know. Having fun and playing the game!

Totally interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this, as well.
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Dennis
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Dennis » Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:34 pm

I think removing global ooc from the contents of the game helps as people will feel more inclined to sit and roleplay and chat in game. having the third party access will allow the itch to socialize outside of the roleplay environment to be scratched!
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nobody
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by nobody » Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:22 pm

First, shameless self promotion, the thread Kaiju mentioned with my idea to make other channels more accessible is located here, feel free to comment there with the love and hate of that idea, but for now it is just an idea.

As for the actual question, I have mixed feelings. We haven't quite done this exact thing, but we have done something rather similar. For those who were not here but would like to know how it went, see these two older threads:
channels go away
channels come back

What happened then is all the channels were removed (an on-topic OOC, and an off-topic OOC) from the game and they became only available on the 3rd party clients. I think for those already invested in the game it made a small difference, but still a difference, namely the channels were quieter and there was a little more focus on the game in game. It also felt like less of a strong community, though we also didn't have the regular voice chat back then and there were fewer active players. Perhaps the biggest impact was that it made for an extra barrier to entry for new players, who had no place to ask questions in game once they joined up. I recognize that the suggestion of this thread isn't to go back to that, but I feel it is important for the context. What came after was a single in-game channel that would be focused on game content. It isn't exclusively questions, but the guideline was pretty specific. If we add a question channel and migrate the game channel out, that would be an effort to redefine or reemphasize the intent and scope of the one in-game channel. I feel like it is better to tackle that as a community conversation rather than doing a channel shuffle. But, the BBS is a very good place to have that community discussion. Go read the 'channels come back' thread linked above, and come back here and share your thoughts.

My alternative proposal is this: we leave things as is for Octum. We have grown significantly and quickly and lots of folks are now actively learning the game. After Octum, perhaps in tandem with the release of the other major town that is not Shadgard, we turn off the in-game channel. Maybe only for a week, maybe a month, maybe permanently. I have ideas on how to make permanently more viable, namely:
- the previously linked 'COGG conversation channels as second mud port' idea to make all the channels more accessible
- in conjunction with a new account flag that grants in-game access to the #GAME channel for new player accounts
- and a newbie task that only spawns on new characters on the account until it is completed at least once, and part of that task is to explain the culture of the channel, teach the player how to access it via other means, and then to finish the task they turn off the in-game channel and it doesn't come back and the task no longer spawns for that account. I would certainly understand if people deliberately never opted out of in-game access to the game channel though, so maybe it should also automatically turn off at level 10 or 20, to be sure people have their footing.

That is probably a lot of code work. If it helps the culture of the community and the game align with Rias' vision for the game and its community, maybe it is worth it. But maybe a good community conversation is enough to achieve that goal without lots of extra code work.

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Karjus
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Karjus » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:33 pm

nobody wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:22 pm
First, shameless self promotion, the thread Kaiju mentioned with my idea to make other channels more accessible is located here, feel free to comment there with the love and hate of that idea, but for now it is just an idea.

As for the actual question, I have mixed feelings. We haven't quite done this exact thing, but we have done something rather similar. For those who were not here but would like to know how it went, see these two older threads:
channels go away
channels come back

What happened then is all the channels were removed (an on-topic OOC, and an off-topic OOC) from the game and they became only available on the 3rd party clients. I think for those already invested in the game it made a small difference, but still a difference, namely the channels were quieter and there was a little more focus on the game in game. It also felt like less of a strong community, though we also didn't have the regular voice chat back then and there were fewer active players. Perhaps the biggest impact was that it made for an extra barrier to entry for new players, who had no place to ask questions in game once they joined up. I recognize that the suggestion of this thread isn't to go back to that, but I feel it is important for the context. What came after was a single in-game channel that would be focused on game content. It isn't exclusively questions, but the guideline was pretty specific. If we add a question channel and migrate the game channel out, that would be an effort to redefine or reemphasize the intent and scope of the one in-game channel. I feel like it is better to tackle that as a community conversation rather than doing a channel shuffle. But, the BBS is a very good place to have that community discussion. Go read the 'channels come back' thread linked above, and come back here and share your thoughts.

My alternative proposal is this: we leave things as is for Octum. We have grown significantly and quickly and lots of folks are now actively learning the game. After Octum, perhaps in tandem with the release of the other major town that is not Shadgard, we turn off the in-game channel. Maybe only for a week, maybe a month, maybe permanently. I have ideas on how to make permanently more viable, namely:
- the previously linked 'COGG conversation channels as second mud port' idea to make all the channels more accessible
- in conjunction with a new account flag that grants in-game access to the #GAME channel for new player accounts
- and a newbie task that only spawns on new characters on the account until it is completed at least once, and part of that task is to explain the culture of the channel, teach the player how to access it via other means, and then to finish the task they turn off the in-game channel and it doesn't come back and the task no longer spawns for that account. I would certainly understand if people deliberately never opted out of in-game access to the game channel though, so maybe it should also automatically turn off at level 10 or 20, to be sure people have their footing.

That is probably a lot of code work. If it helps the culture of the community and the game align with Rias' vision for the game and its community, maybe it is worth it. But maybe a good community conversation is enough to achieve that goal without lots of extra code work.
Definitely some valid points, and the game definitely did feel quieter but like you pointed out, this was when we had maybe 5-10 active players on at a time. Max. Most of us were on very different schedules/timezones, so it was ships passing in the night often. Without OOC, the game did feel incredibly quiet.

Just looking at the original post about the restoration of in-game chat, I just feel like we've strayed. It was minimal, and perhaps controllable when it was just a small population but we're not there at this moment. The fact is people are disabling it ingame, because it is too noisy and distracting thus rendering it not useful for the new players/feedback. I mean. Rias pretty much seems to have it disabled constantly now, which in turn points him further away from what is causing issues with players.
- Karjus

Speaking to you, XYZ says, "Never bother to wash it. It gets dirty again anyway."
Speaking to XYZ, you say, "I hope you don't treat your ass the same way."

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Ralnos
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Ralnos » Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:04 am

Prism wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:28 pm
That said (and this might just be my current comfort with the way things are) I'd be more in favor of the addition of the question channel in-game, and leaving the OOC channel accessible gameside as well, with the following change.
A. The standard channel that users are connected to upon making a new account/new character is the proposed question channel
B. The OOC channel, if it remains accessible, is muted upon generation until a user intentionally chooses to toggle it on game-side so they can view it.
I agree with a questions channel being added and being toggled on by default. I don't agree with an OOC channel being completely third party or being removed entirely. Having it toggled off on creation and being something you have to willfully turn on but you're alerted to the existence of at some point during tutorials sounds far, far better.

My issues with it are mostly that the more "no OOC" you force a MUD to be, the less people tend to treat it like a game and the more OOC cliques form due to the necessity of discussion in my experiences with games without actual OOC channels. It is a game and treating it too much like it isn't is very unhealthy for the play of others. Games should be discussed on an OOC level, especially if there's a relevant issue no matter what kind of issue it actually is. Being able to opt out of an OOC channel and not having it immediately blaring at you in the first place is a way better idea, in my opinion.

A questions channel for newbies would be absolutely great, though, speaking as a newbie who deals with sometimes less tested features on purpose.

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Teyarflow
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Teyarflow » Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:44 pm

I've found the ooc channel nice to have. It can get *really* distracting sometimes though. A lot of the time it has been people chatting and joking about whatever they're doing which I don't care for, maybe I will when I get to know more people and get more involved. I'm going to try only using outside chat for a week and see if that feels better. I would hate to lose it but having it outside the game wouldn't bother me at all I don't think.

I like the idea of having a questions only channel staying in. That is a great tool to have, especially for newbies. I am interested in the serious questions and answers that I see in the ooc. To Nobody's point if the current channel wasn't 90% fluff this would all be moot though. Give the ooc a [serious] tag? The problem will be people feeling offended when called for breaking rules. I've already seen it. Moderators always become hated in this kind of situation too. People need a place where they can speak freely and make all the jokes and random comments.

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Lexx416
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Lexx416 » Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:06 pm

I've been sitting on my thoughts about this for a few days. Personally, I prefer having the extra step between the MUD and the CHAT channel. The only reason I even turn it on MUD-side is if I need to use chatremind, since you have to be in the channel in game to use it.

I think this is something that could just be fixed by people being more chill and accepting of the OOC Culture that Rias is trying to push, but that ultimately relying on the playerbase to police that culture only goes so far. It's pretty frustrating to see folks chatting on OOC instead of replying to things happening in game (which happens a fair deal), or to see stream-of-consciousness posts, and disheartening to see newbie questions getting overshadowed by folks being chatty when I go back through and read the backlog.
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Rias
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Rias » Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:32 pm

As our population has gone up and #GAME has gotten busier, for me personally it's gone from"usually muted" to "always muted". I go take a look every now and then, usually when someone else calls my attention to something going on there, but I never actively monitor it or have notifications turned on. I have a lot of thoughts about the state of things, but for the time being I'll try to just share some more concise points of observation or concern:

- The #GAME channel tends to be the first and clearest window to the game and its community for new players, and first impressions are important. This is one reason I care a lot about what the channel is like. The fact that I, as the developer, have it muted in every form because I find it to usually be more of a distraction from the game itself rather than meaningful discussion about the game is pretty telling.
- Silliness has increased. Silly comments in general are up, which is fun for the specific people that are in on the silliness, but distracting irrelevance for everyone else. The TELL command can be used to send those witty comments and responses to a friend without having to clutter up what should be a help/advice/serious-game-discussion channel.
- Of particular concern to me is that we're seeing some joke questions, and worse, joke answers to serious questions. Please don't. I want this channel to be seen as a useful place for people to go to for help and advice, and for meaningful discussion about the game. I do -not- want the channel to be a trivial jokes, comments, and gripes channel, technically-on-topic or not. For those particularly witty responses, send them to a friend via TELL.
- If a players has to go AFK, the AFK command can be used to announce it to everyone in the room. Typing AFK by itself will give a general AFK announcement in the room, or additional information can be provided. Example: AFK Pizza guy is here, be right back.
- If a typo or matching issue occurs, people are generally very understanding. If there is a particular need to correct or clarify, the TELL command can be used to send the information to the involved party. I'm considering adding a TYPO command to announce corrections with.
- A lot of suggestions, feedback, and bugs get mentioned on chat but never reach staff, because staff typically all have the #GAME channel muted at this point. Please put serious suggestions and feedback on the BBS, and use the BUG command to report bugs, so the game staff will actually see them. We want to help!
- Please refrain from untargeted gripes and venting. Some things about the game can be frustrating, and using #GAME to ask for advice on how to deal with them is perfectly fine, but general venting over little frustrations would probably be better sent to a friend via TELL and, if the frustration is a significant one, please post about it on the BBS so it can be addressed by staff!
- I do worry about the in-game chat distracting from actually playing the game and paying attention to what's going on in-character. With a smaller population it was a lot more manageable. With a greater population and all the table talk and the mentioned "stream of consciousness" chatter it's going to be hard to convince me any player -isn't- significantly distracted by it. It brings me back to the days of trying to run or play a pen-and-paper campaign, but the majority of the session is the players goofing around and making jokes and table talk rather than actually playing the game.
- The more our population grows, the harder it's going to be to explain and enforce all the specific rules and guidelines among everyone. This does tempt me to rename the channel to #HELP to make it more obvious it's for seeking help and advice, rather than an anything-goes chatter channel.
- As mentioned elsewhere, I'm happy to make it easier for people to connect to #off-topic where people can openly chat about whatever they want. I'm pondering a good way to implement Nobody's suggestion where you can open another client window and connect to the game and use it while logged into your account, but not into a character in that window. I'm also happy to look into bridging other clients people might prefer. We do have Discord, Matrix, Slack, and IRC all bridged at the moment. See https://cogg.contrarium.net/chat.html

I don't want to devalue the things people want to talk about or the feeling of community they want with being able to chat with their fellow players OOCly, and can do so freely and without worry of breaking rules. But I do think there should be a degree of separation between idle table talk and the actual game, which is why only #GAME is available in-game and the other channels are only via third-party clients. I ultimately feel that #GAME is too cluttered up with trivialities at this point to feel comfortable leaving it as-is. Do we try and crack down on rules, do we change it to #HELP and make a #TABLETALK channel out-of-game, or something else? I'd love to hear further ideas, but I really do feel like something has to change. The TELL command and the BBS could be seeing a lot more use, but currently just about everything seems to end up all in #GAME.

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Rias
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Re: OOC Channels

Post by Rias » Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:41 pm

Oh, and one more thing: Please respond to BBS posts on the BBS, and not on #GAME! The BBS can be a great tool for well-thought-out discussion and suggestions and feedback, because one needs to stop and form an entire post before hitting that submit button. Another important reason for this is that the person who made the post is sure to see responses to that post on the BBS thread, but responses in #GAME are likely to get lost and not contribute to the discussion (especially if it's a post by staff).

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