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.