Virtual Hindsight

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It has been a tumultuous season throughout Caledon in which much of an epic and/or controversial nature has occurred. As is typical in such situations, there have been pointless triumphs and minor tragedies. Reputations good and bad have been earned, fortunes have been made, feelings have been hurt.

The blogs of late are filled with a backlog of resentments and somewhat confused apologies…grudges held and regrets expressed. While not to disparage the real emotions behind such things, I think we need to look back with a drama-free eye and remember that so much of what has “surprised” us these last few month could have been foreseen with a little careful thought and prediction. I am certainly just as guilty of it as anyone else. However, Hindsight is a tempting mistress.

Looking back with the cold, jaundiced eye of memory, I see several things which though they seem obvious now, we didn’t realize at the time…and should have. They were certainly foreseeable, but then, we are not always the wisest of god’s creations.

1 – You Can’t Please ALL of the People ALL of the Time Without Free Beer: When the first large scale RP plans were hatched, we really should have thought ahead and realized that some people would not be gung-ho about them. If more care had been taken early on to explain things to the uninvolved or uninterested, many problems could have been avoided.

2 – More People, More Problems: Wanting to actually involve large numbers of people is commendable, but the planning and coordination to do such a thing is almost impossible..all the more so when we all have other lives to lead at the same time. In Caledon, I think we must always remember the primal law of KISS still applies. In other words, Keep It Simple, Squire.

3 – Nobody Likes To Be Told What NOT To Do: It has been said before, it should be said again. Staged, scripted role plays should be kept short, lighthearted, as interactive as possible, and must STILL be considered to be dynamite with a faulty fuse. If there is something that HAS to take place in a certain way for an RP story, try to do it off camera and simply write about it, or film it using a small cast and as few production values as possible.

4 – Making Movies is REALLY Hard: Spielberg makes a kajillion dollars doing it for a REASON.

5 – Pride Goeth Before Destruction: As with all group endeavors, personal pride and private agendas derail an RP fast, or worse, make it deeply unfun. Avoid them when possible, focus on what is best for the story, and always move forward. RPs are like sharks, they die when they stand still.

6 – Spontaneous Alien Invasions Are Fun: Sometimes, unscripted tongue-in-cheek free-for-alls, without important storylines, angst ridden dramas and high stakes ego clashes are great fun. After all, they are called Roleplaying GAMES for a reason.

7 – 30+ Avatars with Scripted Weapons WILL F*ck Up a Sim’s Physics: Plan for it next time. ‘Nuff said.

8 – Battles Attract Griefers: Plan for it next time. More ’nuff said.

9 – The Following Actions Do NOT Smell Like Good Sportmanship, However They Were Intended.

  • Leaving a game en masse because you feel the other side is cheating.
  • Going off to sulk and complain en masse about said feelings.
  • Riding a dancing, musical cow though someone else’s party without explanation, assuming that such a gesture will be seen as healing and not mocking.
  • Getting upset with someone for being upset.
  • Saying in IM what should be spoken aloud.
  • Speaking aloud what should be said in IM.
  • Declaring that there are no winners or losers, but you still won, nyah nyah.

All of this is of course, thankfully, now water under the bridge. Lessons to be learned, stories to be told, apologies to be accepted.

Next time, we will all do better.

How do I know? Why, we are all Caledonians, aren’t we?

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12 Comments

  1. Lovely post Baron Bardhaven and some very good advice.

    I’ll not rehash it all here, but myself and Miss Paris put together a debrief inworld that runs through what went on and what we learnt from our experience, in the hope that others will learn from our mistakes. I believe we circulated it to everyone involved in the RP, but if anyone else would like a copy, please let me know. Unsurprisingly most of the points tie up with yours.

    You’re right about the invasion. Although we had a disaster planned that would briefly reunite both sides of the conflict and teach them that Caledonians works better together than apart, you have to wonder why we, as refs, didn’t listen to what our own RP was telling us.

    We knew we were planning something but didn’t really know what until a few hours before we did it. The original plan of a single large fire just didn’t seem to have enough oomph and it would mean that only certain members of the militia would get to see it and take part due to timezones etc. The nice thing with the invasion is that we could play it several times through the day without it looking too contrived and get as many people involved as possible.

    It succeeded far beyond anything we imagined. It ranged maybe a bit farther than we expected and we did inconvenience some people who just wanted to get on with their lives in peace (again, apologies if you were one of those people), but almost all the feedback was positive.

    Really we should have just stopped things there. The Cavalry and Infantry had worked together and been united by a common foe. But we pushed on with our plot line and that demanded the final battle.

    A possibility I had thought of was bringing in a mothership and bigger better warmachines for the milita to fight about 15 mins into their battle, but I had this strange notion in my head that I wanted the two sides to be put back together by the Colonels that had split them apart. I thought by making it a decision to put the militia back together, rather than a necessity, it would make the reunion mean more.

    Ah…you live and learn…

    Yours,

    Alfonso Avalanche

  2. “Next time, we will all do better.”

    One can only hope. I know I have suggested quitting any conflict-oriented RP, but I will probably jump right in the next one as well… or at least dip my toe in the water.

    This is a great post Bardhaven, though by the date, I can see that my future fortune spent to invent a time machine so you can post this LAST WEEK has failed. Damn the laws of causality!

  3. Thank you for this posting, Lord Bardhaven!

    I’d like to lift up for emphasis the point contained under your clever heading number one:

    “If more care had been taken early on to explain things to the uninvolved or uninterested, many problems could have been avoided.”

    I believe this is essential if RP or large-scale events are to *truly* bring *Caledon* together, rather than just a core group of socially active residents. Many people, who are not particularly interested in active engagement in the RP, may be more than willing, after an opportunity for reflection, to be supportive in other ways, or be more prepared for supporting roles.

    This item needs especially to be taken into consideration with number three, as well. Being instructed, on more than one occasion, to back off or get out of the way, in effect makes one feel excluded from normal participation in Caledon.

    Of course these considerations can be difficult when an organizer has particular logistical needs (such as scripted machinima), comes up with a last-minute idea, or wishes the understandable pleasure of bringing a delightful surprise to one’s friends. One benefits of the lessons we’re learning is that future events will, one hopes, give everyone a better sense of what’s going on in general, thereby making everyone better prepared for last-minute additions or clever surprises.

    I do wonder whether the successes had a positive effect on anyone except the direct participants. A recent example:

    The alien invasion? Sounds fun–the commenting blogs all agree. What I knew? Someone in Caledon IM said “Help! I’m on fire.” I’m left feeling that this was an experience intended only for some group of which I was not a part (be that Militia group members; or people who happened to be in Eyre, or Kittywickshire, or wherever it happened).

    Perhaps a lesson can be drawn from slightly more commercial efforts: Radio Riel dance parties use the general Caledon IM channel to send out regular invites during the course of an event, giving the essential particulars. The auction on Sunday did the same thing. This could work the other way as well: “Hello everyone, we’re filming a short machinima of the Caledon Merperson Synchronized Swimming Team in the bay in Carntaigh, and we would be most grateful if you kept away for the next hour. Look for the the finished product on Lady Finny’s aetheric journal in about a week.”

    Having mentioned the auction, I’ll also note that all sorts of events can wreak havoc with a bystander’s experience of Caledon. I suspect no one stayed in Victoria City during the auction unless they had a specific reason to be there, due to the lag.

    Finally, to your list of nine, I would add a tenth: When an activity is in support of a charity, make public announcements of the goal and of the results. When Mr Scaggs’ journal mentioned the L$100,000 wager for the militia exercises (in passing, and after the affair had begun), it made all the difference in the world to my attitude. I do not remember the notecard at the telehubs including this information, which may have helped those not involved approach the week with kinder feelings. I still wonder how on earth the Neualtenburg war machinima will benefit the SLRFL.

    Yours, longwindedly,

    Hermione Fussbudget

  4. Miss Fussbudget,

    Regarding the Martian Invasion, part of the charm was that it was something spontaneous and extraordinary, in no way, shape or form intended for a specific audience. I was uninvolved with it, as either planner or participant, but it seemed to be something I have heard called a Flash RP. It simply happened, and anyone who wished to be involved could be so. If you wished to ignore it, certainly that is always a viable option.

    To state that you wished there were some sort of advance notice of the invasion sort of nullifies the main point, rather like explaining to the accident victim that you really wish they had let you know they were going to be hit by a car earlier, so you could have dressed appropriately.

    From the people I have discussed it with (RPers and Non-RPers alike) the charm of the sudden somewhat rude arrival of our planetary neighbors was that is was so unexpected and bizarre…it simply HAPPENED. No scripts…just an alien saying “Tag Your It” with a heat beam.

    That said, I can see the possible efficacy of one of the organizers getting on group chat and playing Orson Welles, going on hysterically “Attention, Martians are landing in Vic City!! All citizens are called to help throw back these monsters, or at least make tea. Guvnah calls for resolve and calm in IM to Militia.” That way, everyone would be able to understand what was afoot and see that it was not a private game. I fear recent events have caused people to assume they are excluded first, then ask questions later. A lesson for next invasion.

    Your points about the need for more communication concerning everything to do with the “War” and the SLRFL, especially the charitable nature, are quite fair and spot on. More lessons for next time.

  5. My Dear Lord Bardhaven-
    The program manager and event planner in me is almost unseemly in her excitement to see this a list of lessons learned.

    Certainly you – and a few others of us – have posted such lessons in the past, but it is good to review them all as new lessons are taught. In doing so, more of us see what mistakes have been made in the past and have a greater chance of preventing them in the future.

    I, for one, continue to grow as I make mistakes and witness those of others, and do my utmost to make corrections and find the new path.

    Thank you again. May we all learn from these experiences, the comments of you and others here, and move forward well together. Why? Because we are Caledon.

    Yours Most Appreciatively~

    Eva Bellambi
    Duchess Loch Avie

  6. Sir ZenMondo: Don’t give up on the time machine, you could still use it to save countless alternate timeline version of Caledon from our angst ridden fate..Hmmm…mirror universe Caledon..now there’s an RP idea…

    Miss Fussbudget, Baron Bardhaven: the alien invasion was a strange flash event / planned event hybrid. As I’ve mentioned way above, we knew we wanted to do somthing to get people working together for our war plot and the alien invasion was inspired lunacy. We had circulated our plot outline to the militia players, so we knew they were expecting a fire that evening, what neither they or anyone else expected was an alien invasion.

    It was very much of a “plonk down a landing site and a few war machines and attack” event, and although I believe a few “Aliens are invading …” messages were sent around via the ISC group chat for the first attack on Kittiwickshire, I’m not sure what happened with subsequent attacks (as I was in bed). I think there tends to be a little carefulness in overplaying something like this on the ISC IM channel, so as not to fatigue people to that RP.

    You are right, though, Miss Fussbudget we need to find ways to encourage more participation and make it clear all are welcome at these kind of events.

    Your Grace: Exactly right! The more we can share where we went wrong with things like this the better we can get at hopefully doing them right. Although some of the feedback to the battle weekend has been painful to read (just because of the upset, hurt and pain I can see in the blogs and messages) I’ve found all the comments useful and can’t thank those that made them enough.

    Yours,

    Alfonso Avalanche

  7. Can I add:

    11. Be patient with the organisers. Some things are beyond even the most experienced person’s controls. It might be ineptitude but chances are there is a genuine reason for the SNAFU.

    12. Always wear clean underwear (you never know when you might get hit by an alien war machine)

    Where can we see that Merman Synchronised Swimming Team again? ;0)

    Fuschia Begonia

  8. Without diminishing the amazing amount of effort that has gone into setting up the various RPs, galas and machimas, I think that some of my best Caledonian experiences have been spontaneous. Whether a flash ball, a “I’ve got some ironclads, care to attack them with an ornithopter?”, an afternoon spent trying to cross Caledon using every conceivable mode of transport, or simply an afternoon gathering with people playing 52 card pick up, spontaneous events make me feel as if I am really in a living steampunk world.

    I never got to actually see the aliens (my dratted laptop kept crashing :(). But I was racing about on my WMW fly cycle, talking to people (sometimes recovering people), seeing the occasional still burning fire, and in general being as confused as no doubt I would be in an actual invasion. It was a true RP moment, and one delightfully free of expectations about what should exactly be happening.

    I think those expectations are something of a bugbear for our RPs. Given enough time to mull over an anticipated plot, everyone comes up with different notions in their head about how things ought happen. When reality fails to mesh with this a priori template, disappointment ensues, sometimes sadly manifested in the form of trying to decide who’s fault things were.

    I am not saying, never plan or have grand ambitions. A grand ball is rarely an unwelcome thing (provided enough men show up:P). But I would love to see more “off the cuff” events. After all, spontaneity and creativity are hallmarks of our land. Let us use those assets!

  9. Thank you once again, Baron, for pointing out our many failures in detail. We shall endeavor to get it right to your satisfaction some day!

  10. Careful, I may hold you to that Colonel….

  11. Hoo boy, what events have transpired!

    I’ve been a little hard to find lately, due to the 4-alarm headache of last week due to a 6 hour metaverse marathon, plus some, ah, ‘worldly things’ having much to do with corporate tax deadlines in my other life.

    That said, I should be back inworld pretty deep here shortly – hopefully to the point I’ll surpass ‘business’ and actually get to Play and Socialise a little! One tends to look longingly at the playground, whilst looking up a month’s worth of grid transactions… *adjusts accountant’s spectacles to wipe eyes*

    To answer a very well-put (but paraphrased) question: how could these sometimes odd events do anything for a cancer charity?

    The thought was this. The ‘Relay for Life’ season is… unseasonably looooong, and it’s always good to have events of some sort, perhaps even events with a common thread. Lapin has been expert at creating events I could never dream to (the photoshoots, the teddy bear picnic, et al) but there was a desire for something… ‘grander’. The events basically maintain awareness, and at the same time give us perspective (there are those out there who have issues far greater than our inworld differences).

    One of the key issues with our shared dream of a metaverse… what does one… do? I’ve always tried to err in the direction of standing this usual grid conundrum on its head.

    Ideally, Caledon should be a land where there is *too much* to do – a vibrant place with comings and goings and happenings and… a place for everyone to be themselves. The Relay for Life charity lends purpose – but for me, it’s a little more than that.

    In the real world, cancer took my mother away when I was four years old. That was nearly 40 years ago now, as such a point for reflection not sadness. So when I was asked if I’d be willing to participate in RFL, regardless of its overlongness, it’s “United States”centricness and all its other flaws, I thought again: if I’m going to make a mistake, it’s going to be in this direction. It’s deeply personal for me.

    So that’s why Caledon’s main civic focus is a cancer charity rather than perhaps some other charity (or nothing at all).

    Having lots of things to do, and plans to make and people to do them with was always a goal. Village activities, and all that revolve around such events – to recall the warmth of an old pub in a distant lost shire, predating all iPods, gas prices and fast food.

    Incidentally, this is why I tolerate the proliferation of telehub ads – better we are tripping over things to do, than walking around empty. In fact, that’s why we have telehubs at all.

    I wonder how many of us would ever have bothered to join the metaverse, if only we had a village square where the train stops, a place where we buy produce and visit the town barber that knows everyone.

    It made me sad to read of the difficulties with the events, and I’ve been feeling rather guilty that I can’t do… more somehow, to “make it right”. If I could, I certainly would! But I’m just another person as flawed as everyone else.

    Regardless, I notice the spirit of the community shining through – people picking themselves back up, getting past the small stuff, trying once more, sharing their lives.

    I’d share a pint with all of you if I could. If I could have one wish, it would be that for one night the Falling Anvil would be real, and we could all trod the cobblestones down to Aldo’s and share our lives and stories in good cheer, as ever it was meant to be.

    I’m rambling, exhausted, and this will probably sound funny to anyone reading it. But it’s sincere.

    Des

  12. There is no way I can possibly add to all the wonderful things everybody has said, from Lord Bardhaven’s intial post to Guvnah Shang’s remarks, and everybody in-between, except a hearty “Hear, hear! Huzzah for Caledon!” as I raise my pint of Guiness in toast to all its wonderful citizens, and wiping away the tears of joy in my eyes for being a part of such a wonderful experience called Caledon.


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