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The Climate of the Community: My Issues & Proposed Solutions


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I'm going to start by prefacing that these kind of threads tend to devolve into very long discussions, where people concentrate on tiny details. Since I'm tempted (and many others are) to discuss these tiny details, and I'm not really sure how to prevent that from happening, I'm going to put a lot of importance on the OP here - refer to it, this is where the content of the thread is, and try to discuss that. If there's ten pages of semi-related stuff, it doesn't really matter, because the core of the message I want to communicate is here.

That said.

I see three issues with the state of the community. They concern:

-The way players react to roleplay

-The way moderators make themselves perceived by the community

-The way moderators try to enforce roleplay

Without further ado, I shall attempt to explain all three.


1. The way players react to roleplay

This is honestly the biggest issue we're facing. People getting mad because they died, or because X player did X. The complaints against most of anyone playing security go here, but there's also been some criticism against engineering, command, antags, etc. And the problem isn't in the issues raised (someone did something you find off? Ask them about it, that's fine!), it's in the tone. People seem... very angry. I know some are just passionate (though they should realize manners will help tremendously in getting their way), but this is where I've seen the most ridiculous things. Accusations of favoritism being thrown left and right, people calling each other terrible, accusing the staff of doing nothing, or outright calling to conspiracies...

We're a little forum of people trying to play a game. Not the US Senate. I don't understand why so many people feel like everything has to be a war, or that everybody is out to get them.

2. The way moderators make themselves perceived by the community

This is something else which has bothered me ever since I was on staff, though I didn't pay much attention to it until now. I can expand on it if needed, but the staff as a whole, especially in adminhelps, is very cold and all business-like. A lot of people should look at their own actions and ask themselves if they need to loosen up. If you're on staff, you're not a police force, you're more like an entertainer or a community manager - your job is to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that people are having fun.

I've gotten PMs from staff while playing on completely unknown ckeys, and they've always felt cold, and borderline judgemental. Other people have reported the same, and looking at the way I've dealt with players as an admin myself, I can honestly see why this is the case. And I know this is not the way most of you mean to come off. But the fact that it happens is enough for it to be something worth looking at.

3. The way moderators try to enforce roleplay

This is more minor than the other two issues here (you mods generally do a pretty good job at knowing when to tell people or not what not to do), but it's still worth a mention. This is also the issue people have been discussing the most so far (though I think #1 & 2 are more important). It relates mostly to admin-interventionism - people are afraid to act in certain ways, and as Skull mentions in his own thread, there's a lot of people who are pushing for excessive compliance. If it doesn't really matter, let the players handle it. If it doesn't harm anyone, don't invoke a rule against it. As much as possible, leave issues to an organic IC resolution. Things like that.


As to how to solve all of these?


  • -You guys need to be nicer to each other. If you're upset about the state of affairs, but you're contributing to the aggression yourself, then you're one of the people in power to bring about the greatest change. Realize that in most cases, people are 100% willing to work with you if you're courteous and polite.

    -You guys need to be willing to work with each other. If your first reaction when you can't understand someone's viewpoint is to dismiss them as being simply malevolent, you'll never come to a satisfying agreement or conclusion. We're all in the same boat, so try to make an effort to work with your peers.

    -Staff should set better guidelines on how to engage players, especially in ahelps. Be courteous, encouraging, and positive (well, unless someone's obviously being a dick). But understand that most of the time players who are being boinked either because they broke a rule they were unaware of, or because you're simply checking information, start out being pretty scared, and it's your job to reassure them that the staff here is cool.

    -A heavier focus needs to be brought back on player freedom. Interventions should be kept to a bare minimum - we shouldn't be asking ourselves "could this potentially pose a problem?", but "is this /actually/ likely to bother others, and how could we create a healthy environment while disturbing players as little as possible?"


That won't bring the "fun" spirit of the server back, as it's not something you can really control, (we need events. Tons of silly events.) but it'll hopefully set the groundwork for that kind of spirit to emerge again.

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-A heavier focus needs to be brought back on player freedom. Interventions should be kept to a bare minimum - we shouldn't be asking ourselves "could this potentially pose a problem?", but "is this /actually/ likely to bother others, and how could we create a healthy environment while disturbing players as little as possible?"

That won't bring the "fun" spirit of the server back, as it's not something you can really control, (we need events. Tons of silly events.) but it'll hopefully set the groundwork for that kind of spirit to emerge again.


I am disinclined to agree with this part of your post.

Let me tell you the story of Baystation. I started playing SS13 after having moved from a fantasy IRC Roleplay Game as one of my friends and fellow roleplayers had just discovered the game. Baystation 12 was one of the few okay heavy roleplay stations around back in November of 2012, when I picked up the game. I started as a shaft miner human and then got a Tajaran whitelist and Ana was born, etc etc cats.

However, much like Aurora, Baystation went through a similar identity crisis/community unfolding. It's been so long I can't really pinpoint the exact moment, or the exact reasons that it happened, but what contributed to it was three very serious issues.

1) Influx of new players with non-HRP ideals

2) Exodus of old players due to #1

3) Staff team changes

Baystation was a serious roleplay server. We had a lot of fun with what we called the 'A-Team' of security, me and several friends, plus interacting with regulars new and old in medical, engineering, so on. We had a cohesive community where most characters knew each other and there were good and bad relationships, rivalries and friendships, but action as well. But that all changed when the fire nation attacked around mid 2013 when Summer hit and we got flooded with a bunch of people. Changes in community make-up as well as server admin staff eventually led Baystation into a downward spiral where it was constant fighting between those who hated the change our community had made (me + others) and those who had changed it.

And one of the major reasons Baystation took a shit on heavy roleplay was for 'player freedom'.

At one point realistic characters were expected. No career criminals, no nutty PTSD war veterans (though we had our fair share of borderlines there), no 'undercover Syndicate agents', nothing of the sort. But our head administration staff changed to two admins with antag-centric views and lighter RP ideals, and a third admin who valued the old ways but was easily trampled by the rest of the staff team. We went from developed characters and good antagonists to changelings chain-eating people with parasting, spacing them out of viro, polyaciding the dead body's belongings, and space cleaning the goop for maximum powergame. And admins said that was okay.

You could be as much of a tit as you wanted on Baystation and get away with it. The fact that outrageously ridiculous roleplay like the Greasers happened here was a kick in the teeth for me because that was the type of shit to happen on Baystation and the admins would led it happen. The captain going into sec and shooting up everyone because her fiancee didn't want to marry her and blew up the chaplain, then got arrested, so she could kill him - funny? Sure. Believable? No. But this is the sort of light RP behavior that bled into what was once a server where the roleplay was heavy but once in awhile silly stuff happened that was okay. Baystation's administrative staff took the server and ran it into the ground to accommodate a larger playerbase with less serious ideals, which is my perception of what is happening to Aurora.

The fact of the matter is in a heavy roleplay environment you have to police people. In my opinion we haven't been policing people enough - silly happenings and slightly unbelievable occurrences are fine in small amounts, but we've seem to have had an influx of joke characters and rape-screaming assistants lately that no one is doing a damn thing about. The difference between heavy roleplay and medium and light roleplay is that believability and seriousness are expected. I don't play SS13 because ha ha clowns shitcurity robust me with baton CAPTAIN IS COMDOM, I play it because I like roleplaying in an environment where quality is expected and the setting it provides. And that ostensibly means that characters that do not mesh with what is expected from a heavy roleplay server need to be dealt with via admin intervention or otherwise.

We don't need more silly. We need less of it. Whether this seems as a callous response or not, there are other servers where more silly things happen. They're called /tg/, Goon, Paradise, Hippie - lower-end roleplay servers where less is expected and more hilarity is acceptable. However, Aurora is not one of these. It is a heavy roleplay server. An atmosphere needs to be enforced. Quality needs to be enforced, whether at the cost of players or not. Heavy RP is not everyone's cup of tea, much as Light RP or Goon chaos is not everyone's cup of tea. There are different servers to cater to everyone's desires, and I don't think we need to change ours to capitulate to the masses.

I've seen the downward spiral from enjoyable Heavy RP server to lul randumb chaos antag dick-sucking Light RP heaven in the two years I was on Bay. I do not want to see the same thing happen here.

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I imagine that the reason most admin-pm's come across as terse and intimidating is that, as usual, the player receiving the PM does not have the complete picture. SS13 is built on incomplete information, that's what the various domain specific radio bands, PDA private messages, alien languages etc, are designed to foster.

You're not supposed to understand what's going on at all times.

And we've extended that, I believe by accident and the limitations of byond, to the administrative system.

If you get bwoinked about something, even if the admin in question is just looking for information about something you weren't even really involved in, it's a lot like getting tapped on the shoulder by your boss and hearing the dreadful words 'Lets talk in private.'

Even if they're giving you a raise, it's scary as hell.

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