Bluesky Brainstorming on Storygame Forum Features

edited April 2014 in General
In this thread I'm going to be talking to myself and inviting you to talk with me, hopefully mostly about specific features to enhance and augment the act of online storygaming. I'm doing this because I'm a programmer as well as a game designer, and I'm thinking of building such a system. Although I've seen lots of beautiful games run on hacked platforms originally intended for other purposes, and I've seen lots of platforms to support tabletop-like RPG experiences, I have yet to find a site that doesn't lack some features I think would be obvious to modern storygamers. Let's talk about those features.

What features might you expect to see in a state-of-the-art dedicated storygaming forum?

Comments

  • Here's one feature we were talking about in the Big Maul ooc thread...

    * The system should filter your alias based on the context of your post.

    This means when I post out here in "General" it should say my username "AsIf". But when I post in the Big Maul thread it should say an alias: "Jet Black". If I had two or more games running simultaneously, the system would automatically print the alias that matched the game I was posting in at that moment.
  • - "playing as" by the name of the person who posted
    - whenever a character name is used (PC or NPC), it links to a wiki
    - variety of text colors to differentiate who is speaking (not required, but it can be nice)
    - easy picture embedding
    - easy YouTube and video embedding
    - scene summaries when the GM-MC concludes a scene that offer open text box or dropdown functions to tell others what the scene was about, what happened, maybe even track XP earned?
    - some way to "plus one" posts like G+ or RPGGeek without having to interrupt
    - a way to group scenes (which I like having as separate posts) so you could easily follow one PC through their path through a story
    - tagging, so you could see all the posts with X PC in them
    - SEARCH! Oh goodness the search in this Vanilla forum is not great
  • edited April 2014
    - Sidebar with aligned callout blocks for each in-character post. Content in the callout block might include dice results, asides, thumbnail images, links, "third person" commentary, etc.

    Alternately this might work like placing "sticky notes" in the sidebar at whatever position makes sense.
  • edited April 2014
    The big ones for me are:
    - "playing as" by the name of the person who posted
    - whenever a character name is used (PC or NPC), it links to a wiki
    - easy picture embedding
    - some way to "plus one" posts like G+ or RPGGeek without having to interrupt
    - a way to group scenes (which I like having as separate posts) so you could easily follow one PC through their path through a story
    - tagging, so you could see all the posts with X PC in them
    - SEARCH! Oh goodness the search in this Vanilla forum is not great
    Specifically, game dependent aliases, tags, possibly NPC usernames (e.g. @NPC_Name produces a link to the NPC's wiki page, possibly with or without markup).
    - Sidebar with aligned callout blocks for each in-character post. Content in the callout block might include dice results, asides, thumbnail images, links, "third person" commentary, etc.
    This is a big one — people need immediate feedback on posts, and a means to discuss it that doesn't interrupt the fiction. Something like a right-aligned margin-note system would be perfect — but dice rolls should stand out, and be in the fiction's main thread.

    Another thing I think would be important is to keep things integrated, and simplistic. Having to jump around pages (for wikis, etc) means keeping open a million pages when looking for posts. Having a nice, clean, UI with no segregation between reference material, and fiction is what I would love to see...
  • edited April 2014
    I generally hate frames, but this might be a good use for them.

    ETA: must be collapsible. AJAX.
  • Not necessarily frames — but more along the lines of hover hints, and sidebars, like how Twitter conversations used to fan into the right sidebar when you clicked tweets in your main feed. Relevant reference information to the right, narrative on the left.
  • Relevant reference information to the right, narrative on the left.
    Hell yes!

    Or maybe "Editor's notes" like in old comics.
  • Or Shakespeare books.
  • Drawers. Sliders. Pullouts.
  • Avatars. Duh.
  • edited April 2014
    Most of the above is accessed in Play Mode. There should also be Read Mode, in which you don't see all the extraneous crap, and it's much more like reading a book.
  • Ooh, spoiler stuff, like a "no pic" mode or maybe a "click to see more in post" mode.
  • the RPGGeek die roller is supremely cool.

    Cards-based resolution (deck of cards)
  • Spoiler Trays! YES!
  • Random Decision Generators include
    - all standard polyhedral dice & formulae
    - fate dice & other popular funky dice sets
    - standard decks of cards (playing cards, tarot cards, maybe ResourceFULL cards?)
    - ability to upload your own graphics or create text-only cards for custom decks

    BUT note all the graphical stuff is either small, or tucked away in a slider. The screen must be at least 75% STORY. Or something like that.
  • - quick access to the ruleset (using SRDs or whatever)
  • I'm hesitant to suggest rulesets should be integrated. I've never seen it done properly, and the sheer number of them makes it unrealistic to maintain. I would argue that the burden of taking relevant system notes for quick reference would fall on the user.
  • I'm hesitant to suggest rulesets should be integrated. I've never seen it done properly, and the sheer number of them makes it unrealistic to maintain. I would argue that the burden of taking relevant system notes for quick reference would fall on the user.
    BLUESKY!

  • edited April 2014
    Yes bluesky but integrated rules are exactly why I don't want to use Storium.

    Ruleset importation in a standardized format or API, but the hard work is left to the GM or a third party application developer?
  • ruleset hints? not "integrated" as much as "referenceable"

    Also, a homegrown AW-style ruleset that you can opt to use is ESSENTIAL, Tod. Seriously.
  • edited April 2014
    Ok yeah, I think a few popular systems could and maybe should be supported from the get-go as options per game. An AW-style 2d6 three-outcome system is definitely the first on that list, but others too. Maybe I'm picturing a form where the GM sets up the game and one of the options is ruleset [choose from list or import your own]
  • I've actually transfered a great deal of the AW rulesets into JSON/XML format. So long as the logic behind those rules are hidden, and the text behind the systems is truly just a reference, I am behind this idea.
  • edited April 2014
    There might be Play Mode, Read Mode and Follow Mode, in which you choose a character to follow (as a reader) and you're only shown scenes that character is in.
  • I'd like to see a sample of that XML, Adam.
  • I'll see if I can dig it up.
  • edited April 2014
    So as it turns out, I'm confusing three different projects I was working on... I did a playbook viewer that takes images of the playbook and makes them (more or less) interactive (but doesn't store the text for moves), I took a short-lived attempt at codifying the moves into something I might be able to use with a die roller (which probably wouldn't have worked), and I did a campaign roster that is closer in utility to what I'd use for this kind of thing...

    e.g.
    <char>
    <id>c1</id>
    <harm>0</harm>
    <name>Lemieux the Savvyhead</name>
    <body><![CDATA[
    <p>Lemieux is an ambiguously-gendered woman in vintage wear that is
    somewhat antisocial. She runs a workshop in Crossroads with one of the best
    junkyards in miles.</p>

    <h4>Stats</h4>
    ...

    <h4>Moves</h4>
    <p><b><i>Bonefeel:</i></b> at the beginning of the session, roll+weird. On
    a 10+, hold 1+1. On a 7-9, hold 1. At any time, either you or the MC can spend
    your hold to have you already be there, with the proper tools and knowledge,
    with or without any clear explanation why. If your hold was 1+1, take +1forward
    now. On a miss, the MC holds 1, and can spend it to have you already be there,
    but somehow pinned, caught or trapped.</p>

    <p><b><i>Thingspeak:</i></b> whenever you handle or examine something
    interesting, roll+weird. On a hit, you can ask the MC questions. On a 10+, ask 3.
    On a 7-9, ask 1:
    <ul>
    <li>who handled this last before me?</li>
    <li>who made this?</li>
    <li>what strong emotions have been most recently nearby this?</li>
    <li>what words have been said most recently nearby this?</li>
    <li>what has been done most recently with this, or to this?</li>
    <li>what's wrong with this, and how might I fix it?</li>
    </ul>
    </p>
    <p>Treat a miss as though you've opened your brain to the world's psychic
    maelstrom and missed the roll.</p>

    <h4>Workspace</h4>
    <p>Lemieux's has the following available at her disposal in her workspace:
    <ul>
    <li>Junkyard filled with scrap.</li>
    <li>Transmitters &amp; Receivers.</li>
    <li>A relic of the golden age: A film camera, and film (reverse engineered)</li>
    </ul>
    </p>
    ]]>
    </body>
    <tags>
    <tag>PC</tag>
    <tag>Savvyhead</tag>
    <tag>Crossroads</tag>
    </tags>
    </char>


    Then you make a quick stub editor to write/keep track of entries, etc.
  • edited April 2014
    This phrase popped into my head:
    Retcon Tools.

    Now I'm trying to figure out what those would be. I think we want some.

    Ok, for one thing: the ability to do a global OR sectional search-and-replace on a word, like a character name.
  • Retcon in PbP is pretty bad... The ability to branch a story line at a specific point would be awesome (so you don't lose previous efforts).
  • edited April 2014
    - Contextual Filtering of Content Views

    Meaning: At the top level, I should be able to select a View of:
    - All Chapters of All Stories (Vanilla does this now)
    - All Chapters of Story X (Vanilla does this now)
    - Chapter X of Story Y (Vanilla does this now)
    - Chapters X through Y of Story Z
    - All Chapters in which Player X Posted
    - All Chapters in which Player X is the Facilitator/GM/MC
    - All Chapters in which Character X Appears
    - All Chapters in which I Posted
    - All Chapters in which I Posted As Character X
    - All My Posts (Vanilla does this kinda, on my Comments tab)
    - All My Posts As Character X
    - All My Posts in Story X
    - All Posts by Player X (Vanilla does this kinda, on their Comments tab)
    - All Posts by Player X As Character Y
    - All Posts by Player X in Story Y

    Sortable. I should be able to sort the view by Date, by Chapter, maybe by Player.

    Limitable. I should be able to limit the view based on number (ie "show me the latest 20 items matching these criteria") or date (ie "show me all items matching these criteria since X date").

    ETA: A-and... all of the above should be simple, unobtrusive, and intuitive.
  • I almost want to say Sliding Timeline keyed to hours, days, etc. Scenes appear as colored dots or thicker bars running for their duration. Roll over the bar to get a popup showing the scene title and characters. This timeline also allows characters to glance up and see what time it is for other characters in the chapter.

    "Almost" because it might be overkill. And a lot of work. And hard to understand.
  • I almost want to say Sliding Timeline keyed to hours, days, etc. Scenes appear as colored dots or thicker bars running for their duration. Roll over the bar to get a popup showing the scene title and characters. This timeline also allows characters to glance up and see what time it is for other characters in the chapter.

    "Almost" because it might be overkill. And a lot of work. And hard to understand.
    It is also very "simulationist" and could actually work against PBP, which already has a problem with asynchronous posters. I'd rather be able to skip time if needed to have PCs sync up.
  • Yeah agreed it's Simulationist. Maybe an option. If you really wanted to do time right, you'd probably have to make people "claim" a chunk of time just before writing their post. That way the system would know instantly that character X is busy from time Y to time Z and could show that fact to other people even if they were cross-posting. Again, this seems like a lot of work for both me and the users. But I include it here because some of my best friends are Simulationists. :-)
  • edited April 2014
    Ok, this is SHEER BLUE SKY and requires some AI but here goes...

    - POV Content Filter

    I'm picturing it working something like a translator + a wysiwyg preview frame.

    In the main textbox I write my post in FIRST-PERSON and it appears that way to me and others within the game. But near-simultaneously (slight delay of course), the frame in the sidebar displays an editable proposed THIRD-PERSON version of what I just typed. The word "I" has been replaced with my character's name, verb tenses have been corrected, etc. Each change is underlined in red. I can edit all underlined words in this frame. There's an "Accept" button at the bottom of it.

    Finally, of course, when a reader comes along, what they see by default (toggle) while reading is the third-person version.

    [Really looking forward to hearing opinions on this.]
  • edited April 2014
    More possibly controversial Blue Sky I'd like to hear opinions on:

    - Object-Oriented World: lift from MUDs for world design and UI functions

    "Object-Oriented World" basically means that underneath the narrative level we have a set of Objects with their own Properties; these Objects correspond to Locations, Characters, Events and Items in the gameworld. The best way to think of them is as specialized "Sheets" or "Forms" for various types of things the GM creates. They are stored as rows in a database, of course. The reason they're there is to facilitate continuity and augment the act of writing passages involving those Objects. So every time you (the GM) start a scene, you are really specifying a number of Objects (or creating them) and associating them together. A "Scene" is a relationship between data objects: it is a Location (think of a folder on your hard disk) with a number of Characters, Items and Events "in" it. This approach would allow for some neat writer-augmentation functionality (see examples below).

    [I realize this is a slightly "Simulationist" approach but even Vincent uses standardized formats for NPCs and Fronts. I mean, sheesh. How many times in the heat of play have you forgotten some incidental detail of the environment that actually would have made a difference to the story had you remembered it then? Lots of times, right? So we fill out a short form to support greater narrative continuity. It's not the Death of Art.]

    Some examples:
    • GM types/clicks "CREATE LOCATION" and gets a textbox with fields for Name, Definition (as viewed by common/public knowledge, e.g. "The Forges of Mordor"), Description (as viewed from within), Egresses (list of other Locations you can get to from here) and Contents. This final field is actually a clickable list of Items already created in the game world, so you can click one to put that Item in this location.

    • Player types/clicks "LOOK" and a textbox describing the current Location appears. This textbox also includes a list of incidental items the GM has said are here.

    • Player types/clicks "LOCATIONS" and a list of Locations pops up, click one of them and its public definition comes up. You can also do this for characters, items and events. No more having to search the forum going "WTF was Lothlorien again?"
    Note: I am NOT talking about making these objects visible in Read Mode. They are creative support tools I am proposing for use in Play Mode. (Maybe "Compose Mode" is a better word for this, because you do not literally "play" with these objects. THAT would be Simulationism.) They are smart writer-support tools. They are there to help you write better, in less time, with more detail, and greater continuity.
  • Perhaps I should state explicitly that I am as interested in the Reader's experience as I am with the Players'. This informs some of the features I envision, and may have been taken for granted when I first wrote them. Anyway, yeah.
  • edited May 2014
    Here's a player-facing feature:

    Character Permission Levels (or something catchier that means the same thing):
    A UI feature that allows the character creator to indicate whether or not, and to what degree, this character may be controlled by others. In a completely open freeform game, all character permissions might be totally public. In a long-running fantasy campaign, they'd probably all be private. But it's possible to imagine a number of permissions grantable between those two extremes.
  • How would you enforce something like that? (Or do you see it as more of a flag for the other players?)
  • Let's see. I can think of 4 basic classes (values for this flag): Personal, Private, Peripheral and Public. And instead of Permission Levels maybe we call it something like "Plot Availability".

    Personal = No other players may use this character/org.

    Private = Only a small group of players may use this character/org; and permission to do so is granted by the initial creator only. Since you can only post under a character name associated with your account, the posting system can police that.

    Peripheral = This character/org may be used by anyone, but only in a "peripheral" fashion. IOW, the character may be seen in the background, engage in a relatively innocuous conversation, or be mentioned in a passing context. In addition, perhaps all such uses are subject to approval by the permission-granter, or perhaps that's a fifth class called something like "periphal-moderated"? This is the trickiest class to automate. Needs more thought. But I like it.

    Public = Anyone may use this character/org in their posts. Jerry Cornelius falls into this category, as do all public domain figures and celebrities.
  • Rough idea of a system-agnostic character form...

    CHARACTER.NAME:
    NICKNAMES/USERIDS:
    PROFESSION:
    AFFILIATIONS:
    SKILLS/TALENTS:
    PLOT.AVAILABILITY:
    INITIAL.CREATOR:
    AGE: GENDER: HEIGHT: WEIGHT: HAIR: EYES: BUILD:
    ORIGIN: RESIDENCE: NATIONALITY:
    CITIZENRY: ETHNICITY: SUBCULTURE:
    BACKGROUND:
    APPEARANCE: PERSONALITY: TRAITS:
    KEY.POSSESSIONS:
    GOALS/MOTIVATORS:
    BLOCKS/PROBLEMS:
    ADDITIONAL NOTES:
    PLAY.HISTORY:
Sign In or Register to comment.