Author Topic: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?  (Read 3156 times)

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Jeshin Offline

OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« on: April 10, 2017, 11:53:40 PM »
It is no secret that I have a fairly strong RPI/RP Enforced background. That being said the original game I staffed: The Sea of Storms was more MUD/MUSH hybrid than RPI. It had ooc channels, you repsawned if you died to MOBs, you coordinated scenes with people. So out of 10+ years of playing text-based games I actually have 10 of them on a hybrid game. After all my time playing these games I have come to form an opinion on OOC communication independent from the traditional RPI approach of NONE.

I believe that OOC channels on games are detrimental. They harm immersion, they open the door to players being dicks to each other instead of characters being dicks, and worst of all they open the door to staff speaking too freely or without forethought to players within an arena that are administrators/authority figures. All of the benefits of OOC channels can be replicated by forums and newbie helpers.

I do not believe that OOC communication is bad. In fact OOC communication is a natural side effect of enjoying the hobby of roleplay and text-based gaming. No other hobby not tabletop, sports, model train making, indie games, cosplay, or anything really discourages its participants from sharing their experiences and enjoyment with one another. You could say it is a key social aspect of a hobby that helps bring in new people, keep older members engaged, and create a shared history.

You may be wondering what the difference between an OOC channel on a game and a forum off-game could possibly be. The answer is degrees of separation. The game is for roleplay and game activities. Telling stories, exploring, writing descriptions, preparing for adventures. The forums/other ooc venues are for sharing your opinions, talking about non-game related content, and possibly being a dick to each other. Another benefit of degrees of separation is that the extra effort involved in writing a forum post (for example) tends to filter out some of the issues of an instant gratification/access channel on the game you're playing.

I want to elaborate on this further, but I think it's more important to raise the topic of discussion and get more feedback before I hunker down and do a more dedicated point by point on this. Who knows I might be persuaded that my concerns about OOC channel do not outweigh the practical benefits experience on X Y or Z game.

Clarity Offline

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Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2017, 12:03:12 AM »
I've never had an issue with OOC channels at all, as long as they can be turned off, and policies are in place governing their use. If people like them, they can use them. If not, turn it off. But then again, I've never really gotten the whole 'immersion' thing that a lot of people seem so fixated on when it comes to RP MUDs. That's probably because when I'm roleplaying, chances are, I'm doing five other things at once, looking after kid, getting dinner ready, doing a bit of work. OOC channels, are probably the least 'immersion breaking' of them.
 
However, I do rather hate spam breaking up my RP, so what I will do is either turn them off when I'm in a scene, or more commonly I run a plugin that pulls all channels into a seperate window. If I could easily redirect other things like inv, who, where into another window, I'd probably do that too.
 
I find them useful for building a community within the game, and it has been through them that I've developed friends that have lasted me over a decade.
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston S. Churchill

Reiloth Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 11:57:44 AM »
I think for an RPI MUD, OOC channels are absolutely an immersion killer. However, Clarity makes a good point that if they are toggleable, they can actually serve a great purpose. Newbie Channel, for instance, would be a great thing to buy into on an RPI MUD, and would keep people engaged/online in the Game, rather than using external Helper services and emails/requests.

For instance, if all new players had their newbie OOC channel toggled 'on', with a disclaimer and instructions how to turn it off every time they logged in, and veteran players could on their downtime/nothing going on turn that channel on and help newbies anonymously? That's a net win, especially in an RPI MUD where commands are so archaic and the learning curve so steep, that many people log in for the first time and disconnect after a few minutes of frustration.

As a Staff member, I spoke with many first time players who had never played a MUD before, and didn't understand you could just type 'south' instead of 'walk south'. Things that appear intuitive to long time MUD players are absolutely confusing and mind boggling to the user new to the genre.

Guidelines could obviously be set in place (not to exchange IC information or coordinate OOCly via the newbie channel), and it could/would be monitored by Staff. It could be a flag manually set to 'Mentor' players, who could buy in and buy out to the newbie channel at will.

So -- An in-game newbie channel would be the exception for me, in an RPI MUD.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 11:59:20 AM by Reiloth »
"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance

Orin Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 05:38:53 PM »
I've seen several new players completely break IC on ArmageddonMUD.  A newbie channel would be helpful if it was not shown to those that don't want to see it.  Those that don't want to see it can simply refer the newbie to the proper channel, then go on with their game.
That which I am is not which I was; I am what I am

Cartheon Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2017, 07:07:09 PM »
My argument has always been that people are going to chat.  AIM, discord, Skype, etc. make it all so easy.  Might as well have them chatting where you can monitor it rather than someplace where they may be colluding in the dark.

Many Faces Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2017, 07:54:49 PM »
I'm in agreement with you, @Jeshin.  Having an OOC channel hurts immersion.  However, OOC communication is not only going to happen whether you allow it or not, it's necessary.  Putting that in a forum is the right call.  It's recorded for the public, it's not immersion-breaking (as long as you don't read it while playing), and it covers the OOC coordination aspects of gaming that don't constitute cheating.

I was really floored when certain parties staffing a certain game declared it was "not okay" to announce you needed a hunter for a group you were forming.  What?  What level of entitlement can you have to decide players shouldn't just let it be known if you roll up a hunter you'll at least have someone to interact with?  Hell, a lot of games get new players because of someone saying, "Hey!  I'm playing Awesome MUD and it's pretty awesome.  You'd love it.  I could use a [role] and it'd be a good way to introduce you to the game.  You free?"

Reiloth Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2017, 10:58:51 AM »
I'm in agreement with you, @Jeshin.  Having an OOC channel hurts immersion.  However, OOC communication is not only going to happen whether you allow it or not, it's necessary.  Putting that in a forum is the right call.  It's recorded for the public, it's not immersion-breaking (as long as you don't read it while playing), and it covers the OOC coordination aspects of gaming that don't constitute cheating.

I was really floored when certain parties staffing a certain game declared it was "not okay" to announce you needed a hunter for a group you were forming.  What?  What level of entitlement can you have to decide players shouldn't just let it be known if you roll up a hunter you'll at least have someone to interact with?  Hell, a lot of games get new players because of someone saying, "Hey!  I'm playing Awesome MUD and it's pretty awesome.  You'd love it.  I could use a [role] and it'd be a good way to introduce you to the game.  You free?"

As we both know, it's the flavor of the week. In a month they could decide you can fully OOCly coordinate a group prior to them joining the game. Just as well -- We also both know this is exactly how most people start playing the game. A friend tells them all about AwesomeMUD and what they're doing, and that they should make a PC in this exact location and be interested in these exact things, and they'll swoop in and hire them to join their group. It's absolutely out of touch to think either a) this doesn't already happen or b) that discouraging it is going to change anything, or c) that it's anything short of petty to make a big deal out of it.
"You will have useful work: the destruction of evil men. What work could be more useful? This is Beyond; you will find that your work is never done—so therefore you may never know life of peace." ~ Jack Vance

Leah Offline

Re: OOC Channels: Beneficial or Detrimental?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 08:56:59 AM »
I think ARPI handled this best. No OOC channels, or tells, but an osay option to clarify RP to the room. Forums can be hit or miss. I think that at times they might breed more toxicity than even a dedicated in-game OOC channel, because the reaction can be delayed for so long, or outright ignored. It doesn't interrupt your gameplay. You can say whatever terrible things you're going to say and walk away from it without suffering the feedback. And if you don't reply, don't even read it, the other person does... what? Gives up?
Rules against OOC harassment are not enough. People will still do what they do.

In my opinion, an ideal situation for OOC communication comes in 2 parts:
1. An osay command. It is only room-wide and can be muted.
2. A moderator-approved posting area, outside of the game, for constructive dialogue regarding the state and community of the game. This puts more of a workload on staff, but if the community of the game is healthy, more opportunities for fair and healthy moderation can rise from the player base.