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Author Topic: World-building and Inclusion  (Read 1319 times)

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Offline Cordae

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World-building and Inclusion
« on: 02/05/14, 10:43:13 AM »
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I was originally going to bump the creation of this sorely-needed subgroup with a post on my Erini Suggestions thread, but I think doing so would have thrown my own thread irreversibly off topic. That said, I'd just like to thank Ilireth for making this subgroup before I get into the point of this thread.

This post is about player-made lore pieces (worlds, peoples, characters, etc) and how those lore-pieces interact (or are acted upon) by the community at large.

When I first made my whole....jumble of characters, planets, and peoples, I never imagined that it would grow to the size that it has in terms of community involvement. Then my world got attacked by Silence Keepers and that quaint little illusion was swiftly destroyed with dramatic effect.

People wanting to create Erinian characters is a source of IMMENSE (truly, immense) personal pride for me, as I've been able to create a world that has not only NOT failed/been ignored by the BC RP community, but has progressed in either believability, substance, or popularity to the point that people want to actually play a character from Erini.

At the same time, it's a topic of considerable internal consternation. How much content should I feel comfortable in letting people create? What's the best way to let people into Erini while still controlling the planet as a player-made creation? Should I let them in at all?

The question I'm asking, when boiled down, is essentially: How do you let other kids play with your toys?

My Solution:

What I've come up with is essentially a top-down editorial relationship with all of the people who want to contribute to/play with Erini. This made the most sense to me because Erini is, at its core, still my baby and this solution enables me to have a guiding, dominant role in its development. I use this solution every time someone comes to me with Erini-centered lore/RP. Some examples include Orell's several-part story of Shaantil fighting the Silence Keepers on Erini (and the huge Silence Keeper invasion which people from Erini refer to as "The Battle of the Void" and Miller leaving the Jedi for a year to train with the Kyn.

It works exactly as you might think. People come up with their stories and RP material, then run it by the big bad Central Government (ie, me) for approval and much rubber-stamping. This part of Erini-making is my favorite, aside from the practice of actually creating lore. I get to sit down with other people and discuss what they want, what I want, what makes the most sense, and ultimately (and most importantly) what would be the most fun.

The Point

This little exercise is OBVIOUSLY not limited to Erini or even worldbuilding as the giant, nebulous concept that it is. People do this -every day-, or at least they should, by coordinating with their fellow RPers as they create new and fun ways to be badasses or do awesome things. I think that our community's guilds do this fantastically well.

The whole point of this thread is this:

How do you as content creators balance authorial primacy with community inclusion?

Offline Karmic

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #1 on: 02/05/14, 11:43:37 AM »
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Well given my limited roll in creating RP ideas/theories/spaces for others to play... not just here but before I came here.

(Here I refer to KI so far as its the only 'big' thing I've created that people can and do play with...)

I'm in 100% agreement with YOU.   For the exact same reasons you said.

I have a creation in which I've built a few rules - of conduct, of expectations, of behaviors, of purpose, etc.  Whatever rules and culture ideas and guidelines the creator of the "World" decides are Very Important.  What is Very Important are the things that, unless given a really strong-reason/justification for, aren't really going to CHANGE as far as "Facts of this Creation."

So when anyone outside of "Creator" comes in to play in their Creation - needs to respect that.  They do that by, as you said Cordae, approaching the Creator (in this case you, or for KI me) with their ideas and wishes and thoughts and then, ideally, the Creator then works within the player's ideas and wants to work out something that both of them feel comfortable with.

For example - you, Cordae,  might not allow a player to RP a Darth who comes and overthrows the planet and takes over turning it into a slave-minding industrial planet.  Would be 100% fully within your rights to tell such a person, "Sorry, that isn't the direction or the state I want Erini to be in anytime soon. I can think of several offshoots of your idea that WOULD work though.." and then proceed to try and work that out.

Of course, the other-side of that is the player isn't able to reach a compromise their happy with and doesn't RP in your Creation.  Or the Creator and the Player aren't able to come to an agreement, and thus, again, the RP doesn't happen because.

Which is also perfectly 100% OK.

Because just like Bioware wouldn't "allow" a half-elf-half-dragon Sith in their SWTOR world (if they were directly asked lol), the Creator of the "Original RP Space" has a right to decide what is lore-appropriate and what just doesn't fit, or isn't what they want to do.

To me that's perfectly community inclusive - it just asks for people to respect each other and if engaging in RP as a part of that Player Creator World - whether as a character from it, working on it, or smuggling to it - one checks with the Creator to make sure all is OK.  Not necessarily when TALKING about the World of course, or spreading rumors of events that have happened and such.  But more when a player is taking a direct roll/effect in the course of someone else's Creation.

That's.. pretty much the only way I'd be ok with how it works.

I am not someone who just creates such things and leaves them to float and be used however anyone wants to use it. Which I know other people ARE ok with that, and that's cool. I'm just not.

I'm also not someone who is ok with "figuring it out after the fact" If say player XYZ did the above idea (took Sith to planet and became new Overlord) and THEN came to talk to me about what we wanted to do with it from there.  Other people ARE OK with doing it that way, and that is fine for them, but that is not the case with me or with everyone.

I am also not someone who has any issues with someone saying, "This is how I created this and this is how it works and I will not change it so if you want to operate in My Creation you operate by My Rules."  I may not say that myself, depending on what I created, but there are people who do and have every right to. Its their Creation. I don't get butthurt about it or accuse them of godmodding (its their creation..uhh..) or that they're being exclusive.  It doesn't matter if any or all of those are true anyway.  Its their Creation, and they have final say. And I have no problem being told "No, sorry, doesn't work." 

And the only way you're going to know which type of Creator you're dealing with, is to talk to them OOC and find out what style they are preferring!

And you're right Cordae, it is so awesome when you put forth an idea/creation for RP community stuff and people enjoy it and run with it and do so more than you ever imagined!!  Its so awesome!!  And its so easy to help foster the odds of that happening if people just communicate!

History Posts:  Her Backstory , Darth-Hood

Offline Aylaa

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #2 on: 02/05/14, 12:06:27 PM »
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What I've come up with is essentially a top-down editorial relationship with all of the people who want to contribute

While I've had little success in this other than little nibbles here and there from a couple people, that's mostly because I've had to take a significant step back in terms of time in game due to RL commitments, and haven't been able to keep poking/proding/involving/etc.

when I've run other things, and how I'd like to think I'd run my own stuff, I do this in very much the same way.

Some people don't like it. They're welcome to head elsewhere and build their own things where you can have half-dragon/half-unicorn/half vampire demi-gods. :)

The issue I have had is getting people interested and involved when I DO have the time. :(

I've thus far chalked it up to being unable to somehow get people to give a damn :-/

So I want to include people. what have people found to be effective in getting folks interested in participating and like.... Actually doing as opposed to expressing interest and not?
« Last Edit: 02/05/14, 12:29:56 PM by Aylaa »

Offline NovaZero

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #3 on: 02/05/14, 01:58:10 PM »
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Ask questions.

I can't help but feel I've taken a part when I've put you on the spot, Cordae. How more characters come from your things by other players is what I've got my eye on. Because there's that interactive relationship you have whereas I personally would probably do the same things that most roleplayer's resources would do and just create a short blurb that references the above articles and says "do this, this and this, you can do this and you're likely to do this. This is the only this you can't this".

So I'm watching! Don't think I'm not!
Heads up! Most of my roleplay is done over Discord!

Hit me up there if you're keen!
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Offline Iaera

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #4 on: 02/06/14, 06:03:26 AM »
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How do you as content creators balance authorial primacy with community inclusion?

I have taken the approach of a very weak narrative.

I am something of a "purist" when it comes to Star Wars. Not strict film-only canon like some diehards out there, but I do tend to apply fairly high standards when it comes to what I consider to be a part of my beloved Star Wars. Accordingly, I have brought this approach to my RP in how I conceptualize, write, and play my characters, their equipment, their abilities, etc. Germane to this thread, it's a philosophy I've also applied to my efforts to create and nurture RP.

Custodum has virtually no internal guild-only RP. There are small amounts where and if it makes sense, but anything that can be done in the eye of the public community as a whole is done in said public eye rather than behind closed doors. This is both to be as inclusive as possible to the wider community (thus mitigating the fact that Custodum is inherently exclusive by design), and also to reduce any "internal canon" that develops. Insular guilds and RP communities tend, over time, to create their own version of canon - Erini is an excellent example, actually.

A character from the Begeren Colony community will tend to know what Erini is or who the Custodum are and will have probably interacted with people from either of those. Erini and Custodum are part of a BC character's canon. A character from Ebon Hawk, by contrast, will have had no experience with Erini or Custodum, but will probably have had lots of experience with characters and organisations we on BC have no knowledge of. Effectively, the Ebon Hawk character is from a parallel reality with a different canon: Coruscant and lightsabers remain static, but some of the details are irreconcilably different.

So, in presenting a very weak narrative with Custodum, I try to mitigate this factor. If an Ebon Hawk character joins the BC community and decides to join Custodum, very little "canon reconciliation" needs to occur, because, well, Custodum has very little canon to reconcile. It doesn't really do anything, or have any particular backstory. The Ebon Hawker can see Custodum and go "oooh, a group of Jedi," and that's that.

There are disadvantages to having a weak narrative, of course. There is less direction, less driving, continual plot. But it comes with its fair share of upsides, which I prefer due to its minimal impact on Star Wars canon. A small group of dedicated Jedi could have feasibly existed during the game's time-frame, while simultaneously mostly eluding the history books, thus maintaining its plausibility. Contrast this with a guild which purports to be the new Supreme Chancellor and Senate - such a guild is clearly a significant mark on a world's canon, and strains credibility over the plausibility of its existence to our hypothetical Ebon Hawker: My character on Ebon Hawk knew a particular Supreme Chancellor, and now there is a different one on BC? It doesn't reconcile.

I do think in an RP community such as this that a degree of "fanon" (for lack of a better term) is important for enhancing, building, and expanding the RP. It would strike me as strange if, of the gazillion planets in the Star Wars galaxy, every single mission a Jedi embarks on just happens to be one previously named somewhere in the films or the books somewhere. So I see the construction of our own internal BC canon to be a lot like inflation: You need a little bit to keep things moving, but too much and things implode. Thus, I strive in my efforts to keep impacts on the greater Star Wars canon minimal.
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Offline Iaera

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #5 on: 02/06/14, 06:18:03 AM »
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So I want to include people. what have people found to be effective in getting folks interested in participating and like.... Actually doing as opposed to expressing interest and not?

This is tough! I wish there was an easy answer.

Sometimes, stuff just doesn't catch people's interest. I tried to run a more elaborate event arc awhile back, and got fairly lukewarm feedback. Which is perfectly fair, mind! What I was doing just wasn't that interesting to most people here. I tried again to revive it later on, and I think I got all of one response. It happens!

Part of it is energy. As the initiator of the event/plot/thing/stuff, you have to bring 200% enthusiasm to your own event, because enthusiasm is infectious. If you're enthusiastic about something and show it, other people tend to jump on the bandwagon. Of course, this has a downside. There is a reason I run Jedi Missions for only a few weeks at a time, once in a blue moon: Being at 200% all the time whilst also running and managing everything is profoundly exhausting.

Related to the enthusiasm part is sheer bloody-mindedness. We are lazy creatures by nature, especially when it comes to our entertainment, and we expect it to be handed to us on a silver platter. If you're trying to get something off the ground, then, you have to tap into your inner slave-driver/taskmistress and whip, cajole, castigate, push, prod, kick, light fire under the ass of, and sometimes just plain force people at gunpoint to participate in the fun thing you want them to have fun at.

First getting Jedi Night off the ground was an exercise over the course of several weeks of posting reminders in threads, the shoutbox, chat room, and in-game, encouraging people to come (no really come! it'll be fun!), and generally jumping up and down about how SANTA CLAUS WILL LEAVE YOU PRESENTS IF YOU COME before the regulars started to take shape and the event became self-sustaining.

So, if I had to boil it down, it's a mix of luck (what people are and aren't interested in), personal energy, and stubborn persistence.
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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #6 on: 02/06/14, 10:06:19 AM »
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The magic number is three.

It sounds strange. It might even sound tangential. But this is a thing I have actively researched on our lovely server throughout my ... What, near 40 now? ... Events and ideas and plots. The magic number is three.

What that means: Once you get three people besides you PLAYING with your concept (whatever that concept is) (please note the term 'playing') then your concept becomes self-sustaining. Those three people go off in their own directions and either talk about it, relate to it, exist with it, plan for it, what have you. The people around those three are interacting with those three, and so that concept becomes available to them as well.

There's a multitude of reasons that works, and I would be happy to explore the reasons and causes and prospects with anyone who's curious with the theory, but it's been often enough now where I feel confident to say "This is what works".

HOW do you get those three people? In my experience, the best way in this environment is to present the concept in a way that cannot be ignored. For the Silence Keepers, they were behind a thing that people were a part of that was fun. People had fun with the thing, so they cannot ignore that the Silence Keepers were behind it without ignoring that they were part of the thing. For Erini, Cordae's characters are from that planet. You cannot ignore that planet's existence without ignoring Cordae's characters. For Ilireth's unique abilities, they are what enable Ilireth to do things against other people. You cannot ignore his abilities without ignoring what he's trying to do to those characters.

People may not continue FURTHER with those concepts - a player may not actively show interest in the Silence Keepers, or try to travel to Erini, or care much for what abilities Ilireth has - but they've now had contact with it that they cannot ignore. And eventually, someone WILL show that extra initiative or interest, try going a step further. Eventually, you will have three people that do that. And then it grows on its own.

That's what I've found, anyway. Won't say that other methods -don't- work, just that this one -does-.

Offline Colton

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #7 on: 02/06/14, 10:34:42 AM »
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For me, the secret has been knowing where to set boundaries, and where to break those boundaries down.

Case in point: Vexilan. Created as an element of Jace, Saura and Drexa's backstory that returned to haunt them, he was made to be an NPC. I've made him in-game, but only to serve as a physical presence when it was needed in SWTOR. He was also created to serve a role that could be used by anyone, as the Star Wars equivalent of the classic horror movie monster. (Because evil Force spirits and Sith zombies are EU canon, as far as those things go.) I've given others permission to use him in two different plots now, and I'm always open to giving the thumbs up for others to use him as needed.

The trick is to give people freedom to use your creations while still setting boundaries so that idea remains recognizable. Vexilan is a half-cyborg, half-sorcerous undead monstrosity that rarely speaks. Those are the only constants that I ask for him. Everything else is malleable. How those cybernetic components are integrated can be changed, as they were for Seiyd's uses of him. His motivations are completely up to those who use him. What he says and how his powers manifest are up to whoever uses him, as they were when I worked with Sasmi. There's a great deal of freedom there, even with the boundaries I set.

The same goes for any NPC I create for my characters. You want to play a relative of any of my characters? I'll tell you what's been established so far, and the rest can be created as needed. You want to play Drexa's father or a Colton cousin? Lemme know, and we'll lay the foundation for you to build the kind of character you want to play while still respecting the backstory elements that have already emerged.

At least, that's been my experiences, YMMV.
Saura Colton - Former Republic slicer/spy
Jace Colton - Captain of the Second Star (retired)
Drexa Nahir - Akar Enclave Master (deceased)

Offline Esk

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Re: World-building and Inclusion
« Reply #8 on: 02/06/14, 04:51:22 PM »
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I'm a relative newcomer to the SWTOR RP scene, so I can't say I have had much time for world-building yet in this context.

However, in the past I've had the opportunity to literally build areas of an existing world--environments, people, items, history, plots and all--as part of the ongoing development of a heavy-RP text mmo. The basic lore of the world was the masterpiece of the game producer, and technically, anything that was to be canon had to go through said person. However, he kept a relatively loose leash on those of us developing the world for and with him. And what I created, and what story I told through my building and my RP, he then took and incorporated back into his overarching story in ways he may not have initially imagined.

I always wondered how he could be so permissive with his brainchild. But then I realized, as some people have already mentioned in this thread, that those of us building and creating roleplay events for this Creator have already been vetted by him and have already shown we know the history and lore of the world. So as long as we don't do anything wildly out of place, he was okay with the richness we were able to add to the game world. He didn't shut us down, but encouraged us for our creativity, which in turn spawned more creativity and richness for the world. The players appreciated that.

Sometimes I think we have to let go to grow, both for game development, and for player-driven world/group building. I guess it helps to collect a group of people one can trust too. I'm struggling with all of that still, in the little bits of group lore building I'm doing with Eskenah and others. But I'm learning. I appreciate the thoughts and experience of everyone else in the thread!

Imperial: Eskenah, Emlaira, Qoasha, Nochot, Linhua, Qorit
Republic: Etirza, Soori, Eswolyn, Annave, Foha, Nadimai, Yue-ming
Ialdon: Therem, Shilee
<The Koonto Legacy>