What do you find intimidating about Shadowlack?

Thread in 'Hatchling Central' started by Shriker, Aug 27, 2013.


What do you find the most intimidating about us?

  1. The fact that Shadowlack has been around 11+ years

  2. The scary people

    0 vote(s)
  3. The vast amount of In Character information that's available

  4. The ridiculous amount of freedom

  5. The forum software

  6. Other

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. I have heard many, many, times from various people that they were afraid of Shadowlack before they joined. For most I believe it's just been the shear amount of data on the site that's been a hurdle. New players seem to have this tendency to lurk for months before even making their first post, quietly devouring the contents of the wiki.

    That said... it is totally not necessary to learn everything that's in the wiki. O_o; Some of it is still new and a complete mystery to me.

    So what else do you find scary and potentially intimidating?
  2. I'll do one better and say why getting into Shadowlack has been cumbersome for me on the multiple occasions I've done it.

    It's part the wiki, but it's also part of what that wiki represents - the new lingo going into the setting and all the research and notes that takes. The new lingo, especially, is a hurdle given that the quick reference is badly organized and muddled by a lot of things you don't immediately need to know. And when someone new reads what's gone before on the boards, they see all these strange words and have no idea what they mean, so can get lost trying to figure out basic conversations and such. It also leaves the impression they need to know all that stuff before they can join in, and they pretty much do need to know all of it if the veterans are going to be using it constantly. The RaL week, seasons and other time identifiers especially give me a headache.

    And people probably get a bit intimidated by getting quizzed on wiki type info before being able to create a character. It's, at the least, a hassle to have to go look up that stuff when all you want to do is dive into the nifty in your head. Kinda takes you out of that creative center.
    Shriker likes this.
  3. This is the exact kind of feedback that this site needs. Thanks. :heart:

    What kind of quick reference would you recommend for new players, or what would you cut from the New Player Guide altogether?

    As far as quizzes go, I believe I dropped all of that from the site when I created the new character profile system. These days people should just need to post a "Sup, I'm alive" before they gain access to creating a character. Kind of the last ditch effort against spammers (and preventing people from creating NIN advertising character profiles, which has happened).

    RaL week, seasons, etc., are also all automatic and built into the board now. So it is completely unnecessary to learn. New In Character threads will pre-fill everything so that you don't have to even think about it.

    Even the "languages" are built right into the board now and use a BB code cipher so that you don't have to manually do anything. Plus, hovering over a language cipher gives you the English translation. «Es et cemp yv kyyl. »

    There's been a lot of small improvements like that over the years that I think have helped, but we've got a ways to go still. :)
  4. Honestly, after wandering around the internet for a few years, I think it's the combination of a huge, well-developed setting to get a grasp on, as well as the fact that you can pretty much do anything. While there's a larger, overarching plot, for new players it probably looks pretty inaccessible, leaving them to sort of muddle about until they find their niche.

    The new player guide is still very comprehensive, giving you sub-links to choose from so you can skip what you may already know (such as the rp etiquette and so on), and I think the guide is still organized in a manner that it's useful without being overwhelming. I feel like a lot of the aspects such as timestamping and lingo have been streamlined enough into the board itself that they're a lot less scary than back in the days when I first joined up.

    My only suggestion at this point would be perhaps organized sub-plots to lure people out of hiding and give them a more firm basis of getting involved in the IC world. The plot hooks are a good start, but perhaps some sort of incentive for people to create their own 'mini plot' such as... idk, a festival or somesuch, would get people going. Get people making threads oocly to toss ideas around, set up ic meetings, that sort of thing. Sort of a 'this is going on, feel free to make threads about it' kind of thing? Like a Plot Hook, but for a specific area, rather than a single character?

    People love freedom, but too much of it can be a little overwhelming when you're just starting out, haha. Sometimes an excuse to dip a toe in the kiddie pool can get the ball rolling.

    Also I love that languages are coded now. No more running to the translators all the time.
    Shriker likes this.
  5. I do think that's a large part of the problem. It's super daunting to start to hollow out your own place here and there really is too much to look at. :s

    We used to sort of have area plot managers before (when the boards were divided into hemispheres), but they got swallowed up by college/university and the like. At the moment there is just myself and @Nasuella (who was given free reign over building the world in the wiki) creating "flavour" text. I think that it'd be really fun to bring something like that back though and get some more of the different board areas engaged.

    So some way to try and incentivise the creation of mini-plots, and/or get some people who are passionate about particular areas on Shadowlack and wish to further develop and breathe life into them.
  6. If you ever need a hand making Dhruv more interesting, I still carry a flame for anything related to the Yki, haha. I can probably think up a few things related to the area that both apply to the continent and can be applied elsewhere.
  7. Goodness yes, Dhruv needs some love. :heart: You'd be more than welcome to flesh out the Yki and places in there. We ended up prioritizing Trilok and the Khell (they were entirely rewritten) over the Yki.
    Consider it done, then. I was rereading my Yki information and cringing at the lack of beta reading I did... nearly 8 years ago. Yikes.
    Shriker likes this.
  9. @Cawby For what it's worth, the Yki were still far more in depth/better written than the Khell, which was why we targeted the Khell first. :)
  10. Yeah, a lot of that was based on memories from past goes, so it's great to see a lot of it has already been answered! But let me nitpick just a little.

    The Ramathian integration into the board was the sort of thing I had hoped you had done, and it's awesome to see it already here. That's the sort of setting fluff that's really fun and great to see when the web tech makes it seamless and easy. The time stuff is also important setting material, and it's good to see the wiki calendar page does what it needs to do for that, but it's still a bigger hurdle for hatchlings to get over when they're reading the board for the first time and trying to decide if they want in. It's not a bad sort of effort though, so I think that's where it should be too. I'd also like to see the in-setting reasoning/history for the 10-day week, but that's more a lore thing.

    After redoing this starting process more, I think my biggest complaint is the wiki. It feels like it gives a very scattered and incomplete picture of the world. There's no unified and directed guide to Ramath-Lehi that I could find. It's more pick a topic, then try and navigate to that topic and hope what you find answers your question. The character creation guide is almost like a start in that regard, but it leaves a lot of things out and raises as many questions as it answers (see age chart and dropping Arden/Thill/etc without linking to a proper explanation).

    I personally don't see the freedom thing as an issue. It's why people go to RP boards (and once upon a time - MUDs and MUSHs) in the first place. They read the logs and think 'wow, that's pretty cool what all these people have come up with' and to some degree realize it's the pure text format that lets it all happen. What's intimidating is having to create a thread yourself and then hoping someone joins and something happens.

    So low activity and few opportunities to jump and get your feet wet, especially for first time RPers, has a habit of creating a death spiral for these things.

    After being in the RP game for ~16 years, I think what has changed is that the RP boards are fewer, less prominent and harder to stumble across, and MMORPGs are poaching most of your customers and eating their lives. RP lends itself to the teen years, a person's formative years, and gaming is snatching most of them away before they have a chance to figure out there's something more out there. A lot less patience in the broader net culture could be contributing as well, as this type of RP takes its sweet time to do its thing.
  11. I know a lot of people who moved from original character forum roleplays like this one into fandom based ones on networks like livejournal and dreamwidth. Smaller, more structured, and generally very 'slice of life' in nature. A lot of them are panfandom, with singular fandom (such as Harry Potter only or whatnot) games going by the wayside.

    The days of advertising seem to have come and gone as well. I know I found the game through posts on an art site, but I've also found others through media sharing sites like tumblr and so on. Maybe a bit of advertising with target audiences (weasyl, furaffinity, etc) would bring in some newbies willing to get their feet wet?
  12. Well, the fandom based ones have the advantage of a book, TV or Movie series to suck people in for them, so when interested parties go digging for more about the property online, they find these nifty RP things attached to them, and are already motivated to join in on the fun in a setting they know and love with maybe characters they know and love. It's less the freedom issue, and more the strategic positioning and smaller learning curve.

    Then again, I'm more of a purist when it comes to RP. I don't want to ride an established character for an easy fix, but some people are more interested and inclined to riding established characters because of that easy fix. The character has already given them what they want to experience in other mediums, so they think they know what they're in for when they take said character as a persona.

    As for the panfandom phenomenon, that more just supports my take on it. They get to use their preferred and preformed avatar in any setting and situation they like. Those give standard RP board-like freedom to the established character hook.

    On second thought in regards to ramathian terms, I could wish for a parser to give helpful tooltips for common terms. Just give it an on/off switch.
  13. Actually, let me take that panfandom thing one step further with the disclaimer that I've never even put myself in a situation where it'd be possible for me to stumble across one.

    What panfandom RP boils down to, in my mind, is RP Mad Libs - "Harry Potter self-insertion meets Goku! Go!"

    It sounds like the RP format with the least barrier to entry and least effort. There's no setup involved for the player, no canon or world restrictions to plot development, just take established ideas that you like and mash them together and see what happens.

    It's not freedom or lack thereof, it's just easy.
  14. Just a comment on panfandom roleplays. Having participated in, and run, several, I can tell you that while some are very much just random mash up, there exist a great number of them with rather stringent applications, rules of conduct, large player-involved plotlines, and so on.

    A large panfandom rpg set in an original universe with 100+ players can be just as difficult for new people to access and 'break into' as a fully original character roster. It's about giving people an easy way to slip into things without feeling as though they're interrupting existing cliques or plotlines.
  15. ::Chuckles::

    You just made panfandom RPGs sound exactly like the IRC Tavern channels from my past. This explains things in that nebulous 'thingy' sort of way.
  16. Are you looking for more of a Shadowlack 101 then? I'm trying to think of what other information that's pertinent (that isn't already mentioned in the New Player Guide), that could exist on its own. What kind of things would you include? The wiki itself is always going to be incomplete, as the entire game is also a world building project, so anyone who has an account is allowed to edit/create things. It's going to continue to mutate and grow new appendages. :)
  17. Hmmm, now thinking about Shadowlack 101 as a thing. What if after registering and taking in the basic information there was a "Dive Right In" button that could take you to this 101 page. There we could step by step introduce a new player to the layers of Shadowlack. It could pretty much just be a branching point but written kind of like a class lecture.

    Start off with a basic tour of the world, some interesting facts, link. Then, when take a voyage over to the next continent, few more interesting facts, link. Could work our way up from the map, to cultures, to politics, to plot points. Kind of like an interactive / self guided tour just with a few big arrows to try and guide a persons exploration into the wiki. Probably couldn't cover everything but it would help for when people don't just want to choose a random out of context page and just read.
  18. I think that some sort of Shadowlack 101 would be good. I mean, essentially that was what the old "Prologue" story and "World Guide" was, until it massively grew. The hard part is really just deciding what to include.

    A guided/interactive tour is also a possibility. (I just won't write a tour explaining the UI, because that usually means bad design and I haven't noticed anyone floundering with the content via analytics.) Ideally I'd like it to introduce core concepts of the world and not take longer than ten to fifteen minutes. Like having our own (short) Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter.
  19. Replying to this has been on my to-do list, so sorry for the wait.

    But yeah, kinda hoping for a Shadowlack 101, but more thinking of it as a travel brochure...for an entire world.

    Sort of like a cliffnotes version of all the major topics but thread it with a narrative style and link to the various wiki pages using the words in the narrative. If it's strange or different or distinct, point it out in summary with easy access links to the expanded and more detailed info.
  20. I rather like that idea! Makes me want to write it as an actual In Character travel agent, listing places to go and things to see. I think that this could be pulled off for almost all of the countries (save perhaps Dhruv, which still needs some help).

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