Rough Coster: Community Cookbook

Original author: Rough Coster
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Useful material for moderators of Picabu, Habr, urbanists, officials, colonists on Mars / Moon and all those who plan to rule this (or some other) world. Word to Raf Coster, gamedev legend, Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, gamification, author of A Theory of Fun.


With all these conversations about what the administrator or designer of the virtual world may or may not do in terms of setting the tone and ensuring etiquette in the virtual community, we completely forgot about the community itself. So let's talk today about what you, your friends, your town, your game friends or your guild can do to become a stronger (and fun!) Community.

First of all, communication is important. If your guild does not yet have a web page, bulletin board, newsletter, or email list, you are missing the most important linking factor in the community. A very good tactic is to choose the person who is always the first to talk about the latest gossip and make him responsible for electronic mailing. The big advantage of an e-mail list or mailing list is that they are not passive - they are looking for and attracting a member of the community.

Bet on demonstrating the contribution of the participants in any forum that you have, whether it be a web page, electronic mailing list or your tavern in the game. If you have a person in mind who plays with you all the time and is a good role player, ask him to post stories in game books that will be in the tavern. If you have someone creative on the team, try posting new character portraits on your campus web page every week. Solo concerts in taverns or in the town square can be great events, and you can also make them competitive if you want. Until UO starts supporting the creation of music and drawing pictures in the game (which is actually the purpose of the design), you will have to do it outside the game.

If you host a web page, you can create more than just a list. The registry itself does not present your group very well to other people. A list with character stories — whether RP stories or not — will create a shared story for the group and help newcomers enter the community context. If you want to contribute to this, try highlighting the awards in your group for the best profile or the best addition to “group history” this week. Most cases of excellent role-playing are described only in ephemeral media, on peculiar electronic boards of honor, while in reality it is necessary to create and enrich the context of the game world itself. (Hi guys, you're on the Crossroads of Britannia Tales board — would you like to make an in-game version of each of your stories and poems?)

And, of course, as soon as a stronger sense of belonging to a group appears, some form of “tribal hallmark” helps a lot. The UO guilds realized this very early and agreed on the color of their clothes. The guild system now supports the display of guild abbreviations above the name. Use both of these features as much as possible - even if it's just one spot of color on one small piece of clothing - because they serve as instant identification of friends and enemies. If you want to go even further, create ritual greetings, passwords, etc. equivalent to "secret handshakes."

You must have leadership functions in the group. But since UO groups vary greatly in organization and type, I cannot describe too many specifics. One of the great joys of UO is to see how various social structures have evolved. However, no matter what structure you are involved in, it is important to somehow highlight the people who play a leadership role. Of course, the guild system allows the use of names, but for those groups that are not suitable for guilds, the identifier may perhaps be a piece of clothing that is usually worn by only one person. A great way to unlock leadership potential is to ask people to help recruit and mentor new team members.

It is very important for your group to have a mission statement, a code of conduct, a reason and a way to resolve conflicts. Many guilds break up due to unclear chains of command, disagreements over the guild’s basic philosophy, and other similar issues that can usually be avoided with a strong leadership structure and strong group identity. However, you also need to make sure that your structure can evolve. Provide your team members with mechanisms to change the rules.

Everyone familiar with Fight Nights knows how incredibly valuable recurring events are. If you have a guild that plays regularly, or a tavern that works every night, and you don’t do something like that, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Here's what you should do:

  • Taverns can host concerts, pun championships, board game tournaments, concerts, literary evenings, etc. On certain evenings every week. In the real world, bars arrange events of this kind for a reason! Mike's open poetic performance every Thursday night may interest the people.
  • Guild-oriented guilds must have special adventures on certain nights. A guild can serve as a venue for any number of activities, from training to competitions and more complex things. There is a guild that organizes competitions on the basis of the “runaway man” principle, where one person is designated as “prey” and the rest of the guild must track him and kill him. If he survives before the deadline, then he receives a prize.
  • City officials can try weekly trade fairs, parades, civic events such as elections, city meetings, candidates rallies and the like. As it turned out, communications crystals create a very effective local broadcasting system.

Do not neglect the value of contests and competitions - winners, of course, feel great, and this allows you to place another face on your web page and indicate another name or history in your newsletter, which creates even more links in the community. And, of course, if a player comes to your group, offering a possible event, work with him to try to arrange this event!

Along with this, rituals are very important. In the past, the UO guilds came up with some really wonderful initiation rituals (arranging candles in a dark room in order, checking uniforms, ritual performances ...). But there can be many more forums. Consider the Beefeater rituals in the Tower of London with keys that are handed out at certain times and so on. Such things can be done in cities and beyond. Be sure to conduct a ritual to confirm the new mayor after the election! And if this can be realized, then try to create a dedication in the guild in your city, when a member of the community reaches some goal of mastery, on which he worked.

A very important ritual is, of course, the holidays. Celebrate them! Do not think that you should be limited only by the real world. UO defines holidays that appear on the calendar as events. But you are not limited only to them.

You should not, even if you are incorrigible role-players, recognize only in-game events. Birthday is also an opportunity for a ceremony, throw a party when someone’s player is getting married or when the player’s anniversary. Give in-game gifts, as well as voice your best wishes outside the game. Any single-minded role-player can come up with a reason that may coincide with a real date.

Here are just a few ideas on how to make your group stronger. As your group, guild, city, tavern or something else grows, be sure to publish information about its existence and send your events and main news to news sites and the official calendar of events. The power of virtual worlds lies in interaction, and people must know about you in order to interact with you in any meaningful way. Collaborate with like-minded sites and, if you can, suggest placing character pages for group members. Also establish contacts with other groups both in your game server and in other places, as this way you can exchange ideas and resources.

It takes some work, but you will find that the bonds that you form are real, and the enjoyment of the game will only grow every day. Enjoy it.

- Designer Dragon

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