(I'm pretty sure I'm about to crap on someone's fun here. I'm seriously sorry about that.)

This piece reminds me of why I think RP servers are dysfunctional. There are several elements that I consider the cornerstones of fun and effective roleplaying that are deeply lacking on MMOG RP servers:

1. Scene framing and narrative flexibility. Think about how a pen-and-paper game is played. It's not a set of real-time events. Instead, there are scenes. Game-players have the ability to vary the pacing of a scene. They have the ability to cut to the good stuff. They have the ability to cut away artfully when a moment has wrapped up. Think about how flexible the verbal communication that's going on is, for that matter: the group can summarize, paraphrase, &c. as needed. All this allows a group to use direct dialogue where it's needed, as a way to add emphasis and detail.

2. Background social communication. The players know each other. They communicate fluidly about reactions and expectations out-of-character, both as co-creators and each others' audience. Some of the most effective sessions also involve active kibitzing from players that aren't part of a scene.

Both of these are very deeply stunted on an MMOG's RP server: the simulated world makes it much harder to actually do anything with scene framing (while adding almost nothing useful to the mix because it's so damn static), and many of the players are strangers to each other, only engaged in momentary interactions -- so you usually end up with characters saying nothing important to each other and players with nearly no knowledge of each others' tastes and expectations. It's all rather stilted, clunky, and pointless. Kinda like it plays out in this story.

-- Alex

- Alex_P

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In response to "Jerry" from The Escapist Forum: Ouch.

Well written, sparse on the details, but I've always preferred imagination to a page of rock. Read every word, which is rare. It's also exactly how I picture the invention of strong AI. By a programmer getting caught up in a pet project.

- SlayerGhede

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In response to "Shangri La" from The Escapist Forum: Great story. Don't know why, but it reminded me of some of the HP Lovecraft stories I used to read. Especially how the cold never seems to go away.

- cthulhu257

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In response to "The Moon Bearer" from The Escapist Forum: Agree. It's mystery that we seek, not firm solution. We want to find out new things, eternally exploring new frontiers. First it's the vastness of land, then sea, the air, the depth, the stars, and eventually fabric of reality and time itself.
A very compelling story. The fine line between facts and myths, between religion and practicality, is amazing. I like the parallel that is drawn between the "gods" and "mythical Heroes--Armstrong", and how the mystery kept people alive and hopeful.

Let me stress again--absolutely amazing short story. It really resonates with me.

- olicon

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