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Musing on Virtual MET

Published by Ryan A on 18th Sep 2020

Friends,

If you were not already aware… By Night Studios is currently in alpha testing of a Virtual Server run by us a professional game as a service experience. We launched it several months earlier than we were originally intending to in light of the Coronavirus impact. We are still tinkering with the final model. There is a paid storyteller and arbitrator. The ultimate goal is that someday soon Anyone, Anywhere, at any time will have access to an excellent Mind’s Eye Theatre experience with Vampire via virtual mediums. We want this game to be the best in the world of its kind and nothing less.

In many ways, we are well on our way. Week after week, positive word of mouth grows the participant base. (Email info@bynightstudios.com if you would like an invite to check it out; valuable feedback is the only compensation needed at this time!). This is the first more public comment on it. And admittedly this is not a marketing message so much as my own musings. I am a text-rp gourmet so to speak. I have loved it ever since I first started Live Action Roleplay. I feel it can allow for some nuanced and truly immersive stories that support and enhance the experience of live games.

I had for the past session of the BNS playtest the opportunity to stand in as the Storyteller, as our lead (Razz- who is amazing), was out ill. Part of it being a future game as a service, implies us (BNS) taking the care to make sure things are running well and enjoyably for everyone. So having some free time, I volunteered to run the session. And I learned some things while doing so! And I would, now like to share what insights I took from the experience with the wider community.

  1. Flavorful NPCs with their own stories and discernible character traits can create powerful drama with something as simple as an invitation to a visiting Elder’s salon. One should not be afraid to be a bit hammy with NPCs. Over the top, larger than life, villains and NPCs help make a night memorable.
  2. Horror is most powerful when pre-negotiated.
  3. Official Player Primogen meetings should have a firm agenda and methods must be taken to move them along less they drag out for the entire session by the nature of text replies. Will be experimenting with different ideas on how to better accomplish these in future sessions.
  4. If you do it well, you might find some NPCs are flooded with requests to scene. Make sure you enjoy playing them; so it’s never a chore to meet those requests for follow-ups.
  5. A character switch by a player can be an opportunity for a great send-off with a lot of punch.
  6. The game premise is best delivered a few days ahead of time, with a slide deck. The better your session premise is on the details, the more hyped folks are for the elements of it, and the less cat-herding you have to do as st.
  7. Mediations should be the first line of conflict resolution. Most of all, the sessions (and have no doubt there were a few) disagreements and bad feelings between players came down in my (albeit still flawed and prone to error) judgment to information asymmetry and its exacerbation of the psychological bias known as fundamental attribution error. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error
  8. By making a so-called effortful adjustment for this psychological process and being understanding of each other’s cognitive load; most drama can be defused early in its life cycle. Having access to all the information, the ST can and should intervene in a private chat (ideally in a private log with the rest of staff), to proactively check-in with players who are experiencing a more than usual amount of bleed.
  9. (My most important takeaway), it can be incredibly fun and rewarding to be a stand-in storyteller for a large virtual game. I encourage everyone playing in a virtual game to give it a shot sometime and would be glad to mentor or share more insights if requested. You can often find me about on our official discord server at -https://discord.gg/kgvMBQF

Best regards,

Ryan Aughtry

President - By Night Studios