About this blog

This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

Run by the players, we hope to achieve great things.

Where our journey takes us, who knows.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Robert Longtin's view of 2012

Looking back on 2012 – Elections and Voting

Robert Longtin, Elections and Voting Coordinator, takes a look back on 2012 as well as his 3-year run as Elections and Voting Coordinator and makes his predictions for 2013.

When asked to write a reflection on 2012 from the role of EVC, I felt very strongly that there would be little to write about. Indeed, we had a problem with two votes which needed addressing which was covered in the previous newsletter, but other than that there was no real change. It took me some time before I realized that there was indeed something to be written about: for the office of Elections and Voting Coordinator, 2012 is most notable for its lack of change

The Early Years

As some may remember in the old country, I first got involved in site politics in our Firefly-based club as the Voting Coordinator (VC). It has been a long run since then and there is much I have learned since the very beginning, which I suppose is perhaps the best place to start.
I think, for starters, it should be observed that when I first became the VC in the old country the level of responsibility was minimal – you could hardly say the position was time-consuming and if you tried hard enough you could imagine the role as being an emissary between the Parliament Leader (club-level administrator) and the Site-Wide Administrator purely for all things related to the Voting Booth. So when I say the role was nothing like what it has since become, I do mean it has truly undergone serious changes since I was first offered the position back in December of 2009 by Ashley Leighton Plom. (Has it been so long?)

The responsibilities were few and simple: sort out the ballot information with the Parliament Leader and send it to the Site-Wide Administrator, and when the vote was finished, gather the results and turn those over to the Parliament Leader, along with a few housekeeping responsibilities. The first vote I ran seemed to keep pace with the previous votes, a total of 34 turned out to vote, but I had noticed how slowly the results came in and how few the number of people there were actually voting. I began getting in touch with CO’s to try to get the word out about the voting booth to increase the turnouts.

After that first vote, I had decided something needed to be done. I decided to start keeping tabs on which players voted and in which sims those players were in so that I could start reporting the turnout for each sim so as to encourage SL’s better advertise the voting both by letting them know how their sims ranked compared to other sims for the turnout. From there the turnouts only increased. By the second vote under my leadership we experienced an increase of votes to a total of 52 which reached a 67.5% total turnout.

My keeping tabs on voters and the sims they were in was something not previously done, and with the great success it had, the position of Voting Coordinator became one of greater importance and has ultimately shaped the current position of Elections and Voting Coordinator in Phoenix Roleplaying.

Times past

Since the launch of Phoenix Roleplaying, you can say much has changed, but the days of tracking players to produce individual ‘sim turnouts’ is no more. We currently disseminate information about the votes more effectively than we did before by sending vote invitations directly to e-mail inboxes rather than making it exclusive to the site and so there hasn’t really been a need. With that, it’s hard to imagine what more could be done, and that’s precisely what 2012 has been about.

Have we really come so far that we have perfected the office of Elections and Voting Coordinators? Or are we so comfortable in how things are done that there is little reason to desire change? Or perhaps since all of the growing pains of the founding of Phoenix Roleplaying are we ready to just focus on simming and dismiss site politics? These are questions I have asked myself, and truth be told: I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that in the two years before 2012 this office has seen immense changes, not the least of them being the fact that the office of Elections and Voting Coordinator has been bumped way up to a bonafide administrative position from its previously modest role.

In with the new

For 2013 I hope to see great things, more change, and perhaps even a degree of excitement about voting like when I started tracking sim turnouts. I’d like to avoid us getting too comfortable and becoming set in our ways – I’d like 2013 to see change.

Originally published in issue #4 of our newsletter 'The Burning Question'

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Silent Hunter's view of 2012

This year has been a year of growth for Phoenix Roleplaying and for over half of it, I've been at the helm. Of course, not all of this was my own work, as our hard working members posted and recruited, those continuing to attract people to our site. We certainly have more members at the end of this year than at the beginning.

In the simming department, we've had some departures and arrivals. Sadly, we are no longer a Star Trek club, with our last sim there closing and we now only have one open Stargate sim. However, we have opened a number of sims in a variety of other worlds, including Baldur’s Gate and The Matrix, in addition to original sims such as AW75. Indeed, these new sims have helped in our promotion, with the site getting mentions on a big Wing Commander news site. The implementation of a Sim Strength Ranking system has helped our decision making a great deal, I would say.

Our social media is going very well – our Twitter account has over 30 followers and our blog has a wide audience, although I would like some wider contributions from other players to the latter. Our wiki frankly needs a bit more love as well.

In terms of my own personal RP, I’ve had a good year in the sims that I run, as well as those I play in. In particular, I’d like to extend warm praise to Robert Longtin, Kevin Diamond and Osprey, who have provided strong influence and ideas for my RPing, ranging from the difficult position of an Emirati princess faced with her country going to war to a mercenary who meets up with the hyper-active children’s TV presenter he once slept with. A couple of my sims have gone by the wayside (and I may well lose others), but I’m used to having games fail on me and I bat a better average here than elsewhere.

I’m pleased to say that everyone is getting on very well with each other and the only people I’ve had to ban were spammers who solely joined up for that purpose. Our policy debates have been interesting, but no-one has insulted anyone in them, always a good sign to see.

So, on to 2013. I’m planning to stand for a second term as General Coordinator, which will probably be my last in the role, as I plan to move on and let someone else take the reins – I can think of a number of highly capable candidates. My aim to get every sim with a banner is near to completion and hopefully will be fulfilled by May. I will continue to blog and tweet as well.

Most importantly, I’ll still be simming in past and present, Earth and beyond, in a superb community that is the best RPing organisation I’ve ever belonged to.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 Originally published in Issue #4 of our newsletter 'The Burning Question'.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Change of SL for Zombies

In a change of command, Jason Andersen has replaced Dondi Ratliff as Sim Leader of our favourite (only in fact, unless they start turning up in Forgotten Realms) sim involving the undead - a move I confirmed as GC today.

This was by mutual agreement and we wish Jason every success in his new role.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Euan Reid's View of 2012

Technical Support - the name in and of itself conjures up thoughts of arcane technowizardry, but really it's less complicated than it sounds. Tech Support's tasks can be broken down into two halves - maintenance and development.

Maintenance is the more time-consuming, but less glamorous, of the two. Changing user titles, updating permissions for RPEs, fixing lost passwords, and generally keeping the site going. This year, Phoenix has moved to generally having pictures and content ratings on RPE descriptions - these have been fairly simple, but somewhat time consuming. Tech Support has been responsible for their upload and implementation. Looking to 2013, the automatic emailing and member pruning system has recently been discovered to have ceased working at some point - fixing that will be a high priority on the maintenance list (thanks are due to Silent Hunter for finding this issue).

Moving on, we have the exciting part of the Tech Support remit - development. There are two main parts to the development agenda. Firstly, and most obviously, the Phoenix posting system. I realize I've been lax in updating the thread about it, but progress has been fairly steady (whilst I've had bouts of no internet, being online isn't a requirement for coding) - we now have a mostly functional core, although it's still undergoing testing. Secondly, we have additional features for the current site. The aforementioned email system was implemented this year, whilst next year we hope to cover two items to start with - one, the standing suggestion of adding badges to show what sims a member is SL and/or GM of, and two, the recently suggested LOA status indicator. Both these will hopefully be coming soon.

Written by Technicial Coordinator Euan Reid - originally in issue #4 of The Burning Phoenix.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Robert Longtin on tabletop roleplaying

Robert Longtin reflects on the introduction of dice-based tabletop roleplaying and play-by-post simming in the Forgotten Realms and The Matrix sims.
When someone asks me what ‘tabletop roleplaying’ is, I’m constantly reminded of a time when sitting around with friends at a table, character sheets before us, dice near one hand, a caffeinated drink near the other, and a collection of sugary treats somewhere not far away, but most of all I’m reminded of the excitement over what turns up on the side of the die, the thrill of making a character new character or leveling up, and the total fun shared by a group of good friends.
So when the idea of introducing tabletop roleplaying to our play-by-post simming community came about, I was very excited. Granted it wouldn’t involve the fond environment that I recalled from my high school years, but it was an opportunity to try to fuse the two gaming mediums and attempt to bring about the best of both worlds.
Some assembly required
In the early stages, there was the question of how to bring these two things together. For me there was a rediscovery of implicit rules that are taken for granted by veteran simmers and tabletop roleplayers – things you learn when you first get started from others more experienced than you and eventually internalize yourself and begin to model: for tabletop roleplaying, an example might be knowing when to declare an action versus asking if you can take a certain action, or for simming knowing how to go about joining a sim for the first time. It was these little details that I found were suddenly getting lost as we moved forward.
Another problem was knowing just how much information I could share. Copyright lawyers would have a field day had I posted a full .pdf or gave away too much. Fortunately this problem was easily solved by contacting the creator of the game system directly by e-mail. As a result of my brief conversation with him I was able to make public the fact that the system used is Savage Worlds and let on certain aspects of the system itself.
Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds is a great tabletop roleplaying system for a number of reasons, but I think the best of which is that it is easily managed for fast-paced gaming in real-life meet-ups, and so it is easily managed for online simming as well. For starters, there aren’t several scores of books that a person needs to own or go through and the rules are pretty straightforward – or at least straightforward enough that they are able to give a fairly solid rundown of the rules in their sixteen page Test Drive Rules.
Perhaps the main reason for the selection though is its openness to character actions. Systems such as Dungeons & Dragons have been notorious for breaking down the rules on combat to the point where arguments arise over what a character can and cannot do and end with a conclusion that ‘the rules don’t allow it’. Well…every rulebook needs rules, so there are always limitations. But Savage Worlds does a wonderful job of accounting for player creativity and letting players do all manner of things. Want to grab a fistful of sand and throw it in your enemy’s eyes? Want to do a backflip over your opponent to get the upper hand? Feel like shouting obscenities in hopes of enraging your target to the point of letting their guard down? Being able to do all of these and more without in-depth rules-lawyering and research was one of my considerations in looking for a system.
To be fair, I have a certain bias towards Savage Worlds. Since I left behind D&D 3.5 to try out Savage Worlds several years ago, I had been exclusive to Savage Worlds in all of my serious tabletop roleplaying adventures until just a few months ago when I started playing 3.5 again. I’ve sampled other systems in the past and seen some clever, fun, or otherwise interesting systems that I have been able to appreciate, but when I had played 3.5 for a decade and after just a few sessions of Savage Worlds decided to bid my 3.5 group goodbye, it was genuinely because there was something about Savage Worlds that made it so much more fun.
Lost in translation
While a certain recognition of excellence I feel is owed to Savage Worlds, I would be kidding myself if I thought the joining of tabletop roleplaying with online simming was going to retain much (if any) semblance to the tabletop RPG I’m so fond of. In truth, we’ve only just started to see just how effective the selection for a ruleset will be for our sims as the Forgotten Realms sim is only beginning and The Matrix sim is still in its launching phase. Here’s looking to next year, full of hope, to see what unravels…
Tabletop Roleplaying explained — Compared to simming, Tabletop Roleplaying bears few differences though there is one common concept in Tabletop Roleplaying that could be unfamiliar to simmers: dice are used to determine the outcome of most significant and some less important actions, as opposed to being determined by a GM as with online Simming.
A “Tabletop Roleplaying System” (or more generally “Roleplaying System”) is a particular set of rules used in character creation and throughout game play. Dungeons & Dragons is a classic example of a Roleplaying System.
After a particular Roleplaying System has been chosen, the rulebooks for that particular system come out and players build their characters using those rulebooks. Rulebooks describe how players can make their characters better or lacking in certain important character aspects (such as physical strength, intelligence, or how attractive they are, to name a few examples) and rulebooks also tell the players and GM what dice to roll to resolve certain actions as well as how to determine success or failure and the varying degrees of both.
This article was originally posted in issue 4 of our newsletter, 'The Burning Question'.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Phoenix takes home five Simulation Cup awards

In this year’s Simulation Cup, hosted by Ongoing Worlds, Phoenix has won five awards. With the entering of nine sims, this means that over half of the participating Phoenix sims was awarded.

All types and genres of RPG’s could enter the competition and a panel of ten judges in total evaluates the competing sims by either reviewing them live or by reviewing transcripts of recent sim playings. For Phoenix participants this meant that they were asked to submit a link to the best thread of their sims, which were completed in 2012. The juries judged the sims based on originality, creativity, character development, prolificness (a combination of pace and member participation) and readability.

There were three different categories in which sims were categorized: email, message board (the type of sim that all the Phoenix sims fall under) and chat. There were no entrants in the chat category; there were 28 entrants for the email and message board categories.

Kvant won the Outstanding Firefly Sim award, The West Star the Outstanding Star Wars Sim award. Jericho won the Excellence in Originality award, Fighter Ops the Excellence in Creativity Award and Greenleaf Skyplex the Excellence in Character Development award. There were in total 17 awards given.

The total number of judges counted ten, among which was our own Robert Longtin. For the sake of impartiality he did not judge any Phoenix sims, nor did he judge any sims competing against Phoenix sims.
For more information about the 2012 Simulation Cup please visit: http://bit.ly/TGl9f1.

This article was originally published in Issue #4 of our newsletter 'The Burning Question'.
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