Make Imythess Great Again!

Joined: 5:22 PM - Jan 22, 2018

7:17 PM - May 27, 2018 #1

So, during a talk earlier we kinda admitted to ourselves and everyone else that Imy isnt as fun as it used to be. There are a lot of things that changed. But some changes were for the worst.

So... I'm starting this thread as a way to help give everyone ideas as to how to make the board better and make us all feel like it has returned to the awesomeness it was

NOTICE: this is not the place to rag and complain and put down any of the staff. This is the place to help Ozan, Ley and the staff get our opinion on what we want out of Imythess as a place to come and have fun!
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Copy Mr. Hopsters into your sig, to aid him on his quest for board domination.
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Joined: 4:31 PM - Jul 07, 2010

7:30 PM - May 27, 2018 #2

You can rag and complain if you want, it doesn't really bother me and I've probably heard worse anyway.

I'm going to repeat what I said in the Cbox here: this type of roleplaying is a fad from the 2000s. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're literally the last site that does it the way we do. The Internet has moved on. My priority is keeping the place around for people who are still interested in the way we do it on here, but I'm not going to get extremely bent out of shape if people are deciding to move on.

People also tend to ebb and flow, with some times of year being more active and others being less so. I'm not incredibly worried about it, personally.

That being said, if you have specific remarks about what keeps you here in the first place, I'm interested in reading that. But if you'd like to suggest huge, sweeping changes to the fundamentals of the site, my hands are tied.
[+] Spoiler
Ways to contact me if Imythess is unavailable for any reason (try these in order):
1. Permanent link to the Cbox, bookmarking recommended
2. Email address: imythess at gmail dot com
3. Email address: ozan.mazhar at gmail dot com

I do not check my Imythess-related emails unless there's an emergency preventing me from sending or receiving PMs. Please PM me if you'd simply like to speak with me in private.
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Joined: 7:55 PM - Apr 30, 2010

7:42 PM - May 27, 2018 #3

I can say this: content is king. Imythess doesn't seem as fun because people aren't RPing as much as they used to. If you guys want Imy to work out better, we need more RPs being made.
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Joined: 4:31 PM - Jul 07, 2010

7:49 PM - May 27, 2018 #4

Leyanni wrote:I can say this: content is king. Imythess doesn't seem as fun because people aren't RPing as much as they used to. If you guys want Imy to work out better, we need more RPs being made.
Adding to this (and then I'll back off so people have room to talk, I promise), the site relies on content generated by its own members. Members have to be willing to create their own storylines and actively collaborate with other people to add to them. This creates a sense of ownership that's a little different from writing a novel by yourself, and that's probably a big draw for this.

If group storytelling isn't something people are interested in anymore, there's not really much that can be done about that. However, if the problem is more specific or solvable -- like there's a specific thing stopping people from making their own plots and RPing about them with others' contributions -- then maybe we've got a productive discussion on our hands.

Okay, I'll back off now. Go ahead and speak your mind.
[+] Spoiler
Ways to contact me if Imythess is unavailable for any reason (try these in order):
1. Permanent link to the Cbox, bookmarking recommended
2. Email address: imythess at gmail dot com
3. Email address: ozan.mazhar at gmail dot com

I do not check my Imythess-related emails unless there's an emergency preventing me from sending or receiving PMs. Please PM me if you'd simply like to speak with me in private.
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Joined: 1:37 AM - Sep 08, 2004

3:29 PM - May 28, 2018 #5

Leyanni wrote:I can say this: content is king. Imythess doesn't seem as fun because people aren't RPing as much as they used to. If you guys want Imy to work out better, we need more RPs being made.
I agree with this entirely. Less RP's and RP'ers makes it tougher to engage.
My personal issue isn't really one that can be fixed, I don't think?

I root my characters really firmly into the world via their relationships with other characters. I invest a lot in building relationships through RP's and then inevitably those people or characters disappear. And then I feel a void in my characters development, or a frustration re: the amount of investment I've just made in something that has so easily disappeared.
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Joined: 7:55 PM - Apr 30, 2010

3:51 PM - May 28, 2018 #6

Phedre wrote:I root my characters really firmly into the world via their relationships with other characters. I invest a lot in building relationships through RP's and then inevitably those people or characters disappear. And then I feel a void in my characters development, or a frustration re: the amount of investment I've just made in something that has so easily disappeared.
People leaving is rough. It really is terrible when they suddenly disappear.
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Joined: 5:22 PM - Jan 22, 2018

3:08 AM - May 31, 2018 #7

Okay, sorry it took me so long. I have several ideas; however, this is currently the only fleshed out fully idea. I also feel like it would be best to tackle them one at a time.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a coworker, in an attempt to get an outside opinion on if they were looking at play by post roleplaying sites, what would get them to join. The answer is, interestingly, slightly aligned with what Ozan said about plots and making roleplays. And I partially wonder if any of us seasoned people ever thought about the answer she gave, to begin with.

I had asked her: "If you were looking for a play by post site, what would be the number one quality you would look for?"

Her answer: "OH! I would love to join one of those, but I don't know how to do any of that plot making roleplaying stuff, so I don't."

I will not attempt to claim how anyone feels about this answer. I, however, will say that I had one of those mind-boggling moments where you can't wrap your head around something so obvious.

My coworker loves to read and go on with me about storylines and how things could go. I could not understand why she would be scared of trying to make something for a board like Imythess. We all had been on long enough to give her plenty of help.

Talking with her gained more information.

She was afraid. Afraid of making mistakes by using stereotypes, tropes, things having already been done, etc. To pile on top of it, we, as imythissians, have been doing this for YEARS.

And then, I thought about Umbra. The first Umbra, from Arda.

She was a blender of stereotypes.

An angsty teenage half demon with daddy issues, orphaned at a young age when her mother was killed by a demon hunting uncle who wanted her head on a pike. The. List. Goes. On.

She even had black hair and purple stripes.

You get the picture.

But I evolved her, made her better, grew her out of the angst and stopped dying her hair every three weeks with a new shade of gothic emo. Made up with her uncle and turned her into a paladin of awesome!

Why couldn't she do this?

I got another answer.

All those wonderful sites that offer writing 'help'.
  • Angst, Emo, and Goth are all tropes. Don't be tropish
  • Renegade rich girls are a fad that should be shot. (Snickers in the corner with Ella Geist of Breaking the Waves)
  • Perfectionistic (As in the attempts to be perfect in all things- which can be seen as a flaw depending on how it is played.) And Perfectionism (Actually being perfect - a common mary sue trait) are the same
  • Avoid anything and everything that can be considered a Mary Sue quality, even if it is a good Advantage or Flaw just by itself
You get the idea, they don't offer "Help"

They turn potential writers, and potential fellow roleplayers away because "WE" Imy-vets are now full-blown writers who will laugh at inexperience, mock mary-sue accidents and chew up and spit out anyone who thinks they are this awesome. Or that's what they think.

Now being on a site this long (Circa 2003) can be intimidating. Ozan said that we are one of the few left. Meaning we've held out this long because we are great at what we do.

I know the intimidation can't be helped until we get some people to talk to us. BUT: I do have an idea for how to help fix the "Inability to properly rp and make plots and stuff"

Make some sort of “How to make a character and get into roleplaying” Guide. Now, in regards to who makes it, I am not saying the staff have to make this. I mean how many of us have written/are writing local lore and everything else? Or maybe a pinned topic somewhere where you can get everyone in imythess to chime in and give their tips to make a new character to someone who is brand new.

Personally of the two I vote the latter because there’s no real “this is the standard for making a character” Having different opinions someone might say something that gets someone else to go “hey” while another idea perks to someone different.

It can also show that we know what it's like to be there. We weren't afraid to make tropish characters. We made characters that were terrible ugly weeds.

But we pruned them, changed the soil, and gave them plenty of water and sun and lo and behold we have beautiful gardens in our alternate accounts lists.

We can help other people do the same.

I'll put up my other ideas later as we get through them and more talking.
(\AA/)
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Copy Mr. Hopsters into your sig, to aid him on his quest for board domination.
(EVIL DEMON BUNNY!!!)
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Joined: 4:31 PM - Jul 07, 2010

3:17 AM - May 31, 2018 #8

The site used to offer crap "writing help" like that, too, unfortunately. I agree that we could do a better job of getting across how chill we are nowadays.

Take a look at an unfinished article I have sitting in the staff forum. It was written with the intent to mitigate the optimization problem we recently had, but I abandoned it because it went spiraling off in the wrong direction and I was planning on rewriting it. Is this the kind of "guide" you think might help? Or tie it in more with the actual act of storytelling in this format?
Old Draft - "Writing a Good Story in the Item System" wrote:
Writing a Good Story in the Item System
Why does Imythess still persist after over fifteen years despite the presence of much flashier multi-person media such as MMORPGs and pen-and-paper games? After all, we have an item system that calls to mind these kinds of media. What's the point? Heck, why don't people just leave and go write a novel?

The answer, we think, is pretty amazing. We have a strong suspicion that personal ownership and emergent narrative play huge roles in it, if they're not the most important factors entirely. Personal ownership is the feeling that you've created a compelling fictional character from scratch, one that's of your very own design -- one who's gone through so much to get where they are right now. Coupled with that is the idea of an emergent narrative: the feeling that you're writing a story to find out what happens next, thanks to the element of unpredictability that playing with other people adds. Role-playing leads to happy surprises and interesting turns of pace that novel-writing lacks entirely.

Choose Your Adventure! This article has a section called "What Makes a Story Go?" that's written for people who have little or no formal training in making stories. If you have this training already, you can probably skip it without missing out on anything. We have it there as a way to explain later how to make the item system work for you, rather than against you, when you're making a story on Imy.


Table of Contents
  • What Makes a Story Go?
  • The Item System and Making Stories
  • Avoiding Pitfalls

What Makes a Story Go?

Before we go into the nitty-gritty of the item system and its role in telling stories, it's important to understand some of the important building blocks of pretty much any story. I'm going to use the term "narrative" a lot, and that's just referring to the process of telling a story (or the story itself). An emergent narrative is when the story kind of falls together as you write it -- it emerges as details build up, consequences happen, and characters in the story take action. Roleplaying is when you collaborate with a variety of different people to build an emergent narrative, basically.

But before even worrying about creating a story that's emergent, we need to be on the same page about what a story even is. This is stuff you've probably instinctively done already, so I'm just bringing it all into the forefront so you can internalize it for the next section of this guide, where we add in the item system.


Building Blocks of a Story

On its most basic level, a story happens when a character wants something and tries to get it. This "want" could be anything, including an intangible concept, but the most important part is that they can't get it right now. Something's stopping them. This barrier could be anything, too, and there can be any number of barriers.

That's it. A character, a goal, and a barrier: the three fundamental parts of a story. Because when these three parts come together, conflict drives the whole thing forward. For example, the goal motivates the character to act. That action encounters a barrier or barriers, creating conflict and forcing the character to adapt and overcome.

It might be helpful to imagine a story as a machine. Some machines are simple, while others have tons of moving parts. Stories can also be very simple -- or you can add more characters, more goals, and more barriers. More complexity is added as you work through all of the ways that these characters, goals, and barriers are interacting. It can get enormously fun!
[+] Spoiler
Stories can become more complex very quickly if you add more of those fundamental components to it. Our example Imythess character, let's call her Neia just so she has a name, has one clear goal. She's trying to bring home her little brother, who ran off into the Gloomwood backswamps. Why'd he do that? (Asking yourself "why?" at every step is a great way to add complexity and depth). Let's say he did it because he heard rumors of gold ore in the rivers in a certain area and he wants to strike it rich. (Every character in the story also wants something and will act on it, by the way).

Neia, our protagonist, is likely to encounter many barriers on her way to bring her brother home. Here are some possibilities, but keep in mind you can customize your own story's barriers quite a bit even for one simple goal:
  • It's winter and the Gloomwood backswamps are notorious for their deadly low temperatures.
  • No one's willing to give Neia, a stranger, the information she needs to find him.
  • The correct road that'll lead her to her brother is heavily guarded by bandits.
  • Her brother, since his goal is to strike it rich, isn't willing to go home.
These barriers, ideally, would emerge on the fly as the story unfolds. You don't come up with them in advance.
Scale

Another aspect of storytelling that's relevant to Imythess is scale. This is how large the story is, like how many places and interests are involved. A story that decides the fate of an entire country is a much larger-scale story than one that's about a person's battle to overcome a medical problem. Both can be interesting stories, and they can even take place at the same time with the same characters. This is important when we're setting up roleplay topics, too. Individual RPs might cover a single story, but that story might contribute to a larger goal.
[+] Spoiler
We can increase the scale of the Neia story in several ways. We could increase the amount of distance traveled, or the number of people or factions that have a vested interest in the retrieval of Neia's brother. We could also add tons and tons of barriers, too, which is bound to increase the scale through all the consequences of the actions Neia needs to take to overcome each one (or the person Neia becomes through her choices as she overcomes them).

But for now, we can leave it as-is. In the example from the spoiler in the last section, with all the barriers included, Neia's goal looks like it'll be too big of a story to be covered in a single RP topic -- it's got too many barriers. But some of those barriers seem like pretty decent ideas for individual RP topics. For example, the road guarded by bandits might be something that needs a whole topic to cover because it has smaller barriers/goals needed to overcome that. For example, maybe Neia isn't strong enough to get past the bandits alone and needs help, or maybe they took something important from her and she needs to get it back. ("Your character needs help of some form" is a fantastic and easy way to include other people in your storylines, by the way.)
Narrative Pressure

Even though you're only directly controlling a single Imythess character -- your story's protagonist -- you're still writing a story that involves multiple characters. Your character is living in a world full of people, and all these people have things they want as well. When the desires of other people interact with your own character somehow, that can potentially create conflict that further drives the story.

I'm only a hobbyist, not a professional writer, so I use the term narrative pressure informally when I'm referring to this phenomenon in a story. This might not be the legitimate term for this.

Narrative pressure comes in different forms. This pressure can "push" your character from behind, for example, forcing them into situations they might not have gotten into on their own. Antagonists demonstrate this kind of pressure easily. An assassin relentlessly chasing your character is a very literal way of pushing them somewhere. This kind of pressure can also be used to get a character going who normally would want to stay stationary. For example, a character who enjoys their comfortable life is exiled from their country and can never come back -- this forces the character to move forward and figure out what to do next.

Your character can also get pulled along, rather than pushed, by the interests of other characters in the story. For example, another Player Character you're RPing with could rope your character into doing something they might not normally do of their own accord.

The Item System and Making Stories

Now that you know how a story functions on a basic level, it's time to make the Imythess item system actually help us in our storytelling endeavors and not get in our way. Remember that we're trying to maximize the two things that make this format of RPing fun: personal ownership and emergent narrative.

Here are some principles to keep in mind.


Only Build the Beginning

When you're creating a new character on Imythess, it's best to design them like they're the protagonist of a story that has just begun. (I'm not saying they need to be young, fresh-faced and naive -- they can have past adventures and a history -- but I mean that the current story you want to focus on is starting).

Don't worry about anything but creating a solid beginning. Make sure you know what your character wants most, and what they're going to do to go after it. Know a little about who your character is as a person. That's all you need to get started. I know there's an enormous temptation to decide where you want your character to go inventory-wise: what powers you want them to obtain, what training you want them to go through, what little baubles you're gonna get. You want to create that 5,000-gold wishlist in your inventory, or to build their inventory to exact specifications. Not only are those things not necessary, but they undermine the "emergent narrative" thing that makes RPing so much fun.


Story Before Substance

Build your story's beginning and then use the item system to support it, not the other way around. What I mean by "story before substance" is that you'll want to come up with a basic idea for your character and their story first, then see how the item system can make that a reality. No matter how cool you think something is, don't build entire characters around certain items, Prestige Classes, or similar.

Here are some character/story design motivations that might not be the best way of thinking to make a lasting character:
  • I want to make a character who's a Frostfiend because I think that PrC is cool.
  • I got this super-heavy armor in a giveaway, so I'll make a character who can have it.
  • These unholy spells look like they'd be fun to try, so I'll make a character around that.
Here are some examples of more enduring and compelling design motivations:
  • I think it'd be really fun to make a story about revenge.
  • I'm interested in political intrigue, so how can I build a story and character around that?
  • I want to write about a character who's struggling with feelings of guilt.
Buy as You Write

A great way to increase your sense of ownership (and pride in your efforts) is to only use the item system to justify capabilities that your character obtains as part of their story. When you're writing something into the story -- say your character got away with a slick half-truth, so their Diplomacy skill seems like it's gotten higher -- go ahead and buy it right then and there rather than before. This is different from pre-building your character to be as strong as possible with all your money, then trying to find a way to justify it later.

I'm not saying you always need to make rags-to-riches sort of characters, or even that rags-to-riches are inherently better -- they're not. It's fine to create a new character and then give them a baseline of capabilities that make sense for the start of their story. But growth is an essential part of every character, and it's harder to have growth as an element of your storyline if your character starts out extremely powerful.

Just because you can purchase something doesn't mean that you should. Story first, then inventory. Always.


Avoiding Pitfalls

Due to the shininess of the item system, there are strong temptations to engage in behaviors that might not be in your best interests in the long-term. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls we've seen, and how to avoid them.


Inventory Dilutes the Basic Story Components

In this pitfall, your character has grown so much in martial or magical power that it begins to erode the basic components of their story: their goals or barriers, usually.
  • Goal Issue: Your character either doesn't want anything or has accomplished everything they wanted. The character perhaps has accomplished all of the major goals in their story through raw power or the sheer amount of RPing you've done. They might accomplish additional goals with too much ease. This character might feel formless and drifting, with weak characterization.
  • Barrier Issue: Your character is so powerful that nothing seems like a real challenge. You really have to strain your mind to figure out something that could pose a serious threat to your character accomplishing their goals.
These two problems can be tightly interwoven. For example, goals become moot because your character smashes through narrative barriers too easily.

<Tips to avoid>


Valuing Superiority Over Story

In this pitfall, you're in the mindset that the way to enjoy RPing on Imythess is to have the best character. Usually "best" is interpreted to mean "superior to all other Player Characters in a certain aspect (or all aspects, in some rare cases)." You're going into the weeds, so to speak, meticulously researching the item system to find the best ways to combine and stack buyable effects in order to make the superior character. You might get into spitting contests with people in the Cbox, arguing with hypotheticals to prove your character could kick this other character's ass. You might also spam the Help forum with tweaky mechanics questions or submit huge numbers of item modification requests to get the best gear possible for your character. This practice, and all of the different behaviors encompassing it, is called optimization.

The staff of Imythess officially recommend you avoid falling into the pit of optimization. While some people think that optimization is fun, in the long-term it isn't nearly as rewarding as creating a compelling story of your own design by writing collaboratively with other people. In fact, we'd argue that optimization goes against the spirit of the site, because it doesn't facilitate an emergent narrative or a sense of personal ownership at all; the point of optimization is simply to feel more clever than other people. Optimizers generally don't actually, y'know, roleplay that much, either. They're too busy measuring their characters up to others, with the occasional lapse to grind high-paying events to fuel their optimization.

This practice also leads to dull characters that aren't fun to play. See "Walking Inventory" section below.

<Tips to avoid>


Walking Inventories

It's possible, even easy, to obtain demigodlike power on a single character in Imythess. By obtaining so many things and having such a broad skillset, characters become diluted. They might even smack more of a sapient inventory than a character. We call this a "walking inventory" for that reason. Walking inventories are dull because they have a solution to every problem. No barrier is strong enough, complex enough, or compelling enough to stop them from anticlimactically surmounting it. And without any room for growth or conflict-based foundation for characterization, they also tend to have no personality (or a very superficial, gimmicky personality based on the writer's own whims).

Walking inventories can happen by accident through the accumulation of random crap (see below). Sometimes they can also happen when the following things are true:
  1. Inventory is tied too closely to character development. As in, the player sees character development as synonymous with gaining capabilities bought through the item system.
  2. The player is willing to make large, sweeping changes to a character frequently, even if these changes have no central focus or reasoning behind it.
  3. The player doesn't have a clear idea of who their character is, what they want and how they'll go after it.
<Tips to avoid>


Accumulation of Random Crap

I'm not going to lie to you: our item system has generated a lot of random crap. There are thousands of items, spells and abilities in the system, too, and they were all made by volunteers (sometimes volunteers who were under pressure to create items within a specific theme).


- accumulation of random crap
- planning too much, deciding too much story outside of actually writing it, non-participatory story-making (reliance on short stories, Cbox planning)
[+] Spoiler
Ways to contact me if Imythess is unavailable for any reason (try these in order):
1. Permanent link to the Cbox, bookmarking recommended
2. Email address: imythess at gmail dot com
3. Email address: ozan.mazhar at gmail dot com

I do not check my Imythess-related emails unless there's an emergency preventing me from sending or receiving PMs. Please PM me if you'd simply like to speak with me in private.
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Joined: 8:11 AM - Jun 20, 2014

12:05 AM - Jun 01, 2018 #9

Okay, so I really want to comment because I've recently thought about leaving Imythess for good. Not that I don't like the site, or respect the members, but merely because I'm not sure if I find it fun anymore.

A lot of these troubles may not be able to be fixed, so I apologize in advance for simply venting. The first thing is that I'm bipolar (not trying to complain), so its extremely difficult to keep a topic going because when I'm hypomanic I can post like crazy and have all this inspiration. When I'm depressed it's like the opposite and I can't even muster up the energy to reply. I know that's difficult on people I rp with, so that's difficult.

I also struggle with the idea that I don't feel like my characters actually exist in this world. I feel like I'm the only one who knows what they're doing. I don't really see a way to fix this. Nor do I feel like I should be the center of attention, but it would be cool to have a character that would be recognized. I don't know if that makes sense.

I find it immensely difficult to keep a storyline going. I find that I always want to make my characters in their "final form" right off the bat. This makes it impossible to go anywhere which makes it less fun. I don't know, but it's something I struggle with.

This is something that I've been doing that's annoying, so maybe there's a way to fix this in the site. I feel like I blow up the c-box about new characters I want to create. I think I do this because I want others input because I don't have them completely figured out. I feel like this has challenged some of my friendships on the sites and I might come off as annoying. Could there be an active place where people give input on people's characters?

One thing I also do is create characters that don't necessarily fit in this world. I am absolutely obsessed with mythology, so I always want to base them off the gods and goddesses. The only problem is that makes them too powerful, so I struggle keeping them balanced. I find myself wanting to create this "god" character, but I know it would just be cheesy and unenjoyable. I know I can still base my character around mythology, but I find it difficult to do so. Does that make sense?

Anyways, I apologize for my rant. I'm not sure if it was helpful or not, but it's been on my mind a lot. Responses, or not, thanks for listening!


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Joined: 3:37 AM - Feb 24, 2016

5:20 PM - Jun 01, 2018 #10

When I joined a few years back, and only posted a few times, there was a campaign like deal going on via the narrative part of the boards. It offered some plot to write about while posting in different regions of the board. I liked that, it gave me something to write about and add my own to. Keep that up for those who don't have inspiration to write about something.
Secondly, there is a thread to gain partners to play with. That could be used more. Maybe add in your writing length,..paragraphs, novel, sentences for example.
-cuts himself off before he writes too much-
????? -Torienthos Encinosa- ?????
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