Game Development Reference
the resistance fighters. I tape a character photo to the monitors to help
reinforce this mental shift between people.
Writing in busy message board environments. Internet forums and mes-
sage boards are supposed to move a lot slower than chat rooms, but when a
large enough number of people are participating in a forum, and the tempers
are riding high, ten new messages can be posted while you're writing one. This
can get the adrenaline pumping if you're trying to steer or control the mo-
mentum and write in a particular character's voice. I use a lot of the tricks
mentioned above, but specifically for message board interactions, I also use
these rules of thumb:
- Use the “quote” function. Alwaysincludeatleastasnippetofthe
message you're responding to. When lots of people are posting at the
same time, your message may show up in a completely different order
than you anticipated. Imagine simply posting, “Yes, exactly!” in response
to one player's post, only to discover that while you were typing some
other player posted a completely different theory, and your affirmation
shows up after that one instead of the correct one. This is easily avoided
by using the “quote” function in the forum interface.
- Take a step back when you need to. Sometimes the online commu-
nity will suck you in to posting to message boards when you've had no
sleep for 24 hours, or when you're burned out on a particular charac-
ter. Live interaction with your players can be intoxicating, but you know
what they say about emailing drunk. When you've gone past your lim-
its, the wiser course is usually to step away from the computer and go
do something outside for a while. Get something to eat. Connect with
friends and family. The alternate reality you've built won't self-destruct
entirely if you step away for a few hours. It may feel that way, but really
it won't. No matter what the community does while you're gone, you
can always fix it. You're the one in charge of this reality after all. And
sometimes the players will surprise you; give them a chance and they
might take the story to exactly the right place—or a better one than you
planned—if you just let them do their thing without meddling.
- Know when to ignore. For every Internet forum there are trolls. For
every chat room there are 12-year-old boys who think it's funny to say
bad words and get people angry. There are often people who think it's
fun to play ARGs by waging a campaign to convince the entire audience
one at a time that this whole thing is a fraudulent trick. The best way
to deal with all of these people is to ignore them. You don't have to
answer every post. You don't have to respond to every leading question.
Sometimes it's best to just pretend they're not even there.