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  #1  
Old 06-13-2018, 07:18 AM
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In praise of game-related OOC

Hi guys, it's the first time I post here! I hope this topic is not too specific for the "general discussion", but I didn't know where to go. In fact, originally I was thinking about proposing a small piece to Dirkoth for Explosive Runes, but I don't know if it'd be material for the zine -- besides, before doing that I'd like to discuss with other players.

To get to the point, and as you probably guessed, the article would be titled "In praise of game-related OOC" (or something like that).

I've noticed that people use the OOC thread like general off-topic chat rooms, rarely (if ever) discussing the actual game (tactics, options, the PCs' knowledge etc). I think we should make (much) more use of OOC talk, like everybody does at the table in face-to-face playing.

I have a couple of very specific examples in mind, but before going further I want to know if there's some interest about it (and if I'm posting in the right place).

So... let me know! Thanks!
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:47 AM
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First thought: Move the OOC conversation into the game thread, let players talk through game-related issues directly inside of the action. Separating OOC from the game is always going to reduce that "night at the game table" atmosphere to a degree.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:31 AM
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I see the ooc as the table of friends, the ones in that game.

out here, on the big boards, the OOC is a bigger group of friends.

That's really it... sometimes in OOC, we talk about real life issues, sometimes we divvy up gold, sometimes we talk strategy, but mostly, it's just a place where Dirk talks, and not Sanre, or Natisse, or Khern, or Garig.


It helps me keep in character, in the game thread, to have a place outside.
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:37 AM
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My primary campaign has two OOC threads:

[OOC] In Camp: Allocated for game-related conversation

and

[OOC] Philosophy and Beers: For anything casual, off-topic, or controversial.

This seems to work pretty well. There is some cross chatter, but whenever anything escalates In Camp, it quickly migrates to P&B.

Having a thread that clearly identifies a 'No Rules' discussion helps to clean up other dedicated threads. (Common Parenting Tool: Tell children what they should do, rather than what they shouldn't do.)
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:25 PM
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To clarify my thought: I see most people see (rightfully) the OOC table as dirkoth says, as a table of friends. That means its purpose is to talk about the game, yes, but if not onlyalso about RL and general off-topicness (and that's great). A corollary is that, as Aosaw said, most discussions about strategy are moved in the in-character, game thread.

This, anyway, was exactly what I was talking about: you cannot fully discuss strategy IC. You cannot talk meta, you cannot evaluate the character's options looking at their sheets, most of all, you cannot ask for information without making your character look clueless (more about that below)

There are two main concerns going on here: we all want to craft nice, IC posts, full of adventure, nice dialogue and great moments. From this point of view, spending time OOC is almost a "waste of time", since it's not something that gives a direct product you can see afterwards in the game thread, which is "the real deal".

On the other hand, I suspect the habit of posting OOC about the game (as opposed as a general chat) would ease the burden of making a nice, polished post, one we can be proud of, every time we update. It's nice to be able to speak in "indirect discourse", and I see people doing all the time at the real, face-to-face table.

Most importantly (and this is what I was alluding above) some things you simply cannot ask in-character. Here's an example: I am GMing Cthulhu Confidential, a one-on-one investigative game. The player is having problems because he's not asking anything OOC, so his character is going around saying or asking things he would never say or ask if only the player talked to me as a GM. Admittedly this is a special case: in fact, I noticed that dirkoth may remember an old duo investigation he did with driftwood...investigative games do not work here on the Xing, especially because the players don't talk enough OOC and, quite often, do not know what to do (or, they characters look clueless and amateurish for lack of knowledge and direction).

Anyway, this is something I'm turning over in my mind. I think Gaijin's approach is a nice one: I would go as far as calling the "Beer" OOC thread an OT thread, to clearly state it's for off-topic chat.
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:18 AM
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I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to address.

Players and GMs in all the games I have been in regularly use the OOC thread for discussing game issues (strategy, tactics, who gets/carries what, GM pacing and feeling out how players are doing). They also use it for friendly chat, and for what you might call "admin" (like announcing you're going on vacation or something). One thread serves just fine for these purposes.

I guess in my experience, I'm not seeing any lack of game-related discussion in the OOC threads, but your experience must differ. If you're in a game where you want to see more of that, I would say lead by example.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:50 AM
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In our game the OOC thread is mainly talk about the game. Tactics, planning and asking questions of the DM to clarify things about the environment and rules. It would be difficult to do that in the game thread. In the OOC there is no formatting requirements and the odd typo doesn't matter. This makes it easy to participate using a mobile or tablet. Posts in the game thread are more considered and I usually do that on a PC after work.
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:32 AM
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ruffdove: yep, I guess it is my experience. I've been in many, many games where people would not absolutely discuss what they were going to do or what the group should do, they just posted IC. It was often frustrating and led to mild annoyance (and of course, to the game quickly falling apart). My insistence in trying investigative games probably didn't help -- this is a subgenre in which OOC talk is simply irreplaceable, and I should probably have considered it beforehand.

I would have led by example, but more often than not I noticed this trend as a GM, so I wasn't in the position to give "examples" -- just hearty recommendations, take were seldom followed

I guess I've just been unlucky so far. I'll try to stress the importance of OOC talk from the beginning from now on.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:32 AM
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Investigative games are a genre of game? Like Call of Cthulhu, or Top Secret?

Or a genre of adventure? Like a whodunit adventure in a D&D game? (The Assassin's Knot comes to mind).
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:34 AM
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I believe Step was speaking more to the latter example.
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Old 06-15-2018, 11:36 AM
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Actually, I meant both. Call of Cthulhu is an old system with a fatal flaw for investigation (you gotta roll to get the clues). Expert Keepers work around this, modern systems (GUMSHOE) have overhauled the investigation part to overcome it. That said, you still have to have a clear purpose, to move as one, to talk to the GM OOC to make clear what you know, what are your capabilities etc. In face-to-face play, you do this without even realizing it -- the GM and your fellow players are right there, after all.
In pbp, if you stick to flailing around IC without having a perfect understanding of the situation, the one you can only get by asking many questions to the GM, you'll end up making blunders that will require retrofitting and/or will make your expert PC investigator look like a fool. And this is true for a solo game, imagine one with 4-5 people going around doing their thing.

I've tried investigations in d20 systems too. Here the problem is exacerbated by the fact that d20 players are just used to roll checks to get something. Sometimes they find difficult to just say something like:
  • let's stake out that place
  • let's break into that place
  • let's break into that place so we'll able to stake out that other place
  • let's follow that dude
  • let's talk with the possibile witness
    ...many other obvious options...
In short, everything your average investigator will consider as the very first courses of action. Not talking enough OOC, they clumsily try to go around rolling their skills at objects and people.

The whole thing is made harder, of course, by the fact that on the other side of the screen there's a GM that cannot just reveal everything, and has to sprinkle clues and rely on the player's proactivity to actually move the game forward.

In conclusion, investigations are hard, and doubly hard on pbp, and many times harder if the vast majority of the gameplay does not take place OOC. Again, I turn to my original comparison, ie a normal session played face-to-face. Think of Call of Cthulhu ftf -- how much time do players really spend in-character? Do they speak in character when they talk among themselves? Hardly ever, because it would make the game nearly unplayable.

So, to get back to my original topic, I believe OOC is crucial to any game, but absolutely fundamental for any investigation (even if it's just a small part of a larger adventure)
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Last edited by stepanxol; 06-15-2018 at 11:51 AM.
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