Above and beyond the text
There are many great things about play-by-post and play-by-email games. Can any game come close to the infinite possibilities of writing? Orson Scott Card described one in Ender’s Game, and personally I enjoy minecraft because it is so varied. If you tire of mining, go fishing, tire of that, start building, tire of that, go farm. Once it is nighttime, fight your enemies or go slay a dragon. The list goes on and on, but the list does stop. Writing games however are limited only by your imagination, and I suppose the basis of your game. The freedom to have almost anything happen next keeps these games unique and alive!
You can though, go beyond the text and add some seasoning to the game to keep it fresh. I am going to list several below, and perhaps you can think of more. You can use these as a way to make your game stand out from your competition, attract new members, and build your community.
1. A Picture is worth a 1000 words.
Ongoing worlds gives your game an image, and you can post an image of your character. You don’t have to stop there. This is the internet, and with careful use of links, you can incorporate images into your game. For example, if you create a free account on an image hosting site (flickr, photobucket/imgur/etc…) you can link to an image of the new bad guy you’re encountering, the interior of the tavern you’re taking everyone to, or a seascape of unparalleled beauty.
2. A Website is worth it’s weight in gold (well free web-sites are).
Wait a minute, you might be thinking, why do I need a website? Isn’t that what On Going Worlds is for? Yes it is, however you might want to make a quick and dirty web site for the current season or campaign of your game. There you could include links to background information, floor plans, dungeon maps, bios on the bad guys, and really anything that might add depth to the game. As a supplement to On Going Worlds, your campaign website could really set your game apart, and that is the point of all the items on this list.
3. If a picture is worth 1000 words, how many words is a video worth?
Hey, have you ever heard of youtube? I’m guessing you have. If you haven’t well, once you find it, you’ll probably be busy for a few months, if not years, so don’t abandon the article or your games just yet! But since you’ve likely spent more time on youtube (or similar sites) than you’d like to admit, have you ever considered making a video for your game or campaign? Your computer likely has a simple movie maker. You could combine some music, titles and images (all of which can be obtained for free and legally online) and make yourself a trailer. If you came across a game where someone went to that much trouble, wouldn’t you take a closer look?
4. Sound reasoning.
Do you or someone in your game play a musical instrument? Perhaps a song, or parody of a song is just what is needed to set the tone for a game. I’ve even helped make a podcast for a fleet. We had interviews, special updates, announcements, general sci-fi news (it was a sci-fi game) and parody/joke skits. They don’t have to come out every week, perhaps just once a month, or every other month. It certainly ties a community together and elevates the game to something more than just shared storytelling. Again, to come across a game where players collaborate on special projects like this really make it stand out.
5. Other senses make sense.
You’ve probably noticed I’ve really just advocated we use the internet more fully in our games. We can promote real world experiences too. Cooking for example allows you to incorporate the other senses, touch, taste and smell. Your world likely has people that eat, (and drink) items special to their world. Who’s to say you can’t replicate dragon-kebabs, or mynock cookies with our real-world ingredients? Have a competition of who can come up with the most creative recipe, or best drink. No one has to know the alien pod salad you’re working on is anything special, maybe they’ll be impressed you’re eating something healthy for once.
See what I did there? Item 1 and 5 demonstrated together. So while we love text games and all the wonders that medium can provide, let’s go above and beyond the text to attract more players to our worlds.