How To Succeed at Modding a Mish Mash Game (Lite Edition)
Hi, my name is Xalxe. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve seen various reality show games in the MishMash forums succeed or fail. A lot of this has to do with the moderators, because games die for two reasons:
- The moderator disappears or just ignores the game for enough time to pass that the players say “fuck it” and give up
- The moderator makes controversial decisions and/or doesn’t plan properly, angering the players and leading them to no longer care
And I really hate to see a good idea go to waste. Abandoned MishMash games make me sad. So I’ve set down some of my tips on how to do this right, in as chronological an order as possible.
This guide is specifically designed for smaller scale games. This would cover any board games, card games, game shows or other smaller games. I realized that the original guide focused too much on the large games, and rather than eliminate those aspects, split the guide off.
STOP RIGHT THERE
So you have this super cool fun idea right? STOP. DO NOT PASS GO. Before you even THINK about going any further, analyze several factors.
- First, analyze your life. Are events liable to crop up in the next three months that would lead to you being absent for a significant chunk of time, or leaving the site altogether? If so, stop planning now. Trust me, it's way easier to kill the game now than when you've put hours of planning into it.
- Next, check the MishMash forum. Have similar games been run in the past? How have they fared? Are any being run now? Is the forum over-saturated with such games? If the game has been tried 20 times and never completed, it's a smart move to not go for dead game #21.
Planning is different for this style of game. If you're running a board or card game, you're basically set. Just be sure you're aware of the rules and know how you're going to track the players' actions, whether on a fancy graphic or just in text in the OP. Make sure, however, that you always have an offsite backup to consult if things don't match up, and keep both updated.
If you're running an original game, then you've got a bit more planning to do. The first step is the bare-bones planning. How many players do you want? What is the overarching theme of the game? What major twists are present? Consider all of these and write them the fuck down. Seriously. If you don't have a document full of shit by the time the game is ready to start, you are doing it wrong.
Plan all of this out. Note when twists will occur (example: "There's a double elimination in Round three; at round 7 someone is voted back into the game"). Get this bare-bones stuff down, because afterwards it's fairly easy.
So you have the bare bones down. Now I want you to close that document and put it out of mind for at least 48 hours. Seriously. Don't open it, don't plan more stuff in your head, nothing. Don't touch it for another 48 hours.
After 48+ hours, you can look at it again. Just look, don't edit. Evaluate it honestly. Is it an interesting game? It is over the top? Will the players enjoy it? Is it doable? If not, edit it and repeat this step until it is a good setup.
So, you've finally planned your way to opening things up for signups! Congrats! Create a thread in the MishMash forum. Give it a snappy title, an interesting intro, and wait! Feel free to PM your friends/MishMash regulars to sign up. Also publicize it in your signature and the MishMash Game List thread.
Frequently bump the thread if necessary, and add a count to the title. Some people just can't resist filling the last few spots in a game.
Once you have a playerlist, it's time for the game to begin!
Starting the Game
The start of the game is crucial. If you do it well, the game is set on a good course. If you start it off by fighting with your players, it won't end well.
Be sure to be on time with EVERYTHING. The biggest cause of game death I've seen and experienced is the moderator saying "I'll get to this later" and then never doing so. Posting to say things like "Hey, I've got work so I'll get to this when I get home" is fine, just make sure you follow through.
MishMash is, on the whole, a laid-back area for more fun games. However, that doesn't mean that as the Mod, you can crack jokes and mess with players. You're still the mod, and like it or not there is a line. Making a joke or responding to a player who addressed you is one thing but remember: many games are very social, and what you say will count. Don't call someone out as a liar or insult them. That will get them pissed, and an emotional outburst, while full of drama, is not your job. Leave that to the players. Trust me, they've got it under control.
Players will often contact you via PM or chat to talk about the game. This is awesome, trust me. Getting them to spill is juicy and fun. However, never under any circumstances say anything about the other players, or how to play the game. Just agree with what they are saying and they'll keep spilling. You don't want to engineer a blindside. You have more information; don't let any of it slip.
Congratulations, you pissed off a player! Maybe your decision was unfair in their eyes. Maybe they got fucked over by a decision. Whatever the situation, they're pissed, and they're pissed at you. This is serious business. Do not respond with the following:
- Catty comments
- "Shut up, it's the game"
- "Obviously you aren't very good at this then"
- Ignoring the issue entirely
Contact the offended party via PM. Invite them to chat calmly with you, via AIM, Skype, PM or in a QuickTopic. Allow them to explain their issue, and then calmly explain why you ruled the way you did. Answer all questions as fully as possible without revealing information they shouldn't have. If necessary, contact a neutral third-party and ask them to offer their opinion. Do everything you can to appease the player, while at the same time understanding that it is what happened and it won't change.
Please note that the odds of you encountering this in a small-scale game are low, but these are good skills to have if you plan to move up.
This game you've started is a commitment. I told you at the beginning to check your schedule, but sometimes life happens. If life does happen, be honest with your players. Tell them that you'll be suddenly away for a few days, so updates are on hold. They'll understand, so long as you come back.
However, if you find that for whatever reason you can't continue the game, come out and say it. Will your players be hurt? Yes. But they'll appreciate that you didn't just disappear and let it die. If possible, find someone (possibly an early boot not named Blackberry) to take over for you. Do whatever you can to save it before you call it dead.
It's also possible that you neglect it for a week or so and then suddenly remember. Again, honesty. A post that says "Sorry guys, I totally forgot, lemme just update real quick" makes players so ridiculously happy it's not even funny.
Holy shit, you made it. The game is finished. A winner is declared. Well done! Truly. The number of games that complete is depressingly small.
After you post the end, ask players for feedback. Find out what you did well, and what you didn't. That way, if you do this again, you'll know what to improve on.