Getting the Ball Rolling
So I’ve been running games using Obsidian Portal for a while now, and in the past year I’ve discovered a thing or two about players – they are lazy. Bear in mind that I’m generalizing here but, really, let’s be honest.
Obsidian Portal is this haven for creativity and sometimes implores us DM’s to pour hour after hour of work into our campaign pages, meticulously tweaking every detail until it looks just right on the page and leaving no stones unturned when it comes to adventure logs and wiki pages.
Many people have seen the new campaign calendar and extended it to the next logical step: Why not create a calendar for your in-game time? On the surface, it seems like a good idea, and it’s definitely something I have struggled with in the past. Unfortunately, it’s a very tough problem, and the final result would probably not be what you imagine.
Every now and then I like to pull back the curtain a little and give a glimpse into what it’s like to run Obsidian Portal. It’s pretty much an endless stream of putting out fires and fixing bugs. I really love to do it, but I like to pour cold water on anyone who thinks it’s all fun and glory. For example, today I had two support emails that caused me quite a bit of grief. Enjoy…
Ascension without consent
I never gave my permission to “ascend” or be charged anything, you don’t even have my information. so, yeah, please take off this “ascended” title, because, I’m not going to be charged. so, again, nobody has my consent in anyway for any reason for anything ever. the end.
As it happens, the issue here was that the person in question signed up with a promo code when creating their account. The promo code gave 1 month of free Ascendant time to new signups.
I understand that we could be a little clearer about “complimentary” vs “paid” Ascendant accounts, but frankly I’d rather work on cool features. Some other people have inquired about their strange Ascendant status, and I was happy to answer. In this case, I did exactly as was requested and deleted the complimentary subscription. Be careful what you wish for, I might just give it to you.
My wiki is gone, I hate you
Pages on my XXXX page were deleted. I want them back, along with my money.
These emails always fill me with dread. Did I accidentally delete someone’s work? How long has this been going on? Is this just the first of a flood of hate heading my way?
Luckily, I’ve been hit with a lot of these by now, so I know not to panic. In almost all cases, it’s a misunderstanding. In this particular case, it is a legitimate bug…but not one where data was lost. Instead, there is a case-sensitivity bug for some of the wiki links. In other words, Places isn’t the same as places. The pages are all still there, but some links in the wiki are broken. Definitely something I need to fix.
Unfortunately, it took several back-and-forth emails to discover the actual problem. The original email didn’t have any real information, only anger. I know it’s frustrating when things aren’t working right, but a “You screwed me” email is pretty worthless in terms of diagnosing the problem and finding a fix.
There are essentially two morals to this story, one for me and one for you:
For me: Can’t please ’em all
I am the first to admit that Obsidian Portal has bugs and problems…a LOT! But, wonder of wonders, it limps along enough to provide thousands of gamers with the tools they need to manage their games. That provides me a lot of comfort when I deal with irate users. I have to remind myself that even as I’m working to fix one person’s problem, hundreds of people are managing their games and having a great time doing it.
For you (and me too): Take a breath before sending
When I get a support email, my initial gut reaction goes one of 2 ways: I want to help this person, or I want to hurt this person. If the email is asking for help, I want to help them. If they are lashing out at me or the site, I want to hurt them. I can usually swallow my pride and do the right thing, but it’s always tempting to just reflect back the anger and hate coming my way.
The point is to realize that most websites (and small businesses) out there are like this. When you send an email, it doesn’t go to a customer service person. It goes to the head-honcho, the person who pours their heart and soul into the site. If you have a problem, ask for help, and you’ll probably get it. Accusations and rage will send your email straight to the trash bin, or worse, the site owner might flip out and declare war on you. I’ll admit, I’ve come very close to doing this in the past.
Blow your top, or solve your problem?
Before sending a support email (to anyone, not just me), ask yourself: “What’s my goal here?” Do you want to get your problem solved? Or, do you want to unleash your anger and surrender to the Dark Side? If it’s the former, then do your best to describe the exact problem, what you did when the problem manifested, and have a little patience. If it’s the latter, tap into your deepest hatred and let me know how you really feel. Just don’t be surprised when I don’t respond and you suddenly find your account disabled.
We just held a contest where folks could enter Stats, Art, Background, and more for SquidGirl, the enigmatic cover girl from the upcoming Gamma World RPG. See, we thought that picking a winner would be easy, right?
It turns out, there’s a squidload of talent to be found in our forums. So now we need your help. Again. We need YOU to choose our grandprize winner from the 6 finalists below! Who’s it going to be? Who’s going to win the 100 dollar Amazon gift card?! Let’s meet our contestants:
Duskreign’s The SquidGirl
WesleyKinsmanHall’s Improved Employment
Erwin’s Squidonna with Child
Duskreign’s Hit Single Ain’t No Time (for a Squidgirl)
Click to play: Squidgirl – Ain’t No Time (for a Squidgirl)
AnimaUmbrae’s SquidGirl’s Facebook Page
JonathonVolkmer’s Shakespear’s SquidGirl Caeser
Squidgirl, written by Shakespeare for performance as a grammar school play when he was still a boy, has long been thought lost to the modern world. However, after long searching, I have come into ownership of a partial manuscript of the play. Judging from the following excerpts it would seem that the Bard based one of his later plays on this, his first great tale.
Excerpts from the final scene of “SQUIDGIRL,” one of Shakespeare’s lost plays:
From ACT 1, SCENE 2:
I shall remember:
When Squidgirl says “Do this,” it is perform’d.
Set on; and leave no ceremony out.
Read the full entry (it’s hilarious)
Time to Vote
Ok, those are our top 6. Now we need your help. (You can vote from this link if the voting doesn’t appear below.)
We’ll be announcing a winner and awarding prizes in the next couple days. Stay tuned!
Two weeks ago I got married to the geeky girl of my dreams. Josh Buergel friend, game designer, and all around great guy officiated our small ceremony at a local coffee shop. I got a real kick out of what he had to say, and I hope you will too.
I’m not planning on doing a long speech, but I do think that a momentous occasion like this richly deserves some of my unique strain of blather and I’m afraid the cost of my participation here is that you have to sit through it. I feel like a recitation about the benefits and difficulties of marriage is at least somewhat inappropriate, but at the same time, it’s worth reflecting on what brings you both here, in front of friends and perhaps more importantly baristas. A marriage really is a different phase of your relationship and no matter how casual the ceremony, the commitment is never a casual one. A marriage is about mutual respect, first and foremost. Without that, eventually the cracks will come. If you maintain that respect, you can solve everything else. You’ll both make mistakes and triumphs, you’ll both have bad days and great days, you’ll have days when you wondered what the hell you were thinking. But none of that matters if you keep your respect for each other and yourselves. All of the great things of a marriage flow from that respect when combined with your love.
But enough of that! Congratulations on levelling up your relationship! Among the benefits you have gained this level are the following powers:
This happens to me over and over: At the last minute, a player (or the GM, myself even) announces they can’t make the scheduled time for the game. However, they’re free on X or Y night that week, so can we reschedule? Frantic emailing and forum posting occurs, lots of negotiating, and we usually end up getting nowhere, just messing up everyone’s plans for the rest of the week. Maybe 1/5 of these frantic exchanges results in a successful reschedule. We’re all just too busy to juggle everything like that.
To combat the craziness, I’ve tried instituting a No Rescheduling policy, but then I love playing so much that I break my own rule, hoping against hope that everyone will change to accomodate me. This usually has the exact same scramble-to-no-avail outcome.
Is ours the only group where this happens? How do you handle it? Is there any solution? Is there anything we could add to Obsidian Portal that would help facilitate (and make less crazy) these discussions? As always, I’m not promising anything, but I have a little extra time to think tonight, as our game has been canceled at the last minute. 🙁
Many people seem to be missing the question I’m asking here. Maybe I’m not clear. I’m not asking how many you need to play the game, or what your policy is on attendance. Here’s what I’m driving at:
If a player can’t make it, but suggests a reschedule to another night of the week, what do you do?
In my case, it always becomes a mess and usually results in nothing getting accomplished. Do you have a better way? I’d love to hear it!
Update: Cool Tool
A Twitterer recommended that I check out WhenIsGood, and it looks very close to what I need. Maybe we can steal this idea for Obsidian Portal at some point.