GameDev: Back to the future

If the groundhog sees its shadow, apparently that means six more years of MUSHing (at least).

I thought I’d put OtherSpace behind me, but it’s been a part of my life for so…damned…long that it keeps percolating in the back of my mind.

I tried resurrecting it before, in Slack and in Discord, but those lacked the immersion and immediacy of interacting and running events in real-time. Granted, those platforms also allowed for asynchronous participation – you could drop in during any free time and contribute. But, as an interactive storyteller, I’ve reached the understanding that I need that in-the-moment, back-and-forth riffing. If it’s asynchronous, I get distracted by other things. I lose interest. I *forget* where things might be going.

I want the immediacy. I want that thrill of a story moving forward and taking shape because of what the players are doing from moment to moment. And it’s not going to be in the weird Florida realm of Cypress Knee or someone else’s playground like Star Trek or the Marvel Comics Universe. It’s got to be *my* universe with the Consortium, Fringe, and Parallax, populated by a broad spectrum of humanoids and aliens.

So, I know a couple of things right now:

  • I must revive OtherSpace.
  • It must be in the MUSH environment.

I’ve started brainstorming with Colchek about what approach we might take with narratives in this new OtherSpace. In the old days, the narrative hierarchy went something like this:

  • A Plot: Staff-driven events (sometimes world-shattering).
  • B Plot: Staff- or player-driven “incident of the week” stories.
  • C Plot: Primarily player-driven, day-to-day activities based on character biographies and interests, with limited staff interaction.

In the revival, my goal would be to flip this so that we’re more focused on the players and their characters:

  • A Plot: All about the player characters.
  • B Plot: A mix of player- and staff-driven stories.
  • C Plot: Major staff-driven activities.

During the early OtherSpace story arcs, it was very much a staff-driven narrative. This time around, I want players to have the authority to run their own day-to-day activities without much worry that I’m going to, say, invade the universe and chase them off to a distant century. (That said, I offer the caveat that if players *do nothing*, then the staff may step in to move the story along.)

Something I don’t quite know yet – and I need your help to decide – is what our setting/stage for the narrative should be. The original OtherSpace was spread across many worlds scattered through three regions of the Orion Arm in the Milky Way galaxy. But some of our best moments came when we focused the player population in one roleplaying location (such as the Sanctuary colony ship), rather than spreading everyone around and diluting the opportunities for interaction and incidental RP.

UPDATE: The popular choice in the recent quiz was to have a planet with an orbital space station as the central focus of the new OtherSpace project. Thanks to everyone for their input!

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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