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Author Topic: Paranoia surrounding organizing larger games  (Read 1176 times)
gnomeofdoom
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« on: July 23, 2009, 01:18:05 AM »

Our school has run 2 games (to my knowledge) both beta tests open only to member of the 'Zombie Defense Corps' club at SUNY Oneonta. Alot, and I really mean alot of logistical issues, rule subtleties and other issues have been worked out, especially in this last game.

It appears however that our game and the developers/mods of it/anyone who has a voice to raise concern are worried about outside influence in the game and policing issues. This includes our private in-club games as well as the games that will be intended for the general campus population.

Firstly I'd like to ask about Headbands/Armbands. Our school bought Bright green fabric and cut them into 2" strips to be tied either as headbands for zombies or armbands for the humans. The issue is, people outside our game have also now gone and bought this fabric to screw with us. This problem is reasonably easy to overcome with intimate games like our 40 man beta we just had where most of the players know, or at least recognize one another. We have also deliberately stayed away from the bandanna idea because many people just like wearing bandannas and would also still confuse the matter.

Issue 1: We have some feedback from general campus population that some people would really like to play, but would not want to wear the bands around their heads. (personal editorial here: I think these people fear they'd 'look silly.' We have no claims for this specifically, but that's my hunch) This raises now the issue of what to do about differentiating humans and zombies. That actually opens doors and doors of debate.

-2 colored bands around the arm, one for humans and the other for zombies (which raises the issue of what if a zombie throws on their human bands to be bothersome)
-Band on anything other than head for zombies: they could obscure it easily around a corner, whereas the band on head, it's hard to hide your head when you're looking for something.
-right arm for humans left for zombies - confusion, so many people have issues with right and left

And the debate goes on.

Issue 2: Outside interference. Do other schools find it's a problem to deal with both people out of the game interfering, or people in the game leaving it 'calling quits' ? We feel that by opening up the game to the campus it will be much much harder to tell who's playing the game and who's screwing with us. If you have problems like this, how are they dealt with so that play has few interruptions and disputes?

Issue 3: Disputes/moderators I am of the feeling that the majority of disputes fall under the realm of "I shot you before you tagged me" "Nuh uh, I tagged you first" I also believe that this dispute and similar ones fall under the jurisdiction of the dispute solving method dujour: roshambo/rock, paper, sissors, Coin toss, rie roll, draw lots, trial by ordeal (ok this last one's a bit medieval and not really appropriate for 'safety's sake but the point is there) I think specific issues concerning rules/rule breakers should fall under mod jurisdiction and even then would resort of a coin toss or something for that specific case before the rule is modified to suit the needs of the players. Do other school have rampant disputes between players, especially in those open games? Also, as a general rule of thumb, how many moderators typically would you guys have for the number of 'heads' playing the game? We had 2 for our 40 man game and they were ready to tear their own brains out by the end of the game.

finally, I would like to get a realistic assessment from you mods who've organized games in the 100+ player range for how truly judicial you had to be in order to get the job done and run the game smoothly. I'd would like the gory details, make it sound like it's a bad task, but one that can be overcome (since, obviously you run successful large-scale games routinely) Give me info about actions taken against problem players (assuming there were any) especially. I think the biggest fear of the club at this point is whether or not running a larger game is really as scary and hard to police as we think it looks. So, do the larger games create proportionately more or larger issues, or do they somehow manage to run smoothly? Are our fears unduly warranted, on the right track, or completely spot-on?
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Cweed
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 04:32:43 AM »


It appears however that our game and the developers/mods of it/anyone who has a voice to raise concern are worried about outside influence in the game and policing issues. This includes our private in-club games as well as the games that will be intended for the general campus population.

I find the problem of outside interference really interesting, because it has as much to do with your approach to solving it as it does with how non players react to your game.  That might sound like Zen-nonsense, but hear me out.  You're trying to find a solution for something that is inherent to the game.  In other words, getting rid of the problem completely would make the game less fun.  For example, there isn't an explicit distinction between HvZ and your life like there is on a soccer field. You play soccer for a specified amount of time in a specified location. HvZ removes those two limitations, and is considerably less predictable because of it.  Instead of an activity you participate in it becomes a new dimension to your normal day... it makes you see your life in a new light, and that for me is the real appeal of the game. 

The "problem" is that this unpredictability is sometimes annoying, especially when it takes you out of the game - like when it forces you to talk about the rules instead of follow them.  That's something you need to deal with, and it's a really good sign that you've already put so much thought into it.  Being blindsided by it can ruin a game.

Quote
Firstly I'd like to ask about Headbands/Armbands. Our school bought Bright green fabric and cut them into 2" strips to be tied either as headbands for zombies or armbands for the humans. The issue is, people outside our game have also now gone and bought this fabric to screw with us. This problem is reasonably easy to overcome with intimate games like our 40 man beta we just had where most of the players know, or at least recognize one another. We have also deliberately stayed away from the bandanna idea because many people just like wearing bandannas and would also still confuse the matter.

If the numbers I have are right, you have about 6 thousand students at Oneonta - Goucher has a little over a thousand (so you have an idea of where this advice is coming from).

The game is going to interfere with the rest of your school and the people who aren't playing.  Because of that, the school and the people who aren't playing are going to interfere with your game.  You can't do too much to change how people interfere with your game.  That gets harder every player you add.  With a larger game, your only real option is to do your best setting a context for the game within your student population.  Send out newsletters, widespread emails, hold community meetings, set up a table (the equivalent of a booth) in your student building.  Let people know your game is going on and invite them to play.  Even if they don't want to play, if you make them feel like you want them to be a positive part of it they'll be more likely to be a positive part of it - even if that just means passively letting the game go on around them.

What you have a lot more control over is how your game interferes with your campus.  Something we didn't learn until more recently is that taking too much responsibility for our player's actions can be a bad thing.  Often, when professors or non-players would complain, we would mediate the situation ourselves, as mods.  It solved that problem, but an unintended side effect was that our players started to depend on it.  They would be less mindful of their own actions because they knew that we would clean up after them.

You need to let them know they are responsible for having common sense.  This can be done with one simple rule, our most important rule.  Perhaps a vile-bastardization of the Golden Rule.  The Douchebag Rule, of course.  Here's how it works: if, for example, someone asks you whether they're allowed to break a window in order to access a building, you tell them that would make them a douchebag. 

Protip: If they ask you to define douchebag, don't.  You have to force them to come up with their own definition for the word in their head.

Quickly, players will pick up on what you mean (basic common courtesy and sense) and start enforcing it on one another.  Within no time you'll have a self-reinforcing catch-all rule.  If you need them to act a certain way, tell them what you want them to do, and very importantly, tell them why.  For example: "Don't carry guns in academic buildings, because we're the one's who get angry emails from professors, and it only takes a handful of angry professors to get the game banned on the academic quad, or worse."  Make them feel responsible for how the rest of campus views the game by explaining how their actions will be perceived - and most of this they already know, which is why the dbag rule is so amazing.

Quote
Issue 1: We have some feedback from general campus population that some people would really like to play, but would not want to wear the bands around their heads. (personal editorial here: I think these people fear they'd 'look silly.' We have no claims for this specifically, but that's my hunch) This raises now the issue of what to do about differentiating humans and zombies. That actually opens doors and doors of debate.
First of all, what the hell is wrong with looking silly?  Tell those people to lighten up. 

Quote
-2 colored bands around the arm, one for humans and the other for zombies (which raises the issue of what if a zombie throws on their human bands to be bothersome)
-Band on anything other than head for zombies: they could obscure it easily around a corner, whereas the band on head, it's hard to hide your head when you're looking for something.
-right arm for humans left for zombies - confusion, so many people have issues with right and left
These will all work, and none of them are perfect... as you already know in detail.  It still seems to me like the head works best, and so my suggestion is to tell the haters to get over it.

Quote
Issue 2: Outside interference. Do other schools find it's a problem to deal with both people out of the game interfering, or people in the game leaving it 'calling quits' ? We feel that by opening up the game to the campus it will be much much harder to tell who's playing the game and who's screwing with us. If you have problems like this, how are they dealt with so that play has few interruptions and disputes?

The best you can do is to not overthink this one.  People will interfere with your game and people will leave.  At times it will create logistical nightmares, but if you're doing everything else right this won't turn into a big problem.  My advice is to focus elsewhere, and only worry about these problems when they arise, on a problem by problem basis.  If you start seeing a trend or get overwhelmed, deal with it then.  If your post is any indication, you'll be clever enough to handle it.

Quote
Issue 3: Disputes/moderators I am of the feeling that the majority of disputes fall under the realm of "I shot you before you tagged me" "Nuh uh, I tagged you first" I also believe that this dispute and similar ones fall under the jurisdiction of the dispute solving method dujour: roshambo/rock, paper, sissors, Coin toss, rie roll, draw lots, trial by ordeal (ok this last one's a bit medieval and not really appropriate for 'safety's sake but the point is there) I think specific issues concerning rules/rule breakers should fall under mod jurisdiction and even then would resort of a coin toss or something for that specific case before the rule is modified to suit the needs of the players. Do other school have rampant disputes between players, especially in those open games?

To avoid philosophical mumbo-jumbo, skip to the next paragraph.  No two events are the same.  Situations never fit a rule perfectly; they only ever fit "well enough."  Every rule has an exception.  Every system can be broken.  If reality doesn't break your rules, players will.

If you base it on a specific rule like a coin toss, players will report kills they might have otherwise let go.  Because by your new rules, they stand a better chance of getting the kill by reporting it. 1/2 vs 0.

My advice, instead of a coin-toss use the (you guessed it) douchebag rule.  If someone is reporting a ridiculous kill, tell them so and call them a douchebag.  If both players honestly feel like they're right, and were playing the game in good faith (not being douchebags), then hear both sides out and make a decision.  Close calls, in our opinion, should go to humans.

Of course even that rule can be gamed.  One of our most adamant human players argued his way out of several kills because he knew there was a human bias, and if he could throw just enough doubt into the story we'd rule in his favor.   In that case we told him privately that he would become a zombie if he was involved in another dispute - even if the zombie's story was ridiculous.  You've got to think your feet and develop fair solutions to situations you can never fully predict.  It's a skill.  You'll F it up a few times, but you'll get better at it.

Quote
Also, as a general rule of thumb, how many moderators typically would you guys have for the number of 'heads' playing the game? We had 2 for our 40 man game and they were ready to tear their own brains out by the end of the game.

One of our games of 150 had I think 6 or 7 people moderating.  That was probably too many people, but we worked pretty well together and managed not to step on each other's toes too badly. I think it would have been possible with 2 people, but we wouldn't have had a single second to run missions.  It really depend on how well you can organize the not-fun logistical stuff and how much extra time you want to have for plot and missions.  Of course your team dynamic and how much work everyone is willing to throw down means a lot as well.

Quote
finally, I would like to get a realistic assessment from you mods who've organized games in the 100+ player range for how truly judicial you had to be in order to get the job done and run the game smoothly. I'd would like the gory details, make it sound like it's a bad task, but one that can be overcome (since, obviously you run successful large-scale games routinely) Give me info about actions taken against problem players (assuming there were any) especially. I think the biggest fear of the club at this point is whether or not running a larger game is really as scary and hard to police as we think it looks. So, do the larger games create proportionately more or larger issues, or do they somehow manage to run smoothly? Are our fears unduly warranted, on the right track, or completely spot-on?

Problems will happen, they'll feel tremendous and overwhelming at the time.  You will live through them, but not without making a shitton of mistakes.  You will learn from your mistakes, and then you'll make them all over again.  If you go into it expecting to be able to plan your way around any problems, it will be a scary ride.  If you go into it willing to make mistakes in order to get what needs to be done done, your game will run well and your players will respect you.

Hope that helps,
Cweed
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ritHvZack

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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2009, 02:18:52 PM »

The above post wasnt less than 500 words, we wernt lucky.  Tongue

RIT has had one game with 450ish people in it with just 3 moderators.  It was hell I didnt sleep all weeks, but I learnt some things.  In that game we had a large problem with people "fake playing" it got so bad that a few fights broke out (luckily nothing much more than pushing matches)  the next game we had custom screen print bandannas that we "loaned" the players

As for the i tagged you no i shot you thing goes, i dont handle it.  If players come to me with that dispute i look them in the eyes and with my best "busy daddy" voice i tell them, "Dont make me deal with this problem" and they always settle the problem on their own.

side note: Ive had girls tell me that they didnt play because they didnt want to wear a bandanna on their head, and they always seem to be hot.
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Mephiston-IA
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2009, 08:59:31 PM »

they're worried about the headbands making them look silly, but not the nerf blasters? i mean i know it says 6+ on the boxes, but most people would think a 15 yr old w/ a nerf blaster looks silly, now when u add 4+ yrs to that age most people think it looks down right ridiculous.

but make an alternative to headbands that is even sillier, like a plastic indian headdress or something.
sort of like what i do when i teach karate, a student complains about something being boring, make them and the rest of the class do something even more 'boring' for a while, and come back to the original task, or at the very least give them the choice between the current exercise and something more boring, so they can weight their options and decide option A isn't so bad in the end when compared to option B.
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2012, 02:43:02 PM »

The above post wasnt less than 500 words, we wernt lucky.  Tongue

RIT has had one game with 450ish people in it with just 3 moderators.  It was hell I didnt sleep all weeks, but I learnt some things.  In that game we had a large problem with people "fake playing" it got so bad that a few fights broke out (luckily nothing much more than pushing matches)  the next game we had custom screen print bandannas that we "loaned" the players

As for the i tagged you no i shot you thing goes, i dont handle it.  If players come to me with that dispute i look them in the eyes and with my best "busy daddy" voice i tell them, "Dont make me deal with this problem" and they always settle the problem on their own.

side note: Ive had girls tell me that they didnt play because they didnt want to wear a bandanna on their head, and they always seem to be hot.

O how far RIT has come. 800 players, 5 admins, about 25 mods, all with different responsibilities and it still can get crazy. gnomeofdoom, i hope you solved your problems and your game has expanded. To prevent non-players from being in the game, the screen printed bandannas go a far way. I hope you eventually opened up your game to the rest of your college, and ushered in a new era of hvz at your school.
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