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Pack Capacity
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There's been discussion on slack regarding how big packs are and whether or not it's realistic/fair/sensible for packs to have a universal and unchangeable maximum size.

I personally have some pretty strong opinions on the subject but will add my thoughts in another post after this one. I'd rather this OP served as overview of the topic.
Having posted this only moments before learning that there are coding reasons for a pack's size, I'd like to frame my following comments around the fact that I respect those reasons a lot! But I might as well present my thoughts anyway.

Other than the hard coded limitations, the only good reason, imo, for enforcing pack limits is to encourage diversity OoC. It ensures that no one pack gets all the members, leaving others with very few.

However, I struggle with this crossing over of OoC enforcing IC behaviour. If one pack has a lot of potential joiners then there must be a good reason - and why should a pack be punished and forced to turn away wolves they mught not otherwise? Some packs might decide that they would rather be tightknit and small, and others might prefer to be vast. I feel like that ahould be down to the individual pack leaders and the style of the pack.

Perhaps more imprtantly is what I could see happening to OTB in the spring, even though right now it looks like it might be fine since Rue is leaving and so might Naira. But would it really be in character for the leaders to force Lila, Treyah and Marina to fight for their right to remain in the pack? That kind of attitude might make sense for a different pack, but the laidback and accepting OTB? Forcing wolves to behave against their nature for OoC reasons sucks.

Ultimately my issue boils down to disliking how arbitrary the restriction feels IC. How important or whiney that comes across depends entirely on whether or not other people agree I suppose! We do a fantastic job letting the wolves do what they naturally would, for the most part, and I totally love almost all other ways that RoW handles packs - how they're formed, challenged for, managed, led, disbanded, everything - except on this one point. So I guess I'm just hoping for perfection. <3
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I'd just like to say that agree all of what siki has said, I don't like the idea of the restriction having an effect on IC events.

However, I think that maybe we need to try and work out why some packs are getting more attention than others. Maybe once we figure that out, other packs could work towards increasing their 'attractiveness' to players, which could ultimately result in a more even distribution. :)
I can't speak for other packs but I can speak for at least of half of the current leading pair of OTB, if only because that was the pack that was {at least theoretically} brought up as having a problem come spring.

In character, Spieden wouldn't force (or even suggest for that matter) that any of the puppies or adults must 'fight it out' for the right to remain. I think what would be more likely to happen is some strings get pulled and we decide that IC, some event has made it so that some characters have to leave the pack. Perhaps food scarcity or what have you, and then it would be individuals (on the female side at least) decision to leave for sake of the pack. And yeah, maybe a more aggressive pack might decide the way to deal with this is with a battle royale.

Or simply we bring it up OOC that some wolves will need to leave, and players decide themselves that perhaps their wolf decides they want to go find a mate and start their own pack, or gets wanderlust, or wants to go live with family abroad, or gets abducted by aliens, or what have you. I think there are a lot of ways to deal with OOC limitations while staying true to the character's natures.

At some point there is a limit to the size of wolf packs, and in the wild large packs will eventually splinter because its more efficient, youth will disperse to find their own mates. I can see an argument for bumping the size up, but at some point you do hit a natural limit, barring unusual circumstances.
i agree with Kydnt that those are the best ways to deal with the situation, but ultimately it still boils down to forcing character choices due to out of character limitations. There are definitely ways to compensate for this restriction (as we have seen played out before, with waiting for space or encouraging players to have wolves leave etc) but that's not quite what I'm arguing for.

I do agee that there are natural limitations to wolf packs but think that this would be more realistically decided per pack, though that doesn't necessarily mean having custom maximums per pack, since a pair of leaders could simply decide that they can't control anymore. We have had leaders turn away loners for plenty of reasons despite technically having space in their pack.

Though I'm kinda reluctant to, to use Craw as an example right now, he has very little incentive to turn away wolves, for two fairly important reasons. The first is irrespective of gender: he's concerned about tensions in the north and doesn't want someone rejected from his borders to just go join WRF. The second is more Craw-specific: anyone who knows his motivations and backstory would understand that he wants to gather as many loyal females as possible.

I could totally come up with OoC justifications for him turning away wolves or other players having their wolves leave WM. But this would massively go against his nature in most cases, and it could be seen as unfair to players who want to be involved in the pack, but suddenly space is at a premium - and that would be fine, if there were solid IC justification for it. But I just do not think there is.

And now I think I've made all the points I'm likely to, so will stop posting and give others a chance to contribute <3
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The flexibility is something I'd love to have, but the technical side of it might be too much of an ask.

The problem with having a designated yearling slot is unless it's structured like the pups then it's pointless - BTP had 4? pups the first year? OTB has 5, and then you get the loner yearlings joining too. If it's just one line (2 slots) that's all fine and dandy until you get leaders with a 3 pup litter. Admittedly, it would free up roster slots for adults but then you still have the same problem once they hit 22 months if all the slots are filled. Unless all the ranks went into a one box format with males in one box and females in the other with pups underneath I can't see how it could be managed (and then we'd lose the ranking system entirely and that in itself is a nightmare thought). I can't think of any easy way to deal with it going forward.

I did have a hypothetical discussion with someone at one point when it looked like WR would be in this position dealing with the Skoll/Morg dynamic and Morg wanting to lead (before she inherited WR and everything blew up IC'ly), where it would have made more sense for one of them to splinter off but stay close (say on the mountain/rise side of the Willows) and have an alliance which allowed members of the two packs to mingle as one big friendly family (I think I even toyed with the idea of reversing the pack colours and having a similar name). Of course, then Elettra stepped down and Morg did what Morg does and she probably would have considered telling the yearlings to gang up on someone and push them out - but that's just the sort of wolf she is, they weren't her kids, she didn't really mind. BUT - now that she has her own kids she probably wouldn't react that way at all and might encourage a few of the more trusted subordinates to splinter as previously mentioned (if WM was in that position and there was no way to expand the roster).

Angier and Wraith I suppose are a great example - there was no IC reason for Elettra/Morg to turn them away other than the male ranks being full up so they hung around and waited for a slot to open up. Eventually, its bound to happen and the transient nature of some characters is what makes it work. It can feel like a bit of a punishment to have to turn people away you'd otherwise take in I think, but at the same time, if they really want to get in they'll hang around and make it work IC'ly, (and hey, if the packs did end up splintering then you'd have ready member fodder right?)

FROM HERE tl;dr - unrelated to original question.

(Dec 12, 2016, 10:25 PM)Lorcan Wrote:  I think that maybe we need to try and work out why some packs are getting more attention than others. Maybe once we figure that out, other packs could work towards increasing their 'attractiveness' to players, which could ultimately result in a more even distribution. :)

I know personally I watch what's going on with the packs, how active their members are, especially the leaders - which is why they have a higher post limit. What's the dynamic, what do they have going on plot wise, what is the potential to ruin everyone's plans... Knowing that was what I considered is why when I was struggling to get through the AC's with 2 leaders, I put my hand up and asked if someone wanted to take over or if it was time to disband. If people are just sitting there to avoid the loner dock and make the minimum posts to clear a check (in my experience) it makes challenging just about impossible. Yes, you can go to dice rolls but you've both got to agree and sometimes the LP disparity is enough to turn people off (I s2g if someone wants to challenge Naira just flick me a PM and we can do 2 rounds in the pack thread, I promise she'll get as close to rolling over as she can. If I could request her to be marked as elder and slotted in under the yearlings, I would, that's how out of the way I want her to be but that isn't how it works). It also makes moving things forward impossible when a meeting takes months to wrap up and a hunt takes even longer. I hate thread limbo. Other people may not feel that way but I hate having to be vague forever and a day then retrospectively add 'Oh yeah and my wolf had a limp after the rank challenge for a month but it's all better now', it sucks up all my muse and makes me miserable. But this is only my personal opinion and what effects where I throw my characters. I used to just go for the pack with the lowest numbers, but that rarely worked in my favour.
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Okay so I don't know a whole ton about the technicality of it all, but I agree with what everyone has said so far, on both sides.  When packs get too big IRL, things get hairy.  I'm not entirely sure how the number of packs Relic Lore fluxes, but I know there is one more pack that can be made as of right now  After that, the 'people can split off to make their own packs' argument it moot - it can't be done.  Maybe pairs can split off to have their own pups, but then they'll be loners and raising pups as loners is hard.

OOCly people might say 'just join another pack there's plenty with a few wolves' and that's all fine and dandy but sometimes it's not that easy to do IC.  To use Anaia as an example, she came from the north so that's where she entered, by WM. She has a sprained leg and can already barely walk on it, so just limping off to join another pack won't be so easy for her.  She might be able to make it to WRF, and she might not.  The next pack is still pretty far away for an injured wolf.

Anaia aside, there might be characters with ties to a certain pack, like a long-lost sibling or some-such so IC it might be hard for them to justify joining another pack.  It's just so hard to know what's going on with the characters with their internal reasoning and familial ties. 

But at the same time, changing programming can be a real pain in the behind, so I can understand why admin would be reluctant to change it.

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I understand the concerns addressed in this thread.. but I suppose I'm here to offer a separate opinion/side that perhaps hadn't been thought of, more for the sake of discussion than anything else.

Aside from my very rudimentary understanding of the coding that goes behind the ranks as it is -- not just the numbers we allot a pack, but also from an LP/fight statistic side (the math behind it), the game statistics we calculate with it, etc.. I can't speak to even if it is possible for us to make packs larger.

What I WILL put forward.. is that thus far, in RoW's extensive RP life (we've been around 6 years, that's nothing to sneeze at for RP longevity!) we have never had an issue yet with there not being enough space for the pups to be bumped up in to a pack.. and we've yet to see a pack be completely filled in ranks to the point of it being an issue. That's not to say it won't happen! Our membership doesn't just grow each year, but the amount of characters this game sees, which is great. :)

But given the pups for last year won't start aging in to the adult ranks until May, I will say that it's not necessarily a great concern of mine if there will be room yet or not for them.. a lot changes over just a few months here, as many of you have seen.

We also see more pups per pack each year, because we've strayed from some of the original, realistic rules we had set for the game upon it's first opening, which included only leaders could breed. I'm personally reluctant to let go of smaller packs, if only because I feel it's the one thing we still have that is semi-realistic to this game -- if one were to look up the average size of a wolf pack, you'll come up with numbers that vary from two to fifteen -- and very rarely will they go higher than that up to thirty. With sixteen spaces in a pack, I feel we meet the higher average, and manage to not just maintain some of the realism we held to this game, but also enables us to have our characters become more tightly-knit with one another in a small pack.

That's not to say we've not strayed from realism before -- we have for the better of our community and what we feel our members would enjoy more. I can't speak to whether this is a change that is even possible, and I want to say that the coding itself.. it almost isn't. But I wanted to just add some other 'food for thought' so to speak.

sparking up my heart

Sorry to add to this, but something occurred to me and I thought it worth adding to the overall discussion.

I can agree with the idea of a hard number limit, with saying that wolves will get uncomfortable/strained at numbers above 15, say, so it makes sense to split off/reject joiners/replace members with joiners. I'd be okay with this, in general. The problem with it is that, right now, we are enforcing a gender ratio which means that - for example - a pack with one male and eight females will reject more females due to 'no space', but happily accept up to seven more males (due to how the packs and their slots are coded, I understand, but this is just another example of the limit feeling 'arbitrary' and OoC from an IC point of view).
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Thanks all for the comments. I'll state up front that I'm decidedly against changing the cap and that most of the arguments for changing it are ones we have considered before when we decided to max the packs at 18. We have adjusted the pack cap before, bumping it up from 14 to 18, but that was during a particularly larger growth period in the site and we've since adjusted our requirements for making a pack so they are more attainable (which means if there isn't enough space, people can create new packs of their own easier).

Beyond the fact that any change we make results in my having to change up the backend of how our pack management system is programmed, at some point we will have to decide on a hard cap and I fail to see why 20 or 24 is more acceptable than 18. Eventually, you're going to run into problems with space and that's just something that needs to be worked out with the people involved. We've been at 18 for several years now and it has never actually been a problem, for lone wolves or puppies. The vast majority of our packs are hovering right around 9 adult wolves which is the average size per pack which means there's still 50% capacity left. The only exception to this is OTB and I wouldn't worry about it because I know some characters will leave come spring and free up space or some of the puppies will decide to leave the pack as well.

Quote:Other than the hard coded limitations, the only good reason, imo, for enforcing pack limits is to encourage diversity OoC. It ensures that no one pack gets all the members, leaving others with very few.

I disagree. We don't have any kind of tracking system on RoW for it, but there are realistic factors that determine how many wolves a given territory could support. We don't track the number of prey in any given territory, but this is where we expect people to incorporate into their posts and understanding of the game that there are periods of feast and famine just like there would be in RL. Anything larger than 18 (which I honestly think is pushing it anyway) runs the risk of potentially running out of food. We don't enforce things like this because it isn't fun to RP out long hunt threads that end in failure, but that doesn't mean food is always plentiful and available.

Quote: To use Anaia as an example, she came from the north so that's where she entered, by WM. She has a sprained leg and can already barely walk on it, so just limping off to join another pack won't be so easy for her.

I see your point, but I disagree that this is a problem with our pack capacity. Our numbers are very clearly visible to anybody looking to join. It doesn't make sense for us to adjust our pack cap because a player made the choice to have their character enter RoW injured and can only travel so far. If that's the story you want to go with, you're totally within your creative rights to do so, but that doesn't mean the game needs to adjust. Lack of space and the availability of help is a risk you run if you want to play a risky storyline.

I also want to throw up something that I think most of us are aware of, but don't necessarily want to address. I think the real numbers of truly active characters is much lower than our game stats would suggest, which means a lot of our packs are filled with auxiliary characters that players are holding on to but don't post with more than the bare minimum. If we cleared out all characters who are only posted with once per check on the last day, a lot of space would clear up real quick. If space is an issue, I would ask all players to truly consider if their invested in their characters who fall into this category. If they're not, then it's better for everyone to have them leave the game to clear up space for characters who are people's primary focus.

I'm happy to consider other PoV on this issue, but I'm pretty clearly against adjusting the cap for the reasons I stated above. Until all of our packs start maxing out on space, I don't see an issue with pack capacity. Yes, this means that sometimes leaders will need to turn people away for no other reason than space limits, but just try and think about it in terms of food supply and how much their pack territory could feasibly support rather than simply "no space". I recognize that there's an issue with this when it comes to gender (the 8 female to 1 male scenario Siki brought up), but that's just the way RoW's ranking system works and it's honestly such a rare case that I don't think it's worth reworking a system that has worked well for the better part of the last 6 years.
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